Orion And His Dog

Chapter XXI

One must ask, in the wake of this disclosure of the astronomical and astrological character of ancient Messianism, how it is that the birth of the Christian Messiah, claimed to be a purely historical event at a given hour about the year 4 B.C., still carries with it so many of the marks and vestiges of the non-historical astrological depiction. The fixing of the Christmas date on December 25, three days after the winter solstice, was done confessedly to match Bacchic and Mithraic cult practice; and the dating of Easter on the first Sun-day following the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox equally has not a single shred of linkage with history. Both these great festival dates speak purely of solar mythicism. Likewise, if scrutinized closely, nearly every major and minor incident in the career of the Gospel Jesus is interlaced with one or more features of cyclical or constellational typism. It would take another book to present this body of correlative material. One instance may serve to give substance to the claim.

Take the lowly figure of the animal type (zoötype Massey calls it) so definitely interwoven with the Gospel Messiah,--the ass. It was present, along with the ox, at his birth; along with its foal it bore him in triumph into the celestial city at the end; again with its foal it was brought in to help him toward his crucifixion. The Christ as the Good Samaritan was mounted on it. Out of his life-long study of astrological types, what has Massey to give us about this animal symbol?

"The ass has been obscured by the lion and other sacred animals, but it was at one time great in glory, particularly in the cult of Atum-Iu, the ass-headed or ass-eared divinity. The ass has been badly abused and evily treated as a type of Sut-Typhon, whereas it was expressly a figure of the solar god, the swift goer, who was Iu the Sa (Iusa) or Atum; and Iu-sa is the coming son, or the Egyptian Jesus on the ass." (Sa is the Egyptian suffix meaning "Son," "Heir," "Prince," "Successor.")

"The Ass in ancient mythology was a symbol of great importance," says E. Valentia Straiton, in The Celestial Ship of the North (p. 47). The ass originally typified the deity of the Dog-Star, then known as Sut, son of the Typhonian Mother, who had the honor of rearing the first child in the heavens. The Book of the Dead says: "The Great Words are spoken by the Ass." (Baalam’s ass speaks in the Old Testament.) In original Egyptian the Hebrew Jah, Iah, Iao or Ieu (Iu) mean an ass, the type of the Sabaean Sut, who was the earliest El, the Son or Sun. An ideograph of an ass’s head was the equivalent of a period of time and a cycle. Oddly enough, says Miss Straiton, the ass was an ideographical hieroglyph of the number 30, symbol of a luni-solar month, which was divided into three weeks of ten days each in the twelve-month year. The twenty-eight days of a lunar month belonged to Sut-Typhon. What is called Sut’s resurrection--perhaps better his transformation into spiritual being--was symboled by the shift from the lunar cycle of twenty-eight days to the solar thirty-days cycle, and from Sut’s day, Saturday, to the solar Sun-day. A three-legged ass found in Persian scriptures, says Miss Straiton, typified a month of three ten-day weeks.

Even the Christian St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, calls Jesus "the Good Scarabaeus, who rolled up before him the hitherto unshaken mud of our bodies." (Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christianity, Samuel Sharpe, London, 1863, p. 3.) And St. Epiphanius has been quoted as saying of Christ, "He is the Scarabaeus of God." Christian forms of the scarab yet exist, used as an emblem of the Savior.

In his introduction to the Nubian Grammar, the noted German savant Lepsius says: "At every step we meet in Babylonia with the traces of the Egyptian models." And it is surely unlikely that if Babylonia absorbed Egyptian prototypes, it could have done so without transfusion through Hebrew, Syrian and Greek channels.

