african constellation myths

african constellation myths插图

Orion as a constellation does not have any specific African mythologyassociated with it, but aspects of the constellation are well documented. Many cultures have seen the famous Belt of Orion as various animals, including both tortoises and warthogs. One legend identifies them as three zebras.

What is African constellations?

African Constellations is committed to acknowledging and honouring the first people of the African continent, as well as sources of knowledge that inform Systems Constellation theory and practice. Our aim is to build a local community of highly trained professionals in South Africa that represent the diversity of our beautiful country.

Who is Africa’s favourite mythological character?

One of Africa’s favourite mythological characters is this almost cunning and almost good enough trickster who always almost succeeds but never does. Who is a better wright of epic hoaxes than Anansi, the West African god? He is usually in the form of a spider and he always has a new trick up his sleeve.

Why are African myths so important?

African myths continue to form an integral part of culture as they give an idea of where everything came from, what happened after and what might happen in the future. The myths are so intertwined with reality that it is usually hard to even separate the two.

What are the ‘digging stars’?

Orion and the Pleiades. IsiLimela or the Pleiades were the ‘digging stars’, whose appearance in southern Africa warned of the coming need to begin hoeing the ground. All over Africa, these stars were used as a marker of the growing season. ‘And we say isiLimela is renewed, and the year is renewed, and so we begin to dig’.

What do the Karanga people believe about the stars?

A legend of the Karanga people held that the stars were the eyes of the dead, while many Tswana believed that they were the spirits of those unwilling to be born. Other Tswana believed that they were the souls of those so long dead that they were no longer ancestor spirits. The Venda pictured the stars as hanging from the solid dome of the sky by cords, while other groups believed the stars to be holes in the solid rock dome of the sky.

Why are canopus called ants?

Canopus was known to some tribes as the ‘ants’ egg star’ because of its prominence during the season when the eggs were abundant. The bright stars of the pointers and the southern cross were often seen as giraffes, though different tribes had different ideas about which were male and which were female. Among the Venda the giraffes were known as Thutlwa, ‘rising above the trees’, and in October the giraffes would indeed skim above the trees on the evening horizon, reminding people to finish planting.

What are the stars in Orion’s sword?

For the Tswana, the stars of Orion’s sword were ’dintsa le Dikolobe’, three dogs chasing the three pigs of Orion’s belt. Warthogs have their litters while Orion is prominent in the sky – frequently litters of three.

What is the Moon in Bushman?

In Bushman legend, the Moon is a man who has angered the Sun. Every month the Moon reaches round prosperity, but the Sun’s knife then cuts away pieces until finally only a tiny piece is left, which the Moon pleads should be left for his children. It is from this piece that the Moon gradually grows again to become full.

What does Nwedzana mean?

Nwedzana = waxing crescent. If the horns point up when the new crescent is sighted in the evening sky, it ‘was said to be holding up all kinds of disease, and when the horns were tipped down, the Moon was a basin pouring illness over the world.’ (Sotho, Tswana, Venda)

What was the moon’s role in Khoikhoi?

For the Khoikhoi, the Moon was the ‘Lord of Light and Life’.

What did the Xam Bushmen believe?

While the /Xam Bushmen believed the stars were formerly people, some !Kung Bushmen taught that stars are, in fact, small creatures, and look like tiny porcupines – they have little legs, ears, teeth and are covered with tiny spines.

What is the most obvious feature in the night sky?

The Moon. The Moon – iNyanga to the Xhosa and Zulu, Nwedzi to the Shona and Venda, and Ngwedi to the Sotho and Tswana – is probably the most obvious feature in the night sky, because of its size, brightness, and changing appearance (phases). As the Moon orbits the Earth it goes through a sequence of phases, from New Moon (invisible) to crescent, …

Why do kung bushes think the sun is dead?

The Nyae Nyae !Kung Bushmen think of the Sun as a “death thing” because of its searing heat and the association with thirst, hunger, and exhaustion. The /Xam Bushmen would ask the Sun, early in the morning before they set out to hunt, to steady the hunter’s arm when aiming at game.

Why did the first Bushmen throw his head up into the sky?

So one day, out of desperation, the First Bushmen chopped off his head and threw it up into the sky so that his light could be shared with everyone. On rare occasions, the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, resulting in a solar eclipse. If the alignment is exact, then the entire Sun is momentarily blacked out.

How did the Milky Way come to be?

In /Xam Bushmen star lore, the Milky Way was created by a girl of the ancient race who scooped up a handful of ashes from the fire and flung it into the sky. This made a glowing path along which people could see the route to return home at night. She also threw bits of an edible root into the sky, the old (red) pieces creating red stars and the young (white) pieces creating white stars.

What is the sky made of?

A wide-spread African concept is that the sky is a solid dome, perhaps made of blue rock, resting on the Earth, upon which the Sun moves. The traditional Tswana idea is that stars are holes in the rocky vault that is the sky.

Why was the moon placed in water?

