Floods, earthquakes, fires, volcanic eruptions as at Thera, the disasters that befell Knosos and most other sites, are difficult to fit into the conventional framework. It is worth reviewing the story and associated material from the standpoint of electrical theory and early study of electromagnetic phenomena. Elektron, amber, 'god from the throne' is the starting point, and fine distinctions can come later. When a king sat on a throne, he was imitating the presence of the electrical god above the ark, chest, or capacitor.
Much of the mythical material calls for explanation on two levels. Firstly, many myths and rituals deal with electrical phenomena. Experiments were made with magnets in Samothrace, the island famous for its religious mysteries, like those of Eleusis. Furthermore, there are no grounds for supposing that Benjamin Franklin was the first to try to capture the god from the sky.
Secondly, it is necessary to search for the cause of the more turbulent electrical conditions and the catastrophes that are reported. This brings us to an examination of the astronomical material and to the state of the solar system in not only prehistoric but also historical times. The final sections of this study are therefore devoted to a review of a few instances where changed electrical conditions and extra-terrestrial interference are the most likely explanation of the many stories and facts that do not fit the conventional picture.
Some of the phenomena described in ancient records are easily recognised and comprehended, for example lightning and radiation. In recent years the after-effects of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl have included mutation, such as the birth of babies with fish tail instead of legs and primitive wings for arms. Radiation from the sky as a cause of changes on earth was basic theory in the ancient world.
Other phenomena are less obvious. The similarity of some of the words found in ancient languages and shared between different languages may in some instances be due to coincidence, but at this stage it is better not to exclude the less obvious candidates for recognition. Progress in philology is helped by an understanding of the physical reality that a word refers to or denotes.
The Old Testament contains references to phenomena which resemble some of those mentioned in other literatures such as Greek and Latin. Jacob's dream, related in Genesis XXVIII, concerns an apparent link between sky and earth, and the importance of stone. At a place called Luz, Jacob took stones for pillows and went to sleep for the night. He dreamed that a ladder was set up, reaching to heaven, and angels of God ascended and descended. God spoke to him and encouraged him with promises. Jacob set up the stone that he had used for a pillow and poured oil on it. He named the place Bethel [house of God]. We shall see later the electrical significance of the name Luz, and its presence, in disguise, in Greek.
In chapter XXXII: 24, Jacob wrestles all night with a man. The man touches the hollow of Jacob's thigh and puts it out of joint. He tells Jacob that he is to take the name of Israel. Jacob calls the place Peniel, "for I have seen God face to face".
There are many Egyptian references [in the Book of the Dead] to the God of the Thigh. These probably concern the constellation of the Great Bear in the northern sky.
The prophet Isaiah writes that "his rod was upon the sea", referring to Moses stretching out his hand to cause the Egyptians to be drowned [Exodus XIV: 26]. Rods were associated with sky phenomena and snakes.
Isaiah, XIV: 12, speaks of Lucifer, son of the morning, having fallen from heaven. Lucifer is the one referred to in the words: "didst weaken the nations". Greek and Semitic literature both connect disasters on earth, such as seem to have struck Knosos and many other sites, with irregular occurrences in the sky. Greek tragedy is based on confrontation, where a character suffering from hubris, behaving arrogantly as if superior to all others, is brought low.
In a passage attacking the idolatry of the Jews, Isaiah appears to refer to the practice of incubation, on a mountain top, or, as in Babylon, on a ziggurat [tower of Babel]. In LVII: 7 he writes: "upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice". It is probable that Minos paid similar visits to mountain top shrines.
There is an Egyptian reference to "the god on the top of the staircase".
Zeus, chief deity of the Greeks, god of order and justice, had the thunderbolt as his weapon against the monsters. The thunderbolt is shown by Greeks in the hand of Zeus, generally like the lines of force of a bar magnet, as revealed by iron filings on a piece of card held over the magnet. But it also appears as an almond-shaped object, suggesting a plasmoid, appropriate for exchanges at long distance and of great power. The Greek amygdale, almond, may be the Egyptian ames, sceptre, gad, a name of Baal, and El, or Al, the god above. The Egyptian hieroglyph ames is shown as shaped like an almond; vide Budge, Egyptian Language, p. 78, Routledge and Kegan Paul.
