Monday, September 1, 2014

Humanity's shared shamanic heritage

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

When considering the subject of shamanism and shamanic experience, many "Westerners" (that is to say, those who have grown up in the parts of the world that were actually ruled by the Roman Empire, specifically the western empire, as well as those parts of the world that the later European states descended from the western empire influenced heavily, and in particular those areas which were deeply committed to literalist forms of Christianity for many centuries in a row) may find the subject to be uncomfortable or even threatening.

This discomfort may be due to a variety of factors. 

Some of it may be due to the complete unfamiliarity of the entire landscape of the shamanic, and a feeling that the concept is so alien as to be almost completely inaccessible to those coming from any of the cultures encompassed by "Western culture" as broadly described above.

Some of it may be due to the heavy stigma which the literalist forms of religion that have dominated Western culture for at least seventeen centuries have placed on forms of human experience involving contact with spirits or the spirit-world -- a stigma which retains some of its force even among descendants of Western culture who no longer accept the literalist interpretation of ancient scriptures or one of the various forms of literalist Christianity which opposed such experience based on specific and overt doctrines or teachings.

And some of it may be due to the idea that there is a deep and nearly impassible divide between different cultures, and especially between "Western" cultures and those retaining some aspect of the shamanic worldview, to the point that it is seen (perhaps by descendants of cultures on both sides of the divide) as "inauthentic" or "invasive" or in some other way "wrong" for anyone from a primarily Western background to wish to explore and especially to practice aspects of shamanic experience.

These barriers to the investigation of shamanic teaching and experience are unfortunate -- especially if it turns out that the outlines of the shamanic world-view are in fact accurate in their description of our universe! That is to say, such rejection of the relevance of the shamanic to everyone in the world (including those from a primarily "Western" background) would be unfortunate indeed if it turns out that there is in fact a realm corresponding to that realm described in various shamanic cultures as the Other World, the Spirit World, the Invisible World, the Dreamtime, or the Realm of the Gods, and if that other realm actually connects to and "interpenetrates" the more familiar or ordinary or material realm in which we spend most of our waking hours, such that changes in one realm can have real and lasting impact on what takes place in the other.

As I explore in The Undying Stars, there is indeed evidence that this situation is in fact the case:  that is to say, that the universe we normally experience and think of as "reality" is in fact interpenetrated by an invisible world, or that the "explicate" world we inhabit somehow "unfolds from" an invisible "implicate" realm of pure potentiality. Modern theoretical physicists have been forced by the outcomes of various experiments conducted since the end of the nineteenth and especially during the twentieth century to radically reshape their models of the universe, and frameworks have been proposed including the "holographic universe" model which closely resemble the shamanic worldview in nearly every detail, other than the labels given to the two different realms of existence (or the two different modes of the "expression of information" or data).

The fact that shamanism anticipated this modern "discovery" by many thousands of years, and that, in addition to understanding it, shamanism has a rich tradition of techniques for actually moving between these different realms of existence in order to gain knowledge and make changes which cannot be effected in any other way, should alone be enough to recommend a careful reconsideration of the profound value and pertinence of shamanic thought and practice for all humanity.

But even more important, perhaps, to breaking down the unfortunate potential sources of "Western discomfort" with the shamanic that I listed above would be the understanding that in fact the shamanic worldview appears to have been deeply ingrained in ancient sacred tradition in all the places we think of today as "the West" and that this knowledge was deliberately stamped out only as recently as the fifth century AD within the Roman Empire -- and even later in other parts of Europe and the West.

In other words, what today we label as "the shamanic" is part of the heritage of all peoples -- but there has for centuries been a deliberate and very effective campaign to steal this heritage from humanity! 

The very fact that we label the worldview broadly described as shamanic with an adjective derived from the Tungusian word shaman reinforces the extent to which this worldview was hunted to near extinction within the regions conquered or heavily influenced by the western Roman Empire and its successor western European states, and only survived in areas outside of that influence (such as eastern Europe, very far northern Europe, most of Africa and Asia -- including the region of modern-day Siberia where the Tungus peoples live -- as well as the continents of North and South America and the islands of the Pacific Ocean including the island-continent of Australia).

In fact, as I labor to demonstrate in The Undying Stars (and many of the posts here on this blog), it can be shown that nearly all the world's sacred myths, teachings and scriptures share a common underlying celestial foundation which actually unites them rather than divides them, and that the purpose of the esoteric celestial allegory employed in all these cases was to convey a vision of the universe and of human experience that is essentially what we today would call shamanic. For more on that possibility, see for example this previous post containing an index of links to posts detailing the celestial aspects of over fifty different myths from different world cultures (including myths in the Old and New Testaments), and also some of the previous posts which have discussed the possible shamanic purpose of these "star myths" such as "Shamanic-Holographic," "The shamanic foundation of the world's ancient wisdom," and "The ancient torch that was lighted for our guidance," among others.  

Although this shamanic worldview took on different forms in cultures such as ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, or the cultures of the Druids, Celts, Norse, and others, it was nevertheless characterized in all of these different cultures by features that are essentially and specifically shamanic: the awareness of "the other realm" or "world of the gods" in addition to the world of ordinary reality, and the practice of techniques for actually traveling between the realm of ordinary reality and the realm of the gods in order to obtain knowledge or effect change not possible to obtain or effect through any other method.

Previous posts have described, for example, the important work of Dr. Jeremy Naydler in demonstrating that what we would call shamanic travel or shamanic journeying was an integral part of ancient Egyptian civilization, and that the pharaoh appears to have regularly and deliberately undertaken out-of-body travel to the realm of the gods or neters in order to provide benefits for the entire society by doing so: see for instance this post, this post and this post. During the 1960s, the authors of Hamlet's Mill also outlined a strong case for a shamanic connection in the myth and practice of ancient Egypt: see for example this post and this post.

Other posts have demonstrated evidence for similarly shamanic worldviews in operation in ancient Greece, including at the oracle at Delphi, and in the long-standing Mysteries of Eleusis, both of which appear to have reinforced the necessity of acknowledging the invisible world and of crossing to the other side even during this life in order to obtain knowledge or make change which could not be accomplished any other way. 

The shamanic aspects of the Norse myths are clear and compelling, and are especially evident in the central sacrifice of Odin, in which knowledge is shown being obtained through a ritual that is essentially shamanic -- knowledge that can be obtained by no other method. And, while Odin's ascent on the World-Tree is perhaps the most obviously shamanic episode in Norse mythology, there are many other Norse myths which can be convincingly shown to contain clear shamanic elements, including the myth of Odin and Gunnlod and the mead of poetry (as well as the many stories of Freya and her ability to transform into a falcon, and of the Valkyries who are also able to ascend to the heavens and who wear garments of feathers in some cases, a characteristic of the shaman's costume the world over).

It can be demonstrated that this shamanic worldview, and the practice of crossing over to the other realm in order to obtain knowledge or effect change, continued in what would become the "Western world" right up through the fifth century AD within the Roman Empire, during the period in which the hierarchy of literalist Christianity was actively suppressing esoteric -- we might even say shamanic -- interpretations of the texts that became the Biblical canon.

