Newgrange and Saqsayhuaman: Separated at Birth in 3050 BC?
Two of the Boyne Valley’s most impressive passage mounds — Knowth and adjacent Newgrange — may have functioned together as part of an important initiation ritual, one that survived over three thousand years. And these sites may have their twins in the Andes, in the form of megalithic Saqsayhuaman, and its smaller and equally mysterious child, the carved butte called Q’uenqo. The clue lies in their respective astronomical alignments.
Although Knowth receives less attention than its more famous neighbor, it is replete with mysteries.
Knowth, River Boyne valley, Ireland. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Many of its carved kerbstones are astronomically significant, while its little-studied western passage — which faces the Equinox sunset — abruptly changes direction at an angle of 19.5º to meet a second passage aligned to the Equinox sunrise. This unusual choice of angle may be a reference to the point of contact between two of nature’s prime building blocks, the sphere and the tetrahedron: where the points of a tetrahedron touch the surface of its circumscribing sphere, the resulting angle is 19.47º. On a practical, observable level, this angle, as a latitude, marks the most active hotspots of energy manifestation on the surface of Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, and the Sun.
The unusual deviation angle. Knowth, west passage.
It was not unusual for sacred sites to be infused with all manner of information, for they served many overlapping functions, one being a teaching device. Here, it is Knowth’s persistent referencing of Venus that is of interest. Its eastern passage marks the heliacal rising of Venus on both equinoxes as well as the summer solstice. On the winter solstice, however, both Venus and the rising Sun move slightly to the south, where they are observed inside Newgrange’s megalithic passage; a carved lintel above the mound’s light box even references Venus’s eight-year cycle.
Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
These alignments occurred in the year 3051 BC, the alleged median date for the construction of both monuments. Had you been alive then you would have observed Venus rising from Knowth on the autumn equinox, and exactly three months later, from Newgrange on the winter solstice, along with the sunrise. And this is where the connection to a most important ancient ritual comes in.
Venus, like Sirius, was the star to whose light initiates were resurrected in Egypt in order to be considered ‘sons of God’; the same ritual in various Mysteries schools from China and India, to Polynesia and the Mediterranean, was often regarded as a ‘living resurrection’, since the candidates experienced a figurative rather than literal death, during a controlled out-of-body experience which allowed the soul temporary access to the Otherworld. This initiation often consisted of a two-part process performed at the equinox and the solstice.
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The later Jerusalem Church of early Christianity held the same position on Venus and the living resurrection. And perhaps so did Andean priests at the megalithic structure of Saqsayhuaman and the adjacent chamber of Q’uenqo, both of which behave very similarly to Knowth and Newgrange: Q’uenqo is aligned to the heliacal rising of Venus on the autumn equinox, while three months later, Venus and the sun rise along the axis of Saqsayhuaman at the winter solstice. What is even more curious is that the alignments, as in Ireland, coincide at 3150 BC.
Long before the appearance of the Inka, Q’uenqo was known locally as the entrance into the Otherworld, and the manner in which its passage was uniquely carved in the shape of an ‘S’ out of one massive andesite boulder (which is the size of three houses) attests to the living resurrection having taken place there: the candidate entered in the west at sunset on the equinox, lay inside the womb-like chamber for several days, and re-emerged in the east to face Venus just before dawn to be declared a god-man, or woman.
Q'uenqo. Entrance to the Otherworld.
The procedure is identical at Knowth, and ongoing archaeological digs inside its passages are still looking for the portal connecting the two. What is revealing is Knowth’s seventeen attendant chambered mounds, which form a numerical coincidence with another unique man-made cave where the same ritual was practiced in Egypt: the Osirion at Abydos. It too features seventeen side chambers.
Knowth and the Osirion both feature seventeen attendant chambers.
As for Saqsayhuaman and its serrated megalithic walls, when observed from the air they take on the appearance of a bird’s wings, particularly when adding the now-destroyed cliff side walls that once formed a mirror image. It is hardly an accident that the site’s name in Quechua means ‘the place of the satisfied falcon’, for whereas this bird receives scant attention in Andean mythology, seven thousand miles away in Egypt the falcon god Horus is the symbolic continuation of the resurrected god-man Osiris, whose rituals were enacted and consummated on the equinox and solstice.
The recurring bond between the god-man, Venus, the equinox and solstice was still in practice, literally and symbolically, in the early Christian era. According to the Bible, John the Baptist was conceived on the autumn equinox and born on the summer solstice, while Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox and born on the winter solstice; both men were called nasoraiyi, an old Babylonian title meaning ‘preserver of divine secrets’, marking as it did the highest level of office attained by initiates who successfully experienced the most secret of rites, that of the living resurrection, and were thus qualified to administer the same to neophytes, beginning with a baptism in a special type of water.
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The importance of these relationships forms the cornerstone of the Master Mason ritual in Scottish Rite Freemasonry today — a ritual whose roots date to the Biblical Enoch circa 3000 BC — and whose Seventeenth Degree is one of its most powerful and profound: the Knight of the East and West.
Now the bigger question is, what is the source of these identical concepts shared between distant cultures?
Related material in Freddy Silva's latest book, The Lost Art of Resurrection: Initiation, secret chambers and the quest for the Otherworld. www.invisibletemple.com
Q'uenqo, Saqsayhuaman and Saqsayhuaman reconstructed, images ©Freddy Silva
Top Image: Saqsayhuaman, Peru (CC BY 2.0)
By Freddy Silva