Mystery of a Myth

Mystery of a Myth

Pentecost 133

Yesterday we began our discussion of Egyptian mythology by a quick nod to the oldest of the three pyramids at the royal necropolis at Giza.  Constructed somewhere between 2589 and 2504 BCE, the Great Pyramid of Khufu is the only one of the original three pyramids that remains intact.  Some of the blocks that comprise its construction weigh over fifty tons while the other 2 million-plus blocks weigh anywhere from two tons to thirty tons.  As mentioned yesterday, this pyramid is aligned with the constellation Orion but it is not the only one that is.  The pyramids of Menkaure and Khafre are also so aligned.

The Egyptians had a deep reverence for the sky but they also recognized that earth gave us the ability to live.  Perhaps that is why the interior temperature of the Great Pyramid at Giza is a constant temperature that equals the temperature of the earth, 20-degees Celsius or 68-degrees Fahrenheit.  More amazing is that the cornerstone foundations of this pyramid have a ball and socket construction, just like our shoulders, elbows, and knees.  This type of construction allows the pyramid to deal with heat expansion and earthquakes.  Even the mortar is mysterious.  After much analyzation, the exact composition is still unknown and attempts to reproduce it have been unsuccessful.  Unlike conventional mortar used in bricks, this mortar is actually stronger than the stones is binds and connects.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was also known as “Ikhet” which translates as “glorious Light”.  If you remember, we discussed yesterday how it was originally covered in casing stones made of highly polished limestone.  These stones would reflect the sun’s rays, causing the pyramid to sparkle and shine.  It has been determined that such a covering of shimmering limestone made the pyramid similar to a mirror, reflecting light that, if one stood on the mood and gazed upon its location on earth, the pyramid would have shone like a star.  The quarry from whence these limestone blocks were quarried as well as how they were transported to the construction also remains a mystery we have yet to unearth.

What we do know is that the Great Pyramid of Giza is today the most perfectly aligned, accurate to one-tenth of a degree, edifice in existence.  When constructed the North Pole was in perfect alignment with the pyramid.  It is also at the very center of the land mass of the earth.  If you look at a map or globe, this might not seem true but it is in how such a center is determined that makes the statement true.  East/west parallels and north/south meridians intersect at two places.  The parallel and meridians are determined to be those that cross the most land.  One place of intersection is in the ocean while the other is…you guessed it, at the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The walls of the Pyramid are also unique.  For one thing they are concave.  The centers have an indention which forms an eight-sided pyramid inside, visible only from the air and only in certain light.  The eight-sided pyramid is visible at dawn and sunset on two vernal equinoxes – spring and autumn.  The pyramid also contained a swivel door, found in only two other pyramids.  The coffer was built during construction as its size prohibits it passing through any of the doors.  Its construction is also unique.  It was made from one block of solid granite which would have necessitated saws with blades eight to nine feet long possessing teeth made of sapphire.  Hollowing out its interior required extreme vertical force and the use of tubular drills also made of sapphire.  If take the perimeter of the coffer and double it and multiply that by ten to the eighth power you have the sun’s mean radius.

The mathematics might be coincidental except too many such equations exist to be merely random.  The curvature of the faces of the pyramid matches the radius of the earth.  For over thirty-eight hundred years, this pyramid stood as the tallest structure on earth.  The relationship between Pi (p) and Phi (F) is also somewhat of a mystery regarding the Great Pyramid.  Phi is the only number whose square root is one more than itself.  Phi is also known as the Golden Ration, a so-called perfect number found throughout nature.  Pi is the circumference of a circle compared to its diameter.  The Great Pyramid illustrates the relationship of Pi and Phi as well as giving proof to the Pythagorean Theorem, developed by Pythagoras in 570-495 BCE.  Using the Pythagorean Theorem one can construct a Golden Triangle or a perfect triangle with a right angle of 90-degrees or a right triangle.  The Great Pyramid of Giza has four Golden Triangles and perfectly illustrates the relationship between Pi and Phi.

Thus we have a very mathematical, permanent structure, withstanding countless earthquakes and intrusion and thievery.  After all, this was a pyramid whose construction was ordered by a young man, for Khufu was only twenty years of age when he assumed power.  The pyramid took twenty-three years to complete and many myths revolve around both the demeanor and the leadership/tyranny of Khufu as well as the labor needed to create such a memorial.

All too often great leadership does not reflect great humanitarianism.  Andrew Carnegie once said:  “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” The American industrialist Henry Ford is known for having introduced the moving assembly line and created the world’s first production in 1908.  I think someone in Khufu’s regime might have beaten Mr. Ford to the punch on that.  The Great Pyramid of Giza was built with mathematical precision and teamwork and each worker had to have given it his best.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was a great monument for a pharaoh that was not a great humanitarian. It stands today as a testament to the mythological beliefs about the soul being taken to the heavens.  It also incorporates another great myth, that of the underwater world of Atlantis.  Remember the granite coffer in the middle of the Kings’ Chamber?  Supposedly it came from Atlantis.  There are no engravings or inscriptions – just a very large block of chocolate granite.  It is said that the golden capstone also shows water level marks from the flood for which Noah built his ark.  A pyramid built in 2589-2504 BCE showing a watermark from a flood supposedly occurring in 2304 BCE with a stone in the middle from a city written about by a man who lived 427-347 BCE.  And somehow they are all connected…mysteriously.

