Vernal Occulations
 

CHAPTER 8—VERNAL OCCULTATIONS

4/26/05—The Twice Veiled Goddess

I was hoping for a moon-filled morning and I was not completely disappointed. I left the house at 3:30 because I saw her up and working her way through Wolf Man clouds. At the Grove I lay against a rampike next to Arbolita. Here she became the twice-veiled goddess behind the leaves and the slowly moving clouds. This is the optimum "acoustical" environment because being doubly veiled means that she is doubly hidden and so I cannot anticipate where and how she will light up. Sometimes she waxes here and wanes there or both here and there or neither and nowhere. She is a perpetual surprise. It is as if the Phantom of the Opera were behind a curtain playing a synesthetic organ that produced a light show of no predictable pattern. And so the hands automatically go up as if I were in a Pentecostal Revivalist Church. All Hail the Moon!

The Gibbous Alters a Landscape—4/27/05

It was a wild lunar ride I took this morning and I'm glad I didn't burn up on re-entry. It's been several hours since then so I hope I can recapture the excitement in prose.
I left the house at 4:15 or about five minutes after I got up after one of my rare seven and a half hours of sleep. Stepping out I saw nothing but clouds so I figured there would be no moon watching, but just a few steps later I thought I saw a round flash in the sky—and then it was gone. I knew that was the wrong spot for her to be since she's now hanging out in the House of the South Southwest in the early morning. "What's going on? Am I now experiencing full-scale lunar photisms?" I kept on walking and then five minutes from the path, I saw a break in the clouds and there she was, the break then expanding to reveal her in the fullness of space.
I started picking them up and putting them down. No time to waste, no time to tarry, just time for haste. I got to the Grove and found that a Lion Posture was the best perspective on her. And then the oozing began. One of my first thoughts was that "this almost makes visible, in symbolic and pictographic terms at least, the laws of physics." The way the light works, its symmetries and patterns, the quantum paradoxes of here and there all seem to shine forth to the wired imagination as science laid bare. What could be better than this in Nature?!"
And then as I watched and felt how the light waxed and waned so slowly, gracefully, and musically, I wondered if some kind of virtual reality show could attempt to duplicate these effects. Imagine a programmed dimmer in a big room that worked this exquisitely. These movements are musical but they have no real counterparts in earthly music, only Platonic eidolons (inferior images) of them. And then the way she drops into a pocket of leaves—surely there must be a subtle ether or "dark energy" out there, for what else explains this totally frictionless, algorhythmic movement? But perhaps the best comes when she is partially hidden behind trees and is oozing away, causing the sky to go void black while a little white cloud made spectral by the contrast rises beside her. At first you don't know what you're seeing. "Is this a tree or sky spirit?" Again, nothing moves like this, nothing looks like this. This is nature's nonpareil!
Then I moved to a different spot and lay down in the duff with my head on a tree, and as I looked at her, the scene darkened, this time not becoming a Space Forest exactly, but more like an overarching Green Moon Cave—the light was actually a subtle shade of green. When that decayed it left behind a beautiful after-effect—multiple ineffable scrim portals through which I might have walked if I had wanted to take a chance of tumbling in the brambles in the dark.
Then as I looked up I was astounded to see that the landscape before me, which is a flat expanse of trees leading to houses two hundred yards away, had totally changed. Although I was completely de-tranced, with eyes fully open and moving around, it seemed I was looking at a landscape that rose and fell like a ravine and that the houses, if there were any (I couldn't see them), were at the top of the opposite ridge. It looked like something one might see out West and but not in northern Virginia. This "illusion" was even stronger than the Yosemite "Half Dome" one I had last November because in the latter case I could easily tell what was causing it, although it still looked remarkably like Half Dome. This time the wizardry was more concealed.
I sat there for several minutes amazed at what the Moon and a little Space Forest receptivity could do. The backlighting of the Moon combined with my experience with Space Forest darkening had somehow done something strange to the lower portions of the trees so the space in which they were located fell and rose like two ridges. It looked that way even when I stood up, although the illusion wasn't quite as strong. Holy Holly, what the Moon can do to a landscape when she wants to!

