Since the earliest of times, the ancients associated the Moon with the mind. For example, the word “lunatic” comes from the belief that the full moon (Luna) can make humans crazy. Even the Vedic texts are full of references on connections between the mind and the Moon. The first calendars were lunar, and in most Indo-European languages the words for “Moon” and “month” are similar. For example, Sanskrit “Masa” meant both – “moon” and “month”, and the Slavic word “Mesec” meant the same. The English word relates to another Vedic name for the Moon – Manas.
But indirectly, the word “moon” could also relate to Sanskrit “Manyate” – to think. In Vedas, this ever-changing character of the Moon symbolizes the process of thinking and it relates to the lower, inconsistent mind. And the Slavic word “menyati” means “to change”.
And while the Moon represented the mind, the Sun represented the human soul. Its path through the circle of the zodiac determines the length of the day and the change of seasons, the vital aspects of life on Earth.
Aware of the importance of their movement, the ancients invented numerous myths. Constructing the story around each zodiac sign (month) they facilitated the transmission of this sacred knowledge to the new generations. But we will not discuss these myths in this article. We will talk about the universal matrix that underlines all of them. No matter where you come from, you know the main idea already. It is a story of birth, death, and resurrection.
Our story starts with Aquarius. In astronomical terms, Aquarius rules the month of January, the first month of the year. Or the first month after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The return of the light from the darkness signalized the beginning of a new cycle.
Indeed, most ancient myths start their creation myths with endless water and the appearance of light. It is a “water” that contained the “seeds” of all creation.
The astrological symbol of Aquarius sometimes shows a man spilling water from a jug, and sometimes simply – waves of water.
The ancients believed that the first phase of creation was the “mingling” of the waters. Such a story exists in Babylonian in Enuma Eilish for example. This “mingling” reflects the idea that the process of conception started with male and female exchanging their fluids. Aristotle had the same ideas in his famous “conception theory”. And even though he is nowadays regarded as the first to propose it, it is evident that the idea is much more ancient.
In philosophical terms, this “mingling” of the opposites, a (sexual) union of male and female, reminds us of the idea of Yin and Yang. Moreover, the astrological symbol of Pisces also looks like this symbol.
Perhaps this is too far-fetched, but the Latin word “pisces” probably originally ended in “sh” sound, as in English “fish”, a direct descendant. As such it could be related to the verb “peccare”, to sin. This word too, probably ended in the “sh” sound. The similarities are most obvious in French – péché, to sin and pêcher, fishing.
The astrological symbol for Aries looks surprisingly similar to the female reproductive system. This fact has already been noted by numerous authors in the past.
However, I have something more to add. The name for this constellation in Slavic languages is “ovan” or “oven”, depending on the language. These words sound similar to the Latin “ovum” – egg. Perhaps even the name “Eve” is not far.
But there is more – the Slavic words “ovan” and “oven” sound like Old Germanic “ovan” and English “oven”. Even the Latin word “fornication” comes from the Latin “fornus” – oven. And the Vulgar Slavic word for vagina sound like a Slavic word for the oven – “pech”.
In short, one might question the connections between Slavic words for Aries and Germanic word for oven, but what is unquestionable is the fact that the ancients compared the female reproductive system to an oven. And that the astrological sign of Aries really looks like it.
This phase represents the travel from the vagina to the ovaries – we are still not talking of “pregnancy”.
The spring equinox falls in late March. In the past, this event had happened between the Aries and Taurus constellations. In the spring, mother Earth becomes “pregnant”. It is a season of sawing. And nine months later, on the winter solstice, a new Sun is born.
The astrological sign of Taurus looks like the moment of conception. (the third week of pregnancy) Interestingly, the English words “bull” and “belly” have a common root – “to swell”. The Slavic word for stomach, “zhivot” can mean both “belly” and “life”.
If you think about it, the astrological symbol of Gemini represents two beings sharing a single body. In our story, this would be an equivalent of the first month of pregnancy.
