The Moon Rises with a Magic Tale

The Moon rises in the mood of one of the English-speaking world’s most well-known fairy tales this week: Jack and the Beanstalk.

The Moon reaches Full Phase on Monday morning, November 27, 2023, and then spends the next two days rising as far north as it can get, moving between the horns of Taurus the Bull and across the Milky Way, just above the constellation Orion.

We’ll imagine the Moon is Jack, full of courage for the way ahead, despite his humble circumstances. His mother has sent him on a desperate errand for food, which requires selling the milking cow at market. Jack encounters a tradesman that offers him a handful of magic beans for the cow, which he naively accepts. We’ll imagine the milking cow is the constellation Taurus, and the handful of beans is the star cluster of the Pleiades.

In the story Jack goes to bed hungry, because his mother is furious about this seeming folly, which she expresses by throwing his “magic” beans out the window. In the morning, there’s the beanstalk, growing up and out of sight, arcing through the sky like the Milky Way. Jack climbs it, and there encounters the giant ogre, or, for the starry storyteller, the constellation Orion, his belt of three stars serving as the three treasures Jack must reclaim: the hen that lays the golden eggs; the three bags of gold; and the singing harp.

Tales of Jack and his adventures date back to at least the 15th century, and in this season, when the northern part of the Earth leans toward the dark, it can be fortifying to consider that no matter how simple our beginnings, or how naive we’ve been in trusting others, there still will be miracles and magic along the way, especially when we have the courage to pursue our destiny.

With a fe, fie, fo, fum,

Mary!

This episode of The Storyteller’s Night Sky aired on Interlochen Public Radio Monday, November 27, 2023, and can be heard on podcasts everywhere, at anytime. The image above is from my Star Tales of Mother Goose book, and shows the region of sky where the Moon is rising this week, telling the tale Jack.