h Phoenix Qi: 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tong Shu - Auspicious date selection in Chinese astrology

The 28 Lunar Mansions

The Tong Shu is a calendar based on the Twenty-Eight Constellations or "Mansions" of Chinese Astrology. It shows the most auspicious and warns against the least auspicious dates for a number of important lifetime events. You can determine the best date (and avoid the worst date) for a marriage, a funeral, the start of an important project, and many other things. This post tells you where (at the time of posting) to find a current Tong Shu calendar for the current month online and free, and also contains instructions on how you can calculate the auspices for any date yourself.

Tong Shu online

http://www.fengshuiweb.co.uk/advice/teachyourselffengshui.htm look for "Almanac (Month)" for the month you want to look at and follow the links. i.e. look for "Almanac December" for the month of December.

The following instructional post is from:

http://www.egroups.com/message/chineseastrology/308 [Egroups is long defunct. This email list was operating as the "chineseastrology" Yahoo!Group the last I heard. Any comments added by me are found between [ ] throughout the document. I have updated the chart of years and added a complete table of the serial numbers of the days of the year. Also, symbolic animals, planets, and other items have been added for each of the 28 days.]

Date: Wed Jun 10, 1998 6:03am
Subject: T'ong Shu workings.

Howdy All,

This post is for those of you who have not come across a copy of the T'ong Shu yet.

It provides you with the details of how to work it out for yourselves, complete with basic interpretations.

It was copied from de Kermadeks book "Four Pillars of Destiny" [The Way to Chinese Astrology: the Four Pillars of Destiny by Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec, 1983, ISBN 0041330102; translated by N. Derek Poulsen]

Enjoy ! ;-)

John Mausolf

[At the time of the original posting in 1998, John was a feng shui practitioner in Australia.]

Step 1. Find the serial number for the day. e.g. June 6th has a serial number of 157

This is based on the Western calendar. [Jan 1st = 1; Dec 31st = 365, or 366 in a Leap Year.]

[The chart of dates and serial numbers of first halves of months has been expanded into a table showing first and second halves of months with corresponding serial numbers.]




March *


1 to 16

1 to 16

1 to 16

Serial #

1 to 16

32 to 47

60 to 75


17 to 31

17 to 28

17 to 31

Serial #

17 to 31

48 to 59

76 to 90


April *

May *

June *


1 to 16

1 to 16

1 to 16

Serial #

91 to 106

121 to 136

152 to 167


17 to 30

17 to 31

17 to 30

Serial #

107 to 120

137 to 151

168 to 181


July *

August *



1 to 16

1 to 16

1 to 16

Serial #

182 to 197

213 to 228

244 to 259


17 to 31

17 to 31

17 to 30

Serial #

198 to 212

229 to 243

260 to 273


October *




1 to 16

1 to 16

1 to 16

Serial #

274 to 289

305 to 320

335 to 350


17 to 31

17 to 30

17 to 31

Serial #

290 to 304

321 to 334

351 to 365

* In a leap year, don't forget to add 1 to every date and serial number starting from 1 March.

Leap years are underlined in the following chart. [Not as I received it.]

Step 2. Add the day serial number to the right hand number in the following chart for the appropriate year.

This table is only to be used for the 28 constellations. [The chart in the original post covered the years 1898 to 2009. I have updated and replaced it with a chart that covers 1924 to 2050. Every year immediately above an xxxx is a Leap Year; i.e. 1924, 1928, 2032, 2036 are Leap Years.]

For the year ……………………. Add:

xxxx 1943 1965 1988 2010 xxxx 1
xxxx 1944 1966 xxxx 2011 2033 2
xxxx xxxx 1967 1989 2012 2034 3
xxxx 1945 1968 1990 xxxx 2035 4
1924 1946 xxxx 1991 2013 2036 5
xxxx 1947 1969 1992 2014 xxxx 6
1925 1948 1970 xxxx 2015 2037 7
1926 xxxx 1971 1993 2016 2038 8
1927 1949 1972 1994 xxxx 2039 9
1928 1950 xxxx 1995 2017 2040 10
xxxx 1951 1973 1996 2018 xxxx 11
1929 1952 1974 xxxx 2019 2041 12
1930 xxxx 1975 1997 2020 2042 13
1931 1953 1976 1998 xxxx 2043 14
1932 1954 xxxx 1999 2021 2044 15
xxxx 1955 1977 2000 2022 xxxx 16
1933 1956 1978 xxxx 2023 2045 17
1934 xxxx 1979 2001 2024 2046 18
1935 1957 1980 2002 xxxx 2047 19
1936 1958 xxxx 2003 2025 2048 20
xxxx 1959 1981 2004 2026 xxxx 21
1937 1960 1982 xxxx 2027 2049 22
1938 xxxx 1983 2005 2028 2050 23
1939 1961 1984 2006 xxxx xxxx 24
1940 1962 xxxx 2007 2029 xxxx 25
xxxx 1963 1985 2008 2030 xxxx 26
1941 1964 1986 xxxx 2031 xxxx 27
1942 xxxx 1987 2009 2032 xxxx 28

Step 3. Add the day serial number to the number in the right hand column for the year.

e.g. 157 (June 6th) + 14 (1998) = 171

Step 4. Divide the sum of the two numbers by 28 and the remainder will be the number of the constellation.

e.g. 171 divided by 28 equals 6 (168) with a remainder of 3.

So giving us the third constellation on this day June 6th 1998. Wasn't so hard was it? ;-)

[I have verified that the calculations hold true for the year 2000 and beyond.]

The daily predictions of the 28 constellations.

[Some personal comments by the original poster have been removed. Additional information on symbolic animal, planets, and other items in italics added to each daily prediction are from The Complete Astrological Handbook for the Twenty-First Century by Anistatia R Miller and Jared M. Brown, Schocken Books, NY 1999, ISBN 0805210865]

1. The Horn Thursday Auspicious
To whomsoever builds on this day, this constellation will bring glory and prosperity, and men of letters will be able to approach near to the throne of the Emperor.
Marriages on this day will result in numerous posterity.
But to repair a tomb or go to a funeral may provoke a new grief.
Symbolic animal – crocodile.
Associated with the Wood planet (Jupiter) and with favorable winds and rains, as well as agriculture and horticulture. Ideal day to buy land.
Presides over marriage, birth, and growth.

2. The Neck Friday Inauspicious
Do not build on this day; let the eldest not take the succession; let nothing be undertaken for in the ten following days a disaster will occur.
Funerals and marriages will cause untimely death and will risk leaving widows in the house.
Symbolic animal – dragon.
Associated with the Water planet (Mercury), weather extremes, and the chemical industry.
Presides over judgments and punishments.

3. The Root Saturday Inauspicious
To build on this day will be inauspicious enough, and the celebration of marriages will bring endless calamities.
Journeys by boat will be shipwrecked.
Funerals will cause the impoverishment of descendants.
Symbolic animal – badger.
Associated with the Earth planet (Saturn), and strong rains and winds, as well as the aviation and patent-medicine industries.
Presides over proper actions.

4. The Chamber Sunday Auspicious
To build today assures wealth and abundant prosperity.
Spirits of Happiness, of Longevity, of Honour, of Riches and of Glory hasten to meet you.

If funerals are celebrated today, officials will be promoted three ranks.
Symbolic animal – hare or rabbit.
Associated with Sun, heat, and interior decorators.
Presides over building interiors.

5. The Heart Monday Inauspicious
To build today will be most inauspicious and everything will lead to ruin sooner or later.
Similarly burials and marriages will be seen to be disastrous and will assure three years of repeated calamities.
Symbolic animal – fox.
Associated with Moon and heads of state.
Presides over imperial power.

6. The Tail Tuesday Auspicious
To build today is to be assured of blessings and a numerous progeny.
To undertake any business matter or to flood a paddy field will assure prosperity to descendants.
Funerals and marriages will lead to the ennoblement of the family and the obtaining of posts in the Capital.
Symbolic animal – tiger.
Associated with the Fire planet (Mars) and the heir apparent of a family.
Presides over boats, dams, legacies, mothers, and children.

7. The Basket Wednesday Auspicious
To build today gives an assurance of power, and the beginning of any enterprise will assure the family the greatest good fortune.
Marriages and the repairing of tombs will be beneficent; coffers will overflow with gold and silver and the granaries with grain.
Symbolic animal – leopard.
Associated with the Water planet (Mercury) and prosperity in general.
Presides over new projects and burials.

8. The Ladle Thursday Auspicious
To build today assures a supreme abundance of wealth.
To put a tomb in order or to celebrate a funeral will assure descendants of prosperity.
To open an establishment or to flood a paddy field will assure the multiplication of livestock.
A marriage will be guaranteed happiness upon happiness.
Symbolic animal – unicorn.
Associated with the Wood planet (Jupiter), rains and floods, rewards, and businesses that involve oil or wine.
Presides over building and digging.

9. The Buffalo Friday Inauspicious
To build today will assure nothing but danger and calamities.
Paddy fields and silkworms will bring no profit to the unhappy master.
A marriage or the opening of a business will behold a sea of troubles, and livestock will suffer from it.
Symbolic animal – buffalo.
Associated with the Metal planet (Venus) and the real-estate business.
Presides over roads, paths, and land.

10. The Woman Saturday Inauspicious
To build today will be very damaging to the charm of pretty women and make brothers quarrel among themselves like wolves and tigers.
Burials and marriages will cause luck to disappear and oblige the family to emigrate.
Symbolic animal – bat.
Associated with the Earth planet (Saturn) and the weaving industry.
Presides over property and dowry.

11. The Void Sunday Inauspicious
To build today will be calamitous.
Boys and girls will sleep uncherished.
A wind of debauchery will blow through the family from a lack of rites; and the wives of sons and grandsons will sleep in other beds.
Symbolic animal – rat.
Associated with the Sun, rains, and cold, undertakers, and frozen foods.
Presides over cemeteries.

