Friday 3 June 2011

A History of Magical Hats - Part 1 - Moon and Sun Calendar Hats

A good friend once postulated that you could probably explain the whole gamut of human history just by using hats. So here is my attempt...

Berlin Gold Hat, Bronze Age, about 1000-800 BC Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin
The earliest and most magical hats are the gold hats of Europe dating from 1000 BC. These stunning hats chart all of the phases of the moon and sun.
Berlin Gold Hat, Bronze Age, about 1000-800 BC Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin
You can begin to understand that these hats may have been the precursor of the witches hat. It would certainly explain why witches and wizards hats are so often emblazoned with images of stars and the moon, and it would give a serious foundation for the architecture of their shape.
Golden Hat of Schifferstadt, found in 1835 at Schifferstadt near Speyer, circa 1400-1300 BC
The moons importance for fecundity, sowing seeds and ensuring a good harvest together with its power to control the ebb and rise of the tides; was essential ancient lore. Research at the Centre of Alternative Technology in Machynlleth powerfully demonstrated that sowing seeds on the new moon and harvesting on the waning moon greatly improves the quality and abundance of the harvest.
Berlin Gold Hat, Bronze Age, about 1000-800 BC Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin
The symbols on the Gold Hats are a logarithmic table which enables the movements of the sun and the moon to be calculated in advance. Researchers discovered that the 1,739 sun and half-moon symbols decorating the Berlin hat's surface make up a scientific code which corresponds almost exactly to the "Metonic cycle" discovered by the Greek astronomer Meton in 432 BC - about 500 years after the hat was made - which explains the relationship between moon and sun years. This suggests that people of the Bronze Age were making long-term, empirical astrological observations. The person who had knowledge of the sun & moon and their phases would have a magical status indeed.
Berlin Gold Hat, Bronze Age, about 1000-800 BC Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin
The earliest auguries of Babylon believed an eclipse was an omen of a catastrophic event. ‘The Assyrian King Esarhaddon (690-669 BC) was so fearful of lunar eclipses that during his reign he enthroned substitute king-figures when eclipses occurred, who were afterwards executed to divert the malign influence of the eclipse from the king himself’ Whitfield, The Mapping of the Heavens, 1995.

2006 Total Solar Eclipse March 29 (Jalu, LIBYA) Photographs by © Fred Espenak
Lunar Eclipse of 4th May 2004 from Stonehenge Copyright © 1997-2011 by Philip Perkins
Lunar Eclipse of 28th August 2007 © Chad J. Carlson
Easter Island Total Solar Eclipse 2010 Photo by © Lorenzo Baldin
2006 Total Solar Eclipse Photographs by © Fred Espenak
Polarization of the corona. Total Solar Eclipse 2006 Turkey © Christian Buil
2006 Total Solar Eclipse Photographs by © Fred Espenak
2006 Total Solar Eclipse Photographs by © Fred Espenak
Partial Lunar Eclipse 26 June 2010 © David A. Kodama
The ability to forsee when an eclipse would occur would be a powerful indication of a diviners ability; this would give the priestess or priest who wore the solar/lunar calendar hat a highly esteemed status and the illusion of magical control of the heavens.
Golden Cone of Ezelsdorf-Buch, found near Ezelsdorf near Nuremberg in 1953, circa 1000-900 BC; the tallest known specimen at c. 90 cm
Interestingly these wonderful gold hats are exactly the same shape as those of the women of Yemen. The gold leaf calendar hats are fragile and would have needed a straw support very similar in shape and structure to the traditional high hats of Hadramaut, Yemen seen below.
Traditional clothing, Hadramaut, Yemen 
So why would a straw hat from rural Yemen be important? Well...Yemen (& Ethiopia) is none other than the magical land of Sheba. The Queen of Sheba of legend 'Bilquis' was the wealthiest woman of her age. She controlled all of the annual harvest of frankincense and myrrh; which was essential to any ceremony of the ancient world. Pliny the Elder said that the Emperor Nero burnt the annual frankincense harvest (approximately 7000 tonnes) in a single day at the funeral pyre of his wife Poppaea (65 AD).

Wadi Hadramawt, Yemen by © george steinmetz
3000  years ago the kingdom of 'Sheba' or 'Saba' as it is known in the Arabic world was an architecturally innovative and culturally advanced Queendom. It's cleverly constructed dam irrigated all of Yemen's farmland and Saba's adobe high rise towers were the envy of all. This futuristic economy run with foresight and intelligence would be why King Solomon was so keen to invite Queen Bilquis to his kingdom (his father 'King David' also married a Sheban; 'Bathsheba'). Archaeology and textual history attests that rather than converting Bilquis to Judaism; Solomon became an ardent worshipper of the Goddess Asherah (guardian of fertility and forest groves).

Detail of house in Old Sana'a, Yemen - High hat, Yemen © Eric Lafforgue - Dar al Hajar, Yemen

...Next time the Gold Crowns of Scythian Warriors and the hat as a weapon.

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