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The Gospel of Thomas and the Everlasting Spring

The Gospel of Thomas and the Everlasting Spring

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

We're currently engaged in an examination of some of the ancient texts found buried at the base of the Jabal al-Tarif near Nag Hammadi in Egypt, for evidence of teachings which resonate with the teachings conveyed by other Star Myths around the world.

The previous post examined the Gospel of Thomas, found in Nag Hammadi codex 2, and argued that it is using a powerful esoteric metaphor to teach us that we are beings composed of two natures, that we are like a "set of twins," but contained within one being. We have our human, incarnate, doubting side -- but one privileged with the gift of direct access to and intimate communication with the divine, the Christ within, who declares in another manuscript contained in Nag Hammadi codex 2 that Thomas is indeed his twin , his true companion , and the one who will be called his brother.

In section 13 of the Gospel of Thomas, we find the following exchange:

Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like."
Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just messenger."
Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like."
Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the spring that I have tended."
And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you." [link to this translation].

This passage is noteworthy for many reasons.

First, it is very clearly a parallel to an episode found in the canonical gospels (those which, unlike those texts buried at Nag Hammadi, were included in the "approved list" of texts that eventually came to be called the "New Testament"): specifically, the mountaintop experience recounted in Matthew 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9, in which Jesus asks "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" and then "But whom say ye that I am?" 

In the versions included in the canonical gospels, it is Simon Peter who gives an answer that Jesus approves. In this version, it is Thomas -- and the answer that Thomas gives is different from that given by Peter in the canonical gospels. Thomas here says, in answer to the question, that his mouth is "utterly unable to say" what Jesus is like.

This answer is actually very profound, in that it is expressing the idea that the one with whom Thomas is conversing cannot be defined, cannot be labeled, cannot be delineated: he is utterly unable to be framed or contained by the faculty of language. This answer immediately points to the previous discussion in the posts: "Self, the senses and the mind," in which a distinction is made between the mind (with its endless attempts to define and describe and discriminate and delineate) and the infinite and ineffable Supreme Source which is behind and above mind, and of which Sri B. K. S. Iyengar, in commenting upon the teaching of the Vedas upon this subject, declares:

The mind cannot find words to describe the state and the tongue fails to utter them. Comparing the experience of samadhi with other experiences, the sages say: 'Neti! Neti!' -- 'It is not this! It is not this!' The state can only be expressed by profound silence. The yogi has departed from the material world and is merged with the Eternal. There is then no duality between the knower and the known for they are merged like camphor and flame. Light on Yoga, 52.

Note how well the above statement reflects the sentiment dramatized in the Thomas Gospel. Thomas declares that he can only say, "I am unable to say!" In other words, he must declare "Neti! Neti!" like the sages described by B. K. S. Iyengar and the teachings of ancient India. 

Further, in the description of Sri Iyengar, we see the assertion that there is in fact a merging of the yogi with the Eternal: there is no duality between the two; they merge like camphor and flame. The previous post makes the argument that the Nag Hammadi texts express this same idea by declaring that Thomas and the one who is ineffable, who cannot be described, are in fact twins. They are, in some mysterious sense, merged. There is no duality between them. In the words of the Hebrew scriptures in the book of Proverbs, the heavenly friend is the one who "sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18: 24).

In other words, the Nag Hammadi text of the Thomas Gospel is trying to convey to us that in our incarnate condition we are like Thomas: we are intimately connected to the infinite, the ineffable, the Eternal -- so closely that we are "twinned;" we are "merged like camphor and flame." 

And, this one with whom we are so close is in fact the un-namable, the undefinable: the Ultimate. In the Bhagavad Gita, this is expressed by Arjuna's divine companion and confidant, the Lord Krishna, who declares that: "The entire universe is pervaded by me" (section 9),  "I am the origin of all. Everything emanates from me. [. . .] There is no end of my divine manifestations" (section 10). Krishna then displays his ultimate form, and shows Arjuna that his divine companion is indeed unbounded, unlimited, unable to be described with words, endless and infinite.

The same is declared in the Hymn to Durga which is found in the Mahabharata immediately prior to the Bhagavad Gita, in which the goddess Durga is also declared to be "identical with Brahman [. . .] the unconsciousness [. . .] the beauty of all creatures [. . .]" (Book I, section 23). The fact that she appears to Arjuna immediately upon his meditation upon her and his hymn of praise to her indicates the same teaching that we have been exploring above: there is so little distance between the human being and the deity that they are as close as the camphor and the flame, they are closer than even the closest of brothers, they are twinned: the mortal with the immortal (like Castor and Pollux).

After Thomas declares that his mouth is utterly unable to say what the divine one is like, Jesus then declares to him that: 1) Jesus is not his teacher, and 2) that Thomas has drunk from the spring which Jesus has tended, and it is this spring which has made Thomas drunk.

This aspect of the passage is also extremely noteworthy. Thomas began his "confession" by saying "Teacher," but Jesus in a sense rebukes him and says "I am not your teacher." This might be interpreted as telling us that he is not separate from Thomas: there is not an external one to whom Thomas must look for guidance. The divine is within Thomas himself.

This interpretation might be seen as comporting very well with the declaration of Paul in the epistle to the Galatians, in chapter 1 and verse 16, in which Paul can be interpreted as saying that when God revealed the Christ in him, he did not confer with any teacher. 

This interpretation is strengthened by the next metaphor, in which Jesus declares that Thomas has obtained this insight because Thomas has drunk from the spring which Jesus has tended. In other words, according to this passage in the Nag Hammadi text, Jesus is here declaring that his role is as the one who tends to the spring (almost like a barista who tends to the coffee that is given to those who come looking for it). 

This declaration is very interesting in light of the passage in the canonical gospel of John describing the episode of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (at Jacob's well, in fact): Jesus tells her that he has living water that one can have and never thirst again, and then explains that this living water is within her. In verse 14 of John 4, Jesus says that this water can be in anyone a well of living water (unending water, unlimited water), "springing up into everlasting life." In other words, he is tending a spring which is infinite in nature, but which is available to each person internally

Based on this declaration found in John 4:14, and the declaration found here in the Thomas Gospel section 13 that Jesus is tending the spring, it does not seem too far of a stretch to conclude that the spring from which Thomas has drunk is the everlasting or infinite and Eternal spring within himself (within Thomas). Thomas is connected with the infinite, not externally but in himself.

Again, it bears repeating that this passage of ancient scripture is not intended to be understood as describing some ancient enlightened being named Thomas, who was different from ourselves. It is intended to convey to us a truth about each and every human soul who comes into this material life: we, like the "Thomas" in the text, are actually a composite being, a dual being -- a "set of twins," in which we usually identify with only the human aspect but which has a hidden or forgotten connection to the divine or the infinite or the eternal: a "divine twin," but our divine twin is not external to ourselves. 

Switching to a different metaphor, the text shows us that the divine or infinite or Eternal is already within us, like an everlasting or unending spring, from which we can drink.

In the beginning of the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus declares: "When you know yourself, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty" (section 3). This parallels the metaphor discussed in the previous post regarding the Gospel of Thomas, which says we are like one who has a field but is unaware of the treasure buried within that field.

Ultimately, then, the purpose of this ancient text seems to be identical to the famous dictum of the temple at Delphi: "Know thyself." 

Note that the temple at Delphi was closed under the reign of the Emperor Theodosius, after the literalists took control of the Roman Empire, in the year AD 390 -- during the same second half of the fourth century AD in which scholars believe the Nag Hammadi texts were hidden and buried, possibly due to persecution by the ascendent literalist hierarchy.

The Gospel of Thomas is telling us that if we know the truth, we are actually connected intimately with the ultimate -- with the divine. We are, like Thomas, a twin: a twin to divinity (like Castor was a twin to Pollux). We contain within us a bubbling spring which is connected to Eternity. But, if we remain in ignorance of this fact, we are like the one who had a treasure buried in his or her own field, and never knew about that treasure.

Peter Kingsley, who writes about the ancient knowledge of this internal connection to the infinite, says that when we are disconnected from that infinite source, we become impoverished indeed -- filled with a longing we can never satisfy, and with a hollowness that drives us to chase after substitute after substitute for what we perceive to be missing. This hollowness and chasing after substitutes, not surprisingly, characterizes western civilization (because western civilization almost by definition is directly descended from those cultures that are heir to the Roman Empire which had shut down the temple at Delphi and declared heretical the texts buried at Nag Hammadi). 

As the Gospel of Thomas tells us, if we do not know this truth, this treasure, then we will live in poverty, and will in fact be that poverty (clearly describing spiritual poverty, rather than material poverty, since the rushing after substitutes which Peter Kingsley describes can in many cases produce material wealth, although without corresponding release from the spiritual hollowness).

The worst part about this situation is that the actual solution is already within our grasp: the bubbling spring is already available to each of us. It is that Tao which cannot be named, that Krishna who declares that there is no end to his manifestations, that one of whom Thomas says the mouth is utterly incapable of describing or defining.

But that is also the best part, as well.

The Gospel of Thomas and the Divine Twin

The Gospel of Thomas and the Divine Twin

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Why was an entire "library" of ancient texts carefully sealed in a large storage jar at the base of the steep cliffs of the massif known today as the Jabal al-Tarif, along the banks of the Nile River in Egypt not far from the ancient city of Thebes, sometime during the second half of what we label today as the fourth century AD (the fourth century being the years in the 300s, since the first century AD consists of the years with numbers below 100, such as for example AD 60 or AD 70, causing all the subsequent centuries to have numbers "one higher" than the "hundred multiple" on the year-numbers, which is why the years in the 1900s were the "twentieth century")?

What would be the purpose of carefully sealing an upside-down bowl over the top of the large jar containing these texts, and burying them some distance from the city, underneath the talus at the base of the cliffs?

What was so important about the texts that someone would want to bury them? Were they worried about the texts being stolen? Or was there some other reason?

After this ancient jar was rediscovered in the 1940s (more details about that, along with some maps showing the location of the discovery, are in this previous post), and scholars began to decipher the ancient manuscripts, one possible reason these texts were buried began to suggest itself: these were ancient texts that were not included on the lists of approved writings that church authorities began to publish in the second half of that same fourth century -- and texts that did not make it onto the list of approved writings were no longer safe to have in one's possession (often texts excluded from the approved list were specifically denounced as heretical and spurious by the authorities).

Thus, it is quite possible that someone or some group who personally treasured these texts and their teachings, but did not feel it was safe to keep them in their immediate possession as the pressure against "heretical" texts ratcheted up during the second half of the fourth century, took them up the Nile to the cliffs away from the city and buried them there, fully intending to come back to them at some point in the future.

Apparently they never got the opportunity to go back.

