Journey into Egypt Tarot
Brief Modern History of Ancient and Modern Time Keeping
In my research for the court cards for Journey into Egypt Tarot I was sent down a rabbit hole of intrigue and mystery. These musings were not included in the Journey into Egypt guidebook or any other publications.
During his tour of Egypt in 48 BCE after the Alexandrian War while waiting out the Roman winter, Julius Caesar consults the Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes about reforming the Roman calendar. This new calendar is what we know today as the Julian calendar, which Julius Caesar adopted in the year 709 a.u.c. (Ab urbe condita/ "from the founding of the city" of Rome; now known as 46 BCE (before the common era)), is virtually identical to the Alexandrian Aristarchus' calendar from 239 BCE. It consists of a solar year of twelve months and of 365 days with an extra day every fourth year. As centuries passed the Julian calendar became increasingly inaccurate with respect to the seasons. This was a problem for the Roman Catholic Church because it affected the determination of the date of Easter, which, by the 16th Century, was well on the way to slipping into summer.
Today most of the world uses the Gregorian calendar. It was proposed by Aloysius Lilius, a physician from Naples, and adopted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582-for all Catholic countries. In the Gregorian calendar a year is a leap year if either (i) it is divisible by 4 but not by 100 or (ii) it is divisible by 400. Suffice it to say that a lot of effort has gone into keeping this calendar working. We’ve gone so far as changing the parameters for certain dates of Judeo-Christian importance. Today, the date of Easter is determined by more accurate lunar astronomy; in contrast to the more approximate lunar model used in the Gregorian system.
Today’s commonly used calendar uses tropical years, not sidereal years. It takes approximately 3300 years for the tropical year to shift one day with respect to the Gregorian calendar. The ancient Egyptian calendars were allowed to “slide” out of sync with the seasons. The Egyptians had three calendars: one being seasonal, one social, and one based on the stars. When the star calendar went out of sync with the seasonal calendar it was just considered part of the natural flow of the universe. Ironically, it was also a way for ancient priests to keep track of vast amounts of time. Today Egyptologists can use the Egyptians sliding calendar methods to track the dates of ancient events and monuments. For example, if Sirius rises during a certain holiday and that star isn’t aligned today, we can compute what year it was based on the predictable changing position of Sirius. In the Egyptian worldview, allowing the calendar to slip out of sync is both useful and natural.
The sun worshiping Romans used techniques for calculating the sun’s position on the elliptic with apparatus like the Horologium of Augustus an obelisk taken from Egypt after the Roman occupation. The shadow from the obelisk cast a shadow on a static grid placed on the ground, this method would become obsolete over time as the signs on the elliptic precessed. The study of astrology is the study of the movement of the stars and planets on the elliptic through observation while the mechanical methods would go completely out of sync as the sky shifts.
References: Die Sonnenuhr des Augustus (1982) by Edmund Buchner reprints two articles by the author from Römische Mitteilungen: "Solarium Augusti und Ara Pacis" (1976), 83, 319-365 and "Horologium Solarium Augusti" (1980), 85, 355-373, and updates his work. His main critic is Michael Schütz, "Zur Sonnenuhr des Augustus auf dem Marsfeld" (1990), Gymnasium, 97, 432-457. These articles are in German, which makes the following critiques of Buchner especially useful for the English speaker: "The Sundial of Emperor Augustus: Rise and Decline of a Hypothesis" (2005) by Frans W. Maes, The Compendium: Journal of the North American Sundial Society, 12(3), 13-27 and "Augustus, Domitian and the So-called Horologium Augusti" (2007) by Peter Heslin, Journal of Roman Studies, 97, 1-20; Imperium and Cosmos: Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius (2006) by Paul Rehak; James "Athenian" Stuart, 1713-1788: The Rediscovery of Antiquity (2006) edited by Susan Weber Soros; Augustus and Capricorn: Astrological Polyvalency and Imperial Rhetoric" (1995) by Tamsyn Barton, The Journal of Roman Studies, 85, 33-51. The illustration, which is based on drawings from Buchner, is in Empires Ascendant: Time Frame 400 BC-AD 200 (1987) by the Editors of Time-Life Books
Ancient Calendars, Timelines, Politics and Personalities
It is hard not to look critically at the calendars, timelines, politics and personalities of the ancient world in light of what we see happening in the world of 2014. As concepts of time folding in on itself and theories of all time happening at once swirl around the conversations of current intellectuals.
