Saturday, August 11, 2012
Star Stories and the Evolution of Consciousness
Star Stories and the Evolution of Consciousness
The primary myths of all cultures are imaged in the stars and constellations. The North Star, our Polaris, has been known by many names in different cultures - the Lodestar, the Steering Star, the Ship Star, and Stella Maris - Star of the Sea - one of the Goddess' many titles. But in all mythologies it is the point that holds the universe together - the World Center.
Our own Big Dipper is in the constellation Ursa Major - the Great Bear. The ancient Greeks imagined two bears in the sky, the Great Bear and the Lesser Bear, our Little Dipper, as the maiden Callisto, a follower of Artemis, and her son by Zeus, Arcas. Many Native American tribes also see these same two constellations as bears, with hunters following them. The name for the brightest star in this constellation, Dubhe, comes from the Arabic Thahr al Dubb Al Akbar, meaning "the Back of the Great Bear." And in ancient Britain, this constellation was called King Arthur's home or Arthur's Chariot, and Arthur is connected to artois, the Bear.17
We are still in touch with the stars. A woman dreamed:
My husband and I are outside, in the front area of our yard. It is daytime and the sky is particularly blue. I look up and see the big dipper. I think this is odd, since it is full daylight. As I look, a new star formation forms where the big dipper had been. It is four stars in a square, and two at the bottom end of the square like a tail, not in the corner, but in the middle of the bottom. Then the stars began to shift position in unison, becoming horizontal, and descend to my yard. They become a tent - really, a canopy - in my front yard, with the four corners where the stars are becoming the four spots where the tent is staked to the ground. There is a luminous, bright side to the canopy. I see that other neighbors have tents in their front yards too, but these are actual tents, not canopies. I know my tent is a "center for peace." We will hold a ritual or discussion under the canopy.
This woman is welcoming change into her life. The unconscious offers her a vision of change that is not just for herself alone, but for everyone. When we see a constellation in the daytime sky it means that it is becoming conscious in the collective 'sky'. This woman is a channel for this energy. The change in the constellation means that an archetypal collective complex is changing. It becomes a square, which denotes manifestation. As I mentioned, the big dipper is often associated with bears, who carry warrior energy, but in service to life. The canopy represents sovereignty and power, as if this canopy covers the sacred person, marking a sacred space with power. In freemasonry, there's an image of a starry canopy that represents the heavens as a shelter and as a sacred space, a place of power. This woman is being offered the chance to change the archetype of the warrior. She is being called to be a spiritual warrior, who defends life. She is being called to her life's purpose. Her neighbors have regular tents, what we use when we go camping, when we rough it. The dream says that while others are experiencing these times as 'roughing it', this woman can offer them wise insights into their lives. She will open her 'canopy' to them for nurturing and healing.
Then there is my dream of seeing the Pleiades in the daytime sky. There are many myths about the Pleiades star cluster from all over the world. Many cultures use the rising and setting of the stars of this constellation to signal the beginning and end of the seasons, to time the sowing and harvesting of food, and to expect the rains. The Pleiades act as a calendar, setting times for these activities as well as festivals and ceremonies. There are also ancient references that make the Pleiades the marker for the precession of the equinoxes, which signal the changing of the astrological ages, most specifically marking the end of the 25,900 years of a Great Year. Along with the stars of the Great Bear/The Big Dipper, they are responsible for the timing and turning of the celestial wheel in the sky that determines the world's ages, including the destruction and recreation of the world. It makes sense that this star cluster is seen all over the world as the Keeper of Time, Fate and Destiny.
The Mayan calendars that all come to an end in 2012 also are based on the Pleiades as well as the planet Venus. On December 21, 2012, the Winter/Summer Solstice, the conjunction of the Pleiades with the Sun at its zenith was believed to mark the return of the Mayan Plumed Serpent God, whom the Aztecs called Quetzalcoatl. It seems that both the Sun and the Pleiades will mark a special alignment with the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, a rare event that only occurs every 25,800 years.18
Many ancient cultures believed that our ancestors came from the Pleiades. Since we know that this star cluster is younger than our own solar system, these stories must have another meaning. If we look at the galaxy as a whole, we could say that the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is the womb of the galaxy. We can also think about it as the root chakra of the galaxy. When we look across the universe we find that the Pleiades sit at the anti-Galactic center. We could call them the galaxy's crown chakra, the spiritual source of inspiration and wisdom. Whether we call them ancestors or spiritual guides, the energies of this galactic crown chakra seem to want to support life here on Earth. My dream of the Pleiades appearing in the daytime sky is similar to this woman's dream of the Big Dipper. Neither myself nor the woman knew any of this information when we had our dreams. But our relationship with Lady Wisdom opened us to receive these dreams. We each were gifted with an insight into the mysteries of the changing of the ages. We each have been touched by the mystical knowledge that these times we live in are important. As two of Wisdom's daughters, we have to find ways to use the wisdom and knowledge given us.
Each constellation tells a story of the human condition here on earth, yet different cultures saw similar stories in these sky pictures. Through these myths we are offered the wisdom of the ancients, as well as the wisdom of the archetypes. Yet how many of us take time to go out and look at the starry heavens with any knowledge of their ancient meanings?
Once, people used the stars to guide them on their way, just as sailors still use stars to guide them across the waters. Similarly, when we find ourselves in the darkness of the unconscious psyche, we need to find guiding lights to direct us. The unconscious psyche is that part of our psychic makeup which is still unknown to us, and also that part which is the vastness of the collective unconscious. Jung speaks of the regression of psychic energy back to the archetype itself. By this he means that as we trace back our complexes to our early personal history, we reach a point where we break through our personal unconscious material - that it, we become conscious of it and integrate it into our lives or leave it behind - to the collective aspect at its center - the archetype itself. This happens when we experience the breakdown of our old habits, the things that help keep our world in place, which give structure to our reality. As our old world view dies, and as our old personality starts to break up so that new and repressed parts of ourselves can come into life, we can directly experience the power of the archetype and let its images inform the new life within us. It is a question of chaos and form, of death and rebirth.
Just as the stars overhead help us to find out where we are and the way we have to go, the inner stars, which are the basic spiritual realities which manifest through the archetypal images, show us the way we need to bring our potentials into life. When we make direct, personal contact with the stars within - through dreams, fantasies and the flow of psychic energy in our bodies – our work is to give concrete and individual expression to their power, which we do with the help of that other more directed, naming, discriminating, individualizing consciousness that we have come to associate with the solar, masculine spirit. The image of the Woman Clothed with the Sun is so powerful exactly because she exemplifies this process of individualizing the spiritual life force within each person.