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While watching the fireworks last Saturday evening, I found myself ruminating on the deeper symbolism underlying our patriotic traditions. I guess I've always found it a little dark that we celebrate our independence by evoking the sounds of battle. This particular display was a bit intense, as I explained on my Facebook page.
Montclair's fireworks go to 11!!! Innovative idea starting with a grand finale type display and building to a crescendo that sounds like incoming mortar fire. My husband turned a little white -- hell, it triggered my ptsd and I wasn't even in Iraq -- but really, really great!!!
So, that was our 4th. Very loud and very evocative of the "rockets' red glare" and "bombs bursting in air." It got me to thinking about what all that sacrifice was for; about our foundational principles. And so, I was ruminating on what "freedom" really means. (No. In case you're concerned, this is not the moment at which I suddenly veer off into some jingoistic rhapsody filled with meaningless platitudes, abstractions, and yellow ribbon magnets.) What, I pondered, did our founding fathers really mean by words like sovereignty, freedom, and liberty? Could there have been a meaning beyond independence from the British Crown; or even beyond any political reality.
What came to mind is some of the research mythologist William Henry has been doing into the esoteric underpinnings of our nation's heritage. I read some of the material on his site, some months ago, and found it very compelling. Certainly, much has been written about the symbolism in our nation's Capitol, the great seal, and other monuments. There is also a lot of paranoia about the association with Freemasonry and symbols that look very occult. Not surprisingly, Henry's take is entirely different.
The U.S. Capitol has numerous architectural and other features that unquestionably identify it with ancient temples including stone construction, an underground entrance, chapels, an image of a deified being, religious imagery, symbols, and inscriptions, divine proportions, massive columns, palpable spiritual energy, acoustic trickery, terrifying guardians, mystic visitors, closed doors, private members, secret chambers, and orientation to the Sun.
Earlier last week, my family and I took an unplanned drive through D.C. Unplanned because our intent had been to bypass it on the major highways. But, a lot of new construction on Rte. 95 and our GPS system conspired to take us on a more byzantine path. It was quite exciting for my daughter who had never seen such a view of "where Barack Obama lives." But, she recognized the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument from the television. It's been a while since I was this close to those structures myself. But, for years now, I have not been able to look at them without seeing an omphalos stone at the navel of the earth, and the tekhenu (obelisk), with it's gleaming benben. Why indeed does our nation's Capitol owe its design to such ancient and sacred architecture? Henry suggests a very conscious connection to our deepest creation mythos.
Domes have been called the perfect architectural shape: the circle, symbol of the universe, executed in three dimensions.
. . .
The oculus or eye of the dome is considered the Gateway of the Sun. From this gateway at the top of the dome rises the World Axis, the link between heaven and earth. Domes, therefore, are the threshold or gateway of the spiritual world.
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And, in the elaborate fresco, Henry sees allusions to religious iconography of many cultures, depicting perfection and ascension mythology. The title of the piece painted by Constantino Brumidi would seem to make that fairly obvious: "The Apotheosis of George Washington."
Apotheosis is a Greek word that means ‘to raise to god like stature’ or the glorification of a person as an ideal. Indeed, this fresco depicts Washington as a god-man. Christian art portrays Jesus sitting on a rainbow and enthroned exactly the same way. The sun is a symbol of Christ from the prophecy of Malachi 4:2 “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.”
Tibetan artists use identical imagery to portray their high holy ones (called lamas) who have achieved “The Great Perfection” (Dzogchen). The aim of the Great Perfection is to awaken the individual to the primordial state of enlightenment, which is naturally found in all beings. The initiate’s goal is to integrate enlightenment into all his or her activities and to unite the physical body with the energy of Nature. The supreme realization of which lies in the manifestation of the “Rainbow Body” or body of light.
Perfection is the foundation tantra of the European Enlightenment thinkers Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau who inspired the deeply spiritual, even mystic, founders of America (many of whom were Freemasons and Rosicrucians). Human beings are not inherently depraved or sinful, Enlightenment thinkers reasoned, we are naturally good.
Tearing a page from Plato’s Republic, they saw enlightenment as a process of revealing what is already inside the person; self-perfection into the Gnostic “Man of Light”. The Enlightened ones of Tibet say the same thing only adding that perfection or holiness is the natural state of every living being whether they know it or not and that we also have the capacity to manifest perfection (= Rainbow Body).
The implication, here, is that the founding fathers, and other of our wiser historical leaders, did not build all of this symbolism and sacred geometry into our national icons simply for their own Masonic entertainment; nor to hide in plain sight some nefarious intent. That, in fact, they were imbuing our national heritage with cues to the possibility of an even greater level of freedom than most have conceptualized.
Graham Hancock speculates in Heaven's Mirror that ancient monuments, the world over, are gifts to humanity bearing messages meant to awaken hidden knowledge; keys to our remembrance of a greater reality. Of King Jayavarman VII, whose manic devotion to construction at Angkor Thom has been construed as egotism, he writes:
It might all be an accident and modern historians might be 100 per cent correct when they allege that this high-speed building programme was just megalomania, resulting in the random construction of many temples here and there: 'an orgy of building, a brief yet sustained period of hectic, almost crazy architectural creation'. Yet in inscriptions from which we have already quoted in earlier chapters, Jayavarman sounds far from crazy or egocentric. On the contrary, he tells us explicitly that his temples were part of a grand scheme to win the 'ambrosia of immortality' for 'all those who are struggling in the ocean of existence'. We know, too, that he saw the Angkor monuments as effective instruments in this quest because of their special qualities as 'mandalas of the mind'.
Perhaps too, our founding fathers, with their allusions to creation and ascension mythology, had a similar scheme to free us from the "ocean of existence."