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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in astronomy

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's time for a new constellation, and this one is entirely dedicated to two brothers. While there are many twins in Hellenic mythology--Artemis/Apollon, Iphikles/Hēraklēs, Amphion/Zethos, etc., this constellation is almost solely connected to one set of them: Kastor and Polideukes. In fact, the main stars of the constellation are named after them.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    It has long interested me that Kastor and Polideukes were some of the last deities allowed to be honored in the Roman Empire, undo

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's time for another constellation, and we are moving on to one of the larger ones: the sixth largest of Ptolemy's constellations, in fact. This one represents something that definitely exists: the Po river in northern Italy, or the Istros of Hungry, which was located in the mythical northern land of Hyperborea. The ancient Hellenes called the river 'Eridanos', and that's the name of the constellation as well.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for sharing! That was great...

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A little over a week ago, I introduced part one of this new series-within-a-series. Like Andromeda and her family, crater belongs to a group of constellations linked together by a single myth. The first part of this series, on the constellation Corvus, introduced the basics of the myth:

"Corvus represents a raven or crow in service to Apollon, who was sent out on an errant for the Theos. He was asked to bring water to Him, but instead, he paused in his quest, most commonly assumed is that he stopped for a meal of figs. When the raven returned without water, Apollon questioned him. Instead of giving a straight answer, the raven lied, and said he had been kept from the water by a snake. In some accounts, he actually had a snake in his talons as he said this. Apollon, however, saw that the raven was lying, and flung the raven, the krater with which the raven was supposed to collect water, as well as the snake into the sky, where they remain to this day. To punish the bird further, Apollon made sure the krater would forever be just out of reach of the bird."

 

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for sharing! How many great stories the ancients must have been able to tell around the fire at night...
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    From what I can tell, at least one for every day of the year

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's been a little while since the last constellation post, so here we are again. This time, I'm tackling a little one,  Corvus, the Latin word for 'raven' or 'crow'. It comes from the Hellenic 'korax'. It's one of three constellations linked to a myth I will only partly reveal today, as it makes much more sense to place it with the constellation Crater, which will be the next one I tackle.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for sharing!
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Very welcome

Because it's been a while since the last constellation, I'm going to give you not one but two constellations today (also because it's much easier to describe both in one post, seeing as the mythology surrounding these two has mixed throughout the years, so I'm really just making it easier on myself).

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Remember when I basically said that with Cepheus, we had come to the end of the Andoméda-related constellations? Yeah, I unintentionally lied. There is one more: Cetus, located in the aquatic portion of the sky, where many water-related constellations are places.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

When a whole family gets uplifted into the sky, the breakdown of their constellations gets a little repetitive over time, sorry about that. When we last saw the Aethiopia ruling family, we discussed the constellations Androméda and Cassiopeia. Today, we close the trilogy with Capheus, father of Andromeda, and husband to Cassiopeia, and add a good bit of info to the myth.

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I'm doing a combination post today: I'm combining a Pagan Blog Post, and a constellation series post. As such, I'll be talking about the mythical creatures as well as the constellation named after a few very famous examples of the species. Centaurs (kéntauros, kένταυρος) are depicted as half man, half horse; having the torso of a man extending where the neck of a horse should be. They were said to be wild, savage, and lustful, and in very old Hellenic artwork, they were often depicted as fully human, with a horse's end added to them. This shape for Centaurs remained in art for civilized Centaurs like Kheiron and Pholus.

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When I was a little girl, my favorite book was the Dutch translation of Michaels Ende's (originally German) 'Momo and The Grey Gentlemen'. Together with the main character from comic series 'Yoko Tsuno', my ethical system and basic personality got its foundation from Ende's main character Momo. If you haven't read this book--it's from the writer of 'The Neverending Story', if that helps--please pick up a copy. It was written in 1974, and describes well... exactly our current society. That's not what I wanted to talk about, however. I wanted to talk about the Constellation Cassiopeia.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Humanity has been studying and dreaming about and mythologizing the heavens since before the beginning of recorded civilization. No doubt, our ancestors were telling tales about the sun and stars even as they made the long trek out of Africa. Studying the heavens formed the very basis of some civilizations (see Sumer and the Maya, for example), giving rise to calendar systems, festival cycles, and whole arcs of mythology.

