Chapter 3: LOOK TO THE SKY
There are probably no more durable consonants than the STR combination (also found as STL) which is found in many ancient and modern words. Astro- from the Latin or the Greek means star, and we see the word in such terms as astronomy and astrology. In almost every continent we encounter a form of the word star: in German it is Stern; in Persian, Sitar-eh; even in Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of South America, the word star is Seter-e. Among the Berbers of North Africa the word is Iter-i; in Latin it is Sider-a. Astr-is common in the Semitic languages. It is Ishtar, a goddess of love and spring, the Venus of Babylonia; Esther in the Old Testament; Ashtor-et in Phoenicia; Astarte in Hellas. Even the name of the Egyptian love-goddess, Hathor or Sathor, is derived from STR. This combination is found in the word Easter. The Anglo-Saxons worshipped the spring-goddess, Eostre, or Ostar-a, which is the same as Astarte or Ishtar.
If you are a considerate person, it means you are in close contact with the stars. If you take a matter under consideration, you are planning to check it out with the stars. If you desire something (desiderium), you make a wish upon the stars. If disaster strikes you, your doom came from the stars (Wadler. 1948, p. 114-118, 223). When we contemplate, we go to a special place marked out to observe the stars or some other form of augury. People become moonstruck, or they may be afflicted with lunacy by the power of the moon (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 2:200).
Ancient astronomy offers an especially rich harvest of insights into the sophistication of man many centuries ago. It is very obvious that the Babylonians and other ancients knew a great deal more than those who followed, until very recent times.
We are reluctant to ascribe the telescope to very ancient times, yet the Babylonians and others recorded information which seems impossible to gain without the aid of that instrument. They observed the four satellites of Jupiter. They probably knew all seven of the satellites of Saturn. They described the "horns" of Venus. It is very curious that both the Babylonians and the Maya called the same constellation the Scorpion. Yet the tail of Scorpio is not visible without the aid of a telescope. There is the ancient legend that the planet Uranus eats and then disgorges his children. With modern telescopes one can see that Uranus regularly covers its moons which then become visible again. On a lesser scale we are surprised to find Dante referring to the Southern Cross constellation in the Divine Comedy. It is not visible from Italy in the northern hemisphere and can only be seen south of the equator. Both Homer and Vergil knew that Mars had two small satellites which the ancients named Phobos (terror) and Deimos (rout), the so-called steeds of Mars. These satellites were not rediscovered until 1877 by Asaph Hall, who named them as Homer did. One hundred fifty years earlier Jonathan Swift, drawing on old sources, gave astonishing details about the size, motions, speed, and distances of the two satellites (Berlitz, 1972, p. 39-43, 141; Saga, December 1971, p. 24).
From time to time in the distant past, evil came from the sky and threatened the earth. One of the many indications that the world was not always the geologically peaceful place it now is, lies in the word, Ragnarok, from ancient Scandinavian legends. The word means a rain of dust, and this phenomenon is reported in the legends of many peoples and may have implications for explaining aspects of land forms (Gardner, 1957, p. 36).
It is a curious thing that the beautiful planet, Venus, far in the past was given various names which mean Satan, for example, Ahriman, Seth, and Lucifer. One cannot fail but to suspect that Venus has not always been the well-behaved lady in the sky which she now is. The name of Lucifer is particularly puzzling. It means the light-bearer - hardly a name to be associated with Satan. To complicate the matter, we find that suddenly Venus becomes associated with the word Beelzebub, which carries the strange meaning of lord of the flies. In the Iliad of Homer, Athene, another name for Venus, is called the dog-fly. Stranger yet is the fact that both among the Bantu of Africa and among Indian tribes of Brazil, Venus is called the sand fly. If Venus once approached close to the earth, the heat could have generated vermin on the earth at a feverish rate (Velikovsky, 1950, p. 180-185). Then there is the curious myth, unique to Venus, of the birth of this planet or this goddess. One is compelled to conclude that Venus has had a very strange past in historic times which left a searing impact on the world. In widely separated parts of the world, people were terrified of Venus to the point where they commonly made human sacrifices to appease the planet.
There is much more to say about this strange planet. At one time
Athene or Venus was called Tritogeneia (Tritonia) after the enormous lake
Triton which disappeared in a catastrophe in Africa when the lake broke
into the ocean, leaving the desert of Sahara behind (Velikovsky, 1950,
p. 169). According to Rawlinson, the Persian prophet of the sixth century
B.C., Zoroaster, is associated in some way with the planet Venus. His name
means the seed of Istaru, which was the Assyrian name for the planet Venus
(Victoria Institute, 13:248).
Who would walk outside at night to look at Mars and then describe the planet as the Crushers or the Storm-winds? Like the mysterious past of Venus in ancient history, Mars has had an equally checkered career which is described in much ancient literature. We are very reluctant to visualize a world different in the past from what we experience now. Yet the evidence is compelling that brutal events occurred in the past on the earth which involved Venus and Mars at various times. (Victoria Institute, 13:280).
Job 38:31 "Can you bind the sweet influences of Pleiades...?" The Pleiades is a cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus. The ancients counted seven visible stars, and they called them the Seven Sisters. Today we count six. These modest little specks in the sky are hardly noticed today. In ancient times they were of great importance, which is a story in itself. The word comes from the Greek meaning, "I navigate." The Greeks began the navigation season in May when the Pleiades rose, and finished when they set (Kolosimo, 1971, p. 54).
It is apparent from the study of astronomical terms, concepts, and
root meanings of terms and names that the ancients were very sophisticated
in the field of astronomy. It is also evident that some very strange catastrophic
events occurred in the past which had a profound effect on the earth, on
man, and on his memories of those events.
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