She Did It Again—4/28/05

I thought yesterday's lunar landscaping might have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience or at least once-in-a-generation, but I was mistaken. I left the house at 4:00 a.m. on a clear morning. We had a nice walk together to the Grove as she was off my right shoulder moving like a deer all the way. I decided to pass up the Bench and go right to what I thought had been the spot where I had finished up yesterday. She was just above the tree line, periodically dropping into some thin foliage. But, for the most part she was exposed in space.
Now just as the Greeks said the gods could not be viewed directly in their true forms because of their blinding brightness, so I also cannot look too long at the naked Moon. So I went to the Bench hoping to find some respite from her brilliance and some leaves with which to ooze her, but even there she was in a place in the sky where that was hard to do without excessive contortions or standing. "Well, what do you expect? You had such a good day yesterday and now you want to repeat it. Don't be greedy, just relax."
So I decided to go back out and sit beneath Arbolita's big bole. When I took my seat, I realized that this had actually been my spot yesterday. It was Arbolita, after all, who had helped me see the Great Space Ravine. It was getting closer to the time when I had seen it yesterday and the Moon was in about the same place. Just then she dropped a little lower into the trees and I could take her on more comfortably. As I stared at her, faint, very faint beams filtered through the trees and the scene slowly darkened. And up came the Great Space Ravine again! "I had not really expected your help today but here you are, SeÒorita Anti-chthon, an architectonic wondermaker, moving earth and building soil!"
Only the sun can create great mirages and bright light illusions, but the Moon has sole copyright on phenomena like the Great Space Ravine, which I can now describe more precisely, but I will skip the perceptual details, preferring not to "murder to dissect" the great vision that it is! Twenty minutes later light clouds rolled in and partially covered her and so fifteen minutes before dawn she looked like some Giant Jupiter enshrouded in a perpetual nimbus.

Ravine Remembered—4/30/05

It was raining this morning but I went for my walk and looked at the place where I saw the Space Ravine and realized how relatively easy it was for Luna for to transform it. The backlighting and shadowing "solidified" and curved the trees into a rising ridge and the light also created "rocks" and "logs" that added to the verisimilitude of the "illusion." But watching that moonlight filtering through those trees was pure magic. And seeing the green-lit Moon Cave on the first day was something else too. I believe the Moon was filtering through some of the green from the leaves because that color was indeed there hovering in the air. I didn't mention this before but just as beautiful was the way it ended on both days. The Moon slid down a little more behind the trees just as there was a little quantum leap in solar illumination, and like a dream, it instantly vanished. What a magical, mystical lunar ride it was!

Trifecta—5/2/05

Today I, or Luna more accurately, hit the trifecta. First she was a ridge runner, than a cliffhanger, and finally a Space Forest dweller. When I got to the Grove this clear morning at 4:15, I found it difficult to see the little more than quarter Moon because she was low in the sky and was obscured by layers of new foliage. I wandered around in some brambles, risking a fall because I don't like turning on my flash light unless really necessary but I couldn't find a suitable spot so I went back to the path right above the Grove and sat down on a log where I could see some of her.
Finally seeing her there after my futile search below brought forth Roth's Second Law of Dada Moon Gazing—The Part Moon is All Moon. Just as the Crescent is as great as the Full, so is a particle or slice oozing through the leaves as good as the whole. She did her thing and I did mine and within a few minutes the darkening took place and there it was in front of me—a little ridge rising just across the path with the beacon Moon atop. I had thought the Space Ridge would arise only under the conditions previously described, but there it was intimately right before me, looking strange and beautiful. Now with new leaves growing, the moonlight has more to work with and so it can perform this magic in many places when it backlights trees. A few minutes later another ridge arose (the Moon doesn’t just move the oceans) that more closely resembled the original one—higher and farther away. She was rising very gradually in the sky and the next time instead of a sloping ridge she created a cliff—the semi-White Cliffs of Dover in fact, albeit with some treelike shadows streaking it up and down. This was something like the Half Dome of last November, although displaying less verisimilitude. It was still impressive and so my hands automatically went up as they had for the ridges.
Then a few minutes later I watched a slice starting to ooze towards nothingness, receding into a crimson deep space vortex and then moving towards me like an alien craft bent on abduction. Seeing this entrancing yet slightly unsettling scene unfold, I knew something big had to be up and there it was—the other side of the Space Forest I had been watching all winter long from down below with chock-a-block Banyan Trees forming a glowing visual barrier all around. Now I knew that although I couldn't see the other side of the Moon, the Moon would let me see the other side of the Space Forest.

