Notes to Poem:
NGC 7822: Galactic Birth

Peter Y. Chou

Preface: On December 18, 2014, a friend Valerie Kadium from Los Angeles sent me an email wishing me a brilliant holiday season. She included the "Stars and Dust Pillars in NGC 7822 from WISE" image from Astronomy of the Day (December 1, 2014), saying "I am entranced by the Vastness, the Majestic Beauty, the power, the movement, the exquisite textures in this spectacular scene and wanted to share it with you." The immense image of swirling stars moved me deeply, inspiring this poem "NGC 7822: Galactic Birth".

Commentary on Poem "NGC 7822: Galactic Birth":

In a galaxy 3000 light-years away
at the northern constellation Cepheus—
swirls of star dust & pixie dust clouds
are being sculpted into a galactic birth.

"Stars and Dust Pillars in NGC 7822 from WISE"— Processing © Francesco Antonucci
Astronomy Picture of the Day (December 1, 2014); Image Credit: WISE, IRSA, NASA

Cepheus Constellation Card
Urania's Mirror (London, 1824)
In mythology, Cepheus was the King of Aethiopia. His wife Cassiopeia boasted that both she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than all the Nereids, the nymph-daughters of the sea god Nereus. This brought the wrath of the sea god Poseidon to punish Cassiopeia's hubris, sending a sea monster, Cetus, to ravage Aethiopia as divine punishment. Andromeda is stripped and chained naked to a rock as a sacrifice to sate the monster, but is saved from death by Perseus ("Liberation of Andromeda"). A constellation was named after Cepheus in the northern sky. Cassiopeia Constellation has a "W" shape in spring and summer. It is bordered by Andromeda to the south, Perseus to the southeast, and Cepheus to the north. It is opposite the Big Dipper. Cetus
"The Whale" is located in the sky region that contains other water-related constellations such as Aquarius, Pisces, and Eridanus.

Photo Sources: NGC 7822 (; Cepheus Constellation Card (

At left, stars forming a mountain
shaped like the Platonic Lambda Λ—
Soul of the Universe— Is it here
where everything has its beginning?

Mountain Image
left of NGC 7822

Platonic Lambda
Plato's Timaeus 35b
Since the soul is created before the physical body,
Soul of the Universe precedes our physical universe.
The Platonic Lambda (Soul of the Universe),
is the sum of the two series (Timaeus 35b):
Sum of the double interval series (powers of 2) =
20 + 21 + 22 + 23 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 = 15
Sum of the triple interval series (powers of 3) =
30 + 31 + 32 + 33 = 1 + 3 + 9 + 27 = 40
Sum of the double & triple interval series (Timaeus) = 15 + 40 = 55
“Now God did not make the soul after the body, although we are speaking of them in this order; for having brought them together he would never have allowed that the elder should be ruled by the younger... First of all, he took away one part of the whole [1], and then he separated a second part which was double the first [2], and then he took away a third part which was half as much again as the second and three times as much as the first [3], and then he took a fourth part which was twice as much as the second [4], and a fifth part which was three times the third [9], and a sixth part which was eight times the first [8], and a seventh part which was twenty-seven times the first [27]. After this he filled up the double intervals [i.e. between 1, 2, 4, 8] and the triple [i.e. between 1, 3, 9, 27] cutting off yet other portions from the mixture and placing them in the intervals.” (Benjamin Jowett's translation Timaeus, 35b, F.M. Cornford, Plato's Cosmology, 1937, pp. 66-67). See also Speculations on the Soul; Number 55; Dante's 55 & Platonic Lambda; Dante & Marilyn.

Image Sources: Mountain Image (; Platonic Lambda (

At upper-right, waxing crescent moon—
a good time to sow more star seeds.
Count them— twenty sparkling stars to make
wishes so that your dreams may come true.

Image of Crescent Moon
upper right of NGC 7822

Five of 20 sparkling stars
left to center of NGC 7822

Ten of 20 sparkling stars
right to center of NGC 7822
Planting by the Moon: Just after you see the first crescent you can start planting as this is when there is a surge of energy through the plants and the sap begins to rise through the stems. "When You Wish upon a Star" is a popular song written by Ned Washington and Leigh Harline and introduced in the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio, where it is sung by Cliff Edwards in the character of Jiminy Cricket, over the opening credits and again in the final scene of the film. The song won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song. The lyrics "When you wish upon a star / Your dreams come true" (song) suggests that you need to be on a star for your dreams to come true. However, our Earth appears as a star when seen from afar, so our wishes may come true right here & now (Wish Poem). Image Sources: Crescent Moon Image, Five Sparkling Stars, Ten Sparkling Stars (

At the center— a bright Tunnel of Light
seen by those with near-death experience,
claimed by some as mere hallucination,
just dying brain cells of firing neurons.

