By Thomas H. Burgoyne
The Astro-Mythological system of the ancients, though forming the last section, so to say, of the mysteries of the Divine Urania, is, perhaps, the most beautiful of its general features, and perfect in the complete fulfillment of the purpose for which it was intended, viz.:– to convey to the human mind a lesson, a moral, a truth in Nature; and last, but not the least, to serve as a basis upon which its inner aspirations and its more external faith might rest in security.
When we come to examine the deep, philosophical principles of such a wise system, we are almost astounded at the result of our researches and the wisdom of human nature displayed in formulating such perfect analogies of truth, semi-truth, and of falsehood, according to the plane occupied by the individual.
Let us take one instance, which will clearly explain all the rest, for they are built and formulated after the same model. Aeneas, of Greek myths and fables, is reputed to be the son of Venus by a MORTAL father, upon the plane of reality. As that of actual PARENT and CHILD, of course this is an utter falsehood. To the rural population of long, long ago, and their simple, rustic conceptions, IT WAS A TRUTH.
Why so? Because they believed it, and to them it taught the required lesson of obedience to the powers that be. But if in reality it was a falsehood, how can it become a truth by the simple addition of acceptance and belief? Because it possessed a metaphysical truth, though not a physical one, in the sense accepted.
Aeneas, son of Venus, whose history is so beautifully preserved by the immortal Virgil, was (metaphysically speaking) son of the goddess, because he was, in his astral and magnetic nature, ruled and governed by Venus, born under one of her celestial signs and when she was rising upon the ascendant of the House of Life, even as Jesus Christos was born of a virgin, because Virgo was rising at His birth.
Thus Aeneas was, in strict metaphysical reality, a son of Venus. Having satisfied the rural mind, which thus, unconsciously, accepts an absolute truth under a physical disguise, the metaphysical thinker, the philosopher, also accepts the same fable, knowing and realizing its more abstract truth,
What is the real truth?
But, again, we are met with the objection that such a truth is only apparently a truth; i.e., on the plane of embodied appearances, and naturally the question arises, where (if at all) is the real truth of the myth? That truth which is beyond the mere metaphysical thinker and commonplace philosopher; the truth which the Initiates recognize–where is it? That truth lies far beyond the purview of Astro-Mythology. It is connected with the center of angelic life. Sufficient here to say that, as there are seven races of humanity, seven divisions to the human constitution, seven active principles in Nature, typified by the seven rays of the solar spectrum, so are there seven centers of angelic life, corresponding to the seven planetary forces formulated in “The Science of the Stars,” and, as each one of us must of necessity belong to one of the particular angelic centers from which we originally emanated, the Initiate can see no reason why AENEAS MAY NOT IN REALITY belong to that celestial vortex represented by Venus upon the plane of material life. This being the case, we see how beautiful the ancients’ system of temple worship must have been. The simple rustic, in reverence and awe, accepting the gross and physical meaning–the only one possible to his dark, sensuous mind. The scholar and philosopher bow their wiser heads with equal humility, accepting with equally sincere faith the more abstract form of the allegory; while on the other hand, the priest and the Initiate, lifting their loftier souls above the earth and its formulas of illusion and matter, accept that higher and more spiritual application, which renders them equally as sincere and devout as their less enlightened worshipers. It is thus we find these astro-myths true for all time, true in every age of the world, and EQUALLY TRUE OF ALL NATIONS. And this is the real reason why we find every nation under the Sun possessing clear traditions relating to the same identical fables, under different names, which are simply questions of nationality. And when mythologists, archaeologists, and philologists once recognize the one central, cardinal truth, they will cease to wonder why nations, so widely separated by time and space, possess the same basic mythology. They will then no longer attempt its explanation by impossible migrations of races, carrying the rudiments with them. They will find that this mythology was a complete science with the ancient sages, a UNIVERSAL MYSTERY LANGUAGE, in which all could converse, and that it descended from the Golden Age, when there was but ONE nation on the face of the Earth, the descendants of which constituted the basic nucleus of every race which has since had an existence. In this light all is simple, clear, and easy to comprehend–all is natural.
The astronomer-priests of the hoary past, when language was figurative, and often pictorial, had recourse to a system of symbols to express abstract truths and ideas. In order to impress the minds of pupils with a true concept of the attributes of the celestial forces, we call planets, they personified their powers, qualities, and attributes. Just as the average mind of to-day cannot conceive of Deity apart from personality, so did primitive man clothe his ideas in actual forms, and in these impersonations, they combined the nature of the celestial orb with that of the zodiacal sign or signs, in which the planet exerted its chief and most potent activities. For instance, the planet Mars, whose chief constellation is Aries, was described as a great warrior, mighty in battle, fierce in anger, fearless, reckless, and destructive; while the mechanical and constructive qualities were personified as Vulcan, who forged the thunderbolts of Jove, built palaces for the gods, and made many useful and beautiful articles. Then, again, we find that Pallas Athene was the goddess of war and wisdom. She sprang from the head of Zeus. Aries rules the head, and represents intelligence. Athene overcame her brother Mars in war, which shows that intelligence is superior to brute force and reckless courage.
Here, we see three different personages employed to express the nature of the powers and phenomena produced. They were called gods and goddesses. This was quite natural, as the planets of our system are reflections of Divine principles. Esoterically, Mars symbolizes strength, victory–attributes of Deity. Mars is said to have married Venus, teaching us that the union of skill and beauty are essential in all artistic work.