The next month belongs to Cancer, the crab. The astrological sign looks like a fetus in the first stages of development. But there is something even more interesting. In this stage, the baby starts developing the head and the hands first. The lower body is still undeveloped. We could maybe say that it looks like a crab?
The rest of the zodiac
From here onwards, the story gets difficult to illustrate, but nonetheless we can follow its symbolism.
LEO Officially, Leo’s mane represents the Sun rays of this time of the year. However, in terms of fetal development, this is where the first hair and nails start to grow. The teeth grow too and the baby can open its mouth for the first time.
VIRGO Baby enters this month fully formed and it is officially a “fetus”. The reproductive organs are developed and it is possible to determine the gender.
LIBRA The baby begins to move since he or she is developing muscles and exercising them. This first movement is called quickening. But also, the inner ear is now fully developed. The baby now has a sense of balance and may be able to sense being upside down in the womb.
SCORPIO Baby’s finger and toe prints are longer and visible.
SAGITTARIUS The only one I am not sure about. I will update it later.
CAPRICORN The peak of the pregnancy. Baby starts kicking and moving in the stomach.
Aquarius – a new cycle of life begins
Finally, after nine months of “pregnancy”, we are back in Aquarius, the winter solstice. The water breaks and the baby enters the world.
Pisces – an exit from the womb
The Vesica Pisces (fish bladder) is a famous symbol of sacred geometry. It is an intersection of two disks with the same radius, intersecting in such a way that the center of each disk lies on the perimeter of the other. It is an extremely popular motif in sacral artworks.
In Christianity, we often see Christ coming out of this shape. It represents his birth (or resurrection) from the cosmic womb. There is no doubt that we are dealing with astronomical allegory, as he is also surrounded by the symbols of four evangelists, who in fact represent the solstices and equinoxes, the four seasons: Aquarius, Taurus, Leo, and Aquila.
The same, but an older idea, exists in Buddhism and Hinduism. And the Freemasons too, “borrowed this symbolism, positioning the square and the compass, symbols of the Creator in its center.
Another word for Vesica Pisces is “mandorla” or “almond, due to its shape. Almond is an ancient symbol of the vulva in the east, but also virginity and immaculate conception. The Phrygian god Attis was conceived when an almond fell in the lap (or sometimes bosom) of goddess Nana.
Aries, the Passover and the new circle of the zodiac
As after the Pisces we are entering the spring-time, it is also very likely that the original etymology of Hebrew Pesaḥ – the Passover, relates to Pisces. Passover is a spring holiday, predating the Exodus. The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes, hence the English name of the holiday.
This is of course, not an official etymology of the holiday, just my interpretation. Wikipedia lists many others with a note that they are all disputed.
Anyhow, the “spring lamb” could refer to the next constellation – Aries, in which the spring equinox happened in the past. Nowadays it falls in Pisces, the symbol of Jesus. And through this example, we see that the spring equinox can be seen as both, the moment of conception, and the moment of birth.
Further parallels can be made, following a new cycle on the wheel of the zodiac. With the new spring, we enter the world of the “living”. But this time everything speeds up. In Gemini, the baby is already a child, holding his parent’s hand. The words “June” and “young” have the same etymological root. In Leo, he or she is in its prime. In autumn, old age comes, and with winter, death (and resurrection).
It is a fact that the ancients divided a year into two parts – the white, symbolizing life, and lasting from spring to autumn equinox. And the dark, symbolizing death, lasting from autumn to spring. This “dance” of Yin and Yang is in a nutshell, an underlying thread of all ancient cosmological myths.
The twelve number also relates to years. The age of thirteen is a usual age for circumcision or other rites of passage in ancient cultures. It is the biggest number of the “cosmic order”, hence thirteen is an unlucky number.
