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Lawyer and stargazer to speak on ancient myths


7 March 2002
Academic, lawyer and stargazer Munya Andrews - of Aboriginal (Bardi) lineage from the Kimberley region in WA - will speak at Southern Cross University next Tuesday, March 19, on ancient myths associated with the Seven Sisters star cluster.

Ms Andrews, a lecturer in the College of Indigenous Australian Peoples (CIAP) at SCU, has just completed the manuscript for a book called 'The Dreaming of the Seven Sisters... Multicultural Perspectives of the Pleiades Star Cluster'.

"I'm looking at a number of cultural stories on the Pleiades, commonly known as the Seven Sisters across the world, and the similarities between them," she said. Ms Andrews will focus on the Aboriginal, Greek, Japanese, Native American, Egyptian and Indian versions.

Her grandmother first told her the story of the Seven Sisters when she was a child, telling her they were related to the Sisters, and she has been interested in the stars ever since, studying the cultural myths associated with them for the past 15 years.

"It's a universal myth: it's a Dreaming that's shared by all peoples, because it's a story about our common origins," she said.

Ms Andrews, who lives in Byron Bay, is an amateur astronomer and studies the stars through her telescope most nights. The Pleiades appear in the sky over the earth from November to February roughly. She said their appearance marked the start of the year for some ancient peoples, pre-dating the lunar and solar calendars.

Most of the myths about the star cluster refer to six or seven sisters, predominantly seven. Ms Andrews also looks at the mystical significance of the number seven. They generally refer to the girls being chased by a man or group of men, and with a common theme of lost or missing sister. There is often a mention of honey, for instance in the Greek myth one of the sisters is called Honey-Eater and another is called Bee Keeper. Honey was highly valued in the ancient world as a food and medicine and for other purposes, such as embalming mummies in ancient Egypt because of honey's anti-bacterial/preservative properties.

Munya Andrews' seminar will be held on Tuesday, March 19, from 12 noon - 1.30pm, in Lecture theatre B2.31 (B-block, Level 2) at Southern Cross University.

For more information contact: Christine Franks, College of Indigenous

Australian Peoples, SCU, ph: 02 6620 3955, or Sara Crowe, Media Unit,

Directorate of Marketing and External Relations, SCU, ph: 6620 3144.