by S.G.P. Coryn

as published in “Theosophical Siftings” - Volume 6 - 1893-1894

[Page 3] OF our nineteenth century researches into the knowledge, the science and the mythology of the ancients, there is probably no department which has given rise to discussion so animated, to speculations so varied, to conclusions often and usually so fallacious, as that of the Zodiac and its twelve signs. Nor need we greatly wonder at the interest which it has evoked. To the sincere student who wishes only for wisdom and understanding, and who does not seek to force and to bend the facts of nature into the mould of his own creed, the Zodiac promises something more than a glimpse into the secrets of the Universe. Almost insensibly to himself he is led to perceive that herein lie the mystic tracings, in divine handwriting, of the world's past and a prophecy of things to come. And on the other side, we find very much the same enthusiasm of research, but directed to the belittling of the history of the Zodiac and to a reduction of its symbology and the mysteries and the myths and the legends which have gathered around it, to the superstition of peoples who knew no written language, nor arts, nor sciences, but believed themselves able to read the signs and the tokens of the heavens above them.

And justly may the champions of the creed of a day seek to diminish the importance of the Zodiac, and well may they fear the revelations which it may bring. It is a history of the civilizations of mankind; it is a record of the wisdom and the knowledge possessed by those whom we have sought to place in the very infancy of the human intellect; and in its starry language it tells again the tale which it has told from the beginning — of a sinful humanity and of its redemption. To them of old time it taught more than this. It taught them, or helped to teach them, many of the mysteries of their own being, the secrets of themselves. For they saw a unity in all Kosmos, of which the whole was faithfully reflected in every part. They believed that man was in very truth the microcosm of the macrocosm, and that as it was above, so was it also below. Thus, in the Universe around them they saw a Titanic image of themselves, a cyclopean man, and each fresh truth regarding the Universe became a fact for the individual, and that which they knew of themselves they sought for also in the Cosmos. And thus grew up a most perfect system of correspondences, for man was the flower of normal evolution, and he had brought up within himself, and preserved within himself, the traces of his uprising through material nature, and that which did not manifest within him was potentially latent within him. Everywhere around them they saw not [Page 4] alone the history of the past, but the sure promise for the future, and that future was endless progression throughout the days and the nights of the eternal one, which should number themselves into years and into centuries of eternity, in their turn to be reckoned but as days in the dawn time of new eternities.

We have passed out of these old ideas and superstitions and we rejoice in our knowledge, and when we see the pictures which they drew to express that for which words failed them, and the aspiring adoration of the heart alone could reach, we are told: "Behold this disease of symbology which springs up when the human mind is young".

But we think that these sages of times long passed by were the men "who walked and talked with God".

You will, I am sure, pardon me if I quote to you a few lines from Thornton's Physiography under the heading of my title. It will at any rate serve as a useful introduction to my subject. He says: —

"The Zodiac is a Zone or Belt of the celestial sphere, extending about eight degrees on each side of the ecliptic. It was so called because the constellations within this region are often represented on celestial charts and globes by the imaginary figures of animals. Within the Zone the apparent motions of the sun, moon and all greater planets are confined. The ecliptic passes through the centre of the Zodiac and, like it, is bisected by the equator. The Zodiac, like the ecliptic, is divided into twelve equal parts of thirty degrees, each called signs, and these are designated by the names of the constellations with the places of which they once coincided. These twelve signs are counted from the vernal equinox, where the sun intersects the equator at the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. Owing to a slow backward movement of the equinoctial points, the sun now enters the sign Aries about a month before it enters the constellation Aries. Hence the signs of the ecliptic are about one place ahead of the corresponding constellations of the Zodiac, which keep a fixed place on the celestial sphere."

The Zodiac then, coinciding as it does with the ecliptic, represents a circle of 360 degrees, and it is within that circle that the motions of the planetary bodies around the Sun take place. The Sun itself is frequently referred to as though it shared in the planetary motions. This means, it is needless to say, that looked at from our own planet the Sun appears to pass from one constellation to another. Thus then, we have the Sun as the centre of the system and the Zodiac as the circumference, and between the two the revolving planets, with their ever changing aspects one to another, to the central Sun and to the Zodiacal Signs.

