The Geometry of Time
The astrological wheel as universal map, clock, and calendar
[Marduk] constructed stations for the great gods, fixing their astral likenesses as constellations. He determined the year by designating the zones: he set up three constellations for each of the twelve months. [...]
He caused the Moon to shine, entrusting the night (to him). He appointed him a creature of the night to signify the days:
"Monthly, without cease, form designs with a crown. At the month's very start, rising over the land, you shall have luminous horns to signify six days, on the seventh day reaching a [half ]-crown.
At full moon 'stand in opposition' in mid-month. When the sun [overtakes] you at the base of heaven, diminish [your crown] and retrogress in light.
[At the time of waning] approach the course of the sun,
And [on the twenty-ninth] you shall again stand in opposition to the sun."
Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation story, Tablet 5, translation based on that of E. A. Speiser
For some years I've been researching the geometry of the astrological wheel from its earliest origins in Mesopotamia. In this circle that maps both the physical universe and the passage of days, months, and years, degrees are also durations. The Enuma Elish says the universe is divine, and organised according to god-given time. Its organisation is revealed not only through the regular and reliable sun, which all can observe, but also and most precisely through the intricate movements of stars and planets. In the millennia before our era those who developed this clock, map and calendar were students of the lights in the night sky.
The magic circle that is now a mere "wheel of fortune" appears to have started life as a symbolic representation of divine space/time.
Work on this project has taken me from third-millennium Sumer to thirteenth-century France, with stops along the way in Uruk, Babylon, Athens, Alexandria, Damascus, Rome and Constantinople.
wheel of the zodiac (the ecliptic) revolves around the earth, its
2002-2011 Joanna Sheldon