A constellation is a collection of stars that are grouped together to form a picture or meaningful pattern on the celestial sphere.
Before the introduction of modern astronomy and more materialistic methods of determining areas of the sky, the sky was used as a sort of replacement for books to teach the universal symbol system, thus constellation was mapped to a symbol, though whether every symbol had a constellation, we do not know.
The symbols in the universal symbol system represent various metaphysical and spiritual concepts and ‘truths’. But in a society that was on the move because of climate change or the nature of their hunter gatherer existence, books were out of the question [or didn’t even exist] to teach these symbols. The night sky on the other hand was always available wherever you were, furthermore when light pollution did not exist, it was a constant bright visible feature, even though it did change as the earth moved round and the seasons changed.
The very fact certain constellations and hence symbols were only available at certain times of year, made it imperative that good astrological clocks were built and observatories, so that people could be in the right place at the right time for when the symbol appeared. Although archaeologists these days appear to believe that all the immensely sophisticated stone and wood structures built throughout the world to determine when constellations might appear were like some sort of diary used to plant crops, you have to be a bit simple not to notice the seasons change and it does not require structures as complex as Stonehenge for example, to know when to plant your turnips.
There are 88 modern constellations formally defining regions of the sky and together covering the entire celestial sphere. But though astronomers might find them useful, they are useless from a historical or metaphysical perspective, as only a few use meaningful universal symbols. Astronomers do not understand that the system is not literal and that coming up with symbols as complex as some they have devised to provide a good mapping with the pattern of stars is not helpful.
You will notice, if you look at the mappings, that one has to be occasionally very imaginative or allow considerable leeway to see in a pattern of stars , the symbol so described. It is clear that the ancients did have some difficulty finding patterns that could be used for some symbols, but no doubt over time children learnt the pattern and just used their imagination to create a picture of the symbol. This is why the pictures you find in old books are so wildly different from those that might be used now. The symbol is a constant – an altar say – and the pattern of stars to which the symbol is attached might be the same, but an imaginative soul might be able to draw all sorts of pictures using the pattern as a sort of guide. As you can thus see the resulting picture is less important than the pattern of stars and the symbol it represents.
Origins for the earliest constellations goes back to prehistory. The universal symbol system is shared across cultures, but there are also many local symbols we haven’t included on the site and they could easily have been mapped to constellations too. This is why different cultures and countries often adopted their own set of constellation outlines, some that persisted into the early 20th Century. Adoption of numerous constellations have significantly changed throughout the centuries. Many have varied in size or shape, while some became popular then dropped into obscurity. Others were traditionally used only by various cultures or single nations.
The Western-traditional constellations are the forty-eight Greek classical patterns, as stated in both Aratus's work Phenomena or Ptolemy's Almagest — though their existence probably predates these constellation names by several centuries. Newer constellations in the far southern sky were added much later during 15th and mid-18th century, when European explorers began travelling to the southern hemisphere. Twelve important constellations are assigned to the Signs of the Zodiac, where the Sun, Moon, and planets all follow the ecliptic.
The term constellation may also refer to the stars within or across the boundaries of constellations. Notable groupings of stars that do not CURRENTLY form constellations are usually called asterisms. e.g. The Pleiades, The Hyades, False Cross, or Venus' Mirror in the constellation of Orion, even though they might once have done so.
Constellations and the ecliptic
The ecliptic - is the astronomical ellipse that tracks the Sun's annual interaction with the Earth. The ecliptic is a line (or circuit of space) that cuts through the equator at an angle of about 23½°. It takes its name from the fact that every six months, when the Moon crosses the Sun's path at a New or Full Moon, the Moon lines up exactly with the Sun and produces eclipses.
Ancient astronomers measured the year by watching how the Sun makes an annual cycle against a backdrop of certain star-groups, and they defined the calendar according to the Sun's progress along this circle. Thus over a year of approximately 365 days, specific star groups – constellations – will be visible on the ecliptic, occurring, as it were, overhead – in direct line with a certain spot on the earth or aligned with it.
