Harmony is an ideal. It is a real rarity in the world of humans, its duration is limited and, as a rule, – short.

Harmony is not quite the same as law and order. Law and order are desirable, although can be frustrating and/or repressive. On the Earth, natural laws work and cannot be violated, unlike human laws, which can. That is why the Earth is usually ruled by some kind of balance of power or balance of fear. That situation is often far from something pleasant, but it is bearable until the fragile balance is disturbed. It is bearable because it leaves some room for “small” harmonious relationships of ordinary individuals.

As Plato would say: “Harmonia (Harmony), the Theban goddess has, it seems, been moderately gracious to us.” (in: Phaedo, 95a).

Greek goddess Harmonia is the divine personification of harmony. Like all divine beings she is connected to some symbols. We are planning to follow these symbols from ancient times up to the present in order to look for harmony (or Harmonia).

The Myth about Harmonia

Like any ideal, harmony has its divine personification, Harmonia (Ἁρμονία), the goddess known to us from the ancient Greek myth. According to Hesiod’s Theogony (750-650 BC), Harmonia is the (illegitimate) daughter of Ares, the god of war and Aphrodite, the Goddess of love.

  • (ll. 933-937) Also Cytherea (Aphrodite) bare to Ares, the shield-piercer Panic and Fear, terrible gods who drive in disorder the close ranks of men in numbing war, with the help of Ares, sacker of towns; and Harmonia whom high-spirited Cadmus made his wife.
  • (ll. 975-978) And Harmonia, the daughter of golden Aphrodite, bare to        Cadmus, Ino and Semele and fair-cheeked Agave and Autonoe whom long haired Aristaeus wedded, and Polydorus also in rich-crowned Thebes.

               (Hesiod, Theogonia, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White [1914]

Thus, Harmona was born from the union of terrible opposites. Her parents are the personifications of war and love, and her brothers are Fear (Phobos) and Horror (Daimos). Freud would say that the parents of Harmony are Eros and Thanatos, the two ultimate /driving/ forces that rule the human soul.

In mythology, the children of gods are, almost as a rule, less powerful in respect to their parents. A daughter usually represents one aspect of her mother, while a son becomes an aspect of his father. Thinking like that, we can understand Harmonia as one of the aspects of her mother, Aphrodite.

There is also a newer and less dramatic version of the myth of the birth of Harmonia, according to which her parents are Zeus and Electra (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 5. 48. 2 (trans. Oldfather), the seventh one of the Pleiades, who descended from heaven because she could not stand the sight of the doom of Troy. According to the same myth, Harmonia had a brother, Dardanus[1], who founded the city of Troy and its ruling dynasty. It would be said that this variant of the myth arose later than the previous one, probably as an attempt to give legitimacy to a ruling family.

Mythological sources do not give any information about Harmonia’s childhood or adolescence, until her marriage to Kadmus. Indeed, there is no need for that: the symbolism that accompanies this Goddess is marked enough by her parents and her brothers.

The myth of Cadmus and Harmonia, which ancient writers date back to the sixth generation before the Trojan War, tells of the Phoenician Cadmus, son of Agenor (Baal’s brother) and Telephase[2] (or Agriope), brother of Phoenix and Europe. Europe was kidnapped by Zeus (who took the shape of a bull).

In search of his abducted sister, Kadmus came to the island of Samothrace (Samos), together with his mother, Telephase. There he met Harmonia and was iniciated into the mysteries of Kabeiroi, which he later transferred to Boeotian Thebes (Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3. 38 ff).

The further search for Europe led Cadmus to the Delphic oracle. There, he was suggested to abandon the search and follow the cow, marked with the sign of the crescent Moon on its thigh. He was ordered to found a city at the place the cow would lay down. The cow layed  down in Boeotia, near (future) Thebes.

  • Cadmus built Thebes, with the acropolis, Cadmea. As he intended to sacrifice the cow here to Athena, he sent some persons to the neighboring well of Ares to fetch water. This well was guarded by a dragon, a son of Ares, who killed the men sent by Cadmus. Hereupon, Cadmus slew the dragon, and, on the advice of Athena, sowed the teeth of the monster, out of which armed men grew up, who slew each  other, with the exception of five, Echion, Udaeus, Chthonius, Hyperenor, and Pelor, who, according to the Theban legend, were the ancestors of the Thebans. Cadmus was punished for having slain the dragon by being obliged to serve for a certain period of time, some say one year, others eight years. After this, Athena assigned to him the government of Thebes, and Zeus gave him Harmonia for his wife.

Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (iii. 1. § 1, &c.)

