- He bound the 22 letters of the Torah to his tongue
- and he revealed to him their mystery
- he drew them in water
- he flamed them in fire
- he agitated them with breath
- he burned them with the seven planets
- he directed them with the twelve constellations
- from the Sefer Yetzirah, Book of Creation
Most of the twelve gateway stars from Revelations are within few degrees of the ecliptic. The exceptions are:
- Mirzam, the Announcer in Canis Major
- Nusukan or the Pauper’s Bowl in the Corona Borealis
- Thuban, or the Serpent, in Draco
Thuban is especially intriguing partly because of the serpent imagery in Revelations, but also because it is one of the Pole stars. I wondered if looking at the dates when the Serpent was the center of the heavens would give me an idea of when the horse tribes began to mark their ceremonies with the patterns of the heavens.
- Due to the precession of Earth‘s rotational axis, Thuban was the naked-eye star closest to the north pole from 3942 BC, when it moved farther north than Theta Boötis, until 1793 BC, when it was superseded by Kappa Draconis. It was closest to the pole in 2830 BC, when it was less than ten arc-minutes away from the pole. It remained within one degree of true north for nearly 200 years afterwards, and even 900 years after its closest approach, was just five degrees off the pole. Thuban was considered the pole star until about 1900 BC
Horses became widely domesticated about 5,000 years ago, or approximately 3,000 bc (click here), but both the people and the horses driven out of Iberia across the Mediterranean by a mini ice-age about 8,500 bc have distinctive genetic markers:
- The National Geographic Genographic Project linked haplogroup J2 to the site of Jericho, Tel el-Sultan, ca. 8500 BCE and indicated that in modern populations, haplogroup J2 is found in the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe, with especially high distribution among present-day Jewish populations (30%), Southern Italians (20%), and lower frequencies in Southern Spain (10%).[
This genetic marker spread along the trade routes of the Phoenicians. Although we tend to think of them as an Empire. they were actually more along the lines of a particular clan of tribal peoples. They were sea-traders and the first widespread group to make extensive use of an alphabet. Like the offshoot Hebrew, their alphabet only had symbols for consonants. They did not write down vowel sounds. (Apparently the Greeks were the first to have symbols for the vowels, and that is a whole other story. I’ll add a link when I get that started online!) Meanwhile it is important to remember that writing was limited to a very small and privileged group. It was a sacred art arising out of and illuminating a distinct belief system.
I don’t know how to access the mysteries of the Phoenician alphabet so I went to the Sefir Yetzirah, the oldest known book on the Hebrew alphabet, to get the information I was after instead. It is not a common reference or a highly regarded one because the details of each letter’s attributes varies from source to source. The constants are:
- There are twelve constellations attributed to twelve elemental letters
- There are seven Luminaries attributed to seven double letters
- There are three aspects of creation attributed to three mother/father letters. They are:
Understandably enough, the Sea-people considered water as the primordial element. Wind or Breath arises from the water and gives forth light, then all things take form. If that sounds familiar, like it came right out of the Biblical Genesis, that is because they were a Semitic people with roots centered around what is now Lebanon. There were other schools of thought in the area that focused on fire. Very little is known about these groups, and what is known is debatable, so I can not even attempt historical accuracy.
What we know is that the Egyptian agriculturalists did complain that besides the attacks by the Phoenician Sea-People, they had to guard against Aramaean brigands. These land-walkers spoke what is now Aramaic and they were nomadic, following their cattle over the land. Cattle were first domesticated in the Middle East about eight thousand years ago and rapidly appear as for north as Mongolia and deep into Africa. Cattle are mystically associated with fire. It has been proposed that is because their dropping are burned for fuel in areas where there is no wood, others say it is because the entheogenic psilocybin mushroom that illuminates those who eat them grows in cow-pies. Regardless, fire is still an essential element of ritual for Parsees and Zarathustrian.
Although Mohamed was born about 570, his teachings are deeply rooted in the past. His is the evidence that there has also long been a third group for whom air is the original primordial element. That group is the horsemen who first appear in written history as the Numidian mercenary light cavalry. They fought for Carthage in 600 bce, took Spain for Islam fifteen hundred years later, and fought as Roman cavalry in between. Even more intriguingly, in the relatively recent Islamic tradition, the Prophet Mohamed is carried to the heavens on a white horse while the Islamic version of the devil, Iblis or the Whisperer, is said to be carried into Eden in the mouth of the Serpent. When I looked to the stars for confirmation of this story I found that as Thuban moved away from the pole:
- Kappa Draconis was the nearest star to the North Celestial Pole visible to the naked eye from 1793 BC to approximately 1000 BC. However, because it is so much dimmer than nearby Kochab, Kochab was considered the pole star during that time instead.
In Arabic, Kochab means simply the heavenly body, and it, along with its neighbor Pherkad, have long been seen as the two calves that guard the North Pole.
When I look at this story as an archeo-astronomical observation, I have to wonder if the dim star Kappa Draconis is the Whisperer in the mouth of the constellation of Draco and the astronomical fall from grace is Thuban’s displacement as the Pole Star. That astronomical displacement would also explain a great deal of the serpent imagery in Revelations. In this context, the problem with the Sefir Yetzirah its varying attributions of astrological signs and bodies make perfect sense. Different teachers from different times would be documenting the patterns of the dance they saw in the movement of the Luminaries. Indeed, I even found that the Kabbalistic scholars of the Hebrew alphabet themselves do argue that there were once two celestial dragons, one male and one female:
- The Pole Serpent or male dragon is the constellation of Draco (when Thuban is the Pole Star)
- The Coiled Serpent or the female dragon is the path of the ecliptic, with emphasis on the lunar nodes where eclipses occur
I do believe there is enough evidence that I can say that the widespread domestication of the horse did take place while Thuban was the center of the heavens, and that the traditions and beliefs of the horse tribes traveled with the animals.