A starlit circle: entrancing or terrifying?

When you live in a forest, however small, degraded, weed-infested, scrappy and fragile it might be, the landscape is everything.

The weather, the geography, this night sky — those are your realities. The stock market, politics, your friends, the university — all those things are a long way away.

Especially at night when you are alone in the landscape.

Even the daunting ‘reality’ of a PhD dissertation pales in the light of the night sky.

Many Nature writers have written of the power of the night sky. The power of the starlit circle.

I was experiencing it for the first time, at 48.

18 June 1992

A starlit circle.

Coming downstairs in the middle of a black moon night, I wandered across my creek and looked up at the sky. I stood there in the clearing and just stared at the stars, marvelling at the clearing transformed, the intensity of the stars when the moon was hidden.

The trees seemed to be standing in a starlit circle, witnessing me. And then (I promise this is true)—all of it—clearing, trees, stars, the black sky, the whole forest—began to spin. As though the heavens had shifted a notch and engaged another force, enlisting a superior energy.

I began to whirl. “No! Not me!” I screamed. I planted my feet. The swirling sky and teh starlit circle terrified me. I struggled to keep the whirling, whorling vastness at bay.

“Not me!”

I ran upstairs and tucked myself tightly inside my mosquito net, burying my face. Some sky power, not of the Earth, was trying to draw me up, enlist me. For what I do not know! But I know I am not ready to be enlisted.

Enlisted for what? Will I ever be ready?

I want to stay, to engage. And I want to run away.


About Wendy

Wendy Sarkissian is an author, speaker and planner. She lives in an eco-village in rural Australia. Her interests are in environmental ethics, community engagement, social planning and caring for Nature. She holds a PhD in environmental ethics.
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