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The Circular Stone Zodiac of Dendera, Egypt -The most dynamic image of the heavens ever created
The circular Zodiac of Dendera was carefully carved and blasted from its stone ceiling by Napoleon's Army of Discovery, composed of the noted savants who once again re-introduced Egyptian wisdom, science, and beauty to the entire world. Like all things from the ancient world, the stone zodiac is not a simple image which portrays one idea. The cultural philosophy and worldview of the ancient people saw everything as a part of the universe -where every part helps to define everything else. Therefore, their every thought contained many levels of meaning. It would not be too outrageous to claim that the Zodiac of Dendera could be an amalgamation of myth, science, history, geometry, and religion. Even more than 100 years ago, Sir J. Norman Lockyer in The Dawn of Astronomy (p. 135) speaking about this very Zodiac of Dendera, remarked, “It is impossible to disconnect Egyptian mythology from astronomy.”
The workmanship and design of this artwork is amazing. Anyone can easily see that this is not a simple image which focuses upon representing a single theme. This is apparent because there are myriads of forms -some of them walking along the inner rim of the Great Circle -others suspended in space above and below the familiar zodiac figures of the ecliptic. Twelve figures support the exterior of the Great Circle. These figures are most unusually arranged and disposed with four groups of kneeling falcon-headed deities who face one another, and four erect and solitary female goddesses, who face one another on one side, as they are back-to-back in the next quarter section. Then, beyond these "heaven-holders", on two sides of the work are rectangles patterned with rows of chevrons, symbol of water, which must represent the Milky Way Galaxy, the stream of the heavenly waters. This is apparent because when we look at the night sky we see the heavenly stream of the Milky Way cross the zodiac at Gemini/Taurus, and also at the opposite side of the sky at Sagittarius/Scorpio. The Dendera Zodiac precisely shows the chevron rectangles below Gemini/Taurus on one side, and below Sagittarius/Scorpio on the other side.
It should be noted that "heaven-holder" was a term applied to Atlas, the greatest of the astronomers of all scientific history, who made his observations in Morocco, the birthplace of the gods according to classical myth, history, and genealogy.
On the original zodiac in the ceiling of the Temple of Hathor, one side of the piece is taken up by a giant image of the outstretched heavenly goddess, Hathor, who covers the vault of the heavens with her star-spangled body.
The figures of the heavenly-supporters outside the great circle suggest that there may be several cosmic cycles at play -cycles which are moving in opposite directions to one another. If one can see the symbolism of the "heaven holders" facing and opposing one another -then one may appreciate that the entire zodiac is meant to be visualized as dynamic and in motion -portraying many convoluted cycles churning in opposed directions of the heavenly sphere. Then we may begin to embrace the concept of numerous moving cycles. Wherefore, inside the circle, a band of heavenly forms are walking in a counter-clockwise direction. Meanwhile, half-way inside the circle, the sun's annular path through the signs of the zodiac ecliptic proceeds in a clock-wise course. Again, the Precession of the Vernal Equinoxes moves in the opposite direction in a counter-clockwise circle. Other cosmic cycles from the diurnal to the galactic cycle also follow this pattern from clockwise to counter-clockwise, to clockwise to counter-clockwise, and onward in this sequence.
As if the story of all the movements of the varied cosmic cycles were not enough for this magnificent portrait to expose and explain -the final meaning appears to be in the giant Hathor figure to the right of this dynamic cosmic mechanism. Egyptian symbolism steadfastly depicts the birth of the Sun as if it were a child born from its mother -Hathor. Therefore, it may be noticed that Hathor's sacred vaginal passage is directly opposite to the borders between Aries and Pisces. This is the highest intent of this religio-scientific-mytho-historical-cosmological art work. The Circular Stone Zodiac of Dendera represents a prophecy of the much awaited incarnation of the child of the supreme god. This expectation was envisaged to coincide with the movement of the Great Galactic Cycle, from Pisces into Aries -at the same time as the Precessional cycle moves in the opposite direction from Aries into Pisces. This event marks the Great Crossing of two majestic cosmic cycles. As we will see below, history shows that this temple was restored many times -and that the circular zodiac may have been re-carved in recent Ptolemaic times copied from an ancient original.
Furthermore, in Christian Ethiopian tradition, the Holy Spirit is regarded to be a woman. Quite a bit of the symbolism surrounding Christ relates to The Good Shepherd, which refers to the lamb and the ram, the sign of Aries. In the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine, he very often speaks of "the Wrath of the Lamb", and refers to the son of God under the image of the Lamb. There is an equally strong tradition surrounding the Sign of Pisces, the fish; and the ceremonial washing of the feet, an adjunct symbol of Pisces.
History of the Temple of Dendera & the famous Circular Zodiac
1.) The history of the Zodiac of Dendera is such that some researchers claim that it was carved in Ptolemaic times (300BC). However, it is also admitted that the content of the stone could be a copy of some more ancient artifact portraying high cosmological knowledge in the far distant past. It is not inconceivable that zodiacs portray a more ancient time in the past. The authors of Ancient Skies (p.269) cite Pogo who conclude that the sky map on the ceiling of Senmut at Thebes represented a much older image of the skies than was contemporary with this adviser of the famous Queen Hatshepsut.