Bailly is quoted by Miss Straiton as saying, "All the classics support Herodotus in the knowledge of the three Divine Dynasties preceding the coming of the human race." It is also noted by De Rouge in The Turin Papyrus: "Most remarkable of all, Champollion, struck with amazement, found that he had under his eyes the whole truth. . . . It was the remains of a list of Dynasties embracing the furthest mythoic times, or the reign of the gods and heroes." Citing Pandoros he continues: "It was during this period that those benefactors of humanity descended on earth and taught men to calculate the course of the Sun, Moon and Stars by the twelve signs of the Ecliptic." Creuzer writes that it is "from the spheres of the stars wherein dwell the Gods of Light that Wisdom descends to the inferior spheres. . . . In the system of the ancient Priests, all things without exception--the gods, the genii, manes [souls], the whole world, are conjointly developed in Space and Duration. . . . The Pyramid may be considered as a symbol of the magnificent hierarchy of Spirits."

Miss Straiton (p. 36, op. cit.) verifies what has here been affirmed as to Egyptian city-naming and typing:

"The Egyptians expressed the place of birth and rebirth of the Sun and its burial below by saying, ‘The tomb of one life was ever the womb of another.’ They built their cities accordingly, as places of Resurrection."

Abydos, Annu (On, Heliopolis), Thebes, Sais, Luxor, Memphis and others were particular examples of this usage.

"When the vernal equinox receded from the sign Aries, the Lamb, into Pisces, the Fishes, and the Sun-gods were born under this sign, the Gnostics or early Christians, who were versed in ancient wisdom, typified the Sun-gods as Fishes."

Venus, who was the same as the Norse Freia, and whose day is Friday, is exalted in Pisces; so fish is eaten on Friday. Well does Miss Straiton observe that "all the falsities found in the interpretation of the myths are due to their having become literalized."

Each movement of the sun into a new sign in the precession brought about the fixing of a new birth-place in the heavens. A significant basis of meaning is attached to the rising of one sign as its opposite sign went to its death. The Bull, Taurus, dies with Scorpio opposite rising. "Scorpio is the sign of night, darkness, death, while Taurus is the sign of life, physical generation." In the eternal conflict between spirit and matter, the one waxes as the other wanes. The "death" of the one is the increased "life" of the other.

Our attention is called to the fact that one of the calendars in use among the Hebrews shows all the remarkable events of the Old Testament occurring on the days of the equinoxes and the solstices. Likewise on the same calendar days the most outstanding events of the New Testament happened, as for instance the Annunciation, the Birth, the resurrection, the birth of John the Baptist. Such a fact goes far to prove that the founders of the Christian religion, so far from being under the driving persuasion that they were giving to the world the first light of a true revelation, quite obviously were trying to adjust whatever they felt was unique in their message to the time-honored forms and programs of ancient pagan usage.

The Dog-Star, Sirius, rising in the south to announce the beginning of the year, on the imagery of the farmer’s dog barking to announce the dawn of day, may be a poetization that has nothing to commend it but its prettiness. Yet when it is taken along with a hundred other such constructions in a system of uranographic depiction, all of which go to make the most lucid portrayal of the entire meaning of the basic religion and philosophy of the world, it becomes far more than merely playful fancy. In limning the history of man’s soul in relation to its body in the imagery of the celestial movements and cycles, the sages of antiquity took the most eligible method open to man to perpetuate in one great universal language of nature-myth the sublime meaning of this cosmos and man’s life in it. They wrote their unforgettable advertisement on the one signboard that would forever command man’s view,--the open face of the sky. God obliged by writing the exact counterpart of it on the surface of Mother Earth. So that whether man looked below or looked above, he found the heavens telling and the earth making reply. The one shouted God’s eternal message and meaning, and the other echoed it. With its daily voice in his ears, how could man ever lose or forget it? The allegedly silly childish myths of the stars were intended to be the most vivid mnemonics to all the human race of its own cosmic being and destiny.

