Appendix to Galactic Alignment
John Major Jenkins / email@example.com
December 23, 2001
Many new discoveries emerge in the process of writing a book. As one tracks down relationships and connections, and pursues matters beyond the publication deadline, new connections often provide profound additional support for ideas that were merely sketched in the book. Some of these connections have emerged in the realm of Zoroastrian studies, Mithraism, and the celestial gateways. I can sketch here some of these connections.
Studies in Mithraism, Hinnels ed.. Rome 1994. Roger Beck’s article is illuminating and frustrating at the same time, especially where he discusses the gateways. These gates have meaning as sidereal locations rather than merely being the “solstices.” However, Porphyry identified them with Capricorn and Cancer to align the doctrine with Homer’s cave passages in the Odyssey. Beck obscures the matter:
“According the Macrobius (Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, Book 1, chapter 12), the soul starts from the gate of genesis in Cancer…” A note reference (Beck, p. 50, n.79) reads: “[This occurs] At the intersection of the zodiac and the Milky Way, according to both Macrobius and Porphyry (Cave of the Nymphs, 28), but wrongly so: the two bands actually intersect in the constellations of Gemini and Sagittarius. But since the Milky Way is another celestial soul-path, the two authors naturally wished it to meet the zodiac at the gates of descent and ascent. A modern believer in such matters would not have to stretch the evidence, for the solstices, as a result of precession, are nowadays very close to the points where the galactic equator intersects the ecliptic.” (p. 50).
After the end note reference in the text above, Beck concludes his conception of the gateways: “…and thence [finally] into Crater, the Cup of intoxication and oblivion of its celestial origin” (50). Beck’s conception of the tauroctony’s soul-path is thus “from Cancer to Crater.” This, however, contradicts the Capricorn-Cancer axis stated for the gateways, and ignores the visual polarity between Taurus/Gemini and Sagittarius/Scorpio. Beck’s comments are revealing of how the doctrine of the gateways can be misinterpreted in modern times; rather than the ancient writings being “wrong”, it is the modern interpretation that is lacking. And yet this not the case in other scholarly circles. For example, the authors of Hamlet’s Mill pointed out long ago that Macrobius was speaking of signs, and suggested that his location for the gateways (at the intersection of Milky Way and ecliptic) is the true doctrine, consistent with similar soul-path cosmogonies found in other traditions (e.g., of the Mangaens). Also, an accurate ancient conception, at odds with modern assumptions, is revealed when we understand that Greek skywatchers viewed the constellation rising heliacally on the solstices. Thus, when the solstice was in sidereal Capricorn, the constellation rising heliacally was Sagittarius, which is where the Milky Way/ecliptic crossroads—the gateway of ascent—is located.
Another writer, Stahl, suggested that both Porphyry and thus Macrobius were echoing the caves of Homer’s Odyssey. In Chapter XII of Macrobius’ Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, we read:
“At this point, we shall discuss the order of the steps by which the soul descends from the sky to the infernal regions of this life. The Milky Way girdles the zodiac, its great circle meeting it obliquely so that it crosses it at the two tropical signs, Capricorn and Cancer. Natural philosophers named these the ‘portals of the sun’…” (Macrobius in p. 133 Stahl)
Stahl provides two footnotes here. First, the term “the portals of the sun” occurs in Porphyry’s De antro nympharum, where he credits it to Homer (Odyssey xxiv.12). Second, Stahl corrects the Capricorn-Cancer location of these solar portals: “Actually, the crossing is at Gemini and Sagittarius. Macrobius is following Porphyry (De antro 28), whose error results from his attempt to make the portals of souls correspond with Homer’s description of the doors of the Ithacan cave (Odyssey XIII.109-12). A glossator of Bede De natura rerum xviii (Migne, Pat., Lat., XC 234) calls attention to Macrobius’ error” (133).
(The Bede ref is to Jacques Paul Migne, ed. Patrologiae cursus completus; series latina. 221 vols. Paris, 1844-1864.)
Okay, so we have conflicting modern opinion about what is in error here. Actually, we should also question who might be in error, if anyone, or if there are different ways of conceptualizing the portals. Hamlet’s Mill provides us with the clue. See the Hamlet’s Mill chapter The Galaxy.
