Day Zero | Monthly Forecast | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram

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I remember that I have not called in the directions myself, and I stop and do that, facing each of the directions, calling on its strength, its spirit and its blessing, turning to the next, and then to the Earth and Sky. This is basic practice for all ritual and since I'm neither leading a ceremony nor consciously part of one, I've forgotten to do this.

Slowly a group gathers, but it's never cohesive. There is no central ritual, just a lot of activity, and Terry stands with his staff a meter in front of the obelisk marker, where he says he's stood for every ritual since 1969.

Then he sees it; Venus has cleared the corona of the Sun and is a visible dot against the rim of the solar disk. He cries out, holding up his arms: "All hail Venus transit the Sun!"

He hands me the extra glass. I look, and sure enough, there it is, a little black dot on the Sun. There is no room for astrology here; this is an event in-body. It does not exactly feel momentous; it is just right there, merely unusual and new.

Then I realize with my intellect that the Earth, the Sun, and Venus are exactly aligned for the first time in 121 years and I'm watching it from this 6,000-year-old cosmic radio dish - a vast temple made to the Earth, from the Earth, of the Earth, and part of it. I feel the countless rituals that have occurred here in the past, the celebrations, the sacrifices, including human sacrifice. I look straight at the Sun. I let the image impress itself into my consciousness, my memory, my body.

Every half hour or so I watch the planet move across the disk of the Sun, letting it sink into my cells. At some point I strip off my clothes and lie under the direct rays, to take them in as thoroughly as possible.

Throughout the day, people arrive and depart: tour groups, a BBC crew that takes some shots through Terry's glass after interviewing him, amateur astronomers with their telescopes, little parties gathered around the marker stones.

Periodically I become aware that we are at a point in time that demarcates the trailhead of an eight-year path that leads to 2012, a year always spoken of in ominous tones. I know that the Mayan "long count" of 5,125 years or 1.87 million days (13 baktuns) concludes that year, beginning some new phase in the great cycle of history. We now stand in the threshold of what feels like an eight-year antechamber to that time, and this is the moment of crossing into that chamber. The Earth itself seems to be shifting in consciousness, space, and time.

Finally the event reaches its peak after 9AM. At this point I am lying naked on a big flannel shirt. Terry says, "You'll get burned." "Venus burn, fine with me," I reply. He hands me a bottle of English mead. I take a drink: it is smooth and sweet. I have not had water for hours.

By 11:30AM the Sun Circle is nearly empty. There is an old friend of Terry, a woman named Buffie. She is funny and smart; like Terry, she exudes astrology but is not an astrologer per se. She, too, has the significance of the stones mixed with her blood. My travel partner drops in every now and then. Terry has determined that he will break the circle at 12:23PM, when he's calculated that the event is over for our latitude. It is getting close. He encourages me to take a few last looks as Venus nears the other edge of the Sun.

The last hour is both fast and slow; we are basically waiting it out, the three of us, exchanging stories and commenting on what we're feeling, making fun of the whole thing, whatever. Terry for the most part continues to stay in his spot, quite literally holding space; holding open the space and grounding the experience with the power of his consciousness and a whole lot of tradition. Finally, it is 12:15 and he begins the closing ritual, first facing to the South and releasing the winds and spirits of that direction, saying boldly that we will be calling on them again.

Then, with a voice that hits like a thunderclap, he says: "Venus transit the Sun! Hail and farewell!" Buffie repeats after him. I say it myself. "Hail and farewell!" Terry turns to the West and releases that direction, always saying that we'll be needing you again. "Venus transit the Sun! Hail and farewell!" Then to the North, then to the East, facing where the Sun arose.

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