The Road to Saturn
(Excerpts from an Autobiographical Essay)
I have read less than a handful of books that can be said to have influenced my way of thinking. Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision has not only been one of them, in the end it totally changed my life.
In this work Velikovsky proposed that, in the distant past, but still within man's memory, the planet Jupiter ejected from itself a smaller but sizeable body that careened across the solar system in the form of a giant comet. Coming into close contact with Earth, but avoiding an actual collision, this cometary body caused a series of catastrophic events which mankind remembered and passed on to his descendants in an oral and written tradition that eventually evolved into the well-known mythologies of the various nations. Thus the gods and goddesses of antiquity seem to have really been the deified planets of the solar system. Their divine actions were merely reflections of errant orbits in a cosmic drama which man witnessed and immortalized in his religious rites, his liturgies and, finally, his sacred texts.
Worlds in Collision was first published in 1950. At that time, having been raised in one of Roman Catholicism's most impregnable strongholds, I was still being taught that the world had been created in six consecutive days. During our science courses at Stella Maris College, Gzira, on the island of Malta, we were informed that the Earth came into existence long after the Sun. But in the course of our religious upbringing during the same semester at the same college, we were also expected to believe that the Earth was created shortly before the Sun. Upon questioning this inconsistency, we were told that in matters of science we were to follow the teaching of the scientists, but that in religion, honoring the words of Genesis, we were to accept the precepts of God.
It was on an evening in 1955, while I was browsing through a store in Valletta, that a book title caught my eye. It was Velikovsky's Ages in Chaos. I picked it up, leafed through it, and read a few pages. I did not buy the book. I merely placed it back on the shelf. I never even noticed the author's name.
Here, I thought to myself, was another foolish attempt by some pseudo-scholar who was out to prove, in some pseudo-scientific way, that the miracles of the Old Testament, especially those of Exodus, were really misunderstood natural phenomena.
By this time the radio noises from Jupiter, as predicted by Velikovsky, had already been detected. Textbooks on astronomy, however, were still preaching a universe void of any forces other than gravitation. Entire galaxies, it had already been discovered, were even then colliding with one another. But mere planets, it was still being argued, could not so collide.
I was at that time working on high tension voltage during my stint at the Mains Section while in training at her Majesty's Dockyard. My instructor was George Wickman. He was partly deaf but his wit and wisdom had turned him into something of a legend throughout the entire section of the E.E.M. His appetite for knowledge was voracious; his reading voluminous. He not only possessed a unique philosophical mind, he had an encyclopedic memory to boot. I took so much to him that, more than being his apprentice, I considered myself his protege. I told him about Ages in Chaos -- or what I had thought Ages in Chaos was all about. As best I can remember, this is what he said to me:
"No amount of human reasoning can ever hope to make sense of God's madness. Murder in God's name, as described in the Bible, is a contradiction in moral precepts; hail stones that burst into flames, as described in Exodus, is a contradiction in scientific terms. The man who will make logical sense of God's miracles will never be born."
My next meeting with Velikovsky occurred in 1960 in another book store, this time in Montreal, Canada. The title of another book had attracted my attention. It was Worlds in Collision. I leafed through it and the passages I read instantly made me connect it with what I remembered of Ages in Chaos. I did not yet know that both books were written by the same man. I did not remember having heard of Immanuel Velikovsky. But I did remember George Wickman's words and, maybe because it was a second-hand copy, I purchased the book. I still have that same worn-out edition on one of my shelves. I devoured it in one sitting -- although heaven only knows how often I have had occasion to return to it. There are times when I actually curse the day I came across that work. Like many others whom I was to come in contact with later, I was utterly enchanted by Velikovsky's seductive reasoning. The next day I was out hunting for Ages in Chaos.
The man George Wickman had said will never be born had already lived half his life. True -- Velikovsky might not have been entirely correct about the specific set of "miracles" he sought to explain; but, in a more general way, he had shed a bright and scholarly light on the meaning behind religious beliefs to say nothing of many of the world's ancient marvels.
In the meantime, scientific discoveries had already vindicated several of the crucial points he had raised. More than that, as in the case of the radio dispatches from Jupiter, some of them had actually been predicted by him. Evidence was discovered pointing to past shifts in the direction of the Earth's astronomical axis and the position of its geographical poles. The Earth's magnetosphere had been discovered. Spectral analysis had revealed the presence of hydrocarbons in cometary tails. The net negative charge of the Sun had been detected. Electro-magnetic interactions had been found to be sufficiently strong to affect the Earth's rotation, even if only minutely. Yet, despite these correct prognoses, the world of science continued to ignore him. Today's belief is that his advance claims, as he preferred to call them, were mostly derived through erroneous deductions and that, in any case, they are inadequate in proving his theory of nearly-colliding worlds. To this day, in the halls of science, Velikovsky's name remains strictly anathema.
My studies of Velikovskian catastrophism can be said to have commenced as soon as I turned the last page of Worlds in Collision. Burying myself in Montreal's libraries, scrounging around second-hand book stores, I brought myself up to date on the sordid controversy that has become known as the Velikovsky Affair. I set out on an extensive inquiry which has led me through the libraries of three Canadian universities and those of their cities. Nor has this research yet come to an end. What commenced as mild curiosity metamorphosed into an ogreish obsession. I examined every facet of Worlds in Collision, checked its every detail, and weighed all its possibilities, plausibilities and probabilities. I investigated every alternative to Velikovsky's contentions.
My initial reaction, of course, was to disbelieve the whole thing. After all, Worlds in Collision is not a faultless work. Far from it. Even as I read it that first time, I could already detect certain weaknesses in Velikovsky's knowledge of mythology on which the major portion of the book is based. One did not have to be an expert on the subject to spot these flaws. In fact, right from the start I have been utterly amazed at Velikovsky's detractors, none of whom, until recently, seem to have been intelligent enough to finger the sore spots contained in his work. As I have twice stated before elsewhere in my accumulating works, the battle against Velikovsky might have been over in a year had the assault come form knowledgeable mythologists rather than the pompous astronomers who took part in the debate during the 1950s. Had I not had an open mind, I would have laughed Worlds in Collision right out of my life. In some ways, I might have been better for it. But because there were aspects of the work with which I was not overly familiar, I decided to give Velikovsky the benefit of the doubt. To that end, my research continued and flourished.
One of the first things I unearthed was that the idea of cosmic catastrophism did not originate with Velikovsky. Granted that he might not have been aware of his precursors when he first embarked on his work, Velikovsky himself soon realized it and, despite the accusations of his detractors, did not hide the fact. Without taking into account what the ancients and present primitive peoples have had to say about the subject, free thinkers have been writing on cosmic catastrophism since the 17th century. Among the best known have been William Whiston, theologian, mathematician, and deputy at Cambridge to Sir Isaac Newton; Ignatius Donnelly, member of congress, reformer, and politician extaordinaire: Hans Hoerbiger and Philipp Fauth, the one a self-styled cosmologist, the other a renowned selenologist, who collaborated amid an "ill-tempered battle of books" during the rise of the Nazi regime; and Hans Schindler Bellamy, a British student of mythology who became Hoerbiger's disciple in the English-speaking world. There were a few others and while their hypotheses, long since relegated to the dust bins of history, varied from one another, they had one thing in common: They all emphasized a dissatisfaction with the then- prevailing views concerning the nature of the solar system and its formation, to say nothing about its later history.
