I n the matter of cosmic cycles and ages, the ancient Egyptians can be said to offer one of the most elaborated versions with their Divine Year of 168 zodiacal years.
In effect, like most of old traditional cultures, the ancient Egyptians are known to have conceived a universe built on mysterious numerical relationships in which the various orders of magnitude matched each other both quantitatively and qualitatively. Thus, they believed that the Divine Year of 168 zodiacal years consisted of three “divine times of work” each divided in 56 zodiacal years (168 : 3); each “divine time of work” of four “seminal seasons” consisting of 14 zodiacal years each (56 : 4); each “seminal season” of two “divine conception weeks – equivalent to Day and Night – consisting of seven zodiacal years each (2 : 2); and each “divine conception week” of seven “creation days” of 25,920 common years each (7 : 7), this being the duration of a cycle of precession of equinoxes or Zodiacal Year. This established a first analogy between the Zodiacal Year and a “creation day.”
Additionally, they divided the “creation day” of 25,920 common years in 12 “differential hours” – equivalent to 12 zodiacal months – of 2,160 common years each (25,920 : 12), i.e. the period during which the equinox coincides with the same sign of the Zodiac.
Now, since the ascent of every new sign is considered to be escorted by events that are catastrophic or in some other way crucial to the Earth, this “differential hour” or zodiacal month of 2,160 common years has been given particular attention by the Hermetic tradition. For example, it is said that when the Age of Leo was coming to an end and the one of Cancer was about to arrive, about 10,000 years ago, there took place the downfall of Atlantis. In turn, the shift from Cancer to Gemini would have witnessed the passing of an enormous comet that shook the Earth to its roots. The shift from Gemini to Taurus, about 6,000 years ago, is supposed to have marked the start of new civilizations and the beginning of the worship of the bull – and the goat – at several places of the world: the ox Apis in Egypt, the winged bulls in Babylon and Assyria, as well as holidays associated to the spring and procreation. In turn, the arrival of Aries, about 4,000 years ago, is known to have concurred with the appearance of the paschal lamb, a symbol of Judaism. Finally, the shift from Aries to Pisces would have heralded the appearance and propagation of Christianity, the main symbol of which, at least at its beginning, was, as we know, the fish.
Be it as it may, as a “differential hour” within the “creative day” of 25,920 common years, and continuing with the hourly analogy, the Egyptians divided the period of 2,160 years into 60 “minutes” of 36 common years each (2,160 : 60) and the “minute” of 36 common years into 36 “specific tasks” of one common year each (36 : 36), thus establishing two important hourly analogies by matching, first, the common hour with the “zodiacal month”; and secondly, each minute of that “hour” with a cycle of 36 common years, equivalent to a half of a degree of the zodiac circle. Finally, they divided the “specific task” or common year into seven “creative aptitudes” of 52 weeks and fraction each (365 : 7) and the “creative aptitude” into seven “human virtues” of seven days and fraction each (52: 7), which established a correspondence between the common week and the Divine Year of 168 Zodiacal Years and fundamentally, although by resorting in this case to imperfect divisions and fractions, between the common week and the seven “creation days” of 25,920 common years each.
Well then, whatever the practical value of the above calculations, it is clear that the ancient Egyptians, as well as the Greeks, Persians and Chaldeans, dispensed a most special relevance to this cycle of 25,920 years (or its half of 12,960 years), which would very likely represent the length of a full cycle of four ages. If so, what would be the length of each age?
I would like to make some observations here. These periods or “seasons” – the description of which certainly sounds a bit fanciful – which some traditions automatically round up as six thousand years, clearly correspond to a more general, and therefore more extensive, cycle than the one made up by the ages depicted by Hesiod, who was clearly talking about more local and contingent periods and about cycles already concluded in his time. On the other hand, they strongly crash, both in their magnitude and by their equal lengths, with the four yugas of the Hindu tradition, which are of an incredible elaboration and whose lengths, proportional to the scale 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10, are amazingly 1’728.000, 1’296.000, 864,000 and 432,000 common years respectively, equaling a total length of 4’320,000 years for the full cycle. Incidentally, it is most significant that this scale, although reversed, is the same as the Pythagorean Tetraktys expressed as 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10. Let me briefly address the latter.
Back among the Old Greeks
Among the Greeks who exposed on the doctrine of cosmic cycles – great philosophers like Anaximander, Empedocle, Heraclitus, and subsequently Plato and the Stoics – there clearly stands out Pythagoras, whose intellectual interests were primarily mathematic. It is said that his most transcendental discovery, which would signify a sort of disclosure of the nature of the universe, was that certain intervals of the musical scale can be arithmetically expressed as relationships among the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 – which combined sum up 10, a symbol of the Supreme. Originated – according to legend – in the pitch of the sounds issued by an anvil on which hammers of different sizes were beating, this discovery demonstrated the existence of an inherent order in the nature of sound and, moreover, a mathematical organization in the formation of the universe, of whose structure, harmonious and beautiful as music itself, time participates as a key element.
Now, in times of Pythagoras, as well as later on, the Greek scholars used to make study journeys to various countries, mainly Egypt and Mesopotamia and even beyond, to India itself, considered throughout history as the ultimate goal of the lovers of knowledge. It is uncertain whether Pythagoras undertook such journey; if he did, it could explain the real origin of his famous Tetraktys – the “Hindu version” of which I will deal with very soon.
A Message from The Author
Luis Miguel Goitizolo
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