I’ve always considered Winter to be a holy season. As the Earth’s axis tilts backward in relation to the Sun, the constellations that are typically below the equatorial line at night move north and become visible once again. The first time I see Orion bounding low and large across the horizon, I stop and gasp. It’s that feeling of seeing an old friend and confidant after months of separation.
Orion was there when I took my frosty night walks through the fields north of my college campus. I had all the troubles of youth, I spoke them to the sky, and he looked down and smiled while he did cartwheels over my head. He never said anything, but after years of praying to an intercessor that I could not see, even a pattern of lights in the sky was more concrete than nothing and offered me a better sense of peace. After leaving all the gods on the shelf, I still felt drawn to apply some manner of animism to Orion’s cluster of stars. The belt, the scabbard, the trapezoid — they’ve all become part of my soul. Instantly recognizable, immediately reunited.
When he comes around again, we have a moment. “Hey, old man,” I say with a warm grin. “Long time, no see.” It’s a thing I still do. I’m fine with this.