Stanis?aw Wyspia?ski: Eos, Phosphoros, Hesperos, Helios, black-coloured pencil drawing, The National Museum in Warsaw, 1897
The morning star is an appearance of the planet Venus, an inferior planet, meaning that its orbit lies between that of the Earth and the Sun. Depending on the orbital locations of both Venus and Earth, it can be seen in the eastern morning sky for an hour or so before the Sun rises and dims it, or in the western evening sky for an hour or so after the Sun sets, when Venus itself then sets. It is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon, outshining the planets Saturn and Jupiter but, while these rise high in the sky, Venus never does. This may lie behind myths about deities associated with the morning star proudly striving for the highest place among the gods and being cast down.
PHOSPHORUS, THE MORNING STAR
Hesperus as Personification of the Evening by Anton Raphael Mengs, Palacete de la Moncloa, Madrid, 1765
The Latin poet Ovid, speaking of Phosphorus and Hesperus (the Evening Star, the evening appearance of the planet Venus) as identical, makes him the father of Daedalion. Ovid also makes him the father of Ceyx, while the Latin grammarian Servius makes him the father of the Hesperides or of Hesperis
While at an early stage the Morning Star (called Phosphorus and other names) and the Evening Star (referred to by names such as Hesperus) were thought of as two celestial objects, the Greeks accepted that the two were the same, but they seem to have continued to treat the two mythological entities as distinct. Halbertal and Margalit interpret this as indicating that they did not identify the star with the god or gods of mythology “embodied” in the star.[8
In the 1980s the late Marija Gimbutas became a controversial figure in the world of archaeology, and later in culture at large, for her belief that a matriarchal Stone Age civilization based on a worship of a Great Goddess predated the so-called origin of civilization in Egypt, and existed in Europe between 7000 and 3500 B.C. Peaceful, nonhierarchical, and living in harmony with nature, the civilization of “Old Europe” was centered, she claimed, on social responsibility, artistic creation, aesthetic achievement, nonmaterial values, and a respect for the generative powers of the female, leading to an ecologically sound society fostering equality between the sexes.
Flourishing during long periods of stability, the various farming communities making up Old Europe erected temples, developed skills in ceramics and metallurgy, lived in spacious houses, and even had a kind of sacred script. Artisans produced a remarkable number of goods, and early trade routes enabled a wide exchange in shells, marble, copper, obsidian, and other materials. Çatal Hüyük, in the southern part of central Anatolia (Turkey), is the showcase site for Gimbutas’s theory, a remarkable prehistoric “town” founded some 8,000 years ago, estimated to have supported a population of 7,000 people. Wall paintings, sculptures, and statuettes support the theory that the inhabitants of (Çatal Hüyük worshipped a Great Goddess, and there is good reason to believe that the important rituals associated with her were performed by women, with men taking part in secondary roles. Men in general seem to have occupied a subordinate position in the society of Çatal Hüyük; male images have been found in the iconography of the site, but they are usually subsumed by the more dominant figure of the feminine. Similar temples and sites also devoted to the Goddess and worship of the feminine have been found in Malta, Slovakia, Serbia, Moldavia, and the British Isles. All attest to Gimbutas’s view that a widespread Goddess-oriented “civilization” existed in Europe some three thousand years prior to the unification of Egypt.
But according to Gimbutas, this holistic Golden Age of high aesthetic achievement and sexual equality came to an end between 4300 and 2800 B.C. During this period, the peaceful, feminine-centered civilization of Old Europe suffered incursions from a Proto-Indo-European culture that would eventually overrun and dominate it. Originating on the steppes of Russia, the Neolithic Kurgan culture espoused values that were the complete opposite of Goddess worship. Horse-riding warriors, the Kurgans shattered the stability of Old Europe with devastating weaponry, and a male-cen- tered, patriarchal religion based on the worship of a sky god. The Kurgan warriors toppled the worship of the Goddess, reducing her and her fellow female deities to secondary positions as wives of the new male pantheon. Sexual inequality, aggression, and linear and dualistic thinking—all, needless to say, elements of our own culture—leveled the older culture, which eventually died out, its stable, holistic way of life based on the cycles of nature shrinking to mere folklore and superstition.
Although it was popularized by writers like Riane Eisler ( The Chalice and the Blade, 1987), Gimbutas’s vision of an ecologically, politically, and sexually “correct” prehistoric civilization crushed by androcratic male warriors whose values went on to shape the Western world increasingly marginalized her among her archaeological peers. Perhaps inevitably, it was seen as more of a blueprint for a feminist Utopia than an actual reconstruction of a past culture. This is unfortunate. Although Eisler, perhaps understandably, presents a simplified picture of what she sees as the need to regain the values of a “partnership” culture lost to our “dominator” one, Gimbutas’s work in uncovering this lost past is exemplary and adds an essential dimension to our self-understanding.1The fact that she was not alone, that other thinkers have argued persuasively for the existence of a Goddess-oriented prehistoric civilization, adds weight to what too often seems in the work of some of its advocates an exercise in wishful thinking.
by James Ellroy
I love James Ellroy, just based on this first book I’ve read of his but also seeing him on his cable specials like ‘LA: City of Demons’ and ‘James’ Ellroy’s Feast of Death’ and seeing him on Conan O’brien in a Youtube clip, and watching ‘L.A. Confidential’ before I knew anything about him and after. His personal story is tragic and his writing comes directly from that and it is not second hat, he writes amazingly and passionately and brings creativity from darkness. I admire him and have enjoyed everything I’ve encountered of his and would love to read more.
A couple walks through the burning streets of Berlin in the final days of the war, 1945