Has the Cosmos gone to the dogs?
In the initial entry to the A:R&A string, Nimrod presented many links. Some of them are very helpful, I ventured into the following link and found a definition of archaeoastronomy that the scientific minded individuals might like to consider.
The Romance of Archaeoastronomy
by Dan Kutsko
Archaeoastronomy is that amalgam of astronomy, archaeology and anthropology that deals with the interest shown by all peoples of all ages in the sky and the things that go on there. Prehistoric hunters or ancient farmers, warrior tribes or nomadic herders -- they all used the sky and its language to order their existence and provide answers to the big questions. The sky and what it's made up of, what it means and what makes it go, have always been at the heart the advancement of human thought and the origin of all science.
Of all the sciences, archaeoastronomy is easily the most subjective. Drawing as it does from all human endeavor, it is genuinely multi- and interdisciplinary. While its canon is solidly based on positional astronomy and spherical trigonometry, the interpretations that result are often varied and confusing. As such, archaeoastronomy has an adventurous and exciting aura that is often characteristic of cutting edge explorations and there is a certain romantic element, in the literary sense, associated with excavating and surveying a site that is hard to approach in this day of bland-sounding discoveries in the so-called "hard"sciences. The appeal of this type of material to high school students should not be overlooked by the creative teacher who is interested in giving his students a worthwhile and memorable learning experience that is both "hands-on" and, perhaps, more importantly, "brains-on." This is the kind of thing that kids remember long after they've graduated and it almost always works because the sky almost always works as advertised.
Given the nature of the information available, only the simplest, most obvious and most readily observable phenomena need be considered by students. Even though the school year is shorter than a solar year, annual celestial occurrences are not out of the question. An adequate foundation for an understanding of the level of astronomical and calendric sophistication of "ancient" skywatchers can be had through the simple expedient of observing such commonplace celestial events and sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset and the rising and setting of several easily observed and identified naked-eye stars. The results of carefully crafted activities can be highly educational and motivational as well a being profoundly gratifying to student and teacher alike. Something as simple as observing the motion of the shadow of a stick over the duration of a single class period can elicit expressions of delight and awe from even the most jaded members of a class. And when they are led to the realization that they can, by using this simple clock, determine the actual length of the solar day, accurate down to the minute, one can almost feel the thrill that accompanies their dawning awareness of this connection, this oneness with the heavens.
Dan Kutsko has a very good understanding of the scientific perspective. He is cautious about the mythological perspective, and in the points I have highlighted, it is clear that his scientific perspective has blinded him to the more mature anthropological messages and archetypes written in the heavens. If the stars could be connected as words and numbers, then, and probably only then, the science he sees would carry a message. We might find some stars that say "X = Y," or A-B-C, but, isn't this scientific perspective substantially biased against the subjective and the cosmic points of view? If it is, then the Cosmos, as we once knew it, has gone to the dogs.
Let us consider what would happen if we simply saw what was before the face, and allowed the creatures of the earth to "draw" the connections for us as the Cosmos has defined their places. Just keep in mind that story telling is an art, not a science. Connecting dots is a science dependent upon what is before the face. The number of visible stars is not infinite, it is probably less than ten thousand. This does not mean that any stories are wrong or right. Righteousness has no place in the heavens, accept with respect to its relationship with us mere mortals here in our lonely star system. That relationship is one of orientation, not good or evil. We have always oriented ourselves to the heavens. As Kutsko says, "Prehistoric hunters or ancient farmers, warrior tribes or nomadic herders -- they all used the sky and its language to order their existence and provide answers to the big questions. The sky and what it's made up of, what it means and what makes it go, have always been at the heart the advancement of human thought and the origin of all science.
Some very helpful scientific perspectives have been provided by Nimrod which need graphic embellishment to fully understand how the stories came about and demonstrate their place in the "origin of all science":
"The constellation of the Hunter (Orion) is accompanied by his hunting
dogs (Canis Major and Canis Minor)."
In the Redshift star chart above, we can see Orion and Canis Minor, the Little Dog. Canis Major, the Big Dog, is not visible, but you can just make out its nose in the constellation below the M in Monoceros the Unicorn. The "scientific" star chart makes no sense whatsoever with regards to the story of Orion and the Hunting Dogs. So lets take a look with an artist's "subjective" perspective by connecting a few dots on a display which is more true to what we see when we observe the stars. The Redshift projection is called a spherical projection which is what we would see if we looked into a half sphere with our eye at the center of the half sphere. At the perimeter of a spherical projection, the star positions are greatly distorted. Thus a spherical projection grossly distorts the star positions and is an inferior model of the heavens for viewing, with or without the "connect-the-dots" models.
