Image and Caption source:
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and closest open clusters. The Pleiades contains over 3000 stars, is about 400 light years away, and only 13 light years across. Quite evident in the above photograph are the blue reflection nebulae that surround the brighter cluster stars. Low mass, faint, brown dwarfs have also been found in the Pleiades.
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The Pleiades Enigma
by Leonard Farra
‘Are we alone in the Universe’ is a question which intrigues scientists and the public alike. Astronomers involved with the SETI project patiently scan the depths of space waiting for the radio signal which will confirm that life also exists in other parts of the universe. Many Ufologists, on the other hand, believe that the thousands of unexplained U.F.O sightings, reported over the years, are indications that we are being visited, or monitored, by extra-terrestrials.
In the late 1960’s, the Italian author Peter Kolosimo wrote ‘Not of This World’. His book dealt with some of the mysteries of the Ancient World and also suggested that beings from another star system were in contact with Earth in prehistoric times.
In 1968, the Swiss author, Erich Von Daniken, wrote ‘Chariots of the Gods’ which became a best seller in America and Europe. Von Daniken has since written numerous books on the Ancient Astronaut theory which have been translated into twenty languages. His latest one, ‘Odyssey of the Gods’, suggests that the Ancient Greek gods were extra-terrestrials. Although some of his theories have been rejected by scientists, and other researchers, he is unconcerned about their criticism and he still has a large following.
Zachariah Sitchin was an American citizen, born in Azerbaijan, who became popular when he published his version of the Ancient Astronaut theory. Sitchin’s theory about the Annunaki was based upon his translation of Sumerian texts. Although his suggestion that they came from Niburu, which he called the twelfth planet, and some of his interpretations of Sumerian writings, have been criticised by some authors, he, and especially Christian O’Brien, should be commended for drawing the public’s attention to the Annunaki.
My involvement with this subject dates back to the late 1970’s when I began to study Sumerian religion. What I found was that traditions about the Seven Annunaki leaders had spread to neighbouring countries such as Babylon and Assyria and that these were the gods in many early religions. When I researched Ancient Egypt, I discovered that, although the country had national gods, and many local ones, at the heart of its religion, and especially in its Afterlife beliefs, there were the leading figures of the Annunaki. I had a good knowledge of Babylonian, and Assyrian, sacred architecture and when I discovered it in Egypt, I found a plausible explanation for Egypt’s Great Pyramid. This amazing structure was not built by extra-terrestrials, as some alternative scholars believe, because it was an integral part of Egyptian religion.
Over the past 30 years, I have studied all the early religions, mystical traditions, major Stone Age sites, surviving Stone Age cults, and a wide variety of related subjects, and my conclusions are that although further gods, and goddesses, were introduced into some of the pantheons, all the ancient peoples basically had versions of the same ‘star-god’ religion. The great teachers of the Early World decided that this story was much too deep for the general public to understand and so they explained it using allegorical tales and animal symbolism the deeper meaning of which was only known to initiates. What happened, though, was that over the years, in some cultures, the original meaning of the animals was forgotten and they sometimes became objects of worship themselves. The serpent, a creature linked with the Annunaki, was associated with gods, and goddesses, throughout the world and serpent worship continued into comparatively recent times. In parts of Europe, it was suppressed by the Church which proclaimed that various saints had banned the serpent from their lands. Geometric symbolism was also used in the Ancient World, to express religious ideas, and a form of concentric circle symbolism, which the Sumerians associated with one of the Annunaki leaders, was carved on the rocks in many parts of the world. Its also one the many mystical designs in the Nasca Desert in Peru.
Throughout the Early World, the star-people were linked with the Pleiades. These stars played an important role in many religions. Several early calendars were regulated by them and they were universally linked with periodical renewal. Hammurapi ,who ruled Babylon somewhere between 1900 and 1704 b.c.e, was one of the greatest, and most well known, Babylonian rulers and, commencing from his dynasty onwards, the last month in his country’s calendar, later called Adar, was known as Arakh-Sibuti – the month of the ‘Seven Stars’, or Pleiades. After the end of the Pleiades month, the New Year began and during the rituals of renewal, the priests read the Creation text which explained that after the creation of man, the Annunaki built Babylon’s great temple the Esagali. The Annunaki were claimed to have taught primitive people about agriculture and their apparent link with the Pleiades may be the reason why these stars were universally associated with the agricultural cycle and why they were shown on early Middle Eastern plaques with agricultural activity. One Assyrian plaque shows the Pleiades above seven figures who appear to have been based on the Annunaki leaders.
