January 7, 2016
The Analemma is the figure 8 image we discover based upon the recording of positions of the sun seen at the same time and from the same fixed point throughout a full year.
The reason for this is because of two factors: firstly, the Earth is tilted on its axis at 23.5° in relation to the plane of its orbit going around the sun and secondly the Earth doesn’t actually orbit the sun in a circle, but in an ellipse, which is a more elongated curve.
When we combine these two effects we get the Analemma.
Although today this phenomena can be recorded using a camera, it is something that most of us would be unaware of based on everyday perception.
And yet the symbolism of the Analemma is apparent in many ancient and esoteric traditions. Perhaps those who first noticed the sun’s movements were alluding to an unconscious bond with its path which was then represented throughout mystical and spiritual writings and paths.
Very often, though, this significance is hidden within occult symbolism and arcane doctrine. These traditions represent not only the cycle of the year and eternal return but symbolize the belief in the immortality of the soul and its indestructible essence.
“To the ancients, light was the cause of life; and God was the source from which all light flowed; the essence of light, the invisible fire, developed as flame manifested as light and splendour. The sun was His manifestation and visible image; and the Sabaeans worshipping the light-God, seemed to worship the sun, in whom they saw the manifestation of the Deity.” (1.)
These are the words of Albert Pike, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, taken from his work, Morals and Dogma.
There are countless examples of solar deities throughout world religions and myths. A solar deity would be a god or goddess representing either the sun outright or an aspect of its effect and influence.
Famous solar deities include Sol (Variants include German, Greek, Roman and Norse figures), Apollo, Mitra, Shamash, Ra, Horus, Etain, Buddha and Jesus.
Some of the most obvious traits to look for within the lore and associations of these deities are twelve helpers, important events in their lives associated with equinoxes and solstices, and descriptions of their influences relating to the attributes of light.
In this particular article, however, we are looking for evidence of the Analemma within the context of mythic and religious figures.
Writing in The Esoteric Tarot, Ronald Decker comments upon the wide-brimmed hat worn by The Juggler in the early Tarot, “The curving brim of The Juggler’s hat is commonly believed to embody the infinity sign (∞) called a lemniscate.”
Decker goes on to write, “The Juggler’s hat identifies him as a native of a remote region, which, in this context, I take to be the abode of souls before birth.” (2.)
How telling it is then, that in later Tarot the Juggler is replaced by The Magician and his hat is simply replaced by a ∞ over his head.
If we remain on Tarot cards for a moment we can look to the number 8 card for an even more, symbolic example of the sun’s journey throughout the year.
This is the number of the Strength card and immediately we can notice the Analemma or Lemniscate infinity symbol above the androgynous figure’s head.
As we have seen, the journey of the sun is about its eternal cycle from the lowest point, on December 21st, to its zenith, on June 21st.
This is the story of the solar deity, the dying in the winter, the resurrection in the spring and the peak on the summer solstice.
We also see the number 8 represented in the Wheel of the Year, celebrated by ancient Pagans and within Wicca today; the solstices and equinoxes divided by their midpoints, Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain.
We see the Analemma within some of the oldest representations of the Ouroboros, representing, again, the return to the beginning and the cycle of time.
There are so many solar motifs relating to Jesus within the Bible that it is impossible to include them all, but it is interesting, instead, to draw attention to some that are not so apparent at first glance.
For example, in the Bible, and after his death, Jesus (The Sun) is shown alive again 8 times. (3.)
In Greek Gematria, the number of Jesus is 888. We are then left to wonder about the triple figure 8: why three times and where is the solar connotation?
Significantly, the number 3 in Pythagorean mathematics is the number of new life and balance. Pythagoras said that Apollo (An earlier sun God) gave oracles from a tripod and the number 3 represented the Vesica Piscis, the symbol of the fact that God gave birth to his worlds out of himself. (4.)
It is no coincidence that the fish shape of the Vesica Piscis became a Christian symbol for Jesus although it is interesting to ask how many Christians know of its original pagan meaning. (5.)
The Pythagoreans also spoke of the number 8 in terms of law and holiness. They believed it derived its form from the twisted snakes on the caduceus of Hermes and partly from the serpentine motion of the celestial bodies. (6.)
Finally, one has to wonder about the cryptic words of Jesus in the Gnostic text The Gospel of Thomas. When the disciples ask Jesus how will their end come, he answers, “Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is.” (7.)
Again, we see beneath the words the association with infinity and the continual cycle of the Analemma.
Throughout our lives, we are continually moving between moments of happiness and sadness, times that bring us hope and times that make us despair.
The Analemma teaches us that none of this is permanent and that we are always given a chance to begin again. Sometimes, like the movement of the sun, we may not notice these moments. They may appear to be so subtle that their arrival is only noticed by our unconscious minds.
But the secret of the ancients was that time is cyclical and that the end is found at the beginning and is most noticeable from a place of stillness, a fixed self that can become aware of the cycles of the planet, the stars and, when we are ready, the soul.
© David Halpin 08/01/ 2016.
- Albert Pike Morals and Dogma 1. Apprentice
- Ronald Decker. The Esoteric Tarot. (P.12)
- Mark 16:9–11, Luke 24, John 20:19–24, John 20:26–29, 1, Corinthians 15:4–7, Matthew 28:16–17, John 21:1–24, and finally, before his ‘ascension to ‘Heaven’ again in Acts 1.
- The Secret Teachings of all Ages. M. P. Hall. Tarcher Penguin Edition. (P.217.)
- The Secret Teachings of all Ages. M. P. Hall. Tarcher Penguin Edition. (P. 220.)
- (7.) The Gospel of Thomas. Saying 18.