Morning from the Shire, Sunday morning and I decided to pick up the computer and start with Google Earth, and with all the recent hype in respect of Antarctica, I decided to have a look around the islands. Visiting Port-Aux-Francais, I discovered Sacred Geometry carved into the landscape, is this evidence of a prehistoric civilisation?
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What is visible from Google Earth is astounding. Three circles in a Triangle formation.
The circles visible resembled a ring ditch. In archaeology, a ring ditch is a trench of circular or penannular plan, cut into bedrock. Usually identified through aerial photography either as soil marks or cropmarks. When these are excavated, ring ditches are usually found to be the ploughed‐out remains of a round barrow where the barrow mound has completely disappeared, leaving only the infilled former quarry ditch. Both Neolithic and Bronze Age ring ditches have been discovered.
Hexagons in the landscape, beneath this you can also see a ghosting in the landscape.
The frozen continent of Antarctica is known for its harsh conditions and climate that make it difficult to sustain life. However, millions of years in the past it was a different story altogether. Are we seeing evidence of ancient settlement (not one but four in close proximity to one another)?
The Hexagon… is this made up of smaller standing stones? Rings of Megalithic stones are common in Europe, these built approximately 4,000 years ago and indeed were an impressive feat for the primitive people who constructed them. But hexagonal, this surely is a fabulous discovery!
Sacred geometry may be understood as a worldview of pattern recognition, a complex system of hallowed attribution and signification that may subsume religious and cultural values to the fundamental structures and relationships of such complexes as space, time and form. According to this discipline, the basic patterns of existence are perceived as sacred: for by contemplating and communing with them one is thereby contemplating the Mysterium Magnum, the patterning relationships of the Great Design. By studying the nature of these patterns, forms and relationships and their manifold intra- and interconnectivity one may gain insight into the scientific, philosophical, psychological, aesthetic and mystical continuum. That is, the laws and lore of the Universe.
Could the white dot (within the Hexagon, within the circle) be a large standing stone, or a stone sphere likened to the Giant stone spheres like the so-called Diquis Spheres which were used for astronomical purposes?
Boscombe Ring Barrow Enclosure
Another enigma, is that these sacred shapes are visible from Air, carved into the landscape, a perfect triangle, a perfect circle, equal distance and then, a perfect hexagon!
If we are to believe HIS-TORY, human beings have been migrating since the dawn of our species. For the vast majority of that time, populations moved across continents without the aid of domestic animals. According to historians, every continent was inhabited except Antarctica.
Geometric Shapes carved into the landscape
Leonardo Da Vinci Sacred Flower of Life
Leonardo da Vinci studied the Flower of Life’s form and its mathematical properties.
Clearly what we are seeing on Port-aux-Francais is a magical mathematical landscape.
Warning …. this is a super long post. So before I begin, I will state this.
The problem is we simply do not know enough about the goddesses of antiquity. We know there were many. And we know there were women who didn’t claim divinity as well. Basically, we just don’t know!
According to theologian and historian Francesca Stavrakopoulou, God had a wife and her name was Asherah.
Phoenician figure, probably of the Canaanite goddess Astarte (also known as Ashera), 7th century B.C.E.
So who was Asherah or more importantly what is Asherah?
Well, she crops up in many ancient sources, and crosses ancients civilisations.
Ancient Semitic Religion – a mother goddesss. Consort to the God Anu.
Akkadian (3000 BC) writings by the name of Ashratum/Ashratu
Hittite (16th -13th c BC) as Asherdu(s) or Ashertu(s) or Aserdu(s) or Asertu(s).
Asherah, along with Astarte and Anath, was one of the three great goddesses of the Canaanite pantheon. In Canaanite religion her primary role was that of mother goddess
Asherah is generally considered identical with the Ugaritic (6000 -1200 BC) goddess ʼAṯirat.- A consort of the god El
Consort to the God Yahweh the god of Israel and Judah during the Iron Age 930-586 BC. אשרה Hebrew. In the Bible Asherah is mostly associated with sacred trees or poles (Exodus 34:13, Judges 6:25).
According to the Oxford Companion to the Bible, Asherah was associated with lions, serpents and sacred trees.
Asherah – is Hecate.
Ancient texts contain many epithets for the Goddess Asherah. To mention a few:-
“Great Mother Goddess” “Creator of Vegetation and Life” “Queen of Heaven” “Lady who Treads on the Sea” “Mother of the Gods” “Holiness” “Hebrew Goddess” “Vital Force of Nature” “Lion Lady”
“the One of the Serpent.”
If there was a “Mrs God” before Yahweh became the only God, archaeologists should logically have found traces of this goddess. But it was a sensitive subject, as any proof of the union between Yahweh and his Asherah was heavily disputed. As happened with the inscribed jars, found at Kuntillet Ajrud. Because this pottery does not just evoke “Yahweh and his Asherah”, but is richly illustrated too.
On the jar, two cows can be seen, a seated lady musician and two humanoid figures, one with a phallus and the other with breasts. There are a lot of animal drawings on the other side of the jar, particularly lions, which are often associated with Asherah, around a stylised tree.
The remains excited intense debate. Was the goddess depicted on this jar? If she was, which one was she? One of the cows? The lady musician or the humanoid figure with breasts? Or the stylised tree?
The name Asherah translates as “she who moves across the water.” Pure and timeless, Asherah is the Spirit of God who was there in the beginning, moving upon the face of the deep and rejoicing over God’s handiwork (Genesis 1:1; Proverbs 8:30). She is the Queen of Heaven mentioned in Revelation 12:1. She is represented in Scripture by her namesake Sarah— her name being a variation and archetype of Asherah. However, by the time we get to the prophets, we see a whole new pattern emerging— that of a people committing spiritual harlotry, characterised by the prostitute Gomer being pursued by her faithful husband Hosea. This image is further perpetuated by the Cannanite belief that Asherah was constantly cheating on her husband El with his arch-nemesis Baal, the god of the storms; this story mirroring the strange and erratic behavior of the gods in the ancient world. However, whatever this is, it is my firm conviction that this is not behavior that is becoming of an Israelite goddess! Something about this scenario just does not sit quite right with me. It almost seems as if Asherah has had her dignity stripped of her by the very people she represents, not the fertility rituals that have come to characterise and mar Her image.
