A hero with the severed hand – Maya and Norse star lore parallels

In one of the previous posts, I have shown how the Norse creation myth described in Eda revolves around the winter sky. The giant Ymir is in fact, Orion. Here is that illustration again:

The binding of the Fenrir

In a fascinating journey through mythology and the stars, our exploration into Norse mythology deepens with the story of “The Binding of the Fenrir,” found in the Prose Edda.

Fenrir, a formidable wolf, posed such a threat to the Norse gods that they devised an unbreakable magical fetter under the guise of testing his strength. Fenrir agreed to the challenge, but only if one god would risk placing a hand in his mouth.

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The brave god Týr stepped forward, ultimately sacrificing his hand when Fenrir realized the deception. This act of bravery and betrayal is why Týr is often depicted as one-handed.

This tale, I propose, might be rooted in the ancient star lore. The constellation Lupus, known as the Wolf, is notable in the skies and has been since its documentation by Ptolemy around 150 AD. Historically marking the fall equinox between 4,700-2,500BC, Lupus symbolized a critical time for ancient societies, warning them of the wolves’ increased danger as they prepared for winter.

Fenrir – the constellation Lupus

Adjacent to Lupus in the sky is the constellation Scorpius, which intriguingly resembles a severed hand. Next to it, the constellation Centaurus, is often depicted as a “wolf-slayer”.

This celestial arrangement may have influenced how Týr, often shown riding a horse and wielding a spear like Centaurus, was represented in Norse art alongside Fenrir.

Here are some comparisons between these constellations and the Nordic art:

Hercules and Cerberus

On a tomnb fresco from Giugliano, Italy, we see that even the myth of Hercules contained the same imagery. Hercules placed his arm in the mouth of Cerberus, as his task was to subdue him without weapons.

It makes perfect sense that these myths don’t use scorpions to symbolize the Scorpio constellation, as scorpions aren’t native to northern regions. Instead, using a “hand” as a symbol is more appropriate and relatable.

But for this myth to make sense, it’s necessary to connect it to a significant astronomical event. The most likely event for the Scorpius constellation is the autumn equinox. Therefore, the myth’s timeframe would likely be around 4,700-2,500 BC, a period that was crucial for ancient star lore, as demonstrated in the illustration bellow.

The image also illustrates how Scorpio was occasionally substituted with another more familiar symbol in the north. At times, this was an eagle, represented by the Aquila constellation, which is located directly behind Scorpio.

Norse – Maya parallels

In another part of the world, Mayan mythology also has a hero with a severed hand in its tales. The formidable bird Vucub Caquix, masquerading as the Sun and Moon, loses a battle to the Maya hero twins.

The twins (Gemini constellation) attacked this bird (Aquila constellation) with the blowgun, but the bird only fell from the tree, wounded. As one of the twins, Huanpu, tries to escape, his arm is torn off.

Here is an illustration of how this stellar imagery might have looked:

Maya and the classical zodiac

It is interesting to note that the Mayan image above depicts a scorpion, right next to the hero who lost his arm to a demon.

After they descended into the underworld (night sky), the Mayan twins put on masks that represent Sun and Moon. Their “adventures” are therfore depicting the movement of the Sun and the Moon through constellations.

Interestingly, along with Gemini, Scorpio, and Aquila, we may recognize other familiar constellations in these myths. For instance, one of the twins is depicted pouring water from a jug, symbolizing the constellation Aquarius.

Conclusions

Since the Nordic myth relates to the period of 4,700-2,500 BC, the influence on Maya via the Bering Strait Crossing migration is out of the question. But the fact is also that the Mayan myth could be a few thousand years older than the Nordic IF it relates to the equinox. Mayan story revolves Aquila and not Lupus which marked the equinox later.

In fact, the Mayan myth starts with the Gemini, and the spring equinox was in Gemini around 6,480-4,320 BC. (beginning of the New Year, new cycle) It was during this same period that the autumn equinox would have been around Aquila (!).

However, the later influence is also not out of question. Especially if we take into consideration the knowledge of the classical zodiac (and numerous other parallels between the old and the new world, starting with the pyramids). My personal belief is that the influence came via the so-called “sea people”, somewhere in the second millennium BC. There are many articles on this blog that describe how it could have happened.

I will continue to write on this topic, and in the meantime here is a video from Penn University. It inspired me to write this article.

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