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Type of Spiritual Experience


A Dictionary of Symbols – J E Cirlot

The Babylonian ziggurat known as Etemenanki (the house of the seven directions of heaven and earth) was built of crude bricks overlaid with others that had been fired.  A tablet in the Louvre records that in plan it measured 2,200 feet long by 1,200 wide. 

  • The first level was black in colour and dedicated to Saturn
  • The second was orange coloured and sacred to Jupiter
  • The third red and consecrated to mars
  • The fourth golden and sacred to the sun
  • The fifth yellow to Venus
  • The sixth blue to Mercury
  • The seventh silver to the moon

This order is not always observed, for sometimes the moon is situated in the sixth heaven and the sun in the seventh.

Berthelot, however, suggest that the ziggurat not only embraces the mystic aspects of the mountain and the centre – by virtue of its mass and situation – and of steps – because of its shape, but also constitutes an image of paradise, since vegetation appears to flourish on its terraces.

The origins of this type of structure are Sumerian and examples are to be found in Egypt, India, China and pre-Columbian America.  Eliade, in confirming this, adds that the climb to the top of the Mesopotamian or of the Hindu temple mountain was equivalent to an ecstatic journey to the ‘centre’ of the world; once the traveller has reached the topmost terrace, he breaks free from the laws of level, transcends profane space and enters a region of purity.

It is hardly necessary to observe that climbing mountains implies ultimately the same mystic tendency, as can be seen in the fact that mountain heights are the chosen abode of the recluse.  And the favourable symbolic significance of the goat derives solely from his predilection for heights.

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Cirlot, J E

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