Okay, she’s a goddess – what rituals were performed ?
Here is the thing about studying about Asherah worship. When I started studying this and looking into this goddess worship, I couldn’t find a thing. I wanted to know how it was that they served her. I wanted to know the rituals and the ways of Asherah. But, as I studied, I found out that it was a ‘secret’ female religion. They didn’t write much about it because of the secrecy of it. Therefore, for us, who live in the NOW, we struggle to find out what Asherah worship entailed. We struggle to find out what really happened during ceremonies and rituals that belonged to the ‘the secret sect of female goddess worship’. Therefore, scholars can’t agree on what was what. They can’t agree on her rituals or what she required of her worshipers.
Even in Ancient Rome, they had a celebration that only women could attend and was kept a secret. The only reason that we know about it, is because lawsuits were recorded.
The Iron Age occupants of Israel have a reputation as the creators of monotheism, but objective biblical scholars (the ones without a religious motive behind their research) believe that archaeological and religious records indicate this development was slow in coming. To be blunt: most of the Israelites through most of their history were probably, as it turns out, polytheists. And this was not simply a matter of falling into the habit of taking on foreign religion. Rather, the Israelites were probably themselves Canaanites and their original gods appear to have been Canaanite gods. The Hebrew means “happy” or “upright” and some suggest “(sacred) place.” The term appears 40 times in the Hebrew Bible. Asherah appears as a Goddess by the side of Baʿal, whose consort She evidently became, at least among the Canaanites of the south.
It is also believed that TheBook of Jeremiah, written around 628 BC, possibly refers to Asherah when it uses the title “Queen of Heaven”. This is also a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses worshipped throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Near East during ancient times.
If there was a doctrine of rebirth in early Israelite religion, then perhaps the closest one may come to such a teaching would be within the cult precinct of the goddess or the grove. There is strong evidence that in first temple Judaism fertility was venerated, not under the auspices of Yahweh, but with his consort Asherah, the goddess of rebirth.
Let’s just pause here and reflect. Agriculture, the first and most important invention of humans, was strongly influenced by such things as a fertility goddess. Because crops were a life or death issue to everyone, Asherah was pictured as being equal to Yahweh and, in fact, his loving bride. An Oxford scholar has argued that the Book of Kings reveals the Hebrews worshiped Asherah and Yahweh in Yahweh’s Israelite temple.
Although during the past decades many religious scholars, historians and some theologians have discussed Asherah and her relationship to the Hebrew God Yahweh, it’s generally recognised that the first to discover that the ancient Hebrews worshiped both deities equally was historian Raphael Patai. It was in 1967 when Raphael Patai was the first historian to mention that the ancient Israelites worshiped both Yahweh and Asherah.
By the time of the Babylonian exile she had been exiled from the religion and dropped from all the texts. Egyptian Jews, however, maintained a temple to the Queen of Heaven, and early Christian Jews, according to Margaret Barker, may have imported this tradition into the new faith, flowering in the cult of the Virgin Mary. This was about the time 586BC. Eventually only one male God—without a wife—was accepted and preached and believed by people of all the countries of the world.
~ Queen of Heaven, Asherah ~
Biblical texts reveal how Asherah was worshipped as the Queen of Heaven in
Judah and Jerusalem:
“We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her
just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials
did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem.
At that time we had plenty of food
and were well off and suffered no harm.
But ever since we stopped burning incense to the
Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her,
we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.”
Gaza Coin of Asherah & Yahweh 538-328BC
Despite continual denials, the Bible clearly states that Asherah/Lady Wisdom was there from the very beginning.
Asherah / Lady Wisdom declares:-
“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way… I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning…” “Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight… ” (Prov. 8:22,30 KJV)
So, The Lord God, through Moses, forbade the worship of Asherah.
Typical! The day that women were recognised for her wisdom, beauty and guile was now to be wiped. History HIS-STORY now written mainly by men and about men’s activities in the public sphere—war, politics, diplomacy and administration. Women to be demonised and excluded and, when mentioned, are usually portrayed in sex-stereotypical roles such as wives, mothers, daughters and mistresses. Okay little rant over and back to narrative, so The Law (made by men) specified that a grove of trees was not to be near the altar of the Lord (Deuteronomy 16:21). Despite God’s clear instructions, Asherah-worship was a perennial problem in Israel. They still worshiped Her under every green tree, according to the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament).
So Asherah didn’t completely disappear, however. When Moses is instructed by God to make a menorah to light the temple, it is described as a stylised almond tree (Exodus 25.31-39). The biblical historian Margaret Barker suspects that this sacred tree figure was one of the symbols of Asherah. So the menorah may be one last lingering trace of the bible’s first couple.
The Bible also tells us Her image was to be found for years in the temple of Solomon, where the women wove hangings for Her. In temple and forest grove, Her image was apparently made of wood, since monotheistic reformers demanded it be chopped down and burned. It appears to have been a manmade object, but one carved of a tree and perhaps the image was a stylised tree of some kind.
So … Asherah or God-the-Mother was considered God’s equal and his spouse for centuries up until around 500 years before Christ.
For several reasons at that time, among which was all the perversions surrounding Her worship, it was deemed “safer” to go to all-male-god religion. People just could not separate sex from Goddess worship, and her temples and places of worship (groves of trees on hilltops) sadly had become glorified brothels. These groves were date palms.
