The Reliquary Volume 18 Page 156

The Reliquary Volume 18 Page 156 is in The Reliquary.

On Arbor Low [Map] VI by William Henry Goss.

Before speaking further of astronomical symbolism in ancient monuments and architecture, I will refer to a few more vestiges of archaic habits and customs which have survived to this day, and which are brought to mind by the contemplation of this circle of Arbor Low. The Christianisation of habits and customs of the early Sun-worshippers, although in itself a religious revolution, yet still affords an example of natural conservatism which is very interesting. The earliest religious customs of our forefathers, piously continued by their descendants — Celtic, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman — were, as I have shown, even dove-tailed into early Christianity in the -gradual revolutiou ; and from those early Christian times they are preserved to this day with the same reverence for the religious habits of our fathers. Such is the result of natural consiBrvatism in man. Radicalism would root out all such vestiges with sudden violence ; and, therefore, at one time, the religious denominations called Nonconformists, in their abhorrence of all religious symbolism, even objected to the sign of the cross. And the Society of Friends have, in this spirit, abandoned all religious forms and ceremonies, and swept from their worship all religious vestiges of the Flint Age. And, yet, not so. They still preserve among them, unconsciously, one vestige of a very early religious symbol. The Quakeress, teaching her infant to pray, causes it to kneel upon her lap and hold its hands together in what is called the attitude of prayer. What can have been the origin and signification of that pressing of the palms together, and what is the form thereby presented to the eye of the supplicant ? It is evidently an ancient habit, for we find it represented not only upon Assyrian, but upon ancient Egyptian sculptures. It was the habit of the obelisque-worshipping peoples ; and the form presented to the eye of the supplicant by the two fore-fingers of the hands so pressed together is that of the tapering menhir, or obelisque, the symbol of the sun's beam, or of the spirit, presence, and beneficent influence of the sun-god Baal, further perpetuated among the early Christians in the stone obelisque, which became, as I have shown, Christianised as the cross before which people knelt and prayed. A reference to the illustrations in Mr. Jewitt's Gravemounds and their Contents, will show that where inhumation was adopted by the ancient Celts instead of cremation, the body was generally placed in the cist in this attitude of supplication, the palms being pressed together, and so forming, before the face of the deceased, the holy figure of the obelisque. It would appear that the symbol of the sun-beam was thus kept before the eyes of the djing Celt, as, subsequently, the cross was held before the eyes of the dying Christian. It is extremely probable, judging from the modes of interment of the ancient Celts; that they, as well as the Hebrews, were divided into sects of Pharisees and Sadducees. The doctrine of the resurrection of the body appears to have gained adherents at a very early period, and hence we have the Egyptian mummies, and burial by inhumation among the sun-worshipping Celts in Britain, at the same time that cremation was adopted by those who held that the body was thereby at once absorbed into God, the Sun, by means of his holy spirit and terrestrial presence, Fire.