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 precession of the equinoxes, the earth’s rotational axes (a.k.a. the Axis Mundi) is slowly changing its position. It draws an invisible circle that takes 25,920 years to complete.
In the following picture, we see how this rotation creates different positions of the North Star.
Photos from Wikimedia commons – Axial precession
We are very “lucky” to have such a bright star marking North, as this was not always the case. A few thousand years are sufficient for a dramatic change. And inside of this eternal circle, defined by the rotation of the earth’s axes, there are two constellations – Draco and Ursa minor.
The rotating garden of Eden
Draco, as the name suggests, represents a dragon. This was a common view of many ancient cultures. Perhaps the most famous example comes from Greek mythology. Here, the dragon’s name is Ladon. He guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. This idea is similar to the Biblical narrative of the snake and a forbidden apple tree.
Now, we know where this “dragon” is. But which constellation represented the “golden apples of the Hesperides”? There are not many constellations left inside of the circle, so perhaps it was the Ursa minor?
In India, the name for the polar star is Dhruva – a word that means “constant”, “immovable”. “Immovable” as the tip of the earth’s invisible axes ends here. Everything else rotates around it. However, this Indo-European word could also relate to the word “tree”- “drvo”. For example in virtually all Slavic languages, from Proto-Slavic “dervo“. Of course, the meaning of “immovable” is still valid in this case.
The early Vedic mythology also had a dragon. His name was Vritra, meaning “the one who encircles”, ” the enveloper”. Again, this word is quite familiar in Slavic languages. The verb “vrteti” means “to turn” (around its axes), “to spin”.
But this is not all. Only the South-Slavic languages have the word “vrt“, meaning “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. South Slavic (as well as all Slavic languages) also had the word “gradina” in their dictionary. This is a direct cognate of “hortus”. Indeed, G and H sounds are interchangeable. I am not familiar with the processes that could turn sound H into V.
But “vrt” means “rotating” and there is another Sanskrit word that proves it. Vajra was a powerful thunderbolt weapon of Indra. This weapon was spinning as it fell on the enemy. Funny enough, the name of an ancient domestic tool in Balkans – a wooden spoon for stirring, is “varjacha”. 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.
Now, Proto-Indo-Europeans differentiated between the elements which are “stagnant” and those which are “flowing”. For example, linguists claim that the PIE word AKWA relates to the stagnant body of water. The word “water” relates to flow.
This is very interesting. In Slavic languages, the word for the “wind” is “vetar” – a moving air. It is beyond any doubt that this word follows the same logic. The same is true for “vatra” which means “fire” in Slavic. In this case, out of the four elements, we only need the word for the “moving” earth. I would argue that this word was “vrt”.
Moreover, all these words contain a hint of the mystical “aether” – the fifth element.
The pillar of light
The word Eden sounds like number one – edin in Slavic languages. Coincidence or not, but this is precisely how the ancients saw the circle described at the beginning of this article – as a place where the human soul reunites with the Absolute. A good example of that view is Plato’s Republic, book X, 616B – 617D. The full text is on the link, this is the abridged version. The souls spend seven days “in the meadow”. From there they go towards the “pillar of light, joining heaven and earth”. One more day on this path and they see the “chains of heaven” and “the spindle of necessity with eight concentric whorls”. This “spindle” carries all of the stars and planets.
Mokosh – Moksha
Speaking in Vedic terms, the place described by Plato is a place where an individual soul reaches Moksha. Moksha is a liberation from the constant transformation of the flowing elements, influences of the Earth and seven planets and a circle of reincarnation. It is the very same goal that inspired ancient druids and the whirling dervishes, as described in my previous article – Axis mundi / tree of life explained.
Slavic Goddess Mokosh was a shape-shifting lady with a spindle. The Slavic word for “spindle” is “vreteno” – the same verb for “spinning” as described above. But more importantly, her name sounds so similar to “moksha”. This is definitely not a coincidence as she is the wife of Svarog, the sun-god. His name sounds so similar to Svarga – another important term of the Vedic philosophy.
In short, it seems that the ancients saw this region of heaven as the place where a soul enters the earthly realms – Garden of Eden. It is also a place where the soul leaves the cycle of reincarnation and becomes free again.