M&D-C25 – Knight Of The Brazen Serpent

Albert Pike – Morals and Dogma

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THIS Degree is both philosophical and moral. While it teaches the necessity of reformation as well as repentance, as a means of obtaining mercy and forgiveness, it is also devoted to an explanation of the symbols of Masonry; and especially to those which are connected with that ancient and universal legend, of which that of Khir-Om Abi is but a variation; that legend which, representing a murder or a death, and a restoration to life, by a drama in which figure Osiris, Isis and Horus, Atys and Cybele, Adonis and Venus, the Cabiri, Dionusos, and many another representative of the active and passive Powers of Nature, taught the Initiates in the Mysteries that the rule of Evil and Darkness is but temporary, and that that of Light and Good will be eternal.

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Maimonides says: "In the days of Enos, the son of Seth, men fell into grievous errors, and even Enos himself partook of their infatuation. Their language was, that since God has placed on high the heavenly bodies, and used them as His ministers, it was evidently His will that they should receive from man the same veneration as the servants of a great prince justly claim from the subject multitude. Impressed with this notion, they began to build temples to the Stars, to sacrifice to them, and to worship them, in the vain expectation that they should thus please the Creator of all things. At first, indeed, they did not suppose the Stars to be the only Deities, but adored in conjunction with them the Lord God Omnipotent. In process of time, however, that great and venerable Name was totally forgotten, and the whole human race retained no other religion than the idolatrous worship of the Host of Heaven."

The first learning in the world consisted chiefly in symbols. The wisdom of the Chaldæans, Phœnicians, Egyptians, Jews; of Zoroaster, Sanchoniathon, Pherecydes, Syrus, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, of all the ancients, that is come to our hand, is symbolic. It was the mode, says Serranus on Plato's Symposium, of the Ancient Philosophers, to represent truth by certain symbols and hidden images.

"All that can be said concerning the Gods," says Strabo, "must be by the exposition of old opinions and fables; it being the custom of the ancients to wrap up in enigma and allegory their thoughts and discourses concerning Nature; which are therefore not easily explained."

As you learned in the 24th Degree, my Brother, the ancient Philosophers regarded the soul of man as having had its origin in Heaven. That was, Macrobius says, a settled opinion among them all; and they held it to be the only true wisdom, for the soul, while united with the body, to look ever toward its source, and strive to return to the place whence it came. Among the fixed stars it dwelt, until, seduced by the desire of animating a body, it descended to be imprisoned in matter. Thenceforward it has no other resource than recollection, and is ever attracted toward its birth-place and home. The means of return are to be sought for in itself. To re-ascend to its source, it must do and suffer in the body.

Thus the Mysteries taught the great doctrine of the divine nature and longings after immortality of the soul, of the nobility of its origin, the grandeur of its destiny, its superiority over the animals who have no aspirations heavenward. If they struggled in vain to express its nature, by comparing it to Fire and Light, – if they erred as to its original place of abode, and the mode of its descent, and the path which, descending and ascending, it pursued among the stars and spheres, these were the accessories of the Great Truth, and mere allegories designed to make the idea more impressive, and, as it were, tangible, to the human mind.

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Let us, in order to understand this old Thought, first follow the soul in its descent. The sphere or Heaven of the fixed stars was that Holy Region, and those Elysian Fields, that were the native domicile of souls, and the place to which they re-ascended, when they had recovered their primitive purity and simplicity. From that luminous region the soul set forth, when it journeyed toward the body; a destination which it did not reach until it had undergone three degradations, designated by the name of Deaths; and until it had passed through the several spheres and the elements. All souls remained in possession of Heaven and of happiness, so long as they were wise enough to avoid the contagion of the body, and to keep themselves from any contact with matter. But those who, from that lofty abode, where they were lapped in eternal light, have looked longingly toward the body, and toward that which we here below call life, but which is to the soul a real death; and who have conceived for it a secret desire, – those souls, victims of their concupiscence, are attracted by degrees toward the inferior regions of the world, by the mere weight of thought and of that terrestrial desire. The soul, perfectly incorporeal, does not at once invest itself with the gross envelope of the body, but little by little, by successive and insensible alterations, and in proportion as it removes further and further from the simple and perfect substance in which it dwelt at first. It first surrounds itself with a body composed of the substance of the stars; and afterward, as it descends through the several spheres, with ethereal matter more and more gross, thus by degrees descending to an earthly body; and its number of degradations or deaths being the same as that of the spheres which it traverses.

The Galaxy, Macrobius says, crosses the Zodiac in two opposite points, Cancer and Capricorn, the tropical points in the sun's course, ordinarily called the Gates of the Sun. These two tropics, before his time, corresponded with those constellations, but in his day with Gemini and Sagittarius, in consequence of the precession of the equinoxes; but the signs of the Zodiac remained unchanged; and the Milky Way crossed at the signs Cancer and Capricorn, though not at those constellations.

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Through these gates souls were supposed to descend to earth and re-ascend to Heaven. One, Macrobius says, in his dream of Scipio, was styled the Gate of Men; and the other, the Gate of the Gods. Cancer was the former, because souls descended by it to the earth; and Capricorn the latter, because by it they re-ascended to their seats of immortality, and became Gods. From the. Milky Way, according to Pythagoras, diverged the route to the dominions of Pluto. Until they left the Galaxy, they were not deemed to have commenced to descend toward the terrestrial bodies. From that they departed, and to that they returned. Until they reached the sign Cancer, they had not left it, and were still Gods. When they reached Leo, they commenced their apprenticeship for their future condition; and when they were at Aquarius, the sign opposite Leo, they were furthest removed from human life.

The soul, descending from the celestial limits, where the Zodiac and Galaxy unite, loses its spherical shape, the shape of all Divine Nature, and is lengthened into a cone, as a point is lengthened into a line; and then, an indivisible monad before, it divides itself and becomes a dead – that is, unity becomes division, disturbance, and conflict. Then it begins to experience the disorder which reigns in matter, to which it unites itself, becoming, as it were, intoxicated by draughts of grosser matter: of which inebriation the cup of Bakchos, between Cancer and Leo, is a symbol. It is for them the cup of forgetfulness. They assemble, says Plato, in the fields of oblivion, to drink there the water of the river Ameles, which causes men to forget everything. This fiction is also found in Virgil. "If souls," says Macrobius, "carried with them into the bodies they occupy all the knowledge which they had acquired of divine things, during their sojourn in the Heavens, men would not differ in opinion as to the Deity; but some of them forget more, and some less, of that which they had learned."

We smile at these notions of the ancients; but we must learn to look through these material images and allegories, to the ideas, struggling for utterance, the great speechless thoughts which they envelop: and it is well for us to consider whether we ourselves have yet found out any better way of representing to ourselves the soul's origin and its advent into this body, so entirely foreign to it; if, indeed, we have ever thought about it at all; or have not ceased to think, in despair.

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The highest and purest portion of matter, which nourishes and constitutes divine existences, is what the poets term nectar, the beverage of the Gods. The lower, more disturbed and grosser portion, is what intoxicates souls. The ancients symbolized it as the River Lethe, dark stream of oblivion. How do we explain the soul's forgetfulness of its antecedents, or reconcile that utter absence of remembrance of its former condition, with its essential immortality? In truth, we for the most part dread and shrink from any attempt at explanation of it to ourselves.

Dragged down by the heaviness produced by this inebriating draught, the soul falls along the zodiac and the milky way to the lower spheres, and in its descent not only takes, in each sphere, a new envelope of the material composing the luminous bodies of the planets, but receives there the different faculties which it is to exercise while it inhabits the body.

In Saturn, it acquires the power of reasoning and intelligence, or what is termed the logical and contemplative faculty. From Jupiter it receives the power of action. Mars gives it valor, enterprise, and impetuosity. From the Sun it receives the senses and imagination, which produce sensation, perception, and thought. Venus inspires it with desires. Mercury gives it the faculty of expressing and enunciating what it thinks and feels. And, on entering the sphere of the Moon, it acquires the force of generation and growth. This lunary sphere, lowest and basest to divine bodies, is first and highest to terrestrial bodies. And the lunary body there assumed by the soul, while, as it were, the sediment of celestial matter, is also the first substance of animal matter.

The celestial bodies, Heaven, the Stars, and the other Divine elements, ever aspire to rise. The soul reaching the region which mortality inhabits, tends toward terrestrial bodies, and is deemed to die. Let no one, says Macrobius, be surprised that we so frequently speak of the death of this soul, which yet we call immortal. It is neither annulled nor destroyed by such death: but merely enfeebled for a time; and does not thereby forfeit its prerogative of immortality; for afterward, freed from the body, when it has been purified from the vice-stains contracted during that connection, it is re-established in all its privileges, and returns to the luminous abode of its immortality.

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On its return, it restores to each sphere through which it ascends, the passions and earthly faculties received from them: to the Moon, the faculty of increase and diminution of the body; to Mercury, fraud, the architect of evils; to Venus, the seductive love of pleasure; to the Sun, the passion for greatness and empire; to Mars, audacity and temerity; to Jupiter, avarice; and to Saturn, falsehood and deceit: and at last, relieved of all, it enters naked and pure into the eighth sphere or highest Heaven.

All this agrees with the doctrine of Plato, that the soul cannot re-enter into Heaven, until the revolutions of the Universe shall have restored it to its primitive condition, and purified it from the effects of its contact with the four elements.

This opinion of the pre-existence of souls, as pure and celestial substances, before their union with our bodies, to put on and animate which they descend from Heaven, is one of great antiquity. A modern Rabbi, Manasseh Ben Israel, says it was always the belief of the Hebrews. It was that of most philosophers who admitted the immortality of the soul: and therefore it was taught in the Mysteries; for, as Lactantius says, they could not see how it was possible that the soul should exist afterthe body, if it had not existed before it, and if its nature was not independent of that of the body. The same doctrine was adopted by the most learned of the Greek Fathers, and by many of the Latins: and it would probably prevail largely at the present day, if men troubled themselves to think upon this subject at all, and to inquire whether the soul's immortality involved its prior existence.

Some philosophers held that the soul was incarcerated in the body, by way of punishment for sins committed by it in a prior state. How they reconciled this with the same soul's unconsciousness of any such prior state, or of sin committed there, does not appear. Others held that God, of his mere will, sent the soul to inhabit the body. The Kabalists united the two opinions. They held that there are four worlds, Aziluth, Briarth, Jezirath, and Aziath; the world of emanation, that of creation, that of forms, and the material world; one above and more perfect than the other, in that order, both as regards their own nature and that of the beings who inhabit them. All souls are originally in the world Aziluth, the Supreme Heaven, abode of God, and of pure and immortal spirits. Those who descend from it without fault of their own, by God's order, are gifted with a divine fire, which preserves them from the contagion of matter, and restores them to Heaven so soon as their mission is ended. Those who descend through, their own fault, go from world to world, insensibly losing their love of Divine things, and their self-contemplation; until they reach the world Aziath, falling by their own weight. This is a pure Platonism, clothed with the images and words peculiar to the Kabalists. It was the doctrine of the Essenes, who, says Porphyry, "believe that souls descend from the most subtile ether, attracted to bodies by the seductions of matter." It was in substance the doctrine of Origen; and it came from the Chaldæans, who largely studied the theory of the Heavens, the spheres, and the influences of the signs and constellations.

