As the World Turns

There are several things worth drawing attention to this week, including Tuesday’s Full Moon, August 1st, which sets us up for a Blue Moon at the end of the month (on August 31st); and Cross Quarter Day is Tuesday, which is the halfway point in summer and marks the traditional celebration of “first ripened fruits”; and Venus, which has been moving retrograde and diving sunward for just over a week.

Each one of these phenomena ~ Full Moon, Cross Quarter, planetary retrograde ~ is something that recurs again and again, or is it? Does the Moon always offer the same mood when it comes Full? Are the first fruits that we harvest each year the same fruits? And when Venus makes its retrograde, changing from evening star to morning star, can we sense what Venus really is, and whether it’s the same no matter where it is?

What I mean is, does it matter that the world has turned, that experience has been had, that we have lived?

Over the many years that I’ve spent teaching about the night sky, I’ve learned that it’s not enough to memorize constellations and star names and tricks for determining whether you’re looking at a planet or a star. What matters most is what we bring to the encounter. If a Blue Moon is rare, what experience am I having that confirms it? Or can I sense in the season’s midpoint that, rather than reaching sunward, the ripened fruits have turned and are bending earthward? And are love and beauty rightly associated with Venus? Does love alter when I can’t see the planet anymore, or when it’s retrograde, or when it graces the dawn instead of the dusk?

For this, I like Jonathan Greene, who writes:

The bullfrogs

Guard me

From the noise

Of modern life

The stars

Fool me into

Thinking they always

Look the same.

In the living with you,


Hear this episode on Interlochen Pubic Radio Monday morning, July 31st, and on podcasts everywhere, whenever it’s most convenient.

Cover image: As Venus dives sunward in its retrograde motion, it exhibits a remarkable crescent as shown above, much like our Moon. Venus will meet the Sun August 13, and emerge in the morning sky next month.