Friday, 1 August 2014


In legends from Europe and Siberia, an elk steals the Sun in her antlers and is chased by the three hunters, one carrying a pot all night until they kill the elk and restore the Sun to rise again next morning. Next evening her daughter begins the hunt all over again.

These legends are pictured in rock drawings in places in Europe and Siberia. In Italy and Spain too far south for elk, there is a deer.


Female elk do not have antlers, and surviving Siberian legends, in which the part of female elk or female bear is played by the Great Mammoth Mother, gives a clue to the origins of both elk and bear stories with the mammoth hunters across the steppe tundra of Europe and Siberia, from 55,000 years ago to about 12,000 years ago. (The last mammoths died out about 4,000 years ago).

Another clue to the ancient origins of this legend is that the mammoth dips into the sea and becomes half fish symbolically between the upper and lower worlds.

The myth must date from a time and latitude when Ursa Major dipped below the horizon for part of the year, as Cygnus does now.

When mammoths had become an ancient myth - the memory of a shaggy beast became the bear, and the memory of the tusks catching the sun became the antlers of a female elk.

In Europe and Siberia, this constellation was seen as a mother elk with antlers. Amongst recorded legends are several in which the Cosmic Elk steals the Sun and is chased through the night by a hero/god, or twin heroes, or three hunters, the middle one carrying a cooking pot (the double star). They kill the Elk and the sun rises again. Although the Elk is dead, her daughter (Ursa Minor) survives and the hunt begins again. (Anisimov: 1963).


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