The Pleiades were linked with the Creation in many early cultures and some people believed that they came from these stars and that they will return there when they die. The Festival of the Dead, when departed souls were believed to return to Earth, was popular in many countries, such as amongst the Celts, in Mexico and Peru, and it was celebrated around the 1st November. The Celts called it Samain and it began with the rising of the Pleiades when the gates of the Otherworld were open and when new fires were lit. This festival was later adopted by the Church and its observed around the world as All Hallows. Its also now popularly celebrated as Halloween.
Early calendars, such as that of the Maya, suggest that ‘sky-people’came here around 5,000 years ago and the indications are that their visit resulted in a catastrophic earth upheaval which completely changed the course of human history. All the early civilizations arose ‘fully developed ’, at that time, including the Sumerians who arrived in their country in Southern Iraq. The newcomers in Sumeria settled amongst the less advanced population and their writings say that they were survivors of the Flood. This era was the beginning of the present age, according to the Mayan calendar, and the indications are that it was the rebirth of civilisation and not the beginning as most scholars believe. The Legend of the World Ages which was popular in both the Old and New Worlds similarly says that here have been a series of past ages each of which ended in destruction due to the evil behavior of man. At the end of each age, the ‘gods’ returned and helped start the new age.
Astronomers say that proof of life, elsewhere in the Universe, would be the greatest event in the history of man. So far as the Ancients are concerned, they all had traditions of an Earth visit, by E.T’s, several thousand years ago, and many native peoples are still awaiting their return. Legends, and folk customs, such as snake dances, which were linked with the sky-god religion, passed from generation to generation and they influenced many traditions in the Middle Ages. Take, for example, the tales of lost lands and the battles with dragons. The latter date back thousands of years and appear to have been allegorical stories which relate to a violent conflict which reputedly occurred when the star-gods were here.
Evidence of the early star–god religion can be found in the astronomical alignments of ancient religious structures, in sacred architecture and symbolism and especially in star lore. The titles of certain famous films, and books, and the names of several commercial products, have also been influenced by star-god legends which have travelled through time, in various parts of the world, to the present. And, furthermore, as there were once variations of the same religion on both sides of the Atlantic, could it be that there was contact between the Old and New Worlds thousands of years before Columbus arrived in the Americas and the Vikings reached Newfoundland?
I wrote, directed and produced a video documentary on this subject several years ago. In my new book, The Pleiades Legacy (The Old World), I have covered the star-god religions, and legends, of some of the major civilisations in the Ancient Middle East, Egypt, Central Asia and Africa and I have discussed Plato’s story of Atlantis. I have also shown that the early star-god traditions had an effect on the Classical Civilisations. Take the name of our month of May for example. This is thought to have come from the name of the Greek Pleiades goddess Maia. Subaru, the name of the Japanese car, means Pleiades this also being the name of France’s new satellite.
- Richard Hinckley Allen: Star Names.Their Lore and Meaning
- Ernest Babelon: Manual of Oriental Antiquities
- Michael Baigent: From the Omens of Babylon
- Dominique Collon: First Impressions.Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East
- Encylopedia of Religion & Ethics
- Colonel J.Garner: The Worship of the Dead
- Peter Kolosimo: ‘Not of This World’
- Christian O’Brien: The First of the Few
- M.Oldield Howey: The Encircled Serpent
- Zachariah Sitchin: The Twelfth Planet, etc
- Erich Von Daniken: Chariots of the Gods, etc
Copyright 2012 Leonard Farra
Book by the Author:
PS The Pleiades in mythology
In the clear and unpolluted night skies of antiquity the Pleiades star cluster was an object of wonder and interest. It was the subject of myth and legend in almost every culture on the planet.
As the Pleiades cluster is close to the ecliptic (within 4°) in the constellation of Taurus it is a spring and autumnal ‘seasonal’ object in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Being close to the ecliptic, there are frequent occultations of the cluster with the Moon and planets. To our superstitious ancestors these were, no doubt, portentious events. Likewise, the apparent annual motion of the cluster would have been highly significant. The heliacal (near dawn) rising of the Pleiades in spring in the northern hemisphere has from ancient times augured the opening of the seafaring and farming season: while its dawn autumnal setting marked the season’s end.
The Pleiades are among the first stars mentioned in literature, appearing in Chinese annals of about 2350 BC. The earliest European references are somewhat later, in a poem by Hesiod in about 1000 BC and in Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad.