It has hardly been my intention tonight to enter very specially into the origin of the Zodiac. This has already been very fully done, and the many and diverse judgments thereon are available to us. Suffice, it to say that its immense antiquity is now universally admitted, although I hope to show presently that it may fairly lay claim to an immeasurably greater age [Page 5] than any which science has yet assigned to it, It rather concerns my purpose now to show, if possible, some of the less obvious meanings which attach themselves to the signs, and, second, the value of the Zodiac as a chronological record, the way in which it has been used in the compilation of cycles, and the connection which occultists of all ages have professed to find between it and man. It is hardly necessary to say that the names of the Zodiacal constellations are not derived from any supposed resemblance to the animals, etc., whose names they bear. It has always seemed strange that such a theory could ever have been offered to any but children. A moment's glance at an astronomical map will sufficiently show this. There are many constellations in the Heavens, not included in the Zodiac, which offer a far better likeness to the animals in question than those which bear their names in the Zodiac which, as a rule, do not in the faintest degree, suggest the similarity.

Now let us try first of all to take a generally comprehensive view of the cosmogonical meaning of the Zodiac as a whole, and it must be remembered that, like everything else in Nature, it can be viewed on each plane separately. We will especially seek for the highest: we must then remember that the universe, as we know it, is one of a long chain of universes, each one being further advanced in evolution than the preceding one, and that the process of this evolution is not in a straight line, so to speak, but arc shaped and spiral. Thus the first half of the process is in the direction of materiality, and the second half in that of spirituality. Now the ancients, in their secret teachings, divided the whole process into twelve portions or periods, and of these twelve portions they taught that six referred to the advance into materiality, and that the other six symbolized the return from materiality to spirituality. Now the invention of the Zodiac is due to the desire of the initiates to embody this profound idea in a form suitable to the comprehension of the multitude. The twelve signs are the twelve periods, but in order still further to bury the mystery from the profane sight, ten signs only were put forward, the first five being Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, and Leo, and the second five Virgo-Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces. Two signs then were kept secret, and although in our present Zodiac we find these two missing signs, yet they are not under their proper names, which, we are told, would be too indicative of their real meaning. We now have Virgo-Scorpio divided into two — Virgo and Scorpio, and Libra or the Balances inserted at the middle point of the circle.

In Isis Unveiled we are told that: —

"Within this double sign was hidden the explanation of the gradual transformation of the world, from its spiritual and subjective, into the 'two-sexed' sublunary state. The twelve signs were therefore divided into two groups. The [Page 6] first six were called the ascending or the line of Macrocosm, or the great spiritual world, and the last six, the descending line or the Microcosm, the little secondary world — the mere reflection of the former, so to say. This division was called Ezekiel's Wheel, and was completed in the following way: — First came the ascending five signs, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and the group concluded with Virgo-Scorpio. Then came the turning-point, Libra. After which, the first half of the sign Virgo-Scorpio, was duplicated and transferred to lead the lower or descending group of Microcosm which ran down to Pisces. To make it clearer, the sign Virgo-Scorpio became simply Virgo, and the duplication, or Scorpio, was placed after Libra, the seventh sign. It now became Scorpio, or Cain, which led mankind to destruction, but ascending to the true doctrine of the wisdom religion, it indicated the degradation of the whole universe in its course of evolution downward from the subjective to the objective."

"The sign of Libra is credited as a later invention by the Greeks, but it is not generally stated that those among them who were initiated had only made a change of names conveying the same idea as the secret name to those 'who knew'. Yet it was a beautiful idea of theirs — this Libra, or the Balance, expressing as much as could possibly be done without unveiling the whole and ultimate truth. They intended it to imply that when the course of evolution had taken the worlds to the lowest point of grossness, the turning-point had been reached — the forces were at an even balance. At the lowest point, the still lingering divine spark within began to convey the upward impulse."

I am sure it will be already apparent that the ancients, in their invention of the Zodiac, were doing something more than permitting their childish fancies to perceive resemblances between the heavenly constellations and the animals with which they were most familiar. They were, in very truth, embodying in their myths cosmogonical teachings so wealthy in imagery, so majestic in conception, that we cannot rise to their full comprehension. They were speaking a parable which was destined to live throughout the ages: they were inscribing a prophecy, not in the memories and the traditions of men, not on parchment scrolls or graven upon the rocks, but traced in the marching, glittering worlds above us and around us, there to be the witness of their own fulfilment, there to accomplish the end laid down, in the sight and to the wonder of the humanity whose future they foretold.

Let me now occupy your time for a few minutes by a rapid survey of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, gleaning such information as we can from the sources at our disposal.

Aries is usually called the first sign of the Zodiac, because when the Greek Zodiac was first framed the equinoctial points were in Aries and Libra, and here it is necessary to mention what is known as the precession of the equinoxes. The equinoxes are those points where the equator cuts the ecliptic, as shown on this diagram. You observe the equator A B and the ecliptic C D, and you will see that the two circles cut each other at [Page 7] two points. The Zodiac occupies the path of the ecliptic, and when the observations were first made upon which the Greek Zodiac was based. Aries and Libra occupied these two points of intersection, Libra in the vernal or spring equinox, and Aries in the autumnal equinox.

ZodiacP7 Now the precession of the equinoxes is caused by a slow, backward motion of these equinoctial points from causes which need not now be entered into. Hence, each equinox, or each occasion on which these two great circles intersect, happens a little earlier than in the previous year. This difference amounts to fifty seconds each year, and it is, therefore, a matter of simple calculation to show that the time required for the equinoctial points to make the complete circle of the ecliptic of 360 degrees, is about 25,900 years. Now, you will readily see from this the value of the Zodiac in computing periods, and as an illustration we will take the case of this particular sign Aries, and we will, from it, ascertain at what period the Greek Zodiac was formed. Now, Libra was then coinciding with the vernal equinox, at the present time the vernal equinox is in Pisces. We have seen that the complete precession takes nearly 26,000 years, and this is equal to somewhat over 2,000 years to each sign; we immediately see then, that a period of about 16,000 years must have elapsed since the vernal equinox. coincided with Libra, at which point the observations were made [Page 8] upon which the Greek Zodiac was based. I shall presently show how immeasurably older is the Indian Zodiac. It is necessary to note that in our present computations we adopt what is called the fixed Zodiac. That is to say, we call the vernal equinox the first point of Aries, irrespective of the constellation Aries. The equinox really occurs in the constellation Pisces; when the Zodiac which we now use was framed, the equinox did coincide with Aries. It now no longer does so, coinciding instead with Pisces; but we still continue to call the equinox the first point of Aries, and this is the difference between the fixed and movable Zodiacs. This should be carefully borne in mind, this difference between the sign Aries and the constellation Aries. The latter, being composed of fixed stars, remains stationary, while the sign Aries follows the precession and is actually in the constellation Pisces. It seems to me that the Western astrologers are in error in basing their predictions upon that movable space in the heavens called the sign, instead of upon the actual constellation. They would, I believe, argue that the influence which they ascribe, comes from the space in the heavens measured from the shifting equinox instead of from the stars actually forming the constellation. It has been pointed out that astrology would gain greatly in precision if its votaries would deal with the constellation and not with the sign.

To return specially to Aries, Subba Row says of it that it is intended to represent "Parabrahma, the self-existent, eternal, self-sufficient cause of all". Astrology makes of Aries one of the houses of Mars, by which of course is meant that a special dignity and power is ascribed to Mars at such time as he is passing through this constellation. It is noteworthy that the Aeolian name of Mars is Areus, and the Greek name is Ares. Max Müller connects both names, Mars and Ares, with the Sanskrit root Mar, from which root, he says, the word Marut is obtained; the Maruts being, as you will know, the gods of storm or strife.

