The importance of the crossed Greek letters Chi (X) and Rho (P) of the labarum were first introduced into the Western World through the Orphic-Pythagorean Mysteries. It came as the monogram for Aeon Chronos (Χρονος), a non-Greek divinity who was later syncretized with Greek agricultural god Kronos (i.e. Roman Saturn). Eternal and omnipresent, Chronos produced from within himself the calm light of Aether (the Quintessence of the Cosmos) and likewise Chaos, the abysmal darkness. This synthesis of time and timelessness was adopted into the Christian theological interpretations of the eternal Christ who would also inherit the Chi-Rho monogram .
Chronos, of course, is the Greek word for ‘time’. But this is really only a surface interpretation of the meaning, for the mundane (or horizontal) notion of ‘time’ should not be confused with the Principle of Time that relates to vertical ascension. To explain this we are going to examine an astronomical cycle that is greater than all other cycles, a cycle that cannot be experienced in a human lifetime but that nonetheless relates to the start of mundane time as observed via the solar cycle.
For the classical Greeks and Hebrews, time in the form of the solar year began on the vernal equinox when the sun rises due east and sets due west (approx. March 20). This traditional New Year originated with the Chaldean and is still used in modern astronomy to measure celestial bodies relative to the ecliptic. As seen in the celestial sphere, on the date of vernal equinox the solar triangle of sunrise, noon, sunset is exactly equal to the anti-solar (i.e full Moon) triangle of sunset, midnight, sunrise .
On this day there are twelve hours of light and twelve hours of darkness, thus we call it ‘equinox” (from the Latin Aequinoxium) meaning “equal night”. Even though the modern Christian-Gregorian calendar marks New Year at the end of the winter-solstice month (a result of the Julian reform of the Roman calendar), Easter the holiest day in Christendom occurs on the Sunday nearest the full Moon after vernal equinox. This date, traditionally attributed to Christ’s resurrection from the cross, is therefore directly related to the equilibrium of Sun and Moon, and the annual “rebirth” of the solar cycle (i.e. time).
A tiny wobble in the earth’s axis shifts the solar position of vernal equinox to a new zodiacal constellation every 2,160 years, taking the Sun 25,950 years to complete one full cycle around the zodiac. This means that the fixed reference point used to measure the movement of the Sun across the heavens, and thus initiate time, is not fixed but subject to the precession of the equinoxes. Chronos, as the ‘turner of the zodiacal wheel’, is an allusion to this ‘cycle of cycles’ representing a power greater than the Sun and Moon and far beyond the confines of the human experience, it is Aeon in both a mythological and literal sense.
When Chronos was adopted by the Orphic-Pythagorean mysteries (c. 600-500BCE), vernal equinox occurred with the Sun in the constellation of Aries, the horned ram. This no-doubt aided the syncretism between the Aeon Chronos (Lord Time) and Greek agricultural deity Kronos (‘the horned one’).  As such, the planet Saturn, whose Greek astrological glyph was a cross between Kappa (K) of Kronos and the Chi (X) of Chronos, became associated with the Aeon of Time.
By around c.a. 90BCE (some calculate AD1), the vernal equinox had shifted to the constellation of Pisces, the fish. The first century AD witnessed the development and initial spread of an apocalyptic Jewish sect in the Greco-Roman world that used an ichthys or fish symbol as a secret sign to represent their belief in the teachings of their sacrificed messiah. As Christianity spread, the fish was retained as a symbol to represent Christ the savior and the fisher of men. Some read in the symbol an evangelical calling to disseminate Christianity. But this is a literal and uninitiated understanding. In sacrifice, Christ was the slain lamb and in resurrection he became the fish… A clear metaphor for the eternal Christ as the Chronos principle, the Aeon of Time who turns the zodiacal wheel slaying the lamb of Aries and brining forth the age of Pisces in which we find ourselves today.
The earliest material remnants of precessional ages take us back to when the vernal equinox sun was in Taurus (c.a. 3500BCE – c.a. 1200BCE). Many advancements in human society developed during this period; urban civilization, pyramids, ziggurats, and writing to name a few. In the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1500BCE) we find the development of the Proto-Sinaitic scripts in Egypt that would eventually seed the Arabic, Hebrew and Greek alphabets.. Shared by all these alphabets is that the first letter ‘A’ (alif, aleph, alpha) derived from the Proto-Sinaitic letter alp (meaning “ox”). Alp was written with Egyptian Hieroglyph “oxhead”- an unmistakable allusion to the sun in the constellation of Taurus during the first month of the year. Even in the modern Latin alphabets we use today, ‘A’ (taken from the Greek alpha) is simply the upside-down astrological glyph of Taurus . When the Proto-Sinaitic script developed the celestial bull initiated the solar year and therefore the letter ‘bull’ begins the terrestrial alphabet.
The Age of Taurus also corresponds to historical Biblical period from the time of the patriarchs (Abraham) to the building of the first Temple in Jerusalem. This is a time that was dominated by cults of bovine sacrifice (i.e. the Apis Bull of Egypt, the Ba’al worship of the Canaanites, the Minotaur of the Crete, etc.). We must also add to this the biblical narrative of the Golden Calf as a synthesis of the pervading religious practices of the Middle East. This bovine idol is destroyed by Moses and replaced with the tablets of the Law received at Mt. Sinai.
Moses is later instructed by God to order the twelve tribes of Israel to encamp encircling the “the tabernacle of the covenant” (the tablets of the Law, the Ark of Covenant, and the tabernacle of worship). The twelve tribes are then divided into four camps each attributed to specific cardinal point. Each camp is named after the eldest tribe in the camp so that in the east is the Camp of Judah (with Issacar and Zebulin), the south is the Camp of Rueben (with Simeon and Gad), the west is the Camp of Ephraim (with Manasseh and Benjamin), and the north is the Camp of Dan (with Asher and Naphtali). Naturally, this arrangement is to be understood as a cosmogram replicating the order of the universe with God’s Law as the central pivot (“tabernacle of the covenant”). As such, each tribe corresponds to a constellation of the zodiac beginning with Taurus and with the Camp leaders marking the cross-quarters (equinoxes and solstices). The tribes are listed clockwise from east, because this is the order and directionality given in Numbers; but, the zodiac must run counter-clockwise from east because this is the apparent motion of the Sun (along with the other planets and Moon) against the constellation belt.
In the zodiacal projection of the desert encampment, the Central Principle is the “tabernacle of the covenant” crucified by the constellations of Taurus (bull), Aquarius (man), Scorpio (eagle), and Leo (lion). In Moses’ destruction of the Golden Calf for the tablets of the Law, we find a shift in importance from the material representation of time (the bovine idol), to the Principle of Time and timelessness (the Central Tabernacle). These four constellations remind us of the four tetramorphs that play a central role in the vision of the Chariot Ezekiel, received in the “land of the Chaldeans”:
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north–an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings… Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:1-28)
Adding to his detailed descriptions of the mystical experience with God, Ezekiel is very explicit as to the dates of his vision, “On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoichin)”. This places Ezekiel’s vision after the Babylonian exile in the early half of the 5th century B.C.E. Thus, the zodiacal wheel had turned by the time of Ezekiel’s vision and the vernal equinox sun was no longer in the constellation of Taurus, but rather had moved to Aries. The cross-quarters at the time of Ezekiel would have been Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Yet, the tetramorphs seen by Ezekiel are a clear reference to the earlier age when Abraham and later Moses made the first covenants with God. In the mystical experience of the Chariot we have yet another manifestation of the Chronos Principle of Time – eternal timelessness in the vertical ascent.
- C. Kerényi. The Gods of the Greeks. (London, Thames and Hudson, 2006): 114.
- Vernal equinox marks the first day of various calendars including the Iranian and Bahá’í calendars, and corresponds to the first month of lunisolar calendars such as the Babylonian and Hebrew calendars.
- Vernal equinox occurs when the Sun moves from the southern half of the sky to the northern half. Heliocentrically speaking, this occurs in the northern hemisphere when the north pole of the earth points towards the Sun (see the first image in For Lord God is Shield and Sky).
- The Julian Calendar started the year on January 1st, after the solstice festivals of Saturnalia and the imperial ceremonies of Sol Invictus.
- The discovery of this “Precession of the Equinoxes” is attributed to the Greek astronomer Hipparchus in the second century C.E. , and indeed for modern science he may have been the first to exoterically disclose this cycle.
- René Guénon. Symbols of Sacred Science. (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2004):185-190.
- There are discrepancies as to when the actual ages of precession begin. Depending on which system of zodiac is used, whether fixed and geometric (as the Chaldeans would have used) or * (as used in mundane astrology). It gets even more complicated if you rely on the actual observation of the sun in the constellation, since this can shift the date by a few centuries. The truth is that the exact dates are irrelevant as these are only material idiosyncrasies, the Principle of precession is what is important.
- The simple Crismon the variant form of the labarum adopted by Christians in the 2nd to 5th centuries furthered the link between Christ and the fish as it was composed of the crossed Iota (I) and Chi (X) the first letters in Iχθυς (‘fish’) and the monogram for ΙησουςХριστος(‘Jesus Christ’).
- “Come and follow me, “Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.“ (Mathew 4:18-4:20).
- Gordon Hamilton. W.F. Albright and Early Alphabetic Epigraphy. Journal of Near Eastern Archaeology (2002).
- Amihai Mazar. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992).
- Numbers 1.50; There are only two other instances when the phrase “tabernacle of the covenant” is used (Exodus 38.21 , and Numbers 10.11).
- Numbers 2.1 – 2.32
- There have been various other zodiacal schemes for the twelve tribes of Israel. However, they all hinge on dubious arguments relying on the selective picking and choosing of biblical passages. One common argument is that Judah should correspond to the constellation of Leo, because in Genesis 49:9 “Judah is a lion’s whelp” …the author overlooks that in Deuteronomy 33:22 “Dan is a lion’s whelp”, and two lines earlier “Gad: he dwelleth like a lion”. The correspondences are all two frivolous, as we can make an argument for any of the three corresponding to Leo. What we have presented here is a zodiacal model that is based on the order and cardinal points by which the tribes are listed in Numbers and the astronomical order of our sky, nothing more.
- Ezekiel 1.2