The Stars that Witness Our Becoming

There’s a beautiful asterism that rises up in the East after sunset every year in December, described by astronomers as the Winter Hexagon. A hexagon is a six-sided geometric form, and in the starry regions it can be imagined by linking the brightest stars together: Sirius, Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, and Procyon. Each of these stars has a terrific cultural tale on their own, and when they’re combined, a beautiful narrative presents itself, one that belongs to the sacred mystery of this season, to the birth of inner light on the year’s darkest night.

Winter Hexagon of stars. Sky&Telescope

The brightest star in the hexagon is Sirius, easily discernible because of its brightness, and also because the

Follow the belt of Orion left to the bright and shining one, Sirius.

night sky’s most famous asterism, the belt of Orion, points directly to it. Though the three stars of Orion’s belt are not part of the Winter Hexagon, they lend themselves to the story of the Three Kings, following the star in the East, part of a sign to them that an unprecedented birth is about to happen.

Then there’s Procyon, which is part of the Winter Hexagon. Its name means “before the shining one,” a reference to Sirius. So Procyon is like a herald, also announcing the rising up of auspicious times.

Of course, the Winter Hexagon rises up every year in this season, as it has for thousands of years. Ours is to discern what else is occurring in the starry script, and in our lives on Earth, that reveals what we would “bring to birth” on the darkest night of the year, when these glittering witnesses of our becoming mount up into the night.

like the Three Kings, come to the eternal birth of our love… to borrow from Juan Ramon Jimenez.

Greeting you in the starlight,


The Winter Hexagon of stars completely surrounds the constellation Orion, beautifully photographed by John Hill for this week’s cover image.

When, With You Asleep

by Juan Ramon Jimenez
Translated by Perry Higman

When, with you asleep, I plunge into
. . your soul,
and I listen, with my ear
on your naked breast;
to your tranquil heart, it seems to me
that, in its deep throbbing, I surprise
the secret of the center
of the world.

. . It seems to me
that legions of angels
on celestial steeds
as when, in the height
of the night we listen, without a breath
and our ears to the earth,
to distant hoofbeats that never arrive – ,
that legions of angels
are coming through you, from afar
like the Three Kings
to the eternal birth
of our love – ,
they are coming through you, from afar,
to bring me, in your dreams,
the secret of the center
of the heavens.