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The invisible kraken: Evidence that the earth is not flat

The invisible kraken: Evidence that the earth is not flat

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

My new book, Star Myths of the World, and how to interpret them: Volume One, is the first installment in a series designed to provide conclusive evidence that virtually all of the myths, scriptures, and sacred traditions from around the world -- from the myths of ancient Greece, Sumer, and Egypt to those of China, Australia, and Africa, to virtually every episode recorded in what we call the Old and New Testaments of the Bible -- are built upon a common system of celestial metaphor.

This is extremely important information for many reasons. When we understand this system of celestial metaphor, then we can use that understanding to plainly see unmistakable evidence that the ancient wisdom given to the cultures that eventually became western Europe was originally intended to convey the same fundamental message as that given to all the other cultures of the world. 

It is a message that involves what can be called a shamanic worldview, in which the entire material universe is perceived at every point to be connected to and interpenetrated by the invisible realm, the spirit world: the realm of the gods.

The Star Myths of the world use the motions of the constellations and planets, and the cycles of the sun and the moon and the longer cycles involving planetary conjunctions and orbits and even the awe-inspiring action of precession, as a way of conveying to us the importance of this invisible realm, and our ability to travel there, and to make contact with the divine realm -- because we are actually already in contact with it all the time, as is everything else in the universe.

And, if we are actually all connected to the invisible realm, then that means that we are all in some way connected to one another, and dependent upon one another, as well as connected to all other living things and indeed to every rock and star and molecule in the universe -- and interdependent upon their well being for our own. If we are all actually connected to and bound together by the same invisible spirit realm, then damage that we do to a rain forest or a river or a mountain or even an asteroid has an impact on every other thing in the material realm, and on every other being, and on the welfare of all of them.

It is pretty clear that this ancient wisdom was interrupted at some point in the distant past in "the west," and the repercussions are still being felt to this day. 

The good news is that, although the damage that has resulted from this loss has been enormous, and ongoing, and even accelerating, the invisible realm itself has not gone away (if it had, then there would be no more life on earth, since it is out of the infinite realm that the plants and trees unfold into this material world, and animals and people receive the spirit by which they move and act). And, the ancient texts and myths are still there, telling forth their message about the importance of the sacred realm, our constant dependence upon it and thus our interdependence with the rest of the universe and with all other living beings in it, and the ways given to humanity to make contact with and even journey to that realm during this life, in order to learn things there and effect changes there which cannot be learned or effected in any other way. 

If the loss of this knowledge was a central factor setting the west down a wrong path (a wrong path with global consequences), then it stands to reason that the solution (if one is possible) will entail regaining contact with an understanding that was anciently lost.

I believe that this is an incredibly important message.

I am by no means the only person trying to make this message (or some variation of it) more widely known (in fact, there are many, many others who are bringing this general message to far more people than I reach, many of whom have devoted their lives to spreading such knowledge for many decades and who by their actions over time and the consistency of their message and their work have earned a right to speak on a very large stage and who reach thousands of people every time they give a talk).

However, even as I am making what I believe to be a very important case about the celestial foundation underlying the different mythologies and sacred traditions of humanity around the globe, I find that one of the most frequent questions that I am asked (on the web, at least, and especially in the "comments" left on some of the videos that I have made) is some variation on what I think of the "flat earth" idea.

Because I believe that it can be conclusively demonstrated that the myths and scriptures and sacred traditions of the world are all encoding the motions of the constellations and the cycles of the sun, moon, and stars (as well as longer cycles, including the precessional cycle), this question is actually (in one sense) somewhat relevant to my work.

However, I believe the entire discussion to be a pretty major distraction to the extremely important subjects discussed above. We're talking about evidence that shows all the world's sacred traditions (including the stories in the Bible) are based on the stars, and now we have to stop and haggle over the evidence that the earth is a globe that rotates on its axis once per day, and  goes around the sun once per year?

This is not really an argument that I want to get into at all. I personally believe that the fact of the earth's sphericity and the fact that it orbits around the sun (and not vice versa) is extremely well established. 

I'm actually a little suspicious of the motives of those who insist that this point is not yet proven, and insist on forcing the discussion onto this subject all the time. I actually wonder how many of those who argue for a flat earth truly believe such an argument, and how many might be dragging the debate into that quicksand for other reasons, whether just for the sheer fun of being contrary and picking arguments, or for some other motive.

However, assuming that some people may actually entertain honest doubts about this matter, I will list just a few of what I believe to be many reasons to believe that the earth is a globe that rotates on its axis and orbits the sun (and has an axial tilt which precesses). 

I realize that critics might be able to come up with some way of explaining each of the points offered below with a hypothetical model other than a spherical earth orbiting the sun along with other planets in the solar system, but it is actually possible to do that with virtually any point (one ancient name for this kind of pseudo-argument was sophistry). 

If Sherlock Holmes presents you with extensive evidence which proves beyond all shadow of a doubt that Mr. J murdered Mr. Y, a sophist could still come up and ask him, "Even with all this evidence, how do you know that it was Mr. J and not a grizzly bear that did it? Can you actually prove that it wasn't a grizzly bear?" If Holmes points out that no bears had been reported by any witnesses, and in fact no bears lived in the area, and that in fact no zoo in the area even had any bears in captivity either, the sophist could still say, "But can you prove that it wasn't a grizzly bear?" If Holmes then shows that the victim was strangled and not bitten, the sophist could then say, "Then how do you know it wasn't a kraken? Can you prove it wasn't?" 

Such tactics could be extended indefinitely: if Holmes shows that nobody had reported anything like a kraken in the area, the sophist might knowingly say, "A ha -- but how do you know it wasn't an invisible kraken?"

I am personally not that interested in debating the possibility of an invisible kraken. 

I would be suspicious of anyone who wanted to persistently steer the argument off in that direction. I assume that there are some people who have honestly been convinced of the possibility of a flat earth, and who will be interested in honestly considering the arguments offered below giving my reasons why I am not at all convinced of that possibility.

The fact that I do not want to go there should not at all lead anyone to the conclusion that I myself am trying to cover up the existence of krakens or that I am part of some group trying to keep the knowledge of the existence of krakens from the general public. 

I will present some evidence below which convinces me that the earth is a sphere and goes around the sun, which I hope will be helpful to anyone who is honestly doubting that this is the case. But in the future I do not plan to get into any extended discussions on the subject, just as I wouldn't expect Sherlock Holmes to want to spend hours discussing the hypothetical possibility of an invisible kraken.

1. The whirl of stars around the celestial north pole and the celestial south pole:

Two different whirling points, one counterclockwise and one clockwise.

The elevation of the whirling points changes as you go further north or further south.

You cannot see both at once, but you can see the appropriate one based on whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere.

The rotation of the earth towards the east causes the stars to appear to move from the east to the west. If you were to lie down at the north pole and look up, you would see the stars appearing to move in a circle around the point directly overhead (ninety degrees up from the ground) -- the celestial north pole. Anyone in the northern hemisphere can also see the stars move in a circle around the celestial north pole, but as we move further south, the point that they all appear to circle around gets lower in the sky (but always towards the north). 

After we cross the equator into the southern hemisphere, however, we can no longer see the whirl of stars around the celestial north pole: instead we can see a different whirl, around the celestial south pole. The further south we go (the closer to the earth's south pole), the higher this whirl will be in the sky, but always towards the south. 

This fact of the two different whirls of stars in the sky is perfectly easy to explain if the earth is a globe. 

The fact that the height that the point around which the sky appears to whirl will change as we go further north or further south is also exactly what we would expect if the earth is a globe.

It is very difficult to explain why there are two different points around which the sky appears to whirl, if we are on a flat earth that does not rotate. It is very difficult to explain why the north celestial pole is higher in the sky the further north one goes in the northern hemisphere, and lower in the sky the further south one goes, if we are not on a globe.

I have personally seen the south celestial pole and the stars turning around it when I was in New Zealand, and I have personally seen the north celestial pole and the stars turning around it from many different latitudes in the northern hemisphere. This is not hearsay evidence that I am talking about. 

(I have not personally observed these two whirls from the equator itself, but from there you would be able to see the "upper half" of both of them, one if you looked towards the north pole, and the other if you looked towards the south pole -- if you doubt this, you can verify it for yourself by going to the equator and doing some observing). 

There are also many photographs on the web of the stars whirling around the north celestial pole, taken from various latitudes in the northern hemisphere, and many photographs of the stars whirling around the south celestial pole, taken from various latitudes in the southern hemisphere.

At the top of this post is an image, taken from a point in the southern hemisphere (in Chile), showing stars circling the south celestial pole. Below is another image, taken from a point in the northern hemisphere (in Arizona), showing stars circling the north celestial pole:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Now, before someone tries to come up with some flat-earth explanation of how we could have two different points around which the stars rotate, one only visible from north of the equator and the other only visible from south of the equator, and how the point around which the sky appears to turn will be seen to be higher or lower in the sky based on your latitude (all of which makes perfect sense if we are on a globe that is rotating on its axis, but which requires some extremely convoluted contortions to try to explain from the perspective of a flat earth), there is one other aspect of this phenomenon which is difficult to explain for a flat-earth theory but makes perfect sense from the perspective of the globe-and-axis theory, and that is the fact that the stars rotate around the north celestial pole in a counter-clockwise fashion, and the south celestial pole in a clockwise fashion.

Why would this be? It makes perfect sense, if we are on a globe rotating towards the east. As the ball we are standing on spins towards the east, it causes objects in the sky to appear to speed towards the west. This happens to the sun once per day: it "rises" in the east and moves across the sky towards the west, then sinks down below the western horizon as a function of the fact that the ball we are standing on kept spinning towards the east, bringing the curve of the western horizon in between us (where we are standing) and the sinking sun. 

The reason the sun (and all the other stars) appear to move east to west is the same reason a billboard or a barn or a tree seen from the window of a speeding car or train appears to move towards the rear of the car or train: you are rushing forwards, so things outside appear to rush backwards. As we spin east, things in the sky appear to move west: the earth is spinning towards the east, so objects in the sky (including the sun, planets, and stars) all appear to move from the east to the west.

If we are standing in the northern hemisphere and look towards the north, the stars will be rotating east to west (just as they do everywhere else on a ball that is spinning towards the east). But as we look north, this will cause them to rotate around the central north celestial pole in a counter-clockwise direction (because if we are in the northern hemisphere facing the north pole, east is to our right, and stars rising in the east will arc over us from right to left as we face north, and those close to the north pole will go around from right to left also in a counter-clockwise fashion around the central point, such that a star at the three o'clock position will rotate up to twelve o'clock before continuing down to nine o'clock and eventually down to six o'clock and back around to three o'clock). 

Below is a video from the northern hemisphere (in northern Spain) of the stars going around the central point in a counter-clockwise direction:

There are many other such videos available on the web (and if you are in the northern hemisphere you can make one for yourself, or just observe it happening with the naked eye).

However, if we are in the southern hemisphere and we look towards the south pole and watch the stars rotating around the south celestial pole in the sky, they will move in the opposite direction: clockwise around the central point. Why is that?

Well, the stars are still moving from east to west, just as they do everywhere else on a globe that spins eastwards (the sun rises in the east for people in the southern hemisphere too, just as it does in the northern hemisphere). But, when we look to the south celestial pole, we are facing south, and now east is to the left of us and west is to the right, and stars will be rising from our left and going towards our right. Those close to the central point around which all the stars in the sky appear to turn (the south celestial pole, above earth's south pole) will go from left to right as they go over the central hub: they will go clockwise. A star which begins at nine o'clock will go up to twelve o'clock and then on down to three o'clock and so on.

Below is another video, this one from the southern hemisphere, showing all the stars going around the south celestial pole in a clockwise fashion -- just the opposite of the way they whirl around the northern hub:

The above discussion is, in my opinion, already conclusive evidence that we live on a spherical planet which turns on its axis once per day in a rotation towards the west. This model explains perfectly all the phenomena shown and discussed above. A flat-earth model has a very hard time explaining all the above evidence (although someone using the "what about invisible krakens" method of sophistical argument could probably do it -- I just have my doubts whether they themselves would actually believe it).

2. There are stars that not visible to observers in some latitudes.

Some stars are too far south to be visible from northern latitudes, but are obscured by the horizon. But as you go further south they come into view -- rising above the southern horizon, even if only just barely. As you go further and further south, they will arc at a higher and higher altitude in the sky.

No need to spend too much time on this one, but it is very difficult to account for from a flat-earth perspective, and perfectly understandable if the earth is a sphere and space extends in all directions, with stars in all directions in space. If we are on a ball and space is all around us, then some stars will not be visible to observers on the "top half" of the ball, unless those observers move "down" the ball towards the equator line or even cross down into the "lower half" of the ball.

Observers in the northern hemisphere cannot see the constellation Crux (the Cross) unless they are pretty far south -- that's why it is popularly known as the Southern Cross. I myself never saw this constellation until I traveled to New Zealand.

Even Fomalhaut is pretty difficult to see from northerly latitudes in the northern hemisphere, but the further south on the globe you travel, the easier it will be to see it because it will "clear" the southern horizon with a higher and higher arc as you travel further and further south.

