image: Wikimedia commons (link).
The previous post explored the stacks of evidence which suggest that the Vision of Ezekiel, one of the most important (and most argued-over) passages of ancient Hebrew scripture -- in which the prophet describes a "whirlwind" from the north, and "wheels within wheels," and the "likenesses" of four living creatures out of the midst of them -- is in fact an esoteric depiction of the awesome celestial machinery which turns the heavens throughout the year, and that those four likenesses correspond to the zodiac signs governing the points of the two solstices (summer and winter) and the two equinoxes (spring and fall).
That post also shows that the some of the earliest "church fathers" of the literalist Christian church -- including Irenaeus (c. AD 130 - AD 202), Jerome (AD 320 - AD 420), and Augustine (AD 354 - AD 430) explicitly connected the Four Gospels of what is referred to as the New Testament to those four likenesses from the Vision of Ezekiel, assigning the winged Man, Lion, Ox and Eagle to the Four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (although there is some disagreement about who specifically corresponds to what).
We also saw that Irenaeus even went so far as to state that the gospels must be four in number, to create "four pillars" which correspond to the four zones of the earth or the four winds of the heavens -- and from his statements and from the explicit clues within the text of Ezekiel we can almost certainly establish these four creatures with "four zones" within the great wheel of the zodiac, corresponding to the signs of Taurus for the Bull or Ox, Leo for the Lion, Scorpio for the Eagle (the Eagle being directly above Scorpio in the Milky Way as seen by observers in the northern hemisphere), and Aquarius for the Man.
In the first chapter of Ezekiel, where this famous vision is introduced, these four "likenesses" are described as "running and returning," as going "every one straight forward," as "turning not when they went" but rather going "every one straight forward," and as having a time in which they were "lifted up from the earth" (verses 19 and 21) as well as apparently being "like the appearance of lamps" which "went up and down" (verse 13). From all these we can see that the four "likenesses" are almost certainly referring to groups of stars which can be seen to form a "likeness" to beings such as Lions or Bulls -- in other words, constellations -- and which travel through the sky in exactly the manner indicated by the various descriptions in Ezekiel chapter 1.
However, in the tenth chapter of Ezekiel, the scripture text uses a different term to describe the subjects of this vision: in addition to talking about "likenesses," the text reintroduces them but this time in the midst of much description of "cherubim" (or "cherubims," in the Geneva 1599 and King James 1611 translations), while still referring to four faces and turning wheels. Now, however, there are several verses referring to the carrying of burning coals in the hand, mainly in the hands of the cherubim, hands which they are described as having under their wings.
The term cherubim, of course, seems to refer to an order of angelic beings in the Biblical scriptures -- as does the term seraphim. In Genesis 3:24, for example, we are told that cherubims and a flaming sword are placed at the "east of Eden" to prevent Adam and Eve from returning to the Paradise Garden from whence they have been expelled. In numerous passages in Exodus and beyond, cherubim are described as facing one another on the "mercy seat" which is on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. And, in the Vision of Isaiah described in Isaiah chapter 6, seraphim which are also described as having multiple wings and carrying burning coals, in much the same way as the cherubim of Ezekiel 10.
If we have established that the "likenesses" of Ezekiel 1 refer to zodiac constellations, and if Ezekiel 10 seems to have connections to the description in Ezekiel 1 while introducing the term "cherubims," does it follow that the cherubim described in Biblical scripture refer to the zodiac constellations?
Because of the additional reference to "burning coals" in Ezekiel 10, and to the carrying of these coals in the hand (both in the Ezekiel 10 descriptions and in the Isaiah 6 description of the seraphim doing the same thing of carrying coals in their hand), I believe that the cherubim introduced into the description of the likenesses and wheels refer to very specific, very bright stars in each of the four zodiac constellations, which are "carried" aloft by the same motive force (the wings) which turns the entire set of wheels within wheels.
It just so happens that the four zodiac constellations which dominated the four equinox and solstice points of the annual cycle during the Age of Taurus -- the Bull, the Lion, the Scorpion and the Water-Bearer of Aquarius -- each contain (or "carry" with them) a first-magnitude star. It may well be that the cherubim and seraphim describe the highest orders of stars in the "heavenly host," with the first-magnitude stars perhaps corresponding to the cherubim, and the second-magnitude stars perhaps corresponding to the seraphim (or, perhaps the seraphim are the very brightest of stars -- those with magnitudes that put them at the very top of the list of the brightest stars in the night sky).
The four cherubim with their burning coals in these four zodiac constellations would thus be:
- Aldebaran in the zodiac constellation of Taurus, a very bright red-orange star of 1st magnitude (and the 13th brightest in the night sky according to H.A. Rey).
- Regulus in the zodiac constellation of Leo, a bright blue-white star of 1st magnitude (and the 21st brightest in the night sky according to H.A. Rey).
