Amanda Laoupi: the Pelasgians spiritual substratum in the ancient Mediterranean and circum-Pontic world (5)

Who was Phaethon?

In AD 1927, Franz Xaver Kugler, a Jesuit scholar who had devoted over 30 years to the study of cuneiform astronomical texts, published an essay entitled The Sibylline Star War and Phaethon In the Light of Natural History, asserting that a large impact event in the Mediterranean Sea inspired fire-from-above legends such as Phaethon's ride. Coincidentally, it was also in 1927 that Leonid Kulik, a Russian scientist, located the area which was devastated by the 20 MT aerial explosions of the Tunguska event of June 30, 1908 (Kobres, 1995; /phaeth.html).

Emilio Spedicato (2007) suggested the year 1447 BCE for Phaethon's passage, Clube and Napier (1982) the year 1369 BCE, and Kobres (1995) and Papamarinopoulos (2007) the year 1159 BCE, respectively. Spedicato (2014) refers, also, to Homer who did not quote Deucalion but did mention Phaethon and Lampos as visible at sunrise. Perhaps the one body, Lampos crashed over Africa (Mauritania, southern Egypt?) while Phaethon spiralled towards Earth, fragmented over Arabia, entered the atmosphere over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, set afire palaces of Minoan Crete and forests of central Europe, and finally exploded over the Eider River in northern Germany.

According to the archaeoastronomical evidence, the main suspects for the periodical havoc caused on Earth during the Holocene, were fragments of the initially giant comet Encke, which first appeared 20 kya, approaching the Earth every millennium or so, causing various environmental disasters. The Bronze Age years were ca 1200, 2300 and 3300 BCE (Clube and Napier, 1990). Papamarinopoulos (2007) suggested a further coherence, the identification of the Greek goddess Athena with Phaethon as a female appearance (Phaethoussa) and the Egyptian Sekhmet 

“For in truth the story that is told in your country as well as ours, how once upon a time Phaethon, son of Helios, yoked his father’s chariot, and, because he was unable to drive it along the course taken by his father, burnt up all that was upon the Earth and himself perished by a thunder-bolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the Earth, which recurs after long intervals ” (Plato, Timaeus 22C.3-7).

In the ancient Greek traditions, this different nature of the two bodies (Hephaistos and Phaethon) is also testified to in the verses of Nonnos (Dionysiaca, 29.376), where the god Ares seems to be willing to fight against Zeus, Phaethon, Hephaistos and Athena (comets, meteoric showers and other impact phenomena!), in order to set his beloved Aphrodite free (and Hermes addressed Phaethon as follows: "Then you will shine in the sky like the Sun God next to Ares, scattering that thick invisible darkness far away; a miracle unheard of in the course of the ages"), as in the famous text from the Odyssey (Laoupi, 2006a). In the Odyssey, Phaethon was also an epithet of the Sun god Helios (xi, 16).

The implication of all the afore-said cosmic bodies (Sun, Zeus, Poseidon as Earth, Phaethon) is also testified to in Greek myth. Phaethon accidentally turned most of Africa into a desert; bringing the blood of the Ethiopians to the surface of their skin, turning it black. "The running conflagration spreads below. But these are trivial ills: whole cities burn, And peopled kingdoms into ashes turn" (Ovid, Metamorphoses Book II. PHAETHON). Rivers and lakes began to dry up; Poseidon rose out of the sea and waved his trident in anger at the sun... Eventually, Zeus was forced to intervene and struck the runaway chariot with a lightning bolt to stop it, with Phaethon plunging into the River Eridanus. Then, Helios, stricken with grief, refused to drive his chariot for days, blaming Zeus for the death of his son. Finally the gods persuaded him to not leave the world in darkness. More specifically, Aristotle mentions that "...the stars...fell from heaven at the time of Phaethon's downfall". Thus, the ancient Greek philosopher claimed that Phaethon caused a meteor shower (Meteorology, I.8). The symbolization of Phaethon as the charioteer of the Universe is present in the works of Hesiod (? Under discussion, see: Knaack, 1965; Diggle, 1970, pp. 4-5, 10-15, 23-24; Blomqvist, 1994, pp. 6-7; Csaki, 1995, pp. 8-20; Rappenglück, et al., 2009), in Aeschylus’ Heliades (written between 468 and 456 BCE) and Euripides’ Hippolytos (performed in 428 BCE).

