Monday, October 20, 2008

The Saturn Epic: In the Beginning

Every theory must be tested. The Saturn myth theory is no exception. David Talbott’s theory of the Saturn myths has one very specific test: Does it explain the origin and meaning of heretofore incomprehensible traditions, metaphors, rituals and symbols — things that, until now, seemed to have had no real origin other than the vivid imaginations of the ancients? If so, does it give those metaphors, stories, traditions and symbols a consistent system of interpretation? Does it bring meaning and order to traditional cultural and religious beliefs and images? Does it apply to all ancient cultures? The answer is an unqualified “Yes!”

For Latter-day Saints, that test is the gospel itself — the acid test. The gospel test is particularly important because, “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (The Thirteenth Article of Faith.) Since Talbott’s theory does all those things, then it qualifies as something well worth pursuing, according to Joseph’s Smith’s definition. Its greatest value, by far, is the light it can bring to bear upon our understanding of the restored gospel, our scriptures, the prophets and our temples.

Latter-day Saints test all purported truth by the restored gospel. It is our iron rod. Modern revelation — truths given us by latter-day prophets — is our cornerstone. Fortuitously, when this theory is tested with the gospel and the words of the prophets, it not only supports the theory, it immediately begins to fill in many blanks, answer many questions and bring meaning to heretofore largely incomprehensible symbolism and metaphor. To this author’s way of thinking, the Saturn myth passes all such tests, as has been amply demonstrated in The Prophecy Trilogy and The Plainest Book: Revelation. It will be even more apparent as we explore Talbott’s thesis in light of the gospel in this and future essays.

The planets were gods

According to Talbott, the primary actors in all ancient rites and dramas were originally planets moving close to the Earth. He wrote:

For 25 years, I have claimed that this fear-inspiring image once stretched across the northern sky, towering over the ancient world. I termed this planetary arrangement the “polar configuration” because it was centered on the north celestial pole. And I have proposed that the history of this configuration is the history of the ancient gods, recorded in the fantastic stories, pictographs and ritual reenactments of the first sky worshippers. (Symbols of and Alien Sky, p. 1.)

Those rites, celebrations, pageants, parades, pilgrimages, dramas and sacred services were reenactments of the movements and changes in appearance of those giant planets, standing in close proximity to our Earth anciently. The resolute dedication with which mankind strove to endlessly repeat these celestial exploits in lavish pageants and dramatizations, over thousands of generations and dozens of cultures, is a measure of those manifestation’s degree of impressiveness. The symbols, stories and traditions those planets spawned have provided grist for the icon mills of all ancient religions and cultures. Indeed, we faithfully preserve most of those images in our present religions and cultures without understanding their original source or meaning. Such is their enduring power.

Those planetary gods were altogether massive, imposing, ominous entities. Talbott estimates that Saturn appeared twenty times larger than does our present full moon. At one point in its career, Mars approached Earth, appearing to grow from the smallest of the three visible orbs — the celestial gods — to the largest and closest. Its approach must have made it seem exceedingly large, impressive and ominous.

Good gods, bad gods

On occasion, the gods/planets did tremendous damage, throwing interplanetary lightning bolts, shaking the Earth until everything collapsed to the ground, roaring out of the heavens with an ear-splitting, mind-and-body-numbing cacophony, pouring out fire and brimstone on Earth’s hapless populace. At other times they did feats of unparalleled beneficence, lighting the world, producing delightful musical sounds like heavenly choirs or giant wind chimes, while pouring out food or gold upon the world. On occasion, they would take on a wondrous appearance, becoming spectacles of light and beauty, captivating ancient onlookers who observed with amazement and astonishment. Yet on other occasion, they appeared as vengeful demons, hags, malevolent beasts, dragons or hideous monsters — striking fear, dread and horror into the hearts of mankind. Either way, mankind regarded them with the utmost awe, wonderment and reverence.

Our ancestors incorporated both aspects of the planetary gods — the good and the evil — into their cultures. Ancient myths, fables and traditions teem with representations of good and evil gods, as do the symbolic embellishments of architectural monuments everywhere.

The gods brought culture to mankind

Civilization, as we know it, sprang up from practices honoring, imitating and reenacting the events and appearances of the celestial, planetary gods. For example, all the accouterments of kingship — divine right, descendency from deity, coronation rites, sacred rituals, etc. — came from the example set by great Saturn, the heavenly king, sun god and order keeper of antiquity. The institutions of government, law, medicine, religion, science, education and the trades all borrowed heavily from the traditions, beliefs, practices and icons spawned in the exploits of the planet-gods who ruled heaven and earth.

The history of those planetary gods is recorded in the myth, ritual and symbol of mankind. The single most important fact that all ancient records sought to convey was this: The planets were the original gods. Stories told by later generations brought those gods down to earth and made heroic and fabulous men, women and creatures of them. But, in the beginning, their stage was the sky. That’s where the first pageants played out. Our ancestors sought to preserve a global record — some in writing, some in ritual, some in stone — of ancient tumultuous events and catastrophes seen there and on the earth.

The remarkable part is that we did not get the message — until now.

The sacred mystery

This was THE great mystery of antiquity — whispered in sacred convocations and secret ceremonies the world over, passed from sacerdotal disciple to devoted novitiate in countless cryptic rites and rituals: the planets were the gods that once ruled Earth’s skies. Shrouded in sacred iconography, religious festivals, public ritual and architecture, it was spoken of plainly only in the most sacred precincts set aside for this one purpose only.

Even the sacred name of god, first uttered from the skies in unforgettable fashion, was spoken only in holy sanctuaries — uttered as a series of vowel sounds meant to duplicate the sacred name/sound with the human voice. Additionally, mantras, bells, trumpets and drums were employed in sacred rites to replicate ancient celestial sounds. Modern musical ensembles — choirs, orchestras and bands — evolved from those early attempts to replicate “the music of the spheres.”

Because the planets were the original gods, all mankind looked to the heavens above as the traditional abode of the gods — a tradition that remains intact to this very day. All their ancient religions were intimately linked with the heavens. They anticipated that the greatest chastisements from the gods would also come from the heavens. They were paranoid sky watchers, obsessed with anything out of the ordinary in the heavens that might portend a return of past catastrophes. Thus, the primary responsibility of the priestly class was to divine the fate of their people from a diligent observation of the heavens’ occupants and their movements.

The sacerdotal class had two primary missions: teach the mystery of past wonders and catastrophes, as well as watch for the same things to happen again. It was the most sacred and fundamental responsibility bestowed on those deemed worthy and sagacious enough to fulfill that role. With that elevated position came great power to rule whole nations.

A new heaven and earth

The world we know today — the heavens and the earth — is not the world our ancient ancestors knew. While we do live on the same globe, it is such a vastly different place today from what it was then that it could truly be said that we live on a different world.

The transition from that world to this was devastating for mankind. It wrought major changes in our solar system, the planetary order being dramatically altered by Earth-threatening catastrophes later remembered in traditional, cultural celebrations, holidays and other customs the world over.

Without a doubt, Talbott has given Latter-day Saints the key to understanding the symbolism and metaphor of all religions, including our own. This is no mean accomplishment. But like Velikovsky before him, Talbott has met with tremendous resistance from the orthodox scientific community for offering a radical, new theory of planetary history. Coincidentally, it was Joseph Smith’s insistence on bringing planets, stars and comets into religion once again — elements that had long ago been expunged from normative Christianity as “pagan” — that the clergy found so repugnant in his day and incited such animosity toward him, assigning “cult” status to the religion he founded because of its resemblance to the astral worship of pagan religions.

Before Saturn ruled the world

It is logical to assume that the Earth had been in the planetary conjunction from the time the first man, Adam, was placed here on Earth. It necessarily follows that Saturn stood at Earth’s celestial pole in that same early epoch. But Saturn and its companion planets Venus and Mars may not have always been visible or notable to Adam and his early descendants. (Another monograph will address this subject and explain how it is that all ancient records, including the Hebrew account in Genesis, tell that man watched the ‘creation’ unfold in the heavens above.)

Exactly how Saturn remained hidden from sight or was unnoteworthy to the Earth’s very earliest inhabitants and how it could have suddenly emerged as the dominant feature in their lives is a matter of some conjecture among catastrophists. What seems certain, however, is that when it did become visible, it made such an indelible impression on the ancients that it dramatically and completely altered their view of themselves and the world they lived in.

Thus, when the ancients first lifted their eyes skyward, this is what they saw: Mars in the center of Venus and both in the center of Saturn — an apparent superimposition of planets.

Mars was a deep red color. Venus was blue-green in color, much like turquoise (which is why that stone was preferred for sacred jewelry and the adornment of religious artifacts anciently). Saturn was probably a light golden color.

Talbott notes that Saturn was at least twenty times larger than today’s full moon, occupying ten degrees of arc or more in the sky. So this celestial phenomenon appeared to be huge to earthly observers, dominating a large portion of the heavens—fixed and immovable at the axis or center of heaven. This was the beginning of Saturn’s career, what all mankind viewed as the beginning of “creation.”

We see what they saw

We ask the more analytical questions. What planets were involved? How did they move? What happened to cause them to change their appearance? The ancients were not so discriminating, for the most part. The ancients described their world and their heavens in impressionistic ways rather than in analytical terms. They experienced truly remarkable phenomena that defied analytical description, given the overwhelming and unique things they observed. They interpolated what they saw, turning it into images of things that were familiar to them. Their impressions were somewhat simplistic, but accurate associations. We know what they believed they saw because they left countless records and icons of these manifestations. These are the records and icons we seek to interpret — mysterious and enigmatic forms in stone and story.

The most remarkable part is that now — given our newly found understanding of Saturn’s career in Earth’s ancient skies — we can see and appreciate what they saw. We have simply to ask ourselves, “What does that look like?”

For example, what did you see in the first illustration? An eye? A navel? A breast? A wheel with an axle? An island? As it turns out, these are precisely the terms the ancients used in their accounts and their icons to describe and depict this earliest stage of the Saturnian configuration of planets. Additionally, because they saw vivid, colorful images in the heavens (whereas we can see only black and white images because this print medium can only display images in scales of gray), they also identified Mars as a heart because of its deep red color and its placement in the center. So it is that the icons and metaphors created by the ancients to describe the forms they saw are not as mysterious as they once may have seemed, now that the Saturn story is allowed to give them meaning.

The ‘creation’ continues

After an unknown time, the primary configuration of planets, as shown above, began to change. It was the next step in the creation saga recorded in the sacred annals and traditions of all ancient religions. Actually, it was probably Venus that began to change first. The changes were minor at the outset, but as time went on they became more and more pronounced and dramatic. This resulted in multiple presentations, as we will see, which gave rise to a multitude of symbols.

In order to understand Venus’ multi-faceted role in the Saturn saga, it is necessary to understand that the planet’s atmosphere was dramatically distorted, twisted and contorted by the colossal forces created in the dynamic gravitational and electromagnetic interplay between several planets. In addition, there were forces at play that we are only beginning to understand. Since we do not see these forces in action today, it is hard to imagine that the atmosphere of one planet could be so dramatically altered. Yet, that is the testimony of the ancients, which they left behind in their records, monuments, temples, rituals and traditions. So it is that by allowing the testimony of the ancients to explain what they saw, we learn the origins of their symbols.

The first of many changes

Thus it was that the original appearance began to change as the atmospheric gasses began to react to the forces within the configuration. According to Talbott, when the gaseous material first began to swirl away from Venus, it took on the form of an elliptical cloud when viewed from Earth as it began to discharge electrically. This gave Saturn new look for the ancients to ponder. It was the first of many changes in Venus, the most active of the celestial players in act one of this ancient celestial drama.

The wide variety of forms displayed by the gases in this ancient configuration is remarkable. Indeed, it was the pliant nature of the gases, called “plasma” by physicists, that constituted the most remarkable aspects of the ancient configuration of planets.

What cannot be seen in the collinear planetary configuration illustration above are the gases stretching between Mars and Venus. It is likely that they were elements of the atmospheres of the two planets, augmented by ionized gasses, drawn out by the gravitational pull of both planets and electromagnetic forces generated in the plasmas into a string or column between the two. Later, these plasmas play a crucial role in the Saturn story. Later still, a similar plasma stream arose between Mars and Earth, creating the great pillar seen to connect Earth with Mars. So interplanetary plasma and the distended atmospheres of the planets involved played a dynamic and pivotal role in the evolution of this planetary configuration.

Two axioms

When considering the many manifestations of the collinear, polar configuration, this is a vital axiom: Whenever the images presented in the ancient heavens resembled familiar objects, they were referred to in those same terms by their earthly observers. A grouping of planets that looked like and eyeball, complete with and iris and pupil (as in figure 1), became just that. The Egyptians wrote, “I am Horus in His Eye,” and that the celestial eye “shineth with splendors on the forehead of Ra.” Later, it transformed into what looked like a cosmic egg, complete with yolk (figure 2). So, Egyptian priests celebrated the unborn hero (which is what he would become in all ancient traditions) in the center (Mars/Horus) as “the mighty one in the egg.” Talbott notes that Venus also looked like a small, white cloud. Thus, we see the word “cloud” and the cloud icon substituted for “planet” or “star” in a multitude of scriptural (the Exodus “pillar of a cloud”) and symbolic settings (the iconography of the Salt Lake Temple, for example). We also saw that in its first manifestation (figure 1), the polar configuration was called a navel, a breast, a shield, an island and the heart of heaven or the heart of god. Thus, it becomes clear that the ancients borrowed the names of familiar objects by which to designate the various aspects of the celestial marvels they beheld.

Where myths come from

Depictions such as these make no sense in a modern context. Nothing we see in our skies would lead us to describe deity in the terms used by the ancients. Until now, such metaphors appeared to have no basis in reality. For this reason, scholars put the label “myth” (i.e., inventions, fabrications, contrivances) on ancient accounts employing these symbols. These icons and the metaphors they spawned become meaningful in only one context: the collinear alignment of planets in antiquity as proposed by Talbott. Thus we see that some of the most esoteric language from ancient lore actually has its origins in that collinear configuration. If this is true of these examples, might we not conclude that it is also true of most other such metaphor and icons? Could it be that this is what Joseph Smith attempted to teach a few, early Saints about the remarkable relationship between Earth’s earliest history and the symbolism and metaphor of the scriptures and religions in general? Is this why the iconography of the Nauvoo and Salt Lake temples is more than a little reminiscent of ancient iconography (the Saturnstones on the Salt Lake and the Sunstones on the Nauvoo, for example)? If, as stated earlier, this is THE great mystery of the ages, then is it not reasonable to assume that Joseph Smith knew and understood it?

Eyes and twinkles

An example of how these traditions are so invisibly imbedded in our culture, consider how it is often said that the child is the apple of his/her father’s eye. Or, how often it is said that the child was once, before birth, only a twinkle in his/her father’s eye. We all understand what is meant; it is part of our cultural heritage. But that begs the question, what does an apple have to do with the eye? How can the child be considered analogous to the apple? For that matter, what does the child have to do with the eye at all, or a twinkle? From where does such nonsensical whimsy come?

It comes from the same source as the above quoted Egyptian texts, which refer to Mar/Horus child in the eye of god. If red Mars, as it appeared anciently within Venus and Saturn, were considered a child in the center of the celestial ‘eye,’ then it would be as proper to associate that child with an apple (for its red color and roundness) as it would to call it a heart (since it was red and in the center). Further, if the largest orb (Saturn) were considered the father of the child/apple in the egg, then it would be metaphorically proper to say that the child was the apple of his father’s eye! It would also be proper to call the egg-looking orb a “twinkle” in its father’s eye if it subsequently became the prototype of all star icons, as we shall see next. All this has come down to us as cultural tradition because it was, at one time, religious tradition. No other explanation for these aphorisms has ever been articulated. Only the Saturn traditions give meaning to them.

So it is with a multitude of scriptural metaphors and similes. As our investigation into these matters continues, we will see that this same situation prevails in the gospel. The plethora of icons the collinear configuration spawned, together with the resulting imagery, metaphor and symbolism, became the symbolic backbone, so to speak of the gospel.

Where stars come from

The reflexive axiom to that previously noted above is: Whenever the images presented in the ancient heavens were unlike familiar objects, the ancients created a unique icon, a facsimile of the heavenly original. So it is that we find a mix of icons in ancient symbolism—some familiar, others very odd. Even familiar symbols are often juxtaposed with unfamiliar images—all arranged in very strange ways. The traditional star image or icon is the best example of a unique icon.

The illustration of stars are among the oldest universal icon portrayed in the art of man; yet, no such object or image is present in today’s heavens. The pinpoints of light in the night sky that we call stars bear no resemblance to the illustrations or icons we call stars. Some stars are depicted with three points, others with four, five or six. What compelled the ancients to create such an image and why call it a star?

Venus’ discharge streamers

The nature of the low mass, ionized gasses in space makes them extremely susceptible to gravitational and electromagnetic forces. Gasses in the vacuum of space will readily follow such lines of force. They are called plasmas. A demonstration of a similar phenomenon can be made using a piece of notebook paper, some fine metal filings and a large magnet. When the metal filings are scattered over the paper, they fall randomly. Bringing the magnet up beneath the paper causes the filing to react dramatically. The filings immediately jump into patterns that reflect the magnetic lines of force exerted by the magnet. Of course, it only shows them in one plane, that of the paper.

A similar thing happens to gasses suspended in a vacuum when gravitational and electromagnetic forces are applied. Illustrated in three dimensions, it becomes clear that the lines of force might easily carry gasses away from the planet, out into space in such a way as to for ‘points’ or streamers when viewed from a polar perspective as Earth’s inhabitants did Venus.

In addition, if electric current were present (which would account for the electromagnetic forces, the one being induced by the other), certain inert gases would tend to phosphoresce or glow — just as our florescent lights do. Thus, the gases would not only assume a multitude of forms as the lines of force varied over time, they would tend to glow — much like phosphorescent light — making them especially visible from Earth and presenting a striking celestial display. A pale analog to this phenomenon, which can be seen in our skies today, would be the familiar Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

Shifting planets, changing looks

Over time, the distance between Venus, Mars and Earth varied as forces within the congregation of planets caused them to shift position back and forth along the common axis. According to some astronomers, a collinear planetary arrangement would be inherently unstable, leading to some shifting of position within the configuration. Due to their considerable mass, the two gravitational anchors of this arrangement were Saturn and Jupiter. A slight variation in their relationship would cause dramatic movement among the three smaller planets. It was this ‘jostling’ effect that probably accounted for many of the changes in the relative position between Venus, Mars and Earth on occasion. Indeed, it was the inherent instability that probably caused the ultimate dissolution of the Polar Configuration of planets.

Naturally, the proximity of the planets would largely determine the amount of gaseous material suspended electromagnetically between the two. The closer they were, the more material would be drawn into the space between them, giving the column greater density and more visibility. Then, when the planets distanced themselves from one another, those same gases would be distended across the widening void. This would set the stage for some of the most dramatic changes of appearance in the Saturn complex. The proximity of the five planets would also determine the degree of eccentricity in the movement of the gases: the closer they were, the more force would be applied to the gases, leading to more dramatic changes in arrangement. Finally, when any of the three smaller planets left the axis and began to oscillate across it or orbit around it, which apparently did happen, the forces unleashed would have had a ‘whipsaw’ effect on the plasma, leading to still more dramatic displays — as shall be seen in later discussions regarding the evolution of the collinear planetary configuration.

This sets the stage for three separate plasma columns in the Polar Configuration, which appear at various stages in its development: between Saturn and Venus, between Venus and Mars and between Mars and Earth. All three columns appeared at one time or another in Earth’s ancient heavens. In fact, they were all three probably part of one continuous plasma column. Imagine a great fluorescent light, which is nothing but plasma suspended in a glass tube, with these planets suspended within it in a linear arrangement. That is probably a close approximation to the situation that existed in the Polar Configuration anciently.

Venus in evolution

We see that after taking the ovoid or elliptical form, Venus’ atmosphere next evolved into an equilateral triangle, on its way to an even more sensational series of changes.

This is not an image we would call a star. Yet, it gave rise to one of the best known star icons. To understand how this came to be, we have only to remember that these images were not motionless. They seemed to be fixed in one place in the heavens — as is today’s pole star, Polaris — but the Earth’s rotation imparted a rotary motion to these images. Thus, the image seen above seemed to rotate through a full 360 degrees in 24 hours (the diurnal rotation rate of the Earth).

Animation is a well-understood art today because of motion pictures and video. We know that a series of still pictures, projected in rapid succession, can be used to create the illusion of motion. The ancients used a similar device: a series of illustrations depicting the various phases or positions of the planets in the great conjunction. But in this case, the various illustrations were superimposed rather than juxtaposed because the sacred icon in question rotated in a fixed position, like a wheel around an axle. Hence, the ancients depicted the triangle icon in its two most important position — in its midnight and midday positions, point up and point down — to imply motion. This gave Israel its national symbol, the Star of David.

Incidentally, this tendency to superimpose images to depict rotation was used commonly in both icons and metaphors, giving rise to some of the most colorful, imaginative description in ancient sacred literature. For example, the superimposition on the above figure of two more primary positions for triangular Venus, morning and evening, would present a twelve-point icon. So, while such elaborate figures may never actually have occurred, the superimposition of basic images to imply rotational motion actually gave rise to a whole series of derivatives with a symbolic life of their own.

Derivation provided another entirely new series of icons as well. For example, the inside of the Star of David (figure 6) forms a pentagram. Of course, this, too, has found its place in the iconography of mankind, only this time as a symbol of evil, the antithesis of the symbol of good, the star. Thus, it can clearly be seen that these simple icons, their changes and their movement, gave rise to the multitude of icons and symbols employed by mankind anciently. As it turns out, the most bizarre, puzzling and inexplicable images, used to depict good or evil, found in the religions and cultures of mankind, can be traced to the original manifestations of the Saturn configuration.

More changes, more stars

As we have seen, gaseous streamers erupted from Venus and extended toward Saturn, following the lines of force. From a vantage point at a distance from and perpendicular to the collinear configuration of planets, it most likely appeared something like what can be seen in this illustration.

From a vantage point on Earth’s northern hemisphere, those gaseous discharge streamers eventually metamorphosed Venus’ appearance from that of an eye, to that of an egg, and then to a triangle. Finally, as the points of the triangle extended, it became another familiar star icon.

Eventually the arrangement of gasses metamorphosed into a four-pointed star as the gas streamers gradually evolved from the simple to the increasingly more complex, being gradually distended and differentiated over time.

Ultimately, Venus evolved into its most complex star configuration, the stage Talbott calls “the star of glory” because the ancients asserted that it was resplendent.

As we have seen, a whole lexicon of ancient imagery grew up around Venus’ metamorphosis from a circular form to symmetrical “great star.” Yet, this final appearance alone (in what is only the first act of an entire celestial drama) gave rise to innumerable symbols. Venus was the literal “glory” of the sun god, a physical manifestation of his soul radiating out into all creation, the sun god’s shield, a long-haired goddess, the ancient ‘comet’ that radiated equally in all directions, the spokes of the ‘sun’ wheel, the crowning glory of Saturn’s son, Mars, and the ‘eye’ that became radiant and filled all heaven with its glory.

Thus, the ancient and modern icon for a star had nothing to do with any sun, far or near. It was a primary feature of the ancient planetary conjunction. The star icon — regardless of the number of points it displays — is unlike any familiar object, celestial or otherwise. Rather, it is an original icon from the past that endures into modern culture and is an example of how the ancients dealt with an unfamiliar celestial image. As such, it is further evidence supporting Talbott’s thesis. What other explanation can be given for the origin of the star icons? Is there some other explanation that conforms to its employment by mankind since time immemorial and the multitude of descriptions and names attached to it by the ancients?

Note how closely the last image matches the illustration of the lines of force (see earlier illustration) surrounding a planet as seen from a polar perspective.

Additional corroboration of the idea that these icons originated in a unique celestial event can be found in the name of this icon. The word ‘star,’ used today, is derived from one of the multitude of ancient names for Venus: Astarte (a-star-te) and its many variants (Ashtoreth, Ishtar, Isis, Hathor, Aphrodite, etc.). It is also the root for words like astronomy and astronaut, all having to do with the heavens. Even the name attached to these cultural icons is ancient, having its origins in the contemporary appearance of the icons themselves.

Ancient cultural traditions affirm that the location of the ‘stars’ was in the heavens. It is reasonable to assume that later generations (which, like us, did not see this planetary conjunction when they looked to the sky) assumed that the pinpoints of light they saw there were the ‘stars’ of their ancestors — even though the traditional symbols bore absolutely no resemblance to the reality they saw. Also, many ancient traditions told of how the body of the ancient goddess/queen/star was eventually dismembered and scattered across the heavens. Naturally, those scattered remnants would also be called stars.

More symbolism

Of course, all scriptural allusions to “crowns of glory” refer to Venus in its first manifestation as the prototypical star. Thus, the images of star and crown are really one and the same. Indeed, all royal crowns, placed upon the king’s head, are but replicas of Venus as she sat upon the head of her son/child, Mars.

This ‘nested’ planetary arrangement of Mars within Venus also gave rise to one of the most pervasive icons in history: the mother and child. This is so because the child, Mars, seen to reside within Venus, would soon be ‘born’ in the celestial temple to become the ruler of the heavens, eclipsing, for a time, even his father, Saturn. From this first form or archetype, may mother/son images emerged. The Egyptians placed Horus on the lap of Isis. The Catholic incarnation, the Madonna and Child icon, is simply the last in a long lie of such religious symbols. Typically, in the anthropomorphic versions, the mother is depicted in a seated position with the child in her lap. Often, they are shown with auras or halos about their heads, reminiscent of the crown symbol. These can be found in the iconography of almost every ancient culture. When Christianity began to find a place in the Roman Empire, the story of Mary and Jesus found a ready icon in the pagan symbol of the mother and child. Roman converts to Christianity brought their pagan mother and child icon into their newfound religion, whereupon it became a cornerstone of their beliefs, just as it had been in their former, pagan religion.

Because this child/planet was the son of the celestial god and his wife/sister, he was heir to the “kingdom of god.” So it is that much of the language found in the scriptures echoes this arrangement of things. Allusions to kings, princes, queens, kingdoms, etc., are basic to Christianity. This was not simply an artifice of the King James translators who gave us the English version of our Bible. It is an integral part of the ancient symbolism, kept intact by those translators.

Gospel connections

Of course, the best test is to connect these symbols with the gospel, as mentioned at the outset. In Genesis we read that

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1: 1-5.)

Here we have a detailed scriptural description of what happened in the beginning of Saturn’s career — what the ancients called the “creation.” Taking it statement by statement, and then relating it to Talbott’s Saturn story, we can now understand what Moses meant. (Moses is traditionally thought to be the author of Genesis.)

Line upon line

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This was the very beginning, when Saturn, Venus and Mars first became visible or notable. In the original Hebrew, as in the original Egyptian (both evolving from the original Semitic tongue), the words for “heaven” and “earth” were originally “the above” and “the below” — hence the interpretive translation into English. But “the below” probably did not refer to the earth, and “the above” did not refer to heaven. The above and the below were two halves of the celestial apparition — something that divided the planetary conjunction in half — as we will see shortly.

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Thus, the reference to the “earth” in this verse is probably a reference to “the below” or bottom half of the planetary conjunction. This is singled out because the bottom of the configuration was the location of the bright crescent on Saturn as sunlight illuminated the planet’s terminator. Thus, without the brilliant crescent, it was said to be “without form, and void,” or empty. The “darkness on the face of the deep” is likely a reference to Saturn itself because all the brilliance it would soon display was still in the future. It was shrouded in a plasma cloud. That is, it was not dark at all, but simply dim, without distinction. It was called “the deep” because, as we shall see, Saturn had not yet emerged from the plasma vortex that hovered over the Earth. This vortex, a slowly swirling plasma that looked like dark clouds in the sky or a heavenly whirlpool was all the ancients could see. Because it resembled water, they called it the “deep” and the “firmament” or simply “the waters” of creation.

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” If Venus, in its initial ‘star’ phase, was considered the glory, majesty, life-breath and soul essence or ‘spirit’ of Saturn, then its metamorphosis across the face of Saturn—the “face of the deep”—to become the “great star” would properly be characterized as movement of the god’s spirit across his face.

“And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.” This was not the light of the Sun. That was to come later in the sequence of creation. This light was probably coming from Saturn, though it was greatly dissipated by the plasma fog that enshrouded the skies.

“And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.” The light of Saturn was not just good, as the ancients saw it; it was the perfect light. It provided a contrast to the darkness or uniformness of everything else in the heavens.

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” When the three visible planets became visible, as the plasma cloud dissipated, Earth’s inhabitants saw three orbs with no apparent motion. Once sunlight began to illuminate Saturn’s limb to create a crescent, it gave the ancients the means to detect rotation in the heavens, the very basis of all timekeeping. Also, as Venus’ brilliant appendages evolved, they demonstrated motion by appearing to rotate as well. This apparent motion was actually due to the Earth’s sidereal motion. Thus, mankind first grasped the concept of time — differentiating day from night.

Moreover, the planetary configuration became a handy timekeeping device. They marked the time of day by the positions they were in, much like the hands of a clock. For this reason, Saturn was also called Kronos (Chronus), Father Time. In fact, this was the prototype for all timekeeping. The modern watch uses a circular face divided into 12 one-hour segments (twelve for day, twelve for night, 24 hours total). Thus, even modern timepieces preserve the essence of this ancient symbolism. Of course, any student of the scriptures, in general, and John’s Revelation, in particular, readily recognizes this symbolism. (See Revelation 4:2-4, for example.)

To be continued …

© Anthony E. Larson, 1999

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