There is a particular mythology, now largely forgotten, which believes it is the sound of human voices that carves constellations into the celestial blaze of stars overhead. In the urbanised areas of the world, light pollution suffocates starlight almost to a feeble flicker, and even in unclouded evenings only the brightest bodies are visible to our eyes; it is what makes so recognisable and magical the piercing three-star belt of Orion, or the emblematic southern cross often referred to in the context of navigation. Thus the seemingly blank, unstarred voids between constellations can be disappointing, but are truly only deceptively so -- in that breath of indigo sky, there are trees flowering from the pearlescent curve of the moon into the open, expansive night.
The species of trees we see in our familiar soil are identifiable through certain characteristics, but the natural growth pattern of branches is, while unproven to be so, theoretically impossible to predict. if you have ever sought to draw a deciduous tree in winter, or even found the time to observe one in passing, you may have found yourself exhausted by the tedium of charting each individual bough and ultimately concluded that where there is room, one will doubtlessly sprout. Similarly, the
affectionately named ‘sky-trees’ can take on any conceivable shape. perhaps it is this very liberty of interpretation that has discredited the myth as too vulnerable to manipulation, in the ways that myths are apt to be; nonetheless, is there not something comforting, too, in knowing that at any point in the ocean of darkened sky, there may be a branch or a trunk, something blossoming gently outwards as it strives towards the light?
Just as ideas seem to originate from a single source -- the abstract realm of thought composed of inestimable possibilities -- each tree is believed to share with its companions the same root: the moon. There is always some certainty in such ambiguous cases of mythology, and here it is that each
tree diverges from another, and seeks its own unique path through the stars. Meanwhile, where branches inevitably intersect or briefly converge across the plane of sky that we perceive, it is believed the path of light is strengthened and glows more brightly.
Of course, science today will cite the luminosity and apparent brightness statistics of stars, the former of which offers a constant value for each individual star, and the latter of which dismisses such perceptions as inconsistencies in viewer distance, weather, eyesight acuity and other such variables. But it is undeniable that, if you speak aloud into the night sky and wait patiently with a forgiving eye, the stars do seem to flare a little brighter in response to your voice; perhaps that is their language, their quiet answer to the unanswerable questions that plague you and their appreciation for the ideas you wish to articulate, however mundane or extraordinary.
Because myth or not, there are forces greater than us: forces which lie distant and as yet unreachable by our advancements in technology. if, one day, we do travel out into the unfathomable mouth of the sky until we are lost fragments in the quietude of space, the trees will become distorted
by angles between stars and irrelevant beside more urgent demands for exploration. We will always find reasons to swallow our voices in the face of something insurmountably greater and majestic, if not intimidating, but perhaps to someone else your words have lit a fuse in the sky of stars. and even if not, there is a tree for you -- your ideas which perambulate across uncharted plains and even over well-traversed paths are, while unproven to be so, theoretically impossible to predict, for they are uniquely yours.
this myth does not exist, but your voice does. So speak, if for no one else but the stars.
Image source: Leilani Wang, 2017