Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Winged Pegasus, Sky Charts

When I research Fellowship of Isis mystery dramas involving the constellations, I usually spend time putting together sky charts that match the constellations described in the rite. I was asked to look at "The Winged Pegasus" from Psyche by the Rt. Rev. Deena Butta, whose group is performing it at the FOI Chicago Goddess Festival in September 2011. So here's what I pulled together.
The constellation of Pegasus is today considered to be that of a winged horse. Well, half of a winged horse. Um, the image is rising from the sea as the drops of blood from Medusa's head fall on it, after Perseus cut it off. Pegasus was the son of Medusa and Poseidon, but was not born until Medusa died, as she was cursed into Gorgon form by Athena for violating her temple. The Greek name for the constellation appears to have meant either "Springs of Ocean" or "Strong," and drew on earlier Phoenician and Egyptian words meaning "ship" or "vessel." The constellation has many names and forms in different cultures!

Pegasus' association with water, particularly springs, was associated through myth with the Muses. One story was that as he rose into the air, his hoof struck the ground causing the Hippocrene springs to arise at the base of Mt. Helicon, where the Muses lived. He was associated with other springs caused by his hoof prints, including the one where Bellerphoon eventually captures him with Athena's help in his quest to fight the Chimera.

The four brightest stars in the constellation form a Great Square in the sky, one of the most prominent asterisms in the fall sky. (An asterism is a collection of stars. All constellations are asterisms, but not all asterisms are constellations. Excuse the technical terms.) The Arabs saw the square as Al Dalw, the "Water bucket" of Aquarius, or of a well, Al 'Arkuwah, in which the bucket was used. In Arabic astrology, the first two stars, Markab and Scheat, were considered Al Fargh al Mukdim, the fore-spout of the bucket, and the rear two stars, Algenib (Al Janah) and Alpheratz, were Al Fargh al Thani, the rear spout of the bucket. These two pairs of stars marked the edges of two of the Arabic manzils, or lunar mansions.

In Arabic and Vedic astrology, the 27 days of the Moon's visible cycle divided up the sky into segments, one for each day from the first Crescent visible after New Moon to the last Crescent visible just before dawn of the next New Moon. The Moon, a male figure in both cultures, moved to each segment or mansion from night to night, where a different wife awaited him. (The lunar mansions in Vedic terminology are nakshastras.) The first mansion coincided with the Pleiades, and moved eastward around the sky until reaching Pegasus, which comprised the 24th and 25th mansions.

In Vedic astrology, the Great Square was seen as a bed or couch, and the four bright stars on the corners, Bhadra-pada, its "beautiful" or "happy" feet. Markab and Scheat marked the fore-feet of the couch, Purva Bhadra-pada, and Alpheratz and Algenib the rear feet, Uttara Bhadra-pada. Interestingly enough, Alpheratz, which is also known as Sirrah (from Al Surrat Al Faras, the "horse's Navel"), is also the brightest star in the constellation of Andromeda, which splays out behind Pegasus.

The Constellations surrounding Pegasus mentioned in the ritual.
As to the text in the ritual, the journey to Pegasus occurs during the lunar stage of the drama. (Dramas in Psyche begin on the Earth plane, move to the Lunar/Astral, then Solar/Mental, and finally Galactic/Divine planes.) Lady Olivia associates Bhadra-pada with the Celtic city of Gorias, and the Sword of Light, one of the four Treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan.  She then associates Uttara with the Celtic city of Finias, which held the Spear of Destiny and scrolls of prophecy. She associated Purva with the Celtic city of Murias, which held the Cauldron of Plenty, and then Scheat with Falais, the city which held the Stone of Destiny, on which the Kings of the Tuatha de Danaan were crowned. Lastly, she mentions Al Janah, which is Algenib, as "a mystery."

I'm a bit confused, at this point. If Lady Olivia is starting at the larger scale of the two nakshastras combined as the "Four happy feet of the beautiful couch," then moving in to the rear mansion, Uttara Bhadra-pada that consists of Algenib and Alpheratz, and the fore mansion, Purva Bhadra-pada, that consists of Markab and Scheat, I'm not sure why she then continues to break the asterism down into specifying the single star, Scheat, as the last of the four Celtic cities/treasures. That sort of leaves Al Janah/Algenib as the "fifth" star in a four-star figure, which is, indeed, "a mystery" (to me, at least).

On the diagram of Pegasus at the beginning, I've tried to associate each one of the four stars with one of the cities: Gorias with Markab, Finias with Alpheratz, Murias with Scheat, and Falais with Algenib, but that may not be what she intended. On the other hand, it's the best I could manage with this drama, which takes you on a magical mystery tour of the world's mythologies and the Spiral of Tiamat's coils. Have fun with it! :D

The Rt. Rev. Michael A. Starsheen, Archpr. H. and owner of a major headache.....<grin>

No comments:

Post a Comment