Moon shot: Looking for signs in the sky

I am mystically inclined.

I look for patterns in my life — filtering meaning through cards or the stars — arranging the order of happenstance to find just enough serendipity or irony to keep a cohesive universal narrative running through the back of my head.

While I have thus far avoided the noisiest aspects of occultism — I don’t extract hidden powers from crystals or try to cure physical ills with my mind — I do take heed of celestial events, particularly those that punctuate dramatic phases of my life.

And while I have yet to climb a glacier, meet a bear or see the Northern Lights since I moved to Alaska, giving up a jungle hideout on a tropical island for a riverside cabin at the other end of the Pacific does seem to constitute dramatic.

That may be why I felt compelled to take a late-night jaunt to the baby lake at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to watch the much-touted “super blue blood moon eclipse.”

Despite the ominous adjectives, the event simply entailed a confluence of several rare, but not unheard of, astronomical coincidences — super, because the moon’s closeness to earth that night would make it appear brighter than usual. Blue, because it would be the second full moon in January. And blood, because the blackened-out moon would take on a dark red tinge during totality.

Happening just after my huge life change, however, at the transition between January and February — the dullest, shortest, and yet most protracted month of winter, where hopes of spring are far off, and the darkness of winter still lingers — the event seemed rife with the possibility of metaphysical illumination.

Plus, it seemed like a good opportunity to try out my night photography skills, and maybe get a photo on the front page.

Emboldened by the interest of one of my co-workers, I hatched a plan to crawl out of the comfort of my cabin and brave the frigid night to witness whatever the skies had to show us.

I met my fellow journalist and her teenage roommate just after 3 a.m. as slivers of the moon began to shear off. I was late, so we trundled in a hurry down the familiar path toward the refuge lake.

The night was cold, but not cold enough.

By the time we had made it to the edges of the frozen water, clear skies gave way to wispy clouds, which turned into fuzzy masses that dulled and then consumed the bright stars.

Ever hopeful, the three of us made nests of comforters and coats and waited on the ice. I set up my camera on a lopsided tripod. With nothing to focus on but haze, I quickly lost interest.

The teenager decided we needed a soundtrack.

We listened to Billy Joel — I think he might be making a comeback with Generation Z — took spooky pictures of each other and read tarot in the dark.

I can’t remember what the cards said, and am not entirely sure I could have made sense of them anyway.

The moon never showed. She hid behind pinkish clouds that refused to give us any hint of what we were missing.

I wasn’t disappointed as much as perplexed. Surely something should have come out of this whole thing — the universe does, after all, have a plan — and definitely wants us to know what it is by giving us signs from the heavens.

So I squinted a little, shuffled a few assumptions in my mind, and found solace in the lack of clarity.

In these murky times, after all, we are at the mercy of the fates, who may or may not show us the way. And super, blue and bloody though she might have been that night, the moon was not in the mood to give up her secrets.

But, like I said, I am mystically inclined.

Reach Clarion reporter Erin Thompson at

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