Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Pleiades

Okay, for some reason i couldn't get a picture of my favorite constellation on here, but copied below is what I found on Wikipedia about The Pleiades (pronounced 'plee-AY-deez').

Why is this constellation my favorite? I'm glad you asked. In high school I got up very early in the morning. I'd frequently be out the door before anyone else even got out of bed. On my way to school (by bicycle or by bus, depending on the weather) I'd keep one eye to the sky (figuratively, of course) and over time singled out this tiny group of stars as one I knew I could find. At first I thought it was the Little Dipper, but over time I figured it out. Now, in Minneapolis, I still look for Pleiades and feel like I"m standing in my front yard all over again. Like I said, I'll get a picture up as soon as I can.

The Pleiades in folklore

The Pleiades' high visibility in the night sky has guaranteed it a special place in many cultures, both ancient and modern. In Greek mythology, they represented the Seven Sisters, while to the Vikings, they were Freya's hens, and their name in many old European languages compares them to a hen with chicks.
To the Bronze Age people of Europe, such as the Celts (and probably considerably earlier), the Pleiades were associated with mourning and with funerals, since at that time in history, on the cross-quarter day between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice (see Samhain, also Halloween or All Souls Day), which was a festival devoted to the remembrance of the dead, the cluster rose in the eastern sky as the sun's light faded in the evening. It was from this acronychal rising that the Pleiades became associated with tears and mourning. As a result of precession over the centuries, the Pleiades no longer marked the festival, but the association has nevertheless persisted, and accounts for the significance of the Pleiades astrologically.

A bronze disk, 1600 BC, from Nebra, Germany, is the one of the oldest known representations of the cosmos. The Pleiades are top right. See Nebra sky disk
The ancient Aztecs of Mexico and Central America based their calendar upon the Pleiades. Their calendric year began when priests first remarked the asterism rising heliacally in the east, immediately before the sun's dawn light obliterated the view of the stars.
Heliacal risings very often mark important calendar points for ancient peoples.[10] The heliacal rising of the Pleiades (around June) also begins the new year for the Māori of New Zealand, who call the Pleiades Matariki. Some Indigenous Australian peoples believed the Pleiades were a woman who had been nearly raped by Kidili, the man in the moon. Alternatively, they were seven sisters called the Makara.
The Sioux of North America had a legend that linked the origin of the Pleiades to Devils Tower. It was common among the indigenous peoples of the Americas to measure keenness of vision by the number of stars the viewer could see in the Pleiades, a practice which was also used in historical Europe, especially in Greece.
In Japan, the Pleiades are a known as Subaru, a tortoise, and have given their name to the car manufacturer. In Chinese constellations, they are 昴 mao, the hairy head of the white tiger of the West, while the name of the Hindu God Kartikeya means him of the Pleiades.
In Western astrology they represent coping with sorrow [11] and were considered a single one of the medieval fixed stars. As such, they are associated with quartz and fennel. In Indian astrology the Pleiades were known as the asterism (nakshatra) Krittika (which in Sanskrit is translated as "the cutters.")[12] The Pleiades are called the star of fire, and their ruling deity is the Vedic god Agni, the god of the sacred fire. It is one of the most prominent of the nakshatras, and is associated with anger and stubbornness.
The word has acquired a meaning of "multitude", inspiring the name of the French literary movement La Pléiade and an earlier group of Alexandrian poets, the Alexandrian Pleiad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey you!! I'm back!!! I'm so sorry it's been forever. My computer broke, then camp, then 2 week vacation..and then I'm leaving again this weekend...sigh...but I'm here now...when are you coming to ohio?!! soon...I want to see you!!! I miss you...love - shoes- on!