The Cloisters...

Temple of the Sun

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One of the secrets of The Cloisters ?


Any ancient city, like all ancient military camp (the Roman Castrum), as any building, mainly religious, was born of a ritual orientation to determine the perimeter and the four main directions (north-on: the cardo and east-west: decumanus).

The same was true, we believe, for The Cloisters.

The inauguration of the Cloisters takes place May 10, 1938, a few days after the sudden death of the sculptor George Grey Barnard and art collector (1863-1938) who had bought and transported of the sculptures of five medieval French cloisters in New York.



The acquisition, in 1913, of the sculptures of the cloister of St. Michel de Cuxa (Roussillon in France) marks the beginning of a long adventure. He is at the origin of the creation of the first museum of the Cloisters, in 1914. Until 1922, Grey Barnard buys, transports and reconstructs the cloisters of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert (Languedoc), Bonnefont-en-Comminges (Midi-Pyrenees), Trie-en-Bigorre (Pyrenees) and Froville (Lorraine).

All the collections of this medieval art love feeds the heteroclite museum installed on Fort Washington Avenue.

In 1925, the Metropolitan Museum buys the essentials of this collection, thanks to the patronage of John D. Rockefeller Jr., and undertakes to build a new museum, the one that still dominates Fort Tryon Park, near the banks of the Hudson.

Art objects in the collection come to join the Rockefeller sculptures collected by Grey Barnard. The collections continue to grow. The corporate philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller Jr. helped to create funds to purchase other art works to join the medieval collection of the Metropolitan Museum and those of the Cloisters Museum.

Subsequent donations and legacies, from wealthy patrons, also helped to further enrich a collection that already belonged to the most prestigious in the world.

On May 12, 1938, The Cloisters Museum is open to the public.,_Jr.,_Manhattan


Every year, on May 12th, the rays of the sunset pass through a window of a tower to the west, overlooking the Hudson River. On the other side, there is no construction that disturbs their way.




These rays of the sunset crosses the hall, the reception hall and goes under the door of an old French chapel. The rays of the 'dying' sun go to the East, place of the resurrection.


Collection Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr. - 1935


It was under this porch that Jacques de Molay (1243-1314) has passed before pronouncing his vows of entry into the Order of the Templars (founded in 1119 by Hugues de Pyns and Godfrey of Saint -Love) which he will one day be nominated the Master (circa 1293 or 1298). He was received in the order in 1265 in the Commandery of Beaune by Humbert of Pairaud, who served as Visitor of France and England.

This gateway is now in The Cloisters. Until recently, visitors to the Cloisters passed beneath this porch, just like Jacques de Molay, as for an initiation, unknowingly.

What insight into the selection of Mr. Rockefeller ! I think there would be a book to write about the "secrets" of the Cloisters ...

But what event took place on a May 12 ?


On May 12, 1310: Four Knights of the Order of the Temple are burned at the stake after their confessions extracted under torture in 1307.


Jacques le Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay
are burned in the " Ile de la Cité "
Grandes Chroniques de France - British Library


The execution of the Templars - France - XV° s.
enluminure from De Casibus, Boccace

On the evening of March 18, 1314, Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay were taken to the island to the Jews where they were burned.

In astrology, May 12 is the 22nd day of the astrological sign of Taurus.



Winter solstice day


What is the phenomenon the most " impressive " that our ancestors have had to face ?

Death, the death of their contemporaries, the death of vegetation in winter. And "death" of the sun every evening and every winter solstice ... ? So we can understand why the solar cult was so important, in conjunction with that of the Great Mother.

How this relates to The Cloisters ?

Howard Comeau saw it with his eyes: on 20 and 21 December, winter solstice days, the setting sun, seen from the west upper terrace of Cloisters, "goes down" just under the arch of the George Washington Bridge crossing "the Hudson River" to connect Manhattan and Fort Lee, in New Jersey.