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The Gnostics made souls ascend and descend through eight Heavens, in each of which were certain Powers that opposed their return, and often drove them back to earth, when not sufficiently purified. The last of these Powers, nearest the luminous abode of souls, was a serpent or dragon.

In the ancient doctrine, certain Genii were charged with the duty of conducting souls to the bodies destined to receive them, and of withdrawing them from those bodies. According to Plutarch, these were the functions of Proserpine and Mercury. In Plato, a familiar Genius accompanies man at his birth, follows and watches him all his life, and at death conducts him to the tribunal of the Great Judge. These Genii are the media of communication between man and the Gods; and the soul is ever in their presence. This doctrine is taught in the oracles of Zoroaster: and these Genii were the Intelligences that resided in the planets.

Thus the secret science and mysterious emblems of initiation were connected with the Heavens, the Spheres, and the Constellations: and this connection must be studied by whomsoever would understand the ancient mind, and be enabled to interpret the allegories, and explore the meaning of the symbols, in which the old sages endeavored to delineate the ideas that struggled within them for utterance, and could be but insufficiently and inadequately expressed by language, whose words are images of those things alone that can be grasped by and are within the empire of the senses.

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It is not possible for us thoroughly to appreciate the feelings with which the ancients regarded the Heavenly bodies, and the ideas to which their observation of the Heavens gave rise, because we cannot put ourselves in their places, look at the stars with their eyes in the world's youth, and divest ourselves .of the knowledge which even the commonest of us have, that makes us regard the Stars and Planets and all the Universe of Suns and Worlds, as a mere inanimate machine and aggregate of senseless orbs, no more astonishing, except in degree, than a clock or an orrery. We wonder and are amazed at the Power and Wisdom (to most men it seems only a kind of Infinite Ingenuity) of the MAKER: they wondered at the Work, and endowed it with Life and Force and mysterious Powers and mighty Influences.

Memphis, in Egypt, was in Latitude 29° 5" North, and in Longitude 30° 18' East. Thebes, in Upper Egypt, in Latitude 25° 45' North, and Longitude 32° 43' East. Babylon was in Latitude 32° 30' North, and Longitude 44° 23' East: while Saba, the ancient Sabæan capital of Ethiopia, was about in Latitude 15° North.

Through Egypt ran the great River Nile, coming from beyond Ethiopia, its source in regions wholly unknown, in the abodes of heat and fire, and its course from South to North. Its inundations had formed the alluvial lands of Upper and Lower Egypt, which they continued to raise higher and higher, and to fertilize by their deposits. At first, as in all newly-settled countries, those inundations, occurring annually and always at the same period of the year, were calamities: until, by means of levees and drains and artificial lakes for irrigation, they became blessings, and were looked for with joyful anticipation, as they had before been awaited with terror. Upon the deposit left by the Sacred River, as it withdrew into its banks, the husbandman sowed his seed; and the rich soil and the genial sun insured him an abundant harvest.

Babylon lay on the Euphrates, which ran from Southeast to Northwest, blessing, as all rivers in the Orient do, the arid country through which it flowed; but its rapid and uncertain overflows bringing terror and disaster.

To the ancients, as yet inventors of no astronomical instruments, and looking at the Heavens with the eyes of children, this earth was a level plain of unknown extent. About its boundaries there was speculation, but no knowledge. The inequalities of its surface were the irregularities of a plane. That it was a globe, or that anything lived on its under surface, or on what it rested, they had no idea. Every twenty-four hours the sun came up from beyond the Eastern rim of the world, and travelled across the sky, over the earth, always South of, but sometimes nearer and sometimes further from the point overhead; and sunk below the world's Western rim. With him went light, and after him followed darkness.

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And every twenty-four hours appeared in the Heavens another body, visible chiefly at night, but sometimes even when the sun shone, which likewise, as if following the sun at a greater or less distance, travelled across the sky; sometimes as a thin crescent, and thence increasing to a full orb resplendent with silver light; and sometimes more and sometimes less to the Southward of the point overhead, within the same limits as the Sun.

Man, enveloped by the thick darkness of profoundest night, when everything around him has disappeared, and he seems alone with himself and the black shades that surround him, feels his existence a blank and nothingness, except so far as memory recalls to him the glories and splendors of light. Everything is dead to him, and he, as it were, to Nature. How crushing and overwhelming the thought, the fear, the dread, that perhaps that darkness may be eternal, and that day may possibly never return; if it ever occurs to his mind, while the solid gloom closes up against him like a wall! What then can restore him to like, to energy, to activity, to fellowship and communion with the great world which God has spread around him, and which perhaps in the darkness may be passing away? LIGHT restores him to himself and to nature which seemed lost to him. Naturally, therefore, the primitive men regarded light as the principle of their real existence, without which life would be but one continued weariness and despair. This necessity for light, and its actual creative energy, were felt by all men: and nothing was more alarming to them than its absence. It became their first Divinity, a single ray of which, flashing into the dark tumultuous bosom of chaos, caused man and all the Universe to emerge from it. So all the poets sung who imagined Cosmogonies; such was the first dogma of Orpheus, Moses, and the Theologians. Light was Ormuzd, adored by the Persians, and Darkness Ahriman, origin of all evils: Light was the life of the Universe, the friend of man, the substance of the Gods and of the Soul.

The sky was to them a great, solid, concave arch; a hemisphere of unknown material, at an unknown distance above the flat level earth; and along it journeyed in their courses the Sun, the Moon, the Planets, and the Stars.

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The Sun was to them a great globe of fire, of unknown dimensions, at an unknown distance. The Moon was a mass of softer light; the stars and planets lucent bodies, armed with unknown and supernatural influences.

It could not fail to be soon observed, that at regular intervals the days and nights were equal; and that two of these intervals measured the same space of time as elapsed between the successive inundations, and between the returns of spring-time and harvest. Nor could it fail to be perceived that the changes of the moon occurred regularly; the same number of days always elapsing between the first appearance of her silver crescent in the West at evening and that of her full orb rising in the East at the same hour; and the same again, between that and the new appearance of the crescent in the West.

It was also soon observed that the Sun crossed the Heavens in a different line each day, the days being longest and the nights shortest when the line of his passage was furthest North, and the days shortest and nights longest when that line was furthest South: that his progress North and South was perfectly regular, marking four periods that were always the same, – those when the days and nights were equal, or the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes; that when the days were longest, or the Summer Solstice; and that when they were shortest, or the Winter Solstice.

With the Vernal Equinox, or about the 25th of March of our Calendar, they found that there unerringly came soft winds, the return of warmth, caused by the Sun turning back to the Northward from the middle ground of his course, the vegetation of the new year, and the impulse to amatory action on the part of the animal creation. Then the Bull and the Ram, animals most valuable to the agriculturist, and symbols themselves of vigorous generative power, recovered their vigor, the birds mated and budded their nests, the seeds germinated, the grass grew, and the trees put forth leaves. With the Summer Solstice, when the Sun reached the extreme northern limit of his course, came great heat, and burning winds, and lassitude and exhaustion; then vegetation withered, man longed for the cool breezes of Spring and Autumn, and the cool water of the wintry Nile or Euphrates, and the Lion sought for that element far from his home in the desert.

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With the Autumnal Equinox came ripe harvests, and fruits of the tree and vine, and falling leaves, and cold evenings presaging wintry frosts; and the Principle and Powers of Darkness, prevailing over those of Light, drove the Sun further to the South, so that the nights grew longer than the days. And at the Winter Solstice the earth, was wrinkled with frost, the trees were leafless, and the Sun reaching the most Southern point in his career, seemed to hesitate whether to continue descending, to leave the world to darkness and despair, or to turn upon his steps and retrace his course to the Northward, bringing back seed-time and Spring, and green leaves and flowers, and all the delights of love.

Thus, naturally and necessarily, time was divided, first into days, and then into moons or months, and years; and with these divisions and the movements of the Heavenly bodies that marked them, were associated and connected all men's physical enjoyments and privations. Wholly agricultural, and in their frail habitations greatly at the mercy of the elements and the changing seasons, the primitive people of the Orient were most deeply interested in the recurrence of the periodical phenomena presented by the two great luminaries of Heaven, on whose regularity all their prosperity depended.

And the attentive observer soon noticed that the smaller lights of Heaven were, apparently, even more regular than the Sun and Moon, and foretold with unerring certainty, by their risings and settings, the periods of recurrence of the different phenomena and seasons on which the physical well-being of all men depended. They soon felt the necessity of distinguishing the individual stars, or groups of stars, and giving them names, that they might understand each other, when referring to and designating them. Necessity produced designations at once natural and artificial. Observing that, in the circle of the year, the renewal and periodical appearance of the productions of the earth were constantly associated, not only with the courses of the Sun, but also with the rising and setting of certain Stars, and with their position relatively to the Sun, the centre to which they referred the whole starry host, the mind naturally connected the celestial and terrestrial objects that were in factconnected: and they commenced by giving to particular Stars or groups of Stars the names of those terrestrial objects which seemed connected with them; and for those which still remained unnamed by this nomenclature, they, to complete a system, assumed arbitrary and fanciful names.

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Thus the Ethiopian of Thebes or Saba styled those Stars under which the Nile commenced to overflow, Stars of Inundation, or that poured out water (AQUARIUS).

Those Stars among which the Sun was, when he had reached the Northern Tropic and began to retreat Southward, were termed, from his retrograde motion, the Crab (CANCER).

As he approached, in Autumn, the middle point between the Northern and Southern extremes of his journeying, the days and nights became equal; and the Stars among which he was then found were called Stars of the Balance (LIBRA).

Those stars among which the Sun was, when the Lion, driven from the Desert by thirst, came to slake it at the Nile, were called Stars of the Lion (LEO).

Those among which the Sun was at harvest, were called those of the Gleaning Virgin, holding a Sheaf of Wheat (VIRGO).

Those among which he was found in February, when the Ewes brought forth their young, were called Stars of the Lamb (Arms).

Those in March, when it was time to plough, were called Stars of the Ox (TAURUS).

Those under which hot and burning winds came from the desert, venomous like poisonous reptiles, were called Stars of the Scorpion (SCORPIO).

Observing that the annual return of the rising of the Nile was always accompanied by the appearance of a beautiful Star, which at that period showed itself in the direction of the sources of that river, and seemed to warn the husbandman to be careful not to be surprised by the inundation, the Ethiopian compared this act of that Star to that of the Animal which by barking gives warning of danger, and styled it the Dog (SIRIUS).

Thus commencing, and as astronomy came to be more studied, imaginary figures were traced all over the Heavens, to which the different Stars were assigned. Chief among them were those that lay along the path which the Sun travelled as he climbed toward the North and descended to the South: lying within certain limits and extending to an equal distance on each side of the line of equal nights and days. This belt, curving like a Serpent, was termed the Zodiac, and divided into twelve Signs.

At the Vernal Equinox, 2455 years before our Era, the Sun was entering the sign and constellation Taurus, or the Bull; having passed through, since he commenced, at the Winter Solstice, to ascend Northward, the Signs Aquarius, Pisces and Aries; on entering the first of which he reached the lowest limit of his journey Southward.