Mars, Gai, and other gods
Mythology tells us that the god Mars was supposed to be the father of Romulus, the reputed founder of Rome. Romulus displayed many characteristics of the planet. The mythos is no doubt a parallel to that of Aeneas. Rome was founded when the Sun in his orbit had entered the sign Aries, and Mars was the god most honored by the Romans. In time, with the degeneration of human races and their worship, to the rural mind, the subjects of the mythos became actual personalities, endowed with every human passion and godlike attribute, the former characterizing the discordant influence of the heavenly bodies upon man.
Gai, Rhea and Ceres, or Demeter (Greek), represent the triune attributes of Mother Earth. Gai signifies the Earth as a whole, Rhea the productive powers of the Earth, and Ceres utilizes and distributes the productive forces of Rhea.
In the charming story of Eros (Divine Love), son of Mars and Venus, he (Eros), we are told, brings harmony out of chaos. Here, we see the action of Aries and Taurus, ruled respectively by Mars and Venus.
The beautiful myth of Aphrodite, born of the sea foam, is Venus rising out of the waters of winter, to shine resplendent in the western skies at evening, and typifies the birth of forms, as all organic forms have their origin in water.
In all lands the Sun was known under various names, typical of solar energy, especially in reference to the equinoctial and solstitial colures.
Henry Melville, in his valuable work, “Veritas,” says no reliance can be placed upon ancient dates, either of Europe, Asia, or anywhere else, and he conclusively shows that such dates are Astro-Masonic points on the celestial planisphere, the events recorded being, as it were, terrestrial reflections of the
To attempt to wade through all the various systems of mythology, and explain each in its proper order, would be to write a large encyclopedia upon the subject. We have given a few examples as keys, and suggest works for study. We have here given the real key, and the student must fathom particulars for himself. The chief work, and most valuable in its line, is Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.” The next, also the most valuable in its line, is “The Mythological Astronomy of the Ancients,” with notes (these latter are the gist and constitute the real value), by S. A. Mackey; and last, and, perhaps, in some sense, not the least, is the “Wisdom of the Ancients,” by Lord Bacon. This is published in “Bacon’s Essays.”
A careful study of Ovid, with the key which this chapter supplies, will reveal ALL that pertains to ancient gods, demi-gods, and heroes, while a study of Mackey, and a careful comparison with “La Clef” and “La Clef Hermetique” will reveal all that pertains to cosmic cycles and astral chronology, which is the only chronology that is quite trustworthy, as far as ancient history is concerned.
While we are on this subject, we must point out some of the delusions, into which the subtle, magical teachings of the Orient would lead the student.
All the monster sphinx, half human, half animal, etc., which the ancients have preserved, are simply records of the past. They are chronological tables of cosmic time, and relate to eras of the past, of the Sun’s motion, and not by any means to living creatures of antediluvian creations, as some wiseacres have imagined. Many of these ancient monuments, monstrous in form, are records of that awful period of floods and devastation known as the Iron Age, when there was a vertical Sun at the poles; or, in other words, when the pole of the Earth was ninety degrees removed from the pole of the ecliptic. To those who can read aright, every lineament tells as plainly as the written word the history of that awful past, marking the march of time, recording the revolutions of the Sun in his orbit of 25,920 years, and relating with wonderful accuracy the climatic changes, in their latitudes, which took place with each revolution of the Sun and corresponding motion of the Earth’s pole of less than four degrees. All the greater myths of the dim past were formulated to express cosmic time, solar and polar motion, and the phenomena resulting therefrom. These monuments of antiquity prove that, the ancients knew a great deal more of the movements of heavenly bodies and of our planet than modern astronomers credit them with.
Madame Blavatsky, in her “Secret Doctrine,” seriously states that all these monstrous forms are the types of actual, once living physical embodiments, and, with apparent sincerity, asserts that the Adepts teach such insane superstitions.
Such, however, is not the case, neither is there anything true, or even approaching the truth, in the cosmogony given in the work in question.
And, lastly, we have but one more aspect of the grand old Astro-Mythos to present to your notice. This aspect reveals the whole of the ancient classification of WORK and LABOR, and gives us a clear insight into the original designs, or pictorial representations, of the twelve signs and the twelve months of the year. It also clearly explains many things which are to-day attributed to superstitious paganism.
As each month possesses its own peculiar season, so are, or were, the various labors of the husbandman, and those of pastoral pursuits, altered and diverted. Each month, then, bad a symbol which denoted the physical characteristics of climate and the temporal characteristics of work. As the Sun entered the sign, so the temple rites varied in honor of the labors performed, and the symbol thus became the object of outward veneration and worship. So we see that the twelve signs, and principally the four cardinal ones, became Deities, and the symbols sacred, but in reality, it was the same Sun to which homage was paid.
There is a large sphere of study in this direction, as, of course, each climate varied the symbol to suit its requirements. In Egypt there were three months when the land was overflowed with water; hence, they had only nine working months out of doors, and from this fact sprang the Nine Muses, while the Three Sirens represented the three months of inactivity in work, or three months of pleasure and festivity.
Mackey tells us that the great leviathan mentioned in the Book of job was the river Nile.
In nearly all mythologies, we find that the gods assembled on some high mountain to take counsel. The Olympus of the Greeks and Mount Zion of the Hebrew Bible mean the same, the Pole-Star; and there, on the pictured planisphere, sits Cephus, the mighty Jove, with one foot on the Pole-Star and all the gods gathered below him. The Pole-Star is the symbol of the highest heaven.
With this we close, leaving the endless ramifications of this deeply interesting subject to the student’s leisure and personal research, trusting the keys we have given in this chapter and their careful study may induce the reader and student of these pages to search out for himself the meaning concealed in all Astro-Mythologies.