Tuesday, November 19, 2013

They Call Me The Seeker

A seeker is someone with questions, someone who is searching for answers. Often the answers are not to be found readily in the easy places. Those things have already been found. No, a seeker is willing to go to desolate regions, to go to lengths and depths, to find the answers to the hidden mysteries and the ultimate questions. Why are we here? What is my purpose? Is there a God?  

   Seekers Upon Sand

In Latin quaestionem is "seeking, questioning, inquiry." A question mark used at the end of the sentence denotes a question. What is a question mark? It looks something like a shepherd's crook. A shepherd looks for his lost sheep. A shepherd is a seeker. A question mark also looks like a sickle(from PIE root *sek- "cut"). A seeker, is a *sek-er, a seeker cuts through the rubbish to find answers.

   Celtic Sickle -Omega Art Works

A question mark is also somewhat like the curved beak of a falcon. In ancient Egypt Seker/Sokar(Greek Sokaris/Socharis) was a funerary falcon god sometimes depicted as a mummified falcon. He was the patron deity of the necropolis for Memphis and was closely associated with Ptah, the patron deity of Memphis in Lower Egypt. He was sometimes referred to as "Seker-upon-his-sand" or "He who is upon his sand." His domain was known as Imhet("filled up") a difficult sandy region(or region filled up with sand) of the underworld(duat), hour 4 of Ra, the sun's, nightly journey.

   Seker-Osiris (and Seker upon his Sand[top])

Notice the shepherds crook scepter, called heka and flailnekhakha, that he is holding. The shepherds crook and flail were insignia of kingship, originally having to do with the Predynastic Egyptian god Andjety

So, Seker has the question mark scepter, and exclamation point flail. The flail may cause one to cry out, exclaim, like the cry of a hawk. Ouch! It is interesting that the hieroglyph for sand/grain is a little circle or dot, like a period(.), or the dot under the question mark(?) and exclamation point(!).  We could say that the question mark is "the heka upon the sand", or the crook of the seeker upon the sand, and the exclamation point is "the cry of the one upon the sand", or the falcon's cry in the desert.

The city of Saqqara/Sakkara/Saccara served as a necropolis for Memphis, which was the capital of Egypt in the Old Kingdom on the West side of the Nile, 12 miles south of Cairo.  Saqqara lies west of Memphis in the sandy desert area.

     Ptah-Seker-Osiris, god of resurrection, Middle Kingdom

The desert, sandy area, called the Red Land(Desheret, dšrt "red one"), was a fitting place for burial because the Egyptians were concerned with the preservation of the body after death. Moisture = speedy decomposition. They believed that a part of the soul, the ba, remained with the body after death.  

It is also fitting in that the desert is a place of testing. It is through the trial of death that one hopes to emerge from it regenerated and enlightened, and fit to enter the land of the gods. Like Jesus' forty days in the "desert" or "wilderness", it is a place of mortification and renewal / strengthening, death and rebirth. The drying process of the body being prepared for mummification was also forty days.  

Desert comes from Old French, desert "desert, wilderness, wasteland; destruction, ruin" and Late Latin, desertum "thing abandoned". In ancient Egypt the desert, i.e., desheret, was the land of Set, the god of chaos, confusion, storms, wind, and foreign lands, and came to be vilified and associated with evil.  

    Sahara Desert

Seker inhabited the fourth and fifth hours of the night on the soul's journey to morning. The forth hour is the a place of deep darkness, isolation and silence. There, in Imhet, Seker assists souls at the hour of their greatest testing. What does one discover in this dark night? When one is tested in Imhet(or could we say emet, Hebrew meaning "truth"), we get to the truth. The soul must enter the darkness of the tomb, like the womb, and be born again. There is a reason for the darkness and isolation. Something wonderful is being formed in hiddenness and will emerge out of the "suffering". When one reaches Imhet, even though it is a harsh place, one knows morning is imminent, which is comforting.
 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Mt.5:4
At your darkest hour the greatest of transformations and transfigurations is commencing.

Think of the kind of plants that grow in arid regions, like the prized resins of myrrh and frankincense trees which were used in mummification. Myrrh is thorny and harsh looking.

     Commiphora Myrrha 

Frankincense can grow in extremely unforgiving terrain, even, at times, from solid rock. The myrrh and frankincense resin is gathered by slashing the bark of the trees, it "bleeds" out, and the "tears" are then collected when they harden. But this doesn't kill the trees, they keep on going.

