SPIRITUAL SYMBOLISM of the SUN AND MOON
by ALVIN BOYD KUHN
I have found a most fitting introduction to the theme and sentiment of our address this evening in the beautiful little verse of Wordsworth which he calls Heartleap Well:
leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
So was it when I was a child;
So is it now I am a man;
So shall it be when I grow old,--
Or let me die!
The child is father of the man,
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each in natural piety.
There are two things in this little gem of sentiment that are worthy of our attention at the outset of this lecture. The one is the poet's uplift that his life be continually sweetened and deepened by the emotions of a "natural piety." The development of religion under Christian auspices has severed it quite drastically from its original kinship with nature, and it is the purpose and keynote of this lecture to revive some of the primordial links of relationship between the religious emotions in man's heart and the phenomena of the external world. For religion once owned to a close affinity with natural events and the course of the solar year. The Church and the various religions still hold the thin cords of that bond of kinship between the subjective and the objective worlds in their calendar of yearly festivals. But to a distressing extent either the very datings of these festivals have been misplaced, or the inner purport of the celebrations has effervesced out of ecclesiastical knowledge, and the great round of pagan festivals in the year is reduced to a merely nominal place in the religious life. This is because the great fundamental teaching of the Ancient Wisdom, that both astronomical and natural phenomena are a reflection and epitome of man's spiritual history, has been lost out of current knowledge.
If I may make a personal reference for a moment, I desire to state that my own discovery, as a result of research into Egyptology, of the amazing reproduction of man's spiritual life in the movements of our two great heavenly neighbors, the sun and the moon, has been perhaps the climactic realization in a whole long series of astounding revelations which were disclosed to my mind in recent study of religious origins. Words indeed fail me in the effort to convey to another mind the veritable transfiguration of my own philosophic mind, my conception of life and religion, as the truth embodied in solar and lunar movements little by little took form in my comprehension. It was, to say the least, an illumination so flashing as to stun and benumb my thinking, as if I had been brought face to face with the entire glory of truth in one sudden flare. If cold words will enable me to impart to your minds a fraction of what has been my own intellectual experience in dealing with this material, I may express the hope that whenever hereafter you behold the moon in the nightly sky, you, like Wordsworth at sight of the rainbow, may be moved by feelings and intimations of the utmost profundity and gripping power. God set these lights in the heavens, not merely as lamps unto our physical feet by night and by day, but in a far deeper sense to keep us mortals enlightened by their astonishing revelation of our cosmic and spiritual history. For the sun and moon together trace in the open book of the skies each month and each year the entire narrative of our inner experience.
The (apparent) annual revolution of the sun about the earth, or more properly the course of the sun through the four seasons or four quarters (twelve signs) of the zodiac, was the entire symbolical basis of ancient religious systematism. The divinity in man was typed by the sun, and the sun's yearly experience in its journeying was made the outward typograph of the experience of the spirit in mortal man. As the sun descended into the dark realm of winter, died and was buried out of sight, to be revived and raised up again to glory in the vernal equinox, so the god descended into the depths of night and winter in matter, lost his divine nature and died on the cross of incarnation, to rise again, as did Osiris in Egypt, "on the third day in the moon." The new moon was born on the third day of the dark period. And this, be it known on authority, was the origin of the three days during which all Saviors in ancient scriptures reposed in the tomb of death.
The zodiacal chart is divided into four quarters to match the four seasons, the four cardinal points, and the fourfold segmentation of man's nature. At the junction points of each two of these divisions, or at the two solstices and equinoxes, the ancients celebrated the four great religious festivals of the year. In June came the great Fire-festival, symbolic of the highest expression of the fiery nature of deity; in September came the festival that commemorated the incarnation, under whatever name; in December was celebrated the end of the dark night of death, and the birth or quickening of the Sun-god to new life; and at the vernal equinox in March followed the joyous festival of the bursting of the bars of death in matter, or the resurrection. Each of these was of cardinal importance and significance; yet it might be said that of the four the autumn and spring occasions were the ones of primary rating. They severally symbolize the descent of the god into incarnation and his re-arising after "death." They thus typify death and rebirth in the spiritual life of man.