The Flight of the Moon—5/03/05

This morning I verified the intuitively obvious to me Second Law of Dada Moon gazing that Less is often More. I went to bed expecting it to be cloudy this morning, but at 3:30 a.m. I peeked out the window and saw Jupiter low on the horizon so I knew it was clear.
With most of the leaves on the trees, the Moon is more easily concealed so I did not see her immediately when I began my walk to the Grove, but rounding a bend I saw a great orange (so it seemed) flashing epiphany but a few steps further and she was gone again.
There is nothing like a low-down Moon to excite my sublimating Eros, especially if it's a Crescent or today's slightly larger "The Cow Jumped over the Moon" Moon. With that orange vision glowing in mind, I started to run on the car-free street where chances of encountering holes or debris are small. I saw her again as I entered the woods, but I could tell it was going to be difficult to see her from the Grove or the path above. That was indeed the case and so I decided to walk on the footpath as I always do when I leave the Grove.
I came to a small clearing with a frog pond to my right where I could see part of her, and that's all I wanted of her, through the leaves. But I had to stand so I put my stick in front and held on as I began my gaze. Most people know that if they stare at a light in the dark or semi-dark or even in the daytime sometimes, the light will begin to move around or "migrate." Focusing on an object in trance loosens it from its context and "frees" it to move around. I already had a head start because this relatively open environment had less context to begin with, the trees circling fifty feet or so away from me.
The Moon began to move and as she took flight she carried the surrounding trees with her. Talk about bringing the woods to life! This is an illusion, but a totally suspension of disbelief illusion for one in the right frame of mind. Earlier I had chided myself for not getting in my car and riding to Mt. Reston for what I thought would be a good view, but now I was more than satisfied with my decision to stay the course. I remained there like a statue not needing to adjust my position as I had yesterday. She started to ooze, shrinking and shrinking until she got to a point where she didn't want to shrink or ooze anymore. Then she began to migrate again, going up and up, darkening, blackening the area around, becoming an eye-gleaming head and shaping the space around her. Hovering above me was a huge Flying Dragon or Gargoyle. Not frightening in the least but wonderful to behold. Other things happened and then she began to do that again, rising up like a great apparition, becoming eyes in a russet vortex and then that vortex grew and grew into a Great Vortex that looked like a perfectly spherical bird's nest woven of the finest straw. It looked like a giant nebula with a Black Hole in the center over which the Moon head hovered. Then the nebula began to recede in space like an image of an infinitely expanding universe with the Moon head continuing to partially occlude the Black Hole. Finally the expansion stopped, the Moon head fitted itself more closely to the Black Hole and covered it. Everything came to rest. Then it was over.
For me at least, this is about as close as I can come to experiencing a "divine" illumination. Not really a divine illumination, but when disbelief is suspended it sure feels that way. An hour later I stood on the top of the embankment and looked a hundred and fifty feet down to the lake. I saw a relatively large reflection of a flying bird, but when I looked around I couldn't see the "real" bird. There was no real bird? Is this where moon gazing is bringing me?

Star Light Star Bright Bring Me Up a Space Forest Tonight—5/7/05

It was one of those unusual mornings. I had given up on arboreal star shows because of the density of the foliage, but I was a little premature, as I have been before. Don't count the stars out so fast, Moon Man!
The morning started off nicely as I meditated effortlessly and most enjoyably from 3:00 to 4:00 a.m. My heart, in addition to its regular beat, had added a little spontaneous mind-generated looping melody over which both the breath and the Tick Tock played. In fact, it was about the most interesting meditation I've ever had, but probably too much fun to be considered “meditation”.
I left the house at 4:15 but after only a few steps decided to return because I assumed I couldn't see the stars anyway and I didn't want to wait almost two hours in the Grove for the sunrise. But getting a little bored in the house, I decided to leave again at 4:35 and I'm glad I did. Yesterday I had admired a little patch of path about seventy-five yards in from the street. There's a big fallen trunk there that I have lain on in the past and there's also a little opening to the sky, which is now just slightly covered with some fairly widely spaced new leaves from some rather small trees. I saw Vega in this firmament and immediately lay down in the path. I watched as she slid in and around branches and leaves. It was enjoyable and very relaxing but the conditions didn't seem right for anything unusual to happen.
Then I got into a little trance and up went my hands spontaneously, which seems to be a catalyst for my brain to "go deeper," and the scene darkened and continued to change. And then there it was right above me - perhaps the most beautiful and strange sight I've yet seen—a white cloudy bed of flowers, Dogwoods maybe, surrounded by more distant "beds" and the black black void of tree trunks, branches, and leaves. As I type these words, I am again blown away by the memory of this makyovelian vision. I mean I have seen the glowing dark luster of space trees and the gray/white light of space leaves, but a space garden of densely packed White Dogwoods or maybe even Cherry Blossoms—give me a break! By white, I mean the kind of white you would see in the woods if you looked up at 5:00 a.m., a little more than an hour before sunrise to a cluster of "real" white flowers. Obviously they're going to look ghostly and spectral as well. Of course, I couldn't make out individual "flowers" so it was just an over-all "bed" of white. But white space Dogwoods counterpointed by the blackest void—I've got to see this again, and with a little help from Vega I will. Actually I brought them up three or four times until the sun's light finally overpowered my efforts and then it was off to the Grove where I ruminated on what I had just seen.

Woodland Trio—5/8/05

This morning I was in my element, or more precisely one of Euclid's "Elements," as I lay under and in the middle of what seemed to be the perfect equilateral Summer Triangle with Vega at the apex, and so this morning I heard my first al fresco Woodwind Trio as Vega, Deneb, and Altair alternately popped in and out among the leaves.
I mentioned this before but I have to say it again. When I am entrancing on one star and then out of the my peripheral vision see another pop back into view, I experience the best kind of Music of the Spheres, and when I've got three working together in a slight breeze like this morning . . .!
The Space Garden was a little refractory this morning, though. Perhaps it was that car alarm going off periodically in the distance, or maybe a slightly different light or mood. In any case, the Garden came up but it wasn't as white as yesterday and the other spaces were hardly altered at all. But it was still nice and in a way I was gratified to know that this might be a "rare" phenomenon—Nietzsche loved that word. What made (makes) it possible is that the canopy of leaves is translucent and fairly open. There's more space than leaves so when the Garden comes up it's just a big expanse of white that's divided into clusters by the "real" branches and leaves. In other words, it's the same phenomenon as the Space Leaves Spangled Black Sky, but in a different environment, and when conditions are right, productive of even more spectacular results. It's Mother's Day Morning. I think I'll give Shirley some Space Flowers along with the "real" ones.
I moved to a different spot in the woods and saw Vega in an open space and lay down again. With my thin black gloves on (still low 40s in the morning), I form a small triangle with my fingers and stretch it out at arm's length and look. Eventually as the trance takes hold, the fringes of the black gloves acquire a glowing nimbus, and then when I release the hands, it's like I'm beaming Vega right down on me, or her light, more precisely. Then thirty minutes before sunrise when I did this, I saw a pixelated vortex around Vega, but these pixels stayed put, fortunately. (Galileo saw the moons of Jupiter with his scope. I just get pixelated with mine.)
Fifteen minutes later when I scribbled a couple of notes in my notebook, I looked up from the path and the grasses just seemed to be stronger in my vision. "Yes," I said, "using my little scope just might help one better see the natural radiance of things." At the first lake stop, I hung over the dock and dropped into the baby blue ocean and then off to the second dock where the sun was striking the trees across from me and glancing the Van Gogh Bridge. You know that gradual rippling, wave motion in a lake? I got the image for it this morning. The reflected leaves and branches looked like raised curbs moving in parallel motion and I imagined seeing Tony Jaa, the Thai martial arts action hero and hoop jumper-through par excellence, or Fred Astaire in his prime leaping gracefully across them. Of course, they would also need some water-walking ability. It appears Tony just might be able to do that and Fred, of course, could walk on ceilings so water would be no problem for him.

Lunar Landscapes—5/26/05

The things the Moon can do backlighting a fully foliated forest - making ridges out of darkened trees and all the great levitational and proprioceptive tricks she can pull. And I do not exaggerate—you watch long enough with imagination and you'll see almost any type of landscape (B&W of course) you want. In the darkened forms of the forest, it doesn't take that much candlepower (the Moon has just the right amount) to do all kinds of wild and wonderful things. Watching a ridge slowly subside, like some kind of super time-lapse geological film, had to be about the best this morning. Although seeing the Enlightenment Moon in a clear space a half hour before sunrise had to be its equal and it was actually right above a real little ridge—shining so brightly, and for the first time I noticed right on its edge at about nine o'clock a bright glint, perhaps the brightest spot on the Moon. "Is this a moon mountain or range catching the sun's light just right?" I saw it again almost an hour later so it's some kind of permanent feature, but it looks best, like a diamond almost, thirty minutes before sunrise.

 

STAR STRUCK

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