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From TAURUS, he passed through Gemini and Cancer, and reached LEO when he arrived at the terminus of his journey Northward. Thence, through Leo, Virgo, and Libra, he entered SCORPIO at the Autumnal Equinox, and journeyed Southward through Scorpia, Sagittarius, and Capricornus to AQUARIUS, the terminus of his journey South.

The path by which he journeyed through these signs became the Ecliptic; and that which passes through the two equinoxes, the Equator.

They knew nothing of the immutable laws of nature; and whenever the Sun commenced to tend Southward, they feared lest he might continue to do so, and by degrees disappear forever, leaving the earth to be ruled forever by darkness, storm, and cold.

Hence they rejoiced when he commenced to re-ascend after the Winter Solstice, struggling against the malign influences of Aquarius and Pisces, and amicably received by the Lamb. And when at the Vernal Equinox he entered Taurus, they still more rejoiced at the assurance that the days would again be longer than the nights, that the season of seed-time had come, and the Summer and harvest would follow.

And they lamented when, after the Autumnal Equinox, the malign influence of the venomous Scorpion, and vindictive Archer, and the filthy and ill-omened He-Goat dragged him down toward the Winter Solstice.

Arriving there, they said he had been slain, and had gone to the realm of darkness. Remaining there three days, he rose again, and again ascended Northward in the heavens, to redeem the earth from the gloom and darkness of Winter, which soon became emblematical of sin, and evil, and suffering; as the Spring, Summer, and Autumn became emblems of happiness and immortality.

Soon they personified the Sun, and worshipped him under the name of OSIRIS, and transmuted the legend of his descent among the Winter Signs, into 'a fable of his death, his descent into the infernal regions, and his resurrection.

The Moon became Isis, the wife of Osiris; and Winter, as well as the desert or the ocean into which the Sun descended, became TYPHON, the Spirit or Principle of Evil, warring against and destroying Osiris.

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From the journey of the Sun through the twelve signs came the legend of the twelve labors of Hercules, and the incarnations of Vishnu and Buddha. Hence came the legend of the murder of Khūrūm, representative of the Sun, by the three Fellow-crafts, symbols of the three Winter signs, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces, who assailed him at the three gates of Heaven and slew him at the Winter Solstice. Hence the search for him by the nine Fellow-crafts, the other nine signs, his finding, burial, and resurrection.

The celestial Taurus, opening the new year, was the Creative Bull of the Hindus and Japanese, breaking with his horn the egg out of which the world is born. Hence the bull Arts was worshipped by the Egyptians, and reproduced as a golden calf by Aaron in the desert. Hence the cow was sacred to the Hindus. Hence, from the sacred and beneficent signs of Taurus and Leo, the human-headed winged lions and bulls in the palaces at Kouyounjik and Nimroud, like which were the Cherubim set by Solomon in his Temple: and hence the twelve brazen or bronze oxen, on which the laver of brass was supported.

The Celestial Vulture or Eagle, rising and setting with the Scorpion, was substituted in its place, in many cases, on account of the malign influences of the latter: and thus the four great periods of the year were marked by the Bull, the Lion, the Man (Aquarius) and the Eagle; which were upon the respective standards of Ephraim, Judah, Reuben, and Dan; and still appear on the shield of American Royal Arch Masonry.

Afterward the Ram or Lamb became an object of adoration, when, in his turn, he opened the equinox, to deliver the world from the wintry reign of darkness and evil.

Around the central and simple idea of the annual death and resurrection of the Sun a multitude of circumstantial details soon clustered. Some were derived from other astronomical phenomena; while many were merely poetical ornaments and inventions.

Besides the Sun and Moon, those ancients also saw a beautiful Star, shining with a soft, silvery light, always following the Sun at no great distance when he set, or preceding him when he rose. Another of a red and angry color, and still another more kingly and brilliant than all, early attracted their attention, by their free movements among the fixed hosts of Heaven: and the latter by his unusual brilliancy, and the regularity with which he rose and set. These were Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. Mercury and Saturn could scarcely have been noticed in the world's infancy, or until astronomy began to assume the proportions of a science.

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In the projection of the celestial sphere by the astronomical priests, the zodiac and constellations, arranged in a circle, presented their halves in diametrical opposition; and the hemisphere of Winter was said to be adverse, opposed, contrary, to that of Summer. Over the angels of the latter ruled a king (OSIRIS or ORMUZD), enlightened, intelligent, creative, and beneficent. Over the fallen angels or evil genii of the former, the demons or Devs of the subterranean empire of darkness and sorrow, and its stars, ruled also a chief. In Egypt the Scorpion first ruled, the sign next the Balance, and long the chief of the Winter signs; and then the Polar Bear or Ass, called Typhon, that is, deluge, on account of the rains which inundated the earth while that constellation domineered. In Persia, at a later day, it was the serpent, which, personified as Ahriman, was the Evil Principle of the religion of Zoroaster.

The Sun does not arrive at the same moment in each year at the equinoctial point on the equator. The explanation of his anticipating that point belongs to the science of astronomy; and to that we refer you for it. The consequence is, what is termed the precession of the equinoxes, by means of which the Sun is constantly changing his place in the zodiac, at each vernal equinox; so that now, the signs retaining the names which they had 300 years before Christ, they and the constellations do not correspond; the Sun being now in the constellation Pisces, when he is in the sign Aries.

The annual amount of precession is 50 seconds and a little over [50" 1.]. The period of a complete Revolution of the Equinoxes, 25,856 years. The precession amounts to 30° or a sign, in 2155.6 years. So that, as the sun now enters Pisces at the Vernal Equinox, he entered Aries at that period, 300 years B. C., and Taurus 2455 B. C. And the division of the Ecliptic, now called Taurus, lies in the Constellation Aries; while the sign Gemini is in the Constellation Taurus. Four thousand six hundred and ten years before Christ, the sun entered Gemini at the Vernal Equinox.

At the two periods, 2455 and 300 years before Christ, and now, the entrances of the sun at the Equinoxes and Solstices into the signs, were and are as follows: –

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B. C. 2455.
Vern. Equinox he entered Taurus from Aries
Summer Solstice Leo from Cancer
Autumnal Equinox Scorpio from Libra
Winter Solstice Aquarius from Capricornus
B. C. 300.
Vern. Equinox he entered Aries from Pisces
Summer Solstice Cancer from Gemini
Autumnal Equinox Libra from Virgo
Winter Solstice Capricornus from Sagittarius
Vern. Equinox he entered Pisces from Aquarius
Summer Solstice Gemini from Taurus
Autumnal Equinox Virgo from Leo
Winter Solstice Sagittarius from Scorpio

From confounding signs with causes came the worship of the sun and stars. "If," says Job, "I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon progressive in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand, this were an iniquity to be punished by the Judge; for I should have denied the God that is above."

Perhaps we are not, on the whole, much wiser than those simple men of the old time. For what do we know of effect and cause, except that one thing regularly or habitually follows another?

So, because the heliacal rising of Sirius preceded the rising of the Nile, it was deemed to cause it; and other stars were in like manner held to cause extreme heat, bitter cold, and watery storm.

A religious reverence for the zodiacal Bull [TAURUS] appears, from a very early period, to have been pretty general, perhaps it was universal, throughout Asia; from that chain or region of Caucasus to which it gave name; and which is still known under the appellation of Mount Taurus, to the Southern extremities of the Indian Peninsula; extending itself also into Europe, and through the Eastern parts of Africa.

This evidently originated during those remote ages of the world, when the colure of the vernal equinox passed across the stars in the head of the sign Taurus [among which was Aldebarán]; a period when, as the most ancient monuments of all the oriental nations attest, the light of arts and letters first shone forth.

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The Arabian word AL-DE-BARÁN, means the foremost, or leading, star: and it could only have been so named, when it did precede, or lead, all others. The year then opened with the sun in Taurus; and the multitude of ancient sculptures, both in Assyria and Egypt, wherein the bull appears with lunette or crescent horns, and the disk of the sun between them, are direct allusions to the important festival of the first new moon of the year: and there was everywhere an annual celebration of the festival of the first new moon, when the year opened with Sol and Luna in Taurus.

David sings: "Blow the trumpet in the New Moon; in the time appointed; on our solemn feast-day: for this is a statute unto Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob. This he ordained to Joseph, for a testimony, when he came out of the land of Egypt."

The reverence paid to Taurus continued long after, by the precession of the Equinoxes, the colure of the vernal equinox had come to pass through Aries. The Chinese still have a temple, called "The Palace of the horned Bull"; and the same symbol is worshipped in Japan and all over Hindostan. The Cimbrians carried a brazen bull with them, as the image of their God, when they overran Spain and Gaul; and the representation of the Creation, by the Deity in the shape of a bull, breaking the shell of an egg with his horns, meant Taurus, opening the year, and bursting the symbolical shell of the annually-recurring orb of the new year.

Theophilus says that the Osiris of Egypt was supposed to be dead or absent fifty days in each year. Landseer thinks that this was because the Sabæan priests were accustomed to see, in the lower latitudes of Egypt and Ethiopia, the first or chief stars of the Husbandman [BOÖTES] sink achronically beneath the Western horizon; and then to begin their lamentations, or hold forth the signal for others to weep: and when his prolific virtues were supposed to be transferred to the vernal sun, bacchanalian revelry became devotion.

Before the colure of the Vernal Equinox had passed into Aries, and after it had left Aldebarán and the Hyades, the Pleiades were, for seven or eight centuries, the leading stars of the Sabæan year. And thus we see, on the monuments, the disk and crescent, symbols of the sun and moon in conjunction, appear successively, – first on the head, and then on the neck and back of the Zodiacal Bull, and more recently on the forehead of the Ram.

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The diagrammatical character or symbol, still in use to denote Taurus, ♉, is this very crescent and disk: a symbol that has come down to us from those remote ages when this memorable conjunction in Taurus, by marking the commencement, at once of the Sabæan year and of the cycle of the Chaldæan Saros, so pre-eminently distinguished that sign as to become its characteristic symbol. On a bronze bull from China, the crescent is attached to the back of the Bull, by means of a cloud, and a curved groove is provided for the occasional introduction of the disk of the sun, when solar and lunar time were coincident and conjunctive, at the commencement of the year, and of the lunar cycle. When that was made, the year did not open with the stars in the head of the Bull, but when the colure of the vernal equinox passed across the middle or later degrees of the asterism Taurus, and the Pleiades were, in China, as in Canaan, the leading stars of the year.

The crescent and disk combined always represent the conjunctive Sun and Moon; and when placed on the head of the Zodiacal Bull, the commencement of the cycle termed SAROS by the Chaldæans, and Metonic by the Greeks; and supposed to be alluded to in Job, by the phrase, "Mazzaroth in his season"; that is to say, when the first new Moon and new Sun of the year were coincident, which happened once in eighteen years and a fraction.

On the sarcophagus of Alexander, the same symbol appears on the head of a Rain, which, in the time of that monarch, was the leading sign. So too in the sculptured temples of the Upper Nile, the crescent and disk appear, not on the head of Taurus, but on the forehead of the Ram or the Ram-headed God, whom the Grecian Mythologists called Jupiter Ammon, really the Sun in Aries.