    Boswellia Sacra - Frankincense

A certain kind of pungent alluring sweetness arises out of the harsh environment.  And also healing or medicinal qualities and aide. Hedy as a name from Greek has the meaning "sweet, pleasant, agreeable, delightful", from hēdonē (from Ancient Greek ήδονη"pleasure, delight" and the goddess of the same name. When one is desperately in need of assistance(as one might easily be in the desert) aide is very sweet. Aide is succor. 
The Step Pyramid of Djoser is a tomb located in Saqqara. It is the oldest of the Egyptian pyramids. In the tomb one was aided into the afterlife. There was succor in Saqqara for those entombed there.

   Step Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara, Egypt

It's funny that it looks a lot like a sugar cube pyramid. People used to give children a sucker for succor after getting hurt or getting shots.

   Sugar Cube Pyramid

Our words for sugar and sucrose are very much related to Seker and the desert. But, how can dessert have anything to do with the desert? They are so different, except for the names, of course. However, we might want to ask ourselves why the names are so similar if they have nothing to do with one another? Maybe they, in fact, have a lot in common.

I'm not suggesting that the god Seker had any connection with sugar because he was a Predynastic Egyptian god, and sugar is a fairly recent participant in human history. However, sugar from, Old French sucre(in Latin saccaron, Greek sakkaris) was first brought to the western world from India by the Arabs around the fifth century A.D. when they discovered how to extract and crystalize the sugar and it could be easily transported. The Arabic word for sugar is sukkar, and qandi refereed to the boiled sugar cane. The ancient Indian Sanskrit word for the sugar crystals or grains taken from the cane is khanda. The Arabs brought this sugar(khanda/sukkar) through the desert(in Arabic çahra, like Sahara), to places like Egypt. The sugar came from the Sahara desert to make desserts.  In Sanskrit sarkra/sharkara is "gravel/grit", or what we call "sand", and came to mean "ground or candied sugar". So in this sense sugar is a type of sand.

    Sugar Crystals or Grains, like sand

Saqqara in Arabic is pronounced with a glottal stop in the middle, and sounds a lot like how we say "Sahara". The god Sokar/Seker was "he who is upon his sand". So the Arabic word for desert, çahra has something to do with the land of Sokar, i.e, Saqqara, a sandy place, the desert.

Since sugar is produced as grains/"sand" it seems natural that it would come to be associated with the word Seker. In Turkish the word for "sugar/candy" is in fact, seker. 

    Swirl Lollypop or Sucker

    Twist Lollypop 

       Candy Canes / Crooks, photo by Julie O.

   Sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun with Crook and Flail

Call me crazy, but there seems to be a lot in common here with the crook and flail regalia and the shapes in which we make these popular candies. Sweet!

We also make cotton candy out of spun sugar. Cotton candy has a soft airy look, like clouds. Clouds are light and ephemeral. "Ephemeral" is from Greek ephemeros , "lasting one day, short-lived".

  Ephemeral Clouds, Southern California - by Julie O. / chtonickore

    Cotton Candy

In Japan the cherry blossom is called sakuraSakura is the symbol of the ephemeral. They are there one day, beautiful and delicate, then they are gone, like a sugar high. They don't last long.

    Sakura - Cherry Blossoms, Japan

spiritual high can be ephemeral too. You can spend forty days in the desert, reap the sweetness that comes out of the harshness, only to find yourself, in not too much time, looking / seeking to find another high.

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage generally termed "rice wine" in America.  Starches in the rice are converted into sugar during the fermentation(a process of transformation) which makes the alcohol. In Japanese the word sake means "liquor" and refers to all alcoholic drinks in general. Here again, the sweet effects of the alcohol are fleeting.

    Sake Set - Cherry Blossom White

The effects of alcohol may be ephemeral, however as the saying goes, a certain truth comes from its consumption, "In vino veritas". Truth(emet) is the domain of a seeker, just as Imhet is the domain of Seker. So, we might say that the sugar in alcohol is succor / aid to the seeker, who may be a sucker for the truth.

As I like to say(mixing metaphors), "If the truth hurts, wear it."  Nobody said it was easy to be a seeker. But when you find the truth you will fly free, like the falcon, for, ". . . you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." Jn 8:32

Freedom is a sweet reward . . . 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Testing, One, Two, Three

 Nuclear Bomb Test, Operation Castle - Romeo

Tests can be about small things, like testing out a new recipe, and tests can be about big things, like testing out a nuclear bomb.

A test is a trial. You can test something by trying it out, and you can test something by putting it under trial, adding heat, putting a flame to it. When you test something you see what it is really made of. Will it pass the test? Or will it crack under the pressure? Can it stand the heat?

