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Lines Knots, and Dragons: Astronomy as a Key to Cross-Cultural Mythology (2006)

Western Culture has traditionally been seen in strictly Western terms with its roots in Greece and to some extent in Egypt. The 19th and 20th centuries widened the scope of these roots to the Near East and especially Sumer. Aby Warburg created his famous institute to explore the continuity of these traditions (Das Nachleben der Antike). The 19th and 20th centuries also explored the traditions of India and China. It was assumed that these developed in parallel and in isolation. A few individuals such as Blavatsky1 claimed that there were deeper connections, but dubious practices undermined their work. 

Study of the history of astronomy suggests that these possible connections deserve new attention. The cultures of China, India and the Near East all developed systems with 7 days in the week, 12 months and larger cycles 25, 920 years (precession of the equinoxes). These cycles of the seasons were linked with cycles of development in the human being. Essential aspects of such microcosm-macrocosm analogies are shared by the great cultures of the East and West. Following a brief outline of essential elements of these analogies, this paper explores the cycle of the four seasons. The two equinoxes and two solstices marked crucial times of the year. In China, for instance, these key events were linked with the trigrams and later the hexagrams of the I Ching. 

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