Author: Ted Holden The following series of articles was posted to t.o by the Efemeral Rese

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====================================================================== Author: Ted Holden ====================================================================== The following series of articles was posted to t.o by the Efemeral Research Foundation. I have retained it and simply include it in any large collection of catastrophist literature. I do not see any copyright signs in it, and assume that they, as I, simply wish this material to reach as wide an audience as possible. ................................................................. ................................................................. VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--Introduction It was Immanuel Velikovsky's claim in "Worlds in Collision" that the spectacle of VENUS AS A COMET-LIKE BODY MARAUDING ABOUT THE HEAVENS was once witnessed by ancient cultures all around the globe. The next 4 postings (VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--One, Two, Three, Fnotes) comprise an article recently published in AEON, a Journal of Myth and Science. The article shows that the EVIDENCE in favour of Venus' comet- like past is far more pervasive than Velikovsky ever imagined. It was Velikovsky's thesis that many ancient myths commemorate spectacular cataclysms associated with the various planets. Ev Cochrane shows strong support for this radical view--evidence from the mythology and astronomy of both the Old World and the New World. In Ev Cochrane's words: "A Golden Age at the dawn of time was recalled as the well- spring of civilization and deemed to be the gift of Saturn for the simple reason that spectacular events associated with the period of that planet's dominance provided the "divine" inspiration for the origin and development of cities, laws, religious rites, systems of writing, etc." "Our entire conception of the recent history of the solar system--not to mention celestial mechanics and a host of other sciences--is fated to be turned upside down." The title of the article is: TOWARDS A SCIENCE OF MYTHOLOGY: VELIKOVSKY'S CONTRIBUTION The author is: Ev Cochrane The article was originally published in November 1992 in: *** AEON--A Symposium on Myth and Science *** Vol.III, No.1. Available from 2326 Knapp, AMES, IOWA, 50010, USA (subscription: $US40). The electronic version of the article was prepared by: * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * === Efemeral Research Foundation * * // | \\ Exploring the Saturn Myth * * // | \\ * * ||-----o-----|| * * \\ | // Internet: * * //\ \..|../ / * * || `../.\..' AARNet/ACSNet: * * `='' / \ * * / \ APC Networks: peg.abeggs * * / \ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  From Mon Jan 11 15:02:00 1993 VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--One [this and 3 other postings comprise an article from ***AEON--A Symposium on Myth and Science***, Vol. III, No. 1, November, 1992] ******************************* TOWARDS A SCIENCE OF MYTHOLOGY: VELIKOVSKY'S CONTRIBUTION By: Ev Cochrane When all is said and done it may well turn out that Velikovsky's most enduring claim to fame will be his singular contribution to comparative mythology; specifically, the thesis that many ancient myths commemorate spectacular cataclysms associated with the various planets. This is truly an original thesis, with little if any precedent in the writings of previous scholars.[Fn.1] As is the case with any truly seminal work, "Worlds in Collision" raises as many questions as it answers. Indeed, questions inspired by Velikovsky's work have since launched hundreds of studies, more than one of which portends a revolution in our understanding of ancient mythology. Why is it that the planet Saturn was reckoned the first king by peoples around the world, and why is it that the Golden Age associated with that planet- king is recalled with nostalgic veneration? Why was that same planet called by the name of the Sun? Such questions formed the backdrop of David Talbott's "The Saturn Myth," itself a landmark contribution to comparative mythology.[Fn.2] One could propose equally provocative questions about the other planets. Why is it that the planet Mars was represented as a warrior equipped with sword and/or club by peoples the world over? Why was the red planet consistently associated with images of the World Pillar, the latter object being envisaged as the upholder of the ancient heavens?[Fn.3] Why were the greatest of ancient goddesses--Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Isis, Anat, Aphrodite, etc.--invoked by the epithet Queen of Heaven and specifically identified with the planet Venus?[Fn.4] Why were those same goddesses associated with a destructive epiphany said to have threatened the very foundations of heaven and earth?[Fn.5] Only Velikovsky, among the hundreds of scholars who have explored these traditions, dared to ask the question: Is it possible to explain the myth of the goddess from the behaviour of the planet? Close upon the heels of each of these questions follows a host of others, equally inexplicable from the conventional perspective which imagines the planets to have varied little in their orbits and appearances over the course of the past billion years. A YOUTHFUL SCIENCE Before proceeding to our discussion of Velikovsky's particular theory it may prove illuminating to view it from the perspective provided by the history in the field. The scientific roots of comparative mythology can be traced back to the 17th century, when the likes of Samuel Bochart, Bernard de Fontanelle, and Sir William Jones were composing their works.[Fn.6] These scholars documented the striking similarities which exist amongst the mythologies of the world's various cultures. It was in the latter part of the nineteenth century, however, that real progress was made towards developing a science of mythology, with numerous attempts being made to reduce the phantasmagoria of the world's mythology to a common denominator, frequently a nature-allegory of some sort.[Fn.7] Famous examples include Muller's sun-god, Kuhn's storm-god, and Mannhardt's fertility- daemon. In the twentieth century these ideas fell out of fashion, to be replaced by the grand interpretations of myth inspired by such figures as Frazer and Freud. Frazer, like other prominent members of what came to be known as the Cambridge school (Harrison, Cook, Murray, Cornford), sought to explain the content of myth by reference to archaic ritual. According to this view, myth was to be interpreted as the spoken or written correlate of things done in ritual. The myth of Osiris' death and dismemberment, for example, was interpreted as providing the rationale for an Egyptian harvest-ritual commemorating the annual death of the vegetation-spirit.