This has led many modern scientists, including Velikovsky, to speculate that Phaethon was a comet. Velikovsky concluded from his extensive interdisciplinary research that the planet Venus was remembered from the time of the dawn of civilization as a brilliant cometary body, too. In an alternate genealogy, Phaethon was the son of Eos and Kephalos, whom Aphrodite stole away, while he was no more than a child, to be the night-watchman at her most sacred shrines (Hesiod, Theogony 986; Apollodorus III.181; Pausanias, I.3.1). The earliest writer who refers to the transformation of Phaethon into a planet was Hesiod (Theogony, 987-991) who wrote that "Phaethon, a man like the gods, whom . . . laughter-loving Aphrodite seized and caught up and made a keeper of her shrine by night, a divine spirit".

calyx - Greece - Orion, Eos, Phaethon

Detail of a Greek calyx-krater in Blacas Collection (E 466, British Museum, London) - late 5th century BCE - depicting four boys representing setting stars, Pan greeting the dawn, the goddess Eos (Dawn) & her mortal lover Kephalos or Selene (Moon) and Endymion before the chariot of the Sun (rather of his son Phaethon who is depicted as a youngster). The mortal lover appears to be in the form of Orion’s constellation and the dog at his foot may represent Sirius (the photo is a public domain retrieved from Harrison, 1890, p. 180). According to the mythographer Antoninus Liberalis (Metamorphoses, XXV), Menippe and Metioche, daughters of Orion, sacrificed themselves for their country's good and were transformed into comets.

The Morning Star was the ‘Heosphoros’ (< Greek Ἑωσφόρος or Ἠωσφόρος, Heōsphoros), meaning the ‘Dawn-Bringer’. In parallel, as an adjective, the word was used for the god Dionysos, especially for Hecate, but also for Artemis and Hephaestos. The Minoans (Pelasgian substratum) called him Adymus, by which they meant the morning and evening star (Hesiod, Theogony 986; Solinus, XI.9; Nonnus, Dionysiaca, XI.131 and XII.217). “The fourth star is that of Venus [Aphrodite], Luciferus [Eosphoros] by name. Some say it is Juno’s. In many tales it is recorded that it is called Hesperus, too. It seems to be the largest of all stars. Some have said it represents the son of Aurora [Eos] and Cephalus, who surpassed many in beauty, so that he even vied with Venus, and, as Eratosthenes says, for this reason it is called the star of Venus...” (Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica II.4). According to ancient Greek astrology/theology, Phaethon was sacred to planet Jupiter (Zeus), in similarity with the Babylonians’ worship of Marduk, their chief god. The lightning that put an end to Phaethon’s ride was related to meteors in antiquity (van der Sluijs, 2006). Nonnus (Dionysiaca, I.509) describes in a poetic manner the thunderbolt of Zeus as a ‘wrathing comet’. Wainwright (1930, p. 35; 1931, pp. 185 & 189; 1933, pp. 43 & 49) proposed that in Eastern Mediterranean religious spiritualism, sacred meteorites were symbolized by the thunderbolt.

Hephaistos should be treated as a ‘previous’ situation in comparison to Phaethon, and not identified to it. Hephaistos and Athena were a ‘couple’. Athena could be the proto-planet Venus (it shared some characteristics with the goddess Saraswati); some impact phenomena took place between this Venus and Hephaistos, causing havoc on Earth. Phaethon was related, according to Greek writers, to Venus (since the Minoan/Pelasgian times), as a youngster who was nominated as the night-watchman at her most sacred shrines. The ‘androgynous’ nature is both present at the Hephaistos/Athena and Venus/Phaethon levels.

