Archaeoastronomy, Astrolatry, and Astrotheology: Are our megalithic edifices monuments to sky-gods or mnemonic devices for allegorical astronomical knowledge?
Archaeoastronomy is the daughter or sub-discipline of anthropology- and more directly, archaeology- that seeks answers on human knowledge and perspective on the cosmos and heavenly bodies, before the advent of modern astronomy. It can be considered the study of how people interacted with the stars, and how they felt the stars interacted with them.
It is a bit different than Ethnoastronomy, which is more of an antiquarian, or pre-anthropological, analysis of historical astronomy, when compared to our modern scientific philosophy, might be better called historical astrology.
Both fields can serve to bolster understanding of man’s propensity to see wisdom (or patterns) in the night sky, and record how men used this ‘knowledge’ to predict the future, much like our own scientific method (if you replace the esoteric with the evidenced).
Modern Archaeoastronomy works well to evidence what dead cultures felt was important- their fundamental tenets of faith as relating to the stars, and how their edifices worked as a microcosm for them. The alignments of megalithic structures, monuments arranged to intersect with rising suns or solstices, pyramids which may align with the stars in Orion’s belt, the Sun Spiral at Chaco Canyon / Pueblo Bonita, et al, indicate that astronomical knowledge was ubiquitous, and most likely sacred, to these antecedent cultures.
While our current compendium of astronomical knowledge is the product of countless hours of close scrutiny, mathematics, projections, and so forth- to the ancient man the sky was replete with heroes locked into loops of endless adventure, tragedy, and wisdom, observed with the naked eye and recorded in their oral histories, epic poems, and megalithic constructs.
Astrolatry is the deification and overt worship of these heavenly bodies, above and beyond seeing them as representative of pantheistic heroes, gods, and other manipulators of nature. Religious revisionists and alternative researchers are quick to point out that the Greco-Roman pantheon was represented and associated with the (then 7) 9 planets of our solar system, and that the 3 main Abrahamic faiths are probably etymologically derivative of sun/moon deities from the middle-east.
More germane to Ethnoastronomy, largely the examination of non-western astrology, is Astrotheology, an ideal or meme which has a lot of currency in today’s atmosphere of religious syncretism. The quickest way to describe Astrotheology is as a combination of Astrolatry and Joseph Campbell’s monomyth or hero’s journey, which theorized that all religions were derivative of a simple narrative about the accomplishments of an archetypal hero.
Astrotheology takes this and applies it to the heavens, making the figures of major religions (I will spare you the Jordan Maxwell or Acharya S. monologues) the allegorical representations of the heavenly bodies which, I believe, may actually be true.
Before the advent of education sciences, critical pedagogy, and scores of information on how children learn- in pre-enlightenment times there were few ways to ‘officially’ teach topics, and I imagine some sloppy mnemonic tactics were used to ensure (encrypted?) rites and lore was effectively perpetuated.
From the Crata Repoa we have a Germanic hodgepodge of old initiatory accounts of Plato, Salon, Pythagoras, etc, and their pilgrimage to Egypt (said to be the Mother of Greek Knowledge), and accounts of the Eleusinian and Dionysian mystery rites.
These rites show us a near unbroken line of rites/knowledge taught and perpetuated through allegorical memes, often orally but sometimes in the pictography or symbolic accoutrements of the sect/cult. (Think the Skull of Adam/ Jolly Rogers Skull of the Norman / Germanic derivative fraternity The Skull and Bones 322). Many of these numerologically oriented allegories are evident in Freemasonry, evidenced as far back as early 12th century in Halliwell’s codex.
With this in mind- is it so out of the question that children may have been taught allegorical astronomy under the auspices of theology? Was religion a mnemonic device to impart the high knowledge of the movements of the heavens to the next generation of crafty architects and builders of men? I think the ubiquitous nature of astrotheological heroes and astronomically oriented edifices indicates as much, and will continue to be evidenced by the disciplines of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy.
Everett Tucker is the creator and editor of Mystic Politics. He is condescending, overconfident, under-educated, and extremely interested in exploring religiopolitical overlap, the psychology of belief, and the conspiratorial tropes & memes- real or otherwise- of popular culture. Signup for email updates to be notified of future journalistic hack work.
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