the Egyptian sphinx

The Egyptian Sphinx and Oedipus

“The Egyptian Sphinx is closely related to the Greek legend of Oedipus, who first solved the famous riddle propounded by the mysterious creature with the body of a winged lion and the head of a woman which frequented the highway leading to Thebes. To each who passed her lair the sphinx addressed this question, ‘What animal is it that in the morning goes about on four feet, at noon on two feet, and in the evening on three feet?’ Those who failed to answer her riddle she destroyed. Oedipus declared the answer to be man himself, which in childhood crawled upon his hands and knees, in manhood stood erect, and in old age shuffled along supporting himself by a staff. Discovering one who knew the answer to her riddle, the sphinx cast herself from the cliff which bordered the road and perished.

“There is still another answer to the riddle of the sphinx, an answer best revealed by a consideration of the Pythagorean values of numbers. The 4, the 2, and the 3 produce the sum of 9, which is the natural number of man and also of the lower worlds. The 4 represents the ignorant man, the 2 the intellectual man, and the 3 the spiritual man. Infant humanity walks on four legs, evolving humanity on two legs, and the redeemed and illuminated magus adds the staff of wisdom. The sphinx is therefore the mystery of Nature, the embodiment of the secret doctrine, and all who cannot solve her riddle parish. To pass the sphinx is to attain personal immortality.” ~Manly P. Hall

The Sphinx

Today, when someone mentions the Egyptian Sphinx, we all think of the great and mysterious statue that stands in the same area as the Great Pyramid. In the above quote, however, Hall seems to be talking about the Sphinx in two different senses. One is an actual living creature of legend, the other is the famous statue. So it was not the giant statue that proposed its great riddle on travelers who came near “her lair”.

The symbolism of the Egyptian Sphinx

The Body

The strange shape of the sphinx may seem like something out of a nightmare, but it is actually symbolic. The body of the lion is a symbol of strength and courage. Another meaning not often mentioned is that the lion is sometimes a symbol of the sun, probably because it’s majestic head and mane resembles the sun in shape and color, but also because the sun is a thing of great strength. Of course, the sphinx doesn’t have a lion’s head, but I think the symbolism still applies.

The Wings

The wings of the Egyptian sphinx have the obvious symbology of being able to fly or soar beyond the earth in one way or another. But they are also eagle wings, so the symbology of the eagle has to be considered as well. Like the lion, the eagle is a symbol of strength and courage, but it is also a symbol of leadership, wisdom, and vision. And the eagle is a variation of the Phoenix or Firebird, so the symbology of those mythical birds must be considered as well. You can click here to read an earlier post on the Phoenix.

The Head

Finally, we come to the head of a woman. While some think of a woman as being a symbol of sin (as in Eve) or materialism, we should not forget that in Gnostic writings, Wisdom is a female being called Sophia. It seems clear to me that the questioning ways of the sphinx indicate that it is the Sophia interpretation that applies.

So overall, the Egyptian Sphinx combines symbols of strength, courage, leadership, and wisdom. It is also a solar symbol, and I think we can assume that means the Spiritual Sun. Continue reading “The Egyptian Sphinx and Oedipus”

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immortality of the phoenix

Immortality of the Phoenix and Soul

Immortality of the Phoenix

“Both Herodotus and Pliny noted the general resemblance in shape between the phoenix and the eagle, a point which the reader should carefully consider, for it is reasonably certain that the modern Masonic eagle was originally a phoenix. The body of the phoenix is described as being covered with glossy purple feathers, while its long tain feathers were alternately blue and red. Its head was light in color and about its neck was a circlet of golden plumage. …

“The phoenix was regarded as sacred to the sun, and the length of its life (500 to 1000 years) was taken as a standard for measuring the motion of the heavenly bodies and also the cycles of time used in the Mysteries to designate the periods of existence. …

“The phoenix (which is the mythological Persian Roc) is also the name of a southern constellation, and therefore it has both an astronomical and an astrological significance. In all probability, the phoenix was the swan of the Greeks, the eagle of the Romans, and the peacock of the Far East. To the ancient mystics the phoenix was a most appropriate symbol of the immortality of the human soul.” ~Manly P. Hall

Phoenix, Eagle, and More

Hall notes that the phoenix is probably the source of the Greek swan, the Roman eagle, and the Persian Roc. He doesn’t mention the Native American firebird, which resembles the phoenix more closely than and of the others mentioned. I think the idea in most, if not all of these sacred birds, is that they represent the human soul. When the phoenix rises and flies toward the sun, it is a hint from the ancient mystery schools on the process for awakening and developing the spirit and soul. The immortality of the phoenix comes from the part of the legend that says that when the phoenix does die after 500 years, it is reborn from the ashes. That is a simplification of the original story, but it is the most important part. The phoenix never truly dies, just like the divine-human soul.

