Sacred Kingship

“In my ancestry there is the majesty of kings, who excel in power among men, and the sacredness of the gods, who have the power of kings in their hands”.

-Julius Caesar

After the conclusion of the last glaciation (about 12.000 years ago) our ancestors gradually became sedentary and formed throughout Europe tribal societies based on the concept of blood and soil.

All these archaic societies were ruled by a Sacred King – a living symbol of the Sky, of the Sun and of the metaphysical principle defined with the term Being – and a Sacred Queen – a living symbol of the Earth, of the Moon and of the metaphysical principle defined with the term Becoming. Related examples can be found, at the level of folklore, in the traditional European fairy tales and celebrations where a sleeping virgin is awakened by the kiss of a prince, an act that symbolizes the awakening of Nature in Spring, when the rays of the Sun kisses and fecundate the Earth.

Sleeping Beauty:
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Sacred King and Sacred Queen, together, represented a complementary duality, and during their symbolic wedding occurred the sacred union between the Sky God/Sun God and the Earth Goddess/Moon Goddess, i.e. the metaphysical conjunction of the opposites.

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The Sacred King was especially associated with the Sun and consequently he embodied the power of the celestial body that illuminates the world and gives life: an example of such archetypal figure can be found in the Arthurian Cycle, where the strenght of the knight Gawain continues to increase from dawn to noon, to then gradually decrease until sunset: just like the strenght of the Sun during its various phases.

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That’s the reason why in the archaic societies was customary the prohibition to look the Sacred King in the face – in the same way as it isn’t possible to stare at the Sun without risking of becoming blind – and in his presence all had to kneel and stare at the ground.

The fact that the very existence of the Sacred King was identified with the annual path of the Sun in the Sky explains the reason why he was subject to a ritual killing at the end of his annual function, on the day of the Winter Solstice, when the Sun dies and is reborn at the same time: only then his successor, previously selected, was crowned, raised to royal dignity and celebrated.

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Examples of ritual death of the Sacred King can be found in the myths concerning Achilles and Krishna: they both die after having been hit at the heel by an arrow (poisoned, in the actual ritual), in their only vulnerable point, the tendon of the foot, part of the body that had the same symbolic function of the femur, because the tendons allow the muscular movement of the body, i.e. they allow life. The death of Achilles and Krishna is concretely and symbolically associated with a part of the human body that was synonymous of life (but they will come back to life when their femur will be recovered by a divine child that will enter in their grave).

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Over the course of time every archaic society altered, for various reasons, the conclusion of the Sacred King’s annual function, and the ancestral tradition manifested itself in new forms. In some cases the Sacred King staged an apparent death, by isolating himself in a symbolic grave, whereas a substitute obtained his divine role during that last day of reign, to then be ritually killed: at that point the real Sacred King returned to life from his symbolic grave; in other cases a totemic animal took the place of the Sacred King on the sacrificial altar; in other cases was torn down a wood effigy that represented the Sacred King; in these three scenarios the Sacred King in charge could confirm his role or hand it down at the end of a selective competition. In the long run the Sacred King refused to be killed or replaced, and thanks to his authority, his power and the support of his faithful, managed to extend his divine mandate indefinitely, until his death, natural or not, and this particular deviation from the original procedure influenced and moulded considerably the institution of kingship during Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

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In the most archaic societies both the Sacred King and the Sacred Queen were annually selected (a tradition whose vestiges could still be found at the times of the Roman Republic, when two Consuls were elected together each year): these divine roles were assigned to those who proved their superiority in various annual competitions held to determine the strenght, beauty, health, wisdom, skills and, generally speaking, the male and female qualities and peculiarities of the candidates. In this context we can remember the ancient Olympic Games, that consisted originally in religious ceremonies (over time degenerated into simple sport events without any higher meaning and purpose) having the purpose to annually select – through a footrace between young women – the one who would have symbolically incarnated Hera (the Earth Goddess, i.e. the Sacred Queen) and – through a footrace between young men – the one who would have symbolically incarnated Zeus (the Sky God, i.e. the Sacred King): every year the Sacred Queen and the Sacred King had to confirm their role or pass the baton to those who proved to be more worthy.

