The course of human history has not always been determined by the actions of humanity. Natural events have also played a role in transforming the civilisations of ancient times into the society we live in today.
Some of these natural events were not from the Earth. History could have been quite different if phenomena witnessed in the sky were understood for what they actually were, and not misinterpreted at the time, as has happened.
In a past blog post I talked about how the star of Bethlehem could have been a comet or a supernova. Julius Caesar’s death in 44 BC saw the appearance of a comet, which was taken as a sign that Caesar had ascended to the gods and become a deity. There were even coins minted to celebrate this event.
Augustus, who had taken power following the death of Caesar, used the comet to cement his legitimacy as the heir of Caesar, which led to him becoming the first Roman Emperor, and the transformation of the Republic into the Empire, which would continue to exist in in some form until the 15th century.
Perhaps, if this comet had not appeared, Augustus would not have been able to consolidate power as effectively as he did. Perhaps when he died the Roman state would revert back to its Republican form, instead of accepting new emperors. If Rome never became an empire, the world today would likely be unrecognisable.
In a past post I also talked about how the native civilisations of Central America such as the Aztecs may have developed their practice of sacrifice and offering a heart to their sun god due to an eclipse that occurred long ago in their history.
This practice of sacrifice led to the Aztecs sacrificing prisoners of war they had captured in their wars against their neighbours. This bred hatred of the Aztecs amongst these neighbours. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they were easily able to find allies in their conflict against the Aztecs – all their neighbours despised them, and would gladly help to see the end of the Aztec Empire.
Perhaps if some cosmic event did not occur in their history, no sacrificial practices would be developed. The neighbours of the Aztecs would not have as much reason to despise them so vehemently. They may not have aided the foreign conquerors. The Spanish would not have found conquest to be so easy, and perhaps they would have failed. Perhaps the Aztecs would still be a civilisation which exists in the modern day.
The ignorance of the reality of the true nature of a cosmic events has been known to have been exploited by those who do understand it, as is the case when Christopher Columbus found himself stranded in the Caribbean with hostile natives.
Columbus and his crew were stranded on Jamaica and in need of food. While the natives had initially welcomed the explorers and provided them with food, his crew had stolen from them, causing the natives to halt the food supply.
Columbus knew of an impending total lunar eclipse which would happen on March 1, 1504.
He proceeded to warn the leader of the natives that his god was angry at them for their treatment of the explorers, and stated that his god would provide a clear sign of his displeasure by making the rising full moon to appear “inflamed with wrath”.
Sure enough, the lunar eclipse caused the moon to turn red on the night of March 1, and the terrified natives rushed to bring food and provisions to the explorers.
Columbus accepted the food, told the natives he was going to “pray”, and when the lunar eclipse ended, he informed the natives his god had forgiven them.
This event may have made it easier for Christian missionaries in the future to convert the natives to Christianity.
The examples I have talked about above are what has come down to us through recorded sources – but there would be many more examples of celestial events influencing history that were never recorded.
What must the first people who saw an eclipse thought? Or a comet? Or a supernova?
I don’t believe it is a stretch to believe that many of the world’s religions had their origins through some sort of cosmic event.
Humanity has an urge to understand things, things must have explanations. Without the resources available to properly study and determine the reality of such events, we resort to magic and mysticism.
Imagine not knowing what a lunar eclipse was. Imagine going outside at night and seeing the moon blood red. What must you think of that? Maybe it is a demon eating the moon. Maybe it is a bad omen. Maybe our gods are angry at us. It is not hard to see where these thoughts can come from.