Beautiful. Standing outside in the pre-dawn, looking up at the current alignment of Mars, Jupiter, and Venus in the east, I am struck by their presence. The planets, “wanderers,” were known by the ancients to be gods. Tales were told of how they came to have their places in the sky. For those too busy to look up, Venus alone can take your breath away. After the sun and moon, it is the third brightest natural object in the sky that can be seen on a quotidian basis. It has been brilliant this month, and the peoples of ancient times were fascinated by how this morning and evening star rose high only to flee before the coming of the sun. Myths were built around it. Venus, it is no accident, was associated with the goddess of irresistible beauty. She still is.
Trailing behind is Jupiter. The Roman avatar of Zeus, Jupiter is the king of the gods, but not the brightest. Following Venus, it is the fourth brightest object in the sky, followed by various stars in their unchanging positions. Jupiter seems to be chasing Venus these days. Sometimes I see the two of them cavorting in the light of the moon. The object most desired by the king is no object at all, but a goddess who outshines even the power of the primal deity. And then there’s Mars. Mars lags farther behind, never quite the master of war, at least according to Homer, that he hoped to be. He is nevertheless the consort of Venus, for strong emotions tend to go together.
I glance at my watch and I know I should be headed to the bus stop by now, but I dash inside for the camera. It is a vain hope that I can capture what even these eyes can plainly see. It is a drama acting out in the celestial sphere. Three planets in a neat line, clear as Orion’s belt, within the length of my thumb held at arm’s distance. I can hear the bus rumbling toward the corner, and I know I’ll have to rush, but even as I power-walk to the stop, I keep glancing over my shoulder to catch a few last glimpses of a myth in the making. Is it any wonder that we’ve lost the magic in our lives, when we can’t even take the last moments of darkness to pay tribute to the gods?