The preceding is a picture of an ancient Egyptian key, from Thebes, and will give a correct idea of the ancient emblem appertaining to the mysteries.
The Lion, the Eagle, the Ox, and the Man
Q. That is the astronomical allusion of these four ancient emblems, and why are they thus associated together?
A. They refer to the four great angles of the heavens, where the equinoctial and solstitial points are situated, and the signs at these points are, according to ancient astrology, called "fixed signs." Each sign, was, moreover, ruled by three gods, called Decans, the first of which in each sign was called "the powerful leader of three." The most important and powerful of these thirty-six celestial gods were the four Decans, who ruled the four angles of the heavens, and the stability and perpetuity of the universe were supposed to be insured by them. They were also called Elobim, and the two who had their seat on the equator were believed to compel the sun to shine twelve hours over all the earth, as well as to repel him, so that he moved on to the next sign of the zodiac in progressive order. The no less powerful Elohim, or Decans, who ruled the solstitial points caused the sun to turn back at the tropics, and preserved the order of nature and of the seasons.
In all ancient astrological projections of the heavens, the four great angles of the zodiac, where these celestial gods were seated, were marked by the figures of the lion, the eagle, the ox, and the man—the constellation Leo being anciently at 198
the summer solstice; Aquarius, depicted as a man pouring water from a jar, at the winter solstice; and Taurus, the Ox, or Bull, at the vernal equinox; while the other angle, or autumnal equinox, was marked by a flying eagle. The quadrants of the celestial sphere were also anciently occupied by the four bright stars Aldebaran, Regulus, Antares, and Fomalhaut. These were called "royal stars," and in them the four great Elo-him were believed to dwell. To them divine honors were paid and sacred images erected, in which the lion, the eagle, the ox, and the man were variously combined. These emblems were worshipped by all ancient nations. The priests and the initiated knew them to be nothing more than astronomical allegories, emblematic representations of the zodiac, but the superstitious people adored them as real gods. The Jews obtained these four emblems from Egypt. Moses, however, forbade their worship, and taught the Israelites to use them to denote the points of the compass and the divisions of their camp, by means of banners on which they were pictured (Numbers 2). These celebrated emblems are therefore of a purely astronomical and zodiacal origin, and, when properly understood (as they were by the initiated), teach many of the most important facts of astronomical science.
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