12. The Roof Monday Inauspicious
Today nothing large should be built, and burial or the repairing of tombs will provoke effusions of blood.
To open a business or to irrigate a paddy field will cause continual unhappiness and law suits.
Symbolic animal – swallow.
Associated with the Moon and the building industry.
Presides over fortification.

13. The House Tuesday Auspicious
To build today will bring an increase in land and livestock.
Sons and grandsons will enjoy glorious careers.
All enterprises will bring riches and prosperity in the dwelling.
Marriages and funerals will take away care for ever.
Symbolic animal – pig.
Associated with the Fire planet (Mars) and religious orders.
Presides over physical work in general.

14. The Wall Wednesday Auspicious
To build today will bring great prosperity; marriages will bring only peace and joy.
Funerals will assure wealth and prosperous descendants.
To start an enterprise or to irrigate a paddy field will assure progeny.
Symbolic animal – porcupine.
Associated with the Water planet (Mercury), literature, and the arts.
Presides over marriages and expansions.

15. The Legs Thursday Inauspicious
To build today will be very auspicious, Harmony and Prosperity will blow through the door of the family home.
But a burial today will produce a mysterious death, and to do business or flood a paddy field will only attract calamities.
Symbolic animal – wolf.
Associated with the Wood planet (Jupiter), cold weather, textiles, and shoes.
Presides over clothing, canals, and armaments.

16. The Tie Friday Auspicious
To build columns today is equivalent to building up to the gate of Heaven; the family will see its riches increase and everything will prosper.
Today's marriages will be fruitful, and descendants will gain honours and social promotion.
Symbolic animal – dog.
Associated with the Metal planet (Venus), wt and mildly cool weather, and the pharmacy business.
Presides over symphonic music and festivities.

17. The Stomach Saturday Auspicious
To whomsoever builds this day everything comes like a wind blowing riches and precious glory,
and innumerable joys will be theirs.
Funerals will assure social promotion and marriages will see the flourishing of complete harmony.
Symbolic animal – pheasant.
Associated with the Earth planet (Saturn), floods, and the banking industry.
Presides over marriages, burials, investments, and earthworks.

18. The Lights Sunday Inauspicious
To build today would be like letting a buffalo into the paddy field.
Funerals will bring incessant worry.
To begin anything will surely lead to calamities, and marriages will only engender misery.
Symbolic animal – rooster.
Associated with the Sun and the legal profession.
Presides over judgments.

19. The Thread Monday Auspicious
Light will shine on him who builds.
Paddy growing and worm breeding will know years of abundance.
Luck and blessings will flow to your door.
Marriages and funerals will procure a doubled longevity.
Symbolic animal – crow.
Associated with the Moon, rains, and the military.
Presides over marriages and hunting.

20. The Turtle Tuesday Inauspicious
To build today will invite a lawsuit.
Celebrate a funeral and before long the house will collapse; at least three deaths will follow, and reserves of provisions will dwindle away.
Symbolic animal – monkey.
Associated with the Fire planet (Mars) and animal breeding.
Presides over flocks and herds as well as the afflicted.

21. The Three Associates Wednesday Auspicious
To build today will bring ample prosperity.
The star of the lettered person will bring light.
Irrigation of the paddy field and business will be under happy auspices.
But funerals and marriages will shatter the family.
Symbolic animal – gibbon.
Associated with the Water planet (Mercury) and authorship.
Presides over labor.

22. The Well Thursday Auspicious
To build today will bring prosperity to paddy fields and silkworm breeding.
The family name will be the first on the golden list.
In the case of funerals, take extra care if the deceased has died a violent death.
Every enterprise will bring money and numerous inheritors.
Symbolic animal – tapir.
Associated with the Water planet (Mercury), rains, the civil service, and veterinary surgery.
Presides over widows and examinations.

23. The Spirit Friday Inauspicious
Under this inauspicious star, building will cause disappearances and the threshold will no longer have a master.
The celebration of funerals will procure advancement but a marriage will see a woman lonely in the nuptial chamber.
Symbolic animal – goat.
Associated with the Metal planet (Venus).
Presides over respect for the dead.

24. The Willow Saturday Inauspicious
To build today will lead to trouble in the courts; and disasters and thieves will put the house in danger.
Funerals and marriages will be the prelude to a series of miseries.
Symbolic animal – buck.
Associated with the Earth planet (Saturn).
(No "presides over" listed)

25. The Star Sunday Inauspicious
This day is good for building houses, and prosperity and advancement will lead to the feet of the Emperor.
But to celebrate a funeral or to proceed with irrigation will cause the wife to abandon her hearth and look for another man.
Symbolic animal – horse.
Associated with the Sun, heat, and the garment business.
Presides over bridges and dyestuffs.

26. The Fishing Net Monday Auspicious
On this day if a pavilion is built all descendants who are officials will approach the Emperor.
To celebrate funerals and to flood the paddy fields will attract money and riches.
Marriages will be the cause of unending harmony and happiness.
Symbolic animal – stag.
Associated with the Moon, and the business of the theater.
Presides over festivities and entertainment.

27. The Wings Tuesday Inauspicious
Construction of a high building should be avoided, for this will cause the death of successive masters of the house.
Marriages and funerals will not bring prosperity.
Young girls will run after boys away from home.
Symbolic animal – snake.
Associated with Fire planet (Mars) and politics.
Presides over ceremonial rites.

28. The Chariot Wednesday Auspicious
To build under these auspices will attract promotion.
A marriage will receive the Emperor's blessing.
To celebrate funerals will make bright the star of the lettered person.
Prosperity will equal a cairn of gold and a mountain of jade.
Symbolic animal – earthworm.

Associated with the Water planet (Mercury) and wind and storms.
Presides over travel, speed, marriage, digging, and construction.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

All Gods Are Sun Gods

Sun Halo at Winter Solstice
Credit & Copyright: Philip Appleton (SIRTF Science Center), Caltech

Explanation: Sometimes it looks like the Sun is being viewed through a large lens. In the above case, however, there are actually millions of lenses: ice crystals. As water freezes in the upper atmosphere, small, flat, six-sided, ice crystals might be formed. As these crystals flutter to the ground, much time is spent with their faces flat, parallel to the ground. An observer may pass through the same plane as many of the falling ice crystals near sunrise or sunset. During this alignment, each crystal can act like a miniature lens, refracting sunlight into our view and creating phenomena like parhelia, the technical term for sundogs. The above image was taken in the morning of the 2000 Winter Solstice near Ames, Iowa, USA. Visible in the image center is the Sun, while two bright sundogs glow prominently from both the left and the right. Also visible behind neighborhood houses and trees are the 22 degree halo, three sun pillars, and the upper tangent arc, all created by sunlight reflecting off of atmospheric ice crystals.

The Winter Solstice is coming up on 22 December at 06:12 Universal Time, the moment when gods and the sun are born and "reborn."

In every culture from the murky past to the present day, there have been Sun Gods. Robert Ingersoll (1833 – 1899) makes a good case for the gods of all religions being gods of the sun. Indeed, most gods, including the monotheistic one, are described as "the Light."

The writing below is excerpted from The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll

Volume II (Lectures)



"Myth and Miracle" chapter III


In all probability the first religion was Sun-worship. Nothing could have been more natural. Light was life and warmth and love. The sun was the fireside of the world. The sun was the "all-seeing"--the "Sky Father." Darkness was grief and death, and in the shadows crawled the serpents of despair and fear.

The sun was a great warrior, fighting the hosts of Night. Apollo was the sun, and he fought and conquered the serpent of Night. Agni, the generous, who loved the lowliest and visited the humblest, was the sun. He was the god of fire, and the crossed sticks that by friction leaped into flame were his emblem. It was said that, in spite of his goodness, he devoured his father and mother, the two pieces of wood being his parents. Baldur was the sun. He was in love with the Dawn--a maiden--he deserted her and traveled through the heavens alone. At the twilight they met, were reconciled, and the drops of dew were the tears of joy they shed.

Chrishna was the sun. At his birth the Ganges thrilled from its source to the sea. All the trees, the dead as well as the living, burst into leaf and bud and flower.

Hercules was a sun-god.

Jonah the same, rescued from the fiends of Night and carried by the fish through the under world. Samson was a sun-god. His strength was in his hair--in his beams. He was shorn of his strength by Delilah, the shadow--the darkness. So, Osiris, Bacchus, Mithra, Hermes, Buddha, Quelzalcoatle, Prometheus, Zoroaster, Perseus, Codom Lao-tsze Fo-hi, Horus and Rameses were all sun-gods.

All these gods had gods for fathers and all their mothers were virgins.

The births of nearly all were announced by stars.

When they were born there was celestial music, voices declared that a blessing had come upon the earth.

When Buddha was born, the celestial choir sang: "This day is born for the good of men Buddha, and to dispel the darkness of their ignorance--to give joy and peace to the world."

Chrishna was born in a cave, and protected by shepherds. Bacchus, Apollo, Mithra and Hermes were all born in caves. Buddha was born in an inn--according to some, under a tree.

Tyrants sought to kill all of these gods when they were babes.

When Chrishna was born, a tyrant killed the babes of the neighborhood.

Buddha was the child of Maya, a virgin, in the kingdom of Madura. The king arrested Maya before the child was born; imprisoned her in a tower. During the night when the child was born, a great wind wrecked the tower, and carried mother and child to a place of safety. The next morning the king sent his soldiers to kill the babes, and when they came to Buddha and his mother, the babe appeared to be about twelve years of age, and the soldiers passed on.

So Typhon sought in many ways to destroy the babe Horus. The king pursued the infant Zoroaster. Cadmus tried to kill the infant Bacchus.

All of these gods were born on the 25th of December. [Ages ago, December 25th was the approximate date of the Winter Solstice. Due to calendar reforms over the centuries, the solstice now occurs around the 21st of December. ~Michelle~]

Nearly all were worshiped by "wise men."

All of them fasted for forty days.

All met with a violent death.

All rose from the dead.

The history of these gods is the history of our Christ. He had a god for a father, a virgin for a mother. He was born in a manger, or a cave--on the 25th of December. His birth was announced by angels. He was worshiped by wise men, guided by a star. Herod, seeking his life, caused the death of many babes. Christ fasted for forty days. So, it rained for forty days before the flood--Moses was on Mt. Sinai for forty days. The temple had forty pillars and the Jews wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Christ met with a violent death, and rose from the dead.

These things are not accidents--not coincidences. Christ was a sun-god. All religions have been born of sun-worship. To-day, when priests pray, they shut their eyes. This is a survival of sun- worship. When men worshiped the sun, they had to shut their eyes. afterwards, to flatter idols, they pretended that the glory of their faces was more than the eyes could bear.

In the religion of our day there is nothing original. All of its doctrines, its symbols and ceremonies are but the survivals of creeds that perished long ago. Baptism is far older than Christianity--than Judaism. The Hindus, the Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans had holy water. The eucharist was borrowed from the Pagans. Ceres was the goddess of the fields, Bacchus the god of the vine. At the harvest festival they made cakes of wheat and said: "These are the flesh of the goddess." They drank wine and cried: "This is the blood of our god."

The cross has been a symbol for many thousands of years. It was a symbol of immortality--of life, of the god Agni, the form of the grave of a man. An ancient people of Italy, who lived long before the Romans, long before the Etruscans, so long that not one word of their language is known, used the cross, and beneath that emblem, carved on stone, their dead still rest. In the forests of Central America, ruined temples have been found, and on the walls the cross with the bleeding victim. On Babylonian cylinders is the impression of the cross. The Trinity came from Egypt. Osiris, Isis and Horus were worshiped thousands of years before our Father, Son and Holy Ghost were thought of. So the Tree of Life grew in India, China and among the Aztecs long before the Garden of Eden was planted. Long before our Bible was known, other nations had their sacred books, temples and altars, sacrifices, ceremonies and priests. The "Fall of Man" is far older than our religion, and so are the "Atonement" and the Scheme of Redemption.

In our blessed religion there is nothing new, nothing original.

Among the Egyptians the cross was a symbol of the life to come. And yet the first religion was, and all religions growing out of that, were naturally produced. Every brain was a field in which Nature sowed the seeds of thought. The rise and set of sun, the birth and death of day, the dawns of silver and the dusks of gold, the wonders of the rain and snow, the shroud of Winter and the many colored robe of Spring, the lonely moon with nightly loss or gain, the serpent lightning and the thunder's voice, the tempest's fury and the zephyr's sigh, the threat of storm and promise of the bow, cathedral clouds with dome and spire, earthquake and strange eclipse, frost and fire, the snow-crowned mountains with their tongues of flame, the fields of space sown thick with stars, the wandering comets hurrying past the fixed and sleepless sentinels of night, the marvels of the earth and air, the perfumed flower, the painted wing, the waveless pool that held within its magic breast the image of the startled face, the mimic echo that made a record in the viewless air, the pathless forests and the boundless seas, the ebb and flow of tides--the slow, deep breathing of some vague and monstrous life--the miracle of birth, the mystery of dream and death, and over all the silent and immeasurable dome. These were the warp and woof, and at the loom sat Love and Fancy, Hope and Fear, and wove the wondrous tapestries whereon we find pictures of gods and fairy lands and all the legends that were told when Nature rocked the cradle of the infant world.

Phoenix here….One of the things that most strikes me from that last paragraph is the cross being a symbol of life. Below is a photo of an analemma, the shape created in the sky over the course of a year by the position of the sun at the same time every day. (See photo credit below picture). What occurred to me as I saw this picture was that it is very similar to the Egyptian ankh, the cross with the oval on top that represented Life. I wonder if some ancient Egyptian charted the sun in the sky at the same time every day and based the shape of the ankh, the cross of Life, on the changing position, the rise and fall, the birth and death of the sun. An interesting thought, don't you think?

Credit & Copyright: Vasilij Rumyantsev ( Crimean Astrophysical Obsevatory)

Explanation: If you took a picture of the Sun at the same time each day, would it remain in the same position? The answer is no, and the shape traced out by the Sun over the course of a year is called an analemma. The Sun's apparent shift is caused by the Earth's motion around the Sun when combined with the tilt of the Earth's rotation axis. The Sun will appear at its highest point of the analemma during summer and at its lowest during winter. Analemmas created from different Earth latitudes would appear at least slightly different, as well as analemmas created at a different time each day. The analemma pictured to the left was built up by Sun photographs taken from 1998 August through 1999 August from Ukraine. The foreground picture from the same location was taken during the early evening in 1999 July.

Links to related posts on the topic of sun, god(s), and solstices:

The Astronomy of Christmas and the Epiphany

Daoism on Winter

Similarities between Mithraic and Christian beliefs and practices

The Meaning of God (etymology of the word God)

The word God could derive from root words in several language families, and includes a combination of meanings, but the core idea of what God is seem to boil down to just a few definitions showing that ancient peoples regarded supreme beings much as we do today.

