The Keys to Prophecy VI: A Great Star

790 words

© Anthony E. Larson, 2006

The Keys to Prophecy VI:

A Great Star

If we look closely at the images venerated by the ancients from the point of view that they may have been inspired by planets standing in close proximity to the Earth, we see them with new eyes.  And because we adopt this view, we can read the explanations of symbols on Egyptian papyri by the prophet Joseph Smith with a fresh perspective that also gives an entirely new dynamic to the imagery of prophecy.

This key is crucial because ancient sky gazers the world over drew remarkably similar pictures and offered stunningly similar descriptions of things that do not exist in our sky, though this vital truth has not been generally recognized.

Amazingly, when we heed Joseph Smith’s hints that the gods, goddesses, beasts and other images of antiquity all found their inspiration in Earth’s ancient heavens, some of the most mysterious icons suddenly appear to be virtual snapshots of what the ancients saw in Earth’s skies.

The star-in-crescent symbol, for example, so dominant in ancient symbology, appears to be a combination or blending of two astral elements: One is the sunlit limb of a planet; the other is an aurora-like discharge from another planet.

These images of “stars” look nothing like things seen in our present heavens.  Yet, Joseph Smith implied that these are the planets and stars of antiquity.

Hence, the confusion of a star/planet symbol with the moon and stars is natural.  The only heavenly object we see today with a bright crescent is the moon.  But if other planets hovered near the Earth anciently, they would have also manifested this same crescent feature.

Certainly, the lighted crescent on the limb of neighboring planets became the basis for a multitude of symbols: the horns of a bovine, the crescent-shaped ship of heaven or the outspread wings of a bird, three of the most common symbols in ancient iconography-all seen in the Joseph Smith papyri as well as in apocalyptic and prophetic imagery.

If the planetary god’s crescent looked like outspread wings, then it could properly be described as a great heavenly bird and subsequently illustrated as a hawk or eagle.

Of course, its planetary disk is displayed over its head as well so there is no mistaking where the image originated.  This is precisely what we see in the ancient symbols.

If the planetary god’s or goddess’ crescent was seen as horns, he or she could be depicted as the bull or cow of heaven, a commonplace description in ancient texts of gods and goddesses.  For emphasis, again the planetary disk is set between the horns.

If the planet’s crescent appeared to be a ship carrying the planet around heaven, then the god-with a disk over his head, naturally-would be depicted sitting on the ship of heaven.  This, too, was a nearly universal depiction in Egyptian iconography.

Significantly, these same images, and many more like them, can be seen in the Joseph Smith Facsimile No.2, where they are most often called stars or planets.

Moreover, there must have been much more involved anciently than the simple, pacific presence of large orbs in the sky.  They must have been active, changing, interacting and dynamic powers to evoke the expressions they inspired.

For example, Sumerian texts celebrate the “terrifying glory” of Inanna (Ishtar, Astarte, Venus), invoking the goddess as “the Light of the World,” “the Amazement of the Lands,” “the Radiant Star,” “Great Light,” and “Queen of Heaven.”  The texts depict the goddess “clothed in radiance.”  And it was said that the world stood in “fear and trembling at [her] tempestuous radiance.”

Thus, we get the picture from the texts and the illustrations of a discharging planet, emitting aurora-like rays that form the basis for all ‘star’ imagery of antiquity.

The Sumerian “Exaltation of Inanna” says, “I want to address my greeting to her who fills the sky with her pure blaze, to the luminous one, to Inanna, as bright as the sun, to the great queen of heaven.

“You make the heavens tremble and the earth quake.  Great Priestess, who can soothe your troubled heart?  You flash like lightning over the highlands; you throw your firebrands across the earth.  Your deafening command…splits apart great mountains.”

An illustration taken from an Akkadian cylinder seal shows Ishtar (star) and her symbol, a planet with aurora-like discharge.

The wheel symbol of the Babylonian god Shamash (Sun) looks nothing like the Sun and further illustrates the discharge streamer or star idea.

Both the texts and the images of the ancients tell the same story, each complimenting the other.

