The Hero's Path
"We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero's path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world."
Image: engraving from an Armenian dragon stone showing the process of Heroization
There is an very old idea, predating all known civilizations, which is that the soul of the deceased goes first to the nearest Fire, and from there to the stars, Moon, Sun, and finally to Limitless Light.
In order to ascend through these spheres, the soul must be purified by Fire. One must descend into Darkness to find the source of Light; one must die in order to be reborn. Thus heroization occurs through an actual or symbolic death by Fire. This is because Fire is purifying; it burns away the transient and imperfect, thereby freeing the soul and immortalizing it.
By descent through the Crater of Rebirth, the initiate arrives at World Axis, which gives simultaneous access to the Heavens and the Underworld. There in the Earth's Fiery Womb he or she may be purified by Fire in preparation for rebirth. The passage through Fire is a means of uniting with the universe, which is a Cosmic Fire according to ancient Greek esoteric doctrine. Fire rises to the heavens, where it becomes the essence of the stars and of lightning. Since lightning is Celestial Fire, the purest form of Fire, it is the most potent force for heroization.
The Central Fire (or Fire in the Middle, from Greek "pyramidos") is born in the bowels of the Earth, and it shoots to the Heavens and licks the stars. Thus Fire is the highest and the lowest Element; it is as though the Elemental Square has been unfolded into a line, as it is encountered in the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun. One might suppose that the "Fires of Hades" and its related symbolism such as the cross is a Christian notion, but it actually reaches back to Old European spiritual tradition.
In ancient times the relationship of people towards immaterial realms was not experienced in opposition as it is in the case of modern materialistic science. Although a consciousness related to aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialist view of the world have been suppressed for centuries by the dogmatic church as well orthodox scholarship, a time of awakening has finally arrived.
Since the beginning of modern European archaeology, the greatness of Europe's ancient past has been repeatedly banned from the collective consciousness. It was necessary to wait until the year 2005, when the discovery of the first pyramids on European soil was announced to the public. After seven years the interest for the pyramids of Bosnia has not decreased. The new excavation campaign for 2012 will gather almost 700 hundred volunteers from 52 countries worldwide. Visoko, once a center of mediaeval Bosnia, today the hometown of world's oldest and largest pyramids, hosts the most popular and exciting archaeological project of modern times.
How many times you've heard in the mainstream media about Old Europe? How much do you know about Old European culture and tradition? Are you aware that almost every important cultural and religious tradition that we celebrate in modern Europe dates back to over seven millenia? Did they teach you at school that "..there always has been and always will be war...", or did they teach you that our social tradition is deeply rooted in millenia-old peaceful and egalitarian societies of the borderless world of Old Europe?
They teach us that the sacred concepts of beauty and eternity embedded on stećaks and other sacred stone monuments of Old European culture are the sole property and "religious" heredity of warmongering and antispiritual churches of the Middle Ages, churches who burned thousands of people at the stake.
They teach us that modern civilization cradled and nurtured in Mesopotamia in the late 4th millenium BCE, progressing from a stage of proto-writing to proper writing systems in the 3rd millennium BCE, while omitting key facts that clearly show that Old European proto-writing, ideographic symbols, and the construction of sanctuaries ante-date the Mesopotamian culture by several millenia.
Moreover, they teach us that the universal symbol of cosmic creation, the pyramid, is the exclusive prerogative of Egyptian and Mesoamerican culture, while it is already known with certainty that pyramids represent a worldwide phenomenon. On the other hand, archaeological evidence suggests that the phenomenon of cosmic creation was known by the ancients much before the advent of modern astrophysics.
However, the laboriously constructed intellectual edifice of dogmatic materialists started to collapse under the unquestionable archaeological evidence and new studies recently brought to light. Bosnian stećaks, Armenian Khachkars, and other archaeological evidence generated in the borderless world of Old Europe represent a unique cultural and spirtiual heredity left behind by the ancient European culture steeped into pyramid culture.
The conspiracy of silence that has been perpetuated for decades by the politically oriented scholarship has been finally exposed, while the voices and echoes of our ancestors seem to have finally reached the present time. One question, however, now needs to be answered, and that is if we are able to listen with understanding the ancient knowledge inherited from our forefathers, which represents an intrisic part of human nature, the foundational essence of our existence.
Stećaks: The Beginnig of a New Understanding
Sacred monolithic stone monuments known as stećaks are generally encountered in great numbers on the territory Bosnia & Herzegovina. However, unique and marvelous examples of stećaks also exist in neighbouring countries like Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. For example, in the village of Rajačke pivnice (or pimnice), in Serbia, it is possible to find very rare examples of stećaks characterized by particular architectural forms and distinguished sacred symbolism.
