Deborah J. "DJ" Martin

A Witch and a Bitch with an Herbal Itch - and an overactive imagination

Menu Close

Month: August 2017

2017 Solar Eclipse Thoughts

Pick any superlative adjective … it was all that and more.

We were lucky enough to be in the path of totality so invited friends who weren’t to join us on the deck for a day of fun and a (probably) once-in-a-lifetime experience. At the time I issued the invitation, no one knew what the weather was going to be like. Summer afternoons in Georgia can be anywhere from perfectly clear, to partly cloudy, to popup showers/thunderstorms, to completely covered up. Even the morning of, the “local” (Atlanta) meteorologists were predicting 30% cloud cover in the areas of totality in Georgia. It was a crapshoot.

We lucked out and as guests started arriving, it was perfectly clear. Which meant wonderful viewing but on a deck that gets 12 hours of direct sun, it was toasty! Adult beverages, lots of conversation, and some guitar jamming by my husband and a friend … it was a party!

I did, however, watch some clouds building in the south with a little apprehension. Would they hold off?

A light lunch, then sky-watching – it was still clear above us. It started shortly after 1:00 p.m. I wanted photos but had read that taking a direct photo of the sun can harm the camera lens on a phone, so ingeniously (I thought), I taped a lens from a pair of viewing glasses over my phone’s lens. Nope. Just an orange blur. I even tried the same thing on our regular camera. Not quite as blurry as the phone but still didn’t show anything of import. The photo below was taken with my phone at totality without any filter. The sun’s corona still overloaded the camera so you can’t even tell the moon is in front!

I’m still heaving a big sigh. However, we do have a lot of trees which become a good filter if you look down, rather than up. See the half-moons?

The moment (a little over a minute) of totality was probably the most awesome thing. The lighting was a nice twilight (ah, a little relief from the heat!) but the silence. No birdsong, no bugs’ buzz, not even the usual slight background hum from the 4-lane four miles away. It wasn’t quite dark enough for the night critters to start their song, either. Just a couple of quiet “wows” from us.

The “diamond” appeared (the first glimpse of the sun as the moon moves out of the way) and that moment was almost over. We were still quiet until…a small plane flew by. That ruined the moment and it went back to being a party again. The clouds finally made it this far north about an hour after totality (we even had a very brief shower) and obscured the rest of the eclipse but that was okay.

I didn’t experience any “woo” during the eclipse but I can tell you that neither my husband nor I slept at all well that night. We’re wondering if it messed with our circadian rhythms a little. Thankfully, it was just one night – I slept like a log last night!

I’ve been thinking about that day since then. Unless we travel (which we might), husband and I will never see a total eclipse again in our lifetimes. (If we travel, I will definitely buy a real solar filter for the camera.) But what I really took away from it:

There were ten people on our deck that day. All friends of ours, to be sure (which automatically means they’re cool people), but they’d never met each other before. Christians, Pagans of different paths, Agnostics, and Atheists all intermingling, enjoying themselves, and making new friends. I wish that would happen more in the wider world.

The Wheel of the Year – A Rant

Wheel of the Year

/begin rant

August first was Lugnasadh, Lammas, First Harvest, whatever you want to call it. A friend who also lives in the Southeastern United States posted on Facebook that he wasn’t celebrating … it was still summer. And I agreed. We were both called on the carpet (somewhat) for saying such.

FYI, the “Cross Quarter” holidays aren’t celebrated by all, and sometimes not on the same date. Lughnasadh/Lammas and the other three cross-quarters holidays were started in climes much more northerly than mine and by cultures who relied on farming for their living. When I lived farther north, around August 1st was indeed the beginnings of harvest and although the days were still hot, there was a feeling that Fall wasn’t far away. First harvest around here happens about mid-July. I saw the neighboring farmer harvesting part of his kitchen garden then. He cut the first crop of hay the middle of June and is now growing his third crop. So, August first? Mid-harvest.

The other thing that chaps my ass is the date. You do realize the calendar by which we now live only dates back to the 16th century (1582, to be exact) but wasn’t adopted by all areas of the world until the 18th century? I can’t speak for my ancestors, but I’m willing to bet they celebrated their first harvest on different days. Weather is a huge factor in farming. More or less sun, more or less rain (or snow) affects when you would be able to get your seeds or seedlings into the ground and the length of the growing season, all affecting when you’d be able to gather your crops. Horrible weather year? Might not be a celebration at all because there was nothing to harvest so nothing to celebrate.

I apply the same sort of logic to the Equinoxes and Solstices. The “official” dates for each vary by a few hours one way or the other due to the tilt of the Earth and the not-exactly-365-day-year, making them fall somewhere in a 2-day period, but they’re calculated by when the sun crosses the Equator; and when the Sun is at its farthest points from the Equator. I don’t live at the Equator. I’d also be willing to bet my ancestors celebrated these events when they happened where they lived. I celebrate the Equinoxes and Solstices when they happen here. I go by the “longest day, longest night, and equal night” definitions. As an example, the true Fall Equinox here, September 26th, is as close as one can get – less than a minute off equality. The official date is September 22nd.

I don’t celebrate Cross Quarter days because they really hold no meaning for me – I am decidedly a city girl in that regard. (Samhain? The veil’s thin around here every day and I venerate those who have gone before every day.)

I can’t recall a time I ever argued with someone else’s holiday. If “First Harvest” is August first for you, have at it. If you want to celebrate the other holidays according to the calendar, good for you. But don’t climb in my shit because I don’t celebrate as or when you do.

//end rant