Amanda Laoupi: The Pelasgian Spiritual Substratum of the Bronze Age Mediterranean and Circum-Pontic World (2)

Sirius, Dionysos, Apollo, Draco. More evidence

The young Cretan Dionysos (aka Iacchus associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries, where he was called "the light-bringing star of our nocturnal rite" = Sirius and Sothis; Aristophanes, Frogs 316-353; Harrison, 1991) was originally a dying and resurrecting Minoan vegetation god; remember, also, that Demeter looked for her daughter Phersephasa aka Persephone wandering the Earth for nine days, and that the Eleusinian mysteries, held in honour of the two goddesses, lasted for nine days; the 9-day Minoan week; Hephaistos was falling from the sky for nine days before landing on Lemnos island, and spent nine years in the deep ocean; Deucalion sailed for nine days and nine nights until, at the end of the flood, he landed on Mount Parnassus (see also the 9-year pattern in Artemis mythological cycles, Harrod, 1976, p. 66); Philoctetes spent nine years on the island of Lemnos, before Troy could be conquered; Minos was ‘enneoros’ (Blomberg and Henriksson, 1996); Heracles and Apollo had to serve nine years in order to be cleansed of their blood crime (Barbanera, 2013). The solemn rites and festivities of the Pelasgic Kabeirian Mysteries in northeastern Greece (e.g. Lemnos, Imbros and Samothrace) took place every nine years.  From the earliest times, the Pelasgians are said to have sacrificed a tenth of their produce to the Cabeiri in order to be protected against famine. Their chief priest was probably the hierophantes mentioned by Galen (III. 576); The famous Delphia in honour of Apollo took also place every nine years,  celebrating the triumph of the God over the terrifying forces of Life and Death, personified by the Python Serpent/the Dragon: a metonic 18-year cycle broken down into two periods for the full growing up of a human being with two 9-year semi-periods (biological and social till the age of 18).

Moreover, Sirius was the key star related to the Eleusinian Mysteries (Penrose, 1892 and 1893; Lockyer, 1893 and 1894).  It was shining as it rose at midnight along the axis of the temple in the middle of September (Homer, Iliad V.5: Sirius is characterized as the autumn star). Eleusian traditions are also very old, as they belong to the ‘proto-hellenic’ religious nucleus. Poseidon’s son, Eumolpos, chief of the Eleusinians, wared against Erichtonios, king of the Athenians. Although the Athenians won this war, they let the Eleusinians preserve the privilege of supervising the Mysteries. In fact, Eumolpos was the founder of the Mysteries honouring Demeter and Dionysos (Kerenyi, 1967and 1976) and the teacher of viticulture and the cultivation of fruit-bearing trees. The highest priests of the most solemn ceremonies during the Eleusinian Mysteries were elected among the Eumolpides, one of the older sacred families in later Athenian history (Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 154 & 476; Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution XXXIX.2; Pausanias, I. 38.3; Plutarch, On Exile 607b; Apollodorus, II. 5.12). 

On the other hand, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo mentions for the first time a she-dragon (drakaina), which has no name, but was called Delphyne in later literature before turning into a male dragon (Fonterose, 1959). The name dolf (with the regional variants dulf and dorf) is also found in Romanian culture meaning the sea monster and it is found in folklore carols associated with Christmas and New Year well-wishing ceremonies (Poruciuc, 2005). Marija Gimbutas made once again the difference as she brilliantly correlated the Greek word delphis (δελφίς) with Apollo Delphinius and his celebration at the Delphi Oracle, as well as with the term for delphus or dolphos (δελφύς, δολφός), which means the womb/uterus. Therefore, Delphi along with many other pristine cult centres of Prehistory was a ‘body temple of mother Earth’ where rebirth rituals were probably held (Gimbutas, 1980). Thus, the writer supports the significance of the number nine related to the gestation period of women included in the calendar of the god Apollo.
In the Tsodilo Hills (Kalahari Desert, northwestern Botswana) humankind’s oldest ritual evidence of snake/serpent worship has been found by Norwegian scientists. The same area is characterized as being the largest concentration of rock paintings in the world and it is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The cult referred to pythons and was dated back to at least 70 kya (Erasmus, 1992; Hogan, 2008; Coulson, et al., 2011). The presence of serpents is a very strong ancestral symbolism of feminine chthonic aspect, present in Athena’s legendary cycle (in the Athenian Parthenon, too). Thus, the veneration of the snakes dates back to Paleolithic times and all the later sacred ‘womb-centres’ of the ancient world had serpent-guardians, e.g. Delphi, as Earth’ cult with her guardian Python (Marler, 2002).

The motif of the Earth-encircling serpent survived from Neolithic times and it was strongly related to fertility (e.g. the Vinca culture) but in ancient Greek historic tradition, there were two forms of serpent, the zig-zagging Hydra (the feminine for ‘water’) at the Ecliptic as a southern constellation, and Draco (breath of fire) who spirals around the ‘chasm’ as a northern constellation. The head and the tail of the dragon symbolize the ascending and descending nodes of the moon (Valentia Straiton, 1927). The serpent which encircles the tree (Axis mundi) watches over Eden and is the guardian of the cosmic treasures in the lore of ancient cultures.

The people of the Indus Valley and the Harappan civilization shared many traits with the Cretans of their time, such as, for instance, the bull cult and snake worship, and an emphasis on maritime trade; practically all the Harappan cities were built on the seashore or on navigable rivers (Mode, 1944).