In the newly founded city, Cadmus married Harmonia and all the Gods attended the wedding, with gifts for the bride. Harmonia received a necklace and a dress of miraculous powers. According to the myth, the necklace was forged by Hephaestus, her mother’s jealous husband (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliothece 3. 25) and that necklace brought misfortune to all of its owners except Harmonia. All the children of this couple suffered an unfortunate fate. The most famous among them are Semele (mother of Dionysus), along with Ino (Dionysus’ protector), Agave, Autonoe and the son, Polydorus.

At a wedding, the newlyweds are usually given things believed to bring happiness. This exception is hard to understand.

According to the prophecy of Apollo, in his old age, Cadmus left Thebes and went among the Encheleans and became their ruler. Then, he led the Encheleans (or Cesarethes[3]) into the war against the Illyrians and defeated them, establishing his rule over them as well (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 39). Then Harmonia gave birth to his son Illyrius, the later ruler of the Illyrians. Cadmus and Harmonia, according to myth, turned into snakes (Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4. 565, trans. Melville), which are supposed to be sacred animals of some Illyrian tribes.

Figure 1: Laconian cilix from the 6th century BC, kept in the Louvre:  Cadmus kills Ares’ dragon (snake).
Two birds are depicted next  to the hero. The left one looks like a magpie, which is dedicated to Ares, while the other (to the right of him) looks like an eagle (dedicated to Zeus). There are two more birds on the roof of the building, with long legs and necks, which can be associated with herons 
[4] (Lat. Ardeidae, Gr. Erōdios). The herons are the messengers of Athena. These birds are also connected with Ardiaei, the Illyrian tribe, whose name translates as “Herons”. The birds show that Zeus, Ares and Athena are closely  watching the event

The myth was noted by ancient Greek and Roman writers, and there is clear evidence that it was known during the time of Archaic Greece, because scenes from the myth were painted on archaic pottery.  Hesiod, who lived in the seventh century BC, also knew it. (pp. 750-650 BC).

The symbolism of Cadmus is closely connected with cows and snakes and with the numbers five and eight. He is the son of Agenor, Bel’s (perhaps Baal’s) brother. Baal is a solar deity, so it seems to be a solar dynasty. Kadmus came from the east (to Greece), as his name suggests, being associated with the Semitic root qdm, which means “east”. He then went west (among the Illyrians), which would again suggest connections with the solar cult (coming from the east and going west). The shield of the warrior, from the cilix (Figure 1) can also be understood as a representation of the Sun because the Sun’s rays are clearly visible around the face depicted there. Snakes, especially venomous ones, are symbolically associated with fire, heat and the Sun. The symbolism of the cow is lunar, especially if it is related to female deities. Cadmus’ mother, Telephase (“The Shining One”) may have something to do with the Moon. Cadmus’s wife’s name, Harmonia, speaks for itself. The presence of (Greek) gods at their wedding is clear proof of the couple’s importance. The divine gifts speak the same. Phoenician origin suggests astronomical knowledge: This people was skilled in navigation as early as during the Bronze Age. Navigation involves sky-watching.

The sixth generation before the Trojan War certainly lived around 1300. BC.

Cadmus was credited that he was the one who brought the literacy to Greece. It can be the only linear B script of ancient Mycenae, which is richly attested among the archeological findings of the Boeotian Thebes. But, there is no consensus among the scientists about that.

It has been argued by various scholars, that in a letter from the King of the Ahhiyawa people to the Hittite King, written in the Hittite language in c. 1250 BC, a specific Cadmus was mentioned as a forefather of the Ahhijawa people[5]. The latter term most probably referred to the Achaeans (of the Mycenaean world). Nevertheless, this reading about a supposed Cadmus as historical person is rejected by most scholars. Anyway, a forefather is more often a mythical person. Greeks themselves never considered Cadmus their mythical forefather. For them, he is an important stranger (only), nothing more.

A question arises: Why was Harmonia expelled from Greece? Because of that, we wondered what was the fate of her unfortunate necklace.

Figure 2: Attic red-figure oinochoe, ca. 450–440 BC. Found in Italy. Polynicos giving the Harmonia’s necklace to Eriphila, the daughter of Nyx  (the name Eriphyla means “the one who loves strife”)

After Harmonia’s daughters, Semele, Ino, Agave and Autonoe, who were all followed by misfortune, the necklace came into the possession of several less important mythical personalities, among whom the most important is Oedipus the mythical king of Thebes. After killing his father and marrying his mother, for which he was expelled from Thebes, he left the necklace to his son Polynikos. With this necklace, he tried (and succeeded) in bribing Eriphila, the wife of Amphyareus, to persuade her husband to wage war against Thebes (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4. 65).

Eryphila’s descendants bequeathed the necklace to the temple of Athena Pronaia in Delphi, wanting to stop its evil influence. It was stollen from there by certain Phaylus who gave it to his misstress. It had been in her possession for a while, until her son, in an attack of madness, set fire to her house and burned it down, together with the illegitimate owner of Harmonia’s necklace.

