Lather, Rinse, and Repeat: Recycled Claims about Star Myths, King Arthur, and More!
Are we running out of fringe ideas? I wonder sometimes since it seems that each new claim is just a boring variation on something written 50, 100, or a 1,000 years ago. It starts to get boring after a while. Over on Graham Hancock’s website, guest writer David Warner Mathisen discusses why he thinks myths and legends are really based on constellations and their movements, but even he freely concedes that he is borrowing the claim from Hamlet’s Mill half a century ago and Robert Taylor 150 years before that. Over at Ancient Origins, Ralph Ellis, inveterate fringe fabricator, makes the same claim in more overwrought format. In both cases, the authors assume that the constellations were known and recognized in their modern forms worldwide and before the Bronze Age, which of course can’t be proved.
Mathisen adds, illogically:
Let us now briefly ask “Why” the ancient myths of the world, all around the globe, would be built upon celestial allegories. I believe that whoever imparted the ancient wisdom in the sacred myths were consciously using the stars as a sophisticated metaphor to impart profound knowledge of the Invisible Realm and our connection to it. The celestial players in the heavenly realm above our heads – the sun, moon, stars, and visible planets, along with their intricate cycles – were used to convey truths about the infinite realm, which is in fact real, and of vital importance to each of our lives, and to the collective survival of all life on earth, even though it cannot be seen.
Even if we were to assume that there is a genuine stellar tradition behind all world mythology, this implies nothing about the creators of that tradition having any connection to a mystical spirit realm, or that such a realm exists, or that it has any relevance to human life. At best, it implies that Stone Age people liked to tell stories, and some people remembered them later on. The illogic of it is quite boring, and it bothers me that Mathisen’s peroration is predicated on, essentially, asserting the reality of a spirit realm he wants to exist and then back-forming “proof” of it from a slightly tweaked version of the old solar hero lie.
Mathisen’s argument is essentially what one would get if Victorian mythologists suddenly became neo-pagans.
Similarly, I just read a review by Nick Redfern of an upcoming book promising (again) to reveal the real and historical King Arthur. So frequent are these Arthurian claims that I just finished reviewing a book claiming to have found the historical Arthur! The latest version, by British journalist Simon Keegan, claims that Arthur is actually Arthwys ap Mar, also called Arthur of the Pennines (c. 460-520 CE), who appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain as Archgallo. This claim is not particularly new, and Mike Ashley suggested that Arthwys, along with several other warlords of the same name, contributed to the development of the Arthur myth in his Mammoth Book of King Arthur (2005). According to Redfern’s review, Keegan’s book is a much blunter version of the claim, and seeks to tie most of the Arthurian retinue to Arthwys’ court. If you squint, some names might seem similar. Arthwys’ brother was named Morydd, which compares favorably to Arthur’s nephew Mordred, for example.
Keegan then identifies Camelot as the northern English Roman fort at Slack, which he says was named Camulod. The Slack fort’s actual Roman name is unknown. Many scholars suggest it is identical with the Cambodunum of the Antonine Itinerary, but this has not been proved. Nonetheless, Keegan’s claim isn’t even original. It’s point for point identical to Berham Saklatvala’s Arthur: Roman Britain’s Last Champion (1967). Saklatvala concluded that Slack’s “British” name was “Camulodun,” which he derives from assigning the Latin name of Camulodunum to the site, based on names appearing in Ptolemy’s Geography and the seventh-century Ravenna Cosmography. Even if true, it was hardly the only Camulodunum in Britain; a site with a very similar name could be found in Essex.
Finally, I have to give notice to Judd F. Allen’s The Royal Seed: Why the Genealogy of Jesus is Important to You Today (WestBow, 2015). The publicist for the publisher marketed the book to me as an exploration of the sacred bloodline of holy Judeo-Christian kings and their survival today, and on that strength I asked for a review copy. It turns out that WestBow Press, which I knew as a division of HarperCollins, is actually a Christian self-publishing company operating from within HarperCollins’s Thomas Nelson division.
