Sacred Mountains in Religious Myths

In planet Earth’s distant past, which we dismiss as prehistory, the uncluttered heavens presented a constant awe-inspiring panorama.  When systems of writing were not yet invented, the patterns perceived to be outlined in the countless stars became the focal points to stimulate people’s imagination and served to illustrate lessons of Creation and life purpose.

In those ancient lessons given with the imagined figures of the zodiac, the North Pole Star was held to be in a summary position by prehistory teachers, by which they meant that it is from this star’s position that all lessons of Creation and lessons of life’s purpose could be observed in their entirety.  And since the North Pole Star (Polaris, today) seemed to them to be the highest advantage position, it was regarded in many cultures as “the throne of the most high.”  This gave rise to later notions that linked the Pole Star with the tip of a regional mountain, which caused it to be thought of as a “holy mountain.”  Ancient Sumerian inscriptions, for example, spoke of a great mountain peak in the north as “the mountain of the world,” and it was regarded as the home of the gods.  The lofty home of the gods was therefore thought to support the pillars of heaven.  In later times the temple “mountains” built in Sumer and Babylon (ziggurats), the pyramids of Egypt, the pyramid temples of Central America, and the “cosmic mountain” temples of India, to mention a few, all have intimate connection to the Pole Star.  The Canaanite god Ba’al, for example, was said to have his palace in the “farthest north,” which meant the Pole Star.  The Hebrew god Yahweh, of course, could not be allowed to have less.

In every populated region of the ancient world, seekers and believers always regarded the loftiest mountain within their locality to be the symbol of god’s abode.  Thus all the “sacred mountains” of various cultures, such as Mount Parnassus of the Greeks; Mount Meru (or Sumeru) of Jain, Hindu and Buddhist cosmology; the heavenly mountain of Tien Shan; the Paradise of Taoist immortals; or Mount Zion of the Hebrew/Jews.  For each of these earliest cosmology/theology systems the “holy” mountain represented the highest purpose of Creation.  In the Old Testament book of Isaiah 14:13 this understanding is expressed as “…the mount of congregation, in the uttermost North.”  Psalms 125 opens, “They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.”  And in Psalms 48:2 it says, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”

When it is understood that these “sacred Mounts” also symbolized mental insight for the ancient cultures, a deeper meaning is opened to the in-crowd as to why scriptural characters, such as Moses, always had to go climb a mountain to receive instructions  from god.

Because of the Pole Star’s position is regarded as a “fixed star”—meaning that it seems to be in a constant position in relation to Earth—it has to be one of the most celebrated stars in the sky.  It was the permanence and dependability that the Pole Star presented to travelers in ancient times as a  positional marker that it came to represent for them a divine love which never misleads—if you pay attention.

The North Pole Star was spoken of as “The Axis of the Universe” and as “The Cosmic Mountain” in texts of ancient China.  In eastern cultures of the ancient world the knowledge that the Pole Star aligned with this planet’s axis inspired the understanding of “The Wheel of Life” and “The Wheel of Law,” and so represented the center of creative action from which birth and rebirth issued.  And the awe of this repeating celestial rotation upon the celestial hub evolved into the belief in karma.

There is only one constellation that seems to pivot on the North Pole Star and keeps a tight revolving motion around it—constellation Ursa Minor, which is erroneously known to us as the Little Bear.  It is only this constellation that revolves tightly around the Pole Star without any apparent drift in its relative position to that star.  There is also a curious positioning of constellation Cepheus in connection with the North Pole Star.  Remember, these constellation figures predate all organized religions of today.  Cepheus is depicted as the Crowned King, and in the outline of stars associated with the zodiac, this figure stands with his left foot poised above the Pole Star.  The brightest star in Cepheus is known to us today as Alderamin, meaning “the right arm,” and it is this arm that holds aloft the royal scepter.  This third magnitude star is distinguished by it unusually rapid rotation, and it also holds the distinction of also being located near the path that is followed by the Earth’s axis of rotation during the entire precession cycle of 25,800 Earth years around the center of our galaxy.  There is thus a strong correlation with OT verses, for the right arm is held to point toward the grand orbit of Earth’s movement through the universe!  This bit of scientific truth was known to the prehistory teachers, but not fully understood by the authors of “holy writ.”

In the New Testament book of Hebrews, 12;22 (which was written after the book of Revelation), it states, “But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable host of angels.”  This is a sly connection to a verse in Psalms (48:2) which reads, “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole Earth is Mount Zion (North Pole Star), on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”   The mention of Mount Zion in both of these accounts, like the holy mounts in all myths, stands for the highest point from which Earth was thought to be viewed in its entirety by the personified creative source.  The “heavenly Jerusalem” spoken of in the NT book of Hebrews is a play upon the meaning in the name Jerusalem—“light and peace”—and that reference was meant by the Roman author to imply the spiritual failure of the troublesome town in the empire by that name.  The “innumerable host of angels” of the verse pointedly refers to the many stars that revolve about the North Pole as symbolic of the innumerable and diverse emanations of creative energy which are made manifest as life.   This brushes admirably close to scientific instruction!  But that scientific potential is then quickly negated in the final chapter 13 where there is then listed various things that concern the corporate-style Christian churches, but are things that do little for inspiring an actual method for teaching individuals how they may personally attain genuine spiritual enlightenment.  In the closing verses of Hebrews we are treated instead with instructions about not listening to “strange doctrines,” suggestions on the acceptable methods of worship among Christians, the obedience and sacrifice requirements expected of believers and priests, and concludes with an uninspiring benediction.

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