David Mathisen explores the star myths of the world, and speaks the language of the stars.
David’s mission, in believing that the stars convey omniscient truths about our dual material-spiritual condition here on earth, is to share his knowledge of celestial metaphor – the esoteric meaning imparted by the authors of ancient, sacred myths found worldwide.
In the following article by a humble student of ancient wisdom in the night sky, we are taken a step further in our understanding of the Invisible Realm, and of our unique connection to the infinite.
A Note from the Author:
It is a great pleasure to return as Author of the Month in March, 2016.
I am very excited about the upcoming opportunity to have some conversations on the message board, and to share just a tiny fraction of the evidence which I believe shows overwhelmingly that the myths, scriptures, and sacred stories of virtually every culture on our planet are based on the same universal system of celestial metaphor, and to discuss some of the aspects of that system and the implications of this knowledge.
Together, we’ll explore a few specific myths from various scriptures and sacred traditions around the world, including those from ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient India, the Americas, and from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. We will see how the “grammar” of their celestial language works and build some “vocabulary” of specific constellations and how they appear in the mythological metaphors. Most importantly, you’ll have the chance to “translate” the celestial language on your own.
I hope by the end of the month you’ll agree with me that not only can the myths based upon a common system of celestial metaphor (which shows – contrary to what we are generally taught – that all of them are united and share some sort of “familial connection,” including the stories of the Bible), but that knowing more about their celestial language also allows us to benefit from their ancient wisdom.
I was here in January 2012 and it was a very positive experience for me. I am very grateful to Graham Hancock and to all of you for having me as a guest and for providing this wonderful forum where we can share and debate important ideas and evidence regarding the mysteries of humanity’s ancient past . . . and the implications for the present!
I’m very much looking forward to reconnecting with everyone!
Virtually all of the world’s myths, scriptures, and sacred traditions can be conclusively shown to be based upon the motions of the stars.
This includes all of the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, which for the past seventeen centuries have most commonly been interpreted and taught as though they were intended to describe literal and terrestrial events, when in fact the evidence that they are based upon celestial metaphor is overwhelming.
Although they are often taught as being distinctly different from other myths around the world, the fact that they are based on the constellations and heavenly cycles of the sun, moon, stars, and visible planets indicates that the stories in the Bible are very closely related to the myths of ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, ancient Sumer, and to the myths and sacred stories of cultures as far removed geographically (and temporally) as those from Japan, China, India, the Americas, the Pacific, Australia, and Africa.
The volume of evidence available to us in the myths is sufficient to demonstrate the validity of the above statements many times over. The specificity of some of the metaphors which can be shown to be used in cultures as far removed as ancient Egypt and Aotearoa (New Zealand) or Hawaii argues strongly against the possibility that these myths sprang up completely independently, and suggests that there may have been some now-unknown ancient source which all of them had in common (as well as the possibility that there was ancient trans-oceanic contact taking place to an extent that is declared an impossibility according to the conventional narrative of human history).
I am not the first to have suggested that, in addition to the archaeological, geological and “technological” evidence revealing that we exist in the midst of the shattered remains of an enormous physical structure of antiquity and sophistication, there is a sense in which we are also, simultaneously, living in the midst of what we might call an enormous ruined spiritual structure, the outlines of which can be seen in the myths, scriptures, and sacred stories that are also found in virtually every culture and corner on our planet. These stretch across millennia and evince tantalizing points of resonance across great geological distances and nearly incomprehensible stretches of time.
In a famous passage from Hamlet’s Mill, authors Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend lay out their thesis regarding such a ruined structure, which informs all of the world’s apparently varied mythologies and sacred traditions:
The dust of centuries had settled upon the remains of this great world-wide archaic construction when the Greeks came upon the scene. Yet something of it survived in traditional rites, in myths and fairy tales no longer understood.
[. . .]
But they are tantalizing fragments of a lost whole. They make one think of those “mist landscapes” of which Chinese painters are masters, which show here a rock, here a gable, there the tip of a tree, and leave the rest to imagination. Even when the code shall have yielded, when the techniques shall be known, we cannot expect to gauge the thought of those remote ancestors of ours, wrapped as it is in its symbols.
