Ragnarok as Celetial Allegory

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posted on Oct, 17 2005 @ 05:03 PM
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This is a huge post that asks a lot of any message board user so I do not expect to get much of a response but I've been talking about the corespondence of astronomy/mythology for a while and thought a more thorough analysis may be appropriate.

There are many schools of thought regarding the basis of world mythologies and religious symbolism. One compelling possibility is the notion that the root for much or all of theology is prehistoric observational astronomy. Inherent in this theory is the conception that mythological symbolism was originally developed by an antediluvian mother culture, an urzeit, as a technical language used to describe the slow movements of celestial bodies over extremely long periods of time. From the start this poetic language of metaphors and allegory was likely intended for a select body or class, and not for mass-comprehension. However one looks at it there are many outstanding recurring themes and features found pan-globally in cultural folk lore and mythologies.

Key components of this system include the personification of the visible bodies of the solar system, in a geocentric system considered the seven planets (the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). Also important are the constellations, especially the twelve signs of the zodiac (Aries the ram, Taurus the bull, the divine twins Gemini, Cancer the crab, Leo the lion, the maiden Virgo, the scales of Libra, Scorpio the scorpion, Sagittarius the archer, Capricorn the goat, the water carrier Aquarius and Pisces the fish) as well as major stellar configurations like Draco the dragon or serpent, Orion/Osiris and the Southern Cross. To fully appreciate the phenomena it is important to have at least a basic understanding of the precession of the equinox and the periodic shifting of the pole star due to the tilt of the Earth's axis. A great primer on the topic can be found on the following ATS thread started by Alias Jones. I also urge readers to use Google, Wikepedia or other online resources to familiarize themselves with any terms, names or titles they're unfamiliar with.

The Ecliptic Plane, 2012 and the dawn of a new age thread

Using this system it is observable that the myths, folk tales and legends that underlie cultures and languages throughout world history are based on careful observation of the night sky. The interactions of divine entities, the various gods, heroes and avatars are descriptions of movements, conjunctions and separations of stellar and planetary bodies. Major reoccurring images include a world tree, tower, pillar, mast, cross, etc., referring to the imaginary pole or axis of the celestial sphere. Sometimes this axis is described as a mill, churn or whirlpool describing the circular motions of the heavens. In many traditions this column, mill or tower collapses and falls and is then rebuilt, allegorical of the shifting of the pole star.

This is a large and complex subject perhaps best presented in the book "Hamlet's Mill" by Giorgio De Santillana and Hertha Von Dechend which is highly recommended for anyone looking to further study this issue. Excerpts of the book are available at Amazon.com.

Hamlet's Mill

In order to deal with the subject using concrete examples i thought it might be good to work with a concept that would be familiar to many readers on this board. What follows is based upon a chapter of "Hamlet's Mill" entitled the Twilight the Gods and dealing primarily with the images found in the Norse tradition of Ragnarok. Comments made within parenthesis are my own.

There are legends found around the world of a primeval Golden Age that comes to a violent end. Frequently, as in the Old Testament account of the Fall from the Garden of Eden, there is a component of responsibility for this fall, it occurs as a consequence of an act or acts of sinfulness.

The origin of evil is an important factor of almost all theologies. Evil is usually not held to be a product of Nature, usually depicted as perfect and harmonious in its conception. It seems that in archaic times stories of the origin of evil were descriptions of celestial movements.

The following quote concerning Kronos, Zeus, Aphrodite, et al, is from book Lambda of Aristotle's "Metaphysics":


Our forefathers in the most remote ages have handed down to their posterity a tradition, in the schema of a myth, that these bodies are gods and that the divine encloses the whole of nature. The rest of the tradition has been added later in mythical form… they say that these gods are in the forms of men or like some of the other animals…But if one were to separate the first point from these additions and take it alone- that they thought the first substances to be gods, one must regard this as an inspired utterance, and reflect that, while probably each art and each science has often been developed as far as possible and has again perished, these opinions, with others, have been preserved until the present like relics of the ancient treasure.


As a Greek of his era Aristotle's notion of time is different from that possessed in the modern, Western world. Time was a cycle, a conception drawn from the observation of ancients of reoccurring, slow celestial "events". If the source for these concepts came from a prehistoric era technical language then it is certain that all that has survived is fragmentary and distorted. In its original form this organized naming, observing and recording of constellations and planets was certainly an expression of enormous intellect.

Ancient myth is rife with astronomical observation. Legends of struggles and violence were likely descriptions of the forces that formed the cosmos. Putting it simply, fixed stars represent essential laws, stable, unquestionable kingly power. The planets, the gods, depicted force and will, dynamic, executive power. The harmonization of these forces is expressed in such concepts as the "Harmony of the Spheres". This notion underlies the concept of a cyclical Great Year with all the motions returning to a set configuration. When stellar figures are out of this harmony, performing their movements, this is expressed in terms of negativity or anxiety.

