HD BLOG 22: "personified messengers"

this next section is quite beautiful in the way it alludes us to the brightest stars and then to the precious gems of the earth, all the while shrouded in holy incense. the poem itself travels thru a deep discursiveness into an imagined state of paradise, imagined from the last section and still echoing: “Take me home…”

[24]

Or anywhere
where stars blaze through clear air,

where we may greet individually,
Sirius, Vega, Arcturus,

where these separate entities
are intimately concerned with us,

where each, with its particular attribute,
may be invoked

with accurate charm, spell, prayer,
which will reveal unquestionably,

whatever healing or inspirational essence
is necessary for whatever particular ill

the inquiring soul is heir to […]

*

Sirius is the brightest star in the night-time sky, located in the constellation Canis Major. Its name comes from the Latin sīrius, from Greek σείριος (seirios, “glowing” or “scorcher”). As the major star of the “Big Dog” constellation, it is often called the “Dog Star”.

Sirius can be seen from every inhabited region of the Earth’s surface and, in the Northern Hemisphere, is known as a vertex of the Winter Triangle. At a distance of 2.6 pc or 8.6 light years, Sirius is one of the nearest stars to Earth. The best time of year to view it is around January 1, when it reaches the meridian at midnight.

It is also known by the Latin name Canicula (“little dog”) and Arabic: الشعرى aš-ši’rā in Islamic astronomy, from which the alternate name Al Shira derives. In Chinese culture, as well as Japanese, the star is known as 天狼星 (tiān láng xīng; tenrōsei, literally, heavenly wolf star).

Sirius was worshipped as Sothis in the valley of the Nile long before Rome was founded, and many ancient Egyptian temples were oriented so that light from the star could penetrate to their inner altars. The Egyptians based their calendar on the heliacal rising of Sirius, which occurred just before the annual flooding of the Nile and the Summer solstice. In Greek mythology, Orion’s dog became Sirius. The Greeks also associated Sirius with the heat of summer: they called it Σείριος Seirios, often translated “the scorcher.” This also explains the phrase “dog days of summer”.

In the astrology of the Middle Ages, Sirius was a Behenian fixed star, associated with beryl and juniper. Its kabbalistic symbol was listed by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa.

Ancient observations of Sirius describe it as a red star. To the Romans this meant an angry god, and they are known to have sacrificed red dogs to this star.

*

Vega is the brightest star in Lyra, and the fifth brightest star in the entire sky. It is the second brightest star in the Northern night sky, after Arcturus, and can often be seen near the zenith in the mid-northern latitudes during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

It is a “nearby star” from Earth, and together with Arcturus and Sirius, one of the brightest stars in the Sun’s neighbourhood.

Vega is a vertex of the Summer Triangle, which consists of Vega (in Lyra), Deneb (in Cygnus) and Altair (in Aquila). If one is to consider this asterism a right triangle, then Vega would correspond to its right angle. This triangle is very recognisable in the northern skies for there are few bright stars in its vicinity.

The name Vega comes from the Arabic word waqi meaning “falling”, via the phrase نسر الواقع an-nasr al-wāqi‘, translated “the swooping vulture”. As part of the constellation Lyra it represents a jewel set in the body of the harp.

Vega has been the subject of many ‘firsts’ in Astronomy; in 1850 it became the first star to be photographed, and in 1872 the first to have its spectrum photographed. It was also debatably the first star to have its parallax measured, in the pioneering experiments of Friedrich Struve in 1837. Finally, it became the first star to have a car named after it, when Chevrolet launched the ‘Vega’ in 1971.

In Chinese mythology, there is a love story of Qi Xi 七夕 in which Niu Lang 牛郎 (Altair) and his two children (β and γ Aquilae)
are separated forever from their mother Zhi Nü 織女(Vega) who is on the far side of the river, the Milky Way 銀河. The Japanese Tanabata festival is also based on this legend.

In Hindu astronomy, Vega is called Abhijit.

Medieval astrologers counted Vega as one of the Behenian stars and related it to chrysolite and winter savory. Cornelius Agrippa listed its kabbalistic sign under Vultur cadens, a literal Latin translation of the Arabic name.

