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KRONOS Vol X, No. 1



Copyright (c) 1984 by David Talbott and Ev Cochrane

1. Introduction

It has been nearly 35 years since Immanuel Velikovsky published Worlds in Collision, thus provoking one of the great scientific controversies of the twentieth century. In the intervening years, most of the world's leading astronomers have registered their opinions on the subject. Their consensus boils down to this: A) Velikovsky was treated poorly, but B) that is no reason to take his claims seriously.

Not so long ago, however, much of the present speculation among astronomers themselves would have been considered dangerously Velikovskian. Now, we see "respectable" publications not only dignifying the general principles of catastrophism but introducing the once-unthinkable possibility of recent catastrophes - world-shattering events within the memory of man.(1)

Velikovsky, of course, did not look to astronomy for his evidence of interplanetary disturbances, but to history. Ancient religious and mythological texts provided the primary sources for Worlds in Collision; and in the end, it will be these sources that offer the acid test of his thesis.

The overriding issue in Velikovsky's historical research is surely the proposed cometary past of Venus. Despite the interesting and often encouraging revelations from space probes of the past two decades, it must be said that little historical evidence of the Venus-comet has been added to the material originally assembled by Velikovsky. This lack is particularly noticeable in comparative mythology, the discipline which forms the backbone of Velikovsky's theory. Here, virtually nothing new has been brought to light bearing on the Venus question.

In a series of essays, beginning with the present one, we intend to outline some aspects of ancient Venus symbolism generally overlooked so far. Our study will take us back to the mythical age of "beginnings". We will find much support for Velikovsky's claim of a cometary Venus - and also a surprising and crucial connection with Saturn. Though our investigation will question certain assumptions of Worlds in Collision, we think the evidence will help to substantiate Velikovsky's underlying theory of celestial catastrophe, in which the primary players are planets.

2. The Saturn Myth

In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky presented the last two acts of what he claimed to be a much longer drama of interplanetary catastrophes. These later episodes, involving Venus and Mars and dated from the fifteenth to the seventh centuries B.C., were claimed by him to have been preceded by equally dramatic cataclysms involving the giants Saturn and Jupiter. While hinting at these earlier catastrophes, however, Velikovsky refrained from publishing anything but the briefest summaries. At the time of his death, in 1979, the full story still remained untold.

It is understood that Velikovsky believed the Earth and Saturn to have once moved in close proximity, with the Earth perhaps revolving as a Saturnian moon. In a very early epoch, mythically recalled as the Golden Age, Saturn visually dominated the sky. This era, Velikovsky believed, ended in Saturn's mythical "death" and an overwhelming cataclysm - the great Deluge.

The mystery of Saturn's past, as posed by Velikovsky's intriguing references, inspired the several years of research behind one of the writers' recently-published book, The Saturn Myth.(2) The book proposes that Saturn - fixed at the celestial pole - loomed massively overhead, a central sun venerated by all mankind. Evidence is presented there for a Saturnian "polar configuration" as the source of early civilization's dominant symbols. One of the features of this Saturnian configuration was a giant band surrounding the planet.

The Saturn Myth is a preface to a longer saga involving interplanetary upheavals. In that book, no reference is made to Venus, Mars, or Jupiter, even though these planets emerge as major figures in celestial events.

What we aim to present here involves certain details which were left unmentioned in The Saturn Myth - aspects of ancient myth and symbolism which will be helpful in delineating the roles of other planets in very early times. Several writers (beginning with Velikovsky himself) have conjectured that the identifications of the planets shifted with shifting world ages. We intend to show, however, that from their earliest mention in ancient sources, the root identities of the respective planetary gods hold up well; and such ambiguity as does affect planetary identifications stems from a former connection of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter with a unified apparition in the sky.

Our underlying assumption is that the planets have not always roamed around the Sun as separate and discrete objects in the heavens of terrestrial observers. Rather, they were once joined in a visually integrated "conjunction" of sorts, and this seemingly-improbable alignment was the basis of Saturn's polar station. It is obvious that we will not be able to prove the point in this introductory article, but we hope that our first effort will begin to suggest the nature of the original celestial unity remembered by so many ancient races.

3. Rules of Research

In exploring the roots of ancient myth and symbolism, we suggest a few simple rules of research.

I. The world supply of myths and symbols should be consulted as a test of any major hypothesis. Surely this was the major thrust of Worlds in Collision. It is the concordance of global testimony that gives the most impressive weight to Velikovsky's arguments.

II. The earliest sources are crucial to a proper understanding of mythical motifs and can help to prevent the misplacement of events. Had he consulted the earliest sources of Egypt and Mesopotamia, Velikovsky might have avoided the most pronounced weakness of Worlds in Collision. Unfortunately, in seeking to substantiate a 1500 B.C. catastrophe, Velikovsky cited mythical themes clearly discernible in texts written a thousand years or more before the proposed event.

III. Ancient statements appearing to contradict elementary experience or logic are a key to discovery. It is improbable enough that one tribe or nation would call a modest light such as Venus "the torch of heaven", "star with hair", or anything so suggestive of power and light. When one notes that the themes appear from one land to another, the seed of discovery emerges: perhaps Venus was not always the mere speck we see today.

IV. Cosmic symbols must be allowed to illuminate the texts, and the texts allowed to illuminate the symbols. Worlds in Collision makes no use of ancient signs or ideographs. Yet the ancients themselves declared that these simple pictures were actually cosmic references. Where, then, is Venus in the lexicon of symbols?

Our answer to the Venus question could not be stated more emphatically: Symbols of the planet pervade the earliest sources. In fact, at the dawn of civilization, the proto-planet Venus - looking very much like a comet - appears as part and parcel of a unified cosmology ruling the collective consciousness of man. This cosmology, however, has yet to be recognized by conventional schools.

4. The Great Mother

One of the most prominent features of ancient religion is the universal devotion to a goddess called the "Great Mother". Perhaps the best-known early instances of the goddess are the Egyptian Isis and the Mesopotamian Inanna-Ishtar. Significantly, chroniclers identify both goddesses with the planet Venus.(3) Moreover, it would be difficult to find an ancient civilization which fails to support this role of Venus as Great Mother. There appears to be an impressive continuity of this identity from the infancy of civilization through the Classical Age of Greece and up to more modern times.

This aspect of Venus symbolism raises a question which finds no apparent solution in either Velikovsky's or traditional theory. Why was a feminine nature ascribed to the planet? It is almost an ironclad rule of ancient symbolism that Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury appear as masculine figures. Why was Venus the exception? Today we see the visible planets as five star-like points of light. Does one of them appear especially feminine?

The answer to this mystery, as we will attempt to show, lies in a remarkable association between Venus and the planet Saturn.

5. The Enclosed Sun

Ancient pictographs will figure prominently in our analysis (Rule IV). We begin with what is perhaps the most common sign among early civilizations, one which occurs on all continents (Rule I), and the prehistoric origin of which is beyond dispute (Rule II). The image is the "enclosed sun" (*!* Image), discussed at length in The Saturn Myth. There, it is shown that this sign was Saturn's special emblem, an identification which appears as irrational as it was widespread (Rule III). The Saturn Myth proposes that this pictograph actually depicted the physical appearance of Saturn in former times - that it is a literal drawing of the Saturnian orb surrounded by a great band. The ancients called it the "world wheel", which Saturn is said to have produced in the primeval age. This was the wheel of the archaic polar sun (Saturn), fixed but ever-turning in the northern sky.

Though space in this article will not allow more than a glimpse of the mythological material, the imagery of the enclosed sun asks us to believe that during Saturn's epoch, the Earth, rather than orbiting Saturn as a moon (Velikovsky's proposal), rotated with Saturn on a common axis. What terrestrial observers saw in the sky appeared as an immense wheel (the band) revolving around the stationary orb of Saturn.

The extensive and interlocking symbolism of the Saturnian band is discussed fully in The Saturn Myth. There, it is shown that this single band provided the visual basis for numerous mythical images of the great god's dwelling, including such well-known forms as: the cosmic Eye, crown, throne, shield, temple, and city. Each of these symbols, however, occurs in such explicit association with the mother goddess as to amount to a straightforward identity: the goddess was originally and fundamentally the Saturnian band.

Analysis of the related symbolism reveals two elementary facts. Together, they pose the riddle we will seek to resolve:

1) In ancient representations of the enclosed sun, the separate band was called the mother goddess;

2) The consistent planetary representative of the mother goddess was Venus.

There is no better source of information on the enclosed sun than the vast ritual texts of ancient Egypt. With the emergence of the hieroglyphic language, the enclosure of the old sun god appears as the Aten, written with the sign [*!* Image], the very symbol under discussion

Contrary to common assumption, Egyptian texts make clear that the Aten is the enclosure itself and not the sun which rests within the band. A frequent title of Ra is am-aten-f - "dweller in his Aten", a title likewise given to both Atum and Horus. "Spacious is your seat within the disk [Aten] ", reads a Coffin Text.(4) Of Osiris, the Book of the Dead declares: "Oh, great god, who livest in thy divine Aten."(5)

As if to emphasize the point, Egyptian scribes and artists often drew only the band itself when denoting the Aten - O . The literal reading is "enclosure" or "circle", and Ra is the "sender-forth of light into his Circle".(6) "I am the one who is in his Circle", he announces.(7) The tangible character of the band could not be more explicitly stated. But having no reference point in nature, Egyptologists have habitually looked past the band to the enclosed god himself in trying to interpret the language.

To the Egyptians, the band was very real. They called it the "enclosure of Fire-Light"(8) - the great god's brilliant and enduring halo of "glory" or "splendor". It was the "chamber" or "house" of the primeval sun, and the Egyptian myths of "the Beginning" elaborate in various ways how the great band came into existence.

Yet, a paradox runs through all the related symbols. In the Egyptian language, the band of the Aten means, at once, the "body" of the sun god as well as the female principle, the god's "mistress".

It is the radiant "womb" in the sky, the Great Mother herself, in which the sun god shines as the "Great Seed".

Mythically, the male and female powers combine in the androgynous image of the enclosed sun [*!* Image]. The relationship occurs in the symbolism of all the primary Egyptian gods and goddesses. Isis is the "chamber" of the sun god. Hathor is "the House of Horus", and Nephthys "the House-Lady". Nut encloses Ra, the Great Seed. Ra "shines forth from the womb of Nut".(9) Elsewhere, Ra is the sun "in the womb of Hathor".(10) Osiris, too, sends forth his light from the womb of Nut. "Homage to thee, King of kings, Lord of lords, who from the womb of Nut hath ruled all the world. ''(11)

Lacking a concrete reference for this language, Egyptologists have drawn on such abstract notions as "the sky", "the all", "heaven", etc. They have not realized that the subject is the band of the Aten because, in the familiar heavens of today, the Aten has no meaning. Researchers are thus left adrift in insubstantial explanations. When considering the sign of the Aten itself, they see the band alternately as a "parhelion", the "circle of the sky", the Earth, or the Sun itself (leaving a mystery as to what is inside the band). That a sign so obviously universal has no equally-obvious explanation is, to say the least, curious.

This confusion is unnecessary. The Aten symbol is a picture of the visible wheel of the primeval sun god, who was Saturn. To recognize this is to possess an extraordinarily simple explanation for some of the most elementary mythical images. The literal equation is:

Band of the Aten  = circle of Fire-Light (halo, glory, splendor)
 = sun god's dwelling
 = sun god's "body"
 = the Great Mother

Yet, even while the Egyptians celebrated the Aten-band as the Mother Goddess, they recognized many complementary interpretations of the fiery enclosure. An analysis of the related forms yields a startling consistency yet to be acknowledged by Egyptologists.

6. The Eye of Heaven

Consider the mysterious Eye of heaven. T. Rundle Clark has observed that this baffling yet pervasive symbol is the key to an understanding of ancient Egyptian religion, especially the religion of the Great Mother. "The complex meshes of eye symbolism", he writes, "are woven all around the Egyptian Goddess, and she cannot be understood or compared with other goddesses until they are unraveled."(12)

What was the Eye? Why were all the major Egyptian goddesses - Isis, Hathor, Nut, Sekhmet, Bast, and others - called "the Eye of Ra"?

Recognition of the mother goddess as the Aten-band disposes of the mystery. The Eye is simply the band. The sun god is the "pupil" of the Eye. When the texts say that the great god "dwells in the Eye",(13) they simply confirm the identity. The sun god is "encircled with the protection of his Eye".(14) "I am in the Eye", he says. "I am he who dwelleth in the Eye."(15) Ra, whose hieroglyph is the enclosed sun [*!* Image], is thus "the aged one of the pupil of the Eye".(16) Since the band of the Aten is also the "mistress" of the sun god; since the goddess is explicitly termed "the Eye"; and, since the sun god shines as the "pupil of the Eye" - can there be any doubt as to the capability of this elementary sign to resolve the "mystery"? Is not the expert's failure to recognize the band in concrete terms the cause of the question in the first place?

7. The Crown

Consider also the sun god's crown, the prototype in the sky for the headbands of terrestrial rulers. The ritual texts tell us that the crown of the local king imitated the "Great Circle" or Aten-band enclosing the original sun god when he ruled the world. "I will establish the crown upon thy head even like the Aten on the head of Amen-Ra" states the Theban kingship ritual.(17)

Eye and crown are synonymous: "I wear the white crown, the Eye of Horus."(18) That the goddess Isis (the Eye of Ra) was identified as Ra's crown merely confirms the equation. The texts say that the sun-god shines from within the band of the crown and proclaim its concrete form as the mother goddess: "I am he who is girt about with his girdle and cometh forth from the goddess of the Ureret Crown."(19) Literally, the god dwells in the crown, impregnates the crown (as the Great Seed) and is "born" in it. Thus could the chroniclers say that Osiris shone forth "fully crowned from his mother's womb."(20) One need not look further than the image of the enclosed sun to appreciate the related symbolism.

8. The Throne

The same symbolism presents itself in the case of the great god's throne. The hieroglyphic name of Osiris simply combines the Eye and throne [*!* Image], much to the bewilderment of those who have commented on its meaning. Yet, drawing our meanings from the image of the Aten, we see that the god is enthroned within the circle of the Eye.

Thus, one of the names of the throne was ast utchat, "throne of the Eye". The Eye-throne itself was Isis, who was called the "Eye of Ra" but whose name was written with the hieroglyph for throne" [*!* Image]. That Isis was actually identified with the throne of the great god has been found by the leading experts on Egyptian religion: "The Great Goddess is the throne pure and simple", stated Neumann.(21) Henri Frankfort merely put it in different words: "Isis was originally the deified throne."(22)

That Isis was not simply the throne should be obvious, however; great goddesses are not created to glorify royal furniture. At least, in the early period, the Egyptian priests recognized the true identity of Eye, crown, and throne. "I am the lord of the crown. I am in the Eye . . . My seat is on my throne. I sit as the pupil of the Eye."(23) In relationship to the image of the enclosed sun, the meaning can hardly be doubted.

Here, then, are three symbols - the Eye, crown, and throne - each taken as an independent object by Egyptologists and comparative mythologists. Yet each distinguishes itself as the same celestial form, the enclosure of the old sun god, who was Saturn. Moreover, each appears as the Great Mother, the goddess whom we have identified as the Aten-band.

Implicit in all descriptions is the vivid character of the band as something seen. To those who invoked the fiery enclosure, it was every bit as real as the sun god himself. One or another of its mythical forms will be found on every page of early Egyptian religious texts - the connection with the mother goddess boldly proclaimed as the texts roam over literally hundreds of mythical names for the enclosure.

9. Venus

How does any of this shed light on the Venus issue? If the goddess Isis was the Eye-crown-throne of Saturn, why did Classical writers identify the same goddess as the planet Venus? What could Venus have to do with the band of the Aten?

These questions grow as one seeks out particulars. Most mythologists, for example, have assumed the Eye to be the Sun without giving it a second thought. But when the noted Egyptologist Rudolf Anthes looked more closely, he was surprised by what he found. Of the early references to the Eye, he writes:

"We used to understand them as though the Eye of Ra was identified as the Sun, but a careful interpretation of them has unmistakably shown that the Eye of Ra was the morning star."(24)

How could the Eye be both the Aten-band - as indicated above - and Venus, as indicated by Anthes?

It is here that Velikovsky's theory of a cometary Venus has an astonishing contribution to make, even though it will take us on a path which Velikovsky himself never seems to have imagined.

10. Velikovsky's Comet

It was Velikovsky who first documented the widespread comet like descriptions of the planet Venus - descriptions which had apparently gone unnoticed by even the best experts on comparative mythology. At times Velikovsky's evidence - gathered from around the world - is stunning, and taken as a whole it certainly stands as the most compelling aspect of Worlds in Collision.

As Velikovsky noted, the natives of Mexico designated Venus as "the star that smoked", the same description they used for comet. He showed that such titles of Venus as "smoking star", "burning star", and "torch of heaven" occurred from the Americas through India to Babylonia.

A critical component of Velikovsky's theory of a cometary Venus was his analysis of the mythology of the serpent-dragon. Following several predecessors, Velikovsky contended that the serpent-dragon was actually a writhing, comet-like apparition in the heavens.(25) Velikovsky distinguished his thesis from that of earlier writers by identifying the cometary monster as the planet Venus, placing the famous struggle between the light-god and the serpent-dragon at about 1500 B.C. But, since this basic theme can be found in the Egyptian Pyramid Texts and the earliest mythical literature of Mesopotamia, it is clear that the original symbolism predates by more than a thousand years the proposed catastrophe of Worlds in Collision.

As we have come to understand the myth of the serpent-dragon, the original story appears to have had three fundamental components:

1) The serpent-dragon is an emanation of the sun-god, its body taking form in the fiery material (or mythically, the cosmic waters) erupting from the god.

2) In the minds of terrestrial witnesses, the creature represented, at once, the "essence" of the sun-god and the threatening powers of "chaos". In many accounts the creature attacks the god.

3) After an indefinite period of cosmic upheaval, the serpent-dragon is subdued, becoming the god's circular dwelling - his Eye, crown, throne, etc.

The point we wish to stress here is that all of the serpent-dragons cited as cometary phenomena by Velikovsky act in precisely the same manner: Their body comes to form the great god's celestial dwelling. And, as we have seen, it was precisely this celestial dwelling which was commemorated by the Aten sign; thus, it is significant to find that Egyptian hieroglyphs frequently depict the band of the Aten as formed by the body of a serpent [*!* Image]. Moreover, while Ra was addressed as ami-khet-f, "dweller in his fiery circle", he was also known as ami-hem-f, "dweller in his fiery serpent".(25a)

Examples of this enclosing serpent will be found in every section of the world. Where information is sufficient to allow planetary identifications, the god so enclosed turns out to be Saturn. Hence, in the great systems of astral mythology the sun-like "great father" - whether it is the Babylonian Ninurta or Tammuz, their Egyptian counterparts Ra, Atum or Osiris, the Phoenician El, Hindu Vishnu, Greek Kronos, or Mexican Quetzalcoatl - always rests within the fold of a giant serpent or dragon. Often, the serpentine creature appears with its tail in its mouth, as in the case of the famous Greek Ouroboros.

Velikovsky devotes a good deal of attention to the Babylonian serpent-dragon Tiamat; but - in the original Babylonian scheme the "shining Tiamat" forms a vast enclosure, the home of the great god. It is within Tiamat's "belly" that the primordial ruler Kingu dwells. Here, Erich Neumann's conclusion must be our own:

"The relation of Tiamat to Kingu shows Tiamat to be the Great Mother. Kingu, identical with Tammuz [Saturn, the dying god], is the son-lover whom Tiamat calls her husband but who is also the child sitting in her womb."(26)

One of the more ancient examples of this mythological motif is that in which Ninurta-Saturn battles and defeats Kur, a personification of the primeval rebellious forces. Once subdued, Kur becomes the celestial dwelling of the gods - the E-Kur.(27)

