When we think of the Solar System, nine celebrated planets come to mind, plus their moons, and assorted comets, asteroids, and meteor swarms. But the Solar System is first and foremost that gigantic cask of fire at their hub, so massive and inextricable it may get omitted from the local census by sheer exaltation. By dwarfing its orbiting objects while alone making them visible, it renders itself invisible. Yet the Sun is the basis, marrow, and reference point for all the rest. Without it, there would be no System, only flotsam in a void.
The Solar System is an illuminated star slinging a few barely perceptible pebbles and some dust around its golden-yellow yolk. The stirred objects (and even tinier gravel orbiting them) are curved pins in an ethereal haystack, imperceptible from most vantages. The immediate extrasolar domain presents itself to the universe as semi-transparent space or, more accurately, a Maxwellian field of charged plasma (the solar wind) governed by the yolk’s mass. “No-one has ever seen the Copernican system, or ever will . . . ,” Norman Davidson reminds us. To a cosmic onlooker, “the sun would appear as a star without companions.”1
Only if that observer scanned at a finer grade would he begin to discern minute pebbles, soot, and cloudy bladders tumbling as they gyrated around the conflagration. Even then, he might overlook all but the largest: Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. The rest pass as inconsequential cinders.
Evolutionarily the Solar System is a transitional phase of an evolving lens of debris, most of which consolidated aeons ago into the Sun. The presumption is that somewhere around 4.6 billion years ago, a gigantic molecular cloud, of uncertain origin but likely the detritus of more ancient stars, flattened into a quoit of gas and dust and, driven by galaxy-scale forces, pinwheeled through space to this spot in the Milky Way. The cloud began as loose rubble culled by gravity into a compact disk. What led it to its present site and then held it there was the collective gravitational field of galaxies and stars in this part of the universe: the slot was available.
Probably around 4,650 million years ago shock waves from the spiral arms of another nearby galaxy—its own mass still forming and unsettled, hence at roam—disturbed the proto-Milky Way’s dust and gas particles and set them spinning more rapidly in a vortex. They consolidated further under increased gravity and angular momentum, an unstable lump accruing while rotating around its barycenter.
The continued forensic interpretation is that some 100 million years later another ripple radiated through the uneven disk, combing its mass this time into a primordial solar system, its core attracting most of the cloud’s collapsing matter while crossing the mass threshold necessary for a thermonuclear event. A proton-proton chain reaction converted hydrogen to helium as intrinsic crushing raised the temperature (or kinetic energy) of its own protons enough to overcome their mutual electrostatic repulsion. The disk literally ignited from its own mass, imploding into Sol, as we have come to call our familial star (also Helios, Soleil, Aten, Surya, Tawa, Unkulunkulu, Gugán, Shams). That was the Beginning locally—Ēōs drawing the Curtains of her first Day, the dawning of Gaia’s Dawn. There have been uncountable other such “mornings” throughout the universe since the beginning of space-time, each with its own special qualities. No one has ever viewed Dawn itself.
Sol’s core is still burning at a steady clip. When that fire eventually abates, the System will chill to the temperature of empty space, ending up as interstellar ashes—jetsam again—until they are swept into another such disk.
Dregs that did not fuse and ignite initially with the Sun sifted into various states, from mineralized micrometeors to loose fields of chaotic gas, all orbiting elliptically around the incandescent aggregate. As the outer spirals of the disk cooled, some gases formed sties. Localizing angular momentum and compounding around their own rotating centers, they became proto-worlds. While the disk’s mid rungs impressed most of the cloud’s leftover gas and dust, fashioning rounded bags of lees and fumes, smaller clumps precipitated into rocks. Most of the System’s mass, resonance, and angular momentum, of course, remained at the core in its sun-star.
At first, the Sun’s near environs were a veritable sandstorm of particles that had not condensed into planets or planetoids. Dust bunnies and free-flying shrapnel swept around the hub in corrosive waves like an open-ended sanding machine; these were later dubbed planetesimals: infinitesimal proto-planetary fragments. Most of the mosquito-like swarms were consumed by the Sun, which functioned like an ultra bug-zapper. Much of the rest eventually got sucked into milder attraction fields and were accreted into planets and their moons as well as tinier eddies that were becoming comets, meteors, and planetoids (or asteroids). In our modern sky, occasional meteor showers and visits by comets commemorate the planetesimals and their once mighty reign.
Every planet, planetoid, and moon was scarred in its infancy by collisions with System dust, most of them as light as sprinklings of pepper or grains of rock salt, a fair number, though, at the scale of bowling balls, buses, and city blocks. A few of the vestigial objects were planetoid-size themselves, hefty enough to split or demolish whole worlds. We have no idea how many early planets and moons were erased in this fashion.
Mariner 10, which photographed Mercury, the innermost world, in 1974, disclosed craters in abundance there, evidence that the primal swarms were thick enough, even in the vicinity of a greedy Sun, to saturate a much tinier body.
These days, we measure the absolute age of most landscapes in the Solar System by the presence or absence of planetesimal scars. On a few orbs, however, volcanic activity (upward bursts of minerals melted by residual core heat) covered the archaic dents with lava; on others, meteorological and fluvial activity, surges of wind and liquid, all but rubbed them out. On some worlds, they have been both soldered over and worn away.
On Earth, seismic, lacustrine, botanical, and cultural processes collectively annul a cratered landscape for which there was no Rick Steves guide. Its remnants are widely scattered bowls filled with water, among them Crater Lake in southern Oregon, Quilitoa in the Ecuadorian Andes, Deriba in Sudan, the snow-melt tarn on Mount Ruapeho, New Zealand, and deep rainfall-filled dents along the Albertine Rift in Uganda—all lushly overwritten by a living planet. There are more craters on Earth than on the Moon: bigger target.