Another intriguing topic concerns the Dragon Houses found on the island of Euboea (Central Greece), and elsewhere, on Mt Hymettus (Attica) (the entire quarry area is described by A. Milchhoefer, and J. A. Kaupert, 1883, pp. 25-28; the Dragon House is labelled ‘Steinhaus’ in map 4), in Mane (southern Peloponnese, Cape Tainaro, aka ‘kolossospita’, from colossus; related to the cult of Poseidon and Helios Apollo); similar but smaller constructions are found on the island of Aegina (Saronicos Gulf - under the peak of Mt Oros, 300 m. asl, near the village Sfedouri) and in Karia (Asia Minor), near the Halicarnassus peninsula.  In the southern part of the island of Euboea, at the broader area of Styra, there are 23 to 26 ‘dracospita’ (depending on the count and their remnants) that were built by the Prehellenic tribes of the  Leleges (Strabo, 7.7.12 ‐[321‐2], 13.1.58‐59 [611]), Avantes and/or Dryopes derived from the Pelasgians (Homer, Iliad II. 536; Herodotus, I.146, I.171, VIII.46; Pausanias, IV. xxxiv.9), once having their homeland in the mountains of Oete and Parnassus, and later, around 1200 BCE, moving to Southern Euboea and the Cyclades where, as settlers, they gave the name Dryopis to Kythnos island (Kythnos was the name of  their king). Initially, during the 19th century CE, some archaeologists (Ulrichs, 1842) considered them as sanctuaries of Teleia Hera (the ‘legal’ wife of Zeus and thus protector of marriage), while others (Bursian, 1855) believed that they were places for the worship of Hercules. In 1925, Fr. P. Johnson was the first to connect these buildings with the Karians. In favour of their religious usage other scientists weighed in, such as Th. Wiegand (1896), J. Carpenter and D. Boyd (1977), and the excavator N.K. Moutsopoulos (1992).

Theodossiou, et al. (2009), after studying the area and the building of the Mt. Oche drakospito that lies at an altitude of 1386m (4547 feet), proposed a possible astronomical alignments with the brightest stars, and especially Sirius. After using two separate astronomical planetarium programs, the team discovered an orientation to the rise of Sirius
of the southern wall for 1060 BCE ± 30 years, and of the northern wall for 1150 BCE ± 30 years, the average for both walls being 1105 BCE, a fact that  corresponds to Moutsopoulos (1960) dating to 8th century BCE (based on the artefacts inside the building).

It is probable that these constructions were both observatories (in a network) and peak sanctuaries or ‘watch-towers’ of the Sky. Their interrelation with the etymology of the word ‘drakon’ (Modern Greek: ‘drakos’, from which the modern term ‘drakospito’ was derived) though, as Theodossiou, et al. (2009) wisely pinpointed, is the most amazing evidence of their significance. The ancient Greek verb δέρκομαι  means to See clearly, to Watch, to Observe. The root of its past tense (drak-) gives us the word dragon (δράκων), which in ancient Greek means “… the one who observes”! In fact, ancient worldwide symbols of the concept of the Axis Mundi from the zenith to the nadir (Rappenglueck, 2005) were, among others, the omphalos (navel) and the snake (dragon).

According to the decipherment of esoteric lore, each symbol has seven interpretations. Dragon, represented by the constellation of Draco, was the ultimate symbol of Logos, one of the most pristine symbols of Humankind, its name characterizing the wise men, the astrologers, the mystics, as well as being interrelated with the cosmic flood aka Deluge, and the pyramids (Valentia Straiton, 1927).

In addition, the researcher Dr Duncan Steel (1997) suggested that the earlier henge circle in Stonehenge was ‘a cosmic impact early warning system’. In parallel, Dr Reinoud de Jonge built a hypothesis which correlates many petroglyphs and megalithic monuments of prehistoric Europe to the disasters caused by comets (comets in the ancient lore were symbolized by the dragons or feathered serpents). Thus, these monuments were both memory books for past catastrophic events, as well as astronomical observatories for predicting future space-induced disasters (De Jonge and Wakefield, 2002).

The Cygnus Hypothesis

The famous megalithic site of Göbekli Tepe, dated between 10 and 9 kya onwards, on an isolated mountaintop in southeast Anatolia-modern Turkish Asia Minor (37.2083° N, 38.9167° E), is characterized by a series of stone enclosures that gave to the site its fame because it is considered today as the world’s oldest known temple. Among the proposed astronomical orientations, made by researchers of our era, the most prominent are those of Orion (Schoch, 2012)/Sirius (Green, 1992; Magli, 2013: Sirius was actually invisible from the latitude of Göbekli Tepe between ca 15 kya to 9.3 kya) and Cygnus (vulture) with its brightest star, Deneb. In fact, this star marks the opening of the Milky Way's Dark Rift, seen universally in ancient times as an entrance to the sky-world or the Nether-world (Collins, 1999; Collins, 2014).

Noteworthy is the fact that there is a worldwide ancient correlation (see, for example Little, 2014) between the Cygnus (the Northern Cross) and Orion constellations as key-places of the soul’s journey into the afterlife. The motif of the Milky Way as a path that the bird-like spirits, the shamans and the migratory birds took on their way to other cosmic strata is already detected in Paleolithic cosmovision (Rappengluck, 2009).

The prehistoric people of the Scottish Western Isles associated swans with the northerly transmigration of the soul, since whooper swans (and also greylag geese) migrated northwards to their breeding grounds in Iceland each spring, “carrying the souls of the dead to heaven, which lay 'north beyond the north wind'”, according to their mythology. 

