Books by David Warner Mathisen

Star Myths of the World Volume One

Star Myths of the World Volume Two

Star Myths of the World Volume Three

The Mathisen Corollary

The Undying Stars

Astrotheology for Life Unlocking the Esoteric Wisdom of Ancient Myth

Pop quiz (that you will never be given within the halls of academia):

Choose the best answer:

a) Vedism came from the sacred myths of ancient Egypt.

b) The sacred myths of ancient Egypt came from Vedism.

c) They both came from some even earlier, now unknown predecessor civilization (which, for want of a better term, some have called “Atlantis”).

d) None of the above.

Notice that choice d) is the default position of current academia, which admits to no contact between the ancient cultures of the world, in spite of the fact that all of them can be shown to use a common, detailed, sophisticated system of celestial metaphor which almost certainly did not spring up independently with all of its details intact in multiple different cultures around the world, none of whom had any contact with one another. 

Therefore, we can immediately eliminate choice d) and concentrate on the other three. Those who still wish to cling to choice d) should find evidence below to eliminate that choice beyond the shadow of a doubt.

The Shatapatha Brahmana or Satapatha Brahmana is one of the ancient sacred texts of the Vedic period, thought to date to at least 700 BC, although Vedism stretches back in time still further, to as early as 1750 BC or even earlier. The translation of the entire text into English by Julius Eggeling (completed between 1882 and 1900) can be found online here.

An important and revealing series of events described in the fourteenth book of the Shatapatha Brahmana provides clear and powerful connections to the myth-cycle of Osiris, and to other star-myths from around the world. The first section of Book XIV of the Shatapatha Brahmana can be found here

At first, it may seem bewildering in the obscurity of its arcane-sounding declarations and descriptions. But meditate upon the text for a while, armed with an understanding of the system of celestial metaphor common to the sacred myth-systems from Africa to Australia, from the Norse to the North American Indian, and from Achaia (ancient Greece) to Aotearoa (New Zealand), and fascinating connections will begin to assert themselves, and divine voices will whisper meanings that previously were hidden from sight.

The text immediately declares, in the first verse (14:1:1:1) that what follows is “a sacrificial session.” Beginning in verse 5, we learn of the sacrifice of Vishnu (words in parentheses are clarifications added by the translator — one may or may not agree with his decisions):

5 Vishnu first attained it, and he became the most excellent of the gods; whence people say, ‘Vishnu is the most excellent of the gods.’

6 Now he who is this Vishnu is the sacrifice; and he who is this sacrifice is yonder Aditya (the sun). But, indeed, Vishnu was unable to control that (love of) glory of his; and so even now not every one can control that (love of) glory of his. 

7 Taking his bow, together with three arrows, he stepped forth. He stood, resting his head on the end of the bow. Not daring to attack him, the gods sat themselves down all around him.

8 Then the ants said — these ants (vamri), doubtless, were that (kind called) ‘upadika’ — ‘What would ye give to him who should gnaw the bowstring?’ — ‘We would give him the (constant) enjoyment of food, and he would find water even in the desert: so we would give him every enjoyment of food.’ — ‘So be it,’ they said.

9 Having gone nigh unto him, they gnawed his bowstring. When it was cut, the ends of the bow, springing asunder, cut off Vishnu’s head.

10 It fell with (the sound) ‘ghrin;’ and on falling it became yonder sun. And the rest (of the body) lay stretched out (with the top part) towards the east. And inasmuch as it fell with (the sound) ‘ghrin,’ therefore Gharma (was called) and inasmuch as he was stretched out (pra-vrig), therefrom the Pravargya (took its name).

11 The gods spake, ‘Verily, our great hero (mahan virah) has fallen:’ therefrom the Mahavira pot (was named). And the vital sap which flowed from him they wiped up (sam-mrig) with their hands, whence the Samrag.

[. . .]

20 Now this was heard by the Ashvins — ‘Verily, Dadhyank Atharvana knows his pure essence, this Sacrifice, — how his head of the Sacrifice is put on again, how this Sacrifice becomes complete.’

21 They went up to him and said, ‘We two will become thy pupils.’ — ‘What are ye wishing to learn?’ he asked. — ‘This pure essence, this Sacrifice, — how this head of the Sacrifice is put on again, how this Sacrifice becomes complete,’ they replied.

22 He said, ‘I was spoken to by Indra saying, “If thou teachest this to any one else, I shall cut off thy head;” therefore I am afraid lest he should indeed cut off my head: I cannot take you as my pupils.’

23 They said, ‘We two shall protect thee from him.’ — ‘How will ye protect me?’ he replied. — They said, ‘When thou wilt have received us as thy pupils, we shall cut off thy head and put it aside elsewhere; then we shall fetch the head of a horse, and put it on thee: therewith thou wilt teach us; and when thou wilt have taught us, then Indra will cut off that head of thine; and we shall fetch thine own head, and put it on thee again.’ — ‘So be it,’ he replied.