So the necklace disappeared in the fire. But, alas, gold does not burn. It melts at a high temperature of 1064o C, which was hardly reached in the fire of a house. However, fire has been understood as a purifying element since ancient times, so Harmonia’s necklace could be purified in it, deprived of its evil power. If we now remember that venomous snakes also symbolize fire, then Harmonia came in person to take her possession back, and we come to another power of hers, the purifying one. Harmonia, it seems, always had that power: the necklace did not bring misfortune to her but to its later owners.

Celestial Harmonia

If we accept that in mythology a daughter is usually one of the aspects of her mother, and that Harmonia is one of the aspects of Aphrodite, we should consider the fact that Aphrodite is also called Ourania, being the daughter of the celestial god, Ouranus. She was born in the sea from his sickle-cut genitals and she doesn’t have a mother. Ourania means “heavenly”, which indicates the (not entirely clear) connection of the Goddess with the sky. The most famous temple of Aphrodite Ourania was located in Athens, about which Pausanias gives information. He sais that the first men to  establish her cult were the Assyrians and Phoinikians. The Phoinikians brought it to Greece. It seems that she is an important stranger too.

  • Above the Kerameikos [in Athens] is a sanctuary of the Aphrodite Ourania (Heavenly); the first men to establish her cult were the Assyrians, after the Assyrians the Paphians of Kypros and the Phoinikians who live at Askalon in Palestine; the Phoinikians taught her worship to the people of Kythera. Among the Athenians the cult    was established by Aegeus, who thought that he was childless (hehad, in fact,  no children at the time) and that his sisters had suffered their misfortune because of the wrath of Aphrodite Ourania (Heavenly). The statue still extant is of Parian marble and is the work of Pheidias. One of the Athenian parishes is that of the Athmoneis, who say that Porphyrion, an earlier king than Aktaios, founded their sanctuary of Ourania. But the traditions current among the Parishes often differ altogether from those of the city…

Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1, 14, 6

In Thebes, Aphrodite was almost equated with Harmonia. The Goddess was revered as Aphrodite Ourania, Aphrodite Pandemos (“of the people”) and Aphrodite Apotrophia (“the one who expels evil forces”), because she expels evil desires from people’s hearts. So, is Harmonia Ourania or Apotrophia?

Talking about Urania, the harmony of the spheres (or the harmony of the Universe) is a philosophical concept, attributed to Pythagoras of Samos. It is about harmony and proportion, that rule the movement of celestial bodies, which are close to music. Pythagoras also thought that numbers are of divine origin.

It is true that heaven is a source of order. Long-term observation of the sky has brought to the knowledge that, observed from a certain place, each of the stars always rises in the same place on the eastern half of the horizon and sets in the same place in the western half. After a long observation, the apparent daily and annual movement of the Sun becomes predictable, always in the same, unchanged rhythm. The apparent movement of the Moon, although more complicated, also becomes predictable for those who are familiar with astronomical knowledge. The apparent movement of the planets could not be fully understood in the conditions of a geocentric view of the world, but even then some of the specific rhythms were possible to trace. Only rare astronomical events, the regularity of which could not be noticed, such as meteors, comets and supernovae, “jumped” out of these rhythms, provoking fear. The harmony of the spheres was a paradigm of immutability, of order in the sky that produced feelings of stability and security in people (and kept Harmonia’s brothers, Phobos and Daimos, at a distance).

Significant astronomical knowledge is attributed to Pythagoras, although not a single sentence he wrote has been preserved. Later ancient writers state that he acquired it from Chaldean astronomers and astrologers, Egyptian priests, and even Persian magi, which again leads us to the east. It is believed that he was the first one to realize that the Morning “star” (Phosphoros) and the Evening “star” (Hesperos) are one and the same celestial object, the planet, which was later named Venus, the Roman equivalent of the Greek Aphrodite.

Pausanias clearly states that the origin of Aphrodite was from Assyria and Phoinikia. At the same time, this imposes an obligation on us to look for a similar Goddess in the Middle East.

Eastern Origin

There is a well-founded suspicion that the knowledge on the planet Venus was not Pythagoras’ personal insight. He probably received it from his Chaldean teachers, who must have possessed it since the seventh century BC, maybe even earlier. We know this with certainty, because there are preserved documents: the Assyrian text Enuma Anu Enlil (“When there were Anu and Enlil“), within which the tablet no. 63 testifies to a long and careful observation of the planet Venus[6]. It also contains the results of the observation. The oldest published copy of this text dates from the seventh century BC and is kept in the British Museum as a part of the collection from the library in Nineveh. It was published for the first time by H.C. Rawlinson and G. Smith in 1870.

The goddess named Inanna, who was later known in Assyria, Babylon and Akkad as Ishtar, and in Phoenicia as Astarte, was the divine personification of the planet Venus. Her main divine competencies were twofold: she was the Goddess of love (passion, sexual desire) and war. Thus, the main competencies of both parents of Harmonia, Aphrodite and Ares are covered. Ishtar (Inanna) was Eros and Thanatos at the same time.