Alternatively, Radlof in his theory in1823 claims that the planets were on different orbits than today, speculating that Venus (Hesperus) was one of the fragments of the planet Phaethon (between Mars and Jupiter) exploded by a comet from the Jupiter belt, explaining both Varro's statement, regarding Venus' changed appearance, and Phaethon's links to Venus (de Grazia, 2009). Because he was considered as the ‘son of the Sun’, he should be the brightest and the most prominent object in the sky at night, as the Sun was during the day.

Hephaistos, Athena and Indra had, in addition, another dual archetypal substratum. They were both destructors and life-givers and protectors. For instance, Metallurgy in impacted areas was considered a gift of the sky gods. Phaethon, as a later sky episode, has more concrete traits, those of the cosmic destructor, representing the intruders in our planetary system that disturb the normal orbits of the planets, as the Egyptian priest claims in Plato’s narration. Shortly after his birth,  Indra battled and eventually slew the dragon Vritra, who had concealed the sun and imprisoned the waters, securing, in this way, the release of the sun, together with the life-giving waters (RV, IV:17:7). 

According to Velikovsky (1950), the universal myth of the dragon-combat reflected a celestial drama of recent occurrence, one which featured the planet Venus in a wildly erratic orbit. The Swastika was the symbol of the dragon.
Indra is keeping apart the Heaven and the Earth, becoming the Creator and Lord of the Cosmos. Moreover, Indra was invoked as the supporter of Heaven, as well as a tree, spring, and mountain (common symbolic motifs worldwide of Axis Mundi). He restored the sun’s path and the Maruts (meteors) are its companions, as a phenomenon of our solar system. Additionally, a plethora of modern astrobiological evidence suggests that life and waters on Earth are probably of cosmic origin.

Another shocking detail arises in the motif of the charioteer. Auriga is a constellation in the Northern sky. Its name is Latin for 'charioteer', from the ancient Greek Heniochos. In ancient Greek tradition, and until the 17th century CE, he was the personification of Erichthonios (< eris = strife or eris = wool + chthon = Earth), son of Hephaistos and Athena, who invented the chariot drawn by four horses, in order to be able to travel (being also ‘lame,’ as was his father). The lower part of his body was snake-formed (Hyginus, Fabulae 166). On the statue of goddess Athena, in the temple of the Parthenon on Athens' Acropolis, he was the snake hidden behind her shield, because it was said that when the basket was opened, he jumped out and hid behind the shield of Athena (her Aegis was made of Medusa’s head aka Gorgoneion; Zeus aegis was made of Amaltheia’s skin). On the other hand, Aix, a daughter of Helios, who was represented as a great fire-breathing chthonic serpent similar to the Chimera, was slain and flayed by Athena, who afterwards wore its skin, the aegis (Diodorus of Sicily, III.70), or as a chlamys.

Moreover, the constellation of Auriga contains the sixth-brightest star in the sky, aka Capella, a Roman name meaning ‘she-goat’ (ancient Greek Aix /Αἲξ). According to Aratus (Phaenomena, 163) it represented the goat Amaltheia (or the Minoan nymph/naiad Adamanteia), who suckled the infant Zeus on the island of Crete and was placed in the sky as a mark of gratitude, along with the two kids she bore at the same time, the Ἔριφοι (i.e. Eriphoi), represented by the neighbouring stars Eta and Zeta Aurigae. The rising of Capella marked the onset of stormy weather at the latitude of Greece. Thus, the word aigis denoted both the violent windstorm and the goat-skin (see Watkins, 2000 for its correlation with Anatonial parallels; Suidas, s.v. Aiges (Goats): Large waves, in the common tongue).

The V-shaped star cluster (belonging to the Taurus constellation) was related to the katasterism of Erechtheus’s daughters, too, known as Hyades or Hyakinthidai in Athenian tradition, and their sacrifice, as well as with Orion known also as ‘Hyakinth,’ the spring deity who was carried to heaven after his death by the three great goddesses Aphrodite, Athena and Artemis (Boutsikas and Hannah, 2012). Even more, Dizionario Etimologico Ottorino Pianigiani relates the ancient Greek name Orion (written with omega) to: a) the Celtic world uria (rain) later possibly to French orage or Italian uragano, and, b) to Sanskrit ur (water) and its variants vara (rain), varuna (god of waters, and urine – another water flowing from “on high”).