The Fire-festival of ancient days in June has passed quite out of modern ken. Our Fourth of July celebration, with its pyrotechnics and old-time bonfires, has chanced to come in, for America, with a certain appropriateness not dreamed of by the general mind. Of the great autumnal festival commemorating the death of the god as he sank below the horizon, the main survival is, all unsuspected, our Hallowe'en mummery. It was designated Michaelmas, as Michael is from the Egyptian Makhu, the god of the horizon or the balance. The proper celebration of Hallowe'en or All Souls' Night has preserved features of the ancient religious symbology which are of extreme significance. The public's total ignorance of the hidden meaning of these mummeries speaks volubly as to the decay of ancient wisdom and a knowledge of the forms under which it was depicted. The wearing of masks, which were originally those of animal faces, signified the incorporation of the god or soul that came from spiritual realms in the body of an animal. The mummery depicted the souls as hiding themselves behind the outward mask of an animal's body! We, the gods, came to earth and made the bodies of animals our habitation. These were the "coats of skin" that Genesis describes the Eternal as making for Adam and Eve in the Edenic days. As the god took residence in the bodies of the lower race which he came to uplift, it was a most natural form of typology to picture him as looking out upon the world through the grimacing features of some animal. The ludicrousness of the masks was designed to betoken the distortion and sad disfigurement of the beauty of the god as his intrinsically divine nature came to expression darkened and corrupted by the animal medium through which it passed into concrete expression. Here is the long-lost meaning of the masks of Hallowe'en.
Take next the divided and bi-colored suits worn by the Hallowe'en celebrants. What is the emblemism back of these? It is not less interesting than that of the masks. It was designed to represent the fact that the god, a unit nature on his own plane, split or bifurcated into duality when he incarnated. A great Egyptian verse reads: "The soul makes the journey through Amenta (incarnate life) in the two halves of sex." There is a great truth back of this statement. Indeed it is the great mystery of human life. Before incarnation, we, as spirits, were androgyne, or biune in sex. Sex pertains to the physical body, and the soul, which is sexless, receives a sexual differentiation by virtue of its coming to incarnation in a body. But the bifurcation rises to even higher significance when it is seen to connote also man's duality as a creature of combined physical and spiritual natures. Humanity is divided into male and female, in outer form; it is also divided in each individual between the two worlds of spirit and matter. Man is the result of the union of a soul or immaterial principle of intelligence with a gross body. This duality, along with the sexual duality of the race, is typed by the divided suit of the Hallowe'en symbolism.
Then we have the great festival of Easter typing the resurrection of dead life on all planes. And how do we give expression to the meaning? Chiefly in the outward form of bright new spring clothing! This is not merely a social custom. It arose out of the archaic symbology, when man thought it fitting to imitate nature, who was then clothing herself anew in the bright glories of springtide. Ponder a moment over the idea, and you will be able to see an infinite depth of new meaning in this custom of casting off old garments and coming out in new ones. One of the several reasons why the snake was a symbol of the resurrection was his sloughing and self-renewal in the springtime. The entire process of evolution in the human cycle is to be consummated at our Easter by our casting off the old garment of mortality, the body of flesh, and standing forth transfigured in the radiant body of solar glory, our spiritual house not made with hands.
Easter is rightly the consummate festival of human joy, because it signalizes the god's release from his imprisonment in a body of what was to him virtually death. "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"--cries Paul, referring to his incarnation. "Out of the belly of death have I cried unto thee, O God," echoes Jonah from the depths of this watery grave of the body--(The body of man is close to 80% water!). The opposite side of the year, then, must have been the season of grief and sorrow over the god's descent from spiritual freedom into the bondage of "Egypt," or the human body. (Our mortal bodies are the "flesh-pots of Egypt!") And so we find it in the ancient days. In old systems and cults there were celebrated various festivals appropriate to this motive. Significantly there was a three-days festival of mourning for the death of the god around the date of the autumn equinox; likewise a seven-days festival of the same purport; and a forty-days festival equivalent to Lent. The seven-days festival was called in Christian times the Fetes de Tenebres, a French name for Festival of Darkness. It commemorated the soul's sad entry upon its dark night of bodily incarnation.
