Saturday, September 8, 2012

Good Morning, Orion

Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven!
--Lord Byron

One of my favorite signs of the coming of fall is the reappearance of Orion in the morning sky.

Orion is one of the most beloved and most recognizable constellations, and it’s easy to see why. He is made up of many bright stars, and it’s not too big a reach to picture him as a man, a hunter. 

Let’s face it. Some constellations look like this:

This is Epiphanachos, which represents a circus clown swallowing a barracuda while riding a unicycle and holding aloft a bathroom plunger. You see it, right?

Okay, so I made that up to show that many constellations don’t look much like anything at all. But practically everybody can spot Orion and the Big Dipper.

Orion's Belt

One of the trademarks of Orion, The Hunter, is a belt made of three bright stars. (I guess even constellations have to hold their pants up.)

As a child, I stared at those three stars from the window of my small bedroom. When an elderly friend died, I assigned her a star in Orion's Belt to help me remember her always. As time passed, I did the same for two more friends. That way I could look up and say, "There’s Mrs. Lunsford’s star. That one is for Miss Mary. And that one is for Miss Addie, the sweet lady who gave me the doll house."

I guess I was just carrying on an ancient tradition of commemorating people and stories with stars.

There are many (conflicting) versions of the myth of Orion, but it goes something like this. Orion was the son of Poseidon and the daughter of Minos, the King of Crete. Orion was a mighty hunter with many gifts. For example, he could walk on water because--after all--he was Poseidon's son. 

So he sauntered across the waves to the Island of Chios, where he got into a spot of trouble and was blinded by the ruler, Oenopion. Orion then stumbled his way to the far East, where the rising sun—Helios—healed him. 

Next Orion went on a hunt with the goddess Artemis. Something upset him, and he threatened to kill all the animals on the earth. Boys will be boys. But Mother Earth was not amused, and she sent a giant Scorpion who killed Orion. Zeus then placed Orion in the heavens as a constellation, along with his hunting dog, Sirius, and just to round out the story, the Scorpion.

The Hunter's legend probably won't be made into a Hallmark movie, but over time, Orion seems to have gone through a “sea-change”—or a sky change if you will. I think of him as a celestial friend, as a guardian of the earth--majestic, unshakable--keeping watch through the long winter months over the sons of men.

And I have a personal superstition that the first day in autumn that I see Orion will be a special day. In October of 1987, I first saw Orion through the nursery window, when I got up to check on my three sleeping sons. My belly was swollen with a fourth child, and I told myself that this would be the day I would give birth. By ten-thirty that night, I had a daughter.

This morning, September 5th, is my first Orion sighting for the year. The reason I'm up so early is that my daughter  texted me that she was on her way to the hospital to have her baby. My baby is having a baby--and I just can't seem to get back to sleep.

The Orion Nebula
I think it’s rather lovely that I saw Orion this morning, an echo of that sighting years ago when Mary Meghan was born. And yes, I do realize that a random group of stars can't really "watch over" me. But Orion reminds me that there is a Heavenly Guardian who never slumbers or sleeps, who always sees me, even when I can't see Him--a hunter who is ever searching for the hearts of men, to surprise them with unmerited favor and love.         

           The Lord made the stars,
               the Pleiades and Orion. 
           He turns darkness into daylight
              and day into night.
           He calls for the waters of the sea
              and pours them out on the earth.
           His name is the Lord.
                         --Amos 5:7-9, 
                           Good News Translation of the Bible

EPILOGUE: My granddaughter, Amanda Rose, was born later that day on September 5th. She is pictured here with her mom.

Mother, baby, and Grandma are all doing well! Is Amanda Rose another mythopath in the making? Let's just say that Grandma is going to do her part to introduce this child to the world's great stories.  :-)


  1. Patty, I love the correlation between the birth of your daughter and granddaughter. what a beautiful finder of the soverign God who watches over us.

  2. Oh, my! Is that little girl a mother now?!?!?! Where DOES the time go?!?!?! Congratulations to you all. What a blessed day! Love, Judy Harris,

  3. I absolutely love the way life comes full circle. The first Orion sighting of the year on the day you had your own daughter, and now, on the day your daughter gives birth to your granddaughter. Our God truly is an AWESOME God! Congratulations, Grandma!

  4. Praise God for your voicing my heart's thoughts!