Chaldean Legend


THEOSOPHY, Vol. 52, No. 6, April, 1964
(Pages 175-182;    THE CHALDEAN LEGEND(1)

Of the dead sciences of the past, there is a fair minority of earnest students who are entitled to learn the few truths that may now be given to them.


THE Chaldean religion is entirely lost to the world now, except in its disfigured Sabeanism as rendered by archeologists. It is the outcome of three great religions, the Indian, the Mazdean, and the Egyptian, and bears direct relationship to all of these. The Chaldean Book of Numbers was derived from the “Book of Dzyan” described in theosophical literature. And of the Chaldean works which are translated into Arabic and preserved by some Sufi initiates, it is asserted that the public knows nothing. The Sabeans were astrolaters, so called; those who worshipped the stars — or rather their “regents.” Sabeanism was thus the religion of the ancient Chaldees. They believed in one impersonal, universal deific Principle, although they never mentioned It, but offered worship to the solar, lunar, and planetary gods and rulers, regarding the stars and other celestial bodies as their respective symbols. The Chaldeans, or Kasdim, were at first a tribe, and then a caste of learned Kabbalists. They were the savants, the magians of Babylonia, astrologers and diviners. The famous Hillel, the precursor of Jesus in philosophy and ethics, was a Chaldean.

In every cosmogony, behind and higher than the creative Deity there is a superior Deity, a planner, an architect, of whom the Creator is but the executive agent. And still higher, over and around, within and without, there is the UNKNOWABLE and the unknown, the Source and Cause of all these Emanations. In Chaldea the great First Cause as the ONE, the primordial germ, the unrevealed and grand ALL, existing through himself — was Ilu. This was the Kabbalistic En-Soph (No-thing). Whenever the Eternal awakes from its slumber and desires to manifest itself, it divides itself into male and female. It then becomes in every system the double-sexed Deity, the universal Father and Mother, the Anu-Anata (male-female) of the Chaldeans. From the union of the two a third, or creative Principle — the SON, or the manifested Logos — is the product of the Divine Mind. In Chaldea the Son was Bel. Moreover, every such system has a triple male trinity, each proceeding separately through itself from one female Deity. In Chaldea the trinity of Anu, Bel, and Hea, blend into One who is Anu (double-sexed) through the Virgin Mylitta.

To place it still clearer, the Babylonian system recognized first the ONE (Ad), who is never named but only acknowledged in thought, as the Hindu Swayambhuva. From this he becomes manifest as Anu, the one above all — Monas. Next comes the Demiurge (the “Builder” or executive Architect of the Universe) called Bel, who is the active power of the Godhead. The third is the principle of wisdom, Hea, who also rules the sea and the underworld. Each of these — Anu, Bel, and Hea –has his divine consort, giving us Anata, Belta, and Davkina. These, however, are only like the Shaktis, the “forces” of Nature. But the female principle is denoted by Mylitta, the Great Mother, called also Ishtar. With the three male gods we have the Triad, or Trimurti. “The fact is, that all the three ‘persons’ of the Trimurti are simply three qualitative attributes of the universe of differentiated Spirit-Matter; the self-formative, the self-preserving, and the self-destroying, for purposes of regeneration and perfectibility.” With Mylitta added to the Trimurti we have the Arba or Four (Tetraktys of Pythagoras), which perfects and potentializes all.

Bel was the oldest and mightiest of the gods of Babylonia, one of the earliest trinities. He was “Lord of the World,” father of the gods and “Lord of the city of Nippur.” Hea was the maker of fate, Lord of the Deep, God of Wisdom and esoteric Knowledge, and Lord of the city (i.e., Mysteries) of Eridu. Anu was the earliest god of the city of Erech. The “doctrine of the Trinity” is first met northeast of the Indus; and, tracing it to Asia Minor and Europe, one recognizes it among every people who had anything like an established religion. It was taught in the oldest Chaldean, Egyptian, and Mithraic schools. The Chaldean Sun-god, Mithra, was called “Triple” and the trinitarian idea of the Chaldeans was a doctrine of the Akkadians who, themselves, belonged to a race which was the first to conceive a metaphysical trinity. According to the archeologist Rawlinson, the Chaldeans were a tribe of the Akkadians who lived in Babylonia from earliest times; but according to others they were Turanians who instructed the Babylonians into the first notions of religion. But these same Akkadians, who were they? The only tradition worthy of credence is that these Akkadians instructed the Babylonians in the Mysteries, and taught them the sacerdotal or Mystery language. These Akkadians were then simply a tribe of the Hindu-Brahmans — now called Aryans — and their vernacular language, the Sanskrit of the Vedas; and the sacred or Mystery language, that which, even in our own age, is used by the Hindu fakirs and initiated Brahmans in their magical evocations. They were emigrants on their way to Asia Minor from India, the cradle of humanity, and their sacerdotal adepts tarried to civilize and initiate a barbarian people.

