George’s grandson has found an old notebook in the attic: the journal of George’s father, Howard – filled with intimate and mystical observations of nature. This introduces the first of six Borealis passages from Howard’s journal.
The Aurora Borealis was of great interest to New Englanders in the mid-1800’s. Between 1835 and 1860, New England was subject to unusually frequent and intense displays of the northern lights. One dramatic aurora occurred in September, 1851; it shut down all telegraph transmission in the region. This phenomena was particularly interesting to transcendentalists in their quest for spiritual understanding through nature. It is also, perhaps, a cosmic metaphor for Howard’s intensely visceral experiences during his epileptic seizures.
"Aurora Borealis” was first coined in 1619 by Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) to suggest the likeness of early dawn in the northern sky; Aurora is the Roman goddess of dawn.