The Sun is a humungous blaze in a cold void. Yet it is no mere trash-fire or Hephaestian smelting forge; it is hotter than that—very, very hot. In fact at its core, Sol runs 15 million degrees of our Kelvin scale. And it isn’t just hot; it’s heat itself, the basis of which rests in its exoteric physics: the Sun is a quantum-mechanical field of mass and energy. Decillions of subatomic events are being transubstantiated in unison onto a “macro” level at a Brobdingnagian scale:
“Nuclear power is the only thing [able] to power the Sun for as long as it has been shining. There are two types possible: fusion and fission. They both transform the nucleus of an atom into another type of nucleus. Fission produces energy by breaking up massive nuclei like uranium into less massive nuclei like helium and lead. Fusion produces energy by fusing together light nuclei like hydrogen to make more massive nuclei like helium. Atomic power plants and the Atom Bomb use fission to get the energy; stars and Hydrogen Bombs use fusion.”2
Too bright to be an ordinary object in a physical pavilion, the Sun is a jet of effulgent plasma transmogrifying itself while transferring its flame to every candle, lamp, and fiber-optic cable on our orbiting cinder. Without Sol, Earth’s other lights would eventually fade and expire. A campfire, woodstove, furnace, boiler, and (of course) solar panel is a shrine to the Sun as well as a miniature Sun, a replica Sun, a glint of stellar fusion, and a solar utility function.
The Sun is transmutational in that what is “seen” in an ordinary sense cannot really be seen or even measured:
“[A]t the Sun’s core thermonuclear fusion is steadily turning hydrogen into helium, creating unfathomable heat. . . . Heat radiates up from the core through the radiative zone. (Radiation means heat energy is transferred from place to place at the atomic level by electrons.) The temperature decreases through the radiative zone, where the heat is transferred by convection, that is, by currents of hot gas moving up, cooling, then settling again, until the heat energy reaches the surface, or photosphere.
“No one has ever looked directly into the interior of the Sun, and so the core-radiative-convective structure is inferred from conditions on the surface, as observed through telescopes and other instruments. The inner atmosphere just above the seething visible surface is called the chromosphere. The chromosphere is still a quiet aspect of the Sun, even though things become a little strange here (as though the conversion of 4.5 million metric tons of matter per second into energy were something humanly ordinary).”3
Sol undergoes an unexplained increase in temperature from its core to its photosphere through its chromosphere—the opposite of what would be expected in transitioning away from the most gravitationally compressed thermonuclear activity. Then there is another jump in the transition region between the chromosphere and the fiery tongues around the Sun, the so-called corona, where in a few hundred miles the temperature surges by a factor of about 200, from around 6,000 to 1 to 3 million Kelvin, possibly from a “nonthermal source of energy stored in [the Sun’s] magnetic fields.”4
The superheated corona, unevenly distributed as a plasma atmosphere around the Solar surface, then “somehow gains strength and radiates tremendous heat, enough to warm the planets, and sends prominences and flares outward as though grasping in some ecstatic and largely invisible desire to illuminate and emerge into the atomic universe of space-time.”5
Cooler regions in the Sun mostly indicate currents through its magnetic field—bubbles of hot gas 1,500 miles wide that continually soar from places within the core. Upsetting granules in the photosphere, they chill it off and then retreat. First noted by Galileo as corruptions in the holy solar luminosity, so-called sunspots present through a modern optical telescope as if wide-mouthed volcanoes in a sea of fire—dark centers with lighter-colored currents swirling out from their vortices. Their temperatures, fluctuating at 4,200 K, are frigid only by comparison to the rest of the cauldron. What could generate such powerful magnetic breezes?
“[T]he Sun rotates at different speeds, faster at the equator and slower at the poles, and so the magnetic fields twist and bend like rubber bands. When, cyclically, the magnetic lines twist too far out of shape, the tangible meeting point of energy and matter becomes disturbed, and the [connecting points of the magnetic field] rip up through the photosphere, blasting holes in the granulation and looping back together.”6
The fact that sunspots usually occur in greater and lesser numbers over eleven-year cycles indicates a cyclicity in the Sun’s magnetic field, and their absences seem to cause a drop in the Solar System’s planetary temperatures. For instance, an unexplained decrease in sunspots may have caused Earth’s “Little Ice Age” from 1645 to 1715, seven whole decades of famine and plague during which astronomers could not see the pocks that Galileo had described.
And Sol isn’t just alchemical light: it’s ye olde gravitational anchor, rocking Earth in its cradle like a feather in a breeze, staging terrestrial reality. Billions of years ago, our situation arose from a dimple in the whorl around an igniting Sun. A series of flowering spirals, each one’s logarithm unfolding from a prior scroll, ascended from the heart of the swirling disk to the third harmonic blister. There, emerging from a pock in the bubble, a cute little world began intoning its sacred song.
Now solar splendor invades Gaia’s every nook and cranny, peering through each window and sylvan grove.
From afar, the Sun is a cheerful enough lantern in an otherwise frigid night. Up close, it is more imposing; its torso stretches across 865,000 miles, and 1,300,000 Earth-size wads could fit inside it. Imagine that! One million and then another three hundred thousand! Gander a fire, or anything, operating at that scale. And look at that fire closely, in cinematic images retrieved through bent glass set at the frequency of our optic jellies synapsing through neural pathways into ganglionic cores by which we try to comprehend: it is not yellow or gold; it is an unknown ultra-golden hue expressing not just thermonuclear transmutation qua biochemical nutrition but the psychospiritual basis of the universe itself. The roiling, bubbling aurous cauldron of the Sun’s naked-bear torso is merely the husk of it that we are able to discern.
Sol is a hyperobject, to Earth consciousness and to its own evolving, n-dimensional intelligence; it totes a mystery inside a mystery inside another mystery, and there isn’t just one lineage of solar mysteries either. In its biology-originating guise, for instance, the Sun creates the a priori basis for a living planet. Its breath alone, contacting Earth at the precise Goldilocks distance (not too near and not too far), perpetuates the biosphere and makes our stone metabolic within the hyper-frigid vacuum of space. The Sun not only permits but capacitates and then fosters evolution of our sorts of cellulo-molecular beans.
So-called “green” energy is sunlight from thermonuclear fusion—not the direct, hands-on explosion of a star core but its by-product after passing through esoteric filters of interstellar space and botanical and animal cells. Distilled sunlight weaves strands of algae, grasses, and florets that become self-radiating and self-replicating. Take Earth out of the Sun’s environs, and its hydrosphere and bio-film would freeze instantly into a black fossil.