In fact, this previous post entitled "The centrality of ecstasy, according to ancient wisdom," cites the analysis of Gerald Massey (1828 - 1907) who concluded that the distinguishing hallmark of all ancient wisdom was "knowledge of trance conditions." This knowledge was found in all the ancient scriptures and cultures in "the West" prior to the advent of literalist Christianity, and this knowledge survived into the modern period in those cultures that were outside the areas that literalist Christianity stamped it out during the ancient period and up through the middle ages. 

Elsewhere in his work, Massey puts forward the important theory (which he backs up with compelling evidence), that the author of the earliest Pauline letters in the New Testament was clearly teaching a worldview we would today call shamanic, including an emphasis on individual experience and direct revelation, and even out-of-the-body travel. Massey believes that this original intent was subverted by later literalist teachers and by the creation of letters (such as the "Pastoral letters") not written by the original author, and which taught an opposite worldview.

This information turns conventional understanding on its head, and should go a long way towards overcoming the three main areas of discomfort or objection cited at the beginning of this post. 

It suggests that what we think of today as the shamanic is actually the heritage of all humanity -- but that this heritage was deliberately stolen from a large segment of mankind many centuries ago, and that the campaigns against other shamanic cultures that took place in more recent centuries may in fact be part of the same "stamping out" that took place in the West long before.

It also suggests that the hunger for the exploration of the shamanic among people descended from Western cultures may represent a longing for something that was once part of their own heritage, but from which they are now separated by long centuries of isolation from such experience.

It further suggests that shamanic practice can and does take on many different cultural forms, even as it retains some central features which characterize the shamanic worldview. The external trappings of that worldview looked very different in ancient Egypt, for example, than it did in Eleusis in ancient Greece, or in northern Europe among the Norse and Germanic peoples -- and these external differences are real and undeniable. However, the core understanding that there is a spirit world or realm of the gods (or realm of the "implicate order," in terms of modern holographic universe theory) and that deliberate travel to that realm is both possible and at times very necessary and potentially very beneficial, is common to all of the pre-Christian "Western" cultures just mentioned, just as it is common to the many different cultures where the shamanic worldview survived to the present or closer to the present day. 

There are real and undeniable differences between more recent shamanic cultures, for instance between those found in the Amazon and those found in Siberia, but there are core similarities as well -- especially the core belief in the possibility of such shamanic travel, its potential benefits, and its necessity in some circumstances.

We might also conclude that, given the number of centuries that have intervened between the time that this worldview was stamped out in "the West" and the present day, anyone coming from a primarily Western culture who wants to investigate traditions where this kind of knowledge has survived is of necessity forced to do so among the knowledge that survived in non-Western cultures. This does not mean that someone who does so is trying to "appropriate" or "steal" from the culture where that knowledge has been preserved, or trying to turn into someone that they are not: it is more a case of  someone from a culture where long generations have now elapsed since this ancient light was put out going to someone where that flame was preserved right up to recent memory.  

We might say it is also like someone from a boat or a ship that has been blown to pieces, and who is now floating in the ocean, paddling over to boats or vessels that may on the outside look very different from the one that they were originally from, but that were also designed with the same primary purpose in mind. Recreating the old boat is pretty much out of the question at this point: Eleusis went silent so many centuries ago that there are now none living who can say with any certainty what techniques were used in their mysteries.

When these refugees learn the techniques that have been preserved in other cultures and other places and then head out to try to navigate the waters of this life using what they have learned, their "boats" and methods of sailing may and probably will have a different look and feel. That fact should not lead to their being criticized or rejected as somehow being inauthentic or counterfeit. The evidence presented above shows that the broadly "shamanic worldview" is the heritage of all humanity, even though it is and probably indeed must be expressed differently by different cultures living in different parts of the world or different centuries and using different technologies. The fact that it will be expressed differently by practitioners in our modern day who have their own different cultural backgrounds and baggage should not be cause for division or criticism or rejection of the desire to follow this ancient path in the circumstances of today's world.

In fact, given some of the evidence touched on above, it could be argued that we do not have the luxury of declaring the pursuit of shamanic experience to be "off limits" to any group or family of humanity. It is clear from evidence stretching all the way back to the Pyramid Texts (and perhaps much further back even than that) that the knowledge of and the ability to enter into altered states of consciousness and in doing so to travel into non-ordinary reality (the other realm, the implicate order) in order to gain information or to effect change that cannot be accomplished any other way is absolutely essential to individual health and to the health of society at large.

If "Western society" and the world at large is dangerously off-track or imbalanced, then this fact itself would argue that the recovery and active practice of that shamanic worldview which was lost (and, it could be argued, deliberately stolen) must be given the highest priority. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The name of the Ankh, continued: Kundalini around the world

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The foregoing series of posts has been exploring the evidence which suggests that the concept of "raising the Djed" is absolutely central to the ancient wisdom which was apparently given to humanity from some pre-historic source and which manifests itself in the world's sacred scriptures and traditions, from the earliest "historical" civilizations of Egypt and Sumer and Vedic India, ancient China, and around the globe to the lands of the Norse, the Americas, Africa, Australia, the islands of the Pacific, and the vast lands of Asia.

We have seen evidence that the raising of the Djed-column has a celestial component, in the cycles of the heavenly bodies of the sun, moon, stars and planets -- especially in the annual sun-cycle and the "Cross" that is created by the equinoxes (where the Djed is "cast down") and the solstices (where the Djed is "raised up"). 

And we have seen evidence which suggests that the same raising of the Djed-column has an individual component, in which each and every one of us has the opportunity to recognize (or even remember) the spiritual, celestial, and in fact divine nature inside ourselves and to raise it up within this material incarnation that we find ourselves in during our earthly sojourn. In doing so, we are connecting with the vertical component of the Cross discussed above, and transforming and transcending the horizontal, material, and animal portion of our human experience, according to the ancient wisdom texts and traditions. 

We have seen that this process of "raising the Djed" was also symbolized by the ancient Egyptians using the Scarab and especially the Ankh, and that the name of the Ankh and the linguistic sound of the N-K has found its way into a myriad of words which are associated with the process of raising our consciousness and restoring our cast-down inner divine nature, including the word Yoga (a derivation of yonga) and the English words king and queen.  

Alvin Boyd Kuhn has demonstrated, in texts referred to in that previous post, that the N-K sound at times shows up as the K-N sound, and sometimes as the N-G sound or the G-N sound.

In light of that fact, it may be instructive to examine still further manifestations of this all-important "sound of the Ankh," and see that they are in almost every case illustrative of the concept of the "raising of the Djed" that the ancient wisdom tells us is so central to our human existence.

Pictured above, for example, is a shrine in a temple in southern India, showing the intertwined and ascending serpents associated with the kundalini, the dormant, primordial, and divine life-force-energy in each of us, described as a serpent coiled at the base of the spine (notice from the quotations in the Norse Eddas found in this related previous post that the World-Tree Yggdrasil is always described as having a serpent or serpents at its base) which should and can be elevated through deliberate practice.

Obviously, the word itself begins with the K-N sound, which Alvin Boyd Kuhn would argue to be a connection to the name of the Ankh and to the concept of the hidden divine force inside each incarnate man and woman.  There is no doubt that the concept of kundalini is closely related to the concepts we have been discussing with the Scarab, Ankh, and Djed in previous posts, and it is hard to deny that the name of kundalini is closely related as well.

