Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of January 21st - January 27th,  2011

Arabian Nights

Letting the Genie out of the Bottle

Columns Archive


  The winds of the desert whisper their secrets for those who sit still and listen quietly beneath the shade of a lonely palm.

Barnes and Noble

Told by a thousand voices

  The children of the Arabian deserts have long been known for their keen interest in star lore. Indeed, the land itself is named after the Queen of the Night, the Fertile Crescent, illustrating a conscious fusion linking Heaven and Earth at some early date.

  One of the evolving themes of the book we've been working on has been the evidence of 'Age of Gemini' clues lying at the root of many of the world's mythologies. The stories they tell correspond to repeating themes found over and over again, hidden inside a secret celestial signature that can be dated to specific periods of Time.

  Center and Circle.

  The North Celestial Pole was mythologically marked by a Great Tree, often found on top of a high hill or mountain. This is our mythological and astronomical Center, around which all Creation turns.

  The Spring marker (due East) is the Vernal Equinox, the point at which our Circle is being marked by the Sun when it returns to the spot in its annual voyage. It is the inter-weave of these two, Center and Circle, our astronomical North and East that give us our mythological shorthand across Time.

  If the Center and Circle are while Spring is passing through the stars of the Ram (approx. Abraham to Jesus), then Time tells a tale of a marvelous beast that flies through the sky as a timely hero, who, after the sacrifice, leaves his Golden Fleece in a Tree protected by a Dragon. Or Time might tell of another young nomadic prince about to be offered up to God, with yet another Ram being substituted and sacrificed to save said son.

  If the Center and Circle are while Spring is passing through the stars of the Bull (invention of the yoke -to- collapse of Old Kingdom), then we get stories of Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician and Minoan Bulls, together with the Solar Disk and flame-spitting serpent (our Dragon) in the middle.

From the flight of eagles is determined the will of the gods

From the flight of the eagle
can be read the will of the gods

  If the Center and Circle are while Spring is passing through the stars of the Twins (approx. 4800 to 6300 BC), then we see duality in the form of Twin Serpents wrapped around a shaft, an Egg, Twin Eggs or Twin Birds. As an AIR sign, Birds become Heavenly Ambassadors, carrying with them the 'Will of God,' if you know how to read it. Mix and match these Center and Circle themes together, in their correct archaeological nitch (Time period), and we discover the essential raison d'etre for the birth of these artistic and 'spiritual' images.

  It's what they thought they saw in the sky in their day, and they told stories about it. During each of these 'epochs' different themes were being focused on in Life. Under the Twins- education and training of both mind and body were the ultimate goal. We will also see this theme being developed in the myth.

  Under the Time of the Bull, agricultural organization, from the invention of farm tools to the harnessing of the populace, learning ways to better care for and feed their people.

  Under the Time of the Ram, personal mastery and martial ascendancy become the Prime Directive, from the Indo-European Invasions to the Roman standing professional army.

  Over Time the mythological image (astronomical constellation) changes; but it is the interweave of these two, of Center and Circle, that can be traced throughout these stories, keeping pace with their respective cultures. These 'stellar themes' were reflected in the artwork of the people who lived beneath those skies.

  Which was most of us.

  This is when the stars were forming certain storylines suggested by Heaven above. Here on Earth we copied these celestial suggestions and recorded them in our lives; in our homes, on the walls, in the pottery... in the world around us, because the Skies above are the world around us!


Desert palm

  Who embraces us better, day after day, night after night?

  Who has observed all we do, or have ever done?

  The Heavens. And it is from that vantage point that true wisdom is gained.

  The book, The Dragon's Path goes into great detail about this, and this is simply one more instance in which the pattern fits.

  The clues written into the myth we are about to examine are intentional, their repetition underscoring their importance to the theme.

  It is a World of Gemini, with all it's pros and cons. There's a lot of 'ins', a lot of 'outs', and a lot of 'what-have-yous' to this situation.

  Geminian themes, of duality, birds, eggs and Siblings are in archaeological abundance while the Vernal Equinox (Spring) was passing through the constellation of the Twins. Siblings, conversation and thought at various levels, the development of the mind's nervous system through academic achievement or athletic prowess, these were the attributes most highly valued and to be socially striven for.