A similar scenario will be found in Norse mythology: there it is the Midgard serpent who, biting its tail, forms the castle of the gods.(23) Likewise, in Hindu mythology, Vishnu dwells within the folds of the great Sesha serpent.(29)

In Hebrew myth, Leviathan - the dragon of the deep - becomes the throne of Yahweh after its defeat. Like so many others, he "grips his tail between his teeth". The myths say:

". . . and a silver dragon was on the machinery of the throne."(30) "A silver serpent bore the wheel of the throne."(31)

The Egyptian figure cited by Velikovsky is Set, the dragon of darkness. But Velikovsky did not give enough attention to this important monster, nor to the voluminous Egyptian source material helpful in painting a picture of the serpent-dragon. This may prove to be one of Velikovsky's most telling omissions.

Formed in the fiery "waters" in the sky, Set was the "Outflow" of the sun-god, his body coming to form both the god's throne and head-band, as well as the Eye. Thus, the speaker in the Pyramid Texts declares:

"My strength is the strength of Seth [Set] . . .I am the flowing fluid. I have issued from the creating of the waters; I am a snake. . . I am this headband of red color which went forth from 'Iht the great [Akhet, a serpent god]; I am this Eye of Horus."(32)

According to the Egyptian texts, the serpent-dragon actually produced the sun-god's head-band or crown, the circle of the Aten. Indeed, in the Egyptian language set means "outflow" as well as "fiery circle", "crown", "throne", "girdle", etc.

It is clear, also, that among the Egyptians themselves there was no doubt as to the fundamental identity of the emanating serpent and the Eye-crown. In language that has caused both amusement and frustration among Egyptologists, the Pyramid Texts declare:

"He has come to you, O Nt-Crown; he has come to you, O Fiery Serpent . . . O Great Crown . . . Ikhet the Serpent has adorned you . . . because you are Horus encircled with the protection of his eye."(32a)

"O King, the dread of you is the intact Eye of Horus, the White Crown, the serpent-goddess who is in Nekheb [the celestial city]."(33)

Wrapped around the sun-god, the serpent becomes the Great Mother - as in the instance of Mut, "the resplendent serpent who wound herself around her father Ra. . .".(34) In fact, the most common Egyptian hieroglyph for "goddess" depicts a serpent. A familiar form of this serpent goddess was the Uraeus, a classic symbol of the band of the Aten, commemorated in ritual by the pharaoh's serpentine head-band. Finally, the Uraeus goddess was said to have issued from the head of the sun-god to form the god's crown or Eye, and was closely identified with Isis and Hathor, each of whom was identified with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of the planet Venus.(35)

To sum up: A celestial serpent issues from the old sun-god, whom we recognize as Saturn. It wraps itself around the god to form a fiery band, recorded in the sign [*!* Image]. It is called the "Eye", and identified with the Great Mother goddess. The Egyptologist who examines the symbolism of the Eye determines that it is Venus, the planet of the mother goddess. According to Velikovsky, Venus was in ancient times a comet, and it was the Venus-comet that inspired the universal myth of the serpent-dragon.

Our thesis, then, is as follows: The band enclosing Saturn, the polar sun, took form from the trailing debris of the encircling Venus comet. It was the Venus-band which was celebrated as the Eye, the encircling serpent, and the Great Mother, eventually becoming commemorated by the Aten sign.*

[* See L. M. Greenberg, "Akhnaten, Aten, and Venus Reconsidered," Pensee IVR I (May 1972), pp. 41-42.]

12. The Hair-Star

The English word "comet", as noted by Velikovsky, comes from the Greek kometes, meaning "hair-star" or "long-haired star". Another Greek word for comet was pogonias, "bearded star" (a fact not mentioned by Velikovsky but important to his thesis). In this terminology the Greeks were likely influenced by the Babylonians, but a similar language for the "comet" appears to have prevailed throughout the ancient world.*

[* The Archetypal, cometary nature of the mother goddess is also reflected in the cultus of the Latin Venus, as shown by Sammer (see KRONOS VI:2, p. 61). Thus, an ancient name for Venus was lubar, an early Latin word for comet (derived from iuba, meaning "hair" or "mane"). That the Egyptian Hathor and Latin Venus were only two of many comet goddesses throughout the ancient world will be demonstrated in this series of essays (also see 1. Fuhr, "On Comets, Comet-Like Luminous Apparitions and Meteors" in KRONOS VII:4, pp. 48-61 and KRONOS VIII:1, l, pp. 38-52).]