These ancient texts, along with some others that have come to light in more recent discoveries, as well as a very few other fragments and manuscripts that had been found or preserved prior to those found in the jar at the Nag Hammadi, suggest to some researchers a very different history of the early centuries of the Christian church than has traditionally been taught. Some of the evidence can be interpreted as indicating that early teachings very different from what we today think of as "Christian teaching" were forcibly suppressed and driven underground (literally driven "under ground" in the case of the texts buried at Nag Hammadi) during the second, third, and especially fourth centuries, and replaced by an "approved list" of texts and teachings, which were to be interpreted from a primarily literalist perspective. 

In the next few posts, let's briefly examine a few of the ancient texts that were pretty much lost to history for nearly 1,600 years, surviving (as far as we know) only inside that sealed jar buried under the earth beneath the cliffs of Nag Hammadi and safely out of the way for the spread of literalist teachings until that jar was unearthed again in the twentieth century.

When we do so, we will find some teachings which seem to strongly resonate with some of the themes we have been examining recently in our examination of some of the "Star Myths" in the Mahabharata of ancient India, and in the

Bhagavad Gita that is part of the Mahabharata. In fact, we will find teachings in some of those long-buried Nag Hammadi texts that I believe have clear affinity with much that is found in the ancient wisdom preserved in myth and sacred stories literally around the world -- and indeed, that is even found in the texts of what we think of today as the Bible (the texts that did  make it onto those approved lists), but which are more evident in those Biblical texts when they are understood as esoteric allegory rather than as literal accounts.

Previous posts have presented evidence that the stories of the Bible were not intended to be understood as literal history but as esoteric allegory, and that forcing a literal reading onto them has resulted in an interpretation that is pretty much the polar opposite of their intended teaching -- see, for example, this discussion of the Easter cycle, or this discussion of the specific parts of the Easter cycle between the Triumphal Entry and the Betrayal, or this discussion of the Judgment of Solomon.

The entire "library" of texts that have survived from the discovery of that jar at Nag Hammadi (apparently, not all of the texts found in the jar survived, because when they were first found a few of the texts were actually burned as fuel for a cooking fire, according to stories surrounding the discovery) can be found online here, as well as in print form in various translations and collections (such as this collection edited by Nag Hammadi scholar and translator Marvin Meyer).

Out of that collection, we'll just look at a few passages from a couple of texts over the next few days or weeks. However, those interested in learning more can go straight to the Nag Hammadi texts themselves -- although the passages often appear cryptic at first, sometimes quite strange and alien, and even downright off-putting, remember that they are intended to be understood (I believe) as esoteric  allegory and that as such they are intended to convey spiritual truths which our literal or rational mind would "choke on" or reject, but which can often be best absorbed through powerful stories or metaphors.

Remember also that these texts were considered precious enough by someone living in ancient times to bury them, possibly at some risk to themselves, because they couldn't bear to see them destroyed -- and remember as well that the teachings in these texts was apparently considered so dangerous by those trying to spread a different system that these specific texts were literally unavailable after a certain point; they were completely or nearly completely eradicated. 

And, it should be noted, these texts were not marginal or unimportant texts: some of them (such as the one we will discuss in a moment) were mentioned quite often by ancient authors (including literalist Christian authorities, who were denouncing the texts), and so their titles were know to modern scholars even though -- until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library -- their contents could not be consulted (except, in a few very limited cases, in a few fragments that survived, including in one case fragments which survived in a rubbish heap).

One of the most well-known and important of the texts found in that long-buried jar from Nag Hammadi is the text known as The Gospel of Thomas, which introduces itself as a record of the "secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded" (this is the translation version found here, by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer; there are several other versions of English translations available and linked from that location, and it is interesting to read the different translations to try to get additional perspectives on the ancient text). 

This opening line itself offers us some extremely important insights, based on the name "Didymos Judas Thomas" -- the title "Didymos" or "Didymus" for Thomas is also found in the canonical gospel of John (in chapters 11, 20, and 21) and it means "Twin" (as does the name Thomas itself, apparently, but Didymos comes from the Greek word for "Twin" and Thomas comes from the Aramaic word for "Twin").   

Of course, a character specifically identified as a Twin might suggest a connection to the Twins of Gemini, to those who have become familiar with the patterns found in Star Myths around the world, and it is certainly possible that the Thomas character has some connection to the zodiac constellation of Gemini.

However, it is also quite possible that something even more interesting is at work here, something related to the previous discussion entitled "Why divinities can appear in an instant: The inner connection to the Infinite." That post argued that the ancient Star Myths are intended to convey the knowledge to us that even in this incarnate existence, we have inside of us a connection to the infinite: a connection to the divine, what is also described as the "hidden divine spark" or the "god within" (and see other related discussions on this very important subject, such as "Namaste and Amen," or any of the many previous posts about Osiris and the casting down and raising-up-again of the Djed).

How does the character of "Didymos Judas Thomas" convey a related message? The answer comes when we ask, "if Thomas is a twin, who is the other twin in the pair?" After all, that is a natural question to ask if we are reading a story and we are told that a character is a twin, but we are not immediately introduced to the other twin.

Interestingly enough, in another of the Nag Hammadi texts -- and in fact in a text which was bound up together with the Gospel of Thomas in the book-form or "codex" known to Nag Hammadi scholars as "Codex II" -- a text called

The Book of Thomas the Contender, we get a startling answer as to who the other twin of Thomas might be (in the esoteric allegory).

In Section II of The Book of Thomas the Contender, which is called "Dialogue between Thomas and the Savior," we read these words in a sub-section regarding the subject of ignorance and self-knowledge:

The savior said, "Brother Thomas, while you have time in the world, listen to me and I will reveal to you the things you have pondered in your mind. Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist, and how you will come to be. Since you will be called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself . . ."



Did this text just say that the Savior addressed Thomas as "my twin"?

Yes, that is what was asserted in this text. Now, if you are one who wants to interpret literally ancient texts about what the Savior said, then you are probably going to reject this text as being heretical. If you try to take this text literally, it will cause big problems with other texts, such as the scriptures describing the birth of the Savior (in which it is never said that he was born as one in a set of twins, for instance).

But, if you are not troubled with a need to force every ancient scripture into a literal mold, and if you believe that they were not intended to be understood that way, then you can ask yourself what this assertion that Thomas was the twin of the Savior might mean -- what it might have been intended to convey.

As you did so, you might remember that in other ancient mythologies, most notably perhaps in Greek myth, there are sets of twins in which one twin is divine or immortal, and the other twin is human and mortal. These Thomas narratives in the Nag Hammadi texts seem to be resorting to this same metaphor: we have a divine twin ("the living Jesus" as he is called in the opening line of the Gospel of Thomas, and "the Savior" as he is called in the Book of Thomas the Contender), and we have the mortal counterpart, the human twin: Thomas, the one who writes down the sayings for us, which he received from the divine twin.

Now, as we saw at the end of the preceding discussion regarding the "inner connection to the Infinite," there is a passage in the wisdom-book of Proverbs which declares "there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." As that post argued, and presented evidence from myth (particularly myths in which a god or divine being appears instantly, which also happens to be one of the characteristics of the risen Christ) this teaching may well be trying to convey to us the knowledge that our connection to the infinite, to the realm of the gods, is not external to us: it is within us already.

The metaphor of a divine twin and a human twin, such as the Gemini Twins in Greek mythology of Pollux (divine) and Castor (human), may well be referring to just such a concept or teaching. Expressing it in this way can convey this truth to us in a powerful, metaphorical, esoteric manner.

If that is the case, then what we see here in the Gospel of Thomas (and in the Book of Thomas the Contender) may well be conveying the very same truth, just in a slightly different form than it is found in (for example) the Greek myth of Pollux and Castor. In the Nag Hammadi texts mentioned here, Jesus is the divine twin and Thomas is the human twin, but they are not in fact two different entities. This is a teaching about the "Christ within" (which is a teaching also found in the writings of the apostle who called himself Paul, a name which the Reverend Robert Taylor points out is very much linguistically related to Pollux and to Apollo).

We are already, perhaps, getting a sense as to why these texts ended up buried in a large jar in a secret location, where the authorities who had declared such teachings to be "heretical" could not find them and destroy them.

There is much within the Gospel of Thomas itself to back up the interpretation that has been suggested above. In future posts we may have occasion to examine a few more of them, but for now let's just look at another metaphor, offered as a saying of Jesus, found in section 109 of the Gospel of Thomas.

There, in the translation of Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer, Jesus says:

The (Father's) kingdom is like a person who had a treasure hidden in his field but did not know it. And [when] he died he left it to his [son]. The son [did] not know about it either. He took over the field and sold it. The buyer went plowing, [discovered] the treasure, and began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.

This is a very interesting metaphor, and one that suggests that the "treasure" of the infinite is buried away deep inside us like the treasure in the story that lies buried under a field, which can remain there our entire lives without our knowing it. But it is something which we actually already have, if we just knew.

The scriptures appear to be trying to break through our ignorance on this subject, to tell us that we already are connected to something that is actually inexpressible in its infinity (that cannot be quantified or defined or even named, as the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching declare, and that thus lies beyond all the quantifying and labeling and chattering of the part of us that we call our mind).

Thomas is telling us the words of Jesus, but perhaps "Thomas" received these sayings from a divine source that was not external to him (though none the less divine and none the less real for that). In fact, we should not think of the Gospel of Thomas as being about some "twin" who lived thousands of years ago: as Alvin Boyd Kuhn advised us in a passage quoted in several previous posts, we won't understand ancient texts unless we realize that they are about us. Each and every individual soul that incarnates in this world is, according to such a reading, like Thomas: a twin to a living infinite inner divinity, possessed of a friend that sticketh closer than any "external twin" (as close as literal twins are to one another, this twin is even closer).

This teaching is also portrayed in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita, with Arjuna and his companion and divine charioteer, the Lord Krishna (as well as in the episode in which Durga appears before the battle: see videos here and here and additional discussion here).

These are not the messages that are traditionally drawn from the scriptures of the Bible when they are approached with a literalist hermeneutic (because literalist readings necessarily start off by seeing the characters in the text as primarily external to us, since those characters are understood to be literal-historical figures). But they are messages which resonate strongly with all the other myths and sacred traditions of the world -- and they are in fact the messages which I believe these texts were intended to convey to us, before something happened and that message was all but wiped out, around the period of time that the Nag Hammadi library was being sealed away.

Shem, Ham and Japheth

Shem, Ham and Japheth

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In The Undying Stars, I explain that I employ a very broad understanding of the terms "literalist" or "literalism" in categorizing approaches to ancient scriptures. 

On page ii of the preface, for instance, I write that: 

For the purposes of the discussions in this book, all those teachings which assert that these scriptures are primarily intended to be understood as describing literal historical figures are grouped under the term 'literalist," while recognizing that there still exists a wide range within literalism regarding hermeneutics and doctrine.

