The symbol of the cross is one of the oldest symbols ever created, possibly predating even our species of homo sapiens. And for a good reason: If you try to carve a rocky surface with a sharp rock, straight or zig-zag lines and crosses are the most logical choices.
Nobody knows when these primitive symbols first became impregnated with symbolism, so will fast forward a bit, until the language of this symbol becomes a bit easier to decode.
Christianity and the cross
For the past two millennia, Christianity has probably been the first association with the cross symbol. The most popular form of the Christian cross is the so-called “Latin cross“, with the descending arm longer than the other three. In contrast, the sides of the “Greek cross” are all of equal lengths.
Of course, one of the main reasons for the popularity of the Latin cross is the fact that it resembles the human figure, and consequently, the crucifiction of Jesus.
Christian temples usually have one of these two shapes as their base. And at least in theory, Christian churches are constructed facing (equinoctical) east. In reality, however, many ancient churches do not follow this principle.
It is believed that this discrepancy is the result of the temples being dedicated to a specific saint. Consequently, they are facing the sunrise of the day of the saint in question, and not that of the spring equinox.
The orientation of the churches towards the east is usually explained by the fact that Christians should pray facing east. However, as the spring equinox marked the beginning of the ancient New Year, the purpose of this astronomical alignment was also to measure the year.
From megalithic passage graves to ancient Egypt
Some believe that the Christian cross was derived from the Egyptian “Ankh” symbol. The meaning of this symbol was “life, life force, prana” and it is attested as early as 3,000 BC.
However, the “Latin cross” was known even to the enigmatic Megalithic builders that came long before the first ankh symbol. This ancient, mystical knowledge was truly far spread. Nobody can deny that similar monumental constructions are scattered from the Black Sea, to Medditeraneanan and Ireland, and from India to Japan and South Korea…
Of these monuments, it is the so-called passage graves that are the most relevant to our story. Some of these “graves” are officially recognized to be 7-8,000 years old. The most remarkable examples can still be seen in Ireland.
The two shared characteristics between churches and megalithic monuments are:
- 1. Astronomical orientation towards the equinoxes and solstices
- 2. The shape of the cross in the floorplan
On megalithic orientation towards equinoxes and solstices
Here are some orientations of the European megalithic monuments:
Scholars are having similar dilemmas when it comes to discrepancies in megalithic orientations. But on a closer inspection one can see a pattern here. Most of the megalithic monuments are facing the winter/summer solstice or spring/autumn equinoxes.
Perhaps then, the answer is fairly simple. These monuments mark different seasons of the year, and other important dates related to the seasonal work.
In the nigh time, the easiest way to track time is by observing the movement of the constellations. The shapes of these constellations were standardized and they represented humans and animals, seen as mythological gods and demi-gods.
It is not hard to imagine how the most important days became associated with these pagan deities, which were later swapped for “saints” with the arrival of Christianity.
The cruciform floor plan
The earliest examples of the cruciform floor plans of the sacred buildings appear some 7,000 years ago. In the picture below, you can see a beautiful example of the Irish cairns. I’ve been lucky to have visited this particular one many years ago, and ever since then, I’ve been wanting to write this article.
On the left, we see the Amarna tomb 3 from Egypt. What is interesting is that these tombs appear in Egypt in the 14th century BC, at the zenith of the megalithic construction. The presence of the libation bowl in one of its chambers reinforces this theory. Libation bowls, positioned in the same general area, are a common feature of many megalithic passage graves (as well as Christian churches).
But what is even more interesting is that these tombs appear during the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who was the Sun worshiper, and the first monotheistic ruler in the recorded history.
And finally, on the right we see Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the largest holy site ever constructed. This just goes to show how widespread are these ideas, transcending not only the boundaries of space and time but also those of different races, languages, and ideologies. Representing the laws of the universe, these are the universal truths.
Diving deeper into the ancient astronomical symbolism
As we’ve seen, the megalithic monuments were facing the sunrise on a specific day of the year, usually solstices and equinoxes. However, two of the dates seemed to be preferred – the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
This is hardly surprising. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year. After the solstice, the days are getting longer – the “new” Sun is born. (“The king is dead, long live the king”). In many ancient cultures, the winter solstice was celebrated as the priestly, mystical new year. It is therefore not surprising that with Christianity it became associated with Christmas.
In the photo below, we see the illustration of the Sun penetrating the passage grave. The sunrays can reach the back wall of the inner chamber only on the specific day of the year. This is very important to remember.
The other New Year was marked with the spring equinox. This was the civil New Year and it was related to the rebirth of Mother Earth. It marked the season of agricultural work, marriages, and war. In the picture below we see the famous Utroba cave from Bulgaria. Even though it is impossible to date it, what is certain is that in the very remote past, this cave was modified by the human hand.
Around the spring equinox, the phallus-shaped rays of light touch the back wall of the womb-shaped cave. Just like in the case of the passage grave, the rays of light will be long enough only around this date. The symbolism is clear – the great Mother Earth is getting impregnated by the Sky-Father. The new cycle of life begins.
Isn’t this the same idea that we see in the story of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary?
