Posted tagged ‘Pachamama’

Solstitial Stillness : Prelude to Midsummer Madness?

June 25, 2013

Rare lightning storm over Chile's VLT array (very large telescope) at 8,500ft Cerro Paranal, Atacama desert

Rare lightning storm over Chile’s VLT array (very large telescope) at 8,500ft Cerro Paranal, Atacama desert

Solstice, they say, should be a time of stillness. Ancient civilizations—however primitive our society views them—were aware of the sun’s influence on their lives and its ability apparently to ‘stand still’ twice each year, when it reaches its greatest distance from the celestial equator. Now, in the Enlightened Aquarian Age, we hold festival over winter to celebrate that time of change. What do we do in summer? Go on vacation? Study crop circles? Some continue to work right through this special time, not realizing our connection to its ancient traditions, rooted in the earth.

Party Time!
Some cultures continue to make offerings, like the Ayamara in Peru. English do Maypole dance, Cornish have their Green Man bonfires, Nevada its Burning Man Festival, August 26-September 2nd this year, and California its music. So perhaps the consciousness behind celebrating in the fields is not totally lost to urbanites, if we can drink in the stillness offered by nature and make an effort to incorporate calm communion with the Earth in our everyday lives.

Classical civilization certainly knew how to do that—and party. And if they didn’t have gods of their own to offer obeisance and reverence to, they imported others. Saturnalia was known throughout the Roman world as the epitome of winter revelry, debauchery, excess, as the only time the old rigid god Saturn let down his hair. Equally, in summertime, they pulled out all the stops, liberally borrowing gods and goddesses from other cultures as themes suited.

Cybele, adopted as Mother-protectrix of Rome's 'city and fields' wore the Phrygian helmet-crown of warrior goddess

Cybele adopted as Mother-protectrix of Rome’s ‘city and fields’ wore the Phrygian helmet-crown of warrior goddess

Cybele, right, the original pre-classical (Bronze Age, c.8thC BC) Indo-European Earth Mother warrior goddess from Phrygia-Anatolia, Turkey—symbol of fertility, earth’s swelling summer cornucopia of growth and abundance—was converted for her ‘psychic powers’ to take a place in the Greek and Roman pantheon. The Sybil who issued prophetic knowledge, like the Delphic Oracle, was her Roman adaptation. She was guardian of Rome. Her Egyptian equivalent was revered as Earth Mother figure Hathor; but the later Greeks, succumbing to male-dominant cultural needs, altered her concept of ‘love’ to one embodied by Aphrodite—losing the earth connection.

The Earth Mother of prehistoric cultures—whose neolithic carved dolls date to pre-Ice Age Europe—survives in vestigial worship of Inca Pachamama in Bolivia, but had turned volte-face in the Aegean by the time of the Trojan wars, when male physical prowess and warlike behavior on all fronts were supreme in Greek eyes. It is curious to note that hero of the Trojan wars, Paris, embodying male physical beauty, pure in mind, focused in war and manly pursuits like discus and javelin dexterity, was an imported ‘alien'(suppressed culture) superhero who wore the prehistoric Phrygian helmet (like Cybele), denoting his more ancient origins. The Roman army dedicated its legions’ souls to the care of Mithras—another import from Phrygia, complete with godly war-helmet.

Where the primeval mother-warrior had battled time and the elements for the good of the Earth, bringing fruits in season, male culture—in taking over the role of earth-caretaker—may have gone a little overboard on the warrior front.


Delphic Oracle—Eta Delphinids, Cetacean Commiunications

The locked grid for Solstice June 21 2013 9pm EST, courtesy Astrotheme Progressed Charts

The locked grid for Solstice June 21st 2013 9pm EST, progressed chart, courtesy Astrotheme

In astrological circles this solstitial time is seen as one of huge change—in context of life, personal vision, and clearing away old debris, solstitial chart by Astrotheme, left.

Astronomically, NASA/NOAA’s solstitial prediction for ‘few’ aurorae over the midsummer period, includes a mention by the space agency of meteor showers, Eta Delphinids, M-class solar flares ongoing, with resulting storms hitting earth through June and July. Earth’s magnetosphere activity is listed as ‘unsettled’ during this period, see changes sidebar right. We are, after all, midway through solar maximum, 2013.