Here is a link to an interesting web page tracing the concept of the serpent-force of the kundalini through various world cultures.   

What other manifestations of the "name of the Ankh" can we find around the world which may be similarly instructive to our understanding of this absolutely central ancient teaching? Let's have a look!

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The ancient civilizations of South and Central America share a legend of a benevolent civilizing figure who was described using many different names by the Maya, the Inca, the Aztecs, and other cultures of the Americas, but whose characteristics were largely similar across many different legends from many different peoples, as Graham Hancock documented extensively in Fingerprints of the Gods, and as Thor Heyerdahl documented in previous texts including American Indians in the Pacific.  

Among the names of this divine figure are Conn, Kon-Tiki, Kukulcan, and Quetzlcoatl. The first three clearly contain the "Ankh-sound" in its K-N form. While the fourth does not, its meaning of "Feathered Serpent" (the serpent which can fly, or ascend into the heavens) is clearly related to the concept we have been discussing, and to the upwards motion of the kundalini mentioned previously.

The pyramid of Chichen-Itza (also called the Pyramid of Kukulcan) is well-known for its annual serpent-shadow manifestation, which appears each year on the equinoxes. The equinoxes, of course, create the horizontal line in which the Djed-column is cast-down, and so it is appropriate that the serpent in this case is seen coming down to earth on those days. Note that linguistically, the word Chichen in Chichen-Itza contains the K-N sound in its second syllable (chen), the K-sound in this case being "palatized" to the "ch-sound" (palatization is a linguistic term for the softening of the K-sound into a "ch-sound," as happened in English with the word kirk, that became church in southern parts of the British Isles, when the k-sounds of kirk were palatized into the "ch-sounds" of church).

Along the same lines, the sound found in the sacred name of the Ankh is also found among the Native peoples of North America in the holy name of the Great Spirit, which among different nations has been spoken as Wakhan Tankh, Wakan Tanka, and Omahank-Numakshi. The names of numerous Native American peoples contain this same sacred sound, among them the name of the Kansa or Kanza tribe, the Mohicans, the Mohawk (whose name for their people is the Kaniankenhaka), and many others too numerous to list within the scope of this short essay but which may be found through study by those interested in the subject.

It has already been noted in the previous post about the "name of the Ankh" that the name of the Inca comes from the title given to the kings of that people: he was known as the Inka.

The previous point about the "Feathered Serpent" of Kukulcan or Quetzlcoatl being conceptually (as well as linguistically) related to the kundalini serpent should point us to another "winged serpent," and one who is also a "fire serpent" (Alvin Boyd Kuhn has much to say about the "fire serpent" and about the element of fire, to which he devotes an entire chapter in his masterful 1940 text Lost Light). The "Feathered Serpent" or "Fire Serpent" I am thinking of here is the Phoenix, which traditionally starts out life as a worm or serpent found inside the ashes of the previous Phoenix, and which then grows into the fiery bird that flies upwards and away -- an upwards-rising serpent which is clearly related to the upward-rising motion of the kundalini.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

It is certainly possible to argue that the N-K-S sound at the end of the word Phoenix is related to the N-K sound of the Ankh, despite being commonly spelled -nix. Note also that Chinese legend describes a very important "fire bird" named Feng-huang, also called the "vermillion bird" (more discussion of Phoenix-birds around the world can be found here). That name clearly contains the N-G sound twice.

Along these same lines, we can suspect that the -nx sound at the end of the word Sphinx is, like the -nix sound in the name of the Phoenix, associated with the N-K sound of the Ankh.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The Sphinx was also a mythological creature, like the Phoenix, and is found in many myths in addition to being embodied in the famous Giza Sphinx shown above. In some legends, the Sphinx is also depicted as having wings, and in the myth of Oedipus the Sphinx is depicted asking the "Riddle of the Sphinx," which relates to the lifetime of a man, and hence to the incarnation we are discussing in the general topic of the casting down of the Djed-column and the act of raising it up (in the episode of the Riddle of the Sphinx, she gives the answer in terms of the ages of a man, although it could also of course apply to a woman; in any case, it is interesting that like the Phoenix, the Sphinx in mythology is often female, although sometimes male as well -- we might conclude from this that the message was intended to apply equally to all incarnate men and women).

The monument of the Sphinx at Giza faces due east, looking towards the point of the rising sun on the day of the equinox. In Keeper of Genesis: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind, originally published in 1996, Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock articulate their now-famous thesis that the monuments of the Giza Plateau reflect and model the celestial landmarks, specifically the belt of the constellation Orion and the outline of the constellation Leo (see especially pages 58 through 82). 

If so, then they are clearly associated with the "raising up" of the Djed-column (the "Backbone of Osiris"). The Sphinx, who looks towards the rising sun across the north-south watercourse of the River Nile, may also be associated with that "raising up" motion -- and there is reason to believe that the Nile itself was esoterically associated with the kundalini-serpent and the human backbone as well (I articulate some of the mythological evidence for this association in pages 137-147 of The Undying Stars).  And certainly the presence of the N-K sound in the Nile-facing Sphinx upon the Giza Plateau would seem to argue for the validity of this connection.

The connection of the Nile River to the rising "serpent force" is further established by the name of the sacred Nile's counterpart in India -- the sacred River Ganges (Ganga).  

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The sacred nature of the Ganges to Hindu tradition needs no embellishment here -- it is well attested and continues to play a central role to this day. Clearly, the name Ganga can be argued to contain "the name of the Ankh," and the restorative role that the river plays according to sacred tradition would argue that this alleged linguistic connection is not spurious.

It is notable to examine the evidence that there are very profound parallels between the sacred traditions of India and those of ancient Egypt, including the reverence for the Ganges and the Nile but also between the deities Osiris and Vishnu, both of whom are described as being "cast down" (and dismembered) and then subsequently "raised up" (a connection which I explore in this previous post).

Interestingly enough, there is new evidence that the worship of Vishnu is extremely ancient -- including this very significant discovery of Vishnu sculptures in the region of what is modern-day Vietnam, which Graham Hancock posted as an article on his website

While that article is noteworthy on several important levels, one point that should not be missed that is very pertinent to the present discussion is the linguistic connection that the article itself makes between the name of the Ganga in India and the name of the mighty Mekong River in Vietnam. The article calls the Mekong Ma Ganga, which is also the name given to the Ganges in India in the river's role as "Mother Ganga." There is certainly room to argue a connection between the names of the two sacred rivers. Here is a link to a beautiful post describing some of the points the author visited along the Mekong, and the ancient traditions which have been preserved to this day by those who hold the Mekong sacred. 

In light of the connections already shown between Vishnu and Osiris, and in light of the newly-discovered ancient Vishnu statuary in Vietnam, it is certainly plausible to argue a possible connection between the N-K or N-G sound of the Ankh and the N-K and N-G sounds of the Ganga and the Mekong. The reverence given to these rivers through the centuries (and the millennia) suggests the clear connection to the human process of "raising the Djed" and "restoring the cast-down" in our individual journeys as well.

Finally, it is perhaps not inappropriate to point out the undeniable linguistic connection to the Sanskrit word for cannabis or hemp, which is of course the word Ganja. It is well-known that Ganja is viewed as a sacred plant among Rastafarians, and that it is seen as essential to the process of raising consciousness and seeing through illusions. 

