Athena's Web Weekly Column
Week of Jan 12th, - Jan 18th, 2007
When we picture the constellations in our mind's eye, the images often appear in a 'connect-the-dots' fashion, with stars often being illustrated this way; like the stick figures of kindergarten art.
One might imagine, looking over a little one's shoulder at their crayon creation and ask,
"The hunter. See his shield?"
"Oh yea. There's a doggie and the lion. A horse. How about that one? Who's that?"
"That? Oh, that's Gemini."
"How come he's got two heads?"
There are paintings in the Lescaux caves of France which seem to depict a cluster of stars right over the shoulder of a long horned bull. There are more 'stars' on his forehead. This image looks precisely like a modern star chart depicting Taurus. Other markings seem to count the phases of the Moon. These cave paintings are thirteen to fifteen thousand years old. How far back do these star images go? Is this what they are depicting?
We don't know.
What is clear is that many of these mythologies saw heaven as the home of the gods; but it was more than that. By looking into the sky, you were looking into the face of god. In later traditions (to pick just one example), Zeus is the sky, Zeus is the father of gods and men. The sky is the father of gods and men.
We're all stardust. Then or now.
In the creation myths of different traditions, there are variations of the following: In the beginning, there was chaos. God (or Chaos) grew lonely and sacrificed him or her self to have material for creation. If effect, his body became the world, with the rivers and oceans his blood, the mountains his bones and the air and sky his breath. This body was crafted and given life by heaven above.
Long ago, the Spring/New Year's point (for many cultures one and the same) passed through the constellation Gemini (6300-4800 BC). This period extends into the prehistory of the peoples we think of as the Sumerians. Under their guidance, urban living, trade, agriculture and domestication of crops were being advanced. Their prehistory extends back to the Ubaid and Uruk periods spanning from 5300 down to 2000 BC. This culture produced some our earliest time 'units', such a the 60 count, seconds, minutes, and hours; they were observing the rotation of heaven and watching the Sun, Moon and stars. The Egyptians and their predecessors are also studying these same cycles and will give us what will eventually become our month and years. How long had they been watching the heavens and organizing their material while composing their stories of the stars?
As Spring moved through the stars of Gemini, this celestial 'body' of god assumed the shape of twins, siblings, air, birds and eggs, all Geminian themes. These images become the "predominate artistic motifs"* of their time. Creatures of the air, the birds of heaven, were what heaven proclaimed, and the people listened to.
There is a pattern here.
As the Great Cackler, Geb's sister, presumably also a goose, laid the egg of the Sun everyday.Nut was the original goose that laid the golden egg. For everyone the Sun is the gift of life. And to them, the Sun was born of the spirit of the constellation Gemini, thought of as an enormous multi-dimensional bird, vibrant and strong, flying across the face of heaven each day.
It ain't no stick figure.