In other words, in this very broad application of the term, interpreters using a "literalist" hermeneutic may also acknowledge many deep layers of additional metaphorical, typological, and even esoteric meaning in addition to the literal interpretation of what is being described. But if those interpreters are of the opinion that one cannot jettison the literal and historical event while holding on to the additional metaphorical layers (and this position characterizes most of what has been considered "orthodox" doctrine in the west for the past seventeen centuries), then that is what I call a literalist hermeneutic.

Saying an interpretation is broadly "literalist" is not intended to imply that those using that interpretation are unaware or resistant to additional layers of meaning -- but it does imply that they would be most uncomfortable, or even vehemently opposed, to the suggestion that a passage is entirely metaphorical and that it did not also take place in literal history largely as described. 

As I further explain in a recent interview on Gnostic Warrior Radio, I also believe that everyone is entitled to examine the evidence and reach his or her own conclusion regarding the degree to which the ancient sacred mythologies of humanity should be taken literally. 

However, I qualified that statement by saying that when a literalist hermeneutic is used to support systematic violation of the inherent human rights of other men and women, then it should be clear that some kind of serious mistake has been made, and the connection between the literalist understanding and the violation of natural universal law should be closely examined and the points being used to falsely condone such violations should be exposed and argued against (while at the same time, of course, the criminal behavior that they are being used to support should be stopped and restitution made as appropriate to those whose rights have been violated).

Unfortunately, it can be clearly demonstrated that there have been many historical examples of the use of literalist interpretations of the scriptures to support massive, institutionalized, systemic violations of natural universal law, including atrocities which can be seen to fit the modern definitions of genocide, including the forced conversions to Christianity at the point of a sword by the armies of Charlemagne in northern Europe and the brutal destruction of previous forms of worship and culture, the horrific atrocities visited upon the Native American peoples of Central, South, and North America and the deliberate and systematic destruction of their way of life, and the longstanding system of racist intergenerational slavery instituted with the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the Americas following their "discovery" by Columbus and his companions. 

If all of the examples of literalist interpretation of ancient scriptures in the previous paragraph happen to involve the literal interpretation of the Biblical scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, I believe that is because the virulent literalist version of Christianity which was successively instituted in the western Roman Empire during the decades stretching from the reign of the emperor Commodus through to the emperor Constantine and finally to the emperor Theodosius was created to impose literalism in place of the esoteric, shamanic, and (using the term broadly) gnostic understanding of sacred myth which had been present before and which the literalists set out to suppress and even destroy.

As the previous post entitled "The sacred celestial metaphors refute racism and sexism" argues, literalist approaches to the scripture, which must by definition assert that the stories describe literal historical events enacted by literal historical human beings (and sometimes divine or semi-divine beings) on earth, often end up teaching the exact opposite of the message that would be reached through a metaphorical, allegorical, or esoteric approach to the text.

For example, in that previous post, it was alleged that the literal understanding of the Genesis 9 episode involving Shem, Ham (or Ham's son Canaan) and Japheth and the inebriated Noah (their father) has been used to divide humanity in the past, because the literal approach sees Shem, Ham (and Canaan) and Japheth as literal, historical individuals (or at least literal, historical nations of people), and then tries to trace the lineage of descent to various groups living today.

If, however, Shem, Ham (and Canaan) and Japheth -- along with their father Noah -- are all seen to be metaphorical representation of events depicted in the stars and constellations, then a very different conclusion can be reached . . . because it is much more unlikely that lineages and genealogies of living groups of men and women will be traced back to constellations, since constellations are not normally thought of as being capable of procreating and bearing children. 

The metaphorical understanding can actually lead to a message that unites humanity, rather than dividing humanity the way the literalist interpretations can often tend to do. This is because the assertion that we are "descended" in some way from the celestial figures of Shem, Ham and Japheth can only be seen metaphorically, and thus it is teaching us something about the human condition -- something that applies to all mankind (after all, we all share the same stars over our heads: the stars are global in scope and do not belong to one specific group of people living in one specific point on the planet).

All that being said, the previous post did not actually trace out the celestial origins of Shem, Ham and Japheth, but merely noted that Noah can be shown to be closely connected to the zodiac constellation of Aquarius (this is detailed in The Undying Stars, pages 47 - 50), and that if their father is a constellation, then Shem, Ham and Japheth cannot be literal human beings but must be metaphorical as well.

But, can we find any celestial connections for Shem, Ham and Japheth, based on the clues which are provided in the ancient Hebrew scriptures?

Indeed, I believe we can! And, as far as I know, these connections that I am about to articulate have not been argued previously. This is my interpretation of the text, and its relationship to the stars, based on my understanding of the celestial system of metaphor which can be seen to be operating in the sacred myths and traditions of cultures around the globe and across the millennia.

I believe that the critical clues regarding the identity of Shem, Ham and Japheth can be found in the events related in Genesis 9:20-27 (the same verses which have been used in the past to argue that "Hamitic" people or those deemed to be descended from Ham have been "cursed" and can be made to serve those claiming to be the descendants of Ham's two brothers).

There, we read:

20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

This incident can be seen depicted in art, above in an image from 1493, and also in the image below from around 1360 -- in the second image, the action of Shem and Japheth to suspend a sheet between the two of them and walk backwards to cover up their inebriated father's nakedness without seeing it (as they would if they walked the sheet forward) is perhaps more clearly illustrated:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In both pictures, Ham is labeled (on the far left in the image just above, and in the center of the two brothers in the image at the top of this post, where he is labeled as Cham, since an /h/ can be a "pharyngeal fricative" in non-English languages, particularly Hebrew, which means that Ham is very probably related to Khem, which is the ancient name of the land of Egypt).

Now, if our identification of Noah with Aquarius is accurate, we must ask ourselves if there are any constellations nearby which might resemble a "sheet," and in particular a sheet which is "held up in between" two other figures, so to speak.

Below is a screenshot of the region of the night sky surrounding the constellation Aquarius, taken from the helpful and user-friendly Neave Planetarium online browser-based application. The constellations are not outlined with the user-friendly outlines suggested by H. A. Rey (whose system I wholly endorse for visualizing the constellations). Those outlines will be supplied in the chart which will follow, but the screenshot below is provided so that you can see what the region looks like without all the labels, and so that you can see that there is indeed a great square "sheet" which is suspended in between two other celestial figures: it is the Great Square of Pegasus (labeled in the next diagram) and it is suspended between the two fish of Pisces (who are tied together by a long, V-shaped "band"): 

I believe that Shem and Japheth are the two "fishes" of Pisces, and the "sheet" which they lay upon their shoulders and carry backwards in order to cover their inebriated father's nakedness (he being the constellation Aquarius) is in fact the Great Square of Pegasus.

If the two "good brothers" are the two carrying the sheet (that is, carrying the Great Square), then who is playing the role of the third brother, Ham? Who is the one who angers Noah by seeing his nakedness, and who is subsequently "cursed"?

Look again at the diagram above (and the chart below in which I have outlined all the pertinent constellation-actors in the story, with labels), and you will see that Ham is almost certainly the zodiac constellation Capricorn, who can be seen to be "staring" almost straight at the "nakedness" of the drunken Aquarius (that is to say, at the part of Aquarius which could be interpreted as referring to a specific and distinctive part of the male anatomy, which feature of the constellation Aquarius gave rise to the story's reference to the "nakedness" of Noah in the first place):

In the above diagram, all the players upon the celestial stage are labeled. We have Noah, who has become inebriated and passed out (spilling his wine out of his wine-jug). We have Ham, in the figure of Capricorn, seeing his father's nakedness (Genesis 9:22). And we have the "sheet," in the figure of the Great Square of Pegasus, being born upon the shoulders of Shem and Japheth, who in this instance are the two fishes of the zodiac constellation of Pisces. 

Note additionally that Ham (the son who receives the "curse" in Genesis 9) is associated with one of the two signs that are found at the very bottom of the zodiac wheel (Capricorn the Goat, who shares the position at the very Pit of the year alongside Sagittarius). This position is consistent with Capricorn's association with the "cloven-hoofed" devil figure, and also with the concept of the "scape-goat" (who receives the curse -- exactly as Ham is seen to do, in this passage).

Note also that this identification of Ham with Capricorn at the bottom of the lower half of the zodiac wheel is consistent with the arguments presented in the post entitled "No hell below us . . . " that stories in the Old Testament about going "down to Egypt" or being imprisoned in Egypt refer to the lower half of the zodiac wheel. Remember that the name Ham when pronounced with a "hard 'h'" or "fricative h" can be seen to be closely related to the name Khem, or Egypt. Because the Old Testament system of allegory uses "the Promised Land" for their "upper half of the wheel," they use Egypt as the lower half of the wheel, whereas in the Iliad of ancient Greece, Troy and the Trojans play the role of the lower half of the wheel, and Achaea and the Achaeans or Danaans play the role of the upper half.

These details should help cement the argument being presented for the identity of Ham and his father and brothers in the constellations, and to help us see that none of this is literal: we don't have to be sad for a literal Ham who received this curse from a literal Noah, and we can immediately see that any racist ideologies which try to support their ideas with the story of Shem, Ham and Japheth are gravely mistaken.

The color-coding used in the star-chart above (with Shem in red, Japheth in green and Ham in blue) is consistent with that used in some of the many maps which have been prepared throughout the centuries to identify actual groups of people who are supposedly descended from these scriptural characters (based on a literalist interpretation, of course, since it would be difficult to argue that any actual people-groups on earth are physically descended from a group of stars). 

In the map below from 1839 by Charles Monin, for instance, people deemed to be descendants of Shem are underlined in red (as is the broad label across the middle of the map designating the extended family of Shem), people deemed to be descendants of Japheth are underlined in green, and people deemed to be descendants of Ham are underlined in blue. The three brothers can even be seen to be wearing those colors (red for Shem, green for Japheth in his headband, and blue for Ham) in the 1493 artwork depicting the scene at the top of this post.

You can go to the actual map at its address on Wikimedia commons here, and click on the map and enlarge it, and then click on it again to enlarge still further in order to read the many labels on this fascinating map (based as it is upon what I believe to be a misguided literalist hermeneutic). 

Much more could be said about the significance of the fact that Shem, Ham and Japheth are actually celestial figures and not literal historical human beings who walked the earth, but some of the most important points perhaps are those that have been made many times previously, one of which is that if the scriptures are saying that we are all descended from the stars, then this teaching implies that we are connected to the stars ("as above, so below") and by extension that we are connected to all the universe and to all of nature as well. 