Somewhere between the two star camps there appears in the northern sky one of our least-known yet most massive constellations, only visible in summer: Ophiuchus. Both astro sides agree: this giant (dim) group of stars stretching from the head of Scorpio across Libra and Virgo, to touch the (upside-down) head of Hercules at zenith, brings into the summer sky images—and concepts from the ancient mind—most appropriate to this silly season. Because of the cosmic quirk of precession of the equinoxes—earth’s ‘wobble’ on its axis bringing it successively through each of the zodiac signs, backwards—we in the Aquarian Age in Earth’s subtropical, tropical and temperate zones are seeing—many for the first time—two gigantic constellations which were familiar to the Ancients, who anthropomorphized them as expressions of their own conflicting ideals.

backwards thru Zodiac~~ Aquarius: water-bearer, far-sighted visionary, troubled by burdens—symbol of the Age
Capricorn: seagoat, god of cardinal order, old (outworn? Saturnian) mechanisms, consistently appears at midsummer full moon to put cat among pigeons…
Sagittarius: archer, ruled by Jupiter: Jovian happy-spirited lover of nature, trying to hold balance between the above and…
Scorpio: scorpion, fixed water=ice symbolic of birth, death and rebirth, transfiguration; overcoming impediments, its sting-in-tail never allows others to relax

enter~~ Ophiuchus, serpent bearer holding both ends of constellation Serpens in his hands: Serpens Cauda, tail in his right; Serpens Caput, head in his left.

Constellation Ophiuchus, Flamsteed Celestial Atlas, 1776

Constellation Ophiuchus, Flamsteed Celestial Atlas, 1776

Ophiuchus: Ὀφιοῦχος “Serpent-bearer”, serpent-wielding handler of snakes, transitioned from his ancient image of enlightened Man wrestling-with-conscience through medieval image of unbridled male sexual power, to Georgian image of protective fatherly person-of-age and wisdom and healing, to Victorian preoccupation with—mostly male—medical profession—caduceus, or *thyrsus a symbol of healing derived from a rod (bamboo, fennel, or the male member) wrapped in a vine, ivy or flower garlands.

Unusually, both ‘scientific’ and ‘psychic’ astros agree, constellation Ophiuchus will dominate the July 2013 sky, rising higher than it has in the last two thousand years. Some extreme astrologers have suggested rearranging the traditional/tropical zodiac, to make room for another constellation (because his feet actually stand on the ecliptic, between Scorpio and Sagittarius). Current western astrology, however, is a convention developed from zodiac signs visible in Roman/Greek skies, using attributes associated with cultural gods/seasons/beliefs of that time, and these which would lose meaning if arbitrarily rearranged.

As Ophiuchus makes its first appearance since the “EndTimes of 2012″—brighter and more dominant than at any time in human memory—there may be another message for us in its new guise.

Sumer is icumen in, Lhude sing cuccu!

Greco-Roman god Priapus, rescued fresco from Pompeii c.AD79, Archaeological Museum of Naples

Greco-Roman god Priapus, rescued fresco from Pompeii c.AD79, Archaeological Museum of Naples

PRIAPOS was the rustic god of the Ancient world, responsible through his unbridled fertility for the bounty of the vegetable garden. Later stylized as a dwarfish entity with a huge penis, which symbolized garden fertility, originally his head was crowned with a peaked Phrygian cap, belying his origin as a god, native to the Hellespont, ancient Phrygia. His cult was introduced into Greece and Italy, where his mythology was reinterpreted in Greek terms. Greeks naturally named him a son of one of their phallic gods: either Hermes/Mercury or, more often Dionysos. His mother was Aphrodite. They were accompanied by satyrs Orthanes and Tykhon.

Priapos/Priapus was honored by Greeks, Romans, Mysians, Hittites, Egyptians (their Apis, bull of fertility) as protector of sheep, goats, bees, the vine and of all garden produce. In formative cultures, the phallus was the ancient emblem of creation. It represented gods Bacchus, Priapus, Hermaphroditus, Hercules, Shiva, Osiris, Baal and Asher, who were all Phallic deities. Roman Priapus, a stylized symbol of Rome’s mastery of the then world, had odes written to him and poems pinned on patio phalluses in gardens of aristocratic ladies who wished to keep their arboreal spirits potent.