Auriga was also associated by Manilius (Astronomica, book V, pp. 305-309), and later by the French astronomer J.J. de Lalande, to Bellerefon, Phaethon and Absyrthe, or Apsurtos. In Indian mythology, we can detect a parallel for this charioteer motif, Aruna, or Arun, as in the Hindu Pantheon Surya, the sun, is shown drawn by four horses, with his charioteer, the lame Aruna, seated in front of him. He is believed to be a cripple (without thighs), and characterised as ‘the reddish one’. In addition, Aruna is the name of the Hittite god of the sea, the Vedic Varuna. In Graeco-Babylonian times, the constellation of Auriga was Rukubi, the Chariot.  A Turkish planisphere shows Auriga's stars depicted as a Mule.

There were also Phaethon/Sekhmet/Surt in the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE (Combes, 1987). The devastating fire of Sekhmet torched the lands of the ninth cycle. During antiquity, our planet was divided into nine parallels, the ninth being comprised of the Northern lands, such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, North Germany and Iceland (Edgerton and Wilson, 1936). Inscriptions and texts from Near East civilizations referred to 'the fire-star that was wandering in the sky and then, fell on Earth, causing death and devastation'. The Egyptians, during the reign of Ramesses III, claimed that Sekhmet (Greek name, Sachmis) disturbed the harmony of the world (Spanuth, 1977, pp. 170-171). According to an Egyptian myth, the god Horus himself was burned by the lethal fires of the goddess Sekhmet, a warrior goddess whose breath created the desert (Pinch, 2004, p. 45). Sekhmet was seen, too, as a bringer of disease as well as the provider of cures to such ills. During an annual festival - of intoxication - held at the beginning of the Egyptian year, the Egyptians danced and played music to soothe the wildness of the goddess and drank great quantities of beer to imitate ritually the extreme drunkenness that stopped her wrath - when she almost destroyed humankind. Her cosmic trajectory of the 2nd millennium BCE probably followed a South-East/North-West orientation, from the Indian Ocean to North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, Central Europe and the North Sea. The Epic of Ragnarök speaks of the Fire Giants that came from the South. Modern researchers, in fact, claim to be able to safely date the events, based on archaeological testimonies and archaeoastronomical calculations. Please, keep in mind, too, the ancient Greek tradition recording that Bellerophon's grandsons, Sarpedon and the younger Glaucus, fought in the final Trojan War.

Ancient Egyptian disaster symbolism and vision of the cosmos included also Apophis, the demon-dragon, who was born from Neith (the parallel of Athena) and was the constant rival of the sun's itinerary in Heavens. His blood turned the sky's colour to red. In fact, it is the Greek name for the Egyptian mythological creature Apep, the symbol of all evil things, the personification of darkness and chaos (for more details, see Maravelia, 2009).        

In Norse mythology, Surtr (< Old Norse black or the black one) is attested in the Poetic and Prose Edda. In both sources, Surtr is foretold to be a major figure during the events of Ragnarök; carrying his bright sword, he will go to battle; afterwards, the flames that he brings forth will engulf the Earth. He comes from the South, and he is mentioned as having a female companion (see also: Langer, 2013).

According to Clement of Alexandria in his Stromata (book I), " the time of Crotopus occurred the burning of Phaethon, and the deluges of Deucalion”. The Egyptian priest, too, in Plato's Timaeus, refers to the event of the Deluge and the 'Greek' legend of Phaethon. We also saw the connection of Indra and the release of cosmic waters, but let us return to the ancient Greek tradition. Deucalion was the son of Prometheus, the creator of mankind, while Pyrrha was the daughter of Pandora, the first woman. In Hyginus' Fabulae (CLII.A), Zeus, pretending that he wanted to put out the fire caused by Phaethon, let loose the rivers everywhere, and humankind perished, except Deucalion and Pyrrha. The mythographer Apollodorus wrote that Zeus wished to destroy the men of the Bronze Age, thus giving a first framework of the event. According to the myth, the devastating waves of the flood were ordered back by Triton's blowing the conch. The conch had been used by Aigokeros (Capricorn, the goat-fish), who ruled the winter solstice in the world-age when Aries ‘carried’ the sun. Thus, this formula includes information about a constellation that ceased to mark the autumnal equinox, gliding below the Equator (being drowned).