Also, in its essence this symbolism is not at all different than that portrayed by the Vedic Shiva Lingam, God’s phallus, often placed in a holy cave, or that of the Egyptian obelisk. These are the vestiges of the ancient global culture, much older than it is currently accepted by mainstream scholars.
The four evangelists – solstices and equinoxes
We saw that the dates of solstices and equinoxes were the most important dates for the megalithic builders. The peak of their activity was between the fifth and the third millennia BC. During this time, the spring equinox happened when the Sun was in the constellation of Taurus. Summer was in Leo, Fall in Scorpio (above which is the eagle – Aquila) and the winter was in Aquarius.
Interestingly, these four constellations perfectly match the description of the four evangelists of Christianity.
This fact is quite known nowadays, but not many understand its importance. This IS the original language of the megalithic builders. It came together with the technology of manipulating extremely heavy stone blocks as if they are leggo. It came together with the mastery of seasons and time. Therefore, it was so potent that it remained in use even after the equinoxes and solstices had shifted.
In the earliest form, we see these four animals joined together as a sphinx. Later, in the Old Testament, they become the mythical Cherub. And finally, Christianity remembers them as the four evangelists.
In reality, Christianity marked the moment when the spring equinox had shifted to Pisces. For this reason, the symbol of Christ is the fish. The first apostles were fishermen. Of course, the other three markers are equally important. The summer solstice in the Gemini constellation marks the moment of Jesus’ baptisment. Virgo relates to the Virgin Mary, and the winter solstice in Sagittarius marks the moment of death and rebirth – a story for another time.
And yet, the four evangelists, symbols of the ancient star-lore, still adorn the walls of the churches and cathedrals.
The custom of crossing oneself and its astronomical sybolism
The sign of the cross is one of the earliest Christian ritual blessings. The gesture starts from the forehead, representing the “invisible” father (winter solstice). From there it goes down to the navel – the manifested son/Sun (summer solstice). And finally, it goes over the shoulders – representing the Holy Spirit (equinoxes).
However, in this last movement, the members of the Western church touch the left shoulder first, while those of the Eastern church touch the right shoulder first. If you look at the compass below, you will see what is the logic behind this. This is just one more proof of the astronomical base layer of Christianity.
The fish and the wheel – symbols of the new spring equinox
Many ancient cultures referred to the Sun as the “wheel” and it is believed that some of the oldest wheel-shaped petroglyphs represented the Sun. Therefore, it is interesting that in the earliest days of Christianity, Christ was also represented by the wheel.
The Christian wheel was a sum of the letters spelling ICHTYS, meaning “fish”. These letters were written one on top of another until they created the wheel. In this way, the wheel became the first secret symbol of Christianity. Moreover, it was believed that the word ICHTYS was an acronym, and in Greek, it spelled: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”
The fish, the acronym, and the solar symbolism – all hidden in the simple wheel drawing.
But even Islam, which forbids the depiction of God and saints didn’t stay completely immune to the symbolism of this new age. One of the most popular sages from the Quran, Al-Khidr is almost exclusively depicted standing on a fish (bottom right image).
As I explained in my articles on Slavic mythology, one of the supreme gods of the Slavic pantheon was Rod (Chrodo). Traditionally, Slavic scholars have associated his name with words meaning “genus, lineage”, but I believe that the true etymology comes from “rota” – wheel. Among the South Slavs, his equivalent would be Koliada.
Of the same root is the word rood, which in Germanic languages meant “cross and crucifix” before the word “cross” was ever in use.
We are told that the epithet Christ comes from the Greek “khrīstós” – “the anointed one”. However, in my opinion, this epithet could relate to another word – “Khrúsēs” – meaning “golden”. This epithet referred to quite a few “golden-haired” characters in Greek mythology. For example Chryses of Troy, or Chryses the virgin. It is a perfect epithet for the Sun-god.
Moreover, the same word is also attested in the Hebrew as “harus” and in Punic as “h-r-s” and could have been in the very root of the name of the Egyptian Sun god – Horus.
The future of the cross
In not so distant future, the celestial cross of solstices and equinoxes will shift once again, as it does every 2,160-2,500 years. This time, the spring equinox will move to Aquarius, and the new narrative will be needed to mark this new Age. However, that does not necceserilly mean the end of Christianity. If history teaches us anything, it’s that people are usually not so inclined on giving up the old ways.
Christians for example were not successful in convincing Jews that Jesus is the new messiah. Consequently, the Jews continued to use the narrative that belongs to the age of Aries, the ram; and had “expired” 2,000 years ago. And this happened despite the ram-horned Moses destroying the temple of Baal and the golden calf idols that marked the age of Taurus that had preceded it.
Indeed, our religions are nothing but a fine blend of the laws of men and the laws of the universe. And as our clocks follow the circular path, while the universe prefers the shape of ellipse, we need to re-adjust every now and then.
Let us also not forget that most religions nourish the seeds of that eternal mystery, which in its essence is eternal, undescribable and invisible, and reveals itself only to the most persistent of seekers. This was not my rant against Christianity or any other faith.
But there comes a time when we must let go and evolve when we must welcome the change even if it’s a hard pill to swallow. Only a fool would think that anything in this world is, or should be permanent.
Will Christianity disappear or simply re-adjust in the age of Aquarius?
What would Jesus say?