The First Nations cultures of Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, stretch back over 65,000 years, making theirs the oldest continuing culture in the world.
Aboriginal astronomy existed long before the Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks. Long before Galileo, the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. Our indigenous folk observed the sun, moon and stars and used them in calendars, in navigation and to predict weather. Their astronomy is the foundation for stories passed down the generations for tens of thousands of years via song, dance, and oral tradition. Indigenous Astronomy now forms part of the Australian national curriculum.
The fat lazy moon
In Western astrology, the bright solar disc is viewed as a powerful masculine symbol, while the ever-changing moon is associated with the feminine and specifically the female cycle. By contrast, in most indigenous astronomy, the sun is a woman and the moon a man. Some communities tell stories of the Sun Woman pursuing the Moon Man across the sky each day only meeting up at the time of an eclipse.
My favourite story about the moon comes from the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. The Yolngu call the moon Ngalindi and each night he journeys across the dark sky. Ngalindi was a fat lazy man (full moon) and to punish him for his laziness, his wives began to chop bits off him with their axes (waning moon)! Ngalindi managed to escape from his angry wives by climbing a tall tree to catch the sun. But he was fatally wounded, died, and disappeared from view (dark moon). After three days, Ngalindi slowly came back to life (new moon) and began to grow round and fat again (waxing Moon). Two weeks later when he’d become very fat indeed (full moon) his wives attacked him again with their axes. This cycle of birth and death continues to repeat every month.
The Yolngu also have a story about how the moon is linked to tidal movement. When the tides are high, water pours into the moon, filling it as it rises to become the full moon. During the waning moon cycle, the water runs out of the moon and the tides fall, leaving the moon empty for three days. Then the tide rises once more, filling up the moon again.
The shining boomerang
An indigenous story from Cape York tells how the moon was formed. Many years ago, people realised they needed light during the night so they could walk around, have corroborees and hunt. During the daytime, they had the sun to guide them, but the nights were too dark.
The people held a meeting and one man came up with the idea of collecting a huge pile of wood and setting fire to it at sunset to light up the bush. They decided this was too impractical. Then another member of the community had the idea of making a special shining boomerang that could be thrown high into the sky. At night this boomerang would light up the skies so the people and animals on earth could see clearly.
The community worked together to carve a giant wooden boomerang. Various strong men tried throwing the boomerang up into the sky, but they could never throw it far or high enough. A very thin, old, weak man stepped forward and asked if he could try. Everyone laughed when they saw his skinny arms, but a kind, wise elder said the old man should be at least allowed to have a go. He threw the boomerang with great force and up and up in the sky it went – higher and higher until it turned into the moon, shining down on the people and lighting up the night time. This shining boomerang can still be seen in the skies today.
(I’d like to thank Ray Norris, who has spent decades promoting indigenous astronomy and working with elders for much of the information in this piece.)
New moon in Virgo – take care of your body
On 7th September, a new moon in earth sign Virgo marks the beginning of spring. Virgo, the healthiest of all zodiac signs, invites us to take care of ourselves by eating good food; sleeping soundly, stretching and pampering our bodies and keeping stress levels under control. Balance and moderation are the key words. Sounds simple doesn’t it!
With both sun and moon in a flowing aspect with Uranus, planet of breakthrough and change, at this new moon, September has a forward-looking energy, helping us make plans for the future.
Here are some beauty tips to enjoy between now and the full moon on 21st September, as the lunar energy grows stronger under the waxing moon.
Massage with essential oils
Enjoy nourishing treatments/facials
Cut hair for lusher, thicker growth
Cut nails for stronger, faster growth
Colour hair / add highlights
Plant new positive habits
Venus & Mars in mutual reception
Romance planet Venus and sex planet Mars both change zodiac sign in mid-September, creating a shift in the way we relate to each other. Venus in Scorpio (11th September – 7th October) invites us to connect on a deeply emotional and intimate level. Meanwhile Mars in Libra (15th September – 31st October) brings balance and a healthy sense of give and take in relationship.
Venus and Mars will be in ‘mutual reception’ meaning Venus is in the sign Mars rules and vice versa. Mutual reception means these two planets can easily blend their energies, creating sexual passion, romance and spark!
Spring equinox – refresh and renew
On 23rd September we celebrate the spring equinox, when day and night are of equal length, and the sun moves into the sign of Libra. Libra, whose symbol is the scales, is all about balance – twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness – a moment of perfect equilibrium all over the world.
The spring equinox is a time when we seek more balance in our personal lives, release stagnant energy, and make a fresh start. No wonder so many of us change our diet, improve our fitness, and spring clean the house and garden at this time of year.
In Chinese medicine, spring is associated with the liver and the emotion of anger. When liver energy is in balance, we are able to make clear decisions, express emotional needs, and follow through with creative projects. Liver energy imbalance can show up as angry outbursts, feelings of agitation and frustration and lack of work-life balance.
Let’s face it, there’s been plenty of anger and frustration in recent months! In part due to the multiple lockdowns, economic hardship, and lack of freedom. Make a pact this spring to look after your liver. Leave all that frustration behind. By moving your body, getting outside and eating fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.
