Conversing with the Planets: How Science and Myth Invented by Anthony Aveni

By Anthony Aveni

Revised and up to date, Conversing With The Planets interweaves astronomy, mythology, and anthropology to discover what the universe capacity to us and what it intended to our ancestors. Aveni additionally deftly illustrates the effect of our tradition and ideology at the direction of clinical discovery, tracing the increase and fall of astronomy as blown by way of the present winds of spiritual, philosophical, and political switch.

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The surviving record suggests that this belief developed only when society had become highly stratified. For the Classical Maya, the continuity of the power of rulership was directly expressed from the sky-creator in the form of discernible subtleties in observable planetary cycles—Venus most prominent among them. In the Old World of medieval times, the planets were believed to possess direct ties with the human body and with concepts of healing, a notion expressed particularly in early Renaissance art.

Let this be our guiding assumption as we set out. I begin by getting under the ancients’ umbrella with a look at the skies through naked eyes. * A synodic period is the time it takes a planet to get back to the same place in the sky relative to the sun. * British science writer Patrick Moore, in his popular book on modern-day Venus, writes: “There is no generally acceptable adjective for Venus. ‘Venusian’ is common but ugly; ‘Venerean’ is even worse. ” Moore uses the last. I will employ the first.

Understanding someone else’s viewpoint can be difficult. Human expression is complicated by differences in language, education, and training as well as general outlooks on the world. Anyone who visits another culture well off the mainstream of his or her own society becomes acutely aware of human diversity—the way others worship, eat, relate to one another. Curiously, socialized human beings do not naturally take to diversity; rather, they tend to suppress it. When we attempt to piece together and confront ideas shaped in the heads of the people of long-vanished civilizations, vestiges of knowledge that lie hidden away in symbols written in dusty old texts, hammered on clay tablets, chiseled into sculpture, or painted on wall murals, we feel even more estranged.

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