The Night Bridge of Birds & The Summer Triangle

By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – Water Charming does have its original roots in the Night Medicines, which are now called Star Lore, the Space Program and Star Wars, as we can barely see the night stars anymore from earth from light pollution.

In night medicines, the light that shines in the darkness, especially the moon, brings forth our connection to the fertility of mother earth. Our celestial light connection to her rivers, oceans, streams and springs is the healing waters. I focus on the root of the inner life as the ways in which I reclaimed my original path to the earth and her beauty.

According to a Chukchi legend, the Earth (Nutenut) lives in a large house. The story tells that the Sun, Moon, Sky, Sea, Dawn, Fog and Mist were all visiting. They all wanted to marry the Earth’s beautiful daughter. The story resembles to some extent the Estonian myth of the Star Bride yet their endings are different.

In The Star Bride the maiden picks the Star to be her fiance. In the Chukchi myth the maiden does not get to choose a fiancé, but suitors compete and the winner marries the bride. However, none of the aforementioned suitors wins the contest, but a Chukchi shaman Jettögöt, who raises his staff and touches every rival with it.

As a consequence the touched side of each suitor catches fire and they all flee in panic. And Jettögöt marries the maiden.


joan miró

The North Star
In the Chukchi language Iluk-eŋer ‘the Immobile Star’, ‘the Nail Star’ or Unp-eŋer ‘the Driven-in Stake Star, and the ‘Pole Star’ are names for the Night Star and is cast in the central role among stars. V. Bogoraz Tan claims that the latter version of the star’s name is common all over Europe, North Europe and Eastern Europe.

The North Star in the firmament is like a pole or stake driven into the ground around which stars encircle and that is a magical way to see the spin of the earth. Its resembling spirit horses or reindeer tied to a pole who run around in a celestial circle. Its house is near the Zenith and through its smoke opening it is possible to travel between worlds.

Due to that opening of the North Star can be seen in all worlds, and the underworld as well as in upper realms, while other stars and constellations are not the same in different realms. At the same time it is believed that the North Star’s house is higher up than other houses. Its house is made of ice-like substance and to its top is fixed a lighthouse, like source of light.

In his book Andres Kuperjanov lists the names different peoples call the North Star by the Golden Pillar (Mongols, Buriats, Kalmyks and Altaian Tatars), the Iron Pillar (Kyrgyzes, Bashkirs and Siberian Tatars), the Lonely Stake (Teleuts), the Golden Stake (Tunguses).

All these ethnic groups picture the North Star as an immobile stake or pillar or a stake driven into the sky. The same applies to Chukchis. The Chukchi name of the Nail Star has a close resemblance to the Estonian name of Põhjanael ‘Northern

Summer Triangle.jpg

I saw Vega the other night when I went star watching on the mountain. She was so bright on the horizon (spring) and I fell in love with her three or four colors. I had never seen such a twinkling star like that before. I looked in the huge telescope of a man who was there but there was no difference in what I saw with my eyes or the scope. In fact the scope was not as bright and shiny (and it was a huge expensive five foot telescope).

The beautiful blue-white star Vega has a special place in the hearts of star watchers around the world. Come to know it, and you will see. Vega is especially fun to meet at this time of year, because it plays a key role in the Chinese Qixi Festival (KEY-she) – which takes place every year between July 31 and August 29 on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month.  It’s the most romantic of all traditional Chinese holidays, a time to celebrate star-crossed lovers and is their Valentines Day.

How to see Vega – Observers in the Northern Hemisphere typically begin noticing Vega in the evening around May, when this star comes into view in the northeast in mid-evening. You can see Vega in very early evening by June – and high in the east by August evenings – high overhead on autumn evenings – in the northwestern quadrant of the sky on December evenings.

Vega is easily recognizable for its brilliance and blue-white color. You can also easily pick out its constellation Lyra, which is small and compact, and consists primarily of Vega and four fainter stars in the form of a parallelogram.

The little constellation Lyra has some interesting features. Near Vega is Epsilon Lyrae, the famed “double-double” star. Between the Gamma and Beta stars is the famous Ring Nebula, visible in small telescopes.