For those interested in the origins of the myths of the heavens (as opposed to just the science, which is a fascinating topic in and of itself) a good place to start is Exploring Ancient Skies: A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy by David H Kelley and Eugene F Milone. Dense -- though never boring -- Kelley and Milone's book offers a solid grounding in the place of "naked eye" astronomy in ancient civilizations, how our ancestors' observations shaped their civilizations, and the myths and legends that arose around celestial phenomena. A useful interdisciplinary reference, which I recommend for older children and adults interested in the history of astronomy.

Star Myths of the Greeks and Romans: A Sourcebook Containing The Constellations of Pseudo-Eratosthenes and the Poetic Astronomy of Hyginus by Theony Condos is a useful collection of primary source material. Organized by constellation, this books offers little in the way of commentary, instead allowing readers to compare and contrast myths on their own. If you are a writer setting a story in the Classical Age or a poet looking for inspiration, add this to your library.

...
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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    It's not easy to find, but "Star Myths of the Vikings" by Björn Jónsson has a lot of material on Norse astronomy. Some of it is sy

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A look at the year ahead

Just over a week into the new year and that means it's time to put some plans into action, and look at the year ahead. One of which is steering this blog's content in a more useful direction by providing practical information on how I bring "my" Paganism into my everyday life as well as further explaining more about my spiritual practice, our homesteading adventures, observations of the world and Pagan community, and how that all fits together, even if not perfectly.

Believe it or not, today is a great day for thinking about 'blue' moons! While I don't consider them anything special, plenty of people do. I do admit, however, that it's an extra opportunity to do some full moon-based magick! The funny thing about blue moons is that most people have no idea how to tell when one is going to happen without looking it up in an almanac or the internet.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's due time for another astronomy post, wouldn't you say? Today, I'm picking up the fourth of the constellations in the zodiac: Capricornus. Capricornus is often referred to as 'Capricorn', the latin word for 'horned goat' or 'goat horn', and in ancient Hellas--and even in most modern interpretations--the hybrid is not between human and goat, as one might expect from a culture with satyrs in its mythology, but goat and fish.

 
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  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    Always love your posts, Elani! Thanks for making them so informative and horizon-expanding.
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    High praise, coming from you Thank you very much!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a short one again. Canis Minor is... well... minor. The picture below gives a good overview of its position in the sky, completely surrounded by constellations a lot bigger than it is. In fact, there are only two stars in the recognized constellation. One of them, however, is the seventh brightest star in our sky. 
 
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This is not the first time I write about dogs on this blog. I wrote about guard and hunting dogs before, in relation to ancient Hellenic society, as well as mythology. Yet, none of the myths I tackled in that post, relate to the constellation of Canis Major.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Some constellations have huge mythological backstories, others do not. I'm starting to realize that those who are best know--like Aries and Cancer--have tiny backstories while some unknown constellations--like Argo Navis--have huge ones. Cancer's mythological backstory can be found in the myth of Herakles, and today, I'll present you with the whole story.

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When you adopt Hellenismos as a religion, you suddenly have a lot of extra festivals on the calendar. Funnily enough, that's the thing people are most shocked about. In addition to the fancy festivals, however, the Hellenistic base of worship is the monthly lunar calendar (the 'Mên kata Theion', 'sacred month'). Today, I'll present the basic, Hellenistic, monthly calendar. It's constructed from various ancient sources, and is recognized by many Hellenists today. Note, that this schedule was conglomerated with Hesiod's auspicious days, so--for example--the thirteenth of the month is sacred to Artemis, and a bad day for sowing.