On the mythological front, it was not long before I had to accept that the deities of the ancient nations originated as personifications of cosmic bodies, prime among which were the very planets of the solar system. It did not take Velikovsky, or any of his precursors, to convince me of this. The ancients, who were in the best position to know what they themselves believed in, so stated in many of their texts. It therefore struck me as strange that most modern mythologists would go to such great pains in attempting to explain mythological characters and themes in anything but cosmic terms. In this respect, whatever else may be said of him, Velikovsky proved superior. Not that he was always correct when identifying specific deities with specific planets but, had he dug deeper in a field which I now know to have been novel to him, he would have discovered that, in many instances, the ancients themselves had already supplied the identities of their gods. Where they did not, the rules of comparative mythology unerringly lead the way. But that is something that only crept slowly on me as my research continued to unfold.
After reading Velikovsky I should not have been surprised at the sheer amount of mythological tales which hinted at, referred to, and sometimes explicitly described catastrophic events. These appeared of such magnitude that, were they to be believed, they could only be explained by the shaking of the Earth's framework. Predominant among these disasters was the universal deluge, which the Biblical account associates with Noah. Moreover, the cosmic thread that ran through the ages was intertwined with these disasters so that it did not take long to realize that Velikovsky had been right when he insisted that catastrophism was literally heaven-caused.
What became more and more obvious was that the celestial order with which ancient man was so obsessed was entirely different from the one we are presently acquainted with. Ancient man described the Sun as rising in the west, setting in the east, stopping in mid-course, and turning right around. According to ancient texts, the planets seem to have occupied different positions in the sky; they moved in different orbits and, in all cases, looked entirely different from the way they do now. Prime among these examples was the planet Venus which, very much as Velikovsky had claimed, was described as having had the form of a comet which followed a changing orbit entirely different from the one it follows at present.
As everyone knows, the planets, like the stars, appear to the naked eye as nothing more than pin-points of light in the night sky. Yet ancient traditions seem to leave no doubt that these same planets, often described and even depicted as spheres and/or discs, were viewed at close quarters and often in terrifying circumstances. Thus most of mythology turns out to be a reflection of cosmic disorders which ancient man seems to have witnessed and survived. In this generality, if in nothing else, Velikovsky was entirely correct.
Between 1961 and '62, while still in Montreal, I embarked upon an epic work of fiction, my second to date, the first having been penned at the age of fifteen. When I moved to Toronto it was partly in the hope of getting it published there. Titled Once the Favorite of the Gods, this work was woven around the impending disaster of the universal deluge and its final culmination. At that time I erroneously believed I knew enough about this catastrophe even though I had not yet ascertained which of the planets had been responsible for it. The deluge is there ascribed to the Earth's passage through the watery tail of an errant cometary body. While the human drama I portrayed was derived entirely from imagination, the cosmic scenario followed an adapted version of the one proposed in 1696 by William Whiston in his New Theory of the Earth.
Once the Favorite of the Gods had its ups and downs at the hands of various agents and prospective publishers and, although it was finally accepted by Concept Productions under an option, in the end it was never published.
At the risk of being labelled a reaper of sour grapes, I was eventually glad the book never saw the light of day. While I am still more than happy with its human drama, I had committed two major blunders: I presented Noah as a human protagonist, albeit as a shadowy background figure and quite differently from the manner in which Biblical proponents are wont to present him; and I described the cosmic events in terms which, I was soon to learn, did not reflect the traditional sources correctly. Even though it was only a work of fiction, I would have been thoroughly embarrassed by these errors.
It was while waiting for the outcome of my book that I decided to collate my research on catastrophism and the Velikovsky phenomenon into a coherent set of loose-leaf volumes with a cross-indexed file to accommodate the referential notes I had been gathering. Many times abandoned and re-commenced, this work continues to this day.
And so back to the libraries I went in order to ascertain what else our forebears could divulge about the deluge and, if possible, about earlier times. What I continued to discover amazed me, for, even before the deluge, it seems that cosmic catastrophism had been rampant, and today it is my belief that mankind owes its emergence as the unique race it has become to such disasters in the celestial sphere.
Catastrophism betokens destruction, but our ancient forebears seem to have been just as obsessed with creation. Tales of creation are among the most abundant in the world's repository of mythology. Our ancestors not only described the creation of the world, they did so as if they had actually witnessed the occurence. There is no point in countering that such cosmogonical tales are the result of philosophical reasoning. It does not seem possible that primitive peoples, with whom it all started, and who were separated by vast mountain, desert and ocean stretches, would arrive at similar, and sometimes identical ideas in their philosophical quest for primal beginnings.
Predominant among such identical ideas, the recognition of which was to carry me far, was the shedding of a bright light, exactly as described in Genesis, at the very commencement of creation. Proponents of the diffusion theory might accuse me of gullibility, but my contention is that such ideas would be too unnatural to survive diffusion and the test of time had there not been some universal cause in the real world upon which they might have been based.
Had primitive reason required the abolishing of an imagined primal darkness by the shedding of light, logic would have chosen the Sun as the source of that sudden illumination. What would have been more logical than to have the creation of the Sun dissolve this fictional gloom? And yet in all cases where the light of creation is spoken of, the Sun was said to have been created later. This posed an enigma that took me long to resolve. When I finally did, it was again through Velikovsky.
It was during my investigation of the myths of creation that I finally came face to face with Saturn. Actually I had been bumping into him from the beginning, but it was not until now that I saw this planetary deity as something more than a murky figure lurking behind some of the most engaging mythological motifs I had yet encountered. From then on every avenue that I followed brought me back into his shadow. As intrigued as I had been with the idea of cosmic catastrophism, this new turn of events piqued my interest even more and, in the end, there was no escaping the clutches of this most ancient mythological character. I trapped myself in the Saturnian maze and to this day I find myself still meandering within it, hoping to come to its end before my life does.
In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky had offered next to nothing about Saturn. He only hinted, somewhat teasingly, that, prior to the catastrophe of the Exodus, the Earth had suffered a more severe series of disasters, one of them being the deluge, at the hands of the giant gas planets. What I was not yet aware of was that, originally, Worlds in Collision had contained a long section on the tribulations caused by the planets Jupiter and Saturn. Prior to its publication, Velikovsky had been advised to drop this section of his work which he then shelved with the intention of expanding it into a future prequel. In a moment of desperation at the manner in which the scientific establishment had castigated him, Velikovsky once threatened to take this opus with him to the grave. But the moment passed and the work was preserved. Completed posthumously with the help of Jan Sammer, it now rests in the archives of unpublished manuscripts held in custody by the Velikovsky estate.
What I, on the other hand, was uncovering about Saturn was beginning to puzzle me to no end. Peeping from behind this and that datum, I kept coming across these strange allusions to Saturn as having once been an immobile planet. How could a planet, at close quarters or otherwise, have not appeared to move across the sky?
Other textual bits and pieces kept hinting at Saturn having once occupied a position in Earth's north celestial pole. As a pole star, Saturn's apparent immobility would be explained but there was nothing in celestial mechanics that would accommodate any planet in that role. To be quite frank, I had no idea what to do with this information other than to disbelieve it. I therefore decided to ignore all such allusions and put them down to misinterpretation by those early writers who had striven to record the beliefs of their more ancient forebears. I should have asked myself: Would all these misinterpreters have misinterpreted in the same way?
