Passion of the People – 1.2.3

 Stories and Fables

Who are the “Gemini Twins?” Where did Sagittarius come from? Why would anyone ever choose a bear or a dog as a constellation? Many people have read and learned a great deal about the Constellations, and a few have an idea of what each of the 88 groups of stars represent. In fact, it is the legends and myths that tell us about the history of the constellations, because people of all times have tried to decipher and demystify these constellations on the background of their knowledge.

For thousands of years, every culture on earth has gazed up at the heavens in wonder and found pictures hidden amid the stars. Ancient cultures across the world saw these patterns in different ways, often linking them to legends that were told among their people or the local fauna and flora, or creating new myths from the shapes they saw. Rich myths and legends are woven across the night sky: Orion with his hunting dogs and belt of three bright stars; Selene, the bewitching goddess of the moon, who fell in love with a mortal; the four brave hunters who endlessly pursue a great bear across the sky; Draco the dragon, warrior of Titans; and other stories from ancient Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, Scandinavia, Native America, and around the world.

These stories and legends let us embark on an epic journey of discovery through the myths, scriptures and sacred stories of the night sky – and the evidence that they are virtually all based upon a common system of celestial metaphor. E.g. for the Greeks, stars were a way of preserving folklore and mythology. The images depicted in their constellations are of heroes and beasts who received a place among the stars as a tribute for their deeds on Earth. They were regarded as semi-divine spirits – living, conscious entities which strode across the heavens. The ancient Egyptians’ celestial tapestry was populated by images of animals, symbols and divinities that were important for understanding the Egyptian interpretation of the cosmos. In all cultures, these legends are found as attempts at the intellectual appropriation of constellations, to which special meanings have always been attributed.

Orion Constellation – Image by sl1990 from Pixabay

Constellation Big Bear – Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Constellations – Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Constellation swan – Image by Dorothe from Pixabay

Constellations Perseus and Andromeda – Image by Dorothe from Pixabay

Further Resources

Links below will redirect you to external websites. In accordance with the European data protection declarations, we would like to point out that by clicking on these links you may send data to external providers. We cannot prevent that. 


“Sky Stories: Myths & Legends in the Stars”!

Star Myths: Discover the Constellations and the Greek Mythology Behind Them

Messages people have seen in the stars through the millennia

A story from Greek mythology, the tragic love story of Artemis and Orion.

Stories in the Stars: Orion the Hunter

Miti e leggende dalla costellazione di Orione – DropSea

Online Resources

Das Universum ist voll mit Sternen, Galaxien, Planeten und jeder Menge anderer cooler Dinge. Jedes davon hat seine Geschichten, und die Sternengeschichten erzählen sie.

„Sternengeschichten“ ist ein Podcast über Sterne und das Universum.

Author Emma Taggart tells the stories of ten legendary constellations (according to Greek mythology)

La Costellazione di Orione, tra mito e leggenda – Passione Astronomia

Further Readings

Legends of the Stars: Myths of the Night Sky (S.A. Caldwell)

Star Myths of the World, Volume Two (David Warner Mathisen)

The Constellations: Myths of the Stars (Errol Jud Coder)

The Barefoot Book of Stories from the Stars (Juliet Sharman-Burke)

Star Stories: Constellations and People (Anthony Aveni)

A Walk through the Heavens – A Guide to Stars and Constellations and their Legends (Milton D. HeifetzWil Tirion)

Teaching Material

Star Stories

The Star Walk App

A collection of 15 stargazing apps for android and iphone

For Kids

Myths, Legends, and Sacred Stories: A Children’s Encyclopedia (Philip Wilkinson)

Stories in the stars

Myth of Orion: Constellation Quest – Astronomy for Kids, FreeSchool

Die Sterntaler – Märchen und Geschichten für Kinder

Favole e racconti brevi che parlano di “stelle” – Ti racconto una fiaba