In the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" Osiris says to Thot:


What is it that hath happened to the divine children of Nut? They have done battle, they have upheld strife, they have made slaughter, they have caused trouble: in truth, in all their doing the mighty have worked against the weak. Grant, O might of Thot, that which the God Atum hath decreed! And thou regardest not evil nor art thou provoked to anger when they bring their years to confusion and throng in and push to disturb their months; for in all that they have done unto thee, they have worked iniquity in secret!


Thot (Thoth/Tehuti/Hermes) was the progenitor of science and wisdom. Atum is the creator, the source of All, an abstract metaphysical concept equating to the whole of the cosmos (Nut is the personification of the sky, particularly the night sky, and she is the great mother. Her husband Geb is the earth, a reversal of the usual male/sky, female/earth relationship). An entity such as Atum can only be understood as infallible, but there are interior factors (the children of Nut), described as 'overbearing' or 'iniquitous', that develop these negative attributes over time. The base sin of these figures is the breaking of the measure, the over-stepping of their bounds, the movement away from their appointed degree.

The Greek titans are comparable to the Hindu Asura. In the "Mahabharata" it states "…assuredly were the Asura originally just, good and charitable, knew the Dharma and sacrificed, and were possessed of many other virtues…", "…but afterwards as they multiplied in number they became proud, vain, quarrelsome…", "…they made confusion in everything". This is comparable to elements of the Genesis story of Noah and the flood.

In chapter 18 of the "Book of Enoch" an angel guides Enoch through the celestial landscape and states, "These stars which roll around over the fire are those who, at resting time, overstepped the orders of God. They did not rise at their appointed time. And He was wroth with them and He bound them for 10,000 years until the time when their sin shall be fulfilled".

Like the Asura, the Titans were originally forces of benevolence and ruled over a Golden Age, but their eventual punishment was based upon a criminal action early in their history. Saturn perpetuated the "separation of the parents of the world", a symbol of the separation of the axes of the equator and the ecliptic. This separation is the beginning of time. In the Babylonian creation epic the "Enûma Elish" this same separation is depicted as the children of Tiamat and Apsu who crowd between their parents and are described as being overbearing.

The Golden Age is ruled by Saturn/Kronos, the Babylonian Enki/Ea, Persian Yima, Norse Freyr, etc. In Hesiod's "Theogony" Ouranos, the Great Heaven, calls the sons of Saturn Titans (Strainers) reproachfully because they presumptuously committed a fearful deed. The Titans multiplied and overstrained their measure. The equinotical sun was moved out of its Golden Age position. That was the crime, knocking the sun out of place and causing its motion, disrupting the position of everything.

In the Edda's first poem, the "Song of the Sibyl", the prophetess Vala describes how at the beginning of the age of the Aesir, the gods gathered and gave names to the sun, moon, days, nights and seasons, ordered the years and positioned the stars. They established their kingdom of Asgard on Ida Vollr, the whirl field (Ida=eddy) and ruled over a Golden Age. It is suggested that there had once been a war between the Aesir and the Vanir that ended with a sharing of power. The primary Vana were three brothers, Thjassi/Volund the Maker, Orvandil/Eigil the Archer, and Slagfin the Musician. Odin at one time committed a crime against Thjassi, nailing his eyes to heaven. Like the Titans the Vanir are powers that proceeded the Aesir.

The Golden Age of the Aesir faces an inevitable fall, the Ragnarok, the Fate or twilight of the Gods. Ragna relates to the Icelandic word regin, which means "the gods as the makers and rulers of the universe". Rok is "reason, ground, origin" or "a wonder, sign or marvel". An alternative for rok is rokr, "the twilight, seldom morning". The war of the Pandavas and the Kauravas depicted in the "Mahaharata" takes place in the 'twilight' between the Dwapar Yuga and the Kali Yuga, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Snorri Sturluson, 13th century Icelandic mythographer who collected the poems of the Edda compared Ragnarok to the fall of Troy.

The sentinel of Asgard is Heimdall, and he guards the bridge connecting heaven and earth. He possesses great attributes but his freedom of action is limited. Heimdall owns the Gjallarhorn, a battle horn that only he can sound and he does so only once, to summon the gods and heroes of Asgard for the Final Battle. The outcome of Ragnarok is already established. The Aesir must atone for their wrongs; good and evil are destroyed together.