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Things changed with the subsequent distinction in matriarchal and patriarchal societies:

In the matriarchal societies the first daughter of the Queen was a Princess who inherited the title at birth, whereas her future husband (and future King, after spending some time as a Prince) was chosen/selected among men from other tribes or lands; in these societies the most ambitious sons of the King and Queen will go to other lands in order to marry a Princess or a Queen and thus become themselves Kings (a recurring pattern in myths [some examples: the chariot race between Pelops and Oenomaus to win the hand of Hippodamia and the archery race between Odysseus and the Proci to win the hand of Penelope] and fairy tales).

Odysseus during the archery race against the Proci:
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In the patriarchal socities the first son of the King was a Prince who inherited the title at birth, whereas his future wife (and future Queen, after spending some time as a Princess) was chosen/selected among young girls from other tribes or lands (a recurring pattern in myths [an example: the judgement of Paris to decide which goddess was the most beautiful between Aphrodite, Hera and Athena] and fairy tales).

The Judgement of Paris:
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In both types of societies the King and Queen will seek to marry their daughters and sons with Princes and Princesses or Kings and Queens of other tribes or lands, in order to unify two royal bloodlines but often also to stipulate alliances and obtain advantages of other sort.

“The King is dead, long live the King!”

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Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 3 of 3)

Troy, also called Ilion, is both an ancient historical city and a mythic city, precisely the theater of the Trojan War in the Iliad. However, the Troy of the renowned epic poem is a symbolic city and it represents the burial mound, i.e. the realm of death.

Since ancient times the name “Troy” has been associated with labyrinths, and the prehistoric European symbol of the labyrinth is a figure that symbolizes the grave of the honourable ancestor. For example, several turf mazes (structures shaped like a labyrinth) in England were named “Troy”, “Troy Town”, “The City of Troy” or “The Walls of Troy”. Caerdroia (“City of Troy”) is the Welsh name for Troy and in medieval times a Caerdroia was a turf maze. Several similar turf mazes in Scandinavia have names such as Trojaborg, Trojaburg, Trojborg, Tröborg and Trojienborg, which can all be translated as “City of Troy”.

It follows that the mythological Troy is closely connected to the prehistoric labyrinth/burial mound/realm of death.

Comparison between the representation of a Troy Town and a typical burial mound seen from above:
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Therefore the Iliad describes the entry in the burial mound/realm of death (i.e. Troy), and the Achaeans fail to breach the walls of the city until they hide themselves inside the Trojan Horse. The horse is a chthonic animal and the dead were often buried with their best horse: a horse would surely gained access inside the grave (i.e. Troy). So the Achaeans can pass through the gates of Troy only if “accompanied” by the Trojan Horse (equivalently to the Argonauts that could reach Colchis only by means of the ship Argo, that in terms of symbolic function is identical to the Trojan Horse), similarly to Odin that can enter in Hel only if “accompanied” by Sleipnir, his steed. The ritual revealed through these myths is the one of the child that enters the prehistoric cave to accomplish the initiation ritual, and walks inside it “accompanied” – among other animals – by the horses portrayed in the cave paintings.

Prehistoric cave paintings portraying horses:
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In the Iliad, the city of Troy represents the burial mound/cave in which took place the initiatory ritual of rebirth. Helen, Andromache and Hecuba are three aspects of the sorceress/priestess who welcomed the initiate in the deeper area of the burial mound, they are the three Moirai (“moira” means “phase”) who preside over destiny and should be seen – respectively as girl, wife and old woman – as a tripartite manifestation of a single figure, similarly to the waxing moon, full moon and waning moon: three aspects of the same entity. Together they symbolize the eternal cycles of death and rebirth that occur in all the powers of the Universe.

Helen of Troy:
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In the poem the weapons and the armor are an essential part of the identity of a hero, and the fact that in the poem is recurrent the act of obtaining honour by taking possession of the weapons and armor of the defeated enemy – especially when they belong to a strong, glorious and honourable warrior – should be compared to the initiated child that inherits the weapons (along with other objects) of his honourable ancestor, at the conclusion of the initiation/rebirth ritual inside the burial mound.

Under this point of view the Achaeans are the descendants, whereas the Trojans are the ancestors.

At a certain point of the poem, Achilles reveals the prophecy that hangs over him:

“My mother, Thetis with silver feet, speaks to me about two destinies that lead me to death: if I stay here to fight around the walls of Troy, I will never return but eternal will be my glory; if instead I return home, in the fatherland, for me there will be no glory, but I will have long life, it will not reach me soon the destiny of death”.

