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The invisible kraken: Evidence that the earth is not flat

The invisible kraken: Evidence that the earth is not flat

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

My new book, Star Myths of the World, and how to interpret them: Volume One, is the first installment in a series designed to provide conclusive evidence that virtually all of the myths, scriptures, and sacred traditions from around the world -- from the myths of ancient Greece, Sumer, and Egypt to those of China, Australia, and Africa, to virtually every episode recorded in what we call the Old and New Testaments of the Bible -- are built upon a common system of celestial metaphor.

This is extremely important information for many reasons. When we understand this system of celestial metaphor, then we can use that understanding to plainly see unmistakable evidence that the ancient wisdom given to the cultures that eventually became western Europe was originally intended to convey the same fundamental message as that given to all the other cultures of the world. 

It is a message that involves what can be called a shamanic worldview, in which the entire material universe is perceived at every point to be connected to and interpenetrated by the invisible realm, the spirit world: the realm of the gods.

The Star Myths of the world use the motions of the constellations and planets, and the cycles of the sun and the moon and the longer cycles involving planetary conjunctions and orbits and even the awe-inspiring action of precession, as a way of conveying to us the importance of this invisible realm, and our ability to travel there, and to make contact with the divine realm -- because we are actually already in contact with it all the time, as is everything else in the universe.

And, if we are actually all connected to the invisible realm, then that means that we are all in some way connected to one another, and dependent upon one another, as well as connected to all other living things and indeed to every rock and star and molecule in the universe -- and interdependent upon their well being for our own. If we are all actually connected to and bound together by the same invisible spirit realm, then damage that we do to a rain forest or a river or a mountain or even an asteroid has an impact on every other thing in the material realm, and on every other being, and on the welfare of all of them.

It is pretty clear that this ancient wisdom was interrupted at some point in the distant past in "the west," and the repercussions are still being felt to this day. 

The good news is that, although the damage that has resulted from this loss has been enormous, and ongoing, and even accelerating, the invisible realm itself has not gone away (if it had, then there would be no more life on earth, since it is out of the infinite realm that the plants and trees unfold into this material world, and animals and people receive the spirit by which they move and act). And, the ancient texts and myths are still there, telling forth their message about the importance of the sacred realm, our constant dependence upon it and thus our interdependence with the rest of the universe and with all other living beings in it, and the ways given to humanity to make contact with and even journey to that realm during this life, in order to learn things there and effect changes there which cannot be learned or effected in any other way. 

If the loss of this knowledge was a central factor setting the west down a wrong path (a wrong path with global consequences), then it stands to reason that the solution (if one is possible) will entail regaining contact with an understanding that was anciently lost.

I believe that this is an incredibly important message.

I am by no means the only person trying to make this message (or some variation of it) more widely known (in fact, there are many, many others who are bringing this general message to far more people than I reach, many of whom have devoted their lives to spreading such knowledge for many decades and who by their actions over time and the consistency of their message and their work have earned a right to speak on a very large stage and who reach thousands of people every time they give a talk).

However, even as I am making what I believe to be a very important case about the celestial foundation underlying the different mythologies and sacred traditions of humanity around the globe, I find that one of the most frequent questions that I am asked (on the web, at least, and especially in the "comments" left on some of the videos that I have made) is some variation on what I think of the "flat earth" idea.

Because I believe that it can be conclusively demonstrated that the myths and scriptures and sacred traditions of the world are all encoding the motions of the constellations and the cycles of the sun, moon, and stars (as well as longer cycles, including the precessional cycle), this question is actually (in one sense) somewhat relevant to my work.

However, I believe the entire discussion to be a pretty major distraction to the extremely important subjects discussed above. We're talking about evidence that shows all the world's sacred traditions (including the stories in the Bible) are based on the stars, and now we have to stop and haggle over the evidence that the earth is a globe that rotates on its axis once per day, and  goes around the sun once per year?

This is not really an argument that I want to get into at all. I personally believe that the fact of the earth's sphericity and the fact that it orbits around the sun (and not vice versa) is extremely well established. 

I'm actually a little suspicious of the motives of those who insist that this point is not yet proven, and insist on forcing the discussion onto this subject all the time. I actually wonder how many of those who argue for a flat earth truly believe such an argument, and how many might be dragging the debate into that quicksand for other reasons, whether just for the sheer fun of being contrary and picking arguments, or for some other motive.

However, assuming that some people may actually entertain honest doubts about this matter, I will list just a few of what I believe to be many reasons to believe that the earth is a globe that rotates on its axis and orbits the sun (and has an axial tilt which precesses). 

I realize that critics might be able to come up with some way of explaining each of the points offered below with a hypothetical model other than a spherical earth orbiting the sun along with other planets in the solar system, but it is actually possible to do that with virtually any point (one ancient name for this kind of pseudo-argument was sophistry). 

If Sherlock Holmes presents you with extensive evidence which proves beyond all shadow of a doubt that Mr. J murdered Mr. Y, a sophist could still come up and ask him, "Even with all this evidence, how do you know that it was Mr. J and not a grizzly bear that did it? Can you actually prove that it wasn't a grizzly bear?" If Holmes points out that no bears had been reported by any witnesses, and in fact no bears lived in the area, and that in fact no zoo in the area even had any bears in captivity either, the sophist could still say, "But can you prove that it wasn't a grizzly bear?" If Holmes then shows that the victim was strangled and not bitten, the sophist could then say, "Then how do you know it wasn't a kraken? Can you prove it wasn't?" 

Such tactics could be extended indefinitely: if Holmes shows that nobody had reported anything like a kraken in the area, the sophist might knowingly say, "A ha -- but how do you know it wasn't an invisible kraken?"

I am personally not that interested in debating the possibility of an invisible kraken. 

I would be suspicious of anyone who wanted to persistently steer the argument off in that direction. I assume that there are some people who have honestly been convinced of the possibility of a flat earth, and who will be interested in honestly considering the arguments offered below giving my reasons why I am not at all convinced of that possibility.

The fact that I do not want to go there should not at all lead anyone to the conclusion that I myself am trying to cover up the existence of krakens or that I am part of some group trying to keep the knowledge of the existence of krakens from the general public. 

I will present some evidence below which convinces me that the earth is a sphere and goes around the sun, which I hope will be helpful to anyone who is honestly doubting that this is the case. But in the future I do not plan to get into any extended discussions on the subject, just as I wouldn't expect Sherlock Holmes to want to spend hours discussing the hypothetical possibility of an invisible kraken.

1. The whirl of stars around the celestial north pole and the celestial south pole:

Two different whirling points, one counterclockwise and one clockwise.

The elevation of the whirling points changes as you go further north or further south.

You cannot see both at once, but you can see the appropriate one based on whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere.

The rotation of the earth towards the east causes the stars to appear to move from the east to the west. If you were to lie down at the north pole and look up, you would see the stars appearing to move in a circle around the point directly overhead (ninety degrees up from the ground) -- the celestial north pole. Anyone in the northern hemisphere can also see the stars move in a circle around the celestial north pole, but as we move further south, the point that they all appear to circle around gets lower in the sky (but always towards the north). 