Purpose and Porpoise

Purpose and Porpoise

Pentecost 47

Many of us would consider a walk along a sandy beach at sunset to be something close to a perfect setting. One year on my birthday I had spent the day visiting with family. We found ourselves walking along the ocean’s edge, the setting sun a beautiful backdrop as the day neared its end. Looking out on the ocean we realized there were animals swimming close to the kids who were splashing about less than three feet from the shoreline. Getting to within two feet of the kids, mimicking their movements, was a school of dolphins. Or were they porpoises? After all, for most of us, they are the same thing, right?

Much of what we know about Greek mythology is the result of one man’s writings. The poet Homer believed that man held his fate in his own hands. Man was not simply a creature to whom life happened, according to Homer. Man had the ability to make a life, to act and not just react. Homer used the myths of his ancestry to create a foundation of excellence for which one should strive. Because of Homer, the Greeks developed a culture for and of excellence and were possibly the first ancient culture to think outside the box of simply living to get by, to attempt to achieve lasting greatness.

Greek gods and goddesses looked amazingly like humans. Made in the image of mankind, these deities often masqueraded as humans. Think about the psychological undertones of this. The Greeks were satisfied with themselves so they had no need of creating deities that were better looking. Unlike the Judeo-Christian God who is said to have made man in His image, the Greeks made their gods in their image. Of course, being gods and goddesses, they could do more than mortals. The Greeks built temples for the worship of their deities but the deities came to them, not the other way around.

Ancient man first conceived the concept of a deity, a god, in the form of a woman. The greatest power early man had was that of reproduction. It was in fact the only part of any creation that man knew anything about and could replicate. A mere mortal could do nothing to create a flower except take care of the flower in its current generation. Mortals did nothing to cause the sunlight or the rain and they had no idea at all where the air they breathed originated or how it continued to be present. They only knew, slowly, that these things were necessary. Human reproduction was the only thing over which they seemed to have any control and so, it was something they could not only understand but also worship with clarity. Human reproduction was also the only way that the species known as mortals could continue and so, reproduction was considered sacred. The first deities were, in fact, of the female variety since women were vessels necessary to the creation of mankind.

The mind of a human being is a mind that evolves and is, in itself, a magnificent storytelling machine. We operate based upon identification and comparison. The first thought when we see something is “Do I have a point of reference for this?” Our mind identifies a bed because of the shape and assumed function. That is why a bed looks like a bed and a box of similar proportions as the bed looks like a box and not a bed. The Greeks were able to have a polytheistic culture because their gods and goddesses were created in their image and therefore had points of reference that could be easily understood.

Like a story that expands with each telling, the forms and powers of the Greek deities began to go beyond the physical image of mankind. A prominent female deity in the Greek culture was the Sphinx. With the head of a woman, the Sphinx had the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle. She posed a question to those seeking to enter the city of Thebes and, in keeping with Greek mythology, punished the visitor if she received a wrong answer. “What being in one lifetime goes on four legs, at another time on two, and yet when it is old, goes on three?” Legend states the any travelers not knowing the correct response would find themselves crushed in the lion paws of the Sphinx, strangled and asphyxiated.

The name Sphinx is from the Greek word “sphingo”, meaning to bind tightly. Perched high upon the rocks, the Sphinx posed her question which led to the inevitable death of all travelers on the road. Oedipus was the only one to correctly answer the Sphinx’s question. Arguing with a companion over who should go first, Oedipus kills the companion and then proceeds to give the Sphinx a one-word answer – man. He explains that as an infant, humans crawl around on four appendages; as adults, they walk upright on two legs; as older people, men and women often employed the use of a stick or cane, thus going about with three limbs to hold them upright. Upon receiving the correct answer, the Sphinx hurls herself down the roads to her death and Oedipus is made king of Thebes.

The Greeks used their stories to explain how life could be shaped by man. Just as the Romans would later appropriate their deities, the Greeks used those of older cultures. The Sphinx is one such example. The Egyptian Sphinx is much older although it was renamed with the Greek named due to the similarities in description – another example of relating to what is known. The Sphinx itself is both a Greek deity and an Egyptian one. The Egyptian Sphinx was a male deity of more ancient times than the Greek one and resided outside the city of Giza. It was forgotten by the world until it was rediscovered by the armies of Napoleon in 1798. Other Sphinx statues have been erected all over the world and can be found today in Paris, Russia, Scotland, and even in the USA in Las Vegas.

The Greeks used mythology to illustrate what could and did happen to mankind in daily living. They compared to what was known in order to dream about the unknown, make assumptions, and then proceed to discover new things. They were not so concerned with what happened after one’s death, as in older cultures, but in what happened in the here and now. That had no point of reference for the unknown after life but they could easily relate to daily living that we all conduct.

Standing on the shores of the ocean that day, I was at peace with the here and now. Watching the sea animals mimic the human children was delightful. After all, dolphins are known to be gentle creatures and very friendly. It’s not like they were swimming with whales, a more threatening creature due to its own legends. The playful dolphins or porpoises (Who can tell them apart?) seemed to be the perfect addition to a beautiful scene. Thing is, though, I did not know whether they were dolphins or porpoises and porpoises…well, they aren’t the same as dolphins. They are not the same species. Porpoises are, in fact, whales.

It is important that we examine and explore that which we hold in reverence. Not every person in a cult or radical group is fully aware of the intentions of their leaders. Blindly following because it is fashionable can lead to one’s own destruction as well as the deaths of many. Religion get a bad rap not because worship is wrong but because of how we do it, or how we don’t think about what we are doing. We need to make certain what we are, in fact, worshipping. We need to know whether we have a purpose or are simply following a case of mistaken identity, like the porpoise. We need to make sure that which we revere is worth the journey of our life.