-Achilles to Odisseus in the Iliad

The meaning of this sort of prophecy is this: if Achilles (as previously understood, the heroes of the mythologies should be seen, in many cases, as children) will not go inside the burial mound/realm of the dead to face the initiation ritual, his current self will remain as it is, incomplete, formless and without a definite identity, until his natural death, and he will live without honour and glory, excluded from the cycle of rebirths inside the ancestry. If instead Achilles will face the initiation ritual, then his current self will die soon after (when he will enter in the burial mound, since only the dead can access it), to later be reborn as one of his ancestors (through the surfacing of the memory of the blood, i.e. the memory of his previous lives), in this way obtaining the honour and glory of the ancestry.

The Trojan War lasts nine years and ends during the tenth: nine months of pregnancy and finally the birth (i.e. rebirth/reincarnation at the end of the initiation ritual).

The triumph of Achilles after defeating Hector:
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***

Perseus is one of the most important mythic heroes of the Greeks, famous for having beheaded the Gorgon Medusa: to accomplish this feat he first sought out the three Graeae, old sisters who shared the possession of only one eye and one tooth, lived in a cave from which neither the Sun nor the Moon could be seen (i.e. the burial mound) and were described as “virgins similar to swans” (i.e. dressed in white).

The Graeae and the Moirai of the Greeks are equivalent figures, as well as the Parcae of the Romans and the Norns of the Nordics: they are the Sorceresses who welcomed, inside the burial mound, the candidate to the initiation, and all are groups of three women who preside over destiny, in the sense that they decide what will be, on the metaphysical plane, the destiny of an individual.

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They are associated with the color white and therefore with the swan: in addition to what we have already learned, in this context, about the Graeae, we know that the Moirai are described as “dressed in white”, while the Norns live near Urðarbrunnr (“well of Urðr”, i.e. “well of destiny”), where they establish the destiny of men; near this well live two swans from which has descended the race of birds who bear this name. The Sirens of the Greek mythology are another group of three women with the same characteristics: they are Parthenope (“the virgin”), Leucosia (“the white”) and Ligeia (“with a clear voice”). Again in the Norse mythology we find the valkyries (“the ones who choose the fallen”) Svanhvit (“white as a swan”), which offers a sword to Ragnarr and urges him to accomplish great deeds, and Alvitr (“omniscient”), her sister, which spin the linen after having laid their “shape of swan”; another relevant valkyrie in this context is Alruna (from Proto-Germanic *aliruna, composed by runa [“secret”] and the prefix -ali): omniscience and runes (i.e. secret metaphysical knowledge), spinning and the color white are always specific attributes of these figures that we find in the European mythologies. The color white was related with the dead, because they were buried with white clothes, their dead bodies became quickly very pale, and they were purified by death (white is also the color of purity and purification): to get access and remain inside the burial mound the Graeae/Moirai/Parcae/Norns had to be dressed in white, as well as the dead and to be symbolically dead. The swan was seen as a chtonic and psychopomp animal, because it is completely white and lives in the waters (purifying and regenerator element that symbolizes the amniotic fluid), at times indicated in the European mythologies as portals or passages to reach the realm of death, and it is also a migratory bird, the migration being a periodic and regular movement linked to the alternation of the seasons and associated with the cycles of death and rebirth.

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Now let’s go back to Perseus: he steals the eye of the Graeae and, in exchange for it, forces them to reveal the way to kill Medusa and thus the location of the objects needed for that purpose (i.e. the personal objects with which was buried the honourable ancestor): the winged sandals (because Perseus is – exactly like Hermes – the child/bee who enters the burial mound/beehive), the helm of invisibility (another object that allows access to the burial mound, since invisibility is synonymous with death), the harpe sword, the mirrored shield and the leather sack to safely contain Medusa’s head.

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We find a similar situation in the Norse mythology, when Odinn is forced to leave one of his eyes as a pledge in Mímisbrunnr (“well of memory”), in exchange for the possibility to drink the sacred liquid (mead, according to the Völuspá) in it contained. We can better understand these mythological episodes knowing that the candidates for the initiation could access to the realm of death (the burial mound) exclusively if they brought with them the body of a dead, because only the dead had the right to enter that sacred place; the children had to possess and show a mistletoe (an evergreen plant, thus symbol of immortality), the dead Sun (i.e. Apollo/Baldr) throughout the cold season.

