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divine guardians

The Cherubim were originally the ancient protectors of the Mesopotamian Tree of Life. They were often depicted supporting the thrones of deities and kings.They are closely related to (and often identical to) the sphinx.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, they are the four vast, winged creatures described in the visions of Ezekiel, each winged creature bearing four faces: a lion, a bull, eagle, and human head.

In later Christian tradition, the four Cherubim (tetramorphs) are associated with the four evangelists of the New Testament.

In ceremonial magic, the four kerubim are the living energy of the tetragrammaton, and rulers of the fixed signs of the zodiac. Kabbalistically, the Order of Cherubim correspond to the sphere of Chokmah.

The chubby baby angels we commonly refer to as “cherubs” are in fact putti, and are carry-overs from Roman paganism.


A Mesopotamian Kerub protecting the Tree of Life


A nineteenth century depiction of Cherubs

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Knot of InannaTetramorph

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The Simurgh is an ancient, immortal Persian mythological beast similar to a griffin or Phoenix. It is most often described as having the head and foreparts of a dog, the wings and tail of a peacock, and a body covered with scales.

The Simurg is associated with the Tree of Life and present in many old tales of the creation. He is benevolent, protective guardian figure with healing powers.

In later times, he is depicted as a more typical phoenix-like creature.

Images of Simurgh

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This figure was known to the Assyrians as Kullulû, meaning “fish man.” The kullulu was a guardian figure, a dweller of the sacred Absu, the watery underground domain of the God Ea. Figures of the fish-man were often concealed in the construction of buildings to serve as protective charms.

From about the fourth century, the figure was associated (probably erroneously) with the god Dagan (meaning “grain”), most commonly known by his Hebrew name, Dagon. Dagan was a vegetation god, the father of the god Baal, the mythological creator of the plow. Dagon is mentioned several times in the Hebrew scriptures, where he is associated with the Philistines. It is to Dagon’s temple that the Ark of the Covenant is taken after being captured from the Hebrews; the next morning, they discover the statue of the god lying on the floor, sans head and hands.

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The tetramorphs (Greek, four forms) were four angelic beings, drawn from much earlier Babylonian symbolism, described in a vision of the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel:

“As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle

The beasts are later described in the Revelation of John: And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”

The four faces thus described were Babylonian symbols representing the four fixed signs of the zodiac- the Ox, representing the sign of Taurus, the lion the sign of Leo, the Eagle of the sign of Scorpio, and the man, symbol of the sign of Aquarius. The four likewise symbolize the four ancient elements of air, water, earth, and fire. Christians applied this symbolism to the four evangelists, the apostles so-called because they are the reputed authors of the four gospels bearing their names. The astrological symbolism was not lost on these early Christians, as the four zodiac signs form a cross, in the center of which Christ is often depicted.

Today, much of the earlier, transcendent celestial symbolism is eschewed in favor of representative symbolism, wherein each evangelist is said to represent a portion of Christ’s life and sacrifice. For example, that the gospel of Mark discusses Christ’s royalty, therefore Mark is symbolized as a lion- or that John is portrayed as an eagle because he is “caught up in the spirit” or has “spiritually soared.” These explanations appear to be contrived in later times to avoid associations with astrology, which is now typically considered occult.

An image of Luke the Evangelist from the Book of Kells, an ancient illuminated manuscript produced more than a thousand years ago in Ireland and considered one of the finest examples of illuminated art.
The lion of Mark
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