If we now look for a moment at the individual stars which composed and were near to the respective constellations, we may find something that will connect itself with the symbols of the Ancient Mysteries and of Masonry.

It is to be noticed that when the Sun is in a particular constellation, no part of that constellation will be seen, except just before sunrise and just after sunset; and then only the edge of it: but the constellations opposite to it will be visible. When the Sun is in Taurus, for example, that is, when Taurus sets with the Sun, Scorpio rises as he sets, and continues visible throughout the night. And if Taurus rises and sets with the Sun to-day, he will, six months hence, rise at sunset and set at sunrise; for the stars thus gain on the Sun two hours a month.

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Going back to the time when, watched by the Chaldæan shepherds, and the husbandmen of Ethiopia and Egypt,

"The milk-white Bull with golden horns
"Led on the new-born year,"

we see in the neck of TAURUS, the Pleiades, and in his face the Hyades, "which Grecia from their showering names," and of whom the brilliant Aldebarán is the chief; while to the southwestward is that most splendid of all the constellations, Orion, with Betelgueux in his right shoulder, Bellatrix in his left shoulder, Rigel on the left foot, and in his belt the three stars known as the Three Kings, and now as the Yard and Ell. Orion, ran the legend, persecuted the Pleiades; and to save them from his fury, Jupiter placed them in the Heavens, where he still pursues them, but in vain. They, with Arcturus and the Bands of Orion, are mentioned in the Book of Job. They are usually called the Seven Stars, and it is said there were seven, before the fall of Troy; though now only six are visible.

The Pleiades were so named from a Greek word signifying to sail. In all ages they have been observed for signs and seasons. Virgil says that the sailors gave names to "the Pleiades, Hyades, and the Northern Car: Pleiadas, Hyadas, Claramque Lycaonis Arcton." And Palinurus, he says,

Arcturum, pluviasque Hyadas, Geminosque Triones,
Armatumque auro circumspicit Oriona, –

studied Arcturus and the rainy Hyades and the Twin Triones, and Orion cinctured with gold.

Taurus was the prince and leader of the celestial host for more than two thousand years; and when his head set with the Sun about the last of May, the Scorpion was seen to rise in the South-east.

The Pleiades were sometimes called Vergiliæ, or the Virgins of Spring; because the Sun entered this cluster of stars in the season of blossoms. Their Syrian name wasSuccoth, or Succothbeneth, derived from a Chaldæan word signifying to speculate or observe.

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The Hyades are five stars in the form of a V, 11° southeast of the Pleiades. The Greeks counted them as seven. When the Vernal Equinox was in Taurus, Aldebarán led up the starry host; and as he rose in the East, Aries was about 27° high.

When he was close upon the meridian, the Heavens presented their most magnificent appearance. Capella was a little further from the meridian, to the north; and Orion still further from it to the southward. Procyon, Sirius, Castor and Pollux had climbed about halfway from the horizon to the meridian. Regulus had just risen upon the ecliptic. The Virgin still lingered below the horizon. Fomalhaut was halfway to the meridian in the Southwest; and to the Northwest were the brilliant constellations, Perseus, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, and Andromeda; while the Pleiades had just passed the meridian.

ORION is visible to all the habitable world. The equinoctial line passes through the centre of it. When Aldebarán rose in the East, the Three Kings in Orion followed him; and as Taurus set, the Scorpion, by whose sting it was said Orion died, rose in the East.

Orion rises at noon about the 9th of March. His rising was accompanied with great rains and storms, and it became very terrible to mariners.

In Boötes, called by the ancient Greeks Lycaon, from lukos, a wolf, and by the Hebrews, Caleb Anubach, the Barking Dog, is the Great Star ARCTURUS, which, when Taurus opened the year, corresponded with a season remarkable for its great heat.

Next comes GEMINI, the Twins, two human figures, in the heads of which are the bright Stars CASTOR and POLLUX, the Dioscuri, and the Cabiri of Samothrace, patrons of navigation; while South of Pollux are the brilliant Stars SIRIUS and PROCYON, the greater and lesser Dog: and still further South, Canopus, in the Ship Argo.

Sirius is apparently the largest and brightest Star in the Heavens. When the Vernal Equinox was in Taurus, he rose heliacally, that is, just before the Sun, when, at the Summer Solstice, the Sun entered Leo, about the 21st of June, fifteen days previous to the swelling of the Nile. The heliacal rising of Canopus was also a precursor of the rising of the Nile. Procyon was the forerunner of Sirius, and rose before him.

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There are no important Stars in CANCER. In the Zodiacs of Esne and Dendera, and in most of the astrological remains of Egypt, the sign of this constellation was a beetle (Scarabæus), which thence became sacred, as an emblem of the gate through which souls descended from Heaven. In the crest of Cancer is a cluster of Stars formerly called Præsepe, the Manger, on each side of which is a small Star, the two of which were calledAselli little asses.

In Leo are the splendid Stars, REGULUS, directly on the ecliptic, and DENEBOLA in the Lion's tail. Southeast of Regulus is the fine Star COR HYDRÆ.

The combat of Hercules with the Nemæan lion was his first labor. It was the first sign into which the Sun passed, after falling below the Summer Solstice; from which time he struggled to re-ascend.

The Nile overflowed in this sign. It stands first in the Zodiac of Dendera, and is in all the Indian and Egyptian Zodiacs.

In the left hand of VIRGO (Isis or Ceres) is the beautiful Star SPICA Virginis, a little South of the ecliptic. VINDEMIATRIX, of less magnitude, is in the right arm; and Northwest of Spica, in Boötes (the husbandman, Osiris), is the splendid star ARCTURUS.

The division of the first Decan of the Virgin, Aben Ezra says, represents a beautiful Virgin with flowing hair, sitting in a chair, with two ears of corn in her hand, and suckling an infant. In an Arabian MS. in the Royal Library at Paris, is a picture of the Twelve Signs. That of Virgo is a young girl with an infant by her side. Virgo was Isis; and her representation, carrying a child (Horus) in her arms, exhibited in her temple, was accompanied by this inscription: "I AM ALL THAT IS, THAT WAS, AND THAT SHALL BE; and the fruit which I brought forth is the Sun."

Nine months after the Sun enters Virgo, he reaches the Twins. When Scorpio begins to rise, Orion sets: when Scorpio comes to the meridian, Leo begins to set, Typhon reigns, Osiris is slain, and Isis (the Virgin) his sister and wife, follows him to the tomb, weeping.

The Virgin and Boötes, setting heliacally at the Autumnal Equinox, delivered the world to the wintry constellations, and introduced into it the genius of Evil, represented by Ophiucus, the Serpent.

At the moment of the Winter Solstice, the Virgin rose heliacally (with the Sun), having the Sun (Horus) in her bosom.

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In LIBRA are four Stars of the second and third magnitude, which we shall mention hereafter. They are Zuben-es-Chamali, Zuben-el-Gemabi, Zuben-hak-rabi, and Zuben-el-Gubi. Near the last of these is the brilliant and malign Star, ANTARES in Scorpio.

In SCORPIO, ANTARES, of the 1st magnitude, and remarkably red, was one of the four great Stars, FOMALHAUT, in Cetus, ALDEBARAN in Taurus, REGULUS in Leo, and ANTARES, that formerly answered to the Solstitial and Equinoctial points, and were much noticed by astronomers. This sign was sometimes represented by a Snake, and sometimes by a Crocodile, but generally by a Scorpion, which last is found on the Mithriac Monuments, and on the Zodiac of Dendera. It was considered a sign accursed, and the entrance of the Sun into it commenced the reign of Typhon.

In Sagittarius, Capricornus, and Aquarius there are no Stars of importance.

Near Pisces is the brilliant Star FOMALHAUT. No sign in the Zodiac is considered of more malignant influence than this. It was deemed indicative of Violence andDeath. Both the Syrians and Egyptians abstained from eating fish, out of dread and abhor-hence; and when the latter would represent anything as odious, or express hatred by Hieroglyphics, they painted a fish.

In Auriga is the bright Star CAPELLA, which to the Egyptians never set.

And, circling ever round the North Pole are Seven Stars, known as Ursa Major, or the Great Bear, which have been an object of universal observation in all ages of the world. They were venerated alike by the Priests of Bel, the Magi of Persia, the Shepherds of Chaldea, and the Phœnician navigators, as well as by the astronomers of Egypt. Two of them, MERAK and DUBHE, always point to the North Pole.

The Phœnicians and Egyptians, says Eusebius, were the first who ascribed divinity to the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and regarded them as the sole causes of the production and destruction of all beings. From them vent abroad over all the world all known opinions as to the generation and descent of the Gods. Only the Hebrews looked beyond the visible world to an invisible Creator. All the rest of the world regarded as Gods those luminous bodies that blaze in the firmament, offered them sacrifices, bowed down before them, and raised neither their souls nor their worship above the visible heavens.

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The Chaldæans, Canaanites, and Syrians, among whom Abraham lived, did the same. The Canaanites consecrated horses and chariots to the Sun. The inhabitants of Emesa in Phœnicia adored him under the name of Elagabalus; and the Sun, as Hercules, was the great Deity of the Tyrians. The Syrians worshipped, with fear and dread, the Stars of the Constellation Pisces, and consecrated images of them in their temples. The Sun as Adonis was worshipped in Byblos and about Mount Libanus. There was a magnificent Temple of the Sun at Palmyra, which was pillaged by the soldiers of Aurelian, who rebuilt it and dedicated it anew. The Pleiades, under the name of Succoth-Beneth, were worshipped by the Babylonian colonists who settled in the country of the Samaritans. Saturn, under the name of Remphan, was worshipped among the Copts. The planet Jupiter was worshipped as Bel or Baal; Mars as Malec, Melech, or Moloch; Venus as Ashtaroth or Astarte, and Mercury as Nebo, among the Syrians, Assyrians, Phœnicians, and Canaanites.

Sanchoniathon says that the earliest Phœnicians adored the Sun, whom they deemed sole Lord of the Heavens; and honored him, under the name of BEEL-SAMIN, signifying King of Heaven. They raised columns to the elements, fire, and air or wind, and worshipped them; and Sabæism, or the worship of the Stars, flourished everywhere in Babylonia. The Arabs, under a sky always clear and serene, adored the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Abulfaragius so informs us, and that each of the twelve Arab Tribes invoked a particular Star as its Patron. The Tribe Hamyar was consecrated to the Sun, the Tribe Cennah to the Moon; the Tribe Misa was under the protection of the beautiful Star in Taurus, Aldebarán; the Tribe Tai under that of Canopus; the Tribe Kais, of Sirius; the Tribes Lachamus and Idamus, of Jupiter; the Tribe Asad, of Mercury; and so on.

