Professor Erica Ellingson, University of Colorado, Boulder CO
Associate prof. Jarita Holbrook, University of the Western Cape
Professor Wayne Horowitz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Associate prof. Annette Lee, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud MN
Professor Kim Malville, University of Colorado, Boulder CO
The full list of speakers to be announced after the submissions of abstracts.
Name: Jose Luis Belmonte
Abstract Title: Mythical creatures appearing in astral myths of Herakles in relation to the lineage of Phorcys and Ceto in Hesiod's Theogony
In the fifth century BCE, astral mythology, the mythical origin and the mythical associations of the constellations, developed into a specific genre which began to flourish during the Hellenistic period. From the extant works on astral mythology produced during that period, this paper explores three of them. The first work, written in the third century BCE by the poet Aratus of Soloi (ca. 310-245 BCE), is the Phaenomena, which is the oldest extant work introducing constellations with just a few mythic allusions. The work of Aratus, however, was not original but based on another lost work written in the fourth century BCE by the astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidos (ca. 408-355 BCE). The second work is the Catasterisms, written by the Alexandrian polymath Eratosthenes of Cyrene (276-194 BCE), which included short stories about the origin of each constellation. The third work, written in Latin by Hyginus (64 BCE-17 CE), is called Astronomy and it draw from the Catasterisms, the Phaenomena, and from other sources.
Within these three books, this paper looks for constellations in which Herakles is prominent in the story of the myth of origin. In Aratus, Herakles does not play any role in the myth of origin of any constellation. In the Castasterisms, however, Herakles is the central character in several myths of origin. Catasterism 3rd tells that the snake which was protecting the golden apples of Hera was turned into a constellation because it was killed by Herakles. Catasterism 4th considers the constellation of the Kneeler as Herakles stepping on the snake and crushing its head with his knee. Catasterism 11th makes the Crab placed in the sky by Hera after being crushed by Herakles during his fight with the Hydra. The constellation of the Hydra probably was the hydra from Lerna killed by Herakles. Catasterism 12th treats the constellation of the Lion as the Nemean lion killed by Herakles. Catasterism 29th explained the myth of the constellation of the Arrow as revolving around Apollo. In Astronomia, however, the arrow belonged to Herakles who used it to kill the eagle who was eating by day the liver of Prometheus. In summary, these are the constellations in which Herakles was considered prominent.
After comparing the mythical creatures related to Herakles in constellations in which the hero appears, with the creatures in a diagram of the lineage of Phorcys and Ceto drawn by Martin L. West in his book Hesiod Theogony, this paper introduces a possible relation among mythical creatures appearing in the astral myths related to Herakles, and the lineage of Phorcys and Ceto as it appears in Hesiod's Theogony.
The creatures killed by Herakles that appear in the Catasterisms are either offspring of Neptune or descendants of Phorcys and Ceto. Preliminarily, there is a possible connection with the sea through Poseidon, Phorcys, and Ceto.
Name: Ilaria Cristofaro
Abstract Title: Ancient Topography and Skyscape Archaeology in Magna Grecia: the Urban Layout of Pompei
The origin of the orthogonal urban form is the object of a long lasting debate (Haverfield 1913; Castagnoli 1971; Rykwert 1988). In South of Italy, in the region of Campania, the development of a planned urban spatial syntax was the result of the Greek colonisation along the Tyrrhenian Coast in the VIII century B.C. (Pesando 2018, 167). The autochthon Villanovan Etruscan population experienced a redefinition of their inhomogeneous hut settlements as evident in the new founded planned cities following territorial expansion (Pesando 2018, 167-68). In such context arose Pompei: recent excavations reveal a foundation act datable around VII and VI century B.C. in an ethnic syncretism between Greek, Etruscan and Italic cultures (Osanna and Rescigno 2018, 178). In particular, the two streets of 'via di Mercurio' e 'via Vesuvio-Stabiana' were present during archaic phase of the city (Osanna and Rescigno 2018, 180). The present contribution contemplates methodological considerations on the possibility of applying skyscape archaeology to the study of the orientation of the urban layout of archaic Pompei. The complex topography of the city, with the different alignments and misalignments of its components, poses doubts on a single interpretation (Vitale 2003), in favour of a diachronic and more elaborate conclusion than was previously argued.