[Fn8.] Although Freud wrote little on myth himself--"Moses and Monotheism" being perhaps his deepest foray into the area--his psychoanalytic writings had a profound influence upon the ideas of other scholars such as Jung, Roheim, and Rank, each of whom devoted extensive works to uncovering the psychological determinants of myth. The writings of Jung and Rank, in turn, exerted a formative influence upon subsequent scholars such as Campbell and Kerenyi, whose works have done a great deal to bring the subject of mythology to the forefront of public consciousness. Alas, the schemes of Frazer and Freud were fated to be replaced as well, and in recent years the theories associated with the names of Dumezil, Levi-Strauss, and Eliade have dominated the scene of comparative mythology. The first two scholars were heavily influenced by the pioneering efforts of the sociologist Durkheim, who sought to establish a correlation between the central themes of myth and underlying cultural patterns.[Fn.9] Dumezil, for example, looked to the tripartite structure of ancient Indo-European society for the origin of particular patterns of myth. According to this view, the behaviour and functions of the warrior-class that distinguished ancient Indo- European societies accounts for the fascinating mythology associated with heroes of the warrior-type (Heracles, Indra, Cuchulainn, etc.).[Fn.10] Levi-Strauss, on the other hand, looked to the structure and function of the human brain to explain the origin of societal patterns together with their attendant mythological motives.[Fn.11] The myth of Oedipus, according to this view, owes little to forbidden psychological urges. Rather it reflects the universal tendency of human beings to think in terms of binary operations, such as black/white, good/evil, heaven/hell, etc., the function of myth being to provide a logical form of mediation between apparent or real contradictions.[Fn.12] Viewed from this brief historical perspective, Velikovsky's thesis can be seen as forming a logical variation upon the nature-allegory school of comparative mythology. Like that school, and in stark contrast to that which grew up around the ideas of Levi-Strauss, Velikovsky sought to provide an objective historical basis for the central themes of ancient myth, the principal difference being that he substitutes the planets for the sun (or some other meteorological phenomenon) as the primary referent of myth. ON PLANETS AND MYTH Historically, the planets have been virtually ignored by comparative mythologists. A notable exception to this statement is the monumental treatise by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend--"Hamlet's Mill." Originally published in 1969, and promoted by the authors as a "first reconnaissance of a realm well-nigh unexplored and uncharted," Hamlet's Mill documented the surprising prominence of the planets in ancient myths the world over: >The real actors on the stage of the universe are very few, if >their adventures are many. The most "ancient treasure"--in >Aristotle's word--that was left to us by our predecessors of the >High and Far-Off Times was the idea that the gods are really >stars, and that there are no other actors. The forces reside in >the starry heavens, and all the stories, characters and >adventures narrated by mythology concentrate on the active >powers among the stars, who are the planets.[Fn.13] Hamlet's Mill warrants mention here not only because it represents a significant contribution to scholarship, but because it provides compelling evidence in support of more than one of Velikovsky's controversial theses; this despite the fact that the authors arrived at their conclusions independently of Velikovsky and would no doubt be horrified at the prospect of seeing their researches mentioned in the same breath as those of the author of "Worlds in Collision." Regarding the planet Saturn, for example, de Santillana and von Dechend found that it figured prominently in myths of World-ending cataclysm, Phaethon's fall and the Deluge being among them. This finding recalls Velikovsky's understanding of Saturn's recent history--deduced from ancient myth--whereby it experienced a nova-like flare-up and inundated the surrounding cosmos with fire and flood.[Fn.14] Unlike Velikovsky, however, de Santillana and von Dechend were hamstrung by a conservative approach to astrophysics and this, in my opinion, prevented them from entertaining the possibility that ancient myths recounting cataclysms involving the respective planets were indeed based upon cataclysmic events. Confronted with Plato's clear statement that Phaethon's fateful ride had reference to a great cataclysm caused by a deviation amongst the heavenly bodies, de Santillana and von Dechend nevertheless object: "The Pythagoreans were neither idle storytellers, not were they even mildly interested in unusual sensational `catastrophes' caused by meteors, and the like."[Fn.15] Here the authors of Hamlet's Mill failed to heed their own advice: "The only thing to do is proceed inductively, step by step, avoiding preconceptions and letting the argument lead toward its own conclusions."[Fn16] Upon discovering the intimate association of Saturn with the Pole, de Santillana and von Dechend failed to ask the obvious question whether Saturn has always travelled on its present orbit? And when confronted with unequivocal testimony from the Gilgamesh Epic that the ancient sun-god rose and set over the same mountain (confirmed by traditions throughout the ancient world), de Santillana and von Dechend once again turned a deaf ear: "The sun is not in the habit of rising on the same spot every day, and it needs no profound astronomical knowledge to become aware of this fact."[Fn.17] How, then, did the authors of Hamlet's Mill explain their findings? Here the authors credited the ancients with a sophisticated understanding of astronomical principles, particularly so the precession of the equinoxes, supposedly discovered by Hipparchus in 127 BCE, but according to de Santillana and von Dechend, already well-known in the Near East several millenia earlier.[Fn.18] It was the diffusion of this ancient "science" (by whom or by what means is not explained) which accounts for the presence of identical mythical motives around the globe.