Alternative and former names: “The Falling Eagle” “The Harp Star” “Wega (a closer transliteration of the Arabic); Akkadian: Tir-anna, “Life of Heaven”; Babylonian: Dilgan, “the Messenger of Light”; Chinese: Zhi Nü, “the Weaver”; Greek: Allore; Sanskrit: Abhijit, “Victorious”; Latin: Fidis, “Lyre”; Vultur cadens, “Falling vulture”

*

Arcturus is the brightest star in the constellation Boötes, and the third brightest star in the night sky, after Sirius and Canopus. It is a type K1.5 IIIpe red giant star — the letters “pe” stand for “peculiar emission,” which indicates that the spectrum of light given off by the star is unusual and full of emission lines.

An easy way to find Arcturus is to follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper. By continuing in this path, one can find Spica (α Virginis) as well — leading to the coinage of the popular maxim, “Arc to Arcturus, then speed on to Spica.”

Alternative and former names

The name of the star derives from ancient Greek Αρκτούρος (Arktouros) and means “Bear Guard.” This is a reference to it being the brightest star in the constellation Boötes the Hunter (of which it forms the left foot), which is next to the Big and Little Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

In Arabic, it is called Haris-el-sema, “the keeper of heaven.” This name has been variously romanized in the past, leading to obsolete variants such as Aramec and Azimech.

In Chinese astronomy, Arcturus is called Dah Jyaoo (大角, Great Horn, Pinying: Dajiao), because it is the brightest star in the Chinese constellation called Jyaoo Shiuh (角宿, Pinying: Jiaoxiu). And later, it become a part of Kangh Shiuh (亢宿, Pinying: Kangxiu), which is also a Chinese constellation.

Ancient Japanese astronomy adopt Chinese name “大角”, but its western name (アルクトゥルス) is more common now.
It corresponds to the Hindu astronomy Nakshatra of Svātī.

Prehistoric Polynesian navigators knew Arcturus as Hokule’a, the “Star of Joy.” Arcturus is the Zenith Star of the Hawaiian Islands. Using Hokule’a and other stars, the Polynesians launched their double-hulled canoes from Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands. Traveling east and north they eventually crossed the equator and reached the latitude where Arcturus would appear directly overhead in the summer night sky. Knowing they had arrived at the exact latitude of the island chain, they sailed due west on the trade winds until making landfall. If Hokule’a could be kept directly overhead, they landed on the southeastern shores of the Big Island of Hawaii. For a return trip to Tahiti the navigators could use Sirius, the zenith star of that island.

*

[24] (cont)

O stars, little jars of that indisputable

and absolute Healer, Apothecary,
wrought, faceted, jewelled

boxes, very precious, to hold further
unguent, myrrh, incense:

jasper, beryl, sapphire
that, as we draw them nearer

by prayer, spell,
litany, incantation,

will reveal their individual fragrance,
personal magnetic influence,

become, as they once were,
personified messengers,

healers, helpers
of the One, Amen, All-father.

*

— An unguent is a soothing topical preparation spread on wounds, burns, rashes, abrasions or other topical injuries. It is similar to an ointment, though typically an unguent is less viscous and more oily.

(myrrh being harvested)

— Myrrh is a red-brown resinous material, the dried sap of the tree Commiphora myrrha, native to Somalia and the eastern parts of Ethiopia. Its name is derived from the Hebrew murr or maror, meaning “bitter”. Myrrh is currently used in some liniments, healing salves that may be applied to abrasions and other minor skin ailments.

Myrrh is a constituent of perfumes and incense, was highly prized in ancient times, and was often worth more than its weight in gold. In ancient Rome myrrh was priced at 5 times as much as frankincense, though the latter was far more popular. Myrrh was burned in ancient Roman funerals to mask the smell emanating from charring corpses. It was said that the Roman Emperor Nero burned a year’s worth of myrrh at the funeral of his wife, Poppaea.

Unlike most other resins myrrh expands and “blooms” when burned instead of melting or liquifying. Myrrh was one of the gifts of the Magi to the baby Jesus in the story told in the Christian Bible, Gospel of Matthew. Myrrh was used as an embalming ointment and was used, up until about the 15th century, as a penitential incense in funerals and cremations. It is alluded to in the Christmas carol We Three Kings.