The Bible contains three direct references to the Pleiades in Job 9:9 and 38:31, and Amos 5:8, and a single indirect reference in the New Testament. This latter passage (Revelation 1:16) describes a vision of the coming of the Messiah – who holds, in his right hand, seven stars…
The etymological derivation of the name Pleiades (????????) is uncertain. Robert Graves, the late English poet and writer, records in his ‘The Greek Myths’ (1955) that it may be derived from either the Greek ‘plein’ for ‘to sail’, or ‘pleios’ meaning ‘many’. Another possible root is from Pindar, an early Greek poet, who named the cluster the Peleiades – ‘a flock of Doves’ – and this is, perhaps, the original form. A nearby cluster has retained its animalistic classical name of the Hyades, ‘the Piglets’.
The 19th century poet Alfred Lord Tennyson probably did not realise how metaphorically close to the truth he was when he described, in his poem Locksley Hall, the rising Pleiades:
Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.
Poetic and apt – recent telescope observations have revealed that this most famous of open clusters is comprised of some four hundred stars wreathed in complex nebulæ of dust and gas.
The Seven Sisters
In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were seven sisters: Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope, Celaeno and Merope. Their parents were Atlas, a Titan who held up the sky, and the oceanid Pleione, the protectress of sailing.
After a chance meeting with the hunter Orion, the Pleiades and their mother became the object of his pursuit. Enamoured with the young women he pursued them over the face of the Earth. In pity for their plight, Zeus changed them into a flock of doves, which he set in the heavens. Thus the olympian added the penalty of the absence of his wife and family to the Titan’s original punishment of eternally supporting the heavens from the Earth.
Only six stars are distinctly visible to the naked eye. The ancient Greeks explained the sudden disappearance of the seventh star in various narratives. According to one, all the Pleiades were consorts to gods, with the exception of Merope. She deserted her sisters in shame, having taken a mortal husband, Sisyphus, the King of Corinth. Another explanation for the ‘lost’ star related to the myth of the Electra, an ancestress of the royal house of Troy. After the destruction of Troy, the grief stricken Electra abandoned her sisters and was transformed into a comet – everafter to be a sign of impending doom.
The Greek legends of the disappearing star are echoed in Jewish, Hindu and Mongolian folklore: their basis in an actual event seems to be corroborated by astronomical evidence that a clearly visible star in the cluster became extinct towards the end of the second millennium BC.
In an alternative myth, the Pleiades were the virgin companions of Artemis, to the ancient Greeks, the goddess of hunting and the Moon. Whilst stalking a hind, the great hunter Orion crept into a sunlit glade, disturbing the innocent play of the sisters. They fled in alarm. His immoderate passions enflamed by their beauty and grace, he pursued them relentlessly, as was fitting for the greatest mortal hunter. In frustration, Artemis pleaded with Zeus to for his intervention. With characteristic olympian sarcasm, he did. As the hunter closed in on his prey, Zeus transformed the sisters into a flock of doves. They flew into the heavens, beyond the reach of their pursuer, but also removed from earthly companionship with the goddess!
Artemis, enraged by these twofold masculine affronts, revenged herself on Orion. Apollo, her brother, having been affronted by the mortal hunter’s prowess, was persuaded to set a monstrous scorpion to attack Orion. Not to be outdone in this, in another characteristic display of mordant wit, Zeus set the dead hunter in the heavens in a vain pursuit of the Pleiades through the night sky for eternity, with the constellation Scorpio ever chasing after Orion. Even so the Olympian had some compassion for his daughter: the path of the Moon in the heavens passes close to the Pleiades, and thus Artemis – as the goddess of the Moon – had the solace of their frequent reunions.
North American legends
In Navajo legend, after the Earth was separated from the sky the Black Sky God had a cluster of stars on his ankle. These were The Flint Boys. In the Black God’s first dance, with each stamp of his foot the Flint Boys jumped up his body, first to the knee, then the hip, shoulder and finally on to his forehead, where they remained as the sign that the Black God was Lord of the Sky.
The Western Mono Indians saw in the Pleiades a group of wives who were excessively fond of eating onions and were thrown out of their homes by their angry husbands. Repenting in their loneliness, the husbands sought after their wives, but in vain. They had wandered away into the sky, becoming the Pleiades.
To the Blackfoot tribe of south Alberta and north Montana the stars were known as the Orphan Boys. The fatherless boys were rejected by the tribe, but were befriended by a pack of wolves, who became their only companions. Saddened by their lives on earth they asked the Great Spirit to let them play together in the sky, and so he set them there as a group of small stars. As a reminder of their cruelty in contrast to the kindness of animals, every night the tribe were afflicted by the howling of the wolves, who pined after their lost friends.
The Inuit relate a legend that in early times a great bear threatened mankind. It was chased into the sky by a pack of dogs. As the Pleiades, they still pursue the bear through the heavens.
The PS segment source: http://www.pleiade.org/pleiades_02.html