He's got the whole egg in his hands

He's got the
whole Egg
in His Hand

  The flip side of Gemini (they go hand-in-hand) still features the mind's extended gymnastics, but this time lost in idle chatter, duplicity, and thieving schemes. Gemini (or Mercury, his Lord) is the communicator, the storyteller, the path-finder, the thief.

  Because of Gemini's AIR association, one of the ways many of these indigenous peoples saw Creation at that time was personified as a Great Bird, that everyday gave birth to a golden egg, the Sun itself, as God gives you another day of Life.

  During Gemini, people thought like that.

  For instance, we tend to think of Two as dividing things in half.

  They saw it as what made you whole.

  In the Arabian Nights, we find a story whose mythological roots extend back to this legendary time. It's an amazing tale and keeps hitting the same resonant points over and over again in the form of a story. If academically correct, it describes a Time about seven thousand years ago when it would have reflected the 'appropriate' sky picture.

  Here's the astronomical weave.

  Center and Circle.

Mother Hen laying the egg

Mother Hen laying the Egg

  The North Cellestial Pole and Vernal Equinox represent the North and East points of our cardinal compass respectively. Myths have a habit of weaving together these two mythic themes into a single construct, into a single story-line. During (the time when the Vernal Equinox was passing through the stars of) Gemini, the wisdom of Life was moderated (personified, orchestrated, conducted, authored, overseen) by a Great Bird.

  In the Barnes and Noble edition of the Arabian Nights, the first story is entitled, 'The Talking Bird.'

  Let's pull the title apart astrologically.

  The Talking (Gemini) Bird (Gemini).

  Repeating the same image in a thematic way. Two-points for style.

  The gist of the story is that a newly appointed emperor set out one evening with his grand vizier under cover in order to gain a knowledge of affairs in his town. While out walking the streets, they are drawn by the sound of loud voices to a house with three sisters, all of whom are talking. Apparently, the nature of the conversation is about 'wishes,' but as the King walks in in the middle of the conversation, he does not hear its start. One of the sisters is saying she wants to marry the king's baker, another the king's cook- for the obvious benefits that might follow from such a union. The third sister, however, wants to marry none other than the king himself.

the singing Tree

Our princess takes a twig
from the Singing Tree atop the mountain

  Based largely on a whim (like the wind, Gemini's mind can often be 'lightly' moved by new and fascinating information), the king decides to grant these three sisters their wishes, with the new queen, of course, being very happy, while her two sisters now realize the narrow scope of their vision. These older two siblings begin to plot the youngest's downfall, all because of their own shortcomings, because of their own choices.

  These sisters later become mid-wives to the queen, and for each of three royal births that follow (each one year apart) they claim (lie) that the queen first gave birth to a puppy, second to a cat, and third to a piece of wood. In the meantime the three legitimate offspring are floated off in reed-baskets on the stream (Moses-like) and are later discovered and taken in by the king's grounds-keeper. Under his guidance the three siblings (again- the two princes and princess, not the sisters) are taught and trained in the very finest of traditions.

  Quoting from the work:

  'As soon as the two princes were old enough, the intendant provided proper masters to teach them to read and write; and the princess, their sister, who was often with them, showing a great desire to learn, the intendant, pleased with her quickness, employed the same master to teach her also.

Studying and learning

Her vivacity and piercing wit made her, in a little time, as great a proficient as her brothers. From that time the brothers and sister had the same masters in geography, poetry, history and even the secret sciences, and made so wonderful a progress that their tutors were amazed, and frankly owned that they could teach them nothing more. At the hours of recreation, the princess learned to sing and play upon all sorts of instruments; and when the princes were learning to ride she would not permit them to have that advantage over her, but went through all the exercises with them, learning to ride also, to bend the bow, and dart the reed or javelin, and oftentimes outdid them in the race and other contests of agility.

  Gemini 101.

  Gemini at the top of their game; while they're still young, clever and cute. Hermes (Gk) and Mercury (Roman) statues and verse usually depict the Pathfinder as being on the downy threshold of youth. The link is not lost here with the youthful siblings. Also, the multi-faceted nature of learning is strong. Constellational depictions of the Twins show them with various instruments in their hands, of a sickle, bricks or arrow. Different illustrations show them holding different sets of tools, representative of the many adapatable and handy skills the Twins possess.