The Babylonian civilization was neither born nor developed in that country. It was imported from India, and the importers were Brahmanical Hindus. Whether the latter were Brahmans from the Brahmanic planisphere proper (40° north latitude) or from India (Hindustan), or again from the India of Central Asia, we will leave to philologists of the future to decide. Science has discovered enough to inform us that Sanskrit originals of Nepal, were translated by Buddhist missionaries into nearly every Asiatic tongue. Likewise Pali manuscripts were translated in Siamese, and carried to Burma and Siam; it is easy therefore to account for the same religious myths circulating in so many countries. But Manetho tells us also of Pali shepherds who emigrated westward; and when we find some of the oldest Ceylonic traditions in the Chaldean Kabbala and Jewish Bible, we must think that either Chaldeans or Babylonians had been in Ceylon or India, or the ancient Pali had the same traditions as the Akkadians, whose origin is so uncertain. Suppose even Rawlinson to be right, that the Akkadians did come from Armenia, he did not trace them farther back. As the field is open to any kind of hypothesis, we submit that this tribe might as well have come to Armenia from beyond the Indus, following their way in the direction of the Caspian Sea — a part of which was also India once upon a time — and from thence to the Euxine. Or they might have come originally from Ceylon by the same way.

Genesis is purely a reminiscence of the Babylonian captivity. The names of places, men, and even objects can be traced from the original text to the Chaldeans and the Akkadians, the progenitors and Aryan instructors of the former. The garden of Eden as a locality is no myth at all; it belongs to those landmarks of history which occasionally disclose to the student that the Bible is not all mere allegory. In the Chaldean Book of Numbers the location of Eden is designated by numerals, and in the cipher Rosicrucian manuscript left by Count St. Germain it is fully disclosed. The Elohim may be accepted in one sense for gods or powers, and taken in another one for the Aleim, or priests; the Hierophants initiated into the good and evil of the world. For there was a college of priests called the Aleim, while the head of their caste, or the chief of the hierophants, was known as Java Aleim. In the Chaldean as well as in every exoteric scripture, Beings who refuse to create, i.e., who are said to oppose thereby the Demiurge, are denounced as the spirits of Darkness. The “Fallen Angels” and the legend of the “War in Heaven” is purely pagan in its origin and comes from India via Persia and Chaldea.

The fable of the Deluge — both the Hindu and the Chaldean account — has been considered by orthodox commentators to have been borrowed from the Mosaic scriptures. But surely if such a universal cataclysm had ever taken place within man’s memory, some of the monuments of the Egyptians, of which many are of such tremendous antiquity, would have recorded the occurrence. But till now there has not been found the remotest allusion to such calamity. On the other hand the Chaldeans preserved the tradition, as we find Berosus — a priest of the temple of Belus — testifying to it, and the ancient Hindus possessed the legend as given by Vaivasvata. Now, there is but one explanation of the extraordinary fact that of two contemporary and civilized nations like Egypt and Chaldea, one has preserved no tradition of it whatever, although it was the most directly interested in the occurrence — if we credit the Bible — and the other has. The deluge noticed in the Bible, in one of the Brahmanas, and in the Berosus Fragment, relates to the flood which, about 10,000 B.C., according to Bunsen, and according to Brahmanical computations of the Zodiac also, changed the whole face of Central Asia. Thus the Babylonians and the Chaldeans might have learned of it from their mysterious guests, christened by some Assyriologists Akkadians, or what is still more probable, they, themselves perhaps, were the descendants of those who had dwelt in the submerged localities. The Jews had the tale from the latter as they had everything else; the Brahmans may have recorded the traditions of the lands which they first invaded, and had perhaps inhabited before they possessed themselves of the Punjab. But the Egyptians, whose first settlers had evidently come from Southern (Dravidian) India, had less reason to record the cataclysm, since it had perhaps never affected them except indirectly, as the flood was limited to Central Asia.

It was Berosus who wrote for Alexander the Great the history of the Babylonian cosmogony, as taught in the temples, from the astronomical and chronological records preserved in the Temple of Belus. The only guide to this cosmogony may now be found in the fragments of the Assyrian tablets, evidently copied almost bodily from the earlier Babylonian records which — say what the Orientalists may — are undeniably the originals of the Mosaic Genesis, of the Flood, the tower of Babel, of baby Moses set afloat on the waters, and of other events. As the Babylonian accounts are restored from hundreds of thousands of broken fragments, the proofs here cited are comparatively scanty; yet such as they are, they corroborate almost every one of our teachings, certainly three at least. These are (1) That the race which was the first to fall into generation was a dark race (Zalmat Gaguadi), which they call the Adami or dark Race; and that Sarku, or the light Race, remained pure for a long while subsequently. (2) That the Babylonians recognised two principal Races at the time of the Fall, the Race of the Gods (the ethereal doubles of the Pitris) having preceded these two. These “Races” are our second and third root-races. (3) That the seven (primeval) Gods, each of whom created a man, or group of men, were “the gods imprisoned or incarnated.” All these gods or “Lords” collectively “who bestow Intelligence” are our incarnating Dhyan Chohans, connected as well with the Elohim, and the seven informing gods of Egypt, Chaldea, and every other country. Hea, their synthesis, the god of Wisdom and of the Deep, is identified with Oannes-Dagon, at the time of the fall, and called (collectively) the Demiurge, or Creator.

Our races, all cosmogonies show, have sprung from divine races, by whatever name they are called. The Chaldeans had their ten and seven Anedots, which was the generic name for their Dragons of Wisdom. The name of the Dragon in Chaldea was not written phonetically, but was represented by two monograms, probably meaning, according to the Orientalists, “the scaly one.” We find the priests assuming the names of the gods they served, the “Dragons” held throughout all antiquity as the symbols of Immortality and Wisdom, of secret Knowledge and of Eternity. The allegory of Oannes, the Anedot, reminds us of the Dragon and Snake-Kings; the Nagas who in Buddhist legends instruct people in wisdom on lakes and rivers, and end by becoming converts to the good Law and Arhats. Musarus Oannes, the Anedot, known in the Chaldean “legend,” transmitted through Berosus and other ancient writers as Dagon, the “Man-Fish,” came to the early Babylonians as a reformer and an instructor. Appearing from the Erythraean (Red) Sea, he brought them civilization, letters and sciences, law, astronomy, religion, teaching them agriculture, geometry, and the arts in general. There were Anedoti who came after him; but Musarus Oannes was “the first to appear, and this he did in the reign of Ammenon, the third of the ten antediluvian Kings whose (divine) Dynasty ended with Xisuthrus, the Chaldean Noah.” The meaning of the allegory is evident. The “fish” is an old and very suggestive symbol of the Mystery-language, as is also “water;” Hea was the god of the sea and Wisdom, and the sea serpent was one of his emblems, his priests being “serpents” or Initiates. The hidden meaning becomes clear to the Occultist once he is told that “this being (Oannes) was accustomed to pass the day among men, teaching; and when the sun had set, he retired again into the sea, passing the night in the deep, for he was amphibios,” i.e., he belonged to two planes, the spiritual and the physical. … Oannes is dimly reflected in Jonah, and even in John the Precursor, both connected with Fish and Water. Layard showed long ago that the “fish’s head” was simply a head gear, the mitre worn by priests and gods, made in the form of a fish’s head, and which in a very little modified form is what we see even now on the heads of the high Lamas and Romish Bishops. Osiris had such a mitre. The fish’s tail is simply the train of a long stiff mantle as depicted on some Assyrian tablets, the form being seen reproduced in the sacerdotal gold cloth garment worn during service by the modern Greek priests.

