(Trafford Pub., Victoria, BC) 2006
Critiqued by Frederic Jueneman
Well, boys and girls, here it is: The long awaited Volume One of a projected eight-volume encyclopedic work on the Saturn Configuration scenario, inclusive of the respective standpoints involving history, mythology, and science. To be sure, this isn't the first such hypothetical excursion into the realm of multidisciplinary synthesis, nor will it be the last. Other than Immanuel Velikovsky's eight books and David Talbott's The Saturn Myth, not to mention Charles Ginenthal's extracts from The Velikovskian, inter alios, this work-in-progress attempts to address, describe, and explain in exquisite detail the various facets of mythic history and how they relate to known science.
This reviewer had been privy to an early paper by Talbott, which was personally summarized by Velikovsky as having "élan," while the subsequent The Saturn Myth emanating from this preliminary essay was rather devoid of this trait and quite conservative in its presentation. Cardona's God Star, on the other hand, has plenty of such élan, enthusiastically jumping in with both literary feet to lay out his fortified case for the god-star Saturn and to forestall serious anticipated criticism.
A major prefatory criticism from this reviewer is that, despite a wonderful array of illustrations, there isn't a Bibliography to supplement Cardona's impressively-reinforcing 2500 on-page footnotes. In one notable instance, a particular op. cit. required backtracking some 16 pages to find the source reference. However, at the moment, we have considerably more ground to cover, so let us proceed...
We are led through the bewildering maze of legend and tradition right from the very start, and on through a hierarchy of planetary gods and goddesses around the globe which affected the lives of the mythmakers, with a protracted commentary on the perceived mindset of these ancient cultures right on down to the most contemporary authors who wrote of them. The list goes on almost interminably, often emphasizing the hubris of our modern specialists who scientifically and technically proclaim to know so much more than our forebears to think that we also know more about what they did and saw and how they lived their lives than they themselves.
The history of archeoastronomy and mythology is so replete with mistranslations, misinterpretations, and misdirections that one is impelled to shake one's head in protest: So many authorities; so little consensus. Instead, what we do find might be termed incestuous footnote scholarship.
But, then again, consensus is not science.
However, it is not a kindness to undermine, for example, the labors of Johannes Kepler, who was preempted over a millennium by Olympiodorus in our own 6th century in describing the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn every 20 years, or of Isaac Newton, who was anticipated by Plutarch in the 1st century in teaching that the Moon is impelled by gravitation, when these later "alchemists" quantified the efforts and precision of those earlier observers. Even Galileo and Copernicus had access to early documents by way of Moslem scribes who had preserved such earlier Greek and Babylonian wisdom, not to mention the additional reams of often confused ancient ignorance and foolishness, which had subsequently been tolerably translated into Latin by ecclesiastic annalists. Although, it might also be said that Isaac Newton's and Gottfried von Leibnitz's excursions into analytical calculus were anticipated by Archimedes (3rd cent. BC), based on a relatively recent contemporary exposé.
And yet, we also learn how the Alexandrian astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (2nd cent. AD) fudged the data derived from Hipparchus (2nd cent. BC) by expropriating the observations made by Hipparchus on the isle of Rhodes, and who then patently misapplied them to the latitude of Alexandria some 5° more southerly. (But, this doesn't explain why we see an illustration plat of Hipparchus observing at Alexandria rather than Rhodes.)
There was considerable if seemingly inordinate interest in astronomy by these ancient observers, despite the armchair philosophizing by many early sages-- such as the silliness of Parmenides of Elea (5th cent. BC) who nested the universe within crystal spheres--and also of other savants who sometimes didn't know themselves which way was up.
Notwithstanding, it appeared to a number of these early researchers that the celestial arrangement of celestial bodies and planets, with all the attendant eclipses and synodical periods, had apparently been out of kilter for many generations of observers since at least the previous millennium. So it was that during the reign of Nabonassar (ca 747-732 BC), one of the more obscure early Babylonian kings, all prior observational records were expunged, as they were woefully out of sync, and new updated renditions were instituted. Similarly, although later by several centuries, Shih Huang-ti (ca 259-210 BC), founder of the short-lived Ch'in Dynasty, found it necessary to inaugurate standardized weights and measures around -221, and had all previous records destroyed, presumably for the same reason.
However, such book-burning, as for example the Codices of Mesoamerica or even the harassment and/or immolation of dissidents and recidivists as Protagoras of Abdera (5th cent. BC) and Giordano Bruno (1600 AD), are never very beneficial, even for the best of reasons, as a great deal of prior history is often irretrievably lost. In the instance of Mesoamerica, almost an entire cultural history was consigned to "the fires of purification" by learnéd but ignorant prelates. So too, the disingenuous dismissal of mythic history by those who think that they know better is a form of intellectual book-burning that is arrogantly unjustifiable.
