It's finally happened...I have entered into nerd-dom of the Hugh Nibley variety. I was caught this week at the dentist's with my nose in a book about Egyptology and it was riveting! What's so interesting about Egyptology? For one: their civilization is old enough to, perhaps, have witnessed and preserved in memory the appearance of the skies as they were anciently; skies that were laden with symbolism; skies that testified of Christ in an age that could only look forward to His coming in faith.
Without these different skies, it would sure be hard to explain Joseph Smith's drawing preserved for us by his friend and bodyguard, Philo Dibble, shown below:
There have been a plethora of explanations for what he might have been trying to illustrate, but one thing is apparent: we have three cosmic bodies aligned on their polar axes at a degree of axial tilt that matches the earth's. Notice the "narrow neck" that connects the spheres. You'll be seeing it again later.
This reconstruction of the heavens is referred to as the "polar configuration." We have Mars out front, bright Venus with her radiant streamers in the middle and giant Saturn as the backdrop. Evidences of images similar to this are documented in ancient civilizations throughout the world. Behold, some of the most prominent muses of mythology! And because these planets were aligned with earth's polar axis, they were fixed at the point in the sky where we look to find the North Star, Polaris, only these were much larger and way more impressive. The polar configuration turned like a wheel (ever heard of "the wheel in the sky?"). And, depending on the time of day, Saturn's crescent (creating by the sun's light reflecting on its surface) would rotate like a backwards clock.
The triangle piece you see in the image above is the visual effect of the electromagnetic shield connected to and encompassing the earth from the nearby planets (ie. the narrow neck from the Philo Dibble drawing). It has anciently been called "The Pillar of the Earth," the "World Mountain," etc. and can be seen better in the following reconstruction:
This image, seen anciently, appears to be the very foundation on which our idea of the altar is based, or is at least an additional testimony of it. These planets are telling the story of Christ's sacrifice. He is the red planet, Mars, the hero son, the red Eye of Horus, conceived in the womb of Venus, the Heavenly Mother (the crown of Saturn her husband, the brilliant emerald throne).
This image conjures up the "Bull of Heaven" referred to in ancient text and Hathor, the cow-shaped goddess. There is no separation of bovinity from divinity in the ancient cultures. It's easy to see how Hinduism, one of the earth's oldest religions, includes the continuation of this theme in their honoring of the sacred cow.
Far from being a Pagan icon, it probably served as an effective teaching tool for the children of Adam, reinforcing many truths - one of them being the coming of the "great and last sacrifice." Below are some Egyptian artifacts. The first is an excellent example of how the polar configuration creates the appearance of an altar. The second is of deity in the figurative form of the cow.
So why were the Israelites commanded to place horns on the four corners of their altar? Is it simply a decoration because so many of the sacrifices offered there had horns themselves? Why is the red heifer sacrifice one of the rarest and most sacred of sacrifices? What does all this point to? I WONDER. But one thing I know:
What say ye?