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In our reconstruction, the story of the "Great Comet" Venus begins with the planet's role as the "star" that I've called the "Radiant Venus" and the "Discharging Venus", depicted in the center of another, vastly larger body conventionally translated as the "sun." Archaic astrological and astronomical records identify this larger body, not as our Sun, but as the planet Saturn. Pictographs and textual references to this unusual relationship of central star and primeval "sun" occur in every corner of the world, and though translations will use different words for the star--glory, radiance, majesty, splendor, power, strength--a rigorous examination of contexts will make clear that all refer to the same image and to the same story, centered on the mother goddess as the animating life of the ruling luminary. That is, the god's "life" meant the explosive streamers of the discharging star.
Though the star of Venus is originally the celestial symbol of beauty, the Queen of Heaven, the departure of this body from its central position does not just mean the god's death or loss of power, it is the story of universal destruction. In a transformation which has left historians grasping at explanations, the Queen of Heaven becomes the Terrible Goddess, attacking the world in the form of a devouring serpent or dragon. She becomes the world threatening "Great Comet--the very symbol of planetary catastrophe that was the centerpiece of Immanuel Velikovsky's best-selling book Worlds in Collision (1950).
In the ancient languages there is no escaping certain meanings of words. When Sumerian texts speak of the "frightful glory" of Inanna, the reference is to the effusive, radiating streams of Venus, Inanna's star. Innana is "the Light of the World," "the Amazement of the Lands," "Radiant Star," "Great Light," and "Queen of Heaven." The Exaltation of Inanna speaks of those "who dare not proceed before [Inanna's] terrible countenance." The texts depict the goddess "clothed in radiance (glory)." And they say the world stood in "fear and trembling at [her] tempestuous radiance."
The Sumerian word for the glory or radiance in which Inanna clothed herself is melammu. The Akkadian term is sallammu, a word used in astronomical texts for a comet, but with many broader implications as well.
The placement of Inanna's star of "glory" is therefore crucial. In both texts and artistic renderings it is located in the center of "Heaven." The word translated as "Heaven" is the Sumerian An, the Akkadian Anu, the highest god, the prototype of kings and ruler of the Golden Age, whom we have identified (and more than one specialist has also identified) as the planet Saturn. Thus the texts invoke the "terrifying glory in the center of Anu." Both the pictographs and the texts, therefore, while offering an astronomically absurd depiction of Venus (that is, absurd in terms of Venus' appearance today), suggest a relationship that can be readily tested in the symbolism of other early cultures.
A counterpart to the Mesopotamian image of terrifying glory will be the Hebrew Shekinah, called the "indwelling," the feminine "Glory" of God. The Persian Zend Avesta speaks of the "awful Kingly Glory" (Kavaem Hvareno.)which is said to have "clave unto the bright Yima" during the Golden Age. But the Glory departed from the god with the end of the Golden Age when, according to the texts, "the glory was seen to flee away from him." And strangely, on its departure, the Glory took the form of a female chaos monster, remembered as "that most powerful, fiendish Drug, that demon baleful." Yet, paradoxically, this very Glory became a weapon of power in the hands of the hero Vistaspa, "when he victoriously maintained Holiness against the host of the fiends." We encounter this very paradox again and again in the myths and symbols of other lands. The departed glory takes the form of a chaos monster but is also employed by the warrior-hero to vanquish and scatter the clouds of chaos.
The Hindus remembered the Face of Glory, called Kirttimukha, which was said to have been born from the eye of Shiva. It was lion-headed and its "mane, disheveled, spread far and wide into space.'" Authorities have recognized the Face of Glory as a form of the Supreme Goddess, Devi, in her terrible aspect. Like the Medusa head, it could ward off evil, which is the fundamental character of the mother goddess as Great Protectress. Its symbol was a gruesome mask placed in Medusa fashion as protection over the threshold. The frightful countenance of the angry goddess also means defense. The same concept will be seen in the Gorgon-like T'ao T'ieh of the Chinese, which Ananda Commaraswamy identifies with both Kirttimukha and the Gorgonian. The story is repeated in the case of the Egyptian goddess Tefnut, the Eye of Ra. In her departure, she became a raging lion with a long smoking mane. Is it significant then, that both the long flowing mane and trailing smoke are worldwide comet symbols?
To illuminate the connected traditions, and to test the correspondence with our model, it will be useful to go to the richly-documented traditions of Egypt, where there are countless references to the "Majesty" or "Power" of the sun god Ra, ruler of the Zep Tepi, the First Time or Golden Age. A reader, on encountering these expressions, will likely see only abstractions. The first mistake will be to assume that the owner of the celestial "Majesty" is our Sun (the standard interpretation). The second mistake will be to imagine that the Majesty of Ra is a poetic but insubstantial notion rooted in the heat or light of the Sun (since the Sun gives us nothing else). The actual role is far more concrete than that.
The "Majesty of Ra" is not an abstraction in any sense. It is (or becomes) an independent cosmic personality. It is inseparable from the Eye of Ra, and it is sent out or departs from him in connection with a cosmic rebellion or upheaval. And most significantly it is the instrument by which the skies are cleared and order is re-established. The Majesty is described as "a circling star which scatters its flame in fire" (as only a "comet" can do). And yet at the same time it becomes a weapon wielded by the warrior god Horus (and by his many alter egos) against the powers of chaos.
When, in later times, Egyptian armies confronted foreign nations on the battlefield, they invariably called upon the shining Majesty of Ra, which had raged against the clouds of darkness in former times. They sought a victory like unto that achieved by the fierce Majesty, when it waged war on the god's behalf, when the heavens were overcome by the rebelling armies of a cosmic night. The Majesty of Ra was a terrifying form in the sky: "My Majesty is upon me, the Chaos-gods are controlled for me, so that they of the celestial expanses quake for me," the texts say.
Much more to say here, of course... but must pause for now. One key for us will be to establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the Majesty of Ra is nothing else than the mother goddess, the Eye of Ra, appearing in the heavens as a fire-spitting serpent.
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