Sometimes you just don't know until something is tried, or put to the test. And sometimes the very act of putting something to the test not only shows you the quality of that thing, but the test itself causes something new to emerge from the ashes of the trial, like a phoenix from the ashes of its burnt nest.
Phonios Phoenix, (depiction by Friedrich Justin Bertuch, 1806)

The word phoenix, from ancient Greek phoinix φο
îνιξ meaning "Phoenician; reddish purple; or phoenix." It is thought to perhaps be derived from the word "Phoenician" by way of  the Greeks' association of the color purple-red with the Phoenicians who produced purple dyes, therefore the word phoinix also had the meaning "(the color) purple," and this color was also the main hue of the bird, a royal purple or phonios "blood-red" scarlet color.  Phoinix was also the name of the date palm. Dates turn from a golden color to reddish or purplish-brown color upon ripening, and perhaps also, the tree looks a bit like a phoenix with its feathery looking fronds.

    Date Palm - Phoenix dactylifera

Clay can also have a reddish hue and is used to make pottery. Pottery is not pottery unless it is fired or heated. The Latin word for "earthen pot" is testum. A testum(pot) is put to the test in the furnace.  If it survives the process it is changed and it is strong and durable. It needs to withstand the pyr/pur πυρ, πυρός "fire" in biblical Greek (pyra/pura  πυρά "a fire"), and it becomes a pot, something that can withstand high temperatures like a  parur "a pot" (Hebrew)Which seems to indicate a certain purity of the vessel after the pure"a fire"- ing  process, or a sincerity after the incineration.

What does it mean for a person to be put to the test? In the Bible there is one word that is translated as either test or tempt. As in, Jesus was "tempted" or "tested" in the desert. Jesus goes into the erémos(Greek "deserted, desolate, desert, lonely place", what we might call an "ered/arid"[from Latin aridus, from arere "to be dry"] place) peirasthenai πειρασθηναι "to be tempted," from peiraso/pyraso πειραζω "trial, temptation, testing". In Hebrew, as well, there is one word, nawsaw that is translated as "test, try, prove, tempt"
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil . . . And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country  Lk 4:1, 14
    Temptation of Christ - Vasily Surikov, 1872

We see that this forty days of testing or tempting is a time of soul searching, a time of fasting and mental struggle, a dark night. But when it is over, Jesus returns stronger than ever, after his period of purification, pyra-fication, firing, and begins his public ministry in "the power of the Spirit".

The devil, the tempter in the desert, is most often equated with the tempter in the Garden of Eden, i.e., nachash, the snake. So we see the devil is  sometimes shown as a snake, and sometimes with wings, as a fallen angel.  But, as the story goes, he started out as the most beautiful luminous angel, Lucifer, the light bearer. So, bright, "flying", snake/hisser/whisperer are all associated with this tempter/tester.  

We could say that Jesus wrestled with thoughts in the desert brought to him by the tempter. One word for "thoughts" in Hebrew is serappimas in "anxious/disquieting thoughts". Those serappim were brought to him by the whispering voice of the tempter, the voice of the snake, the fallen angel.

We could say then, that Jesus was tested by the snake, i.e., the devil, in the wilderness.  He was tested by the snake like Eve, and maybe we could say he felt the bite of the fiery snake, i.e., tempting/testing, hissing/wispering/serpent, fiery/burning serpentine messenger of the God as did the Israelites when YHWH sent nachash seraphim to them in the wilderness Num 21:6. The simple, but perplexing, translation for nachash seraphim is that YHWH sent nachash "serpents," seraphim(pl.) "fiery serpents"(s.  seraph, from verb seraph "to burn"). It is usually translated as "fiery serpents."  However, what if, instead  being redundant,  we take nachash(serpent) to indicate the form of the seraphim and we equate it with the nachash in Genesis? Then it would be  "tempter seraphim", "seraphim devils" or "fiery/poisionous/burning serpent tempters." And what are seraphim? Are they simply poisonous serpents as is the common interpretation for seraphim in the passage from Numbers?

Seraphim are mentioned two other times in the bible. In Isaiah it is transliterated to English simply as "seraphim" and not "fiery serpents". The seraphim are described as heavenly beings with six wings who sing "holy, holy, holy" before YHWH Sabaoth, that is "Lord of Hosts"Isaiah 6:2 And in Isaiah 14:29 an uwph seraph,  uwph "brandishing, flying, shining forth, waving" seraph is translated as a "flying serpent".

      Seraphim 12th Century Fresco

It seems that to say a seraph is simply a poisonous serpent is to really be missing the point. 

Serpents have been important symbolically from the beginning of civilization. 

Here is pictured an ancient Sumerian goddess statue from around 5000 B.C. Notice the serpent-like features of this mother goddess nursing a baby. Very odd.
      Sumerian Goddess, Ubaid Period c. 5000 B.C.

In Babylonian mythology Sarpanit "the shining one" is mother goddess and consort of Marduk.
I don't know which goddess this Ubaid period staue is supposed to represent. But it is interesting, nevertheless, that the name Sarpanit is very close in sound to the word "serpent".

