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Origin of the Milky Way Print E-mail
Nov 17, 2009 at 11:56 AM

images/stories/meems_east280.jpgOne reason for a justified curiosity in the Senedo is that the story of how they got here (the planet earth) is in fact identical to key elements of the Judeo-Christian Creation legend - especially the Jewish Kabbalistical interpretation of it, where the Fall is equivalent to a shattering of a pre-existent, idyllic order (Eden). That version is, further, perfectly compatible with "the Big Bang" theory of the genesis of the known universe. If the Big Bang theory is correct, then Eden is what lies on othe other side of what theoretical physicists like Steven Hawking call "the singularity" (the Black Hole). But how is it that this native American people - who would not doubt have been considered "heathen" by the early white settlers - shared, with such precision, a very specific western religious(and perhaps scientific) version of the beginnings of the universe?

The Senedo legend, as it has been given to us by purely verbal transmission (i.e., very possibly attributed to them by later settlers of the Valley -- but where did the story originate?), tells how the stars sang in joy to celebrate the beauty of this pre-existing cosmos, this celestial realm - and it describes how star-energy flowed downward in a burst to form the physical world. It places the source of the Shenandoah Valley unequivocally among the stars. There are parallel stories of paradise succeeded by cosmic catastrophe, shattering and rebuilding, in a great number of traditions, including in Egyptian, Jewish, Persian, Vedic and Nordic accounts of Creation.

In the Shendo story, the stars sang in harmony until a catastrophe broke apart the stone holding the waters of the divine lake they celebrated. The waters flowed out into the cosmos - an event variously interpreted as meaning the Creation of the finite world, or the Biblical Fall. Thus the Shendos became "the daughters of the stars."

The idea that the seven springs in the Orkney-Basye area have (or had - since we don't know where all seven are located) specific energies and properties is perfectly consistent with the ancient importance of the number 7 in myth and creation legend - and with the Shendo idea that it was the very substance of the heavenly world that flowed downward and cooled to form the world we see. There are seven sisters in the Pleiades, and seven represents the whole cycle of Biblical Creation. (And astronomically, the constellation of the Pleiades happens to be a "stellar nursery.") More esoterically, the seven days of creation correspond to the seven "lower" Sephirot of the Jewish Tree of Life - these being the vessels which shattered and whose substance flowed out to create the manifest universe. The seven cosmic planes of Theosophy derive from ancient Buddhic and Vedic texts - the correspondences are pervasive and the number 7 is everywhere found as the "generative" number; and quite often the beginnings of creation are connected to the idea of a rupture or explosion (a la "the Big Bang").
One of the most popular paintings at the National Gallery, London, shows the themes of rupture and nurture in making the new universe: it is Jacopo Tintoretto's Renaissance masterpiece, "Origin of the Milky Way," in which the cosmic Mother is anthropomorphized and the stars - the very stuff of the universe - flow out of her body into radiant space. (The image shown is a detail from the work.) If the Shendo were the "daughters of the stars," then here the Venetian artist is showing us the Mother. It is dazzlingly close in concept to the Egyptian sky- or mother-goddess Nut (pron. "Noot"), who is similarly shown with a body "made of stars."

The theme that there was a rupture and cataclysm involved in the creation of the world is ubiquitous - and though it is not directly in the Biblical story of Creation, it is there in the sequel - the Fall from the garden. That too was a rupture, one that actually completed the creation cycle. It is the Fall, after all, that brings the human soul into our densely material dimension. The Shendo, too, were "cast out" of their starry paradise. But the story also relates how the created world is a reflection of the higher realm that had been lost . . like a wavering image on water.

These meanings have been revived in the New Age but they are not New Age ideas - they are more ancient than the Greek myths of antiquity. The story of the Daughters of the Stars encourages us to wonder whether there are further parallels between the notions of seven springs, and the seven sisters of the Pleiades.

The fact that some of the Orkney springs have been "lost," - i.e., we don't know their location - gives the whole process the aura of an Isis-like mystical quest. The Pleiades-correspondence has led to the idea that the energy of Orkney Springs has a "feminine note," with the effect of stimulating the intuitive capacities and of recentering the personality in a manner that is less violent to natural cycles. - The Basye vortices by contrast are said to have a balancing effect between masculine and feminine aspects . . . But perhaps everyone brings their own meaning to the vortices - some finding nothing, others a key that unlocks a mystery of their personal lives.

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