So … why does Moses carry an Asherah stick / staff)
It was a secret staff of power.
The Divine Feminine.
Asherah, tree goddess, mother of life, was lost. Truly, WOMEN were cast out of the Garden of Eden by Yahweh, or at least, his supporters. Separated from the Tree of Life, our mother, we flounder like orphans. We are surrounded by Mother Nature and she seeps into our traditions – Goddess is lost, officially, but remembered deep within. perhaps without noticing.
We could say the same about Mary Magdalene whom was kept hidden (veiled) and edited out of mainstream Christianity. She remained in Gnostic scriptures and in underground Christianity.
Symbology and Representations
Asherah was represented by a limbless tree trunk planted in the ground. The trunk was usually carved into a symbolic representation of the goddess. Because of the association with carved trees, the places of Asherah worship were commonly called “groves,” and the Hebrew word “asherah” (plural, “asherim”) could refer either to the goddess or to a grove of trees.
Themes are kindness, love, divination and foresight.
However, this sounds delightful we have then in the His-Story written record that these groves were used as places of debaunchery, whoring and glorified brothels (as mentioned above).
So in the bible written by men she was largely excluded. Her name appears as ha asherah, meaning “the” asherah. In such instances the reference is not to the goddess but to a symbol of her, as discussed above, an object (in the plural asherim) that was apparently a sacred pole, tree, or group of trees, which got me thinking about the Tree and Pole.
“Why the BBC’s new face of religion believes God had a WIFE”
Kuntillet Ajrud’s “ceramic inscription that suggests ancient Israelites worshipped a God AND Goddess in the same temple.” –Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou
Evidence? Dr Stavrakopoulou with a reconstruction of a biblical inscription mentioning Asherah and Yahweh
The inscription was photographed and recorded by archaeologists and scholars of ancient Israelite religion, so we know what it looked like – and importantly – what it said.
Dating to about the 8th Century BC, it was found at a remote site called Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, and was written on a large piece of a broken pottery. The inscription is a petition for a blessing. Crucially, the inscription asks for a blessing from ‘Yahweh and his Asherah’. Here was evidence that presented Yahweh and Asherah as a divine pair.
Female figurines and inscribed prayers to a“divine couple” found in temples in Israel suggest that the “one God” of the Bible may not have been entirely alone. A find by Jerusalem at Tel Motza, “suggests that Iron Age religion in the area around Jerusalem may not have been monotheistic just before the time the Hebrew Bible – the basis of the Old Testament – started to be written.”
Garden of Eden
“Yahweh’s Divorce from the Goddess Asherah in the Garden of Eden” or Was the Garden of Eden story created to dishonour and defame Asherah?
The Garden of Eden story is a recycling of standard Mesopotamian myths. It is no accident that the narrative includes a sacred Tree of Life (one of Asherah’s attributes) and a serpent (another one of Asherah’s attributes). By deliberately interweaving Asherah representations into the Garden of Eden story, the authors were able to successfully defame Eve/Asherah – the Feminine component of religious worship.
Asherah may not be the only female expunged from biblical texts!!
“My wife” – declares Jesus on a coptic papyrus fragment translated by Karen King, a professor at Harvard Divinity School and validated by two other experts from Princeton and NYU.
Do we secretly, without knowing, acknowledge Asherah’s presence ?
The churches here in England are often sited on the grounds where Yew Trees grow. They used to be placed within a circle of Yews which is more than likely s legacy of the Druids. The Yew being associated with immortality, renewal, regeneration, everlasting life, rebirth and transformation – Does this sound familiar as these qualities are all associated with the Mother Goddess Asherah. Many of the sacred yew groves were destroyed by The Romans as too the Druids when Christianity and her Legions marched through our sacred lands.
What’s with these Poles?
Ha! they are Phalic Symbols ! Well they have to be don’t they. Asherah was a fertility goddess for Pete’s sake.
The first mention of the Asherah pole is in Exodus 34:13 (NIV): “Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down theirAsherah poles.” The Israelites were commanded to destroy any Asherah pole they found among the other people in the land. Again, what’s with all the anger from this monotheistic God !
We see them daily, of course they are the steeples on our Churches and of course let’s not forget Obelisks ! One most famous Obelisk is featured at the Vatican City – that being 4000 years old and in actual fact, many are located in Rome, I was actually stunned by the amount of Obelisks I encountered. In fact, 13 of them!
It was the largest non-inscribed obelisk to leave Egypt, at 25.31 m high on a base of 8.25m wide and weighing an estimated 326 tonnes.
One could also say, that the Statue of Liberty could well be an Asherah Pole!
“Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God” – Deuteronomy 16:21 NIV
If you look at the Statue of Liberty you will notice that near her feet the robe resembles a tree trunk. The statue appears such that she totally *could* be carved out of a single (yet giant) tree. Even the angle at which she holds the torch is extraordinarily parallel – much like a pole. From torch to toe the Statue of Liberty resembles a pole.
Asherah Poles are located as Obelisks in Capital Cities (for an indepth gallery of these, visit wiki), the following gives a flavour.
Cleopatra’s Needle – London
Carlton Hill, Edinburgh,
Place de la Concorde, Paris
Auckland, New Zealand
Asherah Pole – Jewish Gematria = 328 English Gematria = 648 Simple Gematria = 108 which also is the gematria for The Lord God, Born of Fire, Dark Messiah, Lord of Death, I am not Here etc etc..
But what is celebrated here in England every 1st May.
The maypole – which originally was a huge phallus. A huge wooden phallus, and people would dance around it, wrapping it in colorful ribbons as they worshipped their sex deity, Asherah.
This was later simplified into a pole, and it’s previous meanings have been veiled in ignorance through tradition and denial. Look carefully, and you’ll see there is a boy and a girl closely aligned to the pole, being told to stand there, yet being completely unaware of the significance of the setting they are at the center of. This is why Pagan worship is called occult — the true meaning of things is “hidden” from view, yet in plain sight to those who are initiated to the secrets!
Oh and let’s not forget that time of year when we erect a TREE in our house and pop presents around it (offerings). This solstice tree is drawn directly from the Pagan worship, transformed for public consumption. The Asherim were considered altars in themselves also, where animals and humans were ritually sacrificed. This altar could take the form of a tree stump, with the trunk snapped-off, leaving jagged spike-like splinters.
Obviously, this can be broken down further, totem poles, the cross but yes …. YES YES she is hidden, but open your eyes and she is still rather hip today.
Asherah – Simple Gematria = 60
Asherah – Jewish Gematria = 193
The Mormon church began in a sacred grove where Joseph Smith had his first vision. From the beginning the Goddess was there. She may not have been there in physical form, but She was there symbolically.
Freemasonry / Masonic
The sun associated with Ba’al and the Moon associated with Asherah. The all seeing eye (Lucifer). This video breaks it down further and is well worth watching.
Asherah/Cybele in Chariot Drawn by Lions – Masonic Image
Vestiges of submerged, historical traditions are reflected in this Masonic depiction,
including an image of a goddess in a chariot drawn by lions with a reference to Asherah or Cybele. -History’s Vanquished Goddess Asherah
When you really think about it “Asherah” has morphed from goddess to wooden pole to obscurity, Father God, Creator of the universe, has never changed.
Whether Asherah was worshiped as God’s wife, remains a matter of debate. Although folk religion accepted the worship of the Mother Goddess, it remains a fact that no Hebrew word for “goddess” appears in the Hebrew Bible, that Yahweh is never called “mother” in the Old Testament, and that he was never worshiped as a female deity.
To call God “mother” and to worship him as a female God is to return to Canaanite religion and to the pagan practices of the religions of the ancient Near East. In the Hebrew Bible God is presented as the father and husband of Israel. The Bible never refers to God as mother or wife.
To address God as a “she” or as “mother” is to return to the worldview prevalent in Canaanite religion. The prophets of the Old Testament struggled against the syncretistic tendencies of the people of Israel. To return to the practices of the folk religion of Israel is to abandon the prophetic struggle to desacralise sexuality in Israel.
Hermes Psychopompos by the Kind of Tymbos painter. White figure lekythos, Attica, Greece, 470 BC. Archaeological Collection of Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany. Image link: X (Photo: Dennis Graen) License: CC BY-NC-SA
The lekythos was used to hold olive oil and precious perfume. Lekythoi were frequently left on graves as funerary offerings. On this vessel, Hermes holds his staff and his wand, and stands next to a large burial pithos. Winged souls of the dead hover near the mouth of the jar – perhaps they are being released to follow Hermes to the Underworld, or the god could be shepherding them back to the grave, so as not to trouble humanity.
Today is Chytroi, the final day of the festival of Anthesteria. Chytroi were utilitarian cooking pots, and on this day a special porridge was cooked and offered to the spirits of the dead, who had been participants with the living in the festival. Libations were poured at the graves of family and other esteemed and beloved dead, and offerings were made to Hermes Chthonios. The last act of the Anthesteria festival was to proclaim to the spirits of the deceased who had joined the celebration of the festival, “‘Out! Out! Anthesteria is over.”
Pair of bronze figures, probably Zeus and Hera Greek, Geometric Period (circa 750–700 B.C.E.) Possibly from Olympia. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston via http://www.mfa.org
Theogamia, celebrated in late January or early February, is the anniversary of the wedding of Hera and Zeus. It is said that their honeymoon on the island of Samos lasted for three hundred years.
It is an especially good time to reflect that lasting partnerships don’t “just happen”, whether for humans or for deities; such relationships require unlimited amounts of respect, compassion, and dedication from each participant. And in the same way the commitment of Hera and Zeus to their marriage creates and preserves the stability of the cosmos so, too, the dedication of human partners creates a comforting and safe refuge in the home.
“For there is nothing better than this: when two people maintain a household together in oneness of mind, a great woe to their enemies, and joy to their friends.” - Homer, The Odyssey
In the past, Scottish peasantry believed that elf arrows or elf shots (arrowheads of flint) also known as Belemnites fell from clouds and were used as weapons by fairies, elves, and witches to destroy cattle and humans. However, once these arrows were in the possession of humans, they could be used as talismans against witchcraft and evil eyes, as well as a cure for cattle that have been afflicted.
Sources and further reading
Spence, Lewis. An Encyclopaedia of Occultism. New York. University Books. 1968. p. 139
The Crossroads are an infinitely powerful place – where the planes collide, the worldly nexus and the paths of decision. While always related to the actual crossing of roads, the symbolic nature of the Crossroads extends far beyond – even in the physical plane. The nexus include far more than the mere crossing of paths, but present at many – both naturally and made-made – destinations.
Hectate is often associated with Crossroads. A ancient Greek goddess of the three paths, guardian of the household, protector of everything newly born, and the goddess of witchcraft.
It is believed by Historians that most Europeans, between 1000 and 1900 didn’t travel much. Many ‘bumkins’ were born, married, raised their children and died within 10 miles of their birth. Meeting the road that crossed your road outside of town was also reaching your town’s borders in most cases. In all mythology and religion stories, this ‘stepping off’ place was the first trial for the hero.