This also means that every human being you ever meet is a "little universe," containing the entire universe and thus a wondrous creation worthy of respect and dignity, which can be expressed in the greeting or the mudra for "Namaste" as well as the ancient word and hand-gesture for "Amen."

It also means that doing violence against another man or woman is inherently and unequivocally wrong.

Additionally, if the scriptures are telling us that we are all descended from the stars or from the realm of the stars, this can metaphorically be understood as teaching us something about the cosmology of the universe and about human existence itself -- and can be interpreted as teaching the existence of a spirit worldfrom which we and in fact everything in this material world are somehow "projected," and which we and every other person we meet and all of nature around us somehow contain as well (the "divine spark" buried in each incarnate human being, and pulsing below the surface of every rock, leaf, tree, bird, and beast and so forth).

Once again, the metaphorical and celestial understanding of the mythical story can be seen to be a unifying and uplifting message (as well as a shamanic message) -- which is very different from the way this story has often been used to divide and to oppress based upon a literalistic understanding of the passage. Now that you understand its celestial foundations, you can take this unifying and uplifting message into your own life, and -- if appropriate -- share it with others.

The Undying Stars on Gnostic Warrior Radio!

The Undying Stars on Gnostic Warrior Radio!

Very special thanks to Moe Bedard of Gnostic Warrior for having me onto the show as his guest this past week, and welcome to new visitors who may have learned about my work for the first time through the Gnostic Warrior show. 

Our conversation is available here on the  Gnostic Warrior website, as well as on iTunes. The player below will also allow you to listen to the show, or to download it to a mobile device for listening whenever convenient. You can also embed the radio bar below onto your own blog or website if you wish to do so, using the code available at the above link.

It was a pleasure to discuss these subjects with Moe, who has clearly spent a lot of time looking into these matters and obviously knows a lot about them. I enjoyed his questions and insights as we talked.

Here is a list of links to previous posts for those who wish to explore further some of the subjects we touched on in the interview. There is also an internal search window in the upper-left corner of this blog (on most browser configurations) which enables you to search for topics using keywords or phrases:

I hope that everyone enjoys the conversation and that it has a positive message for everyone who hears it.

I also hope you will come visit again soon!

Ambrose and Theodosius

Ambrose and Theodosius

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

At the death of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I (AD 347 - 394), the formal panegyric was given by Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan (AD 340 - 397), and amidst all the eulogy's praise of the departed emperor, Ambrose makes reference to the penitence of Theodosius, weaving this incident quite effortlessly and eloquently into a very beautiful metaphor within a larger theme of humanity's need for mercy and therefore the need to be merciful and forgiving to one another.

The reference itself refers to an incident that took place in AD 390, in which citizens of the region of Thessalonika revolted, apparently in anger at the presence of Gothic soldiers in the service of the empire stationed in their midst.  It is worth pointing out that the stationing of military forces among the citizenry is one of the hallmarks of tyrannical states, and the use of foreign-born troops to do it is another pattern in history, as they are less likely to feel an affinity with or sympathy for the local populace. 

Note that both of these specific grievances were part of those listed by the authors and signatories of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 against the King of Great Britain to support their argument that he showed "a history of repeated injuries and usurpations" with the "direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States":

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States [. . .]
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

We don't have a similar statement from the Thessalonikans who revolted, but we can image that they were similarly outraged by the behavior of the foreign "mercenaries" stationed among them by the Empire (these happened to be Goths), and the impunity with which those mercenaries were allowed to behave and the violations of natural law which they perpetrated -- hence the revolt.

Contemporary historians of the time tell us that Theodosius reacted to their revolt by authorizing the Goth commander to slaughter a stadium full of the Thessalonikans, cutting down innocent and guilty alike, as if they were stalks of wheat at harvest time.

Ambrose apparently criticized Theodosius for this ruthless slaughter, barring the emperor from entering church or taking communion for several months, and ordering him to do penance for several months before he could enter again and receive the host (the painting above, from around 1620 or 1621, depicts Ambrose on the right as we look at it, wearing a gold mitre on his head and gold-and-blue robes, barring the entrance to the Milan Cathedral from the hopeful but disappointed Theodosius, who is on the left as we look at the painting, wearing the royal purple, which looks more like what we would probably call crimson today).

Ambrose makes reference to this penance of the emperor in the official panegyric, which can be read in an English translation online here (beginning on page 307 of that 1953 text, which is actually page 335 of the "e-text" linked, since the e-text includes some front matter in its page count that comes before the pagination count began in the 1953 print book itself).  There, on page 319 in the original book's pagination, or page 347 in the e-text reader linked above, Ambrose says of Theodosius:

And so because Theodosius, the emperor, showed himself humble and, when sin had stolen upon him, asked for pardon, his soul has turned to its rest, as Scripture has it, saying 'Turn my soul unto thy rest, for the Lord hath been bountiful unto thee.'

The scriptural reference is to Psalm 116:7. The paragraph itself is numbered 28 in the text of Ambrose's speech.

Let's just pause to note that this is actually a fairly astonishing situation. The absolute ruler of the entire Roman Empire, Theodosius I, who is basically the supreme authority and seemingly answers to no one, is apparently being refused entrance to the Mass by the Archbishop of Milan (it is important to know that Milan, located in northern Italy, was then the western seat of the empire, after Constantine earlier moved the center of political power east to Constantinople, a fact which plays a part in the theory discussed below). Not only that, but the emperor is being ordered to repent, humble himself, and do penance by the Archbishop, and the emperor does so for several months before being reinstated to the privilege of taking communion. 

The fact that this incident is mentioned in the official eulogy of the emperor by Ambrose is a pretty good indication that it actually happened: if it did not, there would have been plenty of people who could have said so at the time. And so, we can see here an indication that the emperor himself was answerable to the most powerful bishops in some matters, who were obviously seen as representatives of an even higher power.

We might also note that the relatives of those several thousands who were slaughtered in Thessalonika were probably not particularly satisfied at this evidence of the accountability of Theodosius for his war crime -- a few months of being barred from taking communion, and all was forgiven.

In fact, this incident -- and the larger significance of the reign of Theodosius and his actions as emperor -- along with other important pieces of evidence preserved in that eulogy written by Ambrose, provides remarkable support for the revolutionary theory presented by Flavio Barbiero in The Secret Society of Moses: The Mosaic Bloodline and a Conspiracy Spanning Three Millennia (2010). In the analysis of Flavio Barbiero, the hierarchical Christianity that Ambrose represented was part of an incredible conspiracy to take over the Roman Empire from the inside, launched centuries earlier by survivors of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and the Roman campaign to suppress revolt in Judea, led by the generals Vespasian and his son Titus in AD 67 - 70 (the main years of the First Jewish-Roman War). 

According to Barbiero's analysis, and backed up by a compelling chain of evidence, the culminating actions of that three-hundred-year-long conspiracy took place with the installation of Constantine as emperor in AD 312, and the finishing touches on the victory were overseen by the ruthless Theodosius I, who became emperor in AD 392. For more details on this theory of ancient history, which I believe to be very convincing, see previous posts such as this one and this one, as well as this online explanation of some important aspects of the theory that Flavio Barbiero wrote for the Graham Hancock website, and of course see his book itself, which is filled with historical detail and a complete blow-by-blow of the entire takeover and its aftermath. 

You may also wish to see The Undying Stars, in which I discuss this theory in the context of the evidence that the ancient history of the human race is far different from what we have been taught -- that there is evidence of advanced scientific, technological, spiritual, and shamanic knowledge in humanity's ancient past, at least some of which endured in "the West" right up until the takeover that Barbiero talks about, but which was deliberately and systematically stamped out in the West after this literalistic hierarchical Christian takeover -- a suppression which may have continued in the following centuries and even right up to this day! (Note that my incorporation of his theory into my own analysis should not be interpreted as an indication that Flavio Barbiero supports any of my analysis in any way). 

The actions taken by Theodosius during his reign can be seen as powerful confirmation of the theory of Flavio Barbiero, many of which are discussed in Barbiero's book. The relationship between Ambrose and Theodosius can also be seen as confirmation of the larger pattern Barbiero describes.

Some of the metaphors and anecdotes used by Ambrose in the panegyric at the death of the emperor, I believe, can additionally be seen as startling confirmation of my placement of the revolutionary theory of Flavio Barbiero within the larger context of the deliberate subversion of the ancient esoteric system that connects the scriptures that became the Old and New Testaments with the ancient wisdom of the rest of the world's cultures -- with an especially close tie to the expression of the ancient wisdom in Egypt. These additional metaphors and anecdotes from the eulogy delivered by Ambrose are not part of Flavio Barbiero's analysis.

According to the theory of Flavio Barbiero, the reason that the generals who put down the rebellion in Judea in AD 67 to 70 were able to become emperors and found the Flavian dynasty (first Vespasian and then his son Titus upon the death of Vespasian) was the financial assistance they received from a vanquished leader of the rebels, who gave them access to the vast hidden treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem itself. This leader and those he selected to come with him were spared from the summary execution that Vespasian and Titus meted out to most of the rebel leaders, and brought back to Rome to enjoy privileged status for the rest of their lives.

Barbiero finds evidence that these leaders, who possessed deep experience running a religious system, decided to set about building a "spiritual Temple" to replace the one that had been burned down by the Romans, and to use it to advance their fortunes in their new setting. They succeeded to a degree that is absolutely astonishing.

Using the twin devices of literalist Christianity (the public and open religious system which they co-opted upon or shortly following their arrival in Rome) and the secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras (the secret and exclusive underground society which they created and operated behind the scenes), they created a mechanism for passing on their vision and accomplishing their goals many generations after the original group which had been brought from Judea to Rome passed from the scene.

The secret society of Mithraism became influential in the Praetorian Guard, then among the imperial bureaucracy, the important imperial checkpoints over commerce such as the customs service, and finally and most importantly over the officers of the Roman Army stationed in various provinces and along the far-flung frontiers of the empire. 

All the while, the leaders of the Mithraic system operated in utmost secrecy, protected by strict oaths of secrecy sworn to by all those invited into the society. The old aristocratic families of the empire perceived that something was going on that was a major threat to their control, but they never identified the real nerve center of that threat -- instead, they concentrated on the public face of the two-pronged attack, which was the fledgling literalist Christian religion. Safe from persecution, the leaders of the Mithraic conspiracy could maneuver their pieces on the political chessboard with steady and unwavering focus over the years.

One of their first major victories was the accession to the throne of the murderous Commodus, who reigned from AD 177 to 192, and whom Flavio Barbiero believes to have been the first emperor to have actually been an initiate into the Mithraic society (more discussion of the significance of Commodus, and some of the evidence to support this conclusion, is found in this previous post). 