In Sanskrit naga is "cobra", or generically it can mean "snake." It is similar, then, to the English word "snake", like (s)+naga. Another common word used for snake in Sanskrit is sarpa/sarpah "snake." This is similar to saraph meaning "serpent".  The ancient Indian Sandskrit epic, the Mahabarata, calls the class of deity beings that take the form of snakes "Nagas". They are not generally considered to be negative beings, 
Naga (Sanskrit: "serpent") in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, a member of a class of mythical semi divine beings, half human and half cobra. They are a strong, handsome species who can assume either wholly human or wholly serpentine form and are potentially dangerous but often beneficial to humans. Naga, Hindu mythology, Brittanica

however the Nagas are described in book one of the Mahabharata as "persecutors of all people" and, 
Indeed, as the snakes were of virulent poison, great prowess and excess of strength, and ever bent on biting other creatures . . .  Bk.1: Adi Parva, sec.20
     Nagas Carved on a Temple

So, we can see from the Nagas, that snakes are not always just snakes, but sometimes they are meant to represent divine beings. And, as in this case, they can represent what is perceived as adverse or unpleasant.  

One of the oldest ancient Egyptian goddesses was called Wadjetwdyt "the papyrus/green colored one," called Uto/Buto by the Greeks(which is actually from the name of her city, Buto). In her symbolic form of the rearing cobra she was called the Uraeus ούραîος by the Greeks, from ouraîos "on its tail," a translation of the ancient Egyptian, iaret j'rt meaning "rearing cobra," "the raised up one/one who rears up." Wadjet was protector of Lower Egypt.  

The serpent was the symbol of deity and sovereignty in ancient Egypt. Therefore Pharaoh was recognized by wearing this symbol as his crown or on the crown. As a symbol it conveyed legitimacy of the rightful ruler.

      Wadjet, Uraeus with Red Crown

Because the different gods and goddesses merged over long periods of time the Ureaus is sometimes shown in varying aspects. Some attributes given to Wadjet are also attributes of other goddesses as well. Sometimes the Uraeus is shown with the sun disk, and is called the "Eye of Horus, or the Eye of Ra," she was said to spit poison and flame to protect Pharaoh as wepset "she who burns"(she would upset/oopset his enemies), she was also called nesert "the flame, searing one," in her association with Sekhmet "powerful," and in her role as protector of Ra, "Lady of Flame" Nebet Neseretnbt nsrt, foremost of  perneser, pr "house" of nsr "flame" (punisher?). After unification of Upper and Lower Egypt she was combined with the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt. The protective qualities of Wadjet were joined with the protective qualities of, Nekhbet, the goddess of Upper Egypt, who was represented by a Griffin vulture, rather than a cobra. So, at times, the goddess was called nebty "two ladies" and was represented by a combination of serpent and vulture. 

    Mask From the Tomb of Tutankhamen, Showing the Nemes Crown with "Two Ladies"

At times the Uraeus is even shown with wings.

    Winged Uraei with Sun Disks

It appears that Uraei, actually have a lot in common with the nachash seraphim. We should remember that the Israelites had just come out of Egypt(and Moses himself had been raised in the house of Pharaoh) and would have been familiar with the symbolism of the Egyptian Uraei. When the Exodus took place, sometime around 1446 BC, Upper and Lower Egypt had been unified for a quite a long time. Unification took place c. 2686 BC. To an Israelite the Uraeus symbolism of the Egyptians, divine winged serpents, could  have been connected to their understanding of the seraphim, which seem to be divine beings of mysterious and enigmatic appearance. They are at times said to be serpentine, bright, fiery, burning, bitting, waving/flourishing, capable of speech and praise of God, sent by YHWH, so are messengers or angels of God. 

After the Israelites grumble against God and are bitten or stricken by the nachash seraphim they believe they are being punished for sining and ask Moses to pray to YHWH to take away the nachash(the snakes who are testing, tempting, accusing, the people, i.e., the devil, Satan the punisher, perhaps?). YHWH then tells Moses to make a seraph and put it on a nes "pole/standard/flag," so Moses then makes a nachash nechosheth "serpent bronze" and puts it on the pole. Why would Moses make a bronze serpent when YHWH told him to make a seraph? Moses obviously meant to represent a seraph by the bronze snake, just like the goddess Wadjet in Egypt was represented by the raised serpent, the Uraeus. 

  Bronze Serpent, Uraeus 305-30 B.C.

So the Uraeus is a "brazen" serpent meant to represent the goddess. Maybe the brazen serpent, nachash nechosheth, of the Israelites was supposed to represent a heavenly being as well, i.e., a seraph.

