By Joseph “Joe” Panek | A Seeker’s Thoughts
“Every new beginning comes from
some other beginning’s end”
– Seneca, Roman philosopher
From ancient Sumer, a civilization which may arguably pre-date ancient Egypt, we get the Sumerian Sphinx. The Sumerian Sphinx has four distinct features, or elements: the head of man, wings, the body of a lion, and the feet of a bull.
Thousands of years later, we see these same four features being expressed in the Alchemical, Hermetic and religious paintings of those times. These four features, are expressed in these paintings in the following manner: a bull in the lower left corner of the painting, a lion in the lower right corner of the painting, an eagle in the upper right corner of the painting, and man in the upper left corner of the painting.
The bull, lion, eagle and man which appear in these paintings occur in the same order, and sequence, as they appear on an astrological chart; and in the zodiac. A perfect example of this order is expressed in the Tarot card, The World.
(Image via Wikipedia)
This identical sequence also appears on the Tarot card, Wheel of Fortune
It is interesting to find that these four elements – the bull, the lion, wings ( the eagle ), and man – have survived, and endured, throughout the millennia.
Why would the ancient Sumerians create a mythological creature, an archetype, consisting of these four elements?
And furthermore, what is it that is so powerful about these four elements that their importance survived the millennia in order to re-appear once again in Alchemical, Hermetic and religious paintings thousands of years later?
The Four Pillars of Heaven:
Since the most ancient of times, mankind has worshipped four specific cardinal points of the year: the two Equinoxes and the two Solstices.
Temple windows, megaliths and monoliths were aligned so as to greet and worship the Sun at these four important and sacred moments of the year.
Ancient cultures referred to these four sacred times of the year as the Four Pillars which support the Sky; or the Four Pillars which support the Vault of Heaven.
Why are these four times of the year referred to as the Four Pillars? These four times of the year are equidistant from each other; they occur approximately 90 days apart and represent one-fourth of the year. Also, being equidistant, they are also, astrologically, 90 degrees apart from each other and represent one-fourth of a Circle; or one-fourth of the earth’s annual Cycle.
And though, today, these four sacred times of the year are celebrated commercially rather than worshipped spiritually, a respect for these four important heavenly Events still survives
Precession of the Equinoxes (Ages of the Zodiac):
The earth wobbles on its axis in a clock-wise direction in relation to the heavens. It takes approximately 25,920 years for it to complete one complete wobble. This one complete wobble is referred to, astrologically, as The Great Year.
During each Great Year, the Sun travels ( precesses ) through each of the twelve constellations of the ecliptic, or zodiac, in a slow and clock-wise direction. The word zodiac means “circle of animals”.
The time the Sun spends in each constellation is called a Precessional Age. Each Precessional Age is determined by which constellation of the zodiac the sun is rising in at dawn on the Spring ( Vernal ) Equinox. Each Precessional Age lasts for approximately 2,160 years.
We are currently at the end of the Age of Pisces and preparing to enter ( precess into ) the Age of Aquarius. And, as we shall see, Aquarius is one of the components of both the Sumerian Sphinx and the Alchemical, Hermetic and religious drawings mentioned at the beginning of this article.
In each Precessional Age the Sun rises in four complimentary constellations, which are 90 degrees apart, at a specific time of the year for the duration of that Particular Age. These four constellations are the Four Pillars of that Precessional Age.
In the current Precessional Age of Pisces, the Sun rises in Pisces at the Spring Equinox, in Virgo at the Autumn Equinox, and in Gemini and Sagittarius at the Solstices.
When the Age of Pisces is ended the Sun will precess into Aquarius and cause the Four Pillars to churn, which will result in the following: the Sun will rise in Aquarius at the Spring Equinox, in Leo at the Autumn Equinox, and in Taurus and Scorpio at the Solstices.
Because the Four Pillars of any specific Precessional Age are 90 degrees apart from one another, each of the Four Pillars is situated in one of the four different astrological elements of either fire, earth, air, or water.
The act of precession from one Astrological Age into another is also represented, Symbolically and mythologically, as the Churning of the Mill and is often depicted by mythological Gods or Heroes holding the head and tail of a great Serpent, which is wrapped around a central pillar. These Gods or Heroes then churn this pillar by alternately pulling either the head or tail of the Serpent as one would do today in a game of “tug-of-war”. The Serpent represents the constellation Draco, which is entwined within the branches of The World (or Cosmic) Tree.
In mythology, we also encounter a “broken pillar” which some God or Hero ultimately re-sets. The broken pillar symbolizes the end of one Precessional Age, while the re-setting of the pillar represents the beginning of the next Precessional Age. The broken pillar is normally re-set by the particular God, Hero or Archetype who will be ruling, or governing, the new Precessional Age.
The Sumerian Sphinx:
(Image via Wikipedia)
Let us now consider the Symbolism which is contained within the Sumerian Sphinx. Again, the Sumerian Sphinx has the feet of a bull, the body of a lion, wings, and the head of man. And, again, these are the same four features which later appear in the Alchemical, Hermetic and religious paintings mentioned above. So, what are we to make of this enigmatic, mythological creature which comes down to us from some ancient race?
The feet of the bull represent the constellation Taurus. The body of a lion represents the constellation Leo. The wings (which are later expressed as an eagle) represent the constellation Scorpio. And, the head of man represents the constellation Aquarius.
These four constellations are 90 degrees apart from each other. Therefore, because they are 90 degrees apart, it is quite probable that they represent a Precessional Age. What is also interesting to note is that these are the same four constellations, or pillars, which will be involved in the upcoming Age of Aquarius.
So, the question now remains: If this mythological archetype, this Sumerian Sphinx, is Symbolic of a Precessional Age, which Precessional Age is it?
There is evidence which seems to point to the Age of Leo as the Precessional Age being described by the four features of the Sumerian Sphinx. If so, then we are looking at a Precessional Age which occurred approximately 10,500 BC!
But why choose the constellation of Leo, represented by the body of a lion, from among the four constellations which are represented by the Sumerian Sphinx?
To answer this question, we now turn to the Egyptian Sphinx.
The Egyptian Sphinx:
Proportions, ratios and exact alignment were critical factors that played an important role in the artwork, and in the construction of temples, buildings and statues, of the ancient Egyptians. Attention to detail was an ingrained aspect of their culture. And, attention to detail is what kept them in Harmony with the Law of Maat.
The Egyptian Sphinx, as it exists today, consists of two features: the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh.
However, according to ancient Greek historians, the Egyptian Sphinx originally had the body of a lion and the head of a woman!
The pharaoh’s head, which is a current feature of the Egyptian Sphinx, is out of proportion when scaled to the size of the lion’s body. In other words, the current pharaoh’s head on the Sphinx is too small when measured against the size of the lion’s body. It is out of ratio; out of scale; out of Harmony. It is therefore not in keeping with the Law of Maat; something inconceivable to the ancient Egyptians.
When we consider how detail-, ratio- and alignment-oriented the ancient Egyptians were in all of their monuments, temples, statues and artwork, it is nearly impossible to consider that they would have miscalculated the proper ratio between the Sphinx’s head and the rest of its body. The only alternative is that, at some time in the distant past, some pharaoh chiseled away the original head of the Sphinx in order to have his features carved in its place.
Taking all of this into consideration, we are now left with the reports of the ancient Greek historians which tell us that the original Egyptian Sphinx had the body of a lion and the head of a woman.
If this is true, and there is evidence to support this, then the original Egyptian Sphinx very probably Symbolized the cusp of a Precessional Age; with the head of a woman representing the constellation Virgo and the body of a lion representing the constellation Leo. And, the cusp of the Age of Virgo and the Age of Leo, as determined by the rising of the Sun on the Spring Equinox, occurred around 10,500 BC.
So, the question we are left to ponder is this: What is so significant about the ancient Age of Leo that prompted the Ancients, the Alchemists and the Hermetists to honor this particular Precessional Age? An Age that extends itself, in perpetuity, all the way from the Sumerian Sphinx to our modern-day Tarot deck? This is our unanswered enigma. And, perhaps the answer lies in the upcoming Age of Aquarius which is in direct astrological opposition to the Age of Leo which occurred one-half of a Great Year ago.
See also: “The Egyptian Sphinx”
Note: Evidence supporting the alteration of the face of the Egyptian Sphinx can be found, in greater detail, in Serpent In The Sky by John Anthony West.
Categories: The Occult