An immaculate conception
As we saw, Christ was not the only figure born of a virgin. The same was true for the Phrygian Attis. But even Buddha was born in the same way. His mother Maya, had a dream of a white elephant. Zeus impregnated Lada in the form of a swan. And the spirit came down on a Virgin Mary in the form of a dove. The idea is clearly ancient and widespread. Its origins are at least Neolithic, as we will now see.
In most Indo-European myths, the sky god was a male figure, and the mother Earth was female. Life came to Earth from the sky, in the form of the spring sun rays.
There is an amazing cave in Bulgaria, known as “Utroba” (the womb). In a very distant past, someone had noticed its perfect orientation towards the east and enhanced its natural characteristics to take the shape of a phallus and a vagina. In short, the cave looks like a vagina from the outside. But the light imprint on the ground looks like a phallus. Only during the spring equinox, the ray of the light reaches the end of the cave – symbolizing the moment of conception.
The cave is probably Neolithic (at least) as the same logic exists in Newgrange, Ireland, as well as in many other Neolithic structures of the world. However, nowhere else is this idea of union between the Sky and Earth so beautiful and clear.
And once we grasp the symbolism of this astronomical event, it is hard to miss out on the Christian parallels.
On the examples of Utroba cave and the Newgrange we see that the main ideas of Christianity were known in Europe thousands of years earlier. In fact, the floor plan of Newgrange and other Irish monuments is in the shape of a Christian cross. The Sun enters from the east, following its longest side.
But these ideas are not limited to Europe only. The same symbolism lies behind the Hinduistic Shiva Lingam and Yoni, as well as the Egyptian obelisks. We see them as far as Mexico.
So let us summarize. The ancient people were fully aware of the seasonal cycle and especially of the rebirth of nature in spring. That was not a difficult task. The difficult part was tracking it down. And so the wise men observed the stars and shaped the constellations in order to easier follow the path of the Sun and the Moon.
They quickly noticed that certain star clusters are related to seasons and defined the four key moments – the solstices and the equinoxes. They used wooden poles or large stone boulders as ground markers. And for a while, everything was perfect.
But unfortunately, the path of the Sun is elliptical, not circular. That means that after a while everything will shift – 2160 years, for one sign of the zodiac, to be precise. In other words, during the Neolithic, the spring equinox was in Taurus. For the last two millennia BC, it was in Aries, and currently, it falls in Pisces.
Knowing this, we can determine that the symbolism of birth, death, and rebirth in relation to the zodiac signs, dates somewhere in the period of 4500-1000BC. As we saw, the spring (or birth) starts between Aries and Taurus.
Indeed, Neolithic archaeology proves this. During the “Age of Taurus”, Neolithic houses typically had the bull skull hanged above their door or facing the entrance. Here are just some of the dozens of examples. These images come from the Balkans, Anatolia, and Sardinia. In Sardinia, the principle is the same as in the Utroba cave of Bulgaria, but instead of a phallus, we see the bull’s head. The symbolism is clear – it is a spring equinox in Taurus.
However, as the spring shifted to Aries, the myths had to be adjusted. Numerous ancient myths talk about the lamb, ram’s horns or the golden fleece. But in terms of symbolism, the best example is an image of Saint George. This image is often depicted above the church door, which is, of course, always facing the east.
From everything we have seen so far, we can be certain that we are dealing with something truly ancient. The whole northern hemisphere shares this common language – from India to Europe, and from Egypt to Mexico. But should that really surprise us? The stars have been up there longer than us, and we’ve been here for quite some time now. In fact, it seems that even the Neanderthals had built mysterious structures, 176,000 years ago. Here is a link from National Geographic.
Were these mysterious stone circles similar to Stonehenge, or even better, Gobekli tepe? It is hard to say. But the symbolism of the womb and the phallus-shaped stalactites is certainly there. In fact, the essence of our myth comes from the cave-dwellers, not the sedentary people.
Perhaps then, it is really ancient. And perhaps these people that we consider primitive, had better understood their culture than an average civilized man.
Ares – ovan – ovum – avan (Eng. mortar)