(photo taken from the upper terrace west of Cloisters)


This phenomenon takes place majestically in the symbolic Masonic and honors George Washington, the most influential and the most important of Freemasons of the USA.

On 25 December, the day supposed to be that of Jesus' birth, the sun, beginning to "raise" its race, appears under the arch of the bridge a little above.


The construction of the Washington Bridge (from 1927 to 1931) precedes that of the Cloisters (from 1934 to 1938). Is this vision of the setting sun under the ark due to chance or calculated?


Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) wrote these words on the metallic structure :

" The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson is the most beautiful bridge in the world. Made of cables and steel beams, it gleams in the sky like a reversed arch. It is blessed. It is the only seat of grace in the disordered city. It is painted an aluminum color and, between water and sky, you see nothing but the bent cord supported by two steel towers. When your car moves up the ramp the two towers rise so high that it brings you happiness; their structure is so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laugh. The car reaches an unexpectedly wide apron; the second tower is very far away; innumerable vertical cables, gleaming against the sky, are suspended from the magisterial curve which swings down and then up. The rose-colored towers of New York appear, a vision whose harshness is mitigated by distance."


In front of The Cloisters, on the other bank of the Hudson, 700 hectares of land were bought by Mr. Rockefeller. Non-buildable !

For the "drama of Mithra" (its death and rebirth after three days) is visible throughout the year to the ages of the century !

For the panorama seen from The Cloisters can forever allow to observe, in the only place in the natural horizon of New York, the sunsets throughout the year.

We can observe from The Cloisters the two solstices in the natural setting anterior of the urban development.

And all artworks in The Cloisters are linked to this bright project "Solar".

We can see in this statue the god Tammuz, a golden statue suspended between Heaven and Earth in the Temple of Tyr and that we find as an echo in this Christ hanging in the Roman hall of The Cloisters.

Votive statue of Melqart from Gades (Cadiz)
Archaeological Museum - Seville

It is the Sun which is the key to this face to face between an ancient solar god (Tammuz -Christ) and the winter solstice.

Two temples : one in the Roman style in The Cloisters ; the other in Gothic style, the arch of the bridge over the Hudson. The arch is a Roman " window " in a front view and a Gothic " window " in an oblique view.

The sun is represented by a halo or crown of thorns ; the outstretched horizontally arms simulate the solar rays.

In The Cloisters, all "Christs" are Suns.

In The Cloisters, there is no representation of the Resurrection or the Ascension of Christ ! Why ?

Because the "rebirth" (new birth) is not a resurrection ?
Each December 25 (just after the winter solstice), the sun is again a "child" who is reborn.
But after his supposed "resurrection", Christ had always the same age (33 years according to the texts).

Neither John nor Matthew mentions the Ascension of Jesus. This "ascension" has therefore no solid scriptural basis.


These two paintings of the Master of the Codex of Saint George (13th century)
are arranged side by side in a hall of The Cloisters.

Why have gathered here ?

They are both linked to the winter solstice : The Crucifixion represents the "death" of the sun ; Christ wears a halo, which designates him as the Sun.

The Entombment evokes not the resurrection, but the rebirth of the sun : the tomb is at the foot of the Cross, which is not "complete" to the Gospels or the usual iconography.



Both St. John


At the summer solstice as the winter solstice, the Freemasons, respectful of tradition, particularly those of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the Grand Lodge of France, honor Jean during solstitial célébrations :

— solstitial Feast of St. John Winter in honor of John the Evangelist

— And solstitial Feast of St. John Summer in honor of the Baptist of Christ, his elder by six months, son of Zachary and Elizabeth, the cousin of the Virgin Mary in the Bible.

The Masonic solstitial celebrations refer to Roman symbolism of Janus (from "janua" meaning door), the god with two faces.

In this hall of The Cloisters in front of the Washington Bridge, the two paintings answer to the cosmic phenomenon : these are the mythological symbolism : two solar phases into two times over a period of three days.


