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ONE of the Targums says that ‏חיא‎, a serpent, tempted Adam, or the first man, and not ‏היח‎, Eve, his wife. Here we have the object of adoration of the Ophites--the female generative power--the Destroying, Regenerating Power among the Ophites, and, indeed, the Gnostics generally. The Serpent was called the Megalistor, or Great Builder of the Universe (Maia, or Bhuddist illusion). Here again we recognize, under another name (Ophites), the Cyclopes, or the builders of the circular Temples at Stonehenge and everywhere else. Mr. Payne Knight has repeated an observation of Stukeley, that the original name of the temple at Abury was the "Snake's Head".' And he adds, 'It is remarkable that the remains of a similar circle of stones (circular temple) in Bœotia had the same name in the time of Pausanias' (Pausanias, Bœot. cap. xix. s. 2).

The famous oracular stone, enclosed in the seat of St. Edward’s chair (the Coronation Chair) in Westminster Abbey, was at one time a, stone to which adoration was paid. It was possessed of imagined miraculous gifts. This stone is asserted to be the same which the Patriarch rested his head upon in the Plain of 'Luza', and is said to have been carried first to Brigantia, a city of Gallicia, in Spain. From thence it was brought into, Ireland by Simon Brech, the first King of the Scots, about 700 years

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before Christ; and from there, about 370 years, after, into Scotland, by King Fergaze (Fergus). In the year of Christ 850 it was placed at the Abbey of Scone (in the county of Perth) by King Kenneth; this being the place where the Scottish Kings were generally crowned in those days. In the year 1297 this Scottish wooden throne or chair, together with their crown and sceptre, was brought into England by the English King Edward the First, and placed in Westminster Abbey.

Si quid habent veri vel chronica, cana fidesve,
Clauditur hac Cathedra nobilius ecce lapis,
Ad caput eximius Jacob quondam Patriarcha
Quem posuit, cernens numina mirapoli.
Quem tulit ex Scotis, spolians quasi victor honoris,
Edwardus Primus, Mars velut armipotens;
Scotorum Domitor, noster Validissimus Hector,
Anglorum Decus & gloria militiæ.
                     Antiquities of Westminster Abbey, 1711.

It is still supposed, in accordance with the ancient prophecies, that the stone in the Coronation Chair has miraculous gifts, and that the sovereignty of England depends upon it. This magical stone carries with it the tradition (how or whence derived no one knows), that it murmurs approval at the coronation when the rightful heir assumes his or her seat on it; but that, on the contrary, it would clap with terrific noise, and fire flash from it, implying protest and denunciation, should an usurper attempt to counter-work or control its mysteries. It still has hooks for the chain which in former unknown times suspended it, when it was borne as a talisman of victory at the head of the army--when doubtless it was regarded as a Palladium of Prosperity, and a Divinity. It is also said that the pre-eminence of London is connected with the preservation of London Stone.

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Both the ancient relic, London Stone, and the Coronation Stone in Westminster Abbey, seem of the same character. They appear to have been either worn down to their present smallness in the lapse of the ages, or to have been mutilated at some unknown, remote period--possibly thrown down and broken as objects of superstitious reverence, if not of direct and positive idolatry, thus very probably exciting indignation, which, as it found opportunity and scope for its exercise, was successful in their demolition. In both these stones we certainly .have only fragments--perhaps of Obelisks, or of Jewish 'Bethel' Pillars or 'Stones'--for all these supposed magical stones are of the same sacred family.

The supposed magical stone, enclosed in the wooden block at the base of the Coronation Chair, has been reputed, from time immemorial, to murmur its approval or disapproval of the royal occupant, only at the moment when the Sovereign was placed in the chair for investiture with the sacred pallium or with the state robes, on the occasion of the King's or the Queen's coronation.

In this respect the stone is very similar in its ascribed supernatural gifts, and in this special oracular speaking-power, to all sacred or magical stones; and more particularly to the famous statue of Memnon in Egypt, which is said to give forth a long, melodious tone with the first ray of sunrise, like that produced by the wind through the Æolian harp. It is not quite clear whether this sound is expected to issue from the stone in the royal chair at Westminster when approval is intended, and the meaning of the stone is benign, or whether sounds at all are to be heard only when displeasure is to be expressed. This strange asserted power of the sacred stone at Westminster to become vocal directly allies it with ether oracular

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stones all over the world. The prevalence everywhere, and in all time, of the existence of special stones having this miraculous gift is a striking and curious proof of the continual, invincible yearning of man for supernatural direct help and direction from powers exterior and invisible to him. He earnestly desires the possibility of personal communication with that intelligent, unseen world, which he cannot avoid thinking is close about him, surveying his doings. Man tries to overcome the assurance that this invisible, recognitive, responsive world, to betake himself to in his time of trouble, is, so far as his senses insist, so hopelessly out of reach. He languishes to think it attainable.

The oracular stone at Westminster seems only a piece of some pillar or lithos: but no one will attempt to dispute that it is an object of prodigious antiquity, and that its history is very remarkable and interesting. Its place of deposit, too, the shrine of Edward the Confessor, is worthy of it; and both inspire deep reverence--nay, an awful feeling.

Next: Chapter XXIII: Ominous Character of the Colour 'White' to English Royalty