The Divine Origin of Nothing
Guest Post by Hayward Gladwin
Hayward perseveres in the search for Truth. His determination and dedication for the quest is something to greatly admire. It is a privilege to be able to share part of his journey and findings here. Please feel free to leave comments or questions for him below.
The Divine Origin of Nothing
It has often been stated that behind the origin of Zero is the concept of “Nothing”. Prior to the existence of numbers and value- based systems, expressions of numeric value were made through marks and notches, such as the ancient Sumerian base- 60 system, which used simple lines or shapes to represent placement of 1’s and 10’s and so on. Or, we could look to the ancient Mayans, who used dots and lines to create a base- 20 system, or the ancient Chinese that used simple horizontal and vertical lines to create their base- 10 system.
In in each instance however, a need to indicate a numerical value of an “absence” became present; not only to create the conceptual counterpoint to the positive integer, but to also give cause for their numeric systems to escalate in cycle, from 10’s to 100’s to 1000’s and so forth. For this purpose, a symbol expressing the value of a “void” was created, one that could act both as a beginning to the entire numeric system, yet also give rise the cycle of scales (10s, 100s, 1000s, etc.) as it increased.
However stylized the character of Zero might appear today, it would seem that the most rudimentary form of the zero is a circle or oval. In a few of the ancient cultures mentioned above (with the Sumerian being an exception) the form used to represent the zero could typically be described as a space enclosed by a curved line, thus creating what would appear to be a vessel-like circular or ovular form.
The significance of this form in relation to a concept of cycles, and thus regeneration, should perhaps not be underestimated. The idea behind regeneration would be the point where the mark of the beginning becomes the inevitable end and then goes onward toward another beginning. Note how the Mayan form on the left even resembles an egg, a form that symbolizes the idea of creation and the generation of life itself. To create a symbol for “nothing” therefore, is to also create the visual allegory for an empty womb so to speak, and thus giving counterpoint for the definition of “something” to begin with, thereby complying with the principle of duality. Things start to get really interesting though, when we think of the form of Zero not simply as the state of pure nothingness, but also the kinetic state of “somethingness”, an idea that somewhat engenders the form of the circle with the principle of rest and creation, somewhat like an act of God.
In fact, if we look at a common term associated with the geometric measurement of the circle, it would seem that we happen to stumble upon the idea of the Gods or Goddesses themselves. If we take the word “diameter” and dissect it into its two components “dia” & “meter” we have two words which take root in Greek. The word dia, which is translated in Greek as meaning “through” or “across”, when taken back through the Latin “Dea”, and then to the Greek “θεά (Thea)”, a reference to a “Goddess” appears. In Latin, Dea literally means goddess, and in Greek, Thea is the daughter of Ouranus (Uranus- God of sky or heaven), who represents the aithre (ether). Additionally, in ancient Greek myth, the name Dia has been defined as meaning “heavenly”, “divine” or “she who belongs to Zeus”. The word meter, on the other hand, means “measure” in Greek.
Considering this reading of diameter, are we to conclude that the measuring the span of a circle is akin to measuring a “Goddess, the heavenly or divine”? Are we also to consider that the form of the circle is feminine in principle and related to the idea of creation? It is an interesting thought. To explore this idea further, we should continue to look at the origins of the circle and try to connect these ideas with what we find.
When thinking about the idea of the circle as a generative principle of creation (therefore as a feminine concept) I’m naturally reminded of the idea of “mother earth”.
Turning back again to ancient myth, we find that the consort of the Greek Ouranos (Uranus) is Gaia, the primordial goddess of Earth. In ancient Rome, these Gods were known as Aion and Terra. In the Greek myths, the two were parents to the lesser Titans, which themselves were later overthrown by the classic Greek gods of Olympus. Ouronos symbolizes the sphere of the heavens (Zodiac) and Gaia the sphere of Earth. In this illustration, we see the two look back and reflect upon the other. Of related interest here, to the idea of “diameter”, is the word “geometry”, which means “Earth-measure”. Here, we see that “geo-metery” also seems to have its root in relation with the name of a Goddess, this case being Gaia. It is perhaps also interesting to consider that by attempting to make a two dimensional representation of a sphere, we might be first prompted to draw a circle. In this way, I am again reminded of the connection between the idea of creation (Earth Mother) and the geometric form of the circle.