To show Venus' cometary character, Velikovsky noted the incongruous "beard" of Venus in Babylonian astronomy - also that Venus, as Ishtar, was "the one with hair". The Mexicans called the planet Tzonte-Mocque, "the mane", while the Peruvian name for Venus was Chaska, rendered as "wavy-haired", according to Velikovsky. (One notes that others translate Chaska as the "long-haired" star, the very phrase used for "comet" throughout the ancient world.)

There is, however, a vast reservoir of additional material bearing on the Venus-comet identity. For our purpose here, it will be sufficient to summarize the Egyptian "hair-star" symbolism, its connection with Venus, and the overlapping identity of the hair-star and serpent-dragon.

The Egyptian word for "comet" is seshet, while the root sesh means "hair". Literally, seshet is "the encircling hair-star" or "the revolving lock of hair". Though the notion of cometary "hair" is easy to understand, and agrees with the universal ancient language of the comet, the idea of encirclement (present also in the terminology of other lands) is consistently overlooked. In the Egyptian language, this idea is expressed very concretely. Thus, the root meaning of seshet carries the sense "to revolve around", "to tie round", "to gird on", as well as "band", "belt", "crown", etc. In fact a straightforward interpretation of the related words suggests that the Egyptian "comet" reflects a unique prototype - a comet unlike anything seen in modern times. The prototypal "hair-star" stretched itself around the central sun. Seshet the "comet" is virtually indistinguishable from the Aten-band, a fact overlooked by Egyptologists as a whole, even though seshet - as frequently used by the Egyptians (and conventionally translated) - means nothing else than "the circle of the Aten".

That this cometary apparition was the famous sun-encircling serpent-dragon is strongly supported by a further consideration: the Egyptians also invoked a serpent goddess Seshet, identified with both of the Venus goddesses Isis and Hathor.

Both Isis and Hathor were deemed the "Eye of Ra". Both goddesses also reveal a radical connection with celestial "hair" and, more specifically, the cometary "hair" which we claim produced the luminous Saturnian band. Thus, the goddess Hathor bore the name Uauti, meaning "the star with hair". The root uat signifies not only "hairy tail" (a common pre-astronomical name for "comet"), it also denotes the Eye and the crown of Ra.

Similarly, Isis receives the title Au, meaning (when written with the determinative for "hair") "of the hair stretched round", but also (when written with the determinative for "tail") "of the tail stretched round". Such attributes may appear quite ridiculous in isolation, yet these are the very attributes we should expect if, a) Venus was a comet, and, b) the comet Venus revolved as a satellite of Saturn, producing the great band of the Aten.

The fact that both Isis and Hathor are presented in serpentine form would also seem grotesquely irrational - unless the serpent, like the celestial "hair-star", is perceived as a natural hieroglyph for an extraordinary event - an event which no other language could adequately record.

Of course no one has ever seen a "hairy" serpent on our Earth, a fact which only emphasizes the difficulties for conventional interpretations. Even in the instance of the serpent-dragon par excellence (Set), one finds the same "irrational" juxtaposition of hair and serpent motifs. We have already noted Set's personification of the "Outflow" from the sun god and his character as the "circle", "crown", or "throne" formed out of the erupting substance. But an additional significance of set is most pertinent. The word also means "hair" and "hairy tail" - exactly as anticipated by the thesis presented here.

One of Set's forms is Thebeh, generally assumed to be the Egyptian word which the Greeks translated as Typhon. That Set was Typhon (one of Velikovsky's prime examples of the Venus-comet) is well known. But the form Thebeh has a particularly interesting root. Theb means "lock of hair".

