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Terrifying Glory of Venus
In our prior installment on the Greek goddess Athena, we noted two relationships of the goddess under the tests of our planetary model: the connection to the ancient eye-goddess, and the connection to the "shield" in which the warrior-hero finds his protection.
Our purpose was to illustrate how an independent researcher might follow the logical tests of the Saturn model in any direction. Given the specificity of the model itself, the tests leave little room for ambiguity or selective perception. They are also virtually limitless. And each poses the same question: would these deeply connected memories be possible if the claimed events never occurred?
In this brief series, our reference has been a "snapshot" of the Saturnian configuration.. You will find more information at:
A more general background is provided by the book Thunderbolts of the Gods and the DVD or Youtube videos Remembering the End of the World and Symbols of an Alien Sky, to which we have frequently referred in this series.
Before moving on, I shall offer a few more observations concerning Athena's equation with the central "star" of Venus depicted in the illustration. In this phase of the evolving configuration, Venus stands visually in the center of the gas giant Saturn, discharging luminous streams of material in every direction. In reference to this phase, I listed these testable mythical forms of Venus--
1) Great Star, Great Comet
2) Long-haired, fiery-haired goddess
3) Radiant heart, soul, or "life" of the primeval sun or universal sovereign god (Saturn)
4) Visible glory, radiance, majesty, splendor, power, or strength of the primeval sun
5) Nave (hub) and spokes of the "sun" wheel (Saturn's wheel)
7) Radiant eye of the "sun"; eye with streaming "tears"
8) Rayed crown worn by the warrior-hero (Mars)
9) Feathered headdress worn by the warrior-hero
10) Shield or protection of the warrior-hero
While conventional understanding would see only irreconcilable natural and man-made objects behind these symbolic forms, our model implies that, despite their seeming differences, each and every one refers us back to the SAME form in the sky. Of course this would be inconceivable were no external reference present to inspire the wide range of mythical interpretations. Hence, if it can be confirmed that all of listed symbols DO explicitly refer to the form we have illustrated, the logical case for its presence in the ancient sky is settled.
For this reason, in discussion of the hypothesized configuration, I have continually emphasized the concreteness of the ancient images. Consider, for example, items three and four in our list. What was meant by the "life" of the ancient sun? And what was the "power" or "glory" of the sun, so often invoked in ancient sources?
Lacking any concrete references, even the best scholars have failed to notice the libraries of evidence bearing directly on the question. The "life" - the "heart" and "soul" - of the ancient sun god is a GODDESS. And not a goddess in the abstract, but in the precise form of a radiant star drawn in the center of a larger circle or sphere. You can see this for yourself - and abundantly so - in the birthplace of astronomy. The Babylonian goddess Ishtar, who gave "life" to the gods (and symbolically to the ruling king), was the planet Venus. Her star was not located in an ambiguous "sky", but precisely in the center of the great wheel of Shamash, the "sun" god, identified by Babylonian astronomers as the planet Saturn.
But what was meant by the "life"-giving attribute of the goddess? Allow ancient words and images to mean what they say, and its significance is clear. It means the luminous material steaming outward to visually animate the larger sphere of Saturn. ("Symbols of an Alien Sky," pp 81 ff. Here Wal Thornhill's model of the electrically discharging Venus is vital!). In the daily cycle, as the sky darkened, these streams exploded into light, "bringing to life" the sun god and the celestial theater as a whole. The effusive streamers WERE the "life" of the sun god, to whom the goddess was so intimately linked.
Remove the central star and you are, in fact, looking at the mythical "death" of the sovereign power, when his heart and soul departed from him to take on a much different appearance. Indeed, this very idea - the departure of the heart-soul - emphasizes how quickly the acid tests expand the domain of evidence, no matter where one starts an investigation. We are not just dealing with static forms, but sequences of events as well. So we should expect to find the same critical sequence apparent in all of the images we have listed above.
A considerable field of evidence will tell us what happened to the streamers of the discharging Venus when the planet was removed from its collinear position They became chaotic, undulating, or serpentine, presenting the terrifying countenance of Venus as the lamenting or violent goddess, raging in the sky with wildly disheveled hair. That is, in fact, the core identity of Venus in the period of cosmic upheaval, following the "death" of the universal sovereign.
Of course volumes could, and have, been written on the raging goddess, but we must limit ourselves to just one example here, the one which would appear to be the LEAST tangible and most ambiguous of the listed images,
I refer to item four: "Visible glory, radiance, majesty, splendor, power, or strength of the primeval sun". What does that concept have to do with a GODDESS, or with the PLANET VENUS? Well, the answer is - everything! And this is a particularly telling example because even the best experts have failed to explain why the visible "Glory" of a masculine power should so consistently appear in feminine form. Why was the feminine Glory of the ancient sun distinct from the sun god himself? More specifically, why the association with the planet Venus? And more specifically still, why did it depart from the god to become a monstrous, raging power in the heavens?
Though we can only give the briefest summary here, there is no escaping the concrete meanings of the words. Sumerian texts celebrate the "terrifying glory" of Inanna (Venus), invoking the goddess as "the Light of the World", "the Amazement of the Lands", "the Radiant Star", "Great Light", and "Queen of Heaven". The texts depict the goddess "clothed in radiance". And it was said that the world stood in "fear and trembling at [her] tempestuous radiance". That is what I mean by concrete imagery attached to the "Glory" in early texts.
The language is significant in more ways than one. The Sumerian word for the Glory or radiance in which Inanna clothed herself is melammu. The Akkadian term is sallammu and astronomical texts employ this very word for a COMET.
Thus, the placement of the star of "Glory" is crucial under any reasonable test of our model. Both the texts and artistic renderings locate the star in the CENTER of "Heaven" - an absurdity in relation to the appearance of Venus in today's sky But the word translated as "Heaven" is the Sumerian An (Akkadian Anu), referring to the highest god in the pantheon. More specifically, An is the prototype of kings and founder of the Golden Age, the god we have identified (and more than one specialist has also identified) as the planet Saturn.
In invoking the "terrifying glory in the center of An", the texts give us the very placement predicted by the model. Of equal significance are the artistic depictions of the star of Ishtar, the Babylonian Venus, showing the sphere of Venus placed squarely in the center of a much larger circle or sphere and radiating streams of light to the circumference of the larger body. That is the true meaning of the star of Glory in the ancient world, a meaning that can be confirmed by any researcher willing to investigate the subject with any seriousness. (The fact that the artists depicted Venus and other planets as SPHERES is no small matter either, since it is flatly impossible to detect the sphericity of a planet in today's sky.)
A counterpart to the Mesopotamian image will be the Hebrew Shekinah, called the "indwelling," the feminine "Glory" of God. The Persian Zend Avesta speaks of the "awful Kingly Glory" ("Kavaem Hvareno") which "clave unto the bright Yima" during the Golden Age. As we have noted elsewhere, Yima is to be identified with the planet Saturn.
According to Avestan tradition, the Glory departed from Yima with the end of the Golden Age, That was when "the glory was seen to flee away from him". And strangely, on its departure, the Glory took the form of a female chaos monster, remembered as "that most powerful, fiendish Drug, that demon baleful".
This turns out to be a key, for we are reminded that the goddess Inanna, the Sumerian star of terrifying glory, was also transformed into a world threatening dragon. "Like a dragon you have deposited venom on the land... Raining the fanned fire down upon the nation...With a roaring storm you roar; with Thunder you continually thunder".
The Hindus remembered the Face of Glory, called "Kirttimukha", said to have been born from the EYE OF SHIVA. It was lion-headed and its "mane, disheveled, spread far and wide into space". Authorities have recognized the Face of Glory as the "terrible aspect" of the Supreme Goddess Devi. This, in turn, draws our attention to the Egyptian goddess Tefnut, the central Eye and "Majesty" of Ra. When the Eye- goddess departed from Ra, she took on a raging countenance, appearing as a giant LION HEAD, with FLAMING, SMOKING MANE. Virtually identical images are attached to the Egyptian Sekhmet, also called the Eye and Majesty of Ra. In her departure, Sekhmet is simultaneously depicted in leonine form and as a fiery tempest - "a circling star, which scatters its flame in fire".
Though we are merely skimming the service here, perhaps the reader has already surmised the connection with the Greek goddess Athena, whose acknowledged alter ego is none other than the famous Gorgon Medusa. Indeed, the terrifying head of Medusa, with disheveled, undulating, serpentine hair is the commonly-cited counterpart to the Hindu Kirttimukha or Face of Glory.
Where, then (harking back to our previous discussion of Athena), should we expect to find the head of Medusa, but exactly where Greek artists so frequently depicted it - squarely in the center of the aegis or warrior shield? We are, in other words, dealing with a coherence of symbolism entirely missed by the specialists. On the one hand, we have the Greek image of the shield noted previously, with its central sphere and radiating lines of force, and on the other hand we have the shield revealing in its very center the head of Medusa - terrible aspect of Athena - performing precisely the role we should expect of the angry goddess. (Readers are referred to our earlier discussion of Venus as shield-goddess and protectress.)
Both the Hindu Kirttimukha and the Medusa-head possessed the power to ward off evil, reminding us of the more ancient role of the goddess' terrifying countenance in fending off the celestial powers of darkness. Of the raging goddess Sekhmet, Egyptian texts say, "No one at all can approach her, the streams behind her are flames of fire". So too, the Sumerian Inanna, clothed in radiance: her enemies "dare not proceed before [her] terrible countenance".
These prototypes will surely explain why, in more earthbound rituals, both the Kirttimukha and the Medusa head took the form of a gruesome "mask" placed as protection over the threshold. Symbolically, the frightful countenance of the angry goddess' "Glory" also means DEFENSE (= shield of the hero in his conjunction with the goddess.) The same concept will be seen in the Gorgon-like T'ao T'ieh of the Chinese, which the leading authority Ananda Commaraswamy identifies with both the Kirttimukha and the Gorgonian or Medusa head. Indeed, even in the Americas one encounters the same underlying concept in rites of such Aztec goddesses as Cihuacoatl and Toci. Of the goddess Cihuacoatl, the Aztecs sang - "She is our mother, a goddess of war, our mother a goddess of war, an example and a companion from the home of our ancestors...She appears when war is waged, she protects us in war that we shall not be destroyed...She comes adorned in the ancient manner with the eagle crest." (Compare the familiar, comet-like "crest" of Athena.)
In Aztec ritual, the flayed "skin" of the mother goddess (provided by specially-selected sacrificial victims) was donned by warriors, not unlike the head of Medusa on the shield or over the threshold, the wildly disheveled hair deliberately presented as an emblem of terror - a weapon- mask-shield against all enemies. That Cihuacoatl herself was the "example" - meaning the PROTOTYPE - is all we need to know to see the link between later commemorative or ritual practices and the ancient role of the goddess.
By comparing such motifs as these one will discover coherent, cross-cultural memories never imagined by conventional theorists. Only in OUR world do a "shield" and a frightening "mask" play different practical and magical roles. In the archetypal realms of world mythology, the two concepts are indistinguishable - both referring to the radiating "Glory" of the mother goddess Venus when, in the phase of cosmic upheaval and the wars of the gods, the goddess took on her terrifying, world-threatening, cometary aspect.