This makes sense if we are on a sphere. It does not make much sense if the earth is flat.

You might find a video that I made a long time ago, using a metaphor that I call "the orbit in the dining room," to be helpful for imagining the way that we see the stars in space from the perspective of our location on a globe: there are stars on all the "walls" as well as on the ceiling and floor, but if we're on the upper half of the ball we can see the stars on the ceiling but not the floor, and we can see stars on the walls but only those on the "upper half" of the walls -- the further "down" the ball we go, the further down the "wall" will come into view.

3. Constellations look "upside down" in the southern hemisphere, compared to their orientation in the northern hemisphere.

This is another point that is very damaging to the flat earth model, but makes perfect sense if the earth is a globe. When you travel to the southern hemisphere, if you have lived in the northern hemisphere all your life, you will soon notice that all the constellations are "upside down" to the way you are used to seeing them (if you are used to looking at the constellations, that is).

This phenomenon is perfectly understandable if we are on a globe. I'm not sure why the sky would seem to "flip" as we get to the outer edges of a supposed "flat earth" in which "south" is supposedly "towards the edges" and north is in the center.

But, now imagine the earth as a globe (which I am quite certain that it is). If you imagine yourself standing at the north pole and looking at the outline of the constellation Orion (located near the ecliptic plane, "out from the equator" in the sky, so to speak), and then imagine that you travel down to the south pole and look out at the same constellation of Orion, you will immediately understand why the constellation looks "upside down" from the south pole, relative to how it looked when you were at the north pole.

This phenomenon is true for points in the southern hemisphere, not just at the south pole itself.

I myself witnessed this when I went to the southern hemisphere (New Zealand and Australia). Orion was the first constellation which I noticed to be "upside down" to my way of seeing him.

4. The angle that the stars, planets, and sun and moon rise up out of the eastern horizon and sink down into the western horizon changes based on your latitude, and can be used for long-distance ocean navigation.

This is the method used by the Wayfinders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and it is almost certainly the traditional method used for the successful long-distance ocean-crossing voyages that the people of the different Pacific Island cultures used to cross the vast distances that they crossed.

See this previous post discussing "the greatest navigators our globe has ever seen," as Thor Heyerdahl called the Polynesian peoples who traveled the almost-unimaginable distances from Hawaii to Tahiti to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and to many other distant shores as well.

Some discussion is presented there regarding the reason that in the northern hemisphere, the courses of the stars angles up from the eastern horizon but along an arc closer to the southern horizon, while in the southern hemisphere the courses of the stars angle up from the eastern horizon but along an arc closer to the northern horizon, and why they go along an arc straight up and perpendicular to the horizon as you cross the equator. This discussion is largely based upon the helpful diagrams and discussion found on the actual website of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which has successfully crossed the oceans using the same traditional Wayfinding methods used by their ancestors in previous centuries.

If you take the time to read that entire page as linked, you will see that their method assumes a spherical earth, and that in fact the star courses do what they do and in doing so enable navigation because we are on a spherical earth which rotates on its axis.

I have not actually asked them, but I would be very doubtful that there are any believers in the flat-earth model among the members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

There are others who know the science of navigating by true celestial navigation. The excellent book by Thomas Cunliffe entitled Celestial Navigation tells you how it is done using a sextant -- and it also bases all its techniques upon the understanding that the earth to be a globe.

5. Objects that travel through the air for long distances have to take into account the rotation of the earth.

This is true for airplanes.

It is also true for artillery shells that travel very long distances, and other military munitions.

I am not an airline pilot, but I have a very good friend who is an airline pilot. There are a very large number of airline pilots in the world. I do not believe that they are all "in on" a major conspiracy to hide from us the fact that the earth is really flat.

In order to accurately take off on one point and travel a very far distance to land where you want to land, you have to account for the fact that the earth actually rotates on its axis.

I was in the military for many years. I graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, which was founded in 1802 in part to provide the level of mathematical and engineering knowledge necessary to fling artillery shells from one point on the surface of the earth to another, and also to be able to construct bridges that would not collapse: the young nation needed a school to teach such subjects, and did not have one until the Academy was founded (most of the universities such as Harvard and Yale were originally founded as theological schools).

Although I was not commissioned as an artillery officer, I did have to learn quite a bit about the science of flinging artillery shells from one point on earth's surface to another and having them land where you want them to land (I remember hearing stories while at West Point about artillery shells being sent by accident into the vicinity of the Bear Mountain Bridge, which is not far from the training areas and also not far from where Jack Kerouac started the journey he recorded in On the Road; I have no idea whether that story about shells accidentally landing near Bear Mountain Bridge is true or not, but I suspect that it could have been: the stories were passed on to us to emphasize the importance of doing the calculations properly and carefully, with "attention to detail," and the consequences that could happen if we did not).

In order to send artillery shells (or any other military munition) long distances with accuracy, you have to account for the rotation of the earth. This can be verified by looking at any number of artillery manuals that have been published through the years. Older manuals (and even some of the newer ones) have firing tables that help you to make the calculations that account for the rotation of the earth.

It does not make any sense to argue that these calculations are just introduced in there to keep us from knowing that the earth really doesn't rotate at all. If the earth did not rotate, then accounting for rotation that did not exist would cause artillery shells to land in places that they were not supposed to land.

I believe that some proponents of a flat, non-rotating earth will try to explain this away by resorting to an invisible fluid or element known as "ether." I believe that this is basically the same as resorting to an invisible kraken. I don't care to try to prove that there is no such thing as ether -- it may be very difficult to prove the non-existence of ether (and also of invisible krakens). But since the rotation of the earth explains the need for these artillery calculations (and because there is extensive evidence of other forms that shows we are on a spherical and rotating earth -- see all the points above -- I don't believe I or anyone else need engage in a debate over the existence or non-existence of a hypothetical substance called "ether").

For one example of an artillery manual which discusses the need to make calculations to account for the rotation of the earth, see USMC Field Manual 6-40, and page 7-19 and following (where you will be directed to "Table H," which gives you the calculations needed to account for the rotation of the earth).

Army manuals for field artillery are also numbered 6-40: you can find many of them on the internet which discuss the importance of accounting for earth's rotation. Some of those which are available on the web go back to 1944 or 1945 (well before the founding of NASA, an organization which some flat-earth adherents blame for much of the supposed disinformation about the shape of the earth in modern times).

6. The Coriolis Effect caused by the laws of physics related to inertia and angular momentum cause large bodies of air and water to rotate in generally predictable patterns, which differ on either side of the equator.

This is getting a little technical, but those interested can read about it in many different places on the web or in textbooks.

One thing that is caused by the Coriolis effect is the pattern of air currents and the direction that they swirl on our planet. They generally swirl counterclockwise off the equator to the north, and clockwise off the equator to the south.

You can see this in Coriolis-induced action in images of hurricanes.

Hurricanes in the northern hemisphere generally rotate counter-clockwise around their central eye, and those in the southern hemisphere generally rotate the other way (clockwise).

Below is an image of a hurricane in the northern hemisphere:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Note that the "arms" of the swirl from the left side of the circle (nine o'clock) open "up and to the right" (look from nine o'clock up towards the twelve o'clock of the storm to see this). Another way to think about it is that the storm appears from above to be swirling inward towards the center in a counter-clockwise direction.

Now look at the image below of a hurricane in the southern hemisphere:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

It should be readily apparent that this hurricane is swirling in the opposite direction from the hurricane shown in the image above it. This one appears to swirl towards the center in a clockwise direction, and the arms appear to open "up and to the left" when seen from the right side of the storm. To see this, look at the six o'clock position and trace up towards the three o'clock.

It is very difficult to explain why hurricanes would swirl in one direction on the north side of an equator line on a flat earth and in completely the opposite direction on the other side of the same equator line (an equator line doesn't really even make sense on a flat earth, but let's assume that there is such a line, and many flat-earth proponents talk about one).

However, it does make sense on a rotating sphere, in which the Coriolis effect is present (and completely explainable based on the laws of physics).

I don't know if any flat earth theorists try to explain this phenomenon away. They certainly cannot argue that hurricanes are some kind of a hoax. I personally went to Florida to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and have witnessed the devastation they cause first hand.

I was also in southern China during a typhoon once.

7. The Foucault Pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth.

I was fascinated by the Foucault Pendulum at the old Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco when I was young. It is still in operation, but has now moved to the new museum location.

The way that a pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth is somewhat technical, but fascinating.

It can actually show you your latitude on earth's surface, if you know the principles and can do some trigonometry.

The explanation for Foucault's Pendulum and the rotation of the earth is well explained in the videos shown below (far better than I could explain it, and demonstrated visually far more easily than it can be explained in long paragraphs of verbiage):

First video (gives a decent explanation of what happens -- but the third video below is really the best for visualizing why ):

Second video (probably the best for seeing how it works in action, because it uses an ink marker -- also, this one is outstanding because it explains how to determine your latitude with some degree of accuracy using a pendulum):

Third video (in French but visually the best one on the web that I've found, and because it is in French it probably also pronounces "Foucault" most properly):

Once again, I believe some advocates of a flat earth try to explain away this pendulum phenomenon by relying upon "ether" or some other complicated or convoluted argument to try to say that it isn't really the earth that is rotating but rather then pendulum. It is difficult to understand why the "ether" would not rotate at an arbitrary line called the "equator" on a flat earth, however, just as it is difficult to understand why hurricanes would rotate in opposite ways on either side of such an arbitrary line on a flat earth. 

All of the actions of a Foucault Pendulum, however, are well explained by a spherical earth rotating on its axis.

8. The very existence of time zones should prove that we are on a rotating sphere.

Some parts of earth are in night when others are in day.

This provides a pretty simple and obvious argument for a spherical earth, and one which requires some pretty strange arguments from the flat-earth proponents in order to try to explain for a flat earth.

When I was in China, I could Skype with my family in California, but when it was night for me it was day for them.

Why would the sun above a flat earth illuminate (and heat) one area called "day" but not another area (on a flat plane) where it was night? (The exact same argument, could be made regarding solstices and seasons, and the fact of longer days in one half of the earth while the other half is having shorter days, which is caused by the tilt of the earth and discussed in countless previous posts, including this one from 2011).

Flat earth theorists, I believe, argue that the sun is kind of like "floodlights" that only beam down in a fairly tight cone of light. This doesn't make much sense, if the sun is a ball.

That leads us to the next point:

9. The moon and the visible planets are clearly spherical.

Why would we argue that the earth is flat, if we can see that Mercury, Venus, the moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all spherical? 

You can actually see this with a telescope, if not with the naked eye (you can pretty much see that the moon is a sphere with your naked eye.

10. The motions of the planets on their courses makes sense if earth and the planets are orbiting the sun.

Otherwise, you have to introduce complicated concepts such as "epicycles" to try to explain retrograde motion, etc.

The concept of "retrograde motion" (which you can observe for yourself, on successive nights when one of the visible planets is in retrograde) is something that I discussed at some length in a previous post, back in 2012 during a retrograde period for Mars. Earth was "passing up" Mars on our "inside track" as we orbit the sun, making it look (for a short time) that Mars was moving the opposite direction from earth in its orbit around the sun (Mars and the other visible planets orbit in the same direction around the sun that we do).

11. The monthly cycle of the moon makes perfect sense if it orbits the earth and the earth orbits the sun.

The moon is full when it is exactly opposite the earth from the sun, and highest in the sky at midnight.

The moon is new (and invisible) when it is exactly between earth and the sun, and highest in the sky at noon.

Both of the above make perfect sense if the moon orbits the earth. I discuss these cycles, which are not (unfortunately) widely understood by the general public unless they take the time to learn about it (it is not generally taught in school, at least in my personal experience), in a blog post here from several years ago. You can find other posts in which I discuss the cycles further by searching for "new moon" in the internal blog search window.

The moon is a thin crescent when it is only a few days old (after new moon), and follows closely behind the sun (at this time in its cycle, it can be seen just after the sun goes down, following "hard after" the sun). This also makes sense if the earth is a rotating sphere and the moon is the earth's satellite. 

All of the moon's cycles, and its relative position to the sun and distance "behind" or "ahead" of the sun, make perfect sense if it orbits earth and earth rotates while orbiting the sun.

To explain all of this using the flat earth ideology would require some contortions.

12. Solar and lunar eclipses make sense for the same reasons described above for the phases of the moon.

Solar eclipses take place when the moon passes between earth and the sun, and thus can only happen on a point of new moon.

Lunar eclipses take place when the earth is between the sun and the moon, and thus can only happen at a time of full moon.

These phenomena are well explained by the model of the earth orbiting the sun, and the moon orbiting the earth. The moon orbits on a plane that is "tilted" relative to the plane of earth's orbit around the sun, and thus we do not have a solar or lunar eclipse at every single new moon or full moon (this is discussed in previous posts about the "lunar nodes").

Once again, explaining why this happens the way it does from a flat earth model causes some contortions (this pattern is typical of an incorrect model: a correct theory will usually clear up a whole lot of evidence that the incorrect theory had to tie itself in knots to try to explain). 

An additional problem for the flat earth theorist is the fact that during a lunar eclipse, it is the shadow of the earth that creeps slowly across the face of the moon as earth moves between sun and the moon. The edge of this shadow can clearly be seen to be curved, indicating that earth is a sphere (as do so many of the other pieces of evidence offered above).

