Since I am seeking a universal template for the quest, and a repeating motif in fairy tales is a circular room with mysterious doorways that will only open at the right time for the right person, I decided my circular room would be the wheel of the heavens. The eight stars from the medieval astrolabe that are occulted by the moon are then the eight doorways on the quest. the full moon opens the doorway and the new moon closes it while the waxing and waning moons allow our hero a crack to slip through. Because this is my attempt to bridge the past and the future, I have based my dates on the precession of the equinox. This arrangement coincides fairly well with the time line of Parzival’s adventures in his quest for the Fisher King;’s Castle.
- On Samhain or November first the door is Gienah or the Swan’s wing in Cygnus
- It is his longing to be like the birds he sees flying that sets Parzival off on his travels.
- On the Winter Solstice the door is Antares or the anti-hero in Scorpio
- Parzival behaves as anti-hero with the first lady he meets as well as at both the Fisher Kings Castle and King Arthur’s court.
- On Beltane or February 1st the door is Delta Capricorni or the tail of the goat in Capricorn
- Parzival has no control over where his mount carries him, but finds himself doing knightly things as he goes along
- On the Spring Equinox the door is Fomalhaut the mouth of the fish in Pisces Austrinus
- Parzival enters the cave with Trevrizent and looks within
- On May Day or May 1st the door is the Pleiades or the seven sisters in Taurus
- Parzival realizes he has much to make amends for to get his life back on track
- On the Summer Solstice the door is Aldebaran or the Eye of the Bull in Taurus
- Then there is the interlude with Gawain, the ladies, and the Castle of Wonders
- On Lamas Day or August 1st the door is Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion
- Parzival first fights but finally recognizes both Gawain and his half-brother Feirefiz
- On the Fall Equinox the door is Regulus or the Little King in Leo
- Parzival is crowned as King of the Grail Castle
Translators consistently divide Wolfram’s Parzival into twice eight or sixteen chapters. As pragmatic sky watchers, medieval astronomers would be watching patterns of relationships between the celestial back ground of the stars and seven visible heavenly bodies. The similarities are based on the stars of the celestial background and the seven heavenly bodies that can be seen with the naked eye.
- The Celestial Sphere
- The Sun
- The Moon
The differences arise out of both observing different groups of visible heavenly bodies and the different patterns those relationships make over time. These patterns are called synods. In the context I am working in the planet Mars is the warrior, the Moon is the Lord of the night sky, and the Sun is the Lady of the day. According to Saint Germaine, the alchemical journey of the spiritual warrior takes about two solar years. Because Mars has an eccentric (egg-shaped) orbit:
- Mars returns to the same relative position to the Sun and Earth every 762-819 days. The average is 780 days or about 2 solar years.
- Mars is retrograde, appearing to be going backwards against the sky for an average of 72 days of the synod
- Mars is hidden behind the Sun for an average of 14 days of the synod
- the Moon returns to the same relative position to the Sun and Earth or the same lunar phase approx every 30 days.
- The synodic month tracks the phases of the Moon
- A lunisolar calendar tracks the phase of the Moon and the time of the solar year predicting both moon phase and constellation
- The Metonic cycle tracks the Sun and Moon as they return to approximately the same relationship in the heavens every 3, 8, 11, and 19 years.
- One average Mars synod is 26 Moon synods
- And approximately every 780 days Mars, the Sun and the Moon are be in approximately the same relative positions to each other.
The starry background all this happens against is the circular room of the celestial sphere. As the seasons progress, the Sun, Moon and Mars all dance among the stars, weaving the mythological fabric of our tale. Joseph Campbell’s monomyth of the hero journey (click here) assumes a culture based on materialistic duality, assumes that there is a conflict between two different worlds, and assumes we must choose one. Looking at the one thing we all have in common and taking archeo-astronomy as a guide allows me to consider both similarities and differences in myths. With the Sun and Moon as our guide to our soul’s path through the stars, the hero’s journey is laid out along this path:
- The Swan’s Wing or Supernatural Aid
- The Anti-Hero (Red Fox) or The Road of Trials
- The Boar’s Tail or Crossing the Threshold
- The Fish’s Mouth or into the Void
- The Heavenly Bull and Alchemical transformation
- The Golden Hawk or Gaining Vision
- The Lady of the Wolves or Rebirth
- Horses of the Mist or Recognition
Once born, our choice is not if we grow older and die, but how we grow older and die. The threshold the hero must cross is into maturity, and the guides and catalysts needed are all inherent on that inevitable journey. As each hero follows Mar’s path for the two solar years it takes to complete its elliptical orbit around the Sun, they map out a journey distinctly their own.