Another lucid sketch of constructive fancy is seen in the myth that is linked with the origin of the "dog days" that fall in August. Astrological theory places the beginning of the "dog days" at the time when the sun rises simultaneously with the Dog-Star. The common tradition that a mad dog shuns water or will die if he drinks water, almost certainly had its origin in remote astrological symbolism. For the constellation of the Dog, Canis Major, has his back turned toward Cancer, a water sign. The great Dog-Star, Sirius (the name based on the root of the word "Osiris"), typified the divine nature, as Anup, the Dog, Jackal, Fox in the Egyptian mythology, represented the keen-scented Deity that could guide man through the darkness of incarnational night. The great Sirius, that blazed brilliantly in the dark night of winter, fitted and filled this conception. Water, as always, represented the body of man in whose humid confines the soul descended for its incarnation. The body is seven-eighths water. Along with and exactly akin to the representation of the soul’s falling into an intoxication by the strong wine of sense in its fleshly experience, was the analogue of its going mad when it bathed in or imbibed of the waters of incarnation. The great Dog of soul went "mad" when it dipped into the waters of the bodily life. It therefore turned away from the water, and no doubt is turned toward an air or fire sign. The twelve zodiacal and the thirty-six other constellations have been designed to depict the several aspects of general truth under a varied but always deeply enlightening allegorical modus.

Then there is the legend of the "three Kings of Orient" who came on Christmas to adore the new-born God. Who shall say that the term or title, Three Kings of Orient, as the Christmas hymn phrases it, is not some early zealous and jealous scribe’s work of shunting out of sight a bit of too evident and open pagan astrological symbolism from the Christian material? For from of old the Three Kings were the three conspicuous stars in the belt of Orion, the mighty Hunter, that so easily distinguish this notable constellation, making it next in prominence in all the heavens to the Great Bear itself. And their title was for long centuries the Three Kings of Orion. The three King-Stars in Orion, himself the personification of the Horus or Christos power, rise in the east on Christmas Eve and ascend to the mid-heavens on the celestial equator. Sirius, the Dog of Divinity, rises right after Orion, being the Hunter’s dog, lesser deity following in the wake of higher deity everywhere in nature. And man in evolution, the thinker, is followed on the upward path by the animal, who will at a later day stand where he now does. Some thousands of years ago, when on Christmas Eve the Dog-Star stood at the height of the sky, on the horizon of the east rose in its turn the constellation of the Virgin, bearing in her one arm the Christ-child himself, and in the other hand gripping the great star Spica, the head of wheat, for that divine bread which cometh down from heaven, the eating of which will sate man’s everlasting hunger for God.

The births of Abraham, Moses, Caesar and many other great figures were all foretold by the appearance of a star, according to Higgins.

"I flatter myself," he says, "that I shall convince my reader that this story of a star was no fiction, but only a mythological or allegorical method of representing the conjunction of the sun and moon, and the conclusion of the cycle at the end of every six hundred years, and the periodical restoration of some star or planet to its old place, or to its periodical rising in a place relative to the sun and moon at the end of the time. Thus whenever the star arrived at its proper place they knew that a new cycle commenced, a new savior would be born; and for every Avatar a star was said to have appeared."

How a conjunction of the sun and moon, or of some six of the planets, as some modern guessers have predicated, could guide three Magi slowly across the Arabian desert and stand still a few feet above a stable in Bethlehem, deponent sayeth not. Otherwise Higgins’ delineation of the cyclical basis of the Avatar tradition is both clear and sound.

It is worth noting the concession to ancient allegorical custom made by Bishop Laurence in the preface to his translation of the Enoch:

"That singular and to those, perhaps, who penetrate its exterior surface, fascinating system of allegorical subtleties, has no doubt a brighter as well as its darker parts; its true as well as its false allusions; but instead of reducing its wild combinations of opinion to the standard of Scripture, we shall, I am persuaded, be less likely to err if we refer them to the ancient and predominant philosophy of the East; from which they seem to have originally sprung, and from which they are inseparable as the shadow is from its substance."

