The sunset was spectacular tonight, followed soon after by an equally beautiful full moon — fat, bright, and hanging low in the early night sky. Recalling an email I received yesterday from a friend about tonight’s lunar eclipse, I decided to stop by High Park to see if I could spot it. I took Jake, because he’s always game for a walk and I’m always game for his company — not to mention that it’s comforting to have a dog by my side while I wander around an inner city park in the dark. I needn’t have worried; a small group was gathered on Hawk Hill, and I decided to join them.
As I neared the top of the hill I saw the outline of a telescope, and could just make out the shape of a gentleman standing nearby, accompanied by some women. From their voices I surmised that they were late middle-aged to elderly. I came to a stop beside them, and stood silent for a few minutes, listening to their chatter about bird watching. Ahh, I thought, these were the infamous hawk-spotters of an earlier post, and I felt sure that even with their superhuman eyes they were not there to identify raptors two kilometers up in the sky, at night. Jake, as usual, broke the ice. He started tugging on a large stick, probably thinking that if he could free it, he could persuade someone to throw it for him. The elderly man reacted immediately.
“Hey, don’t wreck our fence!”. He turned to me and said, “I always thought it was kids who pulled it down, but now I see that it’s the dogs”.
I squinted into the darkness, and a low barrier made of twigs and branches came into focus. I watched as Jake dragged a 6 foot branch off the top, and dropped it at the man’s feet. He immediately flattened into a classic border collie crouch and stared up at the man, silently commanding him to pick it up and throw it.
“What’s the fence for?” I asked, hoping to distract the gentleman.
“It’s to protect some native plants we put in on that side of the hill”, he replied.
Aha. A group of naturalists. My kind of folks.
I asked him if they were there to see the eclipse, and as he nodded he invited me to look through his telescope at the moon. I took the branch away from Jake and leaned it back on the home-made fence, then gratefully accepted the man’s offer. My first close-up look at the moon took my breath away – I could see craters and the tire-track outline of the mountain ranges, glowing back at me.
“Wow”, I muttered. “Wow.
We all chatted amiably in the dark, bouncing gently to ward off the chill. I remarked that one of my new-age friends had told me that the eclipse was significant astrologically. There were a few sideways glances between them and a raised eyebrow or two, but no reply. Apparently this group was a bit past the “new age” demographic. I spotted the red flare of the end of a cigarette several yards away, and the shape of a man sitting on a bench, pulling it away from his face.
After a while, the left side of the moon went dark as the shadow of the sun started moving over it. The voices around me grew louder and more animated, and it was clear that the eclipse had begun.
“What time does the moon go completely dark?” I asked.
“At 8:07PM” someone replied.
“What time is it now?” I asked hopefully, wiggling my cold fingers and toes.
“About 10 after 7”.
Oh. Another hour to go. I toyed with the idea of moving on, when a young woman approached from the direction of the parking lot.
“Hi!” She said brightly, as she peered into our faces, one by one. “Are you from the Dowsers group?”
There was some puzzled murmuring, and then one of ladies asked, “what’s a Dowser?”
“It’s someone who practices an ancient art of locating underground streams and water sources, using a forked stick as a guide”, she replied, in an utterly serious British accent.
Silence for a moment.
“I know what that is.” the older lady exclaimed. “We call it ‘witching’ back home in Nova Scotia”.
“Witching. That’s interesting”. The young woman rolled it over her tongue, savouring it, and I could tell from her voice that she was inordinately pleased with the new title.
“I think that gentlemen on the bench over there might be from your group”, the older woman said — a little too eagerly, pointing to the glowing cigarette. I surmised that she was a bit uncomfortable with a self-described “witch” in in her midst.
This was getting interesting.
The young woman continued, undaunted.
“Tonight is a very special night. The total lunar eclipse is accompanied by a rare alignment of the planets into the shape of the Star of David. For the next four days the vibrational energies of the earth and the universe are in what’s called “harmonic concordance”, and people all over the world are gathering right now to pray for peace.”
I smiled at her encouragingly, and rushed to fill the awkward silence that followed her speech.
“How many people are gathering here?” I asked, curious.
“I don’t know” she confessed. “Nothing’s organized. I heard that people are meeting on Lakeshore Blvd., and somewhere in High Park”.
“You could try the labyrinth” I suggested. “It’s just down the other side of this hill, past the grove of trees.” It seemed a reasonable place to look.
“Can you see it, even in the dark?” She asked, interested.
“Sure”, I assured her. I recalled that the outline of the labyrinth was painted in a light colour on black asphalt, and I felt sure it would be visible, even at night.
“That’s a good idea”, she said. “I think I’ll go give it a try”.
The older folks watched her walk away, and when she was far enough down the hill to be out of earshot one of them sarcastically repeated,
The older gentleman responded wryly. “Yeah. I was on the subway this morning, and felt vibrations. That’s when it started.”
I grinned. More disparate things than the sun and the moon had just crossed paths, and it was highly entertaining.
The banter eventually quieted down, and we all returned our attention to the sky. By now half of the moon was dark. I was cold, and there weren’t any more promising encounters, so I decided to say my goodbyes. I made my way to the labyrinth, curious to see whether a group had gathered there, and perhaps to give it a try myself — after all, it’s never a bad time to pray for peace. Who was I to pass up an opportunity to synchronize with the stars and the moon and the hearts of people with good intentions?
Jake followed eagerly, ready to seize any opening for play. As I approached the circle of picnic tables surrounding the labyrinth, I saw the woman, her head down in concentration as she followed the twists and turns.
I marched in, determined to clear my mind and meditate. Jake had other ideas. Thinking it was some new game, and he stuck himself to the outside of my knee like a burr, his mouth wide in a grin and his eyes bright with mischief as he mirrored my footsteps along the path. I stumbled over him on the sharp turns, and he pranced away, then moved quickly to resume position after we untangled our feet. I giggled. He woofed. I ploughed on, offering my silent apologies to the woman for disturbing her peaceful moment.
The dog and I finally came to a stop, joining the young woman in the middle of the circle. She looked at us, and laughed, then bent down to ruffle Jake’s head. We chatted, and looked up at the sky, trying to make out the dark shape of the moon as it moved in and out of the clouds. It was cold standing there, and I finally decided to call it quits and go home. I said my goodbyes, then headed straight for the nearest exit between two picnic tables, forgetting that I was in the centre of the labyrinth and that the “done” thing was to follow the path back out.
I heard the woman’s intake of breath, and her muffled exclamation of protest followed me away from the scene.
Oops. I guess you’re not supposed to do that.
Oh well. My adventure was over and a warm cup of tea awaited me at home. I left the moon and the planets in the good hands of bird-watchers and Dowsers, and all the other diverse people of the earth who appreciate nature and pray for peace.
Happy Harmonic Concordance Day!