The Boatman

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There have been a lot of discussion on the meaning of this symbol. It is called THE BOATMAN. It may be quite simple...

The "PL" or "PF" logogram, when reversed upside down, then reads "TG",
for Chris Thomas and David Gilmour...

On the Pulse Album, each musician and team member used to make their own logogram.

Nick Mason's "masonic" emblem, David Gilmour "Kandinskyesque logo and Richard Wright's "contact" logogram.

logograms pink floyd

Jon Carin -

ARGO NAVIS (or the Ship of Fools…)

taken from :

"On the day the wall came down
The Ship of Fools had finally run aground
Promises lit up the night like paper doves in flight"
("A Great Day For Freedom", Pink Floyd, The Division Bell)

Robert Temple, in his book The Sirius Mystery, Sidgwick and Jackson:1976, claimed that an African tribe, the Dogon (The Vogons? cf. Douglas Adams...) of Mali, preserved in myth and secret tribal lore an extraordinary piece of astronomical knowledge, namely that the star Sirius had a companion, a white dwarf star completely invisible to the naked eye and only discovered last century with the aid of a telescope. He investigated an enormous amount of myth and information from Egypt and from other parts of Africa in order to substantiate what seemed a most unlikely claim, an impossible one according to modern astronomers and scientists. They simply were not in possession of the technical equipment or know-how to have been able to see this stellar companion. His claim has never been taken seriously and yet he discovered an indisputable anthropological fact, the Dogon at some stage in the past had witnessed the star Sirius in close association with another star, or cosmic body.

The star Sirius was also known in the ancient world as the dog star. A dog is an animal that barks and forewarns of the arrival of strangers and unwelcome guests. This idea and role was later pinned to the heavens. Sirius is the most prominent star in the constellation of Canis Major. In Egypt, the annual appearance of Sirius was an important myth that was re-enacted on countless occasions as part of cult ritual. Sirius came to represent the goddess Isis and she was accompanied by her consort and brother, Osiris, who was represented by the adjacent stars of Orion. However, Sirius the dog also heralded another group of stars, the southern constellation. This is now divided into several constellations but basically the old and the new represent a boat. This was the ark, otherwise Argos Navis of the Greeks.

"Leading the blind while I stared out the steel in your eyes
rain fell slow, down on all the roofs of uncertainty" (Poles Apart)

The heliacal rising of Sirius also forewarned the annual flood of the Nile. However, the presence of the ark in the sky suggests the original myth concerned a greater flood, but from an indeterminate time in prehistory. It has its parallel in Mesopotamian myth and in the folklore of diverse parts of the world but these do not necessary involve an earth wide event as portrayed in the Bible. For example, the coastal regions could have been affected by tsunami tidal waves following an impact in one of the oceans, or an extraordinary amount of rain could have fallen at one point in time as a result of evaporation of the oceans, again perhaps as a result of an impact event or a volcanic explosion beneath the sea. In the last twenty years astronomers have discovered an awful lot of debris orbiting in space and most of it is quite small and barely visible. I'm not talking about collisions with asteroids as portrayed in films or pictured as the event that killed the dinosaurs at the close of the Cretaceous geological Period. A quite smallish piece of rock or iron (or steel), travelling very fast, and coming into contact with the atmosphere of the earth, is capable of quite dramatic firework displays. A comet coming close to the Earth, not necessarily too close, could generate enough heat to evaporate large amounts of water from the surface of the Earth. This would rise into the atmosphere and at some stage would fall as heavy rain. Something of this nature is preserved in Irish myth and folktale.