1 – to shine (indicative, no doubt, of the connection between God and the sun/sky)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

God's Eye

Perhaps this topic is an appropriate coincidence for All Saint's Day!

I received an email recently with the above photo and the following message:

'This photo is a very rare one, taken by NASA. This kind of event occurs once in 3000 years.

'This photo has done miracles in many lives.

'Make a wish ... you have looked at the eye of God. Surely you will see the changes in your life within a day.

'Whether you believe it or not, don't keep this mail with you. Pass this at least to 7 persons.

'This is a picture NASA took with the Hubbell telescope called "The Eye of God."'

I'm all for wishing on a star, but here is the truth behind the God's Eye myth: First, it truly is a marvelous photo, but it's not an event that happens every 3,000 years, and it isn't called "The Eye of God."

It's a re-touched photo of the center of an hourglass nebula (called so because of its shape)…see photo below.

Very likely it was taken from the center of the MyCn18 nebula which has been sitting up in space, probably looking just like that for three-thousand years instead of once in 3,000 years. The original images of MyCn18 were taken by the Hubble telescope, and several are posted in various places online.

Here are links to some of the whole pictures of the nebula:





Here is a photo of the complete nebula from Astronomy Picture of the Day January 16, 1996 (Photo credit: R. Sahai and J. Trauger (JPL), WFPC2 Science Team, NASA)

Update July 3, 2009:

As the anonymous commenter said (if you read the comments), the first picture is of the Helix Nebula, NGC7293!

Here is an article on it at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helix_Nebula

And, another from Astronomy Picture of the Day that was not available at the time I first posted this article: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap090303.html

Thanks for your comment and for the correct information, Anonymous!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Phoenix Legends

A few legends of the Phoenix from Arabia, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Japan, the Jewish tradition, Native American, Roman, and Russian folklore.

Astronomy: Phoenix in the Sky

Phe (Phoenix) is a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere near Tucana and Sculptor. Phoenix was named by Johann Bayer in 1603 in his catalog, Uranometria. It lies between Grus and Eridanus.


The Arabic Roc

In Arabic legends, the roc, or rukh, was a gigantic bird with two horns on its head and four humps on its back. It is mentioned in the Arabic tales, The Thousand and One Nights. The Venetian explorer Marco Polo referred to the roc in describing Madagascar and other islands off the coast of Eastern Africa. According to him, Kublai Khan inquired in those parts about the roc and was given what was claimed to be a roc's feather, which may really have been a palm frond. Sinbad the Sailor also told of seeing its egg, which was "50 paces in circumference." The roc is associated with strength, purity, and life.


The Phoenix lived in Arabia. According to the legends, only one Phoenix lived at a time for 500 years. At the end of its life-cycle, The Phoenix built a nest as it was dying and set the nest on fire and was consumed by the flames. After its death, a new Phoenix would then arise from the ashes and the new Phoenix was reborn. This cycle was repeated over and over. The Phoenix was the symbolic representation of the death and rebirth of the sun.


The Chinese Phoenix

The legendary phoenix was a symbol of high virtue and grace to the Chinese. The phoenix, representing power and prosperity, reflected the empress, and only she was allowed to wear its symbol. The "phuong" is the male phoenix, and the "hoang" is the female. As conceived by the Chinese imagination, the phoenix has a large bill, the neck of a snake, the back of a tortoise, and tail of a fish. It carries in its bill either two scrolls or a square box that contains sacred books. According to tradition, the phoenix's song includes all the five notes of the traditional musical scale; its feathers include the five fundamental colors and its body is a composite of the six celestial bodies: the head symbolises the sky; the eyes, the sun; back, the moon; the wings, the wind; feet, the earth; and the tail, the planets. The phoenix appears only in peaceful and prosperous times, and hides itself when there is trouble. Therefore, the phoenix is both a sign of peace and a symbol of disharmony. In Chinese mythology, the phoenix is represented by the feng-huang, a bird symbolizing the union of yin and yang.


In China, Feng-huang, a bird that symbolizes the union of yin and yang, a sign of both peace and disharmony [sic].


The Phoenix from another of the Chinese Mythology offers another description. Under another name, Feng - it’s depicted as a bird of shining colors, very much like a pheasant. In remote times, The Feng supposedly frequented the gardens and palaces of righteous Emperors. As with all mythological creatures the versions, significance and the characters tend to vary according to culture and their belief.


The Chinese have a group of four magical creatures that represented the primodrial forces of the feathered, armored, hairy and scaly animals. These beasts are Bai Hu (tiger) or Ki-Lin (unicorn) for the West, Gui Xian (the turtle or the serpent) for the North, Long (dragon) for the East and for the South, Feng, the phoenix. Feng represented power and prosperity and was an attribute of the Emperor and Empress, who were the only people in China allowed to bear the symbol of Feng. It is the personifications of the primordial force of the Heavens, and is sometimes represented with the head and comb of the pheasant and the tail of the Peacock. However, the Chinese wanted to give Feng the best attributes of all beasts, and so it has the crane's forehead, the fowl's bill, the swallow's throat, the neck of a snake, the shell of a tortoise, the dragon's stripes and the tail of a fish. In its bill it carries two scrolls or a square box that contains sacred books. It is also said that its song contains the five notes of the Chinese music scale, that its feathers include the five fundamental colours (green, red, yellow, white and black), and that its body is a mixture of the six celestial bodies: the head symbolises the sky; the eyes, the sun; back, the moon; the wings, the wind; feet, the earth; and the tail, the planets. Feng is sometimes pictured with a fireball, representing the sun, and is called the "scarlet bird". It is the emperor of birds.


