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Ancient Myth Articles
Note: The author of this site knows David Talbott very well, and considers him to be the foremost mythologist in the world, if not the foremost scholar. He is a polymath of extremely high intelligence and integration capability. More importantly, in scholarship his integrity and valuation of the truth is at the highest level.
More than one post recently has raised questions about the ancient planetary "conjunction" of Saturn's epoch. Though this subject deserves a more visual treatment than is possible in an email forum, I will register a few observations.
I noticed on the videotape of the SIS conference last fall that Professor Lynn Rose made a memorable statement to the effect that one can search through world mythology without confronting the "god-kabob", his phrase for the claimed collinear system. I, on the other hand, do not hesitate to claim that world mythology is nothing else than the story of the "Great Conjunction" of Saturn's epoch and what happened to it. Of hundreds of recurring mythical and symbolic motifs we have identified, not one can be isolated from the conjunction principle.
I found Lynn's statement particularly curious since, as one of the more dedicated Velikovskians, he would be among the first to agree that ancient peoples worshipped the planets as the great gods of former times. If so, on what ground could he deny that the images of Venus in the center of the ancient sun god (Saturn), which Ev presented at the very conference in question, imply a principle of "conjunction"? Or how could he deny that the far-famed liaison or "marriage" of the warrior Mars and the Venus-goddess similarly implies a planetary "conjunction"? Grant the identity of god and planet; and you cannot escape the ancient memory of planets juxtaposed in the sky close to the earth.
No doubt my suggestion that EVERY recurring theme involves a joining of planets will appear excessive. But the statement is literally true and would be easily challenged if false. Examine any theme in its earliest contexts and you will come face-to-face with the conjunction principle.
An example: One might wish to suggest that the myth of the world mountain, a recent subject of discussion, does not really require a conjunction principle, just a cosmic hill and a god on the mountaintop. But there is no world mountain if you take away conjunction. As we have documented, the mountain is the pillar- form of Mars, the warrior-hero, whose first form the Egyptians called Shu (a god identified as "the Primeval Hill") and the Sumerians knew as Enlil (called "Great Mountain"). The reference is to the COSMIC mountain, presenting the appearance of a great pillar supporting the central sun, who is Saturn. It is this pillar-god who, in Atlas fashion, "raises up heaven", and here too the reference is to the huge sphere of Saturn ("all-containing heaven") resting visually above the cosmic column.
Nor can the planet Venus be removed from the theme of the world mountain, for the goddess is the celebrated "consort" of the mountain; the "spouse upon the mountain"; the feminine enclosure upon the summit of a masculine column. This radiant "womb" of the goddess signifies the temple, city, or kingdom of heaven, always linked to the peak of the world mountain.
Thus the great column is the Mount of Assembly, or Mount of Congregation, the place where the planetary gods dwell, as we see them gathered on Zion (=Tsaphon) and Olympus; conjunction and the gathering of the gods mean the same thing in ancient symbolism. So too, we have the Martian mountain as the single "leg" or lower limbs of the ancient sun; the column as a stream of aether or "air" brought by the warrior-hero to vivify the sun god; or the luminous path of the hero-messenger traveling between worlds. Apart from the conjunction principle, therefore, virtually nothing would be left of the world mountain! Even the lost paradise on the mountaintop would dissolve before us, since (as we've noted on prior occasions) "Paradise" means nothing else than "the Great Conjunction of the Golden Age".
But again, one need only look closely to see that ALL mythical themes involve conjunction–Saturn as primeval Unity (he holds within himself the undifferentiated male and female powers); the goddess as the spouse and "indwelling glory" of Saturn; goddess as womb of the hero's birth; hero on the "lap" or "throne" of the goddess; goddess as eye of Saturn and hero as pupil of the eye; goddess as feminine "heart" of Saturn and hero as masculine "heart of the heart"; goddess as animating "soul" of Saturn and hero born from this soul; goddess as plant of life and hero born from the shining blossom; goddess as the hero's crown and hero "born from the crown"; goddess as vase, and hero "born from the jar"; goddess as radiate shield protecting the hero; goddess as omphalos or navel, and hero as "navel-born" god or "husband" of the navel; goddess as nave or hub of the "sun"-wheel, and hero as axle.
Once the conjunction principle is fully appreciated, it becomes easy to see that the same principle will account for Jupiter's presence at the summit of the world axis following the displacement of Saturn. Jupiter was there all along, hidden behind Saturn. This will also explain why, in later astrology, a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was called a "Great Conjunction", and with it the seers anticipated the return of the Golden Age.
