As It Is Above, So It Is Below
Before written language, we used signs and symbols to represent ideas in an attempt to communicate, and some of the earliest and most important signs were explanations of the world around us. Most of these ideas have revolved around the sun being a powerful deity that brings life down from up above. With our limited knowledge, we set forth into the world to cause endless madness and seemingly eternal conflict among the human population.
We used a circle to represent the sun, but this symbol would eventually take on hundreds of meanings, which prompted some kind of change to that symbol to restore its original meaning. A dot was added to middle of the circle, but even this symbol began to take on various meanings.
Throughout history, we have developed massive social structures of power based on these ideas, and it is often difficult to challenge the previous belief system when it threatens the very basis of many of these power structures and completely brings their authority into question. Certain people had gone to great lengths to help establish and preserve their heritages, led great campaigns in the face of adversity, and triumphed over the harsh world around them. These people were given authority and compared to the mighty force in the sky that we’d been creating.
One of the first symbols used to represent existence was as a triangle on top of a square -the heavens above, and the Earth below. The triangle represented geometric perfection, and the square represented the four cardinal directions represented on what they saw as the 2 dimensional surface of Earth. This idea and symbol have changed many times throughout history, but it is from this symbol that what we know of as human civilization originated.
The Stellar Cult
Thousands of years ago, we didn’t have television, recorded music, or even books to read. We worked all day to survive, and if we were lucky, we had some time to sit around at night, looking at the stars and making up stories about these familiar and seemingly recurring patterns in the sky. We marked time cycles by these star patterns and due to the seasonal significance of whatever constellation was visible at the time, we eventually came up with what we know of as months. We gave the months personalities -inherent to their obvious differences.
We played connect the dots with the sky and created familiar shapes from these star patterns -living animals that were specific to whatever regions we had settled -many of which were very important to that region and/or time of year. The sky became a stage for our grand theater, and those theaters were multiplying. Like we did with the Sun, we gave these patterns great meaning and authority over the heavens, which eventually translated to political power, here on Earth.
Civilization was growing, but as we were all bumping back into each other, the power structures that we had built around these various myths collided. We’d noticed a few stars that didn’t seem to move with the rest of them, at all. These stars became very important -now, we know that these other “stars” are actually other planets in our solar system, but we weren’t quite there, yet. At this time, they were becoming a celestial council of deities that were watching us from the sky.
With the calendar, agriculture became possible -with this brought structured society… early building. Humanity stopped wandering the earth and began to settle. The symbol for Heaven and Earth was changed to circle on top of a circle -signifying the relationship between these planetary bodies. That knowledge would become a very closely guarded secret as it threatened to undermine the power structure that relied on the authority of these celestial beings that we were giving power.
The Lunar Cult
As we were coming into this new way of living, and with these civilizations growing, we were struggling to find a way to live with each other. The general consensus was that these celestial cycles had great significance, but as the power shifted, people began to run away from this change. There was a great migration of people towards the North, into what we know of as Europe and Asia -this was too much for them. With a full pantheon of gods in the sky, there was much dispute over who was in charge.
Eventually, we came up with the ultimate celestial story that was to end the dispute over the authority of the Gods. We noticed that while most of the stars changed positions (representing a calendar year) the Sun and Moon had a fairly constant cycle and, supposing we were the center of the Universe and everything revolved around us, that they seemed to go through these star patterns. -the stars were actually other moons, representing smaller/lesser celestial powers, that our moon was the supreme God of the stars, and that our sun was the son of this supreme god -being born of the mother Earth and returning to the Earth to rise again as his father.
By this point, the original idea about the earth and other planets has been lost and the symbol transformed into us being a reflection of the gods, who now represented supreme celestial power and authority. The symbols representing Heaven and Earth were changed to two circles, one top of the other, however -this won’t last for long with the weight of the past -other emerging civilizations that are attempting to restore their own power as they collide with older civilizations -resulting in a sort of celestial council versus the authority of the supreme god-head, with all of these gods representing separate cultures as they come together.
The Solar Cult
With civilization still growing, we were still struggling to get to get along, together. We discovered that even though we had differences of opinion, there were only three boundaries that all of human perception existed within: intellectualism, materialism, and occultism. This fit perfectly with the new power structure -it was like a divine solution from God. This time, the symbol would be represented as two triangles, one pointing up and the other pointing down, and even though we were upside-down, we at least had something to guide us in the right direction… or so we thought.
The structure of gods was rearranged to fit this new authority structure -the sun was now the chief deity and the moon and other nighttime celestial bodies were subservient to the great and powerful sun. Many civilizations that were influenced by this change represented these triangles the other way around, to justify their top-down power structures. We began to view social organization as a reflection of balance of the universe -our attempt to bring order out of the seemingly chaotic world had become our journey of fulfillment -the divine plan of the creator. As civilization kept growing, the dispute over the authority of the Gods did not end, and the amount of power that the people in charge carried had become immense.
There was a another mass migration of people, leaving this growing civilization built around time, order, and the authority of this new way of life. Pharaoh Amenhotep IV saw this threat as he’s also struggling against the realization that the earth actually revolves around the sun, which threatens to completely undermine the authority of the gods, and in turn, brings his authority into question, as well.
Things aren’t just changing in Egypt at this time, the other two big empires in the area, Sumer and Babylon, were both falling apart, as well, and Egypt had taken control of Canaan after the fall of Babylon. So, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhentan, meaning “spirit of the sun-disk”, and outlawed the worship of all gods other than his new one-and-only god, Aten -the “sun disk”. Akhenaten’s reign of control didn’t even last 20 years before the Egyptians went back to polytheism, but this revolution seems to have had a lasting impact on what we know of as Hebrew culture.
The Hebrews and the Anti-Cult
There were several groups of nomadic tribes wandering the land around Egypt which the Egyptians called the “Habiru”, a word that roughly translates to “lawless wanderer”. During the time of Akhenaten, several groups of Habiru raided the city of Canaan and eventually took-over large chunks of land in that region of the north Sinai Desert. This eventually became Judah -the southern region of Israel.
These people had a great reverence for God, but saw the conflicts between these opposing cultures as a threat to their survival. While civilization brought great benefits, it seemed to come at a cost -eventually caving in on itself from the corruption of the power structure. These nomadic tribes had largely rejected this new way of life, and held the old hunter/gatherer mindset. They attempted to establish a new nation that would revolve around a decentralized community of tribes. The symbol for Heaven and Earth was changed to a square on top of a square.
Eventually, Israel went the way of all nations and appointed a king, and within just 100 years would begin to fall apart. Israel became two lands: Israel to the north which had largely fallen to Babylonian culture, and Judah to the south which saw the great difficulty in preventing this corruption of culture. It was in Judah that the story of the Hebrews is formed into the Torah, or “Lesson”. For a long time, this duality of culture between civilization and wandering tribes had manifested as a rivalry between opposing gods, which represented different ideals and had become nothing short of political propaganda to justify one way or the other.
The Hebrews sort of codified a revolution that had been going on all across this region, at this time. They adopted a symbol that many around Egypt began using to represent the unification of the opposing ideals -the hexagram. This was seen as an attempt to create a unity between the heavens and Earth -a universal peace. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story -it’s only the beginning… Greco-Roman culture was about to try to take over the world, bringing their pantheon of gods with them.