Heimdall is the son of nine mothers. The attribute of having multiple mothers is rare in any mythology. Heimdall shares this trait with the Hindu Agni, and Agni's son Skanda. Skanda, the "jumping" one represents Mars and is also called Kartikeya because he is the son of the Krittika, his mothers and the star cluster the Pleiades. The nine mothers of Heimdall likely relate to the nine giantesses who turn the world-mill, as discussed by Rydberg in his "Teutonic Mythology". Having nine mothers suggests astronomy. Heimdall represents the world axis and his head is called the measurer. Heimdall's second name is Hallinskidi, meaning a bent or slanted post. Jacob Grimm points out that Hallinskidi and Heimdall are both names for the ram.

Heimdall watches the heavenly bridge that breaks at Ragnarok. His 'head' measures the crossroads of the ecliptic and the equator at the vernal equinox in Aries (That the constellation Aries depicts just the ram's head is apparent). Interestingly, many astromedical illustrations show Aries ruling the head (Virgo the stomach, Pisces the feet). Another epithet of Heimdall is Vindler, which again according to Rydberg is a subform of Vindill and derives from Vinda, which means to twist or turn, to wind, and to turn rapidly. The name 'the turner' is given to the god who brings fire through friction and personifies that fire (which seems to relate to Prometheus. Interestingly Prometheus' punishment for bringing divine fire to mankind is quite similar to the punishment of Loke/Loki for inciting the death of Balder. Heimdall and Loki slay one another during Ragnarok).

The Ragnarok prophecy doesn't end with destruction but with the dawning of a new era. While the bulk of the Aesir have perished younger gods remain, Thor's sons Modi and Magni, who still have their father's hammer, and Odin's sons Balder, Hoder, Vali and Vidar. Besides Freyr, who is killed by the fire giant Surt the Black, the Vanir, entities from a previous age, are unaffected. The tragedy has a factor of inevitability to it. Fenrir is bound by nothingness (his binds are composed of such things as the footfalls of cats, the roots of rocks and the spittle of birds), but can only break free at the proper time, when it is decreed that Odin and the sun were to be devoured. Vidar kills Fenrir by thrusting his shoe down the wolf's throat. Like Jason the Argonaut, Vidar only has one shoe.

What happens after Ragnarok is emphasized in the "Gylfaginning", in which a king named Gylfi meets the Aesir disguised as mortals. They answer his questions about the impending Ragnarok (Ragnarok is always spoken of in the future tense). About the surviving gods they tell him:


All sit down and converse together. They rehearse their runes and talk of events of old days. They find in the grass the golden tablets that the Aesir once played with. Two children of men will also be found safe from the great flames of Surt. Their names, Lif and Lifthrasir, and they feed on the morning dew and from this human pair will come a great population which will fill the earth. And strange to say, the sun, before being devoured by Fenrir, will have borne a daughter, no less beautiful and going the same ways as her mother.


The rediscovery of the games relates to the description in the "Rigveda" of the gods going around like casts of dice. The name of the Indian world ages (Yuga) derives from an idiom of dicing. Several versions of early chess included dice, the number thrown determining which figure was moved. The Indians had a game called "Planetary Battles" which was still termed "Celestial War" or "Astrologer's Game" up to the 16th century in Europe. Chinese chessboards often show the Milky Way dividing the board.

In Ragnarok the forces of order are the 'Einherier', the dead warriors brought to Valhalla by the Valkyries. The "Grimnismal" states, "five hundred gates and forty more are in the mighty building of Walhalla- 800 Einherier come out of each gate", which totals 432,000 warriors. This number must have ancient significance. It is the number of syllables in the "Rigveda", which has 10,800 stanzas, 40 syllables per stanza. 10,800 and 108 occur frequently in Hindu mythology. Berossas calculated the Babylonian Great Year as lasting 432,000 years. The temple at Angkor in Cambodia has five gates, each leading to a road bridging a circular moat. Each road is bordered by 108 stone figures, 54 per side, altogether 540 statues of Devas and Asura. Each row carries a serpent with nine heads, and this is to depict the action of churning the milky ocean, represented by the moat, using Mt. Mandara as a pivot and the prince of Nagas Vasuki as a drilling rope.

In the last paragraph of the "Gylfaginning" it states:


The Aesir now sat down to talk, and they held their counsel, and remembered all the tales that were told to Gylfi. They gave the very same names that had been named before to the men and places that were there. This they did for reason that, when a long time had elapsed, men should not doubt that those to whom the names were given, were all identical. There was one who is called Thor, and he is Asa-Thor, the old. He is Oeku-Thor (Chariot-Thor) and to him are ascribed the great deeds by Hektor in Troy.




posted on Oct, 17 2005 @ 05:20 PM
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>>>The sentinel of Asgard is Heimdall, and he guards the bridge connecting heaven and earth. He possesses great attributes but his freedom of action is limited. Heimdall owns the Gjallarhorn, a battle horn that only he can sound and he does so only once, to summon the gods and heroes of Asgard for the Final Battle. The outcome of Ragnarok is already established. The Aesir must atone for their wrongs; good and evil are destroyed together.



posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 10:48 AM
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Originally posted by Cicada
[quoting the Gylfaginning]There was one who is called Thor, and he is Asa-Thor, the old. He is Oeku-Thor (Chariot-Thor) and to him are ascribed the great deeds by Hektor in Troy.


But why accept this as particularly relevatory? This work is from Snorri Sturluson and was written long after these myths were 'alive', he collected works and myths from all over the place and put them together, that comment about hektor is probably Sturluson talking no? And apparently he beleived that the myths were the results of the aggrandizement of the funeral rites of ancient kings, so he probably makes the thor-hector connection because he's already looking to connect and ammalgmate myths no?


The Titans multiplied and overstrained their measure. The equinotical sun was moved out of its Golden Age position. That was the crime, knocking the sun out of place and causing its motion, disrupting the position of everything.

Why connect the events tho, the 'movement' of the titans and the movement of the galaxy?

An intersting alternative that I have heard and you might be interested in, and I heard it in reading James Campbell but I don't think that it starts with hi, is that the Titans and these similar gods, and the titanomachy and the ultimate triumph of the Olympian gods, the new gods, is a working of the more organized city-state religions overcomming the much more primitive and tribal 'shamanistic' religions. And that this basic motiff is repeated in other cultures where its not even so obvious, like in native american myths where a group of old wise men compete with some new upstart, performing all sorts of magical workings, like changing shape, etc, and ultimately the new guy performs even greater magical workings and thus 'wins'.

[quote[]Ragna relates to the Icelandic word regin, which means "the gods as the makers and rulers of the universe". Rok is "reason, ground, origin" or "a wonder, sign or marvel". An alternative for rok is rokr, "the twilight, seldom morning".
Intersting, I had oft heard of it as the Age of Fire and Gravel.



posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 10:43 PM
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Originally posted by siriuslyone
I find it fascinating that on Stargate SG-1, the overseers of this planet and much of the known Universe are known as the Asgard,and enforce the Law of Non-Interference for the especially new soul inhabitants.
These beings are accurately portrayed as benevolent, but will fight if it is how an orb that is unjustly being attacked.



I've never seen the show or the movies. Certainly there is a preponderance of mythological names, characters and themes throughout the arts and media and of course this is mostly because these concepts are a part of our language. Whatever the reason, the idea that there are splinters of profound astronomical insight embedded within a form as seemingly innocuous as a Marvel comic book is to me a sublime thing on at least a poetic level.



posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 11:34 PM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
But why accept this as particularly relevatory? This work is from Snorri Sturluson and was written long after these myths were 'alive', he collected works and myths from all over the place and put them together, that comment about hektor is probably Sturluson talking no? And apparently he beleived that the myths were the results of the aggrandizement of the funeral rites of ancient kings, so he probably makes the thor-hector connection because he's already looking to connect and ammalgmate myths no?


Yes, that's certainly a fair observation and one that needed to be made. I debated including that line in my post, mostly because it just kind of hung out there with little relevance to the rest of the post. Ultimately I found the Thor/Hektor association too intriguing to drop, especially with the chariot aspect emphasized. Like Sturluson I suppose, there is something in my nature that is looking to connect and amalgamate myths as well. I'm certainly no expert on the Icelandic poetic epics and an association between the deities and the activity of a royal class is certainly valid. This does not rule out observational astronomy as a root basis for mythology however, because there's no reason that multiple levels of meaning can't be applied in almost any system of symbolism. While I'm not sure how many associations I'd be able to make between the Fall of Troy and Ragnarok, with a little time I might be able to pull up some relationships between the Troy legend and observational astronomy.



Why connect the events tho, the 'movement' of the titans and the movement of the galaxy?

An intersting alternative that I have heard and you might be interested in, and I heard it in reading James Campbell but I don't think that it starts with hi, is that the Titans and these similar gods, and the titanomachy and the ultimate triumph of the Olympian gods, the new gods, is a working of the more organized city-state religions overcomming the much more primitive and tribal 'shamanistic' religions. And that this basic motiff is repeated in other cultures where its not even so obvious, like in native american myths where a group of old wise men compete with some new upstart, performing all sorts of magical workings, like changing shape, etc, and ultimately the new guy performs even greater magical workings and thus 'wins'.