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The Saracens, in the time of Heraclius, worshipped Venus, whom they called CABAR, or The Great; and they swore by the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Shahristan, an Arabic author, says that the Arabs and Indians before his time had temples dedicated to the seven Planets. Abulfaragius says that the seven great primitive nations, from whom all others descended, the Persians, Chaldæans, Greeks, Egyptians, Turks, Indians, and Chinese, all originally were Sabæists, and worshipped the Stars. They all, he says, like the Chaldæans, prayed, turning toward the North Pole three times a day, at Sunrise, Noon, and Sunset, bowing themselves three times before the Sun. They invoked the Stars and the Intelligences which inhabited them, offered them sacrifices, and called the fixed stars and planets gods. Philo says that the Chaldæans regarded the stars as sovereign arbiters of the order of the world, and did not look beyond the visible causes to any invisible and intellectual being. They regarded NATURE as the great divinity, that exercised its powers through the action of its parts, the Sun, Moon, Planets, and Fixed Stars, the successive revolutions of the seasons, and the combined action of Heaven and Earth. The great feast of the Sabæans was when the Sun reached the Vernal Equinox: and they had five other feasts, at the times when the five minor planets entered the signs in which they had their exaltation.

Diodorus Siculus informs us that the Egyptians recognized two great Divinities, primary and eternal, the Sun and Moon, which they thought governed the world, and from which everything receives its nourishment and growth: that on them depended all the great work of generation, and the perfection of all effects produced in nature. We know that the two great Divinities of Egypt were Osiris and Isis, the greatest agents of nature; according to some, the Sun and Moon, and according to others, Heaven and Earth, or the active and passive principles of generation.

And we learn from Porphyry that Chæremon, a learned priest of Egypt, and many other learned men of that nation, said that the Egyptians recognized as gods the stars composing the zodiac, and all those that by their rising or setting marked its divisions; the subdivisions of the signs into decans, the horoscope and the stars that presided therein, and which were called Potent Chiefs of Heaven: that considering the Sun as the Great God, Architect, and Ruler of the World, they explained not only the fable of Osiris and Isis, but generally all their sacred legends, by the stars, by their appearance and disappearance, by their ascension, by the phases of the moon, and the increase and diminution of her light; by the march of the sun, the division of time and the heavens into two parts, one assigned to darkness and the other to light; by the Nile and, in fine, by the whole round of physical causes.

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Lucian tells us that the bull Apis, sacred to the Egyptians, was the image of the celestial Bull, or Taurus; and that Jupiter Ammon, horned like a ram, was an image of the constellation Aries. Arid Clemens of Alexandria assures us that the four principal sacred animals, carried in their processions, were emblems of the four signs or cardinal points which fixed the seasons at the equinoxes and solstices, and divided into four parts the yearly march of the sun. They worshipped fire also, and water, and the Nile, which river they styled Father, Preserver of Egypt, sacred emanation from the Great God Osiris; and in their hymns in which they called it the god crowned with millet (which grain, represented by the pschent, was part of the head-dress of their kings), bringing with him abundance. The other elements were also revered by them: and the Great Gods, whose names are found inscribed on an ancient column, are the Air, Heaven, the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, Night, and Day. And, in fine, as Eusebius says, they regarded the Universe as a great Deity, composed of a great number of gods, the different parts of itself.

The same worship of the Heavenly Host extended into every part of Europe, into Asia Minor, and among the Turks, Scythians, and Tartars. The ancient Persians adored the Sun as Mithras, and also the Moon, Venus, Fire, Earth, Air, and Water; and, having no statues or altars, they sacrificed on high places to the Heavens and to the Sun. On seven ancient pyrea they burned incense to the Seven Planets, and considered the elements to be divinities. In the Zend-Avesta we find invocations addressed to Mithras, the stars, the elements, trees, mountains, and every part of nature. The Celestial Bull is invoked there, to which the Moon unites herself; and the four great stars, Taschter, Satevis, Haftorang, and Venant, the great Star Rapitan, and the other constellations which watch over the different portions of the earth.

The Magi, like a multitude of ancient nations, worshipped fire, above all the other elements and powers of nature. In India, the Ganges and the Indus were worshipped, and the Sun was the Great Divinity. They worshipped the Moon also, and kept up the sacred fire. In Ceylon, the Sun, Moon, and other planets were worshipped: in Sumatra, the Sun, called Iri, and the Moon, called Handa. And the Chinese built Temples to Heaven, the Earth, and genii of the air, of the water, of the mountains, and of the stars, to the sea-dragon, and to the planet Mars.

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The celebrated Labyrinth was built in honor of the Sun; and its twelve palaces, like the twelve superb columns of the Temple at Hieropolis, covered with symbols relating to the twelve signs and the occult qualities of the elements, were consecrated to the twelve gods or tutelary genii of the signs of the Zodiac. The figure of the pyramid and that of the obelisk, resembling the shape of a flame, caused these monuments to be consecrated to the Sun and to Fire. And Timæus of Locria says: "The equilateral triangle enters into the composition of the pyramid, which has four equal faces and equal angles, and which in this is like fire, the most subtle and mobile of the elements." They and the obelisks were erected in honor of the Sun, termed in an inscription upon one of the latter, translated by the Egyptian Hermapion, and to be found in Ammianus Marcellinus, "Apollo the strong, Son of God, He who made the world, true Lord of the diadems, who possesses Egypt and fills it with His glory."

The two most famous divisions of the Heavens, by seven, which is that of the planets, and by twelve, which is that of the signs, are found on the religious monuments of all the people of the ancient world. The twelve Great Gods of Egypt are met with everywhere. They were adopted by the Greeks and Romans; and the latter assigned one of them to each sign of the Zodiac. Their images were seen at Athens, where an altar was erected to each; and they were painted on the porticos. The People of the North had their twelve Azes, or Senate of twelve great gods, of whom Odin was chief. The Japanese had the same number, and like the Egyptians divided them into classes, seven, who were the most ancient, and five, afterward added: both of which numbers are well known and consecrated in Masonry.

There is no more striking proof of the universal adoration paid the stars and constellations, than the arrangement of the Hebrew camp in the Desert, and the allegory in regard to the twelve Tribes of Israel, ascribed in the Hebrew legends to Jacob. The Hebrew camp was a quadrilateral, in sixteen divisions, of which the central four were occupied by images of the four elements. The four divisions at the four angles of the quadrilateral exhibited the four signs that the astrologers called fixed, and which they regard as subject to the influence of the four great Royal Stars, Regulus in Leo, Aldebarán in Taurus, Antares in Scorpio, and Fomalhaut in the mouth of Pisces, on which falls the water poured out by Aquarius; of which constellations the Scorpion was represented in the Hebrew blazonry by the Celestial Vulture or Eagle, that rises at the same time with it and is its paranatellon. The other signs were arranged on the four faces of the quadrilateral, and in the parallel and interior divisions.

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There is an astonishing coincidence between the characteristics assigned by Jacob to his sons, and those of the signs of the Zodiac, or the planets that have their domicile in those signs.

Reuben is compared to running water, unstable, and that cannot excel; and he answers to Aquarius, his ensign being a man. The water poured out by Aquarius flows toward the South Pole, and it is the first of the four Royal Signs, ascending from the Winter Solstice.

The Lion (Leo) is the device of Judah; and Jacob compares him to that animal, whose constellation in the Heavens is the domicile of the Sun; the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; by whose grip, when that of apprentice and that of fellow-craft, – of Aquarius at the Winter Solstice and of Cancer at the Vernal Equinox, – had not succeeded in raising him, Khūrūm was lifted out of the grave.

Ephraim, on whose ensign appears the Celestial Bull, Jacob compares to the ox. Dan, bearing as his device a Scorpion, he compares to the Cerastes or horned Serpent, synonymous in astrological language with the vulture or pouncing eagle; and which bird was often substituted on the flag of Dan, in place of the venomous scorpion, on account of the terror which that reptile inspired, as the symbol of Typhon and his malign influences; wherefore the Eagle, as its paranatellon, that is, rising and setting at the same time with it, was naturally used in its stead. Hence the four famous figures in the sacred pictures of the Jews and Christians, and in Royal Arch Masonry, of the Lion, the Ox, the Man, and the Eagle, the four creatures of the Apocalypse, copied there from Ezekiel, in whose reveries and rhapsodies they are seen revolving around blazing circles.

The Ram, domicile of Mars, chief of the Celestial Soldiery and of the twelve Signs, is the device of Gad, whom Jacob characterizes as a warrior, chief of his army.

Cancer, in which are the stars termed Aselli, or little asses, is the device of the flag of Issachar, whom Jacob compares to an ass.

Capricorn, of old represented with the tail of a fish, and called by astronomers the Son of Neptune, is the device of Zebulon, of whom Jacob says that he dwells on the shore of the sea.

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Sagittarius, chasing the Celestial Wolf, is the emblem of Benjamin, whom Jacob compares to a hunter: and in that constellation the Romans placed the domicile of Diana the huntress. Virgo, the domicile of Mercury, is borne on the flag of Naphtali, whose eloquence and agility Jacob magnifies, both of which are attributes of the Courier of the Gods. And of Simeon and Levi he speaks as united, as are the two fishes that make the Constellation Pisces, which is their armorial emblem.

Plato, in his Republic, followed the divisions of the Zodiac and the planets. So also did Lycurgus at Sparta, and Cecrops in the Athenian Commonwealth. Chun, the Chinese legislator, divided China into twelve Tcheou, and specially designated twelve mountains. The Etruscans divided themselves into twelve Cantons. Romulus appointed twelve Lictors. There were twelve tribes of Ishmael and twelve disciples of the Hebrew Reformer. The New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse has twelve gates.

The Souciet, a Chinese book, speaks of a palace composed of four buildings, whose gates looked toward the four corners of the world. That on the East was dedicated to the new moons of the months of Spring; that on the West to those of Autumn; that on the South to those of Summer; and that on the North to those of Winter: and in this palace the Emperor and his grandees sacrificed a lamb, the animal that represented the Sun at the Vernal Equinox.

Among the Greeks, the march of the Choruses in their theatres represented the movements of the Heavens and the planets, and the Strophe and Anti-Strophe imitated, Aristoxenes says, the movements of the Stars. The number five was sacred among the Chinese, as that of the planets other than the Sun and Moon. Astrology consecrated the numbers twelve, seven, thirty, and three hundred and sixty; and everywhere seven, the number of the planets, was as sacred as twelve, that of the signs, the months, the oriental cycles, and the sections of the horizon. We shall speak more at large hereafter, in another Degree, as to these and other numbers, to which the ancients ascribed mysterious powers.

The Signs of the Zodiac and the Stars appeared on many of the ancient coins and medals. On the public seal of the Locrians, Ozoles was Hesperus, or the planet Venus. On the medals of Antioch on the Orontes was the ram and crescent; and the Ram was the special Deity of Syria, assigned to it in the division of the earth among the twelve signs. On the Cretan coins was the Equinoctial Bull; and he also appeared on those of the Mamertins and of Athens. Sagittarius appeared on those of the Persians. In India the twelve signs appeared upon the ancient coins. The Scorpion was engraved on the medals of the Kings of Comagena, and Capricorn on those of Zeugma, Anazorba, and other cities. On the medals of Antoninus are found nearly all the signs of the Zodiac.

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Astrology was practised among all the ancient nations. In Egypt, the book of Astrology was borne reverentially in the religious processions; in which the few sacred animals were also carried, as emblems of the equinoxes and solstices. The same science flourished among the Chaldæans, and over the whole of Asia and Africa. When Alexander invaded India, the astrologers of the Oxydraces came to him to disclose the secrets of their science of Heaven and the Stars. The Brahmins whom Apollonius consulted, taught him the secrets of Astronomy, with the ceremonies and prayers whereby to appease the gods and learn the future from the stars. In China, astrology taught the mode of governing the State and families. In Arabia it was deemed the mother of the sciences; and old libraries are full of Arabic books on this pretended science. It flourished at Rome. Constantine had his horoscope drawn by the astrologer Valens. It was a science in the middle ages, and even to this day is neither forgotten nor unpractised. Catherine de Medici was fond of it. Louis XIV. consulted his horoscope, and the learned Casini commenced his career as an astrologer.