Aquarius was called ‘Deucalion’ in Astronomy (Hyginus, I.II). In Attica, he was also called ‘Cecrops’, that’s why Suidas observes the division of the Athenian people by Cecrops (related to the four seasons, twelve months, thirty days, etc). The name is not of Greek origin according to Strabo (VII.7.1), or it might mean 'face with a tail': it is said that, born from the Earth itself, he had his top half shaped like a man and the bottom half in serpent or fish-tail form. According to the ancient Athenian tradition, those two events (Deucalion flood/Cecrops & Erichthonius/Phaethon), are inextricably interrelated.

An intriguing testimony is given by Nonnus (Dionysiaca, VI. 206 ff), in which he describes the great Deluge in astrological terms: Sun in Leo (summer solstice) + Moon in Cancer + Venus in Taurus + Mars in Scorpio (just opposite of Venus) + Jupiter in Pisces with Moon trine + Saturn back from Aquarius, to his home at Capricorn:

 "After the first Dionysos [i.e. Zagreus] had been slaughtered [by the Titanes], Father Zeus learnt the trick of the mirror with its reflected image. He attacked [Gaia, Earth] the mother of the Titanes with avenging brand, and shut up the murderers of horned Dionysos within the gate of Tartaros: the trees blazed, the hair of suffering Gaia (Earth) was scorched with heat. He kindled the East: the dawnlands of Baktria blazed under blazing bolts, the Assyrian waves set afire the neighbouring Kaspian Sea and the Indian mountains, the Red Sea rolled billows of flame and warmed Arabian Nereus. The opposite West also fiery Zeus blasted with his thunderbolt in love for his child; and under the foot of Zephyros the Western brine half-burnt spat out a shining stream; the Northern ridges - even the surface of the frozen Northern Sea bubbled and burned: under the clime of snowy Aigokeros [i.e. the constellation Capricorn] the Southern corner boiled with hotter sparks…”. 

After that upheaval which caused burning heat across the Northern Hemisphere, the deluge happened.

Consequently, the symbolic motifs of the charioteer (Phaethon) and the fish–goat (Deucalion) were interconnected in time, giving to modern researchers a safe dating tool (for another analysis of this flood event, see Spedicato, 2007). Thus, groups of prehistoric people, all around the globe, couched their memories of divine (celestial) catastrophes in poetic language, upon which their successors added further observation of the sky, leading to lunar and solar rituals and calendars. The legendary tales and the ‘persons’ (gods & goddesses, heroes, companions, off-springs, etc) involved do not exclude each other, in fact, they are perfectly interconnected, giving us the general chronological framework to those stories and the pace of those repeated cycles of havoc in the Heavens and upon Earth.

It was, also, during Cecrops' reign in Cecropia (Attica) that: (1) Poseidon and Athena contested for the patronage of Attica or Athens. Cecrops and the people thought that the olive tree was more useful than a salt-water well, so they awarded the city to the goddess and named the city after her – Athens. Poseidon, enraged with the decision, flooded Attica. (2) Hephaistos the smith-god tried to ravish Athena, the virgin war-goddess. Athena fought Hephaistos off, causing the god's semen to fall on the soil of the Acropolis. The god's semen impregnated Gaea (Earth), causing an earth-born creature to be born, an infant with legs and tail of a serpent. Athena took the infant and named him Erichthonius, putting him under her full protection. Later on, Erichthonius established the Panathenaic festival in honour of Athena. According to the Parian Chronicle, or Parian Marble (Marmor Parium), Cecrops reined between 1581/0-1531 BCE and Erichthonius between 1422-1372 BCE, respectively.