The scent can also be used in mixtures of incense, to provide an earthy element to the overall smell.

*

ON INCENSE

A compound of aromatic gums and balsams that will burn slowly, giving off a fragrant aroma. The Hebrew words qeto’reth and qetoh·rah’ are from the root qa·tar’, meaning “make sacrificial smoke.” The equivalent in the Christian Greek Scriptures is thy·mi’a·ma.

The sacred incense prescribed for use in the wilderness tabernacle was made of costly materials that the congregation contributed. (Ex 25:1, 2, 6; 35:4, 5, 8, 27-29) In giving the divine formula for this fourfold mixture, God said to Moses: “Take to yourself perfumes: stacte drops and onycha and perfumed galbanum and pure frankincense. There should be the same portion of each. And you must make it into an incense, a spice mixture, the work of an ointment maker, salted, pure, something holy. And you must pound some of it into fine powder and put some of it before the Testimony in the tent of meeting, where I shall present myself to you. It should be most holy to you people.” Then, to impress upon them the exclusiveness and holiness of the incense, God added: “Whoever makes any like it to enjoy its smell must be cut off from his people.”-Ex 30:34-38; 37:29.

The Catholic Church employs incense in worship, contained within a thurible. At the end of the Holy compartment of the tabernacle, next to the curtain dividing it off from the Most Holy, was located “the altar of incense.” (Ex 30:1; 37:25; 40:5, 26, 27) There was also a similar incense altar in Solomon’s temple. (1Ch 28:18; 2Ch 2:4) Upon these altars, every morning and evening the sacred incense was burned. (Ex 30:7, 8; 2Ch 13:11) Once a year on the Day of Atonement coals from the altar were taken in a censer, or fire holder, together with two handfuls of incense, into the Most Holy, where the incense was made to smoke before the mercy seat of the ark of the testimony.-Le 16:12, 13.

In the Book of Revelation, which is woven with rich imagery, incense symbolises the prayers of the saints in heaven – the “golden bowl full of incense” are “the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 3:8 cf. Revelation 8:3) which infuse upwards towards the altar of God.

Incense is employed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and churches of the Anglican Communion, and by most other Christian groups. At any Mass, a priest may choose to use incense. Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, Traditional Catholic Churches, and the Eastern Orthodox use incense more often in liturgical practice. This incense is usually blessed before it is burned.

A thurible is used to contain incense as it is burned. The censer is swung at the object to be incensed; the swing is generally either single or double, depending on the reverence for the object being incensed; for particularly important objects (such as the Blessed Sacrament during its elevation) multiple swings may be performed.

Aside from being burnt, grains of blessed incense are placed in the Easter candle and in the sepulchre of consecrated altars. Many formulations of incense are currently used, often with frankincense, myrrh, styrax, copal or other aromatics.
The smoke of burning incense are viewed by many of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faith as a sign of a good Christian’s prayer.

A common Chinese religious ritual in Chinese ancestor worship, Taoism and Buddhism. Incense use in religious ritual was first widely developed in China, and eventually transmitted to Korea and Japan. Incense holds an invaluable role in East Asian Buddhist ceremonies and rites as well as in those of Chinese Taoist and Japanese Shinto shrines. It is reputed to be a method of purifying the surroundings, bringing forth the Buddhist Alamkaraka (Realm of Adornment).

Hinduism was the first religion in which incense was used and sacrificed to show loyalty to God. As part of the daily ritual worship within the Hindu tradition of India, incense is offered to God in His deity forms, such as Krishna and Lord Rama. This practice is still commonplace throughout modern-day India, it is said in Bhagavad-Gita that “Krishna accepts the offering made to Him with love,” it is on this principle that articles are offered each day by temple priests, or people with an altar in their homes.

Incense is also often used in Pagan rituals to represent the element of air. Incense of a wide range of essential oil fragrances are also used in spell and ritual for different purposes.

