Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Reflecting the Heavens in Star Myths & Sacred Sites

Big thank-you to everyone who attended my presentation at this weekend's Summer Solstice Celebration at the Great Serpent Mound. The talk was entitled "Reflecting the Heavens in Star Myths and Sacred Sites," and was given on Friday, June 16 (2017).

Above is a video of the presentation for those who were not able to attend in person, and also for those who did attend but who may have had trouble seeing the slides in the lighting conditions, or just want to review the material for any reason.

Additionally, the slides are posted online if you would like to examine any of them more closely. To see the slides from this presentation, you can go to the "Resources" section of my main website, which is called Star Myth World (dot com). Note that there is a link to the "Resources" section at the very bottom of any page on that website.

After watching and listening to the video recording of my own presentation, I did notice one or two mistakes, as well as things I could have said more clearly:

At 17:28 through about 17:36 in the video, I quoted John 1: 29, but say that it is John 1: 26 (this is a case in which a six turns out to be nine).

At 48:05 through 48:09, I say (of the various manifestations of the "Failed Retrieval from the Underworld" pattern, found around the world) "and also it shows that we're not immortal." What I might have said in order to be more precise at that point would have been "and also it shows that we're not immortal in the physical body (that we cannot prolong a single incarnate life forever, although some do teach that this is indeed possible)." It should not be taken to mean that I do not believe that the soul is immortal: on the contrary, I do believe that the soul does not die.

If there are any other points of confusion or questions raised by this presentation, please feel free to contact me via one of many different methods -- whether through the public forum at my main website (link to the "Comments" page can be found at the bottom of any page in the site), or through the direct message link in the same "Comments" section, or through twitter or Facebook, or via a message on the video itself (on YouTube).

And, of course, please feel free to link to or re-post this or any of my other videos, or to share them with friends or family who might find the information to be helpful or valuable in some way.

I hope this information will help you to approach the ancient wisdom in the world's myths and sacred stories; I am convinced that the ancient myths contain precious wisdom, vital to our individual journey as well as to the situation in which humanity finds itself today, and that they are intended for our benefit and blessing in this incarnate life.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer solstice 2017: back from Great Serpent Mound

image: sunset at Great Serpent Mound, 06/17/2017; photo looking towards coiled tail and setting sun beyond -- body of Serpent stretches towards right of photo and curves back towards setting sun.

I've just returned from a wonderful visit to the Great Serpent Mound and the Summer Solstice Celebration 2017, hosted by Friends of the Serpent Mound.

It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to give a presentation at this year's event. It was also a real blessing to hear the other speakers as well as talented artists and musicians over the weekend. 

Especially moving was the Native flute music of Joseph Whitefeather Mato (read more here).

I also very much enjoyed the music of the talented Steve Free and Susan Sammons, some of which also featured Native flute, in addition to guitar, harmonica, a variety of percussion, and incredible harmony on vocals.

And I also was very grateful for the wisdom shared by Michael Bastine, Yaz Garcia and Tim Tussing, and of course Ross Hamilton and Graham Hancock -- along with many others.

The Great Serpent Mound itself, which I had never previously visited, was incredible. I had the opportunity to examine it in some detail, guided by Jeffrey Wilson and Ross Hamilton, both of whom have done extremely in-depth work to discover its multiple layers of alignments, correspondences to specific constellations, correspondences to specific Native American myths and traditions, and what all these connections may signify. 

And I also had some time to explore the Serpent Mound alone and to contemplate it in silence.

In addition to all of these blessings, I had the additional blessing of reuniting with a close friend from West Point, whom I had not seen since we were teaching in different departments at the Academy, more than fifteen years ago.

Now that the Summer Solstice Celebration at the Serpent Mound has come to an end for this year, the actual moment of the June solstice is fast approaching. In approximately twenty hours, the earth will swing past the point at which the north pole will point most directly towards the sun (at 9:24 pm Pacific time in North America, on June 20, which is 12:24 am Eastern time in North America, on June 21, or 04:24 am in Greenwich, England, also on June 21). 

If you are able to make your way to the Great Serpent Mound, or to one of the many other ancient sacred sites around our planet which incorporate celestial alignments to help us to align the patterns of our lives here below with the heavenly cycles up above, I would strongly encourage you to do so. But, no matter where you are on our beautiful globe, I hope that you can contemplate the significance of the great stations of the year, and find a way to align with those heavenly motions in some way.

Below for your convenience are a few selected blog posts from the past which deal with the significance of the summer solstice.

image: looking downhill towards the head of Great Serpent Mound, from the outside edge of the second full "closed-to-the-east" hairpin curve in the body of the Serpent (the middle of three such "closed-to-the-east" curves), 06/17/2017.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Solstitial and Spiritual Alignments

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The moment in the earth's annual orbit at which the north pole points most directly towards the sun (the June solstice, which is summer solstice for the northern hemisphere) is rapidly approaching, and will occur at the time designated 9:24 pm on June 20 in the Pacific time zone in North America, which is 12:24 am just after the start of June 21 in the Eastern time zone in North America, or 4:24 am on June 21 in the time zone of the Greenwich meridian (which is now designated UTC).

The ancient wisdom given to all cultures on our planet uses a sophisticated system of celestial metaphor to convey profound truths for our benefit, truths about the nature of this human condition in which we find ourselves during this incarnate life, and it does so using a code or language which is built upon the great heavenly cycles, marked out for us on earth by the motions of the sun, moon, stars, visible planets and other celestial features including the band of the Milky Way itself.

The points of the two solstices and two equinoxes form extremely important "signposts" along the annual cycle of the year, created by earth's interaction with the sun -- one of many heavenly cycles which all may be used by the world's ancient myths and sacred stories to depict the reality of an Invisible Realm, a spiritual realm, and its constant interaction with the more familiar and more obvious visible, material realm.

The world's ancient myths use the infinite heavens as a means of "showing" us this Infinite Realm, this Invisible World or Other World: the realm of infinite potential -- the realm of the gods. The ancient wisdom given to all the world's cultures proclaims that this Invisible Realm is very real, and that it is in many ways the actual real world, which gives the pattern to this visible world through which we are presently traveling. Everything in the visible world is connected to the Invisible Realm, and is constantly "unfolding from" the Other World, in an endless "folding and unfolding" or interplay between that Invisible Realm and this visible one.

Previous posts have highlighted the teaching of the Lakota holy man Black Elk, who called that Other Realm "the real world behind this one," and said that "everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world."

And yet, if we had to characterize the outlines of the paradigm which is endlessly reinforced by the conventional education system and corporate media, it would be quite accurate to say that this paradigm is characterized by the denial of the reality of the Invisible Realm, the Infinite Realm, the Other Realm, the realm of the gods.