In the course of this project many ideas came to light and the timing of information at times seemed so in sync it was rather mind blowing. One such example of synchronicity within the making of this project was the timing of the famous end of the Mayan Calendar December 2012. Everyone was talking about it, wondering if it was the “end of the world”. My thoughts were, “What makes us so sure it is 2012 in the first place? And who decided that? Why should we believe them? And then it hit me If I were Augustus Caesar and I was implementing my deified uncle’s new calendar why in the world would I start this calendar in the year -42. And then of course I knew he would have started it in the year one with his reign. I wanted to shore up this idea with some timing facts, so I drew up a timeline. I looked for something to define the time that was cyclical and predictable and this something was a comet that showed up 4 days after the death of Augustus’s uncle Julius Caesar. The most predictable and cyclical comet being a comet known today as Halley’s comet so as an experiment I tracked this comet back to find out what years it made appearances. Only to find that the appearance of Halley’s Comet appeared in 11 BC not 44 BC there was a 33-year discrepancy and the idea will likely have to be scrapped. The next appearance of the comet is 66AD coincidentally two years later in 68AD the Jews wage a huge rebellion against Rome that ends in suicide on the high cliff palace of Masada. Descriptions of this 3-year stand off against the Roman army, the historical date of the palace’s completion (31BC) and the initial reason Masada was built all began to stir in my brain. The reason given in the historical record being because Herod was afraid of Cleopatra VII, that she was going to take over his country and he needed protection from her. This was a huge red flag and it made no sense at all. For several reasons first, Herod was king because Marc Antony appointed him. Herod and Antony were friends and allies. Herod fought on the same side as Antony and Cleopatra at Actium against “Augustus” (who was still called Octavian until he occupied Alexandria in August of 30 BC after that he was known as Emperor Augustus). Cleopatra and Herod’s mother were also friends.
Then this got my brain making connections between the timing of the completion of Masada 31BC, the battle at Actium 30BC and the history of the standoff between the Jews against the Romans at Masada in 68AD. Suddenly the visual descriptions of the historical record of the death of Mark Antony “who fell on his own sword” when he was told Cleopatra died by her own hand, only to suddenly have her appear again and have Antony “raised up” to her mausoleum on ropes. In the last days Cleopatra is reported to have locked herself in her mausoleum where no one could reach her. Was this place Masada? Is this where she went when she fled from Actium?
Because nothing remains of any of the written volumes of Cleopatra’s own correspondences her voice in time is lost. This alone speaks for her, that her enemies were so great that she was silenced and her only history was written by her enemies this makes me think that the conflict between Egypt and Rome and the warring in and for Egypt that preceded the arrival of Alexander the Great continued and morphed into much of the Holy Wars and religious conflicts in the centuries that followed reverberating the original turmoil.
After a while the whole Christian myth started sounding like Octavian’s propaganda blended with a story for the upcoming Age of Pisces. The Gospels that were written closer to the time of Claudius Ptolemy’s work transcribing what he learned as a librarian in the Alexandrian Library than the event the apostles were writing about. The books known today as The New Testament and Claudius Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos were all being written around the same time.
In the bible story Herod is the villain and the Virgin Mary her holy son and his stepfather flee into Egypt where the child is raised in secret. The boy disappears after his 12th birthday and reappears at the age of 30 when he appears at a wedding and turns water into wine. He rides into town triumphantly on Palm Sunday riding a donkey like an image of Horus riding a Sethian creature depicted on the walls of Ptolemy Era temple of Horus at Edfu. The line between the life of “Caesarian” Ptolemy XV and the life of Jesus begin to blur especially because the temple where Jesus was found talking to the High Priests on Elephantine was a historical retreat for pharaohs as well as a later period Jewish settlement. Elephantine a heavily fortressed island from which one could see an enemy coming from a great distance and from which one could easily escape undetected. The stories were so much alike it began to look like government propaganda. The political shenanigans between the now and the past began to show clues of how power corrupts and how stories are spun to make the dominant culture look heroic and good.