After we cross the equator into the southern hemisphere, however, we can no longer see the whirl of stars around the celestial north pole: instead we can see a different whirl, around the celestial south pole. The further south we go (the closer to the earth's south pole), the higher this whirl will be in the sky, but always towards the south. 

This fact of the two different whirls of stars in the sky is perfectly easy to explain if the earth is a globe. 

The fact that the height that the point around which the sky appears to whirl will change as we go further north or further south is also exactly what we would expect if the earth is a globe.

It is very difficult to explain why there are two different points around which the sky appears to whirl, if we are on a flat earth that does not rotate. It is very difficult to explain why the north celestial pole is higher in the sky the further north one goes in the northern hemisphere, and lower in the sky the further south one goes, if we are not on a globe.

I have personally seen the south celestial pole and the stars turning around it when I was in New Zealand, and I have personally seen the north celestial pole and the stars turning around it from many different latitudes in the northern hemisphere. This is not hearsay evidence that I am talking about. 

(I have not personally observed these two whirls from the equator itself, but from there you would be able to see the "upper half" of both of them, one if you looked towards the north pole, and the other if you looked towards the south pole -- if you doubt this, you can verify it for yourself by going to the equator and doing some observing). 

There are also many photographs on the web of the stars whirling around the north celestial pole, taken from various latitudes in the northern hemisphere, and many photographs of the stars whirling around the south celestial pole, taken from various latitudes in the southern hemisphere.

At the top of this post is an image, taken from a point in the southern hemisphere (in Chile), showing stars circling the south celestial pole. Below is another image, taken from a point in the northern hemisphere (in Arizona), showing stars circling the north celestial pole:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Now, before someone tries to come up with some flat-earth explanation of how we could have two different points around which the stars rotate, one only visible from north of the equator and the other only visible from south of the equator, and how the point around which the sky appears to turn will be seen to be higher or lower in the sky based on your latitude (all of which makes perfect sense if we are on a globe that is rotating on its axis, but which requires some extremely convoluted contortions to try to explain from the perspective of a flat earth), there is one other aspect of this phenomenon which is difficult to explain for a flat-earth theory but makes perfect sense from the perspective of the globe-and-axis theory, and that is the fact that the stars rotate around the north celestial pole in a counter-clockwise fashion, and the south celestial pole in a clockwise fashion.

Why would this be? It makes perfect sense, if we are on a globe rotating towards the east. As the ball we are standing on spins towards the east, it causes objects in the sky to appear to speed towards the west. This happens to the sun once per day: it "rises" in the east and moves across the sky towards the west, then sinks down below the western horizon as a function of the fact that the ball we are standing on kept spinning towards the east, bringing the curve of the western horizon in between us (where we are standing) and the sinking sun. 

The reason the sun (and all the other stars) appear to move east to west is the same reason a billboard or a barn or a tree seen from the window of a speeding car or train appears to move towards the rear of the car or train: you are rushing forwards, so things outside appear to rush backwards. As we spin east, things in the sky appear to move west: the earth is spinning towards the east, so objects in the sky (including the sun, planets, and stars) all appear to move from the east to the west.

If we are standing in the northern hemisphere and look towards the north, the stars will be rotating east to west (just as they do everywhere else on a ball that is spinning towards the east). But as we look north, this will cause them to rotate around the central north celestial pole in a counter-clockwise direction (because if we are in the northern hemisphere facing the north pole, east is to our right, and stars rising in the east will arc over us from right to left as we face north, and those close to the north pole will go around from right to left also in a counter-clockwise fashion around the central point, such that a star at the three o'clock position will rotate up to twelve o'clock before continuing down to nine o'clock and eventually down to six o'clock and back around to three o'clock). 

Below is a video from the northern hemisphere (in northern Spain) of the stars going around the central point in a counter-clockwise direction:

There are many other such videos available on the web (and if you are in the northern hemisphere you can make one for yourself, or just observe it happening with the naked eye).

However, if we are in the southern hemisphere and we look towards the south pole and watch the stars rotating around the south celestial pole in the sky, they will move in the opposite direction: clockwise around the central point. Why is that?

Well, the stars are still moving from east to west, just as they do everywhere else on a globe that spins eastwards (the sun rises in the east for people in the southern hemisphere too, just as it does in the northern hemisphere). But, when we look to the south celestial pole, we are facing south, and now east is to the left of us and west is to the right, and stars will be rising from our left and going towards our right. Those close to the central point around which all the stars in the sky appear to turn (the south celestial pole, above earth's south pole) will go from left to right as they go over the central hub: they will go clockwise. A star which begins at nine o'clock will go up to twelve o'clock and then on down to three o'clock and so on.

Below is another video, this one from the southern hemisphere, showing all the stars going around the south celestial pole in a clockwise fashion -- just the opposite of the way they whirl around the northern hub:

The above discussion is, in my opinion, already conclusive evidence that we live on a spherical planet which turns on its axis once per day in a rotation towards the west. This model explains perfectly all the phenomena shown and discussed above. A flat-earth model has a very hard time explaining all the above evidence (although someone using the "what about invisible krakens" method of sophistical argument could probably do it -- I just have my doubts whether they themselves would actually believe it).

2. There are stars that not visible to observers in some latitudes.

Some stars are too far south to be visible from northern latitudes, but are obscured by the horizon. But as you go further south they come into view -- rising above the southern horizon, even if only just barely. As you go further and further south, they will arc at a higher and higher altitude in the sky.

No need to spend too much time on this one, but it is very difficult to account for from a flat-earth perspective, and perfectly understandable if the earth is a sphere and space extends in all directions, with stars in all directions in space. If we are on a ball and space is all around us, then some stars will not be visible to observers on the "top half" of the ball, unless those observers move "down" the ball towards the equator line or even cross down into the "lower half" of the ball.

Observers in the northern hemisphere cannot see the constellation Crux (the Cross) unless they are pretty far south -- that's why it is popularly known as the Southern Cross. I myself never saw this constellation until I traveled to New Zealand.

Even Fomalhaut is pretty difficult to see from northerly latitudes in the northern hemisphere, but the further south on the globe you travel, the easier it will be to see it because it will "clear" the southern horizon with a higher and higher arc as you travel further and further south.

This makes sense if we are on a sphere. It does not make much sense if the earth is flat.

You might find a video that I made a long time ago, using a metaphor that I call "the orbit in the dining room," to be helpful for imagining the way that we see the stars in space from the perspective of our location on a globe: there are stars on all the "walls" as well as on the ceiling and floor, but if we're on the upper half of the ball we can see the stars on the ceiling but not the floor, and we can see stars on the walls but only those on the "upper half" of the walls -- the further "down" the ball we go, the further down the "wall" will come into view.

3. Constellations look "upside down" in the southern hemisphere, compared to their orientation in the northern hemisphere.

This is another point that is very damaging to the flat earth model, but makes perfect sense if the earth is a globe. When you travel to the southern hemisphere, if you have lived in the northern hemisphere all your life, you will soon notice that all the constellations are "upside down" to the way you are used to seeing them (if you are used to looking at the constellations, that is).