It can be argued that here again there may be an ancient connection to the mighty Ankh, and to the central task of raising the Djed.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Note that the varied history of the human experience provides clear evidence that it is definitely possible to achieve states of ecstasy (transcendance of the "static" or physical vehicle of the body) without the use of external plant-derived substances, and that many shamanic cultures use a variety of techniques including drumming, chanting, rhythmic breathing, dancing, and other methods to induce ecstasy without the aid of plants. However, it would be ridiculous to deny that the use of plants, including ganja, peyote, ayahuasca, and mushrooms, has also played a central role in many shamanic cultures in shamanic rituals and techniques of inducing ecstasy.

In light of this, and the assertion in the previous post (which is traced out much more extensively in The Undying Stars) that all of the world's ancient sacred traditions are or were fundamentally shamanic but that there has been a concerted effort to rob humanity of this shamanic heritage, we must wonder whether the strict prohibitions against the use of these plants is not part of the same ancient campaign.

In any event, there is no doubt that the message of the Ankh and the raising of the Djed is absolutely central to our human experience -- and that tracing out the echoes of the N-K name of this ancient symbol can be greatly instructive.

There are certainly many more places where the name of the Ankh is hidden, waiting for you to discover!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The shamanic foundation of the world's ancient wisdom

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post on "The sacrifice of Odin" presented abundant evidence that the important Norse god Odin is a shamanic figure, frequently depicted as undertaking journeys in search of hidden knowledge, and knowledge which specifically can only be obtained through shamanic methods. 

The most central and most shamanic of all of these vision-quest journeys undertaken by Odin is undoubtedly his ascent to hang himself upon Yggdrasil, sacrificing in his own words "myself to myself," wounded with "the spear" which we can assume would likely mean deliberately and with his own spear Gungnir, and through a nine-night-long ordeal eventually obtaining a breakthrough into another reality in which he sees with non-ordinary vision the secret of the runes.

We saw that the power of the runes is far more than "just writing" (as if the power to write, which most of us take for granted, is not incredible enough in and of itself): the ability to see and know and use the runes implies the ability to create worlds through the power of words, sounds, language, speech, and mind. In a very real sense (as Shakespeare, George Orwell, and a host of other thoughtful writers have perceived) we are composed of our thoughts and thought-patterns and narratives, and those thoughts and thought-patterns and narratives are ultimately composed of words and of language, that is to say of symbols -- and we could say of runes.

Students of Old English will know that the very word "spell" which in modern English means a formula to alter reality was the Old English word spel that meant generally "word" or "message" (and hence the English word gospel is derived from the combination of the Old English words god pronounced "gode" and meaning "good" and spel meaning "word"). This fact reflects and illustrates the reality-altering power of words, language, and runes. 

Interestingly enough, in light of the tremendous reality-altering power of words (and runes) is the fact that in order to obtain the knowledge of the runes, Odin had to undertake a journey that is clearly shamanic in its elements, including the ascent up a pole or tree: examples abound of the use of a pole or  "tree" in the ritual shamanic journeys described in Mircea Eliade's compendium of shamanic observations from around the world entitled Shamanism: Archaic techniques of ecstasy (originally published in French in 1951). It is quite clear from the details of many of these shamanic poles that they represent the celestial pole, which is in fact the World-Tree, and thus they correspond directly to the "pole" upon which Odin had to ascend during his own ordeal to transcend ordinary reality and obtain the power of runic reality-creation and reality-manipulation.

Eliade offers numerous examples of shamanic rituals which involve, "as an essential rite, climbing a tree or some other more or less symbolic means of ascending to the sky" (123) including the "South American consecration, that of the machi, the Araucanian shamaness," who undergoes an initiation ceremony centered upon "the ritual climbing of a tree or rather of a tree trunk stripped of bark, called rewe. The rewe is also the particular symbol of the shamanic profession, and every machi keeps it in front of her hut indefinitely" (123). Eliade informs us that the rewe is always nine-feet tall in this particular culture, and that the multi-day ceremony involves drumming, drum circles, dancing, stripping naked, the sacrifice of lambs, falling into trance or the state of ecstasy, and the ritual cutting of the fingers and lips of both the shamaness candidate and the initiating shamaness, using a white quartz knife (123-124).  Eliade then goes on to describe a shamanic initiation rite among the Pomo of North America involving "the climbing of a tree-pole from twenty to thirty feet long and six inches in diameter," and similar (and sometimes even more dangerous) symbolic ascents among shamanic cultures from the regions of Hungary, Iran, Australian aborigines, the Sarawak of Malaysia, and the Carib shamans of Dutch Guiana (125-131).

If the reader is not thoroughly convinced that this most central vision quest undertaken by Odin indicates his shamanic nature -- and is thus additional powerful evidence that all the ancient sacred mythologies are in fact shamanic in their core message -- there is the additional evidence that he is known for riding through the heavens upon his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir (shown in the upper section of the carved runestone above). 

While other Norse gods and goddesses of course had horses too, Odin's was the horse most well-known, most unique, and most associated with his wild journeys through the heavens in the company of the wild band of the Valkyries (in this he resembles Dionysus, who was often accompanied by Maenads -- and whose rites in the hills and wilderness were described in terms indicating that they involved ecstasy). As the authors of Hamlet's Mill point out, the shaman's drum was described as the "horse" that serves to carry him or her into the state of ecstasy and to enable the shaman's soul to ascend to the sky (Hamlet's Mill, 122).

Odin's horse, Sleipnir, was notable for having eight legs -- four in the front and four in the back -- making him twice as fast as any other horse. Celestially, since Odin embodies the characteristics of the planet Mercury (who was also a transcendent god associated with breaking through barriers and with language, as explored in this important previous post), the fact that his swift steed Sleipnir had eight legs may be a mythological embodiment of the fact that Mercury is the swiftest of the planets (by virtue of its being so close to the sun). In fact, as you can easily confirm for yourself, the orbital period of Mercury is . . . 88 earth days! So, of course, Odin's steed would be expected to have eight legs -- what other number would have been appropriate?

But, if we see that Odin is clearly a shamanic figure, and that the shaman's horse is his or her drum, then the rhythmic drumming that would be produced by the hoofbeat of an eight-legged steed would be quite rapid, and quite apropos of the very rapid drumbeat used to produce a state of ecstasy in shamanic cultures around the world. So, the eight-legged nature of Odin's steed works to convey esoteric knowledge to us on many levels.

The previous post also demonstrated that the shamanic nature of Odin's sacrifice upon the Tree has direct parallels to the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross. In The Undying Stars, I explore the ways in which the realization that all the myths of the world (including those found in the Old and New Testaments) unites the world's ancient wisdom, and leads to the possible conclusion that they were all at their very core conveying a message that is essentially and profoundly shamanic (that is, in fact, what I call shamanic-holographic).