So I started to follow the power and who benefitted from this specific storyline. Whodecided where the AD’s and the BC’s should be in the historical record? The answer was Gregory XIII and his Gregorian Calendar. The institution to be maintained at all cost, The Roman Empire morphed to Church and Gregory was the spin doctor. Gregory the son of an unmarried woman who was mentored by Alessando Farnese. This name struck a cord and I had to go back and take a closer look at the Tazzo Farnese the cup given to the Ptolemys by the oracle of Delphi that had been taken as part of the spoils of war by Octavian (Empire Augustus) Em per Ra August literally In the house of Ra August, who took over Alexandria August 12th after the death of Antony and the alledged death of Cleopatra and PtolemyXV. The Tazzo Farnese renamed the Ptolemaic cup by the mentor of Pope Gregory XIII, Alessando Farnese (Pope Paul III 1520-1549). I looked closely at the chain of events in the timeline of the historical record for cause and effect. A cross over theme began to immerge. The Renaissance and the Vatican library is opened for friends of thee bible becomes available for the general public. Morte de Arthur is written Sir Thomas Malory while he sits in a jail after the War of the Roses he gets his information from the abbey library connected to his prison, this is published by Gutenburg and the Grail Romances are a huge hit. Columbus uses the works of Claudius Ptolemy to map his way to the new world. Science and Art flourish in Europe, the world is round. The bible is not a huge hit with the public. After Pope Leo X is quoted for saying “god has given us the papacy and we should enjoy it” 1517. There is a sense that they know the story is a myth but hey why wreck a good power structure. I mean if you think of it. The royal families of Europe must have had something pretty big over the Roman Church for them to keep their power. Pope Gregory XIII (born Ugo Boncompagni, he was Pope from 13 May 1572 to his death in 1585) Gregory XIII not only revamped the Julian Calendar he also implemented many new Catholic colleges and seminaries to educate new priests and seminarians much to the shagrin of the Church treasurers. papacy the royal families of Europe are becoming powerful in the Roman Church. Gutenberg invents the printing press and th
About ten years later Queen Elizabeth daughter of the Tudor King Henry VIII becomes the patron of William Shakespeare and the stories of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Cleopatra become entertainment in the theater of Stratford upon Avon. These stories were clearly on the minds of the people in the middle of the Age of Pisces.
Astrology and Astronomy fell out of sync with each other when people like Edmond Halley began to map and study the stars thru observation rather than from books. The observable universe was dynamic and ever changing, moving in a spiral rather than in precise clockwork cycles. Later the Newtonian Science began to move out of the realms of the mystical and into a world that was factual and logical. The middle of the Age of Pisces drew some pretty hard lines of division between science and religion. Today as Science delves into the nano world, quantum physics begins to look at the components of our world, the boundaries between each living thing are becoming a little less solid. The spiritual and the scientific begin to overlap and why wouldn’t they? Presented with the idea that the real sky was not being used by western Astrology really made me curious to give it a try.
If there really is such a thing as notable ages that shift every 2160 years, then it was time to take a hard look at the Age of Pisces. 221AD ushered in a time where the elite classes exploited the believing masses to make their pampered lives even easier. Since 221 AD (the year used by traditional Western astrologers to form the framework of the heavens) historical record has shown us corruption and brutality in action as the Roman Empire evolved into the Holy Roman Church. The Roman Church, along with wealthy family governments, have enjoyed near-unilateral power, controlling populations with fear, dividing them and pitting the common man against each other. The elite seem to believe in nothing other than maintaining their own power. The elites reward those who support them and seek to destroy those who stand up to them or attempt to uncover their rampant exploitation. If we know that we are immortal, then it is easier to rebel and stand up to tyranny. The earliest Christians knew about the idea of immortality and they were seemingly unstoppable. By 221 AD the Roman Empire stopped prosecuting Christians and about one hundred-twenty years later they adopted a Romanized version of the early Christian religion, making it their state religion.