"Tunnel of Light" Image
center of NGC 7822 Galaxy

Vision of Light Tunnel in NDE
may be result of oxygen deprivation

Beta-amyloid molecules (green) surround
dying neurons (red) in rat brain
Seeing the "Tunnel of Light" image at the center of NGC 7822 Galaxy reminded me of those "Light Tunnel" visions of those with near-death-experience (NDE). "Tunnel of Light" accounts in books of those with NDE. Despite thousands of recorded patients with these NDE light experiences, skeptics argue that tunnel vision can occur when blood and oxygen flow is depleted to the eye, as can happen with the extreme fear and oxygen loss that are both common to dying. Image Sources: Tunnel of Light Image (; NDE's Light Tunnel (; Dying Rat Brain Neurons (

But NASA's WISE satellite has captured
the Light Tunnel as Hieronymus Bosch did
in his painting Ascent of the Blessed (1490)
where we may be teleported upon dying.

"Tunnel of Light" Image
center of NGC 7822 Galaxy

Hieronymous Bosch
Ascent of the Blessed (1490)

Teleportation Technology
for large object, humans, & information
The Dutch painter Hieronymous Bosch (1450-1516) is best known for his triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights (1510) in the Prado Museum. Viewed from left to right, the panels portray man's fall from the heavenly garden to earthly delights to tortures in hell. There is no accounts whether Bosch had a near-death-experience, but his Ascent of the Blessed (1490) showing angels escorting people down a tunnel of white light resembles accounts of those with NDE. Raymond Moody has claimed loved ones by the bedside of dying patients also experienced being embraced by light even though their brain cells are not dying. Now that NASA's WISE satellite has captured a "Light Tunnel" in the NGC 7822 Galaxy, could the patient be teleported there upon dying for a new birth? Image Sources: Tunnel of Light Image (; Bosch's Ascent of the Blessed (; Teleportation Technology (

Is it coincidental that the numbers
of NGC 7822 galaxy matches
the 78 cards of the Tarot
and 22 cards of Major Arcana?

Driving Cab of Locomotive
7822 Foxcote Manor

78 Tarot Cards
Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

22 Major Arcana Tarot Cards
Rider-Waite Tarot Deck
New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (abbreviated as NGC) is a well-known catalogue of deep-sky objects in astronomy compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer in 1888, as a new version of John Herschel's Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars. The NGC contains 7,840 objects, known as the NGC objects. It is one of the largest comprehensive catalogues, as it includes all types of deep space objects and is not confined to, for example, galaxies.
The numbering system seems to be in the order of discovery so that NGC 7822 matching the Tarot cards is purely coincidental, but rather symbolic. Tarot is a pack of playing cards (numbering 78), used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play a group of card games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot. From the late 18th century until the present time the tarot has also found use by mystics and occultists for divination as well as a map of mental and spiritual pathways. The Rider-Waite tarot deck (published 1910) is one of the most popular tarot decks in use. Major Arcana or trumps are a suit of 22 cards in the Tarot deck. They serve as a permanent trump and suits in games played with the Tarot, and are distinguished from the four standard suits known as Minor Arcana.
Photo Sources: 7822 Train (; 7822 Foxcote Manor (; 78 Tarot Cards (; 22 Major Arcana Cards (

A wise old gypsy gives this reading—
Don't be afraid of Yama, Lord of Death
with his shining mirror that recorded
your whole life— just admit your faults.

Gypsy Fortune Teller
Card deck box top

Yama, Lord of Death
Tibetan Book of the Dead

Body Chakras
as Mirror of Your Life

Karma Mirror
Qing wall poster (1875)
Gypsy fortune tellers used playing cards and Tarot cards to predict the future (History, Tarot Mythology). Yama is the god of death, belonging to an early stratum of Vedic mythology. Mentioned in the Buddhist Pali canon, Yama is a dharmapala (wrathful god) said to judge the dead and preside over the Narakas ("Hells" or "Purgatories") and the cycle of rebirth. The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol) was revealed by Karma Lingpa (1326-1386), and translated to English by W.Y. Evans-Wentz (1960). Most NDE patients experience a "Life Review". No use lying, for Yama's Mirror has recorded everything you've done in life. Depending on your good and bad actions, you're sent to heaven or hell. But you make the decision instead of any gods or demons (Karma Mirror). Image Sources: Gypsy Fortune Teller (; Yama (; Body as Mirror (; Karma Mirror (

The Magus sculpts stars with his wand,
Moon says it's propitious time to follow
the Hermit into the River of Light where
the High Priestess welcomes your new birth.

The Magus
Rider-Waite Tarot deck

The Moon
Rider-Waite Tarot deck

The Hermit
Rider-Waite Tarot deck

The High Priestess
Rider-Waite Tarot deck

The High Priestess
Thoth Tarot Deck
While I've not consulted the Tarot cards for divination or fortune-telling, I have studied their metaphysical symbolisms.
Here are notes from various books on the cards selected by the wise old gypsy connected to the NGC 7822 Galaxy:
THE MAGUS (I): The first trump or Major Arcana card in Tarot decks, the Magus or Magician has the face of Apollo, the sun god, with a smile and shining eyes. Above his head is the sign of the Holy Spirit, like an endless cord forming the lemniscate of infinity. On his waist is a serpent-girdle, the ouroboros, serpent devouring its own tail, symbolizing eternity. In the Magician's right hand is a wand raised towards heaven, while his left hand is pointing to the earth. This gesture symbolizes the ability of the Magus to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. On the table in front of the Magician are the four Tarot suits signifying the four elements— earth, water, air, fire. Interpretations: Action, Consciousness, Concentration, Personal power; Practicality, Energy, Creativity, Movement; Precision, Conviction, Manipulation, Self-confidence; Being objective, Focusing, Determination, Initiative. Magi (plural for Magus) is a term used to denote a follower of Zoroaster, who can read the stars (astrologer) and manipulate the fate that the stars foretold. The English term "magi" is commonly used for "wise men from the East" who brought gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense to the Christ Child in Bethlehem (Matthew 2.1, 2.11). In Esoteric Christianity, one who is skilled, profound, or a master of the esoteric or a magical art is titled a 'magus' or 'mage'. In the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the title "Magus" designated the highest attainable grade of magic (Moses, Buddha, and Lao Tzu being some examples of those who attained this grade). To be a Magi means to journey to give gifts. Staff of Moses performed many miracles— striking the rock to produce water and parting the Red Sea. "Moses took the rod of God in his hand" (Exodus 4:20). Paul Brunton told me in Switzerland (September 2, 1979) that his first spiritual mentor Allan Bennett (aka Ananda Metteya) invented a rod that's magical and so powerful it could destroy the world. (Notes: 1, 2)
THE MOON (XVIII): The 18th trump or Major Arcana card in Tarot decks, The Moon has a crescent in the center with a human face in meditation. The waxing moon has 16 chief rays and 16 secondary rays. Since 16 is the square of 4, it may symbolize the moon's four phases (1). A dog and a wolf howl at the moon. A crayfish appears in the water, perhaps connected to the astrological Cancer the Crab ruled by the Moon. The Moon is "shedding the moisture of fertilizing dew in great drops". There is a pathway into the mountainous distance, representing man's onward and upward progress. Interpretations: According to Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot, "this card represents life of the imagination apart from life of the spirit. The path between the towers is the issue into the unknown. The dog and wolf are the fears of the natural mind in the presence of that place of exit, when there is only reflected light to guide it. The face of the mind directs a calm gaze upon the unrest below; the dew of thought falls; the message is: Peace, be still." The Moon is the only trump card that does not show a person (Sylvie Simon, The Tarot, 1991, p. 49). Hence, it symbolizes Mother Nature, the Light of Darkness, Mother of Mysteries, Bringer and Nourisher of Life. Moon in a Dewdrop is a book on Zen Master Dogen (1200-1253) edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi (1985). The Moon symbolizes enlightenment in Zen: “Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water. Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.” Finger pointing at the moon is a Buddhist metaphor that the pointer is not the pointed. If students look only at the finger (sign, scriptures, or guru), he will not see the moon (enlightenment). Finally, students need to transcend both the finger and the Moon for even attachment to enlightenment will hinder the student's full awakening (see Ryokan & the Moon).