This assertion is bolstered by the evidence that the celestial Tree which Odin must ascend (and which the shamans ascend in the ceremonies cited by Eliade) corresponds to the Djed-column of Osiris which must be "raised up" and to the Ankh or Cross of Life of ancient Egypt which has a horizontal component representing the "cast down" nature of our material existence (in which we must go about in an "animal" body), but which also has a vertical component representing our spiritual nature which comes down from above and which is immortal (a fact emphasized on the Ankh itself by the unending loop at the top of the cross), and which represents both the motion of our rise and return to the spiritual realms after each incarnation and also the motion of the raising of the inner spiritual component or fire which we can perform during this life as an essential part of our mission in this earthly existence. 

We have also seen evidence that this "divine spark" in each individual man or woman is associated with the fire brought down from heaven by Prometheus in the ancient Greek mythos, and with the Thunderbolt or Vajra found in the ancient Vedic texts, and that the mission of recognizing this inner divine element and of raising it up is central to our overcoming our cast-down state. 

And -- although "orthodox" (a word that means "straight-teaching" or by implication "right-teaching") and literalist Christianity would strongly object to such an assertion -- this mission of recognizing and the of raising up the divine inner spark can clearly be seen to be a possible interpretation of the message  taught by Paul in some of his early letters urging his listeners to recognize the Christ within (Galatians 1:16,   Colossians 1:27, 2 Corinthians 13:5) and to realize that they themselves undergo the process of being crucified and raised by virtue of this mystical identification with the Christ within (Galatians 2:20). 

This connection advances the strong possibility that the patterns found in the ancient scriptures preserved in the Bible were actually the very same patterns found in the myth-system of ancient Egypt and the Djed-column and Ankh-Cross imagery associated with the Osiris, and the very same patterns found in the myth-system of the Norsemen and the World-Tree sacrifice associated with the shamanic questing of Odin. 

It also supports the conclusion that -- like those other world-myths -- the symbology and esoteric message of the Bible scriptures is in fact deeply shamanic, and pointing towards the same individual ascent and breaking free of the bonds of the material body and the material world undertaken by shamans in the rituals recorded by Eliade and other researchers in the early twentieth century and in the centuries immediately preceding.

Powerful evidence, perhaps even conclusive evidence, to support this conclusion -- the conclusion that the imagery employed by Paul and the other early pre-literalist teachers was actually composed of exquisite metaphors designed to teach a message closely aligned with the message embodied in the Osirian imagery of "the Djed-column cast down" and "the Djed-column raised up," the same message found in the sacrifice of Odin and the Thunderbolt of Indra (the Vajra) and in the ascent to the heavens by the shaman along the celestial tree -- can be seen in the fact that the traditional symbology surrounding the Crucifixion of Christ quite clearly reflects the imagery surrounding the Osirian imagery of the Djed cast down and the Djed raised up.

Below is an image from the temple of Seti I at Abydos which comes from a series of images depicting scenes from the myth-cycle of Osiris, Isis, Set and Horus. Specifically, the image shown below depicts Isis retrieving the casket containing the slain body of Osiris from the King of Byblos. 

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Significantly (as I discuss in some detail in my first book), the casket containing the body of Osiris had lodged in a tamarisk bush and then been concealed when the tamarisk grew into a tree around it, which the King of Byblos then cut down to use as a pillar in his palace, thus connecting the body of Osiris to the World-Tree which is cut down in many myths around the world (including to Yggdrasil, which ultimately cracks apart and falls at Ragnarokk) and thus to the unhinging of the world-axis and to the precession of the equinoxes. 

This aspect of the story links the Djed-column (also called the "Backbone of Osiris") even more strongly to Yggdrasil and the sacrifice of Odin as alleged in the previous post -- and we can see that, sure enough, in the image above the column that the King of Byblos is handing over to Isis has the horizontal "vertebrae" lines that indicate it is a Djed-column and the Backbone of Osiris.  

Although you may see or hear some people describe the image above from the temple of Seti I at Abydos as depicting the "raising of the Djed-column," it actually is not showing the raising of the Djed. In fact, it is showing the "bringing down" of the Djed and the corpse of Osiris, preparatory to his being laid in the tomb (in later scenes). Only later will Osiris be "raised up."

This fact is very important, because it is my assertion that the above scene is analogous to the taking down of the body of Christ from the Cross (sometimes called "the Descent from the Cross")! 

If all the foregoing discussion and analysis is correct, and the myths from around the world (including those found in the Bible) are actually closely connected, and that they teach a shamanic message, and that they often use the absolutely central symbol of the Djed-column/Cruciform Cross/Ankh Cross/World Tree/Shamanic Pole to embody that message (a message of the "divine spark within" or the "Christ in you," as Paul phrases it), then the symbology of the "casting down" of the Christ into the tomb prior to his subsequent "raising up" is another manifestation of the same pattern, and the taking down of Christ from the Cross would parallel the taking down and giving to Isis of the Djed-column containing the corpse of the now-dead Osiris.

The imagery surrounding the Descent from the Cross supports this connection in absolutely breathtaking fashion. See, for example, this collection of images taken from art through the centuries of this event.

Even more striking, however, is the Christian art in the category known as the PietPietà and depicting the Virgin Mary holding the body of Christ after the Crucifixion.

Below is perhaps the most famous such Piet√†, that by Michelangelo situated in the Vatican:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

If we remember from previous posts that the "Djed cast down" corresponds to the horizontal line between the equinoxes, then the imagery of Isis and of Mary receiving the "cast down" or "nearly-horizontal" body of Osiris (ancient Egypt) and of Christ (New Testament) makes perfect sense: the sign of Virgo is positioned at the point of the fall equinox -- when the sun is declining down towards the grave, but just before the exact horizontal point of the equinox!

The "Virgo imagery" in both the above images (of Isis from the temple of Seti I, who died in 1279 BC and of the Virgin Mary from the work of Michelangelo who died in AD 1564) should be quite clear by now to anyone who has read The Undying Stars or looked at some of the images provided in previous posts about the constellation Virgo in the world's mythology (see for instance here, here, here, and here). 

Specifically, look at the "outstretched arm" -- which is one of the most characteristic aspects of the Virgo constellation and which is embodied in ancient myth (and ancient art depicting Virgo-connected figures) over and over and over again. It is most evident in the image of Isis receiving the tilted (descending towards the horizontal) Djed-column from the King of Byblos, but the exact same outstretched hand is also present in Michelangelo's masterpiece:

Now that it is pointed out, you can see that the outstretched arm in the Isis image is over-elongated -- as if to ensure that you do not fail to notice it.

For those who may not be as familiar with the constellation Virgo (again, they can go check out the Virgo discussions above, or any of the others linked on this extensive index of constellations) and the way this constellation overlays on ancient sacred art, take a look at the image below from ancient Greece, circa 440 BC, depicting the Pythia: a priestess whose very role was to go into a trance or state of ecstasy in order to obtain knowledge from the other realm which could not be obtained in "ordinary reality." The outline of Virgo (with distinctive outstretched arm) is superimposed:

What does all this mean?

I would submit that it proves the connection of the world's ancient myths -- from ancient Egypt, to ancient Sumer and Babylon (who also had a central story of a "World-Tree" in the mighty cedar whose top reached to the heavens), to ancient India, to ancient Greece, to the myths found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, to the myths of the Norse, and the list goes on and on (to Africa, North and South America, the islands of the Pacific, Australia, east Asia . . . ). 

