Thursday, August 28, 2014

The sacrifice of Odin

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

For the third edition of the "Ankh trilogy" of posts (which began with "Scarab, Ankh, and Djed" and continued with "The name of the Ankh"), let us continue our investigation of this most central theme by looking at the connections to another manifestation of the Cross of Life (which the Ankh and the Djed represent, as does the Scarab with its upraised arms): Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life found in Norse and Germanic mythology.

The World-Tree Yggdrasil is described in the Elder Edda and the Younger Edda as a mighty ash-tree whose roots penetrate to the deepest underworlds and whose branches reach to the highest heavenly realms. At its base is the holy fountain of Urd, associated with the Norns who tend to the Tree and who, the Younger Edda tells us in Chapter VII, "shape the lives of men." 

The waters at the foot of the tree are also associated with Mimir's Well. In the Younger Edda, as part of the question-and-answer session between Odin in the guise of Ganglere (might we not read the same "root sound" of "the name of the Ankh" here as well?) and three divinities who are simply named Har ("High"), Jafnhar ("Equally High") and Thride ("Third"), we read:
Then said Ganglere: Where is the chief or most holy place of the gods? Har answered: That is by the ash Ygdrasil. There the gods meet in council every day. Said Ganglere: What is said about this place? Answered Jafnhar: This ash is the best and greatest of all trees; its branches spread over all the world, and reach up above heaven. Three roots sustain the tree and stand wide apart; one root is with the asas and another with the frost-giants, where Ginungagap formerly was; the third reaches into Niflheim; under it is Hvergelmer, where Nidhug gnaws the root from below. But under the second root, which extends to the frost-giants, is the well of Mimer, wherein knowledge and wisdom are concealed. The owner of the well hight Mimer. He is full of wisdom, for he drinks from the well with the Gjallar-horn. Alfather once came there and asked for a drink from the well, but he did not get it before he left one of his eyes as a pledge. Younger Edda, Chapter VII.
This famous incident, of course, is responsible for Odin's having only one remaining eye. But there is another episode in Norse myth in which Odin had to undergo tremendous sacrifice in order to gain wisdom, an episode also closely associated with the holy ash Yggdrasil, and an episode which clearly connects the World-Tree with the concepts and symbology that has been discussed in the previous two posts surrounding the Ankh or Cross of Life, and the Djed-column or Backbone of Osiris: the famous sacrifice of Odin in which he hangs himself upon the tree, described in a somewhat fleeting passage found in the Elder Edda, in the portion known as the Havamal or Hovamol, beginning in stanza 139 (in the online edition of the Elder Edda linked above, it begins on page 59 -- that online text is a little difficult to navigate: the best way is probably to look for the "page numbers" contained within brackets, scrolling down until you reach [59]):
I ween that I hung on the windy tree,
Hung there for nights full nine;
With the spear I was wounded, and offered I was
To Othin, myself to myself,
On the tree that none may ever know
What root beneath it runs.
None made me happy with loaf or horn,
And there below I looked;
I took up the runes, shrieking I took them,
And forthwith back I fell.
This passage describes Odin "raised up" upon the Tree, hanging upon it in a sacrifice or crucifixion, Odin sacrificed to Odin, and through this ordeal after nine full nights he obtains a new vision which he did not have previously -- the vision to see the runes, and to take them up. It is in many ways analogous to the ordeal he had to go through in order to obtain the wisdom of Mimir from the well, and also to the adventure he had to undertake in order to obtain the mead of poetry from Gunnlod, and yet this incident is at once more primordial and defining of the Alfather Odin than any of the others.

It is through this sacrifice that Odin obtains the gift of the runes, the gift of encoding information in symbolic form, the gift of the manipulation of language. We can begin to realize the depth of power that this gift truly contains when we recognize the ordeal Odin had to undergo in order to obtain it.

Previous posts have examined the concept that it is in many ways through language that reality is created and that worlds are shaped. In Genesis, of course, it is through the word of God that all Creation is spoken into existence. Modern science tells us that it is through the combination of the four "letters" (dare we call them "runes"?) in the strands of DNA that all our body's characteristics are spun-out in the cells of our being (perhaps these are the strands that the Norns are spinning?).

And Odin wins the ability to see the runes by his hanging upon the Tree. 

Many other researchers have observed that the double-helix shape of the DNA strand recalls quite strikingly the two serpents of the caduceus staff (carried, of course, in Greek and Roman myth by Hermes or Mercury, who is in many ways associated with Odin, interestingly enough). But we have seen in the previous two examinations of the Ankh and Scarab and Djed that the caduceus staff is clearly a "Djed-column" type of symbol, representative of the Backbone of Osiris "raised up," and of the vertical column of the year which reaches from the very lowest pit at the winter solstice to the very summit of the year (highest heaven) at the summer solstice. 

Clearly, Odin's hanging upon the Tree relates to this same concept.

This profound episode also relates to the concept of "the shamanic," in that Odin by his ascent to hang on the World-Tree penetrates beyond the realm of the ordinary to bring back knowledge that can be obtained by no other means. This is one of the defining characteristics of the shamanic techniques of ecstasy described in the work of Mircea Eliade (see for instance here and here), and in fact it can be easily demonstrated that shamans around the world often use a vertical pole or "climbing the tree" as part of their shamanic travel. There is clearly a powerful stream of connectivity which flows between the ancient wisdom preserved and conveyed in the myths of Osiris and the Djed, the myths of Odin and the World-Tree, and the shamanic practices of the world.

Finally, we must notice the clear connections between the sacrifice of Odin described above and the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross described in the New Testament. Most obviously, both involve a crucifixion upon a Tree (and the Cross is literally referred to as "the tree" in Biblical verses such as Acts 13:29 and 1 Peter 2:24). 

Additionally, in Odin's description of his own sacrifice, he declares that "with the spear I was wounded," which is obviously an element that is present in the sacrifice described in the New Testament as well. Critics might argue, because our records of the Norse myths were written down after Christianity was already known and was spreading throughout Europe, that this element was "imported" into Norse mythology from Christianity, but there is absolutely no evidence that this is the case, and there is no need to assume such an importation. Odin is very closely associated with his powerful weapon the Gungnir, the mighty spear which never misses its target and which Odin used to indicate which force would be victorious when two contending sides met on the field of battle. That he would be wounded by his own spear when he sacrificed himself to himself is clearly not inconsistent with the tenor of what is taking place.

There is also the shout or shriek which Odin utters at the end of his ordeal, when he has finally won the victory and obtained what he sought. 

By this episode, and by other arguments I present in The Undying Stars, I would argue that the verses preserved in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are actually shamanic in nature, and were originally intended to be regarded as such. By the aggressive literalizing that has taken place in history, this shamanic vision (and their connection to the myths of Osiris and Odin) has been covered-over and obscured.

And yet, like the hidden runes which Odin found, which have the ability to carry world-changing information to faraway places and even to distant times (to those not yet born, even), the words and letters preserved in the Bible itself continue to patiently carry their message down through the centuries. Their kinship with the myths of the world, from Egypt to Greece to the lands of the Norse, and to the shamanic practices found across so many cultures, from North and South America to Siberia and Mongolia and Australia and Africa, is undeniable.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The name of the Ankh

image: Ankhs carried by (left to right) Set, Isis, and Horus. Wikimedia commons (links here, here, and here).

The previous post explored some of the profound significance of the Ankh and its relation to the symbols of the Djed and the Scarab -- and to the message that we as individual men and women have an unending, spiritual component in addition to the horizontal, animal, and material aspect of our being to which we are currently joined.

That post also touched very briefly upon the amazing linguistic analysis Alvin Boyd Kuhn has provided regarding the word Ankh itself, and his assertion that the "N-K" sound seen in  the word Ankh finds its way into an astonishing array of words still in use today, including Yoga -- a practice whose central purpose clearly involves the "raising of the Djed-column," so to speak.

Alvin Boyd Kuhn lays out this analysis of the name of the Ankh primarily in his short treatise entitled The Esoteric Structure of the Alphabet and its Hidden Mystical Language, a delightful and insightful text which can be read in its entirety online here (among other places), and which can of course also still be obtained in print versions from a variety of sources (click here to go to the Project Gutenberg page for that text, which provides some other digital formats, including pdf).

Kuhn really warms to his theme beginning on page 12 of 88 in that online version linked above (and on page 8 of the facsimile print edition that I use at home, which can be purchased online here or perhaps ordered from your favorite local bookstore), saying:
Nothing has been more revealing than the list of words, in English, Greek, German, Hebrew, which can be traced to the old Egyptian name of this mighty symbol ["this mighty symbol" meaning the Ankh, that is]. Its central idea, it was noted, is the production of life through the tieing or union of spirit and matter. The central clue to the meaning of all these derivatives is the idea of tieing two things together. [He then goes on to explain that the root-sound found in the word Ankh, the "N-K" sound, sometimes found its way into words in the order "K-N," and sometimes the "N-K" is replaced by "N-G" (note that a "G" is linguistically nearly identical to a "K" except that the "G" is voiced where the "K" is not), and hence it is also indicated by "G-N" as well as by "N-G"]. With these specifications it is possible now to discern a whole new world of meaning in many common words never deemed to have come down from so divine a lineage.
It is seen first in such words as anchor, that which ties a boat to a fixed place; knit, knot, link, gnarled, gnaw, gnash (accounting for the odd spelling); ankelosis, a growing together of two bones; anger, anguish, anxiety, a tightening up of feelings. But most interestingly it seems to have given name to at least four joints or hinge-points (hinge itself seems to be another) in the human body: ankle, knee, neck and knuckles. Lung, as being the place where outside air unites with the inner blood, could perhaps be added. Far away as our English join appears to be from a source in A N K H, (N being the only letter common to both), it is certainly directly from it after all. For A N K H was the root of the Latin jungo, to join, N K becoming N G through the Greek. From this we get junction, adjunct, juncture, conjunction, from the Latin past participle of jungo, -- junctus. But in coming into English through the French, all these words were smoothed down to join, joint, and thus carried so far into English as to give us union, which is really junction in its primal form. With even the N dropping out we have yoke, that which ties two oxen together. And in Sanskrit it comes out as yoga, which in reality stands for yonga, meaning union
He then goes on to argue that the very common prefix con- (which means "with" or "together" and which by itself means both of those things in Spanish) comes from the K-N sound and is thus linked to the Ankh. By the same argument, he argues that the extremely versatile English ending -ing derives from the same ancient symbol (this time in the form of N-G). From there, he even argues that the word thing can trace its lineage to the same source.

But is that all? Far from it -- in fact, he's just getting warmed up!
Next comes one that carries an impressive significance in the study, the common verb to know, in Greek gnosco, German kennen, English ken. What constitutes the knowing act? The joining together of two things, consciousness and an object of consciousness, for there must be something apart from consciousness to be known.
Further arguments bring him to can, king, angel (the name for the messengers between the heavenly realms and the earthly), angle, nook, and of course Gnosis. We could perhaps argue that along with king could be the corresponding word queen, which also contains the K-N sound. As Kuhn explores briefly when discussing the connection between Ankh and king (and we could add, queen), each individual is in some ways a king or queen, "the one who both thinks and knows" as he says: the ruler and sovereign (a word which itself contains the N-G sound, as does reign) of his or her own universe, since each individual is a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm.

Here Kuhn (whose very surname can itself be seen to contain the K-N combination) leaves off the pursuit in this particular text, but he takes it right up again with even more profound effect in Lost Light (published in 1940 and available online here). There, on page 186 of the version linked in the foregoing sentence, Kuhn provides arguments that the Egyptian tradition of the anointing of Osiris (closely connected to the raising of the Djed-column), and of anointing of the mummy with unguents prior to burial, connects to the A N K H origin as well:
An item of great importance in this ritual was its performance always previous to the burial. It was a rite preparatory to the interment. Said Jesus himself of Mary: "In that she poured this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for my burial" (Matt. 26:12). She was symbolically enacting the Mystery rite of the chrism, and her performance quite definitely matched the previous practices of the Egyptians, from whom it was doubtless derived. But what does such an act denote in the larger interpretation here formulated? If the burial was the descent of the gods into bodily forms, then the anointing must have been enacted immediately antecedent to it or in direct conjunction of it. The etymology of the word sheds much light upon this whole confused matter. The "oint" portion of it is of course the French softening of the Latin "unct" stem; and this, whether philologists have yet discovered the connection or not, is derived from that mighty symbol of mingled divinity and humanity of ancient Egypt -- the A N K H cross. The word Ankh, meaning love, life and tie, or life as the result of tying together by attraction or love the two nodes of life's polarity, spirit and matter, suggests always and fundamentally the incarnation. For this is the "ankh-ing" of the two poles of being everywhere basic to life. The "unction" of the sacrament is really just the "junction" of the two life energies, with the "j" left off the word. Therefore the "anointing" is the pouring of the "oil of gladness," the spiritual nature, upon the mortal nature of living man. The "unguents" of the mummification were the types of the shining higher infusion, and they prepared the soul for, or were integrally a part of, its burial in the grave of mortality. And the Messiah was then crucified in the flesh.
In other words, Kuhn is here arguing that the scriptures are really teaching that the incarnation of every man and every woman is a form of "crucifixion in the flesh" (that is, the pinning down into a body of a spirit), the joining or ankh-ing or yoking of spirit and matter (or spirit upon a cross of matter). This teaching is depicted in the very form of the Ankh, and in words derived from the N-K sound. The act of anointing for burial was a depiction of the teaching that each human life consists of a divine element (represented by the anointing, the unguent, the "oil of gladness" which Kuhn comes right out and defines as "the spiritual nature") poured down upon (and in fact buried within) the body (the mortal, material, and animal part of our earthly existence). 

This explanation is central to his argument that the interpretation of the story of the Christ is that it is always meant to teach of and point to the "Christ in you" (that is to say, in each and every individual) and not to a literal figure (an argument he makes throughout Lost Light, as well as its companion volume Who is this King of Glory?). If this argument is correct, then we can see that the "raising of the Djed column," could be seen (according to such a teaching) as central to our human existence in this incarnation: the process of remembering our status as king (or queen); of knowing and achieving Gnosis; or even of anointing our physical, horizontal, and animal nature with the "vertical component" of the Ankh-cross -- that is to say, our spiritual or even divine aspect -- and in doing so to raise it up.

Whether or not one accepts that this teaching is in fact an accurate depiction of our human condition, the linguistic connections that Kuhn finds between words such as Yoga, unction, angel and Gnosis to the Ankh itself -- and the conceptual connections between these words and the others to the message conveyed by the symbology of the Ankh -- are quite compelling.

To add even more strength to his arguments, we can in fact suggest even more words which appear to have strong linguistic connection to the word Ankh, and which are in fact words which connect to the idea of the joining of the material and the physical natures, or to the "raising" of the spiritual consciousness within our human nature that we have seen is central to the "message of the Ankh."

You may have thought of some of these yourself already, as you have been reading along. How about the word Annunaki, the beings from the celestial realm who apparently joined themselves to the daughters of men?  At this time, I personally believe that this episode was intended to teach the same esoteric concept that has been outlined above (the teaching that we are a mixture of divine spirit and material flesh), and not intended to be understood literally (see previous posts here and here on that subject), although some believe that it refers to a literal event. Either way, the name of these beings, Annunaki, can most certainly be argued to be connected to the word Ankh.

Another one which is almost certainly linguistically related is the name of the amazing complex of Angkor Wat, which Graham Hancock has demonstrated to be precisely 72 degrees of longitude east of the Giza pyramids in Egypt, and hence deliberately connected to Egypt (72, of course, being one of the most important precessional numbers). Would it not be too far a stretch to suggest that, given this clear longitudinal connection between the sites, and given the fact that the word Angkor begins with an "Ankh," that Angkor Wat was intended to be (like the sacred sites of Egypt) a "place where men and women became gods"?

While we are on the subject of precessional numbers, I have pointed out before (in my first book and in previous blog posts such as this one, this one, and this one) that the martial arts of China are replete with precessional numbers. Given the fact just discussed, that Giza in Egypt (source of our knowledge of the Ankh) and Angkor Wat are separated by a significant precessional number, is it not possible that the name by which the Chinese martial arts are widely known, that is to say Kung Fu or Gung Fu, contains the K-N (and the N-G) sound which Alvin Boyd Kuhn believed to be connected to the Ankh? 

Critics may argue that there cannot possibly be any linguistic connection between China and ancient Egypt, and that the name Kung Fu is a Cantonese name (Guangdongwa) and that in Mandarin or Poutongwa the art is typically called WuShu. However, if we accept the possibility that the word Yoga itself is connected to the concept of the Ankh (and the practice of Yoga can certainly be argued to be related to the concept of "raising the spiritual" in conjunction with the physical), then it certainly seems to be a strong possibility that the practice of Kung Fu is also related to the same concept. And, in fact, there are very strong traditions in China itself that Kung Fu anciently came from India and is indeed related in some ways to the practice of Yoga. It should also be pointed out that technically, the terms Kung Fu (and Yoga) refer to a far broader set of practices and disciplines than they are popularly understood to mean (those terms are traditionally applied to a whole set of other forms of "work" or "discipline" than just to fighting movements or yoga asanas, in other words).

Other names which fit Alvin Boyd Kuhn's thesis include Angola in Africa, the name of which country is apparently derived from the title given to the kings who ruled in that land, the ngola. Along the same lines, it might even be argued that there could be a connection to the name of the Hmong people, among whom the surname Nguyen is very common. 

Another, much more amazing connection might be suggested with the civilization of the Inca, whose name can most certainly be argued to have linguistic similarity to the name of the Ankh. Most revealing is the fact that the Inca themselves did not refer to their empire or their people as "the Inca," but that this name is derived (as with the land of Angola) from the name of the kings of that civilization, who were called in their language the Inka. This fact fits the arguments of Alvin Boyd Kuhn perfectly, although to my knowledge he never mentioned it. It would seem to provide strong linguistic support to the enormous piles of other evidence pointing to ancient contact across the oceans (as well as the possibility of an ancient common predecessor civilization predating both -- the two possibilities are not mutually exclusive in this case).

There are no doubt many others which I have not thought of yet, but which you have been yelling at the screen as completely obvious: feel free to share them with me and with others through the medium of Facebook or Twitter (or through your own publication and discussion of this subject, if you have your own blog or other outlet).

And, while remaining alert to the manifestations of the incredibly important Ankh around the world, perhaps it is even more important to consider the message that this ancient sign was intended to convey, and to work to raise and anoint our individual consciousness and individual sovereignty, perhaps through Yoga, or Kung Fu, or some other path . . .

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Scarab, Ankh, and Djed

image: detail from necklace found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, Wikimedia commons (link).

The importance of the ancient symbol of the Ankh simply cannot be overstated. It is a symbol of eternal life, and as such it is closely associated with two other important ancient symbols, the Scarab and the Djed-column.

Previous posts have explored the abundant evidence which suggests that the Ankh (along with other cross-symbols) represents the two natures which join together in our human existence: the material or animal nature symbolized by the horizontal bar, and the spiritual nature, symbolized by the vertical column, which in the case of the Ankh is surmounted by the circle representative of the infinite or the unending. 

The Ankh as a symbol is closely related to the Djed column, which is also depicted as having a horizontal component (when the Djed is cast down, representing our physical incarnation in "animal" matter) and a vertical component (when the Djed is raised up, representing the uplifting of our spiritual nature and representative of spiritual life).

So, the connection between the symbology of the Ankh and the symbology of the Djed is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. But, how are these two symbols connected to the symbol of the Scarab? Let's examine the question more closely -- the answer contains many breathtaking connections and sheds light on the exquisite profundity of the ancient wisdom, bequeathed to us in the mythology and symbology of the human race.

In the image above, an elaborate necklace from the tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amun is depicted, featuring a central figure of a Scarab beetle with uplifted arms, upon what I would interpret as being (based upon evidence presented below) the solar bark. The Scarab is flanked most immediately by two columns which each feature a prominent Ankh symbol (in dark blue) and immediately above each Ankh for good measure is a Djed column (in light blue, with alternating red and blue segments in the "spinal" columns at the top of each Djed).

On either side of the Scarab, just outside of the two Ankh-adorned columns, are two uraeus serpents, each with a solar disc above its head, and above the upraised arms of the Scarab itself is another, larger solar disc. On either side of this larger solar disc are yet two more uraeus serpents, and suspended from each is another Ankh.

As can be seen from the image above, this elaborate ornament continues on beyond the section in the close-up view shown above: the wide "straps" of the necklace on either side are adorned with another pair of Scarabs, each of which are surmounted by another solar disc (not shown in the image above), this time in gold, and again flanked by two uraeus serpents. Above these Scarabs and solar discs can be found yet another pair of uraeus serpents (on each "strap"), this time flanking a central Ankh symbol (on each "strap"). For an image showing more of the necklace, see for instance this web page, which appears to be an image of a replica of the original (the image above is from the original found in Tut-Ankh-Amun's tomb).

I believe that all of these symbols are powerfully depicting variations upon the same theme, which is the raising-up of the immortal, spiritual component in the individual, symbolized by the raising of the Djed column, which is associated with the vertical and immortal portion of the Egyptian cross (the Ankh), and which is also symbolized by the vertical line or "column" between the two solstices of the year on the zodiac wheel of the annual solar cycle.

As discussed in this previous post, the vertical pillar of the solstices was connected in mythology with the Djed column raised up, and also with the constellation of Cancer the Crab, the sign which commences at the point of summer solstice (a fact which is commemorated in the name of the Tropic of Cancer, which is the latitudinal circle designating the furthest north that the direct rays of the sun will reach each year, on the day of the northern hemisphere's summer solstice, at the start of the astrological sign of Cancer). Because the constellation of Cancer itself appears to have outstretched or upraised arms, this "top of the solstice column" is mythologically associated and symbolized by the upraised arms of Cancer the Crab -- and, as we have seen in that same post just linked, by the upraised arms of Moses in the battle against the Amalekites in Exodus 17, as well as the upraised arms of the Egyptian god Shu.

And, as that post also points out, the Ankh symbol (which is closely associated with the symbol of the Djed-column "raised up") itself was often depicted with a pair of human arms raised upwards in just the same way (a famous image from the Papyrus of Ani showing the Ankh with upraised arms, surmounting a Djed column flanked by Isis and Nephthys, has been included in several previous blog posts, such as this one).

And with that in mind, we can now understand the symbology of the Scarab, and why it is "of a piece" with the Ankhs and the Djed columns in this necklace!

The understanding that these upraised arms are associated with Cancer the Crab, whose position at the very summit of the year places him at the top of the vertical Djed column that can be envisioned connecting the solstice-points on the zodiac wheel, and whose upraised arms are responsible for the upraised arms that are sometimes depicted on the Ankh-cross, enables us to see that the Scarab itself is another way of recalling Cancer the Crab and the uplifted arms -- symbolic of the vertical, spiritual, eternal force in every man and woman. (Below is an image of the zodiac wheel, with the horizontal and vertical lines depicted: you can see the sign of Cancer with its outstretched arms, looking in this 1618 illustration a bit more like a Lobster than a Crab, at the top of the vertical column and to the "right of the line," just past the point of summer solstice):

For this reason, we can safely assert that the Scarab in this necklace, surrounded as it is by Ankhs and Djeds, and depicted as it is with upraised arms, is symbolic of the summer solstice, and that the disc above its head must be a solar disc, and the bark on which it and the uraeus serpents are positioned must be a solar bark.

The two serpents, by the way, are also closely associated with the vertical Djed-column -- if we imagine the ancient symbol of the caduceus, we will instantly perceive that these two serpents are positioned on either side of all these central (spinal) column images (the Ankh, the Djed, and the Scarab) in just the same way that the two serpents are positioned at the top of the caduceus column (and intertwine all the way down). The fact that elsewhere upon the same necklace the two serpents are depicted as flanking an Ankh shows that the symbols of the Ankh and the Scarab are closely connected and practically interchangeable here.

As has been explored in numerous previous posts as well, the Djed column is closely associated with the "backbone of Osiris," and hence with the backbone of every incarnated man and woman (Osiris being the deity of the underworld and of our incarnated state, as discussed at greater length in The Undying Stars). Most appropriate it is, then, to note the connection pointed out by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz (and reiterated by John Anthony West in Serpent in the Sky) between the imagery of the Egyptian Scarab and the top-down view of the crown of the human skull, discussed in this previous post and accompanied by the following illustration:

If we consider that the top of the skull forms the very pinnacle of the vertical "Djed-column" in each man or woman, corresponding to the very peak or crown of the year at the summer solstice (representative of Heaven itself as discussed in this previous post, and in its very domed shape most representative of the dome of heaven in the microcosm of the human body, which reflects the macrocosm of the infinite dome of the universe), then it is most appropriate that a Scarab symbol (reminiscent of the sign of Cancer the Crab, which is located at the solstice-summit of the year) is found there on the top of each of our heads!

In a future post we will explore further the significance of the name of the Ankh itself, following on the illuminating analysis of Alvin Boyd Kuhn on the subject. Some aspects of this important concept have already been touched upon, in this previous post about the ancient Vedic concept of the Vajra, or Thunderbolt, which we saw in that post to be almost certainly connected to the concept of the raising of the Djed column and the "backbone of Osiris." There, we saw evidence from the work of Alvin Boyd Kuhn that the "N - K" sound of the name of the Ankh is linguistically connected to the name of the practice of Yoga (or yonga, in which the "N - G" sound is linguistically related to the "N - K" of the Ankh).

This connection to the practice of Yoga is most revealing, in that Yoga itself is a discipline which concerns the raising of the divine spark up through the chakras of the spine and ultimately up and through the crown chakra, located at a point which is associated with the crown of the head, or the "top of the Scarab" described above!

Below is an image from Wikimedia showing practitioners of Yoga with their arms in a very characteristic and significant position:


Friday, August 22, 2014

The waning moon, and the struggling brothers

image: NASA, Wikimedia commons (link).

And so we return to the end of another moon, rapidly decreasing towards the point at which the sun will again overtake the moon and illuminate only the side of the moon facing towards the sun and away from the earth -- the new moon, arriving on the morning of September 24 (GMT -- or the evening of September 23 for those of us on the trailing edge of the North American continent, who cross into the "next day" behind most of the other parts of the globe).

The moon is currently in its last quarter, waning into a thin crescent, and rising very late in the night (in the small hours of the morning, about 4am on Friday, then closer to 5am on Saturday as the sun inexorably overtakes the moon, as happens every month). For discussion of the mechanics of the sun's monthly overtaking of the moon, see this and this previous post.

The late rising of the moon, and the fact that it is waning rapidly towards invisibility, makes these nights among the best for stargazing. Currently, the stars on brilliant display during the "prime time" hours of the night after nightfall and leading up to midnight include dazzling Sagittarius squarely in the south (for viewers in the northern hemisphere) at his highest point, with the Scorpion of Scorpio leaning steeply down towards the west, and the shining river of the Milky Way arcing straight up and overhead, in which fly the unmistakable forms of the Swan and the Eagle. 

All these constellations, as well as the Big and Little Dippers, Hercules, and the Herdsman (who are also easy to locate right now) are described with some pointers on how to find them in the index listed in this recent post.

The monthly declining cycle of the moon was seen as having deep spiritual significance, and was incorporated into numerous extremely important and central myths in the world's ancient mythological systems. The insightful self-taught Egyptologist, mythologist, and poet Gerald Massey (1828 - 1907, whose work has been discussed in numerous previous posts including this one and this one) expounded at length upon the mythological manifestations of the lunar cycles and their possible spiritual meanings in Luniolatry, Ancient and Modern (1887).

There, he demonstrates that the monthly pattern of the moon's decline and eventual disappearance, followed by its "rebirth" immediately after the time of new moon in the potent upward-horned crescent of the young moon which grows thicker and stronger on each successive night all the way up to the point of full moon (where the cycle of decline begins again) was behind many myth patterns, but one of the most widespread included the wrestling or contending of two "brother-figures," one dark and one light, with the darker one eventually proving to be at least temporarily victorious.

Massey demonstrates that, although Osiris is also a solar god (the sun in the underworld, who is reborn  triumphantly as Horus at the eastern horizon), he also has strong lunar elements in his myth, and his murder by his brother Set (or Seth) is a clear manifestation of the lunar cycle. Part of the evidence that Massey offers in support of this interpretation is the fact that Plutarch tells us in his version of the Egyptian myth (in which Plutarch calls Set by his Greek name, Typhon), Set is hunting by moonlight when he comes across the corpse of Osiris, and he subsequently dismembers the body of Osiris by cutting it into fourteen pieces and scattering them abroad in order to try to prevent his brother's revivification. 

In the monthly lunar cycle, Massey explains, the moon is waning towards invisibility for fourteen days -- the fourteen pieces into which Set sliced his brother's body:
Another fable of the dark half of the lunation has been preserved by Plutarch, who relates that when Typhon, the evil power, was hunting by moonlight, he by chance came upon the dead body or mummy of Osiris prepared for burial, and, knowing it again, he tore it into fourteen parts, and scattered them all about. These fourteen parts typify the fourteen days of the lessening light, during which the devil of darkness had the upper hand. The twenty-eight days made one lunar month according to Egyptian reckoning. 8.
Isis, who in some aspects of the myth is herself associated with the full moon, re-assembles the fourteen pieces, although (as Plutarch tells us but Massey does not mention) she is never able to find one important piece, perhaps representative of the fact that the new moon is invisible (unlike the other "slices" of the moon on the days in which it is declining down towards the point of new moon).  And yet it is out of the invisible new moon that the young and powerful waxing moon will be born, growing in power until he avenges his father's death (see the myth of Horus, as well as Hamlet). Plutarch's important text discussing the myth-cycle of Osiris, Set, Isis and Horus can be found online here.

Massey goes on to demonstrate that the struggle between the forces of light and darkness in the cycle of the moon is almost certainly fundamental to the myths of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Krishna and Balarama, and many other world-myths of twin brothers who fight against one another (and in which the one representing the power of darkness is seen to prevail, at least for a time).

These stories in the world's ancient scriptures of brothers killing brothers, such as Cain and Abel, would be horrible and depressing, if they represented literal events (and, tragically, battles pitting brother against brother are in fact part of the human experience), but the evidence compiled by Massey and other researchers, showing the clear repetition of the lunar pattern in myth after myth from around the world, strongly argues that these myths, at least, were not intended to be understood as describing earthly events, but rather heavenly ones.

However, as intimated by the quotation from Alvin Boyd Kuhn included in the previously-linked discussion of the phenomenon of the new moon, these heavenly motions were seen as conveying and embodying powerful truths about our own human condition, here in our earthbound incarnated state ("as above, so below"). 

The moon's monthly cycle of decline and then eventual rebirth, according to Alvin Boyd Kuhn, imparted to us the same message that the nightly, yearly, and even "Great-Yearly" motion which all the stars, planets, and faraway constellations also impart: the truth that we come down to this human existence from a higher, fiery, spiritual plane, here to toil for a time in what is, relatively speaking, an underworld, but that there is something miraculous in this cycle, and that out of the hidden new moon  (when light seems swallowed up by darkness) the triumphant new Horus always ascends again in the lunar cycle, repeated before our eyes each month (if we are paying attention). 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Undying Stars on Pure Momentum Network

Heartfelt thanks to Pamela Tartar for inviting me to be a guest on Pure Momentum network! 

I very much enjoyed our conversation, which can be heard here at the Pure Momentum site (and downloaded as an mp3 to listen on a mobile device or on a CD). That link takes you to the first hour of the interview: there's also a second hour in the members section.

Welcome as well to new visitors tuning in after listening to that discussion! You may enjoy browsing through the list of topics found here which have been the subject of blog post examinations and explorations in the past.

You may also find this "index" of discussions of specific star myths and astro-theology to be helpful . . .

