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The Night Sky 3000 years ago

Night Sky 3000 years ago in Fine Art Book

 

 

"Imagine that you’re a shepherd living in Macedonia about 3000 years ago. There are no electric lights, no machines, no cities, and no pollution. At night the sky is ablaze with lights, and the Milky Way is a trail of wonder.

After dark you stare into the sky for hours, and as a child you watch and learn how the sky behaves. The lights in the night wheel overhead, some setting, some rising, some always there. One light in particular, however, never moves: hour after hour, night after night, season after season, as long as you have watched, and all the other lights wheel around it. Your grandfather says that if you travel far this light will guide you, for it is always in the north. Never having been more than a day from home this seems strange to you. But you trust your grandfather, and you know this is so. Your people call these lights "aster," which later people will shorten to "ster," and finally to "star."

Your parents and the elders have also taught you to recognize patterns in the stars. You see that certain groups are high or low or not in the sky at all during the different seasons. You also see that certain groups belong to certain seasons, just as the newborn lambs and poultry belong to the spring, or the delicious, oily black olives to the late harvest. Over the years you’ve come to know these patterns, and now you expect to see them in their proper place at the proper time. This is the way the world is, and knowing this is so makes you feel a part of the world, and this feels good.

To you these patterns become indicators, (signs) of the way things are, and therefore become known as "the signs." Your people call these signs "asterismos," and the Romans that follow will call them "constellations," or "set with stars," from their word "stella" for star. And, as the great ages turn, more slowly than you and your people can perceive, in thousands of years each season comes to be marked by the constellation preceding the one that marked it before, so that what each constellation signifies changes over the ages. But that is another, long story.

You also notice—actually your father proudly pointed this out to you— that any star you choose to keep track of will rise in the east and set in the west a little earlier each night than the night before. This was hard to see at first until days or even weeks had gone by. Some of the elders study these things, and by seeing and knowing when the right star begins to rise in the east or set in the west, they tell your tribe when to plant and when to harvest and when to perform the proper rituals and celebrations. All this is good, and you know that it has always been this way, and this is as it should be.

You have come to see that although all of the lights in the sky (save the special one in the north) move all the time, they don’t move in relation to each other. Else how could you have come to know the constellations by name as they wheel overhead, each in its place and season? And yet you see that a few of the brightest stars actually do wander among the rest. You were delighted when you saw that this was so, for this made you a part of the heavens as well as a part of the world. You have been taught that these wandering stars are gods, and that their ways are as far above you as you are above the bugs that live in the ground. And your people have given them the name "planetes" (planet) in your language, for this means "wanderer."

You see that the gods move only within some of the constellations, and that these all lie in a straight line and are regularly visited by the Sun and the Moon. You know that these special constellations are the homes of the gods (for the gods never visit constellations not in this line), and you learn that the homes of the gods are 12 in number. You learn that each god has his or her own proper home, and that each god also has a home in which he or she is ill at ease and uncomfortable, like a lion in winter. And since you have named most of the gods’-homes-all-in-a-line after animals, you call them the "zodiakos" or "zodiac," which means "band of animals" in your tongue.

You see that the gods are seven in number, and that they wander at different speeds through their domiciles. Hermes (Mercury) the messenger is the fastest, and is never far from the Sun. He carries news from the gods to man, and, if the mortal knows how to speak wisely, from man to the gods. The second fastest is Aphrodite (Venus), the brightest of all gods save Helios the Sun and Artemis the Moon. How beautifully she graces the evening sky after sunset, or the dawn before sunrise. Kronos (Saturn) moves most slowly of all the gods. But this is right and as it should be, for he is the eldest and father of them all. So slow is he that the first time you watched him it took an entire cycle of Artemis for you to see him move at all within the gods’-homes-all-in-a-line.

There is so much more that you know and want to know about the gods and the stars that do not wander. The beautiful Artemis waxes and wanes as she moves through the heavens, ever changing as the glorious woman and mother of all that she is. Her many faces augur the weather as well as portend good and evil, and there are those who study her moods diligently so that they might know what is to come. You see that Helios the Sun is lowest in the day sky in the winter, and highest in the summer, and that Artemis, queen of the night, moves in just the opposite way: highest in the winter night, and lowest in the summer. Life is full and you feel close to the gods, and you know that the more you get to know their ways the better you can serve them and the better they will protect you. And so it is 3000 years ago."

This Night-sky-3000-years-ago page and much of this 550-page website are excerpted from You and the Universe, a handmade, individualized fine art book on astrology, mythology and astronomy through which the recipient's complete astrological reading is woven.

 

 

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Pages 2-3 from your astrology reading in a fine art, personalized astrology book: You and the Universe

 

 

 

 

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Covers for the personalized, fine art astrology book You and the Universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Carl Woebcke: The Night Sky 3000 Years Ago, 1991-2011. All rights reserved.