This phenomenon is perfectly understandable if we are on a globe. I'm not sure why the sky would seem to "flip" as we get to the outer edges of a supposed "flat earth" in which "south" is supposedly "towards the edges" and north is in the center.

But, now imagine the earth as a globe (which I am quite certain that it is). If you imagine yourself standing at the north pole and looking at the outline of the constellation Orion (located near the ecliptic plane, "out from the equator" in the sky, so to speak), and then imagine that you travel down to the south pole and look out at the same constellation of Orion, you will immediately understand why the constellation looks "upside down" from the south pole, relative to how it looked when you were at the north pole.

This phenomenon is true for points in the southern hemisphere, not just at the south pole itself.

I myself witnessed this when I went to the southern hemisphere (New Zealand and Australia). Orion was the first constellation which I noticed to be "upside down" to my way of seeing him.

4. The angle that the stars, planets, and sun and moon rise up out of the eastern horizon and sink down into the western horizon changes based on your latitude, and can be used for long-distance ocean navigation.

This is the method used by the Wayfinders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and it is almost certainly the traditional method used for the successful long-distance ocean-crossing voyages that the people of the different Pacific Island cultures used to cross the vast distances that they crossed.

See this previous post discussing "the greatest navigators our globe has ever seen," as Thor Heyerdahl called the Polynesian peoples who traveled the almost-unimaginable distances from Hawaii to Tahiti to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and to many other distant shores as well.

Some discussion is presented there regarding the reason that in the northern hemisphere, the courses of the stars angles up from the eastern horizon but along an arc closer to the southern horizon, while in the southern hemisphere the courses of the stars angle up from the eastern horizon but along an arc closer to the northern horizon, and why they go along an arc straight up and perpendicular to the horizon as you cross the equator. This discussion is largely based upon the helpful diagrams and discussion found on the actual website of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which has successfully crossed the oceans using the same traditional Wayfinding methods used by their ancestors in previous centuries.

If you take the time to read that entire page as linked, you will see that their method assumes a spherical earth, and that in fact the star courses do what they do and in doing so enable navigation because we are on a spherical earth which rotates on its axis.

I have not actually asked them, but I would be very doubtful that there are any believers in the flat-earth model among the members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

There are others who know the science of navigating by true celestial navigation. The excellent book by Thomas Cunliffe entitled Celestial Navigation tells you how it is done using a sextant -- and it also bases all its techniques upon the understanding that the earth to be a globe.

5. Objects that travel through the air for long distances have to take into account the rotation of the earth.

This is true for airplanes.

It is also true for artillery shells that travel very long distances, and other military munitions.

I am not an airline pilot, but I have a very good friend who is an airline pilot. There are a very large number of airline pilots in the world. I do not believe that they are all "in on" a major conspiracy to hide from us the fact that the earth is really flat.

In order to accurately take off on one point and travel a very far distance to land where you want to land, you have to account for the fact that the earth actually rotates on its axis.

I was in the military for many years. I graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, which was founded in 1802 in part to provide the level of mathematical and engineering knowledge necessary to fling artillery shells from one point on the surface of the earth to another, and also to be able to construct bridges that would not collapse: the young nation needed a school to teach such subjects, and did not have one until the Academy was founded (most of the universities such as Harvard and Yale were originally founded as theological schools).

Although I was not commissioned as an artillery officer, I did have to learn quite a bit about the science of flinging artillery shells from one point on earth's surface to another and having them land where you want them to land (I remember hearing stories while at West Point about artillery shells being sent by accident into the vicinity of the Bear Mountain Bridge, which is not far from the training areas and also not far from where Jack Kerouac started the journey he recorded in On the Road; I have no idea whether that story about shells accidentally landing near Bear Mountain Bridge is true or not, but I suspect that it could have been: the stories were passed on to us to emphasize the importance of doing the calculations properly and carefully, with "attention to detail," and the consequences that could happen if we did not).

In order to send artillery shells (or any other military munition) long distances with accuracy, you have to account for the rotation of the earth. This can be verified by looking at any number of artillery manuals that have been published through the years. Older manuals (and even some of the newer ones) have firing tables that help you to make the calculations that account for the rotation of the earth.

It does not make any sense to argue that these calculations are just introduced in there to keep us from knowing that the earth really doesn't rotate at all. If the earth did not rotate, then accounting for rotation that did not exist would cause artillery shells to land in places that they were not supposed to land.

I believe that some proponents of a flat, non-rotating earth will try to explain this away by resorting to an invisible fluid or element known as "ether." I believe that this is basically the same as resorting to an invisible kraken. I don't care to try to prove that there is no such thing as ether -- it may be very difficult to prove the non-existence of ether (and also of invisible krakens). But since the rotation of the earth explains the need for these artillery calculations (and because there is extensive evidence of other forms that shows we are on a spherical and rotating earth -- see all the points above -- I don't believe I or anyone else need engage in a debate over the existence or non-existence of a hypothetical substance called "ether").

For one example of an artillery manual which discusses the need to make calculations to account for the rotation of the earth, see USMC Field Manual 6-40, and page 7-19 and following (where you will be directed to "Table H," which gives you the calculations needed to account for the rotation of the earth).

Army manuals for field artillery are also numbered 6-40: you can find many of them on the internet which discuss the importance of accounting for earth's rotation. Some of those which are available on the web go back to 1944 or 1945 (well before the founding of NASA, an organization which some flat-earth adherents blame for much of the supposed disinformation about the shape of the earth in modern times).

6. The Coriolis Effect caused by the laws of physics related to inertia and angular momentum cause large bodies of air and water to rotate in generally predictable patterns, which differ on either side of the equator.

This is getting a little technical, but those interested can read about it in many different places on the web or in textbooks.

One thing that is caused by the Coriolis effect is the pattern of air currents and the direction that they swirl on our planet. They generally swirl counterclockwise off the equator to the north, and clockwise off the equator to the south.

You can see this in Coriolis-induced action in images of hurricanes.

Hurricanes in the northern hemisphere generally rotate counter-clockwise around their central eye, and those in the southern hemisphere generally rotate the other way (clockwise).

Below is an image of a hurricane in the northern hemisphere:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Note that the "arms" of the swirl from the left side of the circle (nine o'clock) open "up and to the right" (look from nine o'clock up towards the twelve o'clock of the storm to see this). Another way to think about it is that the storm appears from above to be swirling inward towards the center in a counter-clockwise direction.

Now look at the image below of a hurricane in the southern hemisphere:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

It should be readily apparent that this hurricane is swirling in the opposite direction from the hurricane shown in the image above it. This one appears to swirl towards the center in a clockwise direction, and the arms appear to open "up and to the left" when seen from the right side of the storm. To see this, look at the six o'clock position and trace up towards the three o'clock.

It is very difficult to explain why hurricanes would swirl in one direction on the north side of an equator line on a flat earth and in completely the opposite direction on the other side of the same equator line (an equator line doesn't really even make sense on a flat earth, but let's assume that there is such a line, and many flat-earth proponents talk about one).

However, it does make sense on a rotating sphere, in which the Coriolis effect is present (and completely explainable based on the laws of physics).