Please visit again soon!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Your song

image: Medicine Man Yellow Plume, photographed by Roland W. Reed, 1912. Wikimedia commons (link).

The book Empire of the Summer Moon, by S. C. Gwynne (2010), is remarkable on many levels and for many reasons. It relates the unforgettable story of the Comanche people, and of Quanah Parker, in the face of forces which would inexorably destroy their traditional way of life, but in the face of which they demonstrated qualities which have many profound lessons to teach us even if we live in very different times and face a different series of forces and currents. 

The events described in the book are worthy of prolonged meditation and contemplation, but right now only one particular subject -- by no means the most important of the subjects in the book but an important subject nonetheless -- will be examined here, and one which takes up only three sentences in the entire 371 pages, and it concerns a phenomenon which was common to many other Native American tribes and cultures: the subject of singing. Here are those three sentences from Empire of the Summer Moon, quoted in context as part of a general description Gwynne presents of the Comanche warrior:
To their enemies, the Comanches were implacable buffalo-horned killers, grim apostles of darkness and devastation. Inside their own camps, however, where Rachel Parker Plummer, Cynthia Ann Parker, and the others now found themselves they were something entirely different. Here, wrote Colonel Richard Irving Dodge, one of the first Americans to observe them closely, the Comanche "is a noisy, jolly, rollicking, mischief-loving braggadoccio, brimful of practical jokes and rough fun of any kind . . . rousing the midnight echoes with song and dance, whoops and yells." He loved to gamble and would bet on anything -- absolutely anything -- but especially on horses and games of chance, and would happily wager his last deerskin. He loved to sing. He especially loved to sing his personal song, often written expressly for him by a medicine man. He often woke up singing and sang before he went to bed. He adored games of any kind, but more than anything else in the world he liked to race horses. He was vain about his hair -- often weaving his wife's shorn tresses in with his own to create extensions, as modern women do. He would roll those extensions in beaver or otter skin. He was an incurable gossip and had, according to Dodge, "a positive craving to know what is going on around him." He would dance for hours, or days. 47.
While Colonel Dodge (1827 - 1895), Gwynne's source for much of the above description, was no doubt reporting through the lens of his own nineteenth-century cultural biases (and prejudices, and his writing is occasionally very condescending but also at other points very respectful of the cultures he lived among and described), there is little reason to doubt the report regarding the importance of singing described in this passage. The description is short, but provides important observations to consider: the Comanche loved to sing, he especially loved to sing his own personal song, which was often written expressly for him by a shaman, and he often sang first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening before going to bed.

How many of us can say the same? Would it be written of us by an outside observer that we generally sing first thing in the morning and last thing before going to bed?

Richard Irving Dodge's entire book from which both of the quotations cited in the above passage were taken can be read online in facsimile form here. It was published in 1883 and entitled Our Wild Indians: Thirty-three Years' Personal Experience among the Red Men of the Great West. In it, Dodge mentions the importance of song many times, and not just among the Comanche but also among the Cheyenne, the Sioux, the Pawnee, the Arapahoe, and many others among whom Dodge traveled.

He also gives some description and even transcription of some of the songs, including an attempt to capture the musical notes of some of them for which he enlisted the services of the leader of the regimental band of the 23rd Infantry. The twenty-seventh chapter of his book, beginning on page 348 in the text linked above, is entirely devoted to a discussion of "Indian Music and Musicians -- Curious Musical Instruments -- Poetry and Songs." Dodge writes:
For music for all warlike and religious ceremonies, for gambling bouts, for dances, for all social gatherings and merry-makings, the Indian relies on his voice. Scarcely anything is done without this music, and similar and monotonous as it all appears to be to the uninstructed ear, each particular ceremony and dance has its own invariable music.
[. . .]
Many of the songs have words, but by far the greater number are "songs without words," but to which words may be adapted on special occasions. The words constantly vary, the music never.
The adaptation of words to a special song is frequently a matter of grave importance. A party of warriors returning from a successful foray, must embalm their exploits in song. They have decided on the music, but the work before them is to fit words to it which will be expressive and most highly eulogistic, not only of the performances of the party, but of each individual who distinguished himself. Night after night is spent in this grand effort. One man will propose a line; all try the effect by singing it in chorus. If satisfactory, it is adopted; if not, rejected or amended. The song must be, and is, ready by the time they get home, and on the first occasion thereafter is sung to the pride and gratification of all. 
So also in other songs. One man will adapt a set of words, whose appropriateness to some situation or personal peculiarity will make them popular for a little while, or until another set of words displaces them. Even the nursery songs of the mothers are a mere jumble, no two mothers using the same words, though singing the same song.
[. . .]
Indian songs are very curious, and though on all subjects, what may be termed the mechanism is the same in all. An isolated thought is expressed in a few words, possibly in one compoud word. This, followed by a number of meaningless sounds sufficient to fill out the music to the end of the beat, constitutes the first line or verse. The other lines are constructed in the sam manner. Whatever is intended to be said is generally expressed in four lines or verses, though some of the songs have many lines.
The constant use of sounds without meaning, to fill up gaps in the lines, makes it easy for any Indian to be his or her own poet. 350-352.
Undoubtedly, there must have been much more to the subject of singing than Colonel Dodge was able to perceive as an outsider to the cultures he is writing about, but nevertheless he has preserved some valuable observations which are worthy of careful consideration. Perhaps chief among these is the fact that their culture, and the structure of these songs, made it possible for every man or woman "to be his or her own poet" -- it was not only possible but it was encouraged, and it was clearly common practice, for everyone to do so, and great importance was attached to doing so. 

Contrast this description to the situation today in modern society, where the creation of songs is almost entirely "outsourced" to the manufacturers of popular culture -- professional songwriters, professional musicians, and (in most cases) a professional class of gatekeepers who determine what gets published and distributed and promoted. It would be difficult to argue with the observation that, for the most part, men and women today hum or sing (whether out loud or simply in their minds) songs that are created by others, and that the idea that everyone can "be his or her own poet" is far from the situation that prevails a little over a hundred years after Dodge wrote down his observations.

Clearly, he is discussing Native American cultures, in which singing -- and personal songs -- played an even more important role than in most European cultures of the same period, but it could also be noted that even in European cultures a hundred years ago, singing appears to have been much more of a pastime and an event that played a part of the rhythm of everyday life than it is today. That is to say, music was generated -- and sung -- by a much wider portion of the populace than is the case today, where a large portion of the populace can be said to consume music (and at times to sing along with music), but cannot be said to really create music or participate in its creation to the same degree that was once common.

For evidence to support this change, I can point to institutions that have existed for a hundred years or so, or which came to be in the late 1800s or early 1900s, which still have a tradition of singing, such as many rugby clubs, or the Norwegian Club of San Francisco (in which singing is a part of every meal, before during and after). You can also see evidence of the difference between the role singing once played and the role it plays today by watching certain films depicting the situation a hundred years ago, including the film Breaker Morant which was discussed in this previous post and which depicts incidents surrounding the period from August of 1901 to February of 1902. One memorable scene in the film portrays a heartfelt song after a supper, and at another point, Edward Woodward playing the lead role of Lieutenant Morant is shown in a flashback singing a remarkable rendition of a poem that was actually written by Morant himself, to the woman he hopes to one day marry.

Thus, it is clear that something has happened in the past hundred years to greatly diminish the role of singing in "western culture" as well -- most likely the rise of mass-production and mass-distribution of music due to certain technological advances, which has had the effect of "specializing" and "centralizing" the production and performance of music and diminishing its production and performance among the general public, although of course this is a broad generalization and there are certainly plenty of people who continue to make their own music and to sing and listen to one another in social gatherings. 

It is clear from the descriptions given above and from other records, however, that the role of singing among Native American cultures has a distinctly sacred, ceremonial and personal component which goes beyond even that of personal artistic expression or expression of deep feeling. As S. C. Gwynne writes in Empire of the Summer Moon, a Comanche warrior's personal song was "often written expressly for him by a medicine man." Other sources explain the importance of singing before battle (Dodge mentions this as well, in addition to describing in detail the importance attached to commemorating a successful war-party in song, in the passage quoted earlier). Dodge also explains that in many cases, an individual would sing the personal song at the time of passage into the next world, and it would be the last words spoken in this life. 

From these examples, it is clear that the singing being discussed had a personal spiritual component, closely connected to the individual's identity, but also connecting him or her to the universe. The fact that the most personal individual song was often given by a shaman, an individual who used song to travel to the realm of the stars and to the realm of the spirits, indicates that the song almost certainly connects the individual to the order of the cosmos.

This aspect of the personal song may in fact account for the descriptions Dodge records, that the songs almost always stayed within a single octave and emphasized rhythm more than melody or lyrical content: they can probably be more accurately described as a form of chant, as discussed in this previous post in which the importance of chanting is discussed, and examples of chanting that clearly have a strong spiritual component, from cultures around the globe, are given along with embedded videos of each.

Note that in each of those videos, the only instrument used is the human voice (video links here, here, here, and here). Dodge states at the beginning of the passage quoted above that the voice is usually the only instrument used, although he also notes that the tom-tom is the universal and predominant additional instrument, when another instrument is added. It is notable that the drum is one of the most characteristic and universal pieces of equipment of the shaman the world over (see this previous post), and that the authors of Hamlet's Mill provide clear evidence that the rhythm of the shaman's drum was connected to the motions of the celestial bodies, and especially the planets. 

There, much discussion and examination of the world's myths links the planet Saturn to the rhythm created by all of the planets in their orbits. Saturn was seen as "the giver of measures"  -- both measures of time and of distance -- and by having the longest orbit of the visible planets was seen as the one who "ordered the time" for all the other planets -- and for human beings on this planet as well (note that Saturn is associated in some ways with Kronos, the ancient Greek god of Time). Saturn was mythologically linked to the mysterious figure of the Smith (this connection can be seen in Greek myth, for example, where Hephaestos is a Saturnian figure, but also in many other myths of the world).

The rhythm of the smith's hammer upon the anvil was described as the origin of all musical instrumentation in some myths (see Appendix 10 of Hamlet's Mill for some discussion of this connection), and is almost certainly connected with the beating of the drum, an instrument which had clear celestial aspects as documented by the authors of Hamlet's Mill as well as by Mircea Eliade in his landmark examination of shamanism the world over. 

Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that the beating of the drum was seen to be directly connected to the motions of the cosmic cycles and to the higher realms of the planets, according to the ancient wisdom found in many cultures around the world. As such, the rhythmic nature of the songs or chants described above, the fact that if they were accompanied at all they were accompanied by a drum or tom-tom, and the fact that the most special or personal of them were often given by a shaman (who is associated with a drum and with shamanic journeys to the celestial and spiritual realm), strongly suggests that this particular category of singing clearly links the singer to the entire universe of which he or she is a part, including the spiritual realms which are strongly connected to the motions of the circling heavens.

In light of the foregoing discussion, it is worthwhile to contemplate what a powerful and positive role singing and chanting clearly played among the people of the Americas, and what an example that can be to us living today in a world which over the past several decades has seen mass-produced music replace individually-produced song to a greater and greater degree. It is evident from the four different examples of chanting linked earlier, each in different languages and each originating from a different culture dispersed widely across our planet, that the specific words or languages may be less important than the general form and rhythm of the song: and indeed, the specific testimony given by Dodge and quoted in the passages above, seems to confirm that very conclusion.

The attitude described by Colonel Dodge, that each Native American man and woman was not afraid "to be his or her own poet" is one which we might carefully consider emulating. In an age in which music is so commonly produced only by professionals, it is easy to forget that we can sing whenever we want, simply for the love of it (as described in the passage from S. C. Gwynne above) and not even for the consumption of anyone else at all! We can realize that singing is not something we need to do to impress anyone else, or with the approval of anyone else, or even loud enough for anyone else to really perceive it -- but it is also something that can connect us in very profound and real ways to the "music of the spheres" in the endless heavens above us, and even to aspects of the unseen realm which interpenetrates the visible world at all times, even when we are unaware of it.

We can find sources of such song from a variety of different places, but perhaps most importantly we can simply make it ourselves.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

For the love of the stars

image: Milky Way over the San Rafael Desert, Utah (United States), Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post linked to explanations of over fifty star myths from cultures around the world (and there are many more cultures whose star myths could also be discussed). In order to truly enjoy the study of star myths and astro-theology, however, it is best to actually get outside and observe the gorgeous stars in their natural setting, if at all possible.

Finding the various constellations of our night sky may seem intimidating at first, but it doesn't have to be. With the right guides and some practice, you will absolutely be able to do it. Of course, getting to a place that is away from the light pollution found around most large cities may be necessary in order to achieve satisfactory views of the stars and planets. You'll also want to become aware of the general cycle of the moon, since the best times to look at stars are when the moon is less dominant in the night sky -- the moon tends to drown out the stars during the days on either side of the full moon (see discussions here, here, here, here, and here for some descriptions of the monthly lunar cycle).

