November 2002 A Conscious Evolution Newsletter
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Volume 1, Number 3

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Twilight of the Misty Sisters -
The Pleiades’ November Rise

By Maria Barron

November, called the Pleiad month by ancient Greeks, ushers in the season of the Pleiades, a tiny cluster of nearby stars best viewed by those in the Northern Hemisphere in November and December.

Despite their relative obscurity in a sky filled with far larger and more noticeable formations, the glow of the Pleiades (pronounced pleé-a-deez) has fascinated humanity for millennia. The Pleiades cluster holds a prominent place in the sacred scriptures of many different cultures - remarkably more prominent than most other astronomical phenomena. They are one of a very few star signs mentioned in the Judeo-Christian Bible; in Hinduism, they are associated through spousal symbolism with the enlightened beings who brought the sacred verses - the Vedas - to humanity; and the Mayan culture’s written codices are said by some modern tribal elders to have originated in the Pleiades, whose Mayan name means “begetters.”

Numerologically, the Pleiades are associated with the dreamy, religious and mystical symbolism of the number 7. These misty-looking stars, which rise over the eastern horizon at twilight in November, are called the seven sisters, daughters of Atlas, in Greco-Roman mythology. In one of their Hindu guises, they represent the seven wives of the seven wise Rishis. Their husbands, represented in the seven stars of the Great Bear (Ursa Major), are seen as inspired beings - with a consciousness between humanity’s and Divinity’s - who are responsible for revealing the Vedas. In Egypt, the builders of the seven-chambered Great Pyramid at Giza created it with seven chambers and noted the position of the Pleiades with marks in the descending passageway. In the esoteric astrology of Djwhal Khul and Alice A. Bailey, the Pleiades are one of three stellar configurations that animate our solar system through seven rays of energy.

Links to Themes of Life and Death,
And of Rising and Rebirth

There is a life-and-death theme to this little smear of stars. The origins of humanity are credited to the Pleiades in some cultures, most notably those of many indigenous tribes across the Americas. Mayan tradition, along with that of the Hopi, Cherokee and some other tribes, suggests the people came from the Pleiades. At least one published spokesman of the Mayan culture, Don Alejandro Wandering Wolf of Guatemala, claims to have access to relics originally from the Pleiades containing secrets about reincarnation. In the old ways of some American tribes, as well as an ocean away in the land of the ancient Celts, the Pleiades’ association with death was marked ritualistically with the end of the old fire and the kindling of the new. The ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain, which commemorates the death of the natural year as October gives way to November, is timed to coincide with the twilight rise of the Pleiades as a major sign of the season. The people of Persia used to call the month Mordad, or “Angel of Death.”

The paired themes of death and new life - and again the symbolism of the 7 - are also present where the Pleiades appear in ancient Jewish lore. In stories from the Talmud (the scriptural commentary that accompanies the Biblical Old Testament), the destruction of mankind in the Great Flood and the rebirth through Noah occurred when God pulled two stars out of the Pleiades, releasing a deluge upon the Earth. God is said to have stopped the rain by refilling the holes in the Heavens with stars from the other major constellation associated in ancient literature with the mystical number 7 - the Great Bear, Ursa Major, whose seven brightest stars are also known as the Big Dipper.

“Lord, here comes the flood,
We’ll say goodbye to flesh and blood…”

The Pleiades are called the Khima (or heap) in the Old Testament. Their connection to the story of Noah and the Biblical Great Flood first appears in the set of Jewish scriptures known as the Babylonian Talmud, or Tracta Berakhot. “When the Holy One decided to bring the Deluge on the Earth, He took two stars from Khima and (hurling them against the Earth) brought the Deluge on the Earth.”

In the book Folklore in the Old Testament; Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend, and Law, published in 1975, Sir J.G. Frazer summarizes the story thus:

Now the deluge was caused by the male waters from the sky meeting the female waters, which issued forth from the ground. The holes in the sky by which the upper waters escaped were made by God when he removed two stars out of the constellation of the Pleiades; and in order to stop this torrent of rain God had afterwards to bung up the two holes with a couple of stars borrowed from the constellation of the Bear. That is why the Bear runs after the Pleiades to this day: she wants her children back, but she will never get them till after the Last Day.

