Culture

02.12.2005

Kim H. Veltman

Stories of the Sky: Astronomy, Myth, Religion and World Cultures

Abstract

It is common knowledge that the individual constellations of the sky are linked with myths in the form of anecdotes about the lives of the gods. It is often assumed that there is no underlying story with a coherent narrative. One such a coherent narrative exists and is linked with the Bible. Scholars have claimed that both the cultures of Sumer and India copied this basic model in order to explain why there are parallels between the Bible, Gilgamesh and Vedic Texts. This essay offers evidence to claim that the influence was the other way round: that an older, original story began in India and China and that it had significant implications in the West for a) constellations of the heavens; b) religions; c) mythology and literature. It shows how the Western 7 days of the week, 12 months of the year and 12 signs of the Zodiac are directly linked with the 12 year cycle of animals associated with China but found equally in India. It claims that the cult associated with Mithra offers a key to understanding connections between East and West. It demonstrates how an understanding of these connections reveals unexpected links between Western mystery religions, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. It shows how these connections lead us to interpret anew the foundations of our beliefs and meaning of our myths and literature. It concludes that we need a new, more comprehensive, comparative approach, linking astronomy, religion and mythology in order to regain insight into basic expressions and symbols of culture and civilization.


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