I do not remember who it was that first brought Hamlet's Mill to my attention or exactly when. In this work, published in 1969, Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend analyzed some of the most obscure motifs in all of mythology and came up with a cosmic interpretation. This was refreshing, to say the least. Even so, they hamstrung themselves by disallowing any conclusions that threatened to trespass uniformitarian precepts.
What these authors proposed was that ancient man derived his beliefs concerning the end of all things from the slow displacement of the pole star through the precession of the equinoxes over the millennia. Cosmic catastrophism was explained as the dissolution of an order brought about by this slow change in the celestial sphere. Creation consisted in the establishment of a new celestial order. In other words, an era ended every time the reigning pole star was displaced; the "selection" of a new pole star through precession was the beginning of a new world age. The universal deluge was perceived by these writers as having been a purely celestial occurrence which early man transcribed in earthly terms. So also with other deluges, with fire from heaven, world-encompassing hurricanes, and days of darkness. These early disasters, they claimed, were merely analogies of what actually transpired in the night sky with each passing pole star.
The documentation of this thesis was presented in a heavy tome of 505 pages, including 39 lengthy appendices, and generously annotated with rare-source material. The book is a heady excursion into the intricate labyrinth of mythology and, if nothing else, serves as a veritable mine of mythic information.
It has, however, long been understood that most of mythology derives from primitive times, from those eras preceding the birth of writing. While major mythological themes have changed their dress more than once, the messages contained within their core have remained unchanged. It is therefore difficult to accept that the primitive mind of ages past had already noted the extremely slow change of the pole, let alone that the change was understood. De Santillana and von Dechend were, of course, quite aware of this objection, so it is not surprising that they attempted to overrule it.
The discovery of the precession of the equinoxes has long been attributed to Hipparchus, one of the greatest astronomers and mathematicians of antiquity, who flourished sometime between 146 and 127 B.C. Yet, as the authors of Hamlet's Mill argued, this does not prove that the phenomenon had not been observed prior to his time. But, even given that it was, it remains difficult to accept that this extremely slow change, the perception of which requires thousands of years, could have given rise to a world-wide belief in the cataclysmic end of all things -- with flood and fire and the shaking of the terrestrial globe itself. After all, when one pole star is displaced by another, no disaster ensues, either on Earth or in heaven.
More important is the fact -- and the authors in question were well aware of this -- that certain items of myth and ancient astronomical lore not only refuse to fit the precessional scheme of the equinoxes but are notorious in not fitting anything else that is presently known about our universe. Prime among such misfits is the ancient notion that Saturn had once played the role of pole star which they could not help but run into. Like myself, de Santillana and von Dechend did not know what to do with this odd piece of information; and, like myself, they relegated it to the limbo of unacceptable data. Their verdict on this particular oddity was that it arose through "figures of speech" that "were an essential part of the technical idiom of archaic astrology" -- which, let's face it, does nothing to explain the oddity itself.
This non-acceptance made me view mine in a different light. To begin with, if others had detected this northernism with which Saturn is associated, the knowledge could not be as obscure as I had first imagined it to be. Also, it was easier to imagine Saturn as pole star than it was to accept that primitive man would have noticed the slow precession of the equinoxes. It was then that I realized that if we were to reconstruct a cosmic history based on ancient records, we would have no option but to accept what the ancients recorded. I also decided that, for the time being, it did not much matter whether what the ancients recorded was deemed possible or not. The testing of such possibilities could come later. Temporarily it was enough to attempt a reconstruction as dictated by the message of myth. Moreover, in those cases where the message was unambiguous, it would have to be accepted at face value. And such was the message which stated that Saturn had once played the part of pole star. Much as I wanted to disbelieve it, I had to accept it. It was either that or disbelieve everything else I had thus far uncovered.
In February of 1970 I heard Velikovsky lecture at the University of British Columbia, in which city I had finally dug my roots. Until then Velikovsky had been very reticent about the part Saturn had played in the early catastrophes. Even so, that same year, an article written by Joseph Goodavage, appearing in the September issue of SAGA, contained a new clue which, so to say, made me prick up my ears. Goodavage, who had interviewed Velikovsky, stated that the good doctor was somewhat guarded when it came to novae or "exploding" stars. "I prefer not to discuss [the subject]," Velikovsky is there reported as saying. "It would disclose too much about my future plans and work."
Could Velikovsky have been hinting that the light of creation, with which I was still grappling, had been shed by a nova? - I found myself wondering. This could only have been so if the "exploding" star happened to be one of those relatively close to Earth. Even so, its blinding radiation would have been drastically diminished at that distance. The flare, even if prominent, would have been a far cry from what the later Hindus were to describe as a light that shone as bright as a "thousand suns."
In June of 1971 I wrote to Velikovsky concerning some points of disagreement I had with him. My critique actually related to one of the episodes contained in his Ages in Chaos, but I also queried him about a number of issues re Worlds in Collision. I was not yet privy to Velikovsky's home address in Princeton so I mailed my lengthy letter in care of his publisher, Doubleday & Company. L. P. Ashmead, who was then Velikovsky's editor, was kind enough to forward my missive to Valais, Switzerland, where Velikovsky was lecturing at the University of the New World. It was there that Velikovsky finally divulged to the world, if not in detail at least in outline, what the excised portion of Worlds in Collision had contained. Eight years later that lecture was transcribed by Jan Sammer and published in the fall issue of KRONOS.
Velikovsky did not get around to answering me until January of '72. I cannot claim that this was the start of a lengthy correspondence with him for, in truth, we corresponded but little and only sporadically. But he did take well to my criticism and his attitude to my work was encouraging.
On February 22 of that same year, the CBC aired an hour-long documentary by Henry ZEmel that was devoted to Velikovsky and his work. In it, Velikovsky touched upon some of the basic ideas he had aired at Valais, and his views on Saturn became then a matter of public knowledge.
Although I did not see it until later, it was through this documentary that I first learned about Velikovsky's ideas concerning the universal deluge. In a way I was gratified because the cause of the deluge, in Velikovsky's view, was not entirely dissimilar to what I had described in my earlier work of fiction, long since permanently shelved. Thus Velikovsky spoke of two filaments of water -- "because I cannot [rightly] call them comets," he said -- through which the Earth had passed. But there, I must confess, the similarity ended. It was the manner in which these watery filaments were born that I, like others, found most illuminating. Velikovsky's scenario of the flood was this:
Saturn and Jupiter had once been much closer to Earth. Saturn was a water planet. More than that, like Jupiter, it had once been a "dark" star. Through a near collision of the two, which took place somewhere between five and ten thousand years ago, Saturn erupted in nova-like brilliance. The water it ejected from its body took the form of two watery filaments which, seven days after the flare-up, hit the Earth and caused the deluge. The water, which fell on Earth in torrential rains, was warm and salty and resulted in more than doubling the Earth's hydrosphere. Jupiter reacted differently. It fissioned and expelled from itself the comet that was later to cause the catastrophe of the Exodus before turning into the planet we now call Venus.