In the old times, it was said, the Moon was one of the leather sandals of the Mantis-god /kaggen. The sandal was placed in water to soften it somewhat, but this angered the water spirit who then froze the water, locking the sandal in ice.

Why did the bushmen see the clouds?

The bushmen saw the clouds as a pair of celestial steenboks, perhaps due to their diffuse nature rendering them hard to see under less than perfect conditions, in the same way that the diminutive steenbok prefers to remain hidden. Others saw the testicles of a great lion!

What do the stars of Crux represent?

The most common interpretation in southern Africa is that the four brightest stars of Crux are a herd, or ‘journey’, of female giraffe and the two Pointer Stars (Alpha and Beta Centauri) represent a pair of giraffe bulls in hot pursuit. Another version of the story sees the cross as symbolising the head of a giant giraffe (due to the diamond shape), with the Pointers as its neck. Some Bushmen tribes believed that the stars of the cross are a pride of lionesses, along with their young cub (Epsilon Crucis) and the Pointers embodying their two pride males following close behind as they prowl towards the horizon.

What are the two galaxies of the Milky Way?

When looking directly south on a clear night, two imperfections stand out against the clarity of the darkness. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are sister galaxies of the Milky Way, locked in a gravitational war with us, and each other. They are named after the great Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who documented the ever-present clouds during his circumnavigation of the globe in the early 1500s.

How did people start to understand the cyclical nature of the heavens?

People quickly began to notice the cyclical nature of the heavens, and with that came the concept of time. Of course, modern-day timekeeping was a long way off. Still, by recognising the positions of various celestial phenomena, it soon became apparent that recurring weather conditions and temperatures could be predicted with a reasonable amount of accuracy. This knowledge could then be used to anticipate vital information on animal movements based on rainfall, as well as fruiting times of the local flora. By the age of the pastoralists, this knowledge would prove invaluable for farming activities.

Why is the moon associated with reincarnation?

Due to the repetitive phases of the Moon and its seemingly regular regeneration, much African folklore found it synonymous with reincarnation and recovery. This belief was honoured by the Bushmen during their hunting trips, trusting that if one looked at the Moon after shooting their quarry with a poison arrow, it would allow the prey to recover and escape.

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How long does it take for the Moon to go through its full cycle?

As it takes approximately 29 days for the Moon to go through a full cycle and return to the same phase, these phases have also been used for millennia to mark the passage of time. The ‘Ishango Bone’, found in the former Belgian Congo, is a baboon fibula decorated with various etchings that indicate its use as an ancient lunar calendar. Scientists estimate that it is over 35,000 years old!

What did the Xam Bushmen believe?

While the /Xam Bushmen believed the stars were formerly people, some !Kung Bushmen taught that stars are, in fact, small creatures, and look like tiny porcupines – they have little legs, ears, teeth and are covered with tiny spines.

What is the most obvious feature in the night sky?

The Moon. The Moon – iNyanga to the Xhosa and Zulu, Nwedzi to the Shona and Venda, and Ngwedi to the Sotho and Tswana – is probably the most obvious feature in the night sky, because of its size, brightness, and changing appearance (phases). As the Moon orbits the Earth it goes through a sequence of phases, from New Moon (invisible) to crescent, …

Why do kung bushes think the sun is dead?

The Nyae Nyae !Kung Bushmen think of the Sun as a “death thing” because of its searing heat and the association with thirst, hunger, and exhaustion. The /Xam Bushmen would ask the Sun, early in the morning before they set out to hunt, to steady the hunter’s arm when aiming at game.

Why did the first Bushmen throw his head up into the sky?

So one day, out of desperation, the First Bushmen chopped off his head and threw it up into the sky so that his light could be shared with everyone. On rare occasions, the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, resulting in a solar eclipse. If the alignment is exact, then the entire Sun is momentarily blacked out.

How did the Milky Way come to be?

In /Xam Bushmen star lore, the Milky Way was created by a girl of the ancient race who scooped up a handful of ashes from the fire and flung it into the sky. This made a glowing path along which people could see the route to return home at night. She also threw bits of an edible root into the sky, the old (red) pieces creating red stars and the young (white) pieces creating white stars.

What is the sky made of?

A wide-spread African concept is that the sky is a solid dome, perhaps made of blue rock, resting on the Earth, upon which the Sun moves. The traditional Tswana idea is that stars are holes in the rocky vault that is the sky.

Is the crescent phase male or female?

The Nyae Nyae !Kung Bushmen said that the crescent phases with sharp points was male, while the Full round Moon was female.

What is the interloper in the Pleiades?

The interloper is actually the planet Venus. (Figure 3 from today’s paper.)

What are some examples of female celestial bodies?

