Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The gorgeous night sky of June and July -- and mythical links from Greece to Kauai

This time of year provides some of the most dazzling star-gazing opportunities and some of my favorite scenes that can be seen in the infinite heavens during our annual circle. I would strongly encourage making the effort to get outside to a relatively dark location, away from city lights, in order to see it for yourself, if at all possible.

The diagram above, which is based on a screen-shot from the outstanding free and open-source planetarium app Stellarium, shows the view facing south for an observer in the northern hemisphere (in this case, at about latitude 35.6 north), at about 10pm. The outlines of the constellations as suggested by H. A. Rey (with some modifications of my own) have been added for some of the most prominent constellations, and simulated horizon has been added with a heavy green line.

Right now, the full length of the glorious constellation Scorpio can be seen stretched out near the very top of its arcing path between the eastern and western horizons during the prime-time viewing hours after sunset and before midnight. 

Note that Scorpio in the sky will look absolutely enormous -- far larger than it appears in the screen-shot above. Stellarium alters the size and shape of the constellations to simulate the "curve" that you are able to see when you step outside, "wrapping" the sky so that those constellations you will see when you turn to your left or right (outdoors) can be seen on the flat screen. In doing so, the program causes the constellations on the left and right edges to appear larger, and those in the center to appear smaller (as if farther away, so to speak). Thus, in the image above, Scorpio appears smaller than Leo -- but if you go outside and look at them, Scorpio will actually appear much larger in the sky than Leo. 

Also, Leo will be arcing steeply down towards the western horizon at this time of night and this time of year. That's why I drew-in the horizon line for you in the above diagram: if you imagine that horizon as being level all the way around (instead of "wrapping" upwards towards the upper left and right corners of the image), you will realize that Leo is actually angling downwards towards the horizon, head-first, in the image -- just as Leo is doing in the night sky.

The full body of Scorpio is visible above the horizon for most viewers in most latitudes, depending on the skyline to your south (if you are observing from a point in the northern hemisphere). This allows a beautiful view of the entire breathtaking constellation. Below is a closer view of Scorpio, also taken from Stellarium, which may give a better impression of the size and beauty of this amazing -- and mythologically important -- zodiac constellation:

Can you trace the line of the sinuous body of the Scorpion, which makes a shape like a large letter "J" in the sky, beginning at (or one star above) the bright red "heart" of the Scorpion, Antares? Above Antares, the constellation branches out into multiple "heads," and below Antares it follows a graceful curve down and then back up to the close-together stars of the "Cats' Eyes," then a sharp angle down to the "barb" of the Scorpion's tail.

Below is the same image, with the outline of Scorpio ("multiple-head" version) drawn-in:

When you go outside, you may only be able to make out the brightest three "heads" of the Scorpion (indicated by the largest-sized dots in the star-chart above). These give the constellation a real "T" shape at the top (or capital "J" if envisioned with a wide cross-bar at the top of the "J"). You can also envision these brighter stars as forming the claws of the Scorpion. 

In any case, you can no doubt see why I believe that the sinuous form of this constellation forms the famous fish-hook of the great Maui in the myths and sacred stories of the cultures of the Pacific. I have also explained in various places (including in my latest book, Astrotheology for Life), that there are traditions in the Pacific which describe Maui as having eight heads (which is why he is cast into the ocean by his parents, in some versions of the legend) -- no doubt because of the multi-headed aspect of the constellation Scorpio, which is positioned below the constellation Virgo in such a way as to appear to be a child to whom Virgo has just given birth.

In order to see why, look again at the "full-sky" star-chart at the top of this post, and find Virgo. Then, go out into the night sky and find Virgo (assisted by the fact that the brilliant planet Jupiter is presently moving through the constellation), and you will see that the effect is even stronger when looking at the actual stars themselves than it is when viewing a star-chart on a screen.

Directly above the stars of Scorpio is the towering figure of Ophiucus.

