This past Monday was the official first day of fall, or if you’re one for correctness, the autumnal equinox. If you’re one for detail, it happened at 1:50 a.m. And if you’re one for astrology, it’s the first day of Libra, a time of reflection, understanding, and balance. If you’re not one for astrology, you can make it a time of reflection, understanding, and balance anyway. Your call.
That’s the thing. Whether or not you believe in the influence of the sun, moon and planets, it’s all about interpretation and goes way back to the Babylonians and Egyptians and Greeks when they looked into the heavens and anthropomorphized constellations into animals, fish, and so on. Then they came up with the four elements; earth, wind and fire. And so not to be confused with the 70s band, they added water. Then there are the 12 houses, in which reside the areas of one’s life. Then came the angles between the planets.
By this time it was all getting so complicated that wouldn’t you know it, but a new job market sprang up and astrologers started hanging up their shingles.
The topics most folks are interested in fall into three categories; health, love and money. And as for money, it was J.P. Morgan who said, “Anyone can be a millionaire, but to become a billionaire you need an astrologer.”
Old as it is, as long as someone asks, “What’s your sign?” and the other person answers accordingly, astrology will never go away. Mine is Aries, but sometimes I think I was born under the “temporarily out of order” sign.
But I digress.
After too many days of triple-digit temperatures, I always look forward to the autumnal equinox, when the tilt of the Earth makes the southern hemisphere be closer to the Sun and where we live…well, farther away, and we get cooled off for a while. It’s the time when we start thinking about bringing out those winter clothes and thicker socks, but of course in Socorro winter clothes also includes the shorts some folks wear all year round.
Although in Socorro have sort of the basic four seasons that are pretty much divided equally, it’s not like most of the rest of the country. In our little corner of New Mexico, fall is quite different from those scenes we see in the media of falling leaves in the places that have all those deciduous trees. We have none of that nonsense of spending an entire Saturday raking leaves up into a huge pile into which kids and dogs love to jump and spread them out all over again.
Personally, there’s something very comforting about things like the equinoxes and solstices. If nothing else, they’re reliable and if you don’t like them there’s not a thing on earth – no pun intended – you can do about them. That regularity, the changing of the seasons, is another reassurance that everything is right in the world and things can go on as planned. Yes, we can carry on routinely.
Aside from the week bringing in autumn, this is also Banned Books Week, usually observed in the last full week of September, and sponsored by the American Library Association with other organizations that support intellectual freedom and free speech.
Years ago, back during my bookstore manager period, we would set up a display of some of the books that had been banned for whatever reason in the past by public libraries, schools, and even other bookstores. We’re talking Huckleberry Finn, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, The Call of the Wild, The Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, Gone With the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, In Cold Blood, Moby Dick, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter, Stranger in a Strange Land, Where the Wild Things Are, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Catch-22. Even the Dictionary.
Suffice to say, I’ve read all those, but in Junior High, I got sent to the principal’s office after being caught with a copy of On the Road.
It was Confucius who said, “You cannot open a book without learning something.” And it’s true. At 13-years-old, boy, did I ever from Jack Kerouac.
Speaking of Confucius, this Saturday is his 2,750th birthday. I don't know if he ever believed in astrology, but he sure did leave us with some great proverbs, not to mention quips for Charlie Chan.
I also don’t know if he ever said, “the wise man changes his socks every day,” or “don’t track mud all over your wife’s nice clean floor,” but he did say, “An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger,” and “Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated.”
My favorite: “Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.”
As for astrology, I go with Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
I’m just thankful WebMD doesn’t believe in astrology, because we’d all be Cancer.