Deosil is anticlockwise

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how the Sun travels through the sky, and specifically about which way it goes. In fact I wrote my Honours thesis about it, which I will put up here in the not too distant future. But I digress. The direction of the Sun’s movement is usually described as clockwise. But why is clockwise clockwise? Which is to say, why is the direction we call clockwise turning the way it is? No one will be surprised to know that clocks go that way because they are mimicking the direction of the Sun. This is based on a person facing the direction of the sunrise and seeing the Sun gradually move to their right over the course of the day; east, then southeast, then south, then southwest, then west. This direction is also referred to in English as deosil, a word with Gaelic roots. It is from from Old Irish, dess meaning right and sel meaning to turn.

However this situation does not obtain the planet over. Indeed where I live the Sun absolutely does not do this. My Sun rises in the east and then moves northeast, then north, then northwest, then west. I remember trying to explain this to a bunch of northern hemisphere Pagans at a Glastonbury solstice vigil one time, and they fully thought I was mad. They were unable to separate the concept of deosil from that of clockwise for the same reason I was unable to reconcile what I saw when I looked at the sky with the representation of that sky on an astrological chart, i.e. it just didn’t look that way to me. It took me a very long time to learn any astrology because of this. My breakthrough came when I eventually found some astrological software that had a feature to display the chart wheel as it appears in the southern hemisphere. It was a revelation. Suddenly the framework I had been taught to work with accurately reflected the reality of my sky, where deosil is anticlockwise.

So me and the bloke made a thing to help us austral dwellers see an astrological chart that shows our actual sky, with things moving in the direction they move for us. Here is a real time, live updating chart for Hobart (42°52’48.0″S 147°19’01.2″E), Tasmania, Australia.

Astute observers will note that the eastern horizon, and therefore the rising sign, is on the right hand side of the chart, and that the planets rotate counterclockwise, but still deosil, as it is in the southern hemisphere. Similarly, the first house is below the horizon on the right hand side of the chart, the second is below that, and so on clockwise. The leaf device (it's nothofagus gunnii, the only deciduous native Tasmanian plant) in the middle indicates the season; whichever leaf colour is upmost indicates the current time of year, e.g. silver = winter, green = spring. The coming season is to the left of the current season. And, most awesomely, the images of the planets are actual photos of the planets.

We are going to add features soon. Eventually you will be able to enter a birth time and date and see the southern hemisphere sky as it was at that time. Real soon now.