The zodiac is a belt of space which extends 9° either side of the ecliptic [recently, astrologers are widening this band of observation to include more planets]. It is a small but extremely important band of space, because as we view the sky from the Earth, all the observable planetary activity in our solar system takes place within this narrow celestial belt. The reason for this is that all the planets in our solar system (including Earth) remain on a similar plane of orbit whilst revolving anticlockwise around the Sun. The consequence is that the constellations that lie in this part of sky have always been of particular interest to astronomers and astrologers, because their stars form a backdrop against which the altering positions of planets can be observed.
So to summarise.
- Symbols – are used to describe metaphysical truths, concepts and ideas that have no physical existence because they are spiritual in nature
- The types of activity in the Great Work – In order to evolve the universe, create and destroy it, maintain and evolve it, there are a number of types of task needed as well as actual tasks. As we are part of this plan, we are involved in co-designing, co-leading, co-educating and communicating and so on.
- Types of task and their symbols – the types of task have been given symbols and are then known as The Signs of the Zodiac. There are 12 because there are 12 types of task. The signs are free of anything astronomical, they are simply descriptions of what the type of task involves. The Symbolic Names of the Signs is constant, however, any number of pictorial representations are possible for any one named sign.
- Constellations - are patterns of stars in the sky that have been chosen to map with the metaphysical Symbols. So for example a Chariot is a symbol and a pattern of stars have been chosen to represent that symbol. Once the mapping of pattern to symbol has been made people have drawn any number of imaginative diagrams and pictures to help recognition. One unique pattern , one symbol, but multiple possible pictures
- The ecliptic - - is the astronomical circle that tracks the Sun's annual interaction with the Earth. This line appears to travel over a number of constellations. Note that if the ancients had identified 54 constellations on the ecliptic, all with names THERE ARE NOT 54 Signs of the Zodiac. Because the Signs of the Zodiac are not constellations.
- Signs of Zodiac to constellation mapping - The Signs of the Zodiac have been mapped to some of the possible constellations. The mapping has been based on the observations of the ancients who observed that the traits and characteristics of a person who had been an effective co-designer in the Great Work, appeared when a certain constellation appeared overhead. Almost as if the gifts needed to complete the task were being showered down on the person at that time. Constellation was then named with the Sign of the Zodiac name.
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- J. R. Mortimer - Forty Years' Researches – Mapping constellations to the landscape – the Howes in Yorkshire #026624
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Andromeda #026523
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Aquarius #026524
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Aquila #026525
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Ara #026526
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Aries #026528
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Auriga #026529
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Boötes #026530
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Canis Major #026536
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Capricornus #026537
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Centaurus #026531
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Cetus #026540
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Corvus #026534
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Crater #026535
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Eridanus #026539
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Lyra #026533
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Sagittarius #026541
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Taurus #026542
- Ptolemy after 150 AD - Triangulum #026532
- Sacred geography – Picts – Mark stones - 01 Cup and rings #026598
- Sacred geography – Picts – Mark stones - 02 Cup and rings #026599
- Sacred geography – Picts – Round tower 03 - Star maps and bliss #026616
- Sacred geography – Picts – Stone circles 01 #026582
- Sacred geography – Picts – Wheelhouses 01 #026620
- Sacred geography – Picts – Wheelhouses 02 - A’ Cheardach Bheag South Uist #026621
- Sacred geography – Picts – Wheelhouses 03 - A’ Cheardach Bheag South Uist #026622
- Sacred geography – Picts – Wheelhouses 04 - A’ Cheardach Bheag South Uist #026632
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Altar [Ara] #026476
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Bear [Ursa] #026456
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Bull [Taurus] #026447
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Cauldron, Cup or Chalice [Crater] #026479
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Centaur [Centaurus] #026486
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Chariot [Auriga] #026517
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Dog or Hound [Canis] #026560
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Harp or Lyre [Lyra] #026520
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Rivers and streams [Eridanus] #026505
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Shears [Circinus] #026514
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Triangle [Triangulum] #026521
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Twin horns [Aries] #026515
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Unicorn [Monoceros] #026518
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Water and pitcher [Aquarius] #026522
- Symbols – Picts – Constellation - Whale [Cetus] #026516
- Totem group – Picts – Elements - Eagle [Air] #026448
- Totem group – Picts – Sign of Zodiac - Archer #026496
- Totem group – Picts – Sign of Zodiac - Hare #026441
- Totem group – Picts – Sign of Zodiac - Raven or Crow #026519