During a nocturnal power failure in a village or urbanized zone, inhabitants are thrust out of the fragile gauze of their symbols into interstellar space. That mild slap reminds us of what Sol did and what its disappearance would soon entail.
A burst of electromagnetic energy from an overly exuberant solar flare could wipe out Earth’s entire power grid—not just shut it down but destroy it: all electric lights, credit cards, financial records, movement of drinking water and sewage, the Internet—it would be apocalyptic.
No, you can’t call out the local utility company to fix or replace the Sun.
We do not think of the soils of Kansas, the tin of Bolivia, the harpoons of Greenland, the footballs of Eurasia, the silk of China, or the Arctic ice as solar, but they are each galactic dust condensed at different points on the Sun’s loom and customized by its weft. The corns of Mexico and the barleys and ryes of Mesopotamia are solar polyps. The solar aspect of ourselves is what finds their sugars and vitamins nutritious and assimilates them.
For hundreds of thousands of years, hominids have recognized and worshipped the Sun as the sovereign ruler of their activities as well as the world’s source of clarity and revelation. When technology allows us to bask in solar numinosity at spas and resorts, we nakedly exalt and adore the Sun’s body, just as our ancestors did, though lacking their overt reverence. We crave Sol’s suave penetration and vibration, its silent sauna, steam, and sensuality. Yet we hardly marvel at it anymore: the Sun is one more convenience or machine—a footnote to a weather report. Our veneration has become clairsentient.
From the day we arrived as a squealing pink whelp, the Sun has been showering us with symbols, pentacles, and coins. Or we are turning what it is showering us with into icons, signifiers, and cash. From the beginning of the symbolic exchange known as money, national currencies have been backed by the Sun’s gold.
Every song that doesn’t patently take place under the Moon begins calypso-like, “One sunny day . . . ,” whether it declares so or not.
Other animals have honored Sol subliminally for aeons prior. Even a mole heeds the solar vector, giving it primary attentiveness and respect, for light and heat are secondary only to food and danger in its daily (and nightly) routine. One-celled animals and plants respond to the Sun implicitly, as pretty much their whole occasion.
On Earth you can’t not notice the Sun, big-time. In fact, it is so blatant and conspicuous that we take it for granted; we don’t see it, at least not as what it is. Can you imagine taking the biggest item in your vicinity for granted? Yet how could we not? To confront the Sun head-on is to flirt with a blinding epiphany that is as non-negotiable as it is essential.
Some clown racing his motorcycle in the desert—he is only sun and all sun—but the Sun is the last thing he wants to hear or know about. “Just serve me up, dude,” is his attitude, but it is only attitude, not considered attention. Same thing for the butcher standing over the sorry cow, the truck driver on long haul, the top brass in their headquarters of whatever, planning strategy. They are each figments of sun, congealed sunlight, but they want to get on with their business in a Sol-neutral frame. They will neither acknowledge nor thank the Sun—that would be uncool.
Except for a few occluded zones like the far depths of caves and ocean bottoms or the insides of rocks and anatomical structures, there are no habitats on Earth not utterly and flagrantly “in the Sun,” and all are dominated, regardless, by its cycling of luminosity and darkness, dawn and dusk—blazing pyre doused in sepulchral shroud only to flare up again.
All major and minor events elapse under the Sun’s exclusive purview as it conducts its daily transits across the celestial sphere, i.e., as the Earth rotates on its axis. Without local proton fusion we’d have only starlight. The Moon would be invisible, an anonymous toggle, an occasional rush of unexplained water or air. How much of Earth itself would we even be aware of without a nearby star? We would be blind as bats in Hades, stumbling amaurotically, unable to distinguish a hill from a dale. Of course, without the Sun we wouldn’t exist.
The Sun is the sole external object that provides not only its own terms but the terms for everything else (in its general vicinity, that is). Even insulated places are conditioned by the passage and retraction of sunlight.
When my redeye from San Francisco to Boston was canceled because of a fogged-in airport (July 29, 2013), after eleven sleepless hours at the airport I was placed on an early-morning flight to New York. For weeks I had imagined taking off into the realm of the Dipper and Orion, meeting the dawn over North America’s Midwest. So it was disorienting to shoot up through the fog bank into a rising Sun: a blindingly white stone with hardly any yellow haze. The raw intimacy between night and day suddenly hit me.
We flew into that ascending star for hours. Whether it was because I was so groggy or because light at 36,000 feet is brighter, whenever I closed my eyes I saw the colors of the chakras. They weren’t flat or motionless swabs. Nuances of yellow, orange, red, green, blue, indigo, and violet flowed, seethed, and granulated in dense fields. It was as if I were looking into Sol’s depth with my third eye. The effect was so powerful I began to worry that, if I kept encouraging it, the psychic pull might disrupt the jet’s subtle body. Indulging that paranoid flutter, I brought my attention back to the cabin; yet every time I closed my eyes, I glimpsed the same hues. After about twenty minutes the effect subsided, though of course it is still there.
When the Sun sets, its bent rays scatter purple and cobalt particles across the zenith while multicolored particles dance at the horizon. The air is quiet, as stars pop through the darkening veil, the brightest first, until night is complete and there are thousands of them. Because Earth itself is rotating, constellations roll onto a flat, high-definition screen while an ocean of blinding sunlight continues to wash against its tinted edge of dawn, finally crashing through the last curvature of shadows and drowning out the starry cinema.
If it were not for innate gears, our canopy would be unrelieved night, a vacant if scintillating trope. No dusk, no dawn, no twilight, no afternoon, no morning or evening stars. The closing and reopening of a celestial portal draws a sparkling tarot, again and again throwing trillions upon trillions of miles of interstellar space in all directions into a singular spackled blackness. The Moon, nearby planets, and occasional meteors, asteroids, and comets travel slowly among the constellations, orienting the array.
This book is called “The Night Sky,” but “The Day Sky” is more central to our survival and civilization. Night skies are everywhere, for the universe is a black cove of dispersed lights, though every one of them is a sun in its own petite parlor. Day skies are glorious aberrations occasioned by a nearby star.
Don’t forget how special it is to have a day sky, along with the tapestry and gorse it illumines. While night is a mystic chamber and secret text, day is pure pageant and chaparral.