The ancient Sabæans established feasts in honor of each planet, on the day, for each, when it entered its place of exaltation, or reached the particular degree in the particular sign of the zodiac in which astrology had fixed the place of its exaltation; that is, the place in the Heavens where its influence was supposed to be greatest, and where it acted on Nature with the greatest energy. The place of exaltation of the Sun was in Aries, because, reaching that point, he awakens all Nature, and warms into life all the germs of vegetation; and therefore his most solemn feast among all nations, for many years before our Era, was fixed at the time of his entrance into that sign. In Egypt, it was called the Feast of Fire and Light. It was the Passover, when the Paschal Lamb was slain and eaten, among the Jews, and Neurouz among the Persians. The Romans preferred the place of domicile to that of exaltation; and celebrated the feasts of the planets under the signs that were their houses. The Chaldæans, whom, and not the Egyptians, the Sabæans followed in this, preferred the places of exaltation.

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Saturn, from the length of time required for his apparent revolution, was considered the most remote, and the Moon the nearest planet. After the Moon came Mercury and Venus, then the Sun, and then Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

So the risings and settings of the Fixed Stars, and their conjunctions with the Sun, and their first appearance as they emerged from his rays, fixed the epochs for the feasts instituted in their honor; and the Sacred Calendars of the ancients were regulated accordingly.

In the Roman games of the circus, celebrated in honor of the Sun and of entire Nature, the Sun, Moon, Planets, Zodiac, Elements, and the most apparent parts and potent agents of Nature were personified and represented, and the courses of the Sun in the Heavens were imitated in the Hippodrome; his chariot being drawn by four horses of different colors, representing the four elements and seasons. The courses were from East to West, like the circuits round the Lodge, and seven in number, to correspond with the number of planets. The movements of the Seven Stars that revolve around the pole were also represented, as were those of Capella, which by its heliacal rising at the moment when the Sun reached the Pleiades, in Taurus, announced the commencement of the annual revolution of the Sun.

The intersection of the Zodiac by the colures at the Equinoctial and Solstitial points, fixed four periods, each of which has, by one or more nations, and in some cases by the same nation at different periods, been taken for the commencement of the year. Some adopted the Vernal Equinox, because then day began to prevail over night, and light gained a victory over darkness. Sometimes the Summer Solstice was preferred; because then day attained its maximum of duration, and the acme of its glory and perfection. In Egypt, another reason was, that then the Nile began to over-flow, at the heliacal rising of Sirius. Some preferred the Autumnal Equinox, because then the harvests were gathered, and the hopes of a new crop were deposited in the bosom of the earth. And some preferred the Winter Solstice, because then, the shortest day having arrived, their length commenced to increase, and Light began the career destined to end in victory at the Vernal Equinox.

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The Sun was figuratively said to die and be born again at the Winter Solstice; the games of the Circus, in honor of the invincible God-Sun, were then celebrated, and the Roman year, established or reformed by Numa, commenced. Many peoples of Italy commenced their year, Macrobius says, at that time; and represented by the four ages of man the gradual succession of periodical increase and diminution of day, and the light of the Sun; likening him to an infant born at the Winter Solstice, a young man at the Vernal Equinox, a robust man at the Summer Solstice, and an old man at the Autumnal Equinox.

This idea was borrowed from the Egyptians, who adored the Sun at the Winter Solstice, under the figure of an infant.

The image of the Sign in which each of the four seasons commenced, became the form under which was figured the Sun of that particular season. The Lion's skin was worn by Hercules; the horns of the Bull adorned the forehead of Bacchus; and the autumnal serpent wound its long folds round the Statue of Serapis, 2500 years before our era; when those Signs corresponded with the commencement of the Seasons. When other constellations replaced them at those points, by means of the precession of the Equinoxes, those attributes were changed. Then the Ram furnished the horns for the head of the Sun, under the name of Jupiter Ammon. He was no longer born exposed to the waters of Aquarius, like Bacchus, nor enclosed in an urn like the God Canopus; but in the Stables of Augeas or the Celestial Goat. He then completed his triumph, mounted on an ass, in the constellation Cancer, which then occupied the Solstitial point of Summer.

Other attributes the images of the Sun borrowed from the constellations which, by their rising and setting, fixed the points of departure of the year, and the commencements of its four principal divisions.

First the Bull and afterward the Ram (called by the Persians the Lamb), was regarded as the regenerator of Nature, through his union with the Sun. Each, in his turn, was an emblem of the Sun overcoming the winter darkness, and repairing the disorders of Nature, which every year was regenerated under these Signs, after the Scorpion and Serpent of Autumn had brought upon it barrenness, disaster, and darkness. Mithras was represented sitting on a Bull; and that animal was an image of Osiris: while the Greek Bacchus armed his front with its horns, and was pictured with its tail and feet.

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The Constellations also became noteworthy to the husbandman, which by their rising or setting, at morning or evening, indicated the coming of this period of renewed fruitfulness and new life. Capella, or the kid Amalthea, whose horn is called that of abundance, and whose place is over the equinoctial point, or Taurus; and the Pleiades, that long indicated the Seasons, and gave rise to a multitude of poetic fables, were the most observed and most celebrated in antiquity.

The original Roman year commenced at the Vernal Equinox. July was formerly called Quintilis, the 5th month, and August Sextilis, the 6th, as September is still the 7th month, October the 8th, and so on. The Persians commenced their year at the same time, and celebrated their great feast of Neurouz when the Sun entered Aries and the Constellation Perseus rose, – Perseus, who first brought down to earth the heavenly fire consecrated in their temples: and all the ceremonies then practised reminded men of the renovation of Nature and the triumph of Ormuzd, the Light-God, over the powers of Darkness and Ahriman their Chief.

The Legislator of the Jews fixed the commencement of their year in the month Nisan, at the Vernal Equinox, at which season the Israelites marched out of Egypt and were relieved of their long bondage; in commemoration of which Exodus, they ate the Paschal Lamb at that Equinox. And when Bacchus and his army had long marched in burning deserts, they were led by a Lamb or Ram into beautiful meadows, and to the Springs that watered the Temple of Jupiter Ammon. For, to the Arabs and Ethiopians, whose great Divinity Bacchus was, nothing was so perfect a type of Elysium as a Country abounding in springs and rivulets.

Orion, on the same meridian with the Stars of Taurus, died of the sting of the celestial Scorpion, that rises when he sets; as dies the Bull of Mithras in Autumn: and in the Stars that correspond with the Autumnal Equinox we find those malevolent genii that ever war against the Principle of good, and that take from the Sun and the Heavens the fruit-producing power that they communicate to the earth.

With the Vernal Equinox, dear to the sailor as to the husbandman, came the Stars that, with the Sun, open navigation, and rule the stormy Seas. Then the Twins plunge into the solar fires, or disappear at setting, going down with the Sun into the bosom of the waters. And these tutelary Divinities of mariners, the Dioscuri or Chief Cabiri of Samothrace, sailed with Jason to possess themselves of the golden-fleeced ram, or Aries, whose rising in the morning announced the Sun's entry into Taurus, when the Serpent-bearer Jason rose in the evening, and, in aspect with the Dioscuri, was deemed their brother. And Orion, son of Neptune, and most potent controller of the tempest-tortured ocean, announcing sometimes calm and sometimes tempest, rose after Taurus, rejoicing in the forehead of the new year.

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The Summer Solstice was not less an important point in the Sun's march than the Vernal Equinox, especially to the Egyptians, to whom it not only marked the end and term of the increasing length of the days and of the domination of light, and the maximum of the Sun's elevation; but also the annual recurrence of that phenomenon peculiar to Egypt, the rising of the Nile, which, ever accompanying the Sun in his course, seemed to rise and fall as the days grew longer and shorter, being lowest at the Winter Solstice, and highest at that of Summer. Thus the Sun seemed to regulate its swelling; and the time of his arrival at the solstitial point being that of the first rising of the Nile, was selected by the Egyptians as the beginning of a year which they called the Year of God, and of the Sothiac Period, or the period of Sothis, the Dog-Star, who, rising in the morning, fixed that epoch, so important to the people of Egypt. This year was also called the Heliac, that is the Solar year, and the Canicular year; and it consisted of three hundred and sixty-five days, without intercalation; so that at the end of four years, or of four times three hundred and sixty-five days, making 1460 days, it needed to add a day, to make four complete revolutions of the Sun. To correct this, some Nations made every fourth year consist, as we do now, of 366 days: but the Egyptians preferred to add nothing to the year of 365 days, which, at the end of 120 years, or of 30 times 4 years, was short 30 days or a month; that is to say, it required a month more to complete the 120 revolutions of the Sun, though so many were counted, that is, so many years. Of course the commencement of the 121st year would not correspond with the Summer Solstice, but would precede it by a month: so that, when the Sun arrived at the Solstitial point whence he at first set out, and whereto he must needs return, to make in reality 120 years, or 120 complete revolutions, the first month of the 121st year would have ended.

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Thus, if the commencement of the year went back 30 days every 120 years, this commencement of the year, continuing to recede, would, at the end of 12 times 120 years, or of 1460 years, get back to the Solstitial point, or primitive point of departure of the period. The Sun would then have made but 1459 revolutions, though 1460 were counted; to make up which, a year more would need to be added. So that the Sun would not have made his 1460 revolutions until the end of 1461 years of 365 days each, – each revolution being in reality not 365 days exactly, but 365¼.

This period of 1461 years, each of 365 days, bringing back the commencement of the Solar year to the Solstitial point, at the rising of Sirius, after 1460 complete Solar revolutions, was called in Egypt the Sothiac period, the point of departure whereof was the Summer Solstice, first occupied by the Lion and afterward by Cancer, under which sign is Sirius, which opened the period. It was, says Porphyry, at this Solstitial New Moon, accompanied by the rising of Seth or the Dog-Star, that the beginning of the year was fixed, and that of the generation of all things, or, as it were, the natal hour of the world.

Not Sirius alone determined the period of the rising of the Nile. Aquarius, his urn, and the stream flowing from it, in opposition to the sign of the Summer Solstice then occupied by the Sun, opened in the evening the march of Night, and received the full Moon in his cup. Above him and with him rose the feet of Pegasus, struck wherewith the waters flow forth that the Muses drink. The Lion and the Dog, indicating, were supposed to cause the inundation, and so were worshipped. While the Sun passed through Leo, the waters doubled their depth; and the sacred fountains poured their streams through the heads of lions. Hydra, rising between Sirius and Leo, extended under three signs. Its head rose with Cancer, and its tail with the feet of the Virgin and the beginning of Libra; and the inundation continued while the Sun passed along its whole extent.