Their words are no more heard again
Through lapse of many ages . . . 1
Their words are “no more heard” because their language has been forgotten, or even deliberately destroyed. There have, however, been those over the centuries whose work has pointed to the celestial language that the ancient myths are speaking, and who have suggested how it might function. Based on their hints, I have been able to piece together a sort of “incomplete dictionary” or phrasebook which can help us begin to hold some tentative conversations with these ancient messengers from the distant past.
I am certainly not claiming to have uncovered the entire system, or to have made discoveries all on my own – the lectures of the Reverend Robert Taylor (1784 – 1844) contain invaluable explications of a huge collection of Biblical texts in light of their celestial originals (although I do not always agree with all of his suggested connections or conclusions). The voluminous and inspired writings of Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880 – 1963) have also been absolutely essential to my investigation (even though Kuhn generally stays at the level of the great “stations of the year,” primarily the solstices and equinoxes as well as the cross-quarter days, and does not really get down to the level of the constellations themselves and their direct correspondence to the mythical figures and scenes).
And there have been others through the centuries who obviously understood this ancient world-wide system to a high degree. Plato demonstrates easy familiarity and casual mastery of it during just a few passages in the Phaedrus, during which he eviscerates the attempts at “literalizing”, “historicizing” or “rationalizing” the myths. He points to their critical role in helping us to pursue that divine injunction said to have been inscribed at the Oracle of Delphi, the place where mortals receive guidance from the Invisible Realm: “know thyself.”2
Artists in previous centuries also appear to have been schooled in the details of the celestial system, whether they were taught all of the connections between the stars and the artistic conventions they observed or not. The accomplished painters of the exquisite red-figure and black-figure pottery of ancient Greece provide clear celestial details in nearly every artistic depiction they make of the scenes involving the various gods and heroes of myth.
And, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the fact that the “ancient ruin” described by Hamlet’s Mill, unlike the vast grid of ruined archaeological monuments scattered across our globe, is actually largely intact in some parts of the world, and even (it could be said) still in use among some cultures! In particular, the Vedic tradition has survived in India in what appears to be an almost undamaged form among some lineages and traditions – and there are other places where the voices of the ancient wisdom were not stilled, or (worse yet) co-opted by those who mistranslated or misrepresented what they were saying.
Because, and this is actually an extremely important point for understanding human history as it has unfolded since the period we designate as “antiquity,” it is primarily in the cultures of “the West” (those cultures controlled by the western Roman Empire, and the later colonies of the western European cultures) where the break with the ancient wisdom given in the myths was the most abrupt. At some point in what we call the first four to five centuries AD (or CE), the ancient Oracles were shut down, the ancient Mysteries were discontinued or disbanded or outlawed, and the understanding – that the myths are in fact esoteric celestial metaphors which point us towards the understanding that there is an Invisible Realm, the realm of the gods, with which we and all of nature are always connected at all times – was declared to be heretical. Instead, the stories were to be understood literally – an approach that tends to lead people to interpretations of the ancient sacred texts which (I believe) is 180-degrees out from their esoteric and celestial message.
As we recover our understanding of their celestial and esoteric structure, I believe that this esoteric and celestial message, which can also be accurately described as a shamanic message (although that word can be over-used and does require some qualification) has been the intended message all along. The overwhelming evidence that the stories are based on the heavenly motions and celestial cycles suggest that it is the literalistic message that is the misinterpretation.
I have now published the first two volumes in what is intended to be a “language course” in the grammar and vocabulary that the ancient myths are using – as well as offering some thoughts on the message that these myths (all around the world) seem to be trying to tell us, using their esoteric celestial language.
The title of the series is Star Myths of the World, and how to interpret them. Volume One was published in October 2015, and covers a very brief sampling of representative myths and sacred stories from Australia, Africa, ancient Egypt, ancient Sumer and Babylon (the Gilgamesh-Enkidu series), ancient India, ancient China and Japan, and from the indigenous cultures of the Americas and the Pacific Islands.
Volume Two was just published in February 2016, and focuses entirely on the myths of ancient Greece. It contains a complete celestial analysis of the Iliad and the Odyssey, with completely new insights that I believe are only revealed as we begin to understand the celestial metaphors within the two incredible poems. In addition, Volume Two explores the celestial nature of many of the primary gods and goddesses, as well as some of the critical myths outside of the Homeric epics, such as the story of Perseus and Medusa.