There were many significant setbacks after the reign of Commodus, but in general the interruptions (usually by generals who stormed into power with the support of their legions, only in most cases to be quickly assassinated by members of the Praetorian Guard or other agents of the secret society) were fairly brief (albeit violent and tumultuous), and a new emperor whom they controlled would eventually be maneuvered into the throne by the society of Sol Invictus. Each time, the network's grip over the levers of power increased, and it looked as though their careful campaign was succeeding famously.

This pattern was seriously disrupted in AD 284, upon the accession to the throne of Diocletian (who was born in AD 244 and died in AD 311), who was in fact an initiate of the cult of Mithras. However, Diocletian instituted a cunning (if unwieldy) strategy to ensure that he did not end up being eliminated by the secret society behind the throne if he crossed their will (as had happened to so many of his predecessors). He created what has come to be referred to as "the Tetrarchy," splitting up power with an ally, Marcus Aurelius Maximian, and determining that each of the two co-emperors (Diocletian and Maximian) would name a "caesar" who would be the successor to each when they decided to retire, and who would have certain authority and powers even before that time. 

It was a terribly way to run things (just imagine a major corporation with four CEOs at the same time, or even two CEOs plus two "sub-CEOs" with nearly as much power as the CEOs), but by dividing the empire up this way and having it run by an alliance of four, it helped to ensure that the secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras could not bring in a new power-hungry general from another part of the empire to overthrow the existing emperor when he did something they didn't like, as had happened so many times before.

According to Flavio Barbiero, this was the turning point which determined a change in the strategy by the "power behind the throne" -- from now on, they would rule through the public mechanism that they had created, literalist Christianity, instead of the secret society of Mithras.

And that is why, after a violent power struggle that ensued after Diocletian and Maximian left office, the emperor who took control decided to proclaim openly that he was now a Christian, and that Christianity would henceforth be officially tolerated in the empire. That emperor was Constantine I, who ruled from AD 312 until his death in AD 337.

One of the important moves which Constantine made, and one which adds credence to this theory of Flavio Barbiero, was his decision to move the seat of the emperor to Constantinople and out of Rome. The "power behind the throne" (which had been hidden in the society of Mithras, and which was now identical with the upper reaches of the hierarchy of the Christian church) could thus operate out of Rome without interference from the emperor or from pesky usurpers marching in from other parts of the empire to try to seize the throne. 

However, Constantine did not declare Christianity to be the sole religion of the Roman Empire: far from it. His reign was only the first decisive move in the "endgame" of this centuries-long chess-match for control of the Roman world. The "checkmate" would come during the reign of Theodosius I, who was born about ten years after the end of Constantine's reign and who came to power in AD 392. It was Theodosius who administered what Flavio Barbiero calls "the fatal blow to paganism and what little still remained of the ancient Roman senatorial aristocracy" of the Roman Empire (216).

Theodosius ordered in AD 380 that all Christians must profess their faith in the bishop of Rome, thus outlawing alternative dogmas besides the one promulgated by the hierarchical structure controlled by the descendants of those long-ago transplants from Judea. 

He outlawed paganism outright in AD 392, decreeing the death penalty for anyone practicing augury or some of the other practices of the traditional Roman pagan rites. 

He closed the ancient Oracle at Delphi in AD 390, and ended the Eleusinian Mysteries in AD 392, as well as (according to some scholars) the Olympic games after that same year. 

Prior to his death, Theodosius issued decrees that the rule would be split between his two sons (who were quite young at the time of his death), one ruling in the east and the other in the west. It was a decision that would eventually lead to the breakup of the empire: Theodosius I was the last to rule a united empire, and eventually the trappings of the western empire would evaporate completely, and western Europe would be run by a variety of different kings and nobles and -- exercising tremendous control over their actions -- the hierarchy of the Christian religion centered in Rome.

In light of this theory, we can see that Ambrose and Theodosius were actually close allies in the final execution of a long-reaching plan. We can also see that Ambrose, as a high-ranking member of the hierarchy that represented the "power behind the throne" was actually in some ways the superior of the emperor himself -- and his ability to impose sanctions on Theodosius may be an indication of exactly that.

All of the actions above from the life of Theodosius certainly can be interpreted as strong supporting evidence for Flavio Barbiero's theory (among many other pieces of supporting evidence from the preceding centuries, which are recounted in detail in Flavio Barbiero's book).

But there is another incredible piece of evidence hidden in the speech of Ambrose given at the death of Theodosius which also tends to confirm this revolutionary alternative view of Roman history, and to tie it into the larger theory that I expound (and which, as I said, is not part of Flavio Barbiero's theory and should not be taken as an assertion that he supports this wider theory).

In The Undying Stars, and in many of the blog posts including this one containing an index of links to over fifty such myths from around the world, I argue that virtually all of the world's sacred traditions and scriptures appear to be based upon a common esoteric system of sophisticated celestial metaphor. 

As I explain in this previous post entitled "The Cobra Kai sucker-punch (and why we keep falling for it, over and over and over)," I believe that these esoteric ancient myths are actually designed to convey a worldview which is best described as shamanic (and in fact, as what I would call "shamanic-holographic"). This worldview included the belief in an unseen world which actually contains the "source code" for this ordinary, material world which is in fact only a projection of the "real world that is behind this one." 

It also included techniques for making contact with and actually traveling to that unseen realm, in order to gain information or make changes to the "source code" there, which could have tremendous impact on events back here in "the ordinary world." 

If my theory is correct, then the high-ranking priests who escaped the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and the wars of Judea during the time of Vespasian and Titus may well have understood that worldview, and may even have known how to use that knowledge to help them in their plans. They created a literalist, hierarchical religion which suppressed this shamanic ancient knowledge, but they themselves may have known the esoteric secrets and continued to pass them down within their inner circle.

In the eloquent speech of the Archbishop Ambrose given at the death of his fellow-worker Theodosius the emperor, I believe we can see amazing confirmation of this possibility.

In paragraph 40 of his speech (just one paragraph after Ambrose has invoked a literalist vision of heaven and declared that Theodosius and his predecessor Gratian are both enjoying everlasting light and the company of all the saints, as well as a literalist vision of hell and declared that Theodosius' enemies "Maximus and Eugenius are in hell" to "teach by their wicked example how wicked it is for men to take up arms against their princes," thus showing how useful these literalist interpretations are for supporting the divine right of the ruler), Ambrose takes up the example of Constantine's mother Helena, whom he introduces as "great Helena of holy memory, who was inspired by the Spirit of God" (found on page 325 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above). 

Specifically, Ambrose at this part of his panegyric, tells us that once Constantine had killed the last of his enemies and become the sole emperor (Ambrose puts it more tactfully, saying that she was "solicitous for her son to whom the sovereignty of the Roman world had fallen," as if Constantine was just innocently eating lunch one day and the rule of the entire empire happened to fall into his lap), Helena "hastened to Jerusalem and explored the scene of the Lord's Passion" to see if she could find any relics from the Crucifixion with which to aid her son in his new job (paragraph 41, on page 325 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above).

As Ambrose explains, it turns out that she did find "three fork-shaped gibbets thrown together, covered by debris and hidden by the Enemy [that is to say, by the Devil, whom she addresses rhetorically in the preceding paragraph, declaring that she will find proof of the resurrection in spite of the Devil's attempts to conceal it]" (paragraph 45, on page 327 of the original pagination of the 1953 text linked above).

One of these "fork-shaped gibbets," Ambrose tells us, was "the Cross of salvation," which Helena was able to recognize by the fact that "on the middle gibbet a title had been displayed, 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews'" (paragraph 45, on page 327 of the original pagination). In paragraph 47 Ambrose tells us in addition that:

She sought the nails with which the Lord was crucified, and found them. From one nail she ordered a bridle to be made, from the other she wove a diadem. page 328 of the original text linked above.

Ambrose, who displays the allegorical virtuosity for which he is noted by historians, then expounds further upon this decision to make one nail into a crown and the other into a bridle:

On the head, a crown; in the hands, reins. A crown made from the Cross, that faith might shine forth; reins likewise from the Cross, that authority might govern, and that there might be just rule, not unjust legislation. May the princes also consider that this has been granted to them by Christ's generosity, that in imitation of the Lord it may be said of the Roman emperor: 'Thou has set on his head a crown of precious stones.'
[. . .]
But I ask: Why was the holy relic upon the bridle if not to curb the insolence of emperors, to check the wantonness of tyrants, who as horses neigh after lust that they may be allowed to commit adultery unpunished? What infamy do we not find in the Neros, the Caligulas, and the rest, for whom there was nothing holy upon the bridle?
What else, then, did Helena accomplish by her desire to guide the reins than to seem to say to all emperors through the Holy Spirit: 'Do not become like the horse and mule,' and with the bridle and bit to restrain the jaws of those who did not realize that they were kings to rule those subject to them? Paragraphs 48 - 51, pages 328 - 330 in the original pagination of the 1953 text.

Now, this is truly remarkable, to anyone who understands the ancient system of celestial allegory -- as Ambrose here indicates that he thoroughly and masterfully did.

We have discussed in a series of previous posts, beginning with "Scarab, Ankh, and Djed," that the Cross of the New Testament clearly parallels the "Djed-column raised up," which also closely parallels the sacrifice of Odin upon the World-Tree, and the Vajra-Thunderbolt of the Vedas, and many other important images around the world. 

All of those posts discuss the fact that this sacred symbol of profound significance is also closely connected to the "vertical pillar" of the zodiac wheel, which runs from the winter solstice at the "bottom of the year" straight up to the summer solstice at the "top of the year" (for more on that "pillar" see this year's summer solstice post).

Ambrose has just told us that, upon finding the True Cross, Helena the mother of Constantine took two of the original nails, and made one into a crown and the other into a bridle. The choice to incorporate one nail into a crown is pretty obvious for the "top of the column," which represents both the dome of heaven and also the "dome of heaven" at the top of each human being, the head (microcosm and macrocosm). But how could the other nail's incorporation into a horse-bridle have anything to do with the bottom of the zodiac-Djed-column? 

Have a looking at the zodiac wheel below and see if there are any zodiac signs at the bottom which could help explain this choice:

If you said Sagittarius (who at the bottom of the wheel just before winter solstice, peeking out below and partially obscured by the yellow label that says "The Djed raised up"), then I would agree. Sagittarius is an archer, but he is also a horseman (often a centaur). He is indicated in many myths within the system of celestial metaphor by "horse" imagery. It is almost a certainty that Ambrose is indicating an understanding of this ancient system, with this story about Helena and the discovery of the Djed-column / True Cross, and the fashioning of one nail into a crown for the head, and of the other into a bridle for a horse. 