The deluge began in the first half of November, according to scholarship cited in JewishEncyclopedia.com, and it was timed to begin seven days after the death of Methusala, or seven days after God announced his intention, according to different accounts in the ancient literature. According to the encyclopedia’s paraphrase of the Midrash ha-Gadol, “Water was chosen as the instrument of destruction because man was made of dust, and water is the exact opposite of dust; because it was the first element to sing God’s praises; because it enters into the composition of all that has life; because it recalled the haughty eye of the sinners.” The flood account appearing in the Bible also emphasizes the number 7. Seven days after the rain ceases, Noah sends out a dove, which returns without finding any sign of dry land. After another seven days, he sends another dove, and after a third seven days, he sends a third, which returns no more. He then uncovers the ark, and finds the face of the earth is dry.

Modern Revelations Reflect
The Pleiades’ Lasting Mystique

Modern stories now add to the mystique. During the last half-century, people as diverse as UFO watchers, new-age channelers, and Lakota Sioux and Mayan tribal elders have spoken out with stories, warnings and advice they say comes from ancient and modern contacts with Pleiadians - beings who sometimes are described as space aliens coming from a different space/time dimension linked to the star cluster.

According to today’s scientific knowledge of space, the open cluster of Pleiades is too young to have the conditions required to support life. But many stories from vastly different cultures relate the Pleiades to ordinary people who once lived on Earth and ascended, as a group, to that spot in the heavens, where they now shine as stars. One such tale comes from Wyoming, a state in the American West, where the Kiowa people say that a tall tower of earth, the Devils Tower National Monument (less-pejoratively known as Grey Horn Butte), grew from the Earth in a miracle of rescue. Known in its miraculous sense as the Mateo Tepe, the tower was created when a group of maidens prayed to Spirit for protection from a pursuing bear, and the land rose up in response. As the bear clawed its way upward, leaving long scratches in the tower, the group rose into the sky, ever out of his reach, taking their place as the Pleiades. The site of the high butte was used as the setting for the climactic alien visit in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The Pleiades in the Eyes of Astronomers
And Sky Watchers Through the Ages

The current fascination with this small group of stars is the latest reflection of a significant interest that goes back into pre-history. The Pleiades cluster, although it appears from Earth as no bigger than a full moon, has figured in the star-lore of cultures since before there were written words to describe the people’s stories. At Lascaux in central France, as reported by BBC News, cave paintings from 16,500 years ago show the Pleiades in their place, above the shoulder of the Taurus the Bull. Many centuries later, when people began to write, the Pleiades were among the first stars to be mentioned in known writings, appearing in a Chinese text from 2357 B.C. The Pleiades were revered in ancient Mesopotamia as gods; in later sects of monotheistic belief they were seen as the Seat of God; and - as recently as the 1800s - scientists postulated that the Pleiades were the physical center of the universe.

November is their month - the best month to see the Pleiades without having to stay up all night. The month of their evening rising is often linked to a wet season of rain or snow. But clear skies between the storms provide an opportunity to stare at these special stars and link into the pondering of untold numbers of people over the ages who have gazed at their light for inspiration. The observation of the 19th-century poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, who described the Pleiades as glittering “like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid,” has been borne out through new technology that allows for closer viewing. Powerful telescopes show that the cluster of seven bright stars is, in fact, “tangled” within a group of hundreds or even thousands of stars, wreathed in complex nebulosity.

This month, shortly after the Sun sets in the west, you can see the Pleiades rise in the east. Like a flock of doves over the saddle of the bull (as they were represented in Egyptian sculpture), the Pleiades always follow behind the head and horns of the constellation Taurus. The doves are chased, upward and over, across the night sky, by Orion the hunter, who rises about an hour and a half after the Pleiades. The Bear, Ursa Major, joins the chase a few hours later - following the Pleiades by about 75 degrees, or two and a half signs. The “flock of doves,” into which the seven sisters were transformed in Greek literature, in order to keep them safe from the amorous designs of Orion, looks to Russians like a hen and her chicks; to ancient Incas like a scattering of seeds, and to the Japanese like daubs from an artist’s paintbrush. Modern American astronomy buffs sometimes say the pattern looks like a very miniature Little Dipper.

In the scientific catalogue of space, the Pleiades are known as Messier 45. Lying some 425 light years away, the stars in the cluster are thought to have been formed together around 100 million years ago, making them about 1/50th the age of our Sun. Seen from the Northern Hemisphere, the cluster reaches its highest point in the sky, midway between rising and setting, about 4 a.m. in September, midnight in November, and 8 p.m. in January.

Several of the stars appear surrounded by blue light, a nebulosity apparently caused by starlight reflecting off minute grains of interstellar dust, inside a cloud of mostly hydrogen gas.

The Pleiades’ Astrological Use
In the Systems of East and West

The Pleiades’ astrological meaning across cultures is fairly heavy, taken all together. Although associated with Godly powers, there is a certain fear-of-God element accompanying their use as a place of astrological significance. This open cluster of fixed stars is not a place of lightly proffered, easy, blessings from the gods. Rather, these stars evoke a symbolism of interdependence of opposites and even a sense of familial duty. The Pleiades, centered on their brightest star, Alcyone, take on something of a Moon/Mars combination of natures, like a powerful young warrior and his doting maternal relations. If you overlap the meanings of the traditional Greek and Vedic schools of astrology, you get a yin yang evocation of female and male, water and fire, shining together in the Pleiades.

In the sidereal system of Vedic astrology - where signs stay with their namesake constellations, regardless of the precession of the equinoxes - the Pleiades are fixed in early Taurus. In western astrology and astronomy, which adjusts the location of the signs by the vernal equinox, regardless of the shifting constellations, the Pleiades have slipped out of the sign of Taurus and are just past the cusp into Gemini, at 0 degrees and 25 minutes.

In the Vedic astrology of Indian, also known as Jyotish, meaning “the science of light,” the Pleiades are known as Krittika, and their section of the sky, which is named for them, is the third of the 27 Mansions of the Moon. The Mansions of the Moon determine a person’s Moon sign, which is as vital in Jyotish as the Sun sign is in western astrology. In Krittika, the Moon is in a fiery, passionate place of “mixed” fortune. An online article from Hinduism Today describes natives born with the Moon in Krittika (the Pleiades) this way:

Krittika (Alcyone 2-Pleiades): Krittika types are fiery, full of creative energy, highly ambitious, dedicated to divine service, self-motivated and “think big.” They stand out in a crowd and can become quite famous. They’re prone to eating too much.

The Mars-related nature of the Pleiades, or the Krittika Mansion, is linked to Hindu legends that make the Pleiades the maternal figures for the powerful protector-god Kartikeya. The son of the god Shiva, Kartikeya was created from the seed of his father delivered into water, with no mother. He was born with six heads (which were later affectionately hugged and squeezed into one) and was entrusted to the maternal care of the six nursemaid Pleiades, who nourished and nurtured him. The mighty babe was created to defeat Tarakasura, a demon who was oppressing the good-spirit Devas and destroying the world. The demon could be defeated only by a little child.

Kartikeya the kid carries the title god of war, and he represents one facet of the Mars persona in Vedic astrology. The Kartikeya facet of Mars brings the valor and strength that enables Mars (called Mangal) to be seen as the protector of dharma - the sacred path and purpose of life that each of us follows. Mangal rules the signs of Aries and Scorpio in Vedic astrology.

When the Moon in its monthly cycle transits Krittika, its influence is “mixed,” and the day is suited to mundane daily activities, according to Hinduism Today. Besides Kartikeya, a second god associated with the mansion is Agni, god of fire, who serves as regent. So the Moon’s time here is also recommended as appropriate for fire ceremonies and an excellent time for meditation. When the Moon is in Krittika in Vedic astrology, it is at the end of Taurus and beginning of Gemini in the western system. 

In the ancient Greek development of the western system of astrology, the Moon/Mars nature of the Pleiades is also recognized. But, as passed down from Ptolemy, astrology of Greek descent emphasizes the malefic potential in the yin yang nature of the Pleiades. In the Greek astrological tradition, these stars are associated with blindness, with a bad death, with conflict between the genders, and with an exaggerated femininity in men.

