Saturday 21 September 2019

One of a kind centaur

"One of a kind centaur", from Harvard Art Museums: "Exceptional vessels

This quote talks about this artefact: rhyton with a centaur holding a goat, currently in Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. 

What does this, "one of a kind", image mean? Here is what I think:

Sagittarius 23 November – 21 December 

The hunter, usually represented as a centaur. Marks the beginning of the fur hunting season in continental Europe). You can read more about why Sagittarius is where it is on the solar circle in my post "The hunter".

Capricorn 22 December – 20 January 

The ibex goat. Marks the mating season of Alpine Ibex goats in continental Europe. You can read more about why is Capricorn where it is on the solar circle in my post "Goat".

Now if we look at the Sagittarius and Capricorn zodiac signs together, we see something very interesting: Winter Solstice marks the end of Sagittarius (Centaur) and the beginning of Capricorn (Goat)

Is this what the above image represents, the moment when hunter catches the ibex goat? 

The new solar year starts on that day, and that was a pretty big thing in the past...

This is the same symbolism preserved in the Slovenian legend about Goldhorn. 

In it, a hunter hunts an ibex goat, mortally wounds it, and from goat's blood grows a beautiful alpine rose. 

This is a multi layer legend. To me the most interesting layer to this story is the astrological one. The Zlatorog story describes the succession of three winter astrological signs, Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius. 

Sagittarius 23 November – 21 December (The hunter)
Capricorn 22 December – 20 January (The ibex goat)
Aquarius 21 January – 19 February (The blood)

You can read more about this legend in my post "Zlatorog-Goldhorn".

Interestingly, in Sanskrit tradition, goat was the animal sacrificed instead of a pig, which was in Europe the animal sacrificed during winter solstice celebrations. 

Basically, the goat has to die, in order for spring to arrive...

This was probably the older tradition than the one preserved in Europe today, as it matches the season marker, unlike the pig...

You can read more about sacrificial animals in Indo-European tradition in my post "Sacrificial animals"

So what do you think? Makes sense?


  1. I support your thesis as it makes sense to me ...

  2. I like your thesis too. This story reminds me of the wild hunt that often rides around midwinter in (Germanic) folklore.And sometimes the hunter)s) ride on goats. I found this poem/prayer on wikipedia about Herne the hunter, unfortunatly without sources:

    Hoof and horn, hoof and horn:
    All who die shall be reborn.
    Corn and grain, corn and grain:
    All that falls will rise again.

    This suggest not only goat sacrifices but also bread/grain offerings.