Inanna is a very old deity. She was considered the patron deity of Sargon of Akkad (2400-2300 BC) and had its own temple called Eanna (“Heavenly House”), in the capital city of Akkad. It is not certain if she was already connected to the planet Venus at the time. This connection will be documented later, during the older Babylonian period (c. 1830 – c. 1531 BCE). Inanna (Babylonian Ishtar, Phoenician Astarte), like any deity, has her attributes. Her most common symbols are the eight-pointed star and a lion, which are often seen in visual representations next to the six-pointed star’s disk, which symbolically represents the Sun (Shamash, Ishtar’s brother) and the sickle, which symbolically represents the Moon (Namma or Suen). Lions are often seen in her company.

Figure 3: Inanna (Ishtar), with a lion below her right foot;  eight pointed star is in the upper- left corner

Some other of her attributes were noted. She managed to get a celestial bull from the god Anu, and to send him against Gilgamesh; her scorpions guarded the mountain pass, over which the same hero had to cross; in the preserved poem Descent of Ishtar into the Underworld, some more are shown: large crown, earings, necklace, brestplate, girdle with „birthstones“….(Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World, vv. 1-15,[From The Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria, M. Jastrow, 1915)

Deprived of her attributes, Ishtar becomes an easy prey for her evil sister Erekshigal, the mistress of the world of the dead. Only with the intervention of the great God Enki (otherwise known as Ea, the God of waters), she will be returned to the world of the living, and all these  attributes will be returned to her, but she will have to pay a heavy price: her lover, Dumuzid[7], will have to replace her in the world of the dead.

At this point, it becomes clear that a few symbols are common to Harmonia and Ishtar: the number eight is tied to the Ishtar-s eight-pointed star, while Harmonia’s husband, Cadmus, is forced to serve her father, Ares, for eight years. Ishtar, like Harmonia, has her necklace and dress, although there are no indications that this necklace and dress bring misfortune to anyone. Both the goddesses are connected to love and war, Ishtar by her divine competences, Harmonia by her perents.

The question immediately arises: Does these eight years of Cadmus’ enslavement to Ares (and eight points of Ishtar’s star)  relate to some astronomical cycles? The answer is YES!

Eight (tropical) years are made up of 2922 days. The period is identical with two Olympic cycles of four years each. It is also the period known as „a great year“.

There are several cycles of the planet Venus:

  1. It takes 224.7 days for Venus to complete its orbit around the Sun: there are thirteen such cycles in eight years. The result is accurate to the third decimal place (13,004), but unfortunately related to the calculations that became possible only with the establishment of the heliocentric system.
  2. It takes 584 days for Venus to complete its appearance as the Morning and Evening “Star”. There are five such cycles in eight years, which are related to the famous pentagram of Venus. This result is also accurate to the third decimal place (5,003) and could have been obtained by long-term observation of Venus. (In the language of myth, Ishtar will descend to the underworld five times in eight years.)
  3. It takes 243 days for Venus to be surrounded by the same group of stars. There are twelve such cycles in eight years. The result is accurate to the second decimal place (12.02) and was also available at the time of observational astronomy.

Thus, it becomes clear that the period of eight years is the “least common denominator” of the Venus’ cycles, two of which may could be known to Chaldean astronomers.

Figure 4: Pentagram of Venus / inferior conjunctions of the Sun and Venus. It can also be presented like a five-petalled flower

Figure 5. The pentagram in Proto-cuneiform text from Jemdet Nasr (3000-2500 BC, one of the oldest known pentagrams). Source: Englund RK et al. (27)

Even if Pythagoras had learned (and understood) the laws of the apparent motion of the planet Venus in the sky, he had difficulties transmitting and explaining his knowledge to the ancient Greeks. Aratus of Soli (III century BC), admits in his book that he does not understand the apparent movement of the planets and refuses to talk about it (Phaenomena, Ch. 3, vv. 454-461). He actually put into verses the eponymous work of Eudoxus of Cnidus, which is lost. So we do not know whether Eudoxus knew and understood the apparent motion of the planets, including Venus. We know that he was from Cnidus, where Aphrodite Euploia, the guardian of safe navigation, was the patron deity. It is generally known that safe navigation is closely related to the skill of orientation at sea, which requires knowledge of the apparent movement of celestial bodies.

Although we are not sure that the ancient Greeks knew and understood what the pentagram of Venus was, it is indisputable that the symbol appears on their money. Visual representations on coins, as a rule, show objects symbols and personalities which are considered important by the community members.