Obviously we are likely to catch the hidden meaning of the allegorical subtlety only if we refer the constructions embodying it to the philosophy of the ancient East, since they are the positive expressions of that philosophy. Once their true significance is seen, they prove to be not only fascinating but illuminative of all our darkness.

Higgins asks how the French and Italians came to dye their own god Cristna black before they sent icons of him to India. And how came his mother to be black?--the black Venus, or Isis the Mother of Divine Love, the Aur or Horus, the Lux of St. John, the Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven), treading in the sphere on the head of the serpent--all marks of Jesus of Bethlehem, of the temple of the sun, or Cris, but not marks of Jesus of Nazareth? Summing up much of the material Higgins declares that there can be no dispute about the prevalence of a common doctrine both east and west of the Indies, purveying the same elements; and the only question will be whether the East copied from the West before the birth of Christ, since the same doctrines were there before his birth, or the West copied from the East at a later time.

In Egypt, Massey tells us, the ordinary year was timed largely by the inundation of the river and the heliacal rising of Sirius. In the cycle of the Great Year of precession, the time was marked by the retrogression of the equinoxes and the changing position of the pole. This time was kept by double entry. And when the birthplace of the Messianic child was made zodiacal it traveled around the backward circuit of precession. The birthplace of Horus, the divine babe, born of the Virgin of the zodiac, was made coincident with the vernal equinox, and the "date" thus became subject to the change of precession. It parted company with the lesser year and the inundation to travel from sign to sign round the circuit, staying in each sign 2160 years. Fourteen thousand years ago, the calculations reveal, the vernal equinox coincided with the sign of Virgo, and the autumn equinox with the sign of Pisces. So Eratosthenes (276 B.C.) testifies to the fact that the festival of Isis, which was celebrated in his time at the autumn equinox, had been celebrated when the Easter equinox was in Virgo. Higgins claims that a great part of Moses’ object was to make the shift of the festival of the equinox from Taurus to Aries, thus throwing the onus of sin upon the worship of the Golden Calf (Taurus) when the proper emblem should have been the Lamb of God (Aries).

Modern religious ritualism has only the fragments and tatters, so to say, of the majestic fabric of the ancient Sun-worship. And in the main even those remnants stand without any competent appreciation of their original moving significance. In the distant past every festival of the religious year was replete with a meaning of great moment, since every phase and position of the sun in the annual zodiac carried a corresponding meaning with reference to the pilgrimage of the soul round the cycle of outgoing into matter and return to spirit. The (apparent) progress of the sun through the four seasons, the two equinoxes and solstices, and the twelve solar and thirteen lunar months, as well as the sun’s position at critical or meaningful points in the circuit, were made the basis of a correspondent movement, progress and position of the divine Ego or Self in man in its aeonial round. How perfect this correspondence is and how graphically the meaning of the soul’s experience in its cyclical evolution could be represented or dramatized by these features of the solar year, can not be realized until one scrutinizes this material with a bit more than lackadaisical interest. One must take the time and pains to see the remarkable exactness with which the transactions of the solar, lunar and stellar movements re-enact the eternal drama of the soul and the body, in their alternate phases of union and dissolution. The great commemorative or ritualistic festivals were of course those dated at the two solstitial and the two equinoctial points, fixing the Christmas festival in December, Easter in March (or April), the ancient Fire-festival in June and the Michaelmas or Hallowe’en festival in September (or October). But astronomical configurations and conjunctions brought significance to other periods in the year. There is, for instance, the beautiful but little-known festival of the Assumption of the Virgin. Some pretense is made at keeping it by ritual observance in a few churches, but it is doubtful if any unction can go with its perfunctory celebration, since the depth of its real meaning is no longer plumbed by the celebrants. Dupuis gives us the background for understanding:

"About the eighth month, when the sun is in his greatest strength and enters into the eighth sign, the celestial virgin appears to be absorbed in his fires, and she disappears in the midst of the rays and glory of her son."

