Adrian's writing

Ancient Astral Secrets

Ancient Astral Secrets

This long article explains the strange possibility that many of the famous Greek Myths were not simply fanciful tales. Instead, those stories were actually Memory Palace (or Method of Loci) stories, created to help the reciter remember complex information about the star systems in our sky. What is astonishing is that the stories do seem to match the properties of star systems in our night sky, even though it is seemingly impossible that our ancestors could have known such information.
Stacks Image 749
Greek myths are fascinating; they’re also very popular. Lots of movies and books are still being created, based on Greek myths, such as the Clash of the Titans, Hercules, the Legendary Journey (with a young and monosyllabic Arnold Schwarzenegger) and others. These modern celebrations have kept the Greek myths alive for new generations, which is great, but have you ever read a Greek myth? They’re terrible to read! Here’s a part of Apollodorus’s version of Hercules’ Labours:
Stacks Image 755
“As a tenth labour Hercules was ordered to fetch the kine (cattle) of Geryon from Erythia. Now Erythia was an island near the ocean; it is now called Gadira. This island was inhabited by Geryon, son of Chrysaor by Callirhoe, daughter of Ocean. He had the body of three men grown together and joined in one at the waist, but parted in three from the flanks and thighs. He owned red kine, of which Eurytion was the herdsman and Orthus, the two-headed hound, begotten by Typhon on Echidna, was the watch-dog. So journeying through Europe to fetch the kine of Geryon Hercules destroyed many wild beasts and set foot in Libya, and proceeding to Tartessus he erected as tokens of his journey two pillars over against each other at the boundaries of Europe and Libya. But being heated by the Sun on his journey, he bent his bow at the god, who in admiration of his hardiness, gave him a golden goblet in which he crossed the ocean. And having reached Erythia he lodged on Mount Abas. However the dog, perceiving him, rushed at him; but he smote it with his club, and when the herdsman Eurytion came to the help of the dog, Hercules killed him also. But Menoetes, who was there pasturing the kine of Hades, reported to Geryon what had occurred, and he, coming up with Hercules beside the river Anthemus, as he was driving away the kine, joined battle with him and was shot dead. And Hercules, embarking the kine in the goblet and sailing across to Tartessus, gave back the goblet to the Sun.”
Stacks Image 641
The strange nature of the Greek Myths

Greek myths are fascinating; they’re also very popular. Lots of movies and books are still being created, based on Greek myths, such as the Clash of the Titans, Hercules, the Legendary Journey (with a young and monosyllabic Arnold Schwarzenegger) and others. These modern celebrations have kept the Greek myths alive for new generations, which is great, but have you ever read a Greek myth? They’re terrible to read! Here’s a part of Apollodorus’s version of Hercules’ Labours:

“As a tenth labour Hercules was ordered to fetch the kine (cattle) of Geryon from Erythia. Now Erythia was an island near the ocean; it is now called Gadira. This island was inhabited by Geryon, son of Chrysaor by Callirhoe, daughter of Ocean. He had the body of three men grown together and joined in one at the waist, but parted in three from the flanks and thighs. He owned red kine, of which Eurytion was the herdsman and Orthus, the two-headed hound, begotten by Typhon on Echidna, was the watch-dog. So journeying through Europe to fetch the kine of Geryon Hercules destroyed many wild beasts and set foot in Libya, and proceeding to Tartessus he erected as tokens of his journey two pillars over against each other at the boundaries of Europe and Libya. But being heated by the Sun on his journey, he bent his bow at the god, who in admiration of his hardiness, gave him a golden goblet in which he crossed the ocean. And having reached Erythia he lodged on Mount Abas. However the dog, perceiving him, rushed at him; but he smote it with his club, and when the herdsman Eurytion came to the help of the dog, Hercules killed him also. But Menoetes, who was there pasturing the kine of Hades, reported to Geryon what had occurred, and he, coming up with Hercules beside the river Anthemus, as he was driving away the kine, joined battle with him and was shot dead. And Hercules, embarking the kine in the goblet and sailing across to Tartessus, gave back the goblet to the Sun.”



The above section is actually the interesting bit of the story. The full text of the Labour goes on after this, and on, and on. Hercules pursues errant cattle and defeats various foes, creating an entire second half to the story that is thick with odd names, places and actions. It's very dull. Why was the Labour of Hercules story written in such a dull way? It’s tempting to say that the Ancient Greeks were dull writers but they weren’t. Many of their writings are fascinating and engaging, so what’s going on here?
Stacks Image 644
The Labours of Hercules were supposedly originally written by the Ancient Greek scholar Paisandros of Rhodes. Unfortunately, none of his copies survived. Modern scholars also believe that Paisandros of Rhodes probably wasn’t the original author of the Labours. Instead, he probably lifted the stories from even earlier sources. We are therefore reading second-hand versions of what were possibly second, fourth or tenth-hand versions of the actual, original texts. This leads to an interesting possibility; that the original version of the Labours of Hercules was very old indeed.
Stacks Image 647
Why would a story, that is little more than a long string of odd actions, weird descriptions and almost no engaging narrative, be kept alive for such a long time? Was it because the people remembering it knew that it was very important? Before writing came along, the only way for someone to hold on to information was to remember it. This is known as an oral tradition. People tend to think of an oral tradition as being about songs and music, which is certainly true, but there’s another use. What if you wanted to remember a very long string of facts? If you try to remember those facts ‘cold’, you’ll have problems, since our minds aren’t very good at remember bland facts. For example, if you try and remember the string of information such as ‘red four, blue two, green five, pink three,’ and so on, it’s get really hard pretty quickly to keep it in your head. A much better way to remember this information is to imagine colourful images associated with these bland facts. This is known as the Method of Loci.
The Method of Loci; an ancient way to remember data

Imagine that you're in a place you’re familiar with, such as your house. You're now going to travel on an imaginary journey through your house. You’ll start your journey in your front room. You step into that room and you see a four-legged Red Dragon. You then walk to your kitchen and find, leaning against the stove, a two-legged Blue Whale. You leave your kitchen and step into your garden and find a five-legged Green Frog on the lawn. Beyond it, by the gate, you see a three-legged Pink Princess. Wow, your house has become very weird, but memorable. This sequence of images is much easier to remember than ‘red four, blue two, green five, pink three.’ By turning relatively abstract pieces of information into evocative images, it is possible for a person to remember a lot more data.
Stacks Image 652
The Method of Loci technique (also known as the Memory Palace technique) was allegedly invented by Simonides of Ceos, an Ancient Greek poet living in around 500 BC. Simonides supposedly developed the technique when he had the gruelling task of identifying, from memory, who had been crushed by a falling roof during a banquet that he had attended but luckily left before the disaster struck. By remembering their table placings in his mind, Simonides was able to recover this information. This story sounds great, but it is likely to be an Ancient Greek urban myth, as the technique was highly likely to have been used long before Simonides’ experience. Early Greek civilisation was high on learning, but low on writing and In an era dominated by oral tradition, such a powerful and useful technique as the Method of Loci would have been a mainstay of scholars, orators and intellectuals. If the Method of Loci technique was heavily used before writing was generally available, then Method of Loci stories would, almost certainly, have been ‘passed around’, particularly if they were based around locations familiar to all those concerned. In this way, a valuable set of data could be kept alive in a community for years or even centuries, even when they had no way to write that information down.

Such a tradition is described by Julius Caesar, but not about Greeks. Instead, he mentions such a culture being used by the Druids. In Chapter 14 of 'De Bello Gallico', Caesar writes:

The Druids do not go to war, nor pay tribute together with the rest; they have an exemption from military service and a dispensation in all matters. Induced by such great advantages, many embrace this profession of their own accord, and [many] are sent to it by their parents and relations. They are said there to learn by heart a great number of verses; accordingly some remain in the course of training twenty years. Nor do they regard it lawful to commit these to writing, though in almost all other matters, in their public and private transactions, they use Greek characters. That practice they seem to me to have adopted for two reasons; because they neither desire their doctrines to be divulged among the mass of the people, nor those who learn, to devote themselves the less to the efforts of memory, relying on writing; since it generally occurs to most men, that, in their dependence on writing, they relax their diligence in learning thoroughly, and their employment of the memory. They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree excited to valor, the fear of death being disregarded. They likewise discuss and impart to the youth many things respecting the stars and their motion, respecting the extent of the world and of our earth, respecting the nature of things, respecting the power and the majesty of the immortal gods.



It's very interesting that the Druids used Greek and also believed similar things to the Orphics, the Pythagoreans and other Greek cults. Although the Druids were at the other end of Europe from the Greeks, it's logical to think that their strategies for learning would be similar to the early Ancient Greeks.

At this point, let's go ahead and investigate a fascinating possibility, that some of the Greek Myths are really Method of Loci stories.
Stacks Image 657
Let’s look again at Hercules’s Tenth Labour, according to Apollodorus:

“As a tenth labour Hercules was ordered to fetch the kine (cattle) of Geryon from Erythia. Now Erythia was an island near the ocean; it is now called Gadira. This island was inhabited by Geryon, son of Chrysaor by Callirhoe, daughter of Ocean. He had the body of three men grown together and joined in one at the waist, but parted in three from the flanks and thighs. He owned red kine, of which Eurytion was the herdsman and Orthus, the two-headed hound, begotten by Typhon on Echidna, was the watch-dog. So journeying through Europe to fetch the kine of Geryon Hercules destroyed many wild beasts and set foot in Libya, and proceeding to Tartessus he erected as tokens of his journey two pillars over against each other at the boundaries of Europe and Libya. But being heated by the Sun on his journey, he bent his bow at the god, who in admiration of his hardiness, gave him a golden goblet in which he crossed the ocean. And having reached Erythia he lodged on Mount Abas. However the dog, perceiving him, rushed at him; but he smote it with his club, and when the herdsman Eurytion came to the help of the dog, Hercules killed him also. But Menoetes, who was there pasturing the kine of Hades, reported to Geryon what had occurred, and he, coming up with Hercules beside the river Anthemus, as he was driving away the kine, joined battle with him and was shot dead. And Hercules, embarking the kine in the goblet and sailing across to Tartessus, gave back the goblet to the Sun.”



All the Method of Loci elements are present in this story. A character takes a journey where he meets a string of visually striking characters, one after the other, in places familiar to the orator. It looks as if the story could easily be a Method of Loci story. But if the Tenth Labour of Hercules is a Method of Loci story, what do its elements stand for? How do we decode it? What were the story's original bland facts, the ‘red four, blue two, green five, pink three’ type of data that was turned into fantastic creatures in familiar places, weird creatures that Hercules encountered and, invariably, fought?

We do have some clues to help us work this out. Hercules’ Labours involve some key characters, particularly a Hunter, a Minor Dog (Orthrus, Geryon's watchdog), a Major Dog (Cerberus), a Bull, a River (in the Augean Stables Labour), two Brothers (Geryon and Eurytion) and a prized Belt (taken from Hippolytus).
Stacks Image 660
There is a subject, forever immortalised by the Greeks, that includes all these things; the constellations around Orion the Hunter. In the skies around the Orion Constellation, with its Belt, are the constellations Canis Minor (the Little Dog), Canis Major (the Big Dog), Gemini (the Twins or Brothers), Taurus the Bull and Eridanus the River. Considering the length of time since these stories were created, it’s a benevolent piece of luck that we still have the same names for these constellations, thanks to the Ancient Greek's cultural legacy.

It therefore seems possible that firstly, Hercules’ Labours are Method of Loci stories, and secondly, that they are coded stories that refer to constellations of stars. It’s a tentative idea but an intriguing one. If it's true, then what was the actual data? What was the long string of factual information stored in the Method of Loci story? To work this out, we need to reverse-engineer the Method of Loci story.

Star data

Let's start by boiling the story down a bit, it’s clear that Hercules visits two Brothers. We think that there’s a good chance that these brothers represent the sibling stars of Gemini, the stars Castor and Pollux. This would mean that Geryon in the story is Castor and Eurytion is Pollux. Hercules also encounters two dogs in his travels, who are also siblings. The minor dog in the stories is Orthrus, owned by Pollux. This character would logically represent Canis Minor and its main star Procyon. In a later Herculean Labour, Hercules fights with Orthrus’s bigger brother Cerberus, guard dog to the gates of the underworld. This creature is highly likely to be representing to the constellation Canis Major and its main star, Sirius.

We therefore have a list of Method of Loci characters and the stars they relate to:

Geryon -> Castor
Eurytion -> Pollux
Orthrus -> Procyon
Cerberus -> Sirius

This is where things get really interesting. Let's expand this list to include the descriptions of the characters in the story. Alongside them, we can place the properties of the star systems they seem to refer to:

Geryon is a triple-paired man (three pairs of legs and arms). Castor, the star system that he represents, is three pairs of stars all gravitationally locked together.
Eurytion is a Normal man. Pollux, the star system that he represents, is a bog-standard single star system.
Orthrus is a two-headed dog. Procyon, the star that he represents, the main star of Canis Minor, is a binary (or double) star system.
Cerberus is a triple-headed dog. Sirius, the main star of Canis Major, is at least a binary star system and may really be a triple star system (according to astronomical evidence).

Isn't that fascinating? It would seem that someone in the Ancient World knew detailed information about the stars around the Orion Constellation. They then told some other people this information. The listeners were wowed by this information but were faced with a challenge. They didn't have the ability to write down the information and they couldn't remember the information blandly, so they used the Method of Loci technique to accurately retain the information they'd been given. They then passed on that information as part of an oral tradition, while making it very clear to the new listeners that the information was very important and should not be forgotten. Over many centuries, the stories they passed on were retained but the knowledge of what the stories actually represented faded, until everyone knew the stories, but no one knew their true meaning.
Stacks Image 663
If all this is correct, then it leads to an important question; how on Earth did someone in the Ancient World know, for example, that Castor was three pairs of stars? There is no way that Ancient Greeks could have developed a technology to view the Castor star system in such detail, and yet the information discussed in earlier sections indicates that someone knew detailed information about those star systems at least two-thousand years ago.

It might not have been an Ancient Greek person who discovered the information. As mentioned earlier, there's a good chance that the Ancient Greeks inherited these stories from another, earlier source. The Ancient Greek scholar Diodorus Siculus, in his Library of History (a fascinating read, by the way), makes it clear that Greece inherited many, if not nearly all of its mythical stories from Ancient Egypt, a much older civilisation that the Greeks revered. If this is true, then there's a good chance that the story of Hercules’ Labours actually comes from Ancient Egypt. If we are to solve the strange possibility that Hercules’ Labours were an oral record of star systems, then it in Egypt that the answer may lie. For more information on that strange and surprising abilities of the Ancient Egyptians, do please read the Great Pyramid and 2787 BC. I think this article shows clearly that whoever built the Great Pyramid did have advanced knowledge of the stars. With this in mind, let's explore the topic of this ancient, secret astral knowledge a little further.
The Chimaera

If the Labours of Hercules is a Method of Loci story to remember information about stars around the Orion System, are there other myths doing the same job for other star systems?

There is one myth that shows tantalising promise, that of Bellerephon and the Chimaera. Here's Apollodorus's version of the story (translated by J.G.Fraser):

“Bellerophon, son of Glaucus, son of Sisyphus, came to Proetus and was purified. And Stheneboea fell in love with him, and sent him proposals for a meeting; and when he rejected them, she told Proetus that Bellerophon had sent her a vicious proposal. Proetus believed her, and gave him a letter to take to Iobates, in which it was written that he was to kill Bellerophon. Having read the letter, Iobates ordered him to kill the Chimera, believing that he would be destroyed by the beast, for it was more than a match for many, let alone one; it had the fore part of a lion, the tail of a dragon, and its third head, the middle one, was that of a goat, through which it belched fire. And it devastated the country and harried the cattle; for it was a single creature with the power of three beasts. It is said, too, that this Chimera was bred by Amisodarus, as Homer also affirms, and that it was begotten by Typhon on Echidna, as Hesiod relates. So Bellerophon mounted his winged steed Pegasus, offspring of Medusa and Poseidon, and soaring on high shot down the Chimera from the height.”

Stacks Image 666
It's weird story time again. Just like the Labours of Hercules, the story of the Chimaera is strangely unbalanced. Bellerophon does, eventually, heroically fight the monster but that only takes place in the last sentence! The entire rest of the story describes the Chimera’s physique and the circumstances leading up to the fight. It's a pretty hopeless story but it is a very reasonable Method of Loci story. There's a dragon and a creature that's a bizarre amalgam of different animals, just as in the Labours of Hercules. The problem comes when we want to match the story to the constellation; there is no Greek Chimaera constellation.

But what if there was once a Chimaera constellation, long ago? We can guess where it once stood by studying the content of the myth. In particular, Bellerophon attacks the Chimaera from his winged steed Pegasus 'on high' and shoots it down. Logically, the Chimaera constellation should therefore be beneath the constellation Pegasus and probably in the general direction of Pegasus's pointing head.

Below is a screenshot from the excellent Stellarium astronomy program, which is free. As we can see in the picture, Pegasus is on the left and its head points downwards. Beneath it is a group of constellations consisting of Cygnus (The Swan), Lyra (the Lyre, dominated by the star Vega) and Draco (the dragon). If Chimaera did once exist, it makes sense that it was somewhere in that group. Below that picture is a simpler drawing, showing the same constellations.
Stacks Image 674
Stacks Image 676
Rebuilding the Chimaera constellation

There is a lot of evidence that the Greek Constellations were partly or wholly based on Egyptians and/or Babylonian constellations. This is a perfectly reasonable idea, as Greek scholars openly admitted that they were inspired by, and took instruction from, Egypt. Also, the Egyptian Zodiac is very similar to the Babylonian one. If one studies the Dendera Zodiac, the famous Egyptian ceiling frieze found in a temple in Dendera, Egypt (and hacked out of it by Frenchmen and taken to Paris), one can see the close correlation between its constellations and those of Babylon. In Gavin White's extremely useful book ‘Babylonian Star Lore’, which is still in print, Gavin explains the Babylonian star constellations, what they signified and their history.
Stacks Image 669
As we can see from the illustration, the Babylonian constellations are different from the Greek, but there are links to it and there are extensive links to the Dendera Zodiac. If we match them up, based on the solid evidence that Pegasus was once the Babylonian constellation of the Field, we find that there was a Babylonian constellation in the same part of the sky as Draco/Cygnus/Lyre; it was called the Panther. It uses the stars that make up most of the Cygnus constellation, and part of Cepheus. Cygnus’s broad wings make the Panther’s front leg and wing, while the stars in Cepheus make up its back leg. According to Gavin's book, the Panther was a beast closely associated with the realm of the dead and the afterlife. It was the sacred beast of Nergal, the Babylonian lord of the dead, and acted as a guardian to the entrance to the underworld. As such, the Panther was a very similar animal to Cerberus (or Kerberos), the three-headed Greek hound that also guarded the gates to the Underworld.

Let's hazard a guess that the Panther was the Chimaera's main body. The Chimaera's body was a lion, but a Panther is a pretty close match. If this is true, then we need to find the other bits that make up the Chimaera. First off, where's the dragon tail? It should, logically, be in the part of the sky behind where the Panther's back end stood. Fortunately, there is a constellation in this place; Draco, the dragon constellation.
Stacks Image 680
This is a promising development. The above illustration depicts the first two stages of assembling the Chimaera constellation. The Chimaera's lion body was the earlier, Babylonian Panther constellation that stood in that part of the sky. Out of its back emerged the dragon tail which later became the Greek Draco constellation. At the end of this tail lies the star Thuban. This was the star that the Great Pyramid was aligned to beam a ray of light at in 2787BC (as far as I can work out). We now have two parts to the lost Chimera constellation; the Babylonian Panther constellation and the Greek Draco constellation. We now need to reconstruct is the middle part of the Chimera, its goat head that rose up from the back of the Chimera’s body, breathing fire.

The place in the sky where the goat head of Chimera would have sat is now the Greek constellation Lyre. Although a Lyre (a Greek stringed instrument like a pocket harp) has little to do with a goat, this place in the heavens, dominated by the star Vega, had a very different constellation in Egyptian and Babylonian astrology. According to the Dendera zodiac and Babylonion records, this part of the sky contained the Babylonian constellation Gula. Gula was a goddess who could both heal and kill with plague, which was pretty much normal behaviour for the Babylonian and Sumerian gods. Gula was known as the She-Goat. We have our final match. We can now draw the Chimaera constellation in full.
Stacks Image 683
Just to recap, the Chimaera's body is the Babylonian Panther constellation, which included the star Deneb. Its dragon tail is the constellation Draco the dragon, that ended with the star Thuban. Its goat head, rising up from its middle, was the star Vega in the Lyre or She-Goat constellation. Hooray! We have the Chimaera constellation. When the Ancient Greeks had looked up at the night sky and been taught the myth of Bellerophon, they could look at Pegasus and stare down its head at the Chimaera, lying beneath it.

Two fiery stars

We now have a complete Chimaera constellation. With it, we can delve further into what the Method of Loci stories really meant, in other words, the real properties that their coded content actually referred to. It's a challenge, since the Greek myths / Method of Loci store are thousands of years old and the people who created them are long dead, but there are some clues we can work with. One fascinating element is that of the fiery stars.

In my article on the Great Pyramid and 2787BC, I explain how the star Thuban seemed to be have been of extreme importance to ancient civilisations because that was the star at which the Great Pyramid aimed its ray of light. Also, if my article on laser transmissions from Sirius is correct, then the Sirius star system was also a source of a ray of light aimed at Earth. In both cases, while the beam of light was active, both those stars would have appeared 'fiery' in our night sky. By fascinating coincidence, the mythical characters associated with those two stars were said to breathe fire. The dragon on Cerberus's back (Sirius) in the Labour of Hercules breathed fire and the dragon on the Chimaera's back (Thuban) in the Chimaera myth also breathed fire. It therefore seems reasonable to conclude that the act of 'breathing fire' in these myths signified a ray of light existing between Earth and that particular star. Fiery breath = light from that star.

It is interesting to also note that in the myth of the Chimaera, its goat head was also said to breathe fire. This would seem to imply that a ray of light also connected Vega to Earth at some point in our past. There are mythical similarities between Sirius and Vega. They both are associated with important Ancient Greek and Egyptian male gods that travelled to Earth, helped humanity, were killed by envious, violent enemies, died, but conquered the underworld and became ever more powerful as a result. In Vega's case it was Orpheus with his Lyre and in the case of Sirius it was Osiris, possibly the most famous Egyptian god of all.
The mystery deepens

So far in this extended article, I've been exploring a strange but fascinating idea; that the Greek Myths were really Method of Loci stories that encoded information about stars. After some investigation, it's clear that certain patterns within the Method of Loci stories do correlate with actual properties of star systems. If these links are correct, then someone gave the Ancient Greeks advanced information about the stars in our galactic neighbourhood. But who gave them this information?

As mentioned before in this article, the Ancient Greeks were inspired by, and in awe of, Ancient Egypt. Pythagoras, Plato and other greats of Ancient Greece not only revered the Egyptians, but repeatedly visited them, seeking information and instruction from the priests that they felt were far ahead of them in knowledge. It's therefore logical to conclude that the Greek Myth stories did not originate in Ancient Greece, which shows no signs of having advanced celestial knowledge or access to such scientific information, but instead originated in either Ancient Egypt or another ancient civilisation connected to Ancient Egypt. Let's follow this trail and see where it leads us…
Stacks Image 691
The Dendera Zodiac

The Dendera Zodiac was carved into the ceiling of the hallway (pronaos) of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera, in the northern delta lowlands of Egypt, near the Nile. It was carved in about 50 BC, in other words right at the end of the era of Ancient Egypt. Although it's not that old compared to most Ancient Egyptian relics, it's highly likely that it was made according to a sky map that the Ancient Egyptians had used for millennia. If you want to see it in person, head over to the Musée du Louvre in Paris, as certain Frenchman chopped it out of the ceiling and took it back to France a century-or-so ago.

