One of Ankhie’s favorite books from fellow publishers Hampton Roads is Richard Leviton’s Encyclopedia of Earth Myths – a book that is far more than its title implies. It is an exhaustively researched compendium of mythic geography and its associated events and beings. Ankhie never opens it without learning something. For instance, looking for a solstice-related entry on someplace henge-y, I came across the following, fascinating description of less obvious and equally compelling places and traditions, some comfortably familiar, some alarmingly esoteric. This entry is a bit long, but well worth the read!
Hitching Post of the Sun
Also known as Boat of Millions of Years, Celestial City of Tejovati, City of the Royal Fire, City of the Sun, Dinsul, Heliopolis, Intiwatana, MIthraeum, Mount of the Sun, Sun Fastener, Sun Temple.
Description: Hitching Post of the Sun is a translation of Intiwatana, which also means “Sun Fastener” and refers generally to the mountain complex of Machu Picchu in Peru and specifically to a ritual feature at the western end of the site. The term was coined by Yale University archaeologist Hiram Bingham around 1911 after his research at this ancient sacred site in southeastern Peru.
Archaeologists explain that during the summer and winter solstices, the Incas, who once lived at Machu Picchu, ceremonially “tied” the Sun to a small upraised stone set into a stone base, thereafter known as the Intiwatana stone. Thus Intiwatana is the Sun Fastener or “place where the sun is tied up,” Inti being the Incan name for the Sun god.
Another name was Apu Punchau and his head was depicted as a gold disk or ball of gold from which solar Rays and flames extended. In fact, the Incas named themselves after the Sun, as descendants of Inti, or Sons of the Sun. Anyone other than an Inca in full initiatory standing who pronounced the name of the Sun god was summarily put to death for profanation.
The ceremony of fastening the Sun may have been associated with Inti Raimi, the Sun festival or “Solemn Resurrection of the Sun,” June 21, the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. The shortest day of the year with the least sunlight, on that day the Inca believed that Father Sun was potentially departing them and he must be prevented from retreating even farther from Earth by being tied down.
Machu Picchu once offered at least three other Sun honorings. It was the residence of the Mamacunas, the Chosen Women or Virgins of the Sun, presumable a monastic order of women dedicated to the Sun god. The Intipunku, or Sun Gate, was a notch in the southeast ridge of the ruins, and the site also offered a Temple of the Sun, a rock outcropping made into a carved rock altar.
A highly similar myth about tying down the Sun god is attributed to Mount Haleakala, the 10,023-foot-tall volcano on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Maui, a Polynesian demigod and prodigy, much like the Greek Herakles, tied down the Sun god and his 16 legs on the mountain with 16 ropes. The same reason was given as with the Incas: The Sun passed over so quickly that the countryfolk could not even dry their bananas. Maui made the Sun move slower. The mountain was thus named Haleakala, the House of the Sun.
Explanation: The Hitching Post of the Sun at Machu Picchu is one of 144 Sun temples templated throughout Earth’s visionary geography. In classical Hinduism, it is known as the Celestial City of Tejovati, one of eight celestial residences, each with its qualities, gods, functions, and type of opulence. These eight Celestial Cities are all copied in varying amounts in the Earth grid and may be accessed through specifically designated sacred sites in each culture.
For example, in ancient Persia (now Iran), one Sun temple was located at Takht-i-Sulaiman, the City of Royal Fire, one of the prime Fire sites in Zoroastrianism. Another was at Rhodes, the Island of the Sun God, Helios; another at Heliopolis, Egypt’s City of the Sun and residence of Ra the Sun god; and another at Titikala, the Sacred Rock on the Isle of the Sun, Lake Titicaca, Peru; the Plaza at Santa Fe, New Mexico, a locale at the center of town anciently known among Native Americans as the Dancing Ground of the Sun; and Saint Michael’s Mount in Cornwall England, once called Dinsul, Mount of the Sun.
To psychic vision, a Sun temple may initially look like a great mound and a circle of golden fire, for the Sun refers to the archetype of fire and light (typified, for example, in Hinduism by Agni the Fire god), the Sun at the center of our solar system (as in the Greek Sun god Helios), and the Sun within the Sun (an esoteric designation for the Solar Logos), or the Sun’s spiritual intelligence (an aspect of the cosmic Christ at the level of a solar system or galaxy).
In Vedic symbolism, the Sun in this guise is Surya, the illuminer, lord of knowledge, luminous vision, and total truth, whose Rays are illuminations.
Yet the Sun temple may resemble a giant golden bull’s head as seen from within, and resemble also a vast golden cave. The bull’s head aspect was emphasized in Mithraism in which a solar hero (Mithras) slew a cosmic bull, letting its blood pour out of its neck; the place where this ritual was at least symbolically enacted (or physically experienced) was call a Mithraeum and, in classical times, central Europe had many hundreds of them.
Symbolically, the bull’s blood released in the bull-slaying represents solar time and even universal time released into a solar system as its life force and also as a measure of its expected life span. The bull’s cave is also a solar time cave.
One of the clearest mythic portrayals of the geomantic action of a Sun temple is from Greek myth: Hephaistos, the Olympian smith-fire god, works his forges inside volcanic Mount Etna on Sicily aides by three Cyclopes. The forge is the Sun temple, the Cyclopes are the three Elohim, an angelic order that works with the Sun’s energy and sentience on behalf of the Christ, and Hephaistos is a colleague of the Solar Logos, putting solar consciousness into objects of matter.
Hephaistos and his helpers forge numerous implements, objects and devices for the gods, which is a way of saying that they put the essence of the Sun’s spirituality and life force into devices at various levels of material expression. At a more rarified level, Hepahaistos puts the solar intelligence into the Periodic Table of Elements, that is the primal constituents of matter throughout the solar system, and even more subtly, into the essential forms of the constellations.
More than infusing the solar intellegence into the stars, we could interpret this tableau as the making of the stars and constellations from primordial Fire. The stars and their grouping are celestial intelligences made of cosmic Fire in the smithy’s forge; they embody differentiated consciousness, that is, they are distinguished and individualized from the preconscious totality of what was before Creation (called the Moon or Soma), yet ever desiring to consume the consciously wakeful, immortalizing substance (see Fountain of Youth).
As the three Elohim also once served as planetary Logoi (spiritual intelligences) for the seven classical planets of our solar system, their work with Hephaistos can be seen as distributing solar intelligence to the planets. At the human level, these seven planets are the archetypes of the seven chakras.
The Sun Temple also puts the fire of life into stars, and this fire, which we might see as the soul of a star, then consumes the eternal edible substance of Soma, or continuously wakeful awareness (see Fountain of Youth). The result is a star- myriad Star gods – made of cosmic fire and immortal consciousness.
Sun temples on Earth allow interested humans the opportunity to interact with this cosmic process, which is also a fundamental aspect of the human being. In Hindu thought, the Sun and Moon are primordial energies, created before much of the rest of reality. The Moon was created first and refers not to the satellite of the planet Earth, but the Moon sphere, typified by Soma, the principle of uninterrupted wakefulness or undying consciousness. The Sun came second, and is Agni, the primal cosmic Fire that consumes the substance of Soma.
See what I mean? There’s always more than there seems to be.
Happy Solstice Everyone!!