Taurus, or the Bull, is the second sign, and is made by Subba Row to correspond with the Hindu sacred word aum. The Secret Doctrine tells us that this sign was sacred in every cosmogony, with the Hindus as with the Zoroastrians, with the Chaldees as with the Egyptians. In Isis Unveiled we are told that Taurus is the symbol of the Satya Yuga, the Golden Age, and if we calculate the position of the vernal equinox for the conclusion of the Kali Yuga or Black Age, and the dawn of the Satya or Golden Age, we find that it will coincide with Taurus.

I need not remind you that the constellation Taurus includes the group of stars known as the Pleiades, of which Alcyone is the chief. It will also be known to you that, according to some recent scientific theories, our sun is travelling around a centre of his own, which centre is [Page 9] Alcyone. Maedler calculates the length of his circuit around Alcyone to be 180,000,000 years.

Taurus I take to be spiritual, male creative force on the highest plane. Male creative force on all the planes. In Egyptian cosmogony Taurus corresponds to Osiris in his four aspects — Osiris Ptah, the spiritual aspect; Osiris Horus, the intellectual manasic aspect; Osiris Lunus, the lunar, psychic, astral aspect; and Osiris Typhon, the material, passionate, turbulent nature. Taurus is perhaps the Hindu Daksha who, we are told, is: —

"The spiritual power, and at the same time the male energy that generates the Gods in eternity. The generative force, spiritual at the commencement, becomes at the most material end of its evolution a procreative force on the physical plane."

Taurus is symbolized by the Tribe of Issachar, because he is "a strong ass couching down".

Gemini, or the Twins, is the third Zodiacal sign, and according to Subba Row, typifies the first androgyne. In one sense it is the bi-sexual principle throughout nature. It represents therefore the divine man, of whom Jesus speaks in Pistis Sophia when he says that the time shall come when that which is above is as that which is below, and the male with the female, neither male nor female. Goethe says that it is the eternal womanly that draws us ever upward and onward. Of the twelve tribes, Gemini is symbolised by Simeon and Levi.

Cancer, the Crab, is the fourth sign, and represents the final descent of spirit into matter. It is, in a sense, the sign of retrogression, and it has been asserted that the Egyptian Cancer is not a crab at all, but a scarabaeus, whose most noticeable habit is that of walking backward when carrying any article in its claws. Of the twelve tribes, Cancer is Benjamin, who was "ravenous".

Leo, the. Lion, is the fifth sign. The Secret Doctrine says that it represents the highest group of the Hierarchy of creative Powers, "whose esotericism is securely hidden in this sign." This does not look encouraging but we must get what light we can ,Subba Row says that it represents Jivatma, and that the: —

"Elements or entities that have merely a potential existence in this sign become distinct, separate entities in the next three signs."

It may be pointed out also that the Lion was one of the four sacred . animals of Ezekiel's vision — the Bull, the Eagle, the Lion and the Angel, and these four constellations occupy the cardinal points at the winter solstice.

Leo corresponds to the tribe of Judah — the strong lion." Concerning Subba Row's remarks as to Leo being the potentiality of the actuality represented by the three following signs, the remarks in The Secret Doctrine on the nature of Manas maybe worth recalling. We are told that [Page 10] Atma Buddhi is dual and Manas is triple, inasmuch as the former has two aspects and the latter three; i.e., as a principle per se which gravitates in its higher aspect to Atma-Buddhi, and follows in its lower aspect Kama, the seat of terrestrial and animal passions and desires. It suggests itself therefore to me that Leo is the pure Manasic potentiality which in actuality manifests as the triple Manas, or the three following signs, Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio.

Let us now pass on to Virgo, and here we are, if anything, on somewhat more difficult ground, but we again find some reason to regard this sign as the Higher Manas, or the Manasic aspect which gravitates towards Atma Buddhi.

Virgo means a virgin and is always so represented in the ancient Zodiacs, and here we are reminded of the Kumaras, the "virgin youths", who "refused to create" and who became the Higher Manas of ascending humanity. Subba Row argues that as Virgo is the sixth sign it symbolises the six great powers which are, in the main, the powers which we attach to the Higher Manas. These powers are those of light and heat, and you will remember that Prometheus, who is typical of Manas, was chained to the rock for having brought fire to mankind, teaching them divine secrets. The second power associated with Virgo is that of intellect, of real wisdom and of knowledge. Thirdly, the power of the will. Fourthly, Kriyasakti, "the mysterious power of thought which enables it to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy". Fifthly, Kundalini Sakti, about which we know very little, and sixthly, Mantrika Sakti, the occult forces of sound.