I don't know if any flat earth theorists try to explain this phenomenon away. They certainly cannot argue that hurricanes are some kind of a hoax. I personally went to Florida to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and have witnessed the devastation they cause first hand.

I was also in southern China during a typhoon once.

7. The Foucault Pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth.

I was fascinated by the Foucault Pendulum at the old Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco when I was young. It is still in operation, but has now moved to the new museum location.

The way that a pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth is somewhat technical, but fascinating.

It can actually show you your latitude on earth's surface, if you know the principles and can do some trigonometry.

The explanation for Foucault's Pendulum and the rotation of the earth is well explained in the videos shown below (far better than I could explain it, and demonstrated visually far more easily than it can be explained in long paragraphs of verbiage):

First video (gives a decent explanation of what happens -- but the third video below is really the best for visualizing why ):

Second video (probably the best for seeing how it works in action, because it uses an ink marker -- also, this one is outstanding because it explains how to determine your latitude with some degree of accuracy using a pendulum):

Third video (in French but visually the best one on the web that I've found, and because it is in French it probably also pronounces "Foucault" most properly):

Once again, I believe some advocates of a flat earth try to explain away this pendulum phenomenon by relying upon "ether" or some other complicated or convoluted argument to try to say that it isn't really the earth that is rotating but rather then pendulum. It is difficult to understand why the "ether" would not rotate at an arbitrary line called the "equator" on a flat earth, however, just as it is difficult to understand why hurricanes would rotate in opposite ways on either side of such an arbitrary line on a flat earth. 

All of the actions of a Foucault Pendulum, however, are well explained by a spherical earth rotating on its axis.

8. The very existence of time zones should prove that we are on a rotating sphere.

Some parts of earth are in night when others are in day.

This provides a pretty simple and obvious argument for a spherical earth, and one which requires some pretty strange arguments from the flat-earth proponents in order to try to explain for a flat earth.

When I was in China, I could Skype with my family in California, but when it was night for me it was day for them.

Why would the sun above a flat earth illuminate (and heat) one area called "day" but not another area (on a flat plane) where it was night? (The exact same argument, could be made regarding solstices and seasons, and the fact of longer days in one half of the earth while the other half is having shorter days, which is caused by the tilt of the earth and discussed in countless previous posts, including this one from 2011).

Flat earth theorists, I believe, argue that the sun is kind of like "floodlights" that only beam down in a fairly tight cone of light. This doesn't make much sense, if the sun is a ball.

That leads us to the next point:

9. The moon and the visible planets are clearly spherical.

Why would we argue that the earth is flat, if we can see that Mercury, Venus, the moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all spherical? 

You can actually see this with a telescope, if not with the naked eye (you can pretty much see that the moon is a sphere with your naked eye.

10. The motions of the planets on their courses makes sense if earth and the planets are orbiting the sun.

Otherwise, you have to introduce complicated concepts such as "epicycles" to try to explain retrograde motion, etc.

The concept of "retrograde motion" (which you can observe for yourself, on successive nights when one of the visible planets is in retrograde) is something that I discussed at some length in a previous post, back in 2012 during a retrograde period for Mars. Earth was "passing up" Mars on our "inside track" as we orbit the sun, making it look (for a short time) that Mars was moving the opposite direction from earth in its orbit around the sun (Mars and the other visible planets orbit in the same direction around the sun that we do).

11. The monthly cycle of the moon makes perfect sense if it orbits the earth and the earth orbits the sun.

The moon is full when it is exactly opposite the earth from the sun, and highest in the sky at midnight.

The moon is new (and invisible) when it is exactly between earth and the sun, and highest in the sky at noon.

Both of the above make perfect sense if the moon orbits the earth. I discuss these cycles, which are not (unfortunately) widely understood by the general public unless they take the time to learn about it (it is not generally taught in school, at least in my personal experience), in a blog post here from several years ago. You can find other posts in which I discuss the cycles further by searching for "new moon" in the internal blog search window.

The moon is a thin crescent when it is only a few days old (after new moon), and follows closely behind the sun (at this time in its cycle, it can be seen just after the sun goes down, following "hard after" the sun). This also makes sense if the earth is a rotating sphere and the moon is the earth's satellite. 

All of the moon's cycles, and its relative position to the sun and distance "behind" or "ahead" of the sun, make perfect sense if it orbits earth and earth rotates while orbiting the sun.

To explain all of this using the flat earth ideology would require some contortions.

12. Solar and lunar eclipses make sense for the same reasons described above for the phases of the moon.

Solar eclipses take place when the moon passes between earth and the sun, and thus can only happen on a point of new moon.

Lunar eclipses take place when the earth is between the sun and the moon, and thus can only happen at a time of full moon.

These phenomena are well explained by the model of the earth orbiting the sun, and the moon orbiting the earth. The moon orbits on a plane that is "tilted" relative to the plane of earth's orbit around the sun, and thus we do not have a solar or lunar eclipse at every single new moon or full moon (this is discussed in previous posts about the "lunar nodes").

Once again, explaining why this happens the way it does from a flat earth model causes some contortions (this pattern is typical of an incorrect model: a correct theory will usually clear up a whole lot of evidence that the incorrect theory had to tie itself in knots to try to explain). 

An additional problem for the flat earth theorist is the fact that during a lunar eclipse, it is the shadow of the earth that creeps slowly across the face of the moon as earth moves between sun and the moon. The edge of this shadow can clearly be seen to be curved, indicating that earth is a sphere (as do so many of the other pieces of evidence offered above).

This creates a king-sized problem for flat earth theories.

I have even read that some flat earth theorists posit the existence of another moon-like body that is throwing its shadow across the moon during a lunar eclipse, to alleviate the problem caused by the curved shadow that earth projects on the surface of the moon and that is clearly visible to the casual observer. Of course, this "hypothetical moon" that occasionally eclipses our moon is invisible and has never been seen, but it "must" be there, according to some theorists (apparently -- I myself have never spoken to anyone who actually believes such a theory, and I actually have difficulty believing that anyone honestly believes it themselves).


These are just some of countless other pieces of evidence which could be offered (and I'm not even a physicist). I haven't even gone into the problem of GPS location, which is now such a common fact of life with smartphone users that they take it for granted -- but I personally remember the first time our unit in the 82nd Airborne Division was issued portable GPS devices (only six for the entire company of over a hundred paratroopers, and they were huge -- about the size of a flat brick), and I remember sitting out in the field and waiting to get "three satellites" (you couldn't accurately get your location if you only had two satellites or one satellite in communication with your device).

Nor have I touched the very complex (but perfectly understandable given a rotating earth going around a massive sun and orbited by a less-massive moon) mechanism of the ocean tides(which everyone who surfs regularly must keep an eye on), or the even more awe-inspiring mechanism of the precession of the equinoxes (which is almost certainly a function of the principle of the conservation of angular momentum, the fact of the equatorial bulge, and the resulting motion of the axis around which the earth rotates in the same way that a gyroscope or even a spinning bicycle tire suspended from a string will precess).

All of the above evidence convinces me that the flat-earth argument is incorrect -- and also causes me to wonder about the motives of at least some of those who spend a lot of time trying to get people to argue about it.