The successive contest of light and darkness for the possession of the lunar disk, each being by turns victor and vanquished, exactly resembled what passed upon the earth by the action of the Sun and his journeys from one Solstice to the other. The lunary revolution presented the same periods of light and darkness as the year, and was the object of the sane religious fictions. Above the Moon, Pliny said, everything is pure, and filled with eternal light. There ends the cone of shadow which the earth projects, and which produces night; there ends the sojourn of night and darkness; to it the air extends; but there we enter the pure substance.

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The Egyptians assigned to the Moon the demiurgic or creative force of Osiris, who united himself to her in the spring, when the Sun communicated to her the principles of generation which she afterward disseminated in the air and all the elements. The Persians considered the Moon to have been impregnated by the Celestial Bull, first of the signs of spring. In all ages, the Moon has been supposed to have great influence upon vegetation, and the birth and growth of animals; and the belief is as widely entertained now as ever, and that influence regarded as a mysterious and inexplicable one. Not the astrologers alone, but Naturalists like Pliny, Philosophers like Plutarch and Cicero, Theologians like the Egyptian Priests, and Metaphysicians like Proclus, believed firmly in these lunar influences.

"The Egyptians," says Diodorus Siculus, "acknowledged two great gods, the Sun and Moon, or Osiris and Isis, who govern the world and regulate its administration by the dispensation of the seasons… Such is the nature of these two great Divinities, that they impress an active and fecundating force, by which the generation of beings in effected; the Sun, by heat and that spiritual principle that forms the breath of the winds; the Moon by humidity and dryness; and both by the forces of the air which they share in common. By this beneficial influence everything is born, grows, and vegetates. Wherefore this whole huge body, in which nature resides, is maintained by the combined action of the Sun and Moon, and their five qualities, the principles spiritual, fiery, dry, humid, and airy."

So five primitive powers, elements, or elementary qualities, are united with the Sun and Moon in the Indian theology: air, spirit, fire, water, and earth: and the same five elements are recognized by the Chinese. The Phœnicians, like the Egyptians, regarded the Sun and Moon and Stars as sole causes of generation and destruction here below.

The Moon, like the Sun, changed continually the track in which she crossed the Heavens, moving ever to and fro between the upper and lower limits of the Zodiac; and her different places, phases, and aspects there, and her relations with the Sun and the constellations, have been a fruitful source of mythological fables.

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All the planets had what astrology termed their houses, in the Zodiac. The House of the Sun was in Leo, and that of the Moon in Cancer. Each other planet had two signs; Mercury had Gemini and Virgo; Venus, Taurus and Libra; Mars, Aries and Scorpio; Jupiter, Pisces and Sagittarius; and Saturn, Aquarius and Capricornus. From this distribution of the signs also came many mythological emblems and fables; as also many came from the places of exaltation of the planets. Diana of Ephesus, the Moon, wore the image of a crab on her bosom, because in that sign was the Moon's domicile; and lions bore up the throne of Horns, the Egyptian Apollo, the Sun personified, for a like reason: while the Egyptians consecrated the tauriform scarabæus to the Moon, because she had her place of exaltation in Taurus; and for the same reason Mercury is said to have presented Isis with a helmet like a bull's head.

A further division of the Zodiac was of each sign into three parts of 10° each, called Decans, or, in the whole Zodiac, 36 parts, among which the seven planets were apportioned anew, each planet having an equal number of Decans, except the first, which, opening and closing the series of planets five times repeated, necessarily had one Decan more than the others. This subdivision was not invented until after Aries opened the Vernal Equinox; and accordingly Mars, having his house in Aries, opens the series of decans and closes it; the planets following each other, five times in succession, in the following order, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc.; so that to each sign are assigned three planets, each occupying 10 degrees. To each Decan a God or Genius was assigned, making thirty-six in all, one of whom, the Chaldæans said, came down upon earth every ten days, remained so many days, and re-ascended to Heaven. This division is found on the Indian sphere, the Persian, and that Barbaric one which Aben Ezra describes. Each genius of the Decans had a name and special characteristics. They concur and aid in the effects produced by the Sun, Moon, and other planets charged with the administration of the world: and the doctrine in regard to them, secret and august as it was held, was considered of the gravest importance; and its principles, Firmicus says, were not entrusted by the ancients, inspired as they were by the Deity, to any but the Initiates, and to them only with great reserve, and a kind of fear, and when cautiously enveloped with an obscure veil, that they might not come to be known by the profane.

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With these Decans were connected the paranatellons or those stars outside of the Zodiac, that rise and set at the same moment with the several divisions of 10° of each sign. As there were anciently only forty-eight celestial figures or constellations, of which twelve were in the Zodiac, it follows that there were, outside of the Zodiac, thirty-six other asterisms, paranatellons of the several thirty-six Decans. For example, as when Capricorn set, Sirius and Procyon, or Canis Major and Canis Minor, rose, they were the Paranatellons of Capricorn, though at a great distance from it in the heavens. The rising of Cancer was known from the setting of Corona Borealis and the rising of the Great and Little Dog, its three paranatellons.

The risings and settings of the Stars are always spoken of as connected with the Sun. In that connection there are three kinds of them, cosmical, achronical, and heliacal, important to be distinguished by all who would understand this ancient learning.

When any Star rises or sets with the same degree of the same sign of the Zodiac that the Sun occupies at the time, it rises and sets simultaneously with the Sun, and this is termed rising or setting cosmically; but a star that so rises and sets can never be seen, on account of the light that precedes, and is left behind by the Sun. It is therefore necessary, in order to know his place in the Zodiac, to observe stars that rise just before or set just after him.

A Star that is in the East when night commences, and in the West when it ends, is said to rise and set achronically. A Star so rising or setting was in opposition to the Sun, rising at the end of evening twilight, and setting at the beginning of morning twilight, and this happened to each Star but once a year, because the Sun moves from West to East, with reference to the Stars, one degree a day.

When a Star rises as night ends in the morning, or sets as night commences in the evening, it is said to rise or set heliacally, because the Sun (Helios) seems to touch it with his luminous atmosphere. A Star thus reappears after a disappearance, often, of several months, and thenceforward it rises an hour earlier each day, gradually emerging from the Sun's rays, until at the end of three months it precedes the Sun six hours, and rises at midnight. A Star sets heliacally, when no longer remaining visible above the western horizon after sunset, the day arrives when they cease to be seen setting in the West. They so remain invisible, until the Sun passes so far to the Eastward as not to eclipse them with his light; and then they reappear, but in the East, about an hour and a half before sunrise: and this is their heliacal rising. In this interval, the cosmical rising and setting take place.

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Besides the relations of the constellations and their paranatellons with the houses and places of exaltation of the Planets, and with their places in the respective Signs and Decans, the Stars were supposed to produce different effects according as they rose or set, and according as they did so either cosmically, achronically, or heliacally; and also according to the different seasons of the year in which 'these phenomena occurred; and these differences were carefully marked on the old Calendars; and many things in the ancient allegories are referable to them.

Another and most important division of the Stars was into good and bad, beneficent and malevolent. With the Persians, the former, of the Zodiacal Constellations, were from Aries to Virgo, inclusive; and the latter from Libra to Pisces, inclusive. Hence the good Angels and Genii, and the bad Angels, Devs, Evil Genii, Devils, Fallen Angels, Titans, and Giants of the Mythology. The other thirty-six Constellations were equally divided, eighteen on each side, or, with those of the Zodiac, twenty-four.

Thus the symbolic Egg, that issued from the mouth of the invisible Egyptian God KNEPH; known in the Grecian Mysteries as the Orphic Egg; from which issued the God CHUMONG of the Coresians, and the Egyptian OSIRIS, and PHANES, God and Principle of Light; from which, broken by the Sacred Bull of the Japanese, the world emerged; and which the Greeks placed at the feet of BACCHUS TAURI-CORNUS; the Magian Egg of ORMUZD, from which came the Amshaspands and Devs; was divided into two halves, and equally apportioned between the Good and Evil Constellations and Angels. Those of Spring, as for example Aries and Taurus, Auriga and Capella, were the beneficent stars; and those of Autumn, as the Balance, Scorpio, the Serpent of Ophiucus, and the Dragon of the Hesperides, were types and subjects of the Evil Principle, and regarded as malevolent causes of the ill effects experienced in Autumn and Winter. Thus are explained the mysteries of the journeyings of the human soul through the spheres, when it descends to the earth by the Sign of the Serpent, and returns to the Empire of light by that of the Lamb or Bull.

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The creative action of Heaven was manifested, and all its demiurgic energy developed, most of all at the Vernal Equinox, to which refer all the fables that typify the victory of Light over Darkness, by the triumphs of Jupiter, Osiris, Ormuzd, and Apollo. Always the triumphant god takes the form of the Bull, the Ram, or the Lamb. Then Jupiter wrests from Typhon his thunderbolts, of which that malignant Deity had possessed himself during the Winter. Then the God of Light overwhelms his foe, pictured as a huge Serpent. Then Winter ends; the Sun, seated on the Bull and accompanied by Orion, blazes in the Heavens. All nature rejoices at the victory; and Order and Harmony are everywhere re-established, in place of the dire confusion that reigned while gloomy Typhon domineered, and Ahriman prevailed against Ormuzd.

The universal Soul of the World, motive power of Heaven and of the Spheres, it was held, exercises its creative energy chiefly through the medium of the Sun, during his revolution along the signs of the Zodiac, with which signs unite the paranatellons that modify their influence, and concur in furnishing the symbolic attributes of the Great Luminary that regulates Nature and is the depository of her greatest powers. The action of this Universal Soul of the World is displayed in the movements of the Spheres, and above all in that of the Sun, in the successions of the risings and settings of the Stars, and in their periodical returns. By these are explainable all the metamorphoses of that Soul, personified as Jupiter, as Bacchus, as Vishnu, or as Buddha, and all the various attributes ascribed to it; and also the worship of those animals that were consecrated in the ancient Temples, representatives on earth of the Celestial Signs, and supposed to receive by transmission from them the rays and emanations which in them flow from the Universal Soul.

All the old Adorers of Nature, the Theologians, Astrologers. and Poets, as well as the most distinguished Philosophers, supposed that the Stars were so many animated and intelligent beings, or eternal bodies, active causes of effect here below, animated by a living principle, and directed by an intelligence that was itself but an emanation from and a part of the life and universal intelligence of the world: and we find in the hierarchical order and distribution of their eternal and divine Intelligences, known by the names of Gods, Angels, and Genii, the same distributions and the same divisions as those by which the ancients divided the visible Universe and distributed its parts. And the famous divisions by seven and by twelve, appertaining to the planets and the signs of the zodiac, is everywhere found in the hierarchical order of the Gods, and Angels, and the other Ministers that are the depositaries of that Divine Force which moves and rules the world.

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These, and the other Intelligences assigned to the other Stars, have absolute dominion over all parts of Nature; over the elements, the animal and vegetable kingdoms, over man and all his actions, over his virtues and vices, and over good and evil, which divide between them his life. The passions of his soul and the maladies of his body, – these and the entire man are dependent on the heavens and the genii that there inhabit, who preside at his birth, control his fortunes during life, and receive his soul or active and intelligent part when it is to be re-united to the pure life of the lofty Stars. And all through the great body of the world are disseminated portions of the universal Soul, impressing movement on everything that seems to move of itself, giving life to the plants and trees, directing by a regular and settled plan the organization and development of their germs, imparting constant mobility to the running waters and maintaining their eternal motion, impelling the winds and changing their direction or stilling them, calming and arousing the ocean, unchaining the storms, pouring out the fires of volcanoes, or with earthquakes shaking the roots of huge mountains and the foundations of vast continents; by means of a force that, belonging to Nature, is a mystery to man.

