The traditional observance of All Saint’s and All Soul’s Day happens Wednesday and Thursday this week, November 1st and 2nd, which means to mark the halfway point in the fading season, when all at once we’re closer to the end than we are to the beginning. Though they are dedicated to the most sacred, these days of honoring the dead are often overshadowed by the colorful celebration of their eve, Halloween, but the greater mystery actually belongs to what’s between them.
When, exactly, does a moment of turn occur, away from the beginning toward the end? Can we sense it? Culturally, these moments were always celebrated, especially before there was a uniform calendar and communities had a more intimate and localized experience of the natural world.
This week, in addition to this seasonal turn, known technically as “cross quarter,” the planet Jupiter will make its annual opposition to the Sun, rising in the East as soon as the Sun sets in the West, Thursday and Friday. So just as the season turns towards its end on Thursday, and the Sun sets for the day, Jupiter rises up in opposition, heralding something else, a future that is about to dawn. They stand opposite one another, Sun and Jupiter, and then the season turns. It’s really worth contemplating, maybe with these words by Edna St. Vincent Millay, from her breakout poem Renascence, written when she was only 19:
The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,—
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
~Mary Stewart Adams
Hear this episode of The Storyteller’s Night Sky on Interlochen Public Radio Monday, October 30th, and on podcasts everywhere, anytime. Cover image from Michigan State University’s Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar.