The Enigmatic Orion

“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are, like a diamond in the sky.”

Orion's NebulaOne of the most easily recognisable constellations, it’s not surprising that the Orion constellation was so important to the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks and countless other major ancient civilisations. Its importance in the ancient world is evident by the fact that the pattern of stars forming this constellation is replicated in myriad ancient monuments across the Earth, and there are just as many ancient tales about it.

In Egyptian mythology, Orion’s Belt was believed to be a symbol of Osiris, the God-pharaoh of death, the afterlife and rebirth. Ancient Greeks saw the constellation as the hero and hunter, Orion, and the Sumerians saw in it their hero, Gilgamesh, battling the Bull of Heaven. For the Aztecs, when Orion’s Belt ‘rose in the sky’, it signalled the start of the New Fire ceremony, which the Aztecs believed delayed the end of the world. The Babylonians associated the Orion constellation with their god of the heavenly realms, Anu. Even the Christian Bible mentions the constellation: “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?”

In modern times, some people believe that the Orion constellation is of great importance to a ‘sacred quest’ to fully remember our roots, and that the stars forming Orion’s Belt hold our universe ‘in position’. These people also believe that we travel through the centre star of Orion’s Belt after death to reach the next world.

Whatever modern humans believe about the constellation of Orion, humanity in general still seems to be fascinated by it. For example, the constellation appears in the background of the original Apollo 13 insignia, and the Enterprise Mission’s Richard Hoagland believes that the majority of NASA’s planned missions are co-ordinated with Orion and Sirius. I haven’t a clue if this is true or not, and, to the best of my knowledge, NASA has never commented on this. However, even I am drawn to the Orion myths, and Orion plays a big part in my sci-fi fantasy series, Legends of Origin.

The Orion constellation has long been a source of mystery – just why was it so important to ancient humans that they went to the effort of aligning massive constructions such as the Pyramids of Egypt with it? Many believe it was for religious reasons, and that the constellation is a link to humanity’s origins, but we’ll discuss that in more detail in another post. Myriad ancient cultures considered the Orion constellation to be the centre of the universe. Before you judge all this to be pure myth, consider that today’s astrologers have ascertained that our sun’s solar system was, in fact, born in this constellation… but how did ancient humans know that? Clearly, they were not as clueless as it generally seems.

We are so closely linked to the stars that even human illness can be triggered by major changes in our sun’s sunspot cycles, such as viral pandemics caused by radical atmospheric changes, which cause extreme weather and, therefore, increase humanity’s susceptibility to disease.

What do you think? Were ancient humans all wrong or were they perhaps more advanced than we realise – more advanced, even, than we are? If they were, how was that knowledge lost? The topic creates countless questions, many of which will be addressed in future blog posts.

If you would like to read about more mythology related to the Orion constellation, please follow this blog to be notified of new topics by email (note that not all topics on this blog are related to Orion).

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About Vanessa Finaughty Fantasy Books

Vanessa Finaughty is a fantasy author whose books will introduce you to magical new beings, intense characters and high adventure. She will take you to exciting new worlds, and make you see this one through different eyes. To start you off, get Book 1 in her series for free!
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