This, comments Higgins, represents the death or disappearance of the virgin. The sun passes into the Virgin the thirteenth before the Kalends of September. The Christians consider this as the reunion of the Virgin and her Son. The feast commemorates the passage of the virgin. At the end of three weeks the birth of the Virgin Mary is fixed. In the ancient Roman calendar the assumption of the virgin Astrea, or her reunion with her son, took place at the same time as the assumption of the Virgin Mary; and her re-birth, or her disengagement from the solar rays, occurred at the same time with the birth of Mary. This was the eighth of September in our calendar.

One has to go back to the most recondite view of cosmic operations to divine the hidden meaning of this Assumption of the Virgin in the rays of the Solar Lord. With the Virgin and the Sun personalized in the characters of Mary and her son Jesus, in the Gospel legendary form, it is not easy to work out the reference. An alleged historical man and his mother are hardly dimensional enough to carry the burden of the vast cosmic representation in their tiny personalities. Resort must be had to the language of symbolism, which was the current coin for the transmission of such profound meanings in the olden time.

Now, to begin with, the Virgin represents matter in its pure primordial form. It is engendered in the bosom of Absolute Being by the first fiat of Divine Creative Will. The first act of this Creative Will is the division of itself into the two elements of the eternal bipolarity, the interaction of which two forces is the condition necessary for its own manifestation or creation. The separation thus entails the detachment of matter and of spirit severally out of each other’s arms, the abstraction of the one soul of life from the polar opposite and the setting of the two in mutual tension with each other.

The next point to be noted, with symbolic language as our guide, is that matter was invariably personalized by the great Mother or Mother-Goddess character, and represented by the symbol of water. Water was the element out of whose womb all life was to come to birth, and, with the magical consistency with which this symbolic language spells a thrilling meaning, it is water that is the first mother of all life! All first life on the planet emanated from sea water. The human birth issues out of a sack of water. This water, or matter, was the "water of the firmament," which Genesis notes as the very first creation, divided into its two segments or forms of the upper and the lower firmament. The upper firmament of water is matter in its super-atomic, ethereal or invisible state, that is "above" the substantial creation; the lower firmament is matter in its visible, concrete, substantial or atomic construction.

So Being detaches its watery (material) part from its fiery (spiritual, solar) part and sends both forth upon the creative business of the Divine Mind. On the material side the work begins with the formation of the atom and proceeds to the evolution of all the forms which it is designed to provide for the organic expression of life in all its creative fancy. It builds up the visible universe which gives Life its manifold play throughout the cycle. But when the cycle has run its long course and the day of dissolution arrives, matter, the Virgin of the world, is drawn back into union with the fiery principle from which it was separated in the beginning, and is once more absorbed into the enveloping rays of Infinite Being.

Each new expression of life in and through matter--each new birth from the Virgin Mother--generates a new type of advanced realization of its fiery spiritual principle. Yet this is always achieved through a course of experience of the germ of mind in a body of matter, and is therefore the Virgin’s own Son. Matter is the mother of the Suns, which are her Sons. Hence the fiery power of life on its spiritual side reabsorbs into its bosom at the end of each cycle the masses of matter which entered into the form-structure of spirit’s ideation. And see how astonishingly earthly Nature carries out the symbolism! In the period of the summer’s greatest solar power the fiery energies have barometric capacity to absorb more water than at any other time of the year! It is commonly the period of drought; the air moisture is absorbed and not precipitated. It is the season when the watery element is absorbed by the fiery. Ancient philosophical poetic fancy must needs seize upon the natural fact and use it to give body to cosmic truth.