[Fn.19] Not surprisingly, this hypothesis has failed to find favour among historians of science, nor, for that matter, has Hamlet's Mill had any discernible impact upon subsequent studies of ancient myth.[Fn.20] ARCHAEOASTRONOMY In recent years interest in traditions surrounding the planets has surged due to the emergence of archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy as serious fields of research.[Fn.21] Scholars in these respective fields comb the architectural structures, sacred writings, and iconography of ancient cultures in both the New World and Old for some reference to celestial goings-on. Here, too, more than one of these researchers has stumbled across evidence supportive of Velikovsky's general thesis of planetary catastrophism, although the far-reaching ramifications of such discordant data are typically (mis)interpreted in a more conventional manner. For example, one leading scholar--Anthony Aveni--has called attention to the remarkable "coincidence" that both Maya and Babylonian astronomers credited Venus with a 90 day period of invisibility at superior conjunction despite the fact the true period is closer to 50 days.[Fn.22] How this could be Aveni offers nary a clue. Thus there are clear signs that planets will soon be receiving their just due as objective referents of ancient myth. Most significant, perhaps, is the fact that even in the works of such scholars as Levi-Strauss--whose interpretation of myth is diametrically opposed to that of Velikovsky--there can be found concessions that planetary bodies formed a prominent factor in the origin of ancient myths: "Max Muller and his school must be given credit for having discovered, and to some extent deciphered, the astronomical code so often used by the myths."[Fn.23] ******************************** See the postings ***VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--Two, Three, Fnotes*** for the rest of this article. ******************************** This electronic version of the article was prepared by: * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * === Efemeral Research Foundation * * // | \\ Exploring the Saturn Myth * * // | \\ * * ||-----o-----|| * * \\ | // Internet: * * //\ \..|../ / * * || `../.\..' AARNet/ACSNet: * * `='' / \ * * / \ APC Networks: peg.abeggs * * / \ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  From Mon Jan 11 15:04:00 1993 VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--Two [this and 3 other postings comprise an article from ***AEON--A Symposium on Myth and Science***, Vol. III, No. 1, November, 1992] ******************************* TOWARDS A SCIENCE OF MYTHOLOGY: VELIKOVSKY'S CONTRIBUTION By: Ev Cochrane ******************************* VELIKOVSKY AND ATHENA If, then, Velikovsky's primary contribution to a science of comparative mythology is the emphasis upon planets, the question arises as to the evidentiary basis of this claim and its ramifications for a science of mythology? Here we will briefly discuss Velikovsky's analysis of the myth of Athena--arguably the best example of his method. If one were to judge solely by its prominence in Worlds in Collision, one would have to acknowledge that the myth of Athena's birth forms the cornerstone of Velikovsky's approach to ancient mythology. That said, it is puzzling to find that there has been virtually no discussion of this myth or of the theoretical methodology which inspired Velikovsky's thesis of the recent birth of the planet Venus, one of the most sensational and heavily discussed claims of Worlds in Collision. Inasmuch as Velikovsky offered a revolution in our understanding of ancient mythology--indeed of ancient history in general--one would have thought that a close scrutiny of his initial premises would have been in order to see whether such a revolution was truly in order. Rather than a close scrutiny, however, Velikovsky's thesis has generally met with unquestioning acceptance amongst his followers, and with almost complete silence by his critics.[Fn.24] The mythology of Athena, Velikovsky maintained, commemorated spectacular events involving the planet Venus--or, to be more specific, the protoplanet Venus whilst undergoing a comet-like phase. And, in fact, the oldest extant account of Athena's epiphany as a war-goddess, that found in the Iliad, presents the goddess as a comet-like body shooting across the heavens: "Like a blazing star which the lord of heaven shoots forth, bright and scattering sparks all around, to be a portent for sailors or for some great army of men, so Pallas Athena shot down to earth and leapt into the throng."[Fn.25] This passage, of course, has long been the subject of scholarly debate and was duly emphasized by Velikovsky. Unbeknownst to Velikovsky, however, was the fact that other traditions surrounding Athena present a similar picture of the goddess.[Fn.26] Athena's intimate association with the Palladium (Palladium is the diminutive of Pallas), for example, has long drawn the attention of scholars, the latter object being described as a meteor-like object which fell (or was thrown) from heaven.[Fn.27] This tradition brings to mind Athena's intimate relation to (and probable identification with) Zeus' thunderbolt--the latter object being described as a fiery, serpentine-formed body thrown from heaven. Such traditions suggest that Homer's choice of imagery with regards to the goddess' spectacular epiphany was truly inspired. Although some early mythographers had sought to identify Athena with the Moon, Velikovsky was the first to see an association between that goddess and the planet Venus. In support of this thesis, Velikovsky compared the mythology of Athena with that of surrounding other goddesses whose identification with Venus was beyond doubt (e.g., Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, etc.). Early Sumerian texts, for example, described Inanna as flying about the skies in serpentine-form and raining down destruction.[Fn.28] In a recent paper devoted to the mythology of Athena I was able to show that Athena's epiphany as a war-like goddess conforms to a universal pattern, having close parallels in the traditions surrounding other great goddesses--Inanna, Hathor, Anat, and Kali among others.