Note: The following letters are reprinted with permission.

On the Forbidden Letters - by Julius Breitner

 Part 1 - Ningizidda

'On the Hydra seal they are the seven heads of the serpent God Ningizidda. On this reading there seems to be something there that is related to the kundalini metaphysics of the serpent power as the moving force of the universe.'[2002:271]

On page 274 of his excellent 2002 book The Shape of Ancient Thought Thomas McEvilley opines that the caduceus, who is found almost world-wide, was first represented in the Mesopotamian temple of Ningizzida. That deity Ningizzida is commonly seen...

'...in conjunction with a fire altar.'[2002:271]

He/she was 'sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head,'[Ibid.] and considered 'the earliest known symbol of snakes twining around an axial rod, predating the Caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius and the staff of Moses by more than a millennium..'[Wikipedia]

As a deity 'addressed as "Lord of the Tree of Life" he stood at the gate of heaven,'[Lindemans] (just like Peter did, the disciple who represents the Stone of Transmutation). McEvilley concludes then that the iconography of kundalini yoga must be a mix of Mesopotamian and Egyptian models: 'The icons of copulating serpents entwined around a pole inside the human body (....), the eagle-serpent combat (...), the eight-petaled lotus or rosette, the seven headed serpent power, the ascent up the spine, they all have clear Bronze Age, Near Eastern antecedents.'[2002:270] 

Yet, a clear medicinal understanding of kundalini yoga and its serpent, so typical for Alchemy from the second century BC on, was not found in that Age. And such an understanding of Alchemy can naturally only be explained if its goal is not otherworldly, but earthly. If, in other words, Alchemy is about physical and not about transcendental immortality. As Girardot put it, in Alchemy... 

'...salvation is more a matter of the healing of the man to the fullness of cosmic life, than it is a saving from the world.'[1983:198] 

This is particularly true for Chinese Alchemy. And although it is impossible to demonstrate actual historical connections between Chinese and Western alchemical traditions (China knows nothing about the Stone for example), 'it does seem that both traditions are rooted in a similar mythological understanding of nature and significance of creation.'[1983:298] Both Chinese and Western Alchemy are 'based on a purely cosmological vision.'[1967:73]

In Western Alchemy Sol and Luna are united, in Chinese Alchemy they are called yin and yang. And  where the alchemical tradition of the West tells of Thoth/Hermes, the Far East tells of the Yellow Emperor, originally... 

'...a patron god or totemic ancestor of certain prefeudal traditions of metal working.'[1983:198] 

Metal working was 'just a facade'[2006:236] of course. The Royal Art revolved not around metals, it revolved around the 'transformation of the body into spirit in the quest for immortality.'[Ibid] The practitioner 'had to undergo an inner death and resurrection, a baptism of fire, holding out the prospect of rebirth into immortality.'[Ibid] He shall 'not taste death.'[Gospel of Thomas] 


Part 2 - The Labyrinth, the Phoenix and the Underworld


'Looking in the divine mirror, what kind of daimon does the Hero overcome? Whose identity does this person see?'[1986:187] 

'God is so unknown because he's right in our face.'[John Raven on the Forbidden Letters]


In his spring 2007 comment on the Forbidden Letters Jay Reed Armstrong proposes that the labyrinth represents the alchemical phase of the Night of the Soul. Armstrong:


'Finding the Grail will then most likely be one of the most delicate things a man can do psychologically. And putting that Grail to work afterwards in the Night of the Soul perhaps one of the most unpleasant. (...) In the labyrinth of that Night our beast, the dark side of our Self, the Minotaur, is freed, fought and transmuted by the Alchemist into light bit by bit.(...)'


Ariel Golan has information on the labyrinth suggesting that Reed Armstrong could very well be right. In his 1991 book Myth and Symbol Golan tells us that 'something of the meaning of the labyrinth can be understood from its appellations. The ancient Greeks referred to it as the labyrinthos. And the double-side axe, typical of Cretan cult, was called labris.'[1991:180] Now, it was shown by GŁntert 'that these words originated from a pre-Indo-European word which meant stone.'[Ibid.] This is interesting since 'no ancient labyrinths were ever built of stone.'[Ibid.] Stone was though...


'...the symbol of the god of the underworld.'[Ibid.]


Paleolithic monuments featuring labyrinth-like elements often even have 'a spiral, the symbol of the serpent.'[Ibid.] And American Indians 'call the labyrinth "the House of Tkunu." A mythical personage who let people out of the underworld.'[Ibid./emphasis and underscore added]


The labyrinth indeed then seems to symbolize the Night of the Soul: the ascent of  the chaos of the underworld to the upper world of consciousness in the second part of the Work of the Sun. The first part of that Work involves an encounter between these worlds too, but this time in fire, and through descent.  


That fire is represented by the Phoenix and it was already pointed out at World Mysteries that in myth the bird in general represents the soul. The immolation of the Phoenix thereby is the immolation of 'soul-tissue.' (This even accords with ancient Egyptian language where 'a representation of a bird was a hieroglyph for the word soul.'[1991:139])


But back to the underworld. Was the Phoenix in myth related to that world below too? After all, the details on the resurrection given by the Paris 4 tell us that one is descending ablaze.


Golan suggests that the Phoenix indeed belonged to the underworld, because it's name...


'...seems to come from the name of the underworld god f.n (...).'[1991:144]


Furthermore, the ancient Hebrews 'called the Phoenix Sul. This word Sul, resembling the Indo-European word sol (sun), may be taken as pointing to the solar nature of the Phoenix . However, it also resembles the word Seol, the Hebrew word for underworld.'[Ibid.] Golan concludes therefore that the  Phoenix ...  

'...was originally an image of the underworld god.'[Ibid.] And that god is but a representation of the 'dark side of the (human) Self.'[Armstrong]


Part 3 - The Golden Thigh


'In any case, after this fight with Set, but in the same ceremony, Horus hands the thighbone of a sacrificed ram to his father who is symbolically present, and says, "Behold, I plucked the thighbone from Set." Yet, it was not Set's thighbone, but his testicles that were taken from him. At this point in the ceremony, the thigh seems to have become a disguised or surrogate genital.'[2002:668]  

'Our gay man is, as we wrote earlier, Anfortas too. Meaning that he has that mysterious pain in his left testicle. That pain started a few months before his Kundalini. It is described by von Eschenbach in his Parzival. Especcialy the part about the wound getting cold as ice is correct (there is no visible wound on our gay man though). During the months that lead up to the resurrection the pain gets worse and worse. In the end he had difficulties of walking even. This pain made it impossible for our man to have sex. And there we have the famous sperm-saving-theory from Tantra. '[The Paris 4/verbatim]

'In Plato the kundalini power is especially embodied in semen.'[2002:209] 

'Semen is the raw material and fuel of every psychochemical transformation.'[David Gordon White]


In his October 2007 article on the Forbidden Letters at World Mysteries Guido Popp discusses the Solar Wound of the Grail King, meaning the alchemist. That wound, according to myth, can be found in such places as the foot, the thigh or the groin. 

Through the Forbidden Letters we now have strong reasons to assume that the thigh is indeed a disguise for the genitals. And Wolfram von Eschenbach appears again to be the only one with the correct details here: the wound is in the genitalia. 

This displacement of genital to thigh 'occurs frequently in Grail myth'[2002:669] and apparently has antecedents in older myths about the Solar Hero. In ancient Greece for instance the Golden Thigh of Pythagoras was also a Solar Wound in disguise. As Walter Burkert informs us: 

'Antiquity understood this Golden Thigh as a sign of divinity, but we find no explanation of just how this is so.'[1972:159] 

And then Burkert all of a sudden gives this on the Solar Wound: 

'The myths tell over and over of the favorite of the Great Mother being wounded in the thigh, as also of the thigh wounds of those who attempt to make their way into the underworld. Only he who bears this sign (i..e. the testicle-wound) can descend into the pit with impunity.'[1972:160/emphasis and underscore added] 


Most scholars are of the opinion that these myths point to fertility, where they actually point to the road to terrestrial Paradise. McEvilley: 

'If this reading of the mythologem is correct, then the thigh wound, which, as Burkert noted, allows the visitor to enter Hell, is a symbolic castration wound indicating that this individual no longer has the power to create life (fertility-motif/Breitner), and therefore may suitably enter the land of the dead.'[2002:669] 

Because for most people, unfamiliar with alchemy as they are, a katabasis (descent) into the Underworld or Hell is not a katabasis into Rebirth, the End of Time and Life Eternal, but a katabasis simply into 'the land of the dead.' - However, in one, very old Indian myth the Thigh is linked to the End of Time and in quite an alchemical way on top. In Harivamsa's story of the offspring of the sage Aurva, Aurva produces... 

'...from this "thigh" the flame that would burn up the world at the age's end.'[1953:pp.32 ff./emphasis added] - And that ax, according to Matthew 3, 'is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit' will be cut down and thrown into that 'flame.' 

'It is strange that, as Eleazar says, this earth is mingled with fire.'[Jung] 

'Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and look, I'm guarding it until it blazes." - '[Gospel of Thomas 10]

 'You, Christ, who are all fire, have mercy on me.'[Ephraem the Syrian, quoted by Jung] 

 ©  Julius Breitner 2008


  • McEvilley, T., The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparitive Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, Allworth Press, New York, USA, 2002

  •  Burkert, W., Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism, Harvard University Press, USA, 1972

  •  Dowson, J., A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology; and Religion, Geography, History and Literature, 8th ed., Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1953

  •  Pollard, J., & Reid, H., The Rise and Fall of Alexandria, Penguin Books Ltd, London, 2006

  •  Burckhardt, T., Alchemy, Penguin Books, Baltimore, USA, 1967

  •  Girardot, N.J., Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism, University of California Press, Berkeley, Ca., USA, 1983

  •  Golan, A., Myth and Symbol, Symbolism in Prehistoric Religion, Publisher n.n., Jerusalem, Israel, 1991 

  •  [ http://www.world-mysteries.com/PhilipGardiner/forbidden_letters_18.htm ]

    Copyright 2008
    Note: Presented with permission

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