The Sun is neither a guileless transpersonal magus nor a custodian without quirks or moods. It has a personality, a meaning, an intention, aspects of which are recognized differentially by tribe. Of yore in Greece and Rome, Sol rode in a supernatural chariot made of his own gases. Even now, we can see the charioteer, his imperial costume surpassing metaphor.
Over millennia, priesthoods have translated the Sun’s majesty into semblances and shorthands: the Crown on the Tree of Life (Kether in the Hebrew Zohar); Egyptian temples to Ra, as he and (later) Horus conducted business from their solar barge; degrees of alchemical gold seething in decanters of magicians; the radiant tabernacle of the Rosicrucian aerial spirit; the Aztec Sun licking the Cosmos with its tongue; perennial old-boy Sun Clans and Tsalagi pantheons of Creeks, Cherokees, plus countless other indigenous Amerindian and African Sun moieties.
How many innocent animals, children, and maidens have been sacrificed to the misunderstood intelligence of the Sun? To think that something that wise would feed on blood rather than metaphor is a psychic blunder of the most hideous (and patriarchal) sort.
It is an absurdity of human hubris as well to imagine ourselves the highest local intelligence. We do not approach the profound intellects of Gaia and Sol which, though of an entirely different order and frequency from ours, function autonomously too. For instance, by oscillating between molecular and etheric energy (as well as other mysterious and unknown vapors), Sol feeds our aura as well as our metabolism. It also teaches the dead how to replicate their bodies in an etheric medium. It is no surprise then that thermonuclear activity verges on Divine Presence inside the Sun, which was Kepler’s comprehension too, more or less:
“The Sun is a certain body in which [resides] that faculty of communicating itself to all things which we call light. For this reason alone it is the middle point and centre of the whole world, so that it may diffuse itself perpetually and uniformly throughout the universe.”7
Yes, the universe! All stars, including of course Sol, are etheric, thermonuclear fields, feeding the cosmos with ethers as well as elements; in fact, they are frequencies of a single luminosity that has higher octaves too. Nucleosynthesis is etherosynthesis as well as photosynthesis and predation. In a mega-complicated universe, etheric cannibalism is one way that creatures, probabilities, and souls intercept and support each other’s lives and life cycles.
Astronomy writer Dana Wilde conjectures that the center of the Sun, as it discharges latent material into the photosphere and corona, matches the process whereby memories and incipient images flow from unconscious through subconscious phases to emanate finally on the surface of the mind, i.e., it is a manifestation of the same archetype:
“At a central point or core, the mind fuses the original elements of itself into other elements, the way the Sun, and universe itself, fuse and derive themselves from hydrogen. . . . The consciousness and the unconscious are no more than the photosphere and convection zone of the Sun . . . what Plotinus meant when he spoke of ‘light from light.’”8
Light from light is also meaning from meaning. That’s intelligence, all right. Today we bask in the Sun’s mere abstruse thought and runic expression. There is nothing that we think, propose, carry out, or become that has not already been considered and put out in a solar flare, probably a billion or more years ago. The Sun holds every Martian, Jovian, Europan, and Titanian notion under consideration too. Picture an immense spiritualized ingot with its own bore of wisdom, a trillion trillion trillion quarks of information, radiating radical premises, precepts, and maxims into planetary fields—and that is the least of it, for creatures (of course) are constructed of stellar material, in both its knowable and unknowable aspects. Even at night we cannot get out of the “Sun” inside us.
Yet Sol’s core, chromosphere, and corona are not its knowledge; they are only the tabernacle’s outer husk. If you could journey (as yourself) into the exoteric body of the Sun, it would confer no great wisdom or teaching (though it would convert your body into seminal ash). You would briefly see and feel terrific heat, pressure, and motion—that’s all.
Either you espy the illuminated solar curve as a blinding glare, a common pellet of hydrogen fission, from which you are forced to look away, or you honor the ethereal glow as Kepler did, a Divine component of Creation transmitted by grace into our realm. Occult astronomer Rodney Collin encourages viewing the deeper Sun as best we can:
“Go out and stare at the sun in the sky. Why are you blinded? Why are you unable to define or describe what you see? Why is the impression incomparable with anything else you know? It is because you are looking through a hole in our three-dimensional scenery, out into the six-dimensional world. The matter of the Sun, or electronic matter, is beyond form and beyond time. It is even beyond the recurrence of form and the repetition of time. . . .”9
Without trying to penetrate the solar mystery, which is impenetrable, imagine the Sun’s existential presence transducing itself in space, standing in relation to you—as illumination, as mass, as zodiacal centrality, as pure comprehension; as Other, as Secret Doctrine. Even that barely grazes the chord of its autonomous intellect. Every millisecond the Sun is pumping rapidly rotating quasi-magnetic pellets, encyclopedias and informational cruxes of whole operating systems, into us and every other creature and molecule on Earth. We glean the tiny portion of which we are capable. So don’t downplay or patronize the Sun.
Yet for how important the Sun is to us, how studied it has been since the days of Galileo, we know precious little about even its mundane anatomy. We cannot breach its full dimensionality; its density and scale of thermonuclear fire dwarf our instruments and interpretive capacities. It is too big and independent to ride on dials or be tamed thereby. As observatories on Terra report casually and routinely on sunspots, solar storms, and solar flares, it might almost seem as though these were ordinary meteorological events on a hyper-torrid but naïve blob—conceptually in tow. Yet heliospheric or solar laboratories are both a euphemism and a self-deception. At every instant the deep core of the Sun not only ignores but camouflages itself from us at the speed of its own upwelling and discharge of information, of superconsciousness and incidental esoteric splatter over the horizon of our tracking. Sol is too occult to diagnose or translate into digital fortune cookies, so it transposes itself through transdimensional portals known (if at all) to shamans and priests.
The Sun is nothing to mess around with, meaning (since we can’t get at it, even via our best scientific objects) that it’s nothing that can be out-thought or out-maneuvered. Whatever the Sun decides, is going to happen. We have no machine or process big or formidable enough for it even to notice, let alone hesitate or balk at a traveling arm or weaponized fart. Each colossal sunspot could swallow six Earths without a burp, and we hardly know wherein its formation is evolving, what it is doing to our electrical or cellular grids or what it is, in sheer energy, in quales and uncertainty states of radiation, in atomic discharge and dispersal, in layers of quantum tunneling, in the translation of Solar intelligence from platform to platform within far-flung networks. To call it a “solar storm” both understates and anthropomorphizes its consequence. A sunspot is not a spot or a storm or even a temporal event. It is a transdimensional ripple as well as a telekinetic kiss.