But whereas the precise “first” origin of the Zero (or at least the concept of the zero) is debatable, it is often agreed that one of the earliest recordings of symbol used to express “nothing” (or Zero, effectively) was made by the Egyptians. This symbol was named NFR (“Nefer”) and means “beauty”, in addition to its being used for representing the concept of “nothing” in written form.
It has been stated by some that the NFR symbol could be looked as representing an abstraction of the human form as esophagus, heart and lungs. But perhaps even more interesting is how similar this symbol is related to others, such as how it looks like an inverted symbol of Venus, or how similar it is to the alchemical symbol for Antimony. If we continue to follow the historic traces of this symbol in depth in fact, many associations with esoteric ideas start to form.
Another image that the NFR symbol bears a resemblance to is the Globus Cruciger, an object commonly held by Christ being portrayed as Salvator Mundi, or “Savior of the Earth”, a theme found in many Renaissance paintings. Whereas the globe makes a clear reference to “The World” (in latin: Mundi), the cross is an easy association to make with Christ. (Side note: notice how the hand gesture echoes this form with fingers crossed and the remaining fingers clenched together).
This symbol was often used to convey an image of power or influence and was used to depict the divine, but also worldly, power and so was often seen being held by kings or queens in portraits. Meanwhile, while the handheld globe clearly indicates a position of terrestrial or spiritual dominion, we might also notice how the cross on top of the sphere seems significant in relation to the crucifixion, specifically when considering its location on the mount of Golgotha, with its rounded shape and its name meaning the “place of the skull”. In fact, many iconic paintings show a skull buried under the mound where Christ was crucified. The skull relates to a legend that it was the skull of Adam that was buried there, inside that mound of Earth.
It is along these lines where we could further elaborate on the theme of a void or vessel with a cross and turn our focus to two worldly locations: one to be found in Egypt and the other in England.
In Egypt, in the tomb of Tutmosis III, there is the depiction of a scene called the “Amduat”, which has also been referred to as ” The Book of the Hidden Chamber and the Twelve Hours of the Night”. The scenes in this “book” describe the 12 passages of the sun god Re as he travels through the night and below the surface of the Earth, so to appear on the opposite horizon the next day. As he does so, it is interesting to consider that while he rides on his bark over water and through the darkness, we have an image of his travelling through a void, “nothingness”, or the unknown. At the bottom center of this image, which is positioned at “6 o’clock”, we see an image of Re standing within an ovular form, surrounded on both sides by wings and flanked by serpents. On two levels above, there is what appears to be an upturned vessel surmounted with a “T”. The form is peculiarly similar the NRF symbol or the Globus Cruciger, if considered in abstract terms. The “T” has widely been known as an earlier form of the standard four-armed cross. And in fact, when we check the name used to describe the central location of this point within the Amduat, it is “Rostau”. It is quite easy in this word to find relevance with the “Rose Cross” (Rose Tau) of the Rosicrucians.
Heading over to England, there is a similarly-designed site located at the crossroads of the historic paths of Ermine and Icknield, at Royston Cave. This cave, as has been discovered, was used by members of an unverified mystery society and it has been speculated that it was also used for ritual. The shape of the cave is of a void carved out of the earth in the shape of a bell-type vessel. Above this cave, on the ground above, there was a cross that used to stand there. The name of this cross was “Rosia’s Cross”. Remnants of the cross’s base have been found at this intersection and supposedly remain there today. Through “Rosia’s Cross”, we are again introduced to the concept of the Rose Cross (Rostau) and when it is combined with the cave beneath, we are again presented with the image of a void with a cross above.
There are other instances in history wherein caves we used for ritual purposes, such as the caves used for the Mithraic rituals, or the ancient BES chambers used in Egypt. There is something about the idea of using a cave for ritual that is womb-like, particularly with relevance to such Solar or Fertility deities as Mithras or BES, wherein the implication of fertilization into the Earth is present.