Those, at least, are my reasons. And that is about as much as I wish to say on this subject.

Please do not contact me with counter-arguments to the above evidence, or with complicated and purely hypothetical models that could possibly account for one or more of them. As I said before, I believe that such arguments are akin to trying to engage Sherlock Holmes in a debate over the possibility of an invisible kraken -- and such debates can be extended indefinitely by a really aggressive and contrarian debater who enjoys arguing for the sake of argument -- but they distract from what I believe to be the real discussion at hand.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節 and the Total Lunar Eclipse ("Blood Moon") of September 2015

Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節 and the Total Lunar Eclipse ("Blood Moon") of September 2015

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

This Sunday, September 27, marks the beginning of the traditional celebration of mid-Autumn festival in China and Vietnam. It is a very ancient holiday, its observance stretching back to as early as 3600 years ago, and perhaps even earlier, and it is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture. Great effort is usually made to travel and be with family on this day, much like Thanksgiving in the US, and for several days around the holiday many businesses and markets are closed as people make their way back to the places where they grew up, in order to celebrate with their extended families.

The Chinese characters for this holiday are 中 秋 節 which is pronounced Zhong Qiu Jie in Mandarin and Jung Chau Jit in Cantonese, and which translates literally into "Mid-Autumn-Day" or "Middle-Fall-Holiday" (or even more literally the "Mid-Autumn-Node").

Jung Chau Jit is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, the fifteenth day corresponding in general to the full moon in a lunar month (because a lunar month commences with a new moon, and the moon waxes for fourteen days to become full, which happens on the fifteenth day, and then wanes for fourteen more days to the point of another new moon), and so this festival always falls very close to or directly upon the day of a full moon, as it does this year.

Thus, the Mid-Autumn Holiday is also a Moon Festival, and is in fact often called the Moon Festival, and an important tradition during the days (weeks!) leading up to this holiday and on the day of the holiday itself is the giving of round "mooncakes," light gold in color and filled with a variety of different kinds of heavy, sweet fillings, and sometimes with a candied egg yolk:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

These are traditionally served by being cut carefully into four equal quarters (a little combination cutting-and-serving implement, something like a small version of a cake trowel, is often included in commercially-sold mooncake boxes or packages), with each person present being given one section. The cakes themselves often have "blessing" words baked into the top of them. 

Being a Moon Festival, the holiday is also closely associated with the Moon Goddess, pictured at top, whose name is 嫦 娥 which is pronounced Chang Er  in Mandarin and Seung Ngo in Cantonese and translates rather directly into "Chang the Beautiful" or "Seung the Beautiful." 

There is a legend about Seung Ngo and her husband, 后 羿 being banished from the heavenly realms by the Jade Emperor (whom we met in the earlier discussion of the Lantern Festival, which takes place in the first lunar month) and having to live down upon the earth as mortals (his name is pronounced Hou Yi in Mandarin and Hau Ngai in Cantonese, and it means something like "King Archer").  

In the legend, he is distraught at the idea that his beautiful wife, having been banished from the celestial realms, is now faced with mortality, and so he seeks and eventually obtains an elixir of immortality which will restore their immortality to them. However, as so often happens in such myths, the plan goes awry, when she is forced to drink it all herself (either to keep it from a marauding robber who breaks in to steal it from her while her husband is away, or because she is overcome with curiosity while he is asleep, and drinks the whole elixir without knowing the consequences).

As soon as she does, she feels herself floating up into the heavens, without her unfortunate husband, who is left behind as a mortal. The two are thus separated forever, but Seung Ngo settles on the Moon, where she can look down upon Hau Ngai, and he can gaze up to her new home and think of her.

Having examined some of the most prominent aspects of this important ancient holy day, we are now in a position to benefit from the deep knowledge contained within its symbols and forms.

Because this poignant myth, and all the other symbols of the Mid-Autumn Festival, are powerful symbols which speak to truths about our incarnate existence, this existence in which we find ourselves crossing the "underworld" of the material realm in a physical body -- which is closely associated with the figure of the moon in the ancient system of celestial metaphor -- but doing so with the dimly-remembered awareness that we are separated from our true home (and disconnected from our higher "divine twin") during this earthly sojourn, and that we are in fact actually spiritual beings as much or more than we are physical beings.

The festival, positioned in the time of year next to fall equinox, contains the same symbols of a goddess and the fall from the celestial realm into the mortal incarnate life associated with the point of autumn equinox literally worldwide in the ancient myths.

Among them:

  • The presence of a goddess-figure (in this case, the goddess Seung Ngo, or Chang Er), goddess figures being shown in the previous post to be associated in ancient myth the world over with the point of fall equinox and the plunge into incarnation.
  • A myth in which there is a prominent theme of expulsion from the heavenly realm and banishment to the earthly realm (the plunge into this lower realm), featuring a duo in which one of the pair is mortal and one divine: just as we, in this incarnate life, find ourselves "crossed" with a physical body and an internal divine spark. 
  • The incorporation of moon-themes to go along with the incarnation theme of the fall equinox (dominated by the presence of a goddess at the point of incarnation). As Alvin Boyd Kuhn demonstrates in extended discussions found in Lost Light, published in 1940, the ancient myths  and sacred traditions very often used the moon to symbolize our incarnate form, and the sun our divine spirit, which lights up and animates our physical body in the same way that the sun gives its light to the moon (see pages 115 and following, for example, or 520 and following, or 139 and following, or 521 and following). In that exploration of ancient myth, Kuhn says quite explicitly: "The sun types soul, always, the moon, body" (479), and elsewhere: "The moon being the parent of the mortal body, lunar symbolism was prominently introduced into the portrayal "(140).
  • The connection of the moon (our incarnate side) with the idea of water, seas, oceans, and incarnation (through the tides, and also through the internal tides of our body), which also connects with the goddess-ocean connection discussed in the previous post (with examples which demonstrated the "mother-ocean" connection inherent in the names of Mary, Tiamat, and Aphrodite, as well as in the Chinese ideograms for mother and ocean).
  • The tradition of gathering together with family at the Moon Festival, representative of the idea that we align the cycle of our personal lives and our physical motions (often traveling great distances) with the cycles of the earth, sun, moon and stars: reinforcing the profound connection between "microcosm" and "macrocosm" discussed in the preceding post (and many others), a connection which the ancient myths and sacred traditions of the human race the world over all seek to convey. 
  • The tradition of gathering together with family at the Moon Festival, which also commemorates our physical, material entry into this incarnate life, which is celebrated when we honor our family and especially our parents.
  • Traditions in this holiday (especially as celebrated in Vietnam) which focus on children and proclaim it to be a holiday which honors young children, who are just embarking upon their journey through the incarnate human life.
  • The tradition that mooncakes are cut up into four quarters, which is clearly connected with the lunar symbology, but also with the concept of "crossing" or the crucifixion of this incarnate life (see numerous previous posts which demonstrate that the Great Cross of the year was associated in ancient myth with the twin components of incarnate human existence: the horizontal component representing the physical, "dead," "animal" nature of our body, and the vertical component representing the spiritual, divine, celestial component of the invisible and infinite realm which the ancient myths tell us is actually all around us and also within us and within every other being with whom we come into contact).