But we don't actually have to guess about whether or not Ambrose understood this esoteric system: he provides breath-taking confirmation of the fact in paragraph 46, when he declares:

She discovered, then, the title. She adored the King, not the wood, indeed, because this is an error of the Gentiles and a vanity of the wicked. But she adored Him who hung on the tree, whose name was inscribed in the title; Him, I say, who, as a scarabaeus, cried out to His Father to forgive the sins of His persecutors. 327 - 328 of the original pagination.

What was that metaphor? It is certainly not one which, I would venture to say, most modern Christians are accustomed to hearing their preachers use regarding Christ upon the Cross. But it is one which, the footnote tells us, Ambrose used quite a lot. It is the metaphor of Christ on the Cross as a scarab!

And here we see that Ambrose undoubtedly understood the ancient system of celestial metaphor, and what is more that he understood it to the degree that he could employ metaphors common to ancient Egypt when referring to the top of the Djed-pillar! We have seen, in more than one of the previous posts linked above, that the scarab beetle with its upraised arms was connected directly to the sign of Cancer the Crab (at the top of the zodiac wheel, beginning at the point of summer solstice). 

The scarab was also esoterically connected to the crown of the skull, as shown in the image below which can be found in previous posts on this subject as well:

This should suffice to explain why the first nail was made into a crown, while the other went into a bridle -- one is connected to the sign of Cancer and the other to the sign of Sagittarius, two signs at either end of the Djed-column or the "solstice pillar," of which the True Cross is yet another manifestation (and which, we might add, is a central image in many shamanic rituals around the globe).

This deep familiarity with these symbols by Ambrose should also suffice to convince most readers that Ambrose knew full well that there was no physical Cross or nails to be found -- any more than one could "find" the vertical pillar that connects the winter and summer solstices and fashion some kind of crown or bridle out of it (he almost certainly would also have known that both "heaven" and "hell" were zodiac metaphors and not literal eternal destinations for the departed soul). But it should demonstrate conclusively that he was a master of the ancient esoteric system of celestial metaphor -- and that we can assume this knowledge had been passed down to him from his predecessors stretching back through the centuries, no doubt to generations long before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.

Together, Ambrose and Theodosius offer powerful evidence which supports the revolutionary alternative theory published by Flavio Barbiero. 

Additionally, pieces of evidence such as the silencing of the Oracle at Delphi and the Mysteries of Eleusis by Theodosius, as well as the clear hints Ambrose drops indicating his masterful understanding of the esoteric system, provide powerful confirmation of the wider theory that this ancient successful conspiracy to take over the Roman Empire was also part of something far bigger: a conspiracy to smash the ancient shamanic-holographic wisdom bequeathed to humanity, and to keep it within a small group who could then use it to "rule the school" (in the "Cobra Kai metaphor") while giving everyone else a literalistic interpretation which they themselves knew to be false.

Commodus and Marcus Aurelius

Commodus and Marcus Aurelius

image: Marcus Aurelius (AD 121 - AD 180), Emperor from AD 161 - AD 180. Wikimedia commons (link).

The movie Gladiator (2000), starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, presents the transition from the rule of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius to the rule of his son Commodus as a crucial turning point in the history of the empire.

In the film, Marcus Aurelius recognizes the pathological twist in his son's character and decides he will not appoint Commodus as his successor, instead desiring to return Rome to a republic, and appointing the virtuous Maximus to act as "protector" during the transition. As fans of the movie know, Commodus was none too pleased with this arrangement and took matters into his own hands, eliminating both his father and eventually Maximus as well, and ascending to the throne to become one of Rome's most megalomaniacal rulers.

While the above plot takes considerable historical license and inserts an entire series of fictional characters and events surrounding the memorable but entirely imaginary general-turned-gladiator, Maximus, the transition between Marcus Aurelius and Commodus was in fact an enormous turning point in world history, and one that is worthy of careful study and consideration.

According to the theory put forward by Flavio Barbiero in his 2010 book, The Secret Society of Moses, the transition from Marcus Aurelius to Commodus was critical in that Commodus was the first emperor who was an initiate into the secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras. As explained in my previous post entitled "Ten reasons to suspect a close connection between ancient Roman Mithraism and ancient Roman Christianity," and articulated at greater length by Flavio Barbiero in an online article entitled "Mithras and Jesus: Two sides of the same coin," there is evidence to support the thesis that the secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras was the primary vehicle through which the priestly families from Judea took over the levers of control of the entire Roman Empire.

Judea and Jerusalem fell to the Roman legions led by Vespasian and his son Titus in AD 70. Vespasian and Titus brought back certain members of the leading priestly families from Judea to Rome -- including the crucially important historical personage of Josephus. Once in Rome, according to the thesis expounded by Flavio Barbiero and backed up by extensive historical evidence (starting with the writings of Josephus himself), these priestly families began a secret campaign to gain control of the levers of power, beginning with the Praetorian Guard and then extending steadily to the centers of commerce, the bureaucracy of the empire, and of course the Roman army itself (especially the officer corps).

In order to accomplish this takeover, these families used the twin vehicles of Mithraism and literalist, hierarchical, ecclesiastical Christianity (which they created, and which slowly took over from and supplanted the earlier gnostic and esoteric forms of Christianity that had existed prior to the campaign of Vespasian and Titus and their destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem). 

If that seems difficult to believe, remember that these families were extremely experienced at running a system which we could call a system of reality creation. Previous posts have explored the likelihood that the ancient esoteric wisdom which forms the foundation of all the world's ancient sacred traditions articulated a vision of our universe as one that is shaped at least in part by human consciousness, and taught that through consciousness we can actually create realities. As this previous post articulates, I believe there is evidence that this wisdom was intended for (and anciently used for) benevolent purposes, but it can also be used for purposes of control, domination, and the general suppression of human consciousness in others.

So, if the families that came to Rome after the fall of Jerusalem were experts in "reality creation," were they more disposed to use that knowledge for the more benevolent purposes of enhancing human consciousness and freedom, or for the more oppressive purposes of control and domination?

Well, there is clear evidence which demonstrates that most repositories of the ancient wisdom were destroyed after the arrival of these families in Rome, and in fact after the time that Sol Invictus Mithras began appointing emperors and thus demonstrating that it had gained control of the levers of power of the Roman Empire. Examples of this destruction of the esoteric ancient wisdom include the destruction and suppression of gnostic and esoteric texts within the Roman Empire itself (see discussions here and here and here), as well as the burning or seizing of ancient texts stored at the library of Alexandria. It also includes the shuttering of the sites that carried on the various mystery cults within the borders of the Roman Empire, which (as I explain in The Undying Stars) also appear to have preserved aspects of the ancient knowledge that the new order set about to suppress or eliminate (for a discussion of one of the most important of these ancient mystery cults, see this previous post exploring the Eleusinian Mysteries).

Based on the fact that these suppressions all took place within the Roman Empire after the time that Sol Invictus began appointing emperors, and especially after Constantine made literalist Christianity the official religion of the empire, it is safe to say that those expert practitioners of reality creation who took over the Roman Empire were generally more interested in the "control and domination" side of the art.

In his book, Flavio Barbiero points out that the use of the two-pronged strategy which included both the public-facing literalist-Christian vehicle and the private, exclusive, and extremely secret society of Sol Invictus Mithras was critical to the success of the takeover. The old Roman families, especially those who controlled the Senate of Rome until the Senate was slowly infiltrated by equestrian-class newcomers, never actually realized that the leaders at the top of Sol Invictus were the ones calling the shots. The representatives of the old Roman families generally saw Christianity as the threat, and tried to attack it instead -- thus the spread of Christianity served as the perfect distraction or decoy to misdirect their attention and enable the secret society of Sol Invictus to move its pieces across the chessboard until it was able to emplace emperors at will.

At first, the leaders of Sol Invictus used emperors who were from the old Roman families but had been initiated into the Sol Invictus cult (not knowing that they were only shown the "lower-level" activities of the secret society, and were not invited to the high-level inner-circle meetings where the real strategy was enacted). However, at some point, Sol Invictus had enough power (backed up by their control of the Praetorian Guard) to appoint descendants of their own priestly families to the office of emperor. 

According to Flavio Barbiero's research, the first emperor to be a member of Sol Invictus was none other than Commodus, who took the throne in AD 177, just over one hundred years after the fall of Jerusalem and the arrival of Josephus and the other members of the priestly families in Rome. 

The fact that Commodus was closely associated with Sol Invictus is clear from several historical details. For one, he took the name "Invictus," and when he renamed the months of the year after his own several names and appellations (an example of his egomania which caused tremendous resentment among the traditional Roman families), he chose to name one of the months "Invictus." Another piece of evidence can be seen in the coin below (source), which has the image of Commodus on one side and the image of a solar god or figure on the obverse side, with legs crossed and leaning against a pillar:

We have already examined at some length in previous posts the fact that crossed legs is a form of metaphorical solar symbology which is extremely characteristic of the iconography found in Mithraic meeting-places (mithraea). The work of Mithraic scholar David Ulansey clearly establishes that the crossed legs refers specifically to the sun's crossing of the celestial equator, which takes place twice a year at equinox. I have also argued in previous discussions that there is extensive evidence to conclude that the pillar refers to the line running from the winter solstice to the summer solstice (see herehere, and here, for example). 

In addition to this, there are other ancient sources which indicate that Commodus was affiliated with Sol Invictus Mithras. Marcus Aurelius, on the other hand, seems to have sensed the rising threat to the ancient traditions and belief systems and to have attempted to stem the tide, thus placing his reign and that of his son on two different sides of the crucial power struggle over the future of the western world.

Flavio Barbiero points out that there is some evidence that Marcus Aurelius actively persecuted Christianity to some degree (185). Other scholars argue that it is not entirely certain to what degree Marcus Aurelius actively encouraged the persecution of Christians that took place under his reign (although it is hard to explain how that could have gone on against his will or without his knowledge). Thus, it is quite possible that Marcus Aurelius, who was himself a Stoic and an important philosopher in his own right, perceived that dangerous forces were at work to supplant the old ways, and incorrectly believed that Christianity was the primary threat and targeted its adherents, not perceiving that Sol Invictus was the more important nerve center that was directing the long-term campaign.

With the passing of Marcus Aurelius and the accession to the throne by Commodus, there was a definitive shift in power. Flavio Barbiero says that "the imperial office from Commodus onward" was "conferred almost exclusively on members of the Sol Invictus organization, independent of the rank they held in the organization and whether or not they belonged to whatever branch of the priestly family" (209).

Marcus Aurelius is often included in the category of the "five good emperors" (along with Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pius). In his massive 1,500,000-word magnum opus The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon (1737 - 1794) says of the events that took place after the reign of Antoninus Pius (the end of whose reign he saw as the beginning of the long decline and ultimate fall of the empire), it was "a revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the nations of the earth" (page 11 of this version). 

How right he was, especially on that second point about it being "still felt by the nations of the earth."

