Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of November 17th - November 23rd,  2000

The Mythology of Astrology

Columns Archive


   Slowly arching their way overhead throughout time, a whole mythology weaves its nightly tapestry on the loom of heaven. Pegasus wings his way above the clouds, coursing the ethers together with the long necked Swan. The entire entourage of mythical characters take turns telling their tales with each revolution, whether we sleep or wake. A ceaseless story, thousands of years old, and yet ever new.

Hylas and the Water Nymphs

Hylas seduced by the water nymphs

   Although most are familiar with the forms of these celestial characters, where did they come from? Who were the first to hang their identities upon the eternal fires?

   Dreams are one of the original sources. The images of dreams are mirrored in the local environment. They are reflections of our individual lives. Generally they're brief ethereal wisps of which we're conscious for only a few fleeting moments, evaporating like vapors in the morning air. The memory of most dreams is quickly dispelled by the dawning focus of our actions. Slap the alarm shut, pull the sheets off, stumble to the bathroom and start to mount the rhythms of the daily treadmill. What quiet back eddy do dreams have, out of the swift, central current, to quietly reflect their wisdom? Possibly for a few moments as we stand in the shower warmed by the water or lingering over a few brief bites of breakfast. Yet in spite of their short life span, a few dreams do rise to a larger sphere of recognition, becoming captured in poem, song, or legend.

   A rare few have even risen above the rest, crystallized in time as those figures chosen to wheel over our heads through the millennia, carved into the firmament forever.

Delphic Sibyl by Michelangello

The Sibyl of Delphi

   Ancient priests were trained in the interpretation of God's word, and God's word was reflected everywhere if you knew how to read it. It was in the stars. It was read in the flight of birds and bolts of lightning. It was in the breeze and how it played through the leaves of the sacred oaks. There was the Oracle of Delphi and the Druid Priests of the Celts. Gilgamesh goes to the top of a hill to have a dream to learn what to do. Through dreams Joseph was able to foretell the futures of his brothers and himself, and later Pharaoh. For this he is given the second highest job in the land, second only to Pharaoh. Joseph is warned in a dream to leave for Egypt with the baby Jesus. Dreams have long been considered a divine source of information.

   It is true than most of these images have their own, specific story. But the whole point was that these individual images were part of a greater language, and that this language translated the will of God. Each dream, and the story it told, was a message sent from on high. In turn, ancient peoples used these images to tell stories of their own, of the exploits they knew or remembered. Of how fire first came to earth, or how man was created. But they also tell more recent stories, like the building of the first ship, or of the migrations of people to distant lands. They used these same images, the stars of the sky or the symbolism of dreams, to record their histories in a pictorial language; of the time of a great flood, or birth of a city.

   Over the next few weeks we will be examining a few myths and looking at the stories they tell, as remembered by the peoples who told them, as we glimpse the delicate weave of Athena's Web.


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