Jesus compares the symbol of the "seraph", nachash nechosheth, i.e., the serpent put on the pole, to the symbol of "lifting up" or "exhalation"(hysopsen in the Septuigent) of the son on man, while talking to the Pharisee Nicodemus.
 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." John 3:14  
It seems to be the act of exalting the symbol or "sign of deliverance" as it is called in Wisdom of Solomon 16, and the very belief of the people in its power to heal them, that enabled them to receive the healing of God. The sign, i.e., the serpent, did not heal them, as it states in Wisdom, but the Savior healed them. 
They were terrified only for a little while as a warning, since they had a sign of their salvation as a reminder of the command of your law. Those who turned to that sign were saved not by what they saw but by you, the savior of all. Wisdom 16:6-7
Just as belief in the ability of a man who is God, and desires to save us, allows for the belief that it is possible to become like him, a Christ, and be saved.

So should we say, then, that the lifted/exhaulted "serpent," was nachash, a "snake, tempter, devil" that was up on the pole to save the people, or was it a raised "serpent," as in a seraph, "heavenly being, fiery serpent, angel, Uraeus"? 

Jesus as Messiah and Son of God is often equated with "the Son of man", and there are also certain stories of Jesus making appearances in the form of a seraph. Boneventure writes about St. Francis of Assisi who is said to have had an encounter with Christ crucified under the appearance of a seraph some 1800 years after the time of the Exodus.

    St. Francis and Seraph, Wood Carving

Jesus also appears to John, in the book of Revelation, as a wondrous fearful messenger of God, not unlike a seraph. 
. . . his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. Revelation 1:15-16 
So Jesus is associated with the seraph, who seem to be fearful fiery angels/heavenly beings, who are at times described as having a serpentine appearance, but Jesus is not usually associated with the serpent/snake, the most prudent of all wild creatures, i.e., the most arum(Hebrew from arom "shrewd, crafty, sensible," also arom "bare, naked") one from the garden, the devil, Satan, bringer of adversity, testing/temptation.

    Alpha and the Omega - by Peter Olsen

There seems to be a lot of overlap and mixing between the symbolism of the snake, the vulture/hawk/eagle, and lion with representations of the divine. A griffin-like creature depicted in ancient Egypt, a lion with head of a falcon, is named srf or sfrr, sefermeaning "the one who tears to pieces".

     Pharoh as a Griffin - Pectoral Ornament of Usirtasen III,  Middle Kingdom c. 2050-1700 B.C.

So is srf/sfrr, the griffin, a seraph(servant of God), serf(as in slave/servant)? The ruler is servant of God for the people, "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all" Mark 9:35. A sefer-ing servant? To suffer is to be pained or grieved. To experience grief is to suffer. A grieving(or "griffon") servant?  

    Marduk Pursues Anzu after Anzu steals the "Tablets of Destiny"

Anzu(from An "heaven" and Zu "to know"), Zu(Akadian) or Imdugud(Sumerian "heavenly wind" written with ideogram for bird at the end[what we might call a bird emoji]) who is depicted in a griffin-like way, son of the bird goddess Siris, was servant(or heavenly/divine messenger) of chief sky god Enlil. Anzu steals the "Tablets of Destiny"(which give one authority as ruler of the universe) from Enlil, and Marduk ends up retrieving them.  Apparently, Marduk had a gripe(from greipanan Proto-Germanic, greifen, meaning "to seize") with that griffin-like seizer of the tablets, Anzu.

Just as the Word of God, the sefer/sepher in Hebrew, meaning "text", of the bible is a servant of God. And another similar word, sephirot(Hebrew "emanations", the ten sephira) is the way the infinite reveals itself to us and how it continually creates the physical and metaphysical realms, which sounds a lot like the Word of God as well, OM. Notice it has something like three pairs of wings, as does a seraph(or we might say even, three projections, side areas, as in "wings" like wings of a building). 

    Sepherot of the Ein Sof or Ain Sof("No End, Infinite") - Three Different Versions

So, the serpent, bird, and lion symbolism were morphed together, this way and that, all around.  

The sphinx is another hybrid creature. It is usually said to have the head of a woman, body of a lion, and wings of an eagle.

  Oedipus listening to the Riddle of the sphinx, c. 467 B.C.

And this is Mušḫuššu, associated with Marduk, the sun god, here he looks to be part serpent, bird, and lion, but he is often described as a dragon.

    Mušḫuššu - Ishtar Gate, Babylon 575 B.C.

The name, Mušḫuššu, comes from the Sumerian for "reddish snake" or "fierce snake". Dragon is from the Greek drakon meaning "serpent, giant seafish", with the root derkesthai "to see clearly"(so here again cunning, knowing, wise). Or, in other words, Anzu, i.e. "to know heaven," perhaps? So dragon has the meaning of a wise serpent, not just any snake, but a more mystical connotation. 

