The Sky for the Heavens

I recently had the onerous duty of editing a page in Wikipedia. It was the page on Tethys which read

“Tethys was one of the Titan offspring of Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth).”

and after my edit reads

“Tethys was one of the Titan offspring of Uranus (the Starry Heavens) and Gaia (Earth).”

I wonder if it will stand.

So far removed from Nature have we become that, since the days of Hesiod(c. 800 BCE) , we cannot distinguish between the Heavens and the Sky.

In Classical Greece they spoke of Earth-rise, where we speak of sunset. In the setting of the Sun Night draws the Heavens across the world. By calling it Earth Rise they acknowledged that it was the shadow of the Earth which revealed the Heavens.

This may seem a minor point to some but for me it masks something far deeper. The ego-centricity of the human race is replicated in the Solar dominion we now live under. Instead of saying the Earth is the centre (Geo-centricity) of the universe we now say that the Sun is the centre around which the rest of the Solar System revolves. We believe in saying this we have removed the onus from ourselves and are placing the Sun (formerly God) at the centre, failing to realise that what we are saying actually is ‘we recognise the Sun as the centre etc’. But by eradicating the Heavens and coalescing them into the Sky we repeat the same error that lead some to call themselves ‘human beings’ while others call themselves the ‘chosen people’.

By using the term Earth rise we acknowledge that Sunrise brings a change, and in this the Sky is revealed even as the Heavens are lost to view. They are not eradicated because, sure enough, next evening as the shadow of the Earth rises the Heavens stand unveiled once again.

We have forgotten that the Sun gives rise to the Sky, even, as I maintain, the Sun is the source of Life on this planet. To confound Sky with Heavens represents not only the mistranslation of a word – even though cited as Heavens in the article referenced – but also a fundamental lack of insight into the world in which we live. It is not surprising that some moderns sneer at primitives with their ignorant superstitions. It is, in fact, the moderns who have failed to grasp the reality of the world they themselves are living in, which the ancients portrayed so accurately for us all.

April 25th 2021

Author: Keith Armstrong

Dance teacher, writer, film-maker, educationalist, enthusiast.