Now all three of these ancient autumnal festivals which bewailed the soul's descent into the realms always described in the sacred books as "death," have been continued by the Christian Church, but by a strange miscarriage of their primal intent, they have been transferred over into the opposite side of the year, where they have no appropriateness and where they are glaringly out of place. This has been due to the loss of the original meaning of the celebrations with the decay of all ancient theology dating from the third century on. Christianity has so far missed the interpretation of old symbols and so far drifted away from solar religion that it has postponed the season set aside for lamenting the death and burial of our spiritual Lord until that season in which all nature is in the midst of her renewal and resurrection. It surely is no time to bewail the buried king of life when he is already emerging from his tomb! The fit time for that is in "the melancholy days" of autumn.
But the Christians were probably moved by the consideration that "All's well that ends well," for they arranged each of the three periods at such a time that the concluding day of each one falls upon Easter. This is the only possible justification for placing the festivals of mourning in the spring, namely, that their night of mourning can be gloriously terminated in the rejoicing on Easter morn. And this is the only consideration that saves the Christian Church from the commission of a frightful anachronism in its calendar of festivals.
We have seen one of the origins of the three-days period in the tomb (another and more abstruse one has been elaborated in other lectures). It is desirable now to trace the origin of the Passion Week of seven days, the ancient Fetes de Tenebres, and also the origin of the forty days of Lent.
To explain fully the significance of the number seven and its application to the sufferings of the Christ would take no less than a volume in itself. Suffice it to say with the utmost brevity that the divine life in and back of evolution struggled up through six kingdoms of nature, three sub-mineral, the mineral, the vegetable and the animal, before attaining to the expression of its latent deific force in the seventh or human stage, wherein the god makes his debut upon the scene of incarnate existence. Hence in all fables and myths the gods appear in a seventh epoch, period or cycle, as in the Genesis account of the finishing of creation on the sixth day. A series of old allegories placed the rising of the Savior out of death on the seventh morn, and this construction the Christians followed in the institution of Passion Week.
The Lenten period of forty days has two mythological origins. First it was derived from the Egyptian agriculture, where the seed was in the ground forty days before germinating. As the seed in the soil was a natural figure for the soul in incarnation, the period of incubation was transferred to the spiritual allegory. Thus the Christians themselves announce three different periods of the god's burial or death in matter -- three, seven and forty days -- a definite proof that the event can not be historical.
A second origin derives it from another natural phenomenon of incubation, the forty weeks spent by the human foetus in the womb. As forty weeks was too large a portion of the year to devote to a commemoration of one phase of the spiritual drama, the typical forty days were substituted, the number alone being significant. And after all, what more natural a typology of the incarnation could be found than the foetal cycle?
This number forty -- which occurs scores of times in Old and New Testament allegorism, -- has been retained at several other points in the Christian year. Hallowe'en has been placed just forty days past the autumn equinox, and the festival of Candlemas, or the Purification of the virgin, following the birth of the Christos, falls on February 2, just forty days after Christmas. Also Whitsuntide falls forty days after the ascension. But from these celebrations more or less of the ancient significance of the number has disappeared.
Gerald Massey's Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World (p. 745) we take the following
"But there was a diversity of opinion amongst the Christian Fathers as to whether Jesus the Christ was born in the winter solstice or in the vernal equinox. It was held by some that the 25 of March was the natal day. Others maintained that this was the day of the incarnation. According to Clement of Alexandria the birth of Jesus took place upon the 25 of March. But in Rome the festival of Lady Day was celebrated on the 25 of March in commemoration of the miraculous conception in the womb of the virgin, which virgin gives birth to the child at Christmas, nine months afterward. According to the gospel of James (Ch. 18) it was in the equinox, and consequently not at Christmas, that the virgin birth took place."
This passage is valuable from many points of view, and should put an end forever to the notion that the Christian Christmas festival has anything to do with commemorating the birth of a personal being from a human mother. It was purely an astronomical celebration. Indeed when it was officially set by decree of Pope Julius in the year 345 A.D., It was placed on December 25 expressly to match the astronomical date of the birth of Mithra and Dionysus in the Mystery cults! It was the pagans who set the date for Christmas!