Purple Feathers

The colors of the phoenix have meaning, as does almost everything about this legendary bird. The purple feathers are not seen on many modern depictions of the phoenix, but they are important. Purple is now thought of as the color of royalty, but it is also the color that represents advanced spiritual development or mystical development. In some churches, priests and ministers wear purple only on the holiest occasions. Continue reading “Immortality of the Phoenix and Soul”

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spiritual influence

Spiritual Influence in a Materialistic World

Spiritual Influence on Man

“It is difficult to express in the language of today the effects on Man, in that far-off time of the spiritual beings referred to. They must not be thought of as analogous to natural influences of the present time, nor yet as similar to the influences of one human being on another, when the first awakens in the second inner powers of consciousness by words which help the second person to understand something, or which stimulate him to virtue or vice. The effect referred to as operative in that primeval age was not a force of nature but a spiritual influence, conveyed in a spiritual way, which descended upon man as a spiritual influx from higher spirits, conformable with Man’s state of consciousness at that time. If we think of this influence as a force of nature we altogether miss its essential reality. If we say that the spirits with the old moon nature tempted Man in order to lead him astray for their own ends, we are using a symbolical expression, which is good as long as we remember that it is but a symbol and are at the same time clear in our minds that a spiritual fact underlies the symbol.” ~Rudolf Steiner

Spiritual Influence

Steiner is correct in saying that Man was under spiritual influence in the distant past and that spiritual influence is not the same as a natural influence or natural forces. Of course, spirits are natural, but when Steiner says “Natural” here, he means part of the physical or material universe rather than the spiritual realms.

Ancient scripture such as the Upanishads and the Bible makes it clear that thousands of years ago it was common for Man, or al least some men, to talk to spirits, most often in the form of angels or demons. That still happens but is very rare. It isn’t that the spirits or spiritual worlds have moved away from us, but that as we sink deeper and deeper into matter, we move away from them. The more material we become, the more difficult it is to see or communicate with spiritual beings.

Perhaps because we have become so densely material, both physically and mentally, many have difficulty grasping the concept of spirits and spiritual influence. Many think that it is just something mental, that the soul is just a part of the mind. Some believe that so-called spirits are just physical beings from other planets. Why it is so easy to believe in beings from another planet but not from another dimension, specifically a spiritual dimension, is beyond me. If you can believe in aliens influencing us with no proof whatsoever, how can you reject the written evidence of many going back thousands of years of spiritual influence? Continue reading “Spiritual Influence in a Materialistic World”

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dragons and zombies

Dragons and Zombies Brought Down

 A Tale of Halloween Allegory

The Beginning

Malchor and Suzette huddled together in the corner of the small cave. As far as they knew, they were the only humans still alive. They huddled in fear more than for warmth. They were out of food and weapons. They had no more places to hide. The coming day would probably be their last.

Two years ago, they had been living a normal human existence. Malchor had been a teacher at a community college. Suzette was a social worker for the county. They didn’t know each other yet. Nor did they know the big changes that in store for them and everyone else. They went about their jobs and social lives with barely a concern. Or at least no significant concerns. They may have worried about their health care or a refrigerator that was sure to die soon, but little more than that. Malchor was putting money aside for his retirement. Suzette was thinking about doing the same. Both, by coincidence, were considering taking a Caribbean Cruise in a year or two. Then everything changes.

Zombies

The zombies came first. No one knows what was causing it, but some people started to become flesh-eating zombies. Human flesh, specifically. Whether they were really the walking dead, or just seemed dead because their minds were shot is unknown. No one had the time, or for that matter, the inclination, to study them. The living were too busy fleeing from them or trying to kill them. But it seemed like each time someone successful destroyed a zombie, three more were born to take its place. It wasn’t long before the entire human race was operating in survival mode. So much for that Caribbean Cruise.

Dragons

The zombies might have been defeated eventually if they were the only problem, but there was soon another. A few weeks after some people started turning into zombies, dragons started arriving. While few had witnessed one arrive and lived through it, the few who had shared an amazing tale that few could believe. They spoke of a bulge forming in the ground, getting bigger and bigger, until it burst open like a new volcano. But instead of lava, a dragon crawled out of the hole. These dragons were not the gargantuan beasts often seen in movies, but they were bad enough. They were about the size of a large horse with leathery wings and horns on their heads. If that was not enough to convince anyone that they were demonic in nature, they blew flames at everything moving they encountered. Humans, animals, even machines were burned up by them. And those who ran from the dragons were being caught and killed by the zombies.

Malchor had been chased out of his home four months ago by the zombies. They not only killed everyone they caught, they followed a scorched-earth practice by burning everything when they finished. He came across Suzette two weeks later hiding in an alley. She had been fleeing from a dragon. They had been together ever since.

For over a month, they had managed to stay hidden in a small shed on a rural farm going out only to get food and water. But a dragon set that on fire four days ago, and they had been hiding in the cave since then. They knew it was just a matter of time, but neither would give in and just run out to their death as they had seen many others do in recent days. But they had no place left to go and they were out of food and water.