I expected Jesus Bloodline lunacy. Instead, Allen, a very earnest Biblical literalist, simply rewrote the Bible chronologically, explaining all of the various family relationships down to Jesus. He then negated any reason to care about the genealogies by promising that believers in Christ are adopted into his family and therefore, by adoption, share in his kingdom. I don’t want to speak ill of someone who seems very earnest in his belief that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write a long list of genealogical material despite what he describes as his lack of education in theology or biblical studies, but suffice it to say that there is no reason to read this book.
3/4/2016 12:58:33 pm
>>>believers in Christ are adopted into his family<<<
3/4/2016 08:08:24 pm
And remember - one mystery hides another mystery
3/4/2016 01:18:54 pm
"Are we running out of fringe ideas?"
3/4/2016 07:10:46 pm
I recall that the punchline to that joke came after one inmate called out a series of numbers and no one laughed... "Some guys just don't know how to tell a joke."
3/4/2016 01:43:01 pm
Jason, stop chasing dragons! You are incredibly knowledgeably about history, and your research is probably un-paralleled, but where does it lead? Debunking ‘crazies’ is interesting, but how does that promote the truth? How about presenting some fundamental, “truth”, and asking others to debunk it, to destroy myths. Start with a fundamental document so many quote - biblical stories; explain how Adam lived to 903 years old ( in the bible), and his children fornicated with each other to create the human race; how belief that Eve ate an apple (no mention in the Bible, only the tree of fruit of knowledge); where the infamous “three” kings came from, no mention in the bible of number or time – could have been a dozen, as believed in the middle ages. The list goes on!! All are corruptions of old stories, and mis-interruptions that influence millions of people today. That’s their belief, uneducated as it may be. Criticizing it will never change belief, as debunking alien astronaut stories will never change believers belief. There has to be another tactic. I repeat, rather than contradict crap theories, on the defensive, present categorical facts and challenge others. I.E stop being the sceptic, make others the sceptics. No easy, but the only way.
3/4/2016 10:57:10 pm
Re: the "Three Kings" - I thought the legend of three of them probably grew up because the Bible mentions three gifts - gold, frankincense (or just incense), and myrrh. It seemed like a nice arrangement to have one king for each gift.
3/4/2016 11:57:23 pm
Re: Adam's purported lifespan: I can come up with several explanations off the top of my head, easy. 1. The length of time is purely mythical and has grown over time, like the size of the fish that got away or the height of the hero of many a story. It doesn't even have to have ever been a real person, it just has to be a story that was told over and over again. 2. Did you know that if you divide 903 by 12 or 13--ie, the number of lunar cycles in one year--you get around 69-75 years? Therefore, the oldest stories could have said "moon" instead of "year," and it changed to "year" as people shifted how they counted ages. Possibility 3, it is a combination of the two. Possibility 4, something got lost in translation somewhere along the way and in the earliest stories it was a much more reasonable number, but somewhere after writing was invented, somebody made an early "typo" that got passed down in later copies.
3/4/2016 01:43:18 pm
Jason job easy. He copy and paste expert. Nothing new. Copy paste copy paste.
3/4/2016 03:08:07 pm
herm job easy. He copy and paste expert. Nothing new. Copy paste copy paste.
3/4/2016 04:15:14 pm
3/4/2016 02:07:17 pm
The numbers game reminds me of a sketch in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in which the answer to life in the universe was merely 42. Ha.
3/4/2016 03:28:47 pm
Ah yes, but you do not know the answer.
3/4/2016 11:58:28 pm
No, no, no. 42 was the answer to the question, "What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?" Everybody misquotes it...
8/22/2016 12:16:41 pm
@V: No, no, no. It was not. If you're going to correct misquotes you need to be sure to get it right yourself...
3/4/2016 03:16:34 pm
"In both cases, the authors assume that the constellations were known and recognized in their modern forms worldwide and before the Bronze Age"
3/4/2016 03:45:53 pm
here's a new lunatic fringe theory that i have never seen: from Kevin Randle's blog of 3/2/16--He states that Kerry Cassidy had been on a talk show a few days earlier. It was her premise that “Soldiers who are alleged to be going to Iraq or Afghanistan are actually being sent off planet to places like Mars to fight battles alongside other alien races. Those men and women will have their minds wiped when they come back. This is why we’re having a lot of suicides with ex-soldiers. In some cases their minds have been wiped so many times they become unbalanced as a result. When they return, they don’t know where they’ve been. They think they’ve been to the Middle East, but they’ve actually been elsewhere.”