The Greek derivation of the word highlights its watery and maternal Moon nature, associating it with the roots of “plenty” and with plein, the Greek word for sailing the sea. But, reflecting something like the Hebrew flood accounts’ fearful respect of the destructive power that could be released from the Pleiades, the Greek astrologers highlighted the danger of the mutually destructive powers of fire and water represented in the Pleiades, where the fire of these white stars glows through an enveloping mist of vapors.

Vivian E. Robson, author of The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, describes the general meaning of the Pleiades as seen by the Greeks:

According to Ptolemy they are of the nature of the Moon and Mars; and, to Alvidas, of Mars, Moon and Sun in opposition. They are said to make their natives wanton, ambitious, turbulent, optimistic and peaceful; to give many journeys and voyages, success in agriculture and through active intelligence; and to cause blindness, disgrace and a violent death. Their influence is distinctly evil…

Of the central star, Alcyone, she says: “It causes love, eminence, blindness from fevers, small pox, and accidents to the face.”

Interpretations of fixed stars, like these, in the west in a natal horoscope, are generally considered only when they are in a very tight conjunction, within a degree, or in a nearly exact opposition to a natal planet. In those cases, there is believed to be a lifelong melding of the influence of the fixed star on that planet.

In a more expansive astrological reflection, seeing Pleiades star signs on a global scale, Moira Timms, in her book Beyond Prophecies & Predictions, envisions a star map placed atop a map of the earth, with the Pleiades (once called Khema) over Egypt (once called the the Land of Khem):

If the map is placed with the Khema over the Land of Khem (Egypt) - specifically, directly over the apex of the Great Pyramid - then Taurus falls over the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey. Ursa Major, the Great Bear, rambles over Russia; the head of Draco the Dragon coils up over China; Orion (the warrior) over Iran/Iraq. Aries the Ram is over Rome, and Capricorn (identified with the god Pan) falls over Panama, Panuco, and Mayapan (the old name of the Yucatan). Aquila the Eagle spans the United States. The analogies are obvious, and quite impressive. This is one of the clearest examples of the law of “As above, so below.”

The Search for the Pleiades’ Modern Significance,
Growing from a Time-Honored History

Against the ages-long backdrop of enduring Pleiadian significance come the new warnings, described as advice from beings associated with the Pleiades. For about 50 years, new stories linked to the Pleiades have gained prominence in the public communication of UFO enthusiasts, psychic channelers and - perhaps most importantly in a discussion of ancient, trans-global symbolism - a collection of elders and shamans of the Indian nations of the Americas. The rise of shamanism itself, as a topic of interest to non-shamanic peoples, can even be correlated to the Pleiades’ movement by precession out of their traditional Taurean home in 1971 and into the western astrological sign of Gemini - a sign of communication and the powers of the mind, which is able, through its “twin” approach, to contemplate new “sides” to old issues.

The shamanistic connection to the Pleiades again involves the numerological 7. In the tradition of the Cheyenne Nation of North America, “to shamanize” means literally “to be in the condition of seven,” according to modern astrology author Philip Sedgwick. “This [shamanic] condition also denotes inhaling spirits for healing, conducting ceremonies by fires and generally using spiritual assistance to heal. Any asterism or constellation containing seven stars (such as the Little Dipper, Big Dipper and Pleiades) symbolizes this spiritual state,” Sedgwick writes.

The shamanic warnings, which leaders of many tribes link to “star knowledge,” highlight the potential ruination of Mother Earth caused by humanity itself through disrespect of Nature and rampant environmental exploitation. The predictions warn of a potential catastrophe, reminiscent of Noah’s flood, but one in which humanity itself is even more obviously to blame, for having plundered the resources of the Earth beyond the sentient planet’s abilities to renew itself.

The words of Pleiadian channelers like Barbara J. Marciniak (who has written a book of Pleiadian communications) and the predictions of Swiss farmer Eduard “Billy” Meier (who has produced photographs and films of objects he describes as Pleiadian spaceships) add their own tones to the mix of voices calling for people to tune into the message of the Pleiades. Despite some striking differences in important details of the messages, the stories of the channelers and UFO-filmers, in important part, also echo and re-emphasize the Native Americans’ call to protect the natural Earth.