And if we return back to basic circle as a symbol of cycles; of beginnings, endings, and the concept of (re)generation, we can in yet another way connect to an idea presented earlier by the 12 hours of the book of Amduat — and that would be through the concept of time. A natural connection to the measure of time and the 12 hour cycle would of course be the clock.
And it is perhaps only coincidence that the Latin-based word for “Day” is “Dia” (in ancient Latin- Die, pronounced dee-eh). Or consider the relationship between the word “day” with the “dae” or “dei” of daemon and deity. With this hypothesis, we can bring together the concept of the cycle of a day in relation to the female goddess, or “Dia”. It might help to shed new light on the famous quote of “Et in Arcadia Ego”also, wherein a new reading might be: “and in the Arc (or circle) of the Goddess (Dia) I am”.
It is important to keep in mind however, that this 12 hour scale of time is based on the Earth’s rotation on its own axis. To look for another scale of time, and therefore another circle, we could also follow the Earth’s revolution around the sun and find what in that case would be a solar measure, the year. There is thus reason to insist that the time-related idea of the circle pertains to both the Earth and the Sun. But these wouldn’t be the final “cyclical circles” to be found, since looking at how our solar system revolves around the galactic center, we would find yet another. Then in considering all the galaxies revolving around some unknown center out there in the universe, perhaps even yet another. Not to mention the concept of Precession wherein, as the Earth travels “forward” through the Zodiac, the dates of the Equinoxes appear to travel “backward” through the signs of the Zodiac, over a period of 25,625 years.
Yet, to introduce the Divine nature of the circle, and the generative principle of creation, it makes sense to begin with the Earth, since this is where we first find ourselves. From this vantage point, we can bear witness to the “music of the spheres” as well as the sphere of the heavens. We can also see, with some help from the teachings of our ancestors, a measurement of time that is both Earthly as well as Cosmic.
From this perspective we can find yet another clue that ties together Divinity and the Earth, by using a symbol that the ancients used to reference the Earth, that being the Square. The elemental square, of which Platonic schools had used to symbolize Earth, references the equality of the classic four elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth), but is also vital due to the measurement of its angles. If we add up the four angles of a square (90 + 90 + 90 + 90) we come up with the same number of degrees which are found in a circle, 360. With this information, perhaps we have another means to consider the famous problem of “Squaring the Circle”, in which we are told to find an equal amount of area within both. But rather that limiting ourselves to physical area, perhaps we can find another truth contained within the measurement of their degrees. Thus the underlying message might be read, “Within the degrees of the Earth are also found the degrees of the Divine.”
If we are to find the first steps towards discovering the relationship between the Divine (Nothing), the circle, and Earth, we should refer back to the aforementioned symbol of Antimony and learn of its meaning in alchemy.
It has been said that the metal of Antimony symbolizes the animal nature or wild spirit of humankind. Had we not previously considered our animal nature or wild spirit through association with the rough stone, Asmodeus, and Marsyas (aka Pan)?
To conclude, perhaps it is now worthwhile to reflect back on how the NFR symbol, or Antimony, appears as an inverted symbol of Venus. As had already been suggested, to complete the symbol of Venus is to embrace the entire tree of life. And perhaps now we are able to see the point where to begin, from its reflected image found within the elements of Earth. To make the leap, it is starting to look like a symbolic bridge between the lower sphere and the upper sphere, using the cross in the middle as the guide.
And maybe from there, just maybe, we might catch a glimpse of what the true nature of “nothing” is; something a bit higher above (or perhaps even another sphere beyond), yet at the center of that which exists before and beyond everything else. Perhaps this is the true form of the creator. For isn’t it an oft-used quote that “God is a circle (or sphere) of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere”?
*Disclaimer- the ideas and findings in this article were inspired and informed in part by the Maranatha, Et in Arcadia Ego book series. The author is not affiliated with the publishers or authors of Maranatha and the conclusions herein are solely the author’s own.
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