Taking our rough diagram of the zodiac and its four quarters, we may see several large spiritual facts which are fruitful for our instruction.
The four quarters type the fourfold nature of man, or his four bodies, the physical (earth), the astral or emotional (water), the mental (air), and the spiritual (fire). The divine spirit in man lives in these four sheaths, which interpenetrate each other in the field of the physical body. It lives in the four because it has built them up in its journey through the round of the elements, building a form in and of the matter of each. To contact those four elemental worlds it had to evolve an organism of the material of each. The sun, traversing the four quarters of the zodiac, is a glyph of this evolutionary journey of the human soul through the four worlds or elements. To symbolize this great fact, the year, the month (lunar) and the day were each divided into a fourfold section, and the year and the day additionally given a twelvefold partition, i.e., the twelve months and the twelve hours, of day and night. The lunar months give us seven days in each quarter, and twenty-eight is the number of the gestation period, in days, of many animals.
All this numerology and periodicity is part of the great significant fact that the ancients saw in the movements of the sun and moon a counterpart or analogue of the spiritual history of all men. With nature's aid they wrote the drama of human life on the open tablet of the sky. Or rather, it might be said, they deciphered the handwriting of mother nature herself in the skies, her stencils being the sun and moon.
we have also the cycle of the Great Year, a period of 25,868 years, measured
by the total precession of the equinoxes through the entire twelve signs, giving
us the different astronomical "Ages." Each of these twelve divisions
lasted 2155 years; and the ancient sages represented the Messiah as coming at
the beginning of each new Age under the form of the sign. In Libra he came as
the Lord of the Balance, or the King of Righteousness; in Scorpio he came as
the divine Scorpion, to sting the god into incarnational Lethe from which he
was to awake on Christmas in his quickening to life; in Sagittarius he came
as the half-animal Archer aiming at the distant goal of unification of his two
elements; in Capricorn he came as the mountain goat scaling the heights of the
spirit; in Aquarius he was the Water-Pourer, or universal server; in Pisces
he came as the Ichthys, the divine Fish, as the food of man; in Aries the ram
or Lamb of God, sacrificed for the world; in Taurus, as the Golden Bull or Calf,
the male Cow of life and plenty of ancient Egypt; in Gemini as the two divine
twins, the god in his biune form, the one of which, like John the Baptist decreases
as the other increases; in Cancer as the Good Scarab or Beetle, type of the
self-renewing divine life; in Leo as the lion of the house of Judah; in Virgo
as the shoot of the vine, constellated in this sign in old zodiacs. Jesus of
Galilee came at or near the beginning of the Piscean era; his followers were
called the Pisciculi (little fishes) and his disciples were figured as rude
fisherman. As we have now entered the Aquarian Age, the Messiah should be re-charactered
to conform to ancient usage. He should be the Waterman, or dispenser of the
water of life and universal love.