Bizarre as this scenario appeared at the time -- and how tame it now looks when compared to what else was yet to come -- it answered one major riddle which had been plaguing me ever since I had entered the Saturnian maze. Although Velikovsky himself does not seem to have been much concerned with the myths of primal beginnings, I finally had the answer to the blinding light of creation. I realized then what Saturn had to do with this most mystifying of events and why it had been misunderstood down through the ages. With the disclosure of Saturn's flare-up, which Velikovsky himself, while proposing it, had badly misapprehended, the myths connected with the creation of the cosmos began to fit neatly into a larger picture. It was at this point that I decided to give up fiction and publicly enter the Velikovsky debate.
I met Velikovsky in person at the three-day symposium held at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon, in August of 1972. Although I had more than one opportunity to talk with him during those three memorable days, it was always in the company of others, most of whom seem to have known him quite well and who, therefore, were more privy to his ever attentive ear. Even so, he was more than cordial when he spoke to me and showed nothing of the haughtiness one might have expected from such a man.
I had actually given up my job to attend that symposium. The president of the company I worked for had warned me not to show up at the place again were I to go. On the other hand, while I do not wish to name the company concerned, I must also clarify that my dismissal was not occasioned because of Velikovsky. The outcome would have been the same had I asked for leave of absence to attend a seminar in honor of Albert Einstein. I cannot therefore consider myself a Velikovskian martyr.
One impression I received at that symposium was that, among Velikovsky's various supporters, no one seemed to have been paying Saturn much heed. Nothing was said about Saturn's northern placement. This lack had however been more than compensated for during some of the private sessions that took place on campus in the evenings. Knowing nothing about this, I returned home in the mistaken belief that I knew something the others didn't. Without further ado, I immediately embarked on a three-front attack.
The first of these was the commencement of a lengthy work titled In Praise of Velikovsky, but with a subtitle that read "An Objective Criticism of Worlds in Collision." In it I had intended to analyze Worlds in Collision chapter by chapter, section by section, while including selected materials from previous works that were germane to Velikovsky's scheme as also, quite naturally, from newly discovered knowledge. This particular work never progressed beyond a few introductory chapters.
My second attack consisted of a lengthier work devoted entirely to the part Saturn had played in cosmic catastrophism. This one held the promise of evolving into a series of books for, already, my material on Saturn was reaching "mountainous" proportions. The title of this work was many times changed but, eventually, I settled on The God Star. Fifteen years later it is still in progress and, much as I hate to admit it, might never quite be finished.
My third front was the most successful. I began a series of articles which I hoped would slowly ease me into the Velikovsky debate while laying the ground for my Saturnian disclosures. The first of these went to Pensée, the only Velikovskian periodical going at the time. Two of them were published as "Letters to the Editor." A few others were rejected.
One of these latter was a lengthy piece titled "Cows, Caste, and Chaos." Dealing primarily with Hindu myths, it attempted to expand on certain topics which Velikovsky had only mentioned briefly en passant. Stephen Talbott, the editor of Pensée, sent me an eleven-point critique of it . I responded with an even longer article titled "Cows, Caste, and Chaos - Defended." He replied with more criticisms, and I with further defenses.
Throughout this lengthy, but short-lived debate, I received the impression that Talbott had Velikovsky's unpublished manuscript on the Deluge open before him as he penned his various criticisms to my work. I also realized that, little by little, he was slowly drawing me into a discussion of Saturnian matters. He himself fed me tid-bits of information on the subject and, in return, I offered teasing glimpses of the same. An impasse was finally reached and the matter ended there.
I should confess at this point that while I was jealously guarding what I had uncovered about Saturn, I had not yet relinquished my faith in Velikovsky's original thesis. I was still attempting to force-fit certain mythological motifs into the scheme of Worlds in Collision. In fact, I committed so many blunders in my debate with Talbott that, years later, as in the case with my old work of fiction, I was extremely thankful he never published these articles. As I have already stated elsewhere, I have been extremely lucky in this respect. To date, my most defective works have, for one reason or another, been kept from publication.
What was disconcerting about all this was that, obviously, I was not the only Velikovskian scholar working on the Saturn problem. Worse than that, one reference Talbott had made concerning the pole as the abode of the mother goddess made me suspect that he, also, had come across the ancient belief in Saturn's former placement in the north. Seeing that he was on Saturn's track, how could he not have?
All of this transpired in 1973. With renewed vigor I spent most of the next two years honing my work on Saturn, trying to fit the scattered references in my collection of notes into a possible chronology of events. This was easier said than done since nowhere in ancient texts is the story of Saturn brought together in one place. A tale, however, did emerge, even though it was to go through various transformations as I constantly revised and updated it. Unfortunately, the more it progressed, the more it inspired disbelief so that, more than ever, I decided to keep it under wraps until I could formulate a working hypothesis to account for the celestial mechanics involved.
One lesson I learned in the interim was that mythic subjects relinquish their message best when tracked down in the original. Again, this was not always easy because hieroglyphs and cuneiform stood in my way. While I had to rely on the authoritative interpretations available, I was soon to learn that not all authorities agreed on any given translation. The need to return to the basic originals necessitated the utilization of Egyptian, Hebrew and other dictionaries. It was in painstaking slowness that I was able to recapture some of the original meaning behind the mythic themes that were germane to the Saturnian phenomenon. It was thus that I came to realize that the choice of certain words in these translations often contradicted their literal meanings . In other words, many ancient tracts had been mistranslated simply because the metaphrastic meaning of certain passages made absolutely no sense when compared to what was known about the present cosmos. Moreover, the confusion that ensued from this was not always due to word-juggling by modern mythologists. As Wallis Budge stressed in more than one of his voluminous works, the ancients themselves were often guilty of not having understood what their ancestors had been alluding to.
The reversion of ancient scripture to its original meaning is something I can never bring to fulfillment. Up until now I have only been able to scratch the surface by way of some illustrative examples. It however remains my hope that someone with greater lingual ability will someday embrace this colossal task. In the meantime I had enough pointers to show me the way and my work on Saturn progressed beyond expectation.
On March 6, 1975, Professor Lewis Greenberg, whom I had met at Lewis and Clark, phoned me from Pennsylvania and asked me to join the editorial staff of KRONOS. During our conversation he asked me what I was working on. I told him about In Praise of Velikovsky, which title pleased him; but when he heard it was really meant to be an objective criticism of Worlds in Collision, he said: "Oh boy!"
I then mentioned my progressing work on Saturn and it was my turn to be surprised. He informed me that Talbott was also preparing a book on the subject. "Yes," I said. "I did suspect that Steve might be." It was his reply to this that stunned me. "Oh, not Steve," he said. "It's David, his brother, who's writing the book."
By then`Pensée had come out, or was about to come out, with its final issue. David Talbott, Stephen's brother, had been its publisher but I had never corresponded with him. When I told Greenberg about my extended debate with Stephen, he assured me that David must have been behind it. Years later, David Talbott himself confirmed the fact that he had been standing right behind Stephen when the latter was composing his replies to me. Why David had not come out into the open is something I have never fathomed.
On April 24 of that year, Professor Robert Hewsen invited me to submit an article for an anthology that was to be presented to Velikovsky at a dinner held in his honor. This supplied me with an opportunity to document my correspondence with Talbott in a lengthy monograph. Titled "Cows, Caste and Comets," to differentiate it form the original "Cows, Caste and Chaos," it included all of Talbott's objections, as also all my former rebuttals. I indicated some areas in which I had erred and I gave Talbott a few more points. Although the anthology was never published, my paper was clandestinely photocopied and privately circulated without my permission. Since then I have had to admonish those who might have read it not to cite it since it contains many statements I would no longer care to defend.
