In my previous post, I showed that the Thraco-Phrygian religion and Vedic religion were connected by more than random similarities. For example, Priapus had a Vedic equivalent in Prajapati, while Vesta, goddess of the hearth can be related to the concept of Vastu Shastra – architecture based on the sacred geometry.
However, the most striking parallels exist between the principal goddesses of both Phrygian and Vedic pantheons.
In Sanskrit, “parvata” means “mountain”, so we could translate Parvati as “she of the mountain, lady of the mountain”. The same is true for Cybele, whose name means “Mountain mother”. The etymology is probably related to Arabic “jebel/jabal“, meaning “hill, mountain”.
Both goddesses are often depicted with lions. The imagery is clearly astronomical, and astronomy can help us date it to the Neolithic period (4,700 BC – 2,500BC). Originally, Parvati represented the summer solstice in the Leo constellation, and the same is true of Cybele, who was flanked by lions in the earliest iconography.
In Classical times, however, the summer solstice moved to Virgo. The iconography of Cybele has adjusted accordingly. She became the virgin mother, and her lions were moved towards the front of her chariot. In India, Parvati became associated with the harvest, and it is Virgo who holds a shaft of wheat in her hand.
In one of her most famous forms, Parvati is referred to as Ardhanarisvara. In this idea, as old as the Mahabharat (Book XIII) she merged with her consort Shiva into one single body. Parvati got the left, female part, while Shiva took the right side.
Once again, this iconography is astronomical and clearly Neolithic. It represented the seasons of spring and summer – the bright half of the year.
The same androgynous motif is the central piece of the Phrygian myth. Another name for Cybele was Agdistis, a hermaphrodite whose body was divided into two halves. Next, her consort Attis was castrated, which would make him a hermaphrodite as well (we can perhaps assume that Cybele and Attis also shared halves of one body). And finally, the priests of Cybele – the Galli, were all eunuchs.
Mother Ida and Ides of March
Mount Ida was a mythical mountain sacred to Cybele. For this reason, she was sometimes called “Idean Mother”. The etymology of this name is unknown.
From Anatolia, the cult of Cybele was taken to Rome. For Romans of the Republican era, Cybele was “The Great Idean Mother of the Gods”. Even the Roman senate consulted her oracle, and they had even brought her sacred black meteoric rock from Anatolia to Rome.
During the imperial period, one of the most important festivals, The Ides of March, was dedicated to Cybele and Attis. The word “ides” meant “the day of the full moon” corresponding to the 15th day of the month. Scholars believe that the word is Pre-Roman, Etruscan and that it meant “to divide“.
Perhaps the same root lies in the name of Mount Ida. Constellation Ursa Major, located just behind Virgo, was often seen as a mountain (axis Mundi) and its appearance signified the beginning of the dark half of the year.
Mother Ida and the Yogic Ida of India
Hindus believe that there are three main channels, called nadi, through which the life force, known as prana, travels through the human body. Ida means comfort and represents the left, lunar and feminine half of the body. Ida is mirrored by the masculine and solar Pingala – the right side of the body. In the middle, following the spine, runs Sushumna, called the gracious principle and not belonging to any gender.
I believe that this philosophy follows the principle: “As above, so bellow” and mirrors the basic astronomical laws described above in the temple of the human body. In that sense, it is connected to the Phrygian Ida in more than just the name.
Even the ancient Greek word “idea” comes from the root “wideseh” – to see, and as such, it is cognate to both Slavic and Sanskrit “Veda” – meaning to see, to know.
Mother Ida and Arabic Eid
In Arabic countries, the word “eid” signifies “a holiday, a feast”, as in Eid Mubarak, or Eid al-Fitr. Just like with Easter and Pasha, the dates of these festivals are determined according to the phases of the Moon.
And besides the fact that the name of Cybele could be a cognate of Arabic “jebel”, there is something even more interesting – the worship of the black rock. Nobody really knows what happened to the black meteoric rock of Cybele that Romans moved from Phrygia to Rome. And also, nobody is really sure why Arabs worship the black meteoric rock, known as Kaaba (cube).
Mother Ida and Norse Idunn
Idunn was a Norse goddess of spring and eternal youth, fertility and marriage. In a classical Virgo-related narrative that repeats in numerous myths, e.g. Persephone, Euridice, Sita, or Hellen of Troy (all discussed on this blog), Idunn was abducted, and her absence made gods of Asgard old and grey (winter).
A claim that her name means “always young” is dubious, and in reality most scholars list this etymology as unknown. Could it be possible that this name, together with the main storyline, comes from the common source from the Indo-European Neolithic?
The similarities between Cybele and Parvati are too numerous and significant to be ignored. Phrygian and Vedic pantheon clearly came from the same root whose origins are in the Neolithic. This highly sophisticated religious system had been wide-spread and developed for thousands of years before being crushed by the Abrahamic religions.
Phrygians were the people who had initially inhabited the Balkans before they moved to Anatolia and perhaps even reached Armenia at a later date. I wrote a separate article on Phrygians here.
Phrygian presence in Armenia could explain the influence of Cybele on the Arabic world. However, even the opposite could be true. Phrygians might have adjusted their worldview once they had arrived in Anatolia and encountered the local population.
And finally, even though the Vedic religion is one of the world’s finest and oldest, we must not forget that it is precisely in Anatolia that we encounter the first Sanskrit-speaking people in history, people known as Mitanni.
I therefore firmly believe that these ideas were never “imported” to Anatolia from India. On the contrary, their origins probably lie somewhere between East and West, along the Euro-Asian steppe. Modern Scholars claim that the Biblical Garden of Eden was also in Anatolia. And interestingly, the word Eden, comes from Sumerian, and besides “garden” it also meant “steppe”.
The oldest representation of Swastika is more than 12,000 years old. During this long period, it has been used by numerous civilisations, and it has appeared in all four corners of our world. And yet, nowadays, we know so little about it.
An auspicious symbol
Different cultures have different names for this symbol. The most famous name, Swastika, comes from Sanskrit. Scholars believe it to be a compound word – from “Su” (good, well, auspicious) and “asti” (there is). Additionally, the word “swasti” was a form of greeting in ancient India.
Therefore, we can conclude that Swastika is an auspicious symbol. But in that case, the next logical question would be: Why use a crooked cross to symbolise “good luck”? Is it supposed to represent rotation and movement? Was this simply the axis of the eternal laws of the universe, eternal life, good karma… Or perhaps, there is something more to it?
A seasonal marker
In the last century, another attractive theory has gained a lot of followers. According to this idea, Swastika represents the rotation of the celestial north pole. Namely, the positions of the Big or Little dipper constellations change every season, depicting a shape of Swastika over a course of a year.
Evidently, this was an easy way to determine the season you are in. You wouldn’t need a calendar, just a clear night sky. And without a doubt, the ancients knew of this.
A symbol of the fire
If we were, however, to judge based on the scattered remains of Indo-European mythology, then Swastika would be a symbol of Sun, fire and lightning.
Several ancient cultures saw Swastika as the representation of lightning bolts. In Scandinavia, it represented the hammer of the thunder-god Thor while Slavs connected it to the blacksmith god, Svarog. In the Chinese “Book of Han”, from the 2nd century BC, Swastika represents a comet. Logically, this idea of sky-fire goes great with the Sun-related symbolism.
As many ancient cultures represented the Sun as the wheel, some scholars see Swastika as a variation of these Sun-wheels. Indeed, some of the other names for Swastika are Armenian Arevakhach “Sun cross” and Latvian Ugunskrust “Fire cross”.
A symbol of the hearth?
The Latvian word “Ugunskrust” has the word “ugun” as the root, meaning “fire”. This word is a cognate with Slavic “oganj”, Sanskrit “agni” and Latin “ignes”. In Slavic languages, “ognjiste” is also “hearth” – a central element of ancient dwellings. And even though modern houses do not have the hearth, the word is still being used as a synonym for “home”.
This made me think. Ancient Rome had Vestal Virgins, whose role was to keep the sacred fire burning. They were the priestesses of Vesta, who was a goddess of the hearth. According to the Roman tradition, the Vestals were established by Numa Pompilius, in the 8th century BC, and this tradition died out only around the 4th century AD. In other words, it was important enough to last for some 1,200 years.
Scholars agree that the origins of the cult of Vesta go deep into prehistory, where she was worshipped as the hearth goddess for thousands of years before Rome made it official in the 8th century BC. Romans believed that its cult had been brought from Troy, and this could be true, as many Roman authors debated on the etymology of her obviously non-Latin name. Nowadays, some connect Vesta with Greek “estia” – hearth.
On Roman Vesta (hearth) and Sanskrit Vastu (home)
The name of the Roman goddess Vesta probably means “hearth”. In Slavic languages, the word for hearth is a synonym for home. Therefore, I find it interesting that the sanskrit name for “home, dwelling” was “vastu“.
Romans did not portray the goddess Vesta in their art (as they did with most of their other deities). Vesta was represented only by the image of her temple, which hosted the sacred fire. Dionysius of Halicarnassus claimed that Vesta represents Earth, which “kindles the celestial fires” in the centre of the universe. Ovid equated Vesta with Earth that has perennial fire concluding that earth and fire are symbols of home.
