In the sky, by Gemini

December 7, 2013 

Many an old-time seaman whose adventurings have been lost to the blur of history would include in his tales an expletive of “by Jiminy!” This expression gained a reputation as a form of blasphemy or cursing. However, there is more to the story.

The expression is founded upon an ancient Grecian tale describing an early winter storm that took place long before the month of December was created. This tale features Helen of Troy, a lady so beautiful her face and form are credited with launching a thousand ships and bringing about the lengthy and catastrophic Trojan Wars. Her children included twin sons, Castor and Pollux, adventurers, skilled seamen and outstanding navigators, who told of encountering a great storm that overwhelmed entire fleets.

The disaster came about when the constellation of Pleiades was high overhead – a celestial signpost that presents infallible warnings that shortening days accompanied by winter storms are close at hand.

Through their exemplary seamanship and navigational skills, the brothers and their crews survived to report how the ship and its crew of Argonauts were saved during this seasonal storm of unprecedented fury. Their version (confirmed by Paul in the 11th verse of Acts 28) suggested the two brightest stars of Pleiades, a group within the Gemini constellation that appeared high overhead at the time of their adventure, should be named in their honor. Thus all seafarers thereafter would declare their fidelity by repeating the seaman’s oath: “by Gemini.”

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