Figure 6: Thrace – Hersonesos[1], – Pentagram Hemidrachm, 450-350 BC
Obv: forepart of lion right, head turned back. Rev: quadripartite sections with dot VE in one quarterand dot over pentagram in the opposite quarter. 2.32 grams. Condition Very fine

Figure 7: Lucania, VeliaCirca 300-280 BC. AR Nomos (19.5mm, 7.31 g, 1h). Philistion group. Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with griffin; Δ above visor, [Φ before neck] / Lion standing right; above, pentagram between Φ and I; YEΛHTΩN in exergue. Williams 424v (O210/R300 – this coin); HN Italy 1306; SNG ANS 1367 (same dies); SNG Copenhagen 1580 (same dies); SNG Lockett 566 (same dies);

These coins could symbolically represent the lower conjunction of the Sun and Venus in the constellation Leo, but more evidence would be needed for such an interpretation.

If we return now to Figure  3, we will see that the three inferior conjunctions of Venus occur near the center of the constellation Capricornus (3) Leo (4), Pisces (5), which would mean that in some period of the past these occurred in these constellations (shifts are small and constellations large). There are no difficulties in connecting the visual representations of the lion with the attributes of the goddess Ishtar (Astarte), the lion is often next to her in the visual representations. The myth of Venus in the form of a fish was told by Ovid (Fasti, 5), but that myth originates from the Middle East. The constellation Capricornus corresponds to the Babylonian MUL.SUNUR.MAŠ, which literally means Goat-Fish, and was dedicated to Enki, the deity of groundwater. Enki is exactly the god who saved Ishtar from the underworld, as it was told at the end of the poem Descent of Ishtar into the Underworld.

Astronomical software Red Shift 7 offers the “Sky diary” option, where we looked for the period when the conjunctions of Venus and the Sun occurred in the constellations Leo, Pisces, Capricornus, Scorpio and Libra (see Figure 3). We have determined that such a period exists. The conjunctions of Venus were such in the period from 783 BC to 655 BC. This is exactly the period in which Hesiod lived and worked and the period in which the text of Enuma Anu Enlil including its tablet no. 63 were inscribed in the library of Niniveh. Just then, Ishtar was able to acquire all her attributes, although she may had got some of these earlier, before astronomical knowledge of the planet Venus was systematized.

The same software showed that each subsequent pentagram moves by two days in the calendar, until it comes out of certain constellations. For example, on August 31, 783 BC, a conjunction (of the Sun and Venus) occurred in the constellation Leo. Eight years later, in 775 BC, it took place two days earlier, on August 29. In 655 BC it happened on July 26, leaving Leo and entering the constellation Cancer. This could answer the question why Aphrodite did not “inherit” all the attributes of Ishtar, but only some, and why Aratus of Soli could not understand the movement of the planets: old astronomical knowledge and notes no longer matched the results of observations.

Today, we know that Venus belongs to the inner planets, which is why its maximal angular distance (elongation) from the Sun is 47o. Its ecliptic longitude could be maximally 47o greater or less than the Sun’s. It turns out that Venus has its extremes, when it is at the greatest angular distance from the Sun. At the same time, the absolute value of the Sun’s declination needs to be high, so Venus’ extremes will occur in June or in December, near the solstices, in the east or west, depending on the position of Venus in relation to the Sun: if it is Morning Star, it will be in the east, if it is Evening star it will be in the west. The extremes of Venus can be observed and had certain religious significance in some cultures (for example, in the Mayan culture (see Šprajc, 1993, pp. 27-53). There is no evidence for now that these were systematically observed either by the ancient Greeks or by Chaldean astronomers.

Strictly speaking, Aphrodite’s connection with the planet Venus is never clearly stated in the preserved ancient Greek writings. The connection of her predecessor, Ishtar (or the Phoenician Astarte), with this planet is much clearer and is well documented. Harmonia is the daughter of Aphrodite and may be one of her aspects, but her name is much more often and more clearly associated with marital harmony than with the cosmic one.

Astronomical knowledge has entered religious understandings in Babylon and became very difficult to change. Science was not separated from religion and both were defined by the term “knowledge”. Every new claim was easily declared heretical and encountered great resistance. People have always loved perseverance. They feel safe in an unchanging environment. The ruling elite does not like changes as well, for the same reasons. Astrologers jealously guard old knowledge (among other things, because they make good money on it). Thus, the preservation of old beliefs and symbols becomes a political issue. To this day, the sequence of zodiac signs is the same as it was during the first millennium BC, despite the fact that the Earth’s axial precession shifted the point of the vernal equinox from the constellation Aries to Pisces as early as during the Roman Empire. Once a concept enters religious understanding, it begins to be interpreted by those who do not understand its original astronomical significance. These interpretations given by laics are often mystified and more easily spread through the population. In time, these tend to move from astronomy to magic.