Moreover, the famous Vedic texts known as Vastu shastra (the science of architecture) deal with the sacred geometry in the construction of temples and dwellings. And while Angkor Wat is one of the best-known examples of the Vastu shastra temples, many other temples have Swastika in their floor-plan.
In conclusion, the name Vesta (hearth) might be related to Sanskrit “vastu”, meaning (home). Perhaps this is also the real root of the word Swastika?
On Aryan origins of the Roman Vesta
Vesta’s epithet of a virgin probably comes from the association with the Virgo constellation, that just like Ursa Major and minor, marks the change of seasons. But at the same time, she was closely related to phallic symbols, agriculture and marriages, meaning that fertility was one of her main attributes.
It is hard not to compare this phallic symbolism with the union of the Hindu goddess Shakti (or Parvati) and the phallic lingams of Shiva. In other words, Vesta was clearly another name for the great mother-goddess, impregnated by light and fire, before Virgin Mary took her throne.
Romans attributed the Vestian origins to the Troyans, people closely related to Phrygians. Phrygian and Vedic religions had numerous parallels, too many to list in a single article. I wrote about the parallels between Phrygian Cybele and Vedic Parvati here. What follows is another such example.
On Phrygian Priapus and Vedic Prajapati
Ovid mentions an episode when Vesta attended the feast of the Phrygian goddess Cybele, fell asleep and almost ended up getting raped by the fertility god Priapus. In the last moment, she was woken up by the bray of the donkey. The essence of this myth is astronomical, and I wrote on the donkey symbolism here.
What is important to note is that the Phrygian name Priapus (etymology unknown) sounds very similar to Vedic Prajapati. Prajapati (praja “creation” + pati “lord”) was the god of creation, often equated with Brahma himself. Interestingly, scholars connect his name to Orphic Protogonos (first-born) but not directly to Priapus.
In any case, common light motifs between Orphic Protogonos and Vedic Prajapati have already been established in the academic world, meaning that we are not talking only about the similarity of the names. How this came to be is a different topic.
Swastika and the sacred fire
Besides phalluses, another symbol of Vesta were fire sticks. However, they carried the same sexual connotation. It is well known that many ancient cultures associated the process of creating fire and sexual intercourse. Of course, what is critical for success in this process is the rotation of the stick.
There are indications that the ancients saw the axis mundi, the celestial pole, in the same way – like a giant fire stick that ends in the Polar star and around which the universe rotates (and eventually the Sun – fire is born).
Could this process be the key to understanding the multi-layered symbolism of Swastika? As the fire was one of our most precious gifts, it is not hard to see how the ideas were added over time. From a symbol of fire, hearth, and home, Swastika became a symbol of the Sun, and the eternal rotation of the night sky around the northern celestial pole. Then finally, this cosmic dance came to symbolise the union of the Sky Father and the Mother Earth – the immaculate conception.
Since 2006, we have witnessed an ever-increasing number of scholars who support the so-called “Younger Dryas impact hypothesis“. In short, the idea is that some 12,800 years ago large pieces of a comet struck the Earth. This cataclysmic event caused abrupt climate change and raised ocean levels, obliterating numerous species in the process.
But this theory is not new. It was Edmond Halley in 1694 who first proposed that the great Biblical flood was caused by a near-miss of a giant comet. He believed that the gravitational force raised the sea levels as the comet was travelling past our planet. Since the 17th century this theory has attracted numerous bright minds but nonetheless, it remained in the domain of pseudoscience until recently.
In 1840, Halley’s flood theory had even inspired Jonh Martin to create his famous work “The Eve of the Deluge”.
Comets – the Harbringers of Doom
In our “civilised” culture, a comet hardly inspires anything more than little awe and excitement. The past was different. Comets caused fear and dread and were usually seen as negative omens. Perhaps our ancestors really witnessed something terrifying and it remained imprinted in the collective memory for thousands of years?
Here, I would like to add another important point – even in the New Testament, comets are seen as bringers of the ultimate destruction. Various parts of the Book of Revelations (6:12-14, 8:10, 9:01) speak of comets as omens and even initiators of Judgment Day. For example:
“A great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers…” (Revelations 8:10)
It is beyond doubt that this quote speaks of the comet colliding with our planet. The real question is – was it inspired by a divine vision or astronomical calculation?
Halley’s comet – it comes back every 75 years
The first record of Halley’s comet comes from 240 BC, when Chinese astronomers noted the appearance of a “broom-shaped” star, referring to the tail of the comet. And thanks to Edmond Halley, we know that this was truly the year when Halley’s comet was visible in the night sky.
In 1705, he calculated that this comet orbits every 75 years or so. He predicted its next re-appearance, and he was right, even though he didn’t live to see it.
However, the year 240 BC is only important as the first recorded mention of the comet. In reality, the sightings of Halley’s comet are as old as humanity. The only dilemma is if the ancient astronomers knew that it reappears every 75 years, or they were surprised each time they saw it.
As it re-appears every 75 years, I am inclined to believe that at least some ancient cultures had known its orbital period before Halley’s re-discovery. I find it hard to believe that the early astronomers missed this fact but knew about much more complex phenomena and were able to predict the eclipses and create elaborate calendars, as those of the Aztecs and the Maya were.
Fire ceremonies of the ancients
It is beyond the scope of this article to list all of the fire ceremonies of the ancient world. There is hardly a culture that didn’t worship it, and in many cases, fire was at the very centre of religious teaching. And while the fire was not always seen as a destructive force, it was always seen as the force that commands respect. In Vedic India, Agni, the fire god, was also the purifier, transformer and the bringer of warmth that sustains life. Similar ideas existed in Zoroastrianism, famous for its fire temples.
In Europe and many other places of the world, bonfires had the same purpose. A “bonfire” is a compound word, coming from the words “bone” and “fire”. Some claim that this name is a relic of pagan human (or animal) sacrifices.
What is certain is that the fires are lit with the idea of purification and protection from evil forces. Moreover, they are usually connected to an astronomical event, such as the solstice or equinox. These festivals usually take place every (New) year, and the bonfires often represent the Sun.
However, the Aztec New Fire ceremony follows a different logic. It is a festival that took place every 52 years, marking the synchronisation of two different calendars. One of these calendars was solar, while the other one was based on the cycles of Venus. For the Aztecs, these 52 years were an equivalent of a century.
Hoping for a good start of the new cycle, the Aztecs would fast and perform various rituals, including self-mutilation and destruction of old household items and religious idols. They believed that the Sun might not shine again if their ceremony fails.
The mystery of the “Burned house horizon”
Burned house horizon is an archaeological term for a mysterious practice of Neolithic South-Eastern Europe. On a vast territory, from the Adriatic Sea to the Caucasus, these highly advanced cultures created the first super-towns of Europe.
But interestingly, during whopping 4,500 years (6,500-2,000 BC), they had been burning their settlements to the ground every 75-80 years. Similar to Aztecs, they often left their household items and religious figurines to burn with the house.
At first, archaeologists believed these fires were accidental or traces of destruction left by the foreign invaders. However, as the data grew, it became clear that there is virtually no settlement without evidence of destruction by fire in regular intervals. Moreover, it seems that the fires were intentional, as additional burning material (such as hay and wood, pictured above) needed to be added in order to reach the hight temperatures recorded on these sites.
In conclusion, it remains a mystery what made these people burn entire towns and villages, only to rebuild on top of them. And while the scholars came up with numerous theories, to my knowledge, none of these theories relates to astronomy. I wrote this article intending to contribute in that sense.
Burned house horizon and the Halley’s comet
Inspired by certain similarities, I started this research to find a pattern that would connect the Aztec New Fire ceremony with the house-burning European practices. In other words, I thought that there might be a pattern between the movement of the Sun, Moon and Venus, that repeats every 75-80 years, similar to the 52 years of the Aztecs.
Unfortunately, there is no such pattern. The least common multiple for their synodic periods is nowhere near 75 years.
But then I had a small eureka moment. I realised that 75 years period also relates to the orbital period of Halley’s comet!
This made me think, what if the ancients remembered the catastrophes caused by a comet? How did they behave when they saw Halley’s comet flying menacingly above their heads, as they most certainly did?
And finally, as all ancient cultures believed that their fire rituals could affect the Sun, was the same logic applied to comets? What if the burned houses and objects served as a “sacrifice” for the world to be purified and saved from total destruction?
Perhaps some of the strange Neolithic pottery decorations represent comets? Here are some examples listed by Maria Gimbutas. She labels them as “comet-like”.
This is, of course, just a theory. But as the orbital period of Halley’s comet is regular, this is also a theory that can easily be tested. It would be interesting to see what the archaeological record has to say. Do the burned levels in these settlements belong to the same years when the Halley’s comet was visible?
The symbol of the cross is one of the oldest symbols ever created, possibly predating even our species of homo sapiens. And for a good reason: If you try to carve a rocky surface with a sharp rock, straight or zig-zag lines and crosses are the most logical choices.
Nobody knows when these primitive symbols first became impregnated with symbolism, so will fast forward a bit, until the language of this symbol becomes a bit easier to decode.