The four Christian holy days called cardinal (Christmas, Easter, St. John
and St. Michael) were placed on the dates of solstices and équinoxes :
— The winter solstice, December 21, presided by the Archangel Gabriel,
— The spring equinox, March 21, by the archangel Raphael,
— The summer solstice, June 21, by the archangel Uriel

— The autumnal equinox, September 21, by the Archangel Mikhael.
— St. Michael corresponds to a detachment
— Easter to a resurrection
— St. John to a blaze




During the reforms of pagan religions, particularly the one devoted to Mithras, the Roman Emperor Constantine (newly converted to Christianity after his vision of 28 October of the year 312) instituted the Sunday as a feast day throughout the Roman Empire.

— the feast of Mithra fixed at the winter solstice, December 25, became the feast of Christmas
— the feast of Astarte or Ishtar became Easter
— the feast of Tammuz or Lucifer became the feast of St. John


A Woven Religious Zodiac


Vue 337 : Cosmos et signes du zodiaque, fol. M 5 v°

Gregor Reisch (v. 1467-1525)
Margarita Philosophica (La Perle philosophique)
encyclopédie en latin, d'abord parue en 1496
et réimprimée dès 1504.

Let's examine each element of this tapestry under the lights of Angélique Ferrand's thesis in Medieval Art History, to which I refer you:

Angélique Ferrand, Du Zodiaque et des hommes. Temps, espace, éternité dans les édifices de culte entre le IVe et le XIIIe siècle, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté, 2017, sous la direction de Daniel Russo.

The zodiac signs are arranged counterclockwise, following the order advocated by Howard, (as if we were moving back in time?)

– the enclosure

In the form of a circle, this closed enclosure possesses a cosmic dimension. Paul Zumthor writes: "The circle begets the sphere, a cosmic image deposited in the hand of God or that of the Emperor; it manifests itself in the omnipresent scheme of the wheel: perpetual return, spatiotemporal totality of the Zodiac, wheel of Fortune, inexhaustible medieval theme offered to moralists, writers, painters, and sculptors."

P. Zumthor, La mesure du monde: représentation de l’espace au Moyen Âge, Seuil, 1993 and 2014, p. 23.

Let's see in this enclosure several earthly or cosmic, human or divine places:
― planet Earth
― the Sun linked to notions of cosmic sovereignty, eternity of time, cyclicity, and prosperity. "The Mithraic cult and its relation to the Zodiac reflect the religious context of the early centuries where the sun, Sol, dominates in various forms and where cosmological and eschatological conceptions play a significant role." (p. 273)
― the cosmos (zodiacal belt of the enclosure + cosmic necklace of the unicorn)
― the Churches (celestial: the Ecclesia; terrestrial: the ecclesia); the ecclesial structure

The number twelve (3 x 4) is a symbol of totality. Here, it refers to the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles. Did Perréal imagine Christ enthroned in a mandorla (circular composition) and surrounded by the apostles, as in tapestry 2 where he presents the Last Supper in a semi-circular composition, thus closing his narrative as he began it? "Apostles and zodiacal signs signify the ordo, that of Creation as well as that of the Ecclesia, thus placed in correspondence..." (p. 458)

The enclosure is crafted from worked wood, where all elements, both vertical and horizontal (3 rows perhaps to evoke the Trinity?), delineating 12 compartments, are interlocked, providing the whole with naturalness, cohesion, and solidity. The two words "FIAT LUX" can be read in this assembly, in both directions. Considered as a radiant sun or a crown of thorns, this enclosure defines a sacred space that could be the earthly Church (ecclesia), i.e., the assembly of the faithful; a place of worship (the church); the enclosure of the celestial Jerusalem with twelve gates.

The stakes

The 12 stakes are equal in size and thickness; the 13th hidden by the tree, does it evoke Judas replaced by Matthias? Were they designed to represent the inner pillars and capitals, thus connecting earth and heaven, the human and the divine? "The elements used to separate the zodiacal signs and/or the activities of the months contribute to the ordering of the cycles. They network the circumscribed and/or isolated figures from each other. These separating elements come in different types, but the principle remains the same. It is about isolating and signaling the presence of a particular figure while creating a visual rhythm." (p. 417)

The door

It could be that of Eden mentioned in the Bible from which Adam and Eve were expelled.

