Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of December 14th, - December 20th, 2007

Mythological Shorthand

Columns Archive

  As the years roll on the myths and stars continue to whisper their stories to those who will listen. Even after the ashes of those long distant fires have grown cold, there's a message which repeats itself, over and over again, like a faint heartbeat subdued by time.


Draco, the Dragon

Center and circle, center and circle, center and circle; Draco held the circumpolar crown for thousands of years. He (or she) was creation's most consistent stellar truth, locked with a commanding claw on heaven's highest point, its pinnacle, its jewel. For thousands of years, Draco guarded the secret of the North Celestial Pole, the center of heaven.

  If Draco is the center, then what is the circle? The zodiac marks where the vernal equinox (Spring) is. Using our contemporary calender, it takes Spring about two thousand years to 'precess' through one sign (2,152 to be exact). For two thousand years, Spring has been precessing through the constellation Pisces. From two thousand to four thousand years ago, the Equinox moved through the stars of the Ram; four to six thousand years ago, Bull; from six to eight thousand years, Twins.

  While the Dragon has watched over the center for the lion's share of this period, the image ON the circle has changed. Serpent and Twins, Serpent and Bull, Serpent and Ram, center and circle. The designers of myth blended these two archetypes together into a single motif, and you can hear the story line in their creation myths. Center (Serpent) + Circle (Twins) = Mythological shorthand. Serpent + Twins = Two serpents wrapped around a rod (Caduceus). Serpent + Twins = Serpent wrapped around the egg. Blend them together into one simple notation and you have the cornerstones of telling time; the stellar center (pole) and circle (equator) of heaven.

Center of the Circle

Center of the Circle

  The Fon people are from Cameroon in West Africa. They speak of a world created by Nana-Buluku, the one god. Nana-Buluku gave birth to twins, Mawu and Lisa, and they shaped the world of their day. In the beginning, before the Twins had any children, Aydo-Hwedo, the Rainbow Serpent, had already helped shape creation. The Australian aborigines have a similar belief. It was the twistings and turnings of this great snake that made the mountains back when the Earth was still smooth. But the Rainbow Serpent could not stand the heat, the oceans (the cosmic seas of the skies) were created for him, and there he has remained since the beginning of time, his tail in his mouth. Nana-Buluku charged the red monkeys that live beneath the sea to keep Aydo-Hwedo fed, and they spend their time forging the iron bars that are the Rainbow Serpent's diet. When the monkey's supply of iron eventually runs out the serpent will be so hungry that he will start to chew his own tail. Then his writhings will be so terrible that the whole earth will tilt, and then slip into the sea, and that will be that!

  The Fon depict a new world shaped by Twins and facilitated by a great serpent. Vishnu slept on the back of a great, multi-headed serpent, contained within an egg. Odin created the world out of an egg and split it in half. The upper half became the sky, the lower half the earth.

  The story line is simple. The roots of these world wide traditions stem back from approximately six to eight thousand years ago, when heaven gave birth to a new set of Twins born in the Spring.


to top of page