IMAGE: Front Cover - 02 - The Sphinx

FRONT COVER: Photograph by Mari Kono

BACK COVER: Shriner Logo. Photograph by Mari Kono, Layout and Image design by Margaret Murray.

The Sphinx is a creature that evades the cycle of the nychthemeron through a correction of the animality in man. The animal self (nafs al-haywaniyya) is the lowest incarnation of man in the hierarchy of creation. Stripped of his reverence for God, man is nothing but an animal obedient to the base natural impulses. The raison d’etre for man is to become the locus of God’s manifestation. When man falls below this hierarchical level he is a mere animal.

The Sphinx is the proto-type synthesis of Holy Animality. It is for fallen man to re-establish the divine instinctivety of the 'Principle of Spontaneous Obedience to God' represented by the Arcanum of the Sphinx.

There is an automatic reflex inherent to the psychic nature of the animalized man. This is caused by the mobility of the wheel of animality through which the base desires afflict man for the duration of the nychthemeron; whether in his waking or sleeping states. The Sphinx who is beyond such temporal rotations lies at the hub of this wheel and it is the animalised man which proceeds away from the center.

There are many variations on the sphinx, two of which will concern us here. The first is known as the Androsphinx, for it is the unison of the human & animal. It is usually depicted with the upper-torso and head of man and the lower body of a lion. In Egypt this Sphinx was the emblem of Divine sovereignty as its human half was always represented the vicar of God on earth. The incarnation of the Solar deity Ra was the God-Man (theandros) Pharoah who govern the spiritual and material worlds with a two-fold sovereignty. The Great Sphinx of Giza is the most famous image of this royal beast. It faces directly towards the eastern horizon, where the sun rises at the spring and autumn equinoxes and became known as the Harmakhis which means 'Lord of Two Horizons', a concept directly linked to the cycle of the nychthemeron and the image of man’s life.

The second variant on the Sphinx is an amalgamation of four different animal forms: the hind quarters of a bull, the forepart of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the upper torso and head of a man thus evoking the bestiary of the Tetramorph, the form of 'Holy Animality' (Chayot). This creature is the vitality that provides the animative qualities of life, whether biological life in the state of fallen animality (βίος) or the Life of 'Holy Animality' (ζωή).

As the animal is the synthesis of the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, man is the resolution and goal of the animal kingdom and the Sphinx is the final enigma where Holy Animality is achieved through man. This Divine beast is the protector of the mystery of Life.

The two Androsphinx upon the cover of First Grand Constitution & Bylaws depict the following ratio: What the animal is to the human, the human is to the Divine. The animal aspect of the Sphinx represents the incarnational aspect of the human: 'Man who lives on Earth'. The Sphinx’s human part speaks of man’s Divinity: 'Man made in the image of God'. It is for this reason that the Sphinx is called the animal with two hearts. The heart of the beast inclined towards the passions and the human heart striving towards the Intelligence of the noble faculties. What must be remembered here is that genuine animality is a natura naturans and is considered as the archetypal form which provides organisms with their élan vital and makes them living creatures (ζωή); whereas the wild beast (θηρίον) is a natura naturata which is inclined towards degeneration. Thus, the cryptozoology of the Sphinx suggests that it is not merely a beast but rather a Holy Animal.

The Lion’s mane is a well known symbolic icon of the sun’s corona depicted in much heraldry as a sovereign halo indicating heroism and victory of the 'unconquered sun' (sol invictus). When the sun passes through the constellation of Leo, the northern hemisphere experiences the longest and hottest days of the year, thus the Sun's domicile is within Leo, whose astrological properties signify strength and courage. It is courage only as courage is derived from conscious knowledge of the law typified by the symbolism. Strength or Force, alludes to the fiery Life-Power (ζωή) which moves the fluidic circulatory system of physical life (βίος) indicating a double-force whose symbol is a dual-lion.

The first aspect of the lion is that it is the king of all beasts (pan-therion) ruling over all subhuman forces innate in bio-electrical vitals, the second aspect is that it symbolizes the instinct that can be designated as 'courageous moral conscience'. The first lion is the king of beasts, whose ferociousness strikes fear into the hearts of its prey. When the bestial lion is restrained, moral courage is elevated. Ferociousness is to moral courage as the bestial lion is to the 'Lion of Divine Instinctivity', and these are the two tendencies that make the double-force distinct. A contra-versing current that combats and annihilates and a con-versing trait ever-seeking to participate and unite through co-operation.

Both these forces are contained in the one body with two different orientations, but the double-force only arises when the lion of bestial nature is tamed. In Egyptian lore this co-operation itself is also worked through the Ruti (double-lion) in the saying from the texts: "I am the twin Lions"

Force is the breath of wind that "moved upon the face of the waters'' in the Genesis of creation. This power is divinized in the Egyptian aspect of the Lion Shu and his sister lioness Tefnut who are born from the breath of Atum. Shu's name means 'drynesss'– rising upwards' and thus personifying air, the element audible in the howling wind, but apprehended as the roaring Lion. Shu was also equated with the ascending trait of the Sun. Tefnut’s name means 'moisture-dripped' (tef) from 'sky' (nut) with the downward tendency of the sunset. As a pair Shu is the male Lion of Divine Instinct and Tefnut is the lioness of ferociousness.

It is no surprise to us that the term Σφίγξ (sphinx) is derived from the verb σφίγγω meaning 'to strangle', for it was the lionesses would kill their prey by a strangulation bite to the throat and it is also the throat which offers passage to the voice and breath. The whole concept of the Sphinx relates to passageway, of the Sun entering the underworld (Duat).

Positioned back to back, the Ruti face the horizons of East & West and represent the movement of the Sun from yesterday (safre) into tomorrow (tua). Together they balance the autumnal and vernal equinox through the two solstitial doors to the underworld (Duat)...

To Be Continued!


Meditations on the Tarot by Anonymous

Chapters: Wheel of Fortune & Force

Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World by Gerald Massey

Chapters: Horus of the Double Horizon

The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung

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