And yet, the ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories given to cultures on every inhabited continent  and island of our planet teach us that one of our primary goals here in this incarnate life is to recognize the reality and importance of the Invisible Realm and become more and more integrated with that spiritual aspect of the universe, and that spiritual aspect of ourselves.

Numerous previous posts have elaborated on this important theme, including "You may have a Higher Self, and He or She wants you to know it," and "Why divinities can appear in an instant: the inner connection to the Infinite," and "The incredible importance of the INNER connection to the Infinite," among dozens of others.

The contrast between ignoring or denying the existence of the Invisible Realm, the Infinite Realm, and realizing that one of the primary goals in our incarnate life is the recognition of its reality and importance, and the quest to integrate and harmonize with this Invisible Realm in every aspect of our incarnate life, could not be more stark. One approach acknowledges the importance and indeed the primacy of the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods, and the other denies its very existence.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the most horrible problems we face in this "modern age" can be traced directly to a widespread and deliberate campaign to deny and denigrate the reality and primacy of the Invisible Realm, the Infinite Realm, the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods.

Previous discussions have shown that the mythical King Midas, whose signature characteristic was his failure to acknowledge the primacy of the Invisible Realm, was not some external figure whose terrible judgment was unique to him: on the contrary, his legendary bad judgment characterizes much of our own age, in which the primacy of the realm of the gods has been ignored, denied, forgotten, or deliberately suppressed.

The ancient wisdom given to humanity in the form of the various myths, scriptures and sacred traditions of the different cultures across our planet is the antidote to this failure to recognize the importance and indeed primacy of the Other World: these ancient stories emphasize again and again, from every possible angle, the positive benefits of acknowledging the Invisible Realm and its importance, and the negative consequences of denying the primacy of the realm of the gods.

With this in mind, the existence across the surface of our planet of ancient monuments which align with the cycles of the celestial realm (representative of the Invisible Realm, the realm of the gods), can be better understood. These monuments constitute ongoing, tangible evidence of the importance of aligning our lives in this seemingly material existence with the realm of heaven: in other words, they demonstrate the ancient acknowledgement of the primacy of the Infinite Realm, the vital importance of remaining connected with that Infinite Realm, and the refusal of the ancient people to allow themselves to become disconnected from that Other World.

By creating durable, monumental, and awe-inspiring sites which are undeniably aligned to the solstices and equinoxes, they show us their recognition of the critical need to align and integrate our "physical motions" with the Invisible World from which everything in this material realm has its source and origin, according to the teaching of wisdom-keepers such as Black Elk.

The number of ancient sites which are clearly aligned to the motions of the heavens and especially to the various "signposts" in the important celestial cycles (such as the signposts of the solstices and equinoxes, as well as other significant markers such as the cross-quarter days or the lunar maximum points, etc), is truly beyond count. It would be far easier to compile a list of ancient sites which do not contain undeniable celestial alignments than it would be to list all of the sites which do contain such alignments.

Some of the well-known -- and little-known-- sites which include alignments to the solstices and equinoxes would include Stonehenge, Newgrange and other sites in the Boyne River Valley of Ireland, Mnajdra and other sites on the islands of Malta, the pyramid of Chichen Itza (El Castillo) in Teotihuacan, parts of the Izapa complex, Nilaskal Biyana in Karnataka, Nabta Playa in southern Egypt, the pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, the great temple at Karnak in Egypt, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in modern-day Wyoming, the Omahkiyaahkohtoohp circle in modern-day Alberta, Ollantaytambo in modern-day Peru, the Fajada Butte sun dagger in Chaco Canyon, and many others.

Here is another little-known site, which seems to contain some solar alignments in addition to demonstrating incredible skill at balancing huge stones on top of each other, which I visited shortly after summer solstice one year ago: the Holliston Balancing Rock.

It should be fairly clear that creating monumental structures incorporating alignments with the celestial cycles can be seen as a way of "bringing the heavens down to earth," or of integrating the material realm with the Infinite Realm. Incorporating the solstices and equinoxes in these awe-inspiring constructions obviously invites us to align the pattern of our earthly motions with the motions of the heavens -- the infinite heavens, which represent to us that Invisible World.

If you can visit an ancient aligned site during significant dates on the heavenly cycles, such as the solstices and the equinoxes, it can serve as a reminder of the great importance that virtually all the ancient traditions, of cultures on every continent and island, ascribed to the recognition of the spiritual realm, and the importance they ascribed to seeing beyond merely physical or material terms (beyond seeing ourselves and others as merely physical beings, or seeing the resources of our planet as merely physical commodities to be exploited).

This week, I will be visiting the Great Serpent Mound in modern-day Ohio, an ancient site aligned to the heavens and to the solstices and equinoxes, for the fourteenth annual Summer Solstice Celebration. Here is a link to one of many diagrams available which show some of the alignments built into this ancient indigenous sacred earthwork, and here is a link to a photograph showing the summer solstice sun setting behind the horizon, aligned with the head of the serpent itself.

Even if you are unable to attend the celebration at the Serpent Mound this year, you can observe the solstice and contemplate the importance of recognizing the importance of the realm of spirit (and the folly of trying to deny its existence or detach ourselves from our dependence on the "real world behind this one") no matter where you find yourself on our planet at this time of year.

And of course, there are literally hundreds of other ancient sites around the globe which incorporate alignments to the heavenly realm -- the Infinite Realm. One of the most spectacular surviving sites is undoubtedly Stonehenge, which contains numerous subtle and sophisticated alignments in addition to the popularly-acknowledged solstice alignments. One of the best books on the subject of Stonehenge alignments is Professor Gordon Freeman's beautifully illustrated and photographed Hidden Stonehenge: Ancient Temple in North America Reveals the Key to Ancient Wonders (2012).

This sample chapter from that book describes some of the truly breathtaking alignments incorporated into that ancient megalithic site, including a summer solstice sunrise alignment. On pages 102 and 103 of that book (included in the sample chapter), Professor Freeman demonstrates that in addition to the famous Heel Stone alignment on summer solstice, Stonehenge once incorporated an even more spectacular summer solstice sunrise feature, created by the massive Great Trilithon (composed of Sarsen stones 55 and 56, with the horizontal lintel 156, only Sarsen 55 of which is still standing today). You can see Professor Freeman's diagram on page 103 which shows how that original Trilithon created an "upper window" above the Circle Lintel stones, framing the sunrise for "at least nine days bracketing the Summer Solstice" (103).

The ancient cultures all around the globe, from which we are all descended, preserved the ancient wisdom they had received as a precious inheritance, one with a vital message for our lives today. The more we can learn how to listen to this ancient message in the original language that it is actually speaking, the more we will be able to hear what it has to say to us (rather than mistakenly twisting its message to fit our modern desires and outlook, which inverts the message by trying to impose our own views upon the original ancient wisdom).

As we do so, we can perhaps begin to find ways to remedy our modern disconnection from the Invisible World, and to remedy the terrible problems that have resulted from this alienation.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Monday, June 12, 2017

Astrotheology in the world's ancient myths and scriptures: Births from Virgo

Above is a new video I've just published entitled "Astrotheology in the world's ancient myths and scriptures: Births from Virgo."

There is no spoken narration in this video -- it demonstrates using images and a few captions the overwhelming evidence that the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories all share a common foundation in a detailed system of celestial metaphor.

This system must be extremely ancient -- predating the earliest civilizations admitted by conventional historians and conventional academia -- and it is extremely sophisticated, designed to convey profound wisdom for our benefit and blessing in this incarnate life.

This video explores figures in the world's Star Myths whose births can be associated with the constellation Virgo. Some of the myths this new video explores include stories from the life of Ganesha (also known as Ganapati), the life of the Buddha, the adventures of Maui, the Judgment of Solomon, the promise to Eve in Genesis, and some of the visions in the Revelation of John.

Please feel free to share the video with those who might appreciate it or benefit from it.

And, as always, feedback is welcome -- you can comment directly on the video in YouTube, as well as via Facebook, Twitter, and the feedback page of my main website,

Sunday, June 4, 2017

See you at the Great Serpent Mound this Summer Solstice

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The June solstice (summer solstice for the northern hemisphere) is rapidly approaching, and I am very much looking forward to attending the ninth annual Summer Solstice Celebration at the Great Serpent Mound -- a free festival "to share new and ancient knowledge, stories and crafts."

The Great Serpent Mound is located in the modern-day state of Ohio. It is one of the largest surviving effigy mounds in the world, stretching over a quarter mile in length. The mound itself is not very high -- only a few feet -- and like the famous Nazca lines of South America it seems to have been designed to be viewed from the air, which in itself is extremely provocative to consider.

Here is a link to an article in the Dayton Ohio Daily News containing some aerial photographs which give a perspective of the full design of the Serpent Mound which cannot be obtained from ground-level.

The design of the Great Serpent Mound displays a wondrous array of alignments and celestial knowledge. The long "corridors" formed by the deep coils of the serpent's body have been found to align with all the solstitial and equinoctial sunrises and sunsets, as well as with lunar maximum and minimum rising and setting points. The head of the serpent, which appears to be in the act of swallowing a large oval or "egg," also points towards the setting point of the sun on summer solstice (see for instance this diagram, among many others available on the web). And the entire serpent includes an alignment to true north, running through the center of the coil formed at the tail of the serpent through the same observation point at the base of the head of the serpent which aligns (through the egg) to the summer solstice sunset.

In addition to all of those alignments, which are themselves indicative of extremely deep understanding of the heavenly cycles, the size and shape of the Great Serpent Mound may also reflect the constellation Draco in the heavens, and be arranged to fit within a circle whose circumference perfectly encompasses the effigy itself while also centering a point which would correspond to the star Thuban (in Draco -- also known as alpha Draconis, which once marked the celestial north pole in the heavens).

This argument has been put forth by Ross Hamilton, who will be speaking at the upcoming Summer Solstice Celebration at the Serpent Mound (on Saturday, June 17). Here is a blog post from 2012 in which I discuss Ross Hamilton's theory and the evidence he has found to support this proposition. Here is another post from 2014 in which I discuss some of the other amazing analysis which Ross Hamilton has done, showing that the ancient mounds of the Ohio Valley elegantly incorporate absolutely incredible levels of geometric and mathematical sophistication, while at the same time displaying celestial alignments and connections to the heavens.

I will be giving a presentation at this year's festival on Friday afternoon, June 16. If it is at all possible for you to attend, I hope you will join me at what promises to be a wonderful weekend.

Due to logistical considerations, I will not be bringing any books with me for sale, but if you would like to bring any books of mine that you've already purchased for me to inscribe, I would of course be happy to sign them for you. However, you don't need to travel anywhere in order to get a signed copy of any of my books -- you can order signed copies through the "Books" section of my main website, here.

I am definitely looking forward to attending the Summer Solstice Celebration at the Great Serpent Mound this month. I hope that you will be able to attend as well, if at all possible! It should be a very special event.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Talos the bronze giant

Astute longtime readers of this blog and of my books and writings which discuss connections between the stars and the myths may have noticed that in the previous post's interview with Oscar Inclan of Lords of Consciousness, I discussed the celestial foundations for the myths of ancient Greece involving the marvelous metal being named Talos -- and that I have not previously discussed Talos in any of my published works or various interviews.

Talos is a figure described by ancient sources as being a kind of enormous living statue formed of bronze and capable of autonomous action and thought, created by the god of fire and metalworking, Hephaistos (or Hephaestus). In most of the stories, he was stationed upon the island of Crete and served the people there -- and guarded the island by making a circuit around it three times each day. In the event of any unfriendly invaders, the metal giant would break off great boulders from the cliffs and hurl them at their ships.

In fact, more than one ancient author describe the encounter with Talos and the Argonauts, and the giant's prevention of the Argonauts from landing at Crete when they were desperately tired and in need of water.

In the various ancient accounts describing Talos, he is described as having a single vein or vessel to pump the ichor upon which his life and autonomous motion depended, which ran from his neck down to the sinew of his ankle -- and in all the stories describing his demise, this vessel is opened at his heel, allowing his life-giving ichor to flow out and bring about the end of the marvelous bronze giant.

In some accounts, the vein is ripped open by a sharp rock of a cliff, and in others the screw or nail which sealed the ichor inside the mechanical being was removed -- in most versions by Medea or Medeia, who had a complex relationship with Jason and accompanied the Argo on most of its voyages. She was a powerful figure who in some versions of the story enchanted Talos in order to exploit his vulnerable heel, and in other versions promised him transformation into a flesh-and-blood man if he would drink a certain potion, which clouded his judgment and slowed his reactions so that the nail could be removed. In other accounts, the vulnerable heel of the giant was pierced by a well-placed arrow, in a similarity to the stories of the demise of the great warrior Achilles.

The clip above shows some footage of the iconic depiction of the giant Talos in the movie Jason and the Argonauts from 1963, featuring the groundbreaking stop-motion animation of special effects genius Ray Harryhausen. The movie takes some liberty with various aspects of the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, and the demise of Talos in the film does not involve any special assistance from Medea (instead, the giant basically stands still while the critical stopper on the back of his heel is unscrewed), but it nevertheless memorably brings to life the majesty and power (and even pathos) of the legendary bronze giant in a way that is difficult to surpass.

The ancient story of the mysterious metal automaton is one which certainly has the power to capture the imagination, and one which has sparked a variety of attempts to explain it through a process of what I would categorize as varieties of "literalization" -- trying to tie the origins of the myth to actual literal mechanical devices, such as ancient robots (perhaps manufactured by aliens) or to ancient techniques of sculpting (as argued by Robert Graves in The Greek Myths, published in 1955 -- see page 317 of Volume I).

However, as I discussed in the previously-mentioned interview from Contact in the Desert, this myth almost certainly has a celestial origin -- as do virtually all of the world's other ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories. I believe that the identity of the bronze giant who meets his end when the stopper holding his animating fluid is removed can be definitively linked to the mighty constellation Orion -- and the celestial "river" that can be seen originating from the vicinity of the foot of that heavenly giant.

That celestial river is the constellation Eridanus, a long line of stars originating near the bright star Rigel in the forward (or westernmost) foot of the constellation Orion. The name of this heavenly stream can clearly be seen to have linguistic parallels with the name of the Jordan River on earth. The name Eridanus may also be connected in some way to the name of the ancient city of Eridu in Mesopotamia, near the Euphrates River, as suggested by the authors of Hamlet's Mill (see for example pages 257 - 258).

Below is an image of the night sky showing the location of the River Eridanus relative to the towering figure of the constellation Orion (he looks much larger in real life than the flat screen image can portray -- and this should give some indication of the sheer length of the River Eridanus in the sky):

Those objecting to the argument that the River Eridanus could be seen as flowing out of the forward foot of Orion might be expected to point out that the constellation Eridanus does not actually "connect" with the figure of Orion proper. However, as I have explained in some of the volumes of the series Star Myths of the World and how to interpret them, the ancient myths can be shown to envision "additional lines" connecting nearby constellations at times, such as the "added line" envisioned between the lower arm of the constellation Hercules and the Northern Crown (Corona Borealis), when Hercules is envisioned as grasping an arching infant in numerous myths and sacred stories (such as the story of the Judgment of Solomon in the Hebrew Scriptures).In the above diagram of Orion and Eridanus, we can see that an "additional line" can easily be envisioned between the bright star Rigel which marks the toe or foot of Orion and the second star in the stream of the heavenly river (or the first star in the stream, for that matter, although the second star in Eridanus is closest to Rigel). This is the first clue that the story of Talos and his vulnerability are linked to the constellation Orion and the river of fluid that appears to stream out of his foot or ankle region.Additional confirmation for this identification would be desirable, however -- and the myths themselves appear to provide us with further supporting clues which help to give confidence in the assertion that Talos in this story corresponds to Orion. In most versions of the story, Talos is a creation of the god Hephaestus. There are some versions in which Talos is a creation of the great inventor, Daedalus -- and I would argue that these versions probably give us a clue that Daedalus could be associated with the same constellation which often plays the role of Hephaestus. We will set aside discussion of Daedalus for another day, and concentrate for now on the identity of Hephaestus. Hephaestus, the divine smith and god of fire, is described in ancient myth as being lame in both feet, due to having been hurled from Olympus by either Zeus or Hera (depending on the version of the myth). Due to his injuries from the fall to earth (which took an entire day, in some accounts), he is often depicted as riding upon a donkey -- but in some accounts he also is attended by golden automatons which he has fashioned and which support him from either side. In the Iliad, these are described as being female servants fashioned of gold, whom the poet describes as being:
all cast in gold but a match for living, breathing girls. Intelligence fills their hearts, voice and strength their frames, from the deathless gods they've learned their works of hand. Book 18, lines 489 - 490. Translation by Robert Fagles.
In the diagram below, we see the constellations which are located directly above the constellation we're considering as a candidate for the figure of Talos (that is, Orion). Note that the figure of Perseus is not far from Orion in the night sky, above Orion (from the perspective of an observer in the northern hemisphere):

Note that one of the distinctive characteristics of the outline of Perseus is the fact that his feet are "twisted" -- this aspect of the constellation is very clearly visible when you locate Perseus in the night sky. I am convinced that this aspect of the constellation gives rise to the fact that Hephaestus also has twisted feet from his injuries sustained when he was hurled from the heights of Olympus.

For this reason, Hephaestus is sometimes described in ancient Greek myth -- and depicted in ancient Greek artwork -- as riding upon a donkey. Note that immediately below Perseus in the night sky we see the outline of the constellation Taurus the Bull, the most distinctive portions of which I have outlined in orange in the above star-chart: the V-shaped Hyades and beyond them the two long "horns" of the Bull. These long horns can be shown to also have been envisioned as the long ears of an ass or donkey in ancient myth (in fact, when Orion plays the role of Samson in the book of Judges in the Hebrew Scriptures, he reaches out his hand to grasp the "jawbone of an ass," represented by the V-shaped stars of the Hyades, as described in Hamlet's Mill on page 166).

Additional confirmation of the fact that Perseus with his twisted foot or feet was sometimes anciently envisioned as riding on a donkey represented by Taurus is seen in the story of Balaam (also from the book of Judges in the Hebrew Scriptures), which I outline at length in this previous post. In that story, Balaam has his foot "crushed" against a wall when the donkey sees an angel blocking the way.

As can be seen from the diagram, Taurus is directly above Orion in the sky -- and so if Hephaestus is sometimes envisioned as riding on a donkey, he could also be seen as being carried upon the shoulders of Talos, if Talos is represented by Orion. The fact that the metallic servants who support the god Hephaestus in the description in Book 18 of the Iliad are described as being female, however, may mean that the ancient myth is here envisioning the constellation Andromeda as one of the golden robots who supports the god in his workshop. In any case, the proximity of Orion to Perseus, and the fact that Hephaestus is almost certainly associated with that constellation Perseus (as well as being associated with the act of making metallic servants to assist him, which are located nearby in the night sky) is additional evidence that Talos is indeed associated with Orion (in addition to the river of fluid flowing out of the foot of that constellation).

In fact, on pages 177 - 178 of Hamlet's Mill, the authors actually suggest that Talos is identified with Orion, although they do not clearly sketch out their reasons for making this assertion (this is somewhat characteristic of Hamlet's Mill in many instances).