Moreover, the Cygnus constellation was essentially circumpolar in the northern night sky. The central axis of the Avebury stone monument in England (dated to ca 2600-2000 BCE) was aligned with the setting of the star Deneb in Cygnus. Especially, the only carved stone (#25S in the Kennet Avenue) which is visible and standing shows the head and neck of a swan. The place was linked with the ancient British goddess Bride (aka Brigid, Bridget, Breeshey and Brigantia), whose main totemic symbols are the swan and serpent (Collins, 1999). As in other cult cases of serpent, birds and winged serpents, there too a pivotal cosmovision of death and rebirth was present (Burl, 1985). The famous Newgrange monument in Ireland seems to be oriented to this constellation (known also as the snakeman) as well.
The inverse symbolization of the birds (in this case of the storks) as bringers of newborn babies was expressed by the Baltic people, but the whole concept seems to be a survival from Neolithic times and beyond, as murals from Çatal Höyük depict human foetuses inside the bodies of vultures (Collins, 1999). In ancient Egypt, too, vultures symbolized the Mother and they were worn as talismans that attracted motherly love and protection (Valentia Straiton, 1927).

In ancient Indian wisdom traditions, Brahma rides on a sky-car pulled by seven swans, while the swan-goose is the avatar of his wife Saraswati (Danino, 2010). Furthermore, in ancient Vedic astronomy, Hamsa, the swan-goose, was associated with the stars of Cygnus, the constellation being located in the Milky Way, as the point of creation in the Universe.

The Cygnus constellation should also be considered as a key constellation in Olmec and Mayan astronomy (Hatch, 1971). The beautiful bird Seven Macaw which sits atop the World Tree in the Maya tradition can easily be interpreted as the Cygnus constellation and the Milky Way (Freidel, et al., 1993). In South America, Inca towns like Cuczo and its Sacred Valley were aligned with Cygnus, too (Collins, 1999).

Moreover, Cygnus the Swan has been associated with Orpheus. Dionysos’ father was Zeus and his natural mother was Persephone (Semele was his surrogated mother); this fact explains Dionysos’ relation with the Eleusinian Mysteries and especially with Persephone (according to the Ionian philosopher Heraclitus, fr. 15 DK, Hades and Dionysos were the same). According to ancient Greek lore, the kingships of Orpheus were six, and Dionysos was the last king nominated by Zeus (Orphic Αποσπάσματα, 207-208; Proclus, Comments on Cratylos 171.20). An augur, seer, astrologer, musician of Thracian origin, he was considered as a pioneer of culture, teaching humanity the arts of medicine, writing, agriculture (having the role of the Eleusinian Triptolemos), religious life and the mystic rites, known as the Orphic Mysteries (Aristophanes, Frogs 1032; Plato, Republic 364e), being, thus, related to Apollo and Dionysos (Pseudo-Apollodorus mention in Library and Epitome, 1.3.2 that “Orpheus also invented the mysteries of Dionysos, and having been torn in pieces by the Maenads, he is buried in Pieria”). All over the Mediterranean, there was a major seasonal day of celebration at or following the Spring Equinox. In Apollo’s temples and sanctuaries, the birth of Orpheus (Osiris/Dionysos) was celebrated at that date. Respectively, the festival of the lesser (or rural) Dionysia celebrated in the Athenian tradition coincided with the ‘clearing of the wine’ (a final stage in the fermentation process), which occurred during the first cold snap after the Winter Solstice when Dionysos was said to be reborn (he presided over the Winter Solstice).

Furthermore, Pindar (Pythian Odes, 4.176) and Apollonius of Rhodes (Argonautica, I.23-34; IV, 891-909) placed Orpheus as the harpist and companion of Jason and the Argonauts. He was also one of the heroes who visited the sinister realm of Hades (like Odysseus, Hercules, Theseus and Perseus).

An intriguing aspect of Orpheus’ legend is his wife Euridike. The Roman poet Virgil was the first to introduce the name of Aristaeus as related to this couple, since Euridike fleeing from Aristaeus (son of Apollo) ran into a nest of snakes which bit her fatally on her heel (Georgics, IV.456). According to another legend of this cycle, Orpheus travelled to Tartarus charming the goddess Hecate. So, modern researchers suspected that the story of Eurydike may actually be a late addition to the Orpheus mythical cycle, since her name recalls cult-titles attached to Persephone. Pausanias wrote that Orpheus found rites in honour of Hecate, the Savior Maid and Demeter Chthonia (; III.xiii.2; III.xiv.5). Pausanias noted, also, that an image of Orpheus, attributed to the Pelasgians, stood in the sanctuary of Eleusinian Demeter at Therae in Laconia (iii.xx.5). This reinforces the modern interpretation of the lunar triad: Hecate symbolizing the Underworld and the moonless nights, Selene symbolizing Earth’s satellite and Artemis being the daughter of Demeter and Poseidon in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

All the same, this ‘dual’ reality of Orpheus (appearance and disappearance) is perfectly matched with Dionysos’ cult. Eratosthenes (pseudo-Eratosthenes, Katasterismoi 24) gave also a very interesting version of Orpheus’ death, according to which Orpheus neglected the cult of Dionysos, preferring Apollo as the supreme deity instead. Then, the angry god sent his followers to rip Orpheus apart. Eliade (1964 /new edition, 2004) made a mind-blowing correlation for this shamanistic duality, pointing out that bacchic enthusiasm was different from Apollonian shamanistic characteristics, exhibiting a bipolar pattern (Graff, 1987). The god Dionysos was antagonistic in the myth of Orpheus, but symbiotic in his cult, and Apollo was symbiotic in the myth of Orpheus’ but antagonistic in his cult (Carliski Pozzi and Moore, 1991). This symbolizes the initial alliance between the Dionysiac and Apollonian cult, for example the Delphic identification of these two gods (Privitera, 1970, pp. 146-147).

The disappearance of the god Apollo coincided, too, with the reappearance of Dionysos and vice versa (Castro, et al., 2015). The orientation of Apollo’s temple at Delphi is northeastern, and related to the constellations of Lyra (around 15 to 14 kya α Lyrae akaVega was the pole star), Cygnus (around 18 to 17 kya Deneb aka Alpha cugni was the pole star) and Delphinus (Liritzis and Castro, 2013). Finally, Lyra (representing the lyre of Orpheus in ancient Greek tradition, with the help of which this great musician succeeded in quelling the voices of the dangerous Sirens during the Argonautic expedition) was viewed by some cultures as a vulture (Aquila Cadens or Vultur cadens, the falling eagle or vulture), symbol of death (Garber, 2008). The word Vega derives from the Arabian ‘Waki’, which took the form of Wega in the Alfonsine Tables. Its full Arabian name is ‘Al Nasr al Waki’ meaning the soaring eagle.

This coexistence of dionysiac and apollonian cult patterns may also explain the presence of both gods in Keos (Apollo related to Aristaios, the latest being an epithet of the god, Keos being a pristine Sirius cult center of Bronze Age Cyclades) as the evidence suggests (Kerényi, 1976; Papageorgiadou-Banis, 1997). Dionysos was present in the Bronze Age temple at the Ayia Eirini settlement (modern Vourkari) along with the dozens of famous female terracotta statues of ‘cult dancers’ as the excavations have revealed (Caskey, 1971; Gorogianni, 2011). The settlement was located 30 kilometers away from the Greek mainland and 270 kilometers from the Minoan capital of Knossos on Crete and its Dionysiac sancturay is considered as the earliest known of its kind (Larson, 2007, p. 128).

According to a version of an ancient myth, Cygnus the Musician-king of the Ligurians was the dearest friend of Phaethon, son of Helios. He was, also, the sacred bird of Apollo (and the Hyperboreans) and strongly related to the Oracle of Delphi (Fonterose, 1959). A very intriguing suggestion relates also the name of the Cyclades to Cygnus, naming them as Cygnades, the priestess of Artemis at Delos were called Kyknee and the priests of Apollo kyknoi (Koutelakis, 2008 and 2015 both in Greek).

Another amazing fact is that the distance between Delphi and Delos island was 1460 stadia, 1460 being the number of the Sothic Cycle which may be divided into 4 giving the number of 365 (one solar year).

Another breath-taking hypothesis includes the megalithic monument of Stonehenge as a temple of Apollo built by the Hyperboreans. Hecateus of Abdera (4th century BCE) was the first ancient writer who identified Hyperborea with Britain (fr. in Diodorus of Sicily: II.47-48). The circular temple he mentions has been identified with the famous Stonehenge by some researchers (Squire, 2003; Brodgman, 2005, pp. 163-173; Tsikritsis, et al., 2013). According to ancient lore, Hercules, Theseus and even Perseus visited the place (Rendel Harris, 1925).

Diodorus Siculus, the famous 1st century BCE Greek historian, referring to Hecateus of Miletus, the first geographer of the 4th century BCE, mentioned that (II.47): 

“Hecateus and a few others claim that, beyond the country of the Celts, there is in the Ocean an island no smaller than Sicily. It stretches northwards and is inhabited by the Hyperboreans. They are so called because they live beyond the lands where Boreas, the North wind, blows… Leto is said to have been born on that isle. This is why Apollo, Leto’s son, is the god most honoured there… From this island, the Moon appears to be at a short distance from Earth and is said to display mountains, clearly visible, as there are on Earth. Every 19 years, the god is to come back, to visit the isle. After this time, the stars return to their primitive positions. This is why among the Hellenes, too, the duration of 19 years is called the year of Meton... At the time of this appearance of the god, he both plays on the cithara and dances continuously the night through from the vernal equinox until the rising of the Pleiades, expressing in this manner his delight in his successes. And the kings of this city and the supervisors of the sacred precinct are called Boreadae, since they are descendants of Boreas, and the succession to these positions is always kept in their family”.

In parallel, the bird goddesses had a very pristine background. Homer (Odyssey, xx.66-78) described the three Harpies as the personification of storm winds related to pre-Olympian Athena as a destroyer (Graves, 1969; present also in Çatal Höyük iconography, Marler and Haarmann, 2007). In Etruscan mythology, Persephone was called Alpan or Alpanu and apart from being a ruler of the Underworld, she was also a goddess of Love usually depicted as a nude or semi-nude winged maiden. And there was the Etruscan goddess of love, fertility and vitality Turan/Tinia, protector of doves and swans (Puhvel, 1984; Owens, 2007, IV, p. 220: the word may be connected with the word TU-RU-SA in Linear A script of Minoan Crete).

The Sirens were beautiful winged women, too. Daughters of the river Acheloos and of the Muse Melpomene or Terpsichore (Apollonius of Rhodes, IV.805 & 904; Apollodorus, I.3.4) or of Gaia herself (Euripides, Hecuba, 169). Hyginus (Fabulae, 110.51), followers of Persephone and servants of Dionysos in the realm of death, they were punished by Demeter who turned them into marine birds with beautiful girl faces and charming voices (Euripides, Helen 168), which lived on an island near the southwestern shores of Italy or Sicily. Poor mariners, who were seduced by their songs, were devoured by them. Homer mentions two of them (Odyssey, xii.56). Odysseus and the Argonauts were among those who were not seduced by the song of the Sirens (Orpheus, Argonautica 1281). According to the oracle, when this happened, the birds dropped into the sea and drowned (Odyssey, xii.39 -46 & 173). It should, also, be noted that the Greek word ‘Siren’ means ‘twinkler’, if it is correctly derived from the rare verb 'seriazein' ‘to twinkle’ (the name of Sirius is derived from the same root); the word is applied, too, to the planets according to the Pythagorean school (Pararas and Laoupi, 2007).

It has been suggested, at various times, that ancient humans had knowledge and use of unseen powers, forces and energy fields. There is no question, that as it has always existed, the EM Spectrum is a naturally occurring part of our environment, comprised of a continuous sequence of electromagnetic energy arranged according to wavelength or frequency, as generated by particle motion (vibrations) and pulses created from many sources. There is also no doubt that many ancient cultures had a connection with Nature and natural forces that was fundamental and could only be described as intimate and profound in ways we moderns can merely attempt to comprehend. Electromagnetic radiation has been around since the birth of the universe; light is its most familiar form. Electric and magnetic fields are part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, which extends from static electric and magnetic fields, through radio frequency and infrared radiation, to X-rays.

Labyrinth and the Sirens? Val Camonica, northern Italy; dated to the late Bronze Age;
Selma Sevenhuijsen. A strong presence of Etruscan cultural features has been detected in the area (After Camporeale, 2005)

Turning his attention to the ancient temples of Malta, Slovakian researcher Dr. Pavel Smutny explains that complexes were used probably as generators of high frequency acoustic waves. The purpose was (maybe) to arrange a communication channel among various islands. Legends abound around Malta of sirens (acoustically) tempting or deafening seafarers. Illustrations show the similarities of the Hagar Qim Temple compound layout on Malta when compared to a typical 800 MHz wireless antenna pattern. There are an infinite variety of patterns that can be generated by antennas depending on the beam width desired, distance between the antenna poles and the frequency being transmitted. However, nearly all antenna patterns have similar characteristics consisting of a main beam lobe and side lobes as well as nulls and a back lobe. ‘Lobe’ was a word Graham Hancock ( kreisbergg6/) specifically used to describe the temple structures on Malta, mentioning the unusual acoustics he encountered in the Hypogeum there. Moreover, the visual impacts related to Cymatics or energy patterns, may also be observed in the case of the Stonehenge monuments resembling the symbol of the labyrinth (Kreisberg, 2010; Eneix and Zubrow, 2014). Thus, Sirens could be the symbol of electromagnetic waves of sound travelling like birds in Nature, and the Labyrinth the symbol of the human brain.

labyrinth and human brain

Left: Labyrinth petroglyph from Pedra do Labirinto, Galicia. Dated to ca 2000 BCE (perhaps 750–500 BCE); Saward, 2003, 38. Right: The human brain. Image synthesis by Amanda Laoupi

Argo, the Ark, Argonautica and Sirius Cult Centers of the Ancient World

In the mystic traditions of ancient people, there was Argha in the form of a ship or cup floating over the primordial waters of the abyss and symbolizing the primordial Mother, the Holy Spirit which bears the germs of all beings, the Anima mundi, the Ark of the celestial waters. Three other symbolisms were also of female expression, the serpent, the tree of knowledge, and the waters. In this mystical framework, Sirius was the symbol of the first-born sun, the fire of Heaven, the fire star of mid-summer. Furthermore, the ancient Greeks celebrated the Summer Solstice in August, the month of the ‘dog days,’ dedicated to serpent worship and to the hidden electromagnetic power of cosmic entities - in the zodiacal sign of Leo then – by dancing the dance called Pyrrhic (< pyra = fire) and imitating the coiling and the gliding of the serpent (Valentia Straiton, 1927).

Plutarch (On Isis and Osiris, 354c-359f) notes that the Canis Constellation was dedicated to the goddess Athena/Isis:

 “And the ship that Greeks call ‘Argo’ was built in the form of the ship of Osiris; it was enlisted among the constellations as an honor, and it moves not far from the constellations of Orion and of the Dog, from which the former is dedicated by the Egyptians to Horus, while the latter is dedicated to Isis”.

In fact, this interrelation explains why the temple of the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis is oriented in such a way that once a year, on July 2 (modern date), during the heliacal rising of Sirius, the rays of the rising Sun penetrated in the holy of holies of the sanctuary (Litsas, 2008, p. 40; Theodossiou, et al., 2011). Similarly, the builders of the pyramids of Argolis (Peloponnesus, Greece), oriented their entrance corridors towards the azimuth of Sirius (Theocharis, 1995). The Egyptian Horus was called ‘the double Horus of the two horizons’, who blended the Sun and Sirius (Massey, 2013).

The Arabs also applied the name 'Weight' to the star Canopus in the constellation Argo. Moreover, the ship Argo carried Danaos and his fifty daughters to Rhodes. The Argo had fifty oarsmen under Jason, called the Argonauts. There were fifty oars to the Argo, each with its oarsman-Argonaut (? 50 moons in five-year-period). The divine oarsman was an ancient Mediterranean motif with sacred meanings (e.g. the orbit of Sirius B around Sirius A takes almost fifty years). The founder of the First Dynasty of the kings of Argos, Inachus, is said to have died twenty generations before the Fall of Troy (the Trojan war is widely believed to have taken place between 1192‑1183 BCE), i.e. ca 1850 BCE. Aegyptos and Danaos were fifth in descent from Inachus (cf. Manetho, II.50.102), although the mythical King Inachus was held to be still more ancient (cf. fr. 4.1).

Thus, the ark and Argo, their connections with the Sirius mystery and its projection from the skies on Earth is another intriguing topic worthy of interdisciplinary analysis.

The prominent star of this constellation is Canopus, referred by Aratos, Eudoxus and Hipparchos. Argo Navis, half visible from the latitude of Greece, was the biggest constellation with its 829 stars till 1932, when astronomers divided it into four separated constellations, Pyxis, Puppis, Carina and Vela (Allen, 1963). Canopus was, in addition, the most famous city of the Egyptian North coast before the foundation of Alexandria. The city was built near another famous pre-dynastic Egyptian city (in fact its pre-dynastic capital city), Behdet, which existed before 3200 BCE, being strongly related to the Sirius cult and probably ‘the Greenwich’ of the ancient world prior to that date. Richard Allen gives more details on this: 

“Our name for it is that of the chief pilot of the fleet of Menelaos, who, on his return from the destruction of Troy, 1183 BCE, touched at Egypt, where, twelve miles to the north-eastward from Alexandria, Canopus died and was honoured, according to Scylax, by a monument raised by his grateful master, giving his name to the city and to this splendid star, which at that time rose about 7.5 deg. above that horizon”. 

Behdet was on the same latitude as Hebron where the Philistines were at war with the Calebites, who were named the ‘Dog men’ (Graves, 1948).

Additionally, Allen reminds us that: “And, as the constellation (of Argo) was associated on the Nile with the great god Osiris, so its great star became the Star of Osiris....”, giving further application of the title 'heavy': “The Alfonsine Tables had (for Canopus) Suhel Ponderosus ("Among the Persians Suhail is a synonym for wisdom ..." and there was also, therefore, a "Suhel Sirius"), that appeared in a contemporary chronicle as Sihil Ponderosa, a translation of Al Suhail al Wazn.' So, this designation was once applied to another star 'formerly located near Orion's stars' and 'had to flee south', this being an apparent admission that Canopus is being called by another star's appellation. Canopus is south of Sirius (which is 'near Orion's stars'), and so, obviously, the appellation of the invisible Sirius B 'fled south' to a likely visible star, Canopus.

On the other hand, and according to Lindhal (2012), “a line extended from Giza via Heliopolis and Baalbek traverses saline Lake Van and terminates at Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey, the spot where Noah’s Ark reputedly came to rest” (see also Coppens, 2004).

Dodona and Mt Ararat both claim the Ark (Deucalion’s larnax and Noah’s, respectively (Parke, 1967). In brief, Argo, the ship, which carried in its prow a piece from the speaking oak of Dodona through the action of the goddess Athena herself, carried the famous expedition from Iolkos in Thessaly to Aeaea in Colchis, in search of the golden fleece, and when the voyage was over, Athena placed the boat in the sky in the form of an asterism. Researchers thought to project the Argo on Earth with its rudder at Canopus (really Behdet) and the other end at Dodona because the oak in the prow came from there. Then, keeping the rudder at the same spot and swinging the boat over a map so that the prow touched Dodona, they found that the third spot was Metsamor.

The site of Metsamor aka Metzamor, a few kilometres west of Echmiadzin, and within sight of Mount Ararat and Alagoz in Armenia, in a volcanic area, was a metallurgical and astronomical centre between ca 7 kya and 17 century CE. The excavations began in 1965 and they are still in progress, led by Professor Emma Khanzatian. The cyclopean walls date to the 2nd millennium BCE, when the site was fortified during the Urartian Era. The first cosmic symbols of that trade culture began appearing on the side of the Geghama Mountain Range around 7000 BCE (Armenia is full of pictograms and petroglyphs). Elma Parsamian, in 1967, was the first to unlock the secrets of the Metsamor observatory and the first to discover the prominent role of Sirius in this cult and in this amazing archaeoastronomical framework (Parsamian, 1973). The priesthood of the observatory, which is dated to ca 2800–2500 BCE, geometrically divided the heavens into constellations and assigned them fixed positions and a symbolic design in a twelve-month calendar of 365 days (Maunder, 1904; Olcott, 1914). And, like the Egyptians, every four years, they had to shift Sirius' rising from one day of the month to the next. Metsamor’s ziggurat-observatory served for ritual ceremonies held in the open air.

Moreover, Aratta, king of the area, had sent a message to Enmerkar, Gilgameš’ grand-father (ca 2750 BCE) to reassure him that the goddess Inanna would not abandon either Aratta or her house (the ziggurat-temple/observatory). The Sumerian Inanna, dated back to Neolithic age and to the Al ‘Ubaid culture, was the Mother Goddess of Heaven and Earth, but also the goddess of disaster, death and destruction. Known as the ‘Dragon’, she was the goddess of natural law and civilization as well. Her sacred star was Sirius, as well as the constellations Virgo and Scorpio (Gadon, 1989; Cashford and Baring, 1993). In fact, according to Melik-Pashayan (1963), the parallel goddess of Inanna was the Armenian Anahit, the patron mother of Armenia (Metzamor took its name, ‘the Great Mother’, after her), goddess of virtue, purity, charity and childhood (Bokharev, 2002). Later on, Babylonians and Semites identified Inanna with Ištar, the personification of Venus and Astarte (the researcher Gareth Owens, 2007, claims that the Phaistos Disc is a hymn to Astarte) whose secret star was Sirius (researchers believe that the word ashtart meant either ‘the star’ or ‘she of the womb’). Inanna was known as the One With Many Names,

We should also mention that the famous Carahunge (meaning the speaking stones) aka Zorats Karer, Karahunj, Qarahunj or Carenish, in Armenia too (239 km Southeast from Metzamor), perhaps the oldest known astronomical observatory in the world (González-García, 2015), dated to 5600 BCE, was aligned to the Sun, Moon and the Cygnus constellation’s brightest star Deneb (Herouni, 1998; Parsamian, 1999).

Another amazing statement made by Aristotle (Rhetoric, 2.24, 1401a15), and mentioned by Santillana and von Dechend (2014), concerning the Octave and the seven planets, sheds light on Sirius’ importance amongst ancient circum-Mediterranean populations: “... wishing to circumscribe a "dog", one was permitted to use "Dog star" (Sirius) or Pan, because Pindar states him to be the "shape-shifting dog of the Great Goddess [Gaia]"... The amazing significance of Sirius as leader of the planets, as the eighth planet, so to speak, and of Pan, the dance-master (choreutes) as well as the real cosmokrator, ruling over the "three worlds", would take a whole volume”.

Let us look also for the geodetic plexus of ceremonial centres from the Bronze Age onwards. This reference to Sirius as ‘the eighth planet,’ is an extremely interesting topic. Dodona is considered as the eighth oracle centre of the 'northern octave'. The lines connecting Egyptian Thebes, Dodona, and Metsamor form an equilateral triangle. A line from Behdet to Dodona intersects the Cycladic island of Thera, and a straight line passes through Behdet, Mecca and Dodona. Especially Mecca has geodetic aspects and the central shrine of the Kaaba (meteorite) dates from prehistoric time. The main clues which express the interconnection between Delphi and the Sirius cult are, thus, worth mentioning: a) the visit of ‘Egyptian’ Hercules from Canopus (the Greeks portrayed Delphos, the eponymous hero of Delphi, as a Negro), b) the geodetic role of the Oracle in Argo’s projection - as Higgins points out (1927): 

“In the religious ceremonies at Delphi a boat of immense size was carried about in processions; it was shaped like a lunar crescent, pointed alike at each end: it was called an Omphalos or Umbilicus, or the ship Argo. Of this ship Argo, I shall have very much to say hereafter. My reader will please recollect that the os minxae or (Delphys) is called by the name of the ship Argo” 

c) the fact that its priesthood claimed the landing of Deukalion’s Ark on their mountain, d) its role in the decipherment of the Dogon’s belief system, and e) its role in the fate of the Minyans (Temple, 1976).

The location of Egyptian Thebes is also a very interesting topic when researchers interconnect the revolutionary act of the pharaoh Akhenaten and his beautiful wife Nefertiti to change the capital of the kingdom from Thebes to the Amarna area. The new capital was set at latitude 27 deg. 45' North at the middle point between the northernmost point, Behdet, and the southern limit of Egypt, at latitude 24 deg. 00' North! So, the ‘heretic’ couple wanted to adjust the new geodetic centre to an absolutely rigorous interpretation of Maet, the cosmic order of which the dimensions of Egypt were an embodiment, making Akhet-Aten the 'true and just' navel of Egypt (Temple, 1976).

Each octave had also its own ‘tree-code’ (e.g. the Delos-Miletus one had the palm tree, according to the relevant climatic and botanical conditions of this latitude; Temple, 1976). On the other hand, Behdet and Hebron were associated with wild acacia, which is still a sacred tree in Arabia Deserta. Theophrastus (Enquiry into Plants, IV.ii. 8) brilliantly describes: 'There are two kinds, the white and the black; the white is weak and easily decays, the black is stronger and less liable to decay...”. The acacia was Astarte’s sacred tree.

The island of Circe (Aeaea) and the island of Crete were associated with the willow. Theopharstus (Enquiry into Plants, III.xiii.7) once again enlightens us: 'There is that which is called the black willow... and that which is called the white... The black kind has boughs which are fairer and more serviceable... There is a (dwarf) form...”. Such perfect symbols of the two stars, the 'black' Sirius B being 'strong' for its size compared with the white Sirius A (Graves, 1948; Temple, 1976). As Herodotus claims (IV.33-35), the Hyperboreans, this wealthy and pious Pelasgian nation, sent yearly gifts to the sanctuaries of Delos, wrapped in sheaves of wheat. In fact, at the beginning they used to send the gifts with two virgins, accompanied for safety by five Hyperborean leaders.

Concerning the Golden Fleece and Medea, we should mention that the famous Pelasgian oracle from Delphi ordered the recovery of the fleece, and that the expedition against the people of Colchis and the capital of Aietes’ (aka Aeëtes, brother of Circe and Pasiphae) had been organized by the Pelasgians of Thessaly, unifying all the Pelasgian dynasties of Hellas (Ruck and Staples, 1994).

In ancient Greek mythological tradition, there were two versions of the story of the Golden Fleece and of how it ended up in the land of the Colchians. According to the first, Phrixus and Helle were children of Athamas, an ancient Pelasgian king of Thebes of Boeotia, and Nephele. Their stepmother Ino grabbed the opportunity, when a disastrous drought scourged their land, to manipulate the omen of Delphi’s oracle and persuade the king to sacrifice one of his two children, who managed to escape flying on the back of a talking ram. According to the second version, the workers of the fields, driven to despair by the drought, forced king Athamas to take Phrixus to the altar to be sacrificed, but her mother Nephele sent a ram with a golden fleece (a gift from the god Hermes), to transport her children by air, over earth and sea, to the land named Colchis. Then, according to both versions, one of the young princesses fell from the ram above the strait between the Aegean and the Marmara seas, which received then the name Hellespontus, namely the Sea of Helle. When her brother landed in Colchis, he sacrificed the ram to Zeus Phyxios, and presented the fleece to king Aietes, who then nailed it in Colchis on an oak tree, in the grove consecrated to the god Mars, where it was guarded by a dragon which never slept (Apollodorus, I.9; Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica; Orpheus, Argonautica; Diodorus of Sicily, IV.40 ff; Philostephanus Cyraeneus, fr. 37 in Fragmenta Historicum Graecum, vol. III. p. 34).

The ancient Greek sources mention also that the expedition to Colchis belonged in fact to the legendary series of missions and actions undertaken with the purpose of removing the sacred objects from the Pelasgic areas north of the Lower Istru, e.g. Hercules had to take the golden apples from the Hyperboreans from near Atlas, to bring from the Istrian country, or from Istria, the deer with the golden horns which the nymph Taygeta had dedicated to Artemis, and to take from Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons, the precious girdle given to her by Mars, as a symbol of primacy.

