As a result of the slow, revolving, axial tilt of the earth (“axial precession”), the celestial sphere above slowly shifts relative to our observational point on earth. Accordingly, there is a shift of the (perceived) celestial ‘poles’ that results in a circuit and cycle of approximately 25,800 years known as “the Great Year”.

Axial Precession - astronomical mythology 2
The path of the north celestial pole among the stars due to axial precession (Image by Tauʻolunga via Wikimedia Commons).

Owing to the same axial phenomenon, there is also a “precession of the equinoxes” that occurs on the solar ecliptic. The ecliptic is a projected circular path on the celestial backdrop that the Sun appears to traverse over the course of a year. However, because of axial precession the sun also slowly precesses in the opposite direction over the course of the Great Year. This is the reason why—relative to our observational point on earth—every +/- 2150 years the sun at the vernal equinox enters into and is said to ‘rise’ in the successive, adjacent constellation (zodiac house) on the solar ecliptic.

The video below gives a good introduction to precession in general:

Uranography is the mapping of the celestial sphere, especially according to prehistoric, ancient and classical perceptions and cultural beliefs. However, any uranographic topography or locations that have been determined and are accompanied by chronocentric mythos must, by necessity, shift over time and as determined by precession. This also means that we need to be aware of those astronomical myths which have remained fixed according to a specific time/era and culture. In addition, if there has been any human migration along significant latitudes north or south of the earth’s equator, there will likely to have been some adaptation in astronomical mythos, particularly as pertains to the “non-setting stars” and their relation to the circumpolar constellations. It is also important to keep in mind the radical shifts that have occurred when time cycles and calendars which have been reckoned by one astronomical object (e.g. a pole-star) have been replaced by another (e.g. another pole-star in the circuit of axial precession, or a lunar reckoning of time replaced by the solar reckoning of time), often resulting—as filtered through the mythical medium of expression—in a type of heavenly disaster, ‘flood’, destruction, polemic or ‘war’.

This is to say that we cannot approach archaeoastronomy and archaeomythology without a basic knowledge and understanding of precession and chrono-based mythos. Furthermore, in order to successfully navigate the many millennia over which this has occurred, it would be necessary to have some sort of additional reference to relevant research in the fields of e.g. paleoanthropology, paleosemiotics (re: paleolithic sign creation and sign process), comparative mythology (including mythical typology, i.e. the adoption/adaptation and development of mythical ‘types’) and cultural history.

Creative Commons License D. CATHERINE | 2018
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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