Posted by: Green Knight | May 1, 2011

Happy Beltane!

I totally screwed up and got my equinoxes mixed up with the cross-quarter days.  Sorry if you read the original post before I deleted it; I’ll save the good stuff for the solstice.  Still, Beltane and Samhain (pronounced “Sah‘-win…whoever came up with spelling for Gaelic should be shot), are important days in the seasonal calendar as well.  Even in the pre-agriculture days, the hunter/gatherer types had to know the seasons for predictable sources of food, and critters know what the angle of the sun is, no question.  The swallows that come back to Capistrano every year on the same day, or the voyages of monarch butterflies, are testimony to a tight relationship with Gaia.

I’m especially fascinated by some migratory species that have tiny particles of magnetite in their brains, aligning them with the geomagnetic field.  Birds and cetaceans have shown this so far.  But what happens when the magnetic poles reverse?  It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes thousands of years, but we’re in a time when the field is weakening and getting ready to switch.  Someday your compass will point south.  The Van Allen belts will shut down, letting in a lot more cosmic rays.  The ozone layer will still be there filtering out gamma and UV-B, but high-energy protons and other particles will be in abundance compared to normal.  Slather on some SPF 1000 or live underground (again, this won’t be happening in our lifetimes, but if you choose to panic anyhoo, send me all your money first.  I’ll help feral cats with it.)

I need to look at my geologic timescale and compare pole-reversals to major evolutionary changes.  Most mutations are malign and don’t get passed on, but a few turn out to be handy, and that’s where new species come from.  If you’re celebrating Beltane, or May Day for the workers, or just for its own sake, I hope any party-crashers are benign mutations.

I

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