This stereographic projection of the same section of the heavens shows substantially less distortion of the constellations. It can also show constellations beyond the horizon (e.g. SW to Eridanus and Fornax & SE to Argo Navis ). The technical approach to this projection is to draw the coordinates of the longitude (N-S) lines and the latitude (E-W) lines so that they intersect at right angles.
The ancients have left maps using a techniques called equidistance projection.
This system keeps the radii angles and distances in proportion to the actual
celestial position as measured from a given point on the globe. Equidistance
maps are essentially polar maps drawn about a non-polar center, similar to
the stereographic projection. An equidistance map made famous by many Atlantis
theories is the 1513 A.D. Piri Re'is map of the Atlantic Ocean.
Although the Atlantis connections are not supportable, the existence of an equidistance map for navigation of oceans is very important. An equidistance map of the heavens drawn to the same scale in radii and angle of an equidistance map of the earth will lay precisely on top of each other. Thus, when the zenith stars over the map region are aligned to the zenith stars of an ancient navigator, the navigator's position would be precisely known. Any difference would be directly measured in degrees of arc. Since a "minute" is a "mile" in celestial navigation jargon, the distance to port would be known in nautical miles by a direct reading of the two charts.
The trick in applying this approach was having a good clock. The best clock known in the ancient world was that of the Mesoamericans. They had extremely accurate knowledge of the lunar cycles, and could easily tell time to the minute by locating the position of the moon in the background of the stars. In fact, until the first decade of the 20th Century, the U. S. Navy published lunar tables for determining longitude at sea. Latitude is very simple to determine if you know the pole star or a few equatorial stars. The relationship of the stars to one's position on earth is, as stated elsewhere, one of the most sacred aspects of cosmic knowledge. The celestial myths carried this position knowledge for the ancient navigators. Connecting the dots from star to star in the heavens allowed them to make their connections from port to port as well.
In the two star charts shown above, it is clear that the "scientific" perspective eliminates a substantial amount of information. As an amateur cosmologist, I tend to look to the heavens when I have traveled around the globe to get a "feel" for the cosmic spatial coordinates. Because of my knowledge of the myths and their celestial images, it is always fascinating to go to a new location and find the actual stars associated with a myth. I still use global positioning satellites and radar when I sail, but, I once got lost on a GPS system outside Sacramento when the display was inverted in my perception. I went eighty miles following the GPS map before I realized I had put the direction I was going as up, rather than North. Since I wanted to go south, my mind had flipped the cosmos upside down. If I had understood the icons on the GPS system better, that mistake would have been avoided. The same goes for celestial navigation. If the dots are not connected properly, even the best navigator could get hopelessly lost.
Now, the question I asked at the opening of this post was, "Has the Cosmos gone to the dogs?" The idea that Orion is a hunter is not clear in the images of the sky, even though his dogs are nearby. But suppose that Orion had been "working" his dogs in the field before he slipped under the waves. Look at the following picture, and you will find a very good reason why modern astronomy does not want to make the dot-to-dot connections.
Here we see a man carrying a crook holding the leashes of two dogs as he steps over a large rock in a field of grass or wheat. These are probably hunting dogs. Judging from the "point" they are on, they have both spotted something between the paws of the bear and the field at the top of the world. Is that what we are supposed to be "hunting" for, the "Top of the World"? Naw, its a subjective fancy. But suppose the name of the bright star on the nose of the left dog was Cor Caroli, Heart of Charles I. That star got its name from Charles Scarborough in 1660 after Cromwell's scientific revolution was overthrown. Cromwell had the king killed in an attempt to establish his own form of government. In honor of the monarchy and the bravery of Charles I, his heart went to the brightest star near the top of the world. Were the English into Aztec type sacrifices, or was there romance in archaeoastronomy and in the kingdom?
What I am attempting to demonstrate is that rationalists (Cromwell, et. al.) tend to make up their own definitions of cosmic order, while denying prior attempts to define cosmic order. Egypt had declared the south as up, and the rationalists (Babylonians, et. al.) switched the world around and called north as up. Astronomical scientists are less committed to any absolute concept of up or down, but they keep the Babylonian designation for the sake of conformity. Thus, north is up, and it will stay up forever, or until we blow ourselves up and some culture from the southern hemisphere decides to turn the world down side up again. The choice of "scientifically correct" projections is subjective. Recognizing that many of the modeling techniques of science are subjective is difficult for many rationalizing scientists to accept. So, if the ancients chose to draw what they saw, why was their system forgotten? Simple, it was repressed by political factions and then forgotten by the subjects under the political system.
