The 2019 remake of the 1994 Disney film The Lion King will officially open in theaters tomorrow, July 19th (Friday).
As I explain in one of the very first videos I ever made about the connection between the stars and the myths, which I published just over seven years ago in July of 2012, entitled "Precession = The Key," the storyline of The Lion King can be seen to be directly patterned after some of the most ancient myths known to us at this time.
Specifically, the murder of the rightful king by a jealous brother -- and the quest of the son of the murdered king to restore order -- finds a direct parallel in the myths of ancient Egypt, where we see the exact same pattern play out in the myth cycle of the god Osiris, who is murdered by his brother Set, and whose death is eventually avenged by the god Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris.
References to the story of Osiris and Isis and Horus are found in some of the most ancient extended texts known to archaeologists, including in the spells of the Pyramid Texts inscribed in beautiful hieroglyphs within the walls of the pyramids at Saqqara, thought to have been built in the decades preceding 2300 BC, but preserving mythical traditions which are undoubtedly much older.
And, as Professors Hertha von Dechend and Giorgio de Santillana point out in their seminal 1969 work Hamlet's Mill, this very same pattern of the murder of the rightful king by a jealous brother -- and the requirement of the son of the murdered king to reach beyond his doubts, avenge his father's death, and assume his rightful role -- is also found in other ancient myths from very different parts of the world, including in the myths of northern Europe which provided the inspiration for the plot of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Indeed, the importance of this pattern, found in the ancient Egyptian myths involving Horus and Isis and Osiris as well as in the myths involving Amlodhi or Amlethus or Amleth (aka Hamlet), led von Dechend and de Santillana to name their treatise Hamlet's Mill in the first place! In doing so, they were referring to a great millstone found in some of the Amlethus or Hamlet myths (not mentioned in Shakespeare's play) which comes off of its central axis and rolls into the sea.
The authors of Hamlet's Mill devote an entire chapter (chapter 9) to examining the evidence that this great mill represents the heavens themselves, which churn through their cycles (their circles) -- a theme which is clearly central to The Lion King as well (with its references to the great Circle of Life).
They point out references to the heavens as a great mill in surviving texts from the ancient Greek astronomer Cleomedes, who authored a text entitled On the Circular Motions of the Celestial Bodies, and who declares that the heavens "turn around in the way a millstone does" (see Hamlet's Mill, 137).
They also cite the Roman satirist Petronius (c. AD 27 - AD 66), thought to be the author of the Satyricon. In it, the author has the character of Trimalchio proclaim: "Thus the orb of heaven turns around like a millstone, and ever does something bad" (see Hamlet's Mill, 138).
But why does the grinding of the millstone "ever do something bad" -- and why do the myths of Amlodhi or Amlethus have the mill jumping off of its axle-peg to fall into the sea?
The answer, the authors of Hamlet's Mill imply, has to do with the ages-long celestial cycle known as precession (also called "the precession of the equinoxes"), which I explain and illustrate in my 2012 video "Precession = The Key," which I have embedded below. Note that the causes of the mechanism of precession are still being investigated (in the 2012 video I only present the conventional explanation of the cause of precessional motion).
The motion of precession acts to delay the expected background of stars from rising at their appointed time on the appointed day, although only very slowly (by about 1 single degree of arc every 71.6 years), such that after thousands of years a new zodiac constellation will "usurp" the place of the previous zodiac constellation -- as if deposing the rightful ruler and taking over in his or her place!
This motion of precession, the authors of Hamlet's Mill imply, is encoded in ancient myth in various creative ways, using various evocative metaphors. Among these metaphors would be the great millstone jumping off of its central peg, as well as the chopping down of a great central tree, and of course the slaying of the rightful king by a jealous usurper, upsetting the great circle of the heavens and casting the order of the cosmos into disarray.
But, as the brilliant insight of Alvin Boyd Kuhn reveals in his 1940 masterpiece Lost Light, these myths are not just encoding the motions of the heavens as some kind of intellectual exercise: they are using the great celestial cycles to illuminate truths about our own life -- and about the quest which we ourselves must undertake!
After the murder of Osiris, Isis first undertakes to search throughout the entire world for her lost husband (a pattern which is repeated in many other myths around the world). Then, her son Horus not only confronts the murderous Set in order to avenge the death of Osiris, but Horus also restores his father to life. As Alvin Boyd Kuhn explains, this restoration tells us what we are supposed to be doing during this incarnate life -- searching for and reuniting with the "lost god" (the Higher Self), through which process we actually connect with the realm of infinite potential (the realm of the gods) and allow the gods to act (because the gods act through individual men and women).
Kuhn writes (interspersing his observations with passages from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, more accurately titled the Book of Coming Forth by Day):
The god himself, fallen into carnal mire, had to be raised and restored to sound condition. [. . .]
Horus goes "wherever there lieth a wreck in the field of eternity." This redeemer is announced with joy:
"Hail, Osiris! Horus makes thee to be joined to the gods. . . . He brings to thee the gods in a body. None among them escape from his hand. Horus loves thee more than his own offspring, he unites thee to those of his own body. Horus makes his Ka to be in thee. . . . He makes a spirit to be in thee."
And the Manes again is hailed:
"Ho, Ho! thou art raised up! Thou hast received thy head, thou hast embraced thy bones, thou hast collected thy flesh, thou hast searched the earth for thy body."Here is strong assertion again that man is to summarize in himself the qualities of the whole scale of being, denominated gods. All their powers and virtue have to be embodied in man's organic wholeness to make him, like the resuscitated Osiris, "Neb-er-ter, the god entire." Every member of the old Atum, deceased and defunct, had to be fashioned anew in a fresh creation. Like a person recovering from amnesia, he had to recollect his former knowledge, reassemble the component elements of his dismembered integrity. [Kuhn, Lost Light, 549 - 550; ellipses in the original except as indicated by brackets]
In other words, the ancient myths depict our condition in this incarnate life. The story of the death and restoration of Osiris is not about the afterlife but about this one!
The ancient myths imbue the great cycle of precession, which inexorably displaces the order of the heavens, with the concept of our own separation and alienation which we almost inevitably experience in this incarnate life. The myths illustrate that, like the unhinged millstone, something is amiss. We find ourselves alienated from nature, from other men and women, from the gods, and ultimately from our own Self.
And yet, as Alvin Boyd Kuhn explains in the passage above regarding the myth of Osiris and Isis and Horus, the myths illustrate a path to our restoration and re-integration with all of those realms from which we have become alienated -- and our recovery indeed of our own Self.
This theme of restoration -- including the recovery of our own lost Self -- is incredibly powerful and moving, which (I would argue) accounts for the enduring popularity of the story of The Lion King, which dramatizes this ancient mythological story in such a way that we all can identify with its message on a visceral level.
Now, as you consider the alienation of young Simba and his loss of awareness of his own Self, and his eventual rediscovery of this very same Self, you can perhaps more clearly understand this central message of the world's precious ancient myths!
Please take the time to watch the video below, from July of 2012, in order to better understand the motion of precession and its enduring importance to this very moment. Even though it's an early effort and a bit rough around the edges, the "metaphor of the dining room table" is (I believe) very helpful to understanding the action of precession -- and the video also goes into the importance of the "precessional numbers" in the world's ancient myths, and in ancient monuments including the Great Pyramid at Giza and the proportions of the layout of Teotihuacan in Mexico.
And, if it is at all possible to do so, please join me at this year's Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge in Newport Beach, California, this October 4th through 6th for more on the stars, the myths, and the recovery of the Self.