Awakening

The opening of the cave faced east, and Malchor could see the sky getting lighter. Soon the sun would be up on what was likely to be their last day alive. He said a silent prayer and watched.

The sun begin to rise above the horizon revealing a landscape of burned ruins with roving bands of zombies. Soon the Dragons would be out as well. But then something unexpected happened. As Malchor watched the rising sun, it began changing. It started spinning and changing shape. It grew brighter and warmer, though in a pleasant way. He told Suzette to look, and she soon saw it as well. Something flowed into them from the sun as it grew brighter and appeared to change shapes. Their courage returned. They no longer felt tired. They began to understand that they had within them the power to defeat the creatures of darkness. Instead of the smell of burning flesh and the sound of dragons, they smelled exotic flowers and heard bluebirds singing. Other songbirds joined in. They stood, and continued to watch the sunrise. They filled with brilliant light, and a sword of white fire and light appeared in each of their hands. The went out to face the horrors.

Each zombie they touched with one of the swords just disappeared in a puff of smoke. After a while, it seemed to spread on its own like a contagious disease. One after another, all the zombies began to pop and disappear in smoke. A dragon attacked, but was similarly destroyed by the power of the light. Then a second and a third. Then like the zombies, all the dragons began to fall over dead and burst into flame. It was over. They didn’t know it, but the date was October 31st. Happy Halloween


Dragons and Zombies

It can be fun to fantasize about things like zombies and dragons, werewolves and vampires. A lot of it is being done these days and those tales rarely have any meaning. They are just for fun, just to scare us. But that hasn’t always been the case.

The ancients who originated many such legends were more interested in sharing truth than in telling fantasies. But sometimes it is dangerous to tell the truth. Sometimes, the danger is that people will not believe it and ignore it. A truth ignores becomes a truth lost. The other major reason is that authorities are known to punish those who speak too much truth. These authorities may be church leaders of government. That really doesn’t matter.

Whether it was for fear of being prosecuted, or simply to protect the truth from those who would misuse it or deny it, the ancient wise men often hid their meaning by using allegory. People would remember these allegorical tales and pass them on generation after generation. The wise ones knew that one day we would start waking up and see the hidden truths within those apparent legends, myths, and fairy tales. Dragons and zombies may never have existed in a literal, physical sense. But as allegories, they and many similar creatures are real.

Dragon Allegory

While it may vary depending on the part of the world, dragons are generally bad guys. Even in some Oriental countries where they are considered good luck, they actually symbolize good luck only in a materialistic sense. So dragons symbolize materialism, greed. That is why many dragon tales have them guarding a huge treasure that they have no real use for, but will kill anyone who tries to take it from them. They can be found controlling many huge corporations today. Or they may be the very wealthy who have inherited the wealth and live off the money others produced, along with interest and additional investments. They are never satisfied with what they have and always want more. Then when they get it, they are afraid of losing it, so do everything possible to protect it. So they may not be physically real, but they are very real in allegory.

Zombie Allegory

Much like dragons, zombies in many ancient tales are allegorical. They may or may not be evil. Zombies kill people and especially seem to be fond of eating brains. At least, that is true in most zombie tales. This makes them an allegory for those who destroy people in various ways.

People who sell products that kill others, such as cigarettes, drugs, and guns, are represented in allegory by zombies. They consume others for their own benefit. Zombies are usually depicted as not fully aware mentally. These people are often not fully aware of the damage they do to others or themselves. Zombies make a perfect symbol for them.

People who try to hide the truth and prevent us from gaining wisdom and knowledge are represented in allegory by the zombies eating brains. On another level of allegory, the zombies gain only false and worthless knowledge by eating brains because spiritual truth—the only real truth—is never found in the physical.

Awakening Allegory

In my Halloween fairy tale above, I have the characters achieve a sudden and unexpected spiritual awakening. It rarely, if ever, happens like that. It usually takes years of spiritual practice.

When they awakened, they experienced such things as pleasant scents, sights, and sounds. This is often reported by those engaging in spiritual techniques, especially spiritual sun-gazing. A bluebird is a standard symbol for happiness. It is also a symbol of spiritual awakening. Blue is a spiritual color.

After awakening, our heroes find themselves with swords of fire and light with which they defeat the evil dragons and zombies. These swords are allegory also. They represent the spiritual light that awakens our spirits and souls. Spiritual beings defeat evil with knowledge and love, not violence.

Halloween Allegory

Halloween itself is an allegory, although it has lost much of its original meaning. It originated as All Hallows Eve. It was the day when spirits and could roam the earth freely. This allegory reminds us that spirits and souls are real and they survive physical death. And the idea that there is a special day when they are allowed to roam the earth tells us that spirits and souls do not roam the earth regularly. So using allegory, we are being told that ghosts and souls are not the same thing. Happy Halloween!

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