Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of April 27th - May 3rd,  2001

Southern Skies

Columns Archive


   In travelling from east to west and north to south, those who watch the lights of heaven become aware of the changes which are at work as one moves around the globe. One of the earliest uses of astrology was for agricultural purposes. The river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, as well as that of the Nile were some of the earliest schools of celestial observation. While some of the techniques have been considerably augmented, many of the fundamentals have remained. For instance, the Egyptians were much more focused on the horizon than contemporary astrologers, but this method of observation has been preserved in the current importance of the Ascendant, while in the agricultural tradition there is the ongoing influence of the Farmer's Almanac. Although this particular volume originated in more recent history with Ben Franklin, the tradition behind it is an old one, and can be traced back to Hesiod's Works and Days, one of the original works of western civilization in which farmers noted the heavenly motions to determine when to plant.

El Paso Skies

Southern Skies

   Another of the early influences was the use of the stars by ancient navigators. Once again, this tradition has been passed down into contemporary times. Nomadic peoples, whether of the desert or plains, would turn to the heavens for the crossing of vast tracts of land, and of course ancient seafarers also made use of these nocturnal lights. Everyone from the Vikings to the Phoenicians and Greeks to the islanders of the Pacific, used the stars to gain their destination. Indeed, the reason that so many of our systems of time originate with GMT (Greeenwich Mean Time) is because of the Royal Navy, and the need for the most accurate star charts by the world's greatest seafaring nation. Naturally, the pole star marks both true north, and the degree of latitude by measuring it's angle from the northern horizon.
Boston Skies

Northern Skies

As we mentioned last week, Orion and the belt of the zodiac rises higher in the sky as the North Star sinks. The further South one goes, the lower your latitude, and the closer the North Star approaches the horizon line. We normally think of the horizon in terms of 'East and West', as in the Sun rising in the East or the Moon sinking in the West, but the north and south are also part of the horizon; it's just that the planets, Sun and Moon never venture to these parts of the horizon, and therefore we do not generally pay as much attention to them. The most obvious componet of this shift is how high the Sun climbs in the sky during the day, especially at noon. The heat here in Tucson (this is Wednesday, so this must be Tucson) has been oppressive, approaching almost 100 degrees. I understand New England is preparing for more snow as I write this. These concurrences are taking place at the same time. Only the angle of the sunlight striking the Earth, and location on the Earth are different.

   These are differences marked by North and South. In addition, we have East and West, as the local horizon changes. This has been part of the series that we have been examining under the Astro*Carto*Graphy banner. This method of examination is limited to the person's individual birth map, which is what makes it so interesting. Of course, the Earth rotates every twenty four hours everywhere, and so everybody experiences these changes, but the exact degree of your local ascendant determines just how you relate to that area.


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