One person who read "Cows, Caste and Comets," and whom I would rather leave unnamed, contacted me with the information that Talbott had privately circulated a paper which, my informant assured me, reflected some of my own ideas. As it happened, Greenberg, who had now become my Editor-in-Chief, had also mentioned this privately circulated paper, so I asked him for a copy. He promised to send me one and I waited for it not without some apprehension.
Offers came fast that year. Having also read my contribution to the Velikovsky anthology, Professor Warner Sizemore, who had just taken on the post of Executive Editor for KRONOS, sent me a manuscript he had been working on with Professors Greenberg and John Myers, the latter of whom had only recently passed away. Tentatively titled Jesus Christ: Morning Star, it consisted of a series of loose essays dealing with the religious implications of Velikovsky's work. Initially, Sizemore merely sought my opinion of the work but, ere long, he tempted me with the offer of making me a fourth author. Though already laden with my own various works, to say nothing of my new duties with KRONOS, I jumped at the offer and "put my hand to it."
While attempting to coordinate the loose sections of this collaboration, connecting them together with the addition of new material, it dawned upon me that the entire effort could, with some drastic changes, be altered into a history delineating the origin of religion. I realized of course that this could not be accomplished without reverting to primal beginnings and I wondered whether the other two living authors would be happy with this. As it turned out, they gave me a free hand and I started borrowing wholesale from my own work on Saturn. No sooner had I commenced on this than I realized that what I had in mind could only be accommodated in a series of books. I next changed the title to reflect the scope of the work. I called it From Genesis to Hiroshima, and that alone told the other authors how far I intended to take the tale.
Sizemore flooded me with bibliographic material, Greenberg with editorial advice; but, being now too busy with the production of KRONOS, they could not offer me much additional help. Even so the work progressed at a fast rate but 300 pages, 16 appendices, and hundreds of referential notes later, I was still dealing with the myths of creation. How long was it going to take me to get from there to the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima? Despairing of being able to finish what I had started, I eventually realized I had sent myself on a fool's errand. In the end, From Genesis to Hiroshima joined my ever growing list of uncompleted works. The only saving grace was that these unfinished manuscripts served as a repository of material from which I lifted a series of independent articles. To this day, I am still mining them.
In the fall 1975 issue of KRONOS, Greenberg and Sizemore published a half-page article titled "Saturn and Genesis." In it they briefly analyzed Maurice Jastrow's 1910 paper, "Sun and Saturn," in which the Assyro-Babylonian belief in Saturn as a sun that shone at night is discussed at some length. This was an idea I had already encountered but, because of Velikovsky's belief that Saturn had been a "dark" star, I had been assuming that the luminary had shone, much as it does now, through the Sun's reflected light. When I unearthed and read Jastrow's original paper, I became convinced that Saturn, despite the author's expected disclaimer, must have been a true sun of night, radiating its own light. With this new datum, my reconstruction of Saturnian events took on a more coherent chronological sequence. The scenario, bizarre in many ways, and faulty in others, evolved into the following:
In prehistoric times, Saturn was the most conspicuous object in the sky. This body was observed by ancient man as a rotating sphere, which means that markings of some sort were clearly visible on its surface. Since tradition insists there was no way of telling time in those "days," these markings must have been of a fluctuating nature with no specific form retaining a recognizable shape that could have been timed with each rotation. Fluctuating surface markings bespeak an active atmosphere, perhaps in turmoil, and the impression one receives, especially in view of what transpired later, is that Saturn was an unstable gaseous body.
Unlike the Sun, the luminary did not rise or set. It simply hung suspended in the north celestial pole, which could only mean that it shared the same axis of rotation with Earth. More than that -- and this was a puzzle I had not yet solved -- the texts speak of this planetary deity as having ruled alone and in darkness. The Sun, it is stated, was completely absent from the sky.
Man remembers this age as a time of perpetual night. But for Saturn to have been visible, it must have shed some light. Since the light did not dissolve the gloom, the illumination must have been feeble. For fauna and flora to have thrived, Saturn must also have shed warmth. Man himself went completely naked. He knew nothing of chilling winds, cold rain, of snow, or ice.
During this period, the Saturnian orb does not seem to have been paid much heed. It was simply there, invoking neither fear nor reverence. But then an event transpired of such stupendousness that it went down in the annals of mankind as Day One. Saturn suddenly flared up in nova-like brilliance, flooding the Earth and its inhabitants with a blinding light. The act of creation had commenced.
When the light of the flare-up finally ebbed, man was presented with a ghastly sight. Spewing out from the central orb was a multi-spiralled black mass that revolved and wound itself around its parent. Viewed as a monster which the transformed god had to subdue, this was also the chaos out of which creation progressed.
It seems to have been precisely at this point that the Sun made its appearance. Day now succeeded night. Time had come into the world.
Saturn itself continued to shine as a sun in its own right. It was bright enough to keep the stars, except those of first magnitude, from being seen. It was not however as bright as the Sun and, during the day, it paled into a cloud-like ghost.
Two filaments detached themselves from Saturn's spiralling matter and were temporarily "lost" in the reaches of space. The rest of this watery debris congealed into a ring around the orb. The god had organized his cosmos. It was this "world" that man had witnessed the god create, for in truth the creation did not originally refer to a terrestrial realm. In time this ring resolved itself into a series of concentric bands -- first into three and later, for the longest time, into seven. These were the original seven "heavens" or seven "earths." They were also the seven stages of creation, long after misunderstood as seven "days."
The light from the unveiled Sun illuminated Saturn's encircling ring as a gigantic crescent, and later as seven nested ones. The other half of the band was only dimly lit, forming a crescent in shadow that was nonetheless visible. Both crescents revolved in unison, perpetually chasing each other, around the stationary orb. This, together with the now rising and setting Sun, enabled man to calculate the passage of time. The visual revolution of these crescents was naturally due to the rotation of the Earth. This means that the Saturn-Earth System must have been at right angles to the Sun-Earth vector (although, as Chris Sherrerd was to point out to me years later, not necessarily perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic).
Nine smaller satellites, which were not formerly apparent, now appeared to revolve around Saturn. In mythology they became the nine followers, or company, of the god. A cruciform star-shape also appeared as four bright rays radiating from the central orb. Rightly or wrongly, I initially interpreted these as an atmospheric illusion.
A singular beam of light also appeared to taper upward from Earth's northern horizon, connecting our humble abode to Saturn's glorious realm in the sky. All mythologies speak of this singular beam, this polar column or cosmic tree, this bond which tied heaven to Earth. Despite the apparent impossibility of the system I had managed to reconstruct, nothing perplexed me more at the time than this effulgent axis mundi. Together with the puzzle of the primeval darkness, this so-called world-axis stymied me. What could it really have been? It is obvious now in retrospect that I still retained a mental block. Had I taken the ancients at their word, as I had resolved I would, this problem would have been solved with the rest. When the answer was finally in my hands, as in the case of Saturn's flare-up, it was only because it was given to me by another.