The Etruscan name of the god Tin recalls the Greek verb tinasso, brandish, and may even have been Stin, since initial s is sometimes dropped. If this were the case, Tin may be Setin. The Greek is, in-, means force, divine presence, so the name would mean 'force of Set', or 'presence of Set'. Tin may mean thunderbolt, and Set is the Egyptian Typhon.
In Crete, Zeus was worshipped under the name of Velchanos, a word which may mean something like 'god of the rock', or 'god of the cave'. Since the difference in electrical potential manifested by the piezoelectric effect at the time of a severe earthquake would have dwindled through leakage, it was reasonable for people to say that the god died. The death of the Cretan Zeus distinguished him from the Zeus of the sky who was worshipped elsewhere.
The sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera, celebrated in Crete, may reflect an anxiety lest the atmosphere surrounding Zeus should leave him and cause an outbreak of violence. Hera's name suggests 'face', and 'upon', Egyptian hra. Egyptian herit means 'fear'.
The sacred marriage occurs in the Sumerian myth of Dumuzi and Inanna, enacted by the king and a priestess. Herodotus mentions the procedure in his description of Babylon.
The Egyptian reference to the "Lord of redness in the day of transformations" probably refers to an object in the sky, such as the one that a Roman general, at his triumph, imitated by painting his face red. The English word 'sanguine', means red in the face and cheerful. Its origin is the Latin sanguis, blood. The Roman poet Horace, in one of his odes, describes death as pallida, pale.
Sanguis may in turn be related to Egyptian ankh and sankh, live, and make to live, and to Sumerian sanga, priest.
Triumphus may be connected with the Thriae, Delphic goddesses. The thrioboloi at Delphi threw pebbles into the divining bowl. Stone showers and meteorites would be associated with Mars. At Rome the triumphing general, imitating Mars with his red face, stained with wine lees as if he were an actor, rode in his chariot along the Sacred Way. The story goes that an attendant helped to stave off hubris, arrogance, and nemesis, the avenging wrath of the gods, by whispering in his ear "Remember that you are but mortal".
The Latin robigo means redness or rust. Its key consonants, rbg, when read backwards, give gbr. Gibor is Hebrew for a hero, or leader.
The archangel Gabriel may be associated with Mars. Gabriel may be gibor el, divine warrior.
Zeus was the father of numerous deities and heroes. He was the son of Kronos, and behind Kronos lurks the figure of Ouranos, whom his son Kronos castrated. There seems to have been an object or phenomenon in the northern sky, named Bor, associated with light, and, in Jewish legend, with the ox. It may have been what inspired Roman augurs with ideas for the street plan and layout of a military camp or city.
Electricity is the force behind other sky phenomena as well as that of the thunderbolt and its chief users, Zeus and Athene. The bull, stag, cauldron, snake, thigh, Venus, column, eye, radiation, axe, hand, arm, mutation and giants, tholos and dromos tombs, arks, libations and the five major planets, and writing, all figure in attempts by the ancient priest-electricians to describe, explain and exploit celestial phenomena. Monsters intrude, darken the sky, appear to cause the sun to stop or go back in its course, and so on.
The dragon is a snake in the sky. In art it is given wings to show that it is the celestial monster which the earthly snake resembles. Examples of imitation are the hair style of Greek kouroi, and the uraeus, cobra, on the head of the pharaoh. The bull symbolises the power of a heavenly body with horn-like protuberances. The killing of goats, stags, bulls and other creatures was sympathetic magic aimed at checking the career of an object in the sky threatening the earth. The wearing of horned helmets, masks and bulls' tails is an instance of mimesis. If all else fails, if you can't beat them, join them. Furthermore, resemblance to a divine phenomenon instilled obedience, reverence and fear in servants, subjects and enemies.
In Jeremiah's book, chapter I, the prophet sees a seething pot in the sky. The tripod cauldron, Greek lebes, lebet-, is El's house, El beit. In Latin it is cortina, which suggests the Greek kerata, horns, and in-, force. The Topprakali cauldron has bulls' heads round the rim.
The Minotaur was probably a man wearing a mask, horns and tail. The name of the Minotaur, Asterios, or the neuter form Asterion, and the fact that Theseus seized it by the hair, support the view that phenomena in the sky were involved and were models for imitation.
