Helios

Helios is an Android application which supports the practice of Liber Resh vel Helios. It is currently (July 2020) open for public beta testing. It requires Android version 8 (Oreo) or higher. The application is offered free of charge and without ads as a gift to the Thelemic community.

How to use Helios

Helios provides the times and directions of the sun events important to practicing Liber Resh: sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight. It is divided into three screens: main, text, and compass.

The main screen

The main screen displays the times at which sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight occur. These are called sun events. The first sun event listed is the most recent event that occurred; the others are upcoming events -- typically four, covering one full cycle of events. One of the first two sun events will be shown in bold; it's the second one in the screenshot. This indicates which sun event is closest to the current time. This is intended to help with doing "catch-up Resh" when (for example) you do noon Resh some time after the exact time of noon.

The type of each sun event (sunrise, noon, sunset, or midnight) is indicated by a color code and an icon. The icon is a sketch of where the sun is relative to the horizon, and for sunrise and sunset, which direction it is moving. The colors are gold for sunrise, red for noon, blue for sunset, and green for midnight. These were chosen to correspond with the elemental directions used in Golden Dawn pentagram rituals. That may be a useful mnemonic for some Resh users.

The date and time of each sun event should be accurate to within a minute.

Controls

  • Touching one of the sun events opens the text screen, with the appropriate sun event selected.
  • Touching the arrow icon in the header opens the compass screen.
  • Swiping down on the sun events list triggers an immediate refresh. Automatic refreshes happen every minute, so this should seldom be necessary.
  • The overflow icon (three dots) in the header provides access to these menu options:
    • Refresh: Another way to trigger an immediate refresh.
    • Text: Another way to open the text screen. This will show the text for sunrise by default, but the others can then be selected (see the text screen section below).
    • Help: Opens your device's web browser to this page.

The text screen

The text screen displays the ritual text for sunrise, noon, sunset, or midnight. There are two major sections of the ritual, and Liber Resh is a bit inconsistent in naming them. For convenience, I will call them the "invocation" and the "adoration".

The invocation (above the horizontal line) is exactly as given in Liber Resh. The portions of the invocation which are different for each sun event are shown in bold to aid in memorization and reference.

The adoration is not specified directly in Liber Resh. The instruction is to perform "the adoration that is taught thee by thy Superior", and that teaching, if you have received it, should certainly take precedence. However, a particular form of the adoration taken from Liber AL III:37-38 is widely taught and practiced in U.S. Grand Lodge, Ordo Templi Orientis, and has become the de facto standard adoration for use in group observances of Resh. I have chosen to provide this adoration in Helios as a reasonable starting point for new practitioners.

There are other ritual elements in Liber Resh of which I have intentionally omitted all mention. Read the original text and consult with instructors or other practitioners for these.

Controls

  • The full text is too long to display on most phones, so be sure to scroll down (using the usual finger-sliding gesture) to see it all.
  • Touching the SELECT button (top left, below the header) opens a dialog which allows you to select which version of the invocation to display (sunrise, noon, sunset, or midnight). The adoration is identical for all four.
  • Touching the arrow icon in the header opens the compass screen.
  • The overflow icon (three dots) in the header provides access to a single menu option:
    • Help: Opens your device's web browser to this page.
  • The back arrow (left end of the header) takes you to the main screen.

The compass screen

The compass screen displays azimuth (horizon) directions to the most recent sun event and three upcoming sun events, together making a full daily cycle. These are shown as sun gyphs (a circle with a dot in the center), and are color-coded using the same scheme used on the main screen: gold for sunrise, red for noon, blue for sunset, and green for midnight.

The current azimuth direction to the sun itself is displayed as a solid bright yellow dot. Inset from this is an arrow of the same color indicating what direction the sun is currently moving along the horizon.

The compass face itself includes a circle on which the sun and sun events move, ticks indicating the cardinal directions (only north is labeled, with "N"), and a dot in the center with a lighter grey bar extending from it to just beyond the circle, to help with aiming toward a particular direction.

So, for example, in the screenshot the phone is aimed just west of north. The sun is slightly south of due west, and is travelling northward along the horizon. The last sun event was noon (due south, shown in red) and the next one will be sunset (north of west, shown in blue). This particular screenshot was taken in Santa Monica CA USA (roughly 34.0 N, 118.5 E) near the summer solstice, which you can tell because the sunrise and sunset points are so far north of due east and west.

Near the moment of each sun event, the yellow dot showing the sun's position will exactly fill the outer circle of the sun event, with the inner dot of the latter centered on the disk of the sun.

Helios forces the device into portrait mode on this screen, as different devices combine device screen orientation and magnetic orientation in incompatible ways.

The compass display as a whole responds very rapidly to changes in device orientation. The positions of the sun and sun events on the compass display are updated approximately once per minute.

Notes on compass accuracy

Compass accuracies vary widely between devices, and most require calibration to provide the most accurate possible data. This article provides instructions on how to calibrate your device compass.

Hold your device flat relative to the ground, screen pointing straight up, for best results. The further you tilt the device away from this orientation, the less accurate the compass display will be.

Nearby metal, electric motors and wires, and other things may severely distort the local magnetic field, making your device compass (and indeed any compass) useless. Many buildings contain enough sources of magnetic interference to cause such problems. Being inside or near a car can also be problematic. When possible, favor using the compass outside, far from potential sources of magnetic interference.

Controls

  • If checked, the "Lock compass" checkbox in the lower left locks the compass so that north is straight toward the top edge of the screen. This can be useful if compass accuracy is poor but other directional references are available, e.g. in a building or street grid which is known to be aligned to the cardinal directions. This control will disappear and the compass will be permanently locked on a few (mostly older) devices which lack the sensors used by Helios to obtain accurate compass data.
  • Long-pressing any colored item on the compass display (sun events, sun, and sun direction) will briefly display a tooltip describing that item.
  • The overflow icon (three dots) in the header provides access to these menu options:
    • Text: Opens the text screen. This will show the text for sunrise by default, but the others can then be selected (see the text screen section above).
    • Help: Opens your device's web browser to this page.
  • The back arrow (left end of the header) takes you to the main screen.

Outside the temperate zones

For simplicity, the screen descriptions above assumed that the user was in one of the temperate zones (at a north or south latitude between roughly 23.4 and 66.6 degrees). In the arctic, antarctic, and tropics, special considerations apply.

Arctic and antarctic

These regions experience periods during which the sun remains above or below the horizon for full days at a time; the length of such periods increases as one gets closer to the poles. During such periods, Helios will not show sunrise or sunset on the main or compass screens. The text of Liber Resh appropriate to each of these can still be selected directly on the text page, so users may observe these events at other times (e.g., sunset Resh when the sun passes due west). Note that during such periods, "noon" and "midnight" actually mean "the time of the sun's highest angle above the horizon" and "the time of the sun's lowest angle above the horizon", with angles below the horizon being negative. So for example during arctic mid-winter, when the sun does not rise for a period of many days, "noon" would mark the point where the sun got closest to the horizon, while still not being above it.

At the poles themselves, the coordinate system we are implicitly using ceases to give meaningful results, and Helios will likely behave in bizarre and surprising ways. I look forward to interesting bug reports from users at Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station.

Tropics

Outside the tropics, the azimuth direction of the sun will always be the same -- clockwise in the northern hemisphere, counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere. In the tropics, things get more complicated.

At each tropical latitude, there are periods around the solstices when the sun is further from the equator than that latitude. Outside these periods, the sun behaves as it does outside the tropics, traveling clockwise above the equator, counterclockwise below it. During those periods around the solstice, the sun remains north or south of the east-west line through the full daily cycle, with noon and midnight both being either due north or due south depending on the circumstances.

For example, consider Honolulu (in the north tropic zone at 21.3 N) on June 21 (close to the northern summer solstice, with the sun at 23.4 N). The sun is further from the equator than Honolulu, so the sun remains north of the east-west line all day and night, and noon and midnight are both due north. The azimuth path of the sun, from midnight to noon, is:

  • Clockwise from midnight (due north) to sunrise. Sunrise is north of east.
  • Further clockwise from sunrise to a point between the sunrise azimuth and due east.
  • Counter-clockwise, back across the sunrise azimuth, though the sun is now much higher in the sky.
  • Further counter-clockwise to noon.

The other half of the day (noon to midnight) is the mirror image of this path, with the sun going counter-clockwise past the sunset azimuth while high in the sky, turning back clockwise before reaching due west, setting, and continuing clockwise to midnight.

Helios handles this behavior reasonably well. Whichever of noon or midnight is the nearest event in time -- whether most recent or next to occur -- is displayed on the compass circle, while the other is inset and dimmed. However, there is no visual indication whether the sun, when at the sunrise or sunset azimuth, is actually rising or setting, or is instead simply at one of the crossing points described above.

Feature requests and bug reports

If you are comfortable using the bug reporting mechanism on GitHub, please file bug reports and feature requests there. Otherwise, you can report them to me via email at cdberry@gmail.com. Please include as much specific and relevant information as possible -- e.g., for a bug report, what were you trying to do, what were you expecting to happen, and what happened instead? Screenshots are often helpful as well.