Barbara Warren

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Barbara Warren last won the day on September 19 2016

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  1. Yes, I have read several works that point out that the great tree which appears in the heavens in Mayan mythological artworks might be the Milky Way galaxy. I find the comparative study of myth and religion to be very interesting. It sheds a great deal of light on the subject. Just as I can only know my own face by comparing it with others, I can know my own cultural background best by comparing it with others. Many of these stories are wide spread, found in various versions stretching across continents and millennia. I admit, I don't have patience with Jungian archetypes. Everything in the world is not simplistic and childish Freudian imagery. But humans communicate. We spread words and ideas and technology. These are our best trade items, and they are light to carry, too. Sometimes the cultural additions can obscure the underlying similarity. I can think of a few examples of this tree story, if it does not try your patience too severely. In the epics of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh kills the giant Humbaba and chops down the great cedar tree guarded by the giant. My St. Martin's Press "Field Astronomy Handbook" points out that constellation Hercules was called Gilgamesh. You'll notice the Sumerian and Akkadian stories of Gilgamesh on his journeys is a variant version of Hercules on his journeys of the Twelve Labours of Hercules. Gilgamesh also meets and kills the Celestial Bull/Taurus the Bull, meets and kills Leo the Lion, meets Scorpio-man or Scorpius, meets Utnapashtim or Aquarius, and so on. Hercules has twelve labours because the sky is divided into twelve parts by the movements of the planet Jupiter. This divides the sky in to the twelve parts of the zodiac. Humbaba the Giant was a version of Orion the Hunter, or Orion the Giant. Next to Orion is the Milky Way, so in the Gilgamesh story, next to Humbaba the Giant is the great cedar tree. The Gilgamesh story is from the Middle East about 3,000-1,800 B. C. The ancient Middle Eastern sky map was a bit different than the modern western one, although shared many similarities. The Hercules or Herakles stories of the Greeks and Romans are written down about 600 B.C. to 300 A.D., approximately. In one of the Greek stories, the Milky Way is the gush of milk that arcs from Hera's breast as she pulls away from baby Herakles. The Greek and Roman pantheons had twelve great gods. Each of the twelve gods had a 'temple' or house of the zodiac, according to Manilius, the 1st century writer. These were : Aries the Ram - Athena/Minerva, Taurus the Bull -Aphrodite/Venus, Gemini Twins - Apollo (also called Helios) /Apollo, Cancer the Crab - Hermes/Mercury, Leo the Lion - Zeus/Jupiter, Virgo the Virgin - Ceres/Demeter, Libra the Scales - Hephaestus/Vulcan, Scorpius the Scorpion - Ares/Mars, Sagittarius the Archer - Artemis/ Diana, Capricornus the Goat-Fish - Hestia/Vesta, Aquarius the Waterbearer - Hera/Juno, Pisces the Fish - Poseidon/Neptune. Jupiter, who divides the sky into twelve parts and assigned each of the great gods a 'house' in the sky, was appointed king of the gods. In myth, Jupiter wrestled with his father Saturn or Chronos (Time) for rulership. Jupiter won, and cast his father, bound, into the outer limits of dark Gygigia, and Saturn is still out on the edge of the solar system today. According to legend, Jupiter, as new king of the gods, took the measures of Time from his father Saturn or Chronos, and so we measure time by the movements of Jupiter today. Because Jupiter divides the sky into twelve parts, we divide the sky into twelve parts. We divide the year into twelve months. We divide the day into twelve hour segments. Just about the time of the Roman Empire (more or less) the sky had drifted, and the winter solstice was no longer in Capricornus the Goat-Fish. Formerly, the Tropic of Capricorn actually had the constellation Capricorn in it. The new sign of the winter solstice was Sagittarius the Archer. The Tropic of Capricorn now had Sagittarius in it. The Milky Way, that Tree of Life, rose up through Sagittarius the Archer, and lifted vertically into the sky like a great tree rising overhead during this time of year. To celebrate the winter solstice, the Romans performed the Saturnalia, and a tree, often carved with a face in the trunk, was carried through the streets. --In the days of the Sumerians, the Sumerians had said that the Milky Way lifted vertically in the sky during the spring and fall equinoxes, acting as a ladder between heaven and earth. And it did, but that was thousands of years earlier, and the sky had drifted due to precession of the equinoxes since then. In the 1st century A.D., someone wrote the Book of Revelation used in the Christian New Testament. In this book there is a vision of heaven overhead where there is a city of twelve gates and in the middle is the Tree of Life. About 5th century A.D., Macrobius the Roman poet and astronomer points out that the Milky Way is also called the Tree of Life, and it rises across the sky in the middle of the twelve houses of the zodiac. About 1,000 A.D. or so, Nordic stories were being collected and written down. The Norse and Germanic people celebrated twelve great gods, each living in a house in the heavens. Rising up through the layers of heaven was the great tree, Yggdrasil. The Norse say Yggdrasil appears white, because it is spattered with mud. In Njal's Saga, we learn that the Icelandic people divided themselves into twelve tribes, each with a judge/chief in charge. These twelve judges carried symbolic hammers to show they were representatives of Thor. Thor was the Nordic name for the planet Jupiter. In the 1800's, anthropologists were collecting ceremonial gear from Siberian shamans (I forget the names of the tribes). Some of the gear had painted pictures of the shaman climbing up into the heavens by climbing a great celestial tree. More recently, this winter of 2015, the twelfth month of the year, I erected a tree in the living room, and decorated it with lights and placed a star on top at the time of the traditional Saturnalia, the winter solstice, or Christmas. Your pardon. I do go on. I might have mentioned I like comparative mythology. Reading multiple sources from multiple cultures often gives me insight into my own culture. I find it also explicates the stories of the culture I am reading at the time. Each of these previous people has left their mark on my own society today.There are probably many others, these spring to mind at the moment.
  2. Dr. E. C. Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory, and expert in ancient astronomy, says that Nut, the Egyptian goddess was a version of the Milky Way. The Milky Way was, in myth, called a river of milk jetting from Hera's or Gaia's breast, or a ladder leading up into the sky, or a giant tree growing upward into the sky. Macrobius, the 5th century Roman astronomer known for his poetry, called the Milky Way the 'Tree of Life'. Look at that picture overhead, of the goddess Nut standing in and being a tree. She was the Tree of Life, the Milky Way stretching across the sky. The Greeks spoke about the function of the Milky Way. It was the place were souls came from at birth, and where they returned after death. Souls drifted downwards from the Tree of Life like leaves in the wind, falling down through the seven spheres of heaven, picking up 'color' at each sphere before landing in the bodies of babies as they were born. Thus, that goddess, that Tree of Life was the origin of all souls, of all babies, of all life. I suspect the two figures on the right are drinking the milk from the Milky Way. It was a Tree, and also a river of Milk at the same time, these weren't mutually exclusive. From Nils Billing, Nut: The Goddess of Life in Text and Iconography, fig. F.3.
  3. Stoic fundamentalism and the literal, concrete reality of Homer's writings versus Aristarchus and the writings of 'Ocean' I first read Mr. Romm's book "The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought" about twenty years ago. I reread it this month. He points out the interesting disagreement between the fundamentalist Greek Stoics, who insisted all ancient poetic writings were educational discussions of the mundane, literal Earth, and other authors, such as Aristarchus, a director of the Library of Alexandria, who taught that the ancient poetic writings, such as Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey" were largely myth, and meant to discuss the shared mythical landscape of the ancient world. I side with the director of the Library. Mr. Romm points out that 'Ocean' and 'Oceanic' stories were central to this discussion, that Aristarchus mentions stories of Ocean were myth. Mr. Romm also mentions that oi-kanos, basis of our modern English word ocean, meant 'one eye'. In myth and story, Ocean circles the world. In some Greek versions, Ocean extends from tropic to tropic. When discussing Ocean, modern astronomers discussing ancient Greek astronomy point out it seemed to be the circle of the equator, or perhaps the circle of the zodiac. Ocean, in its mythic sense, did not just mean a body of salt water on Earth that we wade in in the real world. Even ancient references to wading in Ocean mention it in myth as being in the sky. Callisto, the wood-nymph, who was transformed into constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear in the sky, was forbidden to dip her feet into the waters of Ocean. Yes, this can mean that northern constellation never sets below the earth, as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. But, seen from the perspective of the sky, where the great Bear is walking, that Bear is forbidden to approach the circle of the equator, or the circle of the zodiac. Today, we English speaking people use the alphabet to write, and we forget that the alphabet was based on ancient Phoenician pictographs, that each letter was originally a picture. Other languages that still existed in Classical times, such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, still used picture writing, with these pictures forming sounds, words, and ideas. The pictures had not become degraded into meaningless scratches that only represented sounds. That degradation did occur in the Demotic Egyptian script and in all modern alphabets. In ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, which the Greeks were very exposed to in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, the picture of an eye, specifically the ubiquitous Eye of Osiris meant