Additional confirmation that the figure of Perseus probably plays the role of Hephaestus in many myths is found in the fact that the god is sometimes described or depicted as wearing headgear similar to the headgear suggested by the outline of the constellation. See for instance the depiction of Hephaestus and Thetis in this ancient red-figure vase, in which the divine smith is wearing a cap very similar in shape to the cap of Perseus in the night sky. That image of Hephaestus comes from the website, which is a good resource for mythical information. If you visit the theoi page dealing with the god Hephaistos, you will see that image and another image from ancient Greek pottery depicting the god riding on a donkey.

Thus, I believe we can confidently conclude that the giant Talos is associated with the mighty figure of Orion in the night sky. It is very interesting to note the strong parallels between the donkey-riding figures of Balaam from the Old Testament of the Bible and Hephaestus from ancient Greece, and the evidence that both figures are almost certainly related to the same constellations in the night sky. This is further evidence that all the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories are in fact closely related, and based upon the same common worldwide system of celestial metaphor.

That ancient system, I am convinced, was designed to impart profound wisdom which is vital to our lives, even to our lives today in this modern age. I am also convinced that many of the most severe injustices and imbalances in our world today are directly related to centuries of disconnection from the fountain of this ancient wisdom, particularly in the cultures that would become known as "the west."

There are many lessons we could take away from the story of Talos. The idea of a mechanical automaton that circles the island of Crete, ostensibly to help the people, but who sometimes makes mistakes regarding its choice of targets (attacking the voyagers on the Argo, for example, when all they wanted to do was go ashore to replenish their supplies of water), should be thought-provoking in this era of weaponized drones, especially to those who are aware of the incredible advances taking place in the field of "artificial intelligence," "autonomous vehicles," and "machine learning."

If you have not thought about the enormous potential dangers of the horrifying rise of weaponized drones over the past sixteen years, led by the government of the united states -- or even if you have thought about it and already think you know how terrible this development is -- you should stop whatever else you are doing and watch the documentary National Bird.

Then you should ask yourself what life will be like when weaponized drones are routinely patrolling every inch of the surface of our planet, and not just faraway lands that are easy for many in "the west" to avoid thinking about.

Then you should ask yourself what it will be like when those weaponized drones are controlled, not by human beings (as horrible a prospect as that in itself would be) but rather by computer algorithms and artificial intelligence, algorithms which will guide their decisions regarding whether or not to unleash their firepower, like Talos breaking off gigantic boulders from the cliffs of Crete to hurl at the Argonauts.

Then you should ask yourself how to stop such an eventuality before it comes to pass, through committed nonviolent citizen action, education, and protest.

Otherwise, future generations may find themselves trying to figure out where the screw is in the heel of Talos.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Conversation with Oscar Inclan on Lords of Consciousness at Contact in the Desert!

Big thank you to Oscar Inclan and the rest of the team at Lords of Consciousness for tracking me down at Contact in the Desert last weekend and inviting me on to their show for an interview. 

I enjoyed the conversation with Oscar very much -- you can see our discussion in the above video, which was filmed in one of the alcoves under the shade of the desert trees and plants at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center.

During the conversation, I mentioned that Lords of Consciousness is an appropriate title, because as Alvin Boyd Kuhn once said -- and as I am fond of quoting -- in the world's ancient wisdom, found in the myths, scriptures and sacred stories of every culture on every inhabited continent and island:
The actors are not old kings, priests and warriors; the one actor in every portrayal, in every scene, is the human soul. The Bible is the drama of our history here and now; and it is not apprehended in its full force and applicability until every reader discerns himself [or herself] to be the central figure in it! The Bible is about the mystery of human life. Instead of relating to the incidents of a remote epoch in temporal history, it deals with the reality of the living present in the life of every soul on earth.
At one point, Oscar asks an outstanding question about the possible meaning of the "foot-washing scenes" found in both the Odyssey and in the (so-called) "New" Testament in the biblical scriptures.

The very clear parallels between those two scenes, and the fact that both can be very satisfactorily shown to be based upon celestial metaphor involving very specific constellations that you can still see for yourself in the night sky, should be conclusive evidence that the world's ancient myths are speaking the same "celestial language" and are in fact closely related.

You can see the conversation in the video above. Also, Alvin Boyd Kuhn offers some good insights into "foot washing" in general in his 1940 masterpiece, Lost Light, where he says:
On the second day's celebration of the Mystery rites in Greece [he is here referring to the mysteria of Eleusis], the one commemorating the descent of the gods into matter, the cry "Alade, mustai" ("to the sea, ye initiated ones!") was the keynote of the ceremony.
[ . . . ]
Plutarch affirms that the child Jesus fell into the sea and was drowned. Likewise Horus.
[ . . . ]
This firmly supports the primary claim of this study, that the incarnation is the one central theme of all scripture. Burial of the soul in the water of the body on earth is all that could ever have meant by the baptism.
An aspect of the baptism formula was the rite of feet-washing. Jesus washed the disciples' feet. This act was a dramatization of his laying aside his superior dignity, humbling himself to become a servant and pouring out the water of deific potency for the cleansing baptism of the lower nature of man. For he himself poured out the water in a basin. The Speaker says that he comes that he may purify this soul of his in the most hight degree. The Teacher in the Pistis Sophia says that he tore himself asunder to bring unto mankind the "Mysteries of light to purify them . . . otherwise no soul in the whole of mankind would have been saved!" (Bk. 2:249, Mead). Here is one of the most explicit references to divine dismemberment anywhere to be found. 390 - 391.
Elsewhere in the same book, Kuhn says:
Coming with his fan in his hand "he will thoroughly purge his floor." The floor is the physical base of life. The higher potency will cleanse the lowest. More than once the Egyptian Ritual harps on the soul's "acquiring dominion over his feet." The rite of feet-washing can be immediately divined as a type of cleansing the lowest nature. Texts in the Ritual state that he who has won control over his feet has done all he needs to do to insure salvation. 354.
I hope you enjoy the above interview. I was not familiar with Lords of Consciousness before going on their show, but asked a little about what they are about and learned that they support sustainable permaculture and raising consciousness. I must say that I do not at all endorse the views of every other guest who has ever been interviewed on any of the podcasts or shows on which I appear, and that I am very strongly against any sort of apologetic or rationalization for Germany's role in the Second World War and the actions of the Nazis before, during or after that war, as offered by one guest on a previous interview on that same show. I am very strongly and wholeheartedly opposed to fascism and right-wing political arguments everywhere and at all times.

The above interview was recorded on May 20, 2017.

PS: For a blog post talking about the wonderful illustrated mythology books of Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire, see here.

For a discussion of the importance of the Ganges, and the way it flows down from heaven originating in the locks of Shiva, see here and also here.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

There is no member of mine devoid of a god

Chapter 42, Plate 32, Ritual of Coming Forth by Day, Papyrus of Ani (c. 1250 BC).