Name: Erica Ellingson
Abstract Title: Stories from Modern Cosmology: Perfect and Too-Perfect Universes
Recent astrophysical research has led to a number of surprising results that have upended our paradigms for cosmological content (dark matter), history (dark energy) and origin (inflation). Stories of how we came to these unexpected results highlight our struggles to reconcile new observational discoveries with preconceptions about the beautiful or "right" universe. These discords have always characterized cosmological discovery, and Einstein's struggles with a "cosmological constant" echo Kepler's zealous pursuit of a harmonic universe. Both of these scientists articulated their ideals mathematically, but within an underlying theist context. Modern scientific cosmology is explicitly non-theist, but the inspiration of mathematical beauty and harmony remains a strong motivator in current research.
Cosmological "fine-tuning" presents a new twist in the relationship between theist and non-theist ideals in cosmology. Fundamental physical laws appear to be "tuned" to create and sustain life-forms such as ours, and might be said to support an “anthropic” universe. The precision of this tuning and its nature are hotly contested, but the fine-tuning "problem" potentially opens a cosmological parallel to the natural evolution/intelligent design argument. This debate has been used to advocate for creationist ideas far outside of the scientific consensus, and scientific theories about the origin of the universe have been similarly challenged. The development of a number of theoretical recipes to create "multiverses" alleviates a deep discomfort with some anthropic interpretations. Multiverses are as surprising and challenging as the cosmological discoveries of recent decades and are also treated with appropriate skepticism and rigor. However, the pursuit of these theories is supported by their concordance with our scientific stories about the cosmos.
Name: Wanda Gregory
Abstract Title: Celestial Play: An Exploration of Games and The Stars
This presentation will explore the theme of "Stories of the Sky" through the stories and play found within games. There have been games created for the body and games for the mind but what about games for the soul? While most people think of games as merely forms of entertainment or a distraction from their daily lives, through history we have seen societies embrace games, not only for pleasure, but as a way to better understand their society and their relationship with the celestial world. Both physical and digital games will be discussed.
Ancient board games were often designed to allow players through the narrative and gameplay the opportunity to not only explore their mortality, but through the placement of game pieces, one's role in the cosmos. The Chinese game Go, while sometimes seen as a game of strategy, has been expressed by researchers as a game involving rival diviners casting stones on a board that mirrored the night skies (Shotwell, 2007). With games such as Go, the idea that astral symbolism also suggests that games might have been used as early calendars to measure time. Go has also been associated with Chinese cosmology with the game pieces cast on the board containing astrological and geomantic symbols. Other games such as the Shi board of divination depicted the story of rival shamans casting stones on a circular board representing the sky which could be rotated over the square based, representing the Earth. The placement of pieces on the board representing the earth and the balance of Yin and Yang in the cosmos.
Other games have been designed with the expressed goal of teaching astronomy and astrology to students. The Astronomer's Game, was designed and used as a teaching aid in late-medieval and Renaissance university life in England (Moyer, 1999). The game is designed for two players who control game pieces identified as the heavenly bodies with a board designed to imitate the stars. The motions of the heavenly bodies based on the tradition of Ptolemy's Almagest.
In respect to digital games, several games will be discussed which have allowed players to explore their place and the ability to tell stories about the cosmos in a new light. This is notable through the recently released mobile game Sky: Children of the Light. This multiplayer game allows players to travel through the various worlds within the game, guided by the stars and their configuration offer players not only clues within the game, but a way to discover and think about astronomy. Another game which will be discussed, Never Alone, allows players to experience the myths and cosmology of the Inupiat people through the unlocking of elements within the game.
These and other games will be discussed offering examples of a renewed approach to our relationship and understanding of the stars. Perhaps we can once again engage in celestial play.