Feng (or Feng-huang) lives in the Kindgom of the Wise which is to the east of China. It drinks the purest water and eats bamboo. When it sings, all the roosters in the world accompany it in its five-note song. It only appears in time of peace and prosperity, and disappears in times of trouble. Unlike the European Benu, Feng can be male or female and live as a couple. This couple represents marital happiness. The Feng delivers the soul of the infant to the mother's womb, once she conceives it.


The Phoenix in Egypt

In Egypt the phoenix was usually depicted as a heron, but also as a peacock or an eagle. The brilliantly red and golden plumed Bennu was the sacred bird of Heliopolis. Identified as a heron with its long straight back and head adorned at the back with two erect feathers, the Bennu was later named Phoenix by the Greeks. The Bennu lived on the ben-ben stone or obelisk within the sanctuary of Heliopolis and was worshipped alongside Ra and Osiris. It was said to create itself from the fire that burned on the top of the sacred Persea tree in Heliopolis. The sun rose in the form of the Bennu each morning. Bennu was also considered a manifestation of Osiris, said to spring from his heart as a living symbol of the god. The Bennu symbolizes rebirth as it rises from the ashes, just as the new sun rises from the old.


Although it’s a common legend to many ancient civilizations, the origin of the myth of The Phoenix is attributed to the Egyptians, a civilization that was obsessed with eternal life. Phoenix is the Greek name given to a mythological bird offered in sacrifice to Ra, god of the Sun in ancient Egypt. This bird was similar to an eagle and possessed a splendid golden-red plumage that made it look like it was wrapped up in flames. In some versions, The Phoenix was shown in flames rather than in feathers.


The Egyptians were the first to speak of Benu, which later became the Phoenix in Greek legends. Benu is mostly depicted as a heron, with a long straight back, a head adorned with two erect feathers, and its plumage red and golden. It was the sacred bird of Heliopolis, city of the Sun, where it stayed on the ben-ben stone or obelisk, inside the town's sanctuary. Its true home was however the Arabian desert, it only came back to Heliopolis to die/be born. Benu was associated with the Sun god Ra and with Osiris, god of the Underworld, who is said to have given the secret of eternal life to Benu. It symbolises rebirth, as it rises from its ashes like a new sun rises when the old has died. It also symbolises a new period of wealth and fertility, when the Nile flooded the earth each year.


It is said that Benu had created itself from the fire that burned on the top of the sacred Persea tree in Heliopolis. Another story says that the heron Benu was the first life form to have appeared on the mound which rose from the watery chaos of the first creation, which links Benu to the nile and its periodical floods. The mound was called the ben-ben, and was the origin of the town of Heliopolis. Benu is, one way or the other, the personification of creation and life-force. After 500 years, according to Herodotus, Benu flew to the Sun temple in Heliopolis to build its funeral pyre with incense twigs. It then climbed onto it and waited for the sun's rays to consume it, singing a song of rare beauty as it did so. According to Pliny, from the ashes emerged a small worm that the sun's rays turned into a new Benu at the end of the day. It is also said that a new Phoenix rose immediately from it's father's ashes and flew with it's predecessor's emblamed remains to Heliopolis, accompanied by a flight of turtledoves.


The planet Venus was called the 'star of the ship of the Bennu-Asar' (Osiris), and is mentioned as the Morning Star in this invocation to the sacred sun bird, Benu:

I am the Benu, the soul of Ra, and the guide of the gods in the Douat *,

Let it be so done unto me that I may enter in like a hawk,

And that I may come forth like Bennu, the Morning Star.

* the Douat is the Egyptian Underworld.


The Phoenix in Greece

Greek mythology places the phoenix in Arabia, where it lives close to a cool well. Every morning at dawn it bathes in the water and sings a beautiful song. So beautiful is the song that the sun god would stop his chariot to listen. There only exists one phoenix at a time. When the phoenix feels its death approaching (every 500 or 1461 years) it builds a nest, sets it on fire, and is consumed by the flames. A new phoenix springs forth from the pyre. It then embalms the ashes of it's predecessor in an egg of myrrh and flies with it to the City of the Sun. There the egg is deposited on the altar of the sun god.


The Greek poet Herodotus wrote in one of his passages from his writings of The Phoenix’s legend that the Phoenix comes back every 500 years in order to search the body of its predecessor. After making a myrrh egg, The Phoenix puts the body of its predecessor inside it, and takes it to the Temple of the Sun located in Egypt.