During the sunspot cycle of February and March 2013 (as I work on this chapter), I hardly know what Sol is inserting into my text.
The Sun communicates to us, mind to mind, gravitational field to gravitational field, electromagnetic field to electromagnetic field, electrons to electrons, quantum object to quantum object, holy ghost to holy ghost. Solar meanings as such surge across seas and civilizations hieroglyphically, as they have for local eternity. As Earth hovers in suspense between the Sun’s intimacy and its absolution, each nascent trope flirts with each incipient fact, while alphabets write and erase themselves moment to moment in light and lava.
African rattles and drums, whales calling each other underwater, Australian Emu chants, mantras of Hopi Two-Horned priests, and a Tibetan gong playing Bach are all channeling and speaking “Sun.” At the same time, Sol is chanting other “Oms” and striking chimes beyond our range. It is talking to someone about something, just not us. It is also thinking deep thoughts about existential reality and converting profound koāns:
“Astronomers have noticed, in the Sun’s photosphere, oscillations with periods of about five minutes, growing and dissolving over half an hour. This implies that seismological activity inside the Sun’s convection zone triggers vibrations that create sound waves. In actuality millions of tones are all ringing together like millions of solar bells, and if you invented the right receiver and amplifier, you could listen to them.”10
Our cells and electrons attend, lap up, and get high on solar music big-time. For them, it is reason enough to be alive, the true fare of a day—forget all other activities and calendars.
By composing temporal symphonies and raps in our Gutenberg and Google knowledge bases, we are operating out of a miniscule chip of a hard drive installed long ago. How long is a matter of meta-cosmology, but it might be anterior to the burst of stardust comprising the Milky Way, anterior even to the Big Bang. It might have been encased in the Original Particle and transferred to the dust of the Solar disk, a candidate for supernal transubstantiation.
When we consider how Earth’s primeval ocean formed from mineralized steam, we should take into account that these molecules alchemized out of the same debris field as the Sun. If we opine, as Jesuit anthropologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin did in the 1940s, that an occult event was wrapped inside a physical molecular seed, then the original mass of the Solar disk contained a psychic interior. From where did such an esoteric transmission come? It could only have arisen outside of the Big Bang and ridden into town concealed by other hubbub and fever. It might have originated with the cosmos itself at the beginning of time, then flowed into galactic fleece, to be locally distributed via primal hydrogen. Its thread contained the intrinsic “power of fecundating cooling stars. . . . In that fragment of sidereal matter . . . as in every other part of the universe, the exterior world must inevitably be lined at every point with an interior one.”11
Teilhard provides an antidote to the prevailing notion that the cosmos’s entire structure is random and incidental: nothing on the inside (among quarks and strings), nothing on the outside (amidst hydrogen molecules)—nothing except incidental effects. While physics’s atom has no interior (except quantum switches that arose from their own heat effects), Teilhard’s atom is saturated with psychospiritual substance. In the universe of physics, all intelligence is artificial intelligence; in a Teilhardian universe, transpersonal thoughtforms spin mind and matter both. This is territory I have covered many times, from the Divine Whirlpool, transubstantiating hypersphere, and Ray of Creation in Chapter 3 to the algorithmic variations, space-time continuum, and Big Bang in Chapters 9 through 12. Either this is a universe springing from nothing for no reason, or it is arising from a prior eschatology and meaning-set, an expanding spindle of hyperspatial extenuations.
In Teilhardian physics, there were two “Big Bangs,” one external, tangential, extrinsic, and physical; the other internal, radial, intrinsic, and psychic. Sol is transmitting both. But there was really only one Big Bang with psychic and physical poles. Teilhard melds its false opposites by proposing that “somehow or other, there must be . . . an interdependent energy between the Within and the Without that holds everything together. . . . [T]angential energy links an element with all others of the same order. Radial energy draws an element towards ever greater complexity and centricity [and] . . . spiritual perfection.”12 That is how Earth’s dimple punctured the Solar Disk.
In systems like this one, the panpsychic element of the sun-star’s endowment germinates, on at least one planet, in chains of self-assembling complex molecules, initially as an upsurge of integral rocky zones and submarine spas, then by the clinging of fragile protoplasm to currents and stones. Each physical-material state replicates a phase of paraphysical emanation from the primordial disk:
“[B]y the very fact of the individualisation of our planet, a certain mass of elementary consciousness was originally emprisoned in the matter of the Earth [out of the Solar dust cloud]. . . . By its initial chemical composition, the early Earth is itself, and in its totality, the incredibly complex germ we are seeking. Congenitally . . . it already carried pre-life within it, and this moreover in definitive quantity. The whole question is to define how, from this primitive and essentially elastic quantum, all the rest has emerged.”13
Cells differentiate from their hydrosphere; then the organs of larger animals consolidate from cells. More complex layers of animal life and mind propagate out of these. First there is gravitational and chemical activity followed by simple cell growth and bacterial formation across a geological surface, which breeds a biosphere; then plant and animal bodies coalesce, as Earth transfers molecular information into protein threads.
Teilhard traces the evolution of Homo sapiens to the emergence of Divine spirit from the metaphysical interior of matter: “the ‘psychic’ face of that portion of the stuff of the cosmos enclosed from the beginning of time within the narrow scope of the early Earth.”14 He calls this simultaneous raveling and unraveling “a doubly related involution, the coiling up of the molecule upon itself and the coiling up of the planet upon itself. The initial quantum of consciousness contained in our terrestrial world is not formed merely of an aggregate of particles caught fortuitously in the same net. It represents a correlated mass of infinitesimal centres structurally bound together by the conditions of their origin and development.”15
Those centers are, in effect, holographically refracting from tiers across the multiverse. Their involuted coilings take place simultaneously throughout our planet in series of waves. Billows of sentience evanesce from extracellular matrices and envelop the entire sphere, initially in chirps, howls, tom-toms, telegraphs, telecommunications, and a worldwide Web, then cumulatively at the Earth’s Omega Point in an actual noosphere—a planetary mind. At this juncture, the planet merges again with the Cosmos and becomes a psychic star—at least that is Teilhard’s proposition (and holy prayer).16 Whether it is a realistic expectation (it probably isn’t in an ordinary sense), it does lend spiritual gloss to an endeavor that eludes us as we dash about like ants and bees building something well beyond our individual capacities to grok.