Name: Duane Hamacher
Abstract Title: TBA
Name: Jessica Heim
Abstract Title: Dark Sky Advocates and the Night Sky
For millennia, humans have gazed up in wonder at the night sky, and the stars, planets, and Milky Way have long been an integral part of the human experience. As Nicholas Campion has observed, "There is no human society that does not somehow, in some way, relate its fears, concerns, hopes, and wishes to the sky."(1.) However, in recent years, artificial light at night has significantly reduced the ability to observe such features of the night sky. Though fires, torches and candles had long provided some nighttime illumination in human communities, it was not until the 19th century with the advent of gas and then electric lighting that manmade light began to have a much more significant and pervasive impact on night. (2.) Since that time, light pollution has gradually come to affect the view of the night sky from an ever increasing portion of the earth's surface and has greatly increased in terms of the magnitude of the pollution's impact on the appearance of the nighttime sky.
Light pollution, "excessive and inappropriate artificial light at night," brightens the sky, rendering the Milky Way and other celestial objects invisible. (3.) This pollution prevents people from being able to directly experience a starry night sky and many of the celestial objects it contains, thereby making a personal, firsthand experience of and connection to the larger universe difficult to maintain. The use of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) in exterior lighting applications in recent years has greatly hastened the spread and increased the extent of these issues. Though LED technology has the potential to decrease light pollution via enhanced ability to control spectral emissions, direct light more precisely, and to dim the lights, if these features are not deliberately used, implementation of LEDs often results in increased light pollution. (4.)
However, there are a growing number of communities which are taking the initiative to preserve or reclaim their dark night skies. Individuals from diverse backgrounds in such communities have worked together to raise awareness of light pollution, to increase awareness of "dark sky friendly" lighting options, and to share their enthusiasm for the continued existence of the natural night. In my research, I have interviewed people involved with such initiatives to learn more about their efforts. I have sought to obtain a better understanding of why dark skies are important to them, what spurs them to invest their time and energy in this issue, and what keeps them motivated to continue, despite many challenges and setbacks. Though some of these individuals are avid amateur astronomers, many are not. Despite often approaching the issue from different perspectives, these individuals share a passion for lighting communities in a way which minimizes light pollution.
Name: Jarita Holbrook
Abstract Title: What? Who? Why? Stellify
In his 1981 article, Roberts highlights the term 'stellify' defined as "to transform (a person or thing) into a star or constellation, to place among the stars." Using the case of the Tabwa people of central Africa, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, Roberts presents among other things the sky as a mnemonic for remembering migrations and remembering culture heroes. We do not know the details of the processes of stellification, however we do know what has been stellified in many cultures by examining their names for stars and asterisms and their skylore. Of the many ideas presented in his latest book, Aveni teases out the ideas of the sky stories having connections to celestial motion, as well as being a mnemonic for remembering seasonal activities and a mnemonic for remembering locally embedded moral, ethical, and sociocultural codes, thus overlapping with Roberts' supposition of the sky serving as a mnemonic. I draw on case studies to flesh out three themes 1. celestial motions, 2. moral, ethical, and sociocultural codes, and 3. seasonal activities within African sky stories. As previously stated, though the human process of assigning names and stories to the night sky as well as stellifying aspects of their lives is not fully understood, these three themes hold promise for being foundational if not part of every culture's practice of stellification.
Name: Wayne Horowitz
Abstract Title: The Gwich'in Boy in the Moon, Astral Religion, and Christian Polemics
The Gwich'in first nation of Arctic Canada and Alaska were one of the last native peoples of Canada to make first contact with Europeans, this occurring only in the late 18th and 19th century. Today, just a few generations later, many Gwich'in elders still remember their family traditions about the sky, in particular a narrative about the Boy in the Moon who saves his people one deep dark winter from starvation by finding the caribou herds that his people depended on for their sustenance. Documentary evidence going back to the time of first contact with Christianity provides insight into the tradition of the Boy in the Moon as a living Story in the Sky, and how it changed and remained the same as northern North America transitioned into modernity.
Name: Géza Kulcsár
Abstract Title: Down to Earth: A Skyward Story of Clouded Ideas
Human culture reflects a desire of unification of sky and earth, either by human ascension or by bringing the skies down to earth in some form, as also stressed by Nicholas Campion (e.g., in (Campion, 2006)). The present study focuses on the history of the latter approach and analyzes the different notions of the image of the sky in our Western culture.
