Why I Believe The Avebury People Saw Orion As The Great Goddess


Why would the Orion stars have been seen as a female deity? Because the main Orion asterism appeared to be a trinity of threes, and three was her sacred number


 

 

The central quadrilateral of Orion has, of course, been interpreted as a giant humanoid figure throughout history, and by many cultures. Often the figure was construed as being male - The Hunter. Why, then, should I think that this figure was instead interpreted as female by worshippers here at Avebury?

The number three was strongly associated with sacred femininity (see my quotation from Meaden here). I now suggest that the Orion shape was considered female because it was constructed out of three sets of mathematical elements, each made of three stars - two triangles and the central line of the Belt. The entire figure appeared to represent 3x3, and accordingly was very female indeed:




In the animated diagram on the left you can see the three sets, the first is the upper triangle (for clarity here coloured turquoise), the second is the lower triangle (coloured purple), and the third is the short line of Belt stars (coloured yellow). The three stars of the Belt neatly clasp the two main triangles in a visually impressive and aesthetically satisfying union which therefore appears deliberate and symbolically meaningful (of course one of the three points in each triangle is not actually visible in the sky, but their existence might have been seen as being implied). The whole appears to represent a trinity of threes to honour the three ages of the Goddess - Maiden, Mother and Wise Woman.

I do suggest, looking at the entire quadrilateral of Orion, that as this female deity rules the sky in winter, she represents the Wise Woman, or less kindly, the Winter Hag (click here to see her!). Her embodiment as the winter Goddess in the sky prevents her from nurturing the earth, which is accordingly cold and fruitless. She may even have been regarded as temporarily dead, awaiting the resurrection of her reunion with the earth. The majority of the Orion figure is built from blue/white stars which emit a cold light, which might have been seen as the bones of a dead, frozen Goddess. I am reminded of a Sylvia Plath poem in which she states:


"The night sky is only a sort of carbon paper,
Blueblack, with the much-poked periods of stars
Letting in the light, peephole after peephole -
A bonewhite light, like death, behind all things"



In my opinion confirmation of the importance of the Orion region can be found amongst the stones of the West Kennet Avenue. Elsewhere on this website
(click here and see point 8) I identify a class of avenue statues which look up at an angle into the southern sky - I call these equator-seekers. Now that I have shown how the Orion stars could have been indentified in neolithic times as representing the Great Goddess, and having established the existence of a bull or Taurus carving in the main henge (click here for details), I wonder if the equator-seekers are designed to venerate the winter constellations in the form of the celestial Winter Hag and her sacred bovine.