The crossroads is a land that belongs to no one. It’s an area that seems to invite ghosts, spirits and creatures of the night, those that don’t belong in the natural world. Malevolent faeries are believed to haunt the crossroads looking for lost souls to lure into the half-lit world of the Unseelie. Devils, demons, ghosts and black dogs and other supernatural creatures congregating at crossroads were widespread. For this reason it was believed that the crossroads would confound or confuse restless spirits, stopping them from returning to haunt the living. Frazer recounts that in the Böhmerwald Mountains in Germany witches (or at least their supposed malefic influence) were expelled on Walpurgis Night (May Eve) by cracking whips at a remote crossroads. With the associations that the crossroads has with the Otherworld, it is natural that we find death turning up as well.
They were often used as burial places for unbaptised children, murderers, executed criminals, and suicides as we will see below. It was because this ground was unconsecrated and was seen as separate from the everyday world. Such outcasts were not intended for the forgiveness of heaven and so they were buried in a place that would condemn their spirits to wander for eternity.
It was suggested that this was because the crossroads form a Christian cross but this does not hold true as the belief in the power of crossroads predates Christianity and you will find similar superstitions regarding crossroads in many cultures which are not Christian.
From the 13th Century until 1823 suicides in Britain were buried at crossroads. Self-murder” became a crime under common law in England in the mid-13th Century, but long before that it was condemned as a mortal sin in the eyes of the Church. For a death to be declared a “Felo de se“, Latin for “felon of himself”, an old legal term for suicide, it had to be proven the person was sane. In medieval times suicide was not just frowned upon: suicide was a crime. Medieval suicides typically could not be buried in the church graveyard, or in any other consecrated ground. Sometimes their bodies were flung ignobly into a ditch. Others were decapitated before burial, or their bodies were staked to the ground. On occasion suicides were buried under a crossroad so that they would be symbolically stepped on by all who passed by. These punishments were even harsher then than they would be if instituted today: in a medieval village, where practically everyone knows each other and where weddings and funerals are truly communal events, the lack of a proper funeral and the public shame that would bring would be powerful. Everyone in town would know about the suicide, and everyone would know that it brought shame and disgrace. If proven, they were denied a Christian burial – and instead carried to a crossroads in the dead of night and dumped in a pit, a wooden stake hammered through the body pinning it in place. My opinion is that the evidence for this is slight and suggest that the purpose of the stake was to simply pierce the corpse to allow the spirit or soul to leave the body, with the stake being symbolic of the “Cosmic Axis” that was the vehicle for travelling between the worlds.
There were no clergy or mourners, and no prayers were offered. But punishment did not end with death. The deceased’s family were stripped of their belongings and they were handed to the Crown. “The suicide of an adult male could reduce his survivors to pauperism,” Michael MacDonald and Terence Murphy wrote in Sleepless souls: Suicide in early modern England. Crossroad burial was officially abolished by Act of Parliament in 1823 apparently after opposition to the practice was encouraged when King George IV’s carriage was held up by a crowd of spectators in London. They were watching the burial at this crossroads (shown) with Lower Grosvenor Place and Grosvenor Place of a suicide calledAbel Griffiths.
Criminals were also buried at crossroads. This may have been due to the crossroads marking the boundaries of the settlement coupled with a desire to bury those outside of the law outside the settlement, or that the many roads would confuse the dead. The ancient Teutonic (Germanic) ethnic groups often built their altars at the cross-roads, and since human sacrifices, especially of criminals formed part of the ritual, these spots came to be regarded as execution grounds.
In Romania living vampires and witches met at the boundaries and crossroads where neither cuckoo sang nor dog barked. Murgoci explains that:
“People destined to become vampires after death (ie witches or magicians – LR) may be able in life to send out their souls, and even their bodies, to wander at crossroads with reanimated corpses …” (2)
In Russian folklore, the undead were believed to wait at crossroads, drinking the blood of weary travelers unlucky enough pass their way. In other words, this was where one could make contact with spirits, where access to the Otherworld was possible, and where witches were thought to gather for their Sabbats.
In German lore it was believed that if you are chased by a ghost or vampire that you should head towards a crossroads for protection. Once reaching the crossroads the being will vanish with an eerie screech.
There was an old German folk belief that a man can turn into a werewolf if he goes at a full moon’s night to a crossroad, wearing nothing but a belt made of a wolf’s pelt. At midnight, the transformation will happen.
Ancient crossroads have long been considered as possible marking points along a ley, and now become even more relevant following Devereux’s reassessment of the origins of straight lines in the landscape. Throughout folklore we see the concept that straightness facilitates spirit movement, and twists do the opposite (probably the reason for labyrinths and meander patterns that we sometimes see on old burial sites such as NewGrange or the Moons Womb) – hence the spirit of the entranced shaman moved straight over the land – as the crow flies.
The same thinking appears to have survived in the Dutch “Doodwegen” (“deathroads”) and the German “Geisterwege” (meaning “ghost roads”) which were often straight lines along which corpses were carried to the graveyard. In England we find what are known variously as “coffin lines”, “church ways” or “corpse ways”, whose origins lie in the medieval belief that any route that you carried a copse along to burial became a legal right of way (this seems to be untrue, incidentally). These again are often (but not always) straight.
Crowing hens, regarded as unlucky, were abandoned at the crossroads. If you had warts these could be cured by rubbing them with a stone and leaving it at the crossroads, if someone picked up the stone then they took over your warts.
The crossroads dance was a type of social event popular in Ireland up to the mid-20th century, in which people would congregate at the large cleared space of a crossroads to dance.
A more pleasant feature of Irish country life was the custom of holding dances at thecrossroads.
People dance on specially erected timber platforms and enjoy the open air, scenery, meeting friends and making new ones and enjoying the music provided. It was during the 16th and 17th centuries that crossroads dancing became popular. However, the clergy condemned it so the Gaelic League introduced the first Ceilli in 1697 and this let dancers dance indoors under supervision. Interestingly the Ceilli was not held in Ireland but in London. Traditional Irish culture continued in secret until the 1700s. It was a time in Irish history when dancing was prohibited by the English so the Irish would meet on country roads, particularly where they crossed. They would bring food, drink, and musical instruments and keeping an eye out for approaching soldiers they danced their country dances. It was around 1750 that attitudes began to become less strict and this allowed Irish dance to flourish.
