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BEFORE I take my leave of the public, I wish to put on record my speculations as to the origin of two subjects of remote antiquity, viz. : the Sun-ray origin of the Pyramids, and the origin of the Arrow-head or Cuneiform Character.
First, with respect to the Sun-ray origin of the Egyptian Pyramids.
In pursuing a very favourite subject of inquiry, namely the origin of forms, no portion of it appears to me to be invested with so deep an interest as that of the Worship of the Sun, one of the most primitive and sacred foundations of adorative religion, -- affecting as it has done, architectural structures and numerous habits and customs which have come clown to us from remote antiquity, and which owe their origin to its influence.
On many occasions, while beholding the sublime effects of the Sun's Rays streaming down on the earth through openings in the clouds near the horizon, I have been forcibly impressed with the analogy they appear to suggest as to the form of the Pyramid, while the single vertical ray suggests that of the Obelisk.
In following up this subject, I was fortunate enough to find what appears to me a strong confirmation of my views, namely, that the Pyramid, as such, was a sacred form. I met with many examples of this in the Egyptian Collection at the Louvre at Paris; especially in small pyramids, which were probably the objects of household worship. In one case I found a small pyramid, on the upper part of which appeared the disc of the Sun, with pyramidal rays descending from it on to figures in the Egyptian attitude of adoration. This consists in the hands held up before the eyes -- an attitude expressive of the brightness of the object adored. It is associated with the brightness of the Sun, and it still survives in the Salaam, which expresses profound reverence and respect among Eastern nations. It also survives in the disc of the Sun, which has for ages been placed like a halo behind the heads of sacred and exalted personages, as may be seen in Eastern and early paintings, as well as in church windows at the present day.
This is also intimately connected with lighted lamps and candles, which latter may often be met with in Continental churches, as well as in English Ritualist Churches at the present day. In Romish Continental churches they are stuck on to pyramidal stands, and placed before pictures and images of sacred personages. All such lighted lamps or candles are survivals of that most ancient form of worship, -- that of THE SUN!
The accompanying illustrations will serve in some degree to confirm the correctness of my views as to this very. interesting subject.
In connection with the worship of the Sun and other heavenly bodies, as practised in ancient times by Eastern nations, it may be mentioned that their want of knowledge of the vast distances that separate them from the earth led them to the belief that these bodies were so near as to exert a direct influence upon man and his affairs. Hence the origin of Astrology, with all its accompanying mystifications; this was practised under the impression that the Sun, Moon, and planets were near to the earth. The summits of mountains and "High Places" thus became "sacred," and were for this reason resorted to for the performance of the most important religious ceremonies.
As the "High Places" could not be transported to the Temples, the cone-bearing trees, which were naturally associated with these elevated places, in a manner partook of their sacred character, and the fruit of the trees became in a like manner sacred. Hence the Fir Cone became a portable emblem of their sacredness; and, accordingly in the Assyrian Worship, so clearly represented to us in the Assyrian Sculptures in our Museums, we find the Fir Cone being presented by the priests towards the head of their kings as a high function of Beatification. So sacred was the Fir Cone, as the fruit of the sacred tree, that the priest who presents it has a reticule-shaped bag in which, no doubt, the sacred emblem was reverently deposited when not in use for the performance of these high religious ceremonies.
The same emblem "survived" in the Greek worship. I annex a tracing from a wood engraving in Fellows's Researches in Asia Minor, 1852 (p. 175), showing the Fir Cone as the finial to the staff of office of the Wine-god Bacchus.
In like manner, it appears to me highly probable that "The Christmas Tree," with its lighted tapers, which is introduced at that sacred season for the entertainment of our young people, is "a survival" of the worship of the sacred tree and of the Sun. The toys which are hung on the twigs of the tree may also be "survivals" of the offerings which were usually made to the Sun and the heavenly bodies. If I am correct in my conjecture on this subject, it throws a very interesting light on what is considered as a mere agent for the amusement of children.
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