Dragons in some stories like to ask riddles, as well, like the sphinx. A riddle is a kind of test, or in the old sense of the word, a tempting. Many dragons are fire breathing as well witch helps when you put something to the test, it needs to be heated. 

Whew, all this was a big hunk of clay! Let's fire it up and see what happens! I hope it doesn't torment you, or cause dis-ease.

Bombs away!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fuchsia Sunset

eyes locked
the gate
iron bars
fingers clasping
a fuchsia sunset
darkening. it's babel
it means confusion
no. it is the gate of God
today IS the perfect day
– by Julie
Sept. 5, 2013

    California Sunset 2012, photo by Julie O. /chthonickore

Friday, November 1, 2013

House of Horrors?

Matthias Grünewald, Tauberbischofsheim altarpiece(detail), 1523-1525

If you look at this picture objectively, it is pretty gruesome, as are many crucifixion images. However, most people don't view them as such because they are so used to the idea of the image and its significance. Such images are displayed in millions of homes, churches and places of prayer throughout the world.  Why are images like this OK? Because this particular bloody foot happens to be the foot of Jesus. It is not something grotesque like a zombie foot. It is sacred art.

We might wonder, however, what someone visiting from a distant solar system would think if they saw some of our religious art, and different religious practices. We might wonder how they would describe what they saw here back on their home planet if they didn't bother to understand the significance, or were confused about what was going on and why. What if they judged us as being silly and unevolved already because we were not as advanced as they were? They might show a picture of the crucifixion to their children and say something like, "This is the God from Earth, Passio Christi, he is a horrible masochist who haunts people. He tells everyone they have to eat his flesh and drink his blood or they will be eternally tortured. He also tells children to hate their parents and only do what he says."

Zombie Meat Market-Foot(or, given a minor miscommunication, the foot of Passio Christi packaged and ready for consumption on Planet X.)

It is all about perspective isn't it? People aren't usually as objective as they would like to think. They imagine that how they view things just is so, and is right and correct. Other people who think or do things differently, are just stupid or silly, or at worst, are evil heretics who should be put to death.

Do you want to see something really scary? Are you sure? Here it is . . .


Are you horrified?

This is a depiction of Horus-Set. The name transliterated from the hieroglyphs to the English alphabet is Ḥrwy.fy. What's that? Horrify? No, ḥrwy.fy. It is usually translated as, "He of the two faces/or heads".

Is Horus-Set supposed to be some sort of monster? What is going on here? How could it possibly have an interpretation that is positive? The man has two heads AND they are both animal heads! Isn't that demonic?

Actually, Horus-Set was supposed to signify a balance of power. Horus was the Lord of the Black Land(fertile Nile area) and Set was the Lord of the Red Land(desert). Together they created balance. Originally Set, the more negative, or yin half of the ballance, was not demonized but honored along with Horus as a god or power. In later time periods Set came to be associated with evil.

However, this association with evil can happen to more positive gods or people as well when they aren't considered to be on "your team", or aren't part of your religion or race. It is Horus, the more possitive, or yang personification of the power of God in the ancient Egyptian religion whose name and titles can be suspiciously found in words such as "horrify"(hrwyfy), "horror" and "heressy", (Haw-Wer, Heru-ur, Herseisis r.w wr, meaning, 'Horus the Great'), "nefarious"(Nefer Hor, Nephoros or Nopheros, nfr ḥr.w, meaning 'The Good Horus'), and "whore"(Horus, Haru, ḥr.w, Coptic, HōrGreek,Ὧρος Hōros). 

And look at this. This was the orrigional "House of Horus".


The goddess Hathor, ḥwt-ḥr meaning, "mansion or house(like "hut", hwt) of Horus(hr)".

Hathor was the sky-goddess of love, beauty, motherhood, foreign lands, mining and music. Does that sound like a "house of horrors" to you?

I can understand this sort of thing happening to gods such as Set, the Lord of the Red Land, becoming a "Satan" figure because of his connection with storms, desert, and chaos.

    Set or Seth (Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty)

People make judgements about adversity. All adversity is called "evil". When actually there seems to be a subtle distinction between what we call adversity and what we call evil. Adversity is an experience that can create positive outcomes. It creates growth, saviors and heroes. But evil is just bad. 

For instance, adversity is judged to be evil in the story of "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" in Genesis. It is one way of interpreting the events of the story.
Out of the ground the LORD God caused every tree to grow that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and also the tree of the knowledge(da'ath) of good and evil. Genesis 2:9 
The word evil comes from Old English, yfel (Kentish evel)meaning "bad, vicious, ill, wicked". The word in Hebrew used to describe the knowledge of the tree in the garden is, ra' translated as, "evil", in English.  However ra', although it is sometimes translated as "evil" and "bad," can have the meaning of adversity, unpleasantness, giving pain, unhappy, hurtful, and not only moral badness or wickedness. 

