What’s the Deal with All the Weird Symbolic Imagery in Mystical Religion? 

Part of the confusion, or “Babylon,” that has surrounded most truths for the last three world ages (Aeons) is the concealment of symbolic mythic imagery. The entire time that academic historians view as the ‘rise of human civilization’ fits into the scheme of the old Great Year cycle as the ⅓ lower end of that cycle. The descending ages began after the peak of the last Satya Yuga, or Golden Age. 

See chart below. It’s set to the autumnal equinoxes. So, it’s Taurus-Scorpio, Aries-Libra, Pisces-Virgo, and Aquarius-Leo.

Stories of ancient civilizations with advanced knowledge were passed down from Egyptian (Thothic, later Hermetic) priests, who told the Greek philosophers coming to learn from the ancient Egyptian solar mystery schools. From the outset, the preservation of high knowledge and the old “Sacred Science” was taken seriously! It was conducted through leadership with honor, discipline, control, and respect, according to the powerhouse esoteric scholar Manly P. Hall. 

Corruption of the Ancient Mysteries

Hall’s 33rd degree-level discourse changed my personal perspective of the ancient solar mysteries. It’s been branded as evil–knowledge itself has been branded as evil–by the more corrupt religious institutions that have arisen during the “descending” half of the Great Year. The ancients believed that dark “times” were ahead (see Modern Theologians Lack the “Gnosis”  – Hermetic Idealism). And preparations were being made, including engraving a lot of the ancient knowledge into stone megaliths and all of the alignments of astronomical markers. 

The ancient solar mystery schools seemed to have had good intentions going into the last descending half of the Great Year. But, as Hall points out, and as is the case with a descending pattern in the human collective awareness, corruption, and social misconduct eventually found their way into the ancient mysteries. Once sacred symbolism and iconography about divine sexual union and procreative tendencies in Nature eventually turned to vulgar sexual misconduct and all variety of perversion which entered some of the mystery schools during the last descending half of the Great Year. MP Hall’s “astrotheology series” lectures can be found on YouTube.

Preservation of the Truth

Hall did not condone that. He was quite conservative for an esoteric mystic. Hall believed that a core of loyal Hermetic Initiates managed to survive within the secret societies, many of which had devolved into less than the original ancient solar mysteries. These devout initiates have managed to keep the “flame of truth” alive throughout the entire descending half of the Great Year cycle into today. They did this by forming closer inner circles within the secret societies. To preserve the ancient knowledge transmitted down from the last Golden Age/Satya Yuga. That would be a line of transmission that eventually became public via the “Three Initiates,” who authored the Hermetic Kybalion in 1908. The claim is that it was the first time that this ages-old oral tradition of the Hermetic Kybalion was put into print.

Be Wise as Serpents

The serpents, dragons, lions, and hybrid mythical beast images from Hermetic tradition, the Bible, and other texts that incorporate Hermetic Philosophy carry on a transmission of “knowledge” via symbolism. At the very bottom, they represent certain things. Serpents, for instance, represent knowledge and wisdom. The Bible tells us of Moses, who, while in Pharaoh’s court, threw his staff to the ground where it turned into a snake. That is symbolic of “knowledge!” Moses was illustrating knowledge before the Egyptian court. The court magicians laughed and threw down their staffs, which also turned into serpents. But the laughing and taunting came to an abrupt halt when the magicians watched Moses’s serpent devour their serpents. This is a bold statement within the texts, regardless of whether it is historically accurate. In fact, there’s no good evidence that any of that ever happened. And even if it was, what would be the point? The only point is the point made via the symbolic imagery, which is about one “knowledge” surpassing another. The point remains, regardless of historical issues related to the metaphorical delivery.

Clearly, there is a dualistic (Hermetic principle of polarity) message involved in the serpent symbolism in the Bible. This is evidenced again by Jesus/Yeshua in the New Testament writings–a mythological character who may or may not have existed as one fixed historical being. It’s no different than Moses or Abraham. If they were historically real, that has been largely lost to time. What remains are the obviously symbolic stories full of metaphor and allegory, which combine biographical information from the lives of many different seers and mystics of the time period in question, along with many different mythological characters all rolled into one symbolic presentation. I’ll do a blog post on the topic sometime. It’s a deep rabbit hole that needs unpacking. 

My perspective conforms to what modern academia knows about myth and religion. What I’ll be outlining are the presentations of the stories themselves, free of the ‘historicity debates’ that end in my having taken an agnostic position because no one can prove any of these people absolutely did or did not exist as singular, fixed historical figures. Moving beyond the impossible issue of historicity, let’s take a look at what the writers decided to put into the mouth of their Hero Character in the New Testament mythos: 

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” – Matthew 10:16

Knowledge and Wisdom, just like most things in this world, have a polarity from the perspective of human perception. This is addressed by the Hermetic principle of Polarity. It’s seen in terms of the experience of finite-oriented awareness and experience. Today in modern Analytic Idealist Philosophy, the metaphor is “dissociated altars of Mind at Large.” Simply put, it’s about the difference in awareness between little “c” and big “C” Consciousness, which represents humanity and Ultimate Reality. Where Ultimate Reality is symbolized as “God.” From the little c perspective, knowledge and wisdom can go two ways–good or evil, light or dark. 

