From – Indian Country Today –
The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, generally stay, well, north—up near the Arctic Circle, in fact. But on October 24 they paid lower Turtle Island a rare visit, appearing in a spectacular show as far south as Alabama and New Mexico.
Usually most visible at the spring and fall equinoxes, the spectacular undulating light show sometimes surprises. As if the celestial wonder of the Orionid Meteor Shower on October 22 weren’t enough, a sunstorm’s cosmic particles hit the earth’s magnetic field just when most of the U.S. was getting dark or already so, the U.S. National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center said on its site. It came from a “Coronal Mass Ejection” on Saturday October 22, the weather prediction center said, meaning that debris from a geomagnetic storm was released, hitting the earth’s atmosphere on Monday. Clear skies didn’t hurt the view.
“Unfortunately for sky watchers, the geomagnetic storm appears to be in decline and no further significant space weather is expected at this time,” the prediction center said.
For those who were not able to catch the show, these videos will give you a flavor. And [below is] a bit of lore on the Northern Lights and their significance in various Native cultures.
“The spring equinox has just passed, marking the start of prime viewing time for the aurora borealis, the curtains of light that dance above the Arctic and antarctic. The northern lights, as they are known, are more active around both equinoxes, but most visible at springtime, according to NASA.
According to the Canadian Association of Aboriginal Entrepreneurship, the Eskimos of the lower Yukon River in Alaska believed the auroras were the “dancing souls of their favorite animals: deer, seal, salmon, and beluga whales,” the group says on its website. The Nunamiut Eskimos believed that ”if the sky is divided in half by auroral displays, animals will be plentiful in the area the next day.”
Inuit shamans used the aurora to help cure disease, calling upon it as a spirit, the site says, adding, “Inuit leaders would take ‘spirit journeys’ into the lights to obtain advice and rescue souls from death.”
Children in the north are to this day told not to whistle or sing to the northern lights: “The lights will come and take you away,” the say, according to the CAAE. “They are not to be trusted.”
Images of the aurora borealis decapitating unsuspecting people are a running theme throughout Inuit art, especially carvings.
“To people who lived in the spirit-filled world of traditional cultures, one fact was clear,” the CAAE says. “The forces that dance in the polar dark are awe-inspiring—alien, frightening, uncontrollable and immensely active.”