Milky Way Galaxy
“May we come and go in and out of heaven through gates of starlight. As the houses of earth fill with dancing and song, so filled are the houses of heaven. I come, in truth. I sail a long river and row back again. It is a joy to breathe under the stars. I am the sojourner destined to walk a million years until I arrive at myself.”
Normandi Ellis, Awakening Osiris
Existence is vast, seemingly boundless and immeasurable. The latest figures from NASA estimate that there are one hundred billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy pictured above. There are also estimated to be a jaw-dropping two trillion galaxies in our universe alone. It’s impossible to comprehend this immensity of scale, and yet it’s believed by scientists that we are also part of a multiverse. Perhaps an unknown number of universes co-exist in a Cosmos of parallel dimensions that spread light through infinite space and time. What is the significance of one brief human life in all this immensity?
The ancient Egyptians were master sky watchers. Monumental temples aligned with the rising of bright stars and calendars and ceremonies were planned based on the sky. Egyptian funerary texts called the Book of Gates proclaimed that when Ra, the sun god arrived at the twelfth and last hour of the night, before dawn, the miracle of rebirth occurred through the gate “with the mysterious entrance.”
In The Traveler’s Key to Ancient Egypt, author John Anthony West describes Egyptian funerary texts as “manuals of spiritual instruction” and says the Duat is the “field” in which the transformation of the soul occurs. The theme of transformation and reclamation also runs through other ancient mystery traditions. Many ancient gods were seen as solar and stellar fire, and many rites represented the redemption and regeneration of this spiritual energy. The ineffable mysteries they sought to unveil, and the hidden knowledge the rites contained, held and transmitted this wisdom. Manly P. Hall, in Secret Teachings of the Ages says, “Mysteries were the channels through which this one philosophical light was disseminated.”
The Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece took place from 1,600 BCE to about 400 CE, although most scholars believe their origin is much earlier in the Mycenean period. They were contemporary with, and bear strong resemblance to, the Egyptian mysteries of Isis and Osiris. In the Greek mysteries the goddess Demeter, carrying two torches named “intuition” and “reason,” searched the world for her daughter Persephone, who symbolically represented the lost soul. She had to be rescued from the underworld, where she had been abducted by the god Hades.
Sometimes the light seems to go out in our lives and we can be deeply challenged by a darkness of spirit. Although we know the Sun still shines behind the clouds, and the stars still burn even though hidden in cities by artificial light, at these times we need courage and the love of friends. Poet Khalil Gibran said, “One may not reach the dawn except by the path of the night.” This is true, but there have always been those who hold lanterns to guide our way through the darkness to the mysterious entrance of initiation. We can take heart that this universal path of spiritual teaching has permeated spiritual traditions throughout time. Often called the Underground Stream, the spiritual wisdom of ages is always present, even though hiding in the shadows at times. Our job is to remember that the light is always there and to prepare ourselves to receive the gift of ancient wisdom, which sheds light on the Path.
Julie Loar’s blog won a gold medal last year.