According to Carl Gustav Jung, some truths are difficult to express in words. That is why symbols exist. These always have several interconnected meanings. The language of myth and the language of symbols allow insight into the human unconscious, both personal and collective. Symbols form an universal language, intuitively perceived and understood by members of different cultures, which Jung calls iconotropy.

Sanctuary, Shelter and Apotropaion

Throughout their existence, humans have believed that there are some individuals who are able to communicate with primordial natural forces (gods), through magical rites. These people had different names: shamans, sorcerers, ritual singers, magi, priests, prophets, magical healers … Astrologers are one of them. They believed that stars and other celestial bodies, with their apparent movement, draw signs in the sky, on the basis of which the future can be predicted. Their skill is firmly based on astronomical knowledge, along with religious upgrades. The origins of the western astrology lead to Mesopotamia. Its spread across Europe, Asia and North Africa was rapid and its duration can be traced to the present day. Astrology has long been an integral part of the education of physicians and astronomers. Aratus of Soli, to whom we owe our insight on the astronomical knowledge of the ancient Greeks, was a physician at the court of Antigonus II Gonatas; according to Morales (2020); Nicolaus Copernicus was both a physician and an astronomer, he studied astrology as well but never practiced it; Paracelsus, who is considered the “father of toxicology” in medicine, was a physician, chemist, but also an alchemist and astrologer (Morales, EA, 2020).

Astrology has been an integral part of alchemical teachings, from the early Middle Ages until the Renaissance. It was the alchemists who left a very large body of writings, which described their rituals and research, in order to find the stone of wisdom. Their experiments are believed to have led to the development of some of the natural sciences, such as chemistry.

To the alchemists, who, as a rule, were also instructed in the secrets of astrology, we owe the knowledge of shelter, the safe place, protected from the primordial (evil) forces of nature. Most alchemists considered themselves Christians, which did not bother them to address Mercurius (Greek Hermes), embodied in the element of mercury, and to operate with ancient symbols, thus preserving the secrecy of their teachings and avoiding the epithet of heretics. Mercurius (Hermes) is, by his divine nature, Psychopompos, who guides human souls…

When an alchemist performs his (magical) ritual, he firmly believes that he is exposed to both mercy and disfavor of the forces to which he addresses. The only way to be more or less safe was to stand in a circle, in which a pentagram was drawn. Was that a way to put oneself under the protection of the primordial force of love? Probably. Aphrodite also has her title Apotrophia, „the one that expels (or calms)“ evil forces. Her symbols could become apotropaions (amulets, talismans), the name of which still preserves the connection with her title. It looks like Harmonia has inherited two titles of her mother: she is Apotrophia (the one who expels evil) and Ourania (Heavenly), regarding celestial harmony („of the spheres“).

Like all symbols, a pentagram has several interconnected meanings. We have already learned that these meanings do not always have to be the same at different times. New times bring new interpretations. It is sometimes interpreted that the five arms of the pentagram represent the five elements: earth, fire, water, air, and ether; Christians see the pentagram as the five wounds of Christ.

The language of symbols and myths is slowly and painfully being translated into the language of science. Like any translation, this one is not without losses.

The pentagram of Venus is still used today by members of certain esoteric associations, as an altar or as a shelter. It is also used as an apotropaion and we are almost sure that the most of these people do not understand its astronomical meaning.

Harmony of the soul (or mental health)

Karl Gustav Jung introduces a new concept into psychology: the concept of the collective-unconscious, which represents the innate tendency of people (souls) to think, feel and act in a typical way. The collective unconscious is manifested through dreams and creative imagination, and is expressed by symbols.

The author believes that psychological development (individuation) is possible constantly, if all aspects of the soul are brought into harmony, “achieving harmony with the totality of being.” (Singer, J, 1994, p. 216) The term “all aspects of the soul” means: the ego (I) which is the individual’s idea of himself; persona (mask), as aspects of the individual that are presented to other people; anima (in men) or animus (in women), which represent aspects of the “opposite sex”; shadow, representing dark, aggressive and often unacceptable aspects of the soul. To all these aspects, Jung adds the self („selbst“ in German), which represents the wholeness (or totality) of the soul, so it is not only the central but also the unifying element. According to Jung, “selbst”, as the center of the soul, is firmly connected with the concept of God. The self is, by its nature, numinous, full of meaning, symbolically portrayed as a figure of God, or at least difficult to separate from such a symbol. Jung writes: “Living in the West, I would have to say Christ instead of “self,” in the Near East it would be Khidr, in the Far East Atman or Tao or the Buddha.”[8] (Storr, A, 1983, p. 332)

Maturation, i.e. psychic development, occurs through crisis, during which various aspects of the soul come into interaction or conflict. To the extent that the self manages to resolve the conflict – there is development. If not – there is a stalemate, the crisis is prolonged, mental health is in danger. That is the moment when some people ask for the help of a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

According to C. G. Jung, during the first stage of psychotherapy, the main task is to identify the aspects of the patient’s soul, by analyzing his (or her) dreams. These aspects of the soul are personalized and they appear in dreams and in creative imagination and are always connected with some symbols.