The constellation of the Great Bear, circling round the Pole Star, was referred to in Egypt as the Lord of the Thigh. It could conceivably be linked with Dionysus and his birth from the thigh of Zeus. Dionysus was one of the gods who could command lightning.
There is material from further east about the thigh. The stories about the hero Gilgamesh date back to Sumer, and were known throughout the ancient Middle East.
One of the episodes describes the anger of Ishtar when Gilgamesh rejected her love, fearing that he might suffer the same fate as the rest of her lovers. Ishtar persuaded Anu to send the Bull of Heaven against Uruk, the home of Gilgamesh. With the help of Enkidu, who grasped the bull's horns, Gilgamesh cut its throat with his sword. He then tore off its right thigh and threw it to Ishtar. Enkidu was punished by the gods, who afflicted him with sickness.
Dionysus had a shrine on the island of Delos. The Stoibadeion, sacred to Dionysus, with its phallic decoration of pillars, links fertility, sexual activity, and the sky. Dionysus was associated with animals and the force embodied in them, especially the bull, the leopard and the other great cats. Wine was thought to be the blood of those who had perished in battles in the sky.
Radiation was attributed to the five planets visible to the naked eye, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The eye was thought to be a source of radiation. Axe, hoe, spear and arrow were symbols of lightning and radiation. Seven is an important number, being five plus the sun and moon. The Cretan goddess is concerned, like Artemis, with both animals and radiation.
Thoth, the Egyptian god of electricity who was equated with the Greek Hermes and the Roman Mercury, was active in the sky. He restarted Ra's boat when it had stopped. This Egyptian story is in harmony with accounts from elsewhere, such as the record of phenomena at the battle of Beth Horon after the Exodus, during the invasion of Palestine by the Hebrews under Joshua [Joshua X: 13].
The tholos tomb, a burial chamber approached by a passage, the dromos, may be an imitation of the column rising into the sky. The word dromos is related to the Greek verb trecho, I run, aorist tense edramon. It appears in English in the word hippodrome, originally a racecourse for horses. The transport of the body, ashes or bones into the tomb would then be sympathetic magic, mimesis of the soul's rapid ascent up the column to the stars, as described by Plato.
Greek games included what may be imitation of cosmic confrontations and exchanges in the sky. The Troy game represented as a maze on the Tagliatella vase may have indicated the varying movements of an object or god in the sky, resulting in a meeting and battle. Chariot races frequently led to smashes, which may not have been accidental. In the case of the pentathlon, the number of events, five, may have planetary significance.
Mayani, The Etruscans Begin to Speak, Souvenir Press 1962, puts forward some evidence that Etruscan nobles sacrificed their lives in rituals aimed at saving their city from divine anger and punishment.
There is an Etruscan inscription on a stele found at Novilara. Its genuineness has been doubted. It may refer to a ritual suicide by a charioteer, krustenac, in which case it would resemble the self-sacrificing action of Marcus Curtius, who, to placate the angry gods, rode into a chasm that had opened in the Roman forum.
Pessos, Greek for a 'man' at draughts, may come from pes, an Etruscan numeral. The name of Reshef, a Syrian deity, may be a reversal of pes and ar, the five electrical fires. It is disputed whether pes is five or four, but the objection is not necessarily fatal, since four-planet systems had a place in ancient thought. The root ar implies movement, perhaps the movement of light along the poros of Alkman.
Hubris, going too high, as if one were superior to all other people and considerations, is the Hebrew zadhon, pride. This word may be 'Lord Set', since adhon means lord, so Set would be a celestial object that went on a dangerous course, too high.
The Etruscan zichne, writing, engraving, is 'Set's tracks', ichne being the Greek for track or footprints.
A hero was a man with powers so exceptional that they had to be attributed to divine parentage, perhaps through incubation. The Hebrew heron means conception. The ancient view was that mutations, including giants, monsters and heroes, were the result of divine interference, generally by a deity whose home was in the sky, though earth too produced some unpleasant creatures that make one wonder, in the words of Omar Khayam and Fitzgerald, whether the potter's hand slipped. Chernobyl and children with fish tails and wings are a recent reminder of what the ancients appear to have suspected long ago.
It is conceivable that the story of Herakles dying from the poison in the shirt of Nessus the centaur may have an astronomical origin. Centaurs shot [radiated] arrows, and Herakles is associated with the planet Mars.