The writers in the Old Testament (OT) were making a jab at the Egyptians and claiming to have superior “Knowledge” to the Egyptians or to understand the knowledge of the Egyptians better than a degraded version of Egyptian knowledge that had fallen from grace. Remember, all of this writing about the age of Taurus going into the age of Aries in the Moses myth took place after the Babylonian Captivity, which was really late. It was near the end of the age of Aries-Libra (see the chart above). It was written from the perspective of being in the age of Aries-Libra looking back.

This is why the myths of more ancient cultures were used to format the Bible writing periods. The oldest version of the OT was the Greek Septuagint, which came from Alexandria, Egypt, before the libraries were burned down. There, writers had access to the much older ancient world knowledge kept in those libraries. The Moses myth borrows from the story of King Sargon I of Akkad. Noah is a twist on Gilgamesh. Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah) seem to be a twist on Brahma and Saraswati from further Eastern myths. The writers collected old-world knowledge and reproduced it as what we now know as the Biblical tradition with the names changed from the original stories when they were reworked and retold changing the perspective to a Jewish on, rather than the original Sumerian and Egyptian perspectives of the original stories. That’s why there are so many problems with historicity from an academic angle. 

The Loss of Knowledge and the Dark Ages

My take is that the ancient Hermetic-influenced astronomer-priests knew jolly well that things were coming unglued. They knew that the astronomically aligned stone monuments related to understanding what part of the ‘cycle’ they were in and how long the Dark Ages would last before things began to change again when the ascending half of the Great Year took root ( see The Confusion: Babylon Surrounding Truth – Hermetic Idealism). 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Image URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TDT_Palermo.jpg

As ancient knowledge was lost at an increasing rate, and the human collective was headed for the bottom of the darkest world ages, knowledge, and wisdom, symbolized through serpent and dragon symbolism in myth and religion, were demonized. Campaigns were launched against the serpent and dragon symbolism of antiquity. There’s widespread diversity of opinion on why that happened, but simply put, the tales tell of a remote past where high knowledge was known and then cataclysmic events brought down the very ancient high-knowledge civilizations. Knowledge was viewed as evil when the lower descending ages took root and claimed dominant power in society. People thought that knowledge is what led to the destruction of the ancient high civilizations. I believe this is when self-deception ruled the human collective during the lower 1/3 of the Great Year until conditions began to naturally change again during the ascending half of the Great Year. The ascending half of the cycle begin to take more root.

All the while, serpents and dragons, Ouroboros, and even Abraxas have been seen in mystical religious iconography and many of the esoteric communities that kept ancient knowledge and wisdom alive through the remaining course of the Dark Ages. There have always been people who understood the importance of the old knowledge and wisdom teachings. This is why there’s a “divine element” presented in conjunction with the same type of serpent and dragon symbolism – which is at some places assigned to the devil and evil and at other places assigned to Jesus/Yeshua and Divinity.

The Real Jedi

Within our own Western traditions, there has been something akin to the “Jedi” and “Sith” Orders of George Lucas’s powerhouse fictional accomplishments. George Lucas gleaned the concept of a Jedi and Sith Order from researching comparative world mythology and religion through Joseph Campbell’s work. I, too, have thoroughly researched the life work of Joseph Campbell, and I understand mythology and religion on an academically informed, but still very spiritual, level. It’s all addressed to the mystery of existence itself–the first function of a traditional mythology. It’s all metaphor and the “mystery of the metaphor” is absolute. The “Light” is big “C” Consciousness.

Close up of Yoda Toy

The demonization of any and all ancient mythological and mystical/religious symbolism is unwarranted from this more spiritually and academically informed perspective. Context is required in order to understand the references in mythological symbolism. Is a reference taking us to something that represents evil, like the Sith? Or is the same symbolism (serpents and dragons) taking us to something that represents good, like the Jedi? Judgment calls must be made. It’s not a situation of broad brushing ‘all symbolism’ with the same meaning across the board and branding it all evil. Which is the way in which my childhood teachers and preachers approached it. As Marty Feldman would say, “..well they were wrong then, weren’t they!”