In the perennial notion of constellations, the image of the night sky, instead of being interpreted as a transcendent God shimmering through, is transmuted into the image of Man projected to the celestial canvas. In Greek mythology, the stories told by stars display deeds and ascensions of heroes such as Prometheus and Heracles. Other non-personal ascensions, such as Berenice’s Hair, confirm that the underlying imagination considers the elevation of the whole cosmos rather than individual ascension narratives.
The first paradigm shift is marked by the spread of Christianity, bringing a fulfillment of transcendent sky conceptions of Judaism. Sky is not an inherent part of the anthroposphere anymore, and the focus shifts on how sky appears on earth by divine grace. The advent of Renaissance painting comes with an earthly perspective, where a natural, everyday representation of the sky occupies the upper part of images, denoting a separate transcendent realm (cf. the depictions of the Ascension of Christ). The divine is shrouded in clouds, the clear night sky gradually turns into a complex, heavy, symbolic ornament (despite the light of day/Christ!), denoting the place of God (cf. the pillar of cloud in the Old Testament and further transcendent cloud notions in Kabbalah and Christian Mysticism).
In the modern age, skyscapes are still rendered as symbols, but not of (the place of) God, but of the human psyche, now seen as the unconscious Ur-chaos - a repository of clouded impressions. Analogously, painting went from cloud-laden and distant Baroque dome frescoes to the cloudscapes of Constable (cf. Thornes, 1999) Turner or even O'Keeffe. Sky in film, from popular entertainment to contemplative cinema (most notably Ten Skies by James Benning), is interpreted similarly due to the close ontological relation between movies and memory. Even computing revolves recently around a secular sky metaphor: cloud computing (Fox et al, 2009) advocates the delocalization of digital data and the ubiquitousness of networks and devices as in a cloud: ungraspable, unlocalizable, and at the same time completely mechanical. The sky has become void not only of God and of Man, but also of itself.
Name: Christopher Layser
Abstract Title: The Cosmic Shark in the Maya Sky
The sky and its denizens constitute a substantial portion of the mythical traditions of the ancient Maya. This research aims to reconstruct in part the story of one of those denizens- the shark, in a lost mythic cycle concerning the Maize God as well as to locate this cosmic creature’s place in the heavens. The last surviving pages of the Post-Classic Paris Codex have long been understood to depict thirteen celestial beasts interpreted as Maya zodiacal constellations, one of which has been identified as Xoc –the shark. Iconographical similarities exist between this creature and one depicted on several Classic Period vases. The mythological scenes on these vases depict a lost story abscent from the extant version of the Popol Vuh in which the Maize God is swallowed by the shark after falling from a celestial canoe- further supporting the shark’s position in the heavens.
This paper will attempt to piece together from the scant remaining iconographic evidence the story of this lost sky myth and compare the scene to universal motifs as presented by Joseph Campbell in his work on the mythological hero’s journey- in this case the tale of the Maize God’s death and rebirth in the belly of the fish which eventually culminates in the creation of the current age. Lastly, using evidence from the Paris Codex in conjunction with phenomenological night sky observations from the Maya lowlands region, this research will propose a location of the Shark constellation in the night sky.
Name: Annette Lee
Abstract Title: Wicaŋhpi Oyate-Star People: Critical Teachings of Earth-Sky Mirroring Rooted in First Nations Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous astronomical knowledge is rooted in the principle that ‘we come from the stars’. In D/Lakota, we are star people- Wicaŋḣpi Oyate and the stars are recognized as ‘our oldest living relatives’. A person begins the human journey from the star world along the Wanagi Tacanku-Road of the Spirits or the Milky Way. The voyage has two important stops. First is the Inipi (sweat lodge) Ceremony at the Oceti-Fireplace constellation (Lee and Rock 2015). Second is the doorway where resides To Win/Tun Win-Blue Woman, Birth Woman (Lee and Rock 2015; Goodman 1992; Lee et al. 2012).
Dakota people are called Wicaŋḣpi Oyate, Star People. Our spirits come from the Creator down the Caŋku Wanaġi, the “spirit road,” more commonly known as the Milky Way. At death, we return where we came from along that same road. (Westerman and White 2012, 131)
The “constellations were the visible ‘scriptures’ of the People at night; and the related landforms mirrored those stellar scriptures during the day. The stars were understood to be ‘The holy breath of the Great Spirit’, the woniya of Wakaŋ Taŋka (Goodman 1992, 9). By following and observing the night sky we are ‘receiving spiritual instructions’. Ojibwe call the North Star ‘Giiwedinanung’ or ‘The Going Home Star’ along with the saying ‘Everything you need is in the stars’. Ininew teachings include “we are Star People” and “All things made by Creator have achak (spirit)…This is why assiniuk (stones) are animate, not inanimate. …and this is how we are related to all things” (Buck 2018).
Native astronomies helped to make sense of life and relationships and reaffirm the belief in the interrelationship and interdependence of all things in an animate and living universe. Like the Earth, planets, and animals, celestial bodies are traditionally viewed by Native cultures as living beings with a creative life force that relates to and affects human beings physically and spiritually. (Cajete 2000, 216)
The Indigenous relationship and knowledge of the sky is exceptional in that it encompasses mind, body, heart, and spirit.
Indigenous science... is ‘full-spectrum science’. It draws freely on all four of the gifts that have been given to us as human beings: the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical. By contrast, Western science dwells mostly on the physical and mental, often rejecting the spiritual and feeling or emotional qualities of life with great arrogance and finality. (Simonelli 1994, 37)
For tens of thousands of years, indigenous people have nurtured critical relationships with the stars, from keen observation and sustainable engineering to place-based ceremony, navigation, and celestial architecture.
This talk will address the (1) harmony in the mirroring of earth and sky, and our participation in this relationship, known as kapemni in Lakota (Goodman 1992; Lee, Rock, and O’Rourke 2014), and (2) how indigenous knowledge systems are challenging the cultural dominance of western European science as the only science, and thus reshaping the very definition of science. Specific examples will include: the Pipe Ceremony in the Stars, Wacipi-Sundance ceremony, Wanagi Tacanku-Milky Way, Wanagi Tawacipi-the Northern Lights, and the Wakinyan-Thunderbird constellation.
Name: Astrid B. Leimlehner
Abstract Title: 'There's no longer order among the Stars / Comets should be forbidden!': The Role Of The Sky In Johann Nestroy's The Evil Spirit Lumpazivagabundus
Historical research in cultural astronomy suggests that there were different purposes to use astronomical knowledge depending on the historical period and on who used this knowledge, for example either to maintain and underpin political and ideological structures (Ruggles and Saunders) or, on the contrary, to criticise the current political system and social injustices. An example of the latter is the stage play The Evil Spirit Lumpazivagabundus (1833) by the Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy (1801–1862). Like 'for all creative thinkers', as Henry Ellenberger wrote, Nestroy's primary sources for his writings were his personality and biography including political, cultural and social contexts of his lifetime, for example 'the Metternich system' (W. Knappich) of the Habsburg Empire with its spy network and censorship. This talk will investigate connections between these contexts and Lumpazivagabundus and will explore the role of the sky in this play. Special attention will be given to the famous Kometenlied, the Song About The Comet, which predicts the end of the world in the near future.
Name: Kim Malville
Abstract Title: Changing Stories of the Sky as told by Astrophysicists - Competing Paradigms and Surprising Harmonies
The sky has inspired many quantitative stories starting with Johannes Kepler who introduced us to the magic of mathematics in his Harmonices Mundi and the vast sweep of his power law. Rothman has argued that his discovery of the Third Law of Planetary Motion was driven primarily for his desire to demonstrate harmony in the universe and his hope that it would bring about harmony in the lives of people at the start of the disastrous Thirty Years' War. His Third Law has had immense influence on modern astrophysics as it has been extended to stars and planets far beyond Kepler's ken. The harmonious nature of the cosmos is indeed demonstrated by the ubiquity of the harmonic law. Further evidence that the universe functions as a harmonic whole comes the demonstration that the same value of the fine structure constant applies throughout the universe from Earth to distant quasars. Perhaps the most extraordinary and surprising evidence for such harmony is revealed by the recent detection of overtones, i.e. harmonics, in gravity waves produced by a collapsing black hole 1.5 billion light years from Earth.
Other stories of the sky that resonant with culture come from total solar eclipses. The totally unsuccessful search for Vulcan meant that the changing of the orbit of Mercury must be due to curvature of space-time. Likewise, the observation of bending of starlight around the sun further confirmed Einstein's productions of his General Theory of Relativity. Like it or not, the result is that the modern world has two incommensurable ontologies involving the origin of gravity. The beautiful corona was initially believed to be produced by cold dust particles. The discovery that the corona is very hot and is interlaced with magnetic fields has generated an entirely new picture of the meaning of the sun in our solar system, which includes the solar wind buffeting the Earth resulting in the aurora.
The discovery that the majority of galaxies in the universe are red-shifted and therefore moving away from us has spawned the stories of the big bang, the big rip, and the big crunch, multiple universes, oscillating universes, and dark energy. The current tension over the value Hubble Constant adds a poignant element to attempts to understand our universe in its fullness. How have incommensurate paradigms or ontologies percolated into culture and religious thinking? Do we live with multiple ontologies as Solomon has shown may be the case in some Andean communities? Following the ontological approach of the French anthropologist Philippe Descola,, I will explore how the conflicts and harmonies in embedded in our stories of the sky have established themselves in cultural narratives.
Name: Maayan Medzini
Abstract Title: The Venus Synodic cycle in the Canaanite myth and ritual
'Regeneration of Time' is Mircea Eliade’s term for explaining New Year celebrations past and present. In his ‘Myth of Eternal Return’ he explains that the man of traditional societies who felt himself “indissolubly connected with the Cosmos and the cosmic rhythms.” Ancient man transmitted in myth, and ceremoniously reenacted their ‘sacred history’ of the creation of the gods. Thus, time is regenerated with the Sun and the seasons, and the moon is reborn every month. Yet, modern society is unaware of other cycles of time which wee honored in past societies, such as the Venus synodic cycle. The planet Venus has unique visible phenomena spanning a year and a half: it is visible in the morning for eight months (morning star), it is then invisible for two months, and reappears in the evening sky for another eight months (evening star). The planet then retrogrades (moving daily from west to east, instead of the usuall east to west motion) sets into the Sun and becomes invisible, only to rise in the morning sky for a new cycle. Those cycles were known and honored by ancient societies in ritual and myth.
This lecture presents findings of the Venus cycles in one specific culture: the Canaanite culture. In the ancient city of Ugarit (modern day Ras Shamara, Syria), tablets containing the Canaanite myths and rituals were uncovered and revealed a pantheistic religion, featuring astral Gods and Goddesses, as well as other deities. Among those two of the main Goddesses are Anat and Astarte, which may be the deities connected with the Venus morning star and evening star respectively. Considering Jeffery Cooley’s view that “astral references in the mythological texts are seamlessly incorporated into the narrative,” a fresh reading into Ugarit’s narratives over the backdrop of the iconography of the time offers a suggestion that the Goddesses’ depiction is in line with the phenomena of Venus following its transformations during its cycle. A deeper investigation into ritual texts from Ugarit and Emar offers an opportunity to investigate ceremonies held in honor of the Venus Goddesses that may have been performed at specific times during the synodic cycles. Those are not seasonal but follow their own timing of the Venus helical risings and settings. A further investigation into archeological sites in Israel suggests further details on those rituals, broadening our understanding on the interaction of the people who built them with the sky, the planetary movements and their consideration of ‘sacred time’.
Name: Alina Pelteacu
Abstract Title: The Platonic basis of Jung's sky-story
The sky features prominently in the stories that Plato tells about the soul, especially the soul’s ascent and descent through the planetary spheres in Book X of the Republic. This paper focuses on one enduring aspect of Plato’s sky-story: the daimon as a mediator between earth and heaven. In particular, it will explore the survival of the Platonic soul-sky-drama in the work of C. G. Jung bringing it up to date in the 20th century. It will draw on the characteristics assigned by Plato to the notion of daimon: as an intermediary entity, as one's destiny and fate, as a personal guide, as one's character, as a messenger between humans and the divine, and as the equivalent of Plato's concept of the philosophical life, examining Jung's writings from the perspective of his link with Plato and considering Nicholas Campion's argument that Jung's thought represents a recast, in a twentieth-century context, of Plato's ideas. It will also focus on linking the Platonic notion of daimon to a core concept of Jung's thought, which is individuation. As part of this, it will search for explanations through Jung's language of depth psychology.