[Fn.29] Moreover, our analysis of the mythical imagery surrounding these goddesses confirmed two points: (1) each of the goddesses is explicitly described as a celestial body, identifiable with the planet Venus; and (2) the imagery surrounding each goddess is consistent with that universally associated with comets (e.g., long, dishevelled hair; serpentine form; identification with a torch; association with eclipses of the sun; etc.). It is readily apparent, therefore, that Velikovsky's hypothesis is not as far-fetched as it might appear at first sight. Indeed, as David Talbott and I have attempted to document in a series of essays, the truth of the matter is that the evidence in favour of Venus' comet-like past is far more pervasive than Velikovsky ever imagined.[Fn.30] In addition to the evidence gathered from comparative mythology one might point to the common terminology shared by comets and Venus. Certainly it is significant to find that the oldest terms employed to describe comets--e.g., "hair- star", "torch-star", "serpent-star", "smoking-star", "bearded- star", etc.--were likewise ascribed to the planet Venus, alone among the planets.[Fn.31] Upon what hypothesis other than Velikovsky's is it possible to account for this convergence of language? Equally compelling is the fact that the ancient mythology surrounding the planet Venus overlaps to a remarkable extent with that associated with comets. It is well-known, for example, that from time immemorial comets were associated with such motives as the end of the world, eclipses of the sun, the death of great kings, etc.[Fn.32] An especially intriguing motive identifies comets with the departing souls of great kings.[Fn.33] The imagery attending the death of Caesar is perhaps the most famous example of this ancient and widespread motive, recalled in the famous words of Shakespeare as follows: "When beggars die there are no comets seen; the Heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes." Hitherto unnoticed, however, is the fact that the very same imagery was associated with the planet Venus, in the Old World as well as the New![Fn.34] One of the most pivotal events in the sacred history of ancient Mexico, for example, recalled the cataclysmic occasion upon which the fiery soul of the ancient sun-god (Quetzalcoatl) departed and became the planet Venus! The Mesoamerican scholar Nigel Davies, upon acknowledging that this was the original significance of the myth of Quetzalcoatl's death and transfiguration, nevertheless objected that such an interpretation is hardly to be entertained: "At some point in the account, history ends and legend begins, unless one is really to believe that the planet Venus was actually formed from his body and had not previously existed!"[Fn.35] Here it may well be asked: Granted that Velikovsky may have been right with regards to the presence of cometary imagery in the cult of Athena, of what significance is this finding for modern science, gleaned as it is from the most obscure niches of Greek mythology? It is the far-reaching ramifications of this finding for ancient history and astronomy, of course, which have long intrigued Velikovsky's admirers and incensed his detractors. Stated simply: If the spectacle of Venus as a comet-like body marauding about the heavens was once witnessed by ancient man the world over, our entire conception of the recent history of the solar system--not to mention celestial mechanics and a host of other sciences--is fated to be turned upside down. VELIKOVSKY'S METHODOLOGY If, as it would appear, Velikovsky's initial foray into comparative mythology produced some brilliant insights and offered a promising key to understanding the ancient myths, to what extent is it possible to speak of "Worlds in Collision" as providing a model for a science of mythology? Here, as is so often the case in Velikovsky's writings, it would appear that brilliant insights do not necessarily reflect a systematic methodology nor a logical progression of ideas. Rather, traditions from throughout the ancient world are marshalled forth at length with only minimal analysis or discussion of the historical issues involved (e.g., is it possible to speak of Sumerian accounts of the dragon-combat as reflecting historical events of the mid-second millenium BCE?). Why he chose one tradition over another conflicting tradition typically remains a mystery. At his best, Velikovsky deduces the right explanation upon a modicum of evidence, not from any detailed examination of the sources. Prominent examples here include his insights into the origins of the imagery surrounding the dragon and witch. Elsewhere Velikovsky combs the relevant sources and uncovers nary a credible idea; e.g., his discussion of the Oedipus myth.[Fn.36] Nor, for that matter, is Velikovsky's analysis of the traditions surrounding Athena without its flaws. Consider his discussion of Athena's epithet Tritogenia, which Velikovsky would interpret as reflecting the planet-goddess' destructive influence upon a lake (named Triton) on the African coast shortly after her "birth." In this interpretation Velikovsky was following a late, patently aetiological interpretation of Augustine.[Fn.37] The fact that lakes with this name could be found wherever prominent cults of Athena were localized went unnoticed, with negative implications for Velikovsky's interpretation of the goddess' epithet.[Fn.38] The pitfalls inherent in Velikovsky's lack of a systematic methodology are best illustrated, perhaps, by the tension in his work between myth as astronomical allegory and as literal history, particularly as it applies to his discussion of the Exodus. It was Velikovsky's interpretation of the unusual circumstances surrounding the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt, of course, which formed the theoretical basis for both "Worlds in Collision" and "Ages in Chaos." Yet here, too, this pivotal event has been virtually ignored by subsequent scholars influenced by Velikovsky, despite the fact that his interpretation of the Exodus provided the fulcrum for his radical reconstruction of ancient history.[Fn.39] The circumstances which inspired Velikovsky to abandon his medical practice and emigrate to America whereupon he would launch his extensive researches ultimately culminating in "Worlds in Collision" are well-known and need not be rehashed here. By his own admission, Velikovsky was so disturbed by the appearance of Freud's "Moses and Monotheism"--the central thesis of which maintained that Moses was an Egyptian whose monotheistic religion was inspired by the religious reforms of the heretical king Akhnaton--that he felt compelled to write a book in order to set the record straight about the priority of Moses.[Fn.40] It was while researching this book that Velikovsky arrived upon the idea that a great cataclysm provided the backdrop for the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt, and for the next ten years he was to explore the ramifications of this hypothesis. Fundamental to Velikovsky's understanding of ancient myth, as we have observed, is the belief that it encodes historical events, albeit on occasion in a figurative and symbolic manner. In some notable instances, as in the myth of Athena's birth or the Deluge, myth relates spectacular events involving the respective planets. Elsewhere, however, Velikovsky suggested that myth would be found to record biographical events from recent history. The Greek myth of Oedipus, according to Velikovsky's analysis, refers in large part to court intrigue in the Egyptian Thebes of Akhnaton.[Fn.41] An issue never addressed by Velikovsky is the following: Why do some myths, such as that of Athena's birth from the head of Zeus, commemorate the spectacular behaviour of planets, while others, such as that of Oedipus, commemorate the extraordinary deeds of human beings? Velikovsky's dualistic approach to ancient mythology, needless to say, raises a host of questions regarding his methodology, not the least of which is by what criteria does one distinguish between the two types of myth? In order to adequately appreciate the ramifications of this apparent contradiction in Velikovsky's writings for his historical reconstruction--as well as for a science of mythology--it is necessary to attempt a definition of myth, however tentative. ******************************** See the postings ***VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--One, Three, Fnotes*** for the rest of this article. ******************************** This electronic version of the article was prepared by: * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * === Efemeral Research Foundation * * // | \\ Exploring the Saturn Myth * * // | \\ * * ||-----o-----|| * * \\ | // Internet: * * //\ \..|../ / * * || `../.\..' AARNet/ACSNet: * * `='' / \ * * / \ APC Networks: peg.abeggs * * / \ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  From Mon Jan 11 15:06:00 1993 VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--Three [this and 3 other postings comprise an article from ***AEON--A Symposium on Myth and Science***, Vol. III, No. 1, November, 1992] ******************************* TOWARDS A SCIENCE OF MYTHOLOGY: VELIKOVSKY'S CONTRIBUTION By: Ev Cochrane ******************************* ON MYTH AND SACRED HISTORY Countless definitions of myth have been offered, needless to say, none wholly satisfactory. For our purposes here we would endorse the opinion of Eliade, who defines myth as sacred traditions about the origin of the world: >Myth narrates a sacred history; it relates an event that took >place in primordial Time, the fabled time of the `beginnings.' >In other words, myth tells how, through the deeds of >Supernatural Beings, a reality came into existence, be it the >whole of reality, the Cosmos, or only a fragment of reality--an >island, a species of plant, a particular kind of human >behaviour, an institution.[Fn.42] In his voluminous writings on myth, religion, and related subjects, Eliade has argued that myth is typically a sacred story related about primordial events which are believed to have happened at the dawn of time, involving such themes as the creation of the world, the flood, wars of the gods, the dragon- combat, the origin of culture, etc. Mythological themes formed the focal point of early culture and religious ritual, countless aspects of daily life being designed to commemorate these sacred events through imitation, mimicry, and simulation. Ancient cities and temples, to take but one example, were designed and oriented in accordance with the sacred original: >All the Indian royal cities, even the modern ones, are built >after the mythical model of the celestial city where, in the age >of gold, the Universal Sovereign dwelt. And, like the latter, >the king attempts to revive the age of gold, to make a perfect >reign a present reality.[Fn.43] What was true for ancient architecture was also true of ancient law, sacrificial rites, art, sports, war, etc. In each case the local custom was expressly patterned after the divine prototype, revealed in the distant past. A recurring theme in Eliade's writings is the intimate relationship between myth and history. Not only does profane history reveal numerous attempts to commemorate the sacred events of myth (wars of conquest, for example), but on occasion myth can be found to masquerade as history. Indeed, as numerous scholars have come to recognize, it is not always easy to distinguish between cosmological myth per se and sacred history as found in many cultures. In early Rome, for example, Dumezil found that although much of its ancient mythology had been lost, it resurfaced as "history" in the accounts of Roman historians. The famous account of Rome's first war and the taking of the Sabine women is a case in point.[Fn.44] Countless other examples could be offered in support of Dumezil's hypothesis. The greatest god of ancient Egypt--Osiris- -can be found masquerading as a mortal king in "histories" of the Hellenistic period. Quetzalcoatl, the greatest god of Mesoamerica, was represented in similar fashion by Aztec chroniclers. Indeed, the "historization" of great gods as early "kings' and "heroes" is so commonplace in ancient traditions that one would be justified in speaking of a rule governing the composition of tribal histories. To return to Velikovsky's historical reconstruction: How, then are we to interpret the Hebrew tradition of the Exodus? As myth--defined, it will be remembered, as sacred traditions concerning the origin of the gods and world--or as an objective history of real people and events? If we approach the Old Testament account of the Exodus from the standpoint of comparative mythology it is evident that it contains more than a trace of mythical elements which, were it not that these particular traditions are so dear to us, we would otherwise recognize as being typical of cosmogonic myth. It is well-known, for example, that numerous peoples traced their origins to a great god/hero who personally led them upon an extended migration to their ultimate homeland. Thus the earliest settlers of Italy were said to have been led there by Mars; the Norse remembered a similar migration led by Odin; while the ancient Aztecs were said to have followed Huitzilopochtli to Mexico City.[Fn.45] While it was commonplace in the last century to interpret such accounts in a Euhemerist fashion--e.g., as actual migrations led by men of flesh and blood--to do so today seems hopelessly naive. A mythical aura surrounds other aspects of the Exodus-account as well. The parting of the Red Sea, as several scholars have recognized, is strangely reminiscent of the Symplegades- motive.[Fn.46] Here, it will be remembered, the hero barely succeeds in passing through some treacherous feature of the natural landscape such as clashing rocks, while his evil pursuer is caught and killed.[Fn.47] The slaying of the Pharaoh, similarly, given his explicit identification with the dragon Rahab in Rabbinic sources, appears to bear more than a trace of the imagery associated with the dragon-combat. The latter theme, alluded to in numerous passages in the Old Testament, refers to the primeval occasion in which the demon of chaos was vanquished by Yahweh himself (or with the aid of a supernatural warrior-hero).[Fn.48] The episode of the wandering in the wilderness also has numerous parallels in the myths of other lands, a period of wandering frequently distinguishing the events associated with the Creation prior to the Creator finding a suitable spot to settle. The darkness said to have accompanied the period of the Israelite's wandering, similarly, would appear to relate to the darkness which is typically said to have preceded Creation, such darkness signifying a time of chaos. The pillar of fire, said to have led the Israelites during their nocturnal peregrinations in the desert, has long troubled all but the most pious of scholars: "Of all the mysterious phenomena which accompanied the Exodus, this mysterious Pillar seems the first to demand explanation."[Fn.49] The account in Exodus 13, so difficult to reconcile with what we know about the facts of "history," is in perfect accord with the facts of comparative mythology, where the World Pillar forms a universal motive.[Fn.50] Indeed, in many traditions the World Pillar is expressly described as a pillar of fire.[Fn.51] In short, while this is not the place to argue the probable origin of the Exodus traditions in early Hebrew cosmological myth, enough has been said, perhaps, to at least suggest this possibility. And such a conclusion, should it be confirmed by future research, would significantly undermine the rationale behind Velikovsky's attempted historical reconstruction. Velikovsky's handling of the Exodus material illustrates what would appear to be a glaring flaw in his approach to the ancient sources. For want of a better term, I would note that Velikovsky tended to favour a literal interpretation of the ancient traditions. If the texts say the sea parted allowing for the escape of the Israelites, Velikovsky seeks a meteorological explanation of such an event. If the texts say that the Israelites wandered forty years in darkness in the wilderness, Velikovsky imagines the sun being obscured for a period approximating four decades. If the texts say that manna rained from the heavens, Velikovsky envisages carbohydrates falling from the skies and seeks to provide a physical explanation for such an occurrence.[Fn.52] Although Velikovsky's interpretations here are within the realm of possibility, he offered no arguments which would preclude other, less exotic, explanations of such traditions. A prolonged eclipse of the sun, for example, such as that described in Exodus, would naturally tend to disrupt the accurate keeping of time, and thus the tradition of a 40 year period of darkness might simply be a conventional way of saying "a significant period of time" (40 years, after all, is a suspiciously common span in ancient texts). Certainly it would seem to be a hazardous enterprise to make of such traditions a foundation block in a radical reconstruction of ancient history. In retrospect, Velikovsky's analysis of the Exodus-traditions seems naive, especially so inasmuch as it comes from a distinguished psychoanalyst who made his living analyzing dreams, where the phenomena of displacement, distortion, and condensation feature prominently. Indeed, as one peruses the wealth of mythological material in Velikovsky's works one is amazed at the relative dearth of analysis offered by him. In most cases the myths are simply accepted at face value, as literal records of ancient experience. Had Velikovsky applied his formidable analytic tools to the mythical elements co- mingled with the Exodus account, he would have found, I suspect, that the flight of the Israelites, the fall of the Pharaoh, the prolonged darkness, the time of wandering, and the pillar of fire are all susceptible of alternative explanation, one involving less strain on credulity. CONCLUSION Granted that our analysis has some merit, the question arises as to how and why Velikovsky went wrong? I, for one, would suggest that Velikovsky needlessly compromised his magnificent insight that myth commemorates the spectacular behaviour of planets in an attempt to proffer a scientific explanation to accommodate the sacred history of the Jewish people. Had Velikovsky pursued a more systematic approach in his mythological exegesis, he would have discovered, I would suggest, that the sacred history of the Jews is best understood by comparison with that of other peoples, and that such a comparison reveals that history to be less a record of human behaviour than an allegorical account of planetary goings-on, albeit one that has been suppressed and "historicized." Alas, if Velikovsky's historical reconstruction rests uneasily upon the historical/mythological record, such is not the case with his thesis of planetary catastrophism, which is confirmed again and again by the ancient sources. Indeed, it is my opinion that Velikovsky's theory offers the best hope for a resolution of the most fundamental questions facing comparative mythologists. For the truth of the matter is that neither Eliade nor any other scholar has offered a satisfactory explanation of the content of myth. A glaring weakness in Eliade's interpretation of myth, for example, is the inability to account for the universal belief in a former Golden Age ruled over by a primeval king under whom all manner of customs were revealed. Yet as Velikovsky suggested--followed by David Talbott, Dwardu Cardona, and myself--such traditions are readily understood if once upon a time the planet Saturn ruled the visible heavens during an unprecedented period of prosperity and cultural advancement.