Vega is one of three stars in an asterism – or noticeable star pattern is called the Summer Triangle the other two stars in the Triangle are Deneb and Altair.

Summer Triangle in Mythology

Vega – In western mythology lore, Vega’s constellation Lyra is said to be the harp played by the Greek musician Orpheus. It’s said that when Orpheus played this harp, neither god nor mortal could turn away. In western culture, Vega is often called the Harp Star.Vega in history and myth. In western star lore, Vega’s constellation Lyra is said to be the harp played by the legendary Greek musician Orpheus. It’s said that when Orpheus played this harp, neither god nor mortal could turn away. In western culture, Vega is often called the Harp Star.

In Japan, Vega is called Orihime, a celestial princess or goddess. She falls in love with a mortal, Hikoboshi, represented by the star Altair. But when Orihime’s father finds out, he is enraged and forbids her to see this mere mortal. Then … you know the story. The two lovers are placed in the sky, separated by the Celestial River or Milky Way. Yet the sky gods are kind, and they reunite on the 7th night of the 7th moon each year. Sometimes Hikoboshi’s annual trip across the Celestial River is treacherous, though, and he doesn’t make it. In that case, Orihime’s tears form raindrops that fall over Japan.

Many Japanese celebrations of Tanabata are held in July, but sometimes they are held in August. If it rains, the raindrops are thought to be Orihime’s tears because Hikoboshi could not meet her. Sometimes, the Perseid meteor shower is said to represent Orihime’s tears.

Deneb – Deneb is visible from the beginning of summer, and culminates on August 1st. Deneb is the other part of this summer triangle known as the swan. The Romans called Deneb Myrtilus because of this, Myrtle also being Venusian. In Greek mythology, Myrtilus was a divine hero and son of Hermes. His body was later recovered and brought in the temple of Hermes where it was honored with annual sacrifices. Some say that Myrtilus was transformed into the constellation of Auriga. As Myrtilus died, he cursed Pelops (King of Pilas).

Myrtilus loved Hippodamia himself but was too afraid to ask her hand of her father, agreed and sabotaged the king’s chariot by replacing the bronze linchpins with fake ones made of bees’ wax. In the ensuing accident Oenomaus lost his life, cursing Myrtilus as he died.

Shortly thereafter Myrtilus tried to seduce Hippodamia, who ran crying to Pelops, although Myrtilus said this was the bargain. Enraged, Pelops murdered Myrtilus by casting him into the sea off the east coast of the Peloponnesus, which was later named the Myrtoan Sea in honor of the hero.

His body was later recovered and brought in the temple of Hermes where it was honored with annual sacrifices. Some say that Myrtilus was transformed into the constellation of Auriga. As Myrtilus died, he cursed Pelops. This curse would haunt future generations of Pelops’ family, including Atreus, Thyestes, Agamemnon, Aegisthus, Menelaus, Orestes and Chrysippus. Also, the burial place of Myrtilus was a taraxippus in Olympia.

A Swan myth more directly related to the constellation, involved a young man named Cyncus. He was Phaethon’s devoted friend, and after Phaethon’s doomed attempts to drive the sun-god’s chariot. Cyncus was pious enough to recover all the pieces of his friend’s body from the river it fell in so that he could bury them. 

In return for his piety Zeus turned Cyncus into a swan and placed him in the stars. Swans had a special connection to death – the Greeks believed that swans only sang when they were about to die, which gave the birds special associations with prophecy.

Travelling the Milky Way – The Swan is right on the Milky Way, just above the rift, where the Way splits into two paths. The dark spot there consists of clouds of space dust that block the stars of the galaxy from our sight, but the split has inspired a great deal of mythology.

As the fall comes on, the Swan appears to fly down the Milky Way, as the white band moves lower in the sky. Many connect this to the myths in which the Way is the track of migrating birds. The Swan’s location near the gaps in the Milky Way may explain the Babylonian name for Cygnus: the Demon With the Gaping Mouth.