If you are able to schedule even a few minutes each night at about the same time (perhaps to walk the dog through the neighborhood, after the sun has set and the sky has darkened), this may be the very best way to become familiar with the constellations. Unless you have access to an observation point with good 360-degree views, taking a short walk each night may be the best way to get views of all the different directions and in doing so becoming familiar with the stars found in the different parts of the sky and the different cardinal directions and elevations. Also, observing at the same general time each evening will enable you to begin to notice the gradual changes in the sky as the earth progresses around its orbital path each year.

After a while, the stars and constellations and planets will begin to become like familiar friends. At that point, you may find that you look forward to seeing them each night and don't want to miss your appointment with them each evening!

The very fact that the ancient sacred traditions of virtually every single culture on our planet were based upon a common system of celestial metaphor in which the motions of the constellations (especially the zodiac constellations) and the planets play a central role should tell us that their motions are extraordinarily important to human existence. Becoming more familiar with their location and cycles is an important way to connect with our ancient heritage, and to connect with the universe of which we ourselves are a part.

Many previous posts have discussed individual constellations and significant stars, often with some tips on how to find them, and sometimes with a discussion of some of the star-myths in which those constellations play a role. In order to make it easier to locate all of those previous discussions of constellations, they are listed below (for the first time in one place!) in alphabetical order by constellation, asterism, or star.

One other tip (which has been repeated quite frequently in previous posts) concerns the "system" you use to "draw the lines" in your mind's eye as you look at the constellations. I believe that the system offered by well-known author H. A. Rey is far superior to any other system I have seen, and for numerous reasons. You can find his system illustrated (along with commentary on locating each constellation) in his outstanding book The Stars: A New Way to See Them (first published in 1952 and updated several times since then). He also wrote a children's version of the same book, which is also discussed and linked in the same previous post.

Before going to the list, take a look at the beautiful photograph above of the Milky Way rising up from the southern horizon in between Scorpio (on the right, to the west as we look south) and Sagittarius (on the left, to the east as we look south). If the image above isn't large enough for you, simply click the link in the previous sentence for a bigger image. You should be able to spot both Scorpio and Sagittarius as well as the beautiful arc of the Southern Crown (Corona Australis) in the photograph, which was taken in the northern hemisphere location of the San Rafael Desert in the western United States (state of Utah). If you want to make them "jump out" of the image a bit more, simply squint your eyes as you look at it, which will have the effect of filtering out some of the fainter stars, and cause the outlines of Scorpio, Sagittarius and the Southern Crown to really stand out.  

At the bottom of the list of the constellations and asterisms and stars you will find another version of the same photograph, with labels and arrows indicating Scorpio, Sagittarius, and the Southern Crown.

Here's the list of constellations, asterisms, and stars that have been featured in blog posts so far (if you are using a desktop or laptop, you should be able to "hover" your mouse over the various links and wait just a second to see the name of the post that is linked):

ALDEBARAN [see here, here, here, and here]
ALGOL [here]
ALSHAIN [here]
ALTAIR [see here, here, here, here, and here]
ANTARES [see here, here, and here]
AQUARIUS (the Water Bearer) [see here, here, here, and here]
AQUILA (the Eagle) [see herehere, herehereherehere, and here]
ARA (the Altar) [here]
ARCTURUS [see here, here, here, and here]
ARIES (the Ram) [here]
ARGO NAVIS (the Ship Argo) [see here and here]
AURIGA (the Charioteer) [see here, here, here, and here]
BEEHIVE [see here, here, and here]
BERENICE'S HAIR (Latin: Coma Berenices) [here]
BIG DIPPER (part of Ursa Major) [see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here]
BOOTES (the Herdsman) [see here, here, here, here, and here]
CANCER (the Crab) [see here, here, herehere, and here]
CANIS MAJOR (the Big Dog) [see here, here, here, here, here, and here]
CANIS MINOR (the Little Dog) [see here and here]
CAPELLA [see here, here, here, and here]
CAPRICORN (the Goat) [see here, here and here]
CASSIOPEIA [see here, here, here, here, and here]
CAT'S EYES [here]
COLUMBA (the Dove) [here]
CORONA AUSTRALIS (Southern Crown) [here]
CORONA BOREALIS (Northern Crown) [see here, here, and here]
CORVUS (the Crow) [see here, here, here, and here]
CRATER (the Cup) [see here and here]
CYGNUS (the Swan) [see here, here, here, and here]
DELPHINUS (the Dolphin) [here]
DENEB [see herehere, and here]
DENEBOLA [see here, here, and here]
DRACO (the Dragon) [here]
GEMINI (the Twins) [see here, here, here, here, here, here, hereherehere, and here]
GREAT SQUARE [see here, here, here, and here]
HYADES [see here, here, here, here, here, and here]
HYDRA [see here, here, here, and here]
LEPUS (the Hare) [see here, here, and here]
LEO (the Lion) [see here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here]
LIBRA (the Scales) [see here and here]
LYRA (the Lyre) [see here and here]
PEGASUS [see herehereherehere, and here]
PERSEUS [see here, here, here, here, here, and here]
PISCIS AUSTRINUS (Southern Fish) [see here and here]
PISCES (the Fishes) [see here and here]
PLEIADES [see here, herehere, herehere, here, here, here, and here]
POINTERS [see here, here, and here]
POLARIS [see here, herehere, hereherehere, and here]
PROCYON [see here, here and here]
REGULUS [see here, here, here, here, here, and here]
SAGITTA (the Arrow) [see here and here]
SAGITTARIUS (the Archer) [see here, herehere, here, here, here, here, and here]
SCORPIO (the Scorpion) [see here, herehere, herehereherehere, and here]
SIRIUS [see hereherehereherehere, and here]
SOUTHERN CROSS [see here and here]
SPICA [see here, here, here, here, here, herehere, and here]
TARAZED [here]
TAURUS (the Bull) [see hereherehere, here, here, hereherehereherehereherehere, and here]
THUBAN [see here, here, and here]
URSA MAJOR (the Big Bear) [see here, here, here, and here]
URSA MINOR (the Little Bear) [see here and here]
VEGA [see here and here]
VIRGO (the Virgin) [see here, herehere, hereherehere, here, here, here, here, and here]

And now, here's the same image from the top of the post, with a few arrows to help you see the Scorpion, the Southern Crown, and the "teapot" / "locust" portion of Sagittarius: