Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Orion No More

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," brimming with the big, broad, flexible outlook! Conventions can be so stifling. Kick up your heels!
Here in New Jersey, the sky has to be very clear in order to see any stars at all. White light blocks them out. Nevertheless, it's possible sometimes to see Venus shining over the shopping mall. And Orion the Hunter to the southwest, with his dogs and Taurus the bull at his side.


Orion has been my favorite constellation since I was a little girl. I must have been in fourth or fifth grade when my class took a field trip to the planetarium. The other kids got bored pretty quick, but I was just fascinated. After that, in high school, I took earth science. For awhile I was able to find any number of constellations in both the summer and winter skies.

My star knowledge has probably succumbed to years of alcohol use. The only constellations I can pick out now are Orion, Taurus, Cassiopia, and of course the Big Dipper.

When I decided to write about Orion, I looked up a few sites about him. He's Greek, of course. A Titan or some such. I was thinking of inviting him for an interview. But then something on one of the sites caught my eye.

It was a "duhhhh!" moment.

The site said that, since Orion is such a visible constellation, many cultures had names and identities for it, from turtles and other animals to gods and goddesses. (The Egyptians, for instance, associated the constellation with Osiris.)

In typical "Gods Are Bored" fashion, I asked myself: "Why should I be calling this constellation Orion? I don't worship the Greek pantheon."

You're of course expecting me to find a vulture hidden in that formation of stars. Trust me, it was my first attempt. But there's nothing about a buzzard that lends itself to three-in-a-row, like the studs on Orion's belt.

I've also thought about, and rejected, Celestial Slot Machine. I don't gamble. Something in me also bristles at the idea of a constellation named Barbie. She wears belts -- and she turned 50 last week -- but she doesn't deserve stars.

I'll have to meditate on this, because I'm so conditioned to see Orion as a male. It will be difficult to overcome the superstition that if I re-gender a constellation I'll reap a meteor shower of bad luck.

There are far worse ways to spend the evening than out in a yard, staring up at a constellation. If I stand gazing into the sky and talking to the stars, why, that will just make me like so many other crazy people in New Jersey!

What would you re-name Orion? Your brain is probably more fertile than mine. Frankly, my brain is in dire need of some Miracle-Gro. And a Sham-wow to soak up the stupidity.

And now, to gaze upon the stars! Adieu!

9 comments:

beweaver said...

I;ve always been pleased to have the constellation Orion on my forearm in, yeah, three moles.

Jaspenelle said...

I love looking up at Orion. You should consider participating in Globe at Night: http://www.globe.gov/GaN/

The Bloggers of Freedom's Place said...

I see Homer Simpson with an idea.......see that light bulb going off over his head?

I drank alot of alcohol too, Anne..........


Todays' verification word is "MACTOODY"

Maeve said...

Orion is one of my favorite constellations and I can't imagine it being called anything else. But at the same time, I usually can't find the supposed pictures the stars are supposed to be making. If you take away the outline drawings that help some of us Sham-wow users be able to tell why various constellations have the names they do, I'd never ever guess that they were archers and bears and things.

Terraluna said...

One evening, after a first-grade trip to the planetarium, my baby pointed at the sky and exclaimed, "Look, Mom! It's O'Brian!" It's been O'Brian for me ever since.

Definitely a male constellation. Check out his "sword".

Aquila ka Hecate said...

In Southern Africa, the belt and the sword have been seen as 'wild dogs chasing warthogs' and 'the angry hunter's arrow', but oddly the whole constellation doesn't seem to have had an integral existance, except further north it was, indeed, Osiris.

The Pleiades nearby have been inportant for agri-Africa, and earlier for the Khoisan, as their rising after sunset marked a change of season.

Love, Terri in Joburg

harmonyfb said...

I believe that in Northern Europe, it was called 'Freya's Distaff' (since I'm a spinner, I particularly like that one.)

Lisa said...

looks like a shopping trolley x

Maebius said...

I am partial to a mobius strip, with the cross-over 'twist' being the belt/sword and the shoulders/knees stars being the loops. but that's just me.
If asked, I tend to see it as "Orion" since I learned it that way (astro/physics major initially) and fall back of the ingrained unless I put my active mind to re-describing the constellations.