the 'green'. Greeks at the time called it the Uraeus, which means 'he is risen', or 'the rising'. In the sky, there is a place called 'right hand ascension', where if the sun rises in this area, it has entered into the vernal equinox. Vernal is a Latin word for 'green'. It is the vernal, 'green' or spring equinox. At this place in the sky, the sun is 'springing up', if you will, it is rising in the sky in the spring, heading further north, away from the southern winter solstice point. The Egyptian god Osiris was called the 'god of the green', and was frequently painted green, because there was a time, thousands of years ago, when the sun rose during the spring equinox in the constellation of Osiris, the constellation we draw on our star maps today as constellation Orion the Hunter. (Referencing the writings of Dr. E. C. Krupp, here, the astronomer of Griffith Observatory.) That Eye, the 'green' place, was the place of the spring equinox in the sky. What is interesting about that place in the sky, is that it moves. The sky drifts over time, this is called the precession of the equinoxes. Today, we cite the writings of Classical Greeks as being the first to discover this idea. But if you had a bit of knowledge of ancient astronomy myths and a smattering of astronomy, you would realize that the 'green', that place of the one complete eye, the oi-kanos, moves as a circle in the sky. Over time, about 26,000 years, that Eye will drift completely across the sky map, and return again near its starting point. There is a circle of oi-kanos, or Ocean in the sky. On modern astronomy maps the place of the spring, the vernal equinox is marked as the 'first point in Aries', because the spring equinox was in constellation Aries the Ram when the ancestors of our modern sky maps were created. The Egyptians said that the complete Eye was made up of several fractions, or parts. Plato said when each of the known planets (there were seven known planets in ancient times) arrived in one spot in the sky, as a new spring constellation was moving into position, this would mark the end of an Age, and the beginning of a new Age of time. All the planets getting together is called a Grand Conjunction. An Age is defined by which constellation is the spring equinox. The Age of Taurus occurred when Taurus the Bull was the spring equinox constellation. The Age of Aries occurred when Aries the Ram was the spring equinox constellation, and so on. Currently, the spring equinox is in Pisces the Fishes, and it has been in Pisces for about 2,000 years or so. Manilius says that constellation Pisces belongs to Neptune, lord of all the oceans. If Aristarchus, living in Egypt, and having access to the great Library of Alexandria meant these ideas as ideas of Ocean, then Oceanic stories were myths of travel across the sky, myths of the constellations, and how that green, vernal point in the sky moves across them. If I may point out, when Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey" were written down, the Eye of the spring equinox was in Aries the Ram, a constellation that Manilius says belonged to Athena, goddess of Wisdom. The story of the "Odyssey" begins with Athena, goddess of Wisdom as one of the characters. There is precedence for constellations and planets being treated as if they were real people, walking and talking upon the Earth. The Greek hero Herakles walked the Earth, and was born in Thebes, Greece, but Herakles is the constellation Hercules in the sky. In myth, Herakles or Hercules performs his Twelve Labours, he walked through the sky interacting with the twelve sections of the zodiac, as they were understood at that time. Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Apollo, Athena, all of these were planets or were the embodiments of constellations, and all appeared in myth, walking and talking on the Earth, eating and drinking, seducing and fighting, having children, and in story they crossed real rivers, entered real cities, walked upon real mountains, the blending of myth and reality was seamless. The same existed in other cultures, with the Egyptian god Osiris being a constellation, but appearing in myth to inhabit cities on Earth, to travel to real, mundane locations. Gilgamesh, of the Middle Eastern stories also did this, being the constellation Hercules in the sky, but in myth he fights, eats and drinks, meets wenches and friends, travels real rivers and real mountains of the Middle East, but he is traveling the twelve signs of the zodiac as understood at that time, and he interacts with Taurus the Bull of Heaven, Humbaba the Giant, called Orion the Giant on our sky maps, meets Scorpius the Scorpion-Man and his wife, and meets Utnapashtim called Deucalion by the Greeks and marked as Aquarius the Water-Bearer on our sky maps today. According to Aristarchus, these would all be 'stories of Ocean', taking us beyond the bounds of our normal, everyday lives, taking us out past the Earth, into the circle of Time, and the oi-kanos.
  4. Hello. I am from small town, rural America. It is tradition here to drown our economic problems with alcohol, marijuana, and amphetamine. I drown my problems with stacks of old classical literature, instead. I find that used bookstores are cheaper than liquor stores. And I've never received a legal fine for driving under the influence of Homer.