The most famous extant depiction of Priapus is the Pompeiian fresco, above. He is crowned with peaked Phrygian cap, shown weighing his enormous member on a set of scales against the produce of the fields. He wears Phrygian war-boots, and has a Bacchic, cone-tipped thyrsus* resting by his side.
Photo of Pompeiian fresco, courtesy Andargor

Burning Man annual late summer festival in Black Rock Nevada desert

Burning Man annual late summer festival in Black Rock Nevada desert

In festive summer frolics, Priapus was depicted accompanied by garden nymphs, dyads and maenads, each waving a flower-wreathed *thyrsus—a wand made from fennel or bamboo, with a pierced pine-cone at its tip, which nymphs used as mini-phalluses to poke at the unitiated or to ward off satyrs and unwanted suitors.

In Celtic mythology he is the god of spring, Greenman, vestigial Druid prince-king-god who invoked fertility for his land through dance in sacred groves where tree and nature-spirits dwell.

Primitive statues of the god were traditionally set up in vegetable plots to promote fertility, with the added benefit of functioning as a type of scarecrow for scaring away birds. But when garden gnomes became a late 19thC fashion, their priapic member was eliminated in the mass-produced version, as Victorian sensibilities dictated that such garden gnomes NOT display their ‘private parts’, in case ladies in passing carriages should succumb to the ‘vapors’ and require medical assistance.

Priapic Preoccupation in Crop Circles
Victorian humor aside, Priapos was genuinely revered as patron of the garden, guardian of growth for all crops, and it is a relief to see this multi-faceted countryside god showing his (at least symbolic) head above ground—as a sign of bounty to come?—in the first two-phase crop circle appearance at Stanton St Bernard, Wiltshire, June 21st.

Solstitial crop circles have traditionally sent some of the clearest messages as the theme of a season; it is tempting to believe that the paucity of designs in Wiltshire—twelve during June; British total for season—is one of those. Meanwhile, crop circle anticipation remains high: manfully upheld by the Italian contingent, as the fields of Rome, Tuscany and northern Italy have had a relatively ‘normal’ growing season—that in itself may suggest we show a little deference to our classical heritage.

Stanton St Bernard dual-phase priapic crop circle points to ancestral Milk Hill

Stanton St Bernard dual-phase phallic crop circle points to ancestral Milk Hill, photo courtesy Paul Jacobs

So it is riveting to see that the season’s first ‘complex’ symbol should appear right on schedule—over solstice—in the Wiltshire ‘hub‘, in the same fields which created all the uproar last year, see Siderealview archives.

*Seen as a thyrsus, (typically, English has no translation for a wand wreathed in flowers sporting a bristle like a dildo), its pinecone-like business end pointed straight at Milk Hill—representative of ancient Earth Mother-milk-and-honey-bounty—the first meaningful crop circle of the season may once more be pulling at us with multiple strands. Targeting the Mother hill (the highest in Wiltshire) goes partway to awakening dormant English respect for ancient ways. By incorporating the dildo-pinecone in a sword- (or thyrsus-like) javelin cut straight through the barley and aimed at Milk Hill’s symbol of male strength—the horse riding the Mother—this crop design rekindles memories of pineal gland/third eye crop formations of summer 2011.

Messages then were that we/’Society’ release our male left-brain stranglehold on our fragile 21stC world, allow the female intuitive right-brain heart-centered side to come out of dormancy and express more freely. And that the pleasure zone: endorphins, melatonin and the pineal gland, function together as a means to synthesize and synchronize this new awareness in us humans by connecting our mind-body-spirit back to our terrestrial home.

Now, in post-Omega-Point reflection through a slow growing season, we are reminded to temper our left hemisphere destruction of habitat, and instead to devote time to more reverent and respectful treatment of our earthly environment.

To add to this summer madness, Ophiuchus rises to full stature in the northern July night, unseen until now in such grandeur by 21stC eyes. He stands diametrically opposite Orion, filling the southern arc of the night sky, his feet astride the ecliptic, between Sagittarius and Scorpio, his head grazed by the upside-down head of Hercules at zenith. Grasping with both hands he wields the Serpent: Serpens Caput in his left; Serpens Cauda in his right, the dual twisting constellation locked between his outstretched legs, as if caught in flagrante delicto, not a god, but a man wrestling his (inner and) outer demons.