Now, this is certainly a difficult series of metaphors. But, if one reads The Undying Stars and pays careful attention to the discussion of the zodiac metaphors found for example in the New Testament of the Bible, the entire scenario should begin to become quite clear. I would argue that this exchange involves the mighty “cross” of the year, described in this previous post from Summer Solstice 2014

We have already seen that the line dividing the zodiac wheel horizontally — the line connecting the two equinoxes — is associated in myths the world over with sacrifice. See for example this previous post, as well as the discussion found in the first three chapters of The Undying Stars, available for preview online. It was at the point of the autumnal equinox that the dying god was “cast down,” and depicted in ancient Egypt as the god Osiris in his mummy-casket, lying upon his back: stretched out horizontally. He was the sun in the “underworld” — the part of the zodiac wheel below the line.

Zodiac Whell

On the other hand, at the point of the winter solstice, the sun that has been toiling through the “underworld” of the lower half of the zodiac makes its annual turn and begins to ascend back towards the summer solstice. The ancient Egyptian myth-symbols represented this as the “raising of the mummy of Osiris” from the horizontal (cast down) position to the vertical (raised up) position, as explained by Alvin Boyd Kuhn in passages cited in the previously-linked discussion of the summer solstice.

This imagery was among the most potent and the most powerful in all of the ancient sacred system: it was the image of the raising of the Djed column (the backbone of Osiris, in ancient Egypt), the image of the dead ascending again to life. It was the imagery of the Ankh cross: the reassertion of the divine aspect in every man or woman, which is buried like a dying or cast-down god inside the horizontal or “animal” nature of our incarnate body (animals, as Alvin Boyd Kuhn points out, go around horizontally, while men and women are supposed to walk erect).

With this understanding, the cryptic passage from the Shatapatha Brahmana cited above begins to resolve itself into something quite understandable, and quite powerful: the passage is describing Vishnu undergoing the very same “sacrifice” as the sacrifice Osiris undergoes, his casting down into the underworld and his being stretched out in death, and then his subsequent triumphant rising and transcending.

In the verses leading up to verse 10, we read of Vishnu’s beheading, which involves his first leaning his head on his bow in rest (verse 7). This “resting of his head” on his upright bow indicates that we are talking about a solstice position, where the sun “stands still” for three days (the word solstice itself acknowledges this phenomenon — it means “sun station” or “sun stationary point”). For an explanation of why the sun seems to “stand still” at the solstice, see this previous post. The fact that Vishnu is described as taking “three arrows” at this point certainly seems to invoke the three-days during which the sun seems to rest at each solstice.

Looking at the zodiac wheel diagram above, we can see which solstice the sacred Vedic myths reference here: it is the solstice associated with the Archer: the winter solstice (which in the northern hemisphere takes place at the juncture between the signs of Sagittarius and Capricorn, as can be seen in the diagram: Sagittarius is just barely visible, peeking out behind the caption that says “Vertical column: the Djed raised up”). This is the lowest point of the year, when the Sun is most truly at the very “grave.”

It is at this point that we read about the ants, who decide to gnaw the bowstring, causing the ends of Vishnu’s bow to spring asunder, cutting off his head (verses 8 and 9). The cutting off of Vishnu’s head would seem to represent the sun at winter solstice, where the head of the sun has “fallen” to its lowest point of the year (it rises furthest south along the eastern horizon, and sets furthest south along the western horizon). The ants may be representative of Sagittarius as well: the stars of Sagittarius were often anciently described as resembling a locust — most clearly, in the New Testament book of Revelation chapter 9 (see this previous post). So, the ants in the Shatapatha Brahmana may well be an embodiment of this rather insect-like zodiac constellation also, and their action of “decapitating” Vishnu an expression of this part of the sun’s annual journey. In reality, the sun’s “head” has been “falling” towards this lowest point ever since it began to decline downward from the top of the zodiac, and most certainly ever since it crossed the “sacrifice” line of the fall equinox, but it reaches the bottom of the wheel just after passing through the sign of Sagittarius.

In verse 10, we read of the laid-out body of the now-headless Vishnu: it lies stretched out towards the east. This is very reminiscent of the laid-out body of Osiris (the sun in the underworld), lying inert in the land of the dead. Note that the progress of the sun through the underworld begins at the western horizon and proceeds all the way to the eastern horizon, where the sun is reborn and where it springs triumphantly again into the heavens. Thus it is quite appropriate that the Shatapatha Brahmana specifically tells us that Vishnu’s body lay stretched out with its “top part” towards the east (verse 10).

Following this comes another passage, in which we have the hero-twins the Ashvins approaching the horse-headed Dadhyank or Dadhyanc, and cutting off his head and then fetching it back and putting it on him again (verses 20 through 23). 

This all seems very mysterious, but the zodiac clues are unmistakable. The Ashvins are clearly associated with the Twins of Gemini (there are numerous commentaries in which this identification is explicitly drawn). Look again at the zodiac wheel diagram reproduced above, and note which sign is opposite to Sagittarius (who guards the lower base of the vertical line or column which connects the two solstices from the bottom of the year to the top). Why, it is the Twins of Gemini! By invoking the horse-headed Atharvana (a Seer or a Rishi) and the Twins, the sacred scriptures are indicating the line of the vertical solstice-column as clearly as it is possible to indicate it.

This line, as has already been discussed in the Summer Solstice 2014 post (supported by the analysis of Alvin Boyd Kuhn and Gerald Massey), is indicative of the triumphant Djed-column or Tat-Cross raised to its feet: Osiris raised from the dead, the divine life-spirit triumphant over the dead-matter of the animal body.

The case for the identification of Vishnu with Osiris, at least in this passage from the Shatapatha Brahmana, should now be complete. Additional evidence can be found in the fact that Vishnu is often traditionally depicted with blue-tinged skin, just as Osiris (the mummy-god) was often depicted with blue or green skin (since he is a corpse). Other common symbolic elements in their depiction can be seen in the juxtaposed images of the two gods, above. 

Last but certainly not least, the Rishi Dadhyank mentioned in the texts cited above is closely associated with a special weapon known as Vajra, which resembles a column and in fact resembles in many ways the sacred Djed column of ancient Egypt and Osiris. There are Vedic texts which indicate that the Vajra was originally fashioned from the bones of the horse-headed Dadhyank, as the authors of Hamlet’s Mill attest (page 393).

So, to return to our original question: did the ancient Vedic texts take their inspiration from the ancient Egyptian myths, or vice versa? Or, were they inspired by some common, now unknown, predecessor civilization? 

To argue that all these incredibly precise details (details which are common to the ancient star-myth system found in myths and sacred stories around the world) just “popped up” independently in cultures with no contact or no common ancestor seems ridiculous on its face. It certainly violates Occam’s proverbial razor. It is a possibility, but it is probably the least likely by a long shot (although it is the only alternative that is generally countenanced among academics).

If we had to say that one came from the other, we would probably conclude that Egypt must have influenced the Vedic texts, since the mythology of Osiris appears to have been fully formed long before the first Pyramid Texts were inscribed, the earliest of which date to c. 2400 BC (probably even predating the Vedic texts). But, we really have no way of knowing how long the sacred Vedic myths were passed down before they found their way into the very ancient texts of Vedic literature. Nor do we know how long the Egyptian star-myths were passed down before they informed the events described in the Pyramid Texts. 

Given the tremendous antiquity of each tradition, it is quite likely that the real answer to the question posed at the outset of this post is “c) the myth-imagery in the Vedic system and the Egyptian system each came from some even earlier, now unknown predecessor civilization (which, for want of a better term, some have called Atlantis*).” The fact that the myths share clear evidence of common symbology, and yet are so different in their outward trappings, also seems to argue that they both developed from some more-remote common ancestral culture, rather than that one borrowed from the other.

There is other evidence around the globe which suggests the existence of a predecessor civilization of tremendous antiquity, tremendous sophistication, world-wide reach, and possibly advanced technological ability. However, as discussed towards the end of this previous post, the current Presidents of the Academy, the Ministers of Science and Defenders of the Faith, are as loath to admit the possibility of such a civilization as the orangutans from the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes, whose most capable spokesman was the unforgettable Dr. Zaius, were loath to admit (publicly) the possibility of an advanced human civilization prior to the rise of the apes (even though Dr. Zaius admitted privately that he had long been aware of the evidence which pointed to such a civilization).

The evidence, however, is all around us on our planet, not only in the archaeological remains but also in the ancient myths in one culture after another after another. It is too much evidence to deny, and it is too much evidence to ignore.

If you answered c) to the question above, I’m with you.

* Use of the term “Atlantis” to describe an advanced predecessor civilization now lost to history does not necessarily imply belief in a sinking island of mythology. John Anthony West offers a good explanation of his use of this term in his essential Serpent in the Sky, on pages 13-14:

How does a complex civilization spring full-blown into being? Look at a 1905 automobile and compare it to a modern one. There is no mistaking the process of ‘development.’ But in Egypt there are no parallels. Everything is there right at the start. 

The answer to the mystery is of course obvious, but because it is repellent to the prevailing cast of modern thinking, it is seldom seriously considered. Egyptian civilisation was not a ‘development’, it was a legacy.

Following an observation made by Schwaller de Lubicz, it is now possible virtually to prove the existence of another, and perhaps greater civilization ante-dating dynastic Egypt — and all other known civilizations — by millennia. In other words, it is now possible to prove ‘Atlantis’, and simultaneously, the historical reality of the Biblical Flood. (I use inverted commas around ‘Atlantis’ since it is not the physical location that is at issue here, but rather the existence of a civilization sufficiently sophisticated and sufficiently ancient to give rise to the legend.)