500 years later, Tacitus and Plinius agreed that many of the ancient myths were confusing so they investigated the chronology of The Phoenix. Through their studies, they concluded that The Phoenix lived an equivalent to a Platonic year, a calculation determined by the alignment of the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets known at that time needed to return to their original positions which in our time represents a period of 12.994 years.


The ancient ones believed that this enormous astronomical cycle was complete provided all conditions of the planetary influence were the same. In other words, The Phoenix was considered similar to a mirror of the universe. By the end of the IVth century, Claudianus had written some verses about an immortal bird, able to reborn from its ashes, an heir to itself, and a witness of that time.


The Greek believed that the Phoenix lived in Arabia, in a cool well. At dawn, each morning, it sung a beautiful song, so beautiful that the Sun god would stop his chariot to listen. The Phoenix is a unique bird, there may only exist one at a time, which makes it a solitary bird. It does not reproduce, which adds to its loneliness, as only its death will bring on another of its race. When it feels its end approaching (between 500 and 1461 years, depending on the legend), it builds a nest with the finest aromatic woods, sets it on fire, and is consumed by his own flames. From the pile of ashes, a new Phoenix arises, young and powerful. It then embalms the ashes of its predecessor in an egg of myrrh, and flies to the city of the Sun, Heliopolis, where he deposits the egg on the altar of the Sun god.


The Indian Garuda and Japanese Karura

In the Hindu and Buddhist culture, the phoenix is called Garuda, or Karura in Japan (see lyrics of "You Are Phoenix"). Garuda in some legends has an eagle's beak and wings, and a human body, with a white face, scarlet wings and a golden body. In others, especially in Japan, he is an enormous fire-breathing eagle with golden feathers and magic gems crowning its head. Garuda is the mount or avatar (earthly embodiment) of the god Vishnu (Hindu tradition), and is one of the supreme seers of infinite consciousness.

Kadru, mother of all serpents, had picked a fight with the mother of Garuda, that she locked away. Garuda then went to fetch the Soma, which gave him immortality, to free his mother from Kadru. Vishnu, impressed, chose him as his avatar or mount. However, Garuda kept a great hatred towards the Naga (family of serpents and dragons), and killed one every day for his meal. But a Buddhist prince taught him abstinence, and Garuda brought back to life the bones of many serpents he had killed.


The Jewish Milcham

In Jewish legend, the phoenix is called Milcham. After Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she became jealous of the immortality and purity of the other creatures in the garden of Eden. She managed to persuade all the animals in the garden to eat the forbidden fruit and share her fallen state. All except for the phoenix gave in to her. God rewarded the bird by setting him up in a walled city where he could live in great peace for 1000 years. And at the end of every 1000 year period, the bird was consumed and reborn from an egg found in its ashes.


The Native American Thunderbird

In the legends of native North Americans, the thunderbird is a powerful spirit in the form of a bird. Lightning flashes from its beak, and the beating of its wings is creates the thunder. It is often portrayed with an extra head on its abdomen. The majestic thunderbird is often accompanied by lesser bird spirits, frequently in the form of eagles or falcons. The thunderbird petroglyph symbol has been found across Canada and the United States. Evidence of similar figures has been found throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe.


Roman Phoenix

In Greek and Roman legends, the Phoenix is the symbol of immortality and resurrection. It is associated with the Sun god Phoebus (Apollo). Its name "Phoenix" is the Greek word for "red", which links this magical bird to fire and the sun. It is said to resemble an eagle or a peacock.

The following is a text by a Roman author, Claudian, which tells the story of the Phoenix. This poetic version is translated by Henry Vaughan.


He knows his time is out! and doth provide

New principles of life; herbs he brings dried

From the hot hills, and with rich spices frames

A Pile shall burn, and Hatch him with his flames.

On this the weakling sits; salutes the Sun

With pleasant noise, and prays and begs for some

Of his own fire, that quickly may restore

The youth and vigor, which he had before.

Whom soon as Phoebus * spies, stopping his rays

He makes a stand, and thus allays his pains......

He shakes his locks, and from his golden head,

Shoots on bright beam, which smites with vital fire

The willing bird; to burn is his desire.

That he may live again; he's proud in death,

And goes in haste to gain a better breath.

The spice heap fired with celestial rays

Doth burn the aged Phoenix, when straight stays

The Chariot of the amazed Moon; the pole

Resists the wheeling, swift Orbs, and the whole

Fabric of Nature at a stand remains.

Till the old bird anew, young begins again.

* Phoebus another name for Apollo, but is also a poetic word to describe the sun.


The Russian Firebird

The Russian Firebird

by Cyril Korolev


In Russian folklore the Firebird (Zshar-ptitsa) is a miraculous bird. Its feathers shine like silver and gold, its eyes sparkle like crystals, and it is usually been seen sitting on a golden perch. At midnight this bird comes to gardens and fields and illuminates the night as brightly as a thousand lights; just one feather from its tail could light up a dark room. The Firebird eats golden apples which give any who eat them youth, beauty and immortality; when the bird sings, pearls would fall from its beak. The Firebird’s chants can heal the sick and return the vision to the blind.