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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


Holy places and pilgrimages

Its various earthly names portray the Milky Way as the sidereal model of a path of purification. In this concept, the trail of shining points is the "Way of Souls" or the "Path of the Spirit", and that becomes a model for pilgrimage paths (e.g. the Christian "Way of Saint James" to Santiago de Compostela, and the Muslim "Hadjiller Yuli", the "Way of Purified Pilgrims" to the Kaaba, the stone fallen from heaven, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

These "Ways" give us a glimpse of the cyclic assemblies of earth-bound pilgrims that occurred during the time of the great Nomadic lifestyles of the Hunters and the First Pastoralists, as well as the sea pilgrimages in the time of the First Fishermen/Navigators.
The special holy places are marked by volcanic activity (Cyclades, Sicily) or by the fall of a meteoric stone (the Kaaba, the "Black Stone" of Mecca).

In religious veneration these places are considered points of contact between Earth and Heaven: points of contact chosen by celestial forces. In religious thought they show a conscious concern for the identity of subterranean fires that burst forth in volcanic activity and for the fire that exists in the stars (cf. Myth of Hephaistos/Vulcan: the volcanic forge comes from the celestial forge "fallen from the sky"). Iron, an essential component of meteoritic stones, is derived from "sidereal" fire, and in Greek is called "sideros", STR ou STL : star/aster/stella/sider, a term used for millennia, and that is also found in pre-Columbian America: Aztec sitla = "star".

Holy places as mirrors of the heavens

Typical of this concept is the Roman definition of "templum" (inherited from the Etruscans, who were passing on an Oriental culture): the word initially designated a "rectangle drawn in the sky" before meaning an earthly monument intended to hold sacred images. The religious approach is clearly expressed here: the Temple will imitate Orion and his belt (the latter also called the "Three Kings" in some languages), which is a rectangle enclosing a triad of sacred figures. An effort is made to orient the Temple in relation to the movement of the constellations, in other words on an east/west axis, the rising/setting axis.

This imitation of the stars and their movements implies that a "sacred topology" is required to set up a gathering place. The components are layed out so they resemble the whole celestial sector of Hyades/Orion/Sirius/Gemini/Milky Way. Rome, once again, is a remarkable example in terms of its topographical arrangement: destined to become one of the major holy places on the planet. Its site of "Vital Forces" (RM. In Greek Rômè, a term that we find in the names of all of the characters involved in the myth of the founding of Rome) was built near abrupt heights along a strong current of Life, the Rumon (later renamed the Tiber) River, which the twins Romulus and Remus floated down (before combat and death). They arrived at the sacred tree Ruminal, were saved and nursed by a maternal canine, the she-wolf Rumina.

Cité en miroir

Gigantic figurative images mapped out on the earthly mirror reflect the constellations for the seasons (e.g. the big chalkstone horse of "Dragon Hill", Uffington, UK) appear to have been executed so as to be seen from the sky. They signal the places where human groups together and religiously await the vital energies ("souls") as they voyage towards springtime reincarnations. In this train of thought, Robert Bauval ("Orion Mystery") sees the Nile as the River of Life and its banks as a vast sacred territory, with the three major pyramids mirroring the three stars in Orion’s belt. This vision has every chance of being correct, and in any case, it follows a now forgotten mode of thinking that influenced construction that now astounds us only through its gigantic dimensions.

In choosing and inaugurating a holy place, the season of the "Moon in Taurus" is almost always the moment chosen. Legends and images have been found in Egypt, Boeotia (Cadmos), Troy, etc. showing a wandering bovine marked with a white moon to designate the site of a holy place. The rite of founding a holy place also faithfully mirrors the mythical sequence, which itself interprets and dramatizes the sidereal panorama...
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