Clearly, then, the Mid-Autumn Festival preserves a great many symbols which carry a profound spiritual message, using the symbology of the moon (associated with incarnation), the casting down from the spiritual realms into incarnate existence (in the story of Hou Yi and Chang Er, or Hau Ngai and Seung Ngo), the myth regarding a married couple who are extremely close but who find themselves in the condition of one divine and one mortal (the "divine twin" pattern found around the world, including in the myth of Castor and Pollux but also of Jesus and Thomas and many others), the traditions of gathering with family and ordering our lives in accordance with the cycles of earth, sun, moon and stars, and the traditions of honoring our physical family and our parents, who brought us into this incarnate body in the first place.

It is also worth pointing out, in passing (although it could become a full-length examination and discussion) that a great many Chinese characters which use the symbol for "the moon" actually refer to our physical human body. The Chinese ideogram for "moon" is:

Other words whose ideograms use this as a "radical" in their Chinese character, and which relate to the physical human body, include:

The liver: 

The ribs or chest: 

The armpit, or arms:

The elbow:

Pelvis, groin or thighs:

The diaphragm:

Internal organs, guts, viscera:

A gland:

Fat, plump, or obese:

And there are many others.

Some scholars or those familiar with Chinese radicals may argue that none of the above characters are actually connected with "the moon," even though the radical looks just like the Chinese symbol for the moon, because the actual radical for "meat" -- which looks like this --

ends up looking like the symbol for "the moon" when it functions as a radical in a compound character. 

That is a valid argument, but we must ask ourselves why that "meat" symbol turns into a "moon" symbol in all of these ideograms? The answer, of course, could very well be the fact that the ancient wisdom of the human race universally acknowledged an esoteric connection between the moon and the physical, corporeal, carnal ("meat") body.

And so it becomes clear that all of the symbology of the culturally significant and anciently-established Mid-Autumn-Festival can be shown to be connected to other mythological symbols used in other myths around the world -- all of them designed to impart to us profound gnosis regarding our human condition here in this incarnate life, including the fact that we are not merely physical beings but that our human nature consists of both a physical and a spiritual component, that our physical "moon" form (associated with water) is illuminated by our spiritual "solar" and divine nature (associated with fire and with air -- or spirit).

Now, very briefly, let us also note the fact that because the Mid-Autumn-Festival always falls on or very near a full moon, it will also periodically happen that this anciently-ordained observation will coincide with a lunar eclipse. Previous posts on the actual celestial mechanics of the moon phases (see here, here, and here) have explained why lunar eclipses must always coincide with a full moon, and why solar eclipses must always correspond to a new moon (not every full moon is a lunar eclipse, of course, nor every new moon a solar -- but every lunar eclipse occurs at full moon, and every solar eclipse occurs at new moon).

This September 27 full moon also happens to take place when the moon is passing through a "lunar node" (a "crossing point" with the plane of the ecliptic of the earth) and will therefore result in a total lunar eclipse visible for most of the Americas, Africa and Europe (see resources from Sky & Telescope regarding this eclipse available here).

Not only is this a total lunar eclipse, but it is also a total lunar eclipse which corresponds to the moon's closest approach on its orbit around the earth, when it is physically closer to us and thus appears physically larger in the sky -- all of which add up to the promise of a spectacular heavenly event this weekend.

This particular moon (all month long) is in fact known universally as the Harvest Moon (in China also), which is traditionally understood to be the brightest moon of the year.

All of these factors argue that this weekend's lunar eclipse should be worth going out and watching, if at all possible in your particular global location and circumstance.

As the moon enters the shadow of the earth, it will take on a dusky red hue -- which (only recently) has begun to be designated as a "blood moon" by some in the popular media and in certain evangelical circles (largely based upon a literalistic interpretation of certain Old and New Testament scriptures which I believe can be definitively shown to be esoteric in nature and not literalistic in nature). Scriptures in the Old and New Testament which describe the moon as turning to blood or being bathed in blood include the following texts:

Joel 2:31 "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come."
Acts 2:20 "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:"
Revelation 6:12 "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;"

Alvin Boyd Kuhn actually addresses many of these Biblical passages directly, and argues (with extensive textual evidence) that the description of the "moon becoming as blood" only emphasizes even more dramatically the esoteric symbolical connection between the moon and our physical body in this human life.

Discussing the passage cited above from Revelation 6, he explains among the metaphors given: 

along with the darkness over the earth, the veiled sun, the blood-stained moon, is that "the stars from the heavens fell." In the same place we read that "when the message of the third angel was sounded forth, a great star went down from heaven and it fell upon the earth." Another star fell at the sounding of the trumpet of the fifth angel. The various legends, then, of falling stars become invested with unexpected significance as being disguised allusions to the descent of the angelic myriads to our shores , -- to become our souls. 116.

In other words, Kuhn here argues that the metaphors in Revelation 6 (and indeed throughout the Bible)  all have to do with our incarnate condition, consisting of a "crossing" between spirit (symbolized by the sun) and matter (our material bodies, symbolized by the moon). 

This interpretation (according to Alvin Boyd Kuhn) would include the metaphor of the earth being enshrouded by darkness -- because we plunge down to incarnation in the lower half of the zodiac wheel, as described in numberless previous posts. The lower half of the wheel is the half in which night triumphs over daylight (initiated by the fall equinox, when the hours of darkness begin to be longer than the hours of light, in each 24-hour period):

It would include (according to Kuhn) the moon being bathed in blood -- because the moon represents our incarnate condition, our sojourn in a body composed of water and blood and clay, our crossing of the "Red Sea" (which can be metaphorically seen to be the crossing which each and every human being undertakes, going through life in a human body through which courses the "red sea" of the blood in our veins and arteries).

It would include (according to Kuhn) the stars being cast out of heaven and forced to "fall upon the earth" -- for this is the very condition in which we find ourselves, as human souls who dimly realize that we come from a spiritual home, but who have been exiled (just like Hau Ngai and Seung Ngo) upon this material plane.

In other words, the passages in Revelation (and all the other esoteric Biblical scriptures) are describing our own human experience, our experience as divine beings who have been "crossed with" physical, material, animal bodies during this incarnate life.

And this is just what all the other Star Myths of the world are trying to convey to us as well! (Note that it can be conclusively demonstrated that the passages of the book of Revelation involving the opening of the seven seals are absolutely based upon metaphorical descriptions of the constellations in our night sky, as I demonstrate briefly in this previous post regarding Revelation Chapter 9: they are all allegorical celestial metaphors which use the awe-inspiring motions of the heavenly cycles to convey truths to us about the invisible realm).

Indeed, all of these metaphors and sacred scriptures are designed to convey to us the very same truths conveyed through the ancient metaphors connected to the Mid-Autumn-Festival celebrated in China and Vietnam and some other surrounding cultures from time immemorial.

