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.
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
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
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
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.