Furthermore, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Dardanus left Pheneus in Arcadia to colonize a land in the Northeastern Aegean Sea. When Dardanus' deluge occurred, the land was flooded, and the mountain where he and his family survived formed the island of Samothrace.

 “And the Samothracians have a story that, before the floods that befell other peoples, a great one took place among them, in the course of which the outlet at the Cyanean Rocks was first rent asunder and then the Hellespont. For the Pontus, which had at the time the form of a lake, was so swollen by the rivers which flow into it, that, because of the great flood which had poured into it, its waters burst forth violently into the Hellespont and flooded a large part of the coast of Asia and made no small amount of the level part of the land of Samothrace into the sea; and this is the reason, we are told, why in later times fishermen have now and then brought up in their nets the stone capitals of columns, since even cities were covered by the inundation... dedicated altars upon which they offer sacrifices even to the present day”  (Diodorus of Sicily,V.47.1 ff.).

Dardanus left Samothrace on an inflated skin to the opposite shores of Asia Minor and settled on Mount Ida. His grandson Tros eventually moved from the highlands down to a large plain, on a hill that had many rivers flowing down from Ida above, and built a city which was named Troy after him (Plato, Laws III.682a).

The mythical King Erichthonius of Dardania was the son of Dardanus, King of Dardania, and Batea. Only Homer refers to his reign (Iliad, XX.215-234). On the other hand, Strabo (13.1.48) records, but discounts, the claim by "some more recent writers" that Teucer or Teucros (the father of his mother Batea) came from the deme of Xypeteones in Attica, supposedly called Troes (meaning Trojans) in mythical times. These writers mentioned that Erichthonius appears as founder both in Attica and the Troad, and may be one and the same.

Surprisingly, once again, legends of the ancient world give us the answers. The author suggests that the heroes Erichthonios (serpent-like), Bellerephon (dual deeds: as rider of Pegasus, the winged horse = comet, and as slaughterer of the fire-breathing dragon Chimaera) and Phaethon (charioteer) were the cosmic charioteers, who came into the skies generations after their parents’ (Hephaistos and Athena) appearance, and ‘died,’ punished for their arrogance. It is noteworthy that Erichthonios’ and Bellerephon’s cults belong to the Pelasgian substratum (Anatolia and Asia Minor), as Hephaistos did. Bellerephon was the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside of Cadmus and Perseus who, they too, had  fought against dragons, being associated with Eastern Mediterranean mythological cycles. Kerényi (1959) and others (Katz, 1998) interpreted the name of Bellerephontes as the ‘killer of belleros’ (Hittite ‘Illuyanka’; Iliad, II.329: a rare Greek word ‘έλλερον’, = evil; Hesychius, s.v. ‘ἔλυες’; English eel). Graves (1969) suggested the meaning to be of the ‘one who bears darts’.


This amazing ‘trip’ began many decades ago during the summer nights in the picturesque Cycladic island of Keos (my father’s origin place), when a little girl admired ecstatically the clear skies, falling in love with archaeology and astronomy. Then, the author learned about the mythical hunter Orion and the beautiful shining star, Sirius, which stole her heart ever since. Later on, that intriguing love turned into scientific research which embraced the lore of ancient gods and stars. The present research went far beyond the Aegean Archipelago of the Bronze Age, making this trip more thorough, more challenging and thought-provoking.

The strong parallelisms of cults, symbols, words, images and allegories in the knowledge of the ancient circum-Mediterranean and Pontic world indicate that the Pelasgian substratum was strong and clearly defined among the later cultures. Pelasgians could be characterized as the ‘Proto-Hellenes’ (and not ‘Pre-Hellenes”), and their religious and spiritual behaviors dated back to Neolithic and even late Paleolithic times, interrelated with similar nuclei around Mediterranean. The research could be focused and recapitulated in a few sets of conclusions, the argumentation of which can be found in the relevant chapters.

