What The Comet Neowise Can Teach Us About Our Collective Consciousness

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What The Comet Neowise Can Teach Us About Our Collective Consciousness

I am woken in the middle of the night by my husband. In the darkness, he says, “Sweetie, I think I've lost my sense of taste.”

It takes a moment to register what he's saying, and then it dawns on me. This is a symptom of coronavirus.

Where do we go from here? We make a plan and execute testing, isolation, communications with friends, and workplaces. As I set up a bed in the living room, I wonder if it's pointless since I've been exposed, too.

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Then I remember back to just hours earlier after dinner when all seemed normal. I walked out to look up at the night sky, scanning to see if the rumored comet Neowise was visible yet. 

It wasn't, though I had been excitedly reading up and researching it all day.

What does "Neowise" mean?

Researchers at the observatory first spotted the comet back in March. What first struck me about this great comet of 2020 was its name: Neowise.

It's technically named after NASA’s "Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer," which is dedicated to keeping an eye out for flying objects dangerous to Earth.

Breaking down the name with a metaphorical and associative lens, I saw “neo," which means “new” or a “revived form,” and "wise," meaning, of course, the quality of having profound knowledge.

With all that has been transpiring in 2020 — from the coronavirus to protests and huge movements for change — I couldn’t help wondering about the synchronicity of this aptly named comet. This begs the question: Are we ready to be neo-wise?

Ancient projections and reflections in the stars.

The human projection of the psyche onto the night sky is no new phenomenon. Civilizations from every populated continent have turned their imaginations toward the stars to see figures, animals, gods, and goddesses.

This was the birth of astrology in all its different forms.

Comets in their path caught our ancient ancestors' attention as aberrations against the backdrop of stars and systems that were otherwise predictable and trackable.

These unexpected “visitations” of comets in the night’s canvas often sparked fear for a bad omen. They were even believed to bring pestilence and plague.

Jungian theory and the symbolism of comets.

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed comets represented opposing, unintegrated beliefs — revolutionary in nature — that ran counter to collective values. Whatever your take, it's important to emphasize the symbolic nature of these reflections.

The Heaven’s Gate suicides revealed the dangers behind seeing these cosmic implications as literal when the last brightest comet — Hale-Bopp — was visible in 1997.

Symbolic revealings of science.

If there has been one approach that helped quell the human tendency toward superstition and irrational fear, it's the work and research of science.

As someone with a love for a metaphorical lens, however, I can’t help but see the beauty in taking the findings of science and seeing how they reflect the workings of our relationships with ourselves, others, and society itself.

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Here are 6 facts on comets that may inspire your own Neowise curiosity about yourself.

1. Comets are life-bringing. 

Comets (colliding with Earth as meteorites) may have brought life itself to the Earth, in the form of early amino acids. In this way, they have the capacity to destroy and also to instigate new life.

2. Comets may have created Earth's oceans.  

Early comets, made of a blend of dust and ice, may also be credited with beginning the Earth’s first oceans.

3. Neowise won’t be back for 6,800 years.

Comets orbit the sun. The further from the sun they are, the slower they are, moving at approximately 2,000 miles per hour.

The closer to the sun, the faster they are, moving up to 100,000 miles per hour. Losing a bit of material each time around the sun, they eventually disappear completely.

4. Comets have a central core.

Comets contain a central core, or nucleus.

5. Comets can have their own process of death and renewal.

In their spinning, comets break apart. Their pieces can be kept together, however, due to their gravitational orbit.

These pieces may even find their way back together, reforming as a whole. This can happen several times throughout their lifespan.

6. Broken pieces of a comet form meteors.

Pieces that break off and fall into planetary atmospheres become meteors — a.k.a., shooting stars — which often just burn up in the atmosphere or else survive as meteorites.

...And here are 5 ways these metaphors can make us "neo-wise."

1. Comets can connect us to our ancestors.

What has been deemed as “other” — people and ideas — in our world and society, may have sparked fear in the dominant culture, but actually had a huge part in the life of the culture and the culture that wishes to emerge.

Ask yourself, who were the original stewards of the land we stand on? How and where are they alive still?

How did they nurture and grow the life of this land that's now taken for granted? How can we return to recognizing and respecting this original life?

2. Embrace the emotional waves. 

Imagine that ice from comets began the oceans. How must you embrace the overwhelming emotion that arises in this collective moment? How can you ride the waves, building resilience and “sea legs” for difficult conversations?

There are also times when the waters should not flow, that emotion must be regulated and their impact noted.

3. Question and study what you orbit. 

What is the sun we're orbiting? What have you worshipped — knowingly or unknowingly — in your mind without reflection?

Is it time to distance and slow down, or get closer to the source of truth and speed up your actions?

4. Study how you share space with others. 

Feeling your own core, your "self" in the world you're in, how do you share space with others?

How do you feel the impact of gravitational pulls, societal programming, that has been beyond our awareness? How can you consciously pull yourself from these unconscious cycles and land into new territory together?

5. Look at what's breaking down and breaking apart.

Things are breaking apart: lives, livelihoods, economies, education.

As you undertake the painful process of picking up the pieces, what might need to be released for good, and what parts need to re-form as they come back together?

Comets, like people, are smaller pieces in the spectrum of the universe. They are susceptible to gravity, orbits, destruction, and creation.

Perhaps this is another reason as you see them streaking across the night sky, you have inexplicable awe. They have the capacity to shine bright, and they have the capacity to disappear.

In our collective awakenings, may we have the wisdom to know the best moments for both.

My husband’s tastebuds are back and the coronavirus test was negative; we can sleep in the same bed again! My worst fears had projected Neowise, like the comets of old, were portending danger to my world.

Now, I see it to have been an incredible invitation into the workings of the Universe, an invitation for deeper intimacy with conscious change.

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Cyndera Quackenbush, MA, is an author, speaker, and educator in the Bay Area, California who wants to help you uncover your purpose in life. For more information about how she can help you, visit her website here.