Ancient Aurorae

3 May 2010

At April 28th, 'Picture of the Day', ... 'Amun - an Ancient Aurora filled sky' by Gary Gilligan. He claims the Egyptian god Amun wears a crown that is the aurora - sacred colours that have been eroded or flaked away from stone monuments over the millennia. The parallel is of course with the bright tail feathers of the quetzal bird, cognate within the Mesoamerican god Quetzalcoatl. Such stone statues and monuments, even temples and buildings, were once colourful affairs. Sometimes these can be put back into place by computer simulation - but generally, most of the evidence has been lost - or even brushed aside by archaeologists intent on the visible object in front of them rather than it's detritus on the ground. Apparently, Mesopotamian ziggurats were colourful buildings - reflecting aurora (perhaps). Therefore this particular post on Thunderbolts is relevant, and in the same vein. Amun is commonly shown in a human form standing or sitting on a throne and wearing a red flat topped crown with two tall plumes. He also holds a sceptre - symbol of the thunderbolt. Amun was especially popular in the NK period (mid to late 2nd millennium BC) and he was known as King of the Gods (at that moment in time). Gilligan produces an image of Amun with blue skin, a yellow kilt and red crown. the two tall plumes are segmented into blue, red, and green. He then compares this with a photograph of aurora and suggests the crown is a symbolic representation of an intense geomagnetic storm. A wonderful insight.

Amun was also known as 'the hidden one' - possibly reflecting the transparency of auroral phenomena, 'whose true form could never be known' (the undulating shape shifting nature of aurorae). Gilligan then says the solar wind is deflected around the earth to form an enormous magnetic tail divided into two lobes rising and setting in opposition to the Sun. Nowadays this is invisible but he speculates it could account for the two mountains as in the title of Amun, Lord of the Two Mountains (and parallels with myth elsewhere in the world are obvious). This is possibly why he was adorned by two plumes, Gilligan thinks, rather than a single one (and we may note the tail feathers of the quetzal bird are also two). In addition, Gilligan has found a parallel between the blue skinned Amun and the Anglo Saxon god Woden - the colour of blue appears to play a major role in myth (see also the blue Krishna for example).