Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Above, Easter Below – Part I

Pietro Lorenzetti (1320)
Public Domain Picture from Wikipedia

Silence and contemplation are of course important, yet the mind also needs "food for thought"And since an important aspect of inner development is the process of understanding the cycles of evolution mirrored on sacred art, today we open a series of posts in order to look into a very ancient and important question: 

All sacred scriptures have at least seven levels of interpretation that complement each other and can help us to know ourselves. One of these levels was re-discovered by scholars such as Volney, Depuis and Kersey Graves during the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries and studied under the name of "astro-theology". And we will now approach it within the context of the Christian Easter, in synchrony with the spiritual interpretation, leaving also an open door for the historical Jesus, question that will be addressed later:

With some keys, it is rather easy to follow the stories of the Gospels as a perfect image of the Sun’s Journey along the path of the Ecliptic, the legenday Hero’s Journey which also takes place within us. As Above, so Below, said the Hermetists; On Earth as it is in Heaven, the Christian prayer.

Several of the solar stages are represented in Easter time, which begins with Palm Sunday –four days ago this year–. In the King James' version of the New Testament, Matthew, Chapter 21, it starts as follows:

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied , and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say , The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done , that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying , 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold , thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass and a colt, the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went , and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon . 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before , and that followed , cried , saying , Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 

When we read this text holding a certain key, things fall easily into place, even the apparent contradictions between the synoptic Gospels. In principle it may be annoying to find that the Gospel of Mark begins this  episode with a little variation on the text that even  makes scholars think the writer ignored the geography. In Mark Ch 9:1 we read:  and when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives.

Why did he intoduced Bethany? To make it short, this was possibly done to get the reader’s attention, since it can perfectly be read as Bethanu, a Semithic translation of House of Anu, the Egyptian god of Heliopolis, City of the Sun. 

But, more importanly, we should notice that Jesus’ ministry begins at the age of "twelve" and lasts one year, that is, twelve months, exactly the time the Sun takes to cross –from an observational viewpoint– the Twelve Houses of the Zodiac. Coincidently, the Gospels present Jesus saying things such as: In my Father's house are many mansions (John Ch14:2); I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John Ch 8:12) or I am the Way (John Ch 14:6). 

Furthermore, Jesus chooses "twelve disciples" and his ministry unfolds around the so called sea of Galilee –name possibly derived from the Hebrew word Galil (circle), reminiscent of the zodiacal wheel; additionally, ancient authors like Porphyry already pointed that the expression “sea of Galilee” is strange, since in Galilee there is only a lake known as Tiberias. Therefore, in this context, the term "sea" might hint at what mythical traditions refer to as Celestial Waters, which are to be found on the Firmament. The great work Hamlet's Mill presents many examples of similar characteristics.

Having said this, we should remember that the passage above starts making reference to “Jerusalem”, place where they went; previous to that, Jesus announced his future passion "three times", and after the first one Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light (Matthew Ch17: 12).

Let’s now wonder why right before entering the city of Jerusalem Jesus meets “two sons of Zebedee” and cures “two blind men”, during his “ascent to Jerusalem”.  What is Jerusalem? Why “two” blindmen in Matthew and “one” in Mark? Who are the Two? There we leave these questions open for those who are curious and want to find out by themselves.

For now let’s simply focus on the order given by Jesus to, again, "two disciples": Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her.  What is that village over against you?

Later on, Jesus advances triunfally among the crowd sitting upon an ass and an colt. What? Sitting upon both animals? What kind of manners are those? Who would do such a silly thing? Some scholars see here  a simple "emphatic expression" that means he was sitting on a donkey, accompanied by a colt. In many translations that phrase is even altered, since many interpreters, more clever than anyone, dare to change or even erase what does not support their doctrine.

Now, what if we are really invited to look into such an “oddity”? Especially when this is stressed in Mark: 
And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 

It has also been said that this is a prophetical fulfilment: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation: lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zechariah Ch 9: 9).

Contradictions and non-sensical images are always a “hint” in sacred art. The Bible is saturated with odd phrases, and coincidently, all "prophecies" and "riddles" seem to make sense when seen as  psychological, mathematical and cosmological views that can never generate confusion and disputes:

To give some examples. Once the Sun crosses the Spring Equinox, it ascends from Aries, the Ram, still as Lamb, of God, but growing in strengh, radiating the fields that are plowed with the help of Oxen, Taurus –the psychological and earthly soils must be always prepared so that the seeds to grow–,  and finally the Sun reaches a Splendour at its highest point on the sky, on June 21st, bringing the longest days and inaugurating the Summer Solstice, Hosanna in the highest, which sounds very much like, “Horus, Sun in the Highest”.

In astronomical terms this corresponds to the moment in which the sun enters the House of Cancer, the Crab. From that point onwards the Sun keeps moving across Leo –another symbol of Jesus, who was also called "victorious" Lion of the Tribe of Judahto which he belonged (Rev Ch5: 5)–. Why victorious?

This retrograde action of leaving the Solstitial splendour behind, moving towards the Autumnal Equinox, was simbolized by the sideways movement of the Crab, namely, Cancer, a rather faint constellation that curiously gives shelter to two prominent stars,  known in ancient days as “asselus borealis” and “asselus australis”, the “two asses”; interestingly enough, the sign of the Crab was also represented with two donkey tails that seem to form the number 69. And these “donkeys” are close to a bright cluster of stars known as Beehive or Manger –Praesepe in Latin–. It is too much of a coincidence that a couple of asses reappear later, during the birth of Jesus, at the manger, –perhaps as a reminder of the whole process that led to his Death and Resurrection–. 

On the other hand, from a spiritual point of view, these pictures point to the way of knowing and conquering the stubborn "donkey mind" that is afraid of following the higher commands of the inner Divinity. It does not seem coincidence that in the English language, the donkey is also designated with the word that points to the lowest part of the human being, as anyone can guess.

As we can see, true art does not show anything randomly. Nevertheless, despite it is true that the Gospels are full of striking parallelisms like these and their whole story can be read in psychological, mathematical and cosmological terms, the view of "astro-theology" has become central for many scholars who tend to think the Christian myth was a “forgery” contrived to rule over the masses. However, this is an oversimplification, since these teachings are still a tool of inner transformation and could never be forged by tyrans. 

Moreover, it is necessary to distinguish between the idea of the Christ –which is an “archetype of Consciousness” rather than a person–, and the possibility of existence of a historical man that may have embodied such a level of inner development at a particular place and point in time, for a specific reason, as several traditions defend. Hopefully we will examine this issue in the following Easter posts.

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