A set of arguments can be made for the dark-rift as a cave, based upon and/or supported by the Mayan material. Since Mayan cosmology has many parallels with the Primordial Tradition (sacred kingship, etc), and since we are dealing here with human conceptualization of consistent astronomical features, it is not far fetched to suspect that certain Mayan conceptions also exist in Old World cosmo-conception, where “coal-sack” is what we have for the dark-rift, which is symbolically suggestive of a bag or cup or grail or even cave. However, many other features seem to point to the dark-rift. I’ve explored these in my recent book.
Anklesaria’s Zand-asahit: The Iranian or Greater Bundahishn:
This material, summarized in the articles by Henning and MacKenzie, reveals a connection between the gateways being located at the Milky Way / ecliptic crossroads and the nodal dragon. The reference here goes deep, into Hindu sources, and my chapter on Islamic astrology explores Hartner’s contribution, although in his essay the “south lunar node exaltation / Galactic Center” connection was unpronounced. It shouldn’t be forgotten how Coomaraswamy responded to Hartner’s essay of 1938 by exploring the early iconography of Sagittarius. Here it is revealed how, late in life, Coomaraswamy’s work with the janua coeli, Sundoor at World’s End, cosmic tree symbolism, and the Symplegades all were located in Sagittarius, rather than in Capricorn. Returning to the Neoplatonic material, the Chaldean Oracles provide a connection to Hecate and womb imagery that is very significant. Ulansey summarizes quotes from Plato’s Phaedrus and Philo’s de opificio to make a case for the Hypercosmic Sun being accessed through the Eighth Gate—a cosmogonic sphere above the Saturn-Capricorn level. The lunar south node, being the eighth “planet” (albeit an invisible pseudo planet), suggests a possible sidereal location for the Eighth Gate / Hypercosmic Sun at the lunar south node’s place of exaltation, 3° Sagittarius, co-spatial with the Galactic Center. The Ogdoad could be explored here; see Fideler’s book Son of Sun and Merkur’s book Gnosis. The cosmography of 7 levels encircled by the zodiacal twelve is explored by Corbin; the Islamic model strongly implies a placement of Capricorn and Saturn at the Gateway of the Gods / ascension portal (see image below).
In the Timaeus the idea of a Cosmic Soul is developed to a great extent. There, it is suggested that God created the Cosmos as a living creature endowed with soul and intelligence. Timaeus (34b-37c) describes the World Soul as lying at the very center of the body of the Cosmos, yet it is diffused throughout (or girdles) the cosmos in such a way as to enclose the body of the visible cosmos as well. As Sarah Iles Johnston writes in Hekate Soteira: “the omnipresent Soul marks at once the axial point around which the Cosmos is formed and its outer boundary” (14).
In the diagram above, east is on the left and the zodiacal wheel is rotating clockwise as the sun rises. The horizontal line through the center of the wheel remains fixed, as it represents the horizon. The solstice sun on the left is just below the horizon, in the constellation of Capricorn circa 200 BC. Notice the features that are rising heliacally at this moment—they are the astronomical features in Sagittarius, including the Galactic Center, the dark-rift, and the Milky Way / ecliptic Crossroads. Also, the south node (Ketu) is exalted in early Sagittarius, near the sidereal location of the Galactic Center. On tauroctony scenes, the foot of Mithras touches the GC – between Sagittarius and Scorpio. The 12-sign zodiacal wheel is organized in seven planetary spheres; Saturn is the sphere at the boundary between the visible world and the supra-sensory world, and Saturn’s home is Capricorn. In this sense we need to picture the features on the left or east side of the diagram (including Capricorn and Sagittarius as the “top” of the cosmic house). The doorway out of the cosmic house (the Capricorn solstice gateway) is thus associated with the Sagittarian crossroads and suprasensory boundary guarded by Hecate. The solstice sun has, of course, shifted closer to the Galactic Center since the time of Homer and Plato, but this diagram reveals the concepts and celestial locations that are so relevant in examining Mithraism, the Chaldean Oracles and Neoplatonic ideas that ultimately go back to Plato and Homer. The role of Hecate is extremely interesting and significant in this Greek cosmography, and suggests the material ultimately comes from Egyptian sources. Hecate is the World Soul, the key holder (thus related to St Peter), and guards crossroads and boundaries. She is often associated with Janus, and thus the janua coeli or solstice gateways. Her key is the Ankh scepter held by Isis (the Venus symbol - E), which symbolizes the crossroads and the nearby womb-vagina of birth (the dark-rift). Her role in the Chaldean Oracles is prominent. Isis and Mithras are associated in some sanctuaries, both being symbolic of the Hypercosmic Sun, or at least the doorway to it. (Re: Janus, see the book Janus and Bridge.)
The top is Capricorn / Saturn and is the GC direction—the exit from Plato’s cave. The directions can be reversed to fit Mithraic tauroctony placements, if we understand the night sky as the underworld. Also, since Hecate guards the doorway leading to the hypercosmic domain, she occupies the GC position. In fact, she is the center of the world soul and, as the world soul, envelops all creation. Like the Milky Way, she has a central nucleus and simultaneously girdles the earth (encircles it). In a similar way, the Aztec Goddess Citlalinicue represents the Milky Way and its “womb”—the Galactic Center.
The diagram above depicts how the sky would have been viewed by ancient Greek skywatchers, including those that informed—or even developed—the Platonic, Hellenistic, and Neoplatonic milieu. As one can see, the concept of heliacal rise is important here, which adjusts our own conceptualization of ancient Greek astronomy. From my extensive research and reconstruction of ancient Mesoamerican astronomy, I can understand how our modern intellectual conditioning sometimes obscures the way that ancient astronomers conceived things, and many generations of scholarship can inherit former biases, resulting in a poor picture of what ancient Mesoamerican, or Greek, cosmography intended to portray. I believe that some of the elements of Neoplatonic, Mithraic, and Chaldean cosmography—especially the elements that touch upon planetary levels, zodiacal placements, suprasensory gateways and guardians (e.g., Hecate)—must be placed into a corrected cosmographical framework that extends to the level of the Milky Way. This may not sound new, but the specific key is the role played by the galactic gateways, which are correctly located at the intersection points of the Milky Way and ecliptic in Sagittarius and Gemini. These locations are congruent with the Galactic Center-Galactic Anticenter axis that I have elucidated within Mesoamerican, Egyptian, and Vedic cosmology. In my correspondence I currently feel a certain resistance among aficionados of the writings of Guénon and Coomaraswamy, most likely because I have sought to extend some of their conceptions, assumptions, and statements about the “solar portals” or solstice gateways. These locations are prominent in Mithraic and Neoplatonic thought, and can be traced back to Homer’s Odyssey and Porphyry’s Cave of the Nymphs. A re-examination of Macrobius’ comments in his Commentary on the Dream of Scipio as well as looking carefully at the diagram above reveals why these gateways are more properly located at the Galactic Center and the Galactic Anticenter. The significance of this material lies in the promise it holds for our deeper understanding of Greek cosmology, excavating a deeper layer in which we find an appreciation for the Galactic Center as an important player in Neoplatonic ideas about soul growth. Proclus, Plotinus, Cicero, Porphyry, Numenius, Plato, Homer, Macrobius, the Chaldean Oracles, the Mithraic Mysteries, the Orphic hymns, and Philo of Alexandria all contribute to this reevaluation.
Ruth Majercik’s Chaldean Oracles – it should be noted that Golden Dawn and latter-day occultic redactions of the Chaldean Oracles are creative adaptations and don’t accurately reflect the original material.
Sarah Iles Johnston Hekate soteira
Zoroastrian Problems in ninth-Century Book by Bailey
Stahl’s Commentary on the Dream of Scipio
Guénon’s Perspectives on Initiation
Hans Leisegang’s article in Pagan, Christian Mysteries
Hans Lewy’s Chaldean Oracles and Theurgy
Hekate is a goddess in the Chaldean Oracles who guards doorways— important stuff. Crossroads and the three-dimensional grid—Guénon wrote about this; my “Symbolism of Stoplights” piece is perhaps relevant here.
An Isis connection in Mithraic liturgy (in Hinnel’s or Beck, ? – one of those Mithras books)
Mithras and the bull is symbolically equivalent to The Rape of a Nagi (as elucidated by Coomaraswamy). Also, the Persephone myth, Prometheus, and Pandora’s Box, and the Theft of Soma and the Theft of the Sampo (w/ Louhi Gazes Deep) relate to this theme—all this will be explored in another essay; see Kerenyi’s Eleusis book.
Ulansey’s connection between the Chaldean Oracles and the Hypercosmic Sun —or World Soul
Hekate is the center and the world-girdling soul that engenders life in all micro-wombs.
Earlier presence in Western Asia Minor, Anatolia, and therefore a likely connection to Anatolian mother-goddesses.
Seven levels (or eight or nine) and 12 circumferal inflections. 7 x 12 = 84. 9 x 12 = 108. also, 64 x 5 x 81 = precession!!!
General source sketch:
Plato’s “Myth of Er”
Cicero’s Dream of Scipio
Macrobius’s Commentary on the Dream of Cicero (w/ Milky way / ecliptic identification)
Porphyry’s Cave of the Nymphs
Greater Bundahishn’s reference to MW / ecliptic intersection — see Henning and MacKenzie articles.
The Nodal Dragon is involved in all of this — see Beck articles on Mithraism
Gateways: Vedic concept of it and Homer’s idea
Hamlet’s Mill material (ref. to Macrobius?)
I’m going to document some of the sources I’ve received through Prospector and ILL via DPL. I don’t have time to thoroughly examine these sources; but they will be indispensable when the time comes.
Merkabah mysticism and symbolism – good stuff in Dan Merkur’s book Gnosis.
Realized eschatology. – all sources mentioned in footnotes to Corbin’s fifth chapter in Temple and Contemplation; Imago Templi in Confrontation – stuff on Qumran, etc.
It might be interesting to explore my hunch that Manichaeism—the dualistic heresy of the later Bogomils and Cathars—was, in its promotion of two principles of equal statue and power, a valid expression of the dual Gateways as inseparable and equal players in the cosmological processes of manifestation and dissolution, limitation and freedom, transcendence and incarnation. Christianity’s systematic annihilation of Catharism, the last expression of Manichaeism in the eastern Christian church, reveals a failing of Christianity which paralleled the submersion of the Gateways doctrine (most present in Mithraism). Catharism as it manifested in southern France was in the same category of heresy (or at least derision) as Kabbalah, Tarot, alchemy, and astrology. The deep galactic symbolism went underground and manifested in Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the symbolism of which preserves the ancient galactic cosmology.
“Consequently, in site organization, as elsewhere, we must enlarge, not diminish, our conception of the meanings which Greek architecture was able to express and must beware of judging it by standards that are less meaningful than those upon which it was based.” (The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods: Greek Sacred Architecture. page 6)
This quote by Scully is most applicable to the situation at Izapa, where a bevy of environmental factors seem to have been consciously embedded by the site’s designers into the architectural pattern, alignments, as well as the iconographic statements of the stone corpus. Modern scholars feel that they can chose one framework of criteria, usually the one currently being peddled, such as ceremonies of rulership and power, and this will suffice to explain at least one facet of Izapa. Perhaps, but can each micro-element be truly understood without having a gestalt grasp of the entire meaning. Levels of interpretation cascade down fronm the highest and most profound meaning. For example, the bestowal of lordly power by sitting on the jaguar throne is a mundane reflection of the celestial alignment of sun and dark rift.
“The visible aspect of a being presupposes its equilibration by an invisible and celestial counterpart; the apparent and exoteric (zahir) is equilibrated by the occulted and esoteric (batin). Modern agnostic dissent, by ignoring this law of integral being, simply mutilates the integrality of each being. Against those who think that a being’s invisible and celestial counterpart is merely the object of a hypothesis or an act of faith, the science of the Balance affirms the principle which creates and ensures this counterpart’s ontological necessity. Viewed in this way, the analogical form of knowledge that typifies the science of correspondences is always an anaphora (the act of raising up), an anagoge (the act of lifting up or elevating); the analogical method follows the anagogical path, the path which leads upwards. In other words, it follows the gradations of the hierarchy of beings which is itself determined by the spiritual or esoteric function assigned to each level.” (Henry Corbin. Temple and Contemplation. P. 57 “The Science of the Balance.”)
This quote by Corbin applies to Mayan Sacred Science as well as Chapter 3 of GA; my earliest embracing of the analogical approach to knowledge was explored in Mayan Sacred Science (1993-1994).