<< More Mythology, Prehistory and Religion
Lunar calendars and seasonal rites
Next >>


Home page

The awaited return of the most obvious seasonal signal
The "brilliant" sectors of the sky
An assembly of sacred images

Figures portrayed
by stars in the night,
by nature "dramatic" figures

Why make reference to
seasonal stars.
Measuring time in "moons"

When lunar imagery is combined
with stellar imagery to compose a "mythical cinema"

The human condition
and its development
in the collective memory


French version


The role of fixed stars
in creating myths and their images

René-André Lombard

Background of the study

Based on his research in comparative mythology and a thorough analysis of the documents cited, René André Lombard has researched the origins of myths ever since 1946. The results are an original perspective on a number of supposedly enigmatic images found on mankind’s oldest monuments and omni-present in the deepest corners our collective consciousness.

Grand mythical images often seem to be derived from a basic pattern of the religious life of ancient times, namely the confluence of:

seasonal rites
lunar calendar
observations of fixed stars

Seasonal rites are obvious source of grand sacred images. They have been magnified over time by symbolic interpretations and have often remained a vital component of religious veneration. Although the solar calendar is now used to set the precise dates and periods of these rites each year, in the past man had to rely on the lunar calendar, which for thousands of years structured human existence. Mankind’s collective memory of the "marvelous" imagery of mythology arose from rites closely interwoven with lunar images (these striking nocturnal images that result from the Moon’s annual orbit and its monthly phases are the sources of legends). However, the very nature of purely lunar calendars (the drift of the lunar month through the seasons) soon made it absolutely necessary to refer to fixed stars. In the northern hemisphere one sector of stars that appeared and disappeared with the seasons attracted particular attention. It is the most brilliant sector in the sky.

Pinpointing the most "remarkable" seasonal stars lead to interpretations of their respective constellations, to drawing lines that connected star to star in the night sky producing silhouettes of animals, plants and objects related to the season and to human preoccupations of that particular moment.

These silhouettes came down to us through the millennia: our maps of the sky (even if they no longer include the projected forms) still maintain the old names of these constellations… We could say "religiously" maintain them, because the work of imagination that "projected" human and animal forms "onto the stars" left traces of capital importance in man’s religions. The night stars portrayed figures that stood out from the cosmic immensity and ancient thought could only interpret these figures as "signs" from higher powers (the word "signs" is still used when referring to the seasonal constellations of the "Zodiac"). It is easy to realize that the images observed in fixed stars played an important role in the creation of a large number of prestigious myths.

The oldest clear allusions that we have to the constellations (Book of Job in the Bible and The Shield of Achilles in Homer's Iliad) only mention Ursa Major and the Pleiades, Hyades and Orion, called the "Great Vital Force". This focus of attention on a single sector of the sky is significant.

It prompts us to investigate this group of constellations more closely and to delve into their names and the importance assigned to them

<< More  
Next >>
About us