The authors of "Hamlet's Mill" would say the basis of making the connections comes from a "preponderance of details". I won't go quite that far because I don't think that anyone can truly account for the nature of synchronicity. The term Titans does mean the straining gods, an appellation that does suggest overbearing motion. Saturn/Kronos is a complex figure. The connection between Kronos=Saturn and Chronos=Time is certainly arguable. The act of castrating Ouranos/Uranus, the separation of sky and earth does seem to describe the concept underlying the tilt of the earth's axis as it relates to measuring time through astronomical observation over long periods of time. If we do our limited best to imagine the viewpoint of an ancient astronomer, Saturn was the most distant planetary body, thus the highest planetary/godly figure, above the other planets, and this is symbolized as fatherhood/rulership.

Joseph Campbell's insight is indeed astute and valid, but again doesn't negate the notion. If one were to create a poetic legend to describe something as abstract as the slow movement of stellar bodies over long periods of time, they would naturally draw from the world around them and what was observable to the senses, including the actions of nature like seasonal progression, and societal interactions. The most successful symbols are those that operate on many levels allowing for the inter-association of disparate concepts.

[quote[]Ragna relates to the Icelandic word regin, which means "the gods as the makers and rulers of the universe". Rok is "reason, ground, origin" or "a wonder, sign or marvel". An alternative for rok is rokr, "the twilight, seldom morning".
Intersting, I had oft heard of it as the Age of Fire and Gravel.

Online etymology sources seem to support the quoted definition, of course the term "Twilight of the Gods" comes from Wagner's Germanic Gotterdammerung.


[edit on 18-10-2005 by Cicada]



posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 08:58 AM
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Originally posted by Cicada
Ultimately I found the Thor/Hektor association too intriguing to drop,

Ha, yes, I agree, it'd be fascinating.

The term Titans does mean the straining gods

? I've not heard that before, I'd only ever heard that the 'tit' part refers in one way or another to the 'earth', as in ground and whatnot.



posted on Oct, 20 2005 @ 01:00 PM
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Just turning back to "Hamlet's Mill" I've found some interesting points on the topics being discussed here. It's really a marvel of a book, and very well refrenced and sourced. I believe it's available used from Amazon for around $5.00 and certainly easy to acquire through almost any library.

In Appendix 16 of HM the authors note the adversarial relationship of Heimdall and Loki, both sons of Odin, who ultimatly kill one another in battle. Here's Snorri Sturlson's "Skaldskaparmal" verse VIII as found in the "Prose Edda" translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur in 1916.



VIII. "How should one periphrase Heimdallr? By calling him Son of Nine Mothers, or Watchman of the Gods, as already has been written; or White God, Foe of Loki, Seeker of Freyja's Necklace. A sword is called Heimdallr's Head: for it is said that he was pierced by a man's head. The tale thereof is told in Heimdalar-galdr; and ever since a head is called Heimdallr's Measure; a sword is called Man's Measure. Heimdallr is the Possessor of Gulltoppr; he is also Frequenter of Vágasker and Singasteinn, where he contended with Loki for the Necklace Brísinga-men, he is also called Vindlér. Úlfr Uggason composed a long passage in the Húsdrápa on that legend, and there it is written that they were in the form of seals. Heimdallr also is son of Odin.


So Heimdall's head is a sword and a measure. The sword was called "miotudr Heimdall" which according to Jacob Grimm is "the measurer". The measurer in a cosmic model is almost always the sun, here refered to as a sword, also frequently described as a golden rope or chain.

When thinking about symbols of the cosmic axis the most prevelent and repeating image that occurs to me is a Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Many have made the association between the ToL and Yggdrasil the World Tree. The nine worlds of the World Tree make one wonder how that relates to the nine mothers of Heimdall. If Heimdall is a Tree of Life, a bridge from earth to heaven, his head would be equivelent to Kether, the crown or head sephiroth. When one thinks about the ToL and the concept of a sword

I was unable to quickly find a decent image of this online so I made my own:



The sword is in white. In blue is the stone the sword is embedded in, just for interesting curiosity's sake. The dotted line you can barely see represents the "Lightning Bolt" pattern that seems to refer to the same relationship between heaven and earth as the sword. All of this is being presented as intriguing pattern and certainly isn't intended to be taken as conclusive evidence.

I said before that attributes of both Heimdall and Loki bring Prometheus to mind. Thinking this through further I realized I had missed the obvious connotation. The most famous anthropomorphized cosmic axis figure is the Titan Atlas, brother of Prometheus. As he's bearing the cosmic sphere on his shoulders it's quite natural that the crown of his head is in heaven.

Which brings us back to the Titans. In the "Twilight of the Gods" chapter in "Hamlet's Mill" De Santillana and Von Dechend note that their reference to the Titans as the straining gods comes from Hesiod's "Theogony", in a footnote they state:


This translation by H.G.Evelyn-White (Loeb Classical Library) pays no regard to a "pun", a rather essential one, indeed. Hesiod makes use, side by side in these few lines, of both radicals from which "Titan" was supposed to have been derived: titaino, "to strain", and tisis, "vengeance".


To me that's about as good of a definition of "overbearing movement" as one could get.



posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 05:40 PM
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Here's an article I found that starts with a good summary of the major points of "Hamlet's Mill".

The Mill of Time



posted on Oct, 22 2005 @ 10:28 AM
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Aphrodite

Another interesting article on the topic, this one about the relationship of the planet Venus and various goddess figures. This is a free article from the web site of the journal AEON, described as "a journal of myth, science, and ancient history specializing in archaeoastronomy and comparative mythology".

The previously posted article "the Mill of Time" is by Terry Alden, and besides a very good encapsulation of "Hamlet's Mill" he presents a compelling look at the possibility that the famous Star of the Magi from the Christ mythos was in actuality a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn marking the beginning of a new world age.

I know this is a difficult subject and this post involves a lot of heavy reading, but anyone out there following this thread please feel free to comment, question and share. I can probably draw up additional points of interest but if I'm the only interested party then there doesn't seem to be much point.



posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 10:57 PM
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I just wanted to announce the movement of this albatross of a thread from BTS here to Skunk Works at my request, as this is where I feel it truly belongs. I'm hoping to find individuals willing to engage in this rich topic. There are myriads of things we can discuss from mythologies across the world.

Nygdan, I'm anticipating the correlation between the building of Valhalla and the city of Troy.



posted on Nov, 4 2005 @ 09:25 AM
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Culturally, it makes little sense.

Allegory was not something that was developed in storytelling in small groups. Allegory relies on a type of codification, where you can talk about a common cultural element in ways we all understand. For instance, we can talk about Elephantine Conservative Politics or bring in a picture of a donkey in an Uncle Sam hat, and all Americans know we're running a political allegory here (as in the Pogo cartoons) and that these represent ideas. It is a concept of literate societies (usually) and can exist where there is a strong priest class with an organized and hierarchial religion.

Allegory occurs in large societies where there is a strongly defined political structure and strongly defined class divisions.

The Nordic peoples lived not in large cities (not until more than a millennium after the Eddas were composed) but in small settlements. They were autonomous settlements of no more than two hundred (and usually only 30-50). Nordic religion wasn't THAT organized, either (and certainly not as organized and structured as the druids) and knowledge was transmitted by the songs of the bards.

There wasn't a constant exchange of information and songs, since winters would lock people into their local area for many long months.

They had great and entertaining storytelling, and they had stories of their gods that they believed strongly.

But to say it's allegory and to try and hammer it till it fits onto an idea that actually didn't exist until a thousand years and more after the original writers of the Eddas were dead and the religious songs were mere legends in a nation that had become Christianized -- to try and fit that onto a culture and beliefs that we didn't know about until another two hundred years after that -- no.

You can hammer and carve away at the Brer Rabbit folktales and make them fit the star myths (which they have no relationship to) and make them fit the Aztec calendar if you like, but that doesn't make the reworking insightful and it detracts from any truths both in the original Brer Rabbit tales (or Elder Edda, for that matter) and dilutes and harms the Aztec and Mayan beliefs as well.



posted on Nov, 4 2005 @ 11:56 AM
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J. Fontenrose, The Building of The City Walls: Troy and Asgard The Journal of American Folklore 96 379 pp53-63 (lo quality pdf)


The Two myths:

Troy's Walls
Zeus punishes Apollo and Poseidon, they take on mortal form, go to Troy and its King, Laomedon, and offer up their labour for pay, to build walls for the city. Laomedon agrees. Being gods, they make super excellent walls. When they are done, Laomedon says c.f. "I didn't offer to pay you, mwa ha ha, I'm going to cut your faces up, tied you up as my slaves, and prolly sell ya bastards, mwa hahaa'. Apparently Laomedon had a long thin moustache that could be twisted while say this, and spent his weekends tying damsels to traintracks (even tho trains didn't exist in the trode). The gods are all like, ' no way jose', and Poseidon sends a sea monster to muck with the city, the sea monster must be appeased with a virgin every year or so. Apparently virgins are like vitamins to monsters. Eventually, Hercules comes along. Apparently he was on a detour on his way to Colchis, or mibbie got sea sick from all those clashing rocks or something.
Anyway, he makes a deal with Laomedon, to be give magical horses, smashes the monster, and saves the princess. It looked something like this:



But laomedon, who's not a fast learner, reneges on the prize. Hercules smashes up the city and the story ends.


Asgard and Valhalla
The Aesir are in asgard, and they're like 'dang, 'scold up in here, and there's all these goofy frost giants. wtf, norse heaven ain't that groovy'. Then a man comes up to them and is like 'yo, I's can builds a wicked sets of walls for youse, alls youse gots ta do is gimme da dat fine joolie, Freyja.' Remembering that this is a fantasical myth, the man quickly adds 'uhm, yeas, and uhmm, des Moons and Suns too, Booyakasha!!'. So the Aesir are all like, whatta chump, but loki is like, let him do it, its a steal. And tell him he can have it if he finishes the wall in like one season. During which time they give him safe passage within asgard. The man agrees and sets to work. He has a horse that helps him out, and its a magical horse. This lets him work like he was three men, or somesuch, and before the Aesir know it, the guy is almost done, he's got one night left, and only a small bit. The other gods lay it on loki, and he comes up with a cunning plan (tm). He goes to the building site, transforms into a slamming hot mare, and this distracts the builder's horse who gives chase. Then the man goes after the horse, and this goes on all night. Thus he doesn't finish in time and doesn't get his payment. He's ticked, and all of a sudden reveals that he's not actually ali g, despite the silly talking


But is really a frost giant. The gods reneg on their safe passage deal, and there's a fight. Finally Thor has to intervene to defeat him.


In Commyn
So you have a secret builder, a contract, the breaking of the contract, a big monster, virginal babes, and a hero to defeat the monster.



The paper goes into good detail, notes that there are other folktales in europe like this too.

Affecting our earlier consideration of Hector being Thor and the like, apparenlty, and this was apparently especiallly true of Snorri Sturlson, europeans at that time very much liked to make connections to Troy and the Trojans, and it was something of a fad to do this, thus in some stories 'england' is founded by a trojan refugee, and the like. So that sort of weakens that bit.

I don't know about the connections being all that great. Apparently, selling one's labour was the lowest of the low in ancient greece, worse than a slave (who at least belonged to and was part of a family). So the two gods are made to do that job because it was so low. And Laomedon just flat out not paying them is apparently something that was allways a problem for day labourers in that time, and they had no recourse, so that might be more at work here than a cultural connection with the myths, or even say an actual single historical event that both myths are recounting.

Intersting no?

[edit on 4-11-2005 by Nygdan]



posted on Nov, 4 2005 @ 01:22 PM
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Hmm... Do I detect debunking taking place on my Skunk Works presentation? I thought the point was to be constructive in this area? But heck, someone has actually read and responded to my post so I'll take it.

Byrd, your points are, as ever, insightful and salient. As what is presented here is, as indicated multiple times, a presentation of the opinions of the authors of "Hamlet's Mill" then I suggest, if you are not already familiar with the text, that you check out the authors' own work, at least the samples from Amazon that are provided through the link in my initial post.

I so respect your educated point of view that I'm wary to even counter your position. Unfortunately what you are suggesting is not tenable on several levels and there's an act of gross simplification taking place at the heart of it. Blanket statements about what does or doesn't make sense culturally are what really need to be examined with skepticism. The various humanities of the academic realm can not come to agreement on issues of what is culturally sensible. To suggest that there is some authority-backed dogma on the matter is misleading. Culture is not a machine that we can dismantle and observe and when we do so we're modeling which is always imperfect.

What perhaps is being missed in your points is that the authors and I are contending that an urzeit was responsible for the original metaphorical technical language of astronomy and that it has become fragmented and distorted through dissemination. The existence of an urzeit is a contentious subject, one that has and is being debated on multiple forums on this board and elsewhere. We could go around in circles about this forever, I'm sure (and I will, if you like), but that debate is not the point of this discussion.

Here's the Merriam-Webster definition of allegory:

Allegory
One entry found for allegory.

Main Entry: al·le·go·ry
Pronunciation: 'a-l&-"gOr-E, -"gor-
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ries
Etymology: Middle English allegorie, from Latin allegoria, from Greek allEgoria, from allEgorein to speak figuratively, from allos other + -Egorein to speak publicly, from agora assembly -- more at ELSE, AGORA
1 : the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence; also : an instance (as in a story or painting) of such expression
2 : a symbolic representation : EMBLEM 2

It's symbolism, pure and simple. As a student of art are you really prepared to say that symbolism is a development strictly of literate culture? You know very well that that is not true. In fact the relationship functions the other way around. The written word is nothing but a symbol representing a phonetic sound which in turn symbolizes a parcel of information. We communicate through symbols, exclusively. It is the only way communication can take place. In fact symbolic communication is not even exclusive to the human species. To put it rather simply, the brain is wired to recognize patterns. When we see the configuration of certain elements there is an automatic action of recognition. If the pattern in a wood grain, for example, has two marks over one mark we can not help but read this as a face. This patterning principle is the basis of art, art is the basis of culture and literacy is a product of culture. Let's not put the cart before the horse, please.

It is no where suggested that the connotation between mythological figures and events and astronomy was public knowledge. It was exclusive to an educated, priestly class. If a system of encoded symbolism functions properly, however, then the message can be at least partially transmitted through the efforts of individuals who do not even suspect the inner meaning of the stories they're telling.

The notion of hammering or forcing disparate systems into a desired shape is a biased one. You're undervaluing the nature of information. Ultimately any sort of art analysis is purely subjective. We can educate ourselves and study vigorously, but to suggest this gives us an authority over another person's insight is spurious at best. The patterns are there. Even if your contention, and it is just a contention, that these associations came afterwardis correct, does it lessen the significance of the associations? Even if the Brer Rabbit tales, using your example, were not written with concepts of astronomy intended, if we can see the pattern and make the associations, then for whatever reason, they are there. The addition of the connotations only adds to and makes the original greater. Where in this lies the harm you're suggesting? Who exactly gets hurt? If misunderstanding symbolism is a crime than we live in very corrupt world indeed. I'd be careful about denying a core of astronomical information in any system of folk lore as the sources and inspirations can be continuously traced to the past, beyond the point of literacy, to eras of cultures whose astronomical observation skills have been demonstrated repeatedly through their monuments and navigation skills over oceans and across deserts.

No matter what the fact remains that there are observable correlations between mythological systems. If there isn't an underlying tradition being drawn from in this process the only explanation is stunning and repeated coincidence, a notion that I for one find hard to support. YMMV.

Debate me if you wish, but isn't the Skunk Works approach to add and build instead of tear down? I've demonstrated just a few examples of how mythological symbols correlate to astronomy. What can you provide that demonstrates observably that this isn't so?



[edit on 4-11-2005 by Cicada]

[edit on 4-11-2005 by Cicada]



posted on Nov, 4 2005 @ 11:35 PM
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Nygdan,

Cute presentation. Gotta love Ali G. Thanks for the link, it was indeed fascinating. Those who read the provided link to the article by Joseph Fontenrose may note the implication that he shares the theory of cosmological connotations. That the prize of the mason giant is the sun, moon and Frejya (Venus) makes this heavenly apparent, and like Fontenrose to me it seems unlikely that such a large-scale prize derived from the meager sum of the Greek variation. The transmission of this story into folklore is well presented. Note that the sacrificial maiden concept is near universal as well.

Certainly Snorri and other writers of his era (and all eras) had an interest in Troy. To suggest that Snorri fabricated this story merely to bolster this affection though is unlikely, unless we are to suppose that he fabricated or greatly altered the origins of Odin's horse Sleipner. Fontenrose makes brief allusion to the astronomical connotations of the walls of the city. Could it be that this relates to the New Jerusalem of Revelation, a cube-shaped perfect city that descends from the heavens? Could they all be referring to a stellar configuration marking the transition between world ages?



posted on Feb, 23 2009 @ 10:15 PM
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I almost forgot what my username was!
"Lif" means "life" and "Lifthrasir" means "longing for life."



In Ragnarok the forces of order are the 'Einherier', the dead warriors brought to Valhalla by the Valkyries. The "Grimnismal" states, "five hundred gates and forty more are in the mighty building of Walhalla- 800 Einherier come out of each gate", which totals 432,000 warriors. This number must have ancient significance. It is the number of syllables in the "Rigveda", which has 10,800 stanzas, 40 syllables per stanza. 10,800 and 108 occur frequently in Hindu mythology. Berossas calculated the Babylonian Great Year as lasting 432,000 years. The temple at Angkor in Cambodia has five gates, each leading to a road bridging a circular moat. Each road is bordered by 108 stone figures, 54 per side, altogether 540 statues of Devas and Asura. Each row carries a serpent with nine heads, and this is to depict the action of churning the milky ocean, represented by the moat, using Mt. Mandara as a pivot and the prince of Nagas Vasuki as a drilling rope.


It's interesting to note all these references to 108 and 432. Add these numbers up and they add up to 9, which has been shown to have intergral significance throughout the world, and at least in my philosophy, it is the smallest number to have perfect balance of opposites and a neutral, but I won't get into that here.
There's a thread in ATS about the frequency of 440Hz being suggested by a Nazi Propaganda officer as universal concert pitch for instrument tuning. (The note is an A.) Before the 20th century, all instruments (at least in the West) were tuned to 432 and its derivatives (such as 144Hz for D, etc. Note that 4+3+2= 9, 1+4+4= 9, and 1+0+8= 9.)
www.abovetopsecret.com...
goldennumber.net...
www.schillerinstitute.org...

There are other links in that thread.

It appears everything is going towards 9 in the world; The Norse had 9 underworlds and so did the Mayans, for example. The Egyptians were all up in 9's buisness, which should suggest some sort of significance.





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