For instance, is Jesus/Yeshua evil for inviting his disciples to be as wise as serpents? I’d say he’s no more evil than Yoda for having knowledge of both the dark and light sides of the force and using that knowledge to square off with the pure evil, Emperor Palpatine! Yoda represents balance in the force. And that’s because mythical heroes like Jesus and the Buddha represent balance in the force of “Mind,” and George Lucus clued in on that!  When you know that symbolism is symbolism, you can proceed from a more informed and freethinking perspective, following your own gut instinct and good intuitions. You no longer feel compelled to just accept the biased views of today’s uninformed mainstream theologians and preachers who have skin in the game, financially, and in terms of personal ego. Whatever they don’t happen to understand or comprehend is branded as “evil.” And that’s narcissism. That’s human ego. Most importantly, that comes down to pastors like this “gaslighting” anyone who surpasses their own personal data set or knowledge base. To them, I will respond back in like fashion to the example given in the Jesus/Yeshua myths, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” That’s who he addressed the corrupt, dualistic oriented religious leaders in the myths. With zeal and authority derived from within and backed by the most High, big “C,” or the Father as he put it.

The Resurgence of Knowledge

What this discourse always boils down to is very simple. We’re rising up from an ignorant past, whether viewed through contemporary history and its placement of the Dark Ages behind us right now or the much more ancient “Great Year” cyclic model. Either way, the current trend is ascension to higher knowledge. 

Waterfalls during Sunset

Who can deny the rapid increase of knowledge between around 500 CE and 2023 CE? This we can take as factual and objective. Knowledge has increased exponentially. The ignorant have been “left behind,” so to speak. That’s harsh, but it’s well deserved, and I’ve been inspired to do all of this–to start a blog and speak my freethinking mind according to this intuitive “will” that comes from within. If anything I say is seen as true, the glory of any truth gleened from it is not to me or any other human ego – but to the universal Mind itself, the big “C,” Infinite Consciousness, or simply what the metaphor of “God” has always meant all along in everyone’s religions! 

We must examine why we are clinging to the recent past (Dark Ages) as something that even should be clung to. As I’ve shown in the old cyclical models, we’re approaching the end of the darkest ages of the cycle. And what’s happening is that the ancient symbolic knowledge has been making its way back into the public domain for over 100 years now. With that has come a reexamination of the ancient mythic symbolism and trying to better understand it, rather than closing our eyes, plugging our ears, demonizing and “poo-pooing” anything that looks weird or scary coming out of ancient myths, regardless of context. 

I know from 12 years of personal experience within a fundamentalist religious school that there are uninformed religious leaders who share in the transparent traits of an unbalanced human ego, significant unchecked human narcissism, and psychological “gaslighting tendencies” aimed at their own self-interests. Their self-interest says, “Don’t look that way. The only truth is what I’m selling.” But this guy isn’t buying it! My bet goes to the mystical traditions that are openly ‘non-dual,’ from the perspective of “Consciousness First.” I see that as the Divine way. The Way of Truth. And the way of Light. These are metaphors, I know that. And I also know that the metaphors point to deep meaning and purpose. Faith and belief are better placed in that direction over dualistic and self-contradictive nonsense. 

What is the Abraxas?

I’ll close this blog entry by explaining what I see with the Gnostic Abraxas image: 

The rooster head is a solar symbol. The cock crows just before dawn, announcing the coming of the solar “light.” This is further evidenced by holding the sun off to the side. It’s a transitional symbol. And it’s associated with Saturn / Karma. The whip has to do with mentation processes within Nature itself, which involve driving the “many” back to the “One.” It’s pointing to reunification or re-association back into the Mind at Large (MAL), as modern Analytic Idealism would put it. The two serpent legs refer to two types of “knowledge,” or perhaps “knowledge” as one leg and “wisdom” as the other. I’m going to follow the tradition of the Hermetic Kybalion and leave it up to the reader to further explore these implications and figure out what this means on their own. But this is a logical place to start looking. Everything illustrated or symbolized in ancient mystical iconography has meaning. Nothing is illustrated for no apparent reason. And meaning is usually layered. 

I’ve already sworn to myself (I’m independently mystical/philosophical, not initiated into any formal secret society) not to divulge the ancient mysteries to the public beyond what is currently available online and elsewhere in the public domain. I have the utmost respect for what the “Jedi” Hermetic Orders have accomplished by preserving and transmitting ancient knowledge through the world’s darkest ages, which is what the ancients desired! The solar mysteries are “time” capsules. When conditions are naturally right for re-discovery, there they are, hidden in plain view! 

The Hermetic Order of 21st Century Idealists was formed as a “not-secret society.” It was formed for the purpose of public discourse and the advancement of ancient “knowledge” in the modern world. Respect is given to the Great Year and our entering the new age of Aquarius-Leo which is a “time” sanctioned by the old lore and astronomical star charts for the secreted, hidden, ancient “knowledge” to start working its way back into public discourse again. We have the “Jedi” Hermetic Orders who have kept the “Flame of Truth” alive to thank for that! The new Hermetic Order of 21st Century Idealists is an extension of that ongoing tradition! 

Stephen Wollard

The Hermetic Idealist

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *