Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Nov 29th - Dec 5th,  2002

Mythology and Astrology

Columns Archive


   Three weeks ago we looked at Dragons across five thousand years of time, culminating with the dragon in the book of Revelation. We provided this brief outline so that some of the stylistic similarities could be seen from one culture to the next, across literally millennia of time. While some may feel that astrology is limited to the 12 'circle of animals' of the zodiac, these are merely the constellations where the planets orbit. There are, however, 88 classically recognized constellations, only 12 of which are those which we identify as our birth signs. According to the most ancient sources, all 88 have a role to play in life here on earth, and are woven into the celestial tapestry. Mythology and astrology are but two different branches from the same pagan tree. They each represent part of a symbolic vocabulary which was once used to not only read the stars of heaven, but were also used to interpret dreams, omens and messages from the gods.

Draco, circa 2750 BC

The center of the circle
marks the North Celestial Pole

   In the west the dragon was mythologically related to the constellation Draco, which, in 2750 BC had the honor of marking the position of the pole star. Thuban was described as the 'heart' of the dragon and was later labeled as Alpha Draconis, even though, to our knowledge, it has never been the brightest star of this constellation, the usual qualification for later being named 'alpha.' It was the most important because of its central location and therefore stood first in order.

   However, as any school child can tell you, Polaris is now the pole star, and there has been a shift of who holds this highest vantage point of heaven. In the last four thousand years, the pole has moved from the constellation Draco to Ursa Minor. Polaris is the last star in the long tail of the Little Bear. In Revelation, the Little Bear is depicted as a Beast, while the vastness of heaven is described as a sea. In the following passage, this change of the pole position, from Draco to Ursa Minor, is metaphorically painted. From Rev: 13:2;

   "I saw that the beast was like a leopard, with paws like a bear and a mouth like a lion; the dragon had handed over to it his own power and his throne and his world-wide authority."


A Beast of a Bear

   In mythological terms, we are being told of a shift in power, 'fueled' by the precession of the equinoxes, but describing real astronomical changes. Not only were the ancient sky watchers aware of where the pole had been thousands of years earlier, they could see where it was headed. Of course the real leap in faith is that astrologers truly believe these constellations have power over earthly events. The North Celestial Pole is important because it accurately defines the center, and therefore the circle, of the celestial equator. It marks the cornerstone of creation. Ancient cultures the world over had New Year's festivals involving the dragon, such as the Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Druids (who celebrated their New Year's on May Day) and even the Chinese. They had to 'pierce' the dragon to determine the correct celestial pole for that year. This is why the dragon was so widely recognized, and why the precessional passage could be seen centuries ahead of time. The Dragon, at the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation, was in the process of handing over "his own power and his throne and his world-wide authority" to the bear.