Yesterday I ran off to class without breakfast and decided that was as good a reason as any to fast for the day. Intention, I thought, remembering the traditional pre-dawn Ramadan prayer to start the day with fasting.
The hardest part of fasting is not the half hour before sunset. No, that’s a time of high mental concentration as you organize everything to reach your Iftar destination before sunset, make meal preparations, or remember what you have forgotten to do throughout the day. In this case I was in the garden picking tomatoes near dusk and trying to tell the red tomatoes from the green ones… is this anything like the official Moslem definition of dusk as the time when you can’t tell a black thread from a white one? And once the magical hour comes and you have taken a couple of dates to break the fast in anticipation of further goodies, a lethargy sets in as you realize you are in for the night and will not likely accomplish anything else on your ‘to do’ list.
The hardest part of the fasting is during the day, when everything you do is a little more sluggish than usual, you periodically realize you are hungry, then in the same instant–intention–remember it’s because you are fasting. As thinking about anything requires an intentional focus of consciousness, you try to think of what spiritual thing you were trying to accomplish that made you think of fasting in the first place.
It was at this intentionally focused moment in the afternoon I was inspired to want to listen to Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite. Looking it up, I found the traditional order of playing the movements is Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. No Pluto moevment, that was long before Pluto’s discovery and subsequant deplanetization–but you have to wonder what Holst would have made of Eris, Dysnomia, and Discordianism. There is a recording of the Planet Suite at aquarianage.org, but it has errors and sounds terrible on laptop. Another recording by the Peabody Concert Orchestra is available for personal use.
And how to the planets figure into Islam? Islamic tradition says Abraham’s father Imran was a maker of idols and worshiped the planets. But Abraham broke from his father’s faith, became a monotheist, and established the original mosque at Mecca centuries before it became a center for pilgrimage for the triple goddess and was later newly discovered by the Prophet. The region’s shift to Islam meant it was Allah, and not the planets that had mystically created life.
If you want to hear some vintage Holst from after he traveled to Arab lands, including Algerian Sahara, but before he was influenced by Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, you can listen to Beni Mora— the movements First Dance, Second Dance, and Finale: in the Street of the Ouled Nails |here|.