Monday, December 9, 2019

Perseus and Andromeda, revisited!

The myth of Perseus and his quest to slay Medusa is one of the first myths I ever learned: it was featured in one of the Sullivan Programmed Reading workbooks that children who grew up in the early 1970s may remember (below is the cover of workbook number twenty):

Somewhere in those old reading books, the story of Perseus and his mother Danae and the wicked king who sends Perseus off to slay Medusa was retold with great verve and vigor, along with vivid illustrations -- including the scenes in which Perseus uses the severed head of Medusa to turn his enemies to stone! So, somewhere between first and third grade, I learned about the Greek myths from these memorable reading workbooks, and the story of Perseus and the Gorgons and his rescue of the maiden Andromeda.

Later, I also devoured the D'Aulaire's books of Greek Mythology and Norse Mythology, which I recommend for the personal library of every home, if at all possible.

The myth of Perseus is one of the easiest myths to illustrate the undeniable fact that the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories are based on celestial metaphor. We happen to have a constellation named "Perseus" in the sky, which makes it very easy to identify which constellation might play the role of the hero in this famous ancient myth.

It is important to point out that just because the constellation is named Perseus and does indeed play the role of the hero of the myth of Perseus and the Gorgons, this does not mean that the constellation Perseus can only be associated with that specific hero in that specific story. Constellations "play multiple roles" in different myths -- and sometimes will even play multiple roles within the very same myth. The constellation Perseus is an extremely important constellation and plays the role of many different figures (including King Midas in other Greek myths, and the prophet Balaam in the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the canonical Bible, among many others from cultures around the world).

In the story of the rescue of the beautiful princess Andromeda by Perseus, which takes place after the hero has already slain Medusa with the help of the gods Athena and Hermes, it is fairly easy to find a constellation associated with Andromeda in the heavens as well: of course, she is associated with the constellation Andromeda, adjacent to Perseus in the night sky and featuring short lengths of "chain" upon either wrist (check out H. A. Rey's indispensable book The Stars: A New Way to See Them for more explanation and diagrams).

However, this well-known myth also provides us with an important illustration of another aspect of the world's amazing ancient Star Myths, and that is the fact that for some myths, the "action" of the story will sometimes "move through" other constellations as well (often nearby constellations, or  constellations found along the zodiac band, or constellations arranged along the line of the Milky Way, in some important examples discussed in my Star Myths of the World series, such as with the figures of Moses in the Bible or of Dionysus in ancient Greece and Rome).

In the story of the rescue of Andromeda by Perseus, Andromeda has been chained to a lonely rock upon a cliff facing the sea, as a human sacrifice to a sea monster described by ancient sources as "The Ketos" or "Cetus." The reason for this horrible situation appears to be yet another example of a mortal failing to acknowledge that the divine realm is the source of all the gifts we enjoy here in this mortal life, and instead declaring that one of the gifts of the gods (in this case, the beauty given to the princess Andromeda) was superior to the beauty of immortal beings who dwell in the infinite realm.

In this particular case, it was Andromeda's mother, Queen Cassiopeia, who proclaimed that either she herself or (in other variations on the story) her daughter Andromeda, was more beautiful than the Nereids who swim in the sea. For this grievous inversion of the proper order of the cosmos, the kingdom of Cassiopeia and her husband Cepheus (ancient Ethiopia, according to some sources) was flooded by the sea and assaulted by the dreaded monster Ketos.

An oracle informed the people of the kingdom that the only way to rectify the situation was to sacrifice the girl to the monster, by chaining her to a rock until the Ketos emerged from the sea to seize her and devour her. Andromeda appears to have been innocent in this situation, her mother the queen being the one who had made the ill-advised boasts, and in most versions of the story the king and queen do not want to follow the direction of the oracle, but the people of their country force them to do so, from fear of the Ketos.

There, Andromeda awaited her fate, chained to a lonely rock on a cliff overlooking the sea. And thus it was that Perseus spied the beautiful princess, as the hero sped homeward from his successful quest to slay Medusa. Perseus was flying back towards his home, using the winged sandals loaned to him by the god Hermes, when he happened to fly past the jagged cliffs and saw Andromeda in her precarious position.

He was none too soon either, for just as he pulled to a halt from his speeding flight, arrested by the incredible beauty of the unfortunate maiden, the waters of the sea began to boil and foam, announcing the arrival of the dreaded sea-monster, coming up from the depths to seize Andromeda.

Quickly, Perseus shouted to Andromeda to avert her eyes, and he drew forth the severed head of Medusa, which he was carrying safely within a special pouch loaned to him by the gods (this purse or pouch is called the kibisis). Flying fearlessly towards the Ketos with the head of the Gorgon extended before him, Perseus attracted the monster's attention -- and that was the end of the terrible Ketos, for when it beheld the head of Medusa, it was immediately turned to stone.

Below is an illustration by a rather famous and important artist from the 1700s, William Hogarth (1697 - 1764), showing this very moment from the story, when Perseus has drawn forth the head of Medusa and is flying towards the approaching sea-monster (while the princess Andromeda is chained to the rock below the hero):

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Note that the famous illustrator has very clearly patterned his composition after the constellations of the heavens, with the sea-monster Ketos (or Cetus) patterned after the constellation which bears the same name, Cetus the Whale, and Perseus flying towards the monster holding the severed head (still dripping with gore) in very much the same posture and location as the constellation Aquarius, the outline of which appears to be holding a water-vessel pouring out streams of water (but which could also be envisioned as a severed head, still dripping blood).

Below Perseus (who in this scene is associated with the constellation Aquarius, rather than the actual constellation Perseus) we see the beautiful Andromeda, walking in one direction and looking over her shoulder in the opposite direction -- a distinctive characteristic of the constellation Sagittarius, and one which features prominently in many ancient myths and sacred stories, including the story of Lot's unfortunate wife (who looks back at Sodom as her family is leaving the doomed city, and is herself turned into a pillar of salt, in Genesis 19: 26).

Note that the arms of Andromeda are even positioned on the same side of her body as the "bow" of Sagittarius, which I have demonstrated to sometimes be envisioned in various world myths as hands which are bound or tied (such as in the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, sold into captivity by his brothers) or which in other cases are folded in reverence or in meditation.

Below we see the same illustration from the 1700s, juxtaposed with a star-chart showing the constellations as they appear in the night sky, with outlines based on the outlining system first published by H. A. Rey in 1952. It should be quite evident that Rey's system actually corresponds to a much, much older system, one which in fact can be shown to go back as far as ancient Egypt, ancient India, and ancient Mesopotamia and to correspond to artwork and scriptures which have survived from those ancient civilizations:

Note that in the heavens, the "water-vessel" carried by the constellation Aquarius can be seen to be pointing directly towards the "face" of the constellation Cetus, which explains why this ancient myth describes Perseus flying with the severed head towards the Ketos and turning it to stone. Other figures who carry severed heads in other myths (such as Gilgamesh carrying the severed head of Humbaba, in the texts from ancient Mesopotamia) are also likely to correspond to Aquarius carrying this "water-vessel" feature of the constellation.

In the star-chart above the illustration, we can also see why Sagittarius is often envisioned as walking in one direction and looking in the other direction, and why Andromeda is likely to be associated with Sagittarius in this particular scene (even though the mythical figure Andromeda is also associated with the constellation Andromeda itself). 

Finally, the rock to which Andromeda is chained in the illustration corresponds in its details to the outline of the nearby constellation Ophiuchus, which plays the role of a hill or mountain in so many myths that the association is really beyond any doubt (see discussion of this aspect of the constellation Ophiuchus in my most-recent book, for example, which is called The Ancient World-Wide System).

At the top of this post is a drawing I made today based on the original by William Hogarth from the 1700s. I decided to depict Perseus with his famous harpe sword (a hook-shaped sword which is actually based on a feature in the outline of the constellation Perseus in the heavens), as well as his characteristic Phrygian cap (which is how the cap of invisibility, loaned by the god Hermes, and closely associated with the hero Perseus as well as with other figures in the ancient world, is usually portrayed). I have argued that the features of the Phrygian cap itself are likely inspired by the outline of the constellation Perseus in the heavens.

I also chose to change the shape of the Ketos a bit, even though in doing so I have made the sea-monster less like the outline of the constellation than the monster envisioned by William Hogarth in his artwork.

If you would like to further explore the important ancient myth of Perseus and Andromeda and the quest to slay Medusa, and some of its amazing messages for our lives right now in this very present moment, you may also enjoy this video which I published in early October of this year:

Friday, December 6, 2019

Important celestial connections in the "Tale of Nur al-Din Ali and his son Badr al-Din Hasan" in the Thousand and One Nights

Above is a rough sketch of a scene from the Thousand Nights and One Night, also commonly known as the Arabian Nights, a collection of folk stories and tales compiled in Arabic and tracing their origin to ancient sources from Arabic, Turkic, Persian, and other nearby cultures (including perhaps ancient India) -- and exhibiting clear evidence of connection to the world-wide system of celestial metaphor which forms the foundation for the myths preserved in cultures literally around the globe.

Previous posts which explore some of the connections between stories in the Thousand and One Nights include "The Arabian Nights: Can you unlock their celestial metaphors?" and "Star Myths in the Arabian Nights!"

The scene depicted in the hasty sketch above comes from the "Tale of Nur al-Din Ali and his son Badr al-Din Hasan." If you would like to read the story for yourself, you can find it in the famous English translation by the redoubtable Richard Francis Burton (published in the 1880s), or any number of other translations.

In this story, Shams al-Din Mohammed and Nur al-Din Ali, two brothers living in Cairo have a falling out, over a rather ridiculous and comical argument regarding their future children, resulting in the younger brother leaving Cairo, never to return. This younger brother, Nur al-Din Ali, eventually marries the daughter of the Wazir of Bassorah and has a son, named Badr al-Din Hasan, who grows up to be a young man of remarkable virtue, learning, piety, and physical beauty. However, after the death of his father, Hasan falls afoul of the Sultan of Bassorah, and is forced to flee in fear for his life, and without conscious thought he makes his way in great haste to the lonely cemetery where his own father is buried, where he cries himself to sleep while leaning against the stone marking his father's grave.

Richard Burton's translation tells what happens, while the youth was asleep in the graveyard:
Hasan fell a-weeping as he thought of the dignity and prosperity which had erst been his and night came upon him; so he leant his head against his father's grave and sleep overcame him: Glory to Him who sleepeth not! He ceased not slumbering till the moon rose; when his head slipped from off the tomb and he lay on his back, with limbs outstretched, his face shaining bright in the moon-light. Now the cemetery was haunted day and night by Jinns who were of the True Believers, and presently came out a Jinniyah who, seeing Hasan asleep, marvelled at his beauty and loveliness and cried, "Glory to God! this youth can be none other than one of the Wuldan of Paradise." 
Then she flew firmament-wards to circle it, as was her custom, and met an Ifrit on the wing who saluted her and [she] said to him, "Whence comest thou?" 
"From Cairo," he replied. 
"Wilt thou come with me and look upon the beauty of the youth who sleepeth in yonder burial place?" she asked, and he answered, "I will." 
So they flew till they lighted at the tomb and she showed him the youth and said, "Now didst thou ever in thy born days see aught like this?" 
The Ifrit looked upon him and exclaimed, "Praise be to Him that hath no equal! But, O my sister, shall I tell thee what I have seen this day?" 
Asked she, "What is that?" and he answered, "I have seen the counterpart of this youth in the land of Egypt. She is the daughter of the Wazir Shams al-Din and she is a model of beauty and loveliness, of fairest favour and formous form, and dight with symmetry and perfect grace. When she had reached the age of nineteen, the Sultan of Egypt heard of her and, sending for the Wazir her father, said to him: -- Hear me, O Wazir: it hath reached mine ear that thou hast a daughter and I wish to demand her of thee in marriage. The Wazir replied: -- O our lord the Sultan, deign accept my excuses and take compassion on my sorrows, for thou knowest that my brother, who was partner with me in the Wazirate, disappeared from amongst us many years ago and we wot not where he is. Now the cause of his departure was that one night, as we were sitting together and talking of wives and children to come, we had words on the matter and he went off in high dudgeon. But I swore that I would marry my daughter to none save to the son of my brother on the day her mother gave her birth, which was nigh upon nineteen years ago. I have lately heard that my brother died at Bassorah, where he had married the daughter of the Wazir and that she bare him a son; and I will not marry my daughter but to him in honour of my brother's memory. I recorded the date of my marriage and the conception of my wife and the birth of my daughter, and from her horoscope I find that her name is conjoined with that of her cousin; and there are damsels in foison for our lord the Sultan. [ . . . ] 
Then said she [the Jinniyah], "O my brother, let us get under him and lift him up and carry him to Cairo, that we may compare him with the damsel of whom thou speakest and so determine whether of the twain is the fairer." 
"To hear is to obey!" replied he. 170 - 172.
The scene in the graveyard, in which the Ifrit and the Jinniyah are conversing regarding the beauty of  the sleeping Badr al-Din Hasan and the daughter of Wazir Shams al-Din Mohammed (the brother of Hasan's deceased father), actually has strong parallels to other similar scenes in other ancient episodes from other cultures, all based on the stars. 

Can you think of another famous story in which a young man, who is going on a long journey away from his home, sleeps with his head upon a stone, and powerful heavenly beings fly upwards and downwards above him as he sleeps?

If you thought of the account of Jacob found in the book of Genesis, chapter 28, then I would agree with you. There, we read that Jacob took a stone or stones for his pillows and lay down to sleep, and in that sleep he had a vision of a stairway or ladder set upon the earth with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it (Genesis 28: 11 - 22).

I would argue that both of these scenes can be clearly shown to have their foundation in celestial metaphor, and to be based upon the very same region of the night sky, containing the constellation Sagittarius above which stretches the widest and brightest part of the Milky Way band, with the winged figures of the constellations Aquila and Cygnus, the two "great birds of the Milky Way," flying above Sagittarius, with Aquila appearing to fly upwards, and Cygnus flying downwards towards Sagittarius (from the perspective of an observer in the northern hemisphere).

This famous scene, often referred to as the episode of "Jacob's Ladder," is invariably depicted in the sacred artwork of previous centuries with figures characteristic of the constellations in that region of the heavens, and with the brilliant ladder itself (and the clouds around it) corresponding quite closely to the outline of this part of the Milky Way -- the portion of the Milky Way near Sagittarius, containing the Galactic Core and the Dark Rift.

Indeed, in the drawing above I have deliberately sketched the sleeping Hasan with an outline following the depiction of the sleeping figure of Jacob found in a painting by the artist Salvatore Rosa (1615 - 1673), in which the artist has clearly chosen to depict Jacob in a posture reminiscent of the constellation Sagittarius.

That painting by Salvatore Rosa, as well as the celestial foundations of the story of Jacob's vision at Beth-El, is discussed in greater detail in my 2016 book Star Myths of the World, Volume Three (Star Myths of the Bible), as well as in this previous post about the recently-discovered Pylos Combat Agate in the western Peloponnese.

The tombstone upon which Hasan rests his head may be the constellation of Ara the Altar, which is nearby to Sagittarius and Scorpio in the sky. It is also quite likely that the looming outline of the constellation Ophiuchus, which is adjacent to that bright portion of the Milky Way, directly above Scorpio and thus very close to Sagittarius as well, plays the role of a tomb in this scene from the Thousand and One Nights. As discussed in Star Myths of the World, Volume Two (Myths of Ancient Greece), as well as in some later volumes published since, the door-shaped outline of Ophiuchus often plays the role of the very gates of the underworld in ancient myth, and certainly suggests the shape of a tomb, crypt, or tombstone (all of which may indeed by consciously shaped after Ophiuchus, since this system of celestial metaphor is actually extremely ancient, predating even the most ancient civilizations known to conventional history today).

In Star Myths of the Bible, I discuss the New Testament episode of the Gadarene or Gergesene man, described in Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8. This man is described as living among the tombs, and in my discussion beginning on page 623 of Volume Three I present evidence for identifying this scene with the same region of the night sky we are here discussing (although at the time Volumes Two and Three were published, I had not yet thought about the celestial foundations of this scene from the Tale of Nur al-Din Ali and his son Badr al-Din Hasan in the Arabian Nights).

Below is a star-chart showing the constellations in the region of the sky containing the brightest part of the Milky Way, which furnish the foundations for these various ancient stories.

The ancient myths entrusted to the different cultures of humanity point us towards the reality of an  unseen or invisible realm, even a divine realm, one which is present at all times and indeed accessible to us at all times, even though (as Jacob declares in Genesis 28: 16) we often do not perceive it (or do not allow ourselves to perceive it).

Indeed, it is often while we sleep -- and our carefully-constructed egoic mind, our conscious mind, finally takes some time off from "protecting" us from the influence of this invisible realm -- that we receive its messages most strongly.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Welcome to new visitors from Starz Psychics Network! (and to returning friends)

Special thank-you to Natalie Sist of Starz Psychics Network for inviting me over to her show for a most enjoyable conversation.

You can listen to (or download) the show using the above player, or by visiting this page.

This interview was recorded on December 04, 2019.

If you are new to the connections between the world's ancient myths and the constellations and heavenly cycles, I would recommend visiting my primary website, Star Myths of the World, at There, you will find a panoply of written and visual material, including an introductory video as well as a "Video" section containing over twenty videos (and there are dozens more at my YouTube channel (which can also be reached through any of those videos) .

Those interested in the outline of the constellation Sagittarius in the heavens, which was mentioned during our discussion, might find the video below to be helpful in understanding some of the characteristic features of the constellation as it appears in the heavens, and how these features show up in various ancient myths from around the globe.

Also, during the conversation, we talked a bit about the approach of the December solstice and the darkest part of the year (in the northern hemisphere), and how the annual cycle delineated by the solstices and equinoxes is imbued with spiritual significance within the world-wide system which forms the foundations for the ancient myths. For those interested in pursuing that subject a little further, you might check out the discussion in blog posts published in previous Decembers, such as this one, this one and this one.

I hope you will enjoy our conversation and thank you to Natalie for helping spread the word to those who may not previously have known about my work and might find it to be helpful in their lives in some way!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Welcome to new visitors from! (and to returning friends)

Sincere thank-you to Freeman Fly for having me over for an engaging conversation on his podcast at FreemanTV. Welcome to any new visitors who heard about my work for the first time thanks to Freeman -- hope you will visit often and explore all the content on my primary website, "Star Myths of the World," at

This interview was recorded on Wednesday, November 27, 2019. You can go directly to the interview page here where you can listen to and download the episode of the podcast with our conversation.

We discussed a wide range of subjects during the first hour, followed by an extended conversation in the "Free Zone."

Previous posts which deal with subjects we touched upon during our conversation include:
I hope you enjoy this episode and will let Freeman know that you did. He was a very gracious host and I appreciate his invitation to join him on his long-running show for a most enjoyable exploration of the ancient myths, their connection to the stars, and their message for us today, in this very present moment!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Special pricing on video presentations from this year's Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge

If you are interested in watching my talk on "Stars, Myths and Recovering Your Self" which I presented earlier this year in October in Newport Beach, California during the Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge, it is now available for purchase through the organizers of that event.

I just noticed today that the organizers of the conference have created a limited-time special offer to watch the video presentations of the talks (via streaming) for half price: $7.50 USD apiece rather than the regular price of $15.00 USD each.

In addition, during this limited-time offer, they are offering all eleven available lectures from this year's event for $75.00 USD, which includes my presentation as well as the presentations by Walter Cruttenden, Carmen Boulter, Robert Edward Grant, Alistair Coombs, Chris Dunn, Alan Green, Andrew Collins, Anyextee, Joseph Selbie, and Dr. Stephen Lin (whose leading of a chanted mantra, and his explanation of the connection between chanting and the vibration of the bones of the skull and the pineal gland, is not to be missed). 

As someone who was there I can attest to the fact that the speakers and presentations during this special weekend are well worth seeing (I am not directly connected to the conference itself and receive no compensation for sales of any video presentations -- I am posting this message for those interested who may not have noticed the special pricing offer).

You can purchase access to individual presentations on this page, and find the link to purchase the "bundle" of eleven presentations on the main CPAK 2019 page here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

New video: "Agamemnon, Chryses, and the Wrath of Apollo"

Here's a new video I just created entitled "Agamemnon, Chryses, and the Wrath of Apollo."

The video expands on the celestial connections noted in the previous post, "Agamemnon and the wrath of Apollo -- and what it means to us today."

While searching for ancient artwork to illustrate that recent post, I found this image showing detail of the artwork on a vase thought to date to around 360 BC, depicting the scene from Book One of the Iliad in which Chryses, father of Chryseis, approaches Agamemnon to beg for the release of his daughter:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

I do not recall ever having seen this ancient depiction previously -- but if so, I had not previously been aware of the astonishing celestial parallels incorporated by the artist into this scene, which fairly leapt out at me when I encountered it (perhaps for the first time) just two days ago.

This particular piece of artwork, attributed to the "Athens 1714 Painter," contains some of the most undeniable and abundant celestial connections of any ancient artwork I've examined, and I realized that this ancient piece of art deserved a detailed video all its own.

The result is the latest video, which I hope you will find to be of value in your own understanding of the celestial correspondences in ancient myth and ancient artwork -- and the application of their ancient wisdom to your own life.

Please feel free to share with those who would also find this information to be beneficial.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Agamemnon and the wrath of Apollo -- and what it means to us today

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The very opening lines of the ancient epic of the Iliad invoke the Muse and ask her inspiration to sing of the rage of the matchless warrior Achilles, and asking her to go back to the very inception of the conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon the king of Mycenae and (as head of the largest army among all the Achaeans) the acknowledged supreme commander of the Argives in their campaign against the city of Ilium (or Troy):
Rage -- Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles [ . . . ]
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.
Book One, lines 1 - 8, translation by Robert Fagles, page 77.
The very next line asks:
What god drove them to fight with such a fury?
Apollo the son of Zeus and Leto. Incensed at the king
he swept a fatal plague through the army -- men were dying
and all because Agamemnon spurned Apollo's priest.
Yes, Chryses approached the Achaeans' fast ships
to win his daughter back, bringing a priceless ransom
and bearing high in hand, wound on a golden staff,
the wreaths of the god, the distant deadly Archer.
Book One, lines 9 - 16, pages 77 - 78.
The ancient verses tell us that all the ranks of the Achaean warriors cried out their assent and urged the king to accept the ransom offered by the holy man for the release of his daughter, Chryseis, but that Agamemnon (himself quite insecure in many ways, as we see throughout the rest of the epic) rejects the father's plea and sends him away "with a brutal order ringing in his ears" --
"Never again, old man,
let me catch sight of you by the hollow ships!
Not loitering now, not slinking back tomorrow.
The staff and the wreaths of god will never save you then.
The girl -- I won't give up the girl. Long before that,
old age will overtake her in my house, in Argos,
far from her fatherland, slaving back and forth
at the loom, forced to share my bed! Now go,
don't tempt my wrath -- and you may depart alive!"
Book One, lines 29 - 37, page 78.
Terrified and heartbroken, the old man obeys the king and turns away, walking in silence along the shore where the waves are crashing against the beach. There, once safely away from the wrath of Agamemnon, Chryses utters a prayer to Apollo, god of music and of medicine, but also of the plague, and asks for his aid in punishing the king and returning Chryses' daughter from her cruel captor. The ancient poem tells us that Apollo is infuriated:
Down he strode from Olumpus' peaks, storming at heart
with his bow and hooded quiver slung across his shoulders.
The arrows clanged at his back as the god quaked with rage,
the god himself on the march and down he came like night.
Over against the ships he dropped to a knee, let fly a shaft
and a terrifying clash rang out from the great silver bow.
First he went for the mules and circling dogs but then,
launching a piercing shaft at the men themselves,
he cut them down in droves --
and the corpse-fires burned on, night and day, no end in sight.
Book One, lines 50 - 60, page 79.
This episode in the ancient myths clearly shows that the offenses against heaven which are perpetrated by the leaders of a nation can result in suffering and death even among those who oppose the injustices being committed by their leaders (the Iliad telling us specifically in Book One, lines 25 and 26 that "all ranks of Achaeans" cried out to Agamemnon to "Respect the priest, accept the shining ransom" and return Chryseis to her father).

For nine days the deadly arrows of Apollo bring plague and death to the Achaean warriors until on the tenth day Achilles calls all the ranks together, and addressing Agamemnon tells the king that the war is lost and they must sail home (perhaps not even escaping the plague even then) -- unless they can summon "a holy man, a prophet, even a man skilled with dreams" (noting in an aside that "dreams can come our way from Zeus") and ask the seer what has angered the god and brought such destruction (Book One, lines 71 - 78, page 79). 

If they can find out from the prophet what has angered Apollo, Achilles says, then perhaps they can address the issue, correct the offense, and appeal to the god to save them from the plague he has sent.

Then the poem tells us that the prophet Calchas steps forward -- "the clearest by far of all the seers who scan the flight of birds" (Book One, lines 80 - 81, page 79). He first addresses Achilles and requests that Achilles swear to protect him, since what he has to say will enrage a powerful man -- "a powerful man who lords it over all the Argives, one the Achaeans must obey" (meaning, of course, Agamemnon). Then, Calchas declares that the god Apollo is enraged because Agamemnon insulted Apollo's priest Chryses, refusing to release his daughter, and that the heavenly Archer will continue to inflict the ranks with inescapable plague until the girl is given back to her loving father, and a hundred bulls are given to Apollo.

As I first noted in this post from 2015 and subsequently on November 22 three years ago, author and scholar Peter Kingsley, who is himself a kind of a prophet, has pointed to this episode at the opening of the Iliad as illustrating the truth that:
Prophecy is not about the future. Prophets don't talk about the future. What they do is: they talk about the past -- which has been hidden. Things which have happened -- that have been covered over, and no longer clear. That is what the real prophets do: they speak about the past, but the past which has been forgotten. 
And you can see this if you look: you can see, say, with Empedocles -- this man I'm so connected with. As a prophet, he tries to point out to people what they have forgotten, what has gone wrong, what is missing -- why they don't function in the world anymore, why there is so much suffering, disease, disharmony, misery: because we've forgotten our divine source. He traces it all back.  
And you can see it also at the very beginning of Homer's Iliad, when there is a whole plague. The soldiers are devastated, by sickness and plague. They're suffering; they're dying. And what happens, in this case? They find a prophet, and they ask him what's going wrong. And he says: "Apollo -- these are the arrows of Apollo. He's shot these arrows of plague, into the troops, because you did something wrong, you offended Apollo." And then it all becomes very simple. Because you see, once you know what's wrong, then you can sort it out -- you can make amends. It's very, very precise. That is what prophecy is. [From a lecture by Peter Kingsley in the series entitled The Elders].
The ancient wisdom given to humanity shows us very clearly and tells us very explicitly that we must go back to the source in order to fix our problems, and to correct the suffering and dysfunction with which we are afflicted. In the very opening words of the Iliad itself, the poem invokes the goddess and asks her to begin at the very source of everything which then unfolds throughout the rest of the entire epic.

This truth applies at both the individual level and at the wider societal and cultural level, as the above-cited episode from the Iliad implies: the suffering of the Achaeans who die from the plague sent by Apollo does not come from their own offense against heaven but rather that of Agamemnon. And, as another modern prophet, the healer and best-selling author Dr. Gabor Mate, explains the two are connected: the dysfunction and trauma expressed at a societal level will inevitably lead to suffering and dysfunction on an individual level, and if we want to address our own self-damaging behaviors and addictions, we must go back to the source, just as the ancient traditions of the world show us in the ancient myths.

In another of his extremely worthwhile podcast interviews, this one a conversation with Sam Lawrence of the Grow Big Always podcast published on August 22, 2016, Dr. Mate explains (beginning at 0:33:30 in the interview):
If I'm right, and I don't doubt that I am, that the first question is not "why the addiction?" but "why the pain?" -- you cannot heal addiction by looking at it as a behavior problem or simply as a disease. You have to deal with the pain that's underlying it. And the essence of trauma -- just as with your self-acknowledged discomfort with your self -- is exactly that: a discomfort with the self, a disconnection from the self. And so just focusing on the disease aspects of it, or on the behavior aspects of it, without reconnecting with our true selves, is not sufficient.
A few minutes earlier in the same interview, beginning at about 0:24:26 in the audio clip, Dr. Mate explains the connection between the dysfunction in the wider society and the trauma which separates an individual from his or her essential self, leading to lifelong patterns of addiction and self-sabotaging behavior:
So that's on the individual level -- but then on the societal level, you have a society which (as we said earlier) isolates people, breaks down communities, destroys connection, and stresses people tremendously: stresses them by economic insecurity, by loss of control, by cultural dislocation. And so now you have highly-stressed parents raising kids. The more stressed the parents are, the less emotionally-available they are to their kids -- so what you've got is a multi-generational and cultural transmission of pain -- that's what's going on. And it's not a question of blaming individual parents: it's a question of seeing how this culture induces the stress on people, how that stress affects individual families, and then how, in those individual families, individual human beings then grow up with the sense of isolation and pain which then the addiction is there to soothe somehow. So you can't separate. One of the great teachings of traditional spiritual teaching, but also modern science, is: "You can't separate individuals from their environment." So they're all products in a sense of our societal and cultural environment. So, individual health if you will is not an individual issue: it's a societal and a cultural issue.
And as the quotation from Peter Kingsley cited above tells us, and as the episode from the Iliad recounted earlier shows us, and as Dr. Mate himself declares directly in the same interview, we cannot correct the dysfunction until we become aware of the origin or source of the problem -- but once we become aware of and acknowledge the actual source of the issue, then we have taken the most important first step and can begin to address it. 