None of this could have happened, reasons Teilhard, if it were not already present at the beginning in the solar disk. A hidden athanor concomitant with the solar furnace injects its own quarklike ingots and conceits through the Sun’s radiative zone and corona into atoms and, from those building blocks, sets in motion an evolving geosphere and biosphere. As it extended from granites and basalts to algae, ferns, gingkos, conifers, oaks, etc., modular essences sprouted incrementally in crystals, flowers, and then animal consciousnesses and became a hive mind ultimately representing the Intelligence at its near Solar and deeper Cosmic source.
Life on Earth is the inevitable expression of sidereal substance attempting to return to a spiritual state in a cooled, molecular environment. As even “mere” bushes, weeds, and stalks, oaks and redwoods reach toward the sky for physical nourishment, transforming light by photosynthesis into food, they are sipping an etheric current too (as well as many other fine nectars). Little Stevie Wonder, blind crooner in Babylon that he was, got their message in sixties jive: “There’s a place in the sun / Where there’s hope for everyone / Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run. . . .”17
Solar runes transmute germs into information from within while, from without, they spool into myriad designs and carapaces of nature: “Like a branch on a tree / I keep reachin’ to be free. / Movin’ on, movin’ on . . .”18
Ain’t it ever so! The occult core continues to spiral back into its own consecrated patterns and philosophies, while its secularized husks explore the stringent fields and forces of their environs. A single unified mojo raises a brave blossom in the darkest night, “I won’t be afraid; no, I won’t be afraid.” In one aspect of its being, Earth penetrates a six-dimensional cosmos (or higher); in another, it differentiates, spreads, and branches, issuing life forms, symbols, arts and sciences across a three-dimensional field. The germs continue to mimic, in the carnal intelligence of creature organs, their own higher-dimensional source.19
A Christic energy, formed by love in the way that matter was formed by heat, permeates and percolates through the multiverse, manifesting in individual systems but actually everywhere: in galaxies, rocks, birds, puddles; in Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Jay-Z, and Kim Jong Un. It is “that binding force that binds every ultimately non-divisible integer of matter in the entire physical Universe together into one, single, harmonic whole . . . and that engines the upward evolution of spirit and matter into an ever-increasing degree of complexity that will ultimately bring each member of our entire human species to that same state of consciousness that was manifested by Jesus and by the other Prophets of our human family’s great religions.”20
Despite his labors in the service of uniting Christ with Darwin, the Church forbade Teilhard to write or teach on philosophical topics (from 1947) and, later, to publish or attend palaeontological conferences. In 1957, after his death, the papal authorities banned his books from Catholic bookshops and had them removed from Catholic libraries under the Holy See. That’s how strongly they still fear the Gnostic heresy, the Divine autonomy of Nature.
Yet Teilhard’s Sunne (in keeping with the Son of God) gives for free the spiritual depth and liberty that other monks and mystics presume creatures have to train, to labor arduously to acquire. In that sense Sol is one of the Good Guys, an expression of the same transdimensional ray of love and sacrifice that Christ embodied.
I recommend the fathomless sun-stars of Teilhard and Rodney Collin as lifelong meditations. Don’t ever forget that the Sun has a sentient lining that is staring at you out of six or more dimensions.
The renunciation of Teilhard is an ecclesiastical charade.
Sol personifies and dispenses its intelligence and wit at a level appropriate to stars, as it chatters across interstellar space while receiving compadre messages back at the sublime frequencies of its operating system.
At its stellar rate of perception (a blink of an “eye,” or an “opticon,” every eighty years), the Sun views its own proud family of planets: concentric orbits set at harmonic distances from each other by a more nuanced version of Bode’s law. As the planetary bodies move elliptically at different ratios, these orbits become continuous, interconnected DNA-like threads. Etheric and astral yarns from the trails knit together in an oscillating torso 6,000 million miles wide (the diameter of Neptune’s orbit) and five times as long—the collective motions taking on the shape of an erect superorganic humanoid with comets and Kuiper Belt Objects its shimmering aura. In this steady but innocent gaze—ingenuous by our standards—the Solar System is a fiery train or energy body in the proportion of a human figure standing erect and racing toward Vega at 12.5 miles per second.
Any nearby “star” likewise perceives our Solar System not as separate planets with isolated movements, nor as empty space filled with moving pellets, but as a fellow independent creature arising and dancing in space. This should be no surprise to cell-masses who view one another not as electrons in orbital motion about a nucleus inside atoms but as the cumulative time-lapse effect of those movements at its own interval of perception. Rodney Collin called this “fiery train” at which the Sun stares as if the belly, chest, and arms and legs of its own greater self: “the long body of the Solar System”:
“The planetary paths, drawn out into manifold spirals of various tensions and diameters, have now become a series of iridescent sheaths veiling the long white-hot thread of the sun, each shimmer with its own characteristic colour and sheen, the whole meshed throughout by a gossamer-fine web woven from the eccentric paths of innumerable asteroids and comets, glowing with some sense of living warmth and ringing with an incredibly subtle and harmonious music.”21
Dana Wilde offers a comparable trope:
“The Sun is not a discrete, accidental orange ball at the edge of a whirlpool of other discrete, accidental balls. It is, in reality, a living symbol of how the universe precisely and carefully enfolds itself vanishingly into itself, as stars move in galaxies, planets move in solar systems, electrons move in atoms, archetypes move in minds. . . .
“The human mind inflames the universe, like the Sun. It contains the Sun, knows itself by the Sun, and in the most real sense it is the Sun, flowing into the universe like a wave, engendering meaning as moving water engenders vortices.”22
However quintessential and robust this wise being who transmits its intelligence as light, the Sun is also an ordinary main-sequence star with a natural lifetime. Like all other mortal things, it will perish in secular time, having exhausted its fuel. As helium fusion, the conversion of helium into carbon, gradually predominates over the generation of helium from hydrogen, Sol will bloat and engulf its planets with its own cooling plasma and guts. It will become a red giant.