Peter Tompkins in his Secrets of the Great Pyramid reports that Sir Norman Lockyer asserted that the Temple of Dendera was previously orientated to the North Star, gamma Draconis, at about 5000 BC, and then at Dubhe at about 4000 BC. Because of several sight-lines of orientation of the temple and its numerous additions and renovations -it was Lockyer's opinion that the astronomical temple of Hathor was rebuilt in 3233 BC; then in 1600 BC, and again by the Ptolemys in 100 BC. Egyptian inscriptions confirm these dates concerning some of the re-models. At this period in the dark ages of archaeology the Egyptologists actually objected to Lockyer's dragging in astronomy to straighten out the difficult chronology of history. They unanimously dismissed his theory and his book, The Dawn of Astronomy . In 1964 Giorgio de Santillana of MIT and others showed that Lockyer's work was correct and true.
Franz Boll in his Sphaera (p.159) reports on Teukros the Babylonian astrologer. He says that astrology was taught by the gods themselves to two holy people in their languages, one who lived by the Tigris/Euphrates and those who lived by the Nile. Boll contends that the images on the zodiac show many Babylonian influences, especially the image of Sagittarius. He imagines that the work is a mixture of two cultures. Boll further says that the zodiac was conceived under an astrologic viewpoint since it shows the five planets as god figures by the zodiac houses of their exaltation. As was said, the expectation of the coming of the Messiah at the conclusion of the Galactic Cycle of Pisces, and the beginning of Aries was a universal phenomena confirmed by the universal science of Cosmology (not astrology). It certainly makes natural sense that Cosmologers throughout the globe communicated with one another, and attended periodic meetings, as scientists do today in order to agree upon new findings, and to promulgate standards and usages within their science. Boll admits that the Dendera zodiac is an amalgamation of some of the most ancient and most modern images of that time (p.163).
Latrone, Bally, and Dupius dated the stone zodiac any where from 15,000 BC down to the time of the Emperor Augustus. Lepsius identified the image of Osiris as the constellation of Orion, and the central Leg of Beef as our present day Big Dipper. He also picked out the five planet images placed among the star constellations which were the most powerful places of the planets. Lepsius likewise identified the 36 Decan figures around the rim of the zodiac. Helene Hagan in her The Shining Ones (p.80) says that Egypt was divided into 36 nomes, each corresponding to a constellation, "giving these nomes a spiritual and personified character or pedigree: we have already mentioned that the stars represented the Enlightened Dead Ancestors...". Herodotus has told us that the nomes had their special and separate culture and god; and that many of the nomes identified with a foreign family, tribe or nation. As for example the town of Sais was a Greek friendly colony or ghetto -as there were Babylonian ghetto towns. Therefore Egypt endured for such a long period of time because of its cultural mix unified under one nation. Similar examples of multi-national and cultural respect under one unifying nation were found in Spain and Ireland, to some extent in Babylon and Rome, and in modern times. the United States of America.
In conclusion, we would like to say that the Circular Zodiac of Dendera should be looked upon as a multifaceted chronometer of cosmic cycles. These cycles, the 36 decan figures, and the zodiac and constellations were their guidelines to a far reaching ancient history and mythological ring. The Dendera Stone serves as our most important artifact of an instrument of scientific record -an amazing vehicle of synchronization of ancient, classical and modern eras. It is our most important scientific inheritance from the past, because it demonstrates the extreme depth of intelligent human life, discovery, and history upon our planet. This was the initial opinion of Dupuis who was captivated with this remarkable object. “Dupuis, according to whose views an almost fabulous antiquity might be assigned to ancient traditions in general and astronomical traditions in particular, “ wrote Lockyer (p.138, The Dawn of Astronomy).
The Power of Geometry
The image of the Circular Zodiac of Dendera is achieved through the principles of sacred geometry. The basic unit of this geometry is the interrelation of the length of the lines that connect the nipples of the Great Hathor's breasts and her navel. These lines become the radii that are used in the construction of the entire image. The message of the picture and its geometry concern the power of the number four. Two lines crossed at right angles create four divided fields. These are the Cardinal geographic directions: North, South, East and West. Then 2 x 4 = 8 which is the key geographic and mapping number. Then we have 3 x 4 = 12, which represents the twelve months of the year and the creation of the 360 degree system of celestial coordinates.
According to the ancient astronomers, the center of our Milky Way Galaxy is in Sagittarius, near the arrow point of the archer; the star named Sagittarius 'A'. Modern science also locates the black hole at the center of the galaxy at about 17h: 45.6m right ascension near the arrow point by Sagittarius/Scorpio.
The major scheme of the layout seems to embody the four female Hathor figures, and the four groups of two kneeling Horus figures. This schemata seems to convey the impression of the artist’s wish to consolidate the numbers 12 and 8, by showing 4 + (4 x 2) =12.
The number 12 is key to the sexagesimal astronomical system which typifies 12 months of the year. The number 8 stems from the geographic coordinate system based upon the sub division of the four cardinal directions.
The most primal relationship between 8 and 12 may be seen in the common factor of four: 2 x 4 = 8, and 3 x 4 = 12, or as follows:
8 +4, half way = 12
16 -4, half way = 12
24 +4, half way = 28
32 -4, half way = 28
Notes on Egyptian Symbolism
In The Temple in Man (Ch.7), Schwaller de Lubicz explains Egyptian symbolism in regard to the human body:
“The parts of the body with symmetrical organs [features] are shown in profile. The parts of the body with asymmetrical organs [features] are shown full face…the arms…are sometimes represented with two left hands, or two right hands. The left hand receives, the right gives…The legs are joined…to express the idea of fixation, death, or inertia; they are placed one in front of the other to indicate a state of life. Thus , the seated, standing, or running personage has its particular meaning which –like its gestures, attributes, costume, and color –must be interpreted…personages issued from the Divine principle and not procreated through woman –have no navel. The figures are the primary, secret writing.”
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