Mythology also speaks of a universal world mountain located at the north. This was a phenomenon I had understood as a lithic bulge that was raised in gravitational response to Saturn's close proximity. The axis mundi would have rested on top of this bulge which would have accounted for the world-wide belief in the archaic deity resting on his mountain of glory.
Various atmospheric phenomena also appeared in conjunction with this polar sun in the form of parhelia and Parry halo arcs, although these, because of their very nature, were understandably impermanent. The most amazing aspect of the Saturnian structure, however, was the uncanny resemblance it bore to the human form, especially around the hour of midnight, when the sunlit crescent of its encircling ring(s) appeared as two uplifted arms. The entire apparition was like a resplendent giant towering above the world for all mankind to see.
As I have stated elsewhere, no earthly description can ever hope to do this phenomenon justice. We will never be able to fully appreciate the impact it must have had on the primitive psyche. The Sun itself might have been brighter, but Saturn was much more glorious. For untold generations Saturn's strange apparition became the very focus of man's existence. It was the fountainhead of all religious beliefs and, more than that, the impetus behind the rise of civilization.
Unstable as this system might have been, it managed to sustain itself for an unspecified but long period of time. Its formation ushered in an era that mythology remembers as the Golden Age. This was the Edenic childhood of mankind, a time of prosperity and peace, during which the earth was said to have given freely of its bounty. It was an age that man was forever after to recall with nostalgic longing. But in time it, also, came to an end.
The two filaments that had detached themselves from Saturn's former spiral had gone into orbit around the Sun. Each successive passage had brought them back into close proximity of the Saturnian system. These were seen as monsters which periodically threatened the god. Eventually at least one of them collided with the Earth. Composed mainly of water, this filament dispersed itself across the Earth in a deluge that lasted for days. Thus the universal flood was a direct result of Saturn's initial flare-up.
Saturn, with its cosmos, became unhinged. It was now seen to circle around the sky as the Earth, knocked off its balance by the impact of the collision, began to wobble and topple. Slowly but surely the Saturnian apparition slid down the sides of heaven and sank beyond Earth's trembling horizon. Earth had actually turned head over heels. The god of mankind, dying his death, had drowned in the deluge.
With the overturning of the Earth, the Sun reversed its path across the sky, rising where it had formerly set and setting where it had formerly risen. The quarters of the world had been displaced.
But all was not lost. After a while the Earth righted itself and Saturn was seen to return to his post in his former glory. The god had risen from the dead. To others he had been saved by building an ark. Noah was actually Saturn - and where was my work of fiction now? - while his ark was the sunlit crescent. Textual evidence of Noah having sailed through the sky actually exists. Moreover, the word "ark" derives from a root that, in more than one language, translates into an ancient name for Saturn.
The panic with which mankind had witnessed the death and disappearance of its divinity was temporarily allayed. But, ere long, it became apparent that something was amiss with the deity. The central orb lost its brightness; wrinkles and blotches began to appear over its surface. The luminary's gaseous envelope was re-asserting itself. To those who looked on in horror, the risen deity had been struck with leprosy; to others, he was beginning to show signs of his advancing age.
In the end, whatever force had held the planets rotating on the same axis dissipated. The polar column severed itself from the main body while the ringed structure was seen to break up. Saturn's cosmos had become unglued and literally fell apart. The god, to some still dead, had been dismembered.
Earth and Saturn parted company. The giant planet, growing ever dimmer, was seen to move slowly away. No longer a sun, it grew smaller as it rose above the Earth until, eventually, it became the pin-point of light we now see in the night where it was free to reconstruct a new system of rings. In the surrounding sea of stars that now became the order of the night, mankind saw the dissected members of its god.
Thus Saturn was the only deity who was born his own son; who lived on Earth; who died and descended to the underworld; who rose again from the dead and finally ascended into heaven. If the tale sounds familiar, you now know its origin.
This, then, was the story of Saturn as I had been able to piece it together. It did not come easily to me. I had to struggle to accept it. I had made many errors and many were the times I had to retrace my steps. Nor was the version recorded above the final one. I knew I had to refine it further and, to this day, I am continually revising it. But at the time I was more than convinced that, in general, its outline was basically sound.
The truth is that the story is more complicated than I have made it appear. For the sake of clarity I have refrained from encumbering the scenario with its geologic implications, as I have also refrained from delineating the parts that Mars, Venus, and Jupiter were forced to play in these primeval events. In a while I shall have something to say about both these topics but, in the meantime, I should continue with the major events in my career that led me ever closer to the Saturnian truth.
.In January of 1976 Velikovsky wrote to thank me for my contribution to the anthology. In a hand-written note at the end of his letter, he mentioned something about a "chance for co-operation" which I took for a veiled hint aiming at collaboration. As I was to learn years later, this was an offer he had made from time to time to various others of his supporters. I did not wish to hurt his feelings (although I doubt that they were hurt) but, for one thing, I was already overburdened with work; for another, I doubted that he would appreciate the turn my writing was taking. I had already been asked to temper my criticisms of his work, not to arm his detractors with additional ammunition to fire at him. When I questioned the integrity of this appeal, I was told that while there need be no sacred cows, not even Velikovsky, we should, on the other hand, attempt to time our gorings. To be honest, I did not quite relish the idea but, not wishing to create unnecessary waves, I held back my major criticisms ofWorlds in Collision until the San Jose seminar of 1980.
That thank you note was the last time Velikovsky wrote to me. He had gotten wind of my collaboration with Greenberg et al., and he feared that From Genesis to Hiroshima might preempt him on the subject of collective amnesia about which he himself had been preparing a book. He did not take kindly to my declaration that he would be receiving full credit on the subject and our relationship began to sour. As it turned out, From Genesis to Hiroshima was to peter to a halt while Velikovsky's Mankind in amnesia did not see publication until three years after his death.
The long-awaited copy of Talbott's paper on Saturn arrived. Titled "The Universal Monarch: An Essay on the Lost Symbolism of Saturn," it outlined the mythological motifs associated with Saturn's northern cosmos.
The first thing that struck me on reading it was the close similarity -- nay, near identity -- that Talbott's Saturnian configuration had to my own model. It was immediately obvious that Talbott and I had been digging in the same well. There were differences, especially in interpretation, but, in the totality of the scheme, these were minor. On the other hand, it did not take much to realize that in no way could Talbott have borrowed any of his ideas from my correspondence with his brother. Having been as secretive about my rediscoveries as he himself had been with me, I had never said anything to Stephen about Saturn's northern placement or the bizarre structure Saturn had organized around itself. While Talbott's paper included many items which were not contained in my work, nothing I had divulged to Stephen was to be found in David's outline. The paper contained nothing about the events prior to Saturn's flare-up, nor did it so much as hint at Saturn's dissolution. The method through which he proferred his revelations was entirely different from mine, stressing symbol rather than myth. A chronological sequence was not even attempted.
My mind was at ease. More than that I was elated because if two researchers, working independently of each other, could come to the same unconventional conclusions about a most unconventional celestial arrangement, the derived model could hardly have been the result of an overworked imagination.
In what did Talbott and I differ?
Where my research had unearthed nine satellites revolving around the Saturnian orb, Talbott vouched for only seven. Among the varied symbolism associated with the revolving crescents of light and shadow, Talbott included that of the ever battling cosmic twins, a mythological motif I had not yet accounted for. But our main difference concerned the polar column or axis mundi. While I had visualized the world mountain as an actual uplift of land, Talbott saw the mountain as an analogy of the polar column. In other words, to Talbott, mount and axis were one and the same. Actually, certain texts do speak of mount and axis as if they were one and the same portent; others, however, seem to intimate that the two were separate, even if closely connected, phenomena.
Certain mythological themes had also made me believe that, at some point, the planet Mars had passed through the fabric of the polar column, temporarily trapping itself there before passing on. A repeat performance was what later severed the polar column. In Talbott's scheme, the polar column is shown to have stretched earthward from Mars, which planet would have been permanently suspended between Saturn and the Earth, rotating on the same common axis with them. Visually, Mars was thus part and parcel of the same configuration. The polar column would then have been seen as belonging to the Saturnian complexity without losing its identity with Mars. While this was not entirely spelled out in Talbott's paper, it was clarified by him in later works.
Of the planets Jupiter and Venus nothing was mentioned. This was somewhat strange because my earlier debate with Talbott's brother had eventually led to the role Venus had played in the Saturnian age, and why it was that the Venerian deities of later times were often imbued with Saturnian motifs. I was to live and learn.
One of my most stimulating correspondents during this time, and for many years afterwards, was Frederic Jueneman. As I later found out, he had known about Talbott's work on Saturn since 1972. In discussing the subject with me, Jueneman told me that anyone who wanted his ideas could have them for the asking. Emboldened by this offer, I did not hesitate to pick his mind. Although I did not always accept whatever he threw at me, he managed to solve many a problem for me. In March of 1976 I asked him if he had any ideas on what could have constituted the fabric of the polar column, or, as I phrased it, the trunk of the cosmic tree. His reply reached me that same month and, when I read it, I felt like kicking my own behind.
Jueneman supplied me with more than I had asked for. To him the axis mundi and world mountain were separate phenomena. Very much as I had, he interpreted the latter as a tidal uplift of land. But the most important thing he disclosed was the mechanics he had worked out to account for the polar column. Its major constituents he had ascertained to have been air and water vapor. According to him, these were "carried upward towards the nul-gravity at the apex between the two planets" in "a columnar Rankine vortex." To put it in a nut-shell, the axis mundi would thus have been a cosmic tornado seen from a distance. The fact is that various texts which had already passed through my hands had actually described the axis as a cyclone, a whirlwind, or churning hurricane. Had I listened to the collective voice of the ancients, I would have had this solution much earlier. I vowed never to make that mistake again.
The Rankine vortex, if that is what it really was, answered another mystery. On the basis of an Assyro-Babylonian text, de Santillana and von Dechend had inferred the occurrence of a second deluge caused by Mars. If, now, the polar column consisted of water vapor, the immense volume of moisture it would have contained would have been released when Mars swooped by and severed it. As the column twisted and sank in its death throes, it would have poured its water on Earth's northern hemisphere. This would account for those traditions which insist on a calamitous flood that roared down from the north.
Going further, Jueneman also described the effect of a bolus flow complete with Coriolis tendency which, at times, would have split the central pillar into two serpentine spouts. Entwining about each other, these were later to give rise to the god's twisted legs and the mythic caduceus popularly associated with Mercury.
Throughout the years, Jueneman remained unconvinced of Saturn's former northern placement. As far as celestial mechanics were understood, this system seemed unviable. According to Jueneman, two bodies rotating on the same axis could only have sustained themselves by the additional revolution around a barycenter which would have lent the system a slight wobble within narrow confines. In the case of a Saturn-Earth coupling, this barycentre would have positioned the Earth within the Roche limit, with devastating results.
Thus, right from the start, Jueneman deviated from Talbott's scheme and propounded a model of his own. Basing the genesis of his system on a theory proposed in 1969 by R.A. Lyttleton, he opted for Mars as the northern body of myth. He thus inadvertently accepted a modified version of the "bottom" half of Talbott's model while discarding the rest. Jueneman first presented his model in the pages ofIndustrial Research, updated it in his 1975 Limits of Uncertainty, and continued to work sporadically on it model through the years.
Because Mars is closer in size and mass to Earth, the problem of the Roche limit is somewhat alleviated in Jueneman's scheme. Moreover, Jueneman saw the encircling rings as the outpouring of his Rankine vortex, with the vaporous material sucked from Earth being spewed into space where it formed an ever changing series of concentricities. In this scheme the rings would have existed in independent suspension between Mars and the Earth, only appearing to surround Mars through earth-bound perspective. As the rings dissipated into space, they would have been continually replenished by the vortex. The Moon, according to Jueneman, would have orbited as a governor around the central column.
My major objection to all this concerned the ancient insistence on the identity of Saturn as the immobile north celestial sun. Nowhere in the intricacies of myth had I discovered any direct evidence that Mars ever occupied this position.
In my endeavor to discover the possible physics behind Saturn's polar configuration, I approached various members of the KRNOS staff with a related set of problems. Professor Lynn Rose, among others, was very receptive. As I soon learned, he, also, had been privy to Talbott's model since 1972. In the meantime, like Jueneman, he had developed his own scheme. Unlike Jueneman, but like Talbott and myself, Rose accepted Saturn as the primordial urbild; but, in opposition to all of us, he could not accept the north celestial pole as the abode of this planetary deity. Rose saw Saturn's placement above Earth's north pole as so impossible, and "so vulnerable to criticism," that he would not even consider the suggestion.
First disclosed to me in June of 1977, Rose's model, as it developed through the years, was based on a system which Philolaos, the Greek philosopher, supposedly propounded in the 5th century B.C. In this system, Philolaos speaks of a central fire in the middle of the universe around which the heavenly bodies, including Earth, revolved. The Earth kept the same face turned toward this central fire, which means that its rate of rotation equalled the duration of its revolution along its orbit. Besides Earth, there was also a counter-earth which remained hidden from Earth's inhabited hemisphere through a similar rotational resonance.
There seems little doubt that the Philolaos system is a garbled retention of the older Saturnian one. Rose is thus correct in his assumption that the central fire was a dimly remembered allusion to Saturn. In Rose's model, the apparent immobility of Saturn is accounted for through the commensurability inherent in the Philolaos scheme. A similar situation perseveres in the present Earth-Moon system, where the Moon's rotational period is equivalent to its revolution around the Earth. While the Moon perpetually displays the same hemisphere toward Earth, from the Moon the latter appears to be immobile in relation to the lunar horizon. The axis mundi, which, in this case, cannot be referred to as a polar column, Rose saw as a flux tube similar to the one that was later discovered between Jupiter and Io. As for the counter-earth, Rose understood this as a confused memory of that hemisphere of Earth turned away from Saturn. The complete model - "Variations on a Theme of Philolaos" - was published in the fall 1979 issue of KRONOS.
While this model may appear to be more mechanically viablethan Jueneman's, Talbott's, and/or mine, it violates the universal message of myth which insists in placing the Saturnian sun unequivocally in the north celestial sphere. Rose's answer to this objection has always been that Saturn's northern placement arose in response to the dislocated pole star of later times. But why Saturn should have been so illogically chosen as a fictional polar replacement with such unanimity among the ancient nations is a question that Rose has never satisfactorily answered.