  But there's a flip side to Gemini as well, and it is also fully developed in the story line.

  Switch to the Evil Sisters.

  "Well, what say you to our sister's great fortune? Is not she a fine person to be queen!" "I must own," said the other sister, "I cannot conceive what charms the emperor could discover to be so bewitched by her. Was it a reason sufficient for him not to cast his eyes on you, because she was somewhat younger. You were as worthy of his throne, and in justice he ought to have preferred you."

evil sisters

Evil royal sisters

  "Sister," said the elder, "I should not have regretted if his majesty had but pitched upon you; but that he should choose that little simpleton really grieves me. But I will revenge myself; and you, I think, are as much concerned as I; therefore, I propose that we should contrive measures and act in concert: communicate to me what you think the likeliest way to mortify her, while I, on my side, will inform you what my desire of revenge shall suggest to me." After this wicked agreement, the two sisters saw each other frequently, and consulted how they might disturb and interrupt the happiness of the queen. They proposed a great many ways, but in deliberating about the manner of executing them, found so many difficulties that they durst not attempt them. In the meantime, with a detestable dissimulation, they often went together to make her visits, and every time showed her all the marks of affection they could devise, to persuade her how overjoyed they were to have a sister raised to so high a fortune."

Door #2

(For now,
the answer is behind Door #2!)

  Gemini is quick. Gemini is clever. Gemini can cheat.

  Train the mind, and it can be a wonderful vehicle. Allow the winds of chance to take the seed and deposit it where it will, and brambles can grow up beside the path of Life as the mind takes root in petty jealousies and menial distractions.

  Our panorama of possibilities has been given full scope. Welcome to the wonderful World of Gemini, the sign of choice.

  Choose from either Door #1 or Door #2.

  Take Two.

  Gemini deals with communication and transportation.

  Communication is a cover that carries all the mental attributes of the mind. It is:


What the good book says

he told her
he thought
to think of my sisters
they have an oratory (a place to speak from)
If you give me leave to speak my mind freely
some question for her better information
for she thought
what she was later told
such a thought
to tell you
but I cannot help telling you
in search of curiosities (candy for the mind)
asked me the same question
sincere advice
I have nothing more to say
I am obliged to follow your advice
as good as his word

  This celestial 'genre' of vocabulary is riddled throughout this particular work. The above are but a few examples.

  After being visited by a wise old woman who goes into the oratory to say her prayers, and who, upon inspection of the house, finds everything so well planned, the two form an excellent rapport and in their conversation the young, curious princess learns of three great and very exclusive treasures, all of which may be found on the road which lies before your house. Indeed, we are told that the path lies (from Arabia) towards India, which would be East.

  The Spring sunrise points the answer to the way.

The Talking Parrot in his cage

The Talking Parrot

  "Madam," replied the devout woman, "the first of these three things is the Talking Bird, so singular a creature, that it draws round it all the songsters of the neighbourhood which come to accompany its voice. The second is the singing Tree, the leaves of which are so many mouths which form an harmonious concert of different voices and never cease."

  Notice how each of these deal with a chorus of communication, whether from birds or people.

  "So many mouths."

  Following her advice, the three royal siblings each independently go off in search for these curiosities, one after the other, in order of seniority.

  Tree and Bird. Center and Circle.

  For the Age of Gemini.

the birdcage

A birdcage found on top of the mountain

  The Talking Bird is the face of the Sky during this period, being framed by the stars of Gemini on the Vernal Equinox.

  That's our Circle.

  The Golden Cage is the grid-system (lines of longitude and latitude or azimuth and altitude) by which the answers may be read across the face of the Sky. It has many mythological names. It's the net of Marduk and the net of Hephaestus (whose threads were so fine they could scarcely be seen!), or even Athena's Web.

  Now we can add a Golden Cage to our fine linens, one of many priceless treasures to be found inside these Arabian Nights.

  To find the Talking Bird, each sibling must independently climb a great mountain, which contain all the black stones of those who have tried and failed long, long ago.

  I daresay they extend back to megalithic times!

  And there is our Center, mirrored also in the World Tree, which is about to be found on top of our mountain.

  The Singing Tree is the World Tree, the 'imaginary' line that runs from the horizon's due North, to the North Celestial Pole high overhead. We have seen Marduk's Dragon and Cadmus's Serpent pinned by their arrow/lance to the Side of the Tree. During the Age of Gemini, with the AIR sign flushing birds of all kinds, they all take their lead from the Singing Tree, and once the Tree begins to sing (according to the myth), ALL the birds begin to sing.

  I'll take them one step better.

  ALL Creation starts to sing.

  But what the myth is also conveying is that while the voice of Divinity, in this case the Talking Bird is 'echoed' by all the other birds of Creation joining in, they sing as One, led by the Talking Bird.

  The Sky is always in charge, and this is what the Sky says.

flocks in flight

Which way the Wind blows

  During the Age of Gemini, ALL Creation was all the Birds, and everything else, too. The Birds just led the parade (at that Time) and were first in line, making them the most important.

  First before everyone else.

  "The prince alighted from his horse, laid the bridle on his neck, and having first surveyed the mountain and seen the black stones (taking his sightings), began to ascend, but had not gone four steps before he heard the voices mentioned by the dervish, though he could see nobody. Some said: "Where is that fool going? Where is he going? What would be have? Do not let him pass." Others: "Stop him, catch him, kill him"; and others with a voice like thunder: "Thief! assassin! murderer!" while some in a gibing tone cried: "No, no, do not hurt him; let the pretty fellow pass, the cage and the bird are for him."

  "Notwithstanding all these troublesome voices, Prince Bahman ascended with resolution for some time, but the voices redoubled with so loud a din, both behind and before, that at last he was seized with dread, his legs trembled under him, he staggered, and finding that his strength failed him, he forgot the dervish's advice, turned about to run down the hill, and was that instant changed into a black stone; a metamorphosis which had happened to many before him who had attempted the ascent. His horse, likewise, underwent the same change."

  The voices that are being heard are only in the prince's head, but they hold him back, as they have held back every other black stone on the side of that mountain.

Spirit of the Ages

Spirit of the Ages
          -Maxfield Parrish

  They are our own doubts, reinforced by the countless numbers of ways those doubts can be magnified by others, both in quantity (as with the first prince), or the quality (the second prince's quick capitualation to a single, personal affront) of the words.

  After the youngest sibling (note that it was also the youngest sibling of three who became Queen) returns home triumphantly with her two brothers, even though her adopted mother and father are now deceased and never told them the story of their origin, the Talking Bird is able to see, and tell the whole tale of her aunts and their duplicity.

  To do this, the youngest sister is reading the face of the Sky, long before what we now know of as the Arabian Nights was penned, for a time reaching back somewhere between 6300 and 4800 BC.

  The astronomical gird system is the Bird-cage caught as the mesh of heaven, providing answers to questions both great and small. We are hearing (at this time it would have been an oral tradition) of the ancient equivalent to the 'horoscope,' a word whose roots simply translate as 'to view the hour.'

  If you would like to test your abilities, and take a quiz on how much you think you know about Gemini, read this tale. See how many of the Mercurial 'threads' you can pick up on. Here are a few to think about.

Gemini Quiz

Quiz on Gemini

  What is the significance of the knife given to the princess and kept 'under her belt?'

  What is the significance of the string of pearls given to the princess by her second brother?

  Why must the knife 'flow with blood?' What is the cut that is being made, and how is the belt an appropriate place to reflect this?

  Note the relationship of all three of the children with their horse as they dismount by the mountain- of how they leave them (beginning) and of being frozen together (end)- is very specific. (Only the arrival of the oldest prince is related here.)

  They are intentionally focusing your attention on the horse.


  Why must each of the three siblings travel (presumably at the same speed) for twenty days?

  What is the nature of the bowl, and how can it travel quickly before him, 'stopping' at the base of the mountain?

  City streets, sibling rivalry, mysterious intrigues, all to be found in ample quantities during the Age of Story-telling.

  Why is it called 'The Arabian Nights?'

  Because that's when the stars come out.

When the World listened to the oracle-

Talking Bird

a wise and honored talking bird


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