Letter | Published:

Primitive Traditions as to the Pleiades


MY conclusions as to the Pleiades having been believed to be in early ages the centre of the universe, were not in any way based upon the singular name Alcyone for the principal star in that group. I can hardly account for my having so long forgotten the meaning of that name, and its connection with the belief I had found vestiges of, as to the Pleiades being the centre of all things. It is probable that at first I regarded its significance as a mere accident, as Dr. Tylor evidently does, and dismissed it from my mind. The best proof of the widespread traces of the belief in question is to be found in the fact that even since this correspondence took place I have met among the Berbers of Morocco a name for Alcyone, which has precisely the same meaning, and which, they tell me, was given to that star because Paradise is in them, and they are the centre of all things. I have also found that the idea, which, as I stated in my last letter, I have for many years entertained, that those stars were observed by means of openings or passages in temples in early ages, is manifestly well founded.

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