During the later stage of psychotherapy, the main task is to identify the intra-psychical conflict. Using his own methodology, Jung asked his patients to express their mental state using drawings. He noticed that they often drew some forms resembling mandalas (Psychology and Alchemy, pp. 3. pp. 105-140; Archetype and collective unconscious[9], Ch. 12, On the symbolism of mandala, pp. 387-475), as a visual (symbolic) representation of the integrity of the soul. At the same time, a mandala represented a crisis, in which some of the elements of the soul are opposed to each other. Often, it also shows the way to resolve the crisis, i.e. to achieve psychological development. His patients spontaneously drew their own mandalas, in an attempt to represent their condition symbolically. Most often, such a mandala is a circle, sometimes a square, divided in different ways, often in a radial symmetry.

Mandalas are known in various religions. Those from Buddhism and Hinduism are elaborated in detail, but mandalas exist in both Islam and Christianity as well (we can remember the sophisticated rosettes above the entrances to the churches). Native Americans also draw mandalas during their rituals…

Figure 8: The pentagram on the rosette of Lisbon Cathedral (Built in 1147) in Portugal

Sometimes, in dreams and on spontaneous drawings of Jung’s patients, seven-membered and five-membered radial mandalas appeared, which the author called “irregular”. He found the latter (five membered [10]) exclusively drawn by women (Psychology and Alchemy, pp. 227 and 228). In footnote no. 160 (p. 232), he explains that he processed about 400 dreams of his patients together with as many of their spontaneous drawings of mandalas. For every 50, he found an average of 11 mandalas (22%) with a five-membered structure, sometimes in the shape of a pentagram. In his book Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Ch. 12, On the Symbolism of the Mandala, pp. 387-475), Jung gives a reproduction of a radial, five-membered mandala (Fig. 27 in his book) with a naked woman in the center. It was painted by a middle-aged woman who wanted to have another child and was frustrated by the fact that she was not able to conceive it.

Figure 9Five-membered mandala with a naked woman in the centre. The five membered structure is surrounded by the eight-membered one (The photo belongs to K. G. Jung)

The mandala helped her bring this frustration to consciousness, which enabled her to come to terms with the situation and direct her energy towards achievable goals. Her Mandala so obviously addresses the Goddess of love and procreation that any further comment is superfluous.

In the same chapter of the same book, Jung also shows a mandala in the shape of a five-pointed star (a real pentagram), as picture no. 42, on page 430. In the explanation, (on p. 366), the author says: “it is a neurotically disturbed mandala”… But, very quickly (already on the p. 367) the author corrects his attitude and says: “Hence it is about moving the center of personality (self, selbst) into the warmer region of the heart and the senses (love) and with the inclusion of intuition, an unimaginably irrational notion of wholeness emerges.”

Figure 10: Five-membered mandala in the form of pentagram; Five waves are below it (The photo belongs to K.G.Jung)

The mandala was drawn by a young woman. „The region of heart and the senses“ together with „the intuition“ could address the Goddess (Aphrodite Apotrophia or Harmonia) again…

Although he clearly says that he saw five-membered mandalas only with his female patients, Jung does not give an explanation on HOW it is possible that women unconsciously addressed the female deity, the divine protector of women, bodily love and procreation, also the mother of Harmonia, through the symbol of the pentagram. He is satisfied with the statement that a soul can never fully know the substance of which it is composed.

In Jung’s material, on a sample of 50 mandalas, there were an average of 17 of those with an eight-membered structure (number eight is connected with Ares, Aphrodite, Cadmus and Harmony). Such eight-membered mandalas were drawn both by men and women (Psychology and alchemy, footnote no. 160, p. 232). Together with those 11 five-member mandalas, the total number is 28, which makes 56% of the material, so more than a half. Eight membered mandala associates with eight pointed star of Ishtar or eight years of Cadmus’ slavery to Ares, or eight years as the common denominator of Venus’ cycles…

Figure 11: Another (eight membered) rosette from Lisbon Cathedral (Built in 1147) in Portugal


In this contribution, we were looking for harmony (personified in Harmonia, the Greek goddess) through symbols and numbers. We haven’t found it (or her), although we learned that love and passion is its secret ingredients. Instead of harmony, we have found a dilemma between two options:

  1. Symbols represent the cultural heritage of humanity that needs to be carefully studied. Studying also means preserving. Since each symbol always has several interconnected meanings, the results will be very difficult to defend against the harsh criticism of science, which seeks conciseness, exactness and logic. Anyone who has studied and practiced psychology knows this very well. Jung practically demonstrated that some of the ancient symbols still influence people today leading them to psychological harmony. The ways of that action are still not clear enough, but that is not a reason to give up further efforts. On the contrary, it can only be an incentive …
  2. Symbols represent the cultural heritage of humanity. These penetrate deeply into the domain of religion, which partially puts them outside the domain of exact sciences. Thus, symbols should be studied, but very carefully, in order to avoid possible damage. Jung practically demonstrated that even very ancient symbols still affect people, and some even show the way to mental health. If we believe that the pentagram (of Venus) can protect us from terrible forces or can show us the way to harmony, does it make sense to break down an effective symbol into its constituent parts and explain it, if that brings the risk of rationalizing and losing its precious effect?