- Antares in the zodiac constellation of Scorpio, a very bright red star of 1st magnitude (and the 15th brightest in the night sky according to H.A. Rey). Note that for those who argue that using Antares is somehow "not fair," since Ezekiel specifically refers to an "Eagle" and not to a "Scorpion," we can point out that the constellation of the Eagle which is directly above the Scorpion also contains a first-magnitude star: Altair, a very bright yellowish-white star of 1st magnitude which is the 12th brightest in the night sky according to H. A. Rey. However, I agree with Taylor that Antares is probably the cherubim or first-magnitude star in question, for reasons discussed below.
- Fomalhaut in Piscis Austrinus, the "Southern Fish," immediately below the zodiac constellation of Aquarius and showered with the water streaming down from his jug or pitcher, a bright bluish-white star of 1st magnitude (and the 18th brightest in the night sky according to H.A. Rey).
Again, according to this interpretation, the "four likenesses" (of the Ox, Lion, Eagle, and Man) correspond to four specific zodiac signs (of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio-Aquila, and Aquarius), which marked the "four pillars" of the year during the Age of Taurus (when Taurus ruled the spring equinox, Leo ruled the summer solstice, Scorpio ruled the fall equinox, and Aquarius ruled the winter solstice).
The authors of Hamlet's Mill also explain that the "four corners of the earth" referred to in many ancient myths and sacred traditions can be shown by extensive evidence to correspond to these four important stations (and their zodiac constellations -- the "likenesses") in any successive "Age" of the zodiac, and that the inexorable grind of precession would eventually bring about the destruction of the earth and the formation of "a new heavens and a new earth" at the dawning of the next precessional Age (see especially the discussion in Hamlet's Mill pages 58 and 59, in the chapter entitled "Intermezzo: a Guide for the Perplexed"). They specifically refer to these four anchor points as "pillars" during that discussion, just as Irenaeus does.
However, according to this interpretation, while the "likenesses" are the constellations themselves, the cherubim refer to the bright first-magnitude stars associated with each of those four important Age of Taurus "pillar constellations" -- specifically Aldebaran, Regulus, Antares, and Fomalhaut.
Interestingly enough, the Reverend Robert Taylor (1784 - 1844) also connects these important four stars with the Four Evangelists, and notes that the names given to the Four Gospel texts seem to specifically hint that they are referring to stars.
In the lecture entitled "Saint Matthew: A Sermon" delivered on May 19, 1831, contained in the collection of his lectures entitled The Devil's Pulpit, published in 1857, Robert Taylor explains:
Saints they were called, and Saints really they are, that name signifying, as its derivation betrays, Suns, as each of the fixed Stars is a Sun; and which the circular halo of rays, with which the heads of their effigies were surrounded, expressly acknowledged; evangelists they were, because their office was "to preach the acceptable year of the Lord," and to mark the predicament of EVAN -- that is, of Bacchus, the Sun, through the four seasons.
FOUR they are, because there are but four seasons of the year, over which these four royal Stars preside.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John they are names [. . .] betraying in their derivation the most accurate description of the four royal Stars.
Regulus, which is Saint Matthew, or Cor Leonis, the heart of the lion, which the Sun enters about the 2d of July, and leaves about the 23d of August, when the earth begins to give her fruits; and thence this Star gets the name of Saint Mat Thew, which is, most literally, the Sun, the gift, the God, the most expressive designation of the Sun's bounty, and of the heat at that season. [. . .]
Fomalhaut, in the Fishes' mouth, Jonah in the whale's belly, swallowing the water which is effused from the urn of the Aquarius of January, is the Saint Mark.
That word Marcus literally signifying the polite or shining one, the most beautiful definition you could invent for the shining Formalhaut [this is how Taylor's publisher spells the name of this star, which today is not usually spelled with an r], who is the only one of the four whose accompanying genius is a human being, Marcus being believed to have composed his gospel under the direction of Saint Peter: and here, sirs, is Peter, pouring it forth, and Mark swallowing it, as fast as he can swallow; and I need not tell you that there's a good deal for him to swallow.
Aldebaran is the bull's eye, the unequivocal elymon, both of the name and symbol of St. Luke, with his bull.
The word Luke, literally signifying the luminous, the very term than which you could find no other to express the magnificent red-looking Star, which you see a little above, and westward of Orion, and which you have never looked at the Stars in your lives, nor, I guess, at any thing else, if you have not seen, and which the Sun is directly upon, about the 28th of May.
ANTARES, in the Scorpion, which the Sun is directly upon, on the 29th of November, is Saint Joun: that I, the One; Own, the Being; ES, the Fire: this being the brightest of them all, the disciple which Jesus loved, -- que les Romains appelaient Parieilienne.
[. . .]