Also, because the knowledge from the tree was said to make one "like God," 
For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing(yada) good and evil(ra'). Genesis 3:5
is it more like God to have knowledge, as in experiential knowledge, of what we would call adversity, or of evil?  For it seems that to truly know something(and not just know of it, or hear of it), you have to be in communion with it, or be one with it. Just as we know sweet and sour after we actually taste sweet and sour foods, we know hot and cold after feeling the extremes of high and low temperatures with our bodies, and we know pleasant and painful sensations in the same way. We would say Jesus knew adversity in this way because he suffered, but would we say he knew evil? Does God know evil? Or is evil always just a fleeting perception? God intends everything for good and brings good from evil, even that which is done with bad intent, as is shown in the story of Joseph and his brothers. 
As for you, you meant evil(ra') against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to keep many people alive. 

So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.  Genesis 50:20-21, New American Standard Bible
God does apparently at times intend ra'a(root of ra'), which is rendered as "evil" in some translations, such as this passage from the English Revised Version of the Bible.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts: As I thought to do evil(ra'a) unto you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not; Zachariah 8:14, English Revised Version
But this ra'a here is just as often translated as "disaster," "bring harm," "punish", "treat badly," "afflict", or "destroy." So, God sometime intends to afflict people, but we are not supposed to think that when he does these things he is acting with evil intent or he is being bad, therefore it must be the case that ra'a is, in and of itself not wicked, but that it can be used with intent for good or bad, or to accomplish either meaningful/good or wicked ends.  

Ra/Re also happens to be the ancient Egyptian sun god.  Here he is depicted as a man with falcon head and disk of the sun encompassed by a cobra.

    Imentet/Amunet "The Hidden One" and Ra 1298-1235 BC, Tomb of Nefertari

The rays(Ra, Re) of the sun can be really intense and cause ra(adversity or affliction) but are they evil? They can seem evil when you are being scorched, like Jonah in the desert. But the same rays cause growth and warmth and give light.  Power can be perceived as evil when it causes an experience that is unpleasant, but we shouldn't truly put the label of evil on it unless it is, for the purpose of personal gratification, intentionally trying to cause harm for the sake of inflicting pain, i.e., comes from evil intent.

We can understand the association with evil, as well, with gods like Loki, who is the Norse counterpart of Set. Loki IS actually pretty "loco". He is the trickster god always causing trouble and adversity.

    Loki, Norse Trickster God, 16th Century Icelandic Manuscript

Loki is the father of Hel, of the wolf, Fenrir(who swallows Odin during the battle of Ragnarok), and the father of the Wold Serpent / Midgard SerpentJörmungandr. But he is also the mother(yeah, weird story) of Odin's wonderful eight-legged horse, Sleipnir who is described as, "the best of all horses".


If it weren't for Loki, the world of the gods would surely be more boring. He appears to be a force sometimes for good, and many times for adversity. He is called a god and not called a demon or Satan. However, he seems to have possibly contributed to the characteristics we think off as being demonic today. He even has the demonic looking facial hair and/or helm with horns in certain depictions.

And Set too, with his association with red, and the forked, or other times club looking tail of the set beast, whom he is represented by, has the look of what is now called a devil or demon, but he started out as the personification of a balancing power that was not called evil, but rather, adverse, difficult, or harsh.

    Set Beast or Animal

Sometimes the label of good and evil seems to be a matter of subjective opinion. If people like something, they say it is good, and if they don't like it, they tend to call it evil.  

Is darkness evil? No, darkness is not always evil. Sometimes darkness is just mystery and hiddeness. Sometimes darkness reveals secrets, like during an eclipse the corona("crown") of the sun is visible to us, but is not visible at any other time. An eclipse or darkness would only be evil if it stayed that way and kept us in darkness forever. Some darkness is OK. A certain amount of darkness it is called night, and it is not evil because it is contained by light. Darkness is part of what we call Day, and the Day is good.

God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, one day .  .  .  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:5, 31

    Total Solar Eclipse

We might wonder what it would be like if there were never any night. In that case we might call day evil. Too much of a good thing can seem evil. Or what if there was only too much day, or night for long periods of time, like in the polar regions. It seems what we really seek is balance between the extremes. It is silly to vilify either light or dark, hot or cold, work or rest, or any polarity. In and of themselves they are neither good, nor bad.

What of this icon known as the Black Madonna?

      Our Lady of Jasna Gora, Czestochowa, Poland

One might wonder about this dark or sooty(Suty, happens to be another rendering for the name of the god Set) depiction of Mary. This dark image is venerated right along with the bright and light ones. What mysteries lie waiting to be revealed by this darkness? What glory is being shielded behind the veil of the woman? Is something being covered that we are being protected from, or aren't ready to see?  