Each new generation of life produced by a cycle of manifestation and growth is the Son of Virgin matter. But the material creations inevitably must dissolve away and be reabsorbed back into the bosom of the primordial and eternal Infinite. In each cycle of manifestation, which by definition in the symbolic language is Matter’s or the Virgin’s Son, it is this newest release or formulation of spirit’s fiery energy that absorbs matter’s potencies at the period of dissolution. Hence it is said that the Virgin is taken up or assumed by her own Son and lost in his fiery rays. So the Assumption of the Virgin is the climactic act in the aeonial round. And after three weeks in the tomb of non-being, the new year begins with the rebirth, i.e., the reappearance of the Virgin as the drought ends with the equinoctial rains! Matter’s reappearance on the creative scene is intimated by the reappearance of the water, its symbol, on the earthly scene. The Virgin is absorbed in the glowing bosom of her own Son, the Sun, but emerges again to become mother of the next generation of being. The New Year’s festival that is dated in mid-September is indeed well placed.

Another interesting item of ancient symbolical and astrological reference is the legend of the "Halcyon Days." Ordinary dictionary or encyclopedia sources explain the name as referring to a period of about fourteen days during the winter solstice, when the kingfisher, otherwise called the halcyon bird, nests on the waters, supposedly bringing them to a tranquil smoothness. Halcyon has therefore come to mean tranquil and peaceful. The supposed origin of the legend is the Greek myth of Halcyone, daughter of Aeolus, God of the winds, who in grief over the loss of her husband Ceyx, cast herself into the sea, which became calm.

It would seem, however, that the etymology of the word--halcyon--points to some more recondite reference in relation to the Dog-Star, Sirius. The "hal" is obviously the Hebrew form of the Egyptian "har,"--Hebrew "l" and Egyptian "r" being equivalent, as the Egyptian has no "l"--and "har" is the equivalent of the "Hor" of "Horus." It therefore means "God" or "deity." The cyon is unmistakably the Greek Kuon, meaning "dog." "Halcyon" thus comes to mean "the divine Dog," or "God (as) the Dog(star)." As the coming of the Day-Star from on high was to bring "peace" to earth, the birth of the God at the winter solstice would fittingly be thought of as the basis of a legend that placed the "Halcyon" days at the winter solstice.

Another solar date in the year, of early significance now forgotten, is the second of February, Candlemas Day, or the holy day of the Purification of the Virgin. It marks the termination of another period of forty days length, of which there are at least five in the year’s course. The Christ was born symbolically on the night of December twenty-fourth, and February second ends a stretch of forty days from that date. As forty days was the ancient cryptogram in number for the period of the seed’s incubation in the ground or matter before germinating, therefore a glyph for the general fact of incarnation, the end of all the forty-day periods would signalize the perfection of the product of the incarnational experience. Hallowe’en ends the forty days from the autumn equinox, and May-Day ends forty days from the vernal equinox, as Easter ends the forty days of Lent. So Candlemas ends forty days from Christmas. The conclusion of the period of soul’s tenancy of the body is presumed to have raised the constituent matter of the body in which it was housed to final purification. The candle flame, drawing up and transmuting into its own glorious essence of fire the lowly elements of the animal body of the candle (animal tallow), is the grand symbol of this transfiguration of essence which soul works upon lower body. And this is the Purification of the Virgin.

Albert the Great (Lib. de Univers.) says that the sign of the celestial Virgin rises above the horizon at the moment in which we fix the birth of Christ, that is, at midnight of December twenty-fourth. He adds that all the mysteries of his divine incarnation and all the secrets of his miraculous life, from his conception even to his ascension, are traced in the constellations and figured in the stars which announced them. (See Dupuis: Histoire de Tous Les Cultes, Vol. 3, pp. 47, 318). This symbolic allegorism was the true and high employment of ancient astrology. Higgins (Anac., p. 314) strengthens this assertion in remarking that "the trifling but still striking coincidences between the worship of the god Sol and the stories of Jesus are innumerable." It should be noted that if the resemblances are sometimes apparently "trifling," this is the fault of the ignorant copying of earlier definite constructions, due to the loss of esoteric insight, and is not attributable to any want of exact correspondence or identity in the material originally.