Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Mar 11th - Mar 17th, 2005

The Magic of Myth

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      Astrology and mythology are roots of the same tree. Before there was writing, information was passed on in the form of story telling, with the essential details being preserved in the oral tradition. Rhythm and rhyme were used in an effort designed to enhance memorization, an obvious device which translations rarely preserve.

      One such myth is the story of Orion of Boetia. The story tells us of a handsome and clever hunter who fell in love with Merope, daughter of Oenopion, King of Chios. Boetia is a part of Greece, a crossroads between many of the other city states. Chios is one of the many islands which lie between Greece and modern day Turkey, then known as Asia Minor. The following is from the Robert Graves translation of the myth. Orion

      'You may marry Merope,' Oenopion said, 'if you promise to kill all the wild beasts of my island.' This Orion did, and every evening took the skins of dead bears, lions, wolves, wildcats, and foxes to Merope at the palace. When he had cleared Chios of all wild animals larger than mice and weasels, he knocked on Oenopion's door. 'Now let me marry your daughter.'

      'Not so, ' Oenopion answered. 'At dawn this morning I heard wolves howling, lions and bears roaring, foxes barking, and wildcats yowling. You have not yet nearly finished your task.'

      "So Orion went away and got drunk. That night he broke into Merope's bedroom. Come to the Temple of Aphrodite and marry me!' he shouted. Merope screamed, and Oenopion, afraid of getting hurt if he interfered, hurriedly sent along a pack of satyrs to give Orion still more wine to drink."

      The myth goes on with Orion battling a huge scorpion, one as large as an elephant. Because he is not able to defeat the arachnid using either arrows or sword, he dives into the sea and swims out to escape from the dangerous beast. Apollo tricks Artemis into thinking this is Candion, a wretch who has violated one of her priestesses.

      Artemis takes careful aim with her bow, shoots, and winds up killing a man she is very fond of.

      Contained within this myth are many elements associated with the character of the constellation. Orion's battle and eventual death around the conflict with the constellation denotes Scorpio rising in the east as Orion sets in the west. The Egyptians believed that as stars set below the horizon, they died and were later reborn as they rose in the east. This tradition was passed on to the Greeks. The stars Betelgeuse and Bellatrix in the shoulders of Orion, according to Ptolemy, have a Mars-Mercury nature, which can connote mental energy or loud communication. As Oenopion notes at 'dawn' (when the stars of Orion crossed the Ascendant), there were wolves howling, lion and bears roaring, foxes barking and wildcats yowling. Each sunset, as the stars of Orion set, he brings the skins of these same animals to Merope at the palace. His hunting skills, and the trophies they bring (the skins), are given to a potential partner, indicated by the descendant or sunset position. Rigel, the brightest star in Orion, and the one given a Mars Jupiter association by Ptolemy, illustrates great strength and physical prowess, but it can also indicate an overly exuberant nature, as Orion bursts in Merope's bedroom (as some have put it) anticipating the pleasures of his upcoming marriage.

      The entire myth goes on to illustrate addition celestial design, recorded for the generations, in story form through myth.



Artemis Crescent
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