Photographs: stećaks in the village of Rajačke pivnice, Serbia (credits Bogdan Hadžipešic)
Among other symbols amenable to Old European religious tradition such as various forms of crosses and swastikas, we find the symbol of the Dark Sun or Black Sun (Croatian kolovrat, Serbian коловрат). This symbol is explained by the Pythagorean Doctrine of Transmigration of the Soul as related to the Subterranean Sun and/or the Volcanic Sun, where there is a paradoxical unity between the Sun and the Underworld.
Another symbol we find on these stećaks, which is also found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the Old European symbol related to the sacred cosmic mount, represented by a two-dimensional pyramid with steps crowned with a solar disc, or rosette. The rosette, usually depicted as a flower with four leaves, represents the Old European concept of the four corners of the cosmos, while the four petals often assume the form of a stylized cross. The presence of signs belonging to Old European cultures such as Starčevo or Vinča is not rarely found on stećak monuments.
A replica of a similar stećak bearing sacred sun symbolism rooted in Old European tradition is also kept in Visoko. The original monument, today kept in the Zemaljski Muzej in Sarajevo, shows on one of the fours sides a particular sacred symbolism amenable to a society steeped in pyramid culture. The symbols may be explained as follow (from top, left to right):
The Crescent, the Eight-pointed and Four-pointed star
The crescent and eight-pointed star suspended above the two-dimensional representations of pyramids embody the Old European idea of horizon. They are the figurative expression of the sunrise and sunset, becoming thus symbolic place of birth, death and regeneration. The idea of a sun god is expressed by the nearby four-pointed star inside a circle. The artistic expression of the four-armed cross is the symbol for the sun, the highest god, and the supreme power and lifeforce. The encircled cross of Old European culture antedates the Christian by several millenia.
The Triune God, and the Old European Horizon
Below, on the left side, we find the the concept of "I am"; the eye, set within a triangle representing the omniscience of the Triune God, flanked left by the sacred fire, and embedded into the Old European concept of horizon which shows the sun rising above the mountain horizon, as well the Subterranean Sun of the Underworld, also known as the Black Sun.
The Bull's Hornst and the Ouroboros
On the next line, we find two main symbols. In Old Europe the bull's horns, seen on the left, appear consinstently associated with tombs and the goddess' womb, with death and regeneration. On the right side, next to the the bull's horns, we find the ancient symbol of the Ouroboros depicting a serpent or a dragon eating its own tail. The Ouroboros (from Greek oura, "tail", and boros, "eating") represents the perpetual cyclic of life and infinity, the concept of eternity and the eternal return, death and rebirth, the immortality of the soul.
Although the engraving of two fishes evidently belong to another period and seem out of context, it should be remembered that the fish as a symbol is not the exclusive prerogative of Christian faith. In Old Europe, the usual symbolism connected with the fish ranges from its being an emblem of the vulva, or the phallus, to a symbol of the soul or the 'mystic ship of life'. At Lepenski Vir, a prehistoric site located on the banks of Danube river in eastern Serbia, a complex belonging to the Starčevo culture dated to the early sixth millenium B.C.E., the fish represented a dominant deity and assumes the shape of an egg and is anthropomorphized. In Old Europe, geometric motifs of various kind engraved on stones often appear on acquatic divinities associated with cosmogonical imagery.
The Old European Sanctuary
At the bottom of the column, we finally find the typical entrance of a Old European sanctuary, characterized by a wide-arched portal crowned with a horn-like gable, and decorated with a rope-like border representing the swirling kundalini energy. In the context it assumes the significance of a gate leading into the realm of the Underworld, and the Afterlife.
The religious art and ancient philosophical tradition found on the stećak establishes a direct link between millennia-old artefacts of the Old European continent and a society steeped in pyramid culture.
Like other types of stećaks found in Bosnia and Herzegovina which are characterized by the ornamental symbol of horizon, it represents a direct reflection of the Egyptian Aketh, the symbolic of death and regeneration.
The Armenian Link
As a forenotice to this chapter it is important to point out that the construction of some stećak monuments discovered in Visoko has been inspired on the symbol of the three-tiered pyramid. To see the photographs please refer to the article 'Stećaks of the Visoko Valley'.
The beginnings of Armenia, a country that lies in the highlands surrounding the mountains of Ararat, once the homeland of the Urartu kingdom as well the Hittite Empire, are lost in the mists of prehistory. The country was originally called Uraštu or Urartu, and in its center was the holy mountain Baris. This mountain was later called after the kingdom: the Ararat, so well-known from the Bible story about Noah and the Flood. It is believed that the Urartian kingdom which existed between 860 and 585 BCE descends from a far older civilization, perhaps three thousand years BCE (or even earlier).
According to archaeologists, early farming cultures of Central Trans-Caucasia appear in the 6th millenium BCE. So far, the oldest known culture of the Transcaucasus region is the Shulaveri-Shomu culture, dated to the mid-6th or early-5th millennia BCE. The Shulaveri-Shomu culture was active on the territories of present day Georgia and the Armenian Highlands. It antedates other cultures of the region like the Kura-Araxes culture (ca. 4th millenium BCE), the Trialeti culture (ca. 2nd millenium BCE), and the Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia which possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.
Armenia was converted to Christianity at the beginning of the 3rd century of the Common Era. However, the Apostolic Orthodox faith still includes some elements of ancient pagan practices such as rituals involving animal sacrifice, while many of the oldest and most important Armenian churches were stationed directly above the destroyed remains of pagan sun temples.
For example, the most sacred and most visited pilgrimage site of the country situated west of Yerevan, the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, was considered a holy place long before the arrival of Christianity. A Zoroastrian fire temple called Vagharshapat had been functioning there since the prehistory and for untold centuries. In later historical periods, a Roman temple dedicated to Venus was built upon the ruins of the Zoroastrian fire temple.
An example of the influence of pagan sun cults on Christian architecture and religion can be particurarly observed on the facade of St. Astvatsatsin church, part of the Noravank monastery, situated some 122 km from Yerevan.
An important role in its decoration is played by two cantilever stairs on the western entry forming a stepped-pyramid. In order to reach the second floor a person is obliged to climb the stairs of the pyramid, which assumes a deep spiritual significance.
Another example of cultural overlay created over the millenia is given in the case of the Garni temple, situated some thirthy kilometers east of the capital Yerevan. The temple complex stands inside an area that has been settled since Neolithic times. The Garni temple complex includes the presence of many monolithic stone monuments known as Khachkars, cross-engraved stones believed to have originated during the mediaeval period.
It is believed that Khachakrs have followed for nearly two thousand years the Armenian presence. However, as in the case of Bosnian stećaks, archaeological evidence suggest other possible explanations of their primary origin.
Recent research in the prehistoric rock art and inscriptions has shown that Old European Vinča symbols and the typical Old Armenian rock art symbols (archetypes of the signs) are identical. Moreover, general conclusions based on the results of studies made by archaeologists and historians suggest that the rock art symbols of Armenian prehistory have been directly influenced by the Old European Vinča signs culture. This striking discovery was presented in 2009 during the XXIII Valcamonica Symposium on Prehistorical Rock Art held in Capo di Ponte, Italy.
It means that an early network of intercultural exchange between Old Europe and Old Armenia existed since the 7th millenium BCE, while it is believed that these cultures were most intimately connected by constant relations, interaction of ideas and knowledge in the 6th millennium BCE. The sphere of intercultural relations has embraced many different cultural centers which populated the borderless world of Old Europe, the Caucasian and Old Armenia regions, as well as parts of the Anatolian plateau.
Almost fourthy thousand Khachkars are still scattered across modern Armenia. Like Bosnian stećaks, they turn up almost anywhere, in barren fields, along the roadside, on mountain paths, in surrounding monasteries, inside the walls of churches and houses, and in the cemeteries. Khachkars were also found in neighbouring Turkey, and used inside Kurdish homes as common building stones, while broken Khachkars are often used as gravel in road construction. Armenian khachkars are often made of tufa, and appear in a variety of shapes and, not rarely, they are made of irregularly shaped rocks.
One of the most interesting and important sites for archaeologists and historians is the cemetery of Noraduz, situated 90 km north of Yerevan. Noraduz is one of the eldest cemeteries with Khachkars in Armenia. The site spreads over an area of seven hectares. It is believed that the biggest collections of khachkars originate from mediaeval churches and cemeteries, which served as a basis to consider a khachkar as a gravestone. However, many scholars of the khachkar phenomenon are often inclined to move away from this macabre portrayal and simplistic explanation.
Most of the Khachkars standing over the tombs are engraved, and the cross is the most frequent decorative motif found on them. However, on the most ancient tombs are seen the symbols of the Star of David, or the moving sun. The most unusual, however, remain those in the shape of small pyramids of stone.
Arevshat Sargsyan, a local tourist guide and watchman who knows most of the answers related to the Khackars of Noraduz, declares that the most of the stones are so old that no source tells how they appeared here. He suggests that probably it was Armenians who traveled abroad and saw different cultures and traditions and upon their return brought with them the cultural symbols of other nations.
People of the village attribute to kachkars the ability to cure illness or to protect from natural disasters. Some khachkars are believed to protect even from the unrequited life. The most popular are the tombstones which help people to get rid of fearfulness. Sargsyan says that people who are afraid come from all parts of Armenia to the miraculous stones.
Almost all the impressive array of early khachkars look on the east and the tops of the stones bend as if they bow. The word among villagers is that the khachkars are to welcome Jesus Christ who will come from the east. The analogy with solar rites dedicated to the rising sun of other ancient cultures is evident.
Although in Old Europe the symbol of the cross existed six millenia before the advent of Christianity, today the appearance, ideological-religious and cultural phenomenon of khachkars is still seen in the conjunction of the proclamation of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia in the beginning of the 4th century. Nevertheless, the oldest examples of khachkars found ocassionally through the country still bear marked symbolism closely related to ancient sun cults, and a worship related to the mountain that holds the sacred fire (The Pyramid).
Photo: example of Armenian dragon stone
Some historians have suggested that khackars directly descend form earlier pagan monuments such as as Vishaps or Vishapakars (Arm. višap, "serpent, dragon"). It is presumed that Armenian dragon stones represent the cultural and spirtiual heredity of Neolithic and Bronze Age inhabitants who worshiped the life-giving springs that permeate the country.
Indeed, these sacred stones are mainly found near the sources of water. Like early forms of khachkars, vishaps incorporate a number of pagan symbols, including the sun, the Tree of Life and geometric concepts of the Pythagorean esoteric doctrine.
Not surprisingly, it is possible to find many analogies between stećaks and khachkars based on architecture and religious symbolism. Like stećaks, khachkars are often placed upon a stereobate, an architectural element inherited from Old European sanctuaries and their miniature reproductions (ref. Nenad M. Djurdjević – The Ancestral Origin of Stećaks, 2012).
Another evidence about the ancient tradition of erecting sacred stones in Armenia is proven by one of the most significant examples of prehistoric sacred geometry, like in the case of the megalithic observatory at Karahundj near Sissian. These roughly shaped standing stones stretched out along the crest of a hill overlooking the Sissian River challenge the very dating of early astronomy and the answer to the question, ...
"..who were the first astronomers?"
Current dating of Karahundj to 6.000 BCE ante-date Stonehenge in England, as well the Babylonian's claim to being the first astronomers. It means that Armenia, once part of the Old European Civilization, is one of the first birthplaces of early astronomy. Sacred symbols of the sun, signs of the zodiac, ancient calendars as well representations in stone of cosmic events predominated in prehistoric Armenia, but also elsewhere in Old Europe.
At Metsamor, a site dated to ca. 5000 BCE, one of the oldest observatories in the world can be found. It sits on the southern edge of the excavated city, a promontory of red volcanic rocks that juts out like the mast of a great ship into the heavens. Between 2800 and 2500 BCE at least three observatory platforms were carved from the rocks. The Metsamor observatory is an open book of ancient astronomy and sacred geometry. For the average visitor and scholar the carvings are indecipherable messages.
The most astonishing archaeological evidence, however, comes from the early rock art of prehistoric Old Europe, more precisely from Ukraine. Among the vast figurative representations typical of such period like representations of everyday life situations, prehistoric buildings representing Old European sanctuaries shown as a building resting on a large substructure, we find geometric motifs of various types.
The most interesting for our research remains that defined by archaeologists as a "square with star clusters."
Differently what we've been told, this geometric motif suggests that our ancestors have had a deep understanding and knew about specific cosmic events, discovered by modern science only few years ago.
In 2007, the astonishing discovery of a celestial object notable for its square shape literally amazed astronomers of the universities of Sydney and New York. The object, after the discovery named Red Square Nebula, was detected using infrared cameras at two different observatories in California and Hawaii.
Moreover, another surprising coincidence that is important to our research is that the cosmic object which embodies a sacred geometry related to the primeval mound of creation so well known in all ancient societies steeped in pyramid culture was located in the constellation Serpens (Serpent, from Greek ὄφις).
This ancient constellation is the only one to be broken into two separate pieces. Myth of Constellation Serpens is very unique in many different ways. According to mythology Serpens is the snake that gave Aesculapius (Ophiuchus) the knowledge of how to bring the dead back to life.
Culturally speaking, while the rest of the world was just coming alive (incl. Egypt, China and Mesopotamia), people of the borderless, peaceful and egalitarian world of Old Europe already had an advanced astronomical knowledge and were conscious about specific cosmic events. Although rediscovered only recently with use of technologically "advanced" instruments, the sacred cosmic mountain so much worshipped by all ancient societies steeped in pyramid culture remains poorly understood by modern scientists.