[Fn.53] A Golden Age at the dawn of time was recalled as the well-spring of civilization and deemed to be the gift of Saturn for the simple reason that spectacular events associated with the period of that planet's dominance provided the "divine" inspiration for the origin and development of cities, laws, religious rites, systems of writing, etc. Having been, as it were, originally "revealed" by God on high, these patterns of behaviour were not only held to be sacred, they remained canonical for all time. To quote Eliade: "This `sacred history'--mythology--is exemplary, paradigmatic: not only does it relate how things came to be; it also lays the foundations for all human behaviour and all social and cultural institutions."[Fn.54] No doubt we are still a long way from satisfactorily decoding the astronomical events encoded in ancient myth. Of this much, however, I feel confident: Velikovsky's discovery of the prominent role played by Saturn and the other planets in ancient thought not only ensures his place amongst the truly important figures in the history of science, it provides the all-important theoretical foundation for a science of mythology. ******************************** See the postings ***VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--One, Two, Fnotes*** for the rest of this article. ******************************** This electronic version of the article was prepared by: * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * === Efemeral Research Foundation * * // | \\ Exploring the Saturn Myth * * // | \\ * * ||-----o-----|| * * \\ | // Internet: * * //\ \..|../ / * * || `../.\..' AARNet/ACSNet: * * `='' / \ * * / \ APC Networks: peg.abeggs * * / \ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  From Mon Jan 11 15:07:00 1993 VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--Fnotes [this and 3 other postings comprise an article from ***AEON--A Symposium on Myth and Science***, Vol. III, No. 1, November, 1992] ******************************* FOOTNOTES TO: TOWARDS A SCIENCE OF MYTHOLOGY: VELIKOVSKY'S CONTRIBUTION By: Ev Cochrane ******************************* 1. How Velikovsky first came to entertain such a novel idea as planetary catastrophism is something of a mystery. Jan Sammer, Velikovsky's personal secretary during the later years of his life, has expressed the opinion that the decisive event was most likely Velikovsky's discovery in an obscure work of Brasseur de Bourbourg of a quote from Varro, in which it was said that the planet Venus once changed its appearance and course in the sky. This finding, coming as it did during the inspired period associated with his attempt to deduce the nature of the cataclysmic circumstances surrounding the Exodus, led Velikovsky to consider the possibility that a cataclysm involving the planet Venus was behind that event. For Velikovsky's account of these discoveries, see Stargazers and Gravediggers (New York, 1983), pp. 38-42. 2. Talbott has acknowledged that his researches were directly inspired by Velikovsky's intriguing ideas regarding Saturn's cataclysmic past. 3. E. Cochrane, "The Spring of Ares," KRONOS XI:3 (1986), pp. 15-22; E. Cochrane, "Indra: A Case Study in Comparative Mythology," AEON II:4 (1991), pp. 61-66; D. Talbott, "Mother Goddess and Warrior Hero," AEON I:5 (1988), pp. 53-65. 4. W Heimpel, "A Catalog of Near Eastern Venus Deities," Syro- Mesopotamian Studies 4:3 (December 1982), pp. 9-22. 5. E. Cochrane, "The Birth of Athena," AEON II:3 (1990), pp. 10-18. 6. For a survey of early scholarship in the field, see B. Feldman & R. Richardson, The Rise of Modern Mythology 1680-1860 (Bloomington, 1972). 7. See the discussion in J. Puhvel, Comparative Mythology (London, 1989), pp. 13-20. 8. J. Frazer, The Golden Bough Vol. 4: Adonis, Attis, Osiris (New York, 1961), pp. 97-114. 9. Lyttleton hold the fundamental Durkheimian principle to be as follows: "That the persons, places, events, and situations that received expression in myths are inevitably representations of important social and cultural realities." See C. Lyttleton, The New Comparative Mythology (Berkeley, 1973), p. 4. 10. G. Dumezil, The Destiny of the Warrior (Chicago, 1970). For a survey of Dumezil's extensive writings see C. Lyttleton, The New Comparative Mythology (Berkeley, 1973). 11. "[Myths] teach us a great deal about the societies from which they originate, they help us lay bare their inner workings and clarify the raison d'etre of beliefs, customs ... and most importantly, they make it possible to discover operational modes of the human mind, which have remained so constant over the centuries, and are so widespread ... that we can assume them to be fundamental and can seek to find them in other societies and in other areas of mental life, where their presence is not suspected," Quoted in I. Strenski, Four Theories of Myth in Twentieth Century History (London, 1987), p. 132. 12. C. Levi-Strauss, "The Structural Study of Myth," in Myth: A Symposium, ed. by T. Sebeok (London, 1965), pp. 81-106. 13. G. de Santillana and H. von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill (Boston, 1977), p. 177. 14. I. Velikovsky, Mankind in Amnesia (New York, 1982), pp. 99- 102. 15. G. de Santillana and H. von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill (Boston, 1977), p. 252-253. 16. Ibid., p. 49. 17. Ibid., p. 293. The authors' discussion of the World Tree provides a perfect example of their tendency to "correct" the ancient testimony in order to conform with the tenets of astronomy. Upon discovering countless examples of Trees said to have spanned heaven, supporting or obscuring the Sun, the authors remark of the Indian Pillar (Skambha): "Skambha ... was the World Tree consisting mostly of celestial coordinates, a kind of wildly imaginative armillary sphere." Ibid., p. 269. 18. Ibid., p. 66-67. 19. Ibid., p. 3. 20. An exception to this statement is the recent study offered by J. Worthen, The Replacement Myth (Tucson, 1991), which betrays more than a trace of the influence of Hamlet's Mill. 21. See, for example, the following books: A. Aveni, ed., Native American Astronomy (Ft. Worth, 1977); idem., Archaeoastronomy in the New World (Cambridge, 1982); World Archaeoastronomy (Cambridge, 1989); J. Carlson, Astronomy and Ceremonny in the Prehistoric Southwest (1987); idem., "America's Ancient Skywatchers," National Geographic 177:3 (March 1990), pp. 76- 107; R. Williamson, Archaeoastronomy in the Americas (Los Altos, 1981); idem., Living the Sky (Boston, 1984); E.C. Krupp, ed., Archaeoastronomy and the Roots of Science (Boulder, 1984). Notice also the appearance of such journals as Archaeoastronomy, published by The Center for Archaeoastronomy (1978 to present), and Archaeoastronomy, Supplement to the Journal for the History of Astronomy (1979 to present). 