My investigation of the possible mechanics responsible for the Saturnian configuration resulted in an ever increasing circle of correspondents. This ongoing debate often necessitated the circulation of letters written and received by others. Copies of early correspondence between the Talbotts, Jueneman, and Rose eventually ended on my desk. These convinced me that, while my re-discoveries were arrived at independently, David Talbott had managed to reconstruct the polar configuration before my own model had approached completeness. This claim to priority was a fact I had to acknowledge. It also taught me something about presumption.
I published "The Sun of Night," my first article on Saturn, in the fall 1977 issue of KRONOS. This paper merely discussed the ancient belief in Saturn's former sun-like appearance. It contained nothing about Saturn's boreal immobility, its encircling cosmos, or the singular ray of its axis mundi. Having decided against Velikovsky's method, I did not wish to take the Kronos readership by storm and, in any case, Professor Rose had been right concerning the vulnerability of the belief in Saturn's polar abode. I therefore decided to abide my time while introducing my readers to matters Saturnian. I could then expound further on the theme, but slowly, in a series of future articles. Familiarity with the idea would eventually make for some acceptance.
As it turned out, the matter was taken out of my hands almost immediately. In an endeavor to establish his priority, Talbott published his views on the polar configuration at about the same time I published "The Sun of Night."
Following the demise of Pensée, Talbott's brother, Stephen, had organized the Research Communications Network, a short-lived institution which became inactive in April of 1978. The Network's first Newsletter, which had come out in September of 1976, had already promised the publication of "The Age of Saturn," although no author had been named for the coming piece. That promise was kept in Newsletter # 3, published in October of 1977, which was entirely devoted to "Saturn's Age." Presented as an interview of David Talbott by John Gibson, the article contained some new material but, basically, it was a reiteration of Talbott's privately circulated paper.
One new revelation that Talbott touched upon lightly concerned the planet Jupiter. Talbott would now have the Earth, Mars, and Saturn "all rotating on a single axis extending out from Jupiter." In his opinion, Jupiter would have been invisible from Earth since it was hidden directly behind Saturn. My own research, on the other hand, had disclosed what seemed to be exactly the opposite. Ancient texts from various quarters describe Jupiter as the god and/or star of the south. This led me to believe that Jupiter must have been located in Earth's south polar sky. This configuration would coincidentally have lessened the Roche limit problem since the Earth would have been gravitationally attracted to both giants without succumbing to either.
Talbott knew as well as I that, under our present knowledge of celestial mechanics, the model he and I were proposing was a virtual impossibility. Nor did it matter whether Jupiter was placed in the north behind Saturn or in the south "behind" the Earth. When asked whether he "should suggest some physical principle which might account for [his] planetary configuration," Talbott replied with the words: "No, absolutely not."
"Does [my model] sound like something one could defend in any terms acceptable to modern astronomy?" he asked. "I'm not a physicist. I'm not even asking physicists to respond to my [forthcoming] book right now ..."
One gathered that Talbott's book, to be titled The Saturn Myth, was all but ready for publication. He even discussed a second volume he was working on, The Cataclysm, which, he said, provisionally existed "only as a mass of notes and a brief outline." This second volume would contain material on the configuration's dissolution. But whereas I had stayed my hand because of lack of physical evidence, Talbott intended "to go ahead ... and not even worry about the physics of it all."
Hard on the heels of "Saturn's Age," Talbott released a slightly longer paper titled "Saturn: Universal Monarch and Dying God." Offered as a special publication through the Research Communications Network, it consisted of a numbered thesis that included the outline of events connected with the polar configuration's dissolution that he had earlier mentioned.
To begin with, Talbott proposed a tentative date for the cosmic catastrophism associated with Saturn. Whereas Velikovsky had opted for a period between 5 and 10,000 years ago as the time slot within which the universal deluge had occurred, Talbott reduced the time span to "within the past 6 - 8,000 years." To date, neither of them has given as much as a hint concerning the evidence behind the selection of these dates.
Talbott described the bending of the axis mundi as the beginning of the Saturnian destruction. The bent pillar would have lent the configuration a hunch-backed appearance that was interpreted by the onlookers as a sign of the god's decrepitude. He said nothing about the mottled appearance of the central orb in this respect.
According to him it was at this point that the cosmic pillar commenced on a churning motion while the ringed structure began to move "in ever widening circles." He gave no indication, however, as to what might have caused this apparent motion.
Still according to Talbott, the deity was seen to devour the seven satellites orbiting around it and that these actually began to disintegrate. Saturn's disappearance was then explained as the clouding of the central orb by the ensuing debris.
The seven disintegrating satellites, in Talbott's view, continued to revolve around the clouded center while spewing their own detritus in a multi-spiralled manner. This spiral eventually segregated itself into the seven concentric bands of myth.
At some point during this destruction, according to Talbott's scheme, Jupiter finally appeared from behind Saturn, "stole" Saturn's encircling band, and then wandered away from the celestial center. Thus Talbott made it clear that the original ringed structure had actually surrounded the hidden Jupiter and that it was only Earth-bound perspective that had made it appear to encircle Saturn. This tenet was not very well explained. In more than one place, Talbott had made it appear that the enclosing band was formed from material ejected by the Saturnian orb. It is hard to conceive that material ejected by one celestial body would encircle another x-miles away. Or was this, according to Talbott, but another celestial illusion in which the primeval matter had actually been ejected by Jupiter? Was it Jupiter then that flared up?
In contradistinction, my scenario had Jupiter appearing from beyond Earth's horizon when the latter flipped over. Saturn and Jupiter were seen to change places. It was said that Saturn made his acquaintance with the southern constellations while the star of the south rose to occupy Saturn's vacated post. In my scheme the seven bands had actually surrounded the Saturnian orb, rather than merely appearing to do so, from long before the dissolution. These disappeared with Saturn when the luminary dropped out of sight. Jupiter was encircled by its own ringed system, which accounts for the apparent "theft." This mythological evidence could actually have been used to predict the later discovery of the Jovian rings. That no one did made us all miss the chance of a lifetime.
According to Talbott, it was this partial destruction of the Saturnian configuration that was later remembered as the universal deluge. Thus, along with de Santillana and von Dechend, but for different reasons, Talbott saw the deluge as a strictly, but perhaps not entirely, celestial event.
In Talbott's scheme, the resurrection of the deity is explained as the clearing of the obscuring debris which again brought the Saturnian orb into full view. Whether the Jovian planet ever returned to its position behind Saturn was not made clear. The second and final destruction, blamed on Mars, was described in terms closer to my scenario, as was the deity's final withdrawal to the "great beyond." Of the planet Venus there was not a single mention in either of Talbott's two papers.
The above mentioned points were not my only disagreements with Talbott's model, but they were the major ones. I mention all this here not because I was obviously right and Talbott wrong for that might not be the case at all, but merely to record our differences as they existed at the time. In the end it may turn out that he was closer to being correct than I was. But one thing was obvious: One of us, or perhaps even both, had confused some of the earlier events associated with the creation of Saturn's cosmos with those connected with its destruction. This brought home one particular lament of the ancients themselves who, among other things, had often stated that the sequence of events had long been forgotten. In any case, I have had many an occasion to change some of my views since then as, naturally enough, so has Talbott. And this is as it should be for we can best progress by constantly discarding, changing, and refining unsatisfactory portions of the theory in an endeavor to get ever closer to the historical truth.
Talbott and I did not correspond any further -- at least not for many years -- and we both went our separate ways.