In Greek myth the boat was identified as the Argos Navis, and symbolised the boat in which Jason and his 50 oarsmen, including the Greek god-giant Herakles, went in search of the Golden Fleece. The latter could be interpreted as a daylight visible hairy star or comet. There are more than 600 stars in the southern constellation but 50* appears to be a symbolic number with the meaning of numerous. The same constellation reappears in the legend of Egyptus, variously Danae*, and his 50 daughters and most importantly, in Sumeria, as the 50 Annunaki, the silent, stationary, and unobtrusive companions of the god-giant Anu. The implication here is that the 50 Annunaki represented the stars of the southern constellation fixed to that region of the sky but the god Anu differed as he interacted with the human world on occasion and therefore would seem to have been in motion. Anu passed through the constellation to become the giant represented by the constellation of Orion.

In Egypt this prominent and easy way to pick out group of stars was identified as Osiris. He stands next to the constellation of Taurus the bull. The Hyades, the head and the horns of the bull, give the illusion they are about to attack him. One of the Taurid meteor streams appears to spring forth from that part of the sky, where the Hyades lie in the background. This is thought to be due to the passage of a comet, leaving behind it a trail of dusty debris, but the identity of the comet has been lost in the passing of time. In Egyptian tradition Set was a red god, and assuming there was once a cosmic body identified with the god Set, the red colouring (MAROONED?) would suggest that it was in the process of fading from view, its energy spent. Irish myth and legend has a variety of red gods, and a multitude of names that probably belonged to a single cosmic body. The brown bull of the Cattle Raid of Cooley might also be identified with the same dull orbiting light in the sky. It appears to have had a sting in its tail, a meteor stream that periodically interacted with the atmosphere of the earth.

* It is interesting to note that a box symbol has been found at Stonehenge, a symbol it is thought that represents the goddess.

The god Set was the brother of Osiris. This might mean the giant split into two pieces at some stage in the past, giving rise to Horus, the hero god. He appears to have been a much brighter object in the sky than Set, and bright hero gods in many lands might be identified as this portion of the giant, the white bull in the Cattle Raid of Cooley. In other words, the brighter section outlived the dim section as a visible object in the sky. This may account for dragon killing stories. In the Bible the eponymous ancestor god of the West Semitic speaking people, Jacob, was born at the same time as his brother Esau, who came forth ruddy and covered with hair all over. This tale appears to mirror some aspects of the story in the constellations, and likewise the Gilgamesh Epic from ancient Sumeria. However, there was a Sumerian king known as Gilgamesh, and many people will tell you that Jacob was human and not something orbiting in space. The interesting thing is that the second object may have been responsible for the other major meteor stream emanating from the region of the sky occupied by the stars of Taurus, a background feature if you like, a curtain at the back of the stage. See Clube and Napier for a fuller explanation of these ideas.

The giant, it seems, was perceived as being carried through the sky in a boat, namely the ark, and this was perhaps why in Egyptian religion a royal barque carrying the figure of the pharaoh became a feature of cult ritual. They were not designed to navigate the Mediterranean as many archaeologists have noted, but were ceremonial in concept and in use. The pharaoh in his barque imitated the god carried by the ark in the sky. The southern constellation came over the horizon preceded by the dog star in the constellation of Canis Major. This did not happen in this manner in northern Eurasia it should be noted. Sirius did not have the same significance, but midsummer and the month of June did.

Around 700BC precessional change affected the visibility of the outline of the ark. After that date the ark became identified with the constellation of Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek myth. It seems to mean something like the bridled horse in Phoenician and Canaanite but what is strange is that this small group of stars forms a box shape. This appears to be the root of the idea of a box or chest housing the artefacts of god as conceived in the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple constructed by the Exilic community that returned to Judah at the behest of the Persians in the 5th century BC. It is an idea that also gave rise to the cube of the Holy Kaaba of Islam at Mecca. It is possible the original contents of the Ark of the Covenant, in the time of David, were meteoric material of some kind, an idea reinforced by the presence of the black stone in a wall of the Holy Kaaba, a meteorite. However, in the post Exilic phase of Judaic development the contents of the Ark became stone tablets on which was written the Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments. The Bible actually preserves two versions of the same tale.

The veil of Islam, and possibly the habit of nuns, is pagan in origin. Arab bedouin tribes worshipped a goddess and warlike queens rode into battle at the head of armies, as recorded by the Assyrians for example. They were housed in boxes on wheels and drawn by horses and the idea was to offer raucous encouragement to the men that composed the principle fighting arm. The coming of Islam changed all that, and the veil developed from its role as an accoutrement of the queen, imitating the goddess. A comet can take the form of a veiled face, the tail and streamers obscuring the nuclei as its orbit nears the sun. In another facet of the orbit a comet with its jets of gas streaming forth could take the shape of a head with hair flowing, as in the long hair of a woman. Hence, the idea of a sky goddess, a horse with flowing mane and tail, a lion with mane and tail, or even a bull if the twin comas were at the right angle. In addition, a comet with a single prominent coma might be viewed as a unicorn, a boar, or even a rhinoceros. There are plenty of images of Comet Hale-Bopp on the Internet to illustrate these points.

The giant was in motion and journeyed across the night sky. It is likely that it sometimes also took the form of a giant serpent or dragon, the bright nuclei trailing a long tail. This is perhaps why the constellation of Hydra skims along the top of the southern constellation and why the constellation of Draco winds a path between Ursa Major and Minor in the northern sky. One strange feature of Egyptian cult can be explained by this coincidence. A great serpent was constructed in wax, known as Apepi or Apopi. It was considered evil by nature and deed and was ritually sliced into pieces and destroyed in imitation of the disintegration of the sky god. At the end of the Old and the Middle Kingdoms Egypt suffered a disastrous breakdown in civil administration accompanied by famine and riots etc. On both occasions pharaohs adopted the titulary titles of the great serpent, as in the names of Pepi and Apophis. On the latter occasion it seems the crisis was attributed to a specific source, namely the Sons of Apepi. These can be identified tentatively as meteoric material derived from the long defunct sky serpent, and they brought havoc.

The constellation of Pegasus, the horse, is a square or box in the sky, an ark or chest. At no stretch of the imagination does it resemble the outline of a horse. However, the association with the horse appears to preserve a feature of the original giant, a comet in motion against the backdrop of stars. In Arabic legend a magic horse known as Borak, a name having the meaning of lightning, or shooting stars, had the ability to traverse the heavens in a few strides i.e. to grow bigger in a fairly rapid fashion. In tradition the Prophet Mohammed ascended into heaven on a lightning horse, from the city of Jerusalem. Islamic tradition at this point appears to have absorbed features of pagan myth once associated with the god Sulman, and the tradition of a bolide falling at the spot of the Temple, now the site of the mosque known as the Dome on the Rock.

The fall of the bolide is put into reverse. Instead of dropping it whisks Mohammed upwards into the heavens in a flash of lightning. In addition, Borak is etymologically similar to Barak, an ally of the Hebrew Judge Deborah. According to scholars the Deborah story was formerly based on the activities of a Canaanite goddess. Barak has the meaning of lightning, and the name is still popular it would seem as a recent Israeli Prime Minister had a surname that was the same. There is another correspondence in language between the Hebrews and the Arabs, namely Sheba.

Saba was a country in what is now the Yemen. It reappears in the name of Beersheba. That has the meaning of the seventh well. In the Bible the Queen of Sheba paid Solomon a visit, and speculation on her identity has generally looked for a connection with the spice route and the land of Saba. However, Sheba has the meaning of seven and can be read as Sheva in Hebrew. A connection may therefore be offered with the seven stars, the cluster known as the Pleiades in the constellation of Taurus. This might suggest a connection also exists with the Hindu god Shiva, who perambulated the heavens. The Assyrian goddess Ishtar is interesting in this respect too, as her cult ritual appeared to follow an orbit in which she disappeared below the horizon and entered the Underworld. She is then depicted removing seven veils that covered her face and body and after seventy days reappeared in the sky in all her blazing glory, unobscured and clearly defined in outline.