Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Feb 18th - Feb 24th, 2005

Biblical Dragon

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      We've been investigating the trail of the tale of the dragon as it emerges from out of the mists of creation, engendered in the mystique of the dreamtime. The Australian aborigines recorded their memories of the Rainbow Serpent in oral traditions and rock carvings 8,000 years ago. This week we focus on the other end of the mythic spectrum as we observe the pagan tradition beginning to crumble in the west; first as Christianity assumes the reigns of power in the vacuum left by Roman authority, and secondly, in a possibly even more devastating blow, as the Greeks develop spherical trigonometry.

      We will not belabor the first example, except to say that it was obvious that indigenous cultures everywhere were pruned from their roots, whether through genocide, book burnings, or by children being pulled from their families for standarized education. The magnitude of the second example is less obvious, however. With the development of spherical trigonometry, mathematics alone became the guide for the predictions of the motions of the stars, and in this they excelled. Mathematics had also been involved in the observational techniques, but through geometry and triangulation. The evolution of mathematics to spherical trigonometry managed to master the movement of the stars. But precisely because mathematics took the lead, traditional observational techniques, of using the temples to actually monitor the motion of the stars, fell into disuse. With the exception of a few churches whose doors opened to the light of sunrise falling on the altar on the holiday of a particular saint, or of special sites which fell along 'the old straight track,' (see example at right) the observational link between heaven and earth was largely severed. Arabic astronomers complain around 1,000 AD that many of their contemporaries could calculate on paper the positions of the planets, but could not identify them in the sky. Temple Alignment

      Our dragon of the dreamtime can be found in the Bible at the end of the mythic record in the west. In the Book of Revelation at the beginning of Chapter 12, there appears a sign in heaven. The New Age is about to be born, and is signified by a woman with the twelve stars (constellations of the zodiac) as a crown on her head, in labor and about to give birth. Like so many myths, our heavenly dragon appears to establish the center of heaven by orienting us to the celestial pole. From Revelation 12:3,

      "Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon... It's tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky and dropped them to the earth and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother."

Tail sweeps a third of the stars from heaven       First, depending on how much of the dragon is considered to be the tail, this is the arc of heaven circumscribed by the 'tail' of the dragon. Draco is still currently close to the North Celestial Pole, and his tail literally 'sweeps out' a large fraction of the stars of heaven. The 'child' being born is the same reference Jesus makes to the 'End Times' in Matthew 24 when he says, "All this is only the beginnings of the birth pangs."

      The mother here is the Mother of Creation. Think of her as the Egyptian sky goddess Nut. Heaven is giving birth to the New Age. As soon as the child is born, he is taken up to his throne. The throne is the Vernal Equinox, where the circles of the ecliptic and the equator cross and which defines the New Age, or, for that matter, any age. It represents either the throne (the seat of power) or the marriage (of Heaven and Earth). Later (Rev 13:3), the dragon designates his 'world wide authority' to the beast, Ursa Minor. At the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation, it was seen that the precessional pole was slipping from Draco to Ursa Minor, here designated as 'the beast.' The authors were watching heavenly motion and making astronomical predictions about the future based upon the motion of the stars, a motion which had been watched by peoples here on the Earth for literally millenina.

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