I have already drawn attention to the division of the sign Virgo into two, the separated portion being Scorpio, and Libra being placed between, thus making twelve signs where there had been only ten previously. This refers of course to the separation of sexes in the third root race, and also to the "degradation of the whole Universe in its course of evolution downward from the subjective to the objective". Viewed in the light of its being one aspect of the actuality represented in potentiality by Leo Virgo would be the true Higher Manas as incarnated in man. In the Old Testament Virgo is typified by Dina the only daughter of Jacob. Hartmann considers that this sign represents the "Spiritual Soul in man and in the Universe, the celestial Virgin, the eternal mother of man made God".

I shall presently find it necessary to revert to Virgo when referring to the chronological lessons conveyed by the Zodiac.

Libra, or the balances, is the seventh sign and is the turning point or the balance, between the northern and southern signs. We are given to understand in Isis that the name is a beautifully chosen blind and conveys [Page 11] no indication of its influence. We found, however, a reference in The Secret Doctrine which, taken in conjunction with its connection with Leo and the Manas, seems to throw some dim light upon its real meaning. We read: —

"When woman issues from the rib of the second Adam, the pure Virgo is separated and falling 'into generation',or the downward cycle, becomes Scorpio, emblem of sin and matter. While the ascending cycle points to the purely spiritual races, the Prajapatis and Sephiroth are led on by the creative deity itself, who is Adam Kadmon or Yod Cheva. Spiritually, the lower one is that of the terrestrial races, led on by Enoch or Libra, the seventh, who, because he is half divine, half terrestrial, is said to have been taken by God alive".

Enoch, Libra and Hermes are one. Hermes is divine wisdom, and Enoch is credited with having transferred all the sciences from latent to active potency. Does not this mean that Libra typifies the Manasa-Manas, Manas at its pivotal point, that point which knowledge must pass before it can come into actual use on this plane. Speaking of Hermes and Enoch, The Secret Doctrine says: —

"It is he who changes form, yet remains ever the same. He is the nameless one who has so many names and yet whose names and whose very nature are unknown. For he is the great sacrifice. Sitting at the threshold of light, he looks into it from within the circle of darkness which he will not cross."

I have already made so many references to Scorpio, that it is hardly necessary to say anything further about this sign. It is the emblem of sin and matter. If it represent that portion of Virgo or Manas which fell into generation and was therefore separated from its source, it becomes evident that Scorpio refers to Kama-Manas, or Manas in its lowest aspect, as united to, and conquered by, the powers of matter, of sensual desire, of Kama. Especially appropriate, then, is its attribution to Dan; who is described as "a serpent, an adder in the path that biteth the horses heels".

Of Sagittarius, the Archer, the ninth sign of the Zodiac, very little can be ascertained. It appears to represent the Divine Will in the formation of the worlds, and the human spiritual will seeking for itself the realisation of its ideals.

When we come, however, to the tenth sign, Capricornus, or the Goat, we are on a somewhat better trodden path, although, perhaps, one but little better illuminated. The tenth sign of the Zodiac in Sanskrit is called Makara or the crocodile, and appears to refer to the Monad, Atma Buddhi, in connection with the spiritual aroma from Manas. It refers also to Kama as a spiritual principle. Gerald Massey says that the crocodile was "the seventh soul, the supreme one of seven, the seer unseen".

In the Book of the Dead, the "Osirified" one, the deceased, is made to say; — [Page 12]

"I am the god crocodile brought for destruction [referring to the loss of spirituality on the attainment of self-consciousness]. I am the fish of the great Horus. I am merged in Sekten."

