THE Dragon's Head and Dragon's Tail are the points called Nodes, in which the ecliptic is intersected by the orbits of the planets, particularly by that of the moon. These points are of course shifting. The Dragon's Head is the point where the moon or other planet commences its northward latitude; it is considered masculine and benevolent in its influence. The Dragon's Tail is the point where the planet's southward progress begins; it is feminine and malevolent. The Dragon mystically is the 'self-willed spirit', which is .externally derived into nature by the 'fall into generation' (Hermes Trismegistus).
The same fine, catholic nature--which in its preternatural exaltation appears so very precious in the eyes of the philosopher--is in the common world defiled; abiding everywhere in putrefactions and the vilest forms of seemingly sleeping, but in reality most active, forms of life.
According to Ennemoser, 'Magiusiah, Madschusie' signified the office and knowledge of the priest, who was called 'Mag, Magius, Magiusi', and afterwards 'Magi' and 'Magician'. Brucker maintains (Historia Philosophiæ Criticæ, i. 160) that the positive meaning of the word is 'Fire-Worshipper', 'Worship of the Light'; to which opinion he had been led by, the Mohammedan dictionaries. In the modern
[paragraph continues] Persian the word is 'Mag', and 'Magbed' signifies high-priest. The high-priest of the Parsees at Surat, even at the present day, is called 'Mobed'.
The mythic figure placed in the front of the Irish Harp--the meaning of which we have explained in a previous part of our book, and which is now represented as a woman with the lower parts twined as foliage, or as scrolls, into the body of the harp--is properly a Siren. This 'Siren' is the same as Venus Aphrodite, Astarte, the Sea-Deity, or Woman-Deity, the Dag, Dagan, Dagon, or idol of the Syrians, Tyrians, or Phœnicians; hence her colour is green in the Iona, Ierne, or Irish acceptation. The woman or virgin of the Irish Harp, who is impaled on the stock or 'Tree of Life'--the Siren whose fatal singing means her mythic Bhuddistic or Buddhistic 'penance of existence'--the Medusa whose insupportable beauty congeals in its terror the beholder to stone, according to the mythologists--this magic being is translated from the sign of Virgo in the heavens, and sent mythically to travel condemned the verdant line of beauty, or the cabalistic benedicta line a viriditatis. The whole of the meaning, notwithstanding its glory, is, none the less, 'sacrifice'. The Woman of the Harp of the Seven Strings, or the seven vocables, vowels, or aspirations, or intelligent breathings, or musical notes, or music-producing planets (in their progress); is purely an astrological sigma--although a grand one--adopted into heraldry. In the old books of heraldry, the curious inquirer will find (as will all those who doubt) this 'Woman' or 'Virgin' of the 'Irish harp'--to whom, in the modern heraldic exemplification, celestial wings are given, and who is made beautiful as an angel (which in reality she is, the other form being only her disguise) represented as a dragon with extended forky pinions, and piscine or semi-fish-like
or basilisk extremity. There is a wonderful refluent, or interfluent, unaccountable connexion, in the old mythology, between the 'Woman', the 'Dragon', or the 'Snake' and the 'Sea': so that sometimes, in the obscure hints supplied in the picturesque suggestive ancient fables, it is really difficult to distinguish one from the other. The associations of an interchangeable character between dark and light, and 'Dragon' and 'Hero', ascribing to each some mystic characteristic of the other, cannot be all fabling accident. There are hints of deep mysteries, transcendent in their greatness: and beauty, lying under these things in some concealed, real way. To bring these to the surface, to discover their origin, and, to the justifiable and guarded extent, to assign them properly, has been our aim. There must have been some governing, excellent armorial reason, special and authorized, for the changing of this first figure of a dragon into a woman, or a siren, or virgin, on the Irish Harp; and this fact assists the supposition of an identity, at some time, of these two figures, all drawn from the double sign 'Virgo-Scorpio' in the Zodiac. There is a strange confirmation of the account of Creation in the Book of Genesis, in the discovery of the 'Woman and Snake' in the most ancient Babylonian or Chaldæan Zodiac. The Indian zodiacs and the Egyptian zodiacs repeat the same myth, slightly varied in certain particulars. The different versions of the story of the Temptation and Fall, in the main respects, are the same legend, only altered to suit ideas in every varying country. Traversing all the long-descended paths of the mythologies, this singular, but in reality sublime, myth preserves its place, and recurs up to the last in its identity. The first chapter of Genesis seems to us to be clearly found here in the signs of the Zodiac; which we know are
derived from the earliest astronomical studies, and which extraordinary hieroglyphical zodiacal figures descended originally from the summit of the famous Tower of Bel, or Belus--the first observatory where the movements and the story of the stars were at the outset noted, and handed as from the earliest expositors of the secrets of the heavens. This 'Procession of Twelve' (in the origin it was the 'Procession of Ten'), under the name of the Zodiac, tells, in its 'signs' the history of the making of the world, according to the Chaldæans and Egyptians, and also, in the hidden way, according, to the account in the Bible.
