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It's written in the stars....

I've been getting into the Christmas spirit this week, by designing a couple of Christmas cards. Initially I was going to do a snowglobe design for all my cards this year, but it takes a lot longer than I thought it would, so instead I have also designed an alternative one. I just have to decide who gets what. Here are the two designs.

This is made using a Tim Holtz snowglobe die. I used kraft cardstock for the houses and trees, some paper I had in my stash for the mountain, some dictionary paper for the snow, and some wood paper for the globe base. The background is white paper coloured with sprays. I added a few stars too. The phrase is also Tim Holtz dies, cut out of black card and coloured with silver wax.

This is the second, and simpler card. I used a white card and a snowflake embossing folder, using distress ink and silver wax to highlight the snowflakes. I then die cut and embossed some snowflakes and coloured them using the same items. Finally I cut out the name snowflake and inked it.

Also been doing some stitching this week, on the safari stitch. Here is the update:

a blanket of stars
twinkling, they are sewn upon
the black velvet sky

This week was all about stargazing. Well, it was supposed to be anyway, but for some reason nature has decided that summer is not happening this year. I stayed up late, I looked up at the sky, and I saw mainly cloud. I think at most I saw three or four stars. So instead, I decided to read up a little on the constellations.

Beautiful aren't they? I love the fact that people saw these intricate beings from a small pattern of stars that in reality aren't remotely close to each other. I suppose it's similar to clouds, except for the fact that stars rarely change position in relation to each other, at least from our point of view on this little planet. Stars are integral to our existence, from navigating the high seas, to understanding the very nature of the universe. Let's face it, we are all made of star dust, and we continue to thrive due to one very special star; our sun. Quick reminder, NASA is live streaming the eclipse tomorrow. We will only see a partial one here in the UK, so it's worth watching the live stream.

So, the word constellation is late latin for set of stars. There are 88 constellations used today, 14 of which resemble the zodiac. Zodiac by the way means circle of little animals, and the zodiac is the apparent path of the sun across the celestial sphere over the course of a year. Interestingly the signs of the zodiac don't seem to match when they appear in the sky. For example, Pisces is February to March, yet can be seen in the sky mainly in November. Go figure. There are different constellations visible according to the month, so if you want to do a bit of stargazing yourself, it might be worth looking up which constellations are visible according to what time of year it is, and where you are.

The stories to the constellations are fascinating, and what I like about these in comparison to the religious stories (in particular the New Testament) are the fact that the heroes are flawed, and really, that is what makes a character whole. A person, fictional or otherwise, who is wholly good or wholly evil is at best 2-dimensional. Plus it shows that you cannot judge someone by a single act. People can change, people can make mistakes. Anyway, here are some of my favourite constellations.

Pleiades - also known as the seven sisters. These will play a part in a future story. These stars are over 100 million years old, and they will live for over 250 million more, far beyond humanity. Far beyond anything on Earth. They are the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, and the word comes from 'to sail' so you can gather how important these seven stars are for navigation. They are what are known as related stars, and move across the sky at the same rate, so the constellation always remains the same.

The big dipper - probably the most well known constellation, this contains the North Star, Polaris, at the tip of the handle. There are many other names; the plough, the great bear, Ursa Major of course. In an Arabian story the four stars of the bowl are actually a coffin, and the three stars that make up the handle are the mourners that follow it. In Hindu it is the collection of seven great sages, and the seven Gods in Mongolia.

Cassiopeia - named after the Greek mythology story, it is a distinct W shape in the Northern sky. Basically the story goes that she boasted of her and her daughter's beauty, and was punished by Poseidon for doing so (that's a lesson to selfie lovers). Cassiopeia was forced to wheel around the North Pole on her throne. This means that she spent half of the rest of her time (which as she is a constellation is pretty much eternity) desperately clinging onto her throne so that she doesn't fall off.

Orion is the hunter, and his belt is the most famous part of him. The three brightest stars in this constellation are Betelgeuse (say it three times and  look for Michael Keaton), Rigel and Bellatrix.

Finally, and perhaps obviously as it is my star sign, is Pisces. Now, I don't believe in all that astrology malarkey (which is weird because Pisces are dreamers (!)) but I do like the story. Aphrodite and Eros, or Venus and Cupid depending on if you are Roman or Greek, jumped into the river to escape the monster Typhon, who was sent by Gaia to defeat the Gods. Now they are permanently set in the sky, and have escaped his wrath.

Of course, our own sun has a mythology too. Ra the sun god, travels through the sky each day, bringing light to the world. When the sun sets, he spits out the other Gods that he has devoured, and they become the stars. He is in turn devoured by Nut, and travels through her at night (nice!) only to be reborn at the days beginning, and the journey starts again.



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