|Ishtar’s Gate is a website devoted to pushing the boundaries of scientific understanding by examining evidence and discussing theories that are not normally consdired related. We are very proud to publish the questioning and stimulating article below written be Ishtar herself and urge you to visit her site and explore the very lively forum. Over to Ishtar:
Some of us Celts like to warm themselves by the fire at night with the knowledge that we’re really half-Atlantean. After all, are we not descended from Igraine, King Arthur’s mother, who, some myths tell us, was from an Atlantean bloodline? And in the alluring half light of those flickering flames, we dream about the mythical drowned island of Hy-Brasil, which is said to reappear every seven years off the west coast of Ireland, and other tales about sunken lands under the waters of Cardigan Bay. And so it is not an unlikely proposition that these lands were actually Atlantis and that we are half-Atlanteans.
But is it true?
Well, there is no doubt that, after the last Ice Age, the melting of huge glaciers did cause massive flooding of land all around the world, and the British Isles was no exception. This artist’s impression, based on known geological data, shows what could certainly be Hy-Brasil and another island called Waveland just before ‘the big melt’ around 12,000 BCE.
Figure 1. Just before the big melt 12,700 BC.©Michael Bix
However, whether Cardigan Bay or Hy-Brasil was actually the legendary island of Atlantis (Atlas’s Isle) first mentioned in Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias, is another matter. And to understand why, we really need to learn a little about how myths work. So please bear with me while I lay out that toolkit before using it to re-examine the myth of Atlantis.
The cognitive world of our ancestors
Most mythologists and shamans understand ancient myths to be allegories or metaphors for what we call, today, scientific processes, and most of these myths deal with the way in which our ancestors perceived how the creation of the universe occurs.
For instance, we now understand that our ancestors did not live in just one world, as we do today. They lived in three realms, known as the Upper World, the Middle World and the Lower World. These three dimensions are extra dimensions to this one — they exist on a completely different 4D time/space continuum, and in fact, there is no Time there. It was in these extra dimensions that our ancestors set their myths with great panoramic dramas played out over the 4D landscapes of the three worlds which were reflected in this 3D dimension back here by 1) the celestial spheres (the heavens, 2) Middle Earth or Midgard (the Earth plane) and 3) the Underworld.
The Underworld is the portal to the 4D extra dimensions through what we call the imagination, although in this case, imagination doesn’t mean ‘make believe’; the imagi-nation is the nation or realm of images accessed through the right hand hemisphere of the brain by shamanic trance. Instead of our thoughts being in words, in the right hemisphere they present themselves as pictures and as is always said: “A picture speaks a thousand words”; therefore they are very effective way of carrying and transmitting information.
Why creation myths begin with a flood
All creation myths, whether the Hebrew Genesis, the Sumerian Enuma Elish, the Norse Edda, the Indian Srimad Bhagavatham, and the Maya and Egyptian creation myths are all set in these three 4D worlds and they ALL start and end with a flood. The flood represents the End of Times and the Beginning of Times. These so-called creation myths should really be called creation-maintenance-destruction myths (as reflected in triumvirate gods such as Brahma the creator god, Vishnu the maintainer god and Shiva, the god of destruction). This is because the ancients also had a holographic view of the cosmological processes, and reflected in their stories how the microcosm within the macrocosm was continually birthing, dying and then being reborn again, from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy.
So just as at a birth of a child, the first sign that the birth is imminent is when the mother’s water ‘breaks’ (the amniotic sac breaking causes its water to flood out) so a flood in mythology signifies creation or “a new life”. However, because creation comes at the end of a previous cosmological cycle, these mythological floods are associated with death as well as birth.
This type of cosmological model is seen in concentric circles with ever-increasing circles going out from the Earth at the centre, to represent how the whole of creation circumambulates around a pole. For instance, we have neutrons, protons and electrons processing around the cell nucleus (microcosm) to the macrocosm of sun and the planets revolving around it, and even higher than that. Everything circles or spirals around some sort of nucleus.
|Figure 2. The microcosm
||Fig 3. The macrocosm
Click on an image to enlarge it
Beyond the circle of the sun lies the circle of the Milky Way. In Egyptian mythology, the Milky Way was represented by Hathor, whose original name, Mehturt, meant ‘great flood’. In the Norse myths, the same cosmic cow is known as Audhumbla, and from Audhumbla´s udder floods rivers of milk, which is why we call it the Milky Way.
Fig 4. Hathor as the Milky Way
Releasing the waters of the firmanent
In myths, it is usually the Hero who releases the waters of the firmanent, or the flood of milk, from the grip of a sea serpent, at the end/beginning of a cycle, so that this birth/death or creation/destruction can take place. So this is why you may have seem such pairings as Zeus and the Typhon, Indra and Vritra, Marduk and Tiammat, and Thor and the Midgard Serpent or Jörmungandr, to name but a few serpent or dragon slayers.
In Norse mythology, this battle between Thor and Jörmungandr takes place at an event called Ragnorak, which is the name of the Norse Apocalypse or Armageddon. (That Ragnorak comes at the end of a precessional cycle (or astrological age) we know from the numbers that are used, but that’s a story for another day.)
Fig 5. Thor goes fishing for the Midgard
The Pillars of Hercules
Next we must deal with the Pillars of Hercules, beyond which, according to Plato, lay the land of Atlantis. There are two pillars of Hercules, and they guard the gate or portal to the extra dimensions. These two pillars are used as literary device to indicate that the hero (Hercules or Ulysses) has left the every day world when he goes through them, in the same way today we use the device of: “Long, long, long ago, deep in the mists of the time.” This is a signal to the listener that they will need suspend their judgement because they will be entering another world with different rules. This ‘other world’ is known in mythology as the Underworld.
In the Renaissance, the two pillars were said to bear the legend: Nec plus ultra (“nothing further beyond”) which was the equivalent of “Enter at your peril” for sailors and navigators.
In Dante’s Inferno, we see Ulysses justifying risking his crews’ lives by going through into the world of Nec Plus Ultra or the Pillars of Hercules by insisting that it is the true explorer who dares to venture where others fear to tread in the quest for knowledge. After passing through the Pillars of Hercules, and after a further five months at sea, Ulysses sights the mountain of Purgatory. Purgatory, as we know, is not in this world and therefore we can rationalise that neither are the Pillars of Hercules which Ulysses has to go through to reach Purgatory.
Jason (of the Argonauts) also has to pass through the two pillars of ‘clashing rocks’ (the Symplegades) in his quest for the Golden Fleece.
Fig 6. A cartoonist’s view of the Symplegades
|We see these two Pillars of Hercules again and again in religious iconography, for instance, showing up in the Temple of Sol-Ammon as Boaz and Jachim. They appear at Tyre, Byblus, Paphos, and Telloh, and in shrines dedicated to Astarte, they are represented by the two ash trees standing guard either side of her doorway.
We can also see them in the Sumerian tale of Adapa as Tammuz and Gishzida who guard the gateway to Heaven, and the two columns also turn up on the High Priestess Tarot card.
Fig 7. Tammuz and Gishzida
Fig 8. The High Priestess
So I believe that we are wasting our time looking for the Pillars of Hercules in the sea … any sea, whether the North Sea or the Straits of Gibraltar…. as much as I believe we are wasting our time looking for a real lost land of Atlantis, even though there were surely inundations of huge tracts of land which were submerged following Ice Ages and comets and then ‘rose’ again when the water again became trapped in glaciers.
But the inundation of Atlantis itself is just another creation-destruction myth, a death-rebirth myth, a tale of the amniotic sac bursting, dying, to release the waters heralding new life, and this process never ends. Atlantis is continually being drowned and rising again in the life-death-rebirth cycles going on around all the time, at every level.
Every night, Atlantis goes under and then rises up again. With each daily cycle, the Milky Way seems to move around the Heavens and also throughout the year, it appears to undulate, to go up and down like a serpent, because of the tilt of the Earth.
This continuing cycle of the Milky Way is also seen as a fertility dance of the male Father god and the female Mother god that the ancients visualised as simulacra in the Milky Way ~ with their never-ending dance of life, death and rebirth.
Figure 9. The fertility dance in the Milky Way
Figure 10. Graphic of Milky Way
Figure 11. Ancient Danish rock art of Milky Way couple
This article was first published on Ishtar’s Gate (www.ishtarsgate.com) a website and forum dedicated to the study of early man through archaeology, anthropology and mythology to reveal his shamanic roots.
© Ishtar Babilu Dingir 2010
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