But only now, on top of all this preliminary solar symbolism, do we plunge into the heart of those amazing analogies that make the sun and moon the celestial writers of our history. We must delineate sharply, first, the characters played by the two orbs, as each stands, both in fact and in symbology, for certain definite traits, elements and natures in our constitution. Let us look at these severally. The sun types our divinity, the moon our animality; the sun the soul, the moon the body. As all spirit is masculine, the sun is of that gender, the moon female, the woman. The solar god embodies the positive energies of life, the moon the negative. The sun's essence is fiery, the moon is symboled by water. We might tabulate this as follows for readier classification:
|The god||The animal|
|Masculine; man||Feminine; woman|
|Aggressive, light-giving.||Receptive, light-receiving|
|Heavenly life||Earthly life|
|Spirit body||Astral body|
The sun is our
light by day, the moon by night, and in the large cosmic sense day symbols
our life in the celestial worlds or the empyrean when not incarnated. Night
is the definite symbol of our bodily incarnation. Our day is symbolical (only)
of our life as pure spirit; night betokens the subjection of our spirits to
the gloom and darkness of incarnation. This will be seen in important connections
in a few minutes. In the daytime we receive the rays of our spiritual life
directly; by night we get them only secondarily and by reflection. And here
is the beginning of the great symbolism of the moon. It is a reflector of
the sun's light, and this reflection is made at night, when the sun is out
of sight of man! The moon is our sun-by-night, and it is well to delve more
deeply into the implications of this datum. The moon conveys to us the sun's
light in our darkness. What does this mean on a wider scale of values? It
means this: as the night typifies our time of incarnation, the diminished
solar light reflected on the lunar surface is an index of the fact that by
no means the full power and radiance of the sun (our divine light or spirit)
can fall upon us or shine for us while in the life in body. As the moon stands
for the body, the reflected light of the sun upon it and from it to us, betokens
that we can have access only to as much of the spiritual glory as our bodies
can give passage to, or give expression to, or become susceptible to. In incarnation
we are in spiritual darkness, or have access only to that spiritual force
and radiance that can get down to us through the intervening medium of the
physical mechanism. The body which individualizes us must needs be the transmitter
of godly life and nature to us. As it is our outer garment, the light from
within must come through it to reach us in the outer world. As at night solar
light comes to us reflected and refracted, dimmed and obscured by its passage
through another orb, so in our night of incarnation on earth, our divine character
shines for us only in that diminished and broken form in which the mechanism
of nerves and blood transmit it to our intelligence. The moon is all that
we can have of the sun at night. So the bodily registration and transmission
of godly nature in our physical life is all that we can have of deity. Hence
the ancient widespread desire to escape the bonds of the body by rigid mortification
and crucifixion of its heavier tendencies. When in incarnation, we are deprived
of the full glow of our inner light. Our god is then as the hidden sun, and
we must get its rays through a reflecting medium, the body. This is why Taht,
the moon-god in Egyptian mythology-religion, is called the witness for Ra,
the great Sun-god. He, through his orb, is the witness to the human race of
the presence of the invisible sun. He is identical with the Gospel character
of John the Baptist, who is described in the Gospels as being not that true
light, but as coming to bear witness to that light. So the moon is not a true
light, but stands in the sky of our night to bear witness that the solar light,
our god, is still shining. It thus also symbolizes the human body, which is
surely not the light of spirit, yet in its structure and in its outward countenance,
it reflects and bears witness to the divine spirit that animates it, the god
hidden within. A man's spirit shines out on his face as the sun shines on
is a profound thing to realize about the moon,--that it types our lower nature,
which reflects the higher. But the most sublime element in the spiritual symbolism
we are trying to depict comes next in the development of our theme. This is
the eternal meaning connected with the sun's light on the moon that we are desirous
of impressing in unforgettable vividness upon the imagination. This is the great
fact which we would have you call to mind whenever you gaze upon the silvery
orb from night to night. As the young crescent fills with light and rounds out
its luminous circle, it is writing our spiritual history! It is preaching to
us uncomprehending mortals the gospel truth about our own divinization. The
growing expanse of light on the moon, we repeat, is the sign, symbol and seal
of our own transfiguration into godhood! The spark of divinity implanted in
our organisms must, to use one Biblical figure, gradually leaven the whole lump;
to use another, must illuminate the whole bodily house. Grandly do the texts
of the Egyptian Book of the Dead express the features of this process. Horus
in his resurrection is made to say, after enumerating the bodily members one
by one: "There is no member of my body that is without a god." He
means in effect that there is no portion of his nature that has not been divinized,
i.e., purified, raised, transfigured with spiritual radiance. And this states
the whole purpose of human life. The god came to dwell within us in order to
transform our lower natures and lift them up to a harmony of vibration with
his own ethereal personality. As we gaze upon the lunar crescent and see it
go on toward the full, the vision should fortify us with the profoundest and
sublimest truth about this mortal existence of ours, viz.: that we are in process
of filling our very bodies with the mantling glow of an interior hidden light,
which will steadily transform our whole nature with the beauty of its gleaming.
The sight of the crescent (from Latin crescere, to grow) should thrill us with
the realization that little by little, life by life, divinity is creeping over
us, spreading through us! The growing light on the moon is nature's sure pledge
of our deification! Here is inspired writing of revelation by the hand of Nature
herself. Here is a Bible whose word no sceptic will deny.
The Sun-gods in ancient systems were represented as being dismembered, or cut to pieces, when they came to incarnation. Osiris's body was fabled to have been cut by Sut, the devil of darkness, into fourteen pieces, which were scattered and buried over the land of Egypt, to be reassembled later by Isis or Horus, aided by the god Taht, and the body restored whole in its resurrection. Here is indisputable proof that the religious myths were based on astronomical symbolism, for the fourteen pieces can have no other basis than the fact that the power of darkness cuts off fourteen slices of light from the body of the full moon, or cuts the full-orbed light of the sun on the moon, the god in matter, into fourteen pieces. These are reassembled or reconstituted in the next birth of the crescent; and once more the heavenly symbolism of the gradual spiritualization of the lower man takes form in the growing light. So that we can understand the hidden ecstasy of the god Horus, when at the completion of the process and the divinization of his whole nature, he cries, triumphantly, "I am the god entire."
In this same great Egyptian Ritual (The Book of the Dead) there is the statement that "Osiris enters the moon on the sixth day." This has not heretofore been seen as of any pointed significance, because the symbolism has not been understood. As the moon types the woman, lunar typology was made to match feminine functions, and the three dark days of the moon were extended to, or represented as, five, to equate the five days of the feminine period. As the ovum, the seed of life from above, descends into the womb for fecundation at the end of the period, it was used to type the descent of the god into incarnation after a period of pralaya or non-existence in a world of form, and the typism was transferred from the woman to the moon, her astronomical counterpart. Or the moon-goddess was simply figured as menstruating.
entry of Osiris or the god into the moon on the sixth day of the new cycle is
the prime origin of the Sabbath, and makes clear particularly why the Jewish
Sabbath begins Friday evening and extends to Saturday evening. The descent of
the god was timed on solar symbolism, and therefore was made at sunset. Counting
from Sunday, Friday is the sixth day, and evening the time of the descent. Jesus
and Horus both enter the boat to cross the sea at eventide.
As the underlying idea of the Sabbath is the crowning of the six rounds or waves of elemental life, non-intelligent, with the coming of the seventh or spiritual intelligence, and the bringing of peace (the same Egyptian word, hetep, which means seven also means peace and is the name of the Egyptian Messiah, Iu-em-hetep, he who comes as the seventh, and he who as the seventh brings peace to the seven elementary forces of blind nature)--(See lecture on the Myth of the Sun-gods for fuller elucidation.)-- there was thus a Sabbath on the seventh day of each month, called the Feast of the Tenait. Then as the full moon was typical of the complete divinization of the lower man, and came on the 15th, there was another Sabbath held eight days later. Each month thus had at first only two Sabbaths, on the seventh (evening of the sixth) and the fifteenth. Later the general idea of a seventh or spiritual day completing the six secular days, was applied to each recurring group of seven days, without reference to the lunar phases or periods, and was made continuous,--the origin of our week. Several of the goddesses, as Semiramis and Ishtar, as also Venus, were actually named "the goddess Fifteen," typifying their giving birth to the Sun-god at the height of their enciente condition, on the fifteenth.
As intimated, the three dark days of the moon were the actual origin of all the burial periods of three days for the Sun-gods or their mythical three days in the tomb. In lunar symbolism they matched the five days of the feminine period, and as this is the period during which the light of the sun is not in contact at all with the moon, tribal and national custom, founded basically on these outward phenomena and their hidden spiritual signification, carried the implication over into the life of womankind by prohibiting contact with the male during the dark cycle, and still further by requiring women to avoid all contact with sunlight or even with a fire, the outward symbols of the male or spirit! The customs of the Jews and other nations of early time forbade a woman to be in a house where there was a fire. Her condition was supposed to dishonor the fire or the sun, and this is the meaning back of the legends of the Greek Diana visiting condign punishment upon the hero who came into her presence while she was bathing. David also looked from his housetop upon a beautiful woman who was bathing, and was severely punished for it.
We have said that the moon and woman are mutually representative in the typology. Now, to indicate that these parallelisms are not mere poetic fancies, but that they are grounded on actual affinities in nature, let us see if there is any actual bond of relationship between them. At once we are confronted with an amazing confirmation of the connection. The very basic functions of woman as female are controlled and timed by the 28-day cycle of the moon. There is nothing that can be added to this bare statement, but there is an infinite amount of thinking that can be done about it, to great profit. The great mystery of life is the mystery of sex, and here is one of the most startling phenomena connected with it all.
Another most important link in the series of symbolism is this: the ancient books tell us that man's emotional (or astral) body, comes to him from the moon. Our desire bodies are the chayas of the lunar pitris, or our lunar progenitors. Now the symbol of the astral or emotional plane, in all ancient scripts without exception, is water, as fire is just as invariably the sign of spirit. Which, then, of the two sexes would we expect to find predominantly on the emotional ray? Need I state that woman is universally adjudged to be the more emotional of the two? Again we find our table of symbols to be vindicated. Woman, who represents the moon and is typed by water, is under the moon influence both physiologically (as above) and psychologically. And how does the typism hold as between moon and water? Again we meet an astonishing verification of the correctness of our parallels, for the moon it is, not the sun, that controls the watery tides of our earthly oceans! Think how nature has been trying to instruct us, and we all these centuries too dull to interpret her daily, weekly, monthly and yearly lessons! The moon, water, the body (composed mainly of water), woman, emotion, all linked in one great bond of affinity! Nor have we seen the last of the parallels. Still another is to be found in the word "lunatic," moon-struck. The influence of the moon on human psychic states is seen beyond question in the behavior of asylum inmates. At full moon many cases, particularly of women, show violent symptoms which are not manifest between the lunations.
Now we are ready to examine a series of even more wonderful phenomena and their symbologies in connection with the interaction of the two bodies, sun and moon. As male and female together engender all life, let us see if in the interaction of sun and moon there is any adumbration of this fact. Of a truth, one of the most thrilling situations in astronomical theology, almost indeed the cornerstone of religion and philosophy, is clearly outlined in the monthly interplay of solar and lunar movements.
First it must be prefaced that this realm of bodily life on earth was called in all old scriptures the Hades, of the Greeks, the Sheol of the Hebrews, and the Amenta of the Egyptians; the dark cave, the grave or tomb, and lastly and always, the dark Underworld. It was the gloomy abysmal pit, the infernal realm of Stygian darkness. It was the region of death and darkest night, the dark night of the soul. Darkness was its invariable symbol.
Now, as it was only when incarnated on this earth that the human spirit came into contact with body, split into the two nodes of sex ("the soul makes the journey through Amenta in the two halves of sex"--Egyptian Ritual), and became the bisexual parentage of new life, the copulation of cosmic sex to reproduce new life may be said to take place only in the dark underworld, or, most significantly, in the soul's night time! The two halves of sex, soul and body, unite in the underworld to effect a new creation. Human fecundation commonly takes place in the night and out of the world's sight. Can it be possible that the sun and moon match this cosmic, this theological and finally this human parallelism in their relations? Indeed they do so, and with unbelievable fidelity. The new infant light of the sun on the crescent moon is conceived and born in the dark underworld, that is, below the horizon, in the western sky, out of sight of the world, where the sun and moon have met (they are both at a point below the western horizon at the same time) and may be said to have copulated. Sun and moon together once a month descend into the dark underworld, there unite, and in two or three days the moon gives birth to their child, the new young moon! Here is the theological outline or glyph of all creation, planetary, racial, human, individual. Men and women only meet in the underworld (there is no sex in spiritual heavens) and only in the cave of incarnation do spirit (male) and body (female) ever meet in the cosmos. What a sermon the two orbs preach to us in that monthly tryst below the rim of the world in the western sky! For it is only in the kingdom of man that soul and body are met in creative union. The angels and gods are spiritual only; the animals are without spirit--Man alone is a union of spirit and matter in equilibrium.
Reverting a moment to the physiological or phallic aspect of the data, we see an exact replica of this entire phenomenon once more. As soul descends into the underworld to meet body, as sun descends below the horizon light to meet moon, so in the physical plane of creation sperm (the male element) descends into the dark cavern of the womb to meet there the ovum (female element) that has likewise come down from above, and the two meet in creative union in that dark underworld. An Egyptian text says that the soul of Osiris descends into the underworld of Amenta (our earth), it meets there the soul of Isis; the two are there united.
To climax this series of almost incredible correspondences between outward astronomical and inner spiritual processes in two altogether different realms of life, there is another natural phenomenon that may well serve to fill us with wonder at nature's recording of her universal affinities. In order to present it with the utmost impressiveness we shall give it in the words of the ancient writer, Hor-Apollo, an Egyptian quoted by Plutarch, and a man whose extant writings contain some of the clearest hints at the hidden significance of the ancient symbols. The following is one of them:
"Hor-Apollo says of the Cynocephalus. . . . that the Egyptians symbolized the moon by it on account of a kind of sympathy which the ape had with it at the time of its conjunction with the god. 'For at the exact instant of the conjunction of the moon with the sun, when the moon becomes unillumined, then the male cynocephalus neither sees nor eats, but is bowed down to the earth with grief, as if lamenting the ravishment of the moon. The female also, in addition to its being unable to see, and being afflicted in the same manner as the male, ex genitalibus sanguinem emittit (Lat.--"emits blood from the genitary organ";) hence even to this day Synocephali are brought up in the temples, in order that from them may be ascertained the exact instant of the conjunction of the sun and moon. And when they would denote the renovation of the moon, they again portray a Cynocephalus in the posture of standing upright, and raising its hands to heaven, with a diadem on its head'." (Taken from Gerald Massey's, The Natural Genesis, Vol. I, p. 44.)
we gather the significance of this phenomenon? So far is the union of sun and
moon below the horizon in the underworld from being a matter of sheer poetic
fancy, that natural actually marks the event by its influence upon the physical
functions of a susceptible species of near-human animal. It is the heavenly
recording of that physiological function in the female half of humankind which
presages and prepares the birth of a new life.
And finally how truly does the moon exemplify again in another phenomenon the truth of zodiacal religion! As just seen, the new moon is conceived in the west, the region of all beginning or entry upon incarnate life, the place of descent into the underworld. It has its birth and begins its career of growth in the west, moving night by night further toward the east. Man, the soul, enters his journey toward divinity in the west, and life by life moves further toward the east, the place of fulfilment and glorious resurrection. What more fitting, then, that the rising of the moon in its full glory, when it typifies the completed and perfected human-divine, the man become god, should take place in the east, the gate of the resurrection! The young new moon appears and mounts in the west; the full moon in the east! The one is the infant god struggling for light and growth against a dark power; the other is the full evolved god-man, victorious over the darkness, arising to shine over all the world.
And in conclusion may we not paraphrase the little gem of Wordsworth to remind us of the truths typed by the silvery orb of night?
heart leaps up when I behold
in the sky;
shadowed globe is night by night
fourteen segments, each more bright,
last in utmost splendor dight;--
hidden Lord it manifests;
sun-bright god rides on its crests;
that grand light man ever, ever rests.
to Top of this page
Back to our On Line Documents
Back to our Main Page
A free sample copy of our bilingual magazine can be sent to you. This offer is only good for a mailing to a Canadian address. You have to supply a mailing address.
The Canadian membership of $25.00 includes the receipt of four seasonal issues of our magazine "The Light Bearer" . If you are a resident of Canada send a note to email@example.com requesting a packet of information and your free copy of our magazine
For membership outside of Canada send a message to the International Secretary in Adyar, India firstname.lastname@example.org
For a problem viewing one of our documents - or to report
an error in a document - send a note to the webmaster at email@example.com
We will try to answer any other query -if you would send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
This document is a publication
Canadian Theosophical Association (a regional association of the Theosophical Society in Adyar)
89 Promenade Riverside,
St-Lambert, QC J4R 1A3
To reach the President - Pierre Laflamme dial 450-672-8577
or Toll Free - from all of Canada 866-277-0074
or you can telephone the national secretary at 905-455-7325