It is my contention that not only do the myths of the world speak the same language (which points to conclusions which absolutely demolish the conventional paradigm of humanity’s ancient past), but an understanding of their celestial language enables us to also understand these myths and their messages in ways that are otherwise simply unavailable to us.
In the future, it would be possible to write multi-volume studies of the myths found in the ancient Sanskrit epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (some episodes of the Mahabharata are explored in Volume One), as well as of the Gilgamesh-Enkidu series at greater length, and of other bodies of myth where much primary material is still available for analysis. Once the system is understood, the amount of celestial material to be found in the ancient myths and sacred traditions of the world is truly overwhelming. One of the main purposes of this series is to enable readers to pursue this analysis for themselves, as they learn to “converse with” and “question” the myths in the language that the myths themselves are speaking.
The amount of material that could be offered as evidence to support the assertion that virtually all of the world’s myths, sacred texts and traditions are Star Myths, based upon the motions of the stars and planets, is truly overwhelming. I believe that an honest examination of the evidence leads inexorably to the conclusion that the world’s myths – across great distances, intervening oceans and millennia – employ the same language and system of celestial metaphor. This evidence strongly argues for a radical re-evaluation of the conventional narrative of human history.
Let’s take a look at a very important example which proves that these assertions are based upon evidence that one can examine for oneself, using texts and records that have been used by scholars for centuries (and thus are not really in dispute to any significant degree), as well as constellations which can still be observed crossing the night sky in our present epoch. It is evidence that is very difficult to dispute, and that strongly argues for a common source (perhaps prior to some cataclysm or disaster that ended the dimly-remembered age prior to what we know as the earliest conventionally-acknowledged civilizations in human history).
Let’s look at an important myth-pattern, found around the world and familiar even to those who do not pursue the myths as their primary way of making a living, a myth-pattern which I call “the incomplete baptism.”
The Maui cycle of myths is found across the vast expanse of the Pacific, throughout the cultures of the people of Polynesia, from Hawaii to Aotearoa (New Zealand) – the largest physical expanse shared by one group with common linguistic and cultural elements ever seen on earth. Within that culture, the Maui myths are ubiquitous, and prolific. In her 1949 study entitled Maui of a Thousand Tricks: His Oceanic and European Biographers, Katherine Luomala explains:
Even in a mythology as replete with courageous and adventurous heroes as the Polynesian, Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, trickster and culture hero, is spectacular. Priests, chiefs, and commoners tell stories about this versatile and capricious demi-god, who ranged over sea, sky, earth, and underworld, to defy the gods and enrich mankind. The prankish Maui stole fire, snared the sun, raised the sky, trapped winds, fished up land, altered landscapes, founded dynasties, made useful inventions, and killed fabulous monsters who plagued women and terrified strong men. Even this breathless list gives only a few of the deeds which earned the hero the name of Maui-tinihanga, Maui-of-a-thousand-tricks. He was half-man, half-god, with as many nicknames as tricks.3
In her catalogue of the Maui stories, Luomala explains that:
Maui’s tragedy was to be torn throughout his life between a human and a godlike career. He surrendered eternal existence and the homage due to a divine being to throw in his lot with mortal beings. Myths portray him as inevitably and irresistibly drawn back to the fireside of his human relatives. Once he had returned, however, he was equally inevitably compelled, because of his origin as a prodigy, to revolt against the mysteries and limitations of earthly life. He seemed determined to put himself definitely over the line – if such a line can be said to exist clearly in Polynesian philosophy – between spirits and human beings. He wanted, if possible, to destroy that line.4
One of the stories she relates, from the Arawa tribe of Aotearoa, is of the tension between Maui’s mother’s oft-repeated claim that he will live forever, and Maui’s father’s awareness that he omitted certain sacred chants during the ceremony of baptism that he performed on his child, which realizes will make Maui vulnerable to death in the end.
Regarding Maui’s birth as the youngest of five brothers, the storyteller of the Arawa recounts that Maui was not carried to full term by his mother, and his older brothers called him an “abortion” who was cast into the bushes but did not die. Instead, he became a powerful trickster, and one day (having watched where his parents disappeared down into the ground each morning at sunrise) turned himself into the form of a bird – specifically a pigeon – and flew down the long, narrow tunnel into the underworld to find them. There, the storyteller relates,
…The lad was taken by his father to the water to be baptized. And after the ceremony prayers were offered to make him sacred and clean from all impurities. But when it was completed, his father Makea-tu-tara felt greatly alarmed, because he remembered that he had, from mistake, hurriedly skipped over part of the prayers of the baptismal service, and of the services to purify Maui. He knew that the gods would be certain to punish this fault by causing Maui to die. His alarm and anxiety were therefore extreme. At nightfall they all went into his house.5
Although later scholars of mythology are quick to attribute this “baptism scene” to the supposed influence of Christian missionaries, there are several reasons to be cautious about jumping hastily to conclusions. The scene of the “failed baptism,” which causes the semi-divine hero to eventually be doomed to mortality instead of to invulnerability, is in fact found across ancient myth, including ancient non-Christian myth.
Readers are probably familiar with the many versions of the story of Achilles, whose mother – the divine sea-goddess Thetis, a daughter of Nereus – intends to make him immortal by dipping him either in a sacred fire or in the waters of the river Styx. In some versions of the story, he is snatched from the fire by his terrified mortal father, Peleus, and thus denied immortality. In other versions, of course, the portion of the boy’s heel where his mother held him when she dipped him into the flames or the waters is left vulnerable: his Achilles’ heel, where he is eventually shot by an arrow fired by Paris and killed.
Note well the similarities to the Maui-myth: it is the error of the father which foils the mother’s attempt to make him invulnerable in the Achilles myth, and in the Maui myth the pattern is very similar, for Maui’s mother boasts that he will be immortal and will even destroy death and free humanity from its clutches. But due to the botched baptism administered by his father, Maui is doomed to someday die himself, instead of ending the reign of death.
Similarly, the philosopher and initiate of the ancient Mysteries, Plutarch, has left us an account of the Isis and Osiris myth in which Isis is searching for the corpse of her beloved Osiris after he was slain by his brother Set and cast into the sea. The casket floats to Byblos where a tree grows around it and is later taken by the King of Byblos who makes it into a pillar in his palace. When Isis finds its she goes to the region, sits down by a spring and is seen by the queen’s maidservants, who helps them to plait their hair and gives them ambrosia to make their bodies wondrously fragrant. She is then sent for by the queen:
Thus it happened that Isis was sent for and became so intimate with the queen that the queen made her the nurse of her baby. They say that the king’s name was Malcander; the queen’s name some say was Astartê, others Saosis, and still others Nemanûs, which the Greeks would call Athenaïs. They relate that Isis nursed the child by giving it her finger to suck instead of her breast, and in the night she would burn away the mortal portions of its body. She herself would turn into a swallow and flit about the pillar with a wailing lament, until the queen who had been watching, when she saw her babe on fire, gave forth a loud cry and thus deprived it of immortality. Then the goddess disclosed herself and asked for the pillar which served to support the roof.6
And so once more we see the pattern of the “incomplete baptism” (often by fire), by which incompleteness the child is fated to mortality instead of immortality. It should be observed that the Maui story of the “incomplete baptism” (replete with mythological details such as transformation into a bird) resembles the Achilles baptism (in which an infant is dipped in the river Styx or held over a fire, thus obviously mythical) or the incomplete baptism of the child of Byblos by Isis (in which the goddess turns into a bird) far more than it resembles any standard, literal, Christian baptism.
It is in my opinion objectionable to assume that the Arawa must have borrowed the concept from later missionaries and inserted it into their Maui myth, rather than to explore the possibility that we have here yet another manifestation of a mythical pattern found literally half a world away, among the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Greeks – seemingly separated by the passage of tens of centuries (at least).
These resonances — between myths of different cultures — would be proper to take up in any conventional “comparative religion” course at a university or other academic institution. But when we add an understanding of the celestial sources which almost certainly inform these three sacred myths found all around the world and across millennia, the likelihood that they all sprang up independently reduces to near vanishing-point.