Could it possibly be some aspect of the feminine or yin such as this?

      Kali Hindu goddess of time and change

Kali is "the Black One", the Hindu goddess of time and change.
Is she evil? She does have heads strung around her neck and she is standing in a pool of blood. But how would you feel about her if she was a mother protecting her children? How would you feel toward her if you were the child in need of protection and she was defending you? Sometimes it is good to have a mother bear looking out for you. It doesn't mean the power is not fearful however. 

Maybe some people aren't quite prepared to handle the reality of the kind of strength that lies within the dark, black, yin, feminine aspect of the divine. So it has been veiled in the western tradition. Or, when not veiled, it is vilified. Such as with Eve(Havvah "living") in the garden of Eden who was an agent of change. It is because of, Eve, the woman, that we are all sinners, that we are all stained with original sin, correct? What a whore!

    Adam and Eve, Lucas Cranach the Elder, oil on wood (c.1538), Prague

She should be ashamed for causing her husband to sin like that. She listened to the 
whispering voice, described as, nachash[Hebrew], i.e., a snake(nachash from its hissing sound, the hisser). This snake is equated with the devil, the deceiver(trickster?), and evil.

It is interesting to note, that later on, Elijah listens to a whispering voice as well(1 Kings 19:12). He listens to the whispering voice, i.e., "qowl('voice') demamah('whisper/silence') daqqah('thin')," sometimes translated as the "still soft voice", but he is said to be talking to God, and is a great prophet. He then goes back to town and instigates a huge bloodbath of slayings, but this is OK because he was talking to the Lord, YHWH, and not a snake!

It seems that a judgement has been placed on the two events.  The whispering voice that Eve listens to is called a snake and a deceiver, whereas, the whispering voice that Elijah listens to is said to be YHWH. This is because the motive for what Eve did, and the consequences of what Eve did were judged as "evil"(Eve-ill), rather than causing the experience of adversity. Even though adversity is apparently a type of knowledge that God has, a kind of shame is put onto the action, i.e., she is a wicked "sinner" for disobeying God and being the cause of our experiencing "evil". On the other hand, we are told not to think badly of what Elijah does, even though it appears to be harsh, because he was doing it under the orders of God.  

We should remember too, that although the eating of the fruit of knowledge(da'ath) of adversity brought with it the experience(yada) of adversity, and especially adversity in the form of death, it is also because of this action of Eve, which was done out of her innocence(she was created in a state of grace and innocence), that we(the adam, ha'adam) became like God.
. . . "Behold, the man(ha'adam) has become like one of us, knowing good and evil . . ."Genesis 3:22
It seems that, to be like God, should be a good thing. We could consider this fall as being a necessary part of God becoming man, and man becoming God, just like a baby upon leaving the womb first begins to experience adversity in the manner of coldness, hunger, breathing, digestion, etc., but it is a necessary step in joining the human race. Is it a fall, then, as in "wickedness and evil", or a fall, as in "the falling/swinging of a pendulum", i.e., the experience of polarity and duality? Perhaps it was a fall, as in, from no change, to a state of change and movement, from timelessness, to the spinning of the wheel of experience. Or, simply put, that which occurs when the spirit(in the image and likeness of God) is incarnated in the flesh and becomes an adult.  This is just the order of creation, 

Day, Night, Day .  .  .  One Day.


Actually, fall is my favorite time of year. It begins at a time of equilibrium, as the balance is shifting from the predominance of yang energy to the predominance of yin energy. It's not evil, its just an experience.

Think of the name "Katrina", is it infamous to you at all? If it is, it certainly didn't start out that way, but became infamous by association with an event that people judge as being a horrible event.

      Hurricane Katrina infrared Immage, Aug. 29, 2005 

Is it a storm or a monster?

Horrible is from the  Latin horribilis "terrible, fearful, dreadful". To be those things is not necessarily bad or evil. God is horrible in that respect. I'm sure Pharaoh thought the God of Moses was horrible, or even, evil when he killed his firstborn son.

This sort of thing is also illustrated nicely in the musical, "Wicked".  Is a witch good or bad? Is a good witch good or bad? Is a wicked witch good or bad? Which witch is which? What?

Is it an insult to be called a witch?

            Good or Bad Witch?

Or, if someone says that you are horrible, terrible, or a witch, or any other such "insult", should you take it as such, or could you maybe take it as a compliment, just like it is a compliment on Halloween?  

It's all a mater of perspective.

    Horrible Picture of Jack Skellington on a Crucifix- by Julie O. / chthonickore

Happy Halloween!  Happy Samhain!

Have a horrible, terrible, fearful evening!