The Native American Children of the Pleiades
Issue a Call to Protect Mother Earth

Standing Elk, the spiritual leader of the Lakota Sioux and, for them, the Keeper of the Six-Pointed Star-Nation Altar, was led through a vision to organize a conference bringing together the “star knowledge” of tribal cultures. “The Star Knowledge Conference and Sun Dance” took place on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota in June of 1996. The unprecedented gathering brought together indigenous tribal leaders from across the Americas and as far away as Australia. Interested people from non-tribal cultures also attended, and one of those, Richard J. Boylan, Ph.D., of Sacramento, California, now offers tapes of the discussion and a published summary.

In announcing the conference, Standing Elk said his vision told him that Native American spiritual knowledge about the Star Nations was “to be shared with our brothers of the four directions,” meaning, with one another and with the other races of the world. His Sioux people are among the American tribes who proudly trace their origins to the Pleiades, but the star connection encompasses all, Standing Elk announced. “The Way of the Stars is in every culture.”

Steve Red Buffalo, also of the Lakota, reportedly discussed Star People coming to Earth from the Pleiades said they are connected with the chanupa, the sacred pipe. He said the chanupa symbolizes the union of the Earth, represented by the pipe’s stone, with the sky, represented by the hollow stem through which smoke is drawn and sent heavenward.

According to the conference report, in keeping with the theme of sharing wisdom among cultures, “Dakota spiritual leader Chanupa Wambdi Wicasa (Deer Man) startled those listening by stating that the current pope, John Paul II, is a Pipe Carrier,” meaning a person who keeps the traditions of Native-American spirituality. “The Pope fasted and entered into a sweat lodge ceremony with the Dakota while visiting in Canada, and congratulated the Dakota for keeping their traditions and ceremonies,” Deer Man told the conference.

Deer Man then spoke of the dangers of pollutants such as herbicides, acid rain and nuclear testing, by which he said humanity had unbalanced the Earth. “We have to help the Earth come back into balance,” he said. “Time as you know it is coming to an end, sooner than you think.” The shift and the danger, he said, accompany our crossing from the Fourth World to the Fifth, a teaching also held by the Hopi people. “It will take Nine Worlds before we get to the Spirit World,” he said.

The end of the Fourth World and beginning of the Fifth takes place in 2012 or 2013, according to the ancient astrological calendar of the Mayans. In addition to tracing their origins to the Pleiades, the Mayans also speak of the Pleiades as the seven great powers of the Cosmos, the seven Suns that are the brothers of our Sun, and the rattle of the cosmic serpent.

The period that could be called the end times of the Fourth World began in 1987, according to Don Alejandro Wandering Wolf of Guatemala, who has promoted the Mayan-Pleiadian message through a lecture circuit, both before and after the Yankton Star Conference. Now, in 2002, the dawn of the Mayan new age is fast approaching, only 10 or 11 years away.

“There will be huge problems,” Wandering Wolf said in a speech in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1999. “Catastrophes and cataclysms will befall us. So I have been asked to speak to you, and all over the world, of these prophesies. We speak in defense of the natural world. No more pollution of the planet. It cannot survive it, and then we will not be able to survive without our Mother Earth. There is no more distinction between races and colors and creeds. Your sadness and loneliness is the same as mine. We have the same feelings of love. Why? We have the same Sun, one breath, all the earth is fed by the one Sun, air, water - Mother Earth - and we return here.”

The call for a new level of togetherness among the people of the Earth, reminding one and all to take care of this special planet to which the Maya say we return - that is the heart and soul of the modern message evolving from the star-lore of today’s Earthlings. It is a message that is entirely in keeping with another aspect of the Pleiades celebrated by tribal people. Throughout all of known time, the little family cluster of the Pleiades has stayed together; its stars small but united in glittering splendor. In their Hako ceremony, the people of the Pawnee American Indian Nation sing a prayer of hope to the Pleiades during their November rising. Kathleen L. Nichols, a university professor in Kansas, provides the English lyrics:

Look as they rise, rise
Over the line where sky meets the earth, Pleiades!
Lo! They, ascending, come to guide us,
Leading us safely, keeping us one;
Pleiades, teach us to be, like you, united.

Indeed, in all their symbolism, the yin yang of water and fire, female and male, Earth and sky, humanity and wiser beings, the Pleiades speak of an underlying unity, a common source; even, as Tennyson said, a single silver braid in which the glittering fireflies shine.