Of the reign of Commodus, Flavio Barbiero writes:

On the death of Marcus Aurelius, probably the most zealous and efficient persecutor of Christianity of the emperors who succeeded Nero, the Empire passed to his son Commodus, who was initiated into the Mithraic organization. For more efficient influence over Commodus, he was given a Christian concubine, Marcia, who, for the entire duration of his reign (AD 180 - 192), had the prerogatives and powers of an empress. Commodus has gone down in history as one of the most ferocious and extravagant of the Roman emperors; he sent thousands of people to their deaths for the sheer pleasure of it. Among these people, however, there was not a single Christian, because he put an end to the persecutions of his father and showed favor to Christianity in every way.
Commodus was certainly not of priestly lineage, and his unpredictability made him difficult to maneuver for the Mithraic organization, which eventually decided to eliminate him. [. . .] Marcia was the instrument of his elimination, and was helped by Quintus Aemilius Laetus, prefect of the Praetorian Guard, which, by then, was completely under the control of Sol Invictus. 186-187.

Note that Laetus appears in the 2000 movie Gladiator, and plays a rather important role throughout the film (he is clearly no fan of Commodus).

The fact that Commodus, a member of Sol Invictus, had as his favorite concubine (who was given the powers and prerogatives of an empress) a woman who was a known Christian should be seen as yet another piece of evidence (in addition to those listed here and the many others listed in the works of Flavio Barbiero) that Christianity and Mithraism were not arch-rival religions the way they are often portrayed in conventional scholarship.

The fact that the Praetorian Guard was perfectly capable of removing emperors by assassination is also demonstrated from the above passage, as it is also demonstrated by the numerous emperors after Commodus who reigned for only a few weeks or months before being assassinated themselves.

The graphic below shows the majority of the emperors from Vespasian to Constantine, with important milestones indicated in highlighted-yellow type. Emperors who reigned for very short periods of time are depicted in smaller images than those who reigned for longer. Dates are indicated in red lettering and all of them are AD. The images are for the most part those found on this Wikipedia page. Not all dates are listed, but enough are listed to give a general idea of the timeline. Years listed are for the year the emperor began to reign:

From the above chart, we can see that (if the analysis of Flavio Barbiero is correct, and I believe that it is) the priestly families worked towards the ability to get an initiate of Sol Invictus into the imperial office from their arrival in Rome around AD 70, and finally succeeded with the accession to the throne by Commodus in AD 177. After his reign (and later assassination), there were two emperors removed in quick succession, followed by several more emperors closely affiliated with Sol Invictus starting with Septimius Severus in AD 193: this indicates that Sol Invictus continued to decide who would become emperor (and whether that emperor would stay the emperor) from Commodus onwards (there was only one big setback to their plans, during the period of the tetrarchy, discussed briefly below).

This excellent web page from ancient coin collector Bill Welch shows Roman coins with clear Sol Invictus imagery beginning most especially with coins minted during the reign of Septimius Severus. 

Flavio Barbiero discusses the evidence that one of the primary missions assigned to the emperor Septimius Severus and his immediate successors was the drastic reduction of the power of the old senatorial families of Italic stock, and the gradual infiltration into the Senate of newly-wealthy equestrians (who generally came from the bureaucratic offices of the empire, and from the military)(187 and following).

Also notable among the emperors in the group that begins with Septimius Severus is the emperor Elagabulus, of whom Flavio Barbiero finds evidence suggesting that he may have been the first emperor to be descended from one of the priestly family lines.

Following another internecine period of rapidly-assassinated and replaced emperors, Gordian III emerged to reign from AD 238 - AD 244, followed in AD 244 by Philip I (also known as "Philip the Arab"), the first openly Christian emperor. It should be noted that emperors could be both Christian and members of Sol Invictus all the way up until after the time of Constantine.

Also noteworthy, especially in light of the huge number of emperors who only lasted for a period of weeks or months, is this quotation from Flavio Barbiero: "It is quite likely that the heads of the branches of the priestly family, who monopolized the higher levels of the Mithraic organization, were reluctant to take on the office themselves and preferred to govern through expendable pawns affiliated at the first levels -- and were ready to eliminate them as soon as they deviated from their instructions or disappointed expectations" (197).

Finally, Flavio Barbiero explains that Diocletian almost certainly devised the unwieldy mechanism of the "tetrarchy" in order to protect himself from the threat of rapid assassination by the Sol Invictus powerbrokers who had allowed him to become emperor (something that happened to many emperors who stepped out of line, including many of those who immediately preceded Diocletian). As a result of Diocletian's move, according to Barbiero, the leaders of Sol Invictus decided to make Christianity the official religion of Rome and to move their nerve center from the hidden organization of Mithraism to the more-open organization of the Christian church, which took place during the reign of Constantine (who reigned from AD 313, when he gained undisputed control over the empire after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, until his death in AD 337). 

In order to facilitate that control, they also had Constantine move the seat of the imperial office out of Rome and over to the new city of Constantinople.

Clearly, there is historical evidence which strongly supports Barbiero's thesis. If he is correct, the transition of power between Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus, was one of the turning points in human history. It is also clear that Commodus went off in quite a different direction than that of his father -- Marcus Aurelius working as best he saw how to try to stave off the threat that was working to take over the empire from within, while Commodus actually signed up for the program that was maneuvering that takeover.

I wonder if the makers of the film Gladiator (which was a joint British and American production; Flavio Barbiero provides evidence that the British Isles became an early and important stronghold of both the priestly families discussed above and the Sol Invictus Mithras organization) knew all of this when they chose to make a film about that critical transition that took place in AD 177 . . .

Some reflections on my recent Project Camelot interview, and the errors of Zechariah Sitchin

Some reflections on my recent Project Camelot interview, and the errors of Zechariah Sitchin

Having now re-listened to my recent interview on  Project Camelot, the thing that struck me the most about my interview is the fact that it seems to have devolved into a tug-of-war between my attempts to explain an esoteric theory, and the interviewer's desire to turn the conversation back to what I would classify as the literalistic.

The entire thrust of my theory centers around the following points: 

  • That the ancient scriptures from cultures around the world are esoteric, and that in fact they all follow a unified esoteric system of celestial allegory (some clear and examples of this system can be found in this previous blog post and in the posts linked therein, as well as in the first three chapters of my book, which are available online here).
  • That this ancient system of "star myths" can be shown to contain evidence of a view of the universe that includes the amazing concept that the material world which we inhabit is actually a sort of projection of information existing in a "hidden realm" (or "seed realm") -- a concept that the recent Lego Movie actually dramatizes in a very amusing way, and a concept which theoretical physicists in the twentieth century began to articulate as the "holographic universe" model in response to some of the evidence from what we now label "quantum physics."
  • That the ancient sacred traditions make it clear that it is not only possible for the human consciousness to cross over the boundary between these two realms (what we would today call the shamanic journey) but that it is in some ways essential (see for instance the quotation from Mircea Eliade in the previously-linked post discussing the Lego Movie, as well as posts such as this one and this one). This ability can be described in terms of breaking through the artificial boundaries of an "illusory reality" and of creating "new realities," as described most powerfully by Jon Rappoport in much of his work.
  • That this ancient wisdom appears to have been a legacy of some extremely advanced "predecessor civilization" about which we know very little and about which at this time we can know very little, as they left no written records but only incredibly intriguing monuments located at significant points all around our planet -- monuments which clearly suggest that they knew the size and shape of our spherical earth. While it is certainly possible that these monuments indicate contact with beings from other planets or star systems, it is by no means necessary to conclude that, nor have I to this day seen evidence which definitively points towards such a conclusion. 
  • This ancient shamanic wisdom appears to have been in full operation right up until the time of the creation of literalist Christianity, which rejected the esoteric nature of the scriptural texts and replaced them with a literalistic hermeneutic (including the most central doctrine of literalist Christianity, the incarnation of a literal Christ figure, as opposed to the esoteric understanding of a "Christ in you," the teaching of the divine spark incarnated in each man and woman which all the esoteric ancient myths can be shown to teach, discussed in previous posts such as this one and this one and this one). 
  • There is strong evidence that the imposition of literalist Christianity was accomplished by a specific set of historical circumstances involving the arrival among the highest circles of power in the Roman Empire of a group of people who understood about the shamanic "creation of reality" described above, and their subsequent takeover of that Roman Empire (through the twin vehicles of Mithraism and literalist Christianity). They then created the institutions of religious power and political power that would control western Europe right up to the present day . . . and would spread overseas to impact the rest of the world, with catastrophic results for many previously-shamanic cultures.  

Thus, the concept of the esoteric (and shamanic) nature of the ancient myths is absolutely central to my thesis. Unfortunately, the conversation was never allowed to delve into the esoteric, because although I tried to head towards the esoteric from my very first comments in the interview (referencing the "esoteric" nature of Montessori, which I believe to be a good example of the purpose of the esoteric technique), none of the esoteric subjects that I tried to raise, including examples which demonstrate that the Bible is composed of star-myth from first to last, which is not just a nice theory but can be shown to be absolutely incontestable or the fact that the undeniable connection between numerous ancient goddesses (including Ishtar) and lions strongly suggests that these myths are talking about the zodiac (where the constellation of Virgo follows the constellation of Leo) were explored with any follow-up questions or conversation.

Instead, the conversation was steered more than once towards whether or not I subscribed to the theories of Zechariah Sitchin, and (related to that) whether my esoteric approach has room for literal interpretations at the same time.

As I tried to explain during the interview and will explain a bit further below, I do not subscribe to the theories of Zechariah Sitchin, and the primary reason that I do not is that Zechariah Sitchin's hermeneutic is a literalistic hermeneutic, and I believe it is mistaken. He interprets the ancient scriptures (in this case, the myths of ancient Sumer and Babylon, but also the Old Testament scriptures which contain parallels to the myths of Sumer and Babylon) as describing literal history. Although the literal history that he believes the ancient myths (including those of the Bible) describe is a different history from that which most adherents to historic literalistic Christianity in its various permutations have taught down through the centuries since the takeover described above (a takeover which was essentially completed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine), his books nevertheless take the ancient myths to primarily describe actual ancient history.

He does not interpret the events described in those myths esoterically.