22. A. Aveni, Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico (Austin, 1981), pp. 187, 327. 23. C. Levi-Strauss, The Naked Man (New York, 1981), pp. 45-46, 71, 235. 24. An exception is offered by D. Cardona, "Child of Saturn," KRONOS VII:1 (1981), pp. 56-58. 25. Iliad 4:73-79. While this passage has been the subject of various translations--the above is W. Rouse'e translation, The Iliad (New York, 1938), p. 49--several distinguished scholars have pointed to a comet as the source of Homer's imagery. See the discussion in W. Gundel, "Kometen," RE, op. cit., p. 1145. See also the discussion of this passage in B. Dietrich, "Divine Epiphanies in Homer," Numen 30:1 (July, 1983), p. 56 who translates as follows: "Like a comet which the son of Kronos, crooked in counsel, sends in a shower of sparks as a shining portent to sailors and the widespread army of peoples." Velikovsky, op. cit., p. 178, and I. Fuhr, "On Comets, Comet- like Luminous Apparitions and Meteors," KRONOS VII:4 (1982), p. 54, likewise compared Athena's descent to a cometary apparition. It was apparently Dio Cassius 78:30:1 who first compared Athena's epiphany to a comet. 26. E. Cochrane, "The Birth of Athena," AEON II:3 (1990), pp. 5- 28. 27. See the discussion of Worner, "Palladion," in W. Roscher's Ausfuhrliches Lexikon der griechischen und romischen Mythologie (Hildesheim, 1965), pp. 3448-3449. 28. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (New York, 1973), pp. 185-186. 29. E. Cochrane, "The Birth of Athena," AEON II:3 (1990), pp. 10-18. 30. D. Talbott & E. Cochrane, "The Origin of Velikovsky's Comet," KRONOS X:1 (1984); idem., "On the Nature of Cometary Symbolism," KRONOS XI:1 (1985); idem., "When Venus was a Comet," KRONOS XII:1 (1987). 31. E. Cochrane, "On Comets and Kings," AEON II:1 (1989), pp. 53-75. 32. G. Jobe, Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore and Symbols (New York, 1961), p. 360. See also E. Cochrane, "On Comets and Kings," AEON II:1 (1989), pp. 53-75. 33. E. Cochrane, op. cit., pp. 56-58. 34. Ibid., pp. 60-64. 35. N. Davies, The Toltecs (Norman, 1977), p. 395. 36. I. Velikovsky, Oedipus and Akhnaton (Garden City, 1960). For a detailed critique of Velikovsky's interpretation of the Oedipus myth see E. Cochrane, "Velikovsky and Oedipus," AEON I:6 (1988), pp. 14-38. 37. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (New York, 1973), p. 178. 38. Given the prevalence of "Lake Tritons" one would be inclined to suspect a celestial prototype behind the localized imitations. Indeed, in a future paper I hope to be able to establish the origin of this epithet. 39. Indeed, of Velikovsky's reconstruction of the events behind the Exodus little has been written since the publication of Worlds in Collision in 1950. A few exceptions to this general statement include J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest (Sheffield, 1978); A. de Grazia, God's Fire (Princeton, 1983); B. Feldman, Passover Marvels (Philadelphia, 1978); and E. Cochrane, "In Search of Moses," an article distributed at the annual Canadian Symposium for Interdisciplinary Studies in September of 1983. Velikovsky's critics, of course, such as Forrest and Stiebing, have not overlooked Velikovsky's handling of the Exodus material. See W. Stiebing, Out of the Desert (Buffalo, 1989), pp. 113-123. B. Forrest, "Papyrus Ipuwer and Worlds in Collision," SIS Review 6:4 (1984), pp. 108-111. 40. I. Velikovsky, Stargazers and Gravediggers (New York, 1983), pp. 27-31. 41. See footnote 36. 42. M. Eliade, Myth and Reality (New York, 1975), p. 6. 43. Idem., Cosmos and History (New York, 1959), p. 9. 44. G. Dumezil, Archaic Roman Religion Vol. 1 (Chicago, 1970), pp. 66-77. 45. On the migration(s) led by Mars, see W. Roscher, "Mars," Ausfuhrliches Lexikon der griechischen und romischen Mythologie (Hildesheim, 1965), col. 2425-2427; on the migration led by Huitzilopochtli, see H. Alexander, The Mythology of All Races: Latin American (New York, 1964), p. 114. 46. A. Coomaraswamy, "Symplegades," in Studies and Essays in the History of Science and Learning Offered in Homage to George Sarton (New York, 1947), p. 477. 47. On the Symplegades motive see A. Cook, Zeus Vol. 3:2 (Cambridge, 1940), pp. 975-1015. 48. Velikovsky himself dismisses this view in Worlds in Collision, op. cit., pp. 94-95. For a valuable discussion of the dragon-combat in the Old Testament see J. Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and Sea (London, 1985), pp. 88-101. 49. W. Pythian-Adams, quoted in Velikovsky, op. cit., p. 95. 50. See here M. Eliade, Myths, Rites, and Symbols (New York, 1975) pp. 380ff. See also my discussion in "The Spring of Ares," KRONOS XI:3 (1986), pp. 15-21. 51. In addition to the pillar of fire in Plato's vision of Er, witness the following passage from Euripides' Bacchae: "So spake he [Dionysius], and there came `twixt earth and sky a pillar of high flame." 52. Other examples of this tendency in Velikovsky's writings include his interpretation of the Deluge as water emanating from Saturn and inundating the Earth, whereupon it came to form the Atlantic Ocean; his expectation that gold would be found on Jupiter, presumably deduced from the report that Zeus-Jupiter once rained "gold" on Danae; and his hypothesis that vegetation proliferated on Earth in the wake of a nova-like explosion upon Saturn, apparently deduced from the numerous myths in which new flowers appear in the wake of a death of a great god or goddess. See I. Velikovsky, Mankind in Amnesia (New York, 1982), p. 99. 53. I. Velikovsky, Mankind in Amnesia (New York, 1982), pp. 97- 100. D. Talbott, The Saturn Myth (New York, 1980); idem., "Reconstructing the Saturn Myth," AEON I:1 (1988), pp. 5-36; D. Cardona, "The Road to Saturn," AEON I:1 (1988), pp. 108-129; idem., "Intimations of an Alien Sky," AEON II:5 (1991), pp. 5- 34. 54. M. Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation (New York, 1975), pp. x-xi. ******************************** See the postings ***VELIKOVSKY UPDATE--One, Two, Three*** for the body of this article. ******************************** This electronic version of the article was prepared by: * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * === Efemeral Research Foundation * * // | \\ Exploring the Saturn Myth * * // | \\ * * ||-----o-----|| * * \\ | // Internet: * * //\ \..|../ / * * || `../.\..' AARNet/ACSNet: * * `='' / \ * * / \ APC Networks: peg.abeggs * * / \ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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