When you start studying mythology or looking for the mythological background to your ideas, one thing is immediately clear: our ideas co-exist in the present with those of our ancestors. The past is not locked up in a trunk in a dusty attic, separate from the present. The past is more like a river that flows through and shapes the current moment--- all of the ideas and beliefs, the questions and answers that we've resolved, rejected, or integrated, the metaphors, the symbols, the constructs, all so many drops of water in that river. Which makes us the fish.
Tonight is the full moon. I recently read an article about the national parks and light pollution and attempts to control artificial lighting so that people have some place to go to see the night sky. Do you know that we are the first generation of human beings ever, ever, to live without the experience (and also the knowledge) of the night sky? If you live in the eastern half of the United States, you can live your whole life and never see the Milky Way. We are blessed with relative darkness here in the Mojave. The Milky Way is a marvelous sight, and strangely comforting.
I know there are problems everywhere and light pollution may not rise to the top of the list. But I can't help but think about the first civilizations, about the people who watched the night sky and developed mathematics and calendars and astronomy and notions of cosmic order and the harmony of the spheres that inform, yes, today, our ideas of proportion and beauty and music, and impart the deeply felt sense that there is a "right" way to live, that harmony is desirable. We continue to live within these ancient calculations, mind-boggling in their accuracy, as we lose direct, personal contact with the reference points, the communion with those glittering masses of gas and dust that are the embodiment of time and eternity.
Of all the celestial bodies, the moon is special. Special because she is so close, so beautiful, so bright, and so dependable. She disappears and reappears monthly, modeling for us the existence of an invisible world that gives birth to this one, and encouraging us to have faith.