American beliefs about the crossroads are many and they come in numerous variations. There are two major themes regarding crossroads rituals in the African-American hoodoo tradition. While these customs may contain an admixture of European folklore, they are primarily derived from African antecedents. There are stories concerning deals done with the devil, in modern times Robert Johnson the famous American blues musician claimed to have met the devil at the crossroads and signed over his soul to play the blues and gain mastery over the guitar. He died at the age of 27 and became one of those poor unfortunates that have become known as members of the 27 club.
But hip to be square the most interesting crossroads in recent times is the name given to the Nuclear programme. Crossroads are thus associated with demons, death, and mystery—all of which are integral parts of the first atomic bomb tests.
Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific was the scene of two atomic bomb tests—Crossroads Able and Crossroads Baker. Shown here is Crossroads Baker, which created the distinctive mushroom-shaped cloud on July 25, 1946. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
This is a 1609 edition copy of the incomplete epic poem The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. It is one of the longest poems in the English language and is notable for its verse form known as the Spenserian stanza. The Faerie Queene contains allegories to praise Queen Elizabeth I, who favoured the piece resulting in a £50 annual stipend for Spenser. This work would be his most famous. Call No: RAR PR 2358 AI 1609
Written during the Reformation, a time of religious and political controversy. The poem celebrates, memorialises, and critiques the Tudor dynasty (of which Elizabeth was a part). The Faerie Queene suggests that the Tudor lineage can be connected to King Arthur and The world of The Faerie Queene is based on English Arthurian legend.
The frontispiece is spellbinding. We must not forget that these poems were composed during the reformation, a time when many Catholic images were being destroyed by The ‘Establishment’ in England. We can clearly observe a scriptural reference to the hand and arm of the Lord emerging from the clouds indicating the presence of the almighty. These hands clasp the Anchor which is entwined by a snake. First impressions would indicate a Maritime theme, but this has a much deeper meaning. Remember the time … the anchor was a symbol used before the cross, and symbolises that Jesus/God/Christianity was the anchor. It’s also a Christian symbol for hope and steadfast. The snake entwined is about salvation or raising up, and eternal life. However, the Anchor is in fact the Ankh, the Crux Ansata. A simple T-Cross, surmounted by an oval – called the RU, which is, simply put, the gateway to enlightenment. This enigmatic symbol represents ‘eternal life’ and is often depicted being held by a god which we can see here.
Now the snake / serpent is the interesting part. In isolation the snake personifies evil, Satan and original sin and Saturn who personified time. This snake looks rather angry, you can see clearly it’s forked tongue. Elizabeth is renown to have owned jewellery and costume including emblems of serpents, which were probably understood as a symbol of wisdom.
The portrait was created by an unknown artist in the 1580s or early 1590s and the Tudor queen is shown with the snake clasped in her fingers.
Examining the frontispiece further looking at the Left hand side In Latin Et vsque ad nvbes veritas tva; head-and tail-pieces; initials with the picture which appears from the clouds holding a book in front of a sun. Laurel leaves and two single roses.
Central is the face of Isis and we will come back to this when looking at the poems within the book.
The heraldic shield contains three books, a chevron with a bird flanked by roses. A sun with a central dove. This shield is featured on another page.
Right hand side
Os homini sublime dedit surround a central sun. Latin translated to “man the gods gave”
The top portion of the page centrally are the words
כחוח = Thistle
Flanked symmetrically by Two globes.
The central image on the page is the shield which was found on the frontispiece. The central sun with the words Os homini sublime dedit. Latin translated to “man the gods gave”
A shield is held by two ladies. One whom is bearing a break.
The poem is dedicated to Elizabeth who is represented in the poem as the Faerie Queene Gloriana, as well as the character Belphoebe. The upper part of the page displays The English Royal Lion (on the left) and the Welsh Dragon (on the right), symbolising that Elizabeth was Queen of England and Wales.
Throughout The Faerie Queene, virtue is seen as “a feature for the nobly born” On the opposite side of the spectrum, The Faerie Queene indicates qualities such as cowardice and discourtesy that signify low birth. Spenser, in his letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, points out the most obvious allegorical devices that run through the entire tale. Those are the Red Crosse Knight, Gloriana, and Faerie Land, as King Arthur, Queen Elizabeth I, and England, respectively. Sovereignty being what it was (and, to a lesser degree, remains), one may see not only Faerie Land but also the characters of the Red Crosse Knight and Gloriana as symbolic of all England. Thus, Spenser’s Trinitarian representation of the State is his first showing of England’s alignment with the divine and, thereby, Elizabeth’s God-given right to rule. (Palmer, J, 2009)
Middle Assyrian Chalcedony Cylinder Seal with a Lion-Dragon, 1300-1200 BC
Combining zoomorphic elements, this lively composition shows a fierce lion-dragon, the gaping mouth exposing long pointed teeth, the head is turned slightly to show horns on the top of the head.
This has the image of Ashur* chief god of Assyria, on a winged solar disc facing a scorpion-tailed lion-dragon**. Above the lion-dragon is a recumbent crescent moon, a symbol of Sin, the moon god and alongside it is an eight-pointed star which represents the goddess Ishtar. Next are seven dots representing the Sebittu, seven benevolent gods whose power could be harnessed against evil by means of magic incantation. Astrologically these dots were identified with the Pleiades. There were temples dedicated to the Sebbitu at the Assyrian cities of Kalhu (Nimrud), Dur-Sharrukin (Khorsabad) and Nineveh.
