The Theosophical Forum – May 1936

GIANT EFFIGIES OF SOMERSET — A. E. S. Smythe

GREAT WHEEL OF LIFE REVEALED AT GLASTONBURY (1)

It is scarcely credible and not unnaturally is received with some scepticism, that recently in the county of Somerset in England, aviators flying over this region discovered the most astounding monument that could well be imagined. The story of Glastonbury abbey is fairly well known, and its sanctity is legendary, but this discovery places the legend of its sanctity on a prehistoric basis altogether, for it appears that the story of Joseph of Arimathea having come to the place and given it its reputation must be modified as it is now evident that he came to Glastonbury because it was already a sacred spot to the world, and he, being a tin merchant dealing with the Cassiterides, or Tin Island, hearing of this hallowed ground, paid it a visit as all Holy Palmers might be expected to do.

The discovery of the aviators shows that in ancient times a great Zodiac, the Wheel of Life, as it is called, was laid out in this northern part of the county of Somerset, in a vast circle ten miles in diameter. In this circle advantage was taken of natural features of the landscape, hills, rivers, roads and other points being incorporated in the designing and moulding of the figures representing the twelve signs so well known to those who study the heavens, representing the time-period known as the Zodiacal year, or 25,868 years during which the sun describes the course in the heavens by which the precession of the equinoxes is brought about. The twelve signs represent the twelve Zodiacal months of 2155 years, each of which is known as a Messianic cycle, these being said to govern periods of evolution of humanity, as distinct and important in their influence as the months of the year are to the farmer and husbandman in his culture of the harvest of earth.

Glastonbury sits at the north end of this great circle, and Kingsdon on the south. The strange figures have been photographed and superimposed on the ordnance survey maps, thus enabling the observer to check off the dimensions and locations of the figures. They have been compared to the well known serpent mounds in Ohio and other earthworks of a similar character elsewhere, but these in Somerset surpass any others that have been found in size, and of course in historic, or rather prehistoric interest.

The circle is so arranged that a triangulation near the center of the circle indicates a point in the sign of Taurus, piercing the eye of the Bull, by which the time of the construction of the vast design is dated, being 2700 b. c. It is difficult for the ordinary reader, brought up to think that Britain before the Romans was inhabited by savages who went naked and painted their bodies blue, to accept the view that there was a culture existent then capable of laying out the circle with mathematical accuracy, and calculating with exactitude the motions of the stars and other heavenly bodies, besides transmitting astronomical knowledge that must have been derived, according to Indian tradition, from the ancient continent of Atlantis, where the Zodiac was first constructed by the great astronomer, Asuramaya.

This date precedes all the dates in the Bible regarded as in any degree historical. Abraham, for example, is given the date in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, c. 2100 b. c. These earthworks in Somerset were therefore six hundred years before Abraham. Fifteen hundred years later we are given the date of the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. Rome was not founded till 700 years later still. Babylonia and Egypt are the only countries recognised as existing at that time by the Encyclopaedia, but China, Japan, India and probably other Asiatic countries flourished as much as these. Ireland has ancient records that certainly suggest dates as early as these, though our scholarship does not find it convenient to accept them.

Here in Somerset, however, are indubitable evidences that a nation capable of mighty works, directed with skilled engineering ability, and with mathematical knowledge as well as astronomical science, capable of laying out on a ten-mile diameter, the symbols of the Zodiac on a gigantic scale. Imagine what would be thought of any government proposing a similar work today!

The folk lore of the district is not without traces of knowledge of the origin of these works. The general tradition is that King Arthur had his seat in this part of the land and the Round Table which is associated with his memory is readily identified with the Round Circle of the Zodiacal signs. Moreover the local names echo some of the ancient tradition. Wimble Toot is the existing name for a part of the Virgin's breast. The Kern Baby is the name given to the Child of the Virgin, and this tradition of the Virgin as the sign Virgo of the Zodiac runs far back into the antiquity from which the Zodiac is derived, Isis and Horus of Egypt, and the same symbol of the Virgin and Child being found in India.

A later trace is found in The High History of the Holy Grail, translated in exquisite archaic English by Sebastian Evans from old French, and The Quest of the Holy Grail, translated by W. W. Comfort, and these knit the Grail legend with the wisdom out of which the Zodiac becomes an index of all ancient human history. Those who are familiar with the idea of the plan of the Great Architect of the universe being brought down from heaven and spread on-the earth, will find it realized in this marvelous series of earth works, for the interpretation of the twelve signs is unquestionably the story of the evolution of humanity, both material and spiritual.

The date 2700 b. c. falls in the Messianic cycle of the Bull or Taurus, which began about 4419 b. c. It is this period which the Babylonians and Assyrians celebrated with their great Bull monuments, and the symbolism of the Bull has lasted even down to Roman times in the Mithra worship of that time, as Kipling shows in his Puck of Pook's Hill. It was the overthrow of this worship by Moses which is celebrated in Genesis, for Moses represented the new Messianic cycle, as the reference to the song of Moses and the Lamb sufficiently indicates. When Moses came down from the Mount he found the people had gone back to the older worship of the Golden Calf. The sign of Aries or the Ram was ushered in about 2264 b. c, and this cycle continued till 109 b. c, when the sign of Pisces, the Fish, became the symbol of the World Savior.

These signs repeat themselves every 25,000 years, and the characteristic qualities of humanity under the renewed conditions manifest themselves, always on an ascending scale. Such was the teaching of those who traced on the broad acres of Somerset the signs that tell of human evolution through the ages. The Druids held this knowledge as sacred, and in other lands it was taught in the temples, treasured by the priesthoods, and given to the wise and devout and those considered worthy to be initiated into the Mysteries.

The reason why we are able to trace the Zodiacal creatures discovered by the aviators, is, that the land on which they lie was once the property of "the first church in Britain," and up till the time of the Reformation the monks of Glastonbury were scrupulously careful to keep the ancient landmarks and waterways intact. Doubtless "they had the whole history thereof true from the beginning even to the end," as the High History tells us.

The folk lore of the country represents that "the land was haunted by giants, a lion, and many other things." The lion is, of course, the sign Leo, and his head and shoulders are well defined by Chabrick Mill Stream, ancient roads and linches. The Great Western railway runs across his neck, Copley Wood occupies most of his head. A Romano-British road from Ilchester, which crosses the Cary river at Somerton Erleigh on the Lion's Chest, outlines the Giant Orion's raised arm, the Bull's lower jaw; the Ram's bent back fore foot, neck and head; and goes over the bridges connecting the Whale and the Fishes; part of the tail and head of the Glastonbury Phoenix; the top of the head of the Goat-fish; the two legs of Hercules that straddle the withers of The Archer's Horse; and the tail of the Scorpion as far as Stone on the Fosse Way. Now, facing southwest, that Roman road makes a short cut through the center of the Scorpion's body and its right claw, to skirt the Virgin's hand; then the older road goes on again to outline her Wheatsheaf and the back and shoulder of the Lion, joining the Somerton Erleigh track once more.

So says the record dealing with part of the effigies as described in A Guide to Glastonbury's Temple of the Stars, published by John M. Watkins, 21 Cecil Court, London, W. C. 2. The whole thing is so amazing that it is not likely to be accepted without a sight of the effigies themselves as displayed on the ordnance survey maps, or for those who can do so, a visit to the locality itself.

Those who know something of Glastonbury will be enriched with further memories of this extensive topographical presentation of the mysteries which make Glastonbury sacred; and those who love King Arthur will find the memorials of his knights and their quests in the strange creatures and mythical monsters which they were said to have fought in these parts of the world. The monsters still lie there to be seen by any man who dares, but their secret and the stories they might tell are of other and more marvelous things than are written of in any book.

FOOTNOTE:

1. Reprinted from The Hamilton Spectator, Canada, February 8, 1936. (return to text)


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