The gospels tell of magi, astrologers from the East, following a star (or maybe a planetary alignment). Today, a similar phenomenon occurs. Starting at the end of 2019, Saturn and Pluto enter conjunction in the constellation Capricorn. Then, Jupiter enters the same constellation, coming close to Pluto later in 2020. Astrologers watch wide-eyed.
Imagine the possibilities.
Saturn is the planet of civilizational systems. Time eats its own. The deep state runs, no matter who is in charge. Then, it runs out of Time.
Pluto is the planet of death and birth, destruction and renewal.
Jupiter is the god of sovereign and worldly order. His decrees are like bolts of lightning. He rules the pantheon. He enforces the laws.
Then, there is the constellation of Capricorn, the house of government.
Pictured as a goat, I imagine the constellation opening its doors to planners, workers, scientists and sensible thinkers. These people climb mountains, one step at a time.
But, the ancient image of Capricorn is far more curious. The constellation has the head and torso of a goat. It has the abdomen and tail of a fish. For this reason, it is called the “sea-goat”.
This is the representation that I would like to discuss.
The ancient Greeks have a playful explanation for Capricorn. Pan, already half-human and half-goat, finds himself in a tough spot. Other gods transform into animals in order to escape the predicament. When Pan tries, oops, he turns into half-goat half-fish.
Even further back in time, the Sumerian civilization has a god, Ea, who brings the arts of civilization to humans. During the day, he comes on land. Then, at night, he retires to the water. Does that sound chimeric?
Now, I make a dramatic play, by asking, “Could both Ea and Capricorn stand for some event that the ancients forget, yet remember in their divine images?”
An interesting answer comes from Razie Mah in An Archaeology of the Fall and The First Singularity and its Fairy Tale Trace.
The bi-modal god, Ea, and the sea-goat, Capricorn, stand for the formation of the Ubaid culture of southern Mesopotamia, around 7800 years ago. Over the next three thousand years, the Ubaid becomes the Uruk and the Uruk becomes the Sumerian civilization.
So, how is the Ubaid culture both on land and in sea? How is it half-goat and half-fish?
The Sumerian language provides a clue. It is a linguistic isolate. It does not belong to any family of languages.
Why is this so?
It is a creole. A creole forms when two disparate cultures are thrown together. Trying to get along, they produce pidgin, pieces of language, that are sown together into a new language by later generations. A creole fits the image of a chimera.
How did this happen?
During the Developed Neolithic, say nine or ten thousand years ago, the Persian Gulf is dry land. A wide river valley holds a narrow gorge, carrying the flows of the Tigris, Euphrates and other rivers. Two separate Mesolithic cultures settle the two habitats. One comes from northern Mesopotamia. These folks are farmers and stockbreeders. They settle the valley. Here is the goat. The other comes along the coast, probably from the East. These folks have reed boats and live off the marsh. They settle the gorge. Here is the fish.
Around eight thousand years ago, the ice age ends and the current interglacial begins. The sea levels slowly and powerfully rise. Sea water fills the gorge, then submerges the surrounding broad valley. These two cultures are thrown together. Each culture loses its hand-speech talk. The resulting creole, Sumerian, is the world’s first speech-alone language.
Yes, the Ubaid emerges from both land and sea with a new way of talking, speech-alone. All their Neolithic and Epipaleolithic neighbors still talk with a combination of manual-brachial gesture and speech (that is, hand-speech talk). The semiotic differences between speech-alone talk and hand-speech talk are huge. Speech-alone talk potentiates civilization in southern Mesopotamia. Speech-alone talk spreads on the wings of mimicry to adjacent hand-speech talking cultures, then flies to all corners of the Earth, seeding unconstrained social complexity along the way.
Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.
Two gods stand at the threshold. One dwells in Sumerian myth. The other lingers in the heavens.
The end writes the beginning. The beginning writes the end.
Todays’ astrologers watch as Saturn and Pluto come together, then Jupiter and Pluto, as well. They join in the House of Capricorn. What do the heavens portend? Astrologers strain to imagine the possibilities. Here, is another one to consider. Capricorn resonates with the first singularity, the potentiation of all civilizations. In this constellation, the planets align.