This Greek Goddess caught my eye for a number of reasons and could quite open up a rather large journey into many landscapes. But for now, here is her biography (or so we think).
One Cassiopeia is prevalent in the myths of ancient Greeks.
In mythology, Cassiopeia was the wife of King Cepheus (represented by the neighbouring constellation Cepheus in the sky) of Ethiopia. Once, she boasted that she was more beautiful than the Nereids. The Nereids were the 50 sea nymphs fathered by the Titan Nereus. They were enraged by Cassiopeia’s comments and appealed to Poseidon to punish Cassiopeia for her boastfulness. Poseidon was married to one of the nymphs, Amphitrite.
The sea god obliged and sent Cetus, a sea monster represented by the constellation Cetus (the Whale), located in the same region of the sky, to ravage the coast of Cepheus’ kingdom. Cepheus turned to an oracle for help and the oracle told him that, in order to appease Poseidon, he and Cassiopeia had to sacrifice their daughter Andromeda to the sea monster. Reluctantly, they did so, leaving Andromeda chained to a rock for the monster to find. However, she was saved in the last minute by the Greek hero Perseus, who happened to be passing by, saw Andromeda and rescued her from the monster.
Perseus and Andromeda were later married. At the wedding, one of her former suitors, named Phineus, appeared and claimed that he was the only one who had the right to marry Andromeda.
There was a fight and Perseus, desperately outnumbered, used the head of Medusa, the monster he had recently slain, to defeat his opponents. One look at Medusa’s head turned them all into stone. In the process, however, the king and queen were also killed because they did not look away from the monster’s head in time.
It was Poseidon who placed Cassiopeia and Cepheus in the sky. Cassiopeia, the myth goes, was condemned to circle the celestial pole forever, and spends half the year upside down in the sky as punishment for her vanity. She is usually depicted on her throne, still combing her hair.
Keep going – this gets interesting!
Cassiopeia has been variously portrayed throughout her history as a constellation. In Persia, she was drawn by al-Sufi as a queen holding a staff with a crescent moon in her right hand, wearing a crown, as well as a two-humped camel. In France, she was portrayed as having a marble throne and a palm leaf in her left hand, holding her robe in her right hand. This depiction is from Augustin Royer’s 1679 atlas.
In Chinese astronomy, the stars forming the constellation Cassiopeia are found among three areas: the Purple Forbidden enclosure (紫微垣, Zǐ Wēi Yuán), the Black Tortoise of the North (北方玄武, Běi Fāng Xuán Wǔ), and the White Tiger of the West (西方白虎, Xī Fāng Bái Hǔ).
The Chinese astronomers saw several figures in what is modern-day Cassiopeia. Kappa, Eta, and Mu Cassiopeiae formed a constellation called the Bridge of the Kings; when seen along with Alpha and Beta Cassiopeiae, they formed the great chariot Wang-Liang. The charioteer’s whip was represented by Gamma Cassiopeiae, sometimes called “Tsih”, the Chinese word for “whip”.
In Welsh Mythology Llys Dôn (literally “The Court of Dôn”) is the traditional Welsh name for the constellation. At least three of Dôn’s children also have astronomical associations: Caer Gwydion (“The fortress of Gwydion”) is the traditional Welsh name for the Milky Way, and Caer Arianrhod (“The Fortress of Arianrhod”) being the constellation of Corona Borealis.
In the 1600s, various Biblical figures were depicted in the stars of Cassiopeia. These included Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother; Deborah, an Old Testament prophet; and Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus.
A figure called the “Tinted Hand” also appeared in the stars of Cassiopeia in some Arab atlases. This is variously said to represent a woman’s hand dyed red with henna, as well as the bloodied hand of Muhammad’s daughter Fatima. The hand is made up of the stars α Cas, β Cas, γ Cas, δ Cas, ε Cas, and η Cas. The arm is made up of the stars α Per, γ Per, δ Per, ε Per, η Per, and ν Per.
Another Arab constellation that incorporated the stars of Cassiopeia was the Camel. Its head was composed of Lambda, Kappa, Iota, and Phi Andromedae; its hump was Beta Cassiopeiae; its body was the rest of Cassiopeia, and the legs were composed of stars in Perseus and Andromeda.
Other cultures see a hand or moose antlers in the pattern. These include the Lapps, for whom the W of Cassiopeia forms an elk antler. The Chukchi of Siberia similarly saw the five main stars as five reindeer stags.
The people of the Marshall Islands saw Cassiopeia as part of a great porpoise constellation. The main stars of Cassiopeia make its tail, Andromeda and Triangulum form its body, and Aries makes its head.In Hawaii, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Cassiopeiae were named. Alpha Cassiopeiae was called Poloahilani, Beta Cassiopeiae was called Polula, and Gamma Cassiopeiae was called Mulehu. The people of Pukapuka saw the figure of Cassiopeia as a distinct constellation called Na Taki-tolu-a-Mataliki.
The image above is from the Gettyburg Museum and is of the Whore of Babylon . . . and not Cassiopeia. So why is it here? I observed that the two descriptions throughout a number of sources, cites this Cassiopeia or the Whore from the book of Revelations, as a beautiful goddess, admiring herself in a mirror. She is apparently vain and is often depcted with her feet in water.
The Whore is associated with the Beast of Revelation by connection with an equally evil kingdom. The word “Whore” can also be translated metaphorically as “Idolatress”. The Whore’s apocalyptic downfall is prophesied to take place in the hands of the image of the beast with seven heads and ten horns. There is much speculation within Christian eschatology on what the Whore and beast symbolize as well as the possible implications for contemporary interpretations.
Could the whole saga be about the Stars? The whale or Cetus (constellation) is featuring in my cups and in directives for spiritual growth moving through the Valley of the Giants. Perseus is a constellation, and all this cluster sit in the water section, in the North!
Cassiopeia belongs to the Perseus family of constellations, along with Andromeda, Auriga, Cepheus, Cetus, Lacerta, Pegasus, Perseus, and Triangulum.