The supported evidence shows that the Minoan and Cycladic pantheon was probably closer to the archaic Pelasgian female-dominated pantheon than to the Greek male-dominated one of the historic years, enriched by a variety of spiritual aspects and patterns. According to this view and concept of the Universe, the Great Cosmic Mother engulfed her children, and her epiphany to humans took many forms and expression:

- Apollo and Dionysos, the two luminaries, Sun and Moon, the two psychic archetypes, the two hemispheres of the human brain;

- Artemis, the archeress-goddess, the daughter of Demeter/Earth goddess known both as ‘Despoina’ and Sirius, the arrow star (Aruz, et al., 2007, p. 66 ff: in the ancient Indo-Iranian lore of the Altaic region, the antelope’s head or Orion’s head symbolized the Moon, and Avestan Tishtrya/Sirius was the marker of the annual cycle; according to the Avestanj hymn aka Tishtar Yasht 8 dedicated to Sirius, this bright and glorious star “who flies, towards the sea Vouru-Kasha, as swiftly as the arrow darted through the heavenly space”, Sirius, protects the Moon, food, dwelling and waters, including the waters of the sea and all the species of the Bull; in Zoroastrian tradition, sunrise was considered as the traditional time when the souls ascend, so the rites included the ‘sag-did,’ meaning the look of a dog, both Canis Major and Canis Minor; in the Romans’ farmers’ calendar, Diana presided over the Scorpio/Sagittarius gate, where the Ecliptic intersects the Milky Way and through which the souls ascend);

- Aristaios as the greatest hierophant in Sirius Mysteries (perhaps a title like Minos), and Draco, as the Mother Earth and the cosmic womb of souls;

- Hephaistos, the initial creator of the Labyrinth, represented the primordial Universe and its often uncontrolled powers (such as meteors and asteroids), as well as the cosmic order;

- The ladies of the labyrinth were expressions of the female essence of the Cosmos, Pasiphae Selene, Ariadne Aphrodite (the princess, the priestess, the goddess, the mistress), Athena, the weaver of the Cosmos.
Additionally, Minos Asterion represented the heavenly bull, the consort of the Moon cow, the constellation of Taurus as the bull of springtime. Dionysos was also known as the child of the stars. In Euripides’ Bacchae, the Chorus calls the god Dionysos Taurus, and Pentheus sees him arriving as a Bull before attacking him; In Orphics (413F – 297 aK.) he was called Ταυρογενὴς Διόνυσος; Dionysos Zagreus, after having died in the form of a bull dismembered by the Titans, resurrected as Dionysos Liberator; in his mysteries, bulls used to be sacrificed because they were favored by the god; in the Orphic Hymn to Dionysos (XIV), he was called τρίγονος (born thrice), διφυὴς (two-formed) and ταυροβόας (bull-faced); the ancient Greek word μὴν was derived from the word μήνη (σελήνη = moon). Furthermore, Dionysos Sirius (combination of luni-sothic calendar) belonged to the Pelasgian nucleus of Eleusinian Mysteries.

Medeocus Dionysos coin

In the times of Thracian king Medeocus (ca 400 BC), Dionysos was portrayed on coins,
along with Bipennis (labrys or double axe) and a bunch of grapes to the right
(AR 11mm, 0.94 g., Moushmov 5691, Plate XXXVI 11).

The author suggests also another archaeoastronomical interpretation of the Cretan brothers Aeacus, Minos and Radamanthys, according to which they may also have symbolized different pole stars, since the North Pole symbolized the highest view of Life. According to ancient Greek lore, after their death (see the Precession of the Equinoxes as the death of each pole star), they became judges in the Underwold. Similarly, the Assyrians called Vega (one of the pole stars) ‘Dayan-same’, meaning the Judge of Heavens.

