The Stars in our Eyes: Humankind is defined by our insatiable quest to know and understand what is around us.
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Monday, 13 July 2020

The Stars In Our Eyes

The Stars in our Eyes

The Stars in our Eyes

Humankind is defined by our insatiable quest to know and understand what is around us. Since the first monster under our bed we have been terrified of the unknown, and we draw a deep security from knowledge - or the illusion of knowledge. This is particularly obvious in our observations of the heavens.

The human eye is drawn to pick out patterns in random arrangements, and soon after man raised his eyes to the night sky, the first constellations were born. Identities and stories grew up around the now familiar shapes and global mythologies were created, all based on the workings of the skies.

An example of this is the Greek myth of Orion, the hunter. Orion was killed by a scorpion at the instigation of Artemis. Chiron, the centaur, then killed  the scorpion with an arrow.

Up in the sky, the constellation of Orion sets - or dies - just as Scorpio, the scorpion, rises in the East. And as the stars spin further, the bow of Sagittarius, the archer, once identified with Chiron, is seen to be pointing directly to Antares, the major star of Scorpio. What seems at first a simple story becomes a careful description of a star map. And which student will remember the best – the one listening to the story or the one poring over a dry list of star names and co-ordinates?

Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, authors of Hamlet's Mill, a vastly in-depth study of global mythology, propose that all true myths have some astronomical or cosmological interpretation: star-maps, changes in orbit and position over time, global disasters originating from the heavens, and so on.

People have historically paid particular attention to tracking the periodic movements of the sun, the moon, and the wandering stars we know as the planets. 'Planet' derives from the Greek planodios, meaning 'wandering.'

The five planets known to the ancients - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - all became linked with prominent deities in myths across the world, and by these identities – members of the Roman pantheon - they are still known today.

The moon, its monthly cycle connected with female fertility, became intrinsically feminine, and the three phases - waxing, full and waning or dark - became the three aspects of the Triple Goddess. In Greek myth, the virgin huntress Artemis, carrying a symbolic silver bow, symbolised the waxing crescent. Selene was the mature full moon, and Hecate, the crone or witch, was linked to the dark phase.

The sun became the countering masculine principle, and therefore the symbol of male-orientated ruling classes. The Incas, the Roman Emperors and the Egyptian Pharaohs were all defined by a strong solar symbolism. And the solar hero or god is a popular figure in myth and religion, often identified by the halo of sunlight around his head.  Apollo, Mithras and Jesus can all be identified with this archetype.

The most important of the fixed stars have always been the constellations of the zodiac, familiar to everyone as the star-signs. These are the constellations which house the sun during each particular month of the year.

The twelve constellations can be traced back in their current pictorial form – Leo, the lion; Aries, the ram, etc. -  to at least Babylonian times, around three thousand years, and possibly long before that. The French cave of Lascaux contains famous artwork dating back 17,000 years, which includes a star map of what appears to be Taurus, the bull, together with the seven stars of the Pleiades which lie close by.

The twelve labours of Hercules, likely evolved from the earlier quest of the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh, are linked to the zodiacal signs. The labours may represent a spiritual or shamanic initiation or journey which symbolically incorporates the entirety of the heavens. As the sun is a symbol of the divine light or the soul, so the soul-journey may follow a similar path.

The twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve apostles and the twelve knights of the round table have a similar interpretation.

As Above, So Below

After identifying the machinations of the cosmos, man next began to replicate them on Earth. There is evidence that some, most, or all man-made sacred sites have some astronomical significance.

Stonehenge is famously aligned with the midsummer sunrise, and also the northern- and southern-most points of the moonrise. Newgrange in Ireland aligns to the midwinter sunrise, and many churches align to the sunrise of their particular Saint's Day.

Alexander Thom studied many lesser-known stone circles in the 1950s, and declared them all to be laid out to specific measurements, and to have solar, lunar or stellar alignments. In particular Deneb, the brightest star of Cygnus, the swan, and the Pleiades, or seven sisters, were chosen. Cygnus was historically linked to the soul journey to the land of the dead, and the Pleiades have links to both divine enlightenment and divine wrath.

Travelling further afield, the pyramids of Giza are an earthly replica of the stars of Orion's belt, and it has been proposed that all the temples of Egypt form a vast star map centred on the Milky Way, represented by the river Nile.

A similar theory has been proposed for the Peruvian city of Cuzco, built by the Incas around 1400AD. Here, the Milky Way is represented by the River Vilcanota. Further star maps have been identified in China, Cambodia, among the Nazca lines, and many other places.

To link heaven and earth, the realms of gods and men, may have been seen to aid man's spiritual journey through life and death. But whatever the reason, people of all cultures and all ages have been obsessed with the skies above us.

And today, we are still as obsessed as ever. We are sending satellites and space probes into deep space. We comb the far reaches of the galaxy with the most powerful telescopes we can devise. We search relentlessly for the possibility of distant life-forms. The obsession which started millennia ago is still as strong as ever, and we are as determined as ever to one day discover the true nature of the universe around us.

By Hannah

Website: Light One Candle »

The Stars In Our Eyes Comments And Ratings

Current Rating 3.67/5 stars
[3 Votes]


Such an incredibly pleasant read... I have to say I will most definitely read it again in the daylight, Love the planodios (wandering) tidbit. and the Moon Goddess. Orion's belt and all of the ancient sites of stargazing. Great Job!

Posted by: WillowsMoon on 23/09/2014 05:42:00


I agree with WillowsMoon. It all makes sense to me.

Posted by: wychiewoman on 23/09/2014 13:53:00


Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it

Posted by: hannah on 24/09/2014 10:49:00


Thanks so much for this. I loved reading it. You made it so interesting. Blessings Reenie

Posted by: AgelessDancer on 25/09/2014 08:34:00


loved this... you'd enjoy a book by Mark Vidler- Heavens Mirror... it shows how all the manmade pyramids around the world link to the heavens above :-)

Posted by: taranova on 27/09/2014 14:14:00


Yes I think I've read that

Posted by: hannah on 04/10/2014 16:06:00


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