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The Origin of Velikovsky's Comet
Kronos Vol. X No. 1 (Fall 1984)
(c) 1984 by David Talbott and Ev Cochrane

1. Introduction
It has been nearly 35 years since Immanuel Velikovsky published Worlds in Collision, thus provoking one of the great scientific controversies of the twentieth century. In the intervening years, most of the world's leading astronomers have registered their opinions on the subject. Their consensus boils down to this: A) Velikovsky was treated poorly, but B) that is no reason to take his claims seriously. Not so long ago, however, much of the present speculation among astronomers themselves would have been considered dangerously Velikovskian. Now, we see "respectable" publications not only dignifying the general principles of catastrophism but introducing the once-unthinkable possibility of recent catastrophes - world-shattering events within the memory of man.(1)

Velikovsky, of course, did not look to astronomy for his evidence of interplanetary disturbances, but to history. Ancient religious and mythological texts provided the primary sources for Worlds in Collision; and in the end, it will be these sources that offer the acid test of his thesis. The overriding issue in Velikovsky's historical research is surely the proposed cometary past of Venus. Despite the interesting and often encouraging revelations from space probes of the past two decades, it must be said that little historical evidence of the Venus-comet has been added to the material originally assembled by Velikovsky. This lack is particularly noticeable in comparative mythology, the discipline which forms the backbone of Velikovsky's theory. Here, virtually nothing new has been brought to light bearing on the Venus question. In a series of essays, beginning with the present one, we intend to outline some aspects of ancient Venus symbolism generally overlooked so far. Our study will take us back to the mythical age of "beginnings". We will find much support for Velikovsky's claim of a cometary Venus - and also a surprising and crucial connection with Saturn. Though our investigation will question certain assumptions of Worlds in Collision, we think the evidence will help to substantiate Velikovsky's underlying theory of celestial catastrophe, in which the primary players are planets.

2. The Saturn Myth
In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky presented the last two acts of what he claimed to be a much longer drama of interplanetary catastrophes. These later episodes, involving Venus and Mars and dated from the fifteenth to the seventh centuries B.C., were claimed by him to have been preceded by equally dramatic cataclysms involving the giants Saturn and Jupiter. While hinting at these earlier catastrophes, however, Velikovsky refrained from publishing anything but the briefest summaries. At the time of his death, in 1979, the full story still remained untold. It is understood that Velikovsky believed the Earth and Saturn to have once moved in close proximity, with the Earth perhaps revolving as a Saturnian moon. In a very early epoch, mythically recalled as the Golden Age, Saturn visually dominated the sky. This era, Velikovsky believed, ended in Saturn's mythical "death" and an overwhelming cataclysm - the great Deluge.

The mystery of Saturn's past, as posed by Velikovsky's intriguing references, inspired the several years of research behind one of the writers' recently-published book, The Saturn Myth.(2) The book proposes that Saturn - fixed at the celestial pole - loomed massively overhead, a central sun venerated by all mankind. Evidence is presented there for a Saturnian "polar configuration" as the source of early civilization's dominant symbols. One of the features of this Saturnian configuration was a giant band surrounding the planet. The Saturn Myth is a preface to a longer saga involving interplanetary upheavals. In that book, no reference is made to Venus, Mars, or Jupiter, even though these planets emerge as major figures in celestial events.

What we aim to present here involves certain details which were left unmentioned in The Saturn Myth - aspects of ancient myth and symbolism which will be helpful in delineating the roles of other planets in very early times. Several writers(beginning with Velikovsky himself) have conjectured that the identifications of the planets shifted with shifting world ages. We intend to show, however, that from their earliest mention in ancient sources, the root identities of the respective planetary gods hold up well; and such ambiguity as does affect planetary identifications stems from a former connection of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter with a unified apparition in the sky. Our underlying assumption is that the planets have not always roamed around the Sun as separate and discrete objects in the heavens  of terrestrial observers. Rather, they were once joined in a visually integrated "conjunction" of sorts, and this seemingly-improbable alignment was the basis of Saturn's polar station. It is obvious that we will not be able to prove the point in this introductory article, but we hope that our first effort will begin to suggest the nature of the original celestial unity remembered by so many ancient races.

3. Rules of Research
In exploring the roots of ancient myth and symbolism, we suggest a few simple rules of research.
I. The world supply of myths and symbols should be consulted as a test of any major hypothesis. Surely this was the major thrust of Worlds in Collision. It is the concordance of global testimony that gives the most impressive weight to Velikovsky's arguments.
II. The earliest sources are crucial to a proper understanding of mythical motifs and can help to prevent the misplacement of events. Had he consulted the earliest sources of Egypt and Mesopotamia, Velikovsky might have avoided the most pronounced weakness of Worlds in Collision. Unfortunately, in seeking to substantiate a 1500 B.C. catastrophe, Velikovsky cited mythical themes clearly discernible in texts written a thousand years or more before the proposed event.
III. Ancient statements appearing to contradict elementary experience or logic are a key to discovery. It is improbable enough that one tribe or nation would call a modest light such as Venus "the torch of heaven", "star with hair", or anything so suggestive of power and light. When one notes that the themes appear from one land to another, the seed of discovery emerges: perhaps Venus was not always the mere speck we see today. IV. Cosmic symbols must be allowed to illuminate the texts, and the texts allowed to illuminate the symbols. Worlds in Collision makes no use of ancient signs or ideographs. Yet the ancients themselves declared that these simple pictures were actually cosmic references. Where, then, is Venus in the lexicon of symbols? Our answer to the Venus question could not be stated more emphatically: Symbols of the planet pervade the earliest sources. In fact, at the dawn of civilization, the proto-planet Venus - looking very much like a comet - appears as part and parcel of a unified cosmology ruling the collective consciousness of man. This cosmology, however, has yet to be recognized by conventional schools.

4. The Great Mother
One of the most prominent features of ancient religion is the universal devotion to a goddess called the "Great Mother". Perhaps the best-known early instances of the goddess are the Egyptian Isis and the Mesopotamian Inanna-Ishtar. Significantly, chroniclers identify both goddesses with the planet Venus.(3) Moreover, it would be difficult to find an ancient civilization which fails to support this role of Venus as Great Mother. There appears to be an impressive continuity of this identity from the infancy of civilization through the Classical Age of Greece and up to more modern times. This aspect of Venus symbolism raises a question which finds no apparent solution in either Velikovsky's or traditional theory. Why was a feminine nature ascribed to the planet? It is almost an ironclad rule of ancient symbolism that Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury appear as masculine figures. Why was Venus the exception? Today we see the visible planets as five star-like points of light. Does one of them appear especially feminine? The answer to this mystery, as we will attempt to show, lies in a remarkable association between Venus and the planet Saturn.

5. The Enclosed Sun
Ancient pictographs will figure prominently in our analysis (Rule IV). We begin with what is perhaps the most common sign among early civilizations, one which occurs on all continents (Rule I), and the prehistoric origin of which is beyond dispute (Rule II). The image is the "enclosed sun", discussed at length in The Saturn Myth. There, it is shown that this sign was Saturn's special emblem, an identification which appears as irrational as it was widespread (Rule III). The Saturn Myth proposes that this pictograph actually depicted the physical appearance of Saturn in former times - that it is a literal drawing of the Saturnian orb surrounded by a great band. The ancients called it the "world wheel", which Saturn is said to have produced in the primeval age. This was the wheel of the archaic polar sun (Saturn), fixed but ever-turning in the northern sky. Though space in this article will not allow more than a glimpse of the mythological material, the imagery of the enclosed sun asks us to believe that during Saturn's epoch, the Earth, rather than orbiting Saturn as a moon (Velikovsky's proposal), rotated with Saturn on a common axis. What terrestrial observers saw in the sky appeared as an immense wheel (the band) revolving around the stationary orb of Saturn.

The extensive and interlocking symbolism of the Saturnian band is discussed fully in The Saturn Myth. There, it is shown that this single band provided the visual basis for numerous mythical images of the great god's dwelling, including such well-known forms as: the cosmic Eye, crown, throne, shield, temple, and city. Each of these symbols, however, occurs in such explicit association with the mother goddess as to amount to a straightforward identity: the goddess was originally and fundamentally the Saturnian band. Analysis of the related symbolism reveals two elementary facts. Together, they pose the riddle we will seek to resolve: 1) In ancient representations of the enclosed sun, the separate band was called the mother goddess; 2) The consistent planetary representative of the mother goddess was Venus. There is no better source of information on the enclosed sun than the vast ritual texts of ancient Egypt. With the emergence of the hieroglyphic language, the enclosure of the old sun god appears as the Aten, written with the sign (o), the very symbol under discussion.

Contrary to common assumption, Egyptian texts make clear that the Aten is the enclosure itself and not the sun which rests within the band. A frequent title of Ra is am-aten-f - "dweller in his Aten", a title likewise given to both Atum and Horus. "Spacious is your seat within the disk [Aten]", reads a Coffin Text.(4) Of Osiris, the Book of the Dead declares: "Oh, great god, who livest in thy divine Aten."(5) As if to emphasize the point, Egyptian scribes and artists often drew only the band itself when denoting the Aten. The literal reading is "enclosure" or "circle", and Ra is the "sender-forth of light into his Circle".(6) "I am the one who is in his Circle", he announces.(7) The tangible character of the band could not be more explicitly stated. But having no reference point in nature, Egyptologists have habitually looked past the band to the enclosed god himself in trying to interpret the language.

To the Egyptians, the band was very real. They called it the "enclosure of Fire-Light"(8) - the great god's brilliant and enduring halo of "glory" or "splendor". It was the "chamber" or "house" of the primeval sun, and the Egyptian myths of "the Beginning" elaborate in various ways how the great band came into existence. Yet, a paradox runs through all the related symbols. In the Egyptian language, the band of the Aten means, at once, the "body" of the sun god as well as the female principle, the god's "mistress". It is the radiant "womb" in the sky, the Great Mother herself, in which the sun god shines as the "Great Seed". Mythically, the male and female powers combine in the androgynous image of the enclosed sun. The relationship occurs in the symbolism of all the primary Egyptian gods and goddesses. Isis is the "chamber" of the sun god. Hathor is "the House of Horus", and Nephthys "the House-Lady". Nut encloses Ra, the Great Seed. Ra "shines forth from the womb of Nut".(9) Elsewhere, Ra is the sun "in the womb of Hathor".(10) Osiris, too, sends forth his light from the womb of Nut. "Homage to thee, King of kings, Lord of lords, who from the womb of Nut hath ruled all the world.''(11)
Lacking a concrete reference for this language, Egyptologists have drawn on such abstract notions as "the sky", "the all", "heaven", etc. They have not realized that the subject is the band of the Aten because, in the familiar heavens of today, the Aten has no meaning. Researchers are thus left adrift in insubstantial explanations. When considering the sign of the Aten itself, they see the band alternately as a "parhelion", the "circle of the sky", the Earth, or the Sun itself (leaving a mystery as to what is inside the band). That a sign so obviously universal has no equally-obvious explanation is, to say the least, curious. This confusion is unnecessary.

The Aten symbol is a picture of the visible wheel of the primeval sun god, who was Saturn. To recognize this is to possess an extraordinarily simple explanation for some of the most elementary mythical images. The literal equation is: Band of the Aten= circle of Fire-Light (halo, glory, splendor)= sun god's dwelling= sun god's "body"= the Great Mother. Yet, even while the Egyptians celebrated the Aten-band as the Mother Goddess, they recognized many complementary interpretations of the fiery enclosure. An analysis of the related forms yields a startling consistency yet to be acknowledged by Egyptologists.