Christianity and the cross
For the past two millennia, Christianity has probably been the first association with the cross symbol. The most popular form of the Christian cross is the so-called “Latin cross“, with the descending arm longer than the other three. In contrast, the sides of the “Greek cross” are all of equal lengths.
Of course, one of the main reasons for the popularity of the Latin cross is the fact that it resembles the human figure, and consequently, the crucifiction of Jesus.
Christian temples usually have one of these two shapes as their base. And at least in theory, Christian churches are constructed facing (equinoctical) east. In reality, however, many ancient churches do not follow this principle.
It is believed that this discrepancy is the result of the temples being dedicated to a specific saint. Consequently, they are facing the sunrise of the day of the saint in question, and not that of the spring equinox.
The orientation of the churches towards the east is usually explained by the fact that Christians should pray facing east. However, as the spring equinox marked the beginning of the ancient New Year, the purpose of this astronomical alignment was also to measure the year.
From megalithic passage graves to ancient Egypt
Some believe that the Christian cross was derived from the Egyptian “Ankh” symbol. The meaning of this symbol was “life, life force, prana” and it is attested as early as 3,000 BC.
However, the “Latin cross” was known even to the enigmatic Megalithic builders that came long before the first ankh symbol. This ancient, mystical knowledge was truly far spread. Nobody can deny that similar monumental constructions are scattered from the Black Sea, to Medditeraneanan and Ireland, and from India to Japan and South Korea…
Of these monuments, it is the so-called passage graves that are the most relevant to our story. Some of these “graves” are officially recognized to be 7-8,000 years old. The most remarkable examples can still be seen in Ireland.
The two shared characteristics between churches and megalithic monuments are:
1. Astronomical orientation towards the equinoxes and solstices
2. The shape of the cross in the floorplan
On megalithic orientation towards equinoxes and solstices
Here are some orientations of the European megalithic monuments:
Scholars are having similar dilemmas when it comes to discrepancies in megalithic orientations. But on a closer inspection one can see a pattern here. Most of the megalithic monuments are facing the winter/summer solstice or spring/autumn equinoxes.
Perhaps then, the answer is fairly simple. These monuments mark different seasons of the year, and other important dates related to the seasonal work.
In the nigh time, the easiest way to track time is by observing the movement of the constellations. The shapes of these constellations were standardized and they represented humans and animals, seen as mythological gods and demi-gods.
It is not hard to imagine how the most important days became associated with these pagan deities, which were later swapped for “saints” with the arrival of Christianity.
The cruciform floor plan
The earliest examples of the cruciform floor plans of the sacred buildings appear some 7,000 years ago. In the picture below, you can see a beautiful example of the Irish cairns. I’ve been lucky to have visited this particular one many years ago, and ever since then, I’ve been wanting to write this article.
On the left, we see the Amarna tomb 3 from Egypt. What is interesting is that these tombs appear in Egypt in the 14th century BC, at the zenith of the megalithic construction. The presence of the libation bowl in one of its chambers reinforces this theory. Libation bowls, positioned in the same general area, are a common feature of many megalithic passage graves (as well as Christian churches).
But what is even more interesting is that these tombs appear during the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who was the Sun worshiper, and the first monotheistic ruler in the recorded history.
And finally, on the right we see Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the largest holy site ever constructed. This just goes to show how widespread are these ideas, transcending not only the boundaries of space and time but also those of different races, languages, and ideologies. Representing the laws of the universe, these are the universal truths.
Diving deeper into the ancient astronomical symbolism
As we’ve seen, the megalithic monuments were facing the sunrise on a specific day of the year, usually solstices and equinoxes. However, two of the dates seemed to be preferred – the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
This is hardly surprising. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year. After the solstice, the days are getting longer – the “new” Sun is born. (“The king is dead, long live the king”). In many ancient cultures, the winter solstice was celebrated as the priestly, mystical new year. It is therefore not surprising that with Christianity it became associated with Christmas.
In the photo below, we see the illustration of the Sun penetrating the passage grave. The sunrays can reach the back wall of the inner chamber only on the specific day of the year. This is very important to remember.
The other New Year was marked with the spring equinox. This was the civil New Year and it was related to the rebirth of Mother Earth. It marked the season of agricultural work, marriages, and war. In the picture below we see the famous Utroba cave from Bulgaria. Even though it is impossible to date it, what is certain is that in the very remote past, this cave was modified by the human hand.
Around the spring equinox, the phallus-shaped rays of light touch the back wall of the womb-shaped cave. Just like in the case of the passage grave, the rays of light will be long enough only around this date. The symbolism is clear – the great Mother Earth is getting impregnated by the Sky-Father. The new cycle of life begins.
Isn’t this the same idea that we see in the story of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary?
Also, in its essence this symbolism is not at all different than that portrayed by the Vedic Shiva Lingam, God’s phallus, often placed in a holy cave, or that of the Egyptian obelisk. These are the vestiges of the ancient global culture, much older than it is currently accepted by mainstream scholars.
The four evangelists – solstices and equinoxes
We saw that the dates of solstices and equinoxes were the most important dates for the megalithic builders. The peak of their activity was between the fifth and the third millennia BC. During this time, the spring equinox happened when the Sun was in the constellation of Taurus. Summer was in Leo, Fall in Scorpio (above which is the eagle – Aquila) and the winter was in Aquarius.
Interestingly, these four constellations perfectly match the description of the four evangelists of Christianity.
This fact is quite known nowadays, but not many understand its importance. This IS the original language of the megalithic builders. It came together with the technology of manipulating extremely heavy stone blocks as if they are leggo. It came together with the mastery of seasons and time. Therefore, it was so potent that it remained in use even after the equinoxes and solstices had shifted.
In the earliest form, we see these four animals joined together as a sphinx. Later, in the Old Testament, they become the mythical Cherub. And finally, Christianity remembers them as the four evangelists.
In reality, Christianity marked the moment when the spring equinox had shifted to Pisces. For this reason, the symbol of Christ is the fish. The first apostles were fishermen. Of course, the other three markers are equally important. The summer solstice in the Gemini constellation marks the moment of Jesus’ baptisment. Virgo relates to the Virgin Mary, and the winter solstice in Sagittarius marks the moment of death and rebirth – a story for another time.
And yet, the four evangelists, symbols of the ancient star-lore, still adorn the walls of the churches and cathedrals.
The custom of crossing oneself and its astronomical sybolism
The sign of the cross is one of the earliest Christian ritual blessings. The gesture starts from the forehead, representing the “invisible” father (winter solstice). From there it goes down to the navel – the manifested son/Sun (summer solstice). And finally, it goes over the shoulders – representing the Holy Spirit (equinoxes).
However, in this last movement, the members of the Western church touch the left shoulder first, while those of the Eastern church touch the right shoulder first. If you look at the compass below, you will see what is the logic behind this. This is just one more proof of the astronomical base layer of Christianity.
The fish and the wheel – symbols of the new spring equinox
Many ancient cultures referred to the Sun as the “wheel” and it is believed that some of the oldest wheel-shaped petroglyphs represented the Sun. Therefore, it is interesting that in the earliest days of Christianity, Christ was also represented by the wheel.
The Christian wheel was a sum of the letters spelling ICHTYS, meaning “fish”. These letters were written one on top of another until they created the wheel. In this way, the wheel became the first secret symbol of Christianity. Moreover, it was believed that the word ICHTYS was an acronym, and in Greek, it spelled: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”
The fish, the acronym, and the solar symbolism – all hidden in the simple wheel drawing.
But even Islam, which forbids the depiction of God and saints didn’t stay completely immune to the symbolism of this new age. One of the most popular sages from the Quran, Al-Khidr is almost exclusively depicted standing on a fish (bottom right image).
As I explained in my articles on Slavic mythology, one of the supreme gods of the Slavic pantheon was Rod (Chrodo). Traditionally, Slavic scholars have associated his name with words meaning “genus, lineage”, but I believe that the true etymology comes from “rota” – wheel. Among the South Slavs, his equivalent would be Koliada.
Of the same root is the word rood, which in Germanic languages meant “cross and crucifix” before the word “cross” was ever in use.
We are told that the epithet Christ comes from the Greek “khrīstós” – “the anointed one”. However, in my opinion, this epithet could relate to another word – “Khrúsēs” – meaning “golden”. This epithet referred to quite a few “golden-haired” characters in Greek mythology. For example Chryses of Troy, or Chryses the virgin. It is a perfect epithet for the Sun-god.
Moreover, the same word is also attested in the Hebrew as “harus” and in Punic as “h-r-s” and could have been in the very root of the name of the Egyptian Sun god – Horus.
The future of the cross
In not so distant future, the celestial cross of solstices and equinoxes will shift once again, as it does every 2,160-2,500 years. This time, the spring equinox will move to Aquarius, and the new narrative will be needed to mark this new Age. However, that does not necceserilly mean the end of Christianity. If history teaches us anything, it’s that people are usually not so inclined on giving up the old ways.
Christians for example were not successful in convincing Jews that Jesus is the new messiah. Consequently, the Jews continued to use the narrative that belongs to the age of Aries, the ram; and had “expired” 2,000 years ago. And this happened despite the ram-horned Moses destroying the temple of Baal and the golden calf idols that marked the age of Taurus that had preceded it.
