This final article will conclude our series on stargazing and rudimentary navigation using heavenly bodies. There’s no end to the depth of this subject, though. From ancient hands we’ve been passed marvelous star lore, intricate treatises on planetary sympathies, and all manner of alchemical, esoteric, and symbolic meanings associated with the stars, the planets, the sun and moon, and the seasons. Learn on! And don’t forget to love the dearest globe of stardust we know: the earth.
In my last article we learned to find true north by using the Big Dipper (or the Big Bow and Arrow) to find the North Star. Now we’ll learn a little more about basic navigation by the using the sun and moon.
The Big Dipper, Ursa Major
Our ancestors navigated endless wilderness and vast expances of ocean without the slightest hint of a landmark, a compass, or (my god!) a GPS. The backbone of this ancient skill and the center of all direction is the North Star, which marks the northern axis of the earth and can serve as the starting point for finding your way when wandering, lost, or wanting. This world is in constant transition as day gives way to night, birth to old age, and winter snow to spring rain, but the North Star, Polaris, has remained an unwavering flag in the sky for ages past and will remain so for ages to come. The easiest way to locate it is by using the familiar constellation the Big Dipper, which I’m going to change to the Big Bow and Arrow in order to explain the method to you. It’s a little more fool proof that way. I’ve also written two myths that will help you remember and explain the way to find Polaris in a storyteller way. But before we go into that, let’s learn to love the stars.