Summer’s greatest blessing is that we northerners can relax, feel warm, surrounded by earth’s cornucopia of beauty, vegetative growth at its height—lulled into enjoying the brief season without thought to winter, responsibility, cold… the grasshopper and ant scenario. Or, with American Independence Day July 4th just around the corner, could consciousness of the ‘Silly Season’ already be taking hold? Celebrate now for tomorrow we die?
Te morituri salutamus!

We know our Earthmother’s answer.
©2013 Siderealview

Novices in the Noosphere find Answers in the Corn

July 25, 2012

Entering the Noosphere as a Newbie

Merkabah, spirit vehicle in its second phase, when inner triangles of previously standing grain were layered to create the green extradimensional effect, July 21st, 2012 Wanborough Plain, photo Philippe Ullens

The best way for us to participate in the global awakening is to pay close attention to the little details in our own lives day-to-day. For the extent of our ability to bring love to the whole is in direct proportion to how much we are currently motivated by and expressing Love in our own lives. The greater we love, the greater our power to change the world.
Ken Carey, Timekeepers of the Human Experiment, 2012

Awakening-awakened collective of human consciousness
Teilhard de Chardin, in his Cosmogenesis, 1922, initiated a study of the planetary thought field, which he called the ‘Noosphere’—from Gk. nous, mind: his legacy continues in the ongoing research of this condition in the University of Princeton‘s Global Consciousness Project.

Within this sphere’s true nature is that ever-growing portion of the earth’s aura which is awakened-awakening collectively in human consciousness. Freud and Carl Jung made us all aware of our collective subconscious, but it is our long-dormant collective conscious which is now surfacing.

孙彦 graphic design based on the 2nd phase at Wanborough Plain, July 2012

According to Carey, “Already awakening, this field of collective human consciousness will soon know itself for what it is, even as we realize that each of us is like an individual leaf on a tree, or an individual cell in a body. Even after this happens I expect that in order to minimize any disorientation this event will bring, the Star Maker will only gradually reveal its conscious Presence within us, slowly allowing humankind to awaken to the realization that people are not only One, but that we have a rôle as the Star Maker’s physical organ of consciousness—an organ similar to a brain—but more clearly understood in our new capacity as the guidance system for this particular planetary garden.”

Spectacular sundogs, visible at high latitudes when the Sun is low in the sky; Greenland photo by Jay Johnson

The West is not the only culture preoccupied with the imminent appearance of the Other—Carey’s Starmaker, Terence McKenna’s Eschaton, Nevada UFO-spotters’ ET. In the southern half of the continent, the Aztecs await Quetzalcoatl, feathered serpent, Kukulcan returns to the Maya, and the Inca reunite with their Mother Pachamama‘s breast.

Ramayana & other Vedic texts describe ‘Vimana’ flying vehicles for the gods

In the East, the Persians/Assyrians visualized their sky-king-god Anu would reveal himself in a fiery chariot; Babylonian and Vedic gods had from of old flown the heavens in their Vimana flying ships, and so their frequent visits to earth were commonplace in the subcontinental consciousness.

There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.
G.K. Chesterton

In Kundalini, the Merkabah transports the body-mind-spirit through seven light-color-differentiated chakras-centers towards ultimate enlightenment-awareness; Stanton St.Bernard fairytale bauble, stage-1 Vimana vehicle; stage-2 Angel; stage-3 sundogs add sparkle, see above

Egyptian kings drew divine right through direct communing/worship of the Sun’s disk, giving them superhuman powers, which reinforced their people’s devotion. It was their belief that the afterlife—for which their psyche was prepared and their bodies mummified—was one with the gods, of eternal light, abundance, bliss and joy.

While Egypt and Sumeria gave us writing; and Arabia gave us number, none of the eastern civilizations—Roman, Greek, Judaic—can compete with the Maya for their ability to calculate human cycles of time. Their Tzolkin and LongCount cycles run with regularity and precision from a ‘time of origin’ in the Bronze Age [3114 B.C.], through their own recorded heyday and decline, into the present massively-predicted year of 2012; and continuing to a date of conjecture some one thousand years in the future. The calendar’s ability to make remarkable predictions, usually associated with the highpoints of the cycles of Venus, have added to its mystique; and the 2012 cycle timechange—when one ancient circuit completes and another begins—has led to a huge following of extremes, from doomsayers to revelationists.

