In Maya and Andean cultures, among many others across the Americas, the Milky Way was known to impart both spirit and power to all life, animate and inanimate.
Appearing from Earth as a bright astral ring surrounding Earth, the galaxy intersects the path of the Sun. The path is called the ecliptic. This intersection forms two cosmic or galactic crosses in the night sky.
One crossing point is between Taurus and Gemini, the other between Scorpio and Sagittarius. The two locations are precisely opposite each other on the cosmic sphere surrounding Earth. Maya and Andean astronomers observed the two crossing points over thousands of years. The locations represented centres of two cosmic trees - trees of life and death. They were pathways for the spirit of life to travel from the stars to Earth, then return to the stars upon death of the body.
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- Salisbury Plain.
- Mysterious Places;
- Solving the enigma of Stonehenge.
- We may have cracked the mystery of Stonehenge?
The Milky Way was visualized by many ancient and indigenous cultures as the universal snake or Cosmic Monster. Like almost all living things, it expressed aspects of male and female. The constellation of Orion between Gemini and Taurus was perceived in human form, holding one of the galactic crosses in the right hand.
The constellation also represented female goddesses as Isis, Parvati, Inanna, Aphrodite, Athena, and many others. These gods and goddesses represented fertility, prosperity and happiness, as well as warfare, destruction and death. Each played part in the eternal cycle of creation and destruction of all things.
The Milky Way represented this cycle. The galaxy wound about Orion who was held by the arm, the Cosmic Monster and dual aspects of human beings together orbiting Earth forever. Here the spirit returned to the stars with the possibility of another journey to Earth at some later time. Burley copyright ; photo courtesy F. In ancient Europe, the universal mother holding one or more infants was represented by the constellation of Auriga. The constellation was also perceived as a shepherd holding a lamb or lambs.
From here the spirit of a newly conceived life began its journey along the Milky Way, the Tree of Life, to Earth.
Places: Stonehenge, the Ancient Mysterious Structure in Britain (VOA Special English )
And where did the spirit step from the Milky Way to Earth? The answer is the star Sirius, brightest star in the sky and located along the Milky Way along the alignment of Capella, brightest star in Auriga, and the centre of the Northern Cross. Part 2 — Stonehenge and the celestial equator. I earned Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science — Geology degrees from the University of Minnesota, married my high school sweetheart, and began my career as a construction engineer. After a few years cutting teeth in design, construction, Cursus plural surface coal exploration.
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Stonehenge, the Ancient Mysterious Structure in Britain
The fact that the rings were built over a period of some 2, years and in all corners of the isles suggests that there was no single purpose and no pat explanation for their function. The earlier, larger rings were probably communal centers, while the latest, which were smaller and more complex, may have been built for individual, elite families.
Very little is known of the stone circles and their use from the end of the circle-building era through the early centuries of the first millennium.
Was this strength place an early observatory?
The Roman invasion of the first century brought recorded history to the British Isles, but nothing was written about the stone circles. The Romans did write about the Celts, whom they eventually conquered, and their powerful priestly order, the Druids, whose nature-based belief and practice endured even as Christianity took root. It is known that as the ever-growing Christian church attempted to stamp out pagan practice, it issued edicts condemning beliefs connected to natural objects, including stones, and in at least one area it ordered that churches be built wherever standing stones were found.
Such evidence supports the belief that the megalithic rings continued to be used, or at least venerated. If nothing else, their power continued to be recognized, generating folk tales and superstitions that were passed down through generations. It evolved from a simple henge to a sophisticated stone circle over a span of some 2, years. Stonehenge is distinct from other megalithic rings: Its outer circle is some 1, feet in diameter and partially encloses the village of Avebury.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites, which assesses sites recommended for World Heritage inscription, emphasizes the importance of the overall landscape — the spaces between the monuments as well as the monuments themselves. Although the lifestyle, culture, beliefs and practices of the people of the British Isles have changed radically over the 5, years since the stone circles were first built, these ancient monuments have continued to serve as places of congregation, ceremony and ritual.
The megalithic rings are important to many practitioners of modern Paganism, which includes Druidry and other spiritual paths that focus on connecting with nature as a deified or sacred being.
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The circles are considered sacred places where the spirit of the land is felt most strongly and ancestral connections can be made. Stonehenge and Avebury are major sites of celebrations at the summer solstice and other Pagan festivals, and lesser-known rings are often the sites of small offerings and rituals. Over the past few decades, Britain has seen a surge in the popularity of its ancient sacred sites, and a desire to make the stone circles spiritually relevant to present-day society.
In the busy summer months, the roads are major traffic bottlenecks. The visitor parking lot sits across the road from the monument, adding another blemish to its sacred landscape. The lot is also too small to handle the high volume of summer traffic, forcing people to park illegally on the roadside. While removing road traffic has been widely recognized as the starting point for restoring the landscape of Stonehenge, diminishing harmful environmental effects and ensuring that it remains a protected and respected place for generations to come, arriving at a solution has been no simple matter.
Parker Pearson suggests that the Welsh bluestones were the first to be put in place at Stonehenge, and that it was the monument that they came from that was important. View image of Outcrops of rock in the Presili hills, Wales. Even today, the Preseli hills are dotted with dolmens ancient tombs. Question time But even if we agree with the theory that bringing the stones from Wales was a symbolic and even political, act, it presents another mystery: But the finding of two ancient stone quarries in Preseli ended that debate for the most part.
View image of Craig Rhos-y-felin quarry Credit: Scientists also have experimented with ideas of how to transport the large stones miles km from Wales. According to Parker Pearson, they discovered that moving small megaliths like the bluestones, which mostly weighed 2 tons or less, was not actually that difficult — even with just dragging the stone on a sledge. View image of The outcrops of the Preseli hills in Wales. In another recent finding, archaeologists discovered the cremated remains of people buried at Stonehenge.
As it is thought that anyone buried at Stonehenge had elevated social status, this therefore poses questions about the role of women in the Neolithic period. View image of Stonehenge Credit: Even so, no matter how many new discoveries are made, it seems that Stonehenge will only continue to throw up new questions for scientists and the media to ponder. These Neolithic people had huge skill and ambition. Such a huge monument erected so perfectly, over many centuries, is not something easy for us to understand in our fast-paced, modern world.
This story is a part of BBC Britain — a series focused on exploring this extraordinary island, one story at a time. Britain We may have cracked the mystery of Stonehenge. By Vivien Cumming 18 July Advertisement This media cannot be played on your device.