While working on the book, we were beckoned by the muse, enticed to follow her footsteps, uncovering clues leading into the shade of the World Tree. There we paused to take our rest at noon.
Like so much within the mythological realm, there are often variations to standard story lines. For instance, in both Genesis and Heraclean tales, the world tree is remembered as an apple, although the Greeks embossed the notion somewhat by depicting it as gold. The Egyptians imagined it as an acacia tree. The Buddhists were enlightened beneath the Bodhi Tree. With the Norse it was Odin and the Ash, while the Maya thought of it as a Ceiba. For this last it was one of five, the other four trees marking the Central American cardinal directions.
There are others.
Astronomical sense begins to be made of this mythical apparition if we think of the World Tree as the axis (trunk) running from the North Terrestrial Pole to the North Celestial Pole.
In other words, due North, sea to sky.
The Dragon 'guarded' (marked) the Center of Heaven. Reflected upon in this manner, we see various cultures 'pinning' the neck of the Dragon against the tree (Egyptians, Greeks), or stabbing the Dragon (Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Celtic, European folktales, Chinese) on New Year's.
They're all cultures wrestling with the gnarly knot of Time. How do you construct a calendar that accurately records the perturbations of heaven?
The Divine Dictum amongst each of these cultures was that the will of God could be discerned from the face of the sky. Those whom God smiled on were said to be full of the spirit. Those who missed the mark worked for the opposition. The bottom line was are you right or are you wrong about the future?
If you're working with Divine Circles, the Center is an excellent point to begin construction from. From Dr. E. C. Krupp's work, Echoes of the Ancient Sky, pp. 88-89,
"In the northern hemisphere considerable evidence, and common sense, support the idea that this system of directions evolves first from recognition of the north celestial pole. This is the fixed point that defines all other directions- the cosmic axis, sometimes conceived of as a sacred mountain, pole, or tree, around which the sky turns. It, too, is the subject of many myths.
"On the Great Plains of Nebraska, the Omaha Indians preserved a myth of a sacred cedar tree upon which the stability of their society was founded. During a time of tribal disruption, brought on by rivalries between the Omaha chiefs, one of their sons encountered a burning cedar tree. Although enveloped in flames, the tree did not burn up" (Exodus 3). "The chief's son noticed that the forest animals had worn four trails to the tree, one leading to each cardinal direction, and in the tree's branches roosted thunderbirds" (our lightning and therefore thunder-blasting flying Serpent), "which are the emblems of the sky and the talismans of warriors.
"Upon learning of the burning cedar, the Omaha warriors dressed for battle and attacked it. They brought it down and transported it to their village. There the tree was reerected, and responsibility for it was assigned to one family. Through the tree, the once-threatened social order of the Omaha was strengthened. Problems, disagreements, and troubles were all to be brought- with presents and prayers- to the sacred pole. Leadership of the tribe was invested in the keepers of the pole, and only through them could authority over the tribe be transferred to others."
In other words, they would go and read the will of heaven, and abide by their decision.
They were having their chart read.
And then following the advice.
"As the world's axis, the tree is a route to the sky, where the shaman seeks to ascend. Because the sky is in everlasting cyclical motion about the celestial pole, the tree equates, in turn, with the principle of continuous renewal. This renewal marks the tree, or pole, as a limitless source of life."
"It is the Tree of Life."
If we imagine this Tree of Life as an astronomical alignment which is the 'foundation stone' of celestial measure, pieces begin to fall into place. The Stoics and the Persians felt that all life, especially the outer reaches of heaven where the stars resided, was part of the Divine Fire. Our 'Tree' stood out in the middle of the night sky, surrounded by these flames.
Yet it did not burn up, and even more amazingly spoke to them about what needed to be done.
Whether Hebrew or Omaha.
"Our Omaha myth tells us quite explicitly that this power restored order in the tribe."
They listened to what the family in charge of the Sacred Center had to say, but it was not simply the Center that they sought. They were reading the whole face of the sky. The four cardinal directions together with its Center were simply the framework against which all the stars together with their messages could be better understood and interpreted.
Just like the good book said.
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