This creates a king-sized problem for flat earth theories.

I have even read that some flat earth theorists posit the existence of another moon-like body that is throwing its shadow across the moon during a lunar eclipse, to alleviate the problem caused by the curved shadow that earth projects on the surface of the moon and that is clearly visible to the casual observer. Of course, this "hypothetical moon" that occasionally eclipses our moon is invisible and has never been seen, but it "must" be there, according to some theorists (apparently -- I myself have never spoken to anyone who actually believes such a theory, and I actually have difficulty believing that anyone honestly believes it themselves).


These are just some of countless other pieces of evidence which could be offered (and I'm not even a physicist). I haven't even gone into the problem of GPS location, which is now such a common fact of life with smartphone users that they take it for granted -- but I personally remember the first time our unit in the 82nd Airborne Division was issued portable GPS devices (only six for the entire company of over a hundred paratroopers, and they were huge -- about the size of a flat brick), and I remember sitting out in the field and waiting to get "three satellites" (you couldn't accurately get your location if you only had two satellites or one satellite in communication with your device).

Nor have I touched the very complex (but perfectly understandable given a rotating earth going around a massive sun and orbited by a less-massive moon) mechanism of the ocean tides(which everyone who surfs regularly must keep an eye on), or the even more awe-inspiring mechanism of the precession of the equinoxes (which is almost certainly a function of the principle of the conservation of angular momentum, the fact of the equatorial bulge, and the resulting motion of the axis around which the earth rotates in the same way that a gyroscope or even a spinning bicycle tire suspended from a string will precess).

All of the above evidence convinces me that the flat-earth argument is incorrect -- and also causes me to wonder about the motives of at least some of those who spend a lot of time trying to get people to argue about it.

Those, at least, are my reasons. And that is about as much as I wish to say on this subject.

Please do not contact me with counter-arguments to the above evidence, or with complicated and purely hypothetical models that could possibly account for one or more of them. As I said before, I believe that such arguments are akin to trying to engage Sherlock Holmes in a debate over the possibility of an invisible kraken -- and such debates can be extended indefinitely by a really aggressive and contrarian debater who enjoys arguing for the sake of argument -- but they distract from what I believe to be the real discussion at hand.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Chinese characters and the moment of Equinox

Chinese characters and the moment of Equinox

The ancient wisdom imparted to humanity in the myths, sacred stories, and scriptures found literally around the world is built upon a system that ties our motions in this incarnate life to the great cycles of the heavens -- the motions of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, and the multiple cycles of the earth including its rotation, annual orbit, and ages-long precessional motion.

Our lives here on earth, in our human bodies, reflect and echo the great movements of the celestial spheres -- and the motions of those celestial orbits can be seen as depicting the spiritual drama of each and every human soul journeying through this incarnate existence on earth.

All the sacred scriptures and stories of the human race can be shown to dramatize the great heavenly cycles in order to convey profound spiritual knowledge for our benefit during our human experience.

Amazingly enough, the very symbols and characters with which those sacred myths were recorded (for those that were written down in texts) also reflect and embody the very same heavenly cycles and the spiritual teachings conveyed by those celestial motions!

In other words, just as each individual man or woman is a "microcosm" who can be said to contain and reflect the entire infinite universe (that is to say, the "macrocosm"), so also each individual letter or hieroglyph or symbol can be seen to act as a sort of "microcosm" of its own, containing and conveying the same spiritual message that is found in the body of sacred scripture which is made up of all those individual letters and symbols.

Today, at a special point in the heavenly cycles seen as having great significance in the ancient myths of the human race, we will examine some ways in which the individual letters and symbols contain and reflect the same message conveyed by the ancient scriptures and myths themselves.

The earth will cross through the point of autumnal equinox at 01:22 am Pacific Time on September 23 this year (2015). This is the same as 08:22 am Greenwich time on September 23. 

The "calendar date" of the solstices and equinoxes shifts slightly from year to year, due to the fact that the earth does not rotate on its axis an exactly-even number of rotations from one point of equinox or solstice to the next from year to year: in other words, it rotates 365.242 times before coming back to the same point relative to the sun from one year to the next, which is why measuring from solstices and equinoxes is actually more precise than using the various calendar systems when figuring out where we are relative to the sun, and why calendar systems have to use various types of "correction mechanisms" (such as intercalary days or leap-years) to keep the calendar days from "slipping" too far from the mechanics of the earth-sun relationship.

Because of this fact, we can expect the autumnal or fall equinox to occur on September 22 in most years, but it will occasionally take place on the 21st or the 23rd.

The point of fall equinox is a "crossing point" at which the ecliptic path of the sun during the day crosses below the celestial equator, after being above it through the summer months (in fact, from the point of spring equinox, up through the summer solstice, and all the way back down until reaching fall equinox). In other words -- and all descriptions here are for an observer in the northern hemisphere -- the arc of the sun's path through the sky has been higher than the celestial equator, which is that invisible line in the sky that traces an imaginary great circle 90-degrees down from the north celestial pole (very close to Polaris, the North Star).

The arc of the sun through the sky during the day has been north of that line (closer to the north celestial pole, higher-up from the southern horizon) as it traverses from east to west.

Now the arc of the sun will be lower than that celestial equator-line in the heavens, and closer to the southern horizon, and thus the angle of the sun's rays on the northern hemisphere will be less steep and more shallow, and the hours of darkness will begin to be longer than the hours of daylight. This effect will increase as we hurtle towards the point of winter solstice: the arc of the sun's path will be lower and lower, the angle of the sun's rays will be shallower and shallower, and the hours of darkness will be longer and longer.

(Of course, for observers in the southern hemisphere, this point of fall equinox for the northern hemisphere is actually their spring equinox, because as the sun's arc gets further and further south, it is actually higher in the sky for them, as it gets closer and closer to the south celestial pole, and higher and higher above the north horizon).

As has been explained in many previous posts on this subject, the ancient scriptures of the world used these awesome heavenly cycles to depict truths about invisible aspects of our simultaneously spiritual-material universe, and about our human condition as spiritual beings "cast down" into physical-material bodies here in this incarnate life.

The point of equinox, at which the sun's path falls below the celestial equator-line, plunging the world into the half of the year in which darkness dominates over daylight, was used as a metaphor to convey truths about our plunge down from the realm of pure spirit into the realm of matter. Here at the fall equinox, the upper half of the year (associated with the spiritual realm and the "higher elements" of Air and Fire) gave way to the lower half of the year (associated with the material realm and the "lower elements" of Earth and Water).

Below is a diagram, familiar to regular readers of this blog from previous posts such as this onethis one, and this one, showing the Great Circle of the year with the points of equinox marked with a red "X" at each equinox: the spring equinox for the northern hemisphere on the left  (in the "9 o'clock position" if this was a clock face) and the fall equinox on the right (in the "3 o'clock position"). The progress of the earth through the year is clockwise in this diagram (from the spring equinox "X" at the "9 o'clock position," we proceed upwards to the summer solstice at 12 o'clock, and then start back downwards to the autumnal crossing point at 3 o'clock).

The "upper half" of this circle of the year is the fiery half, the heavenly half -- representative of the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods, and the spiritual part of our nature.

The "lower half," on the other hand, was the realm of matter and gross incarnation in bodies of "clay" (combining the "lower two elements" of earth and water) -- and it was often metaphorically connected with water, the ocean, the sea, the deep, and the underworld.

In the diagram above, I have attempted to illustrate this metaphor by adding watery ocean waves to the lower half of the circle.

The point of autumn equinox is the point at which we "plunge" down into this incarnate lower realm: the point at which we dive down into the sea, so to speak. And there, at the autumn equinox, guarding the gate to the incarnate realm, standing at the point of the plunge into the ocean, we see the zodiac sign of Virgo the Virgin (for the Age of Aries, which can be seen to be operating in many of the ancient myths of the world, although there are also abundant references to the earlier Age of Taurus and the even earlier Age of Gemini in the world's myths as well).

Interestingly enough, figures in the ancient myths associated with the sign of Virgo and with the plunge down into incarnate existence are often goddess figures, often mother figures, and often have names  or mythological attributes which explicitly connect them with the sea or the ocean.

The most obvious of these, perhaps, is the New Testament figure of Mary (or Maria) -- whose name contains a root word mar or mare which means "ocean" or "sea" (and which can be found in many English words connected to the sea, such as "mariner" or "marine life" and even "to marinade").

Another example is Tiamat, a creator goddess of ancient Sumerian and Babylonian myth associated with the primordial sea, and whose name was similarly synonymous with the ocean.

Even the goddess Aphrodite or Venus was strongly associated with the sea -- and in fact, with the very "edge of the sea" or the "verge of the sea," and with the sea-foam in particular (the name Aphrodite, in Greek, was associated with the word aphros, meaning "sea-foam," although some scholars also attest there may be an etymological connection as well to the name of the goddess Ishtar or Astoroth or Astarte).

All of these heavenly figures are mother figures (Aphrodite or Venus was the mother of Aeneas, for example, the central figure in the Aeneid) and are simultaneously associated with the sea -- and this is appropriate for the fact that our plunge down into this incarnate life, this "lower half" of the wheel, this crossing of the Red Sea, begins for each of us at our human birth. Every person who ever lived has a mother, to whom we each are indebted for our material life, our very incarnate existence.

It is fascinating to observe that this connection between "mother" and "sea" or "ocean" is contained in the very letters or symbols with which we convey thoughts in the form of writing: for instance, the words for "mother" in many, many languages of the world begin with the sound we write in the alphabet that is derived from Phoenician, Greek, and Roman sources as "M" or "m" -- a symbol which is clearly reminiscent of waves of water or the ocean's rollers.

In the Chinese characters, this connection between "mother" and "ocean" is even more clearly visible, in the characters for "mother" and "ocean," of which the symbol for "ocean" is built from the symbol for "mother," with a "radical" known as the "three water dots" or drops added, as well as a kind of crowning symbol sometimes known as the "top of mei" radical (radical 20 in the chart of modern radicals).

Here is the Chinese character for "mother" (pronounced mu in Mandarin and mou in Cantonese, both of which preserve the "m-sound" associated with the word mother around the world):

And here (and also at the top of this post) is the closely-related Chinese character for "ocean" or "sea," which is pronounced hai in Mandarin and hoi in Cantonese, and can be found in words such as Shanghai and hoi sin sauce:

In other words, the Chinese characters themselves (which are very ancient) appear to convey the same connection between "mother" and "ocean" which is found in the figures of Mary, Tiamat, Aphrodite and many others, and which is connected to the celestial cycle associated with the fall equinox and the plunge down into this lower realm, this world of matter (the very word "matter," as has been pointed out by many observers, also being linguistically very close to the word for mother or mater from which we get modern English words such as "maternal").

The characters themselves contain "microcosmic" representations of the spiritual messages conveyed by the ancient myths and sacred stories.

Nor do the esoteric connections of the ancient Chinese characters stop there. If they did, some might argue that attempts to find spiritual messages in the characters are stretches of the imagination, built upon mere coincidence or the "random," undirected development of the characters over the centuries.

But, this same sort of connection can be seen in other Chinese characters as well.

For example, the character for a "temple" is composed of the character for "earth" (which interestingly enough is symbolized by a "cross of matter" upon a horizontal "ground" that is wider than the cross-bar of the cross) above the symbol for a Chinese "inch" -- an "inch of earth," so to speak. The "inch-measurement" symbol is shown below, and was apparently derived from a symbolic depiction of a thumb (appropriately enough, for the measurement of an inch):

So, that is the symbol for an "inch," and if we write the symbol for "earth" above that, we get the character for a "temple," shown below:

This connection of an "inch of earth" with a "temple" is full of important meaning worthy of careful consideration.

A temple is a sacred space -- a place which is set apart from the simply material and which is specifically designed to invoke the invisible realm, the world of spirit, the world of the divine. And yet it is clearly a space that is connected with the measurements and the motions of the great spheres of the heavens and the great sphere of the earth -- because we ourselves reflect and embody the infinite universe in our individual bodies, and because the teachings given in the various temples and sacred spaces around the world have to do with harmonizing our motions with the motions of the spheres and cycles of the heavens and of the earth.

The fact that the character for a temple in the Chinese calligraphy is composed of the characters for "an inch" of "earth" connects the idea of the sacred space with the measurements and motions of our planet and the cosmos. Note that a measurement of distance on our planet is always simultaneously a measurement of time: "seconds" and "minutes," for example, are obviously measurements of time, but they are also defined as a specific distance-measurements, and are intended to relate to the amount of distance the earth rotates in those periods of time.

We should not be at all surprised, then, to find that the Chinese character for "time" is composed of the symbol for "temple," with the addition of the symbol on the left (the radical) which represents the sun.  Thus, a temple is connected not only to an "inch of earth" but also to specifically evoke the presence of the sun in addition to the rotation of the earth, and by extension could be though of as the space in which the rays of the sun move across the rotating earth.  The ancient Egyptian Temple of Karnak comes immediately to mind.