Whatever Christianity was at the beginning, it became a version of Mithraism in the end. The Romans could not control the early Christians so they controlled the information and legalizing it as the state religion made it easier to make Christianity into a religion they could control. After another 100 years all paganism that had once been tolerated by Rome was outlawed, and the temples of Egypt were closed to its priests, converted to churches, or reclaimed by the encroaching sands. The past 2000 years have been ruled by the fear of death. It has been a succession of seemingly endless wars and power struggles between royal families and Religion with wealth and power. The wealthy elite, with their hidden agendas, have used common people like pawns for their own gains. We stand on the cusp of the Aquarian Age when timing and knowledge become paramount. It is a time when the will of the people and the will of nature symbiotically merge as one.
To understand what the Aquarian Age may have to offer the world look to this glyph of a man pouring two jugs of water on a fish and a duck, symbolic of the river god inundating the land. Similar to the hieroglyph for the Nile which is a snake wrapped around an androgynous figure pouring zigzag water from two jugs, reinforces a visual/symbolic connection between the Nile River, the sign of Aquarius and The Star card of the tarot. There is a uniquely Egyptian occurrence that binds these three typically unrelated symbols. In the physical/observable environment, the rising of the star Sirius, the timing of the full moon cycle of Aquarius and the historical inundation of the Nile River all happening at the same time. The star Sirius disappears as the Sun moves into Taurus. This happens when the Full Moon is in Scorpio/Imhotep/Serpentarius. Orion and Sirius (located just below Taurus) disappear into the Sun. By the time Sirius and Orion are visible again, in 70 days, the Nile floods. The flood is a predicable event year after year around the time of the full moon cycle of Aquarius.
Just like the Snake Bearer, which bears Imhotep in the Dendera zodiac glyph for the sign of Imhotep/Serpentarius/Ophuicus, the water is the “bearer” in the Water Bearer. This is not just a slave toting water it is much more than that. In Egypt before the Aswan Dam was built the Egyptians would experience three seasons, one very important season occurred when the Nile River would flood. This happened when the heat of summer would melt the snow in the mountains of Ethiopia causing the Nile to swell and flood. Ancient Egyptian culture was very in tune with the natural world, they were a culture that worked with nature not against it. During the season of the Inundation (Ahket) Egyptians use the floodwater from the Nile to transport heavy stones from the south to the north with relative ease. During the season of Akhet, when monument building takes place, people must wait for the flood to subside before the planting season can begin. To look back at the Star card for clues about what the Aquarian Age could bring we could anticipate synchronicity, timing, and spiritual renewal. The earliest meanings for the Star card included navigation pictures of a man on a horse, my visit to Nabta Playa confirms that the people who built the stone circles out in Egypt’s western desert had aligned their stones to Sirius the signal star of the inundation season. This star was a guide for navigating thru the savannahs that were changing to desert as well as a signal for when these changing lands would have water for their cattle. Perhaps in the Aquarian Age we will relearn to work with natural cycles and go with the flow just as the Egyptians have for centuries. The predictable and timely Nile flood is both life-giving and destructive; it cleans dusty streets and disintegrates mud brick construction. Sometimes possessions are washed away and lost, while at the same time, silt gifted by the Nile each year provides Egyptian fields with fertile soil. The forces of creation and destruction combined with perfect timing are the basis of the Water Bearer /Aquarius. Life on the cusp between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius will bring a mixture of both as we have witnessed in our lifetime. We are moving from the age of “believing” into an age of “knowing”, this is not always easy because in an age of knowing you have to think for yourself, you have to do the research yourself.
Looking over the timeline of lost ages perhaps we can slowly sort thru the forensic evidence, archeological evidence and DNA evidence and piece the human story back together again. Our history has been lost to us. The pyramids are a clue to the accomplishments of our ancient ancestors. The ancient sites of Machu Picchu and other architectural marvels are just the beginning of our knowing the greatness. If the pyramids of Bosnia are dated to 20,000 years ago then likely the great pyramids of Egypt also come from this time regardless of the histories written down in stone. Likely the pyramids of Saqqara were failed attempts at copying what had been built in the remote past before glacier melting and earth changes 15,000 years ago. Looking at the Dendera ceiling the astrological glyph of Cancer forms a spiral out of the constellations on the elliptic, this is an intentional clue as the spiral is also there to show movement forward. The spiral is also the hieroglyph for the number 100. The hieroglyph for a million is seated with arms raised not unlike the arms of the figures holding the Dendera mandala ceiling. The Egyptians were using advanced mathematics why else would they have a hieroglyph for this number?