Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Mar 25th - Mar 31st, 2005

Quest for the Golden Fleece

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      Having been committed to a full day's workshop in St Petersburg, FL on Saturday, March 19, I set out following the talk and drove all night in a race against time and the Spring Equinox the next morning to Town Creek Indian Mound State Park near Mt Gilead, NC. According to Mapquest, it would be an eleven hour journey. The Sun would enter zero degrees Aries at 7:33 AM EST Sunday morning, marking the start of Spring. We were to test Yale graduate archaeoastronomer Vance Tiede's hypothesis involving sunlight coming through the smokehole of an archaeologically recreated 'temple' built atop a mound at a native site.

      While Mars is said to be the planet which rules Aries, the Sun is in its exaltation in this sign. The planetary exaltations are thought to be some of the highest manifestations of the celestial pantheon. To quote an old expression, 'Be all you can be.' Aries is the sign of the self. Golden Fleece

      On the down side, the Aries vibration can be self centered and self serving. On the flip side, Aries represents the highest level of personal potential, of one who reaches out and is daring, adventurous, and courageous; who offers their life to a larger cause or ideal. They are noble and stand out from the crowd. In the tales of times gone by, these are the princes and heroes, who risk their lives for the kingdom, king or community. The Sun's entry into Aries marks the moment when the powers of light and darkness stand in balance, but also when sunlight's momentum will sweep it past darkness and on to victory, as the length of daylight overtakes the amount of time spent in darkness. Nature follows this cue, and life, symbolized by the Sun, calls forth the green from the forest and the promise of crops from the field. For another solar cycle, civilization will be sustained, the people nourished and our smiles returned by Apollos' rays. It is a high energy time for the farmer, when the ground must be turned, the seeds planted, and winter's damage repaired.

Sun in Aries       This quest for the Golden Fleece is a reenactment of our hunt for the moment of Spring and its exact location in the stars. The Fleece is an obvious reference to the coat of the Ram, the symbol for Aries. Gold is the metal said to be related to the Sun. The Golden Fleece is, therefore, a reference to the Sun's entry into either the sign or constellation (they are not the same) of the Ram.

      For a period of a little over two thousand years, Spring (the Vernal Equinox) was moving through the constellation of the Ram. Ascertaining its exact position as marked by the stars was important to those of antiquity, as the entire agricultural cycle was linked to its successful determination. The shift, from beginning to end of the constellation, would have changed the exact moment of the first day of Spring by a month, a huge potential variation in the agricultural clock.

      An even older 'myth' associated with the quest for finding the precise stellar position of the vernal equinox among the stars would have had its origin in the Springtime point moving through the constellation Gemini. This air sign was associated with the creatures of the air, birds. An aviary's beginning was to be found in the egg, the origin or symbolic 'birth' of birds. At Spring this quest would be enacted by a heavenly 'hunt' for the Springtime (Easter) egg.

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