(all-see-on-eh / all-see-on-eh / all-see-own / all-sigh-on-eh)

There are two stories of two Alcyones in Greek, and later Roman, mythology. There is a long passage in Ovid's "Metamorphoses" that tells the first story of Alcyone and Ceyx. The second story relates the fate of Alcyone, the most beautiful of seven daughters of Atlas. In both stories Alcyone becomes a bird.

Alcyone and Ceyx

Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, king of the winds. Her husband was Ceyx the king of Thessaly. He was the son of Lucifer, the light bringer, the Morning Star that brings in the day.

Alcyone and Ceyx were very much in love. Alcyone compared their earthly wedded bliss to that in heaven and, in the wild abandon of pillow talk, dared called herself Hera and her husband Zeus, which infuriated the king and queen of the gods. Ceyx set off to visit the oracle and, whilst at sea, Zeus hurled a thunderbolt at Ceyx's ship, drowning him.

Time passed, and Alcyone waited patiently for Ceyx's return. She prayed nightly to Hera to safeguard her beloved husband, and the goddess was touched by her earnest prayers for a man already dead. Hera sent Iris, the messenger of the gods, to Hypnos, the old god of sleep, to ask him send to Alcyone a vision in the shape of Ceyx to tell her the truth about his death. Hypnos sent his son, Morpheus, to visit Alcyone in a dream. Morpheus assumed the shape of the drowned Ceyx.

Distraught, Alcyone went to the shore and threw herself into the sea. There she saw the body of her husband floating on the water and she swam out to join him. The gods pitied the woeful couple and transformed them into kingfishers.

Joined again in love, they built their nest on the banks of the Aegean at the time of the winter solstice, as kingfishers do. Alcyone's father Aeolus, king of the winds, commanded the seas to be quiet and the winds to be calm while the eggs would hatch.

And so the week before and the week after the winter solstice is traditionally a time for calm weather in the Mediterranean and these days are known as Alcyone's Days. Later they were called the halcyon days and the kingfisher is known as the halcyon bird.

The Pleiades: The Seven Sisters

The Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, and Alcyone was the most beautiful of the sisters. The Pleiades were the virgin companions of Artemis, goddess of the wild nature and hunting. When Orion, giant and courageous hunter, started to pursue them they fled before him and he could never seize any of them. Still he continued to follow them and they prayed to the gods for rescue.

Zeus, pitying them, metamorphosed them in a flock of doves. They flew into the sky and, finding themselves lost, huddled together. Zeus turned them into stars and placed them in the Celestial Sphere in the constellation of Taurus, situated on the shoulder blade of the Bull, where now Alcyone, the most beautiful one and the brightest star, shines between her sisters. The Pleiades are Alcyone, Electra, Celaeno, Maia, Sterope, Merope and Taygete. Alcyone is the navigational star.