Reading the sacred skies: new book offered by Friends

Spirits Dancing book cover over northern lights

January 29, 2024

Since long before books, humans have turned to the night sky to read portends, seek beauty and meaning, and to find their place in the universe. A new book, now offered on the Friends’ website, speaks to both the human connection to the night sky and hopes for its protection.

Spirits Dancing: The Night Sky, Indigenous Knowledge, & Living Connections to the Cosmos features the photography of Travis Novitsky and text by Annette S. Lee. Novitsky, a member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, uses his lens to capture the awe and wonder of the northern lights. Lee, both an astrophysicist and an artist, uses her text to range across the universe of night sky topics from indigenous knowledge to the science of northern lights and the responsibility of all to help keep our skies dark enough to experience them.

Spirits Dancing book cover

“Few experiences bring us such feelings of joy, curiosity, and excitement as gazing upward on a dark sky night,” Lee writes in the book. “Instinctively we seem to know that the same sky has shone down on us, on all humanity, for all time. The sky defines our humanness and connects us through the millennia to people past, present and future. We truly share one sky.”

Published by the Minnesota Historical Society, this beautiful book weaves together the sacredness and the science of the night sky. It is, as author Paul Bogard calls it, “a beautiful, perhaps sacred book, the perfect combination of thoughtful, informative text and breathing photos. It gives proof to the wonders we lose when we flood our nights with artificial light or never venture into the dark.”

“As Friends embarks on our own Starry Sky initiative in the Apostle Islands,” says Executive Director Jeff Rennicke, “this is the perfect book to inspire us to get outside at night, to look up, stand in awe of the night sky, and then raise our voices in ensuring its protection.

Northern lights, moon and clouds over an island

Northern lights over the Apostle Islands – Jeff Rennicke photo

Get your copy of Spirit Dancing: The Night Sky, Indigenous Knowledge, & Living Connections to the Cosmos by clicking below and then join the Starry Skies Project.

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