Here is the character for "time":

Note, too, the significant fact that the word for "temple" in English contains the root temp which means "time" and which forms the basis for many other "time-related" words such as "temporary" or "tempo" or "tempest" or "temporal." In other words, both the Chinese characters and the western-language words for a temple preserve this connection between the sacred space and the majestic motions of the sun, moon, stars and planets which translate into our understanding and measurement of time.

Finally, it is also very interesting and significant that the character for "poem" or "metered verse" in the Chinese calligraphy once again contains the character for a "temple," this time adding the radical for "words," which is the flattened-square character symbolizing a human mouth, with four lines above it as if they are words or lines of speech floating upwards from the mouth, just the way that words or letters sometimes float up out of the mouths of characters on Sesame Street (and which, when I was little, I thought would visibly float up out of my mouth also, if I made the sound of a "z" for example).

And so this character seems to be telling us that poetry is a form of sacred speech, or speech for the temple, or words that connect to the invisible realm -- and indeed many ancient myths are written in verse form (from the Vedas of India and the Mahabharata with the Bhagavad Gita, to the poems of Homer and Pindar and Ovid, to the verses of many of the Biblical scriptures).

It is also indicating, of course, that poetry is a form of metered (or "measured") language, which is to say that it is language that has a "time component" to it (a certain number of beats per line), and which thus connects it to the motions of the spheres and to the temp in temple and tempo, as well.

Below is the Chinese character for poetry (the word shi in Mandarin and si in Cantonese): 

In all of these investigations of the symbols used to convey and preserve the ancient wisdom of the human race, we can clearly perceive the thread of the same central teaching: that we have plunged down into a material world, but that the material world is only "half" of the circle, so to speak. 

We are being reminded in all of these myths and in fact in the very letters and characters and symbols used to preserve the myths themselves that we are also spiritual beings, intimately connected to the heavenly realm, the spiritual realm, the realm of the divine, the realm of the infinite.

The ancient traditions involved aligning our lives to the motions of the planets and stars, in part through the recognition of certain special points on the great cycles -- including the point of the equinoxes, two of the most significant stations in all the motions of the heavens and the earth. The aligning of our microcosmic motions to the macrocosmic spheres involved the creation of and visits to sacred spaces, as well as the recitation of verses (sacred speech, or "temple speech" -- metered language) and the singing of certain songs (singing also being a form of poetry or special metered speech).

All of this ancient knowledge can be found literally around the globe, embodied not only in the myths and stories but also in the writing-systems and in the geometry and architecture and measurements and alignments used in the temples and monuments found all across our planet.

On this moment of autumnal equinox, we might all want to pause to reflect upon and be thankful for our own human mother, who gave us this human form we inhabit (the body being specifically referred to as a temple in ancient scripture) and indeed this very life itself.

Which brings us to one more Chinese ideogram, this one for the word "good," which is literally composed of the symbol for a "woman" (slightly different from but symbolically related to the character for "mother" that we have already seen) plus the symbol for a child (the mother first, on the left, and the child character found to the right). It is very good that we each had a mother, or we would not even be here in the first place! And so we should all be able to agree that depicting the character for "good" as a mother with child is extremely appropriate, and relates on some level to all of the other concepts that we have been exploring in this little study.

Below is the character for "good":

In all of the above calligraphy, I am indebted to the outstanding teaching found in the indispensable little volume, Learn to Write Chinese Characters, by Johan Bjorksten (1994), which examines the aesthetics and "design" of the characters, their balance and form and shape and harmony.

In it, he explains the tremendous importance of calligraphy in Chinese culture, and the great weight attached to writing the characters correctly. On page 2, he writes:

Calligraphy, the art of writing, is considered in China the noblest of the fine arts. At a  very early stage in history it became an abstract and expressionist art form, where meaning is of secondary importance and aesthetic expression the prime concern. Many Chinese hold that calligraphy prolongs the writers' lives, sharpens their senses, and enhances their general well-being. By practicing calligraphy you can achieve a glimpse into Chinese aesthetics and philosophy and learn to appreciate an abstract art form.

He also explains that Chinese calligraphy is traditionally learned through writing-out classic poetry -- which clearly connects yet again to all the concepts we have been exploring here (i.e., the letters themselves are sacred and relate to the realm of forms, and they are explicitly connected to and practiced through the medium of poetry, which is a form of special metered speech, the very character of which is connected to the character for a temple).

Writing Chinese calligraphy, in fact, can be a form of meditation -- in which doubts and second-guessing will ruin the desired outcome and the best results require a kind of "action without action" described in the Tao Te Ching or the Bhagavad Gita. The structure of the characters themselves obey certain principles of balance and proportion and architecture, as Johan Bjorksten beautifully conveys in his text and his examples, and thus can even be thought of as "sacred spaces" all their own.

Any egregious errors or disharmony in the above examples of Chinese characters, of course, are entirely my own responsibility and no reflection on anyone else.

Wishing you harmony and balance at this moment of September equinox, 2015.

Happy Pi Day! 03 14 15

Happy Pi Day! 03 14 15

Your humble author, working on pi-cutting skills: West Point, 1987.

Since it is the fourteenth day of the third month (which can be abbreviated 3.14), this day is often playfully referred to as "pi day," in recognition of the fact that the transcendental number pi (which goes on forever and has no discernible pattern to its endlessly-unfolding decimal sequence) begins with 3.14 . . .

And, because this is the year designated AD 2015 (which means that this day in this year can thus be abbreviated 3.14.15), this particular "pi day" is the only one since 1915 that has reflected the "first four digits of pi" after the decimal place (the first 9 digits of pi after the decimal place are 3.141592653 . . .

Mathematically, of course, pi relates the diameter of a circle to its circumference: the circumference of a circle can be expressed as 


d, where "d" is the diameter of the circle.

Because of pi's intimate relationship with the shape of the circle -- a shape with great symbolic significance, representative of the heavens above and hence of the world of spirit -- pi has long been treated with reverential honor and respect.

At the ancient monastic academy of West Point, for example, the act of cutting any pie or cake was once treated as a ritual of tremendous importance, as can be witnessed in the photograph above (which was not staged), in which a circular dessert pie is being inscribed with a knife-line across its diameter, while gentle coaching and advice is offered in order to ensure that the ceremony is done precisely in accordance with tradition.

This level of attention to detail is appropriate, because the act of placing a dividing line across the circular space of the pie is symbolically akin to coming into contact with the infinite.

Mathemagician Marty Leeds, who is very attuned to the symbolic significance of number, and especially of the transcendental number pi, explores the profound spiritual significance of pi in his book The Peacock Tales, reflecting:

I was spellbound by pi's infinite digits, its powerful trinity and its mysterious transcendence. [. . .]
[The] cosmic birth was the act of a great try-unity, first manifesting itself within itself and then releasing that potential by dividing itself; and pi is the ratio and geometric symbol given to us to help us remember and understand this story. God manifesting itself in the beginning of time as the sphere of creation is recognized in the circumference of pi, the division of itself recognized in pi's diameter, and the expansion of our universe recognized in pi's ever-unfolding, infinite digits.
In short, the mathematical constant of pi is a representation of the creation of our expanding universe.
15 - 17. [Italics and boldface type in the original].

Later in the same book, Marty dives deeper and deeper into the profound meaning of pi:

In the study of sacred geometry, the circle represented Heaven and the square represented Earth. This motif is seen within the Freemasonic Square and Compasses (the compass being Heaven and the square being Earth), within the ancient Chinese cosmographic concept known as Gai Tian (the square earth is a chariot, the round heaven its canopy) as well as utilized by the Buddhists in the building of the sacred, mound-like or semi-hemispherical structure known as the Buddhist Stupa. It is important to note for our study that the place where God resides, Heaven, is geometrically symbolized by the circle. If one takes a length of string and makes it a triangle, a square, a rectangle, or any other sort of a polygon, the amount of space that string creates will always be smaller than if one makes it a circle. The circle encapsulates the most amount of space with the least amount of effort. Bringing the circle out into three dimensions to make it a sphere will encapsulate the most volume. This geometric fact is one of high symbolic value. The circle is expressing something about the nature of its own being. It is speaking to you. It is representing, within its own essence and qualities, the limit or sphere or creation. [. . .]
The circle also leads us to the first number in existence, zero. If we were to attribute zero to a geometric form, the most obvious form we could equate it to would be the circle. The number (or non-number) zero expresses the concept of nothing. [. . .] The circle, by encapsulating the most space, yet simultaneously being a representation of the zero, or NO THING, condenses all time and all space into one geometric form. Put simply, the circle represents the concept of all or nothing. As far out into the abyss we wish to go, and as close to nothingness as we may conceive, the circle represents both. 125 - 127.

Pi connects the finite to the infinite, in that it relates a finite linear diameter (or radius, which is half the diameter and which is the distance between the points of a compass used to sweep out a circle, the compass thus being symbolic of the circle which it creates when it is used) to the shape that represents the infinite and the ineffable.

The architects of the Great Pyramid incorporated pi into the very structure of that massive monument, which has a perimeter around the base that is 2π times the height of the pyramid.

Similarly, the monument we know today as the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan in modern-day Mexico has a base perimeter which is 4π times the height of the pyramid.

These structures can thus be understood to symbolically unite heaven (the circle) with the earth (the square) and to act as symbolic link between the finite and the infinite, between the material realm and the realm of spirit.

In the second passage above from

The Peacock Tales, Marty Leeds also mentions the Square and Compasses of Freemasonry, which can be seen to point to the same connection between heaven and earth, material and spiritual, finite and infinite. The right-angle square tool clearly evokes the square, while the compass device evokes the circle: Heaven and Earth.

Interestingly enough, there is an important part of the heavenly sphere which contains two constellations that can be seen as evoking the very same profound concept of connection between heaven and earth, the infinite and the finite. These two constellations are the Great Square of Pegasus and the constellation known as the Triangulum, or Triangle, which is located close by. 

The Great Square, of course, evokes the square which represents bounded, limited, physical space: the earth (which goes around the sun in an annual circuit that is bounded by the "four pillars" or the "four corners" denoted by the two solstices and the two equinoxes). 

The Triangle evokes the instrument of the compass which is used to sweep out a circle. Hence, the two constellations, providentially located in the sky so close together, evoke the connection between Heaven and Earth, spiritual and material, infinite and finite.

The Triangle is actually also located very near to the critically-important constellation of Aries the Ram, whose brightest stars are also three in number (and which in fact are not quite so bright as those of the Triangle, making the Triangle a very useful tool for locating Aries, as discussed in this previous post).

Below is a screen-shot of the sky showing the position of the Great Square (outlined in green) and the Triangulum (outlined in red), both of which are outlined along with Aries (also outlined in red, only the brightest three stars being connected in this illustration).

As you can see from the above diagram, which I created using the outstanding open-source planetarium app Stellarium (available at, on this particularly significant "pi day," the earth is located on the opposite side of the sun from the portion of infinite space containing the stars which make up the constellations of the Great Square and of the Triangulum. 

This means that in order to "look towards" the Square and the Triangulum on this 3/14/15 day, one must look towards the sun itself. You won't be able to see these constellations in the night sky on this day, because when we are on the "night side" of the earth (the side turned away from the sun) we will be facing an entirely different sector of the heavens.

This seems somehow appropriate and even significant, since the calendar day itself that we designate as 3/14/15 is a date on the solar calendar (and the year AD 2015 itself is a year which commemorates the year of the Lord, the Christ, who can be shown to have strong connections to our sun, the enabler of all life on earth and the single most-essential intermediary through which or through whom we relate to the heavens beyond).

Ultimately, one of the most important messages of this mysterious and transcendental number pi is what it tells us about ourselves: that we ourselves, like pi, at once touch both the finite and the infinite, occupy the interstices of Heaven and Earth, matter and spirit. 

Pi day can help remind us of this truth -- a truth which the exigencies of the physical world often work to obscure. 

It is a perfect day to pause and meditate further on these truths.

And, once we become aware of it, pi can continue to remind us of these concepts more than just once a year -- whenever we encounter a circle in the form of a sacred drum, for example, or consider the infinite vastness of the night sky that opens up within the circle of the horizon.

Happy Pi Day!

For those interested in previous posts which touch on the concept of pi, see also:

Also, in light of the photo above, it is interesting to note that the Chinese character for "knife" is:

The vision of Ezekiel and the Tetramorphs of the Four Gospels

The vision of Ezekiel and the Tetramorphs of the Four Gospels

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Many present-day readers of the New Testament, particularly those from Protestant traditions, may be unaware of the very ancient association of the four New Testament gospel books with four specific figures: that of a winged Man, that of a winged Lion, that of a winged Bull or Ox, and that of an Eagle (winged, of course).

Robert Taylor (1784 - 1844), an ordained minister in England in the early 1800s, was sentenced to three years behind bars and was defrocked for the offense of giving "astronomico-theological lectures" in which he explained the celestial foundations of the imagery and events described in the scriptures of the Bible -- what today is often referred to as "astrotheology." 