At 0:41:42 towards the end of the conversation with Sam Lawrence, Dr. Mate says:
It has to begin with an awareness that this is going on, and, "Yes -- I've been affected by these patterns, and this is how they show up in my life, and this is how they show up in my relationship with my spouse, and my children, and my work, and how I deal with the internet" and all that, you know? In other words, there's got to be an awareness and an acceptance that this is how it is. And then, depending on where you are, who you are, what resources are available to you -- yes, you might see a counsellor. I highly recommend, perhaps self-servingly but not purely, that people read my books: a lot of people have found them helpful. But lots of other books, lots of other great teaching out there. Spiritual teachers, like Eckhard Tolle, I find very powerful guides; A. H. Almaas, very powerful guide, spiritually- and psychologically-speaking. Individual counseling, Yoga, meditation, mindful awareness practices, bodywork, EMDR, Emotional Freedom Technique, somatic experiencing, Peter Levine's work on trauma, Bessel van der Kolk's work on trauma, Daniel Siegel's work on the development of the mind and mindful awareness, Jack Kornfield and his mindful awareness Buddhist work: there's just so much out there. And it begins with a recognition, and I suppose an unflinching dedication that when issues and problems arise, we don't see them as problems to be fixed, but we see them as growth opportunities: that each time a problem arises it's another opportunity for us to grow and to learn. And that takes constant dedication -- and I don't mean a grim, negative despair -- but I mean a dedication to awareness and a dedication to expansion, and expansion means letting go of restrictive ideas and self-judgments and patterns and behaviors.
These are extremely helpful perspectives for each of us dealing with issues on an individual level.

But as the quotations from the interview cited above clearly assert, and as the episode from the Iliad dramatically demonstrates, dysfunction at a societal level and (in the case of Agamemnon) a disdain for the will of the gods leads directly to trauma and suffering among the ranks of the individuals within that society. Thus, in addition to identifying and acknowledging and addressing our own deeper issues which resulted in our own personal disconnection from our self, we must as a society uncover those "the past which has been hidden: things which have happened that have been covered over, and no longer clear" (in the words of Peter Kingsley) and which are leading to "so much suffering, disease, disharmony, misery."

The verses of the ancient epic of the Iliad are not about persons far removed from us, fighting in some regional conflict that happened thousands of years in the past. Indeed, as I make very clear in the analysis presented in Star Myths of the World, Volume Two: Myths of Ancient Greece (2016), the characters and episodes described in that ancient poem can be shown to be based on celestial metaphor, and not on literal or historical events at all. 

Indeed, the scene shown at the top of this post is from a vase on display at the Louvre and attributed to the "Athens 1714 Painter," thought to have been made around 360 BC. The artwork depicts Chryses approaching Agamemnon on his knees and entreating the king to release his captive daughter. Longtime readers of my writing and those familiar with my arguments may perceive that the ancient artist has very clearly based this scene upon a very specific region of the night sky, with each of the figures depicted corresponding to constellations in the proper position relative to one another to indicate that this mythological scene from the Iliad is in fact a celestial scene. 

The diagram below shows the scene from the ancient vase juxtaposed with a star-chart with labels indicating which figure corresponds to which constellation in the heavens, specifically Virgo (for Agamemnon) and Scorpio (for Chryses, on his knees entreating Agamemnon to give back his daughter), with the goddess Athena directly above Chryses (Athena with her spear and helmet corresponding to Ophiuchus, as I explain in many of my books and other writings), and even figures corresponding to Aquarius (on the left as we face the artwork) and Bootes (on the right as we face the artwork) included for additional context.

Clearly, at least some men and women in the ancient world understood that these stories are metaphors -- and that they are not actually about distant events and other people but rather they are about us, in this very present moment.

I would argue that much of the trauma and dysfunction which is now built into "western society" has its origin in the disconnection from the ancient wisdom given to every society in the ancient myths of their ancestors, ancient wisdom later stamped out by literalist reinterpretation of the stories in the Bible, which themselves can be shown to be based on this very same ancient world-wide system.

But, as the discussion above makes clear, healing is possible when we uncover and acknowledge the past which has been hidden, the trauma which has been covered over -- and not until we do.