Sekhen is identical with the Devachan of Atma Buddhi, says The Secret Doctrine, and that herein lies the —

"Mysterious face, or the real man concealed under the false personality, the triple crocodile of Egypt, the symbol of the higher trinity or human Triad, — Atma, Buddhi, and Manas. Now Kama is the 'unborn' and the ' self-existent". He is the Logos in the Rig Veda, as he is shown to be the first manifestation of the One. Desire first arose in it, which was the primal germ of mind. This is the first stage. The second, on the following plane of manifestation, shows Brahma as causing to issue from his body, his mind-born sons, who, in the fifth creation, become the Kumara."

Capricorn contains twenty-eight stars, and the infant Buddha is supposed to take seven steps toward each of the cardinal points in adoration of the constellation.

Hartmann says that this sign —

"Represents the exercise of the constructive power of the universe; the universal law of evolution, which, at the time of the beginning of a new creation, again enters into activity."

In the Old Testament Capricorn corresponds with Naphtali, who is "a hind let loose".

Aquarius, or the Water-Bearer, is the eleventh sign, and represents, according to Subba Row, the fourteen Lokas, or spheres. It will be more convenient to take this sign and the following sign of Pisces, or the Fishes, together. The most noticeable feature of this latter sign of the Fishes is that it is used in connection with the world's Saviours.

Abarbanel states that the sign of the coming Messiah "is the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the sign Pisces". Christian astrology, therefore, always represents the birth of Jesus as having occurred during such a conjunction. We can, however, go further back into the Hindu records, and here we find the God Vishnu assuming the form of a fish, in order that he may recover the Vedas which have been lost during a deluge. Among the early Christians Jesus was continually symbolised as a fish, and early Christian amulets bear this figure. Clemens advised his companions "let the engraving upon the gem of your ring be either a dove, or a ship running before the wind, or a fish". In short, the fish is an emblem of the Avatar, the Saviour of mankind, whether that Avatar be Jesus, Joshua, son of Nun or the Fish, or Vishnu, who becomes a Fish in order that he may restore the lost Vedas, of pure primitive religion. But what then is the signification of the two signs Aquarius and Pisces. Let us add to them the preceding sign, that of Capricornus, which I tried to show represented Atma-Buddhi [Page 13] endowed with the individuality of Manas. Regard Capricorn, then, as the perfect man, the planetary spirit, the potential Avatar, who saves humanity by plunging into the water of Aquarius, or material incarnation, becoming there the Fish.

I have now, somewhat tediously I fear, commented on each of the twelve signs. To those who have themselves paid any attention to the mysteries of the Zodiac, I need make no apology for an obviously incomplete, superficial and halting presentation. They will be aware of the immense difficulties which await anyone who endeavours to catch gleams of the light which illumines this wondrous path. Elsewhere, my only apology need be that I have tried to discover some of the meanings which lie here enshrouded. Whether they be right or wrong, the elucidation of the Zodiac must ever remain one of the most fruitful as it is one of the entrancing studies which any man can undertake. Especially must it be so to the Theosophist, who, to curiosity and the desire for knowledge, will not fail to add an ever increasing awe as its wonders unfold themselves before him in an ever-changing glitter of radiance from each fresh point of view.

I should like to add a few words on the Zodiac as a chronological record, and I must once more direct your attention to the precession of the equinoxes. You will see from the foregoing diagram that the precession is caused by the revolution of the pole of the equator around the pole of the ecliptic. The equator is represented by the circle A B, and the ecliptic by the circle C D. The pole of the equator is the vertical line F, and the pole of the ecliptic E. It will then be obvious that as the pole of the equator F travels around the pole of the ecliptic E, the equator will take up the relative positions to the ecliptic as shown by the dotted lines. It will also be evident that the points of intersection of the equator and the ecliptic, known as the equinoxes, must be always changing as the sun, in his path around the ecliptic, will meet the equator a little earlier every year.

Now the pole star is that star situated on the polar circle at which the equatorial pole F happens to be pointing at any given period on his journey around this circle. What we call the pole star was not therefore always the pole star. Now the total precession of the equinoxes takes about 25,900 years. That is equivalent to saying that the equatorial pole takes this period to travel around the ecliptic pole. If, therefore, we can ascertain that at any point in the history of the world, the people of that time considered such and such a star to be the pole star, it is a simple matter of calculation to discover how long a time has elapsed since the equatorial pole did really point to the star in question.

