Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with leading you on a meandering tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
M is for…
mesonoxian: (adj) of or relating to midnight
Midnight feels like a magical time to me. Certainly it’s a defined liminal point, where we officially transition from one day to the next. But it’s also often considered the witching hour – the peak of supernatural, magical activity.
I know it often speaks to me. I like looking out the window and catching glimpses of the sky, and thinking about people sleeping and wondering what dreams they might be caught up in. I live in a large metro area where light pollution is significant, so my sky viewing isn’t anywhere near optimal, but I connect the best I can. And I always think about Anais Nin’s words:
“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.”
Yes, yes, yes.
I’m not sure why but I think a lot about when my brother and I were teens and we’d lay out in the backyard late at night, especially during the Perseids meteor showers. Looking at the sky is a holy experience for me – I know of no other experience where I feel both overwhelming insignificant and infinitely connected simultaneously. Holding that paradox in my heart explodes it every time.
I think lots about comets too, and wishing on stars, and the fact that there is a Japanese Star Festival (Tanabata), which originated in the 6th century. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi, seen in the sky as the stars Vega and Altair. The Milky Way separates the lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
The tale of these star-crossed lovers is one of my favorites. Orihimie, the Weaving Princess, wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the Milky Way; and because her father loved the cloth so much she worked endlessly to weave it. But she was sad her work never left her time to meet anyone and fall in love. Upon hearing this, her father arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi, the Cowherder, who worked on the other side of the Milky Way. The two fell in love immediately and married. But they were so enamored with each other, Orihime no longer wove cloth and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over the heavens. So angry was Orihime’s father that he separated them across the Milky Way again, and forbade them to ever meet again. Orihime because so despondent, and her tears moved her father so much, he agreed that the two could meet once a year if she worked hard and finished her weaving.
For their first reunion though, they found they could not cross the river to each other because there was no bridge. Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so she could cross. It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies can’t come because of the rise of the river and the lovers must wait yet another year to meet. Rain on this day is called the “tears of Orihime and Hikoboshi”.
Something else I love are explanations about the custom of wishing on falling stars. One of my favorites suggested that the gods occasionally peered down on humans, either from curiosity or boredom. When they did so, they opened a gap in the heavens, and sometimes stars could slip through, becoming visible as falling stars. Sighting a falling star indicated the gods were paying attention, and it was a good time to make a wish that might be heard.
Sometimes at midnight when I’m staring up at the sky, I think of these words from poet W. S. Merwin: “From what we cannot hold the stars are made.” And I’m filled with both wonder and comfort.
My mind is open to all sorts of things at midnight. What about you? Do you wish upon stars. Watch for comets? Wander about at midnight? Do tell -you know I love to hear.