from ChateauLalinde Website


Why exactly the cult of the swan might have existed in megalithic Ireland, and indeed among several other key Neolithic stone monuments in the British Isles, is not clear.


Avebury, Wayland Smithy long barrow and Callanish are all aligned towards either the rising or setting of key stars in the celestial swan, which since Palaeolithic times has been seen as a primary symbol of the cult of dead and rebirth across Europe and Asia.

Indeed, as a psychopomp (Greek for 'soul-carrier'), the celestial bird was universally considered the vehicle by which the dead were able to reach a northerly placed heaven 'north beyond the north wind', a belief that prevailed in the Scottish Western Isles until very recently.


Moreover, such beliefs in Europe go back at least to 4800 BC, since a Mesolithic burial unearthed recently in Denmark was found to contain a woman and her young child, who had been laid to rest on a giant swan's wing.


Indeed, it moved prehistorian and Palaeolithic expert Steven Mithen to comment:

Among the nineteenth-century Saami people of northern Europe, swans and wildfowl were the messengers of the gods.


Such birds could, after all, walk on the land, swim on the water and fly in the air - adept at moving between different worlds.


Perhaps the Mesolithic people had similarly revered their swans and let one fly that poor child away to their afterworld where he could have the life denied to him on earth.

(Mithen, AFTER THE ICE, pp.181-2)

The cult of Cygnus is integrally related to the shamanic process of entering the sky-world (heaven if you like) via a perceived sky-pole that terminates in something known to mythologists as the cosmic axis, synonymous with the north celestial pole.


This is marked in the night sky by the Pole Star, or North Star, currently Polaris in Ursa Minor, although this is simply the latest in a series of pole stars which feature during the Earth's 26,000-year precessional cycle.





As the perceived guardian of the entrance to the sky-world, Cygnus as the cosmic bird, positioned at the most northerly extent of the Milky Way, is at the heart of ancient cosmologies and religions worldwide.


It has been a major influence on the design and orientation of sacred architecture, which, in addition to the megalithic monuments of Britain and Ireland, includes the Pyramids of Giza, the ancient effigy mounds of the United States, as well as various ancient temples in Mexico, Peru and India.

Cygnus is also at the root of Christianity's use of the Crucifix as a symbol of death and redemption, as well as the veneration of the north as the direction of the Primal Cause, God himself.


This belief is found within the religions of various Middle Eastern sects descended from the star-worshipping Sabians of Harran (known as the Chaldeans in the Bible).


They include the angel-worshipping Yezidi of Syria and Upper Iraq, the Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran, and the Shi'i Muslim sect called the Brethren of Purity.