What is known of Chaldean Moon-Worship, of the Babylonian god Sin, is very little, and that little is apt to mislead the profane student who fails to grasp the esoteric significance of the symbols. As popularly known to the ancient profane philosophers and writers (for those who were initiated were pledged to silence) the Chaldees were worshippers of the moon under her (and his) various names, just as were the Jews who came after them. Lunar magnetism generates life, preserves and destroys it, psychically as well as physically. The worshippers of the Teraphim (the Jewish Oracles) “carved images and claimed that the light of the principal stars (planets) permeating these through and through, the angelic VIRTUES (or the regents of the stars and planets) conversed with them, teaching them many most useful things and arts.” Seldenus explains that the Teraphim (idols) were built and composed after the positions of certain planets, and according to figures that were located in the sky and called the tutelary gods. With the Chaldeans the moon was Sin, and Nannak or Nannar, the son of Mulil, the older Bel. It is Mulil (Bel) who caused the waters of the Flood to fall from heaven on earth, for which Xisuthrus would not allow him to approach his altar. Behind the lunar “worship” was the secret teaching that the first race of men, the images and astral doubles of their Fathers, were the pioneers or the most progressed Entities from a preceding though lower sphere, the shell of which is now our Moon. But even this shell is all-potential, for having generated the earth, it is the phantom of the Moon which, attracted by magnetic affinity, sought to form its first inhabitants, the pre-human monsters. “While the gods were generated in the androgyne bosom of Mother-space, the reflection of Hea’s Wisdom became on earth the woman Omoroka, the Deep or the Sea, which esoterically or even exoterically is the Moon. It was the Moon (Omoroka) who presided over the monstrous (purely physical) creation of nondescript beings which were slain by the Dhyanis.

Traditions about a race of giants in days of old were universal; they exist in oral and written lore. Chaldea had her Idzubar (Nimrod), a hero, shown in all the tablets as a mighty giant who towered in size above all other men as the cedar towers over brushwood — a hunter, according to cuneiform legends, who contended with and destroyed the lion, tiger, wild bull, and buffalo, the most formidable animals. The Babylonian Venus was called Ishtar, “the eldest of heaven and earth” and daughter of Anu, god of heaven. The legend is that Ishtar, the beautiful goddess, descended into Hades after her beloved Tammuz, and found that this dark place of the shades had seven spheres and seven gates, at each of which she had to leave something belonging to her. Any Occultist who reads of her love for Tammuz, his assassination by Idzubar, the despair of the goddess and her descent and final liberation from the dark realm, will recognize the beautiful allegory of the soul in search of the Spirit.

Birs Nimrud is believed by the Orientalists to be the site of the tower of Babel. This great pile of Birs Nimrud is near Babylon. Rawlinson and several Assyriologists examined the excavated ruins and found that the tower consisted of seven stages of brick-work, each stage of a different color, which shows that the temple was devoted to the seven planets. Even with the three higher stages or floors in ruins, it still rises now 154 feet above the level of the plain. The Chaldeans, with the Egyptians, were among the most ancient votaries of Astrology. Egypt claimed the honor of its invention; the Chaldees taught the science to other nations.

The Akkadians and Chaldeans kept a Sabbath day of rest every seven days, they also had thanksgiving days, and days of humiliation and prayer. The number seven was especially sacred. The great temple of Babylon existed long before 2250 B.C. Its Holy of Holies was within the shrine of Nebo, the prophet god of Wisdom (Mercury).

The Chaldeans, whom Cicero counts among the oldest magicians, placed the basis of all magic in the inner powers of man’s soul, and by the discernment of magic properties in plants, minerals, and animals. The magic of the ancient Chaldeans was but a profound knowledge of the powers of simples and minerals. By the aid of these they performed the most wonderful “miracles.” Magic with them was synonymous with religion and science. It was only when the theurgist desired divine help in spiritual and earthly matters that he sought direct communication through religious rites, with pure spiritual beings. With them, even, those spirits who remain invisible and communicate with mortals through their awakened inner senses, as in clairvoyance, clairaudience, and trance, could only be evoked subjectively and as a result of purity of life and prayer. But all physical phenomena were produced simply by applying a knowledge of natural forces, although certainly not by the method of legerdemain, practised in our days of conjurers. There was a vast difference between the true worship taught to those who showed themselves worthy, and the state religions.


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