Détail du jardin d’Eden
extrait du Polychronicon de Ranulph Higden,
dessin inachevé du paradis en haut de la carte
Angleterre, v. 1350 - Royal MS 14 C IX, f. 2v

Paul, Jean et Herman de Limbourg, vers 1410-1411.
Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry
chapitre des Oraison à la Vierge
Chantilly, musée Condé

Masaccio, fresque, 1424-1425
Florence, église Santa Maria del Carmine

It could be the narrow gate of Paradise that the faithful hope to enter (the portal symbolizing the passage/transit to eternity). "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

The cross drawn on the closed gate of the enclosure, within the sign of Virgo, is extended by the trunk of the pomegranate tree rising.

"The church door has often been linked to the heavens and the stars, especially in epigraphy. Alcuin reformulated this idea in one of his poems for the Saint-Amand Abbey of Elnone, 'Haec porta est caeli, aeternae haec est ianua vitae, / Ista viatorem ducit ad astra suum. / Ingrediens istam portam enetrabit Olympi.' ['This door is that of heaven; it is the door of eternal life. It leads the traveler to his stars. By entering this door, he will enter Olympus.'] These verses present the church door as the gate of heaven, Janua Caeli, from an eschatological perspective while indicating that it is a path leading to the stars. [...] The church door has a dual significance; it is both 'Christ, the necessary passage for the faithful' and 'the "house of God," the Church, through which one finds the way to heaven'" (p. 451-452)

What Perréal could not have foreseen is the presence at the Cloisters of a "historic" door. The Cloisters were inaugurated on May 10, 1938, and on May 12, the Cloisters Museum was opened to the public. According to Howard Comeau, every year on May 12, the setting sun's rays pass through a window in a tower facing the Hudson River (the dying rays move eastward, the place of its resurrection every morning). This is possible because, on the opposite bank, no construction obstructs their path. These rays of the setting sun traverse the room, the lobby, and pass under the door of an old French chapel, the Chapel of St. James built in Beaune in the 12th century by the Templars, under which Jacques de Molay (1243-1314) passed before taking his vows to join the Templar order in 1265, later becoming its grand master.
This portal is currently located at the Cloisters. Until recent years, visitors to the Cloisters passed under this gateway, reminiscent of Jacques de Molay, as if undergoing an initiation, unbeknownst to them. Link to the Chapel of the Temple in Beaune

Considering that the tapestry is a woven narrative of the Passion in the form of a unicorn hunt, perhaps one can draw a parallel between the enclosure of the unicorn and that of the sheep luring the wolf in Gaston Phebus' Book of the Hunt.

Gaston Phébus, Livre de chasse
Ci devise une autre manière de prendre les loups
entre 1387 à 1389
BnF, ms. fr. 616, f. 110

The pomegranate tree's symbolism:

The Cosmic Tree: The pomegranate tree may symbolize the cosmic tree that connects different parts of the universe—celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean. In various mythologies, it represents the universe in terms of space and time.

The Tree of Time: Strictly vertical, this tree seems to emerge from the unicorn. The letters A and Ǝ could represent the Greek letters alpha and omega (if mentally rotated upward, Ǝ becomes ω), alluding to God and emphasizing the eternity of Christ: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Isaiah 44:6 - Revelation 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13)

The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil from Eden: The pomegranate tree might also symbolize both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge from the Garden of Eden. The verses from Genesis 2:9, 2:17, and 3:22-24 suggest a connection between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life, creating ambiguity. The term "tree of life" appears multiple times in the Scriptures (Revelation 2:7, 22:14, and 19), while "the tree of knowledge of good and evil" is only found in Genesis 2:9.