Taylor argues that the eventual removal of these images from the pages of printed Bibles was done in order to prevent readers from figuring out something very important, saying at one point: 

Not till the days of the interference of our Protestant and Dissentarian preachers in the publication and circulation of Bibles and Testaments, was an authorized edition of the four gospels ever put forth, without presenting an equally authorized representation of the four evangelists with the four royal beasts by which they are respectively distinguished, -- the lion, for Matthew; the angel, for Mark; the bull, for Luke; and the eagle, for John. But the Protestant priests, the most deceitful of all deceivers of the people, beginning to fear that the people might acquire wit enough to ask for the meaning of those four royal beasts, have swindled away the old title-page, and substituted one with only two royal beasts in it: "The lion and the unicorn, a-fighting for the crown." Devil's Pulpit (1857), 326.

In other words, Taylor (who at times displays a rather slashing sarcastic wit) is saying that out of fear that the people would begin to ask questions, the old title pages in English Bibles which had in the past contained the images of the Four Evangelists with their four respective creatures were now replaced with a new title page that removed those four creatures and instead had an image of the royal arms which depict the heraldic lion of England and the heraldic unicorn of Scotland.

What could Taylor mean, and why would he indicate that religious leaders of the literalistic Christian traditions (with whom he was obviously none too happy, since they had had him locked up for teaching a connection between the scriptures and the stars) might have wanted to begin to phase the images out of the Bibles in order to avoid having the people start inquiring as to the meaning of them?

In order to answer that question, we will have to proceed systematically, along a fascinating trail . . .

For centuries, these four creatures were depicted in conjunction with the four gospel texts of the Gospel According to Matthew, the Gospel According to Mark, the Gospel According to Luke, and the Gospel According to John. 

Below, for instance, is the decorative illustration that marks the beginning of the New Testament in the 1599 Geneva Bible -- one of the very first translations of the scriptures into the English language (see discussion here regarding the 1536 execution of William Tyndale and the

unnatural laws making it illegal to possess the scriptures in translation for many centuries). Obviously, this Protestant text was published before Taylor says that the Protestant religious leaders began to decide it would be best to replace such title pages with title pages that did not show the four special creatures:

It contains a wealth of imagery, including symbolic images of the twelve tribes of Israel arranged along the left border as we look at it on the page, accompanied by illustrations representing the twelve disciples of the New Testament arranged along the right border as we look at it on the page, and then within the rectangle of the inner portion we see a symbolic representation of each of the Four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in that order if we begin in the upper left corner as we look at it on the page and proceed left to right along the top and then left to right along the bottom), with an image of the Lamb bearing a Cross in the center position along the lower row, in between the images of Luke and John.

Because the image is not terrifically high-resolution in the "big picture" above, below is a zoom-in on the images of each of the Four Evangelists from this page, each of whom can be seen to be accompanied by one of the four special figures mentioned above: the winged Man with Matthew, the Lion with Mark, the Ox with Luke, and the Eagle with John.

above: Matthew is depicted writing the text of the Gospel According to Matthew, while the winged Man looks on. From the Geneva Bible of 1599.

above: Mark is depicted writing the text of the Gospel According to Mark, while a Lion crouches in front of his desk or writing surface. From the Geneva Bible of 1599.

above: Luke is depicted writing the text of the Gospel According to Luke, while an Ox appears to be curled up, perhaps in a sleeping posture, by his side (if you are having trouble making out the Ox, his "face" is towards the viewer, and you can see his two horns going up on either side of his "face" and his two ears sticking out pretty much horizontally, just below his two horns). From the Geneva Bible of 1599.

above: John is depicted writing the text of the Gospel According to John, while an Eagle is positioned at his left elbow (on the right side of John as we look at the image). From the Geneva Bible of 1599.

The association of the Four Evangelists with these four specific creatures in sacred art is, in fact, extremely widespread, particularly in art from past centuries, and can be seen depicted in sculptures inside of (or even on top of) churches and cathedrals, in stained glass windows, and in other forms of art. Below is an example of another common use of this theme, around the four quadrants created in what is sometimes called a "groined ceiling" (a specific type of vaulted ceiling):

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In the image above, which was selected because it has a label for each of the four creatures (many times this imagery is unlabeled), we can clearly see the winged Man in the right-hand quadrant as we look at the image, holding a scroll which refers to Matthew (it says "St. Mathaus"), and then if we proceed counter-clockwise we see the Lion of Mark (the scroll reads "St. Marcus"), the Eagle of John (the scroll reads "St Johannes"), and the Ox of Luke (the scroll, somewhat damaged, reads "St. Lucas").

While the associations illustrated above have become solidified in Christian tradition, there is actually room for debate as to which Evangelist corresponds to which specific creature. The correspondences as usually depicted (and as shown in the illustrations above) can be traced back to Jerome (AD 327 - AD 420), in his fourteen-book commentary on the scroll of the Prophet Ezekiel (as we will see, these four specific creatures come from a very important passage in the first chapter of Ezekiel, in which we read the account of the vision of Ezekiel). However, Jerome's younger contemporary Augustine (AD 354 - AD 430) assigned the correspondences slightly differently: he reversed the assignments for Matthew and Mark, giving the Lion to Matthew and the Man to Mark.

However, writing about two hundred years before either Jerome or Augustine, the early literalist Christian bishop Irenaeus (c. AD 130 - AD 202), was probably the first known writer to connect these four creatures from the vision of Ezekiel to the Four Evangelists. In his Adversus Haereses ("Against Heresies"), he explicitly lays out this connection, and then argues for the assignment of each of the four creatures. Once again, there are two places in which his assignments are the same as those of Jerome, and two places in which his assignments are reversed, but unlike Augustine the difference is with Mark and John. Irenaeus assigns Mark the Eagle and John the Lion. 

If you're getting confused, there is a "matrix" at the bottom of this post to show the different correspondences; the important point to take from this is that there is widespread agreement from the early "church fathers" of literalist Christianity that the Four Evangelists each correspond to one of the four creatures, but there is clear disagreement as to which corresponds to whom.

The text in which Irenaeus argues for the connection of these creatures from Ezekiel's vision to the four New Testament gospels is found in Book 3 of his Against Heresies, in Chapter 11 and Paragraph 8. You can read a translation for yourself online in various places -- here is a link to one example. You will find the passage 3.11.8 beginning on page 852 of that online version. Here is what Irenaeus says (added "clarifications" are in brackets, and come from that translation linked above, not necessarily from Irenaeus):

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the "pillar and ground" of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sitteth upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit. As also David says, when entreating His manifestation, "Thou that sittest between the cherubim, shine forth." For the cherubim, too, were four-faced, and their faces were images of the dispensation of the Son of God. For, [as the Scripture] says, "The first living creature was like a lion," symbolizing His effectual working, His leadership, and royal power; the second [living creature] was like a calf, signifying [His] sacrificial and sacerdotal order; but the "third had, as it were, the face as of a man," -- an evident description of His advent as a human being; "the fourth was like a flying eagle," pointing out the gift of the Spirit hovering with His wings over the Church. And therefore the Gospels are in accord with these things, among which Christ Jesus is seated.

From this point, Irenaeus goes on to give his reasons for assigning the Lion to John, the Ox to Luke, the Man to Matthew, and the Eagle to Mark.

Although he assumes that the reader knows where he is getting these quotations describing "the cherubim," he does not explicitly state in the passage quoted that they come from the first chapter of Ezekiel, but that is where they do in fact come from. There, in the first chapter, we read:

1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,
3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.
9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.
10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.
13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.
16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.
18 And as for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four [note: a margin note from the actual King James Version translation of this text states that the second mention of the word "rings" in this verse might be alternately translated as "strakes," which in modern usage is often applied to parts of an aircraft, but at the time of this translation referred to the curved segments that were joined together to form a wooden "strake wheel," as shown in the illustrations on this page about old wheels].
19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.

The vision of Ezekiel continues on, and is extremely important, but at this point we have all the clues needed to begin to decipher what could be going on, and why Irenaeus in the passage cited above from his text Against Heresies declared that it is simply "not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are," and why he connected each of the four to one of the likenesses of the living creatures described here in the vision of Ezekiel. 

This may, in fact, be one of the most important passages in all of scripture. Why? What could it mean?

It has been famously seized upon in modern times as a possible vision of extraterrestrial craft by Ezekiel, who (it is argued) was trying to do his best to describe the advanced flying ships that he witnessed, as "wheels within wheels" with an "appearance of a flash of lightning" or "like burning coals" or "lamps," described as "going up and down," and being "so high that they were dreadful." Of course, the vision of these fantastic four "living creatures," with their wings and their hands and their four faces, has been interpreted by those in this camp as being Ezekiel's best effort to describe the alien beings who might have been piloting these amazing ships.

Is this why, in Robert Taylor's opinion, the leaders of the literalistic Christian churches (the ones who were so upset with Taylor for teaching astrotheology) wanted to remove the images of the four living creatures from the title-pages of the New Testaments? Did Taylor realize that the vision of Ezekiel was a vision of UFOs, and did he believe that in order to keep the people from finding it out, the illustrations began to be expurgated from the printed versions of the scriptures during the Protestant times, when more and more people were actually looking at the Bible for themselves?

Nope. That's not what he thought.

Taylor argues that the real identity of these four living creatures is indicated by Irenaeus himself, in the beginning of the passage cited above. Taylor says:

The reasoning, then, of the Christian father, Irenaeus, that there were four gospels, because there were four seasons of the year, after all the contempt which those who have invented the absurd conceit of a supposed historical basis of these divine poems would cast on it, is indeed the true and real account of the matter. Astronomico-Theological Lectures (1857), 269 - 270.

That sentence is a bit of a mouthful, so let's rearrange it to make it easier to see what Taylor is saying: 

The reasoning, then, of the Christian father Irenaeus, is indeed the true and real account of the matter. There were four gospels because there were four seasons of the year -- despite all the contempt that those who have invented the literalist approach will cast upon this argument. The literalist approach creates the "absurd conceit" (the "ridiculous fantasy or fabrication") that all these divine poems ("metaphors, allegories, language full of imagery") actually represent historical events -- and this approach misses their meaning altogether [this is my own free rearrangement of Taylor's quotation from pages 269-270, with a little paraphrase thrown in and some explanatory "translation" in quotation marks].

Taylor argues that the four seasons to which Irenaeus refers in conjunction with the four gospels are represented in the four accompanying symbols, which stand for four zodiac constellations: 

  • the Lion obviously represents Leo, 
  • the Ox of course corresponds to the Bull of Taurus, 
  • the Man is the only male human figure among the zodiac twelve: Aquarius
  • the Eagle is located directly above the Scorpion in the night sky, and hence is another way of referring to Scorpio.

Each of these corresponds to a season, Taylor explains: the Lion to summer, and Aquarius to winter, with the Bull corresponding to spring and the Scorpion to the autumn or fall.

We could go even further and note that which Taylor does not explicitly state (although he does hint on page v of the introduction to Devil's Pulpit), which is that the selection of these four specific stations on the zodiac wheel are by no means random: they represent the zodiac constellations which governed the four critical points of the annual cycle during the Age of Taurus, when the spring equinox sunrise took place in Taurus, the summer solstice in Leo, the fall equinox in Scorpio, and the winter solstice in Aquarius.

These four zodiac constellations no longer govern those four critical points of the year: the ages-long process of precession (sometimes called "the precession of the equinoxes") has moved the background stars twice since then, and going on a third time. Much of ancient myth corresponds to the zodiac as it would have been in the Age of Aries, which came after the Age of Taurus, which is depicted in the diagram below (which should be quite familiar by now to readers of this blog or the book The Undying Stars):

In the above diagram, the mighty "cross" of the year is depicted, as it was in the Age of Aries, when the Spring Equinox took place at the junction between Pisces and Aries, at the left side of the wheel in the "9 o'clock" position (the progress on the above layout is clockwise: the sun will rise in each sign shown for about one month, before moving to the next sign in a clockwise direction). 

The arrival of Aries, then, signified the arrival of spring equinox, and thus this entire Age was designate the Age of Aries. As the year progressed, the sun would climb higher and higher in the sky on the way to the summer solstice, which took place at the end of the sign of Gemini and the beginning of the sign of Cancer the Crab: thus, the wedge on the wheel belonging to Cancer is shaded in red. 

The sun would then begin to decline back "down" towards the fall equinox, which took place right after the end of the month in which the sun rose in Virgo the Virgin, and entered the sign of Libra the Scales or the Balance (at the "3 o'clock" position at the right-hand side of the circle as you look at it on the page above).

From there, the sun's path would continue to get lower and lower in the sky -- and its rising points further and further south for observers in the northern hemisphere -- until the time of the winter solstice, which was then taking place in between the signs of Sagittarius the Archer and Capricorn the Goat. Thus, Capricorn is also shaded in red: the two red wedges of Cancer and Capricorn thus make up the "vertical bar" of the great "cross of the year," the vertical bar running from the winter solstice at the bottom of the year straight up to the summer solstice at the top of the year. You can see the importance of the Age of Aries in the fact that the two tropics are still designated by the signs that governed the beginning of the high-point and the low-point for the annual cycle during that Age: the Tropic of Cancer (northern hemisphere) and the Tropic of Capricorn (southern).

Similarly, the "horizontal bar" of the great cross of the year is indicated by the two signs shaded in black, which during the Age of Aries would have been Aries and Libra.

The motion of precession, which is discussed in this video that I made a few years back to try to illustrate the concept using a very clear and easy-to-grasp series of images, actually "delays" the background stars of the zodiac, causing the sun to rise in the preceding zodiac constellation after a long period of approximately 2,160 years. Hence, in the Age prior to the Age of Aries, the sun was rising in the constellation of Taurus on the spring equinox, instead of in Aries (Aries precedes Taurus, and so the motion of precession eventually delayed the background stars enough for the sun to rise in the constellation Aries on spring equinox instead of in Taurus). 

Here is the same diagram shown above, but this time labeled for the great cross of the year in the Age of Taurus:

And now we begin to perceive the significance of the "four living creatures" of the vision of Ezekiel, and of the insistence of Irenaeus that the gospels themselves must also be four and only four in number, and correspond to the four living creatures of Ezekiel. For in the Age of Taurus, we can see that the spring equinox corresponds to the Bull, the summer solstice corresponds to the Lion, the fall equinox corresponds to Scorpio (which is located at the base of the shimmering path of the Milky Way, and  contains flying upwards above Scorpio the constellation of Aquila the Eagle), and the winter solstice corresponds to Aquarius the Water-Bearer.

The correspondences are undeniable, and the significance of this fact is profound.

If Ezekiel's vision of the heavens corresponds to the zodiac wheel, and includes clear reference to the four zodiac constellations governing the stations of the two solstices and two equinoxes, then this is a very powerful piece of evidence supporting the argument that the ancient scriptures of the Bible consist of esoteric metaphors describing the motions of the heavens.

In fact, I believe that almost all ancient myth from around the world can be demonstrated to consist of just such esoteric metaphors describing the motions of the heavens, and outline the evidence for this conclusion in over fifty different examinations of specific myths and sacred stories that are linked on this page (the "Star Myth Index"). 

The fact that the stories of the Old and New Testaments are also built upon this exact same system actually unites them with the rest of the world's sacred traditions. It was the creators of the literalist approach who falsely divided the Biblical scriptures from the rest of the world's sacred traditions, and then set about opposing and attacking the rest of the world's traditions, which they had now set themselves apart from. Obviously, this separation stretches back to the time of Irenaeus, who was an important and powerful proponent of the literalist approach and a tireless enemy of those who did not subscribe to the literalistic historicizing approach.

Once we understand that the "four living creatures" described in the vision of Ezekiel correspond exactly to the four zodiac points of the great wheel of the year during the Age of Taurus, the rest of his vision begins to become clear. His vision does not describe UFOs, but rather the motions of the great wheels which turn in the sky as the zodiac with its colures (or hoops) that pass through and connect the solstices and the equinoxes -- an understanding of the mechanism of the heavens which is replicated in the familiar and beautiful armillary spheres, whose very name means "composed of rings."

Below is an image of an armillary sphere:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Like most armillary spheres, it represents the heavens as seen from earth, and consists of a ring that represents the celestial equator and a ring that represents the plane of the ecliptic: these two cross at the points of the equinoxes. It also consists of one hoop which passes through the equinox points and then through the north and south celestial poles -- this is called the "equinoctial colure" -- and one hoop which passes through the solstice points and then through the north and south celestial poles -- this is called the "solstitial colure."

Below, those points are labeled in case you aren't familiar with these concepts:

Now, as you can see, the armillary sphere is constructed with an "axle" that runs between the two points labeled "N. Celestial Pole" and "S. Celestial Pole," which means that the entire "sphere of rings" will turn around this central axle -- just as the sky as seen from an observer on earth appears to "turn" around a central hub at the north celestial pole (or the south celestial pole, if you are observing from the southern hemisphere). Then, altogether as if they were connected, the rings of the celestial equator and the ecliptic will turn, and athwart these will turn the two great "vertical hoops" of the sosltitial and equinoctial colures, carrying along with them the four important points of the two solstices and two equinoxes.

Let's go back and examine the vision of Ezekiel again, and you can see that this is exactly what the text is describing.

In verse 4: "behold, a whirlwind came out of the north." This can be understood as referring to the fact that the heavens appear to turn around the central point of the north celestial pole. This is elsewhere described in myth as a mighty whirlpool: the two images both refer to the same thing -- the circling of either air or water around a central point (the "vortex" of the whirlpool or whirlwind -- which is the north celestial pole, if you are in the northern hemisphere, as Ezekiel evidently is, since he says that this whirlwind "came out of the north").

In verse 4 as well: "a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it." I believe this almost certainly refers to the great cloud of the Milky Way galaxy, which crosses the heavens like one of the colures, basically along the line that divides Sagittarius and Scorpio and runs up to form the line between Taurus and Gemini.

In verse 5: "Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures." These four living creatures are the four points on the ecliptic hoop through which the solstitial and equinoctial colures pass: they are the images of the zodiac constellations at those four points. 

In verse 9: "Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward." This can be understood as referring to the fact that the four creatures are all turned by the same force -- their "wings are joined one to another." The phrase about them "turning not" but always going "straight forward" may seem confusing, until you understand that the five visible  planets go across the face of the heavens in a very different manner: they all go into what is called "retrograde motion" at some point (when the earth is "overtaking them"). This concept of retrograde motion in the visible planets is discussed here and here, and it is very important. But, the zodiac constellations represented by these four living creatures are not visible planets, and they will not undergo retrograde motion. They will always go "straight forward" across the sky, and they will never be seen "turning back." 

In verse 13: "their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps." This and the other descriptions almost certainly refer to the fact that the constellations are composed of stars in the sky -- which are "like lamps" in the heavens, or burning coals.

In verse 15: "behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces." This refers to the fact that the four zodiac signs are born along by one wheel -- the ring of the ecliptic, labeled above on the armillary sphere. It is "by the earth" because it is very close to ring of the celestial equator.

In verse 16: "they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel." This refers to the fact that all four are actually part of the same ring, which turns as a "wheel in the middle of a wheel" as can plainly be seen by contemplating the motion of a turning armillary sphere such as the one depicted above.

In verse 18: "As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful, and their rings [or "strakes"] were full of eyes round about them four." This verse, which hitherto seemed so confusing, is now revealed as an apt description of what we have been discussing so far. They are "full of eyes" because they are full of stars (this explains how they had "eyes inside" as well, as described in other verses not quoted here). The rings that are "so high that they were dreadful" are probably the two colures, which run up to and through the celestial north pole and then down to the celestial south pole. The "strakes" are the segments of the wheel of the year -- in fact, it is a perfect metaphor for the segments of a zodiac wheel. Below is an image of an old wooden straked wheel:

image: Wikimedia commons (link). Modified by adding the blue arrows showing strakes and the yellow box labeling the strakes. 

And in verse 19: "and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up." This could refer to the motion of the constellations as they turn across the night sky, lifting up from the eastern horizon, crossing the vault of the heavens, and then going back down to sink into the western horizon. But, I actually believe it refers to the separation between the plane of the ecliptic and the celestial equator -- with the celestial equator being metaphorically referred to as "the earth" here. The fact that these two are "split apart" as they are means that throughout the year they create a sort of yawning motion like the opening and closing of the mouth of a great fish or something of that nature. You can see some animations of this motion in the link inside this previous post discussing this phenomenon. 

From the above explication, it is I believe completely clear that the vision of Ezekiel refers to the celestial mechanics of the turning wheels of the heavens -- and does so with reference to the constellations that governed the "cross of the year" during the Age of Taurus. This is powerful confirmation of the theory that these ancient scriptures concern the action of these celestial forces -- and, as I have discussed at length in other blog posts and in the book The Undying Stars, they do so as part of an esoteric system of allegory designed to convey profound truths about the nature of the universe and of human existence in this incarnate life. 

But, as we have seen from the preceding discussion, this allegorical description of the mighty machinery of the heavens is not confined to the vision of Ezekiel: one of the most important early proponents of the religion based on the New Testament scriptures has explicitly informed us that this description applies with equal force to the four gospels describing the life of Jesus. These four living creatures, who are sometimes referred to as "the tetramorphs" (which means "four-forms") or sometimes altogether as "the tetramorph," are specifically connected to the Four Evangelists and the telling of the story "according to" each of them.

As we have seen, there is some confusion even amongst the early "church fathers" as to which of the four creatures corresponds to which of the four gospels. This may well be because trying to connect a gospel to a creature based on the perceived characteristics of, say, a Lion or an Ox (as Irenaeus and the rest do in their discussions) is mistaken: it may well be that they should be connected based on the characteristics of the specific season (or the solstice or equinox) rather than to the characteristics of the animal or creature whose constellation governed that season. In other words, if one of the accounts has a "summery" aspect, then perhaps it should be connected to the living creature that looks like a Lion and corresponds to Leo and the summer solstice, and if another account has a "wintery" aspect, then perhaps it should be connected to the living creature that looks like a Man and corresponds to Aquarius and the winter solstice.

Robert Taylor follows such a procedure, and comes up with his own assignment of the four creatures, different from Irenaeus or Jerome, but interestingly enough in agreement with the layout proposed by Augustine. 

Taylor simply argues that because Matthew is the longest, and since days are longest in summer and specifically at summer solstice, then Matthew must correspond to the Lion (as Augustine in fact assigned it as well). 

Since Mark is the shortest, and since the days are shortest at winter solstice, Taylor assigns Mark to the Man who represents Aquarius and the winter solstice during the Age of Taurus. 

The other two correspond to the equinoxes, and Taylor notes that in fact Luke and John are both of them nearly equal in length and that both are shorter than Matthew but longer than Mark. He gives Luke the Ox (as do all the others -- on this point everyone seems to be in agreement), and John the Eagle (here he is in agreement with everyone but Irenaeus). 

It is interesting that all of them have Luke assigned to the Ox, which corresponds to the sign in which the year "starts" during the Age of Taurus. This is interesting because it is Luke who gives us the most comprehensive gospel account of the birth of Jesus. This connection may or may not be valid, since of course the birth narrative is full of winter solstice imagery, but it is interesting, especially since the signs clearly correspond to the Age of Taurus and since this is the one correspondence agreed upon by all the commentators we have examined.

It is also interesting that Taylor's proposal matches up with Augustine. We know of Augustine that he was highly trained in Platonic philosophy -- and it is quite clear that the Platonic school in ancient times was a preserver of the exact type of esoteric knowledge that we are discussing here.

It is also extremely noteworthy that we are using the zodiac constellations from the Age of Taurus -- an Age of great antiquity. Much of the imagery from the Old Testament seems to celebrate the arrival of the Age of Aries, including the famous incident of Moses smashing the tablets of the law when his brother Aaron insists on establishing an idol of a Bull calf. The New Testament gospels, of course, often use imagery suggesting that they are heralding the advent of the Age following the Age of Aries: the Age of Pisces (which is now drawing to a close, as we enter the Age of Aquarius).

So, where did these patterns corresponding to the Age of Taurus come from? I believe they may be an important clue pointing to the fact that the scriptures of both the so-called "Old" and "New" Testaments come from extremely ancient sources, and very likely from ancient Egypt. This is another discussion, but it is a very important one.

Finally, it is of course ironic that Irenaeus is here referring to a passage with deep foundations in celestial metaphor, and that he is doing so as part of his massive work

Against Heresies

, the entire purpose of which was to counter the arguments of the Gnostics (broadly speaking -- there are technical distinctions within the broad concept of the Gnostic approach, and Irenaeus attacked many of these in turn within his work, such as the Valentian teachings and many others). The very essence of what I would broadly term "the Gnostic approach" (as opposed to the literalistic-historicist approach that Irenaeus was championing) is the idea that these scriptures should not be understood as describing literal or historical events and figures, but that they are to be understood esoterically. 

In other words, if one were to argue that Jesus was not a literal or historical character but that these scriptures were designed to enable the individual to perceive the "Christ in you," that could generally be described as a more Gnostic understanding of the scriptures -- and it would generally be strongly condemned by "orthodox" literalist Christianity.

And yet, the insistence that the four gospels that tell us the story of the Christ all correspond to the great wheel of the year is to point to the fact that these stories in fact


all about "the Christ in you." Because, as many previous posts have labored to explain, the up & down motion of the sun through the year, and the daily motion of the sun, stars, and planets from one horizon to the other and then "down into the earth," can be understood as a powerful allegory for the experience of each and every human soul, plunging down from the spirit realm into incarnation, and toiling through the space "between the horizons" (between the equinoxes, in the lower half of the circle) before ascending again into the heavens, perhaps to repeat the cycle over and over (at least for a few trips, until whatever we are learning to do down here is learned). 

From the above discussion of the four "tetramorph" living creatures of the Lion, the Ox, the Eagle and the Man, it is almost certain that this is in fact exactly what the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are actually intended to convey.



is why the images of the four living creatures started to disappear from printed texts and their connections to the four gospels started to become less emphasized, after printing presses became prevalent and Protestantism put Bibles in just about every household that wanted one, in stark contrast to previous laws preventing people from reading these sacred texts for themselves.

Epiphany: revealing the hidden divine nature

Epiphany: revealing the hidden divine nature

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The traditional celebration of Christmas continues for twelve days, beginning with the midnight birth of Jesus at the juncture between December 24 & December 25 (three days after winter solstice, which generally falls on December 21st most years, as discussed in this previous post) and ending with the celebration of Twelfth Night at the juncture between January 5 & January 6, with its ultimate conclusion celebrated at Epiphany on January 6th. 

