- 🎨 I changed Orion, The Hunter, into a woman painting the universe
- 💃🏽 I redrew The Great Bear as a joyful, leaping dancer
- ❤️ In Gemini, The Twins, I now see a mother tenderly holding her child
Can I tell you a secret? The Western constellation stories that focus purely on the Greek myths are fantastical....but they don’t reflect the world I want to dream into being.
Namely – in the Greek mythology of the stars nearly all the women are punished, chased and/or silenced.
Take Cassiopeia for example – the ‘M’ or ‘W’ shaped constellation clearly seen overhead in Winter on a clear night - the powerful queen punished for her vanity. According to Earth Sky the story goes thus:
Cassiopeia was an Ethiopian queen in ancient Greek mythology. According to legend, she boasted she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs called the Nereids. Her boast angered Poseidon, god of the sea, who sent a sea monster, Cetus, to ravage the kingdom. To pacify the monster, Cassiopeia’s daughter, Princess Andromeda, was left tied to a rock by the sea. Cetus was about to devour her when Perseus the Hero looked down upon her from Pegasus, the Flying Horse. Perseus rescued the Princess, and all lived happily. The gods were so pleased, that all of these characters were elevated to the heavens as stars. Only Cassiopeia suffered an indignity; her vanity caused her to be bound to a chair and placed in the heavens so that, as she revolves around the north celestial pole, she is sometimes in an upside-down position.
📖 Stories are cultural narratives. The stories we tell ourselves and tell in our collective culture matter. They shape how we think, act and behave.
What came before these Greek myths in the West?
In a recent For The Wild podcast episode with Sylvia V. Linsteadt Sylvia spoke about the research on a stratum of culture beneath the Bronze Age, before typical European patriarchy took hold, which suggested a more egalitarian, matrilineal society where domestic craft skills were seen as sacred, with looms and kilns and bread ovens found in temples. ❤️
Sylvia asks - Why in Europe do we have endless tales of epic battles and not a single ancient story of the epic journey all of us have made through childbirth that led to our existence on Earth?
Perhaps you have felt intimidated by these ancient Greek stories too?
Perhaps that’s put you off starting to get to know the night sky? Or made you feel stargazing is for a certain type of person?
🌟 🖋️ I want to invite you to retell the stories of the stars and weave your life into their fiery depths too.
Over the last few years I transformed the night sky so that it still holds the Greek myths (as well as rich stories from other cultures) and yet is also layered with stories of my life:
Because the stars are yours too, my friend. And you get to weave your stories into the night sky.
🌌 You can fill them with the stories of your life so that when you look up on a crisp, clear winter night you are reminded of what matters to you.
Tonight, I want to invite you to take a look at a constellation and imagine a different story, one that means something to you and feel how it transforms your experience of the night sky.
Not sure where to start with stargazing? Check out these 5 tips for beginners.