It bothers me, this name Hakpen, this idea of a serpent path from the trinity of Avebury to the Sanctuary. It bothers me that I haven't read Stukeley's book, but there isn't much I can do about that.
The reason why Stukeley put a serpent with the Holy Trinity of Avebury isn't so hard to understand, just I was being a bit thick!
Gnosticism in short describes spirit confined by matter; and a god that is mad, bad and dangerous to know. But knowledge, gnosis, is redemption.
I keep forgetting that Shamhat stands in the place of the snake, because there isn't a serpent in the garden of Eden moment in the Sumerian story that becomes Adam and Eve and The Fall. In the Sumerian story, Shamhat the prostitute is the temptation that brings knowledge, in other words she is the 'serpent' . And the knowledge she gives to Enkidu is how to be human. She gives him a bath, and beer, cooked food and company. Before Shamhat, Enkidu was at one with nature, running free with the animals and eating grass.
It is likely that the bible sees the whole thing from Enkidu's point of view; before Shamhat he was happy being an animal. After Shamhat, running around, having adventures with the renegade king Gilgamesh, got him killed.
So I suppose, 'eating the apple' was a mistake, sort of..
Well anyway, in the Gnostic version the serpent is Christ and the redemptive knowledge symbolised by that apple is the Morpheus moment of the blue (or was it the red?) pill. And Shamhat becomes Mary Magdalene and onwards, onwards, Gnostic stuff, erm... the Shekhina.
Was Trinity the Shekina?
Oh for goodness sake!
But I'm going too far and too fast again, missing out the Orphic stuff -I want it on record, I have never bonded with the Orphic stuff, it annoys me, I try not to think about it! It is Gnosticism, in other words, Plato. And Plato annoys me (sorry, that's just how it gets you sometimes!).
So yeah, Stukeley was a Freemason, he wanted to see in the landscape signs of ancient wisdom, he saw a sinuous path starting at Beckhampton, connecting Avebury to the Sanctuary.
From Stukeley's point of view, the wisdom hidden by the ancients in this case looked like a snake. Obviously it is the serpent that brings knowledge to man. And what is that knowledge? Well first we see our predicament (always living at the edge of death) secondly we wake up to our 'true' nature. And our True Nature is? As in the Orphic myth: half god and half monster; in Gnosticism we are Divine spirit shackled to this world by chains of ignorance; this world with its physical, institutional and psychological limitations -in modern parlance, Gnosticism is libertarian.
It's kind of OK, but kind of not.
So that's that, why (according to me), why Stukeley called the rings of standing stones, The Serpent's Head.
And it mattered so much to him that he made up a story about pseudo-Hebrew words being used by the locals to authenticate his vision.
Stukley's vision grew, like the Lambton Worm, into Lhung-Mai (dragon paths) and other wonderful theories that embellish this world with meaning and I wish that I hadn't got the sort of mind I have (like I really do wish I'd stick to the point!) but I can't help but think something like: serpent and knowledge and Lucifer the fallen angel of knowledge and Venus the pentangle star...isn't Venus pretty bright and a bit weird? linked to Lucifer by a sex change? -Inanna/Ishtar via The Whore of Babylon to Lucifer? (I mean I know nothing about stars or planets but...) but doesn't Venus fall out of the sky at Michaelmas (equinox?) wouldn't Venus be something you would notice if you could see the sky without street lamps getting in the way, and you were into that kind of thing?
So, ah I get it the Sanctuary is a Temple to Lucifer!!!!
Seriously, has anyone thought about Venus and stone circles? Ha, bet the Masons have, bet Dan Brown has too! but does it matter to my story?
A connection between Venus and the descent into the Underworld is 'The Descent of Inanna'.
The descent of Inanna is the cause for vegetation to die, but Inanna is not an Underworld deity, so I suppose that thinking of Inanna as 'The Shekina' or calling her Lucifer are too far off the point for now.
See, I sympathise with Stukeley, he is a bit like my shadow. Stukeley saw what he wanted to see (don't we all) he then went on shamelessly to lie about it...or did he really believe what he thought? Am I so good at seeing my own self-deceptions that I can criticise Stukeley?
I can't know.
So much of this story is going to end in I can't know...
02 July 2011.
Notes from William Stukeley: science, religion, and archaeology in eighteenth-century By David Boyd Haycock.
In the second century AD Tacitus wrote that "The Egyptians" in their animal pictures were the first to represent thought by symbols: these the earliest documents of human history, are visible today, impressed upon stone
Plotinus, a Romano-Greek philosopher (AD 205-269/70) who developed the Neoplotonic interpretation of Egyptian hieroglyphs in the eighth treatise of his fifth Ennead, 'On the Intelligible Beauty'. There he wrote that the 'wise men of Egypt...either by scientific or innate knowledge' drew images in their temples that 'every image is a kind of knowledge and wisdom and is a subject of statements, all together in one, and not a discourse of elaboration'.
Plotinus concluded that this type of beauty 'exists before research and before reasoning'.
In the late fifteenth century Marsilio Ficino translated Plotinus's Enneads, and from then on Egyptian Hieroglyphs were interpreted as a divinely-inspired form of symbolic writing.
William Warburton would attack this idea that Egyptian hieroglyphs were mystical symbols concealing dogmas in his book, Divine Legation of moses, seeing them instead as a purely practical method of recording historical events, laws and history.
Stukeley disagreed strongly with him, they had, "very many and warm disputes...In short we never could agree in our notions about them, about the hieroglyphs, the mysteries or of antiquities in general"
Stukeley did not believe that the Egyptians worshiped the statues of the gods placed within the temples, rather, the statues were symbolic devices which would draw down the influence, or blessings. His interpretation came from his reading of Kircher, who in Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652-1654) examined the works of Plato and the Neoplatonists: Plotinus and Iamblichus. It was Kircher who identified the hieroglyph of the globe, serpent and wings as a form of the divine trinity.
Stukeley wrote: "All writers Jewish and Christian with one mouth assert'. The snake's practice of shedding its skin "and returning to youth again" was "A fit emblem of [Christ's] resurrection from the dead, and of returning to an immortal life". The circle "in hieroglyphs means, divine" and was a clear symbol for god who, as described by Hermes Trismagistos, was "without beginning and ending, whose center is everywhere and circumference no where". The wings, the final part of the trinity were not physically represented in Avebury because of the difficulty of illustrating them using stone. But they would have represented the Holy spirit "the moving and penetrative person of power of the deity"