Altair – This constellation is also known as the Northern Cross, to match the one in the Southern Hemisphere. Cygnus shows that it bears a strong resemblance to a Bird in flight, since the arms are slightly bent at the ends, as a bird’s wings are when it is flying. A bit of fortuitous timing no doubt helped: the constellation stands almost upright in northern latitudes around sunset on Christmas Eve.

Altair and the stars of Aquila (© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved) – The name of the constellation’s brightest star, Altair, comes from the Arabic al-nasr al-ta’ir, meaning ‘Flying Vulture’. The German scholar Paul Kunitzsch notes that the Babylonians and Sumerians referred to Altair as the Eagle star.

Altair’s neighboring stars Beta and Gamma Aquilae lie in the bird’s neck and in its left shoulder respectively, according to Ptolemy’s description. These two stars have their own names, Alshain and Tarazed, which come from a Persian translation of an old Arabic word meaning ‘the balance’. Altair forms one corner of the so-called Summer Triangle with the stars Vega and Deneb, found in the constellations Lyra and Cygnus respectively.

Chinese associations – In China, Altair and its two flanking stars, Beta and Gamma Aquilae, were known as Hegu, a large battle drum – beating the drum was a signal for the army to attack. The line to the south formed by Theta, 62, 58, and Eta Aquilae was Tianfu, the drumstick.

Delta Aquilae and surrounding stars including Mu, Sigma, and Iota were Youqi, a banner flying on the right side of the drum, while the stars of Sagitta to the north were a banner on the left of the drum. Altair and its attendant stars also had two other identifications. In one they were known as the Three Generals, the commanding officer in the center flanked by two subordinates.

In a popular Chinese folk tale, Altair represents a cowherd flanked by his two sons. The cowherd was separated by the Milky Way from his wife the Weaving Maiden(the star Vega) and the two were allowed to meet only once a year, when magpies formed a bridge for them over the Milky Way.

Black Hole in Cygnus – The first black hole was located in Cygnus. The black hole in Cygnus X-1 is a powerful emitter of x-rays, and scientists estimate it has four times the mass of our sun. The main star of Cygnus, Acrux (Alpha Cygni), is the 13th brightest star in the sky. It is also known as Deneb, from the Arabic word for tail. While the Arabs saw Cygnus as a bird, to them it was a pigeon or hen, so the star was the hen’s tail. Deneb in Delphinus, that star, not Acrux or Deneb in Cygnus, is the one in the Summer Triangle.


In the Chukchi worldview stars ranking next to the North Star as to their importance are the so-called heads (in Chukchi Leutti). Heads are formed of two stars. The First Head is Arcturus in the constellation Bear Watcher (Chukchi Janotlaut, Estonian Karuvalvur ‘Guardian of Bear’) and the Second Head is Vega in the constellation Lyra Chukchi Jaatlaut, Estonian Vabamees ‘Freeman’, The Sun, the Moon and Firmament in Chukchi folklore.

According to Chukchis these stars are cousins. Travelling in the nighttime tundra Chukchis use the mutual position of the heads and the North Star as a reference point to find the right direction. Arcturus is sometimes also called the leader or the guide of stars.

Chukchis turn to both of the stars to seek help when healing. In case of diseases a sacrifice has to be brought to Arcturus or the First Head. In case of womb issues, stomach aches, or root chakra healing…  the sacrifice and spell have to be addressed to Vega or the Second Head.


The Estonian Staff stars are the three stars in a row in the constellations Aquila (Old Staff Stars) and Orion (New Staff Stars). The stars Altair and Tarazed in the constellation Aquila have a special meaning to Chukchis. They are called by the name Pettigún.

Aquila’s constellation brings the new year to Chukchis for it appears for the first time on the horizon on the winter solstice. Reindeer herders as well as Chukchis living in the coastal areas brought sacrifices on the occasion, at least formerly. Especially suitable were fat male reindeer. At other festivals, blood is sometimes sacrificed and reindeer are exchanged for symbolic statues made of plants or snow.

There are Slavic, Baltic and Balkin water rituals that I do which I would like to share. We can do them either on the new moon or the full moon for their strongest effect.

Sources:; Altair and the stars of Aquila (© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved)

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