Venus in the Folklore
Many peoples speak of a “lower sky” in the past, a “larger sun,” a swifter movement of the sun across the firmament, a shorter day that became longer after the sun was arrested on its path. World conflagration is a frequent motif in folklore.
According to the Indians of North America the `shooting star’ and the `fire drill’ set the world aflame. “It was too hot. The sun was put “a handbreadth” higher in the air, but it was still too hot. Seven times the sun was lifted higher arid higher under the sky arch, until it became cooler.” In the burning world one could see nothing but waves of flames; rocks were burning, the ground was burning, everything was burning. Great rolls and piles of smoke were rising; fire blew up toward the sky in flames, in great sparks and brands. The great fire was blazing, roaring all over the earth, burning rocks, earth, trees, people, burning everything. Water rushed in, it rushed in like a crowd of rivers, covered the earth, and put out the fire as it rolled on toward the south. Water rose mountain high.”
A celestial monster flew with `a whistle in his mouth; as he moved forward he blew it with all his might and made a terrible noise. He came flowing and blowing; he looked like an enormous bat with wings spread and his feathers waved up and down. They grew till they could touch the sky on both sides.
All these elements were not brought together in this Indian narrative by sheer invention.
Ancient Mexican records give the order of the occurrences. The sun was attacked by Quetzal-couatl; after the disappearance of this serpent-shaped heavenly body the sun refused to shine and during four days the world was deprived of its light. A great many people died at that time.
The sky, to show its anger, caused to perish a great number of people who died of famine and pestilence. The Earth had convulsions overwhelmed by a deluge. The cataclysm was accompanied by a prolonged darkness; the days of the Exodus, when a tempest of cinders darkened the world disturbed in its rotation.
The catastrophe of the time occurred when the sun remained in the sky of the [ancient] world for more than a day. The sequence of seasons and the duration of days and nights became disarranged. “It was then that the people regulated anew the reckoning of days, nights, and hours, according to the difference in time.”
The clouds that enveloped the Israelites in the desert, the trumpet like sounds that they heard at Mount Sinai, and the gradual lifting of the clouds in the years of the Shadow of Death are the same elements that we find in this Indian legend. After the dramatic events of the time of Exodus, the earth was shrouded in dense clouds for decades, and observation of stars was not possible;
The change that took place
The planet Venus established the present order on the earth and placed the north and south polar stars in their places. The Pawnee Indians believe that the future destruction of the world depends on the planet Venus. When the end of the world will come, the North and South poles will change places. In the past the South Star left its place a few times and came up higher, bringing about a shifting of the poles, but on these occasions the polar stars did not reverse their positions.
The Blazing Star
The Egyptian priests said that the world conflagration was caused by a shifting of bodies in the sky which move around the earth. The comet Venus – after two contacts with the earth – eventually became a planet. Phaethon, which means `the blazing star,’ became the Morning Star.
The Four Planet System
The planet Venus was born in the first half of the second millennium [BCE]. In the third millennium only four planets could be seen, and in astronomical charts of this early period the planet Venus cannot be found. In an ancient Hindu table of planets, attributed to the year 3102 [BCE], Venus alone among the visible planets is absent. Indian Brahmins of the early period did not know the five planet system and only in a later period did the Brahmins speak of five planets.
Babylonian astronomy, too, had a four planet system. In ancient prayers the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury are invoked; the planet Venus is missing; and one speaks of `the four planet system of the ancient astronomers of Babylonia.’ These four planet systems and the inability of the ancient Hindus and Babylonians to see Venus in the sky, even though it is more conspicuous than the other planets, are puzzling unless Venus was not among the planets.
“The great star that joins the great stars.”
The great stars are, of course, the four planets Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (when not all the orbs were yet in the heavens) and Venus joined them as the fifth planet.