And these invisible Intelligences, like the stars, are marshalled in two great divisions, under the banners of the two Principles of Good and Evil, Light and Darkness; under Ormuzd and Ahriman, Osiris and Typhon. The Evil Principle was the motive power of brute matter; and it, personified as Ahriman and Typhon, had its hosts and armies of Devs and Genii, Fallen Angels and Malevolent Spirits, who waged continual wage with the Good Principle, the Principle of Empyreal Light and Splendor, Osiris, Ormuzd, Jupiter or Dionusos, with 'his bright hosts of Amshaspands, Izeds, Angels, and Archangels; a warfare that goes on from birth until death, in the soul of every man that lives.

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We have heretofore, in the 24th Degree, recited the principal incidents in the legend of Osiris and Isis, and it remains but to point out the astronomical phenomena which it has converted into mythological facts.

The Sun, at the Vernal Equinox, was the fruit-compelling star that by his warmth provoked generation and poured upon the sublunary world all the blessings of Heaven; the beneficent god, tutelary genius of universal vegetation, that communicates to the dull earth new activity, and stirs her great heart, long chilled by Winter and his frosts, until from her bosom burst all the greenness and perfume of spring, making her rejoice in leafy forests and grassy lawns and flower-enamelled meadows, and the promise of abundant crops of grain and fruits and purple grapes in their due season.

He was then called Osiris, Husband of Isis, God of Cultivation and Benefactor of Men, pouring on them and on the earth the choicest blessings within the gift of the Divinity. Opposed to him was Typhon, his antagonist in the Egyptian mythology, as Ahriman was the foe of Ormuzd, the Good Principle, in the theology of the Persians.

The first inhabitants of Egypt and Ethiopia, as Diodorus Siculus informs us, saw in the Heavens two first eternal causes of things, or great Divinities, one the Sun, whom they called Osiris, and the other the Moon, whom they called Isis; and these they considered the causes of all the generations of earth. This idea, we learn from Eusebius, was the same as that of the Phœnicians. On these two great Divinities the administration of the world depended. All sublunary bodies received from them their nourishment and increase, during the annual revolution which they controlled, and the different seasons into which it was divided.

To Osiris and Isis, it was held, were owing civilization, the discovery of agriculture, laws, arts of all kinds, religious worship, temples, the invention of letters, astronomy, the gymnastic arts, and music; and thus they were the universal benefactors. Osiris travelled to civilize the countries which he passed through, and communicate to them his valuable discoveries. He built cities, and taught men to cultivate the earth. Wheat and wine were his first presents to men. Europe, Asia, and Africa partook of the blessings which he communicated, and the most remote regions of India remembered him, and claimed him as one of their great gods.

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You have learned how Typhon, his brother, slew him. His body was cut into pieces, all of which were collected by Isis, except his organs of generation, which had been thrown into and devoured in the waters of the river that every year fertilized Egypt. The other portions were buried by Isis, and over them she erected a tomb. Thereafter she remained single, loading her subjects with blessings. She cured the sick, restored sight to the blind, made the paralytic whole, and even raised the dead. From her Horus or Apollo learned divination and the science of medicine.

Thus the Egyptians pictured the beneficent action of the two luminaries that, from the bosom of the elements, produced all animals and men, and all bodies that are born, grow, and die in the eternal circle of generation and destruction here below.

When the Celestial Bull opened the new year at the Vernal Equinox, Osiris, united with the Moon, communicated to her the seeds of fruitfulness which she poured upon the air, and therewith impregnated the generative principles which gave activity to universal vegetation. Apis, represented by a bull, was the living and sensible image of the Sun or Osiris, when in union with Isis or the Moon at the Vernal Equinox, concurring with her in provoking everything that lives to generation. This conjunction of the Sun with the Moon at the Vernal Equinox, in the constellation Taurus, required the Bull Apis to have on his shoulder a mark resembling the Crescent Moon. And the fecundating influence of these two luminaries was expressed by images that would now be deemed gross and indecent, but which then were not misunderstood.

Everything good in Nature comes from Osiris, – order, harmony, and the favorable temperature of the seasons and celestial periods. From Typhon come the stormy passions and irregular impulses that agitate the brute and material part of man; maladies of the body, and violent shocks that injure the health and derange the system; inclement weather, derangement of the seasons, and eclipses. Osiris and Typhon were the Ormuzd and Ahriman of the Persians; principles of good and evil, of light and darkness, ever at war in the administration of the Universe.

Osiris was the image of generative power. This was expressed by his symbolic statues, and by the sign into which he entered at the Vernal Equinox. He especially dispensed the humid principle of Nature, generative element of all things; and the Nile and all moisture were regarded as emanations from him, without which there could be no vegetation.

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That Osiris and Isis were the Sun and Moon, is attested by many ancient writers; by Diogenes Laertius, Plutarch, Lucian, Suidas, Macrobius, Martianus Capella, and others. His power was symbolized by an Eye over a Sceptre. The Sun was termed by the Greeks the Eye of Jupiter, and the Eye of the World; and his is the All-Seeing Eye in our Lodges. The oracle of Claros styled him King of the Stars and of the Eternal Fire, that en-genders the year and the seasons, dispenses rain and winds, and brings about daybreak and night. And Osiris was invoked as the God that resides in the Sun and is enveloped by his rays, the invisible and eternal force that modifies the sublunary world by means of the Sun.

Osiris was the same God known as Bacchus, Dionusos, and Serapis. Serapis is the author of the regularity and harmony of the world. Bacchus, jointly with Ceres (identified by Herodotus with Isis) presides over the distribution of all our blessings; and from the two emanates everything beautiful and good in Nature. One furnishes the germ and principle of every good; the other receives and preserves it as a deposit; and the latter is the function of the Moon in the theology of the Persians. In each theology, Persian and Egyptian, the Moon acts directly on the earth; but she is fecundated, in one by the Celestial Bull and in the other by Osiris, with whom she is united at the Vernal Equinox, in the sign Taurus, the place of her exaltation or greatest influence on the earth. The force of Osiris, says Plutarch, is exercised through the Moon. She is the passive cause relatively to him, and the active cause relatively to the earth, to which she transmits the germs of fruitfulness received from him.

In Egypt the earliest movement in the waters of the Nile began to appear at the Vernal Equinox, when the new Moon occurred at the entrance of the Sun into the constellation Taurus; and thus the Nile was held to receive its fertilizing power from the combined action of the equinoctial Sun and the new Moon, meeting in Taurus. Osiris was often confounded with the Nile, and Isis with the earth; and Osiris was deemed to act on the earth, and to transmit to it his emanations, through both the Moon and the Nile; whence the fable that his generative organs were thrown into that river. Typhon, on the other hand, was the principle of aridity and barrenness; and by his mutilation of Osiris was meant that drought which caused the Nile to retire within his bed and shrink up in Autumn.

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Elsewhere than in Egypt, Osiris was the symbol of the refreshing rains that descend to fertilize the earth; and Typhon the burning winds of Autumn; the stormy rains that rot the flowers, the plants, and leaves; the short, cold days; and everything injurious in Nature, and that produces corruption and destruction.

In short, Typhon is the principle of corruption, of darkness, of the lower world from which come earthquakes, tumultuous corn-motions of the air, burning heat, lightning, and fiery meteors, and plague and pestilence. Such too was the Ahriman of the Persians; and this revolt of the Evil Principle against the Principle of Good and Light, has been represented in every cosmogony, under many varying forms. Osiris, on the contrary, by the intermediation of Isis, fills the material world with happiness, purity, and order, by which the harmony of Nature is maintained. It was said that he died at the Autumnal Equinox, when Taurus or the Pleiades rose in the evening, and that he rose to life again in the Spring, when vegetation was inspired with new activity.

Of course the two signs of Taurus and Scorpio will figure most largely in the mythological history of Osiris, for they marked the two equinoxes, 2500 years before our Era; and next to them the other constellations, near the equinoxes, that fixed the limits of the duration of the fertilizing action of the Sun; and it is also to be remarked that Venus, the Goddess of Generation, has her domicile in Taurus, as the Moon has there her place of exaltation.

When the Sun was in Scorpio, Osiris lost his life, and that fruitfulness which, under the form of the Bull, he had communicated, through the Moon, to the Earth. Typhon, his hands and feet horrid with serpents, and whose habitat in the Egyptian planisphere was under Scorpio, confined him in a chest and flung him into the Nile, under the 17th degree of Scorpio. Under that sign he lost his life and virility; and he recovered them in the Spring, when he had connection with the Moon. When he entered Scorpio, his light diminished, Night reassumed her dominion, the Nile shrunk within its banks, and the earth lost her verdure and the trees their leaves. Therefore it is that on the Mithriac Monuments, the Scorpion bites the testicles of the Equinoctial Bull, on which sits Mithras, the Sun of Spring and God of Generation; and that, on the same monuments, we see two trees, one covered with young leaves, and at its foot a little bull and a torch burning; and the other loaded with fruit, and at its foot a Scorpion, and a torch reversed and extinguished.

Page 479

Ormuzd or Osiris, the beneficent Principle that gives the world light, was personified by the Sun, apparent source of light. Darkness, personified by Typhon or Ahriman, was his natural enemy. The Sages of Egypt described the necessary and eternal rivalry or opposition of these principles, ever pursuing one the other, and one dethroning the other in every annual revolution, and at a particular period, one in the Spring under the Bull, and the other in Autumn under the Scorpion, by the legendary history of Osiris and Typhon, detailed to us by Diodorus and Synesius; in which history were also personified the Stars and constellations Orion, Capella, the Twins, the Wolf, Sirius, and Hercules, whose risings and settings noted the advent of one or the other equinox.

Plutarch gives us the positions in the Heavens of the Sun and Moon, at the moment when Osiris was murdered by Typhon. The Sun, he says, was in the Sign of the Scorpion, which he then entered at the Autumnal Equinox. The Moon was full, the adds; and consequently, as it rose at sunset, it occupied Taurus, which, opposite to Scorpio, rose as it and the Sun sank together, so that she was then found alone in the sign Taurus, where, six months before, she had been in union or conjunction with Osiris, the Sun, receiving from him those germs of universal fertilization which he communicated to her. It was the sign through which Osiris first ascended into his empire of light and good. It rose with the Sun on the day of the Vernal Equinox; it remained six months in the luminous hemisphere, ever preceding the Sun and above the horizon during the day; until in Autumn, the Sun arriving at Scorpio, Taurus was in complete opposition with him, rose when he set, and completed its entire course above the horizon during the night; presiding, by rising in the evening, over the commencement of the long nights. Hence in the sad ceremonies commemorating the death of Osiris, there was borne in procession a golden bull covered with black crape, image of the darkness into which the familiar sign of Osiris was entering, and which was to spread over the Northern regions, while the Sun, prolonging the nights, was to be absent, and each to remain under the dominion of Typhon, Principle of Evil and Darkness.

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