In fact, this more fully explains why stars and planets were interchangeable in the ancient mind: In antiquity, a great, nearby planet metamorphosed into a brilliant, awe-inspiring object that earthlings chose to call “star.”  This alone explains the graphic language and the myriad star symbols used by the ancients for their star goddesses.

This also explains why all the ‘star’ icons, familiar to cultures worldwide, look nothing like the mere pinpoints of light in the night sky that we designate as stars.

No wonder Joseph explained that all these archaic images were either stars or planets.  They were!





  1. What do you think of the Greatest Conjunctions of the planets Saturn & Jupiter? These aren’t exactly “collisions”, but they were observed by the ancients and these two planets’ triple conjunctions were considered a most sacred event.

  2. Planetary conjunctions, where noted by the ancients, were the cause of considerable consternation. Their anxiety stemmed from their cultural traditions that said when planets conjoin or intersect very nasty things could happen. The same was true of eclipses. You must know that the ancients were diligent skywatchers precisely because they knew that disorder in the heavens was a harbinger of chaos on the Earth and her skies.

  3. Do you subscribe to the idea of using Great Conjunctions to date the birth of Christ? It used to be a hot topic in archaeoastronomy, at least. For a minute, I collected books on the star of Bethlehem…

    Regarding the importance of conjunctions in the Creator’s design of the solar system, and while discussing the period of Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions in the astronomical unit mercs, John P. Pratt says, “To me, this makes it clear that the system was designed with conjunctions of the planets in mind.”

  4. I subscribe to the views of Brigham Young when he pointed out that the Earth fell from its eary position near “the throne of God” into the orbit it now follows. Planetary conjunctions are coincidental and inconsequential in our day and age when all the planets have settled into rather comfortable orbits. But such was not the case anciently, nor will it always be so.
    While the conjunctions you speak of in recent epochs are coincidental alignments that do not see the planets leaving their designated orbits, those conjunctions in the past might best be described as intersections or near misses due to their elogated, orbits that broght them into conflict from time to time.
    Rather than repeat myself, trying to explain all this to you, I suggest you obtain my writings on the subjects. I explain my views and cite my evidence at lenght there.
    Suffice it to say that observations such as Pratt’s do not take into account the chaotic status of the solar system that existed anciently. His analysis reflects orthodox science’s view that the solar system of yesteryear differed little from that which we see today. My position is that our world and its fellow planets only recently reached the pacific stasis we see today. This, in my opinion, is the testimony of all the prophets and the scriptures–including those of the restoration. Sadly, the accepted, orthodox view of the uneventful solar system blinds us, the Saints, to our true history.

  5. I did some investigations with a friend while she was taking an astronomy course at UMKC. I helped her with the software because I am a Linux hacker of sorts. She wanted to critically examine astrology from the point of view of astronomy. I got XEphem running so we could compare planetary positions published by astrologers according to their Pythagorean equations with planetary positions according to Newtonian and Relativistic physics as implemented by XEphem (developed at the University of Iowa to target celestial objects and precisely aim huge telescopes, etc.).

    One day I was jumping forward in time by intervals of 1,000 years in XEphem, when about 20,000 years from now the solar system sort of collapsed and became super-chaotic. The 3 inner planets fell towards the sun to have very rapid revolutions and the outer planets spun off into massive comet-like orbits.

    I reported the behavior to a theoretical physicist at BYU (a friend of my brother’s) who writes pages and pages of Fortran code to simulate the relativistic physics of colliding neutron stars on BYU’s Linux supercomputer clusters in an attempt to discover new high-energy particles or new forms of radiation. This guy said it was entirely impossible, that the orbits of planets do not degrade like the orbits of artificial satellites, and that the behavior I saw must have been the result of some kind of overflow error in XEphem’s implementation of the maths.

    Some months ago I checked a newer version of XEphem, and, sure enough, they had the behavior fixed and the solar system no longer collapsed into chaos 20,000 years from now.

  6. Where did you obtain the images of the stars? I would be interested in studying this subject further –

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