As we examine the clues of human history, it becomes glaringly obvious that religious belief systems and places of worship have been a prevailing factor in most cultures and locations of human dwelling. Humankind has always felt drawn to, or perhaps had an awareness of, the existence of some kind of ‘higher’ power or consciousness. These beliefs may transpire as one god, a pantheon of deities or something closer to nature, the elements and the cosmos.
Over time we see an abundance of synchronicities linking them, as one set of beliefs evolves into the next. Regal or political powers shift, war and invasion come and go, creating amalgamations of religion, faith, worship and all the iconography in-between.
As one religion morphs into another and perceptions change with the passing of time, so can the names and representations of the gods and goddesses. Their essence remains the same however, despite their various states of anthropomorphism.
By following the common threads, we can trace many deities, through their cultural representation back to their source. Or at least as close to as possible.
For example, compare the uncanny similarities between divine mother and child Isis and Horus, next to divine mother and child Mary and Jesus.
Iconography of the ancients can still be found in places of modern worship today. Upon my last visit to Templer Church I was struck by all the many images of Pegasus embedded into the artwork and decorative adornments on the surrounding buildings. I began to wonder how a Greek god had found his way to become so welcome here. What role does a “mythical” Greek God have in a place of Christian worship?
Templar Church has been heralded a place of Christian worship since the day of the Knights Temper, the band of brothers responsible for building the church itself. Inspired by the circular church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the reported site of Christ’s death and rising. The Knights recreated a smaller version in the heart of London, as a homage to their beloved holy land. The round church was built on a convergence point of London’s ley lines and consecrated in 1185.
I have visited Temple Church many times, everywhere one looks, the characteristics of the space are Christian in nature. The holy cross, the stained-glass windows depicting stories from the bible, the ten commandments engraved in gold at the altar, the clergy dressed in their robes and the calm, reverent ambiance one experiences as they wander around. Whether one is Christian or not, one can’t help but feel welcome and at peace here, and also left in no doubt that they are indeed in a place of Christian worship. This begs the question; how did a Greek God get woven into this iconography?
Pegasus, named by the Greeks, and retained by the Romans, was the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa. When Perseus cut off Medusa’s head, her blood fell into the ocean, mingled with Poseidon and thus Pegasus was born from the waves along with his twin Chrysaor. Poseidon had violated Medusa in a previous episode. This ultimately led to her becoming the ‘multi-snake for hair’ Gorgon in the first instance. So, in a disturbing Greek God kind of way, he had already impregnated her.
Connected to water due to his father, Pegasus had the ability to create springs of water with his hooves. Pure, divine, life sustaining water. Amongst other impressive god-like talents, he could also travel between the mortal and immortal realms. After helping Perseus complete his mission and assisting one or two other demigods on heroic missions of their own, Pegasus ended up serving Zeus as the carrier of his lightning bolts. In summery Pegasus is connected to water, electricity, air, earth and spirit. Imagine that!
So, how does this relate back to the Christian faith? Well, the official line goes something like this… Pegasus is a combination of horse and bird, thus of Earth and Heaven. Due to his parentage (Medusa being mortal and Poseidon a god), Pegasus was believed to have been both mortal and divine. Jesus is also believed to be of Earth and of Heaven, and due to his divine conception is considered both mortal and divine too. The white coat of the Pegasus pertains to the purity of Jesus’s birth. The Greek word ‘pegai’ means waters or springs, leading to the divine watery nature of the Pegasus symbolizing holy water. Makes sense!
We have covered the Greek myth and the Christian symbology now let’s head to the source….
As above, so below.
Presenting the constellation of Pegasus.
This rather impressive constellation situated in the northern hemisphere, is the 7th largest and one of the brightest constellations in the celestial realm. According to the main, Pegasus was first cataloged in the 2nd century by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy. It includes 4 stars of nearly equal brightness that make up the Great Square of Pegasus. These stars have taken on many names over the centuries, often related to water deities, and were of particular interest to mystics, astrologers, storytellers and explorers alike.
Pegasus, being so bright and easy to spot, became an explorer’s best friend, especially out at sea. This magnificent constellation has been guiding the intuit and the navigator since the dawn of time. Pegasus has inspired man to tell many glorious tales of his transits. This wonderous constellation is effortlessly recognizable by its bold brightness and sheer magnitude. From cosmos to Greek myth, loved by the Romans, adopted by the Christians, and an integral factor in modern astrology. Pegasus remains as majestical and awe inspiring as ever. A faithful companion that watches over our realm, bestowing safe passage to those who have come to know him.