It also proves the connection and close kinship of all these myths, their central symbology, and most importantly their esoteric message with each other and with the world's surviving shamanic cultures and traditions.

This connection suggests an even more radical and even more transformative ramification for what we have discovered above, because the esoteric and shamanic nature of the world's ancient wisdom-texts and traditions indicates that these teachings are meant to be put into practice by each man and woman who is incarnated in a body: by each man and woman who, these ancient scriptures teach, embodies a divine spark, a divine Thunderbolt, a divine "Christ within." 

This evidence above suggests that it is part of our purpose here in this incarnation (perhaps even our central purpose) to recognize and to raise that inner spark of divinity, that "vertical portion of the Ankh," that Djed-column which we each share with Osiris, along that central axis that inside the human microcosm reflects the celestial axis of the World-Tree found in the macrocosm.

Perhaps this can be done through the practice of Yoga (whose name itself we have seen to be connected to the Ankh and hence to the Djed). 

Perhaps this can be done through the practice of Kung Fu (whose name may also be related to the "name of the Ankh," and which is most definitely related to the precession of the equinoxes and the other celestial cycles which allegorize our divine spark cycling back upwards after first plunging downwards). 

Perhaps this can be done through art and the creative force (as eloquently argued by Jon Rappoport, who connects that activity to the smashing of artificial realities embodied by trickster gods including Hermes, and by John Anthony West, who demonstrates that the ancient Egyptians appear to have had strong ideas about the transformative and consciousness-raising power of the artistic process of creating itself).

Perhaps this can be done through meditation, which science has shown can send the brain into a altered state -- perhaps even akin to a shamanic state -- when performed by those who have spent long hours practicing the discipline.

Perhaps this can be done through rhythmic chanting, which appears to have been a central component in the ancient wisdom and which amazingly seems to share a fairly similar form or pattern across many cultures and languages around the world.

Perhaps this can be done through the use of special plants and organisms such as mushrooms, which can be ingested or brewed into teas (please note the strong words of warning regarding the dangers of mistakenly consuming the wrong mushrooms posted on the website of mushroom expert Paul Stamets and repeated on this blog post here).

And certainly this can be done through the practice of what we commonly label as shamanic techniques (deliberately inducing states of ecstasy or the experience of non-ordinary reality, through a variety of methods available to humanity, including shamanic drumming): as we have seen, there is strong evidence to believe that all of the world's ancient wisdom was at one time shamanic, a fact which suggests that part of the world has been deliberately robbed of its shamanic heritage. In other words, the ancient myths were not intended to teach that Osiris "raised the Djed-column" so that we don't have to. The ancient myths were not intended to teach that Christ "raised the Djed-column" so that we don't have to. The ancient myths were not intended to teach that Odin "raised the Djed-column" so that we don't have to.

They contained those stories, and showed that pattern so many times, because it is what we are here to do.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The sacrifice of Odin

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

For the third edition of the "Ankh trilogy" of posts (which began with "Scarab, Ankh, and Djed" and continued with "The name of the Ankh"), let us continue our investigation of this most central theme by looking at the connections to another manifestation of the Cross of Life (which the Ankh and the Djed represent, as does the Scarab with its upraised arms): Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life found in Norse and Germanic mythology.

The World-Tree Yggdrasil is described in the Elder Edda and the Younger Edda as a mighty ash-tree whose roots penetrate to the deepest underworlds and whose branches reach to the highest heavenly realms. At its base is the holy fountain of Urd, associated with the Norns who tend to the Tree and who, the Younger Edda tells us in Chapter VII, "shape the lives of men." 

The waters at the foot of the tree are also associated with Mimir's Well. In the Younger Edda, as part of the question-and-answer session between Odin in the guise of Ganglere (might we not read the same "root sound" of "the name of the Ankh" here as well?) and three divinities who are simply named Har ("High"), Jafnhar ("Equally High") and Thride ("Third"), we read:
Then said Ganglere: Where is the chief or most holy place of the gods? Har answered: That is by the ash Ygdrasil. There the gods meet in council every day. Said Ganglere: What is said about this place? Answered Jafnhar: This ash is the best and greatest of all trees; its branches spread over all the world, and reach up above heaven. Three roots sustain the tree and stand wide apart; one root is with the asas and another with the frost-giants, where Ginungagap formerly was; the third reaches into Niflheim; under it is Hvergelmer, where Nidhug gnaws the root from below. But under the second root, which extends to the frost-giants, is the well of Mimer, wherein knowledge and wisdom are concealed. The owner of the well hight Mimer. He is full of wisdom, for he drinks from the well with the Gjallar-horn. Alfather once came there and asked for a drink from the well, but he did not get it before he left one of his eyes as a pledge. Younger Edda, Chapter VII.
This famous incident, of course, is responsible for Odin's having only one remaining eye. But there is another episode in Norse myth in which Odin had to undergo tremendous sacrifice in order to gain wisdom, an episode also closely associated with the holy ash Yggdrasil, and an episode which clearly connects the World-Tree with the concepts and symbology that has been discussed in the previous two posts surrounding the Ankh or Cross of Life, and the Djed-column or Backbone of Osiris: the famous sacrifice of Odin in which he hangs himself upon the tree, described in a somewhat fleeting passage found in the Elder Edda, in the portion known as the Havamal or Hovamol, beginning in stanza 139 (in the online edition of the Elder Edda linked above, it begins on page 59 -- that online text is a little difficult to navigate: the best way is probably to look for the "page numbers" contained within brackets, scrolling down until you reach [59]):
I ween that I hung on the windy tree,
Hung there for nights full nine;
With the spear I was wounded, and offered I was
To Othin, myself to myself,
On the tree that none may ever know
What root beneath it runs.
None made me happy with loaf or horn,
And there below I looked;
I took up the runes, shrieking I took them,
And forthwith back I fell.
This passage describes Odin "raised up" upon the Tree, hanging upon it in a sacrifice or crucifixion, Odin sacrificed to Odin, and through this ordeal after nine full nights he obtains a new vision which he did not have previously -- the vision to see the runes, and to take them up. It is in many ways analogous to the ordeal he had to go through in order to obtain the wisdom of Mimir from the well, and also to the adventure he had to undertake in order to obtain the mead of poetry from Gunnlod, and yet this incident is at once more primordial and defining of the Alfather Odin than any of the others.

It is through this sacrifice that Odin obtains the gift of the runes, the gift of encoding information in symbolic form, the gift of the manipulation of language. We can begin to realize the depth of power that this gift truly contains when we recognize the ordeal Odin had to undergo in order to obtain it.

Previous posts have examined the concept that it is in many ways through language that reality is created and that worlds are shaped. In Genesis, of course, it is through the word of God that all Creation is spoken into existence. Modern science tells us that it is through the combination of the four "letters" (dare we call them "runes"?) in the strands of DNA that all our body's characteristics are spun-out in the cells of our being (perhaps these are the strands that the Norns are spinning?).

And Odin wins the ability to see the runes by his hanging upon the Tree. 

Many other researchers have observed that the double-helix shape of the DNA strand recalls quite strikingly the two serpents of the caduceus staff (carried, of course, in Greek and Roman myth by Hermes or Mercury, who is in many ways associated with Odin, interestingly enough). But we have seen in the previous two examinations of the Ankh and Scarab and Djed that the caduceus staff is clearly a "Djed-column" type of symbol, representative of the Backbone of Osiris "raised up," and of the vertical column of the year which reaches from the very lowest pit at the winter solstice to the very summit of the year (highest heaven) at the summer solstice. 

