Matters Astronomical

Spring and the waning crescent of the Purim Moon

Shabbat gratefuls: Joanne. My blue silk tallit that she made. With the shema on it. Lunch at Nana with her. Parsha Shimini. Kate’s Creek. High Winds today. My Lodgepole companion dancing. New workout. Going well. Zornberg on the Golden Calf. The Navajo. The Beauty Way. Joanne among the Navajo. Cernunnos. Candle lighting for shabbat, for writing.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mountain Winds

One brief shining: Joanne handed me a blue silk bag with a drawstring, opening it I found neatly folded a tallit, a prayer shawl with tzitzit, knotted fringes, which I removed and unfolded, the shema hand-embroidered on its collar, but I did not know how to put it on and she showed me, a quick pull with the right hand crossing over the left shoulder so the shema turned inward against my neck.



Shabbat has changed with Great Sol. When I began observing it, the candle lighting ceremony, which happens eighteen minutes before sundown, took place around 4 pm. Yesterday it was 7:11 pm. Shabbat then extends until 8:11 pm on Saturday. Shabbat lasts 25 hours. I had not expected shabbat observance to ground me in seasonal change, but now I see that’s an inevitable and welcome part of it. Rosh Chodesh likewise. This is a monthly ritual which observes the coming of a new moon and with it a new Jewish month.

The three pilgrimage holidays of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot also have seasonal significance. Pesach, which celebrates the Exodus, the liberation of the Hebrew slaves, corresponds to planting season. Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, is a first fruits holiday with loaves baked from new grains offered for sacrifice. Sukkot, the festival of booths, is a harvest celebration. Pilgrimage festivals were the high points of the Jewish year during the Temple periods when all Jews came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the temple.

There is a profound resonance in Jewish festivals and our lunar calendar with the Great Wheel. One this pagan appreciates as a Jew.


Just a moment: Hawkeyes win! In a nail biter. Two close games in a row for Iowa. Now on to the championship.

On August 20th of 2017 Kate, Ruth, Gabe and I drove north to Driggs, Idaho in a motorhome. Kate’s favorite mode of travel. On the 21st we sat on BJ’s porch eyes covered with Great Sol strength dark lenses and experienced the last total eclipse in the U.S. One arrives again on Monday, almost seven years after our wonderment in Driggs.

Last one I can see here in the U.S. Unless I live another 21 years and make it to 98. Not impossible, but not at all probable. Glad I got to the one in Driggs. Good friends Tom and Bill will have a chance to see it in Dripping Springs, Texas at Bill’s daughter Moira’s home. Weather forecast does not look friendly.

I checked it out, but the local Holiday Inn wanted $859 for room rates on and around the eclipse. Nope. If I hadn’t been to Driggs, maybe. But I had.