Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of November 24th - November 30th,  2000

The Mythology of Astrology II

Columns Archive


   The language of symbolism is best expressed through dreams. Every night, we get a constantly changing script of images which play across our inner eye. Arising from the depths of the psyche, how we feel about these dramas is what we feel most strongly. Whether we are frightened or infatuated, how the dream grips us emotionally is what is most evident.
The Rape of Europa

The Rape of Europa

Reason is left behind in the pixie dust, as often the dream won't seem to make sense. But for those who understand how to unravel these transmissions from within, a deeper language opens up to provide daily wisdom and insight.

   Next to dreams, astrology and the tarot are two contemporary disciplines which use a constantly changing set of symbols to help interpret the divine will. In the tarot, there is a major arcana of 22 cards, representing the more powerful archetypes, and a set of 52 minor arcana cards, from which our modern playing deck is derived. Astrology, of course, has the ten planets and twelve signs of the zodiac, not to mention the more recently employed asteroids and Chiron, plus a whole host of Arabic parts and many other celestial tools of the trade. Anyone versed in either of these two interpretive tools is familiar with using a shape shifting set of images with which to interpret life.

The Minotaur

The Minotaur
or, The Bull of Minos

   Some of these images from the inner psyche have ascended to the level of stellar archetype, and were woven into fable to be left for posterity to read. The disadvantage of a symbolic form of notation is that it is less specific. The advantage is that it can convey much more information.

   Some of these myths are obvious, such as the story of Narcissus, the youth who falls in love with his own reflection. Others simply seem part of a historical record, reflecting the migrations of peoples or some other adventure. These include the Trojan War and journey of Aeneas to Italy, or Odysseus' to Ithaca. These hybrid myths seem to contain a mix of history and legend, incorporating elements which are both real and fanciful. And then of course, there's the flood, a story found in nearly all Mediterranean cultures, as well as in the Mayan tradition.


Theseus slaying the Minotaur

   Many of these traditions are lost to the mists of time and uncertainty, but this does not mean that they are the products of hallucination and a juvenile intellect. One of the most horrifying myths, for instance, is that of Cronos eating his own children, or of castrating his father. Yet Time (Cronos) is the child of Heaven and Earth, and does consume all that it brings into creation.

   In the story of the rape of Europa by Zeus in the form of a Bull, culture is passed from the city-state of Tyre in modern day Lebanon, to Crete, and from there to Europe. The Phoenicans were the early conduits of information from the Middle East, from the Egyptians and Babylonians, to many other ports of call in the Mediterranean. As traders, they carried products, news, and myths to distant lands. Crete later became a trading center for the Mediterranean, with an extensive maritime culture, passing on her opulence and wisdom. In the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur (evidence of the Bull as Zeus coming to Crete), we are told that Theseus returns to Athens from Crete to be king, whereupon he institutes an early form of democracy. This is so because he had just returned from a land whose polylingual nature had also used a form of democracy. From Athens, of course, democracy spread throughout Europe, as reflected in the original myth of Europa.


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