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A Unified Theory
Perhaps few claims I've made for the Saturn model will seem more outrageous than the assertion of a unified theory. But all I am really saying is that there was a mythmaking epoch of human history. It had a beginning and an end. Its focus was an unstable congregation of planets close to the earth, moving through phases of beauty, awe, and terror. The "myth-making" epoch was unlike anything which followed. With the drifting away of the planetary gods, attention shifted radically to the tools for remembering. Through mythical representations and reenactments, our ancestors sought to keep alive and to give meaning to experiences more intense than anything experienced in later times. Myth requires an active imagination, but something more as well. Always the myths point to EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS re-defining the course of human history.
A study of the archetypes--the first forms and enduring themes of myth--will show that they are already present with the flowering of civilization. AND NONE ARE ADDED OVER THE SUBSEQUENT MILLENNIA. Though quite remarkable from the usual vantage point (which assumes an expanding corpus of myth through history), the fact is expected under the Saturn model.
I've stated often that there are hundreds of archetypal themes of myth. But there is, at root, a unifying thread, which I called the "One Story Told Around the World." The statement is indeed preposterous, but of this truth I no longer have any doubt. All of humanity experienced the same events.
I believe that a series of snapshots of the polar configuration, together with animations illustrating the seamless connections between the different phases, will do the most to make the outrageous claims believable. It will also lend enough clarity and specificity for readers to see how easily the model will be disproved if our claims are fundamentally false.
For a few weeks now I've been musing over the ways to establish the core principles and work outward from there, so that something more than random details will be evident. Though entirely understandable, the popular sense of randomness is the most pervasive misperception of myth. There is no such thing as a random original theme of myth. Randomness enters the picture only as the archetypes are subjected to localization, a process which can only introduce contradictions.
As a testament to the unity of world mythology, I list below the archetypal personalities of myth. It's a small list. There are no others.
Though multiple bodies are involved in the planetary configuration, one planet in particular came to be identified as unified power, presiding over cosmic beginnings. That planet was Saturn. In this sense it is not inappropriate to call the archaic god, the subject of the One Story, the god Saturn, so long as it is clearly understood that other planetary powers in the configuration provided distinctive aspects of that god.
Our first "snapshot" depicts the universal sovereign just prior to the visual displacement of the planetary bodies in conjunction. It is with their visual displacement that aspects of the unified god begin to emerge as separate powers, becoming the active forces in the "creation" and setting in motion a series of more complex events. With the emergence of distinct and independent forms, arising from aspects of a primeval Unity, other archetypal personalities take the stage, all standing in a fundamental relationship to the sovereign god we have called the Universal Monarch, and all playing distinctive roles in the One Story
QUEEN OF HEAVEN
Wherever you find the Universal Monarch you will find close at hand the ancient mother goddess--the feminine power whom the Sumerians called Inanna, the Queen of Heaven, and the Babylonians called Ishtar. For the Egyptians the prominent goddess figures include Isis, Hathor, and Sekhmet, each with numerous counterparts in their own and in other lands. Familiar names of the great goddess would include the Greek Aphrodite, Athena, and Artemis, or the Latin Venus, Minerva, and Diana, but many hundreds of counterparts could be named, all expressing a similar complex of ideas.
While the goddess will at times appear as the mother of the universal sovereign, the more common role is as the god's daughter or spouse. When the goddess idea is traced to its earliest roots, one notes two crucial themes reflected in the symbolism:
1) The goddess is the central, animating source of the sovereign god's power. She is his "radiance," his "glory," even his "life,"--a role she fills concretely in her capacity as the god's central, luminous eye, heart, or soul. All of the leading Egyptian and Mesopotamian goddesses, for example, reveal this underlying character.
2) The departure of the goddess begins a series of events leading to a descent into chaos, the onset of world-destroying catastrophe and the perceived "death" of the sovereign himself, whose flaming "soul" rages in the sky in the form of the angry, lamenting, or warring goddess. The most common form of the raging goddess is the female serpent or dragon attacking the world.
It will be our contention that the full complex of goddess images answers to the role of Venus in the planetary configuration. With a visual model as a reference we will see that the original "beauty" or "radiance" of the great goddess, her "life-giving" attributes; her role as "star" par excellence; her centrality in relation to the universal sovereign; her birth as an independent power; and her terrible aspect, are all rooted in the highly concrete visual appearances of Venus through two prominent phases, one quasi-stable, the other highly unstable, unpredictable, and violent.