Nonetheless, Cardona stitches many others of these instances together--warts and all--to weave his own tapestry of mythohistory and science into a coherent patchwork fabric of past and present intellectual advances, not to mention past and present cerebral impoverishments. Further, he doesn't shy away from pointing out and correcting the mistakes of recognized and otherwise esteemed authorities in history and mythology, while laying the groundwork in the first quarter of the volume for the development of his own major thesis that the god-star itself was once upon a time the stellar brown dwarf proto-Saturn. Not only this, but that Saturn and its retinue were not even original members of our Solar System. To be fair, Cardona himself admits that prior researchers, going back over a century or more, had said that Saturn was in-effect an interloper in our assemblage of planets.
As the plot thickens, we find this red-glowing stellar dwarf situated as an immobile fixture in the northern skies of Earth, and furthermore was considered the sun-of-night by the mythmakers. This has been a most intractable problem for conventional mythologists, who themselves find that the bulk of worldwide legends about a polar Saturn totally out of the question; indeed, considered irrelevant nonsense. There's no appeal to authority here, except to take the ancient, albeit primitive, observers' accounts as verbatim descriptions of what they saw. How does one approach celestial mechanics with such a mythologically-based conundrum?
Cardona does make the attempt, but he doesn't make such an approach directly. We are painstakingly taken through the myths, testing the waters as it were, to make absolutely certain that his arguments for a scientific understanding are internally consistent. If Saturn was not originally of this Solar System, and Earth was a satellite companion of this dimly glowing god-star, following it in its journey through the galaxy by trailing behind like a shadow, what manner of cosmogony would account for this peculiar arrangement?
There are traces of evidence around the northern pole, such as the odd polar bulge, vast areas of frozen alluvial muck that can extend to depths of several thousand feet, remnants of tropical corals in the Arctic (and Antarctic!) seas, and extensive mounds of refuse containing flora and fauna from far less frigid climates, among many other anomalies, all of which seem to bespeak balmy seasons of a forgotten Eden. These are mysteries of planet Earth that have been known and argued about over the centuries; so this isn't new news.
Granted, there has to be sufficient sunlight of the proper wavelengths for photosynthesis to take place. As it turns out, in support of Cardona's hypothesis, the green coloration of chlorophyll-laden plants is most receptive to the red and infrared wavelengths of light, which would naturally be emanating preferentially from the dwarf star, so that such plants could grow in sufficient abundance to feed the herbivores, which in turn would become the prey of the carnivores in the endless food chain cycle, to make for a stable ecology in the temperate clime of the far north. Even contemporary science finds such discoveries in the Arctic exceptional, as was recently disclosed by the Arctic Coring Expedition, and has to relegate such events to tens of millions of years into the past where they can be comfortably observed and analyzed with more diffident curiosity.
As a side issue of academic interest, chlorophyll is the life-blood of most plants, and the central atom in a molecule of chlorophyll is magnesium, an element found in copious abundance on the Earth. Chlorophyll itself takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. A structurally-related molecule to that of chlorophyll is hemoglobin, found in mammalian blood corpuscles, the central atom of which is iron, another element found in abundance. Hemoglobin takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. One is left to wonder about the preterprimordial evolution and divergence of such elegant chemistries.
On another note, it might be considered gauche to criticize a colleague in print these days; but then, what's sauce for the goose...
Our author comments that the sacred calendar "said to have been called Tzolkin by the Maya, but Tonalamatl by the Aztecs, was composed of 260 days divided by 13 months of 20 days each." However, according to archeologist. Gualberto Alonzo of the Univ. of Merida, Yucatan, the designation "Tzolkin" was derived from the Yucatec language: "It was the archaeologist William Gates who first called the religious calendar of the ancient Maya the `Tzolkin'; the original name is not known." (And, for all you history buffs, in like manner the Assyro-Babylonian writing known as "cuneiform" was a term originated by the Oxford scholar, Thomas Hyde, circa 1665.)