As the day of the first full moon after fall equinox approaches, it is a time for contemplation and reflection upon our human condition in this incarnate life -- our "plunge into matter" which in ancient myth was associated with the point of the fall equinox, with the goddess at the edge of the ocean (or the goddess of the Moon), and with the "crossing" of our divine nature with a physical body.

And yet, even as we are plunged into this physical human form, we are given forms and symbols and myths and stories and scriptures to remind us that this material world that is visible and perceptible to our senses is not all that there is, and that this physical "animal" human body we inhabit is not all that we are. 

Just as the moon is illuminated by the fire of the sun's life-giving rays, so our material nature is illuminated and animated by a higher spiritual self that exists "above and beyond" our merely physical carcass. 

Just like the mooncake in the Jung Chau Jit celebration, which is divided and quartered into four equal sections, we ourselves are made up of a "cross," a "crucifix," a "quartered whole" consisting of both a horizontal line (between the equinoxes, and associated with matter) and a vertical line (between the solstices, reaching towards infinity, and associated with all that is spiritual, and with raising the spiritual aspect within ourselves and with calling it forth in those we meet and indeed in all of creation around us).

I sincerely wish you a very blessed Mid-Autumn Festival, and harmony between the microcosm and macrocosm. May all beings be freed from suffering and filled with peace and joy, love and light.

The waning moon, and the struggling brothers

The waning moon, and the struggling brothers

image: NASA, Wikimedia commons (link).

And so we return to the end of another moon, rapidly decreasing towards the point at which the sun will again overtake the moon and illuminate only the side of the moon facing towards the sun and away from the earth -- the new moon, arriving on the morning of September 24 (GMT -- or the evening of September 23 for those of us on the trailing edge of the North American continent, who cross into the "next day" behind most of the other parts of the globe).

The moon is currently in its last quarter, waning into a thin crescent, and rising very late in the night (in the small hours of the morning, about 4am on Friday, then closer to 5am on Saturday as the sun inexorably overtakes the moon, as happens every month). For discussion of the mechanics of the sun's monthly overtaking of the moon, see this and this previous post.

The late rising of the moon, and the fact that it is waning rapidly towards invisibility, makes these nights among the best for stargazing. Currently, the stars on brilliant display during the "prime time" hours of the night after nightfall and leading up to midnight include dazzling Sagittarius squarely in the south (for viewers in the northern hemisphere) at his highest point, with the Scorpion of Scorpio leaning steeply down towards the west, and the shining river of the Milky Way arcing straight up and overhead, in which fly the unmistakable forms of the Swan and the Eagle. 

All these constellations, as well as the Big and Little Dippers, Hercules, and the Herdsman (who are also easy to locate right now) are described with some pointers on how to find them in the index listed in this recent post.

The monthly declining cycle of the moon was seen as having deep spiritual significance, and was incorporated into numerous extremely important and central myths in the world's ancient mythological systems. The insightful self-taught Egyptologist, mythologist, and poet Gerald Massey (1828 - 1907, whose work has been discussed in numerous previous posts including this one and this one) expounded at length upon the mythological manifestations of the lunar cycles and their possible spiritual meanings in Luniolatry, Ancient and Modern (1887).

There, he demonstrates that the monthly pattern of the moon's decline and eventual disappearance, followed by its "rebirth" immediately after the time of new moon in the potent upward-horned crescent of the young moon which grows thicker and stronger on each successive night all the way up to the point of full moon (where the cycle of decline begins again) was behind many myth patterns, but one of the most widespread included the wrestling or contending of two "brother-figures," one dark and one light, with the darker one eventually proving to be at least temporarily victorious.

Massey demonstrates that, although Osiris is also a solar god (the sun in the underworld, who is reborn  triumphantly as Horus at the eastern horizon), he also has strong lunar elements in his myth, and his murder by his brother Set (or Seth) is a clear manifestation of the lunar cycle. Part of the evidence that Massey offers in support of this interpretation is the fact that Plutarch tells us in his version of the Egyptian myth (in which Plutarch calls Set by his Greek name, Typhon), Set is hunting by moonlight when he comes across the corpse of Osiris, and he subsequently dismembers the body of Osiris by cutting it into fourteen pieces and scattering them abroad in order to try to prevent his brother's revivification. 

In the monthly lunar cycle, Massey explains, the moon is waning towards invisibility for fourteen days -- the fourteen pieces into which Set sliced his brother's body:

Another fable of the dark half of the lunation has been preserved by Plutarch, who relates that when Typhon, the evil power, was hunting by moonlight, he by chance came upon the dead body or mummy of Osiris prepared for burial, and, knowing it again, he tore it into fourteen parts, and scattered them all about. These fourteen parts typify the fourteen days of the lessening light, during which the devil of darkness had the upper hand. The twenty-eight days made one lunar month according to Egyptian reckoning. 8.

Isis, who in some aspects of the myth is herself associated with the full moon, re-assembles the fourteen pieces, although (as Plutarch tells us but Massey does not mention) she is never able to find one important piece, perhaps representative of the fact that the new moon is invisible (unlike the other "slices" of the moon on the days in which it is declining down towards the point of new moon).  And yet it is out of the invisible new moon that the young and powerful waxing moon will be born, growing in power until he avenges his father's death (see the myth of Horus, as well as Hamlet). Plutarch's important text discussing the myth-cycle of Osiris, Set, Isis and Horus can be found online here.

Massey goes on to demonstrate that the struggle between the forces of light and darkness in the cycle of the moon is almost certainly fundamental to the myths of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Krishna and Balarama, and many other world-myths of twin brothers who fight against one another (and in which the one representing the power of darkness is seen to prevail, at least for a time).

These stories in the world's ancient scriptures of brothers killing brothers, such as Cain and Abel, would be horrible and depressing, if they represented literal events (and, tragically, battles pitting brother against brother are in fact part of the human experience), but the evidence compiled by Massey and other researchers, showing the clear repetition of the lunar pattern in myth after myth from around the world, strongly argues that these myths, at least, were not intended to be understood as describing earthly events, but rather heavenly ones.

However, as intimated by the quotation from Alvin Boyd Kuhn included in the previously-linked discussion of the phenomenon of the new moon, these heavenly motions were seen as conveying and embodying powerful truths about our own human condition, here in our earthbound incarnated state ("as above, so below"). 

The moon's monthly cycle of decline and then eventual rebirth, according to Alvin Boyd Kuhn, imparted to us the same message that the nightly, yearly, and even "Great-Yearly" motion which all the stars, planets, and faraway constellations also impart: the truth that we come down to this human existence from a higher, fiery, spiritual plane, here to toil for a time in what is, relatively speaking, an underworld, but that there is something miraculous in this cycle, and that out of the hidden new moon  (when light seems swallowed up by darkness) the triumphant new Horus always ascends again in the lunar cycle, repeated before our eyes each month (if we are paying attention). 

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year!

The date of Chinese New Year is determined by the new moon, but also by the winter solstice.  Thus, it is a solar and lunar New Year, as explained in this helpful article.

For discussions of the phases of the moon, and the cause of the new moon, see discussions in previous posts, such as this one and this one.  The above video was stitched together from NASA images, and shows the phases of the moon as well as the phenomenon of lunar libration.  As it orbits the earth, the moon presents the same face towards us at all times, but even as it does so it rocks slightly in a motion which is called "libration," and which can be seen in the video sequence.

For an amazing look at the dance of the earth and the moon in their orbit around the sun, see the video below:

After pondering the beautiful motion of the earth and the moon around their common "barycenter," you will undoubtedly develop a greater appreciation for the fact that the Chinese New Year takes into account both the sun and the moon in relation to the earth!

In Lost Light (discussed in this previous post), Alvin Boyd Kuhn put forth the thesis that the motions of the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies were seen by the ancients -- all over the world -- as typifying the descent of the human soul into incarnation in this life, and its re-ascent to the world of spirit, through the cycles of incarnation and re-incarnation by which, as he paraphrases the Egyptian Book of the Dead, "the soul steppeth onward through eternity"(41).

In discussing this subject, he writes:
Millions of intelligent persons today have looked upon sun and moon throughout the whole of their lives and have never yet discerned in their movements and phases an iota of the astonishing spiritual drama which the two heavenly bodies enact each month, a drama disclosed to our own astonished comprehension only by the books of ancient Egypt.  71.
But now that you know, you can contemplate this profound subject in the majestic cycles of the sun, moon, and stars, including in the cycles which bring about the annual Chinese New Year.

Happy Chinese New Year!  Wishing you all peace, health, freedom, and consciousness in the New Year.

The very thin crescent moon

Conditions turned out to be just right for viewing the very young crescent moon in my neighborhood of the globe last evening.

As the sun sank below the horizon, the brilliant planets Venus and Jupiter looked like jewels in the deepening blue high above, forming a line which pointed down towards the red glow where the sun had disappeared over the rim of the earth's horizon.

At first, the very fine sliver of the moon's arc was impossible to spot, but suddenly it was unmistakeable. The photograph above does not do it justice at all. Through binoculars it was breathtaking -- a thin silvery line, so thin that it was not even completely continuous. There is a gorgeous photograph on the web taken by photographer Stephano de Rosa which shows the same crescent over the Alps: this is very much what it looked like here, except that the color of the sky was different over the Pacific Ocean. Clicking on that photograph enlarges it for even better detail.

Just below and to the left, Mercury could be easily spotted through binoculars, a very small jewel sitting in a golden sea of the sun's glow (at first). As the rim of the earth continued to "rise up" (or the sun continued to retreat further below the horizon), this glow diminished and the moon and the planet Mercury became very distinct in the darker blue background. Mercury took on a very slight orange hue (almost yellow-orange).

This previous post outlined some of the mythological connections associated with the category of planetary events we are enjoying this month. The excellent video from Sky & Telescope's Tony Flanders shows where the crescent moon will be located tonight. As the sun continues to outpace the moon like a runner in a race that has passed another runner and continues to widen the gap, the moon trails the sun by a greater distance each day, and thus sits higher in the sky after sunset each evening. The crescent also thickens as the moon gets further from the sun (on its way to becoming full when the moon has gotten so far from the sun that it is now opposite to the sun from the observer on earth -- see previous discussions here and here).

Mr. Flanders also has an accompanying article which explains that last night's very thin crescent moon was about twenty-eight hours old when the sun was going down on the west coast of North America on the evening of February 22 (about twenty-four hours old for viewers along the east coast of the same continent). A link in that article takes you to another excellent Sky & Telescope discussion of very new crescent moons.

It explains that the window of sixteen to twenty-four hours after the precise moment of new moon is about the soonest one can observe the very thin crescent with the naked eye. The record for naked-eye observation of a new crescent is currently a moon that was only fifteen hours and thirty-two minutes old. A crescent only eleven hours and forty-two minutes old was observed with optical aid in 2002.

The second page of that article on observing very new crescents explains that astronomers have determined that the moon must be at least seven and a half degrees behind the sun for a crescent to begin to appear at all. Some of the work in this area was done by professor of astronomy Dr. Bradley Schaefer, who is mentioned in that article and also in this previous post discussing his important new analysis of the star catalogs of Ptolemy and Hipparchus (and his analysis of the Farnese Globe).

All five visible planets are now observable in the same evening. The planet Saturn rises later in the constellation Virgo, which follows Leo and retrograde Mars in the east.

Gung hay fat choy!

The Chinese New Year is the most important celebration of the entire annual calendar in the traditional Chinese year.

Chinese New Year begins with the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice. Since there was a New Moon on December 24, 2011 (which waxed into a Full Moon on January 9th and has since been waning), the New Moon which commences on January 23rd is the second New Moon since the solstice and ushers in the Chinese New Year.

For some discussion about the phases of the moon and the celestial mechanics behind these phases, see this previous post and this previous post. For more on the celestial mechanics behind the recent Winter Solstice, see this post and this post.

This year, the calendar of Taoist astrology says that we are entering the Year of the Dragon (which occurs once every twelve years). Taoist astrology also assigns one of the five Taoist elements (or "energy phases") to each year -- the five energy phases are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. There are actually "wood dragon" years, "fire dragon" years, "earth dragon" years, "metal dragon" years, and "water dragon" years: the combination of the twelve animals plus the five energy phases creates a sixty-year cycle rather than a simple twelve-year cycle. This year will be a "water dragon" year -- the last such year in the cycle was sixty years ago, in 1952.

Here is a recent interview with Feng Shui master Raymond Lo by Bloomberg Television's Susan Li, discussing the significance of the Year of the Water Dragon:

Note the association of the Dragon with earthquakes -- this may be very significant.

We have already considered a video in which David Talbott suggests that many of the recurring symbols of the ancient world represent attempts to capture or record the effects of plasma discharge -- a relatively new but important area of scientific study. In the video below, beginning at about the 3:10 mark, Mr. Talbott examines the recurring theme of the celestial dragon, and opines that the long "barbels" or "mustaches" characteristic of the Chinese dragon may embody aspects of plasma discharge that was present in the ancient earth and observed by ancient humanity:

The hydroplate theory draws a scientific connection between powerful earthquakes and plasma discharge (see again the blog post linked above discussing the importance of piezoelectricity in the origin of radioactive isotopes and in the ongoing electric effects present around very powerful earthquakes even into the modern era).

David Talbott argues that the celestial serpent embodies powerful plasma discharge: we have already seen that the ancient Chinese associated this same dragon with earthquakes. Further confirmation is given in the video linked above of Feng Shui master Raymond Lo, associating the dragon with earthquakes. Thus, the dragon's connection with both earthquakes and powerful electric discharge (or even plasma discharge) appears to resonate with the connections made between these phenomena by the hydroplate theory (for more on the connection of plasma discharge and earthquakes, both in the cataclysmic flood event and in very powerful earthquakes in the modern era, see this section in Walt Brown's online book).

We can only hope that this year will not see any catastrophic loss of life or property from powerful earthquakes or electric discharge. However, the apparent connection between the two phenomena embodied in the dragon is an important clue about the ancient history of mankind, and an important confirmatory detail that supports the hydroplate theory.

Happy New Year to all and very best wishes for a prosperous Year of the Dragon! Gung Hay Fat Choy!