The Ancient Symbolic Language of Astronomy
The term "precession" describes the slow rotation of the earth's axis. When you move an impeller you can see how the quickly rotating thing slowly wobbling its rotation-axis. This second rotation is much slower then the rotational speed of the impeller itself. You can compare the rotation of the earth with the impeller's rotation because the earth not only rotates in 24 hours once and its rotational axis itself describes a circle in more or less 26.000 years time. The position of the rotational north-pole thus changes on the night-sky which is currently marked by the star-sign of the Little Bear (or Dipper). This rotation describes a circle on the night-sky, as I have said. Spatially this circle is the base of a big cone. The peak of the cone lies within the earths-core, the rotational center of the earth. Of course there are two cones: One in the north and another one in the south. If you look at this geometrical structure from a distant it looks similar to the shape of an hour-glass, the two cones meeting in the earth's center.
The Bird on the Top
The neolithic buildings or "temples" are oriented to the north. Because these structures can be associated to excarnatory rites there is obviously a relation between the cardinal direction north and the location where the souls are going after death. North was also the direction in which prayers were directed in the time-epoche of Sumer and in modern times the islamic shiites' paradise lies in the north.
The first hints that a bird was once located on the top of the earth's axis we can find in the cave of Lasceaux. The bird-shaman with the depiction of the "staff" with the bird on its top I already mentioned in various contexts already. The image of a pole or a staff with a bird on its top is also known in America. The well-known totemic poles that show the Eagle or a Thunderbird on its top, the symbolic representation of the Great Spirit. The tungusic people errected similar poles and placed a swan on its top.
Today the axis points to the Little Dipper. If we watch like a time-lapse camera the movement of the axis in the course of thousands of years we see that the position on the night-sky slowly moves away from the actual "polaris" in the Little Dipper. Watching the movement back in time roughly fifteen to sixteen-thousands years ago the axis pointed to the star-sign Cygnus or Swan. Vega was also known as Aquilaris - the Eagle of Arabia - and the name Altayr was another name of Cygnus. The flying Eagle was the location of the axis between 13.000 and 15.000 B.C.
A closer look to the circle the axis is making in 26.000 years shows that the center of the circle is located in the star-sign Draco which reveals an interesting side-view on the Eagle-Serpent or Dragon-Phoenix duality. The dragon appears as a resting pole, circled around by an eagle or vulture. Cygnus is within the circles course and is one of the star-signs within the Milky-Way on our night-sky. Cygnus lies in the center of the visible spiral-arm of our galaxy.
The axis mundi is frequently associated with a serpent or a dragon. The germanic mythology tells us from Niðhogg and the Eagle, living on the top of the Tree of the World. Ladon the dragon guards the Tree of Life with its golden apples in the gardens of the Herperids and Muchalinda lives in the tree of the Serpent's Lord under which Buddha meditated. In the bible the serpent appears in the Tree of Knowledge, of which Eva (hawwa, hevia, chava - her name has relations to "Life" as well as to "Serpent") ate the apple after the serpent told her to do so. The staff of Mosis showed a serpent, winded around the axis.
On the night-sky the swan appears with its wings wide spread at a location of the Milky Way where a stellar nebula obscures a part of it. The Milky Way seem to be divided into two arms. The mythology of the Swan and the Milky Way are related to each other in many myths. The neolithic fertility aspect of the vulture or the swan can be seen on the night-sky. With some imagination you can see the Milky Way as a female with legs. In Egypt this female was Nut. It is far more then only a discreet hint on this aspect that just at the location where the hips are and the legs begin the swan (or vulture) is spreading its wings. In many siberian cultures the first shaman was the offspring of a union between an eagle, sent by the gods, and a female. The Animal-Mother of the Shaman is described eagle-like and lives on the Shaman's Tree, often enough on its top.
Making its way through the greece mythology, where Zeus once again had one of his adventures, this image can also be found painted by the great master Peter Paul Rubens, showing Zeus as a swan and Leda. Besides this quite clear images of the act of procreation the Milky Way also is the path the deceased ones walk to reach the other side. In several American cultures - the Chumash, Iroquois, Ojibway ad the Cheyenne, just naming some of them - as well as in ancient europe the Milky Way is deep relation with the other side. Again and again I am amazed how obvious these things are. The two star-signs Cygnus and the Southern-Cross mark the two possible paths into the upper world or the lower world, depending on the shamans choice or the path the deceased one had to take. In regions where the vulture is not endemic the swan takes the role of bird of the soul that delivers the deceased over into heaven or hell. It is noteworthy that the swans deliver the souls, flying into the north where the star Deneb of the star-sign Cygnus once was at the location of polaris.
In Europe the swan instead of the vulture had the position of messenger of the gods who delivered the souls to heaven and back to earth again. In northern Europe the swans fly around Candlemass to the north, in neolithic times directly to the star-sign Cygnus and the highway to heaven (or hell likewise ... - reminds me on a famous Hard-Rock song) - the Milky Way. They delivered on their singing wings the souls into the Realm of the Dead through the gate which was marked by the star Sadr in the star-sign Cygnus. At Hallowmass they returned with souls on their wings that were going to incarnate again.
A shamanic technqiue is also being handed down into modern times. The tales of the swan-maiden that illustrates the ability of the soul-flight as a swan. Again and again you can find in these tales that the swan-women have a feather-adornment and a small golden necklace around their neck. In order to bath in water they put off their costumes, changing into beautiful maidens. As long as they wear their feathers and golden necklace they can fly as swans. The use of a feather-costume as a trance-inducing tool for shamanic journeys can be traced in these legends. It is an very obvious and pragmatic way of using the feather-costume. Looking at the swan you easily can figure out that it is a female line of inheritance. In the legends the offsprings of a union between a man and a swan-maid also have the ability to shapeshift into a swan and to fly. Therer were not only women in this line of inheritance, as the tale of Lohengrin illustrates vividly. A matrilinear inheritance does not mean that only women were part of it. In analogy to the feather adornments of the swan-maiden I possess a feather-costume of the Andean Condor with exactly the same applications. Only my necklace is silvern and not made of gold.
Because I am Condor-Dancer I have a deep personal interest in finding as much as possible informations and knowledge on the symbolic means and history of the ancient vulture-shamanism of the neolithic time. Today, when I am celebrating and dancing the Condor-Dance I also honour my ancestors that were clad in feather-cloaks and adornments, shared their knowledge and were true masters of science that errected the oldest, partially still existent, megalithic monuments. Of course I am no architect or something similar like that, but I am a twice-born one, a soul-traveller and psychonaut. On the Angel Condor which is also associated with the star-sign Cygnus and my own deep relation and contact to this spirit I offer more detailed informations here.