The eye of Odinn and the eye of the Graeae stolen by Perseus hide precisely this symbolism, because the Sun is the eye of the Sky (Homer describes the Sun as “the all-seeing eye of Zeus”, in the Egyptian mythology the Sun is the eye of Ra, in the Hindu mythology Surya [“the supreme light”] is the eye of Varuna, in the Persian mythology the Sun is the eye of Ahura Mazda, in the Japanese mythology Amaterasu – the goddess of the Sun – is born from the eye of Izanagi, the Sun is the eye of the Indo-Iranian god Mitra). Both Odinn and Perseus use a mistletoe bough to obtain a metaphysical wisdom through the remembrance of their previous lives: one by means of the vision of the personal objects he possessed in a previous life, the other by means of the sacred liquid of memory.

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Finally, Perseus finds and beheads Medusa avoiding her gaze that turned people to stone, by looking at her reflection in the mirrored shield. Medusa’s head, with snakes instead of hairs and whose eyes had the power to petrify every living creature (an equivalent figure is the Basilisk, a medieval legendary snake with the ability to petrify what meets its gaze), symbolizes the placenta, which calcifies after a certain time, causing the death and calcification of the child, who literally becomes stone if he stays too long in the womb.

Medusa’s head and the placenta:
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The beheading of Medusa symbolizes the sudden and violent severing of the bond between the reborn divine child and the maternal phase of existence, i.e. the severing of the placenta. At that point the initiate must get out as soon as possible from the burial mound (i.e. the womb of the earth), without looking back, fatal action that would compromise the whole initiatory and metaphysical process!

“Perseus with the head of Medusa”, masterpiece of Benvenuto Cellini:
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Part 1: Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 1 of 3)
Part 2: Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 2 of 3)

Symbols of Fire

Hephaestus is the Greek god related to fire and to all the uses we can do of it, including arts and crafts in which the burning flame has an essential role. Hephaestus is described as an excellent blacksmith, who realized even the armour, the weapons and the shield of Achilles! It is evident that he is connected with the terrestrial fire, rather than with the heavenly fire (the Sun).

The episode when Hephaestus is thrown from the top of Olympus by Zeus (his father, since it is from the Sky that the lightning [an attribute of Zeus] comes, causing, through its contact with trees, the birth of fire) represents the potential inherent in the lightning to bring in itself fire.

The Greeks represented Hephaestus with a blue headgear to symbolize the Sky, the place from which the fire god comes (via the lightning) and where resides the most pure and primordial form of fire, the Sun.

Ptah and Hephaestus:
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Anyway, the terrestrial fire – arrived on Earth via the lightning or kindled by man – is less intense than that of the Sun and needs to be rekindled and sustained, or it will fade. That’s why one of the epithets of Hephaestus is “the lame” (after the fall we talked about earlier, he broke his leg), since he can’t walk by himself and needs a wooden support, just like the fire on Earth can’t continue to live without the wood that feeds it.

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***

Prometheus on the other hand is a more complex figure, but anyway related to fire. He stole some fire from Olympus to donate it to men, so that these weren’t anymore dependant on Zeus (via the lightning) in their need to benefit of fire, and could instead obtain it whenever they wanted.

However, I want to focus on the enchainment and torture of Prometheus: in this case he represents the Sun itself and the myth explains the process of self-combustion through which the Sun feeds of itself and destroying itself stays alive and continues to shine eternally, a sort of unceasing death and rebirth. That’s what happens and our ancestors maybe didn’t knew this process of self-combustion of the Sun, but they noticed that the terrestrial fire needed to be rekindled and sustained while the one in the Sky not, it was self-sufficient and perennial.

Note: a symbolism linked to the same process can be found in the figure of the Phoenix (known as Bennu among the Egyptians), the eternal bird able to be reborn from its own ashes.

Prometheus is tortured by an eagle, a heavenly symbol as well as a solar symbol, so we have more solutions in relation to how we interpret the torture: if we look at the eagle as a solar symbol we have the Sun that devours and sacrifices itself perennially, coming back to life every day and therefore continuing to shine; if we look at the eagle as a heavenly symbol then we have the Sky nourished by the liver of Prometheus, because the Sky to keep on shining must feed on the vigor (that was believed to reside in the liver – the part of the body devoured everyday by the eagle -, where vitamin D, the “vitamin of the sun”, resides and accumulates) of the Sun, on the force of its rays.