Below is a screenshot of the portion of the night sky which I believe contains the various constellation and celestial features being allegorized in all three of the above examples (and in many other Star Myths around the world, some of them extremely well-known). The screenshot is from the free open-source planetarium app called Stellarium (available for download at stellarium.org).
One must compromise with all methods for presenting constellations on a flat surface; in this case, the view attempts to simulate the “wrap around” effect of the horizon to the left and right of the direction we are facing by curving the horizon upwards along the east and west as we face south. Thus, constellations will appear somewhat distorted (and larger) as they rise in the east and set in the west, and smaller but somewhat less distorted as they cross through the sky in the direction we are facing (due south).
In the above diagram presented from the perspective of an observer in the northern hemisphere, we are looking south towards the brilliant constellations of Scorpio and Sagittarius, and in between them the rising column of the Milky Way galaxy, in the region of what is in fact the Galaxy’s brightest and most visible section (the Galactic Core).
To the east of Sagittarius (just rising above the western horizon, on the left as we look at the page) is the zodiac constellation of the Goat of Capricorn, and to the west of Scorpio are the zodiac constellations of Libra and of Virgo, in her characteristic “recumbent” orientation as she crosses the sky.
Let’s draw in the constellations which play an important role in the Star Myths we are examining, using the outlines suggested by well-known children’s author (and also author of superlative books on finding the constellations in the night sky) H. A. Rey (more on the importance of Rey’s method of outlining will be discussed later this month). Some of the outlines shown are slight modifications from those suggested by H. A. Rey.
While looking at Virgo and Scorpio, recall that the semi-divine culture hero of the Pacific myths and legends, Maui, was described as an “untimely birth” – and in fact, was frequently called an “abortion” by his older brothers. If you read through the different Maui myths and legends (in the text of Katherine Luomala, for example), you will also see that Maui in some cases was described as having “eight heads.”
Can you see how Scorpio might appear in myths around the world as something or someone to whom Virgo has just given birth? Notice that she is recumbent, ahead of Scorpio in the sky during the nightly journey from east to west, and is in fact lying with her feet elevated, with Scorpio down below her (from the perspective of a northern-hemisphere observer).
In the Maui story as told by the Arawa storyteller of Aotearoa and as recorded by Katherine Luomala in her collection of Maui myths (and in many other versions of the Maui legend found around the Pacific), Maui becomes a little older and seeks to discover where his mother and father disappear to each morning when the sun comes up (an appropriate question to ask, especially if your mother and father are constellations, which do in fact disappear when the sun comes up).
He discovers that they disappear down a hole into the earth – another description appropriate to a constellation which sinks into the western horizon and appears to descend into the earth due to the daily rotation of our planet towards the east. This easterly rotation causes the sun, moon, and celestial objects to appear to pop up out of the eastern horizon and cross the sky from east to west, and then sink down into the western horizon.
So, Maui with his supernatural power transforms himself into a pigeon and flies down the long narrow tunnel under the earth to see where they go each day. Can you see him flying down the tunnel in the diagram above? There are actually two majestic birds in the Milky Way column in the section above Sagittarius and Scorpio in the sky: Aquila the Eagle and Cygnus the Swan. For the sake of simplicity I have only outlined Cygnus, who almost certainly plays the role of Maui in this myth, flying downwards through the “narrow tunnel” (formed by the Milky Way itself).
Once down in the underworld, Maui has various adventures and confrontations, but the subject at hand is his “incomplete baptism.” Can you guess what stars might portray this important event? It isn’t easy to determine what stars the ancient myths might have been encoding here unless you spend some time looking at a variety of ancient myths and stories – including, as it turns out in this case, some of the stories in the Old Testament of the Bible.
To figure out what stars might be the original for this scene, let’s briefly examine the myths surrounding the baptism of Achilles, of which there are two different visions of the medium by which the child was to be made invulnerable. In many versions of the myth, it is fire in which Thetis would place her child, just as in the myth of Isis in the palace of the King and Queen of Byblos; in other versions, it is the River Styx. For the sake of brevity, know that I believe that in each of these two instances, the shining column of the Milky Way plays them both, being envisioned as either the smoky fire or the silent stream. If you look at Scorpio again, you will see that the constellation does almost resemble a log that has been tossed into a fire, with smoke rising up above – and in fact in some versions of the Achilles baptism story, Thetis burns all of Achilles’ brothers and sisters in the fire in her attempt to make them immortal before she gets to Achilles, the youngest (the “multiple heads” of Scorpio no doubt gave rise to this aspect of the myth).