Pisces full moon – be kind to yourself
On the 21st September, two days before the spring equinox, we have a full moon in water sign Pisces bringing deep emotion and buried anger to the surface. If you feel as though you’re falling apart and can’t take much more, have a good cry – it’s been a very challenging year.
With Mars and Neptune both linked in to the full moon, you may also feel weak and lacking in energy. If so, find a quiet, peaceful place, tune into your feelings and be gentle and kind to yourself. Take a break and spend a day or two dreaming, meditating, resting and escaping from life’s challenges. The Pisces full moon bring psychic insight if you allow time for the messages to come through.
As the lunar energy starts to wane a few days after the full moon, the period between 25th September and the next new moon on 6th October is great for the following self-care activities:
Weight loss & detoxification
Body scrub & exfoliation
Deep cleansing treatments/facials
Removal of unwanted hair
Mercury retrograde – reorganise & reassess
Every four months, communication planet Mercury turns retrograde, reminding us that, despite our best efforts, we are not always in control. Mercury will be travelling backwards through air sign Libra from 27th September until the 19th October pushing us to re-think, re-do, re-define, re-organise, re-assess, re-orient, and re-plan.
When Mercury is retrograde, day to day communications and negotiations can be problematic. We think and process information more slowly, meaning patience and compromise are vital to avoid misunderstandings and arguments.
The advice is to back up your data; check your car battery; carry a spare inner tube; look after your phone; double-check appointments; allow more time for travel and avoid cutting corners. If life descends into chaos, take this as a sign you need to slow down and take a break.
With Libra ruling both business and personal relationships, Mercury retrograde is a good time to get in touch with friends, clients and loved ones you’ve not seen or heard from for ages.
Farewell Charlie Watts – rock’s greatest drummer
Sad news with the passing of Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones drummer from 1963 until his death this week, aged 80. Originally trained as a graphic artist, Watts started playing drums in London’s rhythm and blues clubs in the early sixties. Here he met Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. In January 1963, Watts joined their new group, the Rolling Stones, and went on to design their record sleeves and spectacular tour stages.
Watts was also a professional jazz drummer. He made many recordings and toured and performed with a number of different musicians, including his own band, the Charlie Watts Quintet. In 2006, Watts was elected into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame and in 2016, ranked 12th on Rolling Stones’ “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time”. Music critic Robert Christgau labelled him “rock’s greatest drummer”.
Charlie Watts was born in London on 2nd June 1941 with a Gemini Sun and Virgo Moon, both mutable signs, ruled by the planet Mercury.
Virgo moon – precision and excellence
Virgo is a modest, hard-working earth sign, preferring precision and excellence to flashiness and show. Furthermore, Virgo is noted for practical and manual skills (graphic design and intricate stage sets) and has legendary focus to detail (complex rock and jazz rhythms). Virgo is also a loyal and humble sign – Watts married Shirley, a woman he’d met before he joined the Stones, and they stayed together for life.
Keith Richards, Rolling Stones guitarist, said Charlie was the glue that had held the band together over 58 years. Furthermore, that he was the best drummer he’d ever played with. Others describe Watts as calm and reflective and a man who commanded respect. As well as the moon in Virgo, Watts also has North Node (karmic path) and Neptune (creativity) in Virgo. Accordingly, his life path was to serve others; something he’s done throughout his life with his music and art.
Three planets in Gemini – versatility and brilliance
With the Sun, Venus and Jupiter all in air sign Gemini, we see Watts’ versatility and brilliance. He might have been a loyal husband and band member, but that didn’t stop him multi-tasking and doing side gigs, as all Geminis love to do. Jazz, rock, blues, graphic design, comic strips, stage sets – he moved effortlessly from one project to another, with his Virgo precision ensuring he mastered them all. Each zodiac sign rules a body part, and for Gemini it’s the shoulders, arms and hands – essential for a good drummer.
Mars in Pisces – gentle, creative and humble
Watts’ chart is almost completely lacking in fire energy and he has Mars in Pisces. Mars shows how we assert ourselves to get what we want. Pisces is a humble, gentle and visionary sign, often with artistic leanings. Charlie wasn’t interested in being the centre of attention. Nevertheless, he had a taste for fashion and art, enjoying fine clothes and tailor-made suits. He was always well-dressed. Whilst on tour, in true Virgo fashion, he made sure his clothes were immaculately folded and pressed – much to the amusement of his scruffier band mates.
With Mars in Pisces, Watts would have enjoyed his professional success for the chance it offered him to create, escape, and follow his dreams, rather than for the women, riches and fame. How many artists and musicians would have killed to have the opportunities he had? As for his lack of fire, Mick Jagger (Leo) and Keith Richards (Sagittarius) more than made up for that. You can’t have too many prima donnas in a band! and Watts proved to be the solid, reliable backdrop to his flamboyant band mates.
Farewell Charlie and RIP. You have brought pleasure to millions.
Lead photo: spectacular Uluru by night with milky way stars, field, and galaxies, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Northern Territory 2019, by Benny Marty, via Shutterstock.
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