Indeed, our religions are nothing but a fine blend of the laws of men and the laws of the universe. And as our clocks follow the circular path, while the universe prefers the shape of ellipse, we need to re-adjust every now and then.
Let us also not forget that most religions nourish the seeds of that eternal mystery, which in its essence is eternal, undescribable and invisible, and reveals itself only to the most persistent of seekers. This was not my rant against Christianity or any other faith.
But there comes a time when we must let go and evolve when we must welcome the change even if it’s a hard pill to swallow. Only a fool would think that anything in this world is, or should be permanent.
Will Christianity disappear or simply re-adjust in the age of Aquarius?
During the years of research of the ancient history of the Balkans, I have encountered many words that sound Slavic. Many of these words predate the alleged arrival of the Slavs between the 5th-6th centuries AD. With time, I realized that the list of such words is too large to be ignored. Even the most ancient name of the Balkan peninsula – Helm, can best be explained through Slavic xъlmъ (hulm – hill).
As this is a list, I will add just a short explanation after each word. There are many other articles on this website that deal with these alternative theories in more detail. Also, I will write from the top of my head, so there will be some updates in the future.
And finally, there are many more toponyms that can be connected to Slavic languages, but here I decided to stick only with the most obvious examples.
So, without further ado, we will start with some toponyms from Pannonia. The illustration comes from Ptolemy’s “Geography”, 2nd century AD, Tabula V.
The city of Serbinum once stood in the Roman province of Pannonia. The first mention comes from the map of Ptolemy, in the 2nd century AD, although the city probably predated the Romans. Scholars identify Serbinum with modern-day Gradishka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Gradishka (loosely translated as “old town”) lies in the part of Bosnia that is called “Republika Srpska” and its predominant population are Serbs. However, most scholars believe that this ancient toponym has nothing to do with Serbs, it’s just a bizarre coincidence.
Another coincidence is that Pliny mentions the tribe called Serapilli in this same region. Modern scholars see them as Celts.
We see them as “Oderiates” on this map, but the version Osseriates was more common in other ancient sources. Once again, scholars label them as Celts by default. In reality, the etymology of their name is unknown, as is virtually anything else about them.
They lived near the lake Balaton, a large lake that dominates the landscape of flat fertile plains in modern-day Hungary. For this reason, many Slavic researchers have connected their name with the Old East Slavic word for lake – ozero.
The name Bolentium sounds very close to the name of the lake Balaton, and it also matches its approximate location on the map. According to Wikipedia, the name Balaton comes from the Slavic word “bolto/blato”, meaning “mud, swamp”. This is supposed to be the direct translation of the Roman name for the swamp – Pelsodis, Pelso.
However, if this is really a Slavic toponym from the 2nd century, it is more likely that it was the Romans who translated the name of the lake.
Sogora sounds very similar to the common Slavic toponym “Zagora” (a place behind the hill, forest). There are literally dozens of such toponyms all around the Slavic-speaking countries. But more importantly, there is one Zagora that perfectly matches the location. It is a village in Bosnia, the Trebinje region. The region of Trebinje belonged to the Latobici tribe.
The etymology of this name is unknown. Similar toponyms do exist in Slavic countries – see Latowicz in Poland or Lytovezh in Ukraine.
Mursella was a city on the Mur river. According to Wikipedia, this name is Slavic and comes from the word “dark”.
Also known as Lugio. Strabo claimed that the Illyrian word for swamp was “lugas”. For Slavs, that word is “lug” (swamp, meadow) and it appears in numerous toponyms.
Carnus lies in the proximity of Sacrabanta, modern-day Sopron, and today we know it as Caruntum in Austria. The etymology of this word is unknown, but perhaps we can relate it to the nearby Csorna. As you can see on Wikipedia, it was Slavs who named this city (when?) that now lies on the border between Hungary and Austria. Its name means “black”. (see the etymology here)
Interestingly, Ptolemy knew one more city of Corrodunum. And this wasn’t just any city – it was the modern-day Krakow, Poland! The etymology of this name is obscure, and at first glance, the suffix “dunu” points to the Celtic origin (dun – hill, dunon – castle).
However, as with many other toponyms on Ptolemy’s maps, this could be a misspelled word “Gradina” – a common Slavic word for an old city. There are more than twenty such placenames in Slavic countries, but most are in the Balkans.
Also, scolars actually believe that Corrodunu matches the locality Gradina in Croatia! Gradina lies on the Drava river, precisely where we would expect it to be based on Ptolemy’s map.
The connection between this Corrodunum and the Krakow in Poland is very important, as we will now see.
Boei, or more commonly spelled Boii, are also supposed to be Celts. However, the most logical (and virtually only) etymology for their name comes from Slavic “soldiers, army”. See the Proto-Slavic etymology here. And army is precisely what the Boii were. I wrote a separate article on them, so I will not go into greater detail here. But here is a summary of the most important facts.
Buckle up, as this is the mainstream version of history, and it gets really weird:
Boii, whose name makes the most sense in Slavic, lived in Pannonia, amongst Serapilli and near Serbinum, but there were no Slavs or Serbs there, only Celts. From here, Boii moved to Bratislava, Slovakia and ended up in Bohemia, Poland. But back then, there were no Slavs in these countries either, only Germans and Celts. Remember, in the 2nd century AD, there were two cities named Corrodunu known to Ptolemy – one was in Poland and the other one was in the Balkans.
And so, the Celtic Boii gave name to their new home in Bohemia, Poland and disappeared from the face of the earth.
Later, in the 6th century, massive numbers of Slavs appeared from nowhere and started occupying large parts of Europe. Poland (and Bohemia) was inhabited by Serbs and Sorbs, two Slavic groups that (according to western historians) just happen to share the name but, in fact, are not too closely related. Anyhow, the Sorbs decided to stay in this new-founded homeland and ended up being Germanized for the most part.
On the other hand…
Serbs left Bohemia in Poland and (of all places) decided to settle in the ancestral lands of the Boii in the Balkans. In the 10th century, a Byzanthian emperor claims that Serbs still call their Polish homeland Boika (Bohemia).
All clear? I am not going to give you the alternative version. This is the official, mainstream history, and I will leave this here and let it sink.
11. Bononia = Pannonia – the homeland of the Boii
Now that we defined who the Boii (officially) were, I would like to add my theory of the etymology of the name Pannonia itself. According to Pocorny, it comes from the Proto-Indo-European root “pen”, meaning “swamp”.
I believe that the root lies in the name of the Boii – warriors, army. Namely, even today, the Serbian name for Pannonia is “Vojvodina” – which means “Earl’s land”. The root of the word “vojvoda” (earl) is “voi” – meaning “battle”, the same as Old Church Slavonic “boi”.
Moreover, the Serbian name for a central part of Pannonia is Banat. The root of this word is the title “ban“, which is attested already in the 10th century and officially means “lord, master”. But the oldest meaning of this word must have been “earl” as scholars reconstruct its root as “boian” – meaning “ruler of the horde” in Pannonian Avar, or simply “warrior” in Slavic.
This title “ban” is characteristic for the Balkans. In Western Slavic countries it is first attested in the 14th century but as a softened “pan”. The word is still in use in most of these countries.
However, it seems that a similar linguistic change took place in antiquity. Namely, as the Greeks do not have the sound “B”, they hand no choice but to label it as “Pann-onia”. Later the Romans must have acquired this word from the Greeks.
I think that my theory is much more plausible than the load of nonsense that you can read about these etymologies. As final proof, I would like to add the city of Bologna, in Italy. Its ancient name was “Bononia” and it was named like this because of the same Boii, who had moved here to fight the Romans, together with the Etruscans.
Of course, as the Romans didn’t have the problem with the sound “B”, there was no reason to change “Bononia” to “Panonia”. The same goes for Boulogne sur Mer in France, also called “Bononia” and also founded by the same Boii. And not to mention that this toponym Bologna, pronounced with the soft “P” sounds like “Pologna” – Poland, which could be the alternative explanation for the name of the country.
The city of Bononia that we see on this map was the capital of the Boii in Pannonia. its location corresponds to modern-day Banostor. According to Wikipedia, this is an early medieval name meaning “Earl’s monastery” and this name has nothing to do with the ancient Bononia that was located in the same place. (???)
12. Bustricius river
River Bustricius was mentioned in the Upper Pannonia (Rav). It does not appear on the map of Ptolemy, and it is not identified. The most commonly proposed etymology relates it to Slavic “bystro” – meaning “quick/clear”. There are quite a few rivers and streams with this name in the Slavic world.
13. Ulcisia, Ulca, Ulcaea, Ulcinj
Different authors mention different places with this root. River Vuka for example, in modern Croatia, was known as Ulca in antiquity. (Peut., Ennod) or Volcea (Dio Cass.) Obviously, the word means “wolf” in Slavic languages (volk, from Proto Balto Slavic wilkas). This same logic was applied to the name of Ulcinj, Montenegro. Shockingly, the Wikipedia article on Ulcinj claims that the word for the wolf comes from Albanian, and nobody has a problem with that!