THE HERMIT (IX): The 9th trump or Major Arcana card in Tarot decks, the Hermit carries a staff in his left hand & a lantern in his right hand. In the background is a mountain range. This image fits Diogenes of Sinope (412-323 B.C.), Greek cynic philosopher who made a virtue of extreme poverty. He was well known for his carrying a lamp in daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. Such a man of authenticity would be one who has abandoned his ego for cosmic consciousness. Interpretations: Silence, Introspection, Guidance, Reflection; Solitude, Looking inward, Reclusion, Being quiet; Inner search, Deep understanding, Isolation; Distance, Retreat, Philosophical attitude. The Hermit withdraws from society to explore his inner self through meditation. Having found inner peace, he comes out of isolation to share his wisdom with others. The Hermit, as a kind of shamanistic hero, has made the complete journey— both withdrawal and return. As Joseph Campbell writes (The Hero with a Thousand Faces): "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." In Ten Oxherd Drawings, Zen Master Kakuan (12th century) depicted the final stage of enlightenment as "The Sage Enters the Market Place" (oneness with humanity). The distant mountains in the background of Tarot card IX may have been the hermit's former abode where he enjoyed the bliss of serenity. But now he is actively engaged in everyday life, out in the street, helping others to realize their true nature.
THE HIGH PRIESTESS (II): The second trump or Major Arcana card in Tarot decks, the High Priestess wears plain blue robes and sits with her hands in her lap. She has a lunar crescent at her feet, a horned diadem centering a globe on her head and a large cross on her breast. The scroll in her hands, partly covered by her mantle, bears the word TORA. She is seated between the black and white pillars— 'B' and 'J' for Boaz & Jachin— of the mystic Temple of Solomon. The veil of the Temple is behind her: it is embroidered with palm leaves and pomegranates. Further behind all of that is what seems to be a body of water, most probably the sea. Antoine Court de Gébelin (1719-1784) renamed "La Papess" trump "The High Priestess" (1773) after his vision of an ancient Egyptian link with the Tarot. The Priestess of ancient Egypt (Dewat Neter) performed temple rites reserved for the highest level of the clergy. The Priestess of Demeter, Chamyne, was accorded a privileged seat at the Olympics games (Pausanias, 6.20.9). The last priest at Delphi, Plutarch (46-120 A.D.) dedicated his books On the Bravery of Women and Isis and Osiris to his friend Clea, a priestess at Delphi. In Plato's Symposium (circa 390 B.C.), Socrates claims that Diotima, a woman from Mantinea that he met, taught him everything he knows on the subject of Love. Hence, woman as High Priestess embodies wisdom. Interpretations: Knowingness, Love, Relationships; Wisdom, Sound judgment, Serenity; Common sense, Intuition; Mystical vision, Introspection, Otherworldliness. In Illustrated Guide to Tarot (1999), Naomi Ozaniec writes "High Priestess opens the doorway into realm of Goddess. Here we discover gifts of intuition, magical timing, creative flowering, wise dreaming, prophetic knowing, deep understanding, ancient remembering, & blessed communion." (p. 36). "High Priestess represents lunar power, and has strong connection with Tarot card #18 The Moon. She symbolises the New Moon and feminine creative forces; Isis, Mother of Wisdom; the influences behind impending change and ebb & flow of mundane and occult tides." (Madeline Montalban, Prediction Book of The Tarot, 1986, p. 71).
THE HIGH PRIESTESS (II) THOTH TAROT: In The Tarot Handbook (1987), Angeles Arrien interprets the Thoth tarot deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris (1938-1943) according to instructions from Aleister Crowley. On the High Priestess, Arriens writes (p. 30): "The High Priestess represents the universal principle of intuition, independence, self-rust, and self-resourcefulness. This is an androgynous figure who archetypally represents balance. From the navel up, the figure is all curved lines, soft, magnetic, yin, and receptive. From the navel down, this figure is all straight lines, strong, dynamic, yang, and assertive. The High Priestess with her sun/moon crown represents each person's commitent to have equal balance in strength and softness. The crystals represent multifaceted aspects of intuition that are present at each level of consciousness. Mythically, this archetype represents the journey homeward or return to oneself. The camel within the oasis symbolizes return to the inner oasis or garden within.
Image Sources: Magus (; Moon (; Hermit (; High Priestess (; High Priestess, Thoth Tarot (

— Peter Y. Chou
    Mountain View, 3-16-2015

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