Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Leo, the Lion King, Hamlet, and Osiris

Spoiler alert: if you are the one person who never saw the 1994 Disney movie The Lion King, you may not want to read on, in order to avoid compromising the storyline -- except for the fact that, because the storyline is so ancient, all humans probably know it even without seeing the Disney adaptation.
Currently, the majestic constellation of Leo the Lion dominates the eastern sky after sunset, rising vertically out of the eastern horizon just as the sun is going down, and reaching culmination almost precisely at midnight in the mid-thirty degree latitudes of the northern hemisphere.

Right now, as the night sky is clear of interference from the moon (which is currently being overtaken by the sun to form a new moon, and will closely trail the sun for a few days), there is a dazzling panoply of stars and constellations filling the night sky.

Orion continues to rise earlier and earlier (for a discussion of this principle, see this previous post). Whereas he was only just breaking above the horizon at 10 pm back in late October and early November, he now rises shortly after 1 p.m. (during daylight hours) and is well advanced in his arc across the sky by the time the sun goes down, reaching his culmination or highest point at around 7:30 in the evening (depending on your location on the globe) and sinking below the western horizon around 2 a.m.

During much of the same time, the constellations of Taurus (with the beautiful Pleiades), Perseus, Auriga, and Gemini are also clearly visible in the turning sky, all of whom we have examined previously.

If you can get to a dark enough point for observation, you should be able to see not only the "sickle" shape formed by the brightest stars in Leo the Lion as he rises, but also the much smaller and dimmer stars that make up his actual face. When you do make these out (see this diagram for help, and then go out and see the actual constellation in the sky, which is much more impressive than any illustration can convey), you may well be reminded of the lantern-jawed lions of Disney's Lion King, and this is actually an interesting connection, because the plot of that movie comes directly from some very ancient sources.

Many have already pointed out the direct parallels between the plot of The Lion King and Shakespeare's Hamlet. These include the murder of the rightful king (Mustafa in The Lion King and old King Hamlet in Shakespeare's play) by a usurping brother (Scar in The Lion King and Claudius in Hamlet), as well as a confused son (Simba in The Lion King and young Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare's play) who must rise to the task of righting the wrong, deposing the usurper, and restoring the kingdom.

Some have also pointed out that this plot in The Lion King also directly parallels the ancient Egyptian mythology surrounding Osiris, who is killed by his brother Set (or Seth) and must be avenged by his son Horus. Set temporarily reigns in his brother's stead in a position of primacy, but the Nine Gods of the Egyptian Ennead declare that this situation is not right. Set and Horus contend for the kingdom and Set is eventually deposed and Horus ascends to supreme authority.

In fact, this connection between the plot of Hamlet and the events depicted in the Osiris-Set-Horus series is found in multitudinous other myths from around the world and throughout human history, as described by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend in their essential 1969 text, Hamlet's Mill (which takes its title from this crucial observation).

Those authors (as well as others who have followed them) provide convincing evidence that this myth is bound up with the celestial phenomenon of precession, which eventually "deposed" the constellation Orion (identified with Osiris) from his accustomed date of heliacal rising -- encoded in myth as the slaying of Osiris by Set.

The full details of this astronomical origin of the Osiris-Set mythology (which persists to this day in various manifestations, including the plot of The Lion King) are more fully explained in the Mathisen Corollary book (available in paperback form on Amazon here, although shipping with a slight delay, or for immediate shipping directly from the publisher here, and also available for immediate reading in Kindle format here).

So, although Leo is not really directly related to the Osiris story in the same way that Orion is, the fact that the familiar plot-line of The Lion King directly relates to this ancient and precessional myth gives it a sort of modern connection to the vitally-important Osiris series, a myth-pattern which simply must be clearly understood in order to understand many of the symbols hidden in ancient monuments and legends from around the globe. The movie also incorporates the stars of the night sky as an important motif, tying its plot even more directly to this ancient theme.

For this reason, enjoying the timeless plot of The Lion King can open a window onto mankind's ancient past.