Clearly, Odin's hanging upon the Tree relates to this same concept.

This profound episode also relates to the concept of "the shamanic," in that Odin by his ascent to hang on the World-Tree penetrates beyond the realm of the ordinary to bring back knowledge that can be obtained by no other means. This is one of the defining characteristics of the shamanic techniques of ecstasy described in the work of Mircea Eliade (see for instance here and here), and in fact it can be easily demonstrated that shamans around the world often use a vertical pole or "climbing the tree" as part of their shamanic travel. There is clearly a powerful stream of connectivity which flows between the ancient wisdom preserved and conveyed in the myths of Osiris and the Djed, the myths of Odin and the World-Tree, and the shamanic practices of the world.

Finally, we must notice the clear connections between the sacrifice of Odin described above and the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross described in the New Testament. Most obviously, both involve a crucifixion upon a Tree (and the Cross is literally referred to as "the tree" in Biblical verses such as Acts 13:29 and 1 Peter 2:24). 

Additionally, in Odin's description of his own sacrifice, he declares that "with the spear I was wounded," which is obviously an element that is present in the sacrifice described in the New Testament as well. Critics might argue, because our records of the Norse myths were written down after Christianity was already known and was spreading throughout Europe, that this element was "imported" into Norse mythology from Christianity, but there is absolutely no evidence that this is the case, and there is no need to assume such an importation. Odin is very closely associated with his powerful weapon the Gungnir, the mighty spear which never misses its target and which Odin used to indicate which force would be victorious when two contending sides met on the field of battle. That he would be wounded by his own spear when he sacrificed himself to himself is clearly not inconsistent with the tenor of what is taking place.

There is also the shout or shriek which Odin utters at the end of his ordeal, when he has finally won the victory and obtained what he sought. 

By this episode, and by other arguments I present in The Undying Stars, I would argue that the verses preserved in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are actually shamanic in nature, and were originally intended to be regarded as such. By the aggressive literalizing that has taken place in history, this shamanic vision (and their connection to the myths of Osiris and Odin) has been covered-over and obscured.

And yet, like the hidden runes which Odin found, which have the ability to carry world-changing information to faraway places and even to distant times (to those not yet born, even), the words and letters preserved in the Bible itself continue to patiently carry their message down through the centuries. Their kinship with the myths of the world, from Egypt to Greece to the lands of the Norse, and to the shamanic practices found across so many cultures, from North and South America to Siberia and Mongolia and Australia and Africa, is undeniable.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The name of the Ankh

image: Ankhs carried by (left to right) Set, Isis, and Horus. Wikimedia commons (links here, here, and here).

The previous post explored some of the profound significance of the Ankh and its relation to the symbols of the Djed and the Scarab -- and to the message that we as individual men and women have an unending, spiritual component in addition to the horizontal, animal, and material aspect of our being to which we are currently joined.

That post also touched very briefly upon the amazing linguistic analysis Alvin Boyd Kuhn has provided regarding the word Ankh itself, and his assertion that the "N-K" sound seen in  the word Ankh finds its way into an astonishing array of words still in use today, including Yoga -- a practice whose central purpose clearly involves the "raising of the Djed-column," so to speak.

Alvin Boyd Kuhn lays out this analysis of the name of the Ankh primarily in his short treatise entitled The Esoteric Structure of the Alphabet and its Hidden Mystical Language, a delightful and insightful text which can be read in its entirety online here (among other places), and which can of course also still be obtained in print versions from a variety of sources (click here to go to the Project Gutenberg page for that text, which provides some other digital formats, including pdf).

Kuhn really warms to his theme beginning on page 12 of 88 in that online version linked above (and on page 8 of the facsimile print edition that I use at home, which can be purchased online here or perhaps ordered from your favorite local bookstore), saying:
Nothing has been more revealing than the list of words, in English, Greek, German, Hebrew, which can be traced to the old Egyptian name of this mighty symbol ["this mighty symbol" meaning the Ankh, that is]. Its central idea, it was noted, is the production of life through the tieing or union of spirit and matter. The central clue to the meaning of all these derivatives is the idea of tieing two things together. [He then goes on to explain that the root-sound found in the word Ankh, the "N-K" sound, sometimes found its way into words in the order "K-N," and sometimes the "N-K" is replaced by "N-G" (note that a "G" is linguistically nearly identical to a "K" except that the "G" is voiced where the "K" is not), and hence it is also indicated by "G-N" as well as by "N-G"]. With these specifications it is possible now to discern a whole new world of meaning in many common words never deemed to have come down from so divine a lineage.
It is seen first in such words as anchor, that which ties a boat to a fixed place; knit, knot, link, gnarled, gnaw, gnash (accounting for the odd spelling); ankelosis, a growing together of two bones; anger, anguish, anxiety, a tightening up of feelings. But most interestingly it seems to have given name to at least four joints or hinge-points (hinge itself seems to be another) in the human body: ankle, knee, neck and knuckles. Lung, as being the place where outside air unites with the inner blood, could perhaps be added. Far away as our English join appears to be from a source in A N K H, (N being the only letter common to both), it is certainly directly from it after all. For A N K H was the root of the Latin jungo, to join, N K becoming N G through the Greek. From this we get junction, adjunct, juncture, conjunction, from the Latin past participle of jungo, -- junctus. But in coming into English through the French, all these words were smoothed down to join, joint, and thus carried so far into English as to give us union, which is really junction in its primal form. With even the N dropping out we have yoke, that which ties two oxen together. And in Sanskrit it comes out as yoga, which in reality stands for yonga, meaning union
He then goes on to argue that the very common prefix con- (which means "with" or "together" and which by itself means both of those things in Spanish) comes from the K-N sound and is thus linked to the Ankh. By the same argument, he argues that the extremely versatile English ending -ing derives from the same ancient symbol (this time in the form of N-G). From there, he even argues that the word thing can trace its lineage to the same source.

But is that all? Far from it -- in fact, he's just getting warmed up!
Next comes one that carries an impressive significance in the study, the common verb to know, in Greek gnosco, German kennen, English ken. What constitutes the knowing act? The joining together of two things, consciousness and an object of consciousness, for there must be something apart from consciousness to be known.
Further arguments bring him to can, king, angel (the name for the messengers between the heavenly realms and the earthly), angle, nook, and of course Gnosis. We could perhaps argue that along with king could be the corresponding word queen, which also contains the K-N sound. As Kuhn explores briefly when discussing the connection between Ankh and king (and we could add, queen), each individual is in some ways a king or queen, "the one who both thinks and knows" as he says: the ruler and sovereign (a word which itself contains the N-G sound, as does reign) of his or her own universe, since each individual is a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm.