Ophiucus is a very satisfying constellation to identify in the sky, but it can be a bit challenging if you are not yet very familiar with its outline. This previous post gives some pointers on locating Ophiucus in the sky. Right now, Ophiucus will not be seen to be standing "straight up" in the hours before midnight -- at this time of year, Ophiucus is still rising from the horizontal position it assumes as it clears the eastern horizon towards the vertical position it makes when it crosses the midpoint of its arc (due south line, for viewers in the northern hemisphere). If you look back to the top star-chart and remember that the green horizon line "wraps" upwards to the left and right -- but that this is a convention of Stellarium to simulate the horizon to your left and to your right when you are outside, and that the horizon will actually be "flat" in real life -- then you will be able to see that Ophiucus is still largely "horizontal" in the image above (still mostly parallel to the eastern horizon, although starting to straighten up as it arcs upwards on its journey to the west).

Ophiucus can be seen to be "standing" on the head (or "heads") of the gigantic form of Scorpio -- and this fact points us towards some of the important myths which make reference to this relationship between Scorpio and Ophiucus.

Perhaps most notably, there is a famous verse in the text of Genesis in which the LORD is pronouncing judgments upon the serpent, the woman, and the man after the tasting of the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden, and just prior to the expulsion from Eden. In that verse (Genesis 3: 15), the LORD says to the serpent: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

We just saw that some myths envision the constellation Virgo (the woman) as giving birth to a figure associated with Scorpio (such as in some versions of the Maui cycle of myths). However, this passage from Genesis shows that Virgo can also be envisioned as giving birth to the figure of Ophiucus. In Genesis 3: 15, the text says there will be enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, and the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent, while the serpent will bruise his heel. It should be fairly clear that this is referring to the relative positions of Ophiucus and Scorpio in the sky -- with Ophiucus being described as the seed (or offspring) of the woman:

In the image above, I have highlighted in red the part of the sky in which Ophiucus can be seen to be "bruising the head" of Scorpio, while Scorpio reciprocates by "bruising the heel" of Ophiucus.

This same distinctive aspect of the relative positions of Ophiucus and Scorpio can be seen to play an important role in other myths from around the globe -- showing yet again that all the world's ancient myths and sacred traditions are in fact using a common system of celestial metaphor, and that the stories in the Bible are without doubt part of that ancient world-wide system.

For example, in the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice from ancient Greece, the beautiful Eurydice is bitten on the foot by a poisonous adder on the day of her wedding to Orpheus -- setting the stage for the story of the unsuccessful attempt by Orpheus to rescue his beloved from the land of the dead, which is an example of a myth-pattern that is extremely prevalent around the world and which is discussed at some length in Astrotheology for Life (and which I also mentioned in the presentation I gave last weekend at the Summer Solstice Celebration at the Great Serpent Mound).

The fact that Eurydice is bitten on the foot by the serpent in the various versions of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice shows that she is almost certainly associated with the constellation Ophiucus. Skeptical readers may object, saying that we might expect snakes, which live on the ground, to bite maidens on the foot, and that this aspect of the story does not necessarily indicate that Eurydice is connected to Ophiucus. This objection is a valid one, and in the book I give some other reasons for suspecting that Eurydice (at least before she descends to the underworld) is associated with Ophiucus in this myth. The strongest argument for an association of Eurydice with Ophiucus (besides the fact that she is always described as being bitten in the foot) is probably the fact that we can see Orpheus himself immediately above, in the celestial figure of Hercules. Hercules often plays the role of a divinely-skilled player of the harp or the lyre -- because the constellation of Lyra the Lyre is located immediately adjacent to Hercules: you can see it in the night sky now, marked by its very bright star Vega.

Of course, once Eurydice descends to the underworld, Orpheus goes down to try to retrieve her -- and when he does so, I believe he moves down to the position of Sagittarius for that part of the story (when he is leading her out of the underworld, with the strict admonition that he must not look back). Sagittarius is just now beginning to rise up from behind the eastern horizon in the hours before midnight -- you can definitely make out the brightest stars in the constellation, which form the shape which is often referred to as the "teapot" (also discussed in the video above from my talk last weekend).

Between Scorpio and Sagittarius you can see the dazzling band of the Milky Way, arching across the sky. It too is still somewhat "horizontal" to the eastern horizon, but throughout the night it will rise towards a vertical orientation as it crosses from east to west -- and over the coming weeks it will start out further and further along until we will see it in a fully vertical position during the prime-time viewing hours before midnight.

You can also make out both of the "enormous birds" who fly towards one another in the Milky Way band at this time of year: Aquila the Eagle and Cygnus the Swan. Because the Milky Way is still somewhat horizontal, you may notice that the wings of Aquila are pointing up-and-down, with the body of the Eagle basically pointing left-and-right, parallel to the horizon. Between the two great birds, you may also be able to make out the form of Delphinus the Dolphin, swimming along just below the band of the Milky Way between the two of them.

There are literally hundreds of other important myths which refer to the constellations in this part of the sky, and right now (and the weeks ahead) are some of the best times during the entire year in which to go out and view this beautiful celestial region, if possible.

The connections between the Genesis passage cited above and the story of Orpheus and Eurydice provide further evidence that the world's ancient myths are all built upon the same worldwide system -- a system which appears to have been given to humanity at an extremely remote date, a system which is shared by virtually all cultures on our planet, and which should thus be seen as uniting us, because we all share this incredible common inheritance.

It is also a system which I believe was intended to convey vital and powerful truths for our benefit during this incarnate life, using a sort of "language" or "code" in which certain parts of the sky indicate certain points on the various heavenly cycles, corresponding to certain aspects of the interplay between the Visible and Invisible realms.

The constellations and celestial features (such as the Milky Way band) which are now coming into view form an extremely significant region of the sky. I hope that you will have an opportunity to go out and see them for yourself, if at all possible, and to contemplate the profound teachings which that extremely ancient source of the world's traditions connected to this specific part of the sky for your benefit and blessing.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Lesson from Odysseus

Above is a new video just published, entitled "A lesson from Odysseus." 

This video is a project I was working on towards the end of May (2017) in response to a question sent to me via Facebook from a reader who had recently finished The Undying Stars, and who asks: "how exactly, in themselves does the power of the zodiacal constellations manifest 'in man'?"

This question is an excellent one, and concerns a very important subject. To try to begin to answer it, I consult a passage in the Odyssey, in which Odysseus receives inspiration from the goddess Athena. Because ultimately, as you will hear in my answer to that question, I believe that the constellations act as visible representatives for the powers in the Infinite and Invisible realm -- and that they take on the role of the gods and goddesses, although I do not believe the constellations are the gods themselves.

Undoubtedly, there are many, many layers involved in the answer to this question. And I am convinced that these layers of understanding are available to us by going to the ancient myths themselves, and listening to them in the language that they are actually speaking, which (at least on one level) is a language of celestial metaphor.

Thank you to the one who sent this question -- please feel free to contact me through any of the various available channels, including the public "comments" section of my main website (Star Myth World dot com), which can be reached via a link at the bottom of any of the pages on that site and which also includes a link for contacting me directly, as well as through Facebook, twitter, or in the comment section under the video itself on YouTube. And, as always, please feel free to re-post or share any of my videos with those who might find them to be of value.

Ultimately, I believe that the ancient knowledge contained in the myths is wonderful to learn on an intellectual level, but that it is really intended for us to put into practice in our daily lives. The "Lesson from Odysseus" described in the video above is, I believe, a very profound lesson, and one which involves bringing the power of the senses, the body, and the mind into control -- and one which the world's ancient myths and sacred traditions describe as requiring receptivity to inspiration from the Infinite, to which we actually have access at all times.

And because that receptivity does not always come naturally to all of us, many disciplines and practices have been passed down since ancient times in order to help facilitate greater integration with and sensitivity to the Invisible and Infinite realm -- among these we might include meditation, chanting, recitation of mantras, practices such as Yoga, and many others, some of which are discussed in my most-recent book, Astrotheology for Life (which, as its title implies, explores some of the ways that we can apply the wisdom contained in the ancient myths to our lives today).

For previous posts which deal with other aspects of this important subject, see also:
Also, if you wish to download an "audio only" version of the above video (so that you can listen to it on the go, or while doing dishes or working in the garden), you can right-click or control-click on this link in order to get a menu that should enable you to download an mp3 version of "A Lesson from Odysseus."

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, starmythworld.com.

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 theoi.com, 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.