The Tree of Crucifixion: Many legends explain the origin of the wood for the True Cross or Holy Cross. The pomegranate tree, standing as the centerpiece, may be connected to the tradition that the Cross was carved from the wood of the tree that grew on Adam's grave in Jerusalem. This tree was said to have originated from a seed of the Tree of Life placed in Adam's mouth after his death by his son Seth. This connection to the redemption of original sin is echoed in the tapestry of The Hunt

The Eucharistic symbolism: The flesh and juice of the pomegranates on the unicorn could be interpreted as symbols of the Eucharist, representing the words of Jesus, "This is my body, this is my blood."


The foliage

The five branches of the pomegranate tree divide into two smaller branches, each bearing a cluster of leaves and a pomegranate. The resulting foliage symbolizes the heavens and planets revolving around the Sun-Christ. Both the unicorn through its collar and the pomegranate tree through its foliage bear the universe. Surrounded by a dark blue halo, it can be seen as "clipeus caelestis," the celestial shield adorned with pomegranate-star/planet and leaf-constellation/luminous rays. It could also be interpreted as the celestial vault referenced by the church's vault, framed by the enclosure's columns. The unicorn-Christ thus asserts its "cosmic sovereignty" both on earth and in heaven, from the microcosm to the macrocosm. "Ecclesiastical order" and "cosmic order" are thus connected. (p. 352 and 382)

The millefleurs surrounding

The millefleurs surrounding symbolize the lost Eden or the hoped-for Paradise. In this tapestry of a thousand flowers, undoubtedly associated with the Virgin, small animals (a frog, a butterfly, two dragonflies) coexist. Flowers and animals refer to Creation and its three characteristics: ordo (continuity), varietas (variation(s)), mensura (transformation(s)). These correspond to the succession and internal organization of the Zodiac signs (p. 681), with the ideas of harmony, cycle, fertility, renewal, purity, beauty, and fragrance.

The chain

The coiled chain, resembling a serpent, and the broken chain of time serve as both a reminder of the serpent of the Fall and an evocation of Redemption. Its break allows for Ascension and instills hope for the anticipated Parousia.

The unicorn

The rebirth of Christ, in the form of a unicorn passed from paganism to Christianity, takes place at the heart of the zodiacal circle. Its whiteness assimilates it to light, to Christ ("I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life." John 8:12), who here wears the collar of planets and the sun.

The unicorn appears serene, with a laughing mouth and eyes, seemingly in levitation with its hind legs already raised. This serenity amid a floral and inhabited nature suggests an eschatological optimism, assured of redemption and humanity's salvation. In this tapestry, Perréal aimed to evoke the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ framed by the monthly and zodiacal cycle. It "emphasizes the junction between the earthly and celestial at the moment of the Ascension, as well as the dual nature of Christ, human and divine, earthly and celestial." (p. 806)

"The zodiacal signs reflect the process of elevation and transitus characteristic of the Ascension and Assumption in the same way they accompanied scenes of apotheosis in ancient iconography. They play the role of a visual lever on the periphery of the theophany, similar to the mandorla, isolating the divine figure while staging the theophany and mediating between earth and sky." (p. 813) The perceptible Ascension of the unicorn-Christ, set within a circular "mandorla" at the center of the tapestry, takes on an eschatological dimension.

The time, marked by the zodiac and the movement of planets around the sun, emerges as the theme unifying the diverse elements of this tapestry. Terrestrial and human time of the enclosure, celestial, divine, and eternal time of the foliage. This ultimate tapestry crowns the entire set created by the other six tapestries. The tapestry as a whole should be viewed and interpreted as an eschatological reflection on time and salvation, much like a sculpted portal of a church or cathedral, a colorful stained glass, or a painted Stations of the Cross, narrating episodes from the life of Christ, especially the Passion and Resurrection, as conceived and experienced during their creation period.