Prometheus’ torture:
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Only at night Prometheus is exempt from his punishment, as indeed the Sun from its eternal self-sacrifice: at sunset it sinks in the west, in the depths of the underground – the subterranean regions, the realm of death -, to then reappear again in the east the next morning, resurrected. The same journey was accomplished by the spirits of the dead, to then come back again among the living…

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Sumerian Mists (Part 3 of 3)

Firstly, an image that shows the Cosmos according to the Sumerian mythology:

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There is written, from top to bottom:

Primordial Sea (Nammu)
Sky (An)
Terrestrial Ocean (Abzu)
Earth (Ki)
Hell (Kur)
Primordial Sea (Nammu)

The Primordial Sea (Nammu) is the Universe: uncreated, eternal and infinite, enclosing the creatress matter of all that will come into being, primeval amniotic fluid that has given form to all that has been, that is and that will be. The Earth (Ki) is the plane/circle passing through the Ecliptic, and the Zodiac surrounding it. The Terrestrial Ocean (Abzu) is the “whirlpool” produced by the orbits of the planets of the Solar System. The Sky (An) is the Starry Sky above the Solar System. Hell (Kur: another proof that the Kur of which I speak in my previous article is indeed the burial mound/realm of the dead) is the Starry Sky below the Solar System.

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Finally, the known myth about Baldr’s death: the dreams premonitory of his death, the oath imposed to all living creatures to not harm him, the deities that jokingly try to harm him knowing his invulnerability, his eventual death at the hands of Höðr, the search in Hel to bring him back and the cry of all the living and dead creatures to allow his return in the world of the living.

Baldr’s death:
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The Sumerian mythology contains a poem, called “The Dream of Dumuzi”, strikingly similar in many ways to Baldr’s myth summarized above. In this poem the god Dumuzi has premonitions of his destiny, through dreams that shows his imminent death. He knows he will be killed by a band of brigands but hopes nevertheless to avoid the inevitable and asks all the creatures of nature to cry for him. On several occasions the god is captured by the brigands, but manages to escape. At the end he seeks refuge in a pen in the desert but the brigands capture him and destiny is fulfilled. After the death of Dumuzi follows the ritualistic lamentation and Geshtinanna – his sister – starts looking for him in the realm of death, finally succeeding in bringing him back to life.

The similarities with the myth of Baldr’s death are many: already the title of the poem reminds of the “Baldrs Draumar” (“Dreams of Baldr”), then we have the premonitions of death during sleep, the attempt to avoid death, the participation of all living creatures, the fulfillment of destiny despite the efforts to avoid it, and the final search in the realm of death to bring the god back to life. We can quite easily make a parallel between the deities trying repeatedly to harm Baldr, until his eventual death, and the brigands that capture more times Dumuzi without being able to kill him, until when they finally succeed in their purpose.

Other equivalent myths are those about the resurrections of Osiris and Lemminkäinen. In the Egyptian mythology, Seth kills Osiris and dismembers his body into fourteen parts, to then scatter them throughout Egypt. Isis then collects all the body parts and reassembles them, in this way bringing back to life Osiris. In the Kalevala, Lemminkäinen goes to Tuonela – the realm of death – to pass a test and win in this way his future wife, but is killed and his body torn to pieces and thrown into the infernal river. Then the mother of Lemminkäinen descends into the underworld and recovers all the parts of his son’s body, reassembles the corpse and brings it back to life.

Lemminkäinen is brought back to life by his mother:
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Baldr, Dumuzi, Osiris and Lemminkäinen all represent the dead Sun that returns to life after the Winter Solstice (to then increase its brightness up until the Summer Solstice) and the child that, after completing the initiation ritual, comes out from the burial mound, he too reborn at the dawn of Winter Solstice/Yule.

Höðr, Seth and the other entities that kill the Sun God are manifestations of Autumn and Winter, the seasons when – respectively – the Sun grows old and dies.

These comparisons prove even more the fact that the European Religion is born from our blood! The only way our enemies have to destroy it is to exterminate us till the last! The Jews, the Christians and all their lackeys will fail miserably, as always! Eternity is written in our destiny!

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Part 1: Sumerian Mists (Part 1 of 3)
Part 2: Sumerian Mists (Part 2 of 3)