The difficulty we have in an arbitrary up or down in the heavens which has been organized into constellation figures with clear ideas of up and down is overwhelming. North has to be up, even though the dogs do not seem to care. Go back to the previous Orion star chart, and try to recognize the figures of the constellations: Leo the lion, Gemini the twins, Orion the fallen hunter, Taurus the bull, Perseus with the Medusa's head, and Aries the Ram under the Medusa. If we put south as up, all of these images become hopelessly reversed. Thus, the Egyptian concept of south as up, had to be reversed from a visual perspective. Egypt held south as up in order to allow children to start life from the bottom up. They knew the outcome of an egocentric perspective would be a topsy turvy world. The quicker a child could get to the bottom line, the quicker a child could start the journey to the top. From the Egyptian perspective, the vision from Earth was far less important than the vision from heaven in the after life. Getting children into the afterlife with a map in mind was the Egyptian goal. Kutsko speaks of a "minds-on" approach, but Egypt lived a "heart-on" approach.
In the Egyptian myths, Osiris had gone to other lands and taught the people of the world about agriculture and civilized behavior. When he returned to Egypt, he was tricked into a perfectly fitting box and sent down a river by his brother Seth. You can still see this happening at Orion today. Seth is the donkey like creature with the long ears, upon which Orion is riding. Just below the donkey of Seth is a dove with a scroll or a branch from the tree of Life in its beak.
If you look carefully, you can see the great ship Argo dipping below the
southeast (SE) horizon in the Orion figure above. Was this Ra's Barque,
Gilgamesh's Ark, Noah's Ark? Could be. Now look at the complete scientific
picture presented below. It was drawn for 4542 BC, when the vernal equinox
crossed the plane of the galaxy.
The whole story is right before your eyes. Could you navigate the oceans with this chart? But, it is a "scientifically correct" chart. Something has happened to the constellations. Orion and his Hunting Dogs are still on top of the world. Canis Minor stands on the upper shore of the galaxy, while Canis Minor joins the master, Orion, in the cosmic sea under the Milky Way. So, when you go out in the fall and late winter, look toward Orion, and ask him the question. Has the Cosmos gone to the dogs? If the truth were know, not a few husbands have been tossed into the cosmic dog house by a disenchanted wife. So why not Orion, Osiris, Wiracoqa, Hanahpu, Joseph, Moses, Jesus?
When this essay was being prepared I had not yet heard of the Littleton, Colorado shootings of sixteen high school children. Is there a connection between the decimation of the ancient heavens and the fact that the Littleton tragedy is the eighth school shooting in eighteen months? Yes. The connection is in the fact that modern science does not keep the romance in the cosmos. In fact, modern science is hostile toward the ancient idea of teaching the heavens through a "hearts-on" approach. Kutsko suggests that a "hands-on" approach should be supplemented with a "brains-on" approach. But, our treasure does not live in the fantasies of scientific paradigms. Our treasure lives in the children whom we bring into our world. When we teach them how to apply a "hands-on" and a "brains-on" approach to the cosmos, we must be very careful to assure them that the ultimate purpose is to carry the treasure of ancestral cultures within the heart of the living cultures. This is the true Romance of Archaeoastronomy. It is a "hearts-on" approach to a "hands-on" creation applying "brains-on" paradigms. Littleton and Kosovo are examples of what happens when science takes the romance out of the stars, life and culture cease to be sacred. When ethnic cleansing, whether an ancient reaction as a righteous defense, or an initiating conquest, becomes an example for children to follow, that is when the Cosmos goes to the dogs. For the sake of future generations, we need put the romance back into archaeoastronomy, and throw the arid paradigms of rationality to the four winds. This can be done within science. It has to be done within science. When we begin to succeed again, it will be because we follow the tenets of sacred sciences rather than the caprice of any despotic nobility within some arbitrary paradigm of the rational mind. The cosmic dogs are pointing the way to the top of the world, and like good companions they watch as we self destruct under the influence of the Medusa on our minds. Those cosmic dogs can still hunt. Now is the time to recover the lost cosmos with the help of a couple dogs composed of a few bright spots. "Here spot. Fetch!"
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