But remember that the Golden Age did not stand alone in human memory. Two seemingly contradictory tendencies pervaded all of the ancient civilizations: the first was the yearning for a return of paradise; the second was the fear of another Doomsday. The two tendencies are interwoven, for the Doomsday catastrophe means nothing else than the violent end of the Golden Age. Thus, thousands of years after these events, you still see the two motives entwined around the conjunction principle. Let the visible planets gather in the sky and what do the astrologers anticipate? "The Golden Age returns!" and, "Beware, for Doomsday approaches!"
It needs to be emphasized that the Saturn model offers a direct correlation between the mythical themes and the primary pictographic and symbolic themes. Just as ALL mythical themes refer back to conjunction, so do the pictographs. Take, for example, the well-known "sun"-signs we have illustrated in the book, Thunderbolts of the Gods.
Supposedly, these are just unusual ways of drawing our Sun! But by tracing these images back to the earliest Mesopotamian and Egyptian prototypes it can be seen that these are pictures of THREE ORBS IN CONJUNCTION. The identities of the NAMED planets in the Babylonian system is equally clear, as is the remarkable fact that the artists got the relative sizes correct. (Of this there can be no dispute, whatever you may wish to make of the situation.)
These pictures, therefore, offer crucial information on the nature of the planetary conjunction to which the myths refer. In modern times when two or more planets merely enter the same zodiacal sign it is called a "conjunction". That allows a full 30 degrees of leeway–60 times the diameter of the Moon. In fact, three planets literally superimposed upon each other have NEVER been seen since the birth of empirical astronomy. And yet that is, beyond question, the ancient idea displayed pictographically and implied by countless ritual, symbolic and mythical traditions. It is also the condition inherent in the Saturn model (AND it is the principle implied by collinear equilibrium). The planets were aligned such that, in the stable phase, a single line would run through the center of each planet.
In this regard, here is an interesting quote concerning the third century Babylonian priest-astronomer Berossus and the relationship of planets to world-ending catastrophe. Though the quote is weakened by the constellational associations, which have no part in the earlier imagery, the persistence of ancient memory is really quite remarkable.
"Berossus, interpreter of Belus, affirms that the whole issue is brought about by the course of the planets. So positive is he on the point that he assigns a definite date both for the conflagration and the deluge. All that the earth inherits will, he assures us, be consigned to flame when the planets which now move in different orbits, all assemble in Cancer, so arranged in one row that a straight line may pass through their spheres. When the same gathering takes place in Capricorn, then we are in danger of the deluge."
In this single paragraph we see a series of beliefs expressed, all of them ludicrous by modern standards.
1) The planets once moved on different courses than they do now.
2) The great catastrophes recalled by ancient cultures related directly to the movements of planets.
3) Despite their flickering, seemingly formless appearance now, the planets are spheres. [As we've noted before: planets do not look like spheres today; modern theory cannot account for this ancient knowledge]
4) In a former time, the planets stood in conjunction.
5) An overwhelming catastrophe followed this conjunction.
6) Unlike the "conjunctions" familiar to astrologers in later times, the archetypal conjunction (the one affecting the fate of the world) was so perfect as to allow a single line to pass through the planetary spheres.
I trust all readers will recognize that memories such as these, impossible to explain within any conventional framework, need no further explanation under the Saturn model.
TED BOND asks: How could the Great Conjunction have "caused" or "brought about" the destruction of Saturn, . . . given that it was stable for a considerable period of time?
David Talbott: In a nutshell, much of the later anxiety involves nothing else than the POST HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC FALLACY: .after it, therefore on account of it.
Or, in terms closer to the language of ancient beliefs: As above so below; as before so again. What followed the ancient condition will be repeated whenever that condition is observed in the sky.
There really is no LENGTH associated with the Golden Age tradition, and the planetary conjunction was so fundamental to the images of Doomsday as to make it impossible for ancient astronomers to observe planets approaching each other without fearing the worst. For example, it is known that in the ancient world, when planets came into "conjunction", astronomers would begin to look for the Doomsday comet. This fascinating fear continued into the Middle Ages. All collective fears and aspirations in ancient times point to a prior condition (but never to anything occurring in our familiar world, of course). The explanation for cometary fear in relation to planetary conjunction is simply that the remembered "Doomsday comet" was born from the remembered "Great Conjunction". That the Great Conjunction also defined the Golden Age will explain why BOTH a pervasive fear and a yearning for a return to Paradise are so fully entwined with the conjunction principles in later astrology.