Monday, May 7, 2012

A Night Under The Stars

by John Aldrich

At each set of food runs Linda begins with a ceremony to bring everyone into alignment with the meaning and purpose of the activity we are about to undertake. Thus there are four ceremonies in the spring and four in the fall. The themes for these ceremonies are based on Navajo cultural traditions and differ for each season of runs. Besides bringing us into a sense of place and purpose, the ceremonies are instructive about various aspects of Navajo culture.

For the food runs this spring the theme has been "Our Journey With The Stars". The materials Linda prepares for each of these themes delve into the meaning the theme topic has for traditional Navajos. For example here's a short excerpt from the material for this food run: "Many Navajo constellations are depicted in human form providing principles and values for living. The Nahookos constellations represent family relationships similar to a mother and father in a home providing warmth, stability and security."  Preparing for these ceremonies is thus both educational and spiritual.

Here is a graphic from the ceremony packet that depicts a Navajo constellation and its meaning.

En route to this food run I spent a night sleeping under the stars in the vicinity of Lee's Ferry. This night happened to coincide with the recent "super moon" event when the full moon came closest to the earth in its orbit. Thus the moon appeared larger than usual and was about 30% brighter. I got up at 2:00 a.m. and took this photo:

Without any frame of reference, of course, you can't judge the size and brightness of the object, but, believe me, it was bright. The following photo shows a view of the Vermillion Cliffs illuminated solely by moonlight. It would be easy enough to imagine that this image was taken in the middle of the day except for the fact that the sky is filled with stars.


  1. John, Those are some great pictures. We thought of you all while we were back here in Virginia. Unfortunately it was cloudy here so we could not see the "Super Moon". Take care. Bill Wikle

  2. John, that night shot of the cliffs and the blue night sky with stars is awesome! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photography. Jane Wierengo