The Rock and the Sun

We can also think that in order to acquire artworks and, perhaps, to create a pantheon of esoteric art, U.S "buyers " were sent to Europe (and around the world?) by U.S. Freemasons, to acquire artworks or architectural elements presenting "characters esoteric ", either by prospecting themselves, either by "ordering" from European Freemasons.

Thus were brought together several cloisters, nearly 5,000 sculptures, tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, paintings, stained glass and many other medieval wonders.

Read on the following website, the odyssey of the cloisters of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert and Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa :


Recumbent statue to John Alluye - 13th century
In The Cloisters since 1925

Howard likes to meditate near the grave of the knight of Philip Augustus and one of the principal nobles of the Loire Valley. During his voyage to the Holy Land, he would have acquired a relic of the True Cross.
In 1248 he was buried at The Clarity-Dieu, the abbey near Tours he founded in 1239. This sculpture was purchased in an antique shop in Paris by George Grey Barnard.


Bartolo di Fredi - Adoration of the Shepherds
painted in Siena between 1353 - 1410
The Cloisters - New York

This painting belonged to George Grey Barnard until 1925, when he has given it to the Museum.
It seems that this painting is hung just above the top of the rock which is enclosed in a hall of the museum.
" You are Pierre, and upon this pierre, I will build my temple, my Cloister ! " (in French, " the name " Pierre " (Peter) means " stone, rock ".

Imagine, with Howard, the times before the construction of The Cloisters bridge and The Washington Bridge... Men and women meet regularly at this point still untouched, on the rock outcropping.
They discuss, observe the solar phases, get exposure to ancient solar myths, celebrate the solstices... and one day, was born the idea of building the bridge at the exact place where the winter solstice sun disappears behind the horizon, beyond the Hudson ... Imagine ... Can you imagine ? Credible ?




The god Mithra
is known to us by sacred images found in Mithraea. There are no texts on Mithraism written by the adepts themselves.


vestiges of a subterranean temple of Mithras in Rome
dominated at one end by the Taurobole,
representation of Mithras killing the bull


Mithra and the zodiac. Phoenicia. (late fourth century)
marble from Sidon

Mithras is dressed in Persian clothing and carries the Phrygian cap.
It sacrifices the primordial bull.
Louvre - Paris

Mithra has become for the Persians the radiant sun, around which extends the cosmos. The twelve signs of the zodiac and the busts of the gods of the four seasons represent the movement of the universe. By his victory over the forces of chaos, Mithra brings to the world of light and salvation.

Mithraic temples were found in Italy (17 in Ostia Antica, the port of Rome), Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, England (3 near Hadrian's Wall)

The mythological story of Mithras made him born from a rock (the petra Generatrix), near a spring and under a tree, both sacred. At his birth, he was wearing the Phrygian cap, a torch and a knife. Then, in the mountains, he met the primordial bull that he conquered, he tied by its hind legs and put it on his shoulders. This journey of Mithras with the bull on his shoulders is called " transitus ". On his arrival in a cave, a crow sent by the Sun told him he had to make a sacrifice : Mithras killed the bull by piercing its side. Wheat came out of the spine and his blood became wine. Its seed, collected by the Moon, produced useful animals to humans.


Mithra - university of Newcastle

Phanès - Modène

The zodiac represents the ordaining function that the god Phanes (often confused with Mithra) exerts on space, time and natural forces.


This bronze statue found near a Mithraeum near Hadrian's Wall shows Mithras emerging from a zodiac ring-shaped egg.

An inscription found in Rome suggests that Mithras could be identify with the primordial god of Orphism, Phanes, emerged from the cosmic egg at the beginning of time, causing the universe.

Cautès et Cautopatès, two companions torchbearers of Mithras, could represent respectively the sunrise and sunset.

On December 25 (or the winter solstice), the birth of Mithras was commemorated. The 16th of each month was also sacred. The adepts of Mithra also praised Sunday, day of the Sun.