As the little and the large have sometimes a closer connexion than is ordinarily supposed, we will pass on now to some more familiar and commonplace examples.
It may be worth while to dwell with greater minuteness on the little-understood origin of those light auxiliary troops, as they were organized originally, the modern Hussars. This irregular, lightly-equipped European cavalry plays an important part as a skirmishing or foraging force. We are all accustomed to see the elegantly appointed light cavalry called Hussars, and doubtless many persons have frequently wondered as to the origin of that dolman, pelisse, or loose jacket, which is worn, contrary to all apparent use, dangling--an encumbrance rather than a cover or defence--on the trooper's left shoulder. This pelisse, richly embroidered in the Eastern fashion, is always the genuine distinctive mark or badge, with the Wallachian or Hungarian, or Oriental, busby of the Hussar. The precise time when this originally loosely disciplined and heathen soldiery came into Europe is not fixed. They now form a dazzling and formidable branch of light-cavalry service everywhere. All armies of modern times possess regiments
of Hussars. They came originally from Tartary and the East, and they brought with them their invariable mark, the rough fur cap, or Ishmaelitish or 'Esau-like' black head-cover. They adventured into the West with the now thickly ornamented and embroidered 'trophy', called the pelisse or 'skin-coat ('pel' from pellis, 'skin'; thence 'pall').
In these modern tasteless, ignorant days all these distinctive learned marks are obliterated in the equipment of troops. We may also instance, as proofs of disregard and of bad taste, the blundering dishonour offered to the majestic Obelisk brought to England in 1878, in the choice of its inappropriate site, and in the ignoring, for state reward, those who brought it to this country.
This pelisse is an imitation or reminder, and is the very remote symbol, or garment, or 'cover of shame,' as it is called, with which, for very singular cabalistic reasons (which, however, do not admit of explanation), the two dutiful sons of Noah covered and 'atoned' for that disgrace of their father, when, after he had 'planted a vineyard, and had drunken of the wine, he lay disgracefully extended in his tent', and was seen by his son Ham; whom Noah denounced. The Hussars (under other names) were originally Eastern, Saracenic, or Moslem cavalry. The horse-tails and jingles, or numberless little bells, which ought to distinguish the caparisons of Hussars to the modern day, and which are part of the special insignia of their origin, are all Oriental in their character, like the bells of the wandering Zingari, 'Morris', or Moresque, or Gypsy, or Bohemian fantastical dancers. Deep-lying in the magical ideas of the Eastern peoples was the sacredness, and the efficacy against evil spirits, of their small bells, like the bells of the Chinese pagodas. All bells, in every instance, even from the giant bell
of the Dom-Kirche or Duomo, or the cathedrals of Kasan or Casan, Moscow or Muscovia generally, down to the 'knell', or the 'sacring' or warning bell of the Romish Mass (which latter 'signal' has a signification overpowering in its profundity), are held to disturb and to scare and drive off evil spirits. These were supposed, according to the old superstitious ideas, to congregate thickly, with opportunities accidentally offered either in the din of battle to impair invisibly the exertions of the combatants, or in the church to spoil the Eucharist, by tempting the celebrating priest, or hampering or hindering the ceremonial and its triumphant sacred climax.
The Eastern name of Venus is Al-Huza or Husa, which stands for the Egyptian 'Divine Woman', or Isis.
'Hussey', with its inflections of opprobrium, in the vernacular--strangely to say in regard of the champions mentioned above, who are the followers and the children of Venus. Venus 'Hussey', as in a certain sense she may be considered.
Al-Huza means the hyacinth, acacia, or lily, sacred to the 'Woman', or to the complying and therefore productive powers of nature. The word 'Hussar' comes, through circuitous paths of translation, from its original Al-Husa. These Hussars are the alert, agile, armed children, or soldiers, of Cybele. It is well known that the knights of old--particularly the Crusaders when they returned to the West--adopted the Oriental fashion of covering their appointments and horse-furniture with bells, the jingle raised by which, and at the same time the spreading or flying-out, in onset, of the lambrequin or slit scarf attached to the helmet, with the shouted war-cry, or cri de guerre, struck terror into the opposed horse and rider. Naturalists suppose that even the spangled tail of the
peacock, with its emerald eyes, answers a similar, purpose, when spread out, of frightening animals who intend an attack. The knights, therefore, may have borrowed the hint of thus, startling their foes, and of confusing them with the sudden display of colours and disturbing points--as if sprung from a spontaneous, instant, alarming centre--from the peacock when startled by an enemy. The bird has also his terrifying outcry, similar to the knight's mot de guerre, or individual 'motto'.
The Hebrew priests were directed to fringe their garments round about with 'bells and pomegranates', in the words of the text. The use and intention of these 'bells and pomegranates' have been subjected to much discussion, particularly a passage which we now cite:
'A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.' And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not' (Exodus. xxviii. 34-35).
The reason supposed in the Targum for the directions given to the priest in these two verses of the chapter containing the law is, that the priest's approach should be cautious to the innermost 'Holy of Holies', or sanctuary of the Tabernacle. The sound of the small bells upon his robe was intended to announce his approach before his, actual appearance, in order to recall the attention of the 'Angel of the Lord' to the fact of the coming of a mortal, so that He who was supposed to be then personally descended, and possibly 'brooding' (to make use of the words of Genesis), in the secret shrine or penetralia, might be allowed time (according to the ideas of men) to gather up and concentrate His presence--which 'no
man can be permitted to behold 1 and live'--and to withdraw. For the Divinity to be seen by the profane eye is guilt and annihilation to the latter; therefore the gods and all spirits have, in every account of their appearance, been seen in some worldly form, which might be acceptable to, and supportable by, a human face. There is, theoretically, such contrariety, and such fatal difference to the constitution of man, in the actual disclosure of a spirit, that it is wholly impossible except by his death; therefore spirits and divine appearances have always been invested in some natural escape or guise, by the medium of which the personal communication, whatever it might be, might be made without alarm, and without that bodily disturbance of nervous assent which should destroy. This alarm would, by the utter upsetting of the mind, and the possible fatal effect, otherwise have rendered the disclosure impossible. The denial of the interior parts of a sanctuary, or adytum, to the priests of the temple, or even to the chief hierarch sometimes, is supposed to have arisen on this account. Mythological story is full of the danger of breaking in unpreparedly upon spiritual presences, or of venturing into their haunts rashly or foolhardily. The real object and purpose of the veil to the Hebrew Temple, and of the curtains and enclosures ordered in the Jewish ceremonial complicated arrangements, are certainly of this class. Thus, in the idea that God did really pass down at chosen times from Heaven, even in a possible visible shape, to His Altar (though not, perhaps, in the form expected by man in his ignorant notions), the sacred place was carefully shut in, and all access to it set round with rigid, awful caution. There is fine and subtle meaning in that old expression in Genesis, 'to brood',
as if to be fixed or rapt, and thus to be self-contained and oblivious, even inattentive. The ancients--the Greeks especially--constructed their temples originally without roofs, in order that there might be no obstacle interposed by them to the descent of the God to the temple which was especially raised in His honour. He was imagined, at favourable opportunities, to descend--either visibly or invisibly--into His appropriate temple; and it was not to seem to exclude, but rather in every way to invite straight from the supernal regions, that the ancients left open the direct downward way to the penetralia. From this sacred point, when the God was supposed to be expected or present, every eye, even that of the High-Priest, was shut out. The covered temple, or the ceiled temple--of which the chapter-house, or particular temple, with a 'crown', or 'cap', or 'cover', presents the small example--is the domus templi or domus Dei, where the 'Manifested God' is supposed to be enclosed, or wherein the 'Man is made Flesh'--the microcosmos or spirit within his cincture, or walls, or castle of comprehension, or of senses.
336:1 Unless self-disclosed.