Aleksandra Bajić and
Milan Dimitrijević


[1]. Strictly speaking, it is not at all certain that the myth refers to Troy. The Illyrian tribe Dardanians (or Dardani) existed once in the Balkans inhabiting its central area. The existence of their state between the fourth and second centuries BC has been confirmed. Although Strabo connects them with the Illyrians, it is believed that they also had strong ties with the Thracians, allies of the Trojans. Their name is associated with the Albanian word “darda” meaning “pear” or “pear tree”, which is confirmed in later Roman sources, which know Pirustae, a tribe in the Dardanian territory, whose name also means “pear”, derived from the Latin word “pirus ”with the same meaning.

[2] The name Telephase translates as “the one who shines far away” and can be associated with the Moon.

[3] The Encheleans (or Sesarethoi) are an Illyrian tribe, who lived in the area between today’s Boka Kotorska (Montenegro) and Durres (Albania). Their name is associated with the Greek word, which means eel (Eng. Eel, Lat. Anguilla, Gr. Εγχελύς, snake-like aquatic animal, which is considered to be the totem of the Encheleans.

[4] Herons were believed to represent the messengers of Athena or Aphrodite. In the Odyssey, it is noted that Athena sent the heron to Odyssey to tell him that he was not forgotten and that she was watching his movements. Erōdios is sometimes a general term for any member of the Ardea family (Herons, Egrets, Bitterns), but in particular denotes the commonest member of that family resident in Greece, the Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea. (Dionysius of Philadelphia, On Birds, 2.9)

[5] Windle, Joachim Latacz. Transl. from the German by Kevin; Ireland, Rosh (2004). Troy and Homer towards a solution of an old mystery. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 244.

[6]  Several tablets concerning planetary omens were published by  E. Reiner and H. Hunger under the title Babylonian Planetary Omens, volumes 1–4.

[7] The myth is, of course, similar to the one about Aphrodite and Adonis, it refers to the competences of the Goddess regarding the fertility of the Earth and the change of seasons. We will not elaborate on this further because Harmonia is not the daughter of Adonis, but of Ares, the God of War.

[8] Thracian Chersonese is an Ionian colony on the western (European) coast of the Dardanelles.

[9] In Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung. (Princeton: Princeton University Press,1983), p. 332

[10] According to Jung, (The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, pp.373 and 379), a pentagram should not be confused with the figure formed by four members plus the central one. This, the quincunx signifies an advanced state of knowledge of the self (see The analysis of the mandala and its significance, Chapter 9).












Primary sources:

Hesiod, Theogonia, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White [1914]
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica (translated by ….)
Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (iii. 1. § 1, &c.)
Dionysius, On Birds 2.9
Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4. 565, (trans. Melville)
Ovid, Fasti, (translated by….
Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1, 14, 6
Aratus of Soli, Phaenomena, Ch. 3, vv. 454-461
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1. 393 ff (trans. Rouse)

All the quotes of these authors concerning Harmonia are available online at https://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Harmonia.html
Epic of Gilgamesh (translabed by R. Campbell Thompson, 1928) at:
Descent of Ishtar into the Underworld, (translated by M. Jastrow, 1915) at:

Secondary sources
Jung, Carl Gustav
: (1972)  Psychology and Alchemy, (translation to Serbo-Croatian by Stefanija Halembek, published by Naprijed, Zagreb 1984)
Jung, Carl Gustav, (1992) Archetype and collective unconscious (translated to Serbian by Bosiljka Milakara and Dušica Lečić-Toševska, Atos, Belgrade, 2003)
Šprajc, Ivan, 1993. The Venus-Rain-Maize Complex in the Mesoamerican world view: part II. Archaeoastronomy No. 18 (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Supplement to Vol. 24): S27-S53
Wilkes, John: (1995) The Illyrians, available online at: https://archive.org/details/15826619JohnWilkesTheIllyrians/page/n26/mode/1up
Windle, Joachim Latacz, Troy and Homer towards a solution of an old mystery Transl. from the German by Kevin; Ireland, Rosh (2004).  Oxford, Oxford Univ. Press. p. 244
Singer, J, 1994, p. 216
Storr, Anthony, (1983) The Essential Jung, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 332