Friday, April 17, 2015

The Red Eye of the Bull

"Reddish Aldebaran – the fiery eye of the Bull in the constellation Taurus – is an aging star and a huge star! The computed diameter is between 35 and 40 solar diameters. If Aldebaran were placed where the sun is now, its surface would extend almost to the orbit of Mercury.[...]" -The constellation Taurus,

The evening sky, around sunset and into the late night, has been wonderfully clear and filled with the company of lights. Prominent among the lights o-ka-lani of the heavens is a big, bright red one. Curious to know more I woke from a Scotch Broom pollen daze, filled my cup with hot water, had a little chat with Pete and went searching. Ah, the internet the library ever-open. The Earthsky article on Aldebaran continues, "History and mythology of Aldebaran. Aldebaran is often depicted as the fiery eye of Taurus the Bull. Because it is bright and prominent, Aldebaran was honored as one of the Four Royal Stars in ancient Persia, the other three Royal Stars being Regulus, Antares and Fomalhaut.
The name Aldebaran is from the Arabic for “The Follower,” presumably as a hunter following prey, which here likely was the star cluster we call the Pleiades. The latter was often viewed as a flock of birds, perhaps doves. According to Richard Hinckley Allen in his classic book Star Names, the name Aldebaran once was applied to the entire Hyades star cluster, a large loose collection of faint stars[...]
Astronomer Jack Eddy has suggested a connection with the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, an ancient circle of stones atop a mountain in Wyoming. Eddy wrote that the ancient Americans may have used this site as a sort of observatory to view the rising of Aldebaran just before the sun in June to predict the June solstice." The Hawaiian name for Aldebaran is Kapuahi.
"Do we know any Taurus," Pete asked. 

"Sure, there's Joan, and, Leslie." I said.

"Oh yeah, of course. Is Taurus now?" 

"Not the sun position, but other planets are there now." I answered.

To see Aldebaran in the sky click here.

Last night we met with our friends of the South Whidbey Tilth. I have been navigating the skies, and pulling down the wisdom of timing folding in predictive information with the Earthly grit of hard work. Over time and with practice, I have become familiar with how astronomy (observations made and repeated again and again) fits with the myth and interpretation of the lights (planets, stars, moon and sun) I see from my place on Earth.

My ancestors were skilled at these observation and interpretive practices. Fortunately for us, this wisdom was stored in the words of chants ('oli) and most particularly in the Kumulipo (the Hawaiian Creation Chant). 'Oli preserved the word, the spiritual essence of both 'the thing' and its myriad of meaning. The kupuna, our elders, who lived prior to the arrival of sailing ships from the West with men and cultures with vastly different world-view were expert at noticing, and because they lived with this expertise their DNA, their genetic memory lives in us. 

We have the genetics to notice.

Back to the meeting with our friends. Pete and I met with the Board who makes business decisions for the the South Whidbey Tilth. We were proposing, asking, for permission to have a place on the Tilth land to teach and share Hawaiian Practices. HO'OMOKU ... A Place for Hawaiian Practices is an idea becoming firm. Twenty years ago I met and began my apprenticeship as Makua o'o with Kumu Aunty Betty Kawohiokalani Jenkins, that was 1995. The tools for practice as Makua o'o begin with "Keep a keen sense of observation" in Hawaiian, kilo, is the practice. 

So for twenty years I have been learning, and practicing observation. Here or there, on the islands of Hawaii, not on the islands of Hawaii. Robust and fiery, dampened and weak, season in, season out I jump into the water and swim. When I was a young writer for a corporate retailer out of Seattle in the early 1980's one of the bosses within the department was considering whether to allow me to do management training sessions. She put me through a sort of 'test' to hear and watch my style and comfort with the prescribed methodology. I wasn't very good, or comfortable with it. I tended to divert and make things up. 

She asked me, "How do you problem-solve?" It was a question I'd never been asked before. 

Naively I said, "I just tend to jump in and figure it out while I'm at it." She was not impressed. I did not get to do the training. I kept writing, and writing, and observed the flow inside the workings of an institution that would be struck with lightning ... a tsunami. The '80's was the decade that saw the shift from retail rung up with a cash register (by punching numbers on a price ticket) to the design and manufacturing of the UPC symbol (that set of black and white bars) and the layer scanner.

While that corporation, and that manager who tested me keep training in the usual way, I wrote myself into a place where my writing and DNA for observational skills helped to design the first UPC labels for all those lipstick tubes, and other drug store consumables. I made up lessons plans to move a generation of old school retailers into their future. In board rooms with men in suits I told them stories about making laulau (Hawaiian bundles of meat and fish wrapped in leaves and steamed). Through that allegory where they had no idea what Hawaiian food had to do with investing big dollars into something called a computerized cash register those people road the wake of change. No one else would jump in and swim with the unfamiliar tide. The rest as they say ... is history.

Funny how things unfold. 

That corporate experience would feed my family for thirteen years, provide a(nother) jumping off point when I divorced and returned to Hawaii. I would meet my kumu Aunty Betty within a few months, and the next level of kilo practice began. My ancestors and the land had lessons far greater to test me with. I have been at it ever since, season in, season out.
Aunty Betty Kawohiokalani Ellis Jenkins

The meeting with our friends from the South Whidbey Tilth went smoothly and graciously. I was prepared, used all those years as a corporate writer to craft a simple and clear proposal. The meeting was held inside a building. That presents challenges for me. I came with my oxygen tank and mask, and made the point. One of the main reason for creating HO'OMOKU using the small open-air site is it is fragrance-free and chemical free. There are few places I can be, let alone teach a small group. As I made our proposal I spoke with and without the mask. People were receptive, had questions, and suggestions. Within thirty minutes HO'OMOKU was accepted and welcomed. The first sessions for this new venture, built upon the work of The Safety Pin Cafe's storytelling events, begins July 10, 2015 ... this summer. 

How does this all relate to the Red Eye of the Bull? That eye is the bright red star in the constellation Taurus. It is a spring star, and one that can be used to predict the June Solstice. Mid-point season. Timing from another angle, yesterday when we made our presentation was LONO Po (Lono Moon) according to Kaulana Mahina (the Hawaiian Moon Calendar). "No fishing. Plant ipu and melon." I was not fishing last night, but I was 'making island.' That's what ho'omoku means in Hawaiian. With that one investment with the South Whidbey Tilth a coral reef began to grow. The wisdom of my Hawaiian kupuna tells me, "He puko 'a kani 'aina. A coral reef that grows into an island. A person beginning in a small way gains steadily until she becomes firmly established." Pete and I were planting the coral polyp (ipu) for future fish to feed upon.

That Taurus connection with Aldebaran's red eye? My North Node is in Taurus. I am searching for that place of comfort with the sacred and meaningful in the everyday. That's what this old woman, this makua o'o longs for. 

Do you know Taurus? Interested in learning more about HO'OMOKU ... A Place for Hawaiian Practices? Click here, please.

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