Now let us apply this knowledge. The larger Egyptian pyramids have each a long narrow shaft running from the bottom to the top, so that [Page 14] anyone looking up that shaft would see a small portion of the heavens. It is generally admitted that that shaft was intended to point direct to the then pole star, which was Alpha Draconis. But Alpha Draconis has not been the pole star for about 3,000 years. That is to say, 3,000 years ago Alpha Draconis ceased to be the nearest star to the pole, and our present pole star became so. Thus the pole star is not the true north, but it is the nearest star to the true north. In 12,000 years' time the star Alpha Lyras will become the north star. Now again, with regard to the Pyramids, it does not follow that because Alpha Draconis was the ancient Egyptian pole star 3,000 years ago, that the Pyramids are only 3,000 years old, for they may have been built on the previous occasion when this star was the pole star, which would have been nearly 26,000 years earlier, or it may have been on the occasion before that again, or 50,000 years ago. Nor is this by any means an extravagant idea. You will recollect that the Egyptians, boasting of their antiquity to Solon, claimed that their astronomers had watched and recorded the heavenly movements for the period of two complete precessions, which would be over 50,000 years, and there are evidences that this is true In the great Zodiac drawn on the roof of the temple at Dendara, the constellation Virgo is triple. That is to say, it is represented by three Virgins, which obviously means that three times over has the constellation been recorded in that position, and this would imply a duration of time of about 75,000 years.

In many ways can this time gauge be used. When, for instance, in the Egyptian religion, we and popular worship diverted from Apis and directed towards Ammon we know that this means that the sun at the vernal equinox has passed away from Taurus or Apis, and has entered Ammon or Aries, and we then see clearly when this change in religion occurred. These instances might be greatly multiplied did time and your patience allow. There is, however, one other point in this same connection which I should like to bring before you.

There is probably no department of Theosophical teaching which has induced more ridicule than the chronology as it is given in The Secret Doctrine, being mainly copied from the most ancient Hindu almanac, said to have been compiled in the time of Asuramaya, the great Atlantean astronomer and sorcerer. I am so fortunate as to be able to show that all these figures are based upon admitted astronomical facts, and have not been set down at random with the eyes closed, as has been charged.

According to this calendar, the Hindu Great Age is divided into four smaller ages. The first of these is the Krita or Golden Age, which occupies 1,728,000 years. This is followed by the Treta Yuga or age, which is 1,296,000 years. Then comes the Dwapara Yuga, containing 864,000 years, [Page 15] and this is followed by the Kali or Black Age, in which we now are and which comprises 432,000. These four ages together make the Great Age, the Maha Yuga of 4,320,000 years. Now, we are told elsewhere that every age is preceded and followed by a twilight which lasts for as many hundreds of years as there are thousands in the age itself. Let us now take the first, or Krita or Golden Age, and treat it in this manner.

Here then we have the Krita Age, preceded and followed by its twilights —

making a total of 2073600

We will now divide this product by the length of the total precession of the equinoxes, or 25,920 years:—


The result, you see, is exactly 80. We will now do the same to the Treta Yuga: —

The result shows that the Treta Yuga is exactly equal to 60 precessional years.

Doing the same with the Dwapara Yuga —



we get 40 precessional years, and the Kali Yuga


produces 20 precessional years.

[Page 16] Adding these four Ages together, we find that the Great Age — the Maha Yuga — is exactly equal to 200 precessions of the Equinox.

The Hindu chronology does not of course stop here. We are told that seventy-one of these great ages make one minor Manvantara, that twenty-eight of these minor Manvantaras makes one day of Brahma, which is 4,320,000,000 years, that Brahma's night is of equal duration, that 360 of such days and nights make one year of Brahma, and that 100 such years make the age of Brahma or the Great Kalpa, the length of which is expressed by fifteen figures. These figures may seem extravagant, but they are not simply fanciful, for every one of them, with the added twilights, divides accurately and without remainder by the length of the precessional year of 25,920 ordinary years.

Moreover, they all divide by twelve, the number of signs in the Zodiac, and, when so divided, the product reverts to the basic figures, less one cypher. Thus 1,036,800, the length of the Dwapara Yuga, was obtained from the figures 864,000. Dividing the former by twelve, we get 86,400.

I think it is Mackey who says: —

"The Indians have had from the most remote antiquity a cycle of sixty years, which Hindu astronomers call the period of Vrihispati, because it includes five solar revolutions of the planet Jupiter. The Chinese, the Tartars, and the Persians multiplied that period by three, and made their cycle of 180 years."

Now these are based on the same figures as are given in the Hindu calendar. They all divide into those figures, and they are based upon Zodiacal measurements.

Notice also that the 360 degrees of the Zodiac are divided into 72 dodecans, or sets of five degrees each. If we multiply the 360 degrees by the 72 dodecans we get the length of the precessional year of 25,920.

Again, 180, which is half the Zodiac in degrees multiplied by the square of twelve, the number of signs in the Zodiac, also gives 25,920, or the precessional year.

The Zodiac is divided into 72 dodecans of five degrees each, because the Sun takes 72 years to pass through each degree, making 25,920 years for the whole circle of 360 degrees. These are curious facts, and very conclusively show that the Hindu chronology is very far from being fanciful, but rather is based upon the nicest calculations. W. R. Old further points out that the famous Naronic cycle of 600 years, when multiplied by twelve, the number of signs in the Zodiac, gives 72,000 years, and this multiplied by 360, the number of degrees in the Zodiac, yields 2,592,000 years, or the period of 100 precessions of the equinoxes.

The more these cyclic figures are examined, the more remarkable are the results. I have only tried to show somewhat of the system on which such [Page 17] examination may profitably be made. But here I must certainly stop, although I have but skirted the outlines of what is known, and of what may be fairly surmised from that which is known. How pitifully incomplete such knowledge is, is well known to everyone who has attempted to read these riddles of the past, to catch some faint whispers from the wisdom that was, that is, and that yet will be throughout the ages. The Kali Age is indeed with us, but it is the promise of the Krita, the Golden Age. Hear the ancient prophecy of the Vishnu Purana: —

"In the Kali Yuga there will be contemporary monarchs reigning over the earth — kings of churlish spirit, violent temper and ever addicted to falseness and wickedness. They will inflict death upon women, children and cows, they will seize upon the property of their subjects and be intent upon the wives of others; they will be of unlimited power, their lives will be short, their desires insatiable. People of various countries intermingling with them, will follow their example, and the barbarians being powerful in India, in the patronage of the princes, while purer tribes are neglected, the people will perish. Wealth and piety will decrease until the world will be wholly depraved. Property alone will confer rank. Wealth will be the only source of devotion. Falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation. External types will be the only distinction of the several orders of life. A man if rich will be reputed pure. Dishonesty will be the universal means of subsistence. Weakness the cause of dependence. Menace and presumption will be substituted for learning. Liberality will be devotion, mutual assent marriage, fine clothes dignity. He who is the strongest will reign. The people, unable to bear the heavy burden, will take refuge among the valleys. Thus in the Kali Age will decay constantly proceed until the human race approaches annihilation. When the close of the Kali Age shall be nigh a portion of that divine being which exists of its own spiritual nature shall descend on earth endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. He will re-establish righteousness on earth, and the minds of those who live at the end of Kali Yuga shall be awakened, and become as pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed shall be the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the law of the Krita Age, the age of purity. As it is said when the sun and the moon and the lunar asterism, Tishya, and the planet Jupiter are in one mansion, the Krita or Golden Age shall return. Two persons, Devapi, of the race of Kuru, and Moru, of the family of Ikshwaku, continue alive throughout the four ages residing at Kalapa. They will return hither at the beginning of the Krita Age. Moru, the son of Sighru, through the power of Yoga, is still living, and will be the restorer of the Kshatriya race of the Solar Dynasty."

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