Jung saw the human psyche as subject to the internal developmental process of the reconciliation of psychic opposites, which is felt at a personal level as psychic compulsion or fate. Akin to Plato, Jung did not blame the planets for the individual's difficulties in life, but rather he placed responsibility in the hands of humans in order to look within and to find the meaning of these unknown compulsions and transform them into conscious choices, which result in the liberation from fate.
In order to explain this inner working, Jung followed Plato's ideas and defined his key concepts of the archetypes and the collective unconscious. In contrast with Plato's abstract geometrical archetypal forms, Jung anthropomorphized them, explaining that they can be described through their manifestation in the human psyche as universal themes and constant patterns. Jung understood planetary 'gods' as archetypes and the purpose was to establish a communication between them and individual consciousness.
In order to achieve this, the individual must perform a deliberate effort to work imaginally with internal conflicts, using the technique of active imagination, and transforming what is unknown in the psyche through the language of images. This inner process defined Jung's concept of individuation, whose purpose was to transform the individual's personality by integrating consciousness within the larger psychic centre that Jung called the Self, and which the Neoplatonist Iamblichus interpreted as god or daimon, or as the Platonic One.
The paper will conclude with reference to the location of the Platonic notion of daimon within Jung's concept of individuation.
Name: Katy Simpson
Abstract Title: Comets, Catastrophe, and Colour in a Sixteenth-Century Illustrated Treatise
Looking to the skies for knowledge about our present and a higher meaning, and the ordering inclination to see a logical sympathy between the two, has long shaped humanity's understanding of itself. Astrological divination during the sixteenth century was a binding mechanism of belief which orientated human activity according to a higher divine celestial cause, thus allowing individuals to demystify the present by placing it in the context of an often eschatological future. Within this setting, comets were often viewed as portents of some coming cosmic calamity. They were visionary events, both in their attributed divine origin and since it was an act of collective vision which announced their arrival.
This paper will examine a remarkable sixteenth-century illuminated manuscript treatise on comets, written in French, belonging to the Warburg Institute after it was purchased by Aby Warburg (1866-1929) himself in 1918. Composed in French around 1587, the Warburg MS is particularly notable for its thirteen full-page illuminations which depict nocturnal scenes of spectacular celestial events, from a comet shaped like a sword to a triplicity of suns said to have appeared at the death of Caesar. In each scene the brilliant skies overlook some particular terrestrial (usually disastrous) activity, from the burning of a village to the assassination of a king. With textual references which locate contemporary events such as the death of Ulrich Zwingli and Dutch War of Independence in the context of cometary appearances, the Warburg MS is an object deeply embedded in the cultural, religious, political, and emotional currents of Reformation Europe. Produced against a backdrop of war and spiritual rupture, the illuminations draw upon traditional categories of cometary knowledge to render images in which where terrestrial drama takes its cue from the elucidating light of celestial messengers.
This discussion will centre around an interdisciplinary analysis of several of illuminations of the Warburg MS, drawing upon the archaeastronomy's concept of the skyscape and Eliadeâ€™s definition of hierophany as a physical manifestation of the sacred. Thus this paper seeks to go beyond characterisation of cometary divination as behavioural superstition by instead asking how the history of observing, representing, and assigning meaning to the appearance of comets in the sky was part of a larger project of cultural self-knowledge. The approach taken is informed by the ontological turn within anthropology, as well as the upswing of academic interest in histories of environmental catastrophism and apocalyptic belief: Lydia Barnet, After the Flood (2019); Deborah Danowski and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, The Ends of the World (2016); Isabelle Stengers, In Catastrophic Times, 2017.
Name: Ana Stefanova
Abstract Title: The Sky as a symbol of The Self from Analytical Psychological perspective
From the very dawn of humanity, nowadays and always the Sky fascinates; rises questions, fears, hopes; brings us knowledge and wisdom, makes us small and big.
We may outline many and contradictive aspects in the symbol of the sky. They are related to both profane and sacred, in mythology, science, religion, folklore, everyday observations:
1. It is empty and full of images, objects and secrets (such as constellations of stars, deities, mythological creatures and events).