Illyria – countries of the Adriatic coast
1. Trieste, Italy and Trogir, Croatia
According to the mainstream theory, the name of Trieste (originally Tergeste, Tergestum) comes from the Illyrian word “terg” – market. The only cognate in any language is the Old Church Slavonic “tьrgъ”. The same etymology probably works for Trogir, Croatia.
Now, you might say that this proves nothing and that Slavs simply adopted this term from Illyrians in the 6th century, which would be a valid point. But hold your horses…
In Spain, there is a city called Trujillo. Its ancient name was Turgalium, etymology unknown. Turgalium belonged to the region Lusitania, which just happened to host a tribe called Seurbi. These Seurbi spoke a non-Celtic, Indo-European language, still unknown. However, (you guessed it) these Suerbi have nothing to do with the Serbs or Sorbs who are by the way, also known as Lusitani.
It’s just another really bizarre coincidence…
Also, if you think that Spain is too far from Pannonia and Poland, just remember that the Boii actually fought Caesar in modern-day France. That is a historical fact.
2. Duklja, Montenegro
In the 3rd century AD, centuries before the arrival of the Slavs to the Balkans according to mainstream history, Roman emperor Diocletian built the city of Doclea. Centuries later, Slavs built a medieval city-state around it and preserved the original name – Duklja. However, the original toponym Doclea was surely not Roman, but of local origin. The etymology is unknown, but strangely enough, there is a place called Duklja in Poland as well.
As Montenegrian toponym Doclea dates to Roman times, we can only imagine that the migration went from the Balkans to Poland and not vice-versa as mainstream history claims. Indeed, most of the medieval Slavic support this claim. They state that groups of Slavs migrated from the Balkans to Poland, escaping the Romans.
However, the oldest mention of this name was probably the ancient Boeotian town of Decelea, attested already by Herodotus.
3. Epidamnos, Albania
Scolars identify Epidamnos with Durres, Albania. The whole region around the city was known as Epidamnia in ancient times. The legend says that the Romans didn’t like the name, as “damnos” means “cursed” so they changed it to Dyrachium. However, there is no explanation why was this city “cursed” in the first place.
The Greek suffix “epi” means “before, pro” and put together, this compound word is a direct translation of the name for the unhospitable mountain chain that Serbs call Prokletije (cursed mountains) and that lies not too far from this region.
4. Albanopolis, Albania
Officially, Albanopolis was the seat of the Albani, a tribe that gave name to modern Albania. However, as the word “alba” means “white” and “polis” means “city”, we can also translate this name as “white city”, or in Slavic version “Belgrade” as in the capital of Serbia. The location of Albanopolis is unknown, but what is certain is that it is in general proximity to the city of Berat, which is officially a modern corruption of the original Slavic name – Belgrade.
That Belgrade (and white city) is typically, a Slavic construction can be proven by the fact that both Moscow and Kyiv, arguably the two most important Slavic cities, were called “Belgrade” at one point in time. There are many other similar toponyms in Slavic countries. And interestingly, even the name of Vienna, Austria, was once Vindobona, which translates to “white city”. On the first map, we can see it just above the Boii territory, in the top left corner, but Ptolemy marks it as Iulio Bona.
The city of Byalazora was mentioned in the 2nd century AD by authors such as Polybius and Livius. It was the city of Paeonians before it got captured by the armies of Philip V. Many alternative historians have noticed that this name would mean “white dawn” in Slavic languages.
However, it should be said that the “white dawn” toponym has no parallels in other Slavic countries, and that is a bit strange. Slavic toponyms are quite predictable and they repeat over and over again, from the Balkans to Siberia.
It could be that the word is a corruption of “Vila Azorum”, as the city called Azorum does exist on Ptolemy’s map. A similar explanation exists for the town Vilassar in Spain.
The name Gordynia could be another corruption of the Slavic toponym “gradina”. Most scholars agree that the root “gord” means “a city”, and they label the word as Phrygian. Indeed, Gordion was a famous city of the Phrygians. In the middle ages, it was known as Gordo-Serbon or Gordo-Serba…
On Ptolemy’s map, Stobi is very close to Gordynia. The city still exists under the same name. Its name means “columns” in Slavic, and this is the official etymology of its name. (compare with Sanskrit “stupa”). The name probably referred to a group of ancient dolmens or some natural formation such as Pobiti Kamani in Bulgaria.
Next to Gordinia and Stobi we see Aedesa. In antiquity, there were many cities with such names, mainly on the territory of ancient Thrace, for example ancient Varna in Bulgaria or modern-day Edessa in Turkey. Scolars agree that the name is derived from the word for water – which is “voda” in Slavic, but “hydro” in Greek. Also “Vode” / “Vodice” are very popular Slavic toponyms.
The city of Corabia lies on the mountain chain that is today known as Korab. As you can see here, korab is exclusively a Slavic word, and a common Slavic toponym, sometimes precisely as Korab, as for example, in the case of a village in Bulgaria, or a city in Romania. But even more commonly we see it as “brod”, which is another word for ship.
The association between mountain tops and ships is very ancient, perhaps even as old as the flood narratives.
Tristolus (on the north) is probably one of the most interesting toponyms in Macedonia. Its name would mean “three chairs” or “three thrones” in Slavic languages. This toponym is Slavic without any doubt, as there is a place that Czechs call Tristolicnik in Bavaria, Germany. Germans translated this name to Dreisesselberg – three chairs.
Without any doubt, the Slavic toponym is older than German, and we see the same toponym in ancient Macedonia, in the 2nd century AD!
As for what those “thrones” are, I believe that these were astronomical observation points, typical for megalithic observatories. One such example is Kokino, in North Macedonia, located in the general area of the ancient Tristolus. The thrones of Kokino are one of the main reasons that NASA listed this site as one of the top 10 ancient observatories in the world.
This ancient toponym sounds like “stene” – rocks in Slavic languages. And this is precisely what it is. see Stenae.
Interestingly, many of these Macedonian toponyms are clustered around the region of ancient Boeotia. Boeotia (Boiotia in some sources) apparently got this name from the mountain Boeon (unknown etymology). It’s inhabitants called themselves Boiotoi.
What if once again, we see here the name of Boii, before their homeland was destroyed by Macedonians and perhaps, before their migration to Pannonia?
1. Divsipara, Turkey (on the Balkan side)
I discovered this city recently, and to my knowledge, Ptolemy is the only person who mentions it. I couldn’t find any other info online, nor have I ever heard anybody mention it. What caught my eye is that it sounds very close to Divcibare, a famous mountain in Serbia. In the case of the Serbian toponym, the etymology is more-less clear. It is a compound word, made of the words “divci” which means “girl’s” or and “bare” meaning “small lakes”. In other words, these were probably famous baths in antiquity.
Confirmation for this etymology comes from Czech “Dívčí Hrad” (girl’s town) whose German name is a literal translation – Maidelberg. Whether we can relate it to Divsipara of Ptolemy is of course questionable. But interestingly, this area of Turkey is known for its floodplains, it is full of small lakes and waterfalls – see İğneada Floodplain Forests National Park.
We know virtually nothing of this tribe, but some Slavic authors claim that this was a misspelled name of the Krivichs (Kryvichi), one of the most important Slavic tribes, and the founders of Kyiv. Kyiv is not too far from the place marked on the map. Their name was perhaps supposed to mean “of the same blood.”
Cerne Abbas Giant is the most famous British geoglyph and a century-old mystery. What is certain is that it has been standing on the hillside in Dorset for many centuries. What is not is when it was placed there, by whom, and for what reason. Most early scholars believed that an image of a naked man with a club must be thousands of years old, coming from the Bronze Age, or at least the early Iron Age. Some opted for the Roman Age Britain. However, a recent study claims that the geoglyph is “only” a thousand years old – making it one of the last echoes of the beliefs of pre-Christian Britain.
But more intriguing than the dating was, of course, the symbolism. And once again, there’s never been a shortage of ideas. It has been said that this naked giant represents a Celtic or Saxon fertility deity, Greek Hercules (made by Romans), and a plethora of other famous lords and kings from British history. Evidentlly, the fertility notion comes from the giant’s phallus. According to the local folklore, sitting next to this phallus, or even better, copulating upon it, was an effective cure for infertility.
Cerne Abbas Giant as Orion constellation
My theory was already clear from the title of this article. Many years ago, when I first saw the Cerne Abbas Giant, I knew that what I see is just another example of Orion imagery. However, seeing that nobody else is proposing this theory, I’ve now decided to write this short article. So here is my take on it.
The constellation Orion was also known as the “Giant” to the ancients as it is one of the most prominent constellations of the night sky. It is also one of only a few human images amongst the stars. Because of its size and easily identifiable triplet of bright stars on his “belt”, the ancients used Orion for navigation, as well as the seasonal marker.
Nowadays, we know it as “Orion – the Hunter”, and this is precisely how the most ancient and the most widespread starlore saw this constellation. Orion was an archetype of a warrior-hunter, and his weapon had been constantly upgraded as civilisation advanced. The oldest weapon known to man was probably the club. Of course, this is the same club that Hercules holds, as the Greeks inherited the image from an even earlier culture. Later, the club was replaced by a mace, and finally, somewhere between the Bronze and the Iron age, Orion became an archer.
But the role of the hunter was not Orion’s only role. To many ancient cultures, Orion represented a fertility god. This was because the Orion constellation appears during the rainy months of autumn. It advances up on the horizon, reaching its peak around the solstice in the “underworld” of the winter months. From there, it slowly descends, disappearing behind the horizon during the rainy season of spring. Orion stays completely invisible during the summer months, when life on Earth blooms, fertilised by the spring rain or the saviour’s blood – his ultimate sacrifice. For this reason, the Egyptians saw Orion as Osiris, the Thracians and the Greeks as Dionysus, and these are just some of his names.
Another reason for the association with fertility was Orion’s phallus. The ancients saw it in the cluster of stars known as Orion nebula, positioned right under Orion’s belt. Later, the image of a sword replaced the phallus. But this was not a significant change as the “sword” has often been just a code word for the phallus in the language of the ancient myths.
And finally, if we compare the image of the Cerne Abbas Giant with the typical image of Orion, we can immediately see that they are very similar, especially when it comes to the position of the arms. One arm is raised in the air, holding a club – typical Orion imagery. The other one is extended in the same direction in both cases. And, of course, the idea of fertility, represented by the phallus, is also present in both images.
In conclusion, I can’t say who and when drew this 180 feet giant on the hills of Dorset, but I am pretty confident that whoever did it wanted to depict the Orion constellation. And while the geoglyph might indeed be only one thousand years old, the image that it shows is an archetype that goes back thousands, if not tens of thousands of years. If this is a geoglyph from the Middle ages, as the latest study claims, it would be fascinating to discover where the artistic inspiration came from, as the stone age club was already outdated at this time. And perhaps that is the biggest mystery here. How could we, the modern people, so quickly forget these traditions of our ancestors, preserved for countless generations before us.
On a side note, Orion’s phallus, represented by the Orion nebula, is a place modern science calls “the cradle of stars”. It is believed that most of the stars of our solar system were formed (born) in this white cloud. Indeed, the ancients could hardly find a place more suitable to represent the phallus of the fertility god.
The story of the Trojan horse is one of the most memorable episodes from the Illiad. Naturally, the ancient Greeks loved it. It portrayed them as intelligent and cunning, in contrast to the gullible Phrygians of Troy. But for the others, it was the uniqueness of the idea that made the story so great. Because, who in the world builds a sizeable wooden horse during the battle and leaves it out in the open, hoping that the enemy will eventually take it inside their city walls?
However, in 2016, an Italian naval archaeologist, Francesco Tiboni, presented a new and exciting idea. In short, the Trojan horse never existed in the original version of the Illiad. It was simply an error in translation, confusion caused by two homonyms.
Namely, the ancient Greek word for “horse” – hippo, was also used for ancient Phoenician cargo boats in antiquity. These boats were often transporting treasures and would have made an appropriate votive gift. This fact was not necessarily known to the mainland Greeks who came centuries after Homer, and the confusion was made already in antiquity.
Indeed, it sounds much more plausible that the Greeks would leave a cargo ship on the beach and hide inside of a secret compartment. For this reason, Mr Tiboni’s theory has caused a small sensation in the archaeological circles over the past couple of years. But the media support didn’t follow, and the saga of the Trojan horse continues even to this day.
Trojan horse as the constellation Argo Navis
I wrote a separate article about the astronomical symbolism of Argonautica (here), as well as another one on the astronomical symbolism of the Odyssey (here). Knowing that most of the ancient myths use the same stellar template, I was curious whether the Trojan boat could relate to Argo Navis.
The constellation Argo Navis had been the largest constellation known to man until it was broken down into three parts in the 18th century. To the ancient Greeks, it represented Argo, the ship of Jason and his argonauts. However, the origins of the Jason myth are probably Caucasian, as the mainland Greeks could not see this constellation. In classical times it stayed below the horizon during the night.
Because of its proximity to the Milky Way, or the celestial river, this constellation was known as “the boat” in both Vedic India and ancient Egypt. Scholars assume that the Greeks borrowed the idea from the Egyptians, somewhere around 1,000 BC.
Argo Navis and Sirius
The Argo constellation was significant to the Egyptians. In its proximity lies the star Sirius, the brightest star of the night sky. Sirius was highly revered as it marked the annual flooding of the Nile river. But even the Persians had the same association. They saw it as a deity Thistrya, the rainmaker. However, the most famous representation comes from the Old Testament, where Argo Navis represented the Ark of the Covenant. This also is where the motif of the flood fits perfectly.
The constellation Columba – the dove, represents the dove that brought the news of the dry land to Noah. However, this is a 16th-century addition, influenced by Christianity. Columba constellation was not known to ancients, although this doesn’t mean that they didn’t see a dove in some other neighbouring cluster of stars.
Canopus – the brightest star of Argo Navis
Constellation Argo Navis consisted of some 160 easily visible stars. But the most important one was Canopus.
Canopus is the second-brightest star of the night sky. As such, it was used for navigation by many ancient civilisations, from bedouins of the desert to the seafarers of Polynesia. The southeastern wall of Kaaba in Mecca is aligned to the rising point of this star.
Isn’t it, therefore, amusing that during the Trojan war, the pilot of the Menelaus ship was named Canopus? According to the myth, he even visited Egypt, where he was bitten by a serpent. They buried him at one of the mouths of the river Nile and the Egyptian city Canopus was later established at this place.
But that is not all. Even among the men hidden inside the Trojan horse, there was one named Cyanippus – the name that sounds somewhat similar to Canopus. In fact, different ancient sources provide different numbers of Achaeans who were hidden in the horse. They varied between 23-50 and were later standardised to 40. All of these forty names are known. This begs the question: What if what they represented were the most prominent stars of the Argo Navis constellation?
This idea was not necessarily foreign to ancient Greeks, who depicted the warriors’ heads (stars) scattered around the body of the Trojan horse. (see the first image)
Achilles and the rising of Sirius in the Iliad
There are numerous references to stars and planets in the Iliad, reinforcing the theory that the story was based on star lore. But in this context, the most interesting one would be the arrival of Achilles to Troy, announced by the rising of the Sirius.
“Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky On summer nights, star of stars, Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest Of all, but an evil portent…”
Achilles, the greatest of the warriors, was probably a personification of Orion. He was usually depicted with one arm raised, mimicking the shape of the constellation. Orion lies in the proximity of Sirius and Argo Navis.
Laocoön as Ophiuchus
According to the myth, Laocoön was a Trojan who suspected that something is wrong with this “horse” and begged the Greeks to burn it instead of taking it inside of the city walls. The famous saying: “I fear the Greeks, even bearing gifts”, is attributed to him. But before he could convince the Trojans, the gods killed him with two venomous serpents.
Interestingly, in Classical art, he was portrayed much like the constellation Ophiuchus – the serpent bearer, complete with the altar (the constellation Ara) underneath his leg. Of course, the constellation Ophiuchus is relatively close to the constellation Argo Navis.
The connection between the Trojan horse and the constellation Argo Navis was not possible until 2016 when Mr Tiboni proposed his groundbreaking theory. In this article, I tried to shed light on some of the further implications.
Without a doubt, Iliad and Odyssey come from a very turbulent period of history. During those centuries, numerous invaders passed through the region, some coming from the land, the others from the sea. Countless ancient cultures met for the first time. But it was not only death and destruction that took place – at the same time, there was undoubtedly an incredible cultural exchange. Before the Achaean ships reached this part of the world, first came the Sea peoples, followed by Phoenicians, whose ships reached even the shores of Kerala, India. Therefore, I am not saying that the core events described in the Illiad had never happened. Almost by definition, ancient myths are a mixture of supernatural and historical events, and the real challenge is separating the two.
On the other hand, the star lore template of the Iliad predates its narrative by hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Some authors believe that the constellation Argo Navis was known even to the ancient Sumerians. This is more than likely, as the Sumerians had the flood myth, with the ark included. And this myth was probably only a memory of the actual flood that happened some 12,000 years ago, during the Younger Dryas.
However, somewhere between the 2nd and 1st millennia BC, when the first Mediterranean explorers started discovering the seas, the constellation Argo Navis became important once again. This time, Argo was not an ark that will save the chosen, but a vessel that will take them to the realms of glory and marvel. It is therefore hardly a coincidence that separated by only centuries, Argonautica, Iliad, and the Odyssey, use very similar language – the language of the sea navigators.
Radegast was a god of sacred hospitality from a hypothetical Slavic pantheon reconstructed in the recent centuries. His name is a compound word and means “dear (welcomed) guest”. However, the earliest sources that speak of this god were all non-Slavic. Radegast was never mentioned in any early Slavic chronicles, and no traces of his cult and worship exist in the Slavic folklore.
The first mention of Radegast comes from Saxon Thietmar’s chronicle, written at the beginning of the 11th century and referring to events that had happened a century earlier. And yet, for Thietmar, “Riedegost” was a toponym, name of the fortified city, not a name of a deity. In his own words:
“In the region of the Redarii (a Slavic tribe), there is a bourg called Riedegost…”
– Thietmar VI 23.
He continues with the description of this town, which had three towers and three gates and was surrounded by a sacred forest. In the middle of the fortress, there was a wooden shrine whose foundation was decorated with horns of different animals. The outer walls of the shrine were adorned with sculptures of various gods and goddesses, wearing helmets and shields. Each deity had a name inscribed, but Thietmar does not mention these names. He concludes that from all these gods, it is Zuarsici (Swarozyc) that is revered as the first and foremost.
In other words, he doesn’t mention the god Radegast at all. For him, this is just the name of the settlement of a tribe whose chief deity was Svarozic.
Adam of Bremen and Helmold
A few decades after Thietmar, Adam of Bremen mentions “Redigast” again, this time as a Slavic god. He states that in Rethra, capital city of the Retharii tribe, there is a large temple dedicated to demons, of whom most important is Redigast.
“His statue was made of gold and his temple is adorned in purple”.
Adam of Bremen, Skolion 16
He continues with the description of this city, “four days’ travel away from Hamburg”. This time, we learn that the city had nine gates and not three, as Thietmar stated. However, this could simply be a Christian allusion to the nine gates of hell, Adam’s invention whose goal was to show that these pagans are devil worshipers.
And finally, in the 12th century, Helmold mentions Redigast again as the deity. But he doesn’t provide any new information, and scholars assume that he was relying mainly on the Adam of Bremen’s account.
The city of Rethra (Redigast)
What is certain is that the city of Rethra existed. This name comes from the Slavic tribe of Redarians (Redari, Redarii) – a part of the Lutici confederation. However, the original name of the city in the Slavic language was Radegast. Indeed, different medieval sources name this city as Radagoszcz, Radegost, Radigast, Redigast, Radgosc…
Moreover, there are many similar toponyms even today, in various Slavic countries (see Radogoszcz). And the list grows much longer if we add those toponyms with the word “gost” (guest) as a prefix or suffix. Some of the examples are Gostilje, Gostinje, Gostyn, Gostynin, Gostivar, Gostun, Gostusa, and many, many others, scattered all across Slavic lands from the Balkans to Russia.
On Slavic sacred hospitality
The assumption that Radegast was a god of sacred hospitality is therefore not without any grounds. The only problem is that this was simply a toponym, not a name of a deity. In ancient Greece, for example, the term for sacred hospitality was Xenia. Known at least from the times of Illiad and Oddysey, the belief was, in short, that a god may visit your home, disguised as a weary traveller. Those who show him hospitality might be rewarded, and those who refused it might be cursed.
Other ancient civilisations had similar customs. But in all cases, this was the sacred law, not an attribute of a specific deity. Slavic god Radegast would therefore be an exception.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that Slavic hospitality has been one of the main cultural traits from times immemorial. Here are some examples from the chronicles mentioned above:
Accoridng to Adam of Bremen:
“Nowehere can one find more honorable and more hospitable people”.
And according to Helmold:
“So far as morals and hospitality were concerned, a more honorable or kindlier folk could not be found”.
“There I learnt from experience, what before I knew by report, that no people is more distinguished in its regard for hospitality than the Slavs.” In this light they are “all of one mind” and regard the most hospitable as the most manful.
“Regard for hospitality and respect for parents stand as prime virtues among Slavs”.
Zuarisci / Swarozyc – The main deity of Slavs
We saw that Radegast was only a toponym, referring to the sacred law of hospitality, for which Slavs are famous. But in that case, who was the chief god of the Redarii, whom Thietmar labels as Swarozyc?
In fact, this deity is well-known in Slavic folklore, and there are quite a few ancient stories and poems mentioning this name. Sometimes the name is Swarog, and sometimes Swarozyc, which is a diminutive form. This led some of the modern researchers to conclude that Swarozyc was a son of Swarog, and that these are two separate deities.
But first things first. The etymology of the name Swarog could come from Sanskrit “Swarga“, meaning “sky, heaven”. Alternatively, the root comes from Persian “Hvar“, meaning “Shiny, Sun”. But either way, these two terms are related, and they only confirm the Scytho-Sarmatian Slavic origins.
Therefore, Swarog was probably the personification of the Sun. This claim is further supported by Addam of Bremen’s claim that his statue was made of gold. But more importantly, Sun was indeed worshipped as the chief god, the ultimate image of an invisible God, all across the Indo-European world.
Indeed, representations of Radegast of a later date portray him with the (Sun) shield (Sun in Taurus?) and a bird on his head. Nothing to do with hospitality. At the same time, this iconography must be truly ancient, as similar images exist all across the ancient world, and they are usually related to shamanism and Sun worship.
However, the most striking parallels come from the helmets labelled as “Celtic” and dated to the first centuries AD. Take, for example, the Ciumeşti helmet, discovered in Transylvania, Romania, or the depiction of a warrior from the Gundestrup cauldron (found in Denmark but made in the Balkans). If anything, these images speak of unbroken continuity.
Swarog vs Swarozyc
It is improbable that Swarog and Swarozyc were two separate deities. More probably, they relate to the Sun’s position in different seasons. The summer solstice, when Sun is at its highest peak, dominating the sky, would be the realm of Swarog. And on the opposite side, we have the winter solstice, when the days are shortest, and the Sun is “reborn”. This would be the realm of Swarozyc.
As further support to this claim, it is interesting to add that the Slavs of the Balkans call Christmass “Bozic” to this day. The word “Bozic” is a diminutive of “Bog” – God. From the Christian perspective, this name simply marks the birth of Christ, the young god. But most probably, this was just an acceptable substitute for the original pagan word “Swarozyc” during Christianization. Moreover, in Slavic languages, even the word for Sun – “Sunce/Solnce” is diminutive in itself.
The ancient hymns to Swarozyc were sung around the winter solstice. And funny enough, in the big picture, Christianity did not really bring anything new here, except that it changed the ancient terminology.
Svetovid vs Swarog
Another deity that is commonly regarded as the chief deity of the Slavs was Svetovid. Medieval chronicles mention him mainly as the chief deity of the Rujani, another Slavic tribe. However, Svetovid, or Vid was a highly revered deity even amongst the Balkan Slavs. After the Christianization, his cult was replaced by that of St. Vitus, and the famous cathedral of Prague is just one proof of the importance of this deity amongst Slavs.
An interesting episode was recorded by both Helmond and Saxo Grammaticus. They stated that somewhere around the 12th century, the Rani fell away from their Christian faith, chased away all the priests from their cities, but continued to worship St. Vitus, not as a saint, but as a god.
So who was Svetovit? His name is a compound word. The first part means “bright, holy” but could also come from “svet” meaning the world. The other part “vit/vid” probably comes from “videti” to see, or “veda” to know. In other words “the one who sees the world”.
The statues of Svetovit were four-headed, just like in the case of the Vedic Brahma. Scolars assume that this is because he can see all four corners of the world, or simply because there are four seasons in a year. If we add to this his another attribute “Byali” – white, shining, it seems that Svetovit is simply another personification of the Sun.
Here are some of the representations of the four-headed gods, including the Slavic idol found in Zbruch, Poland, thought to represent Svetovid.
Indeed, Sun was seen as the “eye of the sky” in many ancient myths. Take for example the eye of Horus from Egyptian mythology. (Not to mention that the statue of Radegast had a bird on its head). But there is another, better example, in the very neighborhood of the Baltic Slavs.
Svetovit as Odin
In Norse mythology, the god Odin hanged himself from a tree in a search of knowledge. Eventually, he had to give his right eye as the final sacrifice. The famous stanca from Voluspa states:
“I know where Othin’s eye is hidden, deep in the wide-famed well of Mimir”
The man hanging from a tree is most probably an allusion to the constellation of Orion, on the background of the Milky Way, often seen as the world tree. Indeed, in many ancient cultures, Orion / Osyris / Dyonisus was portrayed as if coming out of a tree or a wooden coffin. For Slavs, Orion was a representation of the thunder god – Perun, and it seems that for this reason, modern scholars are unable to differentiate between Svetovit and Perun.
However, the Sun is clearly the missing eye of Odin (the other one being the Moon) that disappeared in another realm, that of the “well of Mimir”, a poetic description of the blue skies, often seen as cosmic water, the realm of the living. For this reason he is able to observe what the mortals are doing during the day, when they are active. Slavic pantheon likely followed the same logic. Oaths were taken under the name of Svetovid, and many important events and battles were held on his day, which fell just a few days short of the summer solstice.
Another name for the Sun god of the Slavs was Rod (Chrodo) and Kol/Koleda. Both of these words come from the root meaning “wheel”, and refer to the ancient symbology in which Sun was represented as such. In short, we can conclude that the chief god of the Slavs, just like in virtually any Indo-European pantheon, was the Sun god.
Here it says: “веруют… и в Сима и в Рьгла” – They believe… in Sima and (E)rgila. This in later copies of the text became – “Си(ѣ)марьгл” – Simargl. Most likeley, the letters “ь” and “г” were mistaken for “ы” in copies of a later date.
The deity Ergil is without a doubt Yarilo, the well-known Slavic god of spring, fertility, and war. As for the Sim (Сѣм) the etymology is less clear. But if we see the alleged images of Simargl, it is quite likely that the root lies in the Sanskrit simha – the lion, referring to the constellation Leo. According to the Slavic mythology of a later date, Simargl was chained to the constellation Ursa Major.