First Decad - Waxing Moon - Mên Histámenos
1. Noumenia - Selene, Apollo Noumenios, Zeus Herkios and Ktesios, Hestia, and the other Theoi of the Household
2. Agathós Daímōn - Agathós Daímōn
3. Tritomênís - Athena
4. Tetrás - Aphrodite, Eros, Herakles, Poseidon, and Apollo
5. The Erinyes, Eris, and Horkos
6. Artemis
7. Apollo
8. Poseidon, Asklēpiós and Theseus
9. General holy day to honour the Theoi; special day to the Muses, Helios, and Rhea
10.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In this part of the constellation series, we'll talk about the unclear constellation of Boötes (Boōtēs, Βοώτης), the herdsman. The ö (or ō) serves as a diaeresis, not an umlaut, meaning that each 'o' is to be pronounced separately. Who the constellation represents is about as clear as who the constellation Auriga represents: not clear at all. The options: Arcas, Ikários, and a random ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major, are the most likely contestants.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I’m going to start a series of occasional lessons —  I’ll try to do at least one or two a month — on how Witches, Pagans and other magickal and spiritual people can use our own natal charts both to help time our magickal workings, and to adjust our spiritual practices to take advantage of the prevailing astrological "weather". This is Lesson One, in which we learn exactly what the heck we are looking at when we look at a natal chart - a chart that is calculated (we usually say "cast") for the moment and place of a birth.

I’ve given a lot of thought to how best to approach this, and I’ve decided I am going to try to keep these lessons as simple as possible, while providing links to articles that go into more depth for those of you who want it, so watch for the links in the text. Also, I’ll be teaching the system of astrology that I use, which is modern, Western astrology, using Placidus or Koch houses.

To read an astrology chart, there are only a few things you need to know:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

There are many well known chariots and charioteers in ancient Hellenic mythology. All of the Theoi have one, and Helios and Apollo use one to bring light to the world. Hades kidnapped Persephone with His. Pollux and Castor were very skilled at driving the fast, light, open, two-wheeled conveyance drawn by two or more horses. Helios lost a son when he let his son Phaethon (Φαέθων) drive his chariot for its morning track through the sky. Phaethon flew too close to the earth and scorched it all; Zeus then cast him down with a lightning-bolt. Yet, these are not the charioteers the constellation is associated with. In this next installment of the constellation series, we will look at the Divine child the constellation refers to... and a few others, because the constellation Auriga has had many interpretations over the years.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The fifth constellation Ptolemy made famous was the constellation Aries: the ram. Obviously, this constellation is still recognized by modern astronomers. For the story of the constellation Aries, we have to go back to the Argo Navis: the ran the constellation resembles was the very same ram that carried the young king Phrixos to the palace of Helios before he could be killed in a plot by his step-mother.


The myth of the ram with the golden wool is part of the myth of Iásōn. Phrixos (Φρίξος) was the son of Athamas, king of Boiotia, and Nephele (a goddess of clouds). His twin sister Helle and he were hated by their stepmother, Ino. So hated, in fact, that Ino burned the local crops and asked for an oracular message to see if the Theoi were angry at her husband's people. She bribed the messengers to tell her husband that the Theoi were, indeed, angry at him. To appease Them, Phrixos and Helle had to be sacrificed. Pious Athamas did as he was told, but just before they could be killed, a ram with golden wool appeared by order of Nephele, and carried the children off.

The ram flew over the ocean and Helle looked down. Spooked by the height, she fell off of the back of the ram, leading to her death. The stretch of water she fell into was called the Hellespontos (Ἑλλήσποντος), literally 'Sea of Helle', a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It was later renamed Dardanellia (Δαρδανέλλια).

The ram, unfortunately did not get to live a long, healthy life. As soon as the ram delivered Phrixos to the palace of King Aeëtes--the son of the sun god Helios--on Colchis, it was sacrificed to Zeus. Its golden fleece was hung from a tree in a sacred grove of Ares, guarded night and day by a dragon that never slept. Iásōn eventually slew the dragon with Mēdeia's help and took the fleece back to Iolkos. The ram, after being sacrificed, was placed into the sky by Zeus.

The constellation Aries is visible at latitudes between +90° and −60° and is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of December.

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