The story of Orion the Hunter, an archetype deeply rooted within the human subconscious, goes back to the very origins of civilization.
The prophet Elijah is linked with the Orion archetype and it is therefore not surprising that his story is connected with a river. At the end of his mission, after they have crossed the Jordan, Elijah promises his mantle to Elisha provided he observes him leaving the earth. Then, in a great swirling of fire, a chariot appears and Elijah is taken up to heaven. This story of Elijah’s ascension seems to be an allegory concerning the rising of the sun and the fading out of the stars at dawn. In antiquity the sun god was often depicted as being drawn along in a fiery chariot by celestial horses. Elijah’s disappearance as the chariot arrived is a coded reference to the fading of the stars of Orion at sunrise. Elisha inherited the mantle of Elijah and it is significant that the first miracle that he performed was once more to part the Jordan so that he could go back to Jericho. It is also noteworthy that John the Baptist carried out his Jordan mission near Jericho, at approximately the same spot where Elijah and Elisha are said to have crossed over. Again, this implies that he too is to be thought of as an initiate of the same school as Elijah and Moses, that other great divider of waters.
In Matthew’s Gospel it is stated categorically, by none other than Jesus himself, that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah. Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those clothed in soft raiment are in kings’ houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear let him hear.” (Matt. 11: 10—15)
However, over and above this, the description of both Elijah and John the Baptist as roughly clothed and belted is in keeping with the Orion/Samson archetype. The belt is one of the most important descriptive features of the constellation of Orion, and the reference to John’s belt seems to link the Baptist with a secret school of prophets—a “School of Orion”—that possibly stretches back to the time of Enoch.
It seems likely that Zoroaster and his followers were familiar with the importance of the Orion constellation, perhaps from contact with an earlier esoteric school.
It appears from Eusebius that tradition, at least, represented Israel as an astrologer, who believed himself under the influence of Saturn. Even at this day, the three great stars in Orion are called Jacob’s staff and the Milky Way is familiarly termed Jacob’s ladder.
The Roman Saturn was an agricultural deity whose principal feast, the Saturnalia, was held around 25 December at a time when Orion rises at sunset and is visible throughout the night. Moreover, the staff Orion carries in his left hand can easily be interpreted as a scythe while his right, reaching out toward the ecliptic, does in a very real way hold the sands of time. For these reasons it seems much more likely that the original Saturn or Chronos, “Lord of Time” as opposed to planet of adversity, was indeed Orion. The real reaper in the sky is not Saturn but Orion, whose appearances at dawn, sunset, and midnight have for eons marked out the agricultural seasons.
In the Hebrew Kabbalah the Sephirah or sphere associated with Saturn is Binah or “Understanding.” This stands at the top of the Pillar of Severity and is followed by Hochma or “Wisdom,” which stands on top of the Pillar of Mercy and represents the zodiac or sphere of the fixed stars. Here too, then, Saturn was seen as the last station in the “Lower Heavens” that the soul had to pass before crossing to the zone of the fixed stars: the “Higher Heavens.” Yet the portal to this sphere above the planets was not Saturn itself; but rather the position on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic (the path followed by the sun in its annual course) crossed the Milky Way.
The idea of a “stargate” above Orion was something first come across in a completely different context in the The Mayan Prophecies. Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend had pointed to this by a short passage in Hamlet’s Mill. In the chapter called “The Galaxy” they refer to the ancient idea expressed in Macrobius Commentaries on the dreams of Scipio, that between lives men’s souls dwell in the Milky Way. The gateways which their souls pass in and out of life were, they said, at the two points in the sky where the ecliptic crosses the Milky Way. One of these gateways is in the constellation of Gemini --- actually above Orion --- and the other between Scorpio and Sagittarius. In the Book of Genesis the connection between the Kabalistic Tree of Life and the souls journey to the gate of their heaven is illustrated in an earlier dream of Jacob when he sees a ladder with angels climbing up and down it; And he [Jacob] dreamt that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! Then Jacob awoke and said, ”surely the Lord is in this place; and I did know it.” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Gen. 28: 12, 16—17) If we equate Jacob with Orion and his ladder with the Milky Way, then it would appear that this “gate of heaven” is the same stargate that Macrobius describes as being at the crossroads of the latter with the ecliptic. We have therefore, the image of Jacob seeing the angels passing through the stargate that lies at the top of the ladder of the Milky Way.
In The Orion Mystery we presented graphic as well as written evidence showing how important the Egyptians considered the constellation of Orion to be. We published an illustration based on a drawing from the ceiling of the tomb of Senmut, companion and vizier to Queen Hatshepsut. In this picture Sahu/Orion is shown standing in a small boat with three prominent stars representing Orion’s belt) over his head. This figure carries in his left hand a staff of office, while in his right he holds an ankh—the Egyptian hieroglyph usually translated as “life.” Behind him, following in her own boat, is a goddess identifiable as representing the star Sothis or Sirius. Another diagram showed part of the ceiling painting from the mausoleum of Seti I, one of the greatest of the New Kingdom pharaohs and father of Ramses II. In this drawing Orion is again shown in his boat with the staff in one hand and an ankh in the other, above which is a five-pointed star.
The hieroglyph of a five-pointed star is transliterated as s’ba, literally meaning “star.” However, s’ba has a secondary meaning, which is “door.”
Thus the star held out in the hand of the Sahu figure on the benben stone of Amenemhet III conveys in shorthand the exact meaning of ”stargate.” (As we know from many examples, the Egyptians were fond of punning as a way of concealing hidden meanings.
It is well known that the literal translation of the symbol ankh had the meaning of “life”; yet the derivation of the symbol is a matter of great debate. This association of the ankh with the concept of life or the life force is very curious and seems to have been something of a mystery even to the Egyptians.
In our solar system the support of all life is the sun. Without its precious rays there would be no life on earth. The sun reaches its greatest power at the summer solstice and this, I believe, is an important clue to the derivation of ankh symbol. At the solstice, the sun stands on the principal celestial meridian. This meridian, which is at 90 degrees to the one running through its equinoctial positions, was clearly regarded by the Egyptians themselves as the celestial equivalent of an imaginary line drawn on the earth’s surface: the geographical prime meridian.
The symbol of the ankh is really all about. It is the key to the gate of heaven, that is to say to eternal life in the world beyond this world. Jesus, who was obviously highly initiated and knew about these matters.