We are already more than halfway through this apocalyptic year, and so public consciousness is alert to ‘signs in the skies’, eclipses, the Venus transit, and recent weeks’ massive and continuous solar flare assemblage from sunspot-1520 directed at Earth. Symbolism provided by the heavens has always had mass appeal. So, when the Earth seems willing to join in the party—hey, it’s 2012, isn’t it?—we all plunge in.

In crop circles, the messages have been hotting up: 2012 has been a year of a few choice locations, see my earlier posts, attracting multiple phases which have returned to stylize/enhance a formation or open up unseen aspects. Stanton St. Bernard’s bauble, above, is a prime example. Wanborough’s latest development—freshly-laid green interlacing and highlighting previously laid-down dimensional design, top—shows a classic star tetrahedron of interlocking triangles reminiscent of the Merkabah, or ‘Chariot of the Gods’.

Star tetrahedron, sacred geometrical shape of the spirit vehicle, Merkabah

It is the vehicle used by Ascended Masters and those advanced in the discipline of meditation and self-mastery to ascend to the next vibrational level of consciousness. The Merkabah, right, is itself a symbol of the Ascension process, which humankind is presently beginning to experience. This ‘chariot’ or device used by the gods is a metaphor for one’s own ability to activate within the human mind and energy body a synthesis of mind-body-spirit which transports the soul to higher vibrational states and ‘another’ dimension.

It is consistent with crop circles–particularly those of 2012–that designs also present multiple interpretations.

Through a language that’s possible for most of us to understand the crop circles, with apparent ease, carry trains of thought over thousands of years that are both transformative and liberating. They seem to serve the function of seer, sage and mantra. We prosaic new millennium types have no priesthood to guide us, no Delphic Oracle; so pictures in the corn do it for us. It worked for the Egyptian/Sumerian priesthood, who spared no effort in using every available surface to proclaim the existence and draw pictures of another dimension (their ‘after’- or future-life), so the people might understand.

ET makes an appearance Hinton Parva CC July 25th

Now, millennia later, we so-called evolved mortals are being given similar instruction—a picture language with recurring specific symbols—from our ‘priesthood of light’, our own ET, superconsciousness communicating from a higher frequency.

It seems we are being shown a series of objects which exist in a higher dimension, so that our vision and perception may become clearer. Each summer, via an ephemeral canvas of wheat, barley and maize, we’re being taught telepathically: and each year-end we’ve learned more than we knew before. And the learning curve is rising…

New shining crop circle below the Wrekin (on the Wroxeter side), July 21st seems intent on calling our attention to the planetary configuration for August 4th, 2012 when Saturn (ringed), Mars and the Moon are conjunct Spica, brightest star in Virgo constellation, starchart courtesy Aluna-Joy

Meanwhile back at the Wrekin—that ephemerally-balanced strip of sacred mountain and green getaway for the Midlands [Wolverhampton literally 35-minutes away, 24 miles along the M54], a remarkably sun-drenched crop design appeared July 21st—three spheres on a tridecagon background—a-13-sided polygon—to mark the fifth appearance in Shropshire in a month. While at first glance it appeared to be yet another solar flare, decoders were quick to point out that the circular ‘planets’, ringed Saturn, Mars and Moon, are conjunct Spica in constellation Virgo in exactly this configuration in the night sky on August 4th, 2012. It is the second crop circle to alert us to this date—see ‘polar clock’ CC at Manton Drove, June 2nd. Astrologically, the Moon also aligns with Neptune on that day: Roman equivalent of Greek god Prometheus who ruled Oceans and Earthquakes!

Light saber in the corn: Windmill Hill crop circle July 25th: ten orbs may predict ten days until August 4th, when we break through all traditional barriers and become one continuous beam of light? photo Philippe Ullens

Then today, a miraculous transformation of a field near Windmill Hill, Avebury, points to the same date: ten days from now when all eyes (perhaps) are focused on the Olympics Men’s Athletics, it might just be possible that our world may be transformed by a similar light-enhanced saber, slicing through our consciousness—as light pierces everything; even darkness—to bring our embryo Noosphere into reality: so we can see it for what it really can show us: a way forward through the prosaic daily drudge that many people call life, and remind us that we are capable, within our hearts, minds, and bodies, of seeing the greater picture; of rising to the expectation of our ancestors, who predicted that this year—nay, this very day—would come to transform our world.

Too Distracted to Notice?
Ken Carey feels it is likely that disruption by solar flare will be the mechanism by which the general populace is distracted when world communications go down.

Distraction is what it’s all about, you know—the worrisome scenarios of the “Doomsday Preppers,” fears of a global financial collapse, periods of time without mass communication, inoperable military satellites that will (along with the absence of field communication) bring wars to a standstill. Not all of these things will occur of course, but those that do will do so merely to distract people while God’s real work is taking place.
Ken Carey, 2012

If Ken Carey is right, and his intuitive communications have been remarkably accurate so far—Return of the Bird Tribes, Starseed: the Third Millennium, Vision—then let’s pray that any solar cataclysm which presents its earth-facing power towards us in ten days’ time, will bring with it the long-presaged Saturnia Regna, the Golden Age, when humankind may begin anew to behave as was always intended: with liberty and justice for all: certainly; but also with kindness and compassion. We have it in our genes. It’s in the all the histories. Are we so ‘distracted’ that we are unable to see the real thing when it starts happening before our eyes?
©2012 Siderealview

2010: Year of the Metal Tiger

February 12, 2010

Victor Kahn's magical tiger in female clothing

2010 is predicted to be a tumultuous year on many fronts. And, as of Valentine’s Day, it becomes the Year of the Metal Tiger. The Tiger in oriental astrology returns – along with the planet Jupiter – every twelve years. So we are about to have our Jupiter Return. The Tiger is the symbol of courage, inviting bold actions and risk taking. The Metal element will provide steely resolve, fortitude and determination to accomplish goals.

That’s a bold combination for a year which begins, in this era of multi-cultural clashes, with a day of cultural harmony. In terms of celebration at least, half the world will be out making whoopee on Sunday.

Preparations for Sunday's parade in Rio


It is the day of the New Moon (in refined and forward-looking Aquarius, alongside Sun and Mercury); at the center of the Inca world, a solemn dedication to light and Pachamama is held in the Temple of the Priestesses on Titicaca’s Island of the Moon; it is the beginning of Creole and Latin Carnival and Roman Catholic German ‘Fasching’, which lasts until Ash Wednesday next week.

The Tiger ushers in a year of inscrutable Chinese philosophy (possibly even an upsurge in Tai Chi classes); it signals the first day of Tibetan Buddhist Losar and, almost forgotten in the melée and rush to grab a bargain, to feast before the fast of Lent, it is the celebration of the Roman Valentinus who was persecuted for his belief in Christian love: St. Valentine, a politically-incorrect Christian in the last years of pre-Christian emperor Claudius II’s reign, was executed outside Rome’s Flaminian Gate on February 14th AD270. He was brought to trial for aiding Christians who were being persecuted in Claudian Rome; and when he attempted to convert the emperor himself to Christianity, his execution was ordered. The lovers whom he had joined in Christian wedded bliss in earlier illegal ceremonies brought him gifts of flowers while he awaited his fate.

Valentine’s Day floral gifts are today given with little or no knowledge of their original place in the legend of Valentinus. It is not surprising. While Pope Gelasius in AD496 recognized his martyrdom and designated February 14th to honor him, he was never officially canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Once more, the act of celebrating on the first day of the first New Moon in February is much more heavily laced with pre-Christian countryman (‘pagan’) belief than with any superimposed Church festival. At this time of year, along with the return of the Light – longer hours of sunlight and the movement of the sun’s disk rising higher daily in northern skies, it was a time to celebrate the rising of sap in trees, the first signs of birds pairing and beginning to mate; the appearance of first growth in the Earth. Snowdrops and aconites open; first shoots of daffodil and bluebell leaves appear; the Earth awakens.

This year the Sun appears to be awakening again, too.

THEMIS Satellite group measures auroral activity from orbit

Until December we Earth residents were affected by a trickle of solar wind: the last vestiges of a solar minimum – an eleven-year cycle of minimal solar activity. Apart from a coronal mass ejection (CME) predicted in a couple of Wiltshire crop circles in June last year for the early part of July 2009, we were blessed with no power outages caused by magnetic storms, our annual display of aurora borealis has been relatively undramatic and NASA has had plenty time to observe activity of their THEMIS satellite group (there are five), launched from Cape Canaveral in February 2007 to orbit the earth and study aurora and the planet’s magnetosphere.

Solar magnetic field drapes against Earth's magnetosphere as it drifts by


THEMIS stands for Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms: the study of Aurora, for short.

They’ve had a few surprises.