Cardona, moreover, is not bashful about commenting on the origins of religious convictions, both ancient and contemporary, with many of these sects ranging from a single deity to a full complement of gods and goddesses. Babylonian culture had literally thousands, descriptive of all aspects of everyday life, while others were even worshipful of stones that fell from the sky, and still others found deities in the Moon, planets, and imagined stellar configurations. Cardona also raised the objection that mythologists and philologists, such as Arthur Cook, designate many of these deities with the blanket cognomen of "sky," which was of a similar complaint by other critics of an Egyptian dictionary (Aegyptisches Wörterbuch) that gave thirty-seven definitions of numinous entities with the single word Himmel (heaven, or sky). However, in the aggregate, the ancient mythmakers from every corner of the globe were all focused on the omnipresence of the multi-named god-star, the red-glowing dwarf that hovered motionless in the northern sky--Saturn.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell, in his seminal The Hero with a Thousand Faces, never once mentions it by its Latin name, but, Cardona almost never lets us forget it, by regularly reminding us for emphasis: "...That [such-and-such a deity] is to be identified as the planet Saturn need not be repeated."
Into the physics now. Cardona relies heavily on the plasma work of Nobel-laureate Hannes Alfvén, his student Anthony Peratt, and physicist Wallace Thornhill, even though there are disagreements of their findings with the message of myth. It is to be hoped that any such discrepancies will eventually be resolved. In the meanwhile we are treated to some short theses on the history of plasma physics and its reluctant acceptance by the astronomical community.
Of course, we have all heard about the 99% missing mass in the universe that many astrophysicists and cosmologists ascribe to either "dark matter" or "dark energy." Alfvén was quite convinced that all this missing stuff was the plasma that permeates and pervades the cosmos, as do most of his adherents. Plasma being the highly conductive ions and other atomic fragments scattered throughout space, not to mention electrons and protons, and all of which contribute to the electromagnetic underpinnings of the galactic universe, along with the Newtonian and Einsteinian concepts of gravity and space-time.
All of this has to do with the messages of myth that tell of phantasmagoric celestial events that spiraled above them in the northern skies. Almost to a man, the mythologists try to come to grips with this enigma by explaining it away. Certainly, such an awesome and colorful braid that glowed and coiled overhead was due to over-active imaginations of primitives who didn't comprehend northern lights and other natural phenomena, although the mythologists never explain why ancient equatorial residents, who never beheld auroras, north or south, would retain legends of such things.
In this scenario, Cardona has the Earth encased in a plasma sheath emanating from the northern body, the brown dwarf, and from which a fluorescing polar column extended to a polar junction. This boreal apparition gave rise to myths of tethers joining earth-to-sky, one-legged gods, numinous phalli, and other descriptive manifestations. And, such an enveloping sheath is also thought to maintain an Eden-like climate over much of the Earth.
Sufficient sunlight of the proper wavelengths for photosynthesis is further accorded by the plasmasphere, according to Peratt, where certain opacities of the plasma shield may also act protectively to shelter mankind from more harmful incident radiation. But, Cardona is reluctant to accept the plasmasphere en toto as certain aspects don't conform to the mythic message.
There's lots more. Far more than can be accommodated in this short review. The readers, though, are asked to form their own conclusions, but do so quickly, as there is more to come.
Cardona does ask an important question: "Would mankind have survived had Earth and its Saturnian sun not been captured by our present Solar System?" An answer to this query invokes both an appeal and an extension to the Anthropic Principle, which states that intelligent life on Earth places limits on the many ways the universe could have developed and create the conditions that prevail today. In other words, we're here because we have survived and have the prescience to contemplate our otherwise meaningless existence. But, evidently we have also survived the vicissitudes of a seemingly lengthy former environment, and by whatever means continue to do so today. The author lays out a sequence of reasons, all of which are embodied one way or another in eighteen hypotheses that hinge precariously on his basic thesis to satisfy the message of myth.
It could be said that astronomers are, in the main, a rather conservative group, but their collegiate cosmologists are often better known for their wild speculations every time there's a new discovery. Still in all, the recent planetoid findings, such as Sedna and Quaoar beyond the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, has excited quite a few astronomers, a number of whom who have caught the bug from cosmologists, and who now want to search for a brown dwarf hidden in the farther reaches of the Oort Cloud surrounding our Solar System. However, perhaps one that has been quite visible on our night sky over the millennia might have been long overlooked.
And, it couldn't have been better stated: "The apparent lack of interest in this subject displayed by actual astronomers doesn't seem to be because they don't think about these things; it's just that they don't particularly want to be seen thinking about them. A vacuum has emerged within this particular niche of science, which allows independent thinkers to propose sometimes radical ideas." The same could be also said about conservatives in many other fields of science, not to mention mythology.
So upward and onward now, with rapt but cautious anticipation of the next volume on mytho-cosmogonic speculation: Flare Star.