They could not have been named with names more expressive of their appearance and relations than
Mat Thew, the giving God.
Marc, the polished.
Luke, the respondent.
John, the Fiery
Regulus, the Little King.
For-mal-haut, the Arabic for the Fishes' Mouth.
Aldebaran, the Arabic for the Bull's Eye: and
Antares, the Scorpion's Heart.
-- Devil's Pulpit, 327 - 329.
In addition to having names appropriate to stars, Taylor argues that the reddish color of Aldebaran and Antares, in Taurus the sign of the spring equinox and Scorpio the sign of the fall equinox, corresponding in Taylor's analysis to Luke and John, is extremely appropriate, since the equinox points are those fiery points where the sun's ecliptic path crosses the celestial equator (329).
This connection of the fiery colors of the two first-magnitude stars (orange-red Aldebaran in Taurus and bright-red Antares in Scorpio) in the signs governing the two equinoxes is extremely significant, in that the authors of Hamlet's Mill demonstrate fairly decisively that the ancient system that informs sacred myth the world over indicated the equinoxes with symbology of fire (see for instance the discussion on page 159).
Note also that in the symbology of the mysterious meeting places of Mithraism known as mithraea , two figures often appear, each of them holding a single torch, one torch pointing up and one pointing down -- and that in the analysis of Mithraic scholar Dr. David Ulansey, these two figures with their torches represent the two equinoxes. These two figures are often shown with their legs crossed in a distinctive manner, which Dr. Ulansey argues convincingly to be another clue that these figures are the two equinoxes, one being the spring equinox where the sun and the day's ecliptic line cross the celestial equator going up (indicated by a torch pointing upwards), and one being the fall equinox where the sun and the day's ecliptic line cross the celestial equator going down (indicated by a torch pointing downwards). See for instance Professor Ulansey's analysis of these and other Mithraic symbols in his essential book Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, 1991. The important equinoctial symbolism of the torch-bearers is discussed in previous blog posts such as this one.
It is very satisfying and revealing that the two first-magnitude stars associated with the equinox-ruling constellations during the Age of Taurus are a fiery red or red-orange in color.
Thus, we have in the Vision of Ezekiel as described in chapters 1 and 10 a connection to the governing signs of the Age of Taurus, as well as to the first-magnitude stars (or cherubim) associated with those important signs -- and we have in the testimony of some of the most important early literalist teachers (including Irenaeus, Jerome, and Augustine) the explicit connection of those signs and their first-magnitude stars to the Saints in whose name each of the Four Gospels are describes as being given "according to."
It is worth noting that, according to the analysis I present in The Undying Stars, which builds upon a theory articulated by Flavio Barbiero, the twin systems of Mithraism and literalist Christianity were launched by persons who were very knowledgeable in the ancient esoteric mythologies, as a kind of "two-pronged attack" to take over the levers of power of the Roman Empire from within.
It is very interesting that the symbology of the mithraea always centers around the prominent scene of the Tauroctony in which the figure of Mithras is depicted slaying an enormous Bull, which Professor Ulansey argues to have to do with the shifting of the Age of Taurus.
Now, we have fairly conclusively shown that the symbology of the Four Gospels and their Four Evangelists are also clearly connected to the symbology of the Age of Taurus as well. This is a significant correspondence between the esoteric symbology at the very basis of the two vehicles which I believe (based upon the analysis done by Flavio Barbiero, and some additional evidence and analysis of my own) were deployed together as part of a plan to gain control of the Roman Empire (a plan which can be seen to have been fully successful by the time of the accession to the throne of the Emperor Constantine, and which had its one of its first major victories upon the accession of the Emperor Commodus, as discussed here).
Further, this analysis shows that the Four Ev-Angel-ists themselves appear to be the New Testament manifestation of four specific members of the class of Angels known as cherubim, those important fiery beings holding the first or perhaps second rank among the heavenly host, and to correspond specifically in this case to the stars Aldebaran, Regulus, Antares, and Fomalhaut.
The possibility that the cherubim and seraphim and other countless angels of the heavenly host correspond to the stars in the heavens is most appropriate, as the angels often act as messengers (their name angel, in fact, is often said derive from angelos, a Greek word meaning "messenger"), and because it is the stars themselves which convey to us the esoteric message contained within the ancient sacred stories and myths, by their mighty turnings which are so well described in the mystical language of the prophet Ezekiel.
The evidence suggesting that the Four Evangelists after whom the four canonical New Testament Gospels are called are actually names descriptive of first-magnitude stars, and even more specifically that they personifications of the first-magnitude stars associated with the zodiac signs which formed the four pillars that supported "heaven and earth" during the Age of Taurus, also seems to indicate that aspects of the "New" Testament scriptures may contain elements of ancient wisdom which is a lot older than most of us have been led to believe.