In ancient times, when the constellations were created by astronomers unknown to us. The polar star was not our Polaris, in the tail of the Ursa Minor. Still, the legendary Thuban, placed in the body of that immense serpent of stars, the Dragon, the sinuous monster of the sky, placed precisely in the pivot of revolution of the whole celestial vault. Since then, slowly, due to the precession of the equinoxes, the pole has moved until it reaches today’s North Star.
The Dragon figure contained the North Pole and the pole of the equator and that of the elliptical, on which the twelve signs of the Zodiac were arranged.
In the Mesopotamian border stones, four thousand years old, carved with bas-reliefs with historical and astronomical subjects, the Dragon often recurs among the many star symbols, which winds on the upper part of the stone: in the lower part. There is always the long aquatic snake, the Hydra, while in the center there is the snake bent at right angles that Ofioco holds in his hands. The Hydra marked the equator almost from pole to pole, and the serpent of Ophiuchus followed the celestial equator until it intersected the meridian of the autumnal equinox. It bent at right angles and followed it until it indicated the zenith with the star placed on his head.
Head of the Dragon and Tail of the Dragon
The terms “Head of the Dragon” and “Tail of the Dragon” have been taken as astronomical symbols of the ascending and descending nodes of the apparent path of the Sun, the points, that is, where it seems that the equator ascends, in spring and descends, in Autumn. Similarly, the orbit of the Moon intersects the apparent motion of the Sun at two points, its two nodes; the time interval between passing through one of these nodes and returning to it is called the Month of the Dragon or Draconic. Furthermore, an eclipse of the Sun or the Moon can only occur when these two bodies are close to one of the two nodes: the “Dragon’s Head” or the “Dragon’s Tail.” This relationship is expressed by the saying “the dragon causes eclipses”.
Eclipse prediction was considered the most sophisticated knowledge an astronomer could have. Who had drawn the constellations left us traces that allow us to establish that the knowledge of the time was such as to be able to predict eclipses; it was after a long journey to Mesopotamia that Thales of Miletus (624 ca - 546 BC), studying with the Chaldean mathematicians, learned so much about celestial things that he did not hesitate to predict a total solar eclipse; an eclipse that punctually occurred in May 585 BC, interrupting, as Herodotus narrates, the ongoing war between the shores and the Medes.
The knowledge of the draconic or serpentine figures gave the key to the laws of the starry sky, which was represented by a tree whose fruits were the stars and the trunk their axis of rotation; of course, the chief guardian of this “Tree of Science” was the Dragon. One of his qualities was tireless vigilance, his eyesight was exceptional, and he never slept, characteristics that attributed to astronomers; it seems that the Dragon root comes from the Greek derkein, see.
The Sumerians considered Dragon the female monster Tiamat, a symbol of primordial chaos. Marduk defeated in an epic duel at the end of which she was cut into two pieces, and one half became the constellation of the Dragon and the other, the constellation of Hydra.
The fact that the Dragon stars never set and occupied the central throne among the constellations made this creature the true symbol of eternity, awareness, and vigilance.
Guardian of the tree of golden apples
As guardian of the tree of golden apples, that is of the stars, we find him, with the name of Ladone, in the garden of the Hesperides. It is always a dragon who tirelessly watched the Golden Fleece in the garden of Ares, the coveted destination of the Argonauts who left Greece to carry out a profoundly astronomical undertaking. The Golden Fleece represented the sign of Aries. At that moment, the Greeks were carrying out the tremendous astronomical operation of the advent of Aries at the expense of Taurus as a sign of spring.
Fifty, among gods, demigods and heroes set off on this metaphorical journey towards Colchis, right near the Caucasus mountains, where Prometheus had been chained and from where so many myths and knowledge had come to Greece. Jason, the solar commander of the expedition, succeeded in defeating the Dragon only with the help of the sorceress Medea who, using the ancient herbs of the pythonesses, including the crocus, which was born from the blood of Prometheus, put the Dragon to sleep allowing the Greek hero to take possession of the Golden Fleece.
Espera, Egle, and Eriteide, daughters of the Night and Atlas, kept the golden apple tree in a garden belonging to Mother Earth and placed it on the Atlas mountains’ slopes in Mauritania. Atlas represented the astronomical wisdom of a people before Greek culture. His image is always that of a titan who supports the entire starry vault and is represented among the stars by the constellation of Boote.
The Hesperides were identified with the sunset, which tinged the sky with the marvelous colors of the golden apples. While the solar disk disappeared behind the horizon, Hesperus, the sacred evening star to Aphrodite, appeared. The Golden Apples, often thought of as simple apples, were, in fact, an allegory of the stars; in Greek, the word melon meant any round fruit; probably the earthly fruits to which the legends referred were the mythical pomegranates.
Being able to take possession of the golden apples was the eleventh effort of Hercules, who, following the advice of Nereus, had killed the Dragon Ladone with an arrow and then, unable to get close, had persuaded Atlas to collect the apples while he in exchange, he would have supported the vault of heaven; Atlas, as a sign of gratitude, not only gave him the apples but also taught him astronomy. Atlas knew astronomy so well that he carried the globe of the sky on his shoulders; that’s why Hercules was said to have temporarily relieved him of that weight. Ladone was then placed among the stars by his mother, while Hercules, having overcome the twelve labors and acquired knowledge, became the Lord of the Zodiac.
THE FALL OF MAN
The biblical serpent of the old testament, which lives in the tree of wisdom and life, is very close to the Western religious spirit and is a very ancient being, pre-existing to man. Eve is his confidant and initiated into his mysteries, and she eats the apple of knowledge, thus embodying the lunar pythoness, the symbol of religious matriarchy; on the contrary, the shy Adam does everything she advises, he is also afraid of his God, who personifies the new solar being, Zeus, Shamash, which puts an end to the priestly hierarchy of women and matriarchy. When God questions Adam, he does not share sin with Eve but accuses her together with the serpent who, in the punishment that follows, will become the tempting devil, while God, having cast out all,
Female deities have initially ruled all the gardens of delights of antiquity. To obviate this matriarchy prevalent over the patriarchy, those gardens were usurped by the male solar gods. Hera was the goddess of the flower garden and Lady of the Pomegranate before the arrival of Zeus, whose resigned wife she became.
The biblical myth about the Draco constellation
The biblical myth of the fall forced the man to despise the woman for all the evils derived from her and expect her to work under her orders, exclude her from religious offices, and forbid her to deal with moral problems. Adam is always awkward in his role as a favorite of God, even after the fall. Having become patriarch, he cannot decide for himself, while Eve seems to be much more at ease in the mystery of the new reality. She mates with Samaele (the snake), then she goes alone to the west to the Ocean, where she builds a hut. And only when the labor pains arrive for the child she has conceived she asks the Sun and the Moon to call Adam to come. To help her in childbirth. A beautiful baby is born, and Eve immediately recognizes his divine origin.
In Alexandrian astrology, Ptolemy assigned to the Dragon the qualities of Saturn and Mars, which generate an artistic and emotional nature, a penetrating and analytical mind. Travel is also favored, and there is the possibility of having many friends. But there is a risk of being robbed or accidentally poisoned. It was, in fact, a widespread opinion among astrologers that when a comet crossed the Dragon, the world would be invaded by poison.
The kabbalists have assigned the thirteenth arcanum of the tarot, Death, to the Dragon.