Here Kuhn (whose very surname can itself be seen to contain the K-N combination) leaves off the pursuit in this particular text, but he takes it right up again with even more profound effect in Lost Light (published in 1940 and available online here). There, on page 186 of the version linked in the foregoing sentence, Kuhn provides arguments that the Egyptian tradition of the anointing of Osiris (closely connected to the raising of the Djed-column), and of anointing of the mummy with unguents prior to burial, connects to the A N K H origin as well:
An item of great importance in this ritual was its performance always previous to the burial. It was a rite preparatory to the interment. Said Jesus himself of Mary: "In that she poured this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for my burial" (Matt. 26:12). She was symbolically enacting the Mystery rite of the chrism, and her performance quite definitely matched the previous practices of the Egyptians, from whom it was doubtless derived. But what does such an act denote in the larger interpretation here formulated? If the burial was the descent of the gods into bodily forms, then the anointing must have been enacted immediately antecedent to it or in direct conjunction of it. The etymology of the word sheds much light upon this whole confused matter. The "oint" portion of it is of course the French softening of the Latin "unct" stem; and this, whether philologists have yet discovered the connection or not, is derived from that mighty symbol of mingled divinity and humanity of ancient Egypt -- the A N K H cross. The word Ankh, meaning love, life and tie, or life as the result of tying together by attraction or love the two nodes of life's polarity, spirit and matter, suggests always and fundamentally the incarnation. For this is the "ankh-ing" of the two poles of being everywhere basic to life. The "unction" of the sacrament is really just the "junction" of the two life energies, with the "j" left off the word. Therefore the "anointing" is the pouring of the "oil of gladness," the spiritual nature, upon the mortal nature of living man. The "unguents" of the mummification were the types of the shining higher infusion, and they prepared the soul for, or were integrally a part of, its burial in the grave of mortality. And the Messiah was then crucified in the flesh.
In other words, Kuhn is here arguing that the scriptures are really teaching that the incarnation of every man and every woman is a form of "crucifixion in the flesh" (that is, the pinning down into a body of a spirit), the joining or ankh-ing or yoking of spirit and matter (or spirit upon a cross of matter). This teaching is depicted in the very form of the Ankh, and in words derived from the N-K sound. The act of anointing for burial was a depiction of the teaching that each human life consists of a divine element (represented by the anointing, the unguent, the "oil of gladness" which Kuhn comes right out and defines as "the spiritual nature") poured down upon (and in fact buried within) the body (the mortal, material, and animal part of our earthly existence). 

This explanation is central to his argument that the interpretation of the story of the Christ is that it is always meant to teach of and point to the "Christ in you" (that is to say, in each and every individual) and not to a literal figure (an argument he makes throughout Lost Light, as well as its companion volume Who is this King of Glory?). If this argument is correct, then we can see that the "raising of the Djed column," could be seen (according to such a teaching) as central to our human existence in this incarnation: the process of remembering our status as king (or queen); of knowing and achieving Gnosis; or even of anointing our physical, horizontal, and animal nature with the "vertical component" of the Ankh-cross -- that is to say, our spiritual or even divine aspect -- and in doing so to raise it up.

Whether or not one accepts that this teaching is in fact an accurate depiction of our human condition, the linguistic connections that Kuhn finds between words such as Yoga, unction, angel and Gnosis to the Ankh itself -- and the conceptual connections between these words and the others to the message conveyed by the symbology of the Ankh -- are quite compelling.

To add even more strength to his arguments, we can in fact suggest even more words which appear to have strong linguistic connection to the word Ankh, and which are in fact words which connect to the idea of the joining of the material and the physical natures, or to the "raising" of the spiritual consciousness within our human nature that we have seen is central to the "message of the Ankh."

You may have thought of some of these yourself already, as you have been reading along. How about the word Annunaki, the beings from the celestial realm who apparently joined themselves to the daughters of men?  At this time, I personally believe that this episode was intended to teach the same esoteric concept that has been outlined above (the teaching that we are a mixture of divine spirit and material flesh), and not intended to be understood literally (see previous posts here and here on that subject), although some believe that it refers to a literal event. Either way, the name of these beings, Annunaki, can most certainly be argued to be connected to the word Ankh.

Another one which is almost certainly linguistically related is the name of the amazing complex of Angkor Wat, which Graham Hancock has demonstrated to be precisely 72 degrees of longitude east of the Giza pyramids in Egypt, and hence deliberately connected to Egypt (72, of course, being one of the most important precessional numbers). Would it not be too far a stretch to suggest that, given this clear longitudinal connection between the sites, and given the fact that the word Angkor begins with an "Ankh," that Angkor Wat was intended to be (like the sacred sites of Egypt) a "place where men and women became gods"?

While we are on the subject of precessional numbers, I have pointed out before (in my first book and in previous blog posts such as this one, this one, and this one) that the martial arts of China are replete with precessional numbers. Given the fact just discussed, that Giza in Egypt (source of our knowledge of the Ankh) and Angkor Wat are separated by a significant precessional number, is it not possible that the name by which the Chinese martial arts are widely known, that is to say Kung Fu or Gung Fu, contains the K-N (and the N-G) sound which Alvin Boyd Kuhn believed to be connected to the Ankh? 

Critics may argue that there cannot possibly be any linguistic connection between China and ancient Egypt, and that the name Kung Fu is a Cantonese name (Guangdongwa) and that in Mandarin or Poutongwa the art is typically called WuShu. However, if we accept the possibility that the word Yoga itself is connected to the concept of the Ankh (and the practice of Yoga can certainly be argued to be related to the concept of "raising the spiritual" in conjunction with the physical), then it certainly seems to be a strong possibility that the practice of Kung Fu is also related to the same concept. And, in fact, there are very strong traditions in China itself that Kung Fu anciently came from India and is indeed related in some ways to the practice of Yoga. It should also be pointed out that technically, the terms Kung Fu (and Yoga) refer to a far broader set of practices and disciplines than they are popularly understood to mean (those terms are traditionally applied to a whole set of other forms of "work" or "discipline" than just to fighting movements or yoga asanas, in other words).

Other names which fit Alvin Boyd Kuhn's thesis include Angola in Africa, the name of which country is apparently derived from the title given to the kings who ruled in that land, the ngola. Along the same lines, it might even be argued that there could be a connection to the name of the Hmong people, among whom the surname Nguyen is very common. 

Another, much more amazing connection might be suggested with the civilization of the Inca, whose name can most certainly be argued to have linguistic similarity to the name of the Ankh. Most revealing is the fact that the Inca themselves did not refer to their empire or their people as "the Inca," but that this name is derived (as with the land of Angola) from the name of the kings of that civilization, who were called in their language the Inka. This fact fits the arguments of Alvin Boyd Kuhn perfectly, although to my knowledge he never mentioned it. It would seem to provide strong linguistic support to the enormous piles of other evidence pointing to ancient contact across the oceans (as well as the possibility of an ancient common predecessor civilization predating both -- the two possibilities are not mutually exclusive in this case).

There are no doubt many others which I have not thought of yet, but which you have been yelling at the screen as completely obvious: feel free to share them with me and with others through the medium of Facebook or Twitter (or through your own publication and discussion of this subject, if you have your own blog or other outlet).

And, while remaining alert to the manifestations of the incredibly important Ankh around the world, perhaps it is even more important to consider the message that this ancient sign was intended to convey, and to work to raise and anoint our individual consciousness and individual sovereignty, perhaps through Yoga, or Kung Fu, or some other path . . .

image: Wikimedia commons (link).