Thursday, February 26, 2009

Playlist, Zodiac, Angels: Fallen and Otherwise.

Desmond Carrington, a BBC DJ, in his show "The Music Goes Round" on 17 February chose for his theme "The Signs of the Zodiac". He commented, at the top of the show, that the zodiac is mentioned in the New Testament's Book of Revelations. I doubted the accuracy of this, did a little research. The best I could find on the topic was that twelve angels mentioned in the Book of Revelations, or elsewhere in the Bible, have been linked to the signs of the zodiac, and, it seems, used in Cabalistic Magic. A quick check via Google brought up :
Aries: Machidiel
Taurus: Asmodel
Gemini: Ambriel
Cancer: Muriel
Leo: Verchiel
Virgo: Hamaliel
Libra: Uriel
Scorpio: Barbiel
Sagittarius: Adnachie
Capricorn: Hanael
Aquarius: Gabriel
Pisces: Barchiel

The brief spurt of research jogged my memory about something in The Book of Enoch. This is one of a group of ancient religious scripts known as The Apocrypha, excluded from most official versions of The Bible. In The Book of Enoch, as translated (and translations and interpretations vary) a story goes:
(from website HERE)
"Originally the angels, or Sons of God, all surveyed the world and its beings from on high, and among them were those called the Grigori or Watchers. "The Watchers" can be translated with several shades of meaning, and depending on the translator means "observers" or "sentinels, sleepless ones"; whether they are vigilant or simply curious, they watch. Some texts say they were tempted by the beauty of human women ("the Sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair..."), while others grant them a compassionate Promethean urge to guide and teach or a touching desire for family and companionship; there were, we're told, no female Watchers. Whatever their motive, two hundred of the Watchers, led by the great angel Semjaza-Azazel, defied divine direction, descended to Earth and took a personal hand in humankind's education. Crafts and sciences, arts and letters, and the many skills of magic - all of which are described as "secrets...made in heaven", intended only for the Celestials to know - were shared with our distant ancestors. "And Azazel taught men to make swords and daggers and shields and breastplates...bracelets, and ornaments, and the metals of the earth, and the art of making up the eyes and beautifying the eyelids (...angels invent eye shadow...) ...Amezarak taught all those who cast spells and cut roots; Armaros the release of charms, spells, and magical skills; Baraqiel, astrology...Asradel, the path of the moon...Penemue: this one showed the sons of men the bitter and the sweet; he taught men the art of writing with ink and paper, and through this many have gone astray." Even reproductive choice was granted: "Kasdeyae: this one showed the sons of men the blows which attack the embryo in the womb so that it miscarries."

The lore they taught, however, takes a secondary role to the result of their sexual unions with womankind. (And considering the unrecorded difficulty of carrying a half-human fetus to term, Kasdeyae's may have been the wisest and kindest gift of all.) This was of course the birth of the Nephilim, sometimes called Naphalim or Naphidim, the "giants in the earth" of Genesis: "a monstrous race of giants with spiritual powers and earthly appetites". Some were indeed heroes, like the Biblical "mighty hunter before the Lord," Nimrod. Others were less noble. From I Enoch: "And they [the Watchers] took wives to themselves...and they taught them charms and spells...and [their wives] became pregnant and bore large giants... These devoured all the toil of men, until men were unable to sustain them. And the giants turned against them in order to devour men, and they began to sin against birds and against animals...and they devoured one another's flesh and drank the blood from it. Then the earth complained against the lawless ones."

The Aramaic Greek translation complicates matters further: "And they bore to them three kinds: first large giants, and to the giants were born the Naphalim, and the Naphalim begot the Elioud. And they grew according to their greatness, and they taught themselves and their wives charms and spells." Jubilees agrees, adding that "They were all unalike.." Thus we can imagine three successive generations of angel-progeny co-existing on the earth, all skilled in magickal arts and all apparently peaceable - at least for a time. This correlates with traditions quoted by Davidson and Huson that the Nephilim - not the Watchers - can be credited with works as diverse as the forging, in Beowulf, of King Hrothgar's magical sword, and the building of the Tower of Babel; if the Nephilim existed long enough to master some creative arts, perhaps they also had time to reproduce. Sadly, it was not to last: Jubilees goes on to say, "and they devoured each other; the giant killed the Naphil, the Naphil killed the Eljo [Elioud], and the Eljo humankind, and one man another man..."

The loyal archangels Michael, Gabriel, Sariel and Uriel, who had not followed Azazel and were still faithfully observing Earthly affairs, saw all this and protested to God. It's highly interesting to note the tone of their complaint. "See then what Azazel has done," they say ( I Enoch IX), "how he has taught all iniquity on the earth, and revealed the eternal secrets which were made in heaven...and has made known spells, and has brought knowledge to men...and the sons of men practice his practices in order to know the secrets..." This is not simple righteous wrath toward violence and sorcery; these things were private property, and the archangels are jealously angry at their revelation to mankind. I Enoch (LXV:6-7, quoting the even more ancient Book of Noah) is explicit: "...they [humans] have learnt all the secrets of the angels...and all their secret power, and all the power of those who practice magic arts, and the power of enchantments and...of those who cast molten images for all the earth..." (Could this be one reason for the suppression of the Apocrypha? The chance that no condemnation of divination, astrology, spells, etc., as Devil-inspired would stand if these chapters, plainly claiming them as heavenly lore, remained in the Old Testament? The whole history of the Middle Ages might have been different... maybe. More likely, of course, it would have been asserted that the gift of heaven's wisdom was corrupted and diabolized by the givers' rebellion. Interesting notion at least.)"

Sounds like a present-day fantasy author's work doesn't it? Yet it originates from, at least, several centuries before the time of Christ. Whether the author was the Enoch who was great grandfather of Noah remains in doubt.

I find the story a source of fascination, a tale which could be interpreted in more than one way. It could hold grains of truth within its detail. Even in today's cynical world, some like myself, who look upon most Bible stories as nebulous fables, or at best, mangled history, still stop and wonder about this one.

The BBC DJ's programme of songs, representing the signs of the zodiac, led me far off course from my original intention for this post!


Wisewebwoman said...

Oh I love that, T, when a web search takes us to hitherto unknown lands and stories. It's happened to me a few times. Glorious.
Very interesting reading, I had read of little people too at one point, no - not the leprachauns, but a race of large headed dwarfs with great brains. Pardon me while I web search.....

anthonynorth said...

Coincidence strikes! I've just been refreshing myself on the Watchers, Elohim, etc, for an essay I'm planning to write - it may even appear in a month or two; I've a long list of 'to do' subjects.
Anyway, my take is this: Add Watchers to the mythological melting pot including Quetzalcoatl, Osiris and many others, and you've a common universal thread of a superrace in existence at a time of global upheaval and just before the agricultural revolution.
I don't know if you've read my stuff on lost civilisations, but I argue human proliferation was only achieveable with boats, and that there was an early seafaring civilisation 1000s of yrs before presently accepted, based on a fisheries revolution.
Come the end of the last ice age, their ports were swamped, and the survivors moved inland and began teaching the stone agers. And of course, they would come with knowledge of the stars for navigation.
Atlantis thus becomes, not a single place, but a global, cosmopolitan civilisation.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Really? I haven't come across any of those before....but if connected to Ireland - nothing would surprise me! ;-)

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ Yes, I recall reading something on the topic in your blog a while ago. That's an interesting theory which would pull together two legends (Atlantis and The Watchers).

The part of the Bible story where giants are mentioned is a bit of a puzzle. Some experts say the word was a mis-translation and really just refers to men of power (rulers, leaders), others surmise that a race such as you mention existed, and would have been better fed and educated to health care and so would have been bigger in stature than the primitive races.

It's a fascinating topic, and one to which a clear answer will never be found unless something emerges from beneath the sea at some point to uphold any one theory.

I read an article yesterday written by a professor at some US university who thinks that rather than explore space, we should be exploring areas of deep ocean-bed which are still unexplored.
For many reasons, I think I agree with him - at this stage of our history anyway. :-)