For example, on page 171 of his first book The Twelfth Planet (published in 1976), Sitchin writes  the following in his discussion of a famous passage in Genesis chapter 6 (I will put all of the passages from Sitchin's book in blue, so that the reader can clearly distinguish between his writing and my comments upon his writing):

the sons of the gods
saw the daughters of man, that they were good;
and they took them for wives,
of all which they chose.
The implications of these verses, and the parallels to the Sumerian tales of gods and their sons and grandsons, and of semidivine offspring resulting from cohabitation between gods and mortals, mount further as we continue to read the biblical verses:
The Nefilim were upon the Earth
in those days and thereafter too,
when the sons of the gods
cohabited with the daughters of the Adam,
and they bore children unto them.
They were the mighty ones of Eternity -- 
The People of the shem.
The above is not a traditional translation. For a long time, the expression "The Nefilim were upon the Earth" has been translated as "There were giants upon the earth"; but recent translators, recognizing the error, have simply resorted to leaving the Hebrew term Nefilim intact in the translation. The verse "The people of the shem," as one could expect, has been taken to mean "the people who have a name," and, thus, "the people of renown." But as we have already established, the term shem must be taken in its original meaning -- a rocket, a rocket ship.
What, then, does the term Nefilim mean? Stemming from the Semitic root NFL ("to be cast down"), it means exactly what it says: It means those who were cast down upon Earth!

Clearly, Sitchin in the above discussion is taking the passage to be a literal account of some beings who physically came from another planet to this planet. That this is Sitchin's interpretation is completely clear from the rest of that book, and the fourteen others he wrote. Later in the same book there is a chapter entitled "Landing on Earth," and details such as the following descriptions:

Based on complex technical data, as well as hints in Mesopotamian texts, it appears that the Nefilim adopted for their Earth missions the same approach NASA adopted for the Moon missions: When the principal spaceship neared the target planet (Earth), it went into orbit around that planet without actually landing. Instead, a smaller craft was released from the mother ship and performed the actual landing.
As difficult as accurate landings were, the departures from Earth must have been even trickier. The landing craft had to rejoin its mother ship, which then had to fire up its engines and accelerate to extremely high speeds, for it had to catch up with the Twelfth Planet, which by then was passing its perigee between Mars and Jupiter at its top orbital speed. 281-282.

Clearly, a credible demonstration that the myths of ancient Sumer and Babylon (as well as the accounts in Genesis) were primarily descriptions of the motions of the sun, moon and planets among the background of the zodiac stars (the sun, moon, and planets always move through the zodiac band, along a pathway known as the ecliptic) could be seen as very damaging to the literalistic interpretation of the myths that Sitchin is offering in the above quotations and throughout the rest of his other books. 

I believe that such a demonstration is possible: in fact, I have offered such a demonstration in my own two books. 

In my first book, the Mathisen Corollary, I have an entire chapter on the Gilgamesh series of texts, demonstrating that the events and adventures described in the Gilgamesh epic primarily concern the motions of the planets among the zodiac band, as well as the motions of the great central axis of the sky which pierces the north celestial pole and which can be seen to have become "unhinged" due to the motion of precession

A few examples of evidence supporting such an assertion include the fact that Gilgamesh chops down the "tallest cedar in the forest" (the one whose top pierces the sky) and then uses it to fashion a special door, one "through which only gods can pass" (a clear reference to the gate of the equinox, where the ecliptic path crosses the celestial equator, encoded as a gate in numerous ancient myths from  cultures around the world -- and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon is almost certainly such a symbol as well, since Ishtar is almost certainly Virgo, and since the sign of Virgo occupies the point of the fall equinox), as well as the fact that Gilgamesh slays the Bull of Heaven and then throws the haunch of the bull in Ishtar's (or Inanna's) face (an event with clear celestial implications, as Taurus the Bull is a prominent zodiac constellation, and the haunch or "hindquarters" of the Bull was an ancient myth-code for the Big Dipper in both ancient Egypt and in the symbology of Mithraism). 

In my more recent book, The Undying Stars, I spent quite a bit of time demonstrating that the stories in both the Old and New Testament are also star-myths. Included is an extended discussion of the Genesis story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent, with clear connections to specific constellations and their motions across the sky. This story was not intended to describe a literal event, but is an esoteric allegory, as were other events discussed by Sitchin as if they were literal history (a literal Noah, taught agriculture for the first time after the flood by the alien visitors figures prominently in Sitchin's imagined history [see for instance his Twelfth Planet, page 413], but I demonstrate that Noah is a counterpart of other flood-surviving figures in other mythologies who are clearly connected to a specific figure in the zodiac, and that their agricultural endeavors can be clearly linked to the symbols associated with that zodiac figure).

The very "descent" of the Nephilim, "cast down" to dwell upon earth, can be demonstrated to have a very clear esoteric and allegorical meaning: these passages describe our human condition in our incarnate state! 

As discussed at length in my book, and in numerous previous posts (many of which have been linked above), the ancient scriptures of the human race were so insistent on allegorizing the motions of the stars in part because they saw the plunge of the stars from the ether of heaven into the earthy or watery horizon (the western horizon) as the perfect metaphor for our incarnate condition: we are each carriers of a divine spark (our individual spirit) which has been plunged into a material body made up of "earth and water" (the "clay" out of which Adam was fashioned in Genesis). We are the Nephilim! We are the ones who came down from the world of spirit, enticed or seduced by the receptive (that is to say, allegorically speaking, female) world of matter. The very word "matter" (as many have pointed out) contains a feminine connotation, related as it is to the word mater or "mother" (as in, "Mother Earth").

This esoteric interpretation of the passage from Genesis 6 would seem to rather undermine the entire thesis of Zechariah Sitchin. 

As I said in the interview, I believe it is commendable to note that our ancient history on this planet is almost certainly very different from what we are taught by the conventional historical paradigm.  To the degree that Sitchin realized this, and sought an answer that was different from that forced down our throats by the proponents of conventional history (in spite of the criticism that was leveled at him for doing so), I believe his efforts can be seen as commendable (as long as they were honest efforts, and not intentionally deceptive, in that they read as literal texts which clearly are not intended to be taken literally).

However, I believe his literalistic approach was wrong, and that the myths he used to fashion his theories can be clearly demonstrated to be metaphorical and esoteric.

I also believe that, to the extent one follows the literalistic theories of Zechariah Sitchin, one will miss the real shamanic-holographic message that the ancient myths are intended to teach -- as surely as one will miss it through the literalistic hermeneutic imposed by conventional forms of Christianity since the second century AD (and especially since the fourth century and the reign of Constantine). 

I can only hope that, in my most recent interview, the constant steering of the conversation away from the esoteric had nothing to do with a desire to avoid getting into the shamanic and holographic truths of the ancient myths. Whatever the reason behind it, the unfortunate thing is that we never did get to discuss that subject to any significant degree at all.

At the top of this post is an image from an ancient Babylonian cylinder-seal. I have never analyzed this seal before, but to one who is familiar with the system of celestial allegory present in the world's mythologies, certain interpretations suggest themselves, and I would hazard to point them out as yet another example of the fact that the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian art and myth was primarily describing zodiac figures (as part of a profound spiritual allegory, and not as a description of the flight paths of ancient alien visitors):

In the above version of the same seal (the resolution is higher in the image at the top of the post, and you can find the original image here), I have added my own labels. This interpretation may not be correct (I just looked at this particular seal for the first time today), but I would be willing to defend this interpretation and can offer more back-up evidence for the above labels (from other myth systems around the world) than I have time or space to offer here.  

Very briefly, it is quite evident that we are probably looking at a zodiacal metaphor from the fact that the figure under the foot of the man on the far right of the seal is bull-like (despite its anthropomorphic face). It has bull-horns on its head, and a reclining bovine body. It is probably Taurus, as will be supported in the further analysis below.

The figure with its foot upon the back of this bull-like being is probably the Sun itself. This figure is holding out a cutting implement with his right hand. As Alvin Boyd Kuhn demonstrates, and as I discuss in The Undying Stars, the sun was allegorized in ancient myth as an axe or cleaver, because it cuts a path across the sky. This symbol of the solar axe is prevalent in ancient Minoan art, for example, but also in other cultures as well.

The first figure in the procession of figures coming in from the left of the image is holding in his hands some kind of smaller animal, as if offering it to the figure on the far right whom I have identified as the personification of the Sun. This animal appears to resemble a sheep and probably signifies the sign of Aries. 

The fact that the cleaver or cutting-tool of the Sun is positioned between the bull-animal (which is being trod down) and the lamb-animal (which is being offered) probably indicates the "crossing point" of the spring equinox, and the advent of the precessional Age of Aries. The Age of Aries followed the Age of Taurus, which is why the bull in the seal is being stepped on (debased or put down -- his precessional Age is over). This imagery was likewise featured in the Mithraic temples (in Mithraic iconography, the Bull was being slain).

If the order of the imagery as we go from right to left is correctly identified as going from Taurus to Aries, then the next sign as we proceed would be Pisces. Here we see a woman-figure, rather than the two fish we would expect for Pisces. This seems to be a problem for this interpretation! But look at the way the woman is holding her hands, up and parallel to one another -- very representative of the constellation Pisces. And, in fact, Alvin Boyd Kuhn has convincingly demonstrated that ancient mythological allegory depicted the annual zodiac year as having not one but two mothers: one at Virgo and one at Pisces (the two signs just before the equinoxes). See his discussion in Lost Light on pages 14 and 15, for instance. Thus, the woman with her two hands in a gesture suggestive of the two fish of the constellation Pisces may well be identified with that zodiac sign, especially since she is in the correct location if the two animals are indeed Taurus and then Aries (going from right to left).

Behind her, we see another figure, striding along and holding a sort of baton in such a way that it seems to be pointing into his side. I have labeled this Aquarius, which is correct if we are right about Taurus and Aries: Pisces would come next (the woman with her hands raised parallel) and then Aquarius behind Pisces. There are good and cogent reasons to believe that this man behind the Pisces figure is indeed Aquarius -- not least that mysterious baton going into his side.

Whether you agree with the above interpretation or not, I believe it is very likely the correct interpretation of the Babylonian seal. In any case, it is a far more likely and a far more supportable interpretation than that the figures represent space aliens. I would argue that other seals from ancient Babylon and Sumer, which Sitchin uses in his analysis to support his case, are more likely allegorical and zodiacal (or planetary, in some cases) than literal.

I believe that the bigger lesson here is that one cannot use the events described in scriptures to try to support literal histories: the events described in the ancient myths are esoteric and allegorical, and not literal. It is not surprising that many look towards a literal interpretation of some sort, almost as a first instinct: that is the way they have been interpreted in western culture since the Roman Empire and the dawn of literalistic Christianity, an approach which has powerfully shaped western civilization since the second, third, and fourth centuries AD.

But, I believe it is an approach which has distracted and diverted us from the real message of the ancients, and the real treasure hidden in the ancient wisdom of the world's mythologies: the shamanic message, and a message of breaking out of the limitations of a false reality and creating new and positive realities to change things for the better. 

It is too bad that this literalistic tendency was able to divert and distract the course of my recent interview, to the point that we never really discussed that shamanic message, that reality-creating message. To that degree, the interview was reflective of much of western history for the past seventeen centuries.