But a third, most fundamental attribute of the goddess must be mentioned as well: that is her role as the mother of another archetypal figure.
This is the great national hero, originally the Demiurge, the servant of the Universal Monarch, but passing into later myth as the laboring warrior, messenger or servant of a great chief or renowned ruler. He is the Hercules archetype, a figure combining knowledge and brutish strength, quick wit, and episodic foolishness. He defeats the chaos monsters in primordial times, and he reconfigures the world. This is the most active personality in world mythology, clearly dominating the more developed chronicles and epic literature, while the more passive Universal Monarch fades into the background. The warrior-hero is the prototype of the famous tricksters and buffoons of later myth and folklore, flowering into innumerable tribal variations.
Noteworthy instances of this warrior archetype would include the Egyptian Shu, Horus and Sept, Sumerian Enki, Damuzi and Ningirsu, Akkadian Ea, Ninurta and Nergal, Hindu Indra, Norse Thor, Greek Ares and Hercules, Latin Mars, Aztec Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca, North American Coyote and Raven, to name the barest few among thousands.
The comparative approach will identify this warrior figure as the planet Mars. In the Saturn model, that means the innermost circle or sphere in the pictographic representations under discussion. In the myths, Mars' displacement from that visual position is most commonly recorded as the "birth of the hero" and the "descent of the hero," two themes of immense impact on the ancient world. But numerous other themes must be confronted as well.
Reducing this complexity to its most crucial details, four principles must be noted here.
1) In the earliest versions of the story, the warrior-hero is born from the womb of the mother goddess, who is Venus. The "birth of the hero" means the displacement of Mars from the position depicted in our initial snapshot of the planetary configuration.
2) Periodic movement of the warrior-hero along the world axis occurs, a motion associated with the visual descent and ascent of the god. This movement along the axis also bears a distinctive relationship to episodes of catastrophe.
3) The reunion, or consorting, of the warrior-hero with the mother goddess was celebrated by every ancient cultures. This pervasive story was rooted in the visual conjunction of Mars and Venus as they drew nearer to each other in the configuration. From this conjunction arose the repeated myth of the hero's liaison with the daughter or spouse of a renowned "king," or the hero consorting with his own mother.
4) In connection with the descent of the god, a cosmic column appeared, a luminous stream stretching along the world axis. This cosmic column will be the world mountain, or the mountain upon which the hero was "exposed" at birth, or the mythic river into which the hero was cast at birth. By this association the hero himself was inseparably linked to the world pillar. Originally, it was his essence as the Atlas figure, supporting the turning sphere of "heaven" (Saturn) upon his shoulders.
These satellite figures are presented in a variety of contexts, as seers or wise men, archangels, patriarchs, children, dwarves, stones, eyes, stars, orbs, heads of the chaos monster. They are the first (but not the only) reason for the sanctity of the number seven in ancient symbolism. We meet these gods as seven stones of fate, or seven demons in Sumerian and Akkadian symbolism; seven eyes of God in the book of Zechariah; seven Watchers of Enoch; seven stars and seven spirits of God in the book of Revelation; Seven Sages of Arabian epic literature, Seven Immortal Fates of the Persians; seven Rishi of the Hindu Vedas. Seven daughters of Aphrodite, or Seven Sisters in Greek myth. Seven heads of the primeval serpent or dragon in Egyptian, Babylonian, Hebrew, Christian, Hindu, and Mesoamerican traditions. In more than one land, constellational astrology eventually localized the Primeval Seven as stars of Ursa Major or the Pleiades.
In the Saturn model these will be the seven moons or "satellites" originally seen in the presence of Saturn. (This point cannot really be clarified until we take up the polar enclosure, the visual dwelling of the primeval seven.)
Here we meet the darker, more menacing powers, possessing an often-veiled link to aspects of the mother goddess or warrior- hero. Of these darker creatures none is more prominent than the cosmic serpent or dragon, a monster whose attack upon the world is synchronous with the twilight of the gods, and whose ultimate defeat signals the birth of a new age or, symbolically, a new year. Babylonian Tiamat. Egyptian dragon of Apep. Greek Typhon. But within every culture, endless variations will be found: hundreds of monsters held responsible for the primeval catastrophe, each providing a different nuance, a different accent, a different way of remembering the cosmic agent of Doomsday.
