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Credit: Montage by Dave Talbott


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Oct 04, 2004
Mystery of the Cosmic Thunderbolt (2)

A thunderstorm can be a terrifying event. The lightning flash and thunderclap may indeed awaken a primal fear, and a cursory acquaintance with mythology may elicit a newfound empathy for the mythmakers of antiquity. In the presence of a thunderstorm, was it not natural for our ancestors to envisage lightning-beasts roaring in the heavens or celestial armies hurling lightning-spears across the sky?

Unfortunately our common suppositions have prevented investigators from examining the underlying patterns of "lightning" symbolism. Cross-cultural comparison reveals numerous global images of "lightning" in ancient times, but these are a far cry from the phenomenon familiar to us today. Ancient descriptions suggest that the "lightning of the gods"--the cosmic thunderbolt--altered the order of the heavens and changed planetary history. To describe the cosmic thunderbolt, ancient chroniclers employed a wide range of natural and man-made symbols, and the images go well beyond those that would seem appropriate for lightning. The legendary bolt was a serpent.  It was a sword or arrow.  It was a blossoming flower. It grew horns or wings.  It was a whirlwind. It was a comet. Terrestrial lightning was but one of many hieroglyphs used to describe this celebrated weapon of gods and heroes.

The breadth of images will, in fact, appear quite meaningless until we find a new vantage point, one permitting us to discern the archetype, the original form that preceded the symbols and gave them their mythological context. Analysis will show that the weapon was electrical: the ancient interpretation as a thunderbolt was highly appropriate, as were the alternative mythic interpretations, all rooted in the same human experience.

The montage above shows three Greek images of the god Zeus launching his weapon, whose most elementary form was that of simple missile with a corkscrew configuration upon it. But numerous illustrations of the weapon show it sending forth leaf-like sepals, then "flowering" into a lotus-form. The petals of the lotus-thunderbolt are also elaborated as horns or wings, a fact that appears absurd today, until we discover the underlying structure. The patterns are, in fact, surprisingly consistent.

One example of the evolving form is seen in the picture of Zeus confronting the feared monster Typhon. Below this picture we present, as a starting point, three of the more elementary forms of the Greek thunderbolt, representing the foundation upon which all of the more elaborate images were built.

In forthcoming TPODs, we'll examine the cosmic thunderbolt in detail, with an emphasis on cross cultural comparison. Clearly, the subject was not a bolt of lightning such as we observe in the sky today. It was a plasmoid, a configuration typically formed at the "z- pinch" of interacting electrical currents. In intensely energetic plasma discharges, a plasmoid can evolve violently, through a series of metamorphoses, or quasi-stable phases, and many of these forms have now been well documented through several decades of laboratory research. The literary and artistic images of Zeus' thunderbolt capture some of the most prominent phases of intense plasma discharge.

What is the Electric Universe?


David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
Amy Acheson
  CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Mel Acheson, Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane,   Walter Radtke, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman
  WEBMASTER: Michael Armstrong

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