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Observations placeholder

Dava Sobel on the Planets



Type of Spiritual Experience


Some useful additional synonyms to those I have provided

A description of the experience

Dava Sobel – The Planets

The Chaldeans called 'Venus' Ishtar, the love goddess ascending the heavens, and to the Semitic Sumerians she was Nin-si-anna, the 'Lady of the Defences of Heaven'.  Her Persian name, Anahita, associated her  with fruitfulness.  The dual nature of Venus cast her by turns as virgin or vamp to her worshippers.  Ishtar metamorphosed into Aphrodite, the Greek incarnation of love and beauty.  She became the Venus of the Romans, revered by the historian Pliny for spreading vital dew to excite the sexuality of earthly creatures....................

The persistent image of Mercury, lean and hell bent as a marathon runner , personifies dispatch.  Wings on his sandals urge him on, spurred faster by the wings on his cap, and the magic powers of his winged wand.  Although speed tops the panoply of his powers, Mercury also gained fame as a giant killer (after he slew thousand eyed Argus) and as the god of music (because he invented the lyre and his son Pan, fashioned the shepherd's pipe of reeds), god of commerce and protector of traders (for which he is mentioned in words like 'merchant' and 'mercantile') of cheats and thieves (since he stole herds from his half brother Apollo on the very first day of his life) of eloquence (having given Pandora the gift of language) as well as of cunning, knowledge, luck, roads, travellers, young men in general and herdsmen in particular.  His snake entwined wand, the caduceus, has invoked fertility or healing or wisdom over the ages.


Myth may have conferred the god's name on the planet, because it mirrored his attributes, or perhaps the observed behaviour of the planet gave rise to legends of the god.  Either way, the union of planet Mercury with divine Mercury – and with Hermes, and the Babylonian deity Nabu the Wise before him – was sealed by the 5th century BC


The source of the experience

Writers other

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps