Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Zodiac in LDS Theology

The masterpiece we refer to as the 88th. Section of the Doctrine and Covenants has some interesting connection to what I propose is the Zodiac. I know this makes some LDS folks recoil just a bit, but if we can free our minds and just see truth, truth will pour itself into us. I am not here supporting Astrology or any type of divination by looking at the cosmos. 
“Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand?” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:46)
Staring in verse 52 a parable is given to us, to help us understand these kingdoms and the people who reside in them.

The complete meaning of this parable is not completely understood by me, but a few points are observable and we can see some hints of the underlying truths. We see in the parable the Lord visits different people of different kingdoms in 12 different hours. This parable may raise more questions than it answers, and that may be it’s purpose.

We read in verse 47:
“Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.”

The above must mean more than what someone could see with a telescope in their backyard. What a person can view from the backyard may whisper at God’s majesty, however, to really see God moving in His majesty a person needs to see this with spiritual eyes like Moses or Abraham did. In modern temples we receive a very short representation of this understanding of that we are to run with and expand, it should expand to where we understand that same thing, via a little different route, that Abraham and Moses received.

Even back to ancient Egypt the idea existed that man, in at least one stage is associated with the 12 part Zodiac, and passed through the Zodiac in his eternal journey. This association of the number 12 with the Tree of Life, and the many variation of the plan of salvation as found among the many peoples of the earth is distinct.

We see in the Sefer Yetzirah that a similar description of kingdoms is connected to the 12 stations of the Zodiac (At least in some versions). The Sepher Yetzirah is a commentary on the creation and the redemption. This commentary uses the Tree of Life as the backdrop for this explanation (like Solomon’s temple), and employs images of ten “Sephiroth” or number and twenty- two letters as the building blocks of creation.
(Ten are the numbers of the ineffable [or intangible] Sephiroth, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Learn this wisdom, and be wise in the understanding of it, investigate these numbers, and draw knowledge from them, fix the design in its purity, and pass from it to its Creator seated on his throne.” Sepher Yetzirah 1:4.)

The family used as the prototype of salvation is Israel. When a convert receives the gospel they are grafted into the Tree of Life - the House of Israel. Towards the end of the Book of Genesis we see that God set up the House of Israel to rule and reign on this earth. It is true that Israel has often struggled with it’s own periods of apostasy, yet between such periods it is Israel that has been the custodians of the rites of salvation and sanctification. A primary characteristic of the House of Israel is that it is divided into 12 tribes, the descendants of the 12 son’s of Jacob. But this employing of the number 12 did not start or end with Israel’s children. I would suggest that this usage was calling on a larger imagery less know to modern theologians. This larger imagery is the cosmos with all of it’s “worlds” and the people who inhabit them. The cosmos can be represented in shorthand with the Zodiac. The Zodiac can be thought of as a kind of Hypocephalus.

The visiting of the Lord to each kingdom is the millennial reign of Christ in each respective kingdom. Each earth or world receives it’s reign of Christ in it’s proper time. Joseph Fielding Smith spoke about this:

“During the millennium, the Savior will spend one thousand years here which is one day according to the Lord. In D&C, Section 88, it is written that the Savior will do the same thing in other worlds, visiting each in its turn.” (
Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 3:212.)

So, if this is speaking of other worlds or earths, are we to accept that there are a total of 12 of these earths, of which our earth is one? Abraham and Brigham Young taught us that there are millions of earths. So why the connection to the number 12? I suspect that it is using a related imagery in the macro; the cosmos (crated under the direction of the council of the gods). The next panning in towards the micro is the Tree of Life - the House of Israel (Jacob 5:3) with it’s 12 tribes. Further panning in is the 12 apostles that run the church, the custodians of salvation - the Tree of Life in our day and in the original church.
Just as the apostles have less to do with the actual number 12 than what that number represents, this holds true at each progressive level, micro or macro. We should not get stuck on 12 kingdoms, but embrace the understanding that we are part of a larger plan that includes many worlds, each of which will be visited in their time. This understanding will draw us to investigate the pre-earth life and the plan of all these kingdoms. It is likely this imagery of 12 apostles extends to each of these worlds, and that each world has it’s 12 custodians of salvation (at any given time).

Even keeping in mind my earlier discourses on Revelation 22:2 we see the correspondence between the number 12 and the 12 fruit and the Tree of Life in Revelation 22. A possible, at least partial explanation of the 12 different types of fruit people eat is that the 12 fruit are for the 12 divisions of the cosmos, which is consistent with Doctrine and Covenants section 88. If this is true, the symbol of the Tree of Life in the Book of Revelation is enriched to include a symbol of salvation not only for our world but as a shared source for all the cosmos. If we take that understanding and logically extend it to the rest of our Tree of Life images, all kinds of interesting possibilities begin to show themselves. For example, we could easily hang a Zodiac as a wreath on our Tree of Life.

Notice that in Rev. 22:2 they eat 12 manner of fruit, one for each month. Months have to do with times or seasons. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:61 “...times, and in its season...” is used to describe the plan.)

Jacob’s Alligory of the Olive Tree does not include or end in the use of the number 12, but it does end in Jacob 6:13 with a reminder that we will meet again before the bar of Christ, which is a millennial setting, which is earth’s (one twelfth) turn for the presence of Christ. A rose by any other name...
In John 15, Jesus spoke to one branch of the 12 tribes, and to the 12 apostles, about the True Vine.
While no cosmic connection is recorded in John, the fact that He was explaining a Tree of Life image to the twelve was more than appropriate.

In short, the number 12 is associated with the work of redemption, be that that the keys of the mysteries of each dispensation are held by the 12 apostles, that the work of a separate unit of the church is lead by 12 disciples, that the work of this world is under the 12 that Jesus ordained, or that this world will have it’s part in the 12 part plan of the cosmos. In Solomon’s Temple and most authorized temples we find a baptismal font on the backs of 12 oxen. The abbreviated, but perhaps not the full explanation is that the oxen represent the tribes of Israel. The pattern of the 12 apostle is based upon the earlier imagery of the 12 tribes, which is based upon the cosmic plan of redemption, that can be represented by the Zodiac. Moving into the holy place of Solomon’s Temple we see the Menorah across from the Table of the Shewbread. Upon that table were 12 loaves of bread, these had a connection to the sacrament, which is a renewing of the lower ordinance of baptism, which in the temple is done on the backs of 12 oxen. The post-apocalyptic new Jerusalem is seen by John coming down out of heaven, and it had 12 gates and at each gate was an angel with his name upon him. The name of these angeles are the names of the 12 tribes of Israel (the son’s of Jacob). John’s vision goes on a little further connecting the 12 foundations of the holy city to the 12 apostles. The angel showing these things to John then measures the city, similar to how Ezekiel’s messenger did for Ezekiel. Carrying forth the imagery of the number 12, the city is 12 thousand furlongs (a furlong is 185.2 meters). This is clearly a symbolic measurement, like Ezekiel’s measurements were. Both employed the symbolic number 1,000 which has cosmic implications, as used from earliest times, [1] and right into Jewish and Christian imagery.

That's the way I see it - what say you?
[1] See the Peril of Great Price, Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2, Explication 4. “Answers to the Hebrew word Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament of the heavens; also a numerical figure, in Egyptian signifying one thousand; answering to the measuring of the time of Oliblish, which is equal with Kolob in its revolution and in its measuring of time.”