Saturday, August 15, 2009

The constellation of Draco

The winding constellation of Draco is symbolic of the oblique course of the stars. It was once the polar constellation, and its alpha star or Thuban was the pole star 4,800 years ago. As the millennia clicked past, Draco pulled out of alignment with the northern pole and became the serpent that chases its own tail. This may lend itself to an identification with Norse mythology, which tells of a serpent named Oroborus that bites its own tail at the edge of the world.
The Egyptian hieroglyph is that of a star-studded serpent, each shimmering scale representing a star.1 While Draco has now slumped around Polaris, the current pole star, there is a procession of the ecliptic pole, as illustrated in the diagram above. While the lion-serpent attributed to Leo and Teth has come to be commonly recognised as the Gnostic solar-path of the sun through the zodiac, Draco itself marks this same progression around the pole. Therefore, Draco is arguably also the serpent from The Universe card, where it has an expanded meaning of the entire 72 quinances of the Zodiac.

Another interpretation was that in the war of the giants, this was the dragon that was brought into battle against Minerva, the goddess of battle and learning who seized the serpent and threw it into the sky where it became fixed as a constellation.
Draco has also been taken to be the dragon killed by Cadmus with the assistance of Minerva, when he was on his quest to find his sister Europa, whom Jupiter had carried away.

In the tale of Hercules, he slays the dragon who guarded the golden apples in the garden of Hesperides, near Mount Atlas in Africa. When Juno presented the apples to Jupiter, she raised the Dragon to the heavens as the constellation to reward it for its fidelity. While the Dragon of the Herculean myth was a guard of the golden apples, this tale may well be the origin of the serpent that offered the fruit to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Finally, when the latter story is viewed from a Gnostic perspective, it is the serpent that brings humanity wisdom through its offering of the forbidden fruit.

These quaint tales involving Draco and Minerva show an important antithetical relationship between the nature of any intellectual learning, and especially that of a spiritual nature. They contrast the mystery schools which Minerva is a patroness of, and the inner Gnostic wisdom of the true most high that the serpent is but a messiah thereof. It is this that led A.E. Waite to comment on the Heirophant card that "He is the ruling power of external religion, as the High Priestess is the prevailing genius of the esoteric, withdrawn power" in his prolifically available, but scarcely understood work, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. For that which may be taught is not the eternal truth, but a mere attempt to express ones own experience thereof.

1) The geography of the heavens, and class book of astronomy, by Elijah Hinsdale Burritt, Thomas Dick

No comments:

Post a Comment