Image: The Finding of Moses, Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610 - 1662).
My new book, the third in the series entitled Star Myths of the World, and how to interpret them, explores the incredible abundance of evidence that the stories in the Bible are built upon the very same system of celestial metaphor which appears to form the foundation for virtually all of the world's ancient myths, scriptures, and sacred stories.
Because it deals with the stories in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, this third volume in the series is subtitled Star Myths of the Bible. Volume Two deals almost exclusively with the myths of ancient Greece, and Volume One explores a very small sampling of the myths, scriptures and sacred stories from a wide variety of cultures around the globe, including from Australia, Africa, the Malay Peninsula, the islands of the Pacific inhabited by the cultures of Polynesia, and the Americas, as well as from ancient Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia, ancient India, ancient China and ancient Japan.
It would, of course, be beneficial to come back and explore in much greater depth the myths of each of the cultures surveyed very briefly in Volume One, with an entire volume (or series of volumes) on the myths of ancient India, and another on the myths of ancient Mesopotamia, and another on ancient Egypt, ancient Japan, the myths of the cultures of the Americas, and of Africa, and so on. The material is so vast and so rich that even an entire series of volumes can hardly begin to do justice to the myths of just a single cultural tradition.
The main purpose of the series, however, is to provide evidence that this celestial system of metaphor is in fact present, and that it is in fact worldwide -- as well as to guide the reader through the system almost as if learning a new language, with its own grammar and its own vocabulary of symbols, and beginning with a few symbols and celestial "phrases" before building on those to gain greater and greater fluency.
Because of the history of the world over the past centuries, and because of the ongoing impact of the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments upon the lives of literally millions of men and women, the subject of exploring the celestial foundations for the Star Myths of the Bible may carry a greater potential for "strong emotional reaction" among many readers than, for instance, a similar discussion about the celestial foundations of the myths of ancient Greece.
Very few people today have been raised to revere the gods and goddesses described in Hesiod's Theogony or to observe the practices for honoring them which are dramatized in many of the scenes of the Iliad and the Odyssey. But the stories described in the Hebrew Scriptures and the canonical New Testament have of course been absolutely central to the upbringing and experience of a great many men and women to this day, and form a central part of their identity in one way or another (for some people, a very positive experience, and for others a very negative or even oppressive experience).
I personally believe that a close relationship with the ancient myths and scriptures and sacred stories given to humanity (whether in the scriptures found in what we call the Bible or in the scriptures of ancient India or of ancient Japan or in the myths and sacred traditions of the Maya or other cultures in the Americas, the Pacific, Africa, Australia, or other parts of Asia or Europe) can and should be extremely positive, and that they can and should be a daily source of wisdom and inspiration in our lives.
However, I also believe that their message is given to us in esoteric language, and that trying to interpret them as if they are speaking a literal message instead of a metaphorical language has led to very damaging misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and distortions of their intended message. That is why I believe that learning their celestial language will be of great value to all those who love the ancient scriptures and myths which were given to humanity, or who turn to them for guidance, wisdom, or assistance in their lives and personal situations.
In spite of this belief, I nevertheless realize that there will be those with a deep attachment to the literalistic approach to the scriptures (particularly the scriptures of the Old Testament and / or the New Testament) who will be most dismayed or disturbed at the demonstration of their celestial foundations, and at the presentation of hundreds of pages of evidence which points towards the conclusion that the stories of the Bible are built on celestial metaphor.
To them I would first say that I myself was very resistant to accepting this conclusion, even after I first began to encounter the evidence presented by sources such as the authors of Hamlet's Mill (such as in their discussion of the Samson story).
Second, I would say that it is my experience that, once we begin to hear them in the language that the myths and sacred stories are actually speaking, we will be even more amazed and enthralled at the truth and beauty of their ancient message than we were before, when their "signal was distorted" by our attempts to hear their broadcast through a literalistic signal processor, so to speak.
And, finally, I would argue that I am by no means the first person to point out the celestial foundations of the stories in the Bible (the authors of Hamlet's Mill did it in 1969, of course, but before that there were others who taught versions of the same argument, including the Reverend Robert Taylor in the first half of the 1800s, and there have been others who have hinted at the same doctrine, going all the way back to Macrobius and to Lucian of Samosata and even back to Plato himself -- and probably much further back beyond Plato).
In addition to those who have presented hints of the system of celestial metaphor in their writings or teachings, I have also grown more and more astonished at the incredible wealth of evidence that this ancient system of metaphor continued to be understood by someone down through the centuries, and even down through the millennia, in the visual media of the fine arts.