Epiphany is a word which means to "show forth" and refers to the revealing of the divinity of the Christ in the gospels stories. 

The word epiphany itself contains the Greek prefix epi- meaning "to" or "towards" or "upon" (and which is found in the word epistle, meaning "a formal written letter or message" which combines the "to" prefix and the verb stellein, "to send;" and in the word epithet, meaning "a title or label given to someone or something," which combines the prefix epi- with the verb tithenai, "to place upon;" and in the word epitaph, meaning "an inscription upon a tombstone," which combines the prefix epi- with the noun taphos or "tomb") and the Greek verb phainein, meaning "to show" (and which is found in the English word diaphanous, meaning "of such a fine texture as to be transparent or translucent," which combines the Greek prefix dia- meaning "through" and the verb phainein meaning "to show").

The same day which is referred to as Epiphany in most western church traditions is referred to as Theophany in the eastern or Greek church traditions, which literally means "the revealing of God" or "the appearance of a god or goddess to a man or woman," from the Greek word theos, "a  god," and phainein, "to show". 

The day of Epiphany is traditionally associated with three specific events in the gospel accounts which have to do with the revelation or recognition of divinity in the Christ: with the visit of the Magi (or "Three Kings," who come and give honor to the Christ child and give symbolic gifts), with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan (in which the heavens open up, a voice proclaims "This is my son," and the Spirit descends like a dove), and in the wedding at Cana (in which the first public miracle is performed, in the changing of water into wine).

Some of the esoteric, symbolic, and celestial aspects of the visit of the Magi have been discussed in this previous post. There are indications that the baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan, and the wedding miracle at Cana, both have celestial foundations as well -- and that their intended meaning concerns not the events of historical personages thousands of years ago, but rather the condition in which every man and woman finds himself or herself during this incarnate, material life.

[The remainder of this post will examine evidence that the stories in the Biblical scriptures were not intended to be understood literally. Those not comfortable examining such evidence may not wish to read further].

We have already examined evidence that the figure of John the Baptist has strong connections with the zodiac sign of Aquarius, a figure who is of course associated with water and the pouring out of water, and also with the beginning of the ascent back up from the lowest point on the "zodiac wheel." We have seen that the constellation of Aquarius in the sky appears as a man carrying a jug or jar of water, in a distinctly pitched-forward posture, with an outstretched forward leg (see star-chart below). 

This leaned-forward posture, we argued in that previous post, was also responsible for the story about John the Baptist losing his head, since when rising in the east his head would still be beneath the horizon when the body has already cleared the horizon, and when setting in the west there would be a point at which his head was still above the horizon when his body had already sunk below it.

That previous post also showed sacred art from centuries ago depicting the beheading of John the Baptist, in which the Baptist is painted in a kneeling, pitched-forward posture, with his hands bound and positioned about where the "forward leg" is located in the constellation above. One could even argue that the beheading legend might also come from envisioning the jug of Aquarius as the severed head of John, with the streams of water transformed into blood in that case (and, it must be admitted, the small diamond-shaped head of the constellation is quite faint, making this view of the constellation a very plausible possibility).

Based on this identification of John the Baptist and Aquarius in these specific episodes, it is certainly likely that the episode of the Baptism of Christ also derives from the figure of Aquarius as identified with John the Baptist, and that the pouring out of water from the vessel carried by Aquarius is the foundation for the baptism of Christ by John. 

And, as it turns out, sacred art has for centuries depicted John the Baptist in the act of baptizing Jesus as having the same distinctive features of the constellation Aquarius, including the position of the legs, the upraised arms and water vessel, and the streams of water flowing down (see for example the image in the fresco at top, painted during the first half of the 1400s).

The constellation directly below the streams of water coming from the jug of Aquarius is the Southern Fish or Piscis Austrinis, which is discussed and shown in star-charts in this previous post from 2012. Interestingly enough, in the sacred art from previous centuries in which John is depicted with features of Aquarius, the figure of Jesus is often portrayed with his hands together in the anjali mudra (see discussion here), which is also a "fish-like" hand gesture and one that is sometimes used to depict a fish swimming in the water in some children's songs that use hand gestures, for example. The fresco at top demonstrates this hand position.

Sometimes, the figure of Jesus is shown as being even more "fish-like" in form, not just with the hand gesture but with the position of the body as well, such as in the image below, painted in 1601:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Sometimes, the figure of John is shown as having a long staff, usually surmounted with a cross-piece to make it cruciform: the image above shows such a crucifix in John's hand. This feature probably derives from the outstretched "forward leg" of the constellation Aquarius itself. Below is another image of the baptism scene, this one from the 1500s, in which John is shown with such a cruciform staff:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The Aquarius symbology should be evident in all three of the above figures of John the Baptist. The image of the descending dove in between the glowing clouds, present in all three images and in the scripture accounts of the baptism scene, should be evident enough: it is the important constellation Cygnus the Swan, flying "downwards" through the clouds of the Milky Way. Below is an image using the free open-source planetarium application from showing the constellations in question:

As the labels in the diagram indicate, the scripture accounts tell us that the descending Spirit appears and descends when "the heavens opened" -- literally when the heavens were "cloven" or "rent" (like a torn garment). See for example Mark 1:10, where the scriptures read: "And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened [or "cloven" or "rent"], and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him."

You can see from the Milky Way shown in the Stellarium application and the image above that this word "cloven" or "rent" is a very apt descriptor for the Milky Way as it rises up behind Aquarius and as the majestic constellation Cygnus flies "down" it. In fact, this feature of the Milky Way Galaxy which we can see from our observation point on earth is often referred to as the Galactic Rift or the Great Rift. This is almost certainly a clue included in the text to help confirm that the constellations indicated above are those being described.

There are reasons to believe that the Wedding at Cana, in which water is turned to wine, connects to the constellation Aquarius as well (for one thing, Noah was also described in the Old Testament as the first to make wine, and we have already examined evidence that he was associated with Aquariusas well).

It is possible that all these events and episodes actually represent literal and historic events, which just happen to also match up quite precisely to specific constellations that had been positioned in the sky long before they ever happened. It is also possible to argue that these events were foreseen and then were "pre-figured in the stars." 

However, both of these explanations are more difficult to maintain due to the fact that multiple scriptural accounts appear to match up to the same constellations. 

It appears much more likely that these scriptures, just like myths from virtually every ancient culture around the globe, were not actually intended to preserve literal and historical events which took place on planet earth, but that they are exquisitely-crafted celestial allegories designed to convey esoteric truths. If multiple stories around the world, and multiple stories within the Old and New Testaments themselves, can be shown to derive from the very samesets of constellations, then a very likely explanation is that the same constellations gave rise to many different esoteric myths which "dress up" those constellations in different ways, in order to convey profound knowledge which is difficult to grasp except through metaphor.

If so, then what could this series of stories connected with the Epiphany (or Theophany) be trying to convey?

For a possible answer, consider again the quotation from a 1936 lecture by esotericist Alvin Boyd Kuhn, cited in this previous post and discussed further in the subsequent post on the Three Kings (who are also closely associated with the Epiphany), in which Kuhn asserts:

The Bible is the drama of our history here and now; and it is not apprehended in its full force and applicability until every reader discerns himself [or herself] to be the central figure in it! The Bible is about the mystery of human life. Instead of relating to the incidents of a remote epoch in temporal history, it deals with the reality of the living present in the life of every soul on earth.

In other words, the Epiphany is about the mystery of human life, and it is not apprehended in its full force and applicability until you realize that you yourself are the central figure in it! 

The baptism scene, with its recognition or revelation of the divinity in the one whom the scriptures describe as descending into incarnate form, and then being "placed beneath the waters" in the baptism scene, describes and depicts the condition of every human soul which has plunged into incarnation, when we leave the realm of spirit (the realm of the upper elements of "air" and "fire") to be clothed in a body of "clay" -- that is, a body composed of the lower elements of "earth" and "water" (seven-eighths water, as we have been told).

These stories convey the message that each and every one of us carries within us a divine spark, which has been plunged into the water and obscured inside our material form. Immersed in this world of physicality and materiality, it is all too easy to be completely blinded to that "invisible realm" or realm of spirit, and to live as though we are completely material beings, denying or forgetting our spiritual nature altogether. One of the purposes of these texts is to cause us to remember -- and one of the purposes of the celebration of Epiphany, it seems, is to help us to remember that we ourselves, and every single human being we ever encounter, contain a "hidden god," a divine spark.

Although some of the centuries-old traditions and ceremonies which have accompanied the celebration of Epiphany in many cultures may not be familiar to all readers, many of them are very powerful and are still carried out to this day in some communities. Many of these old traditions seem to imply the message of the plunge of the divine spark into matter, where it is hidden, and where it must be found and then "raised up."

One of these is the ritual known as the Blessing of the Waters, in which a cross is taken to the ocean, or to a lake or large river, and immersed in the waters. In his masterful 1940 text Lost Light, Alvin Boyd Kuhn explains that the cross itself is a symbol of the incarnate condition of every man and woman in this material life: we have a physical component, represented by the horizontal bar of the cross, and a spiritual component, represented by the vertical bar of the cross. 

The placing of the cross into the waters represents our plunge into the material realm: the raising up of the cross from the waters represents the recognition or revelation of the divine nature which can be hidden and even forgotten but which can never be completely denied. One of our important missions in this life is to recognize and elevate this divine spark in ourselves, in others, and indeed in all of creation around us. Epiphany, which takes place on our annual cycle when the sun begins to climb back up out of the deep pit of winter solstice, is marked by rituals which convey this important task.

In many cultures, the cross is actually flung into the water, where youths then rush to be the first to find it and retrieve it -- raising it up from the depths. This ritual continues every year to this day. Below is a video showing one such ceremony, in a community within the Greek Orthodox faith (where Epiphany is called Theophany):

Alvin Boyd Kuhn gives his explication of the symbolism of the cross and the water -- and he makes clear that the cross has also long been used as a symbol in many "non-Christian" traditions, including those of the ancient Egyptians and of many of the cultures of the Americas:

In a very direct sense the cross is connected with the flood of water that must be crossed, with the baptism and the lower sea voyage. [. . .] This most ancient, perhaps, of all religious symbols (by no means an exclusive instrument of Christian typology) was the most simple and natural ideograph that could be devised to stand as an index of the main basic datum of human life -- the fact that in man the two opposite poles of spirit and matter had crossed in union. The cross is but the badge of our incarnation, the axial crossing of soul and body, consciousness and substance, in one organic unity. An animal nature that walked horizontally to the earth and a divine nature that walked upright crossed their lines of force and consciousness in the same organism. [. . .]
The Toltecs called the cross the Tree of Sustenance and the Tree of Life. [. . .] The cross is a symbol of life, never of death, except as "death" means incarnation. It was the cross of life on earth because its four arms represented the fourfold foundation of the world, the four basic elements, earth, water, air, and fire, of the human temple, and because it was an emblem of the reproduction of new life, and thus an image of continuity, duration, stability, an eternal principle ever renewing itself in death. The whisperings of esoteric fable report that the very tree on which Jesus was hanged was grown from a sprout or seed from the forbidden Tree of Life in Genesis! There are many instances of the cross burgeoning into fresh life. The savior is not nailed on the tree; he is the tree. He unites in himself the horizontal human-animal and the upright divine. And the tree becomes alive; from dead state it flowers out in full leaf. The leaf is the sign of life in a tree. The Egyptians in the autumn threw down the Tat cross, and at the solstice or the equinox of spring, erected it again. The two positions made the cross. The Tat is the backbone of Osiris, the sign of eternal stability. And Tattu was the "place of establishing forever." 414 - 416.

This passage explains that the ritual of throwing down the cross and raising it back predates literalist Christianity as it was formulated in the first through fifth centuries AD. It was a ritual in ancient Egypt associated with the Djed-column (Kuhn uses the form Tat, the older version of writing this same word in our lettering system -- today it is more commonly written as Djed). In fact, Kuhn explains that the Egyptians had a legend in which Isis lost the Tat column in the sea (Lost Light, 420-421) as well as a ritual in which they cast it down into the waters of the Nile (page 306). Also, in the video above you can see that the cross thrown into the water to be brought up again is wreathed in leaves, which relates well to Kuhn's discussion cited above about the cross blossoming with leaves as a sign of life.

After reading this and watching the video, the centuries-old paintings and frescoes showing John the Baptist in the river scene carrying a wooden staff in the form of a cross become even more full of powerful meaning.

Kuhn argues that the ritual of throwing down the cross into the waters and raising it up again represents the divine spark in each of us, thrown down into incarnation and hidden, which we must recognize and elevate. The rituals in which one swimmer finds the cross and brings it up, and then is recognized as special for the entire year, seems to drive home the lesson that "every reader [must] discern himself [or herself] to be the central figure" in the myth or sacred drama. In a very real sense, the concept of the epiphany or the theophany is "all about you" -- you are the "star" of the show, just as the swimmer who lifts up the cross first is the "star" of the drama for that year.