Look high in the sky and you can see the constellation who snatched Achilles out of the fire before he could be made completely invulnerable – his father Peleus, played by the extremely important constellation Hercules.
The yellow outline represents the shape of Hercules as envisioned by H. A. Rey, with one arm holding a great club in a menacing upraised position, and the other arm reaching out in front of Hercules. I have also added a red line from the “middle star” in this outstretched arm of Hercules to the nearest star of the arc formed by Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, directly in front of Hercules (between Hercules and Boötes, in fact).
In other words, as normally envisioned, Hercules is not really “holding the Northern Crown.” But I am arguing, based on myths found around the world, that Hercules is often envisioned as reaching out to grasp the near branch of the beautiful crescent of the Northern Crown (Corona Borealis). I illustrate the “line” that we can envision as his forearm using a red line in the chart, to show where the forearm is envisioned when he grasps the crown.
I believe – based on my extensive analysis of the myths – that this figure of Hercules “holding” the Northern Crown was envisioned as the father of Achilles snatching the infant out of the flames, the Northern Crown being the infant, arching vigorously, as an infant will sometimes do (especially when frightened). In fact, Hercules’ holding of the Northern Crown was anciently envisioned as holding this vigorously-arching infant by the heel.
To support this argument most quickly and effectively, I must briefly turn to another Star Myth not covered in Volumes One and Two, but familiar to an audience from cultures that have been influenced by the Bible for many centuries.
Commonly known as “The Judgment of Solomon” and found in the Old Testament Hebrew scripture of First Kings, the story goes that two mothers (both prostitutes or “harlots” in the 1611 translation) have babies at roughly the same time, but one dies and they quarrel over whose is the live baby. The case comes before Solomon, who directs a swordsman to cut the living baby in half and divide it between the two mothers.
As the swordsman pauses before the downstroke of his mighty sword, one mother cries out to stop and give the child to the other one (the other approves of the idea). This leads Solomon to command the swordsman to not cut the baby, and to award the living child to the woman who cried out for the swordsman to stop, believing she must be the child’s true mother.
The constellations we have henceforth examined also form the basis for this scene: Corona Borealis represents the baby being held by the swordsman (Hercules), the seated figure of Boötes represents King Solomon on his throne, and Virgo represents one or both of the mothers (notice her extended arm towards the baby, in either a gesture of compassion or accusation).
There are, after all, a plethora of paintings which represent the characters in this story through the centuries, in almost the same postures – all of them corresponding to the constellations in the night sky (note in particular the vigorously-arching baby being held by his heel, and the outstretched arm of the compassionate mother):
Note the extended arm of the mother (characteristic of the constellation Virgo in the night sky), the arching baby (making the form of Corona Borealis in the night sky) in the hand of the swordsman (whose sword is extended over his own back, directly paralleling the constellation Hercules in the night sky), and the extended arm of the seated king, with thumb and forefinger creating a “V”-shape directly paralleling the “pipe” of the seated form of the constellation Boötes in the night sky.
Note again the arching baby (clearly evoking Corona Borealis), the upraised sword of the swordsman (directly paralleling the weapon held in the hand of the constellation Hercules), the outstretched arms of the pleading mother who evokes the constellation Virgo (as opposed to the accusing mother, whose two diverging arms are more suggestive of Pisces than of Virgo), and the extended arm of the seated king with another characteristic “V-shape” formed by the thumb and index finger, evocative of the constellation Boötes in the night sky.
Again, we see the same consistent artistic conventions being employed in this scene, literally across centuries. We see the baby arching in a shape most reminiscent of the curve of the constellation Corona Borealis, held by its heel (as was Achilles) by a massive swordsman whose great scimitar is extended over his own back (as is the scimitar held by the constellation Hercules), as well as the mother pleading with outstretched arms, and the seated form of the king with outstretched arm extending one finger (again evocative of the constellation Boötes).