*

Jasper is an opaque, impure variety of quartz that is usually red, yellow or brown in color. The name means “spotted stone”, and is derived from Anglo-French jaspre, from Old French jaspe, from Latin iaspidem, the accusative of iaspis, from Greek iaspis, via a Semitic language (cf. Hebrew yashepheh, Akkadian yashupu), ultimately from Persian yashp.

Jasper can appear as an opaque rock of various shades of red due to mineral impurities. More usually, jasper exhibits one or more type of pattern or variation from formation processes. Most often, variations rise from flow patterns inherent in the precursor sediment or volcanic ash saturated with silica to form jasper, yielding bands, apparent channels, or eddying swirls in the rock.

The hue or saturation of color may vary across the material. Jasper may be permeated by dendritic minerals providing the appearance of vegetative growths. The Jasper may have been fractured and/or distorted after formation, later rebonding into discontinuous patterns or filling with another material. Heat or environmental factors may have created surface rinds (such as varnish) or interior stresses leading to fracturing.

Picture jaspers simultaneously exhibit several of these variations (such as banding, flow patterns, dendrites or color variations) resulting in what appear to be scenes or images in a cut section (as in Biggs, Deschutes, Owyhee, Poppy and other named types). Spherical flow patterns produce a distinctive orbicular appearance (porcelain jaspers such as Blue Mountain, Bruneau and Willow Creek). Complex mixes of impurities produce wild color variations (as in McDermit jasper). Healed fractures produce brecciated jasper (such as Canyon Creek).

*

The mineral beryl is a beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate; the hexagonal crystals of beryl may be very small or range to several meters in size. It has a vitreous lustre and can be transparent or translucent. Its cleavage is poor basal and its habit is dihexagonal bipyramidal. Pure beryl is colorless, but it is frequently tinted by impurities; possible colors are green, blue, yellow, red, and white. The name comes from the Greek beryllos for the precious blue-green color of sea water.

Varieties of beryl have been considered gemstones since prehistoric times. Green beryl is called emerald, red beryl is bixbite or red emerald or scarlet emerald, blue beryl is aquamarine, pink beryl is morganite, white beryl is goshenite, and a clear bright yellow beryl is called golden beryl. Other shades such as yellow-green for heliodor and honey yellow are common.

Beryl is found most commonly in granitic pegmatites, but also occurs in mica schists in the Ural Mountains and is often associated with tin and tungsten orebodies. Beryl is found in certain European countries such as Austria, Germany, and Ireland. It also occurs in Madagascar (especially morganite).

The most famous source of emeralds in the world is at Muso and Chivor, Boyacá, Colombia, where they make a unique appearance in limestone. Emeralds are also found in the Transvaal, South Africa, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and near Mursinka in Urals. In the United States emeralds are found in North Carolina. New England’s pegmatites have produced some of the largest beryls found, including one massive crystal with dimensions 5.5 m by 1.2 m (18 ft by 4 ft) with a mass of around 18 metric tons. Other beryl locations include South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and California.

The druids used beryl for scrying, while the Scottish called them “stones of power”. The earliest crystal balls were made from beryl, later being replaced by rock crystal.

*

Sapphire (from Hebrew: ספּיר Sapir) is the single-crystal form of aluminium oxide, a mineral known as corundum. Pure sapphire ingots can be sliced into wafers and polished to form transparent crystal slices. Such slices are used as watch faces in high quality watches, as the material’s exceptional hardness makes the face almost impossible to scratch.

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3 thoughts on “HD BLOG 22: "personified messengers"

  1. these are lovely, CS…

    i don’t have time for a long comment…more later. i wanted to email you to see if you’re interested in a list-serve discussion on ‘race’,poetics and the avant-garde.just send me a note and i’ll email your info to the person whose hosting it. gashgh5@aol.com
    hope all’s well,

    arif

  2. You continue to amaze me, CS. My first book, which is due out in December or so is called “Astrometry Organon.” Each poem is titled after the alpha star of one of the constellations. There is a poem for every named alpha.

    The poem “Peacock Star,” written for Brenda Iijima (who is a jewel herself) concerns the folkloric properties of precious stones!

    Great minds (and then my mind) work alike, I guess…

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