Bridges To The Heavens

Cover. Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops [The Great Pyramid of Giza], Egypt. 


This text is replicated from Astrotheology by writer at American Esoteric, Collin Conkwright. 



Astrotheology can be explained as an attempt to identify the relationship between spiritual reality and the stars, planets, and celestial energies. It is both the realisation of the work of God in the cosmos and the recognition of our place inside of it as a reflective unit of a whole, which maintains, on account of its own existence, the divine patterns of nature. In this article, we will explore how some early civilizations encoded some of these patterns into their gods and architecture. The study of astrotheology asks, 'What influence do the orbs of the night sky have on myths and religious beliefs?' and takes for granted the idea that most religious texts contain both allegorical and objective allusions to celestial objects, often in direct relationship to the function of their deities.


It is not only in the earliest texts but in the earliest monuments that we find connections between the heavenly gods and the earthly beings that worship them. Above us all and unending in every direction is the incomprehensible space of which we occupy but an infinitesimal fraction. In the ancient world as today, the heavens displayed the mysterious presence of forces so beyond our capacity to fathom we had no choice but to recognise the work of divine power. 

This presence must be intelligent on account of the intelligence that has come from it, and the intelligence required to define it. It is wise on account of the wisdom it must have taken to create it. It is good because the good that we can aspire to, resembles a state of being that nature has conspired to make beautiful.

Thus if there is any repeatable sign in the heavens and we can account for a repeatable change in our environment or our psyche during such a sign, it would work in our benefit to understand the differences between the signs and the changes; to figure out what utility they have and ascribe a meaning to them which satisfies our curiosity.

Our most practical example of the sun’s mastery over our lives is the necessity for sleep. Light is wakefulness, and intelligence. Darkness is rest and unknown. As the giver of life, the sun’s position in the hierarchy of celestial objects is always at the pinnacle. It is the crown object, as it were, which is why its outer atmosphere is a corona, and the rulers of nations have received their coronation when they take power. The crown is an early solar symbol, just as the scythe for Saturn, and winged sandals for fast-moving Mercury.


'In Babylonia it is a very remarkable thing that from the beginning of things - so far as we can judge from the records - the sign for God was a star. We find the same idea in Egypt : in some of the hieroglyphic texts three stars represented that plural ‘gods.’ Darkness carries the themes of evil, and light is its vanquisher.'

- J. Norman Lockyer


As ancient Sumeria [Iraq] and Egypt show us, once upon a time there was little separation between magic and religion, and religion and lifestyle. The gods and spirits existed in all things including the cosmos, the structure of governments, the sanctuaries of temples, and the makeup of our emotions. Thus when the gods of a pantheon corresponded with celestial objects, it was only fitting to bind them to an architecture not only built in their honor but designed in a way to mimic their prowess.

As we see with the Babylonian ziggurats described by Herodotus - pyramidal temples dedicated to particular deities and reserved for an exclusive priestly class - it was a common result of a nation’s religious fervor to erect massive structures to the gods. These are bridges to the heavens; high places like Mt. Olympus where the twelve gods dwell, suspended above the world like the twelve zodiacal segments of the ecliptic.

The Etemenanki in Babylon is perhaps the most famous ziggurat, dedicated to Marduk, the king of the gods and patron god of Babylon. Etemenanki means 'the temple of the foundation of heaven and the earth'. This is relevant to the inscription on the seven-terraced ziggurat of Borsippa by Nebuchadnezzar II, who calls the ziggurat 'the house of the seven lights of the earth', doubtlessly a reference to the seven spheres from which we derive our days of the week, which in the ancient world were always: the Sun [Sun-day], Moon [Moon-day or Monday], Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn [Saturn-day]. In the same order, the Babylonian gods who ruled over these spheres were Samas, Sin, Nabu, Nergal, Ishtar, Marduk, and Ninurta.

We find that for later Greeks like Strabo [64 BCE - 24 CE], the philosophic class of Chaldeans became synonymous with astronomers and astrologers:

'In Babylonia a settlement is set apart for the local philosophers, the Chaldaeans, as they are called, who are concerned mostly with astronomy… There are also several tribes of the Chaldaean astronomers. For example, some are called Orcheni, others Borsippeni, and several others by different names, as though divided into different sects which hold to various different dogmas about the same subjects.'

Diodorus of Sicily ties this astronomical reputation to the Chaldeans as well when he describes Alexander the Great’s entry into Babylon:

'While he [Alexander] was still 54 kilometers from the city, the scholars called Chaldaeans, who have gained a great reputation in astrology and are accustomed to predict future events by a method based on age-long observations, chose from their number the eldest and most experienced. By the configuration of the stars they had learned of the coming death of the king in Babylon, and they instructed their representatives to report to the king the danger which threatened. They told their envoys also to urge upon the king that he must under no circumstances make his entry into the city….'

Whatever planetary correlation the Sumerian and later the Babylonian, Akkadian, and Assyrian gods were given, existed in some form among the early Celts and Egyptians, and became a tradition carried on by the Greeks and Romans. We are, after all, indebted to the Sumerians for our earliest record of astronomical knowledge. They were able to chart the movements of the sun and moon to the point of accurately predicting seasons and eclipses, and were possibly the first to divide the sections of the ecliptic into twelve constellations of the zodiac.​​​​​​​

But the idea that this astronomical wisdom wasn’t bestowed from an even early period in civilisation, say 12,000 years ago or earlier, is becoming more and more something to reconsider. With the finding of sites like Gobekli Tepe and Karahan Tepe in modern Turkey, and with the movement to redate the construction of the Egyptian Sphinx, we will be moved to consider a much earlier beginning to humanity’s astrotheological bent if the apparent solar alignments of these sites stand the tests of scrutiny.


The reasons behind natural phenomena become the keys or the obstacles to new spiritual beliefs.

Early humans knew they weren’t the only creature to walk the lands, that others existed but were different in appearance, language, and heritage. What if these unconnected people have established their own beliefs and will defend them equally, if not more ferociously than we would our own?

In common we give and take life to live. In common we are changing beings passing through a changing world, and we find that no matter what, everything is in a permanent state of change. The world shakes. Forests catch flame. Whole civilisations succumb to war like a rampant plague. 

To progress requires us to transform and rearrange reality to our benefit. Language allowed us to organise the qualities of life into a sharable, mental order and transmit ideas as befits our needs. This offered the advantages of common purpose, delegation, and the transmission of vital skills. Moreover, it provided the means for the explanation of the spiritual presence in reality.

By the early faculties of voice and symbolism we pried out mysteries in the natural order we would have otherwise missed. And wherever language, symbol, and gesture failed us, other archetypes, other gods were at work that we couldn’t help but experience in common.


The Dating Problems

We can discover a lot about the thematic modes of life lived by the early human, but we still gain precious few details. We want to say we can imagine what it was like in the past, but we also know the benefits of realistic confines.

That said, we truly do not know how long humanity was in this state of discovery and development before recorded civilisation arose. Often in the last century, it has been suggested and even given as irrefutable fact that humanity couldn’t have been of a mind to think and be as we have just stated, until 50,000 to 65,000 years ago. Apparently, civilisation had not yet been 'invented' until say 5,000 to 3,500 BCE*, and this is supposed to be the parameter within which we define our earlier state of consciousness.

*BCE [n.] Before Common Era or Before Current Era or Before Christian Era: used when referring to a year before the birth of Jesus Christ when the Christian calendar starts counting years.

But our dates of practices such as agriculture, religion, and the establishment of cities and government keep getting pushed back. Which makes us wonder about earlier episodes in our history as of yet undiscovered.

This redating is courtesy of finds like Gobekli Tepe and Karahan Tepe in Turkey; two megalithic sites dating back to at least 11,600 years ago, and most certainly artifacts of a culture familiar with agriculture, megalithic architecture, astronomy, and a culture that for some reason deliberately buried the entire Gobleki Tepe building complex.

How many more back-dated structures will there be? The pyramids around the world, especially those in Egypt and Mexico seem to many to speak to an age of humanity capable of industrious astro-architectural feats. Feats all but impossible to design with the tools of the copper and bronze ages. Take the water erosion on the Sphinx, indicating it could have been built some 10,000 years ago rather than 2500 BCE.


Is it cataclysmic cycles like that which brought an end to the last ice age some 12,000 years ago that act as a kind of reset program for civilisation?'

Mysteries of ancient man abound, and their myths live on to breathe life into their legacy. And what hasn’t been found but perhaps does exist, gives life to an even greater intrigue.

For how did it come to be that the Mayan people, who were astronomically superior and populated to the tune of tens of millions, all but abandon their vast cities and leave behind a wealth of ruins and whispers, with little to no trace of what became of the people themselves?

How about the Phoenicians, who were probably the inventors of the alphabet and the merchant ship? The Phoenicians were a thallasocratic*, Semitic-speaking civilisation with origins in the Levant, known to have dominated trade in the Mediterranean and to have been prolific writers. They were far-reaching enough to trade tin with the British isles in the 2nd Mellinia BCE. And yet, perhaps in line with their reputation as an exclusive and secretive people, and due to the weakness of their writing materials, little to none of their texts survive. 

*thallasocratic [n.] a state with primarily maritime realms, an empire at sea, or a seaborne empire.

Well, all this we must address in good time. For now, we have no choice but to table the outrageous number of historical uncertainties.

For within the spiraling cycle where humanity, world, and universe, commingle to produce all of what it has, there are a particular few examples on our world that we define as universal. And when I say universal, I don't mean the primitive observations of weather, texture, or physical likeness, but I mean a deeper conviction brought out from potent spiritual factors we have not yet grasped.

This is feeling intrinsic to our nature, beyond cause and effect, proclaiming the existence of great BEING, everywhere uniquely symbolised, and everywhere incapable of separating from the human experience. This is God.

Humanity’s development of religious practices might as well be writhing in the dark of Hades. Indeed, the birth of religion and myth seems to come full-blown like Athena from the head of Zeus, as soon as recorded history starts. But we can be sure that in the complex nature of mythology and the phenomena of widespread spiritual conviction, a long period, and perhaps long cycles of development were required before entire civilizations could agree to them.


The systems of myth and religion must serve an immediate need of a people in order to be adopted, and a people must have a use for the things in which they believe.

Let’s take the virtues for instance. A people come to understand the benefits of virtue from its results. Not from whether or not the thing can be proven materially or if it makes sense to the sympathies of an authority. For in the employment of honesty there develops trust and loyalty. How else would the food be brought back to the village or the crops be sown responsibly? How else would the shelters be built or the children be born with any sense of a survivable future? How, without trust and honesty, would a people be protected, or be valuable enough to protect?

Virtues like these allow for agreements that are requisite for civilization to operate. And when crimes or ill deeds are committed, and this trust is broken, the man needed ways to explain why, and the people needed ways to explain why the trust can’t be broken.
We could expand as to why the early human could easily see what fruits virtues bring, but what fruits do religion, magic, and ritual bring? What do they provide the early believer that nothing else could provide? And why is it that, as far as we look back, such beliefs as those in gods and spirits and ceremony seem to be everywhere abundant? Why did the early humans look out into nature and into themselves and embody the same truths?

Many have suspected that precursor civilisations with their own doctrines and legends, left these behind to their successors. That is, left behind the seeds which eventually grew into the heroic myths passed down through history; the themes that constituted the bedrock of the entire religious monument. 

The structure of mythology alone gives us much to ponder. Were the gods once kings and queens among Man, now remembered through their divine attributes? They were certainly personified as such, in a way that gave us the means to build similarity with them. They were exaggerated possibly both to impress the children with their imagery, and plant allegories which the elders and initiated alone would be able to sift for value.


Are the conquests of light over darkness, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of an omniscient super-consciousness programmed into us by natural prerogative?

Looking into the beliefs of the ancient world it isn’t difficult to assume that God had a kind of 'plan,' leaving traces of itself everywhere, inevitably leading to hard questions and the realisation that we a part of something inexplicably connected.

We have as far back as we can reach, legends of a past that seem to frown upon the present with a chin held high. We have the legends of a golden age where gods walked the earth alongside man. This we find in the writings of Hesiod, and the legends of Egypt, and we can certainly see some congruence to this story in the Garden of Eden.
What must we make of it all?

Looking out into the natural world, the developing human saw hints of a grander message in the relationship between life-forms and noticed how they might also be reflected in the inner life of consciousness.
Back to Top