Though we must oversimplify things in stating the planetary identifications, the general rule is that the female chaos monster is the terrible aspect of the mother goddess, who is Venus, while the male chaos monster is the terrible aspect of the warrior-hero Mars. Both planets participate directly in the unstable and catastrophic phases, yet paradoxically both are linked to the vanquishing of chaos and renewal of the world. Moreover, the close conjunction or interaction of the two bodies does not allow for an unequivocal distinction between the two, as I will seek to make clear.
These are the companions of the monster figures. They are the swarming powers of disorder and calamity, the fiends of darkness-- flaming, devouring demons which so many magical rites were contrived to ward off. From the Norse Valkyries to the Greek Erinyes, from the Babylonian Pazuzu-demons to the Egyptian "Fiends of Set," every culture remembered the onslaught of these chaos demons, moving across the heavens as a sky-darkening cloud and ushering in the cosmic night. In their earliest expressions, they do not just announce the primeval catastrophe, they ARE the catastrophe.
The chaos hordes signify the cometary debris fields and gas or dust clouds particularly prominent in the unstable phases of the configuration. Mythically, they are to retinues of the goddess and hero in their terrible aspects, while also giving shape to the bodies of these monsters. And yet, in the phases of stability, they become the raw material of creation itself, giving form to a luminous habitation in the heavens. Both the polar column and the polar enclosure are constituted from this raw material, which the Egyptians called the "primeval matter," the alchemists' prima materia.
Lastly, there is the compelling personality of the dying and resurrected or transformed god-king, whose return to life is reflected in the dramas of the ancient New Year. As a global symbol, the "New Year" recalls the passing from one age to another, a remembrance often celebrated annually but on many other schedules as well. Though his identity is inseparably tied to the Universal Monarch, the resurrected god nevertheless emerges in distinction from that god as his son. He is simultaneously a younger version, and the rejuvenated form of his father, and his appearance or "reappearance" is synonymous with the renewal of a world which had fallen into darkness and discord. Such appears to be the underlying character of the Egyptian Osiris, Akkadian Marduk; Persian Ahura Mazda; Norse Balder; Hebrew Yahweh; Phoenician Bel, Greek Zeus, Roman Jupiter. This archetypal. renewed god will frequently appear as a more passive figure in contrast to the mother goddess and warrior-hero personalities, both of whom are highly active in the break between world ages and are typically involved directly in the episodes leading to the sovereign god's transfiguration or renewal.
It is common in our time to represent the coming of the New Year as the departure of the elder "Father Time"--along with the emergence of the ever-young or new-born babe or "child" of the New Year. We are simply extending an ancient tradition whose meaning we have forgotten.
The rejuvenated sovereign is the planet Jupiter, not visible in the illustrated phase (our first snapshot) because it was hidden behind Saturn, but becoming visible with the disruption of the collinear system, and emerging as the apparent re-birth of the original sovereign. Indeed, the identities of Jupiter and Saturn are so intertwined that we are really dealing with two aspects of the same mythical figure--the god-king's original form as Saturn, and his renewed and transformed state as Jupiter. Mythically, the younger Saturn is Jupiter, and the elder Jupiter is Saturn.
In the above listing, while we have not separated the chaos monster into its male and female aspects, we do separate the Universal Monarch into his elder and younger versions. So while there are different ways one might distinguish or count the archetypal personalities, we arrive at an acid test. Do the listed categories actually encompass the vast layers of world mythology? While I have no intent to minimize the presence of ambiguous or unexplained details, the significance of the structure should not be minimized either, for the implications are quite astounding. Patterns do not exist without a cause. And that means that an explanation of the patterns must be possible.
The implications become all the more astounding as one begins to see that each of the personalities has a defined role in the One Story. As will become clear, each archetypal figure achieves a turn of the prism, putting the focus on a particular aspect of the One Story and providing more colorful action and detail. But throughout these dramas, the core personalities of myth all know each other and interact in highly meaningful ways.
The question, therefore, must be asked: what events could have unleashed human imagination in this way, inspiring a story so powerful as to have retained its underlying structure for thousands of years?
Structure implies coherence, an integrity between the parts. Clearly, human imagination must have gone wild to have produced the incredible vistas, the complex personalities, and the magical events of world mythology. But structure is there too, and structure means that human imagination was not operating in a vacuum. It is the structure that directs our attention to common experiences and to the external references, without which a unified substratum would be impossible.