Posts Tagged ‘Mythology’

Legends of the Eclipse — Japan

20 July, 2009

All good epics come in a trilogy. We had action, love and now, the most timeless of the classical themes, drama.

Nothing plunges your world into total darkness like a spat between siblings.

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Legends of the Eclipse — Tahiti

19 July, 2009

Legends of eclipses are filled with tales of creatures of all manners eating the Sun. Or deities fighting one another. Or biting the Sun. Or stealing the Sun. Or…

Tsk, tsk. So much violence. They should take the example of Tahiti. On this Pacific Island paradise, the legends of the eclipse take on a different direction. Nudge nudge wink wink that’s all we’re gonna say.

Legends of the Eclipse — Egypt

16 July, 2009

We like mythology, and here’s our take on the Egyptian legend of the battle between Apep and Ra. Sure, it’s not Lord of the Rings, but it’s got conflict, fight scenes and an ending with a twist. (And you don’t have to wait 4 hours to go use the toilet.)

Moon eats Sun… Like a cookie…

10 July, 2009

Another sequence shot of the annular eclipse of October 3, 2005. This one shot from Gárgoles de Arriba in Spain.

From the silhouette of the Moon descending, it really looks like it just came down and “ate” the Sun before moving off and continuing on its way.

No wonder many of the ancients had tales of the Moon consuming the Sun. (If we had our way, we would have added a bit about “and the Moon chomped up the Sun like a cookie”… But that’s just us…)

Annular Eclipse (Image: Antonio Ferretti)

More Sun and eclipse mythology

25 June, 2009

Smocze_zaćmienieLike legends and mythology? Here are a few more related to the Sun and solar eclipses.

The Native American Pomo tribe’s name for a solar eclipse was “Sun got bit bear”, and tells of a story about a bear who goes out for a stroll along the Milky Way.

Along the way, the bear encounters the Sun and the two begin to argue about who should move out of the other’s path. The argument escalates into a fight, which represents an eclipse of the Sun.

The bear eventually wins and continues on his way. But later meets the Moon, the Sun’s sister. The same thing happens, which results in the eclipse of the Moon. The tale repeats itself as the bear continues in his cycle along the Milky Way.

Another Native American tribe, the Serrano, believed that solar eclipses were caused by the spirits of the dead trying to eat up the Sun during a solar eclipse.

So when an eclipse was happening, shamans and their followers would perform ceremonial dances and songs to appease the dead spirits while the rest of the tribe shouted and made noise to scare the spirits away. People also fasted, believing that it would starve the spirits.

MythologyThe Ge’ tribe of the Amazon forest in Brazil believed that eclipses were the result of a fight between the Sun and the Moon.

Over Down Under, the Aboriginal people of Australia believed that a solar eclipse was a bad omen as it occurred when someone was working black magic on another person. (A lunar eclipse, also meant a bad omen to them, meant someone on a journey had met with a serious accident.)

Eclipse in mythology – the pleasant ones

10 June, 2009

Not all mythology that involve eclipses have a creature devouring our Sun. There were the ones that played nice too.

In Tahiti, for example, eclipses have been interpreted as the Sun and the Moon in lovemaking. How sweet is that? I knew there was a reason why I always liked Tahiti.

Further north, a famous myth about Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun goddess, tells how she became angry with her brother, who was misbehaving, that she retreated into a cave. By going into hiding, she deprived the world of light and warmth, and the other gods had to trick her into emerging.

Artist: 三代豊国,歌川国貞(Utagawa Toyokuni III,Kunisada)

Some legends continue to this day.

The Inuit, namely the Aleuts and Tlingit of Arctic America, believe that an eclipse symbolise divine providence. The Sun and the Moon temporarily leave their places in the sky to check that all is well on Earth.

There are numerous other eclipse stories out there. It is a significant event after all, involving the most elemental entities known — the Sun and the Moon. Good or bad, regardless of the meanings allocated to them, eclipses will continue to occur as the Sun and the Moon go through their celestial motions.

Eclipses in mythology

9 June, 2009

mythologyBefore science enlightened mankind, natural events were explained by supernatural beliefs, folklore and legends. Volcanoes rumbled when the mountain god was angry. Droughts were remedied with prayers to the rain god. You get the idea.

Solar eclipses were no different.

The ancient Chinese believed eclipses were caused by a mystical dragon in the sky eating up the Sun. (Though one superstition has it as a celestial dog eating up the Sun.) Which explains the Chinese word for a solar eclipse, which is 日食 (re shi), meaning “sun eat”.

When solar eclipses occurred in ancient China, people would come out and make a great noise and create a commotion by banging on pots and drums, lighting firecrackers to create a ruckus, or even shooting arrows into the sky, all in an effort to frighten away the dragon.

The idea of a monster, beast or demon devouring the Sun is a recurring one and can also be found in other cultures.

The Incas believed that a mythical feline called the Ccoa or K’owa whose tail swept the clouds producing hail, storm and rain. It was an active, angry spirit that caused solar eclipses, or Inti Jiwaña, and lunar eclipses as well. Like the Chinese, the Incas tried to intimidate the feline to prevent it from eating the Sun.

According to Hindu mythology, a solar eclipse represented the demons Rahu and Ketu locked in combat. As the legend goes, Rahu had slipped among the gods as they drank the divine nectar that granted immortality. However, before the nectar passed down his throat, Mohini, an avatar of Vishnu, cut off Rahu’s head, which continued to be immortal.

Astronomically, Rahu and Ketu represent the two points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as the move through the celestial sphere. This leads to the belief that when the sun “disappears”, Rahu is believed to have swallowed it.

Ra in the form of a cat, battling ApepIn ancient Egypt, sun cults refer to the myth of the serpent Apep swallowing the Sun God, Ra. However, some Egyptian legends also make reference to an eclipse occurring when a great hawk tries to steal Ra’s glory.