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#22: South Star

#22: South Star

You crane your neck to see the night sky, and depending where you are, you'll see at least a few stars. For me, I get to see the southern cross each cloudless night. Those five stars anchor me to what feels like home and when I've lived overseas, I missed them most.

Finding the South Celestial Pole is the equivalent of seeing the North Star, but for us in the southern hemisphere, there is just a black void. I like it this way, it leaves it to my knowledge of the stars to find. And as metaphors go, not actually seeing your north star, but needing to map it each day, is more apt.

Navigation by the stars: finding south – Earthside Astronomy

Not having things spelled out means when you find your north star, it'll be more likely to mean something to you.

First Nations people never had things given to them on a platter. Over generations, they cultivated an intimate knowledge of their local environment.

The emu is a large flightless bird found across large parts of Australia. They are similar to, and closely related to rheas and ostriches. The Tupi people in the Brazlian Amazon and Moquit in Argentina tell of the Milky Way being a rhea. The emu, as seen in the dark spaces of the Milky Way, features in a lot of the 250+ nations of Australia.

The Celestial Emu seen in the dark bands of the Milky Way. Image: Ray Norris, Barnaby Norris.

And as the emu rotates through the year, it closely aligns with the seasonal changes. The emu's head is the dark nebula right beside the southern cross. In October and November, the emu is belly up, lying in a waterhole. Because of the weight of the bird, the water overflows, thus bringing in the rainy season.

There is a Japanese concept of achiragawa. I first came across this term because of my love of Haruki Murakami's novels. If you haven't read 1Q84, stop everything and read it. Matthew Carl Strecher defines it as:

achirawaga is many things at once: a mataphyisical zone, freed from the constraints of time and space; a wormhole, or conduit into other physical worlds; an unconscious shared space, similar to Jung's collective unconscious; a repository for memories, dreams, and visions...
"The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami" p71

As I grow older, and arguably wiser, I find the achirawaga isn't some fanciful notion or woo-woo, but the art of listening to the wisdom already figured out. To find it requires slowing down, tuning out the buzz of popular culture and the 24 hour news cycle, and finding the knowledge that has already been known. To do so is to extend the wonderful experiment that began over 65,000 years ago.

Take the time to find your south star.

Till next week,