Other traditions from Epiphany or Theophany around the world which emphasize the same message include the tradition of baking a single black bean into a cake: the feast guest who finds the bean in his or her piece is "king" or "queen" for the festival. This again speaks to the symbolism of the "hidden god" or the "hidden divinity" inside each man and woman: this is the message of our human incarnation, conveyed in all the ancient scriptures of the world, according to this interpretation.

And here we return to the fact that in the paintings above showing the Baptism of Jesus, which is associated with Epiphany or Theophany or the revelation of his divine nature, the figure of Jesus is depicted with his hands in the distinctive position of "prayer," associated with the word "Amen" in Christian tradition, and with the benediction "Namaste" in India and other cultures.

This previous post explored the fact that the word "Namaste" means "I bow to you," and by extension "I bow to the divinity in you," and even "The divinity in me recognizes and acknowledges the divinity in you." Similarly, the word "Amen" which is associated with this very same position of the hands is the name of the ancient Egyptian god "Amun" or "Ammon" or "Amoun" -- the hidden god.

This confluence is most appropriate for Epiphany, in which the hidden divine nature is revealed.

We could go on and on contemplating the amazing and profound truths which this examination opens up for us to explore. However, one practical application which seems to be something we can think about every day (and one that I am working on in my own life) is the concept of blessing and not cursing. If we take seriously the fact that every man and woman we meet is possessed of an internal divine spark, then we should want to look at them with positive intentions, seeing beyond the physical and material and "animal" responses we might have when -- for example -- they cut us off in traffic (or stop at a green light long enough to get through it themselves and cause us to miss it).

It may seem strange at first, but reacting to such a situation with real thoughts of blessing towards them produces a whole different set of reactions than reacting with cursing (even if they never even know what was going through your mind or said in your car).

And there are many more applications much more profound than that one.

Previous posts have explored the definition of blessing as being related to the recognition and elevation of spirit, in ourselves, in other people, in animals and plants and streams and rocks and in entire the rest of the material universe.

And the concept contained in the ancient scriptures and traditions regarding Epiphany -- not just in the New Testament scriptures but in the sacred traditions of ancient Egypt and in other ancient cultures around the world -- seem to be pointing us in the very same direction.

Remains of an ancient Egyptian Djed-column (or "Tat cross" as Alvin Boyd Kuhn and other earlier writers usually refer to it), Wikimedia commons (link).

Measurements in time and space, and in ancient scripture

Measurements in time and space, and in ancient scripture

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Above is a remarkable podcast interview between Moe Bedard of Gnostic Warrior Radio and Crichton E. M. Miller, the author of The Golden Thread of Time: A Quest for the Truth and Hidden Knowledge of the Ancients.

Mr. Miller argues that the symbol of the Celtic Cross, which is a cross superimposed upon a circular nimbus, actually represents a measuring device related to the sextant, octant, or quadrant (all of which are named for the fraction of a full circle which they represent), but using a full circle rather than a portion of a circle. He argues that this device would enable a user to make accurate determinations regarding where they are located on our planet (longitude and latitude), as well as where the planet is on its annual journey around the sun.

Mr. Miller describes some of the details of the way he believes such a device could have been constructed, as well as some of the analysis and experimentation which led up to his discovery of this idea, beginning at around the 8-minute mark of this YouTube video and continuing to the end. 

I have not personally analyzed all the arguments, or the possibility that the cross with a circle circumscribed might represent an actual ancient navigational device, although I have analyzed a large amount of evidence which suggests that the various crosses of antiquity (some of which predate the historical rise of Christianity, and others of which were present in the Americas prior to the first conventionally-recognized contact with Europeans) have esoteric connections to the annual "cross" of the year formed by the solstice-line and equinox-line on a zodiac wheel, as well as to the spiritual concept of combined spiritual component and material component present in each incarnate man and woman, expressed in ancient Egypt by the concept of the Djed-column "cast down" and the Djed-column "raised up" (among other expressions the Egyptians used to articulate the same idea): see for instance the discussion in this previous post, as well as some of the other posts linked in that discussion.

However, just because the ancient symbol of the cross can be shown to connect the annual "cross of the year" to an understanding of the universe as containing both spiritual and material aspects does not automatically mean that the Celtic Cross itself could not also have links to an ancient navigational device resembling the one proposed by Mr. Miller. On the contrary, Mr. Miller's analysis clearly incorporates the centrality of the "cross of the year" and the zodiac wheel that encircles the year, and his recognition of their connection to the Celtic Cross certainly seems to strengthen his arguments.

The parts of the interview that I found most fascinating were Mr. Miller's arguments about some of the Bible passages which might refer to the importance of being able to "measure rightly," which he argues may have been talking directly to the closely-guarded skill of being able to measure rightly in time and in space, but also by extension the importance of being able to "measure rightly" in terms of right behavior and morality -- and that the scriptures might be seen as arguing that the two concepts are related, or even identified as two sides of the same idea.

At about the 40-minute mark in the above podcast, Mr. Miller explains that it is the axial tilt of the earth (the fact that earth's poles are tilted in relationship to the ecliptic path, at an angle sometimes referred to as the "obliquity of the ecliptic," which is currently an angle very close to 23.4 degrees) which creates the annual cross of solstices and equinoxes in the first place, which creates the four seasons of the year, and which enables us to determine our location on the annual orbital journey of the earth. 

He then makes the astonishing suggestion that the fourth verse of the Twenty-Third Psalm in the Hebrew Scriptures ("the Old Testament") -- that is to say, Psalm 23:4 or the Psalm whose number corresponds to the obliquity of the ecliptic -- contains a clear reference to a device of measuring! That famous verse in that beloved Psalm, of course, is: 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Crichton Miller then goes on to explain that: 

Now what a lot of people don't realize is a rod means a ruler: it's a measuring-stick. It comes from reed, because a reed is a segmented piece of grass which the Egyptians used. So reed became a rod, and a rod is not used to beat children: it's used to measure with, if you go back to the, you know, 'Spare the rod and spoil the child.' What they were actually saying was, 'Fail to teach the child how to measure the consequences of their actions, and how time works, and you'll spoil the child.'  

Now this is a truly amazing connection, and quite a "coincidence" for a verse that is found in the fourth sentence of the Twenty-Third Psalm -- the only place in the Psalms which corresponds to the number of the obliquity of the ecliptic. 

What is even more incredible is the fact that, after listening to this podcast for the first time and remarking at what an amazing connection Mr. Miller had just articulated, I returned home to find a message from Pat B., whose insightful questions and comments have inspired other blog posts in the past about subjects in the Old Testament scriptures, noting that he had recently been thinking about how important earth's 23.4-degree axial tilt is in creating the solstice and equinox alignments of the year, and then pointing out the significance of Leviticus 23:4 in light of that importance!

Leviticus 23:4 declares:

These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

Obviously, the "seasons" are here mentioned in a verse which is numbered with the angle of the very obliquity which produces the seasons! Not only that, but the holy feasts and convocations throughout the year -- both in the times in which the Old Testament was anciently used, and even to the modern day -- can be indisputably demonstrated to be linked to the days of the year marked out by the solsticesequinoxescross-quarter days, and other specific annual points of significance which all depend to some degree upon that axial tilt.

Now, it would seem that there should be no way that Pat B. would have known that I had downloaded that podcast, nor of knowing that I had listened to it on the same day that he sent this observation about Leviticus 23:4, or that I had noted as most striking the above discussion of Psalms 23:4 by Crichton Miller in that podcast. But his observation about Leviticus 23:4 certainly provides powerful additional evidence that Psalm 23:4's connection to the angle of the axial tilt of the earth is not "mere coincidence."

Note that in Psalm 23:4, the "valley of the shadow of death" can be very convincingly argued to refer to the lower half of the zodiac wheel, which was anciently depicted in the world's celestial "star myths" as Hell, Sheol, Tartarus, the Land of Bondage, the Underworld, etc. -- just as the upper half of the zodiac wheel was variously depicted as Heaven, the Garden of Eden (Paradise), the Promised Land, the City upon the Hill, the City whose streets are paved with gold, Mount Zion, Mount Olympus, etc.  For more discussion of that metaphorical connection, see this previous post on Hellthis previous post on Heaven, and the extended discussion in the recent series of videos entitled "Star Myths and the Shamanic Worldview" (especially the discussions found in Part  2 and Part 5).

The fact that the "lower half of the year" is caused by the 23.4-degree axial tilt of the earth, and that it appears in Psalm 23 precisely at the fourth verse as "the valley of the shadow of death" is still further confirmation of Mr. Miller's analysis that this verse may encode ancient understanding of the importance of that axial tilt. If so, then the "comfort" provided by the rod and the staff, which Mr. Miller argues may have been referring to ancient devices for measuring the year and the seasons, would be the comfort of being able to know that the sun would soon turn back towards the "upper half of the wheel" again (or of knowing that it had already done so), and that spring and life would return again in their due time.

Mr. Miller's additional reference to the verse commonly referred to as teaching "spare the rod and spoil the child," and his assertion that this verse is misinterpreted when it is taken literally (as it so often is) to mean that physical punishment of children is necessary for keeping them from being "spoiled," is also most notable. He asserts that the verse has nothing to do with physically punishing children with a rod, but rather that it is admonishing the passing along to the upcoming generations the knowledge of how to rightly measure time, space, and the seasons -- and that such "right measuring" would then extend to the teaching of the child the knowledge of "how to measure the consequences" of his or her actions.

The actual verse in question comes from Proverbs chapter 13, and reads in part: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son" (Proverbs 13:24), and while the second half of the verse goes on to say that "he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes," it is comforting to consider the possibility that the verse has nothing to do with physically punishing a child but rather teaching him or her to "measure rightly" -- including passing along the ancient art of knowing where we are on our beautiful planet and where we are in the annual orbit as delineated by the signs and seasons of the year (including the solstices, equinoxes, and other major stations on the circuit).

All of this listening to the podcast and considering these admonitions made me think of the teaching of my own father, who recently celebrated a birthday (birthdays being another example of those annual markers which we recognize each year, and which relate to the motions and measurements of the earth and its progress through space and time), and who certainly taught me while growing up to find and appreciate the constellations that are hanging in the heavens to act as our guides in measuring our place in our annual circuit, and which should also be our familiar companions throughout life. Thanks Dad and Happy Birthday!

These are all amazing and important concepts to consider deeply, for all of us (and to pass on to future generations).

Star Myths and the Shamanic Worldview, part 3: Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac

Star Myths and the Shamanic Worldview, part 3: Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac

Above is a link to the latest installment in the series of videos entitled "Star Myths and the Shamanic Worldview." Here are links to part 1 and to part 2 of the same series.

This video constitutes part 3 and introduces the earth's annual orbital motion around the sun, in addition to the earth's daily rotation on its axis (which was important in part 2, in which we examined the story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent, and saw that the westward motion of the constellations was important to understanding the celestial aspects of the Garden of Eden story).

The same caution applies to this video that was articulated in part 2: those who are not ready to examine very strong evidence that the stories in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are almost completely metaphorical in nature (as opposed to literal or historical) may not want to see this video. The post associated with part 2 also advised that this information should not be used as a "club" with which to browbeat someone who is not already looking for this information: sensitivity and respect should always be exercised when coming into contact with someone else's personal beliefs and faith.

In part 3, we begin to examine the importance of the "upper-half" and "lower-half" of the year, and the critical "crossing points" of the equinox.

The upper half of the year can be demonstrated to metaphorically represent heaven, the spirit world, the realm of the gods. The lower half can be demonstrated to metaphorically represent hell, the material world of incarnation, and the underworld of ancient Egypt and many other mythologies.

The equinoxes, then, being the crossing points between these two realms, were the points at which the two worlds intersected. As such, they were associated with birth and with death, with incarnation in the physical body and with release back to the world of spirit at the end of each incarnational cycle -- and they were often depicted in ancient myth and sacred tradition with the metaphor of a sacrifice, which befits their status as the points of contact between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead.

In the video above, one example of such an equinox-sacrifice is examined: the story of Abraham and Isaac found in Genesis 22. Evidence is provided that this event was not meant to be understood literally, but rather that it takes place on the way up a metaphorical mountain (the mountain which leads to the top of the year, and to "heaven"), and that the Ram which was ultimately sacrificed is directly connected to the zodiac sign of Aries.

The ramifications of this understanding of the scriptures are far-reaching. One important conclusion we can draw is that -- like the stars over our heads -- these stories are universal in their scope, and they are part of the celestial inheritance of all humanity. Various literalistic interpretations of these scriptures have been used in the past -- and continue to be used to this day -- to try to separate out one or another family of humanity from the others. The celestial understanding of these stories overturns such a usage of the ancient mythologies.

One of the important interpretations of the celestial metaphors contained in the sacred traditions of the human race is the teaching that we all have a spiritual component, and are not ultimately defined or bounded by our physical body and our material form. Using these scriptures to divide humanity based on different physical lineages focuses on the physical form instead of the inner spiritual spark which the scriptures themselves are trying to point us towards.

There are many other important messages that these star myths convey to us, messages that have been hidden and even deliberately obscured for thousands of years. Ultimately, I believe they teach a very liberating message, and one that is intended to advance human consciousness -- and one that will ultimately prevail over the enemies of that consciousness.

image: Wikimedia commons (link). Modified.