legacy page  
     homeaboutessential guidepicture of the daythunderblogsnewsmultimediapredictionsproductsget involvedcontact

picture of the day

chronological archive               subject archive


Comet seen at Julius Caesar’s death (44 BCE), closely associated with the planet Venus.
Yellow marble, from Tunisia. Courtesy Musée de l’Arles et de la Provence Antique, Arles, France.



Velikovskian Chaff and Wheat: Venus
Mar 27, 2009

Science progresses in a variety of ways.

One way that science progresses is through a careful evaluation of arguments advanced by earlier scholars in the field. For the sake of academic honesty, this has to be done in a completely dispassionate manner. The work of pioneers, Nobel-prize winners and other prestigious people cannot be judged by different standards than that of the least noticed postgraduate student.

The maverick Russian-American polymath, Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979), deserves recognition for his pioneering statements about the role of electromagnetic activity in space and the importance of catastrophic events even in historically recent periods. Yet science has no place for worship and it is incumbent on modern researchers to scrupulously evaluate each of Velikovsky’s many claims in the light of current knowledge.

One of Velikovsky’s boldest ideas was that the planet Venus is a relative newcomer in the solar system: during the mid-2nd millennium BCE, it would have erupted from the interior of the planet Jupiter and have inflicted damage to the earth’s atmosphere and biosphere with its conspicuous cometary tail before settling in its present orbit and shedding its appendage. How does this analysis fare when approached today with an open but a sternly critical mind?

To begin with the negative end of the spectrum, many of the sources Velikovsky cited in support of the Venus theory need to be axed. Of the numerous ‘ethnic’ traditions of catastrophic import he cites, involving darkness, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, celestial combat and an inversion of east and west, hardly a single one bears any apparent connection to Venus or the 2nd millennium BCE.

The entire discussion of the comet Typhon, though important in its own right, really bears no relationship to Venus, except, perhaps, for the very tenuous chronological association implied in the contrived chronicles of a much later date. Moreover, Velikovsky’s observation that “in the third millennium only four planets could have been seen, and that in astronomical charts of this early period the planet Venus cannot be found” has been proven plain wrong.

Though “astronomical charts” or, indeed, any form of ‘astronomy’ did not yet exist prior to the 2nd millennium BCE, incontrovertible evidence for Venus’ existence has been uncovered in Mesopotamian records dating from the 2nd half of the 4th millennium BCE onwards. Sumerian texts of this early date plainly identify the goddess Inanna as a “star” associated with the morning and the evening. Egyptologists are agreed that the sbɜ dwɜt or the ‘morning star’ abundantly mentioned in the Egyptian Pyramid Texts, finalised in 2200 BCE, is the planet Venus.

While Velikovsky’s claim of a ‘recent’ Venus was reasonable and worth testing, it has now been falsified and must be binned. If anything, Venus is the first one of the planets to be mentioned in the Mesopotamian literature.

Nevertheless, from the perspective of historical sources, at least three of Velikovsky’s conclusions concerning Venus must be salvaged and can be strengthened with much additional evidence.

First, Velikovsky’s citation of the Roman intellectual, Varro, to the effect that Venus “changed its color, size, form, course, which never happened before nor since,” presents a genuine puzzle to modern historians of the solar system. The citation itself is unambiguous and not suspicious, but it needs to be resolved exactly how and when Venus’ colour, appearance and movement were modified.

In addition, the so-called Venus Tablet of Ammiṣaduqa (7th century BCE?), which presents the oldest known set of Venus observations, remains a mystery. Specialists are urged to investigate whether the data given in the tablet could consistently describe not the present orbit of Venus, but any other course the planet might have followed.

Second, Velikovsky’s argument that Venus once sported a cometary tail stands up to close scrutiny and can be buttressed with a mass of additional evidence. In modern terms, a plausible explanation for the ancient testimony would be the assumption that Venus’ large magnetosphere had acquired a visible glow in historical times, at a time when the inner solar system was brimming with electrical activity.

Third, Velikovsky rightly drew attention to the voluminous body of mythical traditions concerning the birth of the morning star. The spectacular ascent to heaven of the feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl, in Aztec mythology, is a textbook example for this motif. However, Velikovsky hopelessly muddled the issue by force-fitting this mythical event into the 15th century BCE.

In reality, the birth of the morning star represents one of the final chapters in the global cycle of creation mythology. In the traditions of numerous cultures, the background to the story is the transfer of mythical beings such as gods and ancestors from their original home on the ‘earth’ into the sky, where they live on in the form of celestial bodies. When the protagonists of the myth were thus placed in the sky as stars and planets, the hitherto dark sky was for the first time illuminated and the process of creation reached completion. This episode bears a close relationship to the collapse of the polar column and is best evaluated on a par with the mythology of the axis mundi as a whole. It cannot be isolated from this narrative context.

In conclusion, Velikovsky’s conviction that Venus originated no earlier than 1500 BCE is untenable. Nevertheless, more robust than ever is the case that Venus has experienced a recent change in its orbit, however slight; that it featured a filamentary tail; and that its first appearance formed part of the complex chain of events anciently known as ‘creation.'

Contributed by Rens Van der Sluijs

Further Reading:

The Mythology of the World Axis; Exploring the Role of Plasma in World Mythology

The World Axis as an Atmospheric Phenomenon




SPECIAL NOTE - **New Volumes Available:
We are pleased to announce a new e-book series THE UNIVERSE ELECTRIC. Available now, the first volume of this series, titled Big Bang, summarizes the failure of modern cosmology and offers a new electrical perspective on the cosmos. At over 200 pages, and designed for broadest public appeal, it combines spectacular full-color graphics with lean and readily understandable text.

**Then second and third volumes in the series are now available, respectively titled Sun and Comet, they offer the reader easy to understand explanations of how and why these bodies exist within an Electric Universe.

High school and college students--and teachers in numerous fields--will love these books. So will a large audience of general readers.

Visitors to the site have often wondered whether they could fully appreciate the Electric Universe without further formal education. The answer is given by these exquisitely designed books. Readers from virtually all backgrounds and education levels will find them easy to comprehend, from start to finish.

For the Thunderbolts Project, this series is a milestone. Please see for yourself by checking out the new Thunderbolts Project website, our leading edge in reaching new markets globally.

Please visit our Forum

  This free site search script provided by JavaScript Kit  
  FREE update -

Weekly digest of Picture of the Day, Thunderblog, Forum, Multimedia and more.
*** NEW DVD ***
  Symbols of an Alien Sky
Selections Playlist

An e-book series
for teachers, general readers and specialists alike.
(FREE viewing)
  Thunderbolts of the Gods

  Follow the stunning success of the Electric Universe in predicting the 'surprises' of the space age.  
  Our multimedia page explores many diverse topics, including a few not covered by the Thunderbolts Project.  

Authors David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduce the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation.
More info
Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.
More info
In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.
More info

EXECUTIVE EDITORS: David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Mel Acheson, Michael Armstrong,
Dwardu Cardona, Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom,
Don Scott, Rens van der Sluijs,
Ian Tresman, Tom Wilson
WEBMASTER: Brian Talbott
© Copyright 2009:
top ]

home   •   picture of the day   •   thunderblogs   •   multimedia   •   resources   •   forum   •   updates   •   contact us   •   support us