A Chalcedony Cylinder Seal of a Lion-Dragon, Middle Assyrian, 1300 – 1200 BC
*The god in the winged sun disc could also be Shamash, the sun god. Scholars are not all in agreement over which god is being represented within the winged sun disc in Assyrian art. Ashur is an indistinct deity with no clear iconography of his own. When he is represented in art his attributes tend to be borrowed from another god (in this case Shamash), which makes it difficult to definitively identify him.
**The lion-dragon is a beast which could be a reference to either the chief Assyrian god Ashur, the moon god Sin or the storm god Adad.
Background: A period of cultural flowering and exchange developed in Mesopotamia after a dark age that followed the destruction of Babylon in 1595 B.C. The emergence of the Assyrians as a political power in northern Mesopotamia during the fourteenth century B.C foreshadowed the ascendancy that culminated in the world empire of the first millennium B.C. That phase of history, which falls into the latter half of the second millennium B.C., is called the Middle Assyrian period to distinguish it from the Old Assyrian period (early part of the second millennium B.C.) and from the Neo-Assyrian period (first third of the first millennium B.C.).
A tiny person within a Sperm By N Hartsoecker, C.1695
There are only a few subjects in art history that always grab my attention, no matter who created the object or when it was created or what museum, collection, or gallery I happen to be visiting.
One such subject is the homunculus, a Latin word meaning “little man/human.” In the ancient art of alchemy (another analog of the transformation process), the soul is depicted as a homunculus, or “small man.” It was symbolically equivalent to the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Elixer or Universal Medicine. This homunculus personified the unconscious as an Inner Man, a hermaphroditic being, a spirit in the bottle, a “brain child.”
Often the homunculus is shown in moments of Mary’s annunciation by the angel Gabriel: in place of the dove, representing the Holy Spirit, a small image of baby Jesus flies from Heaven towards the Virgin.
Pacino di Binaguida, Tree of Life c. 1310
If you look carefully you can see Baby Jesus flying through the air.
Concepts relating to the creation of artificial life such as genetic engineering and human cloning are relatively modern scientific ideas. In the past, however, it was in the field of Alchemy that Medieval scientists sought to artificially create life. One of the beings that alchemists were purportedly able to create was the Homunculus.
Medieval Manuscripts are bountiful
The Homunculus is first referred to in alchemical writings of the 16th century, and the idea that miniature fully-formed people can be created has been traced to the early Middle Ages.
But homunculi (plural) need not always be of Jesus. In the example below, the holy Trinity sit in Heaven, to the left, and a homunculus flies across the bedroom towards a sleeping woman, whose husband appears to witness the miraculous conception. The scroll that surrounds the Trinity reads, “Let us create man in our image and likeness” (‘Faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudem nostram’). Thus, the image makes visible the invisible moment in which the woman becomes pregnant by divine intervention.
The first known account of the production of the Homunculus is said to be found in an undated Arabic work called the “Book of the Cow”, purportedly written by the Greek philosopher Plato himself. The materials required for the creation of the Homunculus include human semen, a cow or ewe and animal blood, whilst the process includes the artificial insemination of the cow / ewe, smearing the inseminated animal’s genitals with the blood of another animal, and feeding it exclusively on the blood of another animal. The pregnant animal would eventually give birth to an unformed substance, which would then be places in a powder made of ground sunstone (a mystical phosphorescent elixir), sulphur, magnet, green tutia (a sulphate of iron) and the sap of a white willow. When the blob starts growing human skin, it would be required to be placed in a large glass or lead container for three days. After that, it has to be fed with the blood of its decapitated mother for seven days before becoming a fully-formed Homunculus.
The first type of Homunculus may be used to make the Full Moon appear on the last day of the month, allow a person to take the form of a cow, a sheep or even an ape, allow one to walk on water and know things that are happening far away. The second type of Homunculus can be used to enable a person to see Demons and Spirits, as well as to converse with them, whilst the last type of Homunculus can be used to summon rain at unseasonable times and produce extremely poisonous snakes.
Paracelsus provides a different recipe for creating the Homunculus in his work, “De Natura Rerum”. This recipe uses a horse as the surrogate mother of the Homunculus, and the semen of a man is left inside the animal’s womb to putrefy for forty days, before a little man is born. Rather than using the Homunculus to perform magical feats, Paracelsus instructs that the Homunculus ought to be “educated with the greatest care and zeal, until it grows up and begins to display intelligence.” Paracelsus also claims that the procedure for making the Homunculus is one of the greatest secrets revealed by God to mortals, perhaps suggesting that the creation of artificial life is Divine Wisdom that may be used by human beings.
Scientists today dismiss the work prescribed by the “Book of the Cow” and“De Natura Rerum”(beautiful manuscripthere) as mere fantasy, while others suggest the writing was intended to be taken symbolically, rather than literally, and contains hidden messages regarding the process of Spiritual Ascension.
Moving into the 20-21st Century “Life is created in test tube”, one newspaper announced after Edwards and Steptoe reported the first in vitro fertilisation of a human egg in 1969. In the imagination of popular culture, it was not a microscopic ball of embryonic cells that the test-tube held, but a developing or even a full-term baby: IVF was immediately elided with the speculative technology called ectogenesis, in which gestation too happens in vitro.
Yet homunculus-making was rarely condemned merely on hubristic grounds. Rather, the medieval debate, informed by Plato and Aristotle, was about whether human art could compete with nature. Alchemical gold was suspect not because it was fake but because it was deemed inferior. In the case of the homunculus, this supposed shortcoming of human art had a particularly incendiary implication: the artificial being was considered to lack a soul. The impiety therefore hinged on the fact that either one was seen to be compelling God to give it one, or the homunculus would be free from original sin and not in need of Christ’s salvation
This was no coincidence, for the methods of IVF fitted comfortably into ancient anthropoetic imagery (test tube babies) Alchemical symbolism abounds with pictures of people in glass jars, and arguably the first artificial people-making technology was the alchemical creation of a homunculus, often said to be done by fermenting human sperm in a sealed vessel.
When Time magazine interviewed Ian Wilmut after his team announced the cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1997, it remarked that “One doesn’t expect Dr Frankenstein to show up in a wool sweater, baggy parka, soft British accent and the face of a bank clerk.” It was one of many examples of how Frankenstein, supplemented by other myths both ancient (Faust) and modern (Brave New World), sets the context for media commentary on new developments that allow us to modify and perhaps to create living organisms.
A newbie on the block of course, is the Cortical Homunculus. This a physical representation of the human body, located within theBRAIN. A cortical homunculus is a neurological “map” of the anatomical divisions of the body. There are two types of cortical homunculi: sensory and motor.
Sophia, the Holy Wisdom, 1812
Now let’s meet Sophia, a lifelike humanoid robot capable of remarkable.
The name Sophia is honored as a goddess of wisdom by Gnostics, as well as by some Neopagan, New Age, and Goddess spirituality groups. In Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christianity, Sophia, or rather Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), is an expression of understanding for the second person of the Holy Trinity, I find it incredibly intriguing that this name was given specifically to the first woman robot. Why was the Robot a woman ? Sophia can be described as the wisdom of God, and, at times, as a pure virgin spirit which emanates from God. In this case, Humanity is God as it has created the being, even though it is AI. The Sophia is seen as being expressed in all creation and the natural world as well as, for some of the Christian mystics.
Sophia was unveiled by Hanson Robotics at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas. Sophia became an instant sensation. She is designed to interact with us ‘mere humans’. Sophia features two sophisticated cameras in her eyes that, combined with computer algorithms, can track the facial expressions and eye movement of the people she talks to and recognise individuals. She also wishes to anniliate humanity. This synthetic “creature” dubbed “Sophia” it’s creator has Faustian overtones of “Playing God”. Some might say that, in the age of assisted conception and cloning, Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel is more relevant than ever.
But any possibility that the artificial being might be more-than-human is eclipsed by Frankenstein. By making Victor a “modern Prometheus”, Mary Shelley ensured that hubris was placed at the centre of her fable; because hers was a world in which God no longer intervened directly, the creature itself was called upon to exact the retribution that Faustian tradition demanded. What’s more, it was no longer sufficient for the artificial being to be conjured up by occult alchemical forces.
Incredibly fascinating is that there is a Homunculus Nebula. This being a bipolar emission and reflection nebula which surrounds the massive star system Eta Carinae.
Could this be where humanity originated ?
Situated within the arm of Sagittarius, within the Homunculus is a smaller Little Homunculus, and within that a shell of shocked material from stellar winds that has been called Baby Homunculus.
The Homunculus was ejected in an enormous outburst from Eta Carinae. Light from this event reached Earth in 1841, creating a brightening event in the night sky which was visible from the Earth’s surface at the time. During the event (as seen from Earth) Eta Carinae briefly became the second-brightest star in the sky, after Sirius.
According to accepted historical accounts, Cleopatra, the last active pharaoh of ancient Egypt who ruled after Alexander the Great’s death during the Hellenistic period, committed suicide by holding a snake to her body and allowing it to bite her, killing her with its poisonous venom. Memories of Cleopatra’s life have vanished as monuments and palaces have fallen to ruins over the millennia. But the question still remains: did she really commit suicide, or was there something more sinister involved?
Cleopatra was born in 69 BC and lived and died in Alexandria. She was a member of the Macedonian Greek royalty and her family ruled Egypt for more than three centuries. She was well educated and fluent in seven languages. Although there was no history of suicide in her family, there were cases of murder in every direction. Cleopatra is described as fiery and strong-willed, begging the question was to whether she would really have just given up and ended it all.
Academics at The University of Manchester have dismissed the long-held argument that the ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra was killed by a snake bite.
Andrew Gray, curator of herpetology at Manchester Museum, says venomous snakes in Egypt—cobras or vipers—would have been too large to get unseen into the queen’s palace.
The Death of Cleopatra by Reginald Arthur, 1892. (Public Domain). According to historical accounts, Cleopatra committed suicide by allowing a snake known as an asp to bite her.
He was speaking to Egyptologist Dr Joyce Tyldesley in a new video which is part of a new online course introducing ancient Egyptian history, using six items from the Museum’s collection.
According to Dr Tyldesley, the ancient accounts say a snake hid in a basket of figs brought in from the countryside, and was also used to kill one or two of her serving maids. According to Andrew Gray, cobras are typically five to six feet long but can grow up to eight feet—too big to hide very easily.
There would also be too little time to kill two or three people- because snake venom kills you slowly- with in any case only a 10 per cent chance of death.
He said: “Not only are cobras too big, but there’s just a 10 percent chance you would die from a snake bite” Most bites are dry bites that don’t inject venom.
“That’s not to say they aren’t dangerous: the venom causes necrosis and will certainly kill you, but quite slowly.
“So it would be impossible to use a snake to kill two or three people one after the other. Snakes use venom to protect themselves and for hunting – so they conserve their venom and use it in times of need.”
Cleopatra is strongly associated with snakes, like many ancient Egyptian kings and queens of Egypt. In addition, Cleopatra also believed she was the embodiment of the Goddess Isis, who can take on the form of a snake.
Dr Tyldesley, whose book “Cleopatra: Egypt’s Last Queen” was a BBC Radio 4 book of the week, says one aspect of the accounts has proved to be correct. The ancient Egyptians believed snakes were good mothers.
“Very few snakes have a maternal instinct. However, the cobra is an exception: They sit on the nest and protect them until they hatch. So in this case, it seems the Egyptians were right,” agrees Dr Gray.