As readers of the Star Myths of the World series (and readers of this blog) know, there is abundant visual evidence in sculpture and in pottery and especially in painting that the constellational characteristics associated with specific figures in the myths (specific gods, goddesses, and mortal personages described in the sacred stories) have been preserved in art down through the ages, to a startling degree.
This fact does not necessarily mean that the artists themselves were privy to the system of constellational metaphor, or even to the fact that the characteristics they were told belong to this or that figure were celestial characteristics -- although the artists may have been privy to the system, for all we know. However, it is equally possible that they were simply taught, during their years of training in the approved schools and colleges of fine art, that "King Solomon must always have a hand extended in this manner," or that specific gods and goddesses must always carry this type of staff or spear or wand, and that certain figures carry their spear at one angle and others carry it at a different characteristic angle.
Whatever their level of understanding of the system, the fact remains that the fine art down through the centuries proclaims in staggering abundance the undeniable connection of the gods, goddesses, and other figures of myth and sacred story to the constellations of our night sky.
In other words, I am not expounding something that is not already staring millions of visitors in the face in the hallways and galleries of museums around the world, on a daily basis.
Above is one of many possible examples that could be offered from the various scenes depicting the discovery of baby Moses among the bulrushes. The positioning of the human figures, and even the positioning of the River Nile, directly evokes a very specific part of the night sky, and very specific and well-known constellations, along with their distinctive features (that painting, from the 1600s, is discussed in my new book, Star Myths of the Bible).
Below are several more scenes from the stories found in Biblical scripture -- all of them with very strong constellational elements in their artistic composition, and all of them discussed in Star Myths of the Bible. First is a scene from the Judgment of Solomon, which has been discussed in detail in previous posts (see here, for example):
image: The Judgment of Solomon, Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640).
And here is another by the same artist (and thus also from the first half of the 1600s) showing David about to slay Goliath:
image: David Slaying Goliath, Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640).
Here is an image from the selling of Joseph to a caravan of merchants by Joseph's brothers, which is one of several depictions of this scene that is discussed in Star Myths of the Bible:
image: Joseph sold by his Brothers (Jose Vendido), by Antonio del Castillo y Saavedra (1616 - 1668).
And, one from a different part of Biblical scripture, and from an artist in a different century, here is an image of the famous scene of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper:
image: Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet, Bernhard Strigel (1465 - 1528).
All of the above images can be seen as proclaiming quite loudly that the scenes have celestial originals, in which constellations play the various figures in the story. And literally hundreds more could be offered in addition to these.
But, as readers of previous volumes in the series (and readers of this blog) will know, the sacred art from relatively recent centuries in Europe are by no means the only examples of art which exhibits the distinctive celestial characteristics of various constellational characters. Recent posts have presented some images from the fine art of ancient Greek pottery displaying constellational references, such as this hydria (water jug) from this previous post:
And also this beautiful bell-krater depicting Artemis and Actaeon, discussed in this previous post:
Both of the above artistic treasures depict mythological episodes using figures whose constellational correspondences are undeniable, once the observer begins to develop a certain level of fluency in the world-wide celestial system and in the characteristics and body-postures unique to each important constellation. These works of art are from hundreds of years BC.
But the system goes back still further, and can be shown to be at work in the artwork of ancient Mesopotamia and of ancient Egypt, artwork of incredible antiquity from even a thousand years earlier than the Greek masterpieces above. For example, the scene below comes from a temple at Abydos attributed to the time of Seti I (thought to have lived until the year 1279 BC, nearly 3,300 years ago) shows the goddess Isis receiving the tree-trunk pillar containing the body of the slain Osiris (the pillar itself has "Djed-column" characteristics):
image: Wikimedia commons (link).
I believe that certain very distinctive features which are attributable to specific constellations can be detected in the outline of the goddess herself, and certainly in the outline of the smaller figure kneeling at the base of the Djed-column as it is removed from its recent location.
Again, the above images constitute just a very small sampling of the artwork down through the centuries which proclaim the celestial connection of the world's ancient myths. Thousands more could undoubtedly be provided. Serious students and scholars of art history and theory may wish to devote some research and exploration of this incredible evidence, in order to formulate hypotheses regarding the transmission of this ancient knowledge down through the millennia.
In other words, the work of those who have testified to a connection between the myths and the stars of heaven is all around us, piling up over the centuries, impossible to deny. My latest book is by no means the first such proclamation of this undeniable connection -- not by many thousands of years!
It is my sincere hope that greater understanding of the language of celestial metaphor will open new perspectives for you, new perspectives not only upon the beautiful masterpieces of art from previous centuries and millennia, but new perspectives and new insights from the myths themselves, when you are able to go to them and hear them speaking to you in their original tongue.