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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
People have apparently always had this need to feel connected to something universal. Always this curiosity about other people's lives.

There wasn't always mass media and communications to keep us in touch. Nature, animals, people - and hence culture - are different in different places. But the sky was always there, almost the same, and mostly unchanging - for everyone, everywhere.

Could we say that the sky was the TV of the ancients, and perhaps astrology was people trying to work out the programming schedule on their own? After all, who'd want to miss the greatest shows ever, like a solar eclipse, a shooting star, or even the supernova in China back in 1200-something.

Here are some tangents that came to my mind.

  • gods
  • spirits of nature
  • constellations
  • gossip
  • myths and legends about history
  • animals' personalities - the "wise" owl, the "cunning" fox..

I'm interested in your thoughts on this.
 

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When I was in elementary school I often walked home after school instead of taking public transit (bus). I loved the solitary walk because I made up stories in my head looking up at the sky. I watched the cloud formation and imagined the gods living above the cloud. That sensation of being free (as if I was in the sky above the clouds) stays with me to this day.
 

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A starry night is one of the greatest things in the world, especially if you're a little kid.

I've lived in an area where anything urban is several hours away, so there is nothing to drown out the light of the stars, and makes for a great show when your peripheral vision picks up on all of the star dust (but tends to fade when you look directly at it).

One of the perfect scenarios for being a kid in the summer (I taught myself where the constellations were when I was seven) was to go out for half an hour and look for each of the constellations, then watch the moths jump around on the porch light, get a dish of chocolate marshmallow ice cream, and fall asleep watching Johnny Carson. :happy:
 

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I was at the park one day by myself. It was a weekday and it was the middle of the day so there were very few people around.

I'm sitting in the middle of a huge field of green grass on one of those park picnic tables that are always covered in bird shit.

I'm listening to the the Prelude to Wagner's Parisfal on my iPod.

The sky is a clear and vibrant blue. There are a handful of those white fluffy cumulus clouds slowly but noticeably making their transit across the sky.

Temperature mid-70s (~24 C). It feels like the sun is embracing me.

In a flash I'm hit with this intense feeling that feels like recognition. Like it was something obvious I had overlooked or I somehow got distracted and forgot it.

The feeling was one of realizing that the force of life that moves the clouds across the sky is the same force that beats my heart and causes my lungs to breathe.

In that moment I felt like the movement of the clouds belonged to my body. That the forming and moving of clouds across the sky was something I "did" in the same way breathing my lungs and pumping my heart are things I "do".

It was a paradoxical feeling of I do both and I do neither and both statements were true at the same time.

Felt like I was sitting in the palm of God's hand.
 

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I was at the park one day by myself. It was a weekday and it was the middle of the day so there were very few people around.

I'm sitting in the middle of a huge field of green grass on one of those park picnic tables that are always covered in bird shit.

I'm listening to the the Prelude to Wagner's Parisfal on my iPod.

The sky is a clear and vibrant blue. There are a handful of those white fluffy cumulus clouds slowly but noticeably making their transit across the sky.

Temperature mid-70s (~24 C). It feels like the sun is embracing me.

In a flash I'm hit with this intense feeling that feels like recognition. Like it was something obvious I had overlooked or I somehow got distracted and forgot it.

The feeling was one of realizing that the force of life that moves the clouds across the sky is the same force that beats my heart and causes my lungs to breathe.

In that moment I felt like the movement of the clouds belonged to my body. That the forming and moving of clouds across the sky was something I "did" in the same way breathing my lungs and pumping my heart are things I "do".

It was a paradoxical feeling of I do both and I do neither and both statements were true at the same time.

Felt like I was sitting in the palm of God's hand.

You found paradise, if even for a short while.

Maslow would be very proud of you, too. :happy:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That or caves. Sensory deprivation can make you trip out.
Sensory deprivation via cave sounds like a luxury pasttime that a caveman would not be able to afford.. for long. Those antelopes ain't gonna kill themselves :happy: (and philosophy can lead to an existential crisis).

I'm liking the stories, guys. Fascinating moments. Looking at the starry sky from here at the end of the world is exactly what prompted me to start this thread. I can see everything, and I know that's still nothing compared to what the ancients saw when they gazed up.

I remember lying in a field looking at the sun through my dad's welding mask. Sometimes you could see.. turbulence. I wonder if people did that before, with smoked glass or something.

I don't think I ever had a spiritual moment though. Fascination - yeah - but no "palm of God". Maybe it was the encyclopaedias my dad brought - they had pretty cool pictures of the sun in them and I guess I must've decided that's what all stars look like, more or less.

And later on CGI killed the romance of it, basically. But increased my fascination a millionfold :)
 

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I don't think so. They had better things to do then stare at the sky all night; even as we have better things to do than watch TV. They had culture, for instance. Music, dancing, theatre, art.
 

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or even the supernova in China back in 1200-something.
AFAIK there was no supernova in 1200-ish that would be too bright. The most likely one you wanted to say is SN 1054. Very well described by Chinese astronomers.

SN 1054 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Now, the subject at hand, I think the people of the past were far more connected to nature. Much more in sync and better understanding of the ways of nature that today.

We have the science now, we have knowledge, but how many "eyes locked on the smartphone checking facebook every second" take some time to check the sky and feel the connection with the stars?

"Sky TV" may actually have been better in those days. Now the only stars people talk about on TV are movie stars. Disappointing.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I don't think so. They had better things to do then stare at the sky all night; even as we have better things to do than watch TV. They had culture, for instance. Music, dancing, theatre, art.
Citizens and feudals had that. 90% of people had dirt.

mystikro said:
AFAIK there was no supernova in 1200-ish that would be too bright. The most likely one you wanted to say is SN 1054. Very well described by Chinese astronomers.
Yes professor, that's the one I meant :)

mystikro said:
Now, the subject at hand, I think the people of the past were far more connected to nature. Much more in sync and better understanding of the ways of nature that today.

We have the science now, we have knowledge, but how many "eyes locked on the smartphone checking facebook every second" take some time to check the sky and feel the connection with the stars?
Now that's what I'm talkin bout. At least the stars in the sky are "real", in the sense that they didn't come from our sick imaginations and might actually teach us something a little more valuable than twerking.
 

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Citizens and feudals had that.
Poor people is where the culture's at man! From dancing round campfires to the modern soundsystem clashes they have in Jamaican streets, we plebs have always had a more dynamic and engaging culture than the wealthy, who's interests would be more sterile, dull, and bland.
 

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Folk music and dancing were common among the poor people. Folklore served the same purpose. Then there were of course bread and circuses that were meant to entertain the masses. To claim poor people were deprived of culture and entertainment is historically inaccurate.

Concerning watching the sky, yes I enjoy it. I've probably stared up at the stars so many times, yet each time I'm still amazed at their beauty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@The Shark, @Fievel - Maybe you guys are right.. Hm..

I was looking at it through the "leisure time" angle, but I think you are right that folklore is way more widespread, better propagating, and hence - more authentic - than fancy-pants "culture". I guess I just assumed that feudals pushed their serfs to the limit and that left the latter no time for singing and dancing and stuff.

Jamaican street soundsystem clashes.. DOPE.

Bucketlisted.
 
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For me, HECK YES STARS.

When I was little I thought my songs could control the wind and I would sing for HOURS outside as the sun went down. Once the sun went down, the stars were my "reward" for my work that day. I didn't really think of it in the "ancient" sense of making Gods. It just amazed me. What was out there, why is it there, why can I see this????

Heck, the best sleep I ever had in my life was the first night I ever camped. I was in New Mexico, near the Ghost Ranch area, and the sky was so clear I took the rain cover off my tent to stare at the stars. In the far distance there was a thunderstorm, and the subtle jolt of light followed crackle of thunder combined with the far off howls of coyotes and cicada allowed me to reach this abnormal sense of peace. I spent hours imagining what was up there.

As for the past, I think in part the sky itself acted as a central focus of many religions. It also played the vital role of the earliest recorded mathematicians and scientists. Not just fun, but also central to the advances of societies.
 

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Astrology is the common basis of all human cultures. You won't find a single culture without their own version of interpreting the night sky (unless they're borrowing from another culture), and the cool thing is that it happened independently of eachother. Back then, knowing how to read the stars was important for navigation as well as predicting the seasons.
 

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Astrology is the common basis of all human cultures. You won't find a single culture without their own version of interpreting the night sky (unless they're borrowing from another culture), and the cool thing is that it happened independently of eachother. Back then, knowing how to read the stars was important for navigation as well as predicting the seasons.
Yes. It was often discovered by accident too. Like some person noticed that the animals they hunted were near a certain spot, when the stars were in a certain spot in the sky. It became to predict where things would be, and somewhat how things would behave even.
 
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@The Shark, @Fievel - Maybe you guys are right.. Hm..

I was looking at it through the "leisure time" angle, but I think you are right that folklore is way more widespread, better propagating, and hence - more authentic - than fancy-pants "culture". I guess I just assumed that feudals pushed their serfs to the limit and that left the latter no time for singing and dancing and stuff.

Jamaican street soundsystem clashes.. DOPE.

Bucketlisted.
Well even by the standards of "leisure", poor people had enough of that. That stereotype is nowhere near true, serfs were nowhere near worked to death. All holy days were days of rest, including Sundays. Then in winter time, little was done.
 

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Oh yes. Stars were like the great legendarium of the ancients:

"See that? That's Orion, he's our ancestor. Hunter. Kinda dim. See right there? He's fighting Taurus, the bull. Look below him. See his two dogs? The big one, that's right there, the little one, that there. And check it out, they're chasing a rabbit. And see here, they're on the banks of a river ... "

(If you orient yourself on Orion's Belt, Taurus is immediately to your right, Canes Major and Minor are nipping at his feet; right below them is Lepus, the Rabbit; to the right of Taurus is Eridanus, the River.)

Star names can also fire your imagination: Antares, the star that dares compete with Mars. Aldebaran, the Red Eye of the Bull. Rigel, the Foot. Betelgeuse, for that matter; Bellatrix, the warrior of his other shoulder; Saiph. The three twinkling lights of his belt -- Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka. Sirius, the Dog Star. Procyon. Castor and Pollux: stars named after Gemini's twins. And then there are stars like Fomalhaut that are just fun to say. And of course, so many legends are writ in the stars: Perseus riding his pegasus, bearing his Gorgon-headed shield. Ophiuchus the ourobouros. Ursa Major, turned into a bear to protect her from Orion's wandering eye. Cassiopeia, queen, orbiting the top of the heavens, looking down upon her starry realm. Draco's up there too.

Stars are wonderful. The sky is beautiful. :blushed:
 

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Astrology is the common basis of all human cultures. You won't find a single culture without their own version of interpreting the night sky (unless they're borrowing from another culture), and the cool thing is that it happened independently of eachother. Back then, knowing how to read the stars was important for navigation as well as predicting the seasons.
Reminds me of this:

 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
And a little something more for you curious minds out there..

100,000 Stars
 
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