2. It is a ‘cover’ of our world, but also a gate to another.
3. It is a map for earthly roads, used for navigation, but also visualization of cosmic objects.
4. The sky is a source of fruitfulness, blessings (in the form of rain, sun, good weather), but also of curse, punishment, disaster (thunders, storms, hailstones, comets, deities, UFO and more).
5. Sky is another world (Heaven), a stage for otherworldly activities (mythological or religious events, or of folklore), very often mirroring or influencing our world. Probably because of these, the sky is a component in divination practices (in everyday observations – for weather forecast; ars fulguratoria – Etruscan art for divination, using lightening, dividing the sky in segments (Блок 1996: 419) and more).
6. One with the earth in the Beginning (Georgieva 1983: 13-16), sometimes its opposite after their separation, described in folklore and myths in different cultures.
7. Light and Darkness, Sun and Moon, male and female.
9. Eternity and eschatology itself and main participant in creation and demise.
10. Observer and witness.
11. Judge, punisher and protector.
There may be outlined more aspects. Each one of them has also its opposite, which fuels dynamics of the symbol, one of the important characteristics of the symbol, according to C. G. Jung (Samuels et al. 1995: 164). Being a symbol of such importance we may outline its archetypal meaning as an expression of the archetype of The Self (according to Jung, the image of God in humans). The contradictive nature of the symbol and its expression of The Self are reasons for its participation in many rituals, mythological events, beliefs; they all have transformative importance for human psyche. Some analyses in this direction could be useful for finding bridges to our own psyche as well as interpretations of some aspects in myth, folklore and science, in sacred and profane.
The paper is an attempt to outline some of the symbolic aspects of the sky, using for support examples mostly from Bulgarian folklore and the theory of the analytical psychology of C. G. Jung.
Name: Jeni Williams
Abstract Title: Performing Sky in the Poems
Elaine Scarry argues that the simplest form of shelter, a room, enables the greatest potential of the human being: ‘his ability to project himself out of his private, isolating needs into a concrete, objectified, and therefore shareable world'. and the vastness of the night sky is the repository of projections beyond the self.
The act of storytelling marks an expansion of the self, a movement out into the wider cosmos seeking understanding and the shapes that translate unbearable nothingness into meaning. The endless darkness of the night sky, strewn with starlight or illuminated by the shifting shapes of the moon draw the eye upwards in its quest for such pattern and order. The writer John Berger notes the extent to which ‘a mother tongue is related to (rhymes with?) non-verbal languages – such as the languages of signs, of behaviour, of spatial accommodation.’ Indeed he sees the making of shapes as a form of language itself: ‘When I’m drawing, I try to unravel and transcribe a text of appearances, which already has, I know, its indescribable but assured place in my mother tongue’. The cfp seems to take the writing of stories about the sky as a one way operation, one in which the stories can be explored in terms of their ‘nature, meaning and purpose’ in academic language. Of course what is to be avoided at all cost is sentimentality or vague pronouncements. but these are not the characteristics of poetry. In her marvellous essay on poetic theory, the poet Adrienne Rich sees poetry as radical communication: ‘It’s an exchange of electrical currents through language—that daily, mundane, abused, and ill-prized medium’. There is surely room for in a conference that seeks to explore the stories told about the sky for the writing of stories about the sky. Oral stories, usually written in verse to resonate in the memories of auditors, were not historically about material description, though the viewers may see the shapes made by the star as tools of navigation even as they read myths into them.
The proposal is of a performance of voices that respond to the night sky in poetry. Four poets – Jeni Williams, Ros Hudis, Dawn Morgan and Jo Lampert – offer a range of our work related to the sky to demonstrate the complexity of reading the sky and the ongoing fascination with stories that respond to it. This proposal fits into the first of the topics: that of ‘The sky in literature, poetry and fiction’. Such poetry of necessity touches on other topics, music or myth, religion or mortality.
Further we suggest poems that could reflect on the way we 'perform' sky in the poems as, for example, a character or an extension of the white space of the page, or an illustration of the limits of language; or poems that interconnect bodily experience with that of the motion or time traced in the night sky.