The Dendera Zodiac is different to the Greek constellations, but fortunately not that different. There's enough similarities for us to be able to match up which Egyptian figures correspond to Greek constellation figures. As Ancient Egypt was much older than Greek civilisation, it's almost certain that the Egyptian figures came first and the Greek ones were either inspired by or direct copies of the Egyptian figures. So far in this article, two stars have been flagged up as being of importance, as stars that seemed to have been 'fiery dragons'; stars that shone a ray of light at Earth. These two stars are Vega and Sirius. On the Dendera Zodiac copy above, Sirius is represented at about seven o'clock by the Hathor cow with a big star between her horns. Vega is represented by a seated goddess figure at eleven o'clock holding a staff. It's very interesting to note that both of these figures in the zodiac are sitting in boats. The Ancient Egyptians believed that their gods travelled the stars in their afterworld and these journeys were depicted as the gods travelling on boats. The Ancient Egyptians very much believed that the purpose of the Great Pyramid was for their god-pharaoh to travel to the Heavens (literally the stars and the afterlife) and they invariably depicted this as him travelling on a celestial boat.
Stacks Image 694
This is a fascinating coincidence. Our two suspect stars are the very two stars on the Dendera Zodiac that are marked by the Ancient Egyptians as being 'god traveller' stars. If we cast our eyes over the rest of the zodiac, there are two figures on the zodiac's border that sit in boats (at eleven o'clock and four o'clock) but there are no more that sit in boats in the central part of the zodiac, with one odd exception. Up at twelve o'clock, the centaur archer has his front feet in a boat. Why just the front feet? It's a bit odd, but worth investigation.

The Centaur Archer

The centaur archer is a very old celestial figure indeed. It seems to have originated in Mesopotamia as the god Pabilsag. Not a lot is known about Pabilsag, apart from the fact that he was the brother of Gula (the Babylonian goddess associated with Vega) and son of Enlil, the autocratic father of the Sumerian gods. He was linked to other gods in behaviour and sometimes identity, in particular the Sumerian god of the underworld, Nergal. The depictions of Pabilsag inn Sumer and Babylon are pretty similar to the figure on the Dendera zodiac, apart from a couple of odd differences.
Stacks Image 697
On the left-hand side of the illustration above is a depiction of Pabilsag. As you can see, he's still a centaur archer, but he's got a scorpion's tail and a dog's head sticking out of the back of his head. It seems that we're once more into the territory of very weird figures, just as we found in the Labours of Hercules. The weirdness of the Pabilsag figure and his enduring location in our skies as Sagittarius the Centaur Archer is intriguing. It offers a tantalising possibility, that the Greek Myths were versions of stories from much older civilisations, handed down from priest to priest over literally millennia, retaining their coded information, viewed with extreme importance by those remembering them, until they finally reached the Greeks. At that point, they were written down and, through that method, we inherited them, without realising their actual purpose. The figure of Pabilsag, originating in 2,000 to 3,000 BC or even earlier, shows their real origin, at the dawn of human civilisation.

If the figure of Pabilsag is an encoding, just like the Labours of Hercules, what can we glean from it? In the last section, it became clear that an Egyptian celestial figure in a boat was strongly connected to stars that 'breathed fire' and, more specifically, if the 'laser transmissions from Sirius' and the 'Great Pyramid and 2787BC' are correct, a star that sent a ray to Earth. In other words, 'fire breathing' and 'boat riding' stars were inhabited stars whose inhabitant(s) travelled to Earth. If this is correct, then the forelegs of the centaur archer contain an inhabited star whose inhabitant(s) travelled to Earth. There's another interesting possibility. Pabilsag's back-end has a scorpion's tail sticking out of it. This is clearly not natural, which is a strong indication that it's an encoded message. What does a scorpion's sting signify? To work that out, let's look at the actual stars of Sagittarius and what we know about them. By studying their properties, we can look for links to Pabilsag, Dendera and the evidence we've uncovered so far.
Stacks Image 700
Here's a picture of the Sagittarius constellation, created by the Stellarium astronomy programme. The Sagittarius constellation includes the cluster of stars known as the 'teapot'; they're the ones around the centaur's face, upper torso and bow. At this point, it would seem sensible to guess that the main star of Sagittarius would be 'Nunki' or 'Kaus Australis', the large stars marked in the diagram. Nope, they're not. Strangely enough, the main star of Sagittarius, Alpha Sagittarii, is a much smaller and dimmer star positioned at the forelegs of the centaur. What a fascinating coincidence! This star is known as Rukbat Al Rami, or 'the knees of the centaur'.

Alpha Sagittarii is a very interesting star. It is a blue, class B dwarf star, about 180 light years from Earth. It's twice as hot as the Sun and considerably more massive, with a luminosity in visible wavelengths about 40 times greater than that of the Sun (in other words, visibly much brighter). Just like Vega, it has a strange excess of infra-red radiation. It is also emitting a strange excess of X-rays, which a star of this type shouldn't normally be emitting. Are these markers for an inhabited star, one that's technically advanced? The only way to be confident of such an idea would be to find a pattern of behaviour. Until then, it's just an interesting possibility.

The other part of the centaur's body that's been flagged up as important is its back-end. This is the location, on the Pabilsag depictions, of the god's very odd scorpion tail. What was the sting in that tail? As we can see from the image above, there isn't a major star in that part of the firmament. Since the scorpion's tail sticks out, then curls around and up, the sting would be above the rump and probably a bit forward of it. I've added a small, white ellipse in the picture above to mark the spot. This area contains a cluster of stars collectively known as Chi Sagittarii. The path would go cold here, if it wasn't for something very odd that happened in 1977…
Stacks Image 703
The Wow! signal

On August 15, 1977, Dr. Jerry R. Ehman detected a strange signal while working on a SETI project at The Big Ear radio telescope of Ohio State University. Dr. Ehman was amazed at how closely the signal matched the expected signature of an interstellar signal in the antenna used. He circled the signal on the computer printout and wrote the comment "Wow!" on its side. The signal lasted for 72 seconds, the full duration the telescope observed it. The signal came from an area of space close to Chi Sagittarii.

The reason the signal looked so good to Dr. Ehman was due to several factors. Firstly, the signal's frequency was exactly the frequency they’d expected a signaller to use. This frequency is known as the cold hydrogen line. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and when its electrons change their energy state around their nucleus, they emit radiation of a very specific frequency. This is (approximately) 1420 MHz and it lies within the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Because of it being at this frequency, the radiation gets through interstellar dust clouds very well, making it possible for a signal at the frequency to cross the interstellar distances. Because of these factors, it made sense that if someone wanted to send an electromagnetic signal, they'd choose this frequency. Lo and behold, years after they calculated this possibility, it turned out to be true (at least for 72 seconds).

Actually, just saying the signal came in at 1420 MHz is doing it an injustice. A very precise value for hydrogen’s natural frequency is 1420.405 MHz. The two different values detected for the frequency of the Wow! signal were 1420.356 MHz and 1420.457 MHz. They are the same distance apart to the actual resonant frequency. The first is about 0.05 MHz less than the hydrogen line, and the second is about 0.05 MHz more than the hydrogen line. That's how accurately the wow! signal matched the cold hydrogen line.
Stacks Image 706
The Big Ear telescope was fixed and used the rotation of the Earth to scan the sky. At the speed of the earth's rotation, and given the width of its observation ‘window’, it could observe any given point in the sky for just 72 seconds. An extraterrestrial signal, therefore, would be expected to register for exactly 72 seconds. Also, the recorded intensity of that signal would show a gradual peaking for the first 36 seconds, until the signal reached the centre of Big Ear's observation ‘window’, and then it would gradually decrease to nothing. This is exactly what the ‘wow’ signal did.

In some ways, it’s bizarre that the ‘wow!’ signal isn’t trumpeted as proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence. It couldn’t have been a more authentic extra-terrestrial signal. If it had been received forty years later, the story might have been very different. We would have been able to keep a digital record of the signal and analyse it, looking for meaning, rather than a short string of numbers and letters showing its signal strength. Hopefully, an equally authentic signal will crop up again and be recorded in much greater detail.

The importance of a centaur's knee

The earlier section explored the fascinating importance of what seems a minor star in Sagittarius. Although Rukbat Al Rami is small, dim and nowhere near the central stars of Sagittarius, someone of sufficient influence in our past declared that it was the main star of Sagittarius and it's stayed that way. By strange coincidence, the Dendera zodiac also marked it as being important, as important as Vega and Sirius. Are there other writings in our ancient past that paid particular attention to a centaur's knee? Time to return to the Labours of Hercules.

The fourth Labour of Hercules consists of Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar. In this Labour, Hercules must bring back a wild boar that has terrorised the country. Here is an abridged translation of the Apollodorus version of the fourth Labour (yep, I know it's still long, but treat it as some more practice in skimming and focus on the middle bit):

“As a fourth labour he [Eurystheus] ordered him [Hercules] to bring the Erymanthian Boar alive; now that animal ravaged Psophis, sallying from a mountain which they call Erymanthus. So passing through Pholoe he [Hercules] was entertained by the centaur Pholus, a son of Silenus by a Melian nymph. He set roast meat before Hercules, while he himself ate his meat raw. When Hercules called for wine, he said he feared to open the jar that belonged to the centaurs in common. But Hercules, bidding him be of good courage, opened it, and not long afterwards, scenting the smell, the centaurs arrived at the cave of Pholus, armed with rocks and firs. The first who dared to enter, Anchius and Agrius, were repelled by Hercules with a shower of brands, and the rest of them he shot and pursued as far as Malea, Thence they took refuge with Chiron, who, driven by the Lapiths from Mount Pelion, took up his abode at Malea. As the centaurs cowered about Chiron, Hercules shot an arrow at them, which passing through the arm of Elatus, stuck in the knee of Chiron. Distressed at this, Hercules ran up to him, drew out the shaft, and applied a medicine that Chiron gave him. But the hurt proved incurable, Chiron retired to the cave and there he wished to die, but he could not, for he was immortal. However, Prometheus offered himself to Zeus to be immortal in his stead, and so Chiron died. But Pholus, drawing the arrow from a corpse, wondered that so little a thing could kill such big fellows; howbeit, it slipped from his hand and lighting on his foot killed him on the spot. So when Hercules returned to Pholoe, he beheld Pholus dead; and he buried him and proceeded to the boar-hunt. And when he had chased the boar with shouts from a certain thicket, he drove the exhausted animal into deep snow, trapped it, and brought it to Mycenae.”


The strange style of the Labours comes to the fore again. This Labour is supposed to be about the capture of a boar but almost the whole story is about centaurs. The boar hunt is almost an afterthought. Why isn’t this Labour called ‘Hercules defeats the centaurs’? It seems that the author of the fourth Labour really wanted to talk about centaurs. What was the motivation behind this? There is a possible reason. The area of the sky that contains the Greek Centaurus constellation is depicted differently in the Dendera zodiac. In that zodiac, it is drawn as an animal looking backwards, similar to a big cat, but with a horn protruding from its mouth.
Stacks Image 709
Gavin White, in his book ‘Babylonian Star-Lore’, puts forward the idea that this was an altered depiction of the Babylonian ‘Wild Boar’ constellation and that the horn was originally the boar’s tusk. Both creatures stand beside a square, that the Babylonians called ‘the abyss’; a cold and empty area of the sky. This would be a reasonable origin for the ‘driven into deep snow’ element of the Labour. This dual identity for that part of the sky, wild boar and centaur, would also explain the odd way a boar story spends most of its time talking about centaurs.

In this Labour, two particular ‘arrow deaths’ jump out. One concerns Pholus, the centaur that welcomes Hercules into his cave. In the text, Pholus draws Hercules’ arrow from a corpse and drops it. The arrow lands on his foot and kills him. The second event concerns Chiron, a centaur who was highly regarded by the Greeks and seen as an learned educator and healer, just like Pabilsag. Hercules shoots an arrow and it passes through the arm of Elatus and sticks in Chiron’s knee, mortally wounding him.

If these Labours were really encoded information about stars, the arrow paths would logically represent a path between stars. Fortunately, we know the destination; the knee of the learned civilising centaur, Alpha Sagittarii, a.k.a. Rukbat Al Rami. The source is also straightforward, since there is a Hercules constellation near Sagittarius in the heavens. As we can see from the Stellarium image on the right, I've drawn a line between Hercules and the knee of Sagittarius. In the Labour, the arrow passes through the arm of Elatus. There seems to be only one candidate star that sits on another constellation's arm that could be the 'arm of Elatus' star'. It's the one marked with the white circle. This star is called Gamma Ophiuchi.

Gamma Ophiuchi is a single, class A4 star about 95 light years from Earth. It has been of significant interest to astronomers in recent decades because it has one exceptional feature; just like Vega, Sirius B and Rukbat Alrami, it has a ‘debris disk’ causing it to admit an excess of infrared radiation. What is it about these infra-red excess stars? Why do they keep cropping up?

Before we leave the centaurs, there's one more star we can add to our 'intriguing stars' list and that's the foot of the centaur. Poor old Pholus drops Hercules' arrow on to his own foot and kills himself. Which star might this be referring to? Actually, it's an easy-peasy one. The main star of the Centaurus system, Alpha Centauri, was known as Rijl al-Qanṭūris, or 'the foot of the centaur'. Alpha Centauri is in fact a triple-star system, which includes the star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our sun. Interestingly, none of these three stars seem to show an infra-red excess but the Alpha Centauri system has shown an excess of X-rays, reported in the astrophysics paper 'X-rays from Alpha Centauri - The darkening of the solar twin'. An excess of x-rays was also spotted from Alpha Sagittarii. Is this purely a natural phenomenon, or is there alien technology at work? I've no idea at the moment, but it's nice to have another star added to the list.

To summarise, here's the 'intriguing stars' list so far:
Stacks Image 712
I haven't added Thuban to the list as it seems to have been a star to which Earth sent a ray of light, not the other way around. I've also not included any stars that don't 'flame' in the stories and don't show any anomalous astrophysical behaviour; they might be inhabited, but goodness knows how we could detect it from here.

Next up…

According to all the evidence so far, it would seem that certain Greek myths may have contained hidden information about star systems. This evidence also seems to indicate that the Sumerian, Babylonian and Egyptian pantheons were the origins for these myths and that their depictions also contained encoded information about inhabited star systems.

In the next sections, I'll try to decode more Greek Myths and gain more information about stars in our galactic neighbourhood. I'll also look to see if the Sumerian/Babylonian/Egyptian star maps and stories can assist in this hunt. I'll then try to add to the current list of candidate stars. Once that list is of a useful length, I'll study what astrophysicists have learnt about those stars, using the latest astronomical data, and hunt for patterns in those stars' properties that might give us a handle on how we might identify inhabited planets in our galactic neighbourhood. Until then, enjoy your week!

Adrian Ellis - Spring, 2015