These images sufficiently establish that it has been understood – historically – that the constellation Corona Borealis is sometimes (in fact, quite frequently) envisioned as an arching baby in the hands of Hercules. Suffice it to say, this is an “obvious” way of seeing the constellations; that such myths could have just “popped up” in complete isolation among various human cultures across millennia seems extremely unlikely.
There are in fact many other examples of constellations whose mythological manifestations are not very obvious at all, and which – just like the arching infant – show up in variations of the same role in Star Myths found in all corners of the globe and across vast gulfs of time.
Let us now briefly ask “Why” the ancient myths of the world, all around the globe, would be built upon celestial allegories. I believe that whoever imparted the ancient wisdom in the sacred myths were consciously using the stars as a sophisticated metaphor to impart profound knowledge of the Invisible Realm and our connection to it. The celestial players in the heavenly realm above our heads – the sun, moon, stars, and visible planets, along with their intricate cycles – were used to convey truths about the infinite realm, which is in fact real, and of vital importance to each of our lives, and to the collective survival of all life on earth, even though it cannot be seen.
The stars in their heavenly courses (including the sun itself) can be seen to “belong” to the heavenly realm, the spirit realm, the realm of the gods — but to plunge below the western horizon due to earth’s rotation, as if they are leaving the realm of pure spirit (the sky above, the domain of air and fire) and entering the “material realm” below as they make contact with earth or water (the lower two elements).
As such, the stars are the perfect vehicle for conveying truths about our own dual material-spiritual condition here in the “lower realm” of this incarnate life. Just as the stars plunge from the spirit realm to (metaphorically speaking) “plow through” the underworld on their way back to the eastern horizon, we too can be seen to have a divine component, a spiritual component, which has been encased in matter as we ourselves “plow through” the underworld of this incarnate existence. If, for example, we go back and look at some of the descriptions in Polynesian myth regarding the semi-divine hero Maui, we see that Maui’s signature characteristic was his condition of being “torn between” his divine nature and his attraction to “the fireside of his human relatives.”
The same conflict can be demonstrated by an analysis of other mythical characters, including Achilles. This is because these stories are not in fact about external, literal, or historical personages – they are about the condition of each and every human soul in this incarnate life, which has plunged from the spirit realm, the divine realm, into the material realm, taking on the body of a man or woman – bringing the divine spark into the “human family,” so to speak.
In fact, the entire “incomplete baptism” metaphor appears to be playing with and illustrating aspects of our condition here in this incarnate life, for the process illustrates an interplay between immortality and mortality: as if perhaps our very participation in the process of taking on a mortal body (perhaps on many successive incarnations) is somehow connected to the elevation of the divine aspect of our nature and the eventual triumph over the cycle of mortality and death.
And these are some very brief explorations of the profound spiritual significance conveyed by these exquisite sacred myths that were imparted to the human race. There is much, much more which can be immediately applied to our daily lives in astonishing and positive ways.
It should be clear that the world’s Star Myths, even in their “mist-covered” state, point to conclusions with absolutely incredible ramifications about humanity’s ancient past. But, what is very exciting is that this vast archaic structure is in many ways not actually “ruined” but in fact only sleeping – and that it can be applied to questions of immediate and daily significance, as well as the incredible sweep of our planet’s history.
I hope that you will find this subject to be one that you choose to pursue further. I believe that it has incredible significance for all of us.
1. De Santillana, Giorgio and Hertha von Dechend. Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time. First Paperback Edition. Boston: Godine, 1977. (first edition published 1969). The quoted section is found on pages 4 and 5 of the 1977 edition.
2. Plato. Phaedrus. R. Hackforth, trans. In The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Including the Letters. Ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Bollingen Series LXXI. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1963. (475 – 525).
3. Luomala, Katherine. Maui of a Thousand Tricks: His Oceanic and European Biographers. Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1949. Page 3.
4. Ibid, 32 – 33.
5. Ibid, 43.
6. Plutarch. Moralia, Volume V: Isis and Osiris. The E at Delphi. The Oracles at Delphi No Longer Given in Verse. The Obsolescence of Oracles. Frank Cole Babbitt, trans. Loeb Classical Library 306. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1936. Of Isis and Osiris: 3 – 193.