For the past couple of days, numerous news outlets have been reporting on a new scientific study that deals with the origins of money in Bronze age Europe. Two archaeologists from the Leiden University in the Netherlands investigated a possibility that neck rings, ribs, and ax blades – often found in hoards, were used as an early form of currency.
In short, the invention of bronze allowed for the objects to be cast from the same mold. The scientists compared the weights of more than 5,000 of these objects and found out that there are clear signs of standardization, especially when it comes to bronze rings. Roughly 70% of these rings were so close in mass, that the discrepancy would be hardly noticeable without a scale.
There is an ongoing debate whether the mass was relevant or they were simply counted, as we would do with modern coins. The ribs and axes were not as uniform in mass, but this study concludes that these objects clearly show “the earliest development of the commodity money in Central Europe.”
Distribution of the commodity money in Bronze age Europe
Rings and ribs were found in South-Central Europe: the Danubian region of Germany, Austria, Czech Republic. Ax blades appear in central and north-eastern Germany, roughly corresponding to the Únětice culture. In between is an area of overlap.
However, it is the bronze rings that make the backbone of this study, as they were the most standardized commodity. Their weight typically varies between 170-220 grams, but most of them fall within the range of 185-183 grams.
The study concludes that bronze rings were not only decorative ornaments but an early form of commodity money. They disappeared already at the beginning of the Iron age when they were exchanged for pieces of scrap metal of precise weight. This phase was followed by actual coins. However, the standardization of the bronze rings was the first and important step in this development.
Bronze rings as the commodity money of early Slavs
Reading this text, I could not help but wonder what was the connection between these bronze rings and the early Slavic tribes. This is something that went unnoticed by the authors of the study, so let me elaborate further in this article.
Ukrainian currency is called “Hryvnia“. This name comes from “Grivna” – the official currency of Kievan Rus and other Slavic states at least since the 11th century. The meaning of the “grivna” is “necklace, torque” or in other words “neck ring“.
Indeed, in Proto-Slavic “griva” meant “neck, mane”, therefore “grivna” would be an object worn around the neck. This word is archaic, and the proof for this claim lies in the fact that Sanskrit has a direct cognate. Sugriva (beautiful necked) is a famous hero from Ramayana, while grivasana is a neck pose in yoga.
This etymology is not being disputed by historians. However, they are still confused by the fact that the earliest currency of the Slavs somehow relates to the neck. Slavic Grivna from the middle ages was a piece of precious metal shaped like a rib or a rhomboid, not a neck ring. On Wikipedia we read the following:
“The word originally meant “a necklace” or “a torque”. The reason why it has taken the meaning of a unit of weight is unclear. The grivnas that have been found at various archaeological sites are not necklaces but bullions of precious metals, usually silver.
The weight of the Slavic Grivna
Just like in the case of the bronze rings, the weight of the Grivna was not uniform – it depended on the region. The Kievan grivna weighted around 140–165 grams, while the Novgorod grivna had 204 grams. The latter became the `basis for monetary systems of Northeastern Rus’ principalities as well as the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
Interestingly, this weight range of 140-204 grams is not that far from the weight range of the bronze age rings: 170-220 grams, with a peak of 185 grams.
So, the big question is: Was Slavic Grivna modeled on the European bronze age rings? Can we see some continuity here? The etymology of the word, as well as the weight surely point in this direction.
According to official history, Slavs arrived in Europe only around the 5-6th century AD. The early bronze age rings in question are 4-5,000 years old. Therefore, no contact between Slavs and these Bronze age tribes could have been possible, unless the official history is wrong.
As we have seen, there were two main groups in this part of Europe during the Bronze age. One group was identified by authors as the Únětice culture. They used the ax blades as their currency. The other one, which used the bronze rings, remained unidentified.
But interestingly, this other group dwelled around the Danube, in the region of the modern Slavic country of Czech Republic, East Germany, and Austria. This eastern part of Germany was Slavic since the recorded history of the 6th century. No historian would dispute that this region was gradually Germanized only later. The real question is who was there before the 6th century.
The same goes for Austria. Some of the most important cities still carry Germanized versions of the older, Slavic toponyms. For example, the name of Gratz comes from Slavic “Gradac” – hillfort, while the ancient name of Vienna was Vindibona – the white city, or in other words “Belgrade”.
In any case, the fact is that Slavic Grivna relate so perfectly to these Bronze age rings, in both, their name and their weight. And even though the current history of Europe might be tainted by various geopolitical ambitions, these unusual connections will still have to be explained by the official science, sooner or later.
Nha Trang is a picturesque coastal city of central Vietnam. Previously known as Kauthara, it was founded by Champa, the ancient civilization that practiced Hinduism and thrived in this region for almost 1000 years. Po Nagar, a 7th century Champa temple, still dominates the local landscape. It was dedicated to Lady Po Nagar, the legendary queen of the Cham people. Modern scholars believe that her cult was inspired by the Hindu goddess Bhagavati / Durga.
The Hong Chong rock formations
Another popular attraction are the unusual rocks of Hong Chong. As it usually happens with such places, the strange rocky formations have inspired numerous local legends of their origins. Today they are considered as a national relic of special status.
The Giant’s fingers
One of the most poular rock reliefs is called “The Giant’s fingers”. According to the local legend, a giant woodcutter stumbled upon a group of fairies bathing in a stream. While spying on them he lost his footing. The broken rocks in the area mark the place where he fell, while the imprints of his fingers can still be seen on the rock.
The language of this myth is interesting. From my experience, the “Giant woodcutter” is usually a reference to the constellation of Orion, in Asia as well as in Christianity. Take for example the famous Vietnamese myth of Chú Cuội, another woodcutter who eventually ended up on the Moon, together with the holy Banyan tree (the Milky Way).
Intrigued by the possible astronomical connections, I used the compass on my phone to check for any possible alignments with cardinal directions. And sure enough, if you stand in front of this rock, and you are looking towards the horizon, you are facing the true east, without a degree of error. Moreover, the three islands could serve as perfect markers for the yearly movement of the Sun. The small one in the middle marks the equinoxes, while the two larger islands mark the solstices.
The giant’s fingers or Naga rock?
I was surprised to hear the story of the giant woodcutter. I saw a couple of photos of the rock before going there, and there was no doubt in my mind that these were men-made imprints, representing the Naga rock. Naga rocks are rock carvings of multiheaded snakes, very similar to this one. The Naga motifs were very popular in Champa art, just like they were in neighboring Cambodia and all other places in Asia that were influenced by Hinduism.
Here is an example from Sri Lanka. On this Srilankan rock, there is an image of an unnamed goddess on the left. Could it be a representation of Durga / Bhagavati?
Hydra constellation as a celestial marker
There are other articles on this blog that deal with the star lore about the Hydra constellation in more detail. Here it will suffice to say that Hydra was the longest constellation known to ancients. The seven-headed water snake first appears in the nights of March, the month of the spring equinox, accending from the heavenly water of the eastern horizon. At the autumn equinox, it descends back into the “water”, marking the arrival of the winter.
Therefore, the ancient stargazer would have had two options here. The first one would be to observe the Hydra rising from the ocean, right after the sunset, sheltered by the very image of the constellation behind his back. In this version, he would be Vishnu-like (and later like Buddha) whose resting pose is nothing but a representation of the horizontal position of Orion during the equinoxes. In other words, an image reminiscent of a fallen giant from the local myth.
Of course, the second option would be to observe the Sun rising behind the natural markers consisting of the three islands on the horizon. The position of these islands, paired with the unusual rocky landscape was probably the reason that the observational spot was chosen in the first place.
Is this theory too far-fetched? Perhaps. But the fact is that giant’s fingers were not shaped by mother nature, which begs the question of why were they carved in the first place. Moreover, some of the other rocks in the area show clear signs of human intervention. For example, this one, looking like some sort of megalithic altar.
Unfortunately, it would be difficult to completely reconstruct this site, as before it has been protected by the state, many of the rocks were moved from their original location and used as building blocks.
Very little is known about the ancient history of Vietnam, but what is certain is that there are ancient megaliths and dolmens scattered all around the country. Some of them are known to archaeologists, but there could be many more such rocks that are still under the radar. For example, I also saw this interesting rock formation at the Ba ho waterfalls, not far from Nha Trang, but couldn’t find any information regarding its history.
Were the ancient people in this region stargazers? Without any doubt. In that case, we can expect to see some traces of their activities, as important activities such as agriculture and hunt depended on the change of seasons. These stargazing narratives were then shaped in myths and the most important dates became religious festivals.
I believe that the rocky landscape of Hon Chong is more fitting for the ancient megalithic culture that would have to predate even the Champa. Only after the 4th century AD, these newcomers and skilled sailors who were practicing Hinduism could have brought the Naga imagery and adapted the already sacred site.
Indeed, the ancient sailing route once connected Vietnam with Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Kerala in India. Kerala was not only the birthplace of the Naga worship but also the main hub for the ancient trade routes for pepper and other spices. These routes existed already from the times of ancient Phoenicians and Egyptians who had also ventured to Kerala to trade.
Needless to say, it would not be only the spices that were exchanged along these routes. Perhaps here lies the reason why the ancient Egyptian version of Orion – Osiris sometimes looks so similar to Vishnu and Buddha.