The magnetosphere is a bubble of magnetism that surrounds the Earth and protects us from the Solar Wind.

Earth’s magnetic field carves out a cavity in the sun’s onrushing field. The Earth’s magnetosphere is thus ‘buffeted like a wind sock in gale force winds, fluttering back and forth in the solar wind,’ according to David Sibeck of the THEMIS project at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Solar particles by themselves don’t cause severe space weather, but they get energized when the solar magnetic field becomes oppositely-directed to Earth’s own field and reconnects, rather like a load of iron filings in the proximity of a magnet.

These energized sun particles have a combined force equal in some cases to a CME. They can cause magnetic storms of such magnitude that they overload power lines with excess current, and cause widespread blackouts. One of these events happened in September 1859 when a solar flare lasted nearly a week. Most of Middle America was without power for that period. It is remembered in astronomical and meteorological circles as the Superstorm or the Carrington Event.

Charged solar particles can also cause radiation storms that present hazards to spacecraft in high orbits or to the Space Shuttle with its crew of astronauts passing through a storm on its way to the moon, the ISS or other destinations in the solar system.

But, like Met. Office warnings of bad weather, these Space Weather forecasts can be predicted.

‘The more particles, the more severe the storm,’ says Joachim (Jimmy) Raeder of the University of New Hampshire, who collaborates with NASA. ‘If the solar (magnetic) field has been aligned with the Earth’s for a while, we know Earth’s field is heavily loaded with solar particles and primed for a strong storm. This discovery gives us a basic predictive capability for the severity of solar storms, similar to a hurricane forecaster’s realization that warmer oceans set the stage for more intense hurricanes.’

So far, so good. But Jimmy has a prognostication: He says calmly:

‘In fact, we expect stronger storms in the upcoming solar cycle.’

The solar magnetic field changes direction every cycle, that is, every eleven years, and we have had eleven years of a minimum: relatively calm Space Weather. Not a lot happening in the magnetosphere. Also, with the Sun’s non-alignment with Earth’s magnetic field, the shield is up; fewer particles can get in.

Streams of plasma jet out from the Sun in a recent CME


However, we just entered the doorway to a new cycle. Two new sunspots appeared on the sun’s disk last week, one (1045) described by SOHO as ‘awesome’ and ‘complex’ and the other (1046) – which just appeared around the edge – seems set to outdo its neighbor. Because of the Sun’s altered magnetic orientation in the new cycle, SOHO and THEMIS are expecting fireworks.

Not immediately at first, perhaps. These sunspot occlusions take time to build. Yet, when a sustained CME of plasma bursts from the solar prominences, we should expect something a little different to hit our placid earth shores. The expected clouds of particles ejected from the sun will have a magnetic field which is at first not aligned with Earth’s, but by the time the CME hits, (it takes about three days to travel 93,000,000 miles to us) the solar magnetic field is programmed to react and turn the other cheek. Its magnetic polarity switches to its opposite as the cloud passes by. And our magnetosphere opens its doors to welcome it.

It’s rather like sending a solar invitation to dinner: the earth is at first the reluctant host, but when the package is delivered, the host welcomes the new guest with open arms.

Coronal Mass Ejection crop circle which predicted July 2009 CME

THEMIS is currently pondering a new series of data which suggests that when the two magnetic fields line up, together they create a ‘huge breach, and there’s lots and lots of particles coming in’- David Sibeck’s words.

As they orbited Earth, THEMIS’s five spacecraft were able to estimate the thickness of the band of solar particles getting in through the breach when the fields were aligned — it turned out to be about 20 times the number that got in when the fields were counter-aligned. They measured meticulously as they orbited through the band.

Like one of Saturn’s rings, the band turns out to be one Earth radius thick, or about 4,000 miles (6,437 kilometers).

So, when the barriers are down, Earth is vulnerable. In 1859, at the time of the Carrington Event, nobody on Earth had a computer, banking systems and air traffic control were a figment in a futurist’s imagination; weather was something you ‘got through’.

If the data which THEMIS and SOHO are now contemplating becomes crystallized – if the beauty seen in a crop circle last summer becomes a reality: if we have a CME or a particle storm equal to or more powerful than that single event of last July 7th, Earth is in for a rocky ride.

We’ll need all our Tiger and Metal attributes to get us through.

In the meantime, happy Fat Tuesday (pancakes & syrup). Happy Mardi Gras.


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