As for the Minotaur, unlike the mythological Centaur, with a horse's body and human head, arms and torso, had a human body with a head from the genus bos, as described by the Greek tragic poet Euripides. This fact reminds us of the ceremonial masks used already by the Paleolithic shamans in their rituals inside the deep caves which later turned into the spiritual rituals of the Labyrinthian Mysteries. Noteworthy are the amazing representations of related (but later extinct) species of aurochs (Bos primigenius) on the walls and ceilings of Paleolithic caves in southern France and northern Spain, especially the huge Paleolithic temple-cave known as Trois Frères, in southern France, with the famous buffalo-dancer, and the fascinating bull shrines excavated by James Mellaart at Çatal Hüyük in Anatolia, where different horned altars were found, and a shrine with a series of relief sculptures showing female figures giving birth to bull's heads (Bahn and Vertut, 1989; Campbell, 1991).

On the other hand, Orion/Sirius could be the Minoan constellation of the Double-Axe (Henriksson and Blomberg, 2011, p. 65) apart from the triple symbol of the Moon (Graves, 1969). This fact could explain the strong correlation of Moon/Venus with Sirius. The lunar calendar (Moon) had to be calibrated with a star (Sirius) and a planet (Venus).
The ambiguous but famous symbol of labrys, one aspect of which was related to floods and disasters (as dragons did, see Fonterose, 1959), symbolized the butterfly/psyche (Evans, 1925; Lincoln, 1981; Mavriyannaki, 1983; Cameron, 1987; Gimbutas and Campbell, 2001) as an archetypical symbol of the transcendent soul, of spiritual transformation and mystical rebirth.

Thus, the labyrinth (‘the house of the labrys’) could be, in addition, a security system and a socio-behavioral pattern which included the knowledge of the periodicities of both natural disasters and natural astronomical cycles, and it may be used as an antenna in cymatic pattern functioning as well. As a symbolic ‘conjunctio oppositorum’ (see the “androgynous” nature of Hephaistos, Venus, Dionysos and Athena) it was also the place where opposites such as Life/Death, Light/Dark, Male/Female are transformed and melt into each other, in the dance of the spiral (Freitas, 1985, p. 413). Therefore, we have here the union of the two archetypal images of Male and Female, Dionysos, symbolizing Zoë, and Ariadne, symbolizing the Genesis of Souls, both representing the eternal spiral of Life (Kerényi, 1976).

In the fragmentary quotes of a lost tragedy of Sophocles, the labyrinth was described as ‘ἀχανής’ (translated most commonly as ‘roofless’): “which may have something to do with the fact that at Knossos a roofless dancing ground was spoken of as a labyrinth” (Kerényi, 1976, p. 94). Thus, the labyrinth symbolized also the evolving spiraling of cosmic life, the theater of the cosmic dance, the temple of the Mother Goddess, and the rituals echoed the earliest cults of Humankind once performed in the Paleolithic caves. Other places for sky watching and the performing of rituals were the peak sanctuaries and the megalithic monuments such as the oracles, the temples and the ‘dragon houses’, since the word ‘draco’ meant also the observer and the watcher (Theodossiou, et al., 2009), all perfectly matched in a geodetic network across the ancient world. For example, the ancient omphali were geodetic centers, and the projections of the zodiac (e.g. the Babylonian omphalos) and other astronomical features on Earth (Tomkins and Stecchini, 1971). Marija Gimbutas correlated the Greek word delphis (δελφίς) (Apollo Delphinius and his celebration at Delphi Oracle) with the term for delphus or dolphos (δελφύς, δολφός), which means the womb/uterus. Delphi, along with many other primordial cult centres of Prehistory, was a ‘body temple of mother Earth’ where rebirth rituals were probably enacted (Gimbutas, 1980).

great mother - flower of life

The Flower of Life. After Woolger & Woolger, 1989, p. 36


In summary, the motif of the Creatrix–Protectress–Destroyer encapsulated the female essence, according to which compassion, salvation, initiation functioned along with ego-annihilation and the merging into the cosmic womb. Finally, the matriarchal features and the cult of Sirius (from Paleolithic caves to Metsamor and to Minoan/Eleusinian Mysteries onwards) were two pivotal aspects of Pelasgian origin, dating back to prehistoric times.

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Amanda Laoupi Pushing the limits disaster archaeology, archaeodisasters & humans

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