Garden of Eden in astrotheology
Polaris is currently very close to the north celestial pole, and for this reason it is our North star. But this was not always the case. Due to the phenomena known as precession of the equinoxes, earth’s rotational axes (a.k.a. the axis mundi) is slowly changing its position, drawing an invisible circle that takes 25920 years to complete. (illustrated in the first picture)
On the second picture we see how this rotation affects the sky-view of the North star.
Photos from Wikimedia commons – Axial precession
As you can see, we are very “lucky” to have such a bright star marking North, as this was not always the case – just a few thousand years are sufficient for a dramatic change. Another thing worth noticing is that on the inside of this eternal circle, drawn by the rotation of the earth’s axes, there are two constellations – Draco and Ursa minor.
Draco, as the name suggests, has been seen as a dragon by various ancient cultures. Perhaps the best-known example comes from the Greek mythology where it was known as Ladon, a dragon who guarded the tree with the golden apples of the Hesperides – a story that sounds so similar to the Biblical narrative of the snake and a forbidden apple tree.
Now, if we know where the dragon is, we can ask ourselves the following question – which constellation was seen as the “golden apples of the Hesperides”? Can we assume that it was the Ursa minor?
I am saying this because in India, the polar star was known as Dhruva – a word that means “constant”, “immovable” in Sanskrit. The star was obviously named like this due to the fact that it is the only “immovable” point in the sky, as the tip of the earth’s invisible axes ends here. The later, younger layers of mythology associated it with a sage – a devotee of Vishnu.
However, this Indo-European word could also be related to the word “tree”- “drvo” in virtually all Slavic languages, from Proto-Slavic “dervo” The meaning of “immovable” is still valid in this case.
Besides, the early Vedic mythology also had a name for the mythical dragon – Vritra, meaning “the one who encircles”, ” the enveloper”. Again, this word is quite familiar in Slavic languages, as the verb “vrteti” means “to turn” (around its axes), “to spin”. (see the highlighted Wiktionary article)
But this is not all. Only the South-Slavic languages have the word “vrt” in their dictionaries, with the meaning of “garden”. Most of the Slavic linguists will say that this word, first attested in the 12th century is of unknown etymology. Wiktionary however, relates it to Latin “hortus” – garden. Personally, I disagree with this opinion as South Slavic (as well as all Slavic) languages also had the word “gradina” in their dictionary – a direct cognate of “hortus”. Indeed G and H sounds are interchangeable, but I am not familiar with the processes which could turn H into the V sound.
Moreover, it is actually a direct Sanskrit influence that can be visible trough another related word. Take for example the Vajra – a powerful thunderbolt weapon of Indra. This weapon is described as turning and spinning as it falls on the enemy, as it is also evident by its very shape. Funny enough, an ancient domestic tool in Balkans – a simple wooden spoon for stirring of the liquid dishes, is called “varjacha” – “cha” being only the suffix determining the object. And if this is not enough of a proof, we see the same root “V-R” in the Slavic word “vir”, a cognate to the English “whirl-pool”, with the same meaning.
Varja and varjacha
Now, there are plenty of materials available online that describe the Proto-Indo-European differentiation between the elements which are “stagnant” and those which are “flowing”. For example, in the case of water, linguists have determined that the PIE word AKWA is related to the stagnant body of water, while the word word “water” is related to the flowing water.
This is very interesting, as in Slavic languages, the word for the “wind” is “vetar” – a moving air. It is beyond any doubt that these two words come from the same corpus, and the same can perhaps be said for the word “vatra” which means “fire” in Slavic. In this case, out of the four elements, we only need the word for the “moving” earth, and I would argue that this word was precisely “vrt”. Moreover, all these words contain a hint of the mystical “aether” – the fifth element, whether this was done by design of some ancient sage or just a mere coincidence.
A coincidence could also be the fact that the word Eden, sounds like number one – edin in Slavic languages, but coincidence or not, this is precisely how the ancients saw the circle described in the beginning of this article – as a place where the human soul re-unties with the Absolute. A great example of that view can be seen in Plato’s Republic, book X, 616B – 617D:
After spending seven days in the meadow, the souls that had returned from the journey of a thousand years rose up and departed, accompanied by Er. On the fourth day they reached a place from which they beheld a straight light, like a pillar, stretching through all Heaven and Earth, and after a day’s journey they saw at the middle of this light the extremities of the chains of Heaven, and stretching from these extremities the spindle of Necessity with its eight concentric whorls, the circles of whose rims as they revolve carry with them severally the fixed stars and all the planets in their order.
Speaking in Vedic terms, this is a place where an individual reaches Moksha – a liberation from the constant transformation of the flowing elements, influences of the Earth and seven planets and a circle of reincarnation of the soul – the very same goal that inspired ancient druids and the whirling dervishes, as described in my previous article – Axis mundi / tree of life explained.
And finally, we must mention the ancient Slavic Goddess Mokosh – a shape-shifting lady with a spindle. Slavic word for “spindle” is “vreteno” – the same verb for “spinning” as described above. (Hence also “spindle” in English).
But more importantly, her name sounds so similar to “moksha” and this is definitely not a coincidence as she is the wife of Svarog, the sun-god, whose name sounds so similar to Svarga – another important term of the Vedic philosophy.
Mokosh with a spindle, and a typical Slavic spindle decorated with cosmological symbols