In a passage I have cited many times before, from a 1936 lecture entitled The Stable and the Manger, Alvin Boyd Kuhn declares that the ancient myths and scriptures "mean nothing as outward events" (that is, as supposed narratives of literal events in terrestrial history) but rather that 
they mean everything as picturizations of that which is our living experience at all times. The actors are not old kings, priests and warriors; the one actor in every portrayal, in every scene, is the human soul.
All of the myths and sacred stories, according to Kuhn's analysis, deal with one theme: "The epic of the human soul in earthly embodiment" (Lost Light, 67). In all of the varied episodes, he maintains, whether wrestling with serpents or being tempted by Sirens or struggling to return home, "the history of the divine Ego in its progress from Earth back to the skies was allegorically portrayed" (67).

The profound ramifications of this perspective upon the ancient myths may be easy to overlook, unless we take the time to let the weighty import of these assertions sink in. If Kuhn is correct (and I believe that he is), then it means that you and I and every other man or woman or child that we ever meet are much more than we have been conditioned to believe. 

In his view, the world's ancient wisdom is declaring again and again that each and every human soul is in fact divinity "buried in clay," or "chopped up" like Osiris and scattered across the country, or entwined in "the coils of a serpent," or "shorn of power" like Samson -- but that our experience here in this "lower passage" involves the recovery of that "buried" aspect of our nature, and the "re-integration" or "reclamation" of that divine aspect which has been temporarily lost or forgotten.

In support of his assertion, Kuhn points to a powerful passage from the ancient Egyptian Ritual of the Coming Forth by Day (also commonly referred to in modern times as the Egyptian Book of the Dead). There, in the 42nd chapter (illustrated in what is known as "Plate 32" or "Sheet 32" of the version inscribed upon the famous version known as the Papyrus of Ani, which is seventy-eight feet in length and beautifully illustrated), we read the following lines (as translated by E. A. Wallis Budge in 1901, with occasional clarification from the 1972 translation by Raymond O. Faulkner added in brackets):
The hair of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the hair of Nu [or Nun]
The face of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the face of Ra
The eyes of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the eyes of Hathor
The ears of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the ears of Ap-uat [or Wepwawet]
The lips of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the lips of Anpu [or Anubis]
The teeth [or molars] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the teeth of Serqet [or Selket]
The neck of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the neck of Isis
The hands of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the hands of Ba-neb-Tattu
The shoulder of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the shoulder of Uatchet
The throat of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the throat of Mert
The forearms of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the forearms of the Lady of Sais
The backbone of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the backbone of Set
The chest of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the chest of the lords of Kheraha
The flesh [or chest] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the flesh of the Mighty One of Terror [or He who is Greatly Majestic]
The reins and back [or belly and spine] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the reins and back of Skehet [or Sekhmet]
The buttocks of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the buttocks of the Eye of Horus
The phallus of Osiris Ani, triumphant, is the phallus of Osiris
The legs [or thighs and calves] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the legs of Nut
The feet of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the feet of Ptah
The fingers of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the fingers of Orion
The leg-bones [or toes] of Osiris Ani, triumphant, are the leg-bones of the living uraei [the rearing cobras of the goddess Wadjet]
There is no member of my body which is not the member of some god ["There is no member of mine devoid of a god"]
The god Thoth shieldeth my body altogether ["And Thoth is the protection of all my flesh"]
In the image above, from the Papyrus of Ani, you can see the illustration that accompanies this profound passage in the Ritual of Coming Forth by Day. There, each of the divine personages mentioned in the cited text is illustrated, from the figure of Nu (or Nun) on the far left as we face the page to the three living uraei (rearing cobras) on the far right of the image.

What this profound passage appears to be teaching us is that we are in some way intended to incorporate the powers of the gods into our lives -- and that the gods who dwell in the Invisible Realm somehow have their home and exercise their power through the persons of men and women in this realm.

In Lost Light, on page 549, Alvin Boyd Kuhn interprets this very passage, saying:
The god himself, fallen into carnal mire, buried and inert, had to be raised and restored to sound condition. As he awakened his faculties and sloughed off the imprisoning vesture of decay, it was as if every member of his body was resuscitated and made over. [ . . . ] This work is gradual and is accomplished piecemeal. The god finds glorification coming day by day, feature by feature; he is reconstituted limb by limb, member by member, until he says there is no part of him that remains mortal. He is given the hair of Nu or heaven (solar rays); the eyes of Hathor; the ears of Apuat; the nose of Khenti-Kas; the lips of Anup; the teeth of Serkh; the neck of Isis; the hands of the mighty lord of Tattu; the shoulders of Neith; the back of Sut; the phallus of Osiris; the legs and thighs of Nut; the feet of Ptah; and the nails and bones of the living Uraei "until there is no limb of him that is without a god." "My leg-bones are the leg-bones of the living gods. There is no member of my body that is not the member of some god. I am Yesterday, and Seer of Millions of Years is my name." Here is notice to man that he must traverse every kingdom in order that he may absorb and embody in himself every aspect of nature's power, the efficacy of every god. Mighty truth is this. 549 - 550.
In this explication of the passage, Kuhn echoes Gerald Massey, who wrote in Ancient Egypt: the Light of the World (Volume One, published in 1907) that:
Before the mortal Manes could attain the ultimate state of spirit in the image of Horus the immortal, he must be put together part by part as was Osiris, the dismembered god. He is divinized in the likeness of various divinities, all of whom had been included as powers in the person of the one true god, Neb-er-ter, the lord entire. Every member and part of the Manes in Amenta has to be fashioned afresh in a new creation. The new heart is said to be shaped by certain gods in the nether world, according to the deeds done in the body whilst the person was living on earth. He assumes the glorified body that is formed feature by feature and limb after limb in the likeness of the gods until there is no part of the Manes that remains undivided. He is given the hair of Nu, or heaven, the eyes of Hathor, ears of Apuat, nose of Khenti-Kas, lips of Anup, teeth of Serk, neck of Isisi, hand of the mighty lord of Tattu, shoulders of Neith, back of Sut, phallus of Osiris, legs and thighs of Nut, feet of Ptah, with nails and bones of the living Uraei, until there is not a limb of him that is without a god. 198 - 199.
While Kuhn admired the work of Massey and praised him as one of the most discerning and insightful to have studied ancient Egypt, he disagreed that the passages have to do with the soul in the afterlife -- rather, Kuhn argues, the soul in this incarnate life (which is indeed "the Underworld," compared to the intangible Realm of Spirit) is indicated. Thus, we are not to understand that we must incorporate the attributes and powers of the various gods and goddesses in the next life, but rather in this one.

As Kuhn says, "Mighty truth is this" -- and a profound mystery.

But it is clearly and forcefully proclaimed in the ancient Egyptian texts -- and it opens an entirely new paradigm on our mission and purpose here in this incarnate life. 

And it opens an entirely new paradigm upon the way we treat others and structure our society -- because it means that the gods in a very real sense can be understood to be present in those around us (just as they are also present in ourselves).

In what ways is our society -- which itself is a product of a civilization that has been violently cut off from the world's ancient wisdom for at least seventeen centuries -- dishonoring the gods or even stealing from them in the way that it treats individual men and women in whose members the gods manifest (according to the ancient texts)?

In what ways do we steal from the gods when we do not teach these truths to others, or allow them to be known -- and when we do not pursue the kind of integration in ourselves that is described in the ancient Book of the Coming Forth by Day?

I am quite convinced that the world's ancient wisdom was given to humanity for our benefit and blessing -- and that their ancient teaching belongs to each and every one of us.

Because, as the Papyrus of Ani illustrates and declares, the gods and goddesses are properly present in us: in you, and in me, and in everyone you ever meet.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Back from Contact in the Desert 2017

image: modified composite of personal photograph plus two images from Wikimedia commons (link 1 and link 2).

I've recently returned from a fantastic visit to Joshua Tree, California and the Contact in the Desert conference for 2017.

The conference is still going on through another entire day on Monday, May 22, but I hitched a ride home early in the above-pictured craft (I used to own a 1966 model myself, so I really couldn't resist).

Big thank-you to everyone who stopped by my table to learn about Star Myths and Astrotheology and the celestial language that the world's ancient myths are speaking. I enjoyed meeting every single person who visited, as well as our conversations.

Thank you also to those who purchased copies of my books -- I very much hope that you will enjoy them and that they will be uplifting in some way.

For anyone who was unable to attend this year's Contact in the Desert, or who was unable to purchase signed copies of books at the conference due to the inconvenience of having to carry them around or pack them in luggage for the flight home, you can always purchase copies from one of many outlets, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookseller -- and can obtain signed copies of any title from the "Books" section of my website where you can specify a name or names for a personalized inscription.

The order page for signed copies can be found towards the bottom of that "Books" page, and it is set up for shipments within the united states. If you want to arrange shipment to somewhere else, please use the contact form provided on the website and we can figure out how much the shipping would cost.

For new friends visiting this blog for the first time after learning about my research at the conference, welcome! You can follow my new "author page" on Facebook (if you use that site), and will definitely want to check out all the material that's available on my main website, Star Myth World (dot com).

There is a search window on the blog to search for specific terms in the over 900 posts going back to 2011, and of course you can also visit the "Myths" section of the website to find discussions of specific ancient stories and their relation to the stars and heavenly cycles (and meaning for us today), as well as the "Video" and "Podcasts" sections for visual and audible examination of the evidence that virtually all the world's ancient myths, scriptures, and sacred stories can be shown to be built upon a common system of very specific celestial metaphor.

The stars and planets shining over the desert were spectacular. I enjoyed cooking my dinner on a camp stove under the stars, while powerful laser-pointers probed the sky overhead -- and then sleeping out on the desert floor and doing Sun Salutations facing the sun in the morning. 

You can see some photographs from this year's event which were published in the LA Daily News here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How to find the four important heavenly serpents

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Right now is one of the best times of the year to try to locate the four major celestial serpents which play important roles in many of the world's ancient myths.

All four of them can be seen at the same time at this time of year, if you happen to be located in the northern hemisphere. Observers in the southern hemisphere will probably not be able to locate the constellation Draco, which winds its way between the Big Dipper and Little Dipper, near the north celestial pole, unless they are observing from a point fairly close to the equator.

However, viewers in most parts of the globe should be able to locate the first three of the celestial serpents described below (we'll return to tips for locating Draco momentarily).

Presently, the first and perhaps most important of the heavenly serpents is rising in the east during the prime-time viewing hours after sunset: the brilliant constellation Scorpio, which plays the role of a devouring serpent or a dragon in many of the world's ancient myths (in addition to occasionally playing a scorpion). 

Scorpio can be easily identified by the bright reddish star Antares, in the very "heart" of the constellation. Scorpio is labeled in the star-chart below: the constellation Scorpio follows behind Virgo in the zodiac band (behind Libra, which is between Virgo and Scorpio but is fairly faint and is not marked in the diagram below, since we are here dealing with tips to assist in locating the four heavenly serpents).

You can easily locate Virgo right now because the glorious planet Jupiter is traveling through Virgo at this time (the constellation Corvus the Crow, which stares towards Virgo's brightest star, Spica, is also looking generally in the direction of Jupiter at present). When you find Jupiter, you can then trace out the rest of the constellation Virgo. To the east of Virgo, rising up out of the eastern horizon, you should be able to easily identify the looming worm-like form of Scorpio, nearly vertical in the eastern sky -- its "pincers" most easily seen as a kind of "T" bar of three stars above the vertical body of the worm.

Scorpio appears in many myths as a serpent or similar monster with multiple heads -- sometimes seven, sometimes eight, and sometimes nine. Thus, I have drawn it as having multiple heads in the chart above, although depending on the light pollution in your area you will probably only be able to see the three brightest stars (which give it a "T" shape as it rises up from the horizon, as mentioned), due to the ambient light that is usually present near the horizons.

Directly above Scorpio, you may be able to make out the enormous form of Ophiucus, the Serpent-bearer, who holds the next of the four celestial serpents that you can see during this time of year. Ophiucus is not easy to identify unless you are fairly familiar with the constellation's outline -- although once you become familiar with it then it becomes fairly easy to see when Ophiucus is in the sky. 

At present, Ophiucus will be "lying" almost horizontal to the eastern horizon as it rises in the east, above (or "to the left of") the vertical form of Scorpio rising. As Scorpio and Ophiucus make their way across the middle of the sky, Scorpio will become more horizontal and Ophicucus will turn upwards and become more vertical, but when they are just rising in the east, then Scorpio will be vertical and Ophiucus will be horizontal. The diagram above "curves" the horizon upwards on the left and right sides of the image, to simulate the 180 degrees of horizon arc that you would be able to see if you were actually standing outside. Thus, if you think about that left horizon as being more "level" (as it will be when you are outside), you will realize that Ophiucus will also seem much more horizontal when you are trying to identify the constellation's outline in the heavens (outdoors) than it seems to be in the above image.

Here is a previous post that provides some tips on tracing the outline of Ophiucus in the sky. My favorite method for seeing the constellation involves finding the "triangle" at the top of the massive body of the constellation. The "forward foot" of the constellation Hercules comes very close to the "triangle" of Ophiucus, as you can see from the diagram above. Knowing this fact can help you to identify the triangle at the top of Ophiucus.

The constellation Ophiucus, as his name implies, is holding a great serpent. This serpent is actually seen in two "halves" which are found on either side of the body of the constellation of Ophiucus. The serpent of Ophiucus plays an important role in many ancient myths -- sometimes in the role of a serpent, but often in the role of other sinuous things as well, including various forms of vegetation. The serpent halves can be described as having a "tail" half (on the left as we look at the image above -- the eastern half) and a "head" half (on the right as we look at the image above -- the western half). 

You can see that the "head" of the serpent of Ophiucus resembles a small triangle or diamond-shape. Note also that the constellation Hercules can be seen to be reaching down towards the "head" of the serpent of Ophiucus with his lower outstretched arm. 

There are a great many myths from around the world in which a serpent or serpent-figure guards a tree bearing special fruit (often, divine fruit). For instance, in the myth of Heracles (also known in Latin as Hercules), the hero must retrieve an apple from the garden of the Hesperides -- and that apple tree is guarded by a fearsome dragon. You can see Hercules gathering an apple from a tree around which a large serpent is winding in the ancient mosaic shown above.

I am convinced that the "head" of the serpent held by Ophiucus represents the apple in this particular myth, which Hercules reaches out his hand to grasp -- just as the constellation Hercules can be seen to be doing in the night sky. The "dragon" which guards the base of the tree in this myth is of course Scorpio, which is found around the region of the base of the constellation Ophiucus. There are many other myths around the world in which a dragon resides at the roots of a tree -- such as the Norse myths, for example, in which Nidhogg the dragon gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil, the World-Tree.

Of course, there is also a story about a serpent and a tree with fruit at the beginning of the text of Genesis -- and the clear echoes of this particular episode to other ancient myths involving trees and serpents (and sometimes fruit as well) shows once again that the sacred texts included in the so-called Old and New Testaments of the Bible are closely related to the world's other ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories, and that they are all based upon the same system of celestial metaphor.

Moving on to the third important celestial serpent, we can also see not far away the constellation Hydra, which stretches below Virgo (all directions in the above descriptions are for observers in the northern hemisphere -- the constellation Hydra will be "above" Virgo for viewers in the southern hemisphere). Hydra also plays a role in numerous ancient Star Myths, many of which are detailed in the volumes of the series entitled Star Myths of the World, and how to interpret them.

At this time of year, you can see the entire length of the constellation Hydra, at the same time that you can see Scorpio rising, with Ophiucus above Scorpio holding the two halves of the Ophiucus-serpent, and also Draco far above. Hydra is so long that its body actually continues on past Virgo and runs underneath the length of the constellation Leo (who precedes Virgo in the sky, as shown above). The head of Hydra is actually quite a bit further west than the nose or forward feet of Leo. You can make out the small oddly-shaped head of Hydra ahead of Leo (and below it), and if you do so it may give you a nice feeling of accomplishment.

Note that in the above diagram I have also indicated the stars Castor and Pollux, which are setting in the west but still visible in the star-chart above. They will be roughly level with one another (once again, the horizon in the chart above is curved upwards to try to simulate the "wrapping" of the horizon to your right as you face south in the northern hemisphere, so although the stars of Castor and Pollux appear to be stacked one above the other in the diagram, they are actually next to each other in a line that parallels the horizon, when you go outside at night). This previous post gives more tips on locating Castor and Pollux in the west at this time of year.

Note also that between the muzzle of the Lion of Leo and the heads of the Twins of Gemini you can still see the delightful Beehive Cluster, whose general location is also labeled in the above star-chart. Here is a previous post (one of many) discussing the location of this important celestial feature.

Those three celestial serpents -- Scorpio, the serpent of Ophiucus, and Hydra -- should all be visible at this time of year to most observers located in either hemisphere. The fourth of the important heavenly serpents which is also easily observable at this time of year, for viewers in the northern hemisphere, is the Dragon of Draco. This constellation winds its way between the stars of the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, and is best found by first locating those two fairly familiar constellations.

The Big Dipper is one of the most well-known constellations in the northern sky. Its front two stars (the two front stars in its "bowl") are known as the "pointers," and they point to the North Star, Polaris. 

Polaris itself forms the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper: once you locate Polaris, you can trace the arcing handle of the Little Dipper forward to the small "bowl" of that constellation, whose front two stars are relatively bright and easy to spot. Below is a diagram showing the two Dippers, with Draco in between:

Once you have located the Big and Little Dippers, it is a relatively easy task to trace out the sinuous form of Draco winding in between them. Remember that the tip of the "tail" of Draco is found just above the "pointers" of the Big Dipper, and that the "body" winds around the "cup" or "bowl" of the Little Dipper. Then the constellation makes a rather sharp bend at the place where there are two small "feet" on the outline of Draco (as envisioned by the brilliant constellation-mapper, H. A. Rey). Finally, the "head" of the Dragon of Draco is another small circlet of stars, and you should be able to make it out at this time of year. It is not far from the sword or club held by the constellation Hercules, who is presently rising in the east (along with Ophiucus) in the hours after sunset and before midnight.

Thus, you can see that right now is a wonderful opportunity to try to observe all four of the most important celestial "serpents" who play various roles in the world's ancient myths. The next several days leading up to New Moon on May 25 are especially good nights to observe the stars (and the night of New Moon and the following couple nights are also good for observing stars, as the young waxing crescent follows the sun very closely for the first couple nights after New Moon).

If it is at all possible, I hope that you can go outside into the night and trace out the heavenly serpents who wind their way through the world's ancient myths!

Monday, May 15, 2017

See you at Contact in the Desert!

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

If you are planning to attend this year's Contact in the Desert in Joshua Tree, California, you will have the opportunity to hear from an enormous lineup of researchers, authors and speakers, including Graham Hancock, Professor Robert Schoch, and many others.

I won't be speaking but will be attending and also selling copies of my latest book, Astrotheology for Life, as well as copies of all my previous books (you can see sample content from each of those here), and would be happy to inscribe those for you. 

If you are planning on attending and have a copy of one of my books already that you'd like me to sign for you and want to bring it along, feel free to do that rather than buying copies there.  Obviously, I will not be able to transport an unlimited number of each of the different titles to the event, but I will have copies of each title while supplies last.

If you're not able to attend this year's event in Joshua Tree, I hope to attend other events in the near future in other locations, and will make that known here on the blog, so stay tuned.

Hope to see you there!