3/4/2016 06:12:20 pm
An acquaintance of mine is a field medic, and he recalls treating his own friends after their legs were blown off. The government wipes his memory of fighting alongside Wookies and Vulcans on Darwin IV, and instead of replacing it with memories of a nice trip to Cancun, they inject *that* into his brain?
3/4/2016 11:56:47 pm
It's not really a new theory and presumably goes back 10-15 years at least (they have their roots in Sitchin, even if they think he is mistaken) with the idea that we went into Iraq to secure a Stargate, which has presumably since been used to send off-world missions to other worlds. Hmmm I'm sure I saw something similar in a movie once, and a number of spin-off TV series of diminishing quality too (take a look at the photograph on the second link for further "clues"):
3/4/2016 03:55:27 pm
If we are running out of fringe ideas, then try making up new ones from scratch. It's harder than you think, since you must know something about which you write.
3/4/2016 04:03:14 pm
The job is easy because there are different categories of Arthur as has been demonstrated in countless books. The echoes of a historical Arthur who fought against the Saxons, the demi-god Arthur who went in search of the Cauldron, and the Arthur of Medieval Romance. The likes of Simon Keegan however will never disappear because a good bibliography can be compiled about such writers.
3/4/2016 04:11:19 pm
For people who are opposed to Trump
3/4/2016 04:18:41 pm
No jobs and no housing to immigrants and refugees
3/4/2016 04:21:07 pm
Or, to put it another way, kick out all the politicians out of their mansions and fill them with immigrants and refugees,
3/4/2016 04:42:52 pm
Get things like this sorted out before thinking about anything else.
Pop Goes the Reason
3/4/2016 05:13:59 pm
King Arthur at Slack? Impossible. It's in Yorkshire- that's the clincher. Tykes' heads are big enough already, and Hebden Bridge is far too hippy. Other reasons, the fort there was deserted by 250AD making Camelot a collectiion of humps and bumps in a very wet field by the Dark Ages. Sir Gawain would have had to go about 30 miles south to meet the Green Knight, which makes it a bit less of an epic.
3/4/2016 05:34:37 pm
You are of course conflating historical figures with mythical figures.
Pop Goes the Reason
3/4/2016 06:00:11 pm
Mytholmroydical? Don't be daft, no one's suggested that hole as Calemot. And conflating? Ooh, the erudition. Just listen to the volcabulary.
3/4/2016 07:35:00 pm
Not as funny as Stanley Unwin...
3/4/2016 06:34:01 pm
The Green Knight...interesting...he must have ate lunch at Arby's.
3/5/2016 12:54:42 pm
Gives a whole new meaning to their slogan, "We have the meats."
3/4/2016 09:05:48 pm
I read years ago that the Arthurian legends were an import from the Ukraine, brought by Germanic mercenaries working for Rome.
3/5/2016 12:02:02 am
Except that Lancelot is a very LATE addition to the Arthurian cycle, coming in from France, so likely the "similar legends" actually made it to the Ukraine from France and England by way of troubadors and bards and minstrels, not the other way around.
3/5/2016 02:18:51 am
England and France were once both the same country.
3/5/2016 02:25:28 am
3/5/2016 12:08:03 pm
V, the Ukrainians have their own heroic traditions and stories. See the Bogatyrs
Pop Goes the Reason
3/4/2016 05:25:57 pm
oops wrong Slack, it's the one near 'Uddersfield not the one near 'Alifax. That saves our Gawain a bit of a trek though, it's five or six miles nearer the Green Chapel. And it's just as wet, but ArDwr has to put up with a couple of mill reservoirs instead of the Amazon of the North.
3/5/2016 12:56:35 pm
Then again, it is possible Gawain had such a trek because he refused to stop and ask directions.
3/4/2016 06:12:15 pm
Dionysian imitatio anyone?
3/4/2016 06:51:53 pm
I forgot to mention the mystic versions of Arthur by Gareth Knight, Wendy Berg and Dione Fortune. Fits in with the Medieval Romances.
3/6/2016 10:10:43 am
All the explanation you need for universally seeing images in the stars are:
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.