The Pleiades

February 1, 2011

Some days are more eventful than others.  A little while ago, as I opened the frosted mailbox in the garden, a long and white envelope with foreign stamps was waiting for me. It contained a dear friend’s letter together with  a copy of this drawing.

“There’s part of the sun in an apple,

There’s part of the moon in a rose,

There’s part of the flaming Pleiades

In every leaf that grows”

by Augustus Bamburger

On the same day but later in the afternoon I enjoyed reading a great blog that another friend, Gerry, had just started posting : “The Gently Used Ideas Store” !

This particular post drew my attention to the correspondence between the drawing and Gerry’s theme in this post : mythology. The mention of the Pleiades in the poem was  both strange and welcome.

In French, we often use the word “pleiade” to describe a group of renowned persons, like  “a pleiade of artists or writers, etc…”

Gerry’s prompt about mythology made me reflect on who the Pleiades really were.  So, I looked on my bookshelves for a particular book that was just waiting to be read…  Have you ever heard that a book does not exist or live until someone reads it ? It seems so true to me.

I finally found this book, here it is : a “Small  Mythology Dictionary”, very nicely illustrated too.

The Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione,  daughter of Ocean and Tethys. They were Artemis´companions.  One day, as the hunter Orion pursued them and their mother, they implored the gods to save them. They were transformed into doves and then placed in the sky as a constellation. In fact, the Pleiades are only a cluster of six stars in the sky because one of the stars hides itself… Some pretend it is Merope; she was the only one of the seven sisters whose lover was mortal.

The names of the Pleiades were Alcyone, Celaneo, Electre, Maya, Merope, Sterope, Taygete.

In my small mythology dictionary, there was no mention of the Pleiades but a page was dedicated to Atlas, their powerful father,  son of a Titan, one of those gods who ruled  the world before the Olympian gods. Atlas and the Titans were overcome by Zeus and the Olympian gods during a terrible battle. The Pleiades´father was condemned to carry forever the heavens on his shoulders and all the weight of the world.

This is the story of a Winter day that started in a freezing and foggy morning. It ended in the sky, a dark but starry sky where I looked for a constellation of seven sisters pursued by Orion…

Thanks to Gerry and the inspiration I found in her daysprompt 🙂


27 Responses to “The Pleiades”

  1. Carsten said

    Following Gerrys ideas brings us far around. I came here from the DIY Adult Education post.
    Thanks for refreshing the myth about the Pleiades.
    I like the old drawing with the person breaking the barrier and looking outside the shell of the world.

  2. Cindy said

    I learned something new here today, thanks!

  3. Marie said

    One of my stitched quilt pieces has to do with the Pleiades.
    Thank you for sharing this information. So, beautifully done ❤
    Fascinating that only the Pleiades and Orion are mentioned in the Bible
    : )

  4. Karma said

    Gerry is full of wonderful ideas! I think it is wonderful how we can inspire each other.

  5. Gerry said

    First, thank you for suggesting that people visit the Gently Used Idea Store. It’s a whimsical little place, but I enjoy dusting the shelves and greeting visitors. Now, then, about that drawing . . . I have looked at and looked at the central figure, puzzling. I finally decided to adopt Carsten’s optimistic interpretation. But I still can’t decide who is waiting on the other side.

    • I really enjoy visiting your Store of Ideas, Gerry. Time is a bit short these days to respond to your suggestions and start creating… But I will do more, for sure. As for this central figure…Carsten may well have guessed right. Curiosity and the wish to have a glimpse at the unknown.

  6. Greek mythology is an endless source of fascinating stories. Thanks for sharing this one.

  7. Kathy said

    What a lovely mailbox find! A treasure in your frosted mailbox…

  8. Mariana Zavala said

    Are you my Swiss friend, Isabele De Lise?

  9. Isa, I have a similar dictionary in English on my bookshelves, left over from my university days. It is a wonder how the sun, moon and the Pleiades all affect the natural world here on earth. It’s a mystery how we are all connected to the heavens and one another.

    • It is worth sometimes to have another look at our bookshelves, interesting surprises await us there 😉 I love to know more of these connections/correspondences between nature, heavens and one another. Thank you Amy-Lynn.

  10. iniyaal said

    Love the poetic verses at the beginning of your post. Fascinating that there is a bit of heavenly elements in all Nature’s creations.

  11. This is such the beauty of blogging. You were inspired and in turn, have inspired us all. Thank you for teaching us and for sharing.

  12. shoreacres said

    Always, there is something amazing. Curious, I went to some astronomy pages. One included folklore about the Pleiades, and I discovered that in Japan they are known as – Subaru! They have given their name to the car manufacturer whose logo incorporates six stars. In a related note, the Subaru Telescope, located in Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii, is named after the Pleiades.

    Mythology meets manufacturing – I never would have expected that!

    • How very interesting to read all you found out about the Pleiades, Linda ! I should have been more curious and travel further than my small dictionary. Now I will look differently at all the Subarus driving around… I noticed the stars on those cars but never imagined they came from the Greek mythology. Thinking of the correspondences between mythology and our every day life, there must be much more we are not always aware of. Thanks a lot, Linda, you always bring a lot to reflect on.

    • Janice said

      Yes, I’ve noticed those stars too. Fascinating!

  13. Janice said

    What a lot of fascinating replies to your wonderful post, Isa. It also sent me off to the bookshelves – although a virtual book shelf in my case: the Oxford English Dictionary Online. I found that we also have the word ‘pleiade’ to describe a group of renowned persons. Here is the OED entry:

    A notable group of persons or things, esp. when seven in number. Originally and specifically applied to a group of seven French writers of the 16th cent. (in French called La Pléiade), led by Pierre de Ronsard and including Guillaume du Bellay.


    • Wow ! very interesting, Janice, thank you. Now that you mention these French writers, I should definitely have written about “La Pléiade”, a prestigious books edition. Prestigious by the choice of authors published in it, from Tolstoy to Borges, including Rilke and Giono. Thick books so as to contain much of an author´s works, soft leather books with very thin pages (onionskin) that one turns with care and admiration for the writing and the craftmanship.
      I will have to take a picture of one of these books and post it too. Thanks again.

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