In the proto-historic period, Thessaly, which was renowned for its fertile plains and pastures, appears under the name of Argos (Argos Pelasgichon). On the other hand, the entire Hellas was once named Argos (Strabo, Geography VIII. 6. 5), Argos being a word of Macedonian and Thessalian origin, namely Pelasgian. In Homer’s Iliad, the inhabitants of Hellas appear under the name of Argeioi.

According the ancient legends, Medea (sister of Chalkiope and Absyrtus) was abducted from the splendid palace of her father, Aietes. The palace was the masterpiece of Hephaistos, and the source of four beautiful springs, one of milk, another of wine, the third of perfumed myrrh, and the fourth of warm and cold water (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica III. v. 322 ff).

In antiquity, Medea (possibly < possibly μήδομαι/medomai) = to think, to plan) was basically known as an enchantress and was often depicted as being a priestess of the goddess Hecate (the supreme goddess in Heaven, on Earth and in Tartarus with her three ‘heads’: of a lion, a dog and a horse; symbol of the ancient Egyptian tripartite year with Sirius signalling its beginning: see Graves, 1969) or a witch. Researchers think that the myth of Jason and Medea is very old, originally written around the time of Hesiod’s Theogony; it was also known to the composer of the Little Iliad, a part of the Epic Cycle.

Moreover, the land of Colchis was famous for its colchicum plant (aka meadow saffron or autumn crocus or the ‘naked lady’, similar to crocus sativus) and it seems that there was a robust trading network between the inhabitants of the area and the Minoans who probably brought the plant to Egypt, too (see also the interesting information about Jason’s and Medea’s artistic representation in later Greek culture: Colavito, 2014). All the parts of the plant are poisonous, containing colchicine, a useful drug. The symptoms of colchicine poisoning resemble those of arsenic and of cholera, and, unfortunately, there is still no antidote for it. In the pristine nucleus of matriarchal mythology, Medea introduced woman’s herbal knowledge from Anatolia and Asia Minor into Greece, being a great healer before being demonized by later patriarchal societies.

Apollonius attributed also a dark, hidden and destructive side to Jason (II.516-524; III.956-953) comparing him with Sirius (as Homer did with Achilleus in Iliad, XXII.25-36), although his name meant ‘the healer’, while Medea was compared to the full moon, since she was a priestess of Hecate (4.167-173) when the couple recovered the Golden Fleece from the guardian Draco (Hunter, 1989).

The Aries (Latin name aka Phrixis) constellation represented specifically the ram, whose fleece became the Golden Fleece of Ancient Greek Mythology, and it was correlated with it since late Babylonian times (Evans, 1998; Rogers, 1998). It was also known as Phrixus’ ram and it governed the sowing of crops (Erathosthenes, XIX; Hyginus, Fabulae 138; Hyginus, De astronomia II. 20; Manilius, Astronomica III.302; Columella, De Re Rustica X.155).

The Colchic Draco, which spun around the sacred tree, symbolized the Earth’s axis (axis mundi). Being the northern axis of the Universe, it was called Polus Geticus, and it was supported by the Titan Atlas on his shoulders (see also the Sky Column from the Atlas mountain: chion ouranou in Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 349 and Homer, Odyssey, I.53). The poet Ovid called it axis boreus or gelidus on the left side of the Euxine Pontus in the country of Getae (Tristia, IV.8.41-42). Martial called it Geticus Polus (Epigrams, IX.46), Statius Hyperborei Axes (Thebaid, XII.650-651), while Virgil named it Hyperboreus septentrio (Georgicus, I.240-241 & III.381).

According to Diodorus of Sicily (III.54. 4), the island Cerne was near the Mountain of Atlas, close to the Amazons. And according to Palaephatos (On Incredible Stories, 33), Phorcys, the father of the Gorgons, the Hesperides and the dragon who guarded the golden apples near Atlas mountain, were all natives of the island Cerne.

Homer mentions that apart from the Ethiopians who dwelt in the East, another ethnic group dwelt near Oceanos potamos (Iliad, XXIII.206 and Odyssey, I.22-23; IV.84). They were called esperioi, westerners, (Strabo, II. 5. 15), the most extreme people known to the Greeks, virtuous and saintly, favored by the gods. They (s.v. Aithiops) were the first to revere the gods, the first who used laws; and the founders of their civilization had been Mithras and Phlegyas. Zeus and all the gods attended their solemn banquets, where they sacrificed hundreds (hecatombs) of bulls and lambs (Homer, Odyssey, i.23; Iliad, I.428 and XXIII. 205). Pindar called these Ethiopians Hyperboreans (Pythian, X.30 ff). Hesiod places geographically the Ethiopians with the Ligyiens and the Ippomolgian Scythians (Fragm. 132). According to Aeschylus (Prometheus Bound, 808-809), they dwelt near the gold rich Arimaspians. According to Dionysius Periegetus, they lived in the beautiful valleys of Kernes/Cerne (218 ff), or near Erythia, close to the Atlas mountain (558-560; Avienus, 738 ff). The ancient Greeks called Aethiopes the northern Pelasgians, even the inhabitants of Samothrace and Lesbos (Pauly, R.E. 1839 ‘Aethiopia’).

Finally, the expression gaia melaina has been misinterpreted since the most remote antiquity, even by Homer, since it does not derive from the physical type, or the color of its inhabitants, but from the geochemical quality of the particular zone of black (dark colored), rich and extraordinarily productive soil (Neumann, 2010).
Thus, the metallurgic industry, the fertile lands and the mythological Pelasgian substratum of the areas from the Carpathians to Scythia, Crimea, Georgia, Armenia and Anatolia were the craddle of later mythological Hellenic cycles.

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