Female animals appear in constellations, such as female giraffes in Crux and a female steenbok as the brightest star in Pavo in G/Wikhwena San culture. The Tuareg of the Sahara consider Polaris (the pole star, which appears stationary in the sky) to be a Black woman, who keeps still for fear that the other stars will kill or enslave her. For the |Xam people of South Africa, a girl creates the Milky Way by throwing ashes and roots into the sky. In Ancient Egypt, the sky goddess Nut “swallows the Sun ( Re) every night and gives birth to him in the East every morning” and her daughter Isis (the star Sirius) follows her husband Osiris (the constellation Orion) across the sky to put him back together after he was killed. Isis (and earlier Hathor) were both associated with the star Sirius and served as mother/female goddesses. Lastly, such as in the Akan of Ghana, many important ancestral women are said to have come down from the sky, giving them authority as they are “of the land that they now occupy.”

What did the Sun do to the Earth?

The Sun fell in love with the Moon and dried out the Earth, and the Moon created rain to make the Earth fertile again, releasing humans (the children of the Sun and Moon) upon the Earth. In Carthage, Tunisia, the Moon goddess of fertility Tanit was their patron deity for many years starting in the 5th century BCE.

What is the name of the goddess of the Pleiades?

The Arimi of Tanzania named the Pleiades “Kiimia” and considered her to be the supreme wife and mother, with her return in September marking the end of the dry season. Her characteristics signalled the ideals for women in their culture, such as caring for people and offering water to those in need.

How many days does the moon change?

The phases of the Moon change on a ~29 day cycle as the moon revolves around the Earth, changing our perspective on how it’s illuminated by the Sun (see Figure 2).

How many stars are in the Pleiades?

The Pleiades are a tight cluster of stars, brightly visible in the night sky. There are 6 main stars (with an occasional seventh interloper, Venus) and are often considered a group of sisters or sometimes a clutch of eggs.

What is the significance of women in Africa’s sky?

Women of Africa’s sky are magical goddesses of creation, and also women who have suffered or been punished, showcasing the breadth of human experience.

What is the central point of Batonga mythology?

The serpentine god is the central point of Batonga mythology and one needs to be prepared for a showdown with Nyami nyami if he plans to disturb the peace. The Kariba dam project, which had its fair share of tragedies was a paradigm shift in the lives of the Batonga and they did not like it at all.

What does the Ethiopian legend say about Makeda?

They call her Makeda in Ethiopian legend. She is that Makeda who visited King Solomon and made him vow not to touch her. She is the same Makeda who the King said was not to take a thing from him if he was not to touch her. Makeda took some water to quench her thirst and the rest is history.

How did Adu die?

Adu was unfortunately crushed and killed by a tree he was cutting. Maybe he should have stayed underground. African myths continue to form an integral part of culture as they give an idea of where everything came from, what happened after and what might happen in the future.

What is the Ngoma?

The spirit is referred to as the "Ngoma". The Ngoma only rests when the murderer turns himself in to the police. However, in Zimbabwe, the Shona people have what they call "Ngozi". This is a curse one attracts after murdering another. Only a sacrifice of cattle can appease the vengeful spirits of the murdered.

What is the Mudjadji?

The Mudjadji is said to be the embodiment of the rain goddess and even her state of mind can change the weather. She can send storms to punish enemies or gentle rain to nurture friends. Every year, the Queen exhibits her rain-making powers at Ga-Modjadji in Mpumalanga South Africa, while people watch on.

What is the spirit of the Kikuyu?

It is said that the spirit of the victim hangs around as a ghost and pursues the murderer. The spirit is referred to as the "Ngoma".

What is the human eating tree in Madagascar?

From the treacherous waters of the Zambezi, one probably now wants to walk on solid ground. However, from this ground grows another monster of epic proportions in Madagascar: The Human-Eating Tree. This tree will catch people with its branches and open its bark to swallow them whole. All the people are left to hear is a dirge from inside the trunk. Only the Woodpecker’s magical powers are said to be able to save the victim but the services of the bird come at a fee. Seems like the bird found its entrepreneurial nichè and is reaping profits.

Why did Shango and Oba cook their ears?

After doing that, Shango was angry that he chased her out of his house. She fell down and became a river.

Which dam did Nyami Nyamin resist?

In recent times, Nyami Nyamin resisted the construction of the Kariba dam along the Zambezi.

How many communities did Ife defeat?

He defeated 13 hostile communities led by Ife led by Obatala in a war lasting many years. After the defeat, he unified Ife.

What does Set do to Osiris?

While Set tries to destroy Osiris’s body, Isis and her friends do everything within their power to prevent his body from decay.

What does Ra’s journey explain?

His journey explains how life on earth is sustained. Ra destroys other gods that defy him with the help of gods like Thoth and Horus the Elder.

What is African mythology?

African mythology explains the belief and origins of life on the African continent. Being home to many ethnic groups and languages, it is difficult to unite the population using a single explanation. While some groups may share common mythological elements, a lot more have different myths to explain occurrences. Animals and humans are a huge part of the myths and legendary stories in Africa. Some of the stories serve to teach lessons on survival and wisdom while explaining why things happen.

Who is Oduduwa in Yoruba?

Oduduwa is one of Olodumare’s favorite orisa. He had an active role in the creation story told by the Yoruba people. He seized the task of creation from his sibling Obatala along the way.