For now the Sun is a mere colt, 4 to 5 million years old and still “growing.” In about 1.1 billion years from the writing of this book, it will be 10 percent brighter than it is today and will start to burn off the Earth’s water vapor, sizzling its molecules into space, a crisis it once imposed on Mercury and Venus. In another 2.4 billion years, it will be 40 percent brighter than today’s star and will have boiled off all the Earth’s oceans, ice caps, and life. Roughly 6 billion years from today, it will have consumed all the hydrogen in its core; the cumulative cargo of inert helium ash built up during the rowdy fires of its youth will destabilize and collapse under its own weight. This will mark the onset of the red-giant phase of Sol’s cycle. By then its senescence will have swallowed the orbits of Mercury and Venus and likely Earth. It is too small, however (as stars go), to explode as a nova.
In its phase as a red giant, the Sun will still have another 100 million years of active life, a “brief” second youth with enough heat and pressure at its core to fuse its remaining helium into carbon. While undergoing this midlife crisis, it will give off plenty of light and heat, but that won’t serve or harbor creatures like us. Our descendants, if they even made it to the start of Sol’s decline, will be long gone. Finally Sol’s unstable helium shell will begin pulsing violently, discharging a substantial portion of its remaining stellar atmosphere into outer space. A globule of solar carbon will continue to simmer on the Sun’s former throne—an Earth-sized diamond as massive as a star. This white dwarf, no longer capable of nuclear fusion, will bubble and scald from thermal radiation alone. Ultimately entropy will subsume even that output; the diamond will cool to pretty much the temperature of the rest of the nonstellar universe, a few degrees above absolute zero.
That the conversion of the modern Sun into a stone will take another 10 billion years (give or take a billion or two) gives some sense of the scope and transmutational power of its extant body, and it also provides us with ample leeway. But it doesn’t change our situation: the fate of DNA and carbon-based consciousness in the universe. A blue-green, wet planet is a brief, exquisite phase, not Earth’s destiny or outcome.
Nothing in the universe is forever. One day, there will be no Hamlet, no Old Testament, no Quran, no Brothers Karamazov, no “Quartets,” no Gone with the Wind. All editions of all texts, printed and digital, in their original languages and translations, on every world will be incinerated and erased for eternity by the most tyrannical censor in the universe. All languages and vernaculars will be scraped from Creation; English will become as extinct as Catawba. Earth’s voices and literature will no longer speak and, from the standpoint of the cosmos, they might just as well have never existed. Of course, realistically they are unlikely to last even another 30,000 years, but this doesn’t make the point moot. It has profound existential and ontological implications.
What began here in holy fire might sustain holy fire in an absolute sense only in Akashic records kept elsewhere in All That Is (that is, if Teilhardian paraphysics overlies our physical dais). Packed with Earth’s interwoven secular and esoteric information, its thread might be essentially transferred by metempsychosis to another galaxy and solar system with the re-ignition of a fresh disk from impregnated cosmic debris—I’m just guessing here. Not a single word or event or text or thought might then be lost, but each would first have to be translated into an unwritten subatomic language—the logic strings and sealed syntactic matrix underpinning the universe itself—which would require a combination of synchronicity and superpositioning unimaginable to us. Then new texts would be issued in fresh alphabets. Only the meaning would endure, none of the lovely meters and words. But those phonemes and tempos were arbitrary anyway, certainly against the rank chill and clatter of a cosmic wind.
Such a denouement is neither a hardship nor a big deal. It’s not a problem either. It’s how things are done around here. It’s how they have always been done, from long before we came around to parse and ponder the matter.
Teilhard’s basic thesis is that essence must have already existed in some state before its conception (its stellar inception, that is), from whence it was, is, and will continue to be ciphered into the various dialects of the galaxies and solar systems of the once and future cosmos or cosmoses. Its quintessence, its seed, will always survive. Maybe.
When we cease, we could seep back into Earth’s consciousness field, ensconcing our epitome and kernel. A noosphere may be the singular possible future for life on Earth—a translation of its intelligence, knowledge, experience, and karmic field into a belvedere at another frequency that is still grounded in a physical planet. Its vortex could then meld with Sol on its own terms—temple to temple, consciousness field to consciousness field, whipping star to whipping star. Far-fetched? A pipe dream? Pie in the sky? Of course! Yet the seeds may already be planted.
Years ago random-number generators were put in place at arbitrary sites across the planet by Princeton University’s Global Consciousness Project; their goal was to track the possible concerted effect of large numbers of people turning their attention in one direction or becoming drawn to the same focal point. Researchers, whether they admitted it or not, were looking for Earth’s nascent noosphere. To conceptualize their data, the scientists plotted the cumulative deviation of a chi-square from chance expectations. Statistical quantities equal to the summation over all variables of the quotient of the square of the difference between observed and expected values were then divided by the expected values of the variable: standard operating procedure for this kind of experiment. Data showing no effect continued in a random path around the horizontal line of expectation, a statistical “drunkard’s walk.”
Note that the number-generation is not tied to or plugged into anything except moment-by-moment entropic pigging-out on its own slop. It should no more be meaningfully affected or altered by another activity in the universe than gaseous bands of Jupiter might be tweaked by the thoughts of a Jovian jellyfish—that is, by anything less than another effect at its own frequency and scale.
Well, early on the morning of September 11, 2001, these generators suddenly stopped laying their well-behaved white-noise eggs underwritten by usual algorithms of common values (with the occasional standard deviation) and instead shot off the charts in z-score permutations well outside statistical fuzz—and this weirdness began several hours before hijacked planes arrived at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Such perturbations suggest that collective mental energy on a planet alters fields that envelop even the silicon circuitry of artificial intelligence. It was as if on 9/11 the noosphere of the Earth not only rippled in unison but broke both backward and forward from the moment of impact. Its pivot was not the horrific crashes of planes into buildings and ensuing destruction, shock, grief, and terror, but the deeper psychophysical shape behind them, potentiating the deeds. The anomalous data-flow, peaking a few hours after the incidents, remains the biggest flood of deviations ever recorded by Princeton’s generators.
What could the disruption mean except that the physical field of the Earth already responds to psychic impacts, already has a fledgling noosphere, with subatomic, cybernetic, and social energies flowing in a single wave?
Rodney Collin told us once that the hydrogen bomb is “the unconscious form of a power heretofore unknown on earth.” We presently await “the same power in conscious form, that is, incarnate in living beings.”23
What might our species expect over, say, the next half billion years? It is hard enough to picture Earth in another hundred years, following climate change, breakdown of state authority, species extinction, oceanic trash gyres, megalopolis-scale favelas in Arizona and Oregon, Somalian-style gangs in Provençal, Tuscany, and the Punjab—or perhaps permaculture, transition towns, international gifting, and global potlatch, after the warlords tire of brutality and submit to the Dao.
Half a billion years? Half a billion years ago eyes were just developing in fish. The biosphere was only beginning to notice its underwater habitat: a sunless submarine night sky.
In the words of Scottish folksinger Donovan Leitch, “One day when the secrets of the Sun / enlighten everyone / the Universe will shine.”
“Enlighten” is a pun with at least two meanings; yet on some level this must already be happening or he wouldn’t have written or be singing, “In the golden temple of the Sun / I see the fiery one. . . .”24
On Earth we stand as an esoteric representation of the god. We also align the sun inside us with a visualization of Sol, as we meet its individuation in a lyric and tune.
If each entity in the universe is eternal—if consciousness is transpersonal—it can only be because it abides outside space-time-matter-curvature conditionlessly. Obviously beingness in timelessness—mere beingness without episode or event—didn’t work for the cosmos, so here we are: beingness in time, with a hitch.
If this is what is really happening, then nothing can stop it, nothing at all. Consciousness hits the stellar whorl, gets pulled into the accelerating motion of its spokes, awakens, takes a few breaths, then loses self-awareness, and is spun into another wheel. A dormant germ hatches elsewhere.
In this sprightly scenario the template from Hamlet was scripted long before Shakespeare or the English language existed, was bred in a crab and a tunicate. Before William Butler Yeats invoked the “Second Coming,” the meaning itself transmuted subatomically and telepathically through the Solar disk, having been brought to this part of the universe, to be rendered and transcribed in the dialect of its day. That’s the real quantum tunnel at work. It is the transitional meaning of the Sun and its flares, expressed astrologically in the birth chart and alchemically in the solar wind. Meaning itself—omniscience, omneity—is what is distributed by the Sun: the rigpa state of primordial mind, its incomprehensibly vast and thorough transmission from the sheer zero emptiness of its own true nature.
The heart of the Sun calmly abides in this essence, as its moment-to-moment resurrection brushes aside all doctrines. Christ and Buddha are one in a solar flare, the Rainbow Body and the Resurrection the same event literally.
We can’t stay what we are forever anyway. When we face our local allotment, our biggest enemy is not death; it is eternity. If we were not mortal, we would be stuck in this maze forever, and “forever” is unendurable, impossible too on a planet glued to a star in a galactic field. But then gravity is only curvature in relation to mass. And mass is only an accumulation of quantum-mechanical states that don’t exist except in the bias of one another’s uncertainty.
The night sky, like everything in samsara, is impermanent. Impermanence can be viewed mundanely as “ashes to ashes,” “easy come, easy go,” “adios, everything and everyone.” Or it can be viewed in the sense in which it is signified in Buddhist cosmology: transmigration, liberation, enlightenment.
Our trajectory with its personalized marker is what we are and finds us anywhere in the universe. It is indestructible in the sense that you cannot not turn gravity into curvature, and you can’t obliterate it entirely, or turn it into anything else.
In half a billion years Gaia’s noosphere might be immune to the fate of the Sun. It might befriend and ally with Sol on its own terms and get both of us out of this stew. It might effectively be a fireless sun. Maybe that was the whole point of this.
The entire solar cycle, before and after the primordial disk, is exemplified by the Sanskrit Heart Sutra—Gate gate pāragate pārasamgate bodhi svāhā: “Gone gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond; O what an awakening, all fulfilled!”
1.Norman Davidson, “Astronomical Aphorisms,” News from the Goetheanum, Sept./Oct. 1987, Dornach, Switzerland, p. 10.
2.“The Sun’s Power Source,” www.astronomynotes.com/starsun/s3.htm3.
3.Dana Wilde, Nebulae: A Backyard Cosmography (Troy, Maine: D. Wilde Press, 2012), p. 219.
4.Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics, quoted in Wilde, Nebulae, p. 220.
5.Wilde, Nebulae, p. 221.
6.Ibid., p. 219.
7.Johannes Kepler, The Harmonies of the World, quoted in ibid., p. 223.
8.Wilde, Nebulae, pp. 230 and 232.
9.Rodney Collin, The Theory of Celestial Influence (London: Stuart and Watkins, 1954), p. 77.
10.Wilde, Nebulae, pp. 225–26.
11.Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, translated from the French by Bernard Wall (New York: Harper and Row, 1959), p. 72.
12.Beatrix Murrell, “The Cosmic Plenum: Teilhard’s Gnosis: Cosmogenesis,” www.bizcharts.com
/stoa_del_sol/plenum/plenum_2.html (slightly rearranged for clarity).
13.Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, p. 73.
16.Ibid., p. 72.
17.Ronald N. Miller and Bryan Wells, “There’s a Place in the Sun,” EMI Music Publishing, 1966.
19.Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man.
20.Pierre Teilhard de Chardin quoted in Daniel Sheehan, The People’s Advocate: The Life and Legal History of America’s Most Fearless Public Interest Lawyer (Berkeley, California: Counterpoint, 2013), p. 392. Sheehan is a co-founder of the Christic Institute (1980).
21.Rodney Collin, The Theory of Celestial Influence, p. 38.
22.Wilde, Nebulae, p. 236.
23.Rodney Collin, The Theory of Conscious Harmony (London: Robinson and Watkins Books, Ltd., 1958), p. 191.
24.Donovan Leitch, “Universe Am I” from Sutras (Los Angeles: American Recordings), 1996.