6. The Eye of Heaven
Consider the mysterious Eye of heaven. T. Rundle Clark has observed that this  baffling yet pervasive symbol is the key to an understanding of ancient Egyptian religion, especially the religion of the Great Mother. "The complex meshes of eye symbolism", he writes, "are woven all around the Egyptian Goddess, and she cannot be understood or compared with other goddesses until they are unraveled."(12) What was the Eye? Why were all the major Egyptian goddesses - Isis, Hathor, Nut, Sekhmet, Bast, and others - called "the Eye of Ra"? ...

When Venus Was A Comet
Kronos Vol. XII No. 1 (Winter 1987)
Ev Cochrane and David Talbott
... Strangely enough, the Imix dragon is usually decorated with celestial symbols, including that of the planet Venus.(77) That this juxtaposition of celestial and telluric elements was not unique to the Imix dragon is emphasized by Joralemon: "It is precisely this combination of sky and earth attributes that characterizes the Dragon throughout ancient Mexican religious history."(78) A similar state of affairs confronts the mythographer in ancient Egypt. There the serpent-dragon par excellence was Set, whose celestial aspect is well-pronounced. Thus Set is described as the "Outflow" of the old sun god and associated with the god's dwelling in the sky.(79) The name Set, however, means "earth".(80) Another incredible fact is that Thebeh, one of Set's epithets, is cognate with "thebn" which means "lock of hair".(81) The Egyptian mother goddesses share this same symbolism. Hathor, for example, whose serpentine nature has already drawn attention, was also considered to be an "earth goddess". Another name for Hathor was Hensektet, the meaning of which is "lock of hair".(82)

In light of these revelations, the possibility must be considered that the ancients' "Earth" was something different in nature than the terrestrial landscape. Similarly, in the Sumerian hymn quoted earlier, the "radiance" of Inanna was compared to that of Urash, the Earth Mother. This in itself should have cautioned commentators against hastily identifying the ancients' "Earth". In fact, it is our opinion that the goddess and dragon both trace to a comet-like Venus which once displayed the form of a giant spiral or "lock of hair", the very form depicted by the Caban curl.

According to the hypothesis outlined in this series of essays, it was this comet which first appeared in close proximity to the old sun god, as if born of the sun god himself. After an indeterminate amount of time, the spiral-shaped form (lock of hair, beard, etc.) moved away from the immediate vicinity of the god, eventually settling in an orbit around him. It was during this latter period that the tail of the comet appeared as a giant celestial band enclosing the central sun, as depicted in the Aten sign.* [* Cf. L. M. Greenberg, "Aten, Akhnaten, and Venus Reconsidered," Pensee IVR I (May 1972), pp. 4 1 42.- LMG] In complete accordance with this hypothesis, we find that an alternative name for the Aten was Sesheta Circle, derived from "seshet", an early Egyptian word for "comet".(83) Thus a literal interpretation of the god's celestial dwelling would be "Circle of the Comet". "Seshet" itself, however, also means "lock of hair".(84)

Further support for this hypothesis comes from the fact that, in Egyptian hieroglyphs, the band of the Aten means "serpent-dragon", "goddess", as well as "earth".(85) One therefore finds that the Egyptian sun god resided within an enclosure that is variously described as the "coils of the dragon", the "body of the Mother Goddess", or the "bowels of the earth". That these are the very same symbols of the enclosure which present themselves in Mesoamerica strongly suggests that there was a common celestial reference for this symbolism. In short: The celestial "Earth" which has long troubled commentators appears to be nothing more than the comet-like band which once enclosed the ancient sun god.

We have seen that Inanna-Venus was described as torch-like. A curious feature of Mesoamerican symbolism parallels this description. Like many of their Mesoamerican neighbors, the Mayans commonly compared the planet Venus to a dog, referring to it as the "dog running ahead of the sun".(86) ...

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