Moreover, as we hope to show in this series, the identity of the mythical lock of hair and the serpent-dragon, though wholly inexplicable in conventional terms, was very widespread throughout the ancient world. We will also review some of the Venus-beard symbolism overlooked by Velikovsky, and determine why different translators have rendered the same words of the Pyramid Texts alternately as"Great Morning Star" and "Great Beard". Subsequently, we will take up the goddesses Ishtar and Athena - Velikovsky's most prominent Venus goddesses - to discover surprising cometary motifs. Other symbols of the "hair-star" will also be introduced, helping us to reconstruct the remarkable history of "Velikovsky's Comet".


1. A recent article in Science Digest - "How Cosmic Catastrophes Change the Earth" (April, 1984) - puts it this way: "Instead of the old catastrophism based on speculation or ancient writings, the new catastrophism is based on physical evidence." But the astronomers Clube and Napier go much further, drawing much of their material from the same sources used by Velikovsky. See The Cosmic Serpent (New York, 1982). [Reviewed in KRONOS VIII:4, pp. 59-74 and discussed in KRONOS IX: 3, pp. 40-51.- LMG]
2. David Talbott, The Saturn Myth (New York, 1980).
3. Pliny, Natural History, ii, 37; W. Heimpel, Syro-Mesopotamian Studies ( 1982), p. 10.
4. Coffin Texts, Spell 47, in R. O. Faulkner, The Coffin Texts (Oxford, 1974).
5. E. A. Budge, The Egyptian Book of the Dead (London, 1901), p. 382.
6. Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians (New York, 1969) I, p. 340.
7. Pierre Lacau, Traduction des Textes Cercuels du Moyen Empire (Paris, 1937), p. 30.
8. A common Egyptian word for the "fiery" circle was aakhu, but there were many others. In this article, all transliterations of Egyptian words are based on Budge's Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary (London, 1920).
9. Faulkner, op. cit., Spell 334; P. Renouf, The Egyptian Book of the Dead (London, 1904), p. 148.
10. C. J. Bleeker, Hathor and Thoth (Leiden, 1973), p. 48.
11. Budge, From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt (London, 1934), p. 30.
12. R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt (New York, 1959), p. 227.
13. Budge, The Papyrus of Ani (New York, 1967), p. 219.
14. Pyr. Text 195. Except where indicated otherwise, all translations of the Pyramid Texts are taken from R. O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Oxford, 1969).
15. Lacau, op. cit. , p. 177; Budge , The Egyptian Book of the Dead , p. 178.
16. Budge, Gods, I, p. 344.
17. Budge, Gods, II, p. 244.
18. Pyr. Texts 1234.
19. Budge, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, p. 345 .
20. Clark,op. cit., p. 177.
21. Eric Neumann, The Great Mother (Princeton, 1973), p. 98.
22. H. Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods (Chicago, 1948), p. 43.
23. Budge, The Papyrus of Ani, p. 218.
24. Rudolf Anthes, "Mythology in Ancient Egypt" in Samuel Noah Kramer, Mythologies of the Ancient World (New York, 1961), pp. 89-90.
25. Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, sections on "The Battle in the Sky", "The Comet of Typhon", etc.
25a. See the discussion in The Saturn Myth, pp. 163 ff.
26. E. Neumann, op. cit., pp. 213-214.
27. S. Kramer, Sumerian Mythology (New York, 1972), pp. 76 ff. If the Sumerian Kur was actually serpentine, as proposed by Kramer, one may be able to draw a parallel with the Babylonian Tiamat.
28. J. Grimm, Teutonic Mythology (New York, 1966), p. 560.
29. B. Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (San Francisco, 1983), p. 29.
30. A. J. Wensinck, "The Ideas of the Western Semites Concerning the Navel of the Earth," Afdeeling Letterkunde (Deel XVII, No. 1), p. 63.
31. Ibid., p. 63.
32. Pyr. Texts 1145-7.
32a. Pyr. Texts 195-8.
33. Pyr. Texts 900.
34. H. Frankfort, op.cit., p.180.
35. B. L. van der Waerden, The Birth of Astronomy (New York, 1974), p. 186. See also Budge, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, p. cxx.

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