Early Christian Fish Symbol
Also, it is said to represent Christianity because the Greek word for fish, icthus, is an acronym (or Notarikon!) for the Greek words meaning "Jesus Christ, the son of God the Savior." On an astrological basis, Jesus wasn't a fisherman, but a fishman; that is, an archetype of the Pi-scean Age. There are many dates given for the beginning of the Age of Pisces (the astrological sign is represented by two fish), but they all center around the start of the common era, within a few hundred years of the year 1 A.D.
Great charismatic leaders with large followings of sometimes mindless devotees are typical of the Piscean Age. Thus, from the beginning of this age we have had Alexander the Great, Jesus, Cromwell, some of the Popes, Arthur of England, Mussolini, Hitler, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Marx, Stalin, Mao, Falwell, Rev. Moon, Jim Jones, Prabhupada, Gandhi, and many others. I am not trying to equate the qualities of goodness or badness between these men, only to indicate their charisma and ability to attract a sometimes mindless following. Nor should I have left out the women, such as Joan of Arc, Blavatsky, Besant, McPherson, Anthony, Sanger, Peron and others. These women, too, attracted and still attract many followers. Jesus, as a Piscean Age archetype, is perfectly represented by the symbol of the fish.
One of the earliest forms of the cross was known in ancient Egypt. It had a loop at the top and was (and still is) known as the Crux
Ansata, the looped cross, Isis' sandal strap, and the Ankh. Many people following a spiritual path try to ignore the inherent sexuality of the Ankh. The vertical bar represents the erect male organ while the loop and the split horizontal bar represent the female sexual organ. Together, indicating sexual intercourse, they are a symbol of fertility. With this understanding it is easy to see how the Ankh has evolved into a symbol of life, eternal life, reincarnation and rebirth. Why should the sandal strap of Isis represent eternal life as some have claimed? Why, as one group maintains, would the shadow of a person with his or her arms outstretched (which looks like an Ankh) represent life after life? This cross is a pre-Christian and non-Christian symbol. Curiously, the Ankh is used by Roman Catholics! In their robes, some Church officials wear two Ankhs, one on the front and one on the back, with a common loop. When wearing this outfit, the loop is placed over the head, which gives rise to speculation over sexual symbolism and spirituality. In any event, the looped cross is not a Christian symbol.
The ancient Pagan Europeans also had crosses. One type of cross which was popular was the equal-armed or Solar Cross. Another was the circled or Celtic Cross. Remember, "Celtic" is pronounced "Kel-tik" and not "Sel-tik."
True Mystical Swastika Perverted Nazi Swastika
Another form of the cross which appeared all over Europe and in parts of North America was the spinning Solar Cross also known as the Fylfot (fill-foh) Cross, the Hammer of Thor, or the Swastika. This holy and mystical symbol was always drawn in a horizontal-vertical pattern with the arms in such a way that the cross appeared to be moving with the Sun or clockwise. It is a shame that this symbol was perverted by the Black Magic Lodges of Germany of which Hitler was a member. In the diagram above you can see how the Nazi swastika goes against the Sun, giving the impression of spinning in a counterclockwise direction. Note, too, that it is on a point rather than horizontal-vertical. Although the Nazis did at times use the true mystical Swastika, their official symbol was the perverted version. Today, most people are disgusted with the symbol and do not separate the spiritual from the obscene.
The purpose of the above paragraphs, besides looking at symbolism, is to firmly implant in your mind that the rituals we do, even though in places they do involve the symbolism of the cross, are not Christian, Nazi or any other faith or dogma. Nor are they merely de-Christianized versions of Christian symbol and ritual. If anything, it would be more correct to say that Christianity has borrowed the ancient mystical symbols for its own purposes. Thus, if you are Jewish, Hindu, Moslem, Pagan, Agnostic or something else, there should be nothing to hinder you from using the holy symbol of the cross as in the Celtic Cross Tarot reading, the Kabalistic Cross section of the LBRP, and in other rituals as well. The way we use a cross is not Christian, or perhaps I could say that it is "beyond Christian." Also, symbols currently used by other traditions can be used by those from Christian backgrounds without insult, as they come from our universal mystical source, not a sectarian one.
Another symbol is composed of the letters "INRI." The most famous use of these letters was supposedly on Jesus' cross. They were an abbreviation (again a Notarikon. There are many of these in both the old and new Testaments) for '7esus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."
During the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance, if you did not want to be tortured and burned by the powers of the Church, it was a wise idea to hide mystical and political ideas within Christian symbolism. Thus, other meanings of the letters INRI developed. To alchemists, it stood for Igne Naturae Renovatur Integra, Latin for "Nature by Fire is renewed in its integrity." In a later lesson I will be discussing certain aspects of alchemy which will make this particular phrase instantly clear and of great magickal import.
Another version of these letters which was also important to the medieval alchemists was Igne Nitrum Raris Invenitum. Again, this was Latin, then the language of the learned, and meant "shining (or glittering) is rarely found in fire." This may be a bit more difficult to comprehend, but once a certain aspect of alchemy is explained, it should become very clear.
Believe it or not, there are many people today who consider the Jesuit Order to be a danger to our way of life. Personally, I don't agree with that thought, even if they do follow a leader known as the "Black Pope." He is called this not for spiritual blackness, but because black is the color of his robes. Also, I am not personally a believer in conspiracy theories of world domination. However, the Jesuits did go through a very political period, much as some clerics of different faiths express their political views today. When the Jesuits went through that political period, INRI to them stood for Iusticum (or Jus-ticum) Necare Regis Impium, which is Latin for "It is just to kill an impious king."
An Aside. I have always been fascinated by etymology, the study of where words came from and how they developed. The above word "impious" comes, of course, from "pious." In the Old Testament, the Hebrew men are told not to trim or cut their sideburns. Today still, orthodox Jews can be seen with long sideburns. Sometimes they are even braided. It is considered a sign of holiness or piety. In fact, that's where the word "pious" comes from: "pious" is Hebrew for "sideburns."
The above now makes me think about the word "holy" and where it came from In ancient times, long before the births of Christianity or Biblical Judaism, the type of religion or spiritual system followed by many people was shamanistic in nature. Part of many shamanistic cultures is the idea that a stone with a natural hole in it was considered very sacred. So too were other objects with natural holes, such as sea shells. From this comes the idea that one sign of a sacred object was its natural hole. A "holey" object was sacred. From this came our word "holy."
Kabalistically, the letters INRI represent much more. INRI, which in Hebrew would be Yud, Nun, Resh, Yud, are also the first letters in Hebrew for the four archetypal elements (according to J.S.M. Ward in his book Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods):
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