Mithra (right) associated with
Helios (Sol Invictus) (center)
and Moon (left)
The two torch bearers, Cautes and Cautopates,
symbolize the sunrise and sunset
bas-relief found in Rome - Louvre Museum


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In the religion of Mithras, there is a strange god of the time : Aion Kronos, also known as deus leontocephalos because it is represented in human form with lion's head, enlaced by a snake whose head reappears from behind on his head.

Aion with the zodiac - 2e et 3e s.
Museo profano - Vatican


It holds a key in each hand, lightning rests on its chest, on its back are the four wings of the winds ; somewhat analogous to the signs of the zodiac covers the body. Its attributes are a cock and tools.

The name already indicates that it is a symbol of the time composed of many images of libido. The lion, zodion [ Zodiac is a word derived from Greek Zôdion, small animal ] of the greatest warmth of summer, is the symbol of "concupiscentia effrenata", the most unbridled desire.

In the mystery of Mithras, the snake is often represented opposed to the lion, according to the universal myth of the battle between the sun and the dragon.

The embrace is "engulfment", entering the body of the mother. Time is also defined by sunrise and sunset, that is to say, by death and renewal of libido, arousal and loss of consciousness. The addition of the cock shows again the time, and that of the creative action of the time. "

(according to C. G. Jung, Metamorphoses of the Soul and its symbols)


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The meaning of maternal water is one of the clearest symbolic interpretations of mythology. The sea is the symbol of birth. Life comes from water.

The two gods that interest us most here also come from water :
- Mithras is always represented nascent near a river.
- Christ would come "reborn" in the Jordan. Moreover, he is said to be "born of the fons sempiterni amori, Mother of God"

— The "source" also occurs in Mithraism :
- a Pannonian votive inscription says : "fonti perenni".
- an inscription of Apulum is devoted to the "Fons Aeterni".

— In Persia, Ardviçûra is the source containing the water of life. Ardviçûra-Anahita is a goddess of water and love

— Aphrodite is "one that was born from the foam"

— In the Vedas, the waters are called mâtritamâh : the mothers


"Everything that lives, rises like the sun, out of the water, plunges back there again in the evening. Born out of springs, rivers and seas, dying man reached the river Styx to undertake " night crossing. " The black waters of death are waters of life ; death with its cold embrace is the womb, as the sea swallows the sun, but revived it out of its mother's womb. Life knows no death.

The projection of the maternal imago on the water gives it a series of magical or divine qualities, as they are specific to the mother. The symbol of the baptismal water of the Church is one example. In dreams or fantasies, sea or all areas of water large enough, means the unconscious.

The maternal aspect of water coincides with the nature of the unconscious in the sense that the latter (especially in men) may be regarded as the mother, the matrix of consciousness. So when we interpret on the plane of subject, the unconscious has, like water, a maternal meaning. "

(according to C. G. Jung, Metamorphoses of the Soul and its symbols)


At the bottom of The Cloisters, the Hudson River flows ...


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antique Roman calendar:

The mysteries of Mithra by Franz Cumont :






the pope, the bull and the sun...


Alexander VI Borgia - 16e century
Musée des Beaux-Arts -Dijon


" Rodrigo Llançol was born on 1 January 1431 in the town of Xàtiva in the Kingdom of Valencia, one of the component realms of the Crown of Aragon, in present-day Spain.
His parents were the Valencian Jofré Llançol i Escrivá (died bef. 24 March 1437) and his wife and relative the Aragonese Isabel de Borja (died 19 October 1468). His family name is written Llançol in Valencian and Lanzol in Spanish.
Rodrigo adopted his mother's family name of Borja in 1455 following the elevation to the papacy of his maternal uncle Alonso de Borja (Italianized to Alfonso Borgia) as Calixtus III. "

He was pope from 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503 with the name of Alexander VI.


Why the choice of this name "Alexander" ?

Alexander : Ancient Greek Alexandros, which comes from aléxo ("defend"), and andrós, genitive of aner ("man").
Two possible meanings that refer, in ancient times, to war values :
— " the one who rejects the men "
— or " the one who protects humans, humanity. "


The first was named Pope Alexander I, the sixth bishop of Rome, from 107 to 116.


The name of Alexander refers to Antiquity :

— The Greek king of Macedon, Alexander III of Macedon (Born in Pella in - 356, died in Babylon in - 323) commonly known as Alexander the Great

Alexander was proclaimed pharaoh at Memphis in – 331. He sacrifices the bull Apis — a guarantee of respect for Egyptian traditions — and honors the other gods. Then he went to the Mediterranean coast where he chose the site of the future Alexandria, finally completed under Ptolemy I or Ptolemy II.

Legend says that Alexander had himself chosen the plans of the new city. Then he went into the oasis of Siwa, where he met the oracle of Ammon-Zeus who confirming him as a direct descendant of the god Amun.


— The port of Alexandria in Egypt and about seventy cities which he founded, the majority of which bears the name of Alexandria.


The emblem of the Borgia family is a bull.

He himself wants to be the descendant of the god Osiris because the bull Apis is the manifestation of the sun god.

Borgia apartments - Vatican

In the years 1492-1493, he asked the painters Pier Matteo d'Amelia (Piermatteo Lauro de Manfredi da Amelia), Antonio del Massaro da Viterbo (also called Il Pastura) and Pinturicchio (Bernardino di Betto di Biagio) to decorate, in an exuberance and polychrome decoration, his apartments in the Vatican. These artists employ many assistants : Umbrian staff of course but also, based on latest assumptions, Tuscan assistants.

There are six halls : the Hall of the Sibyls (mythological figures highly valued by Alexander VI), the Hall of the Credo, the Salle of the Arts, the Hall of the Saints, the Hall of Mysteries of the Faith and the Hall of the Popes.

Even if the traditional theological interpretation has its place in front of these paintings, it is clear that Alexander VI had a great interest in ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology : the great Christian figures and legends be found next to myths of Isis and Osiris, Io and Argus, in a constant reference to the bull, a key element of the Borgia family heraldry.

Two iconographic programs are superimposed with the purpose to exalt the glory of the Borgia family :
— one, theological to ensure the salvation of the soul
— the other, political, in a genealogical construction : the Borgias claimed to be descendants of Osiris (in the form of the sacred bull Apis), father of a legendary Egyptian Hercules would have happened in Italy through Hispania to release the giants of Etruria. Thus, the Borgia family appears as the representative of a universal monarchy with a spiritual and temporal authority over all other powers.

In the figures of the frescoes, it may be possible to discover the portraits of some family members, as Emperor Caesar or Lucrezia in Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

In the rooms of his apartments, Alexander VI - Borgia was celebrating his temporal glory openly : heraldic emblems in profusion, the presence of the bull Apis which appeared in his arms, representation of his person in the Resurrection in the frescoed hall of the Mysteries by Pinturicchio to 1493-1494.

After his election, Alexander VI offered bull fights to the population.

Coat of arms of the Borgia family :



This return to the Egyptian mysteries is strongly marked in the decoration :

— Hermes Trismegistus is represented twice


Pinturicchio - 1- Isis with Hermes, Trismegiste and Moïse
Hall of the Saints

2- Hermes Trismegiste and the Zodiac
Hall of the Sibyls

— The pyramid is central in the scene

Legend of Isis seeking the fourteen pieces of the body of Osiris


The pyramid is central in the tapestry 2


— And a bull genuflects before the Cross. So, co-exist the great religion of ancient Egypt and Christianity : Alexander VI himself adoring Christ and attending His resurrection and the "family and personal" bull adoring the Cross. For Egyptians, the soul of Osiris had entered the Apis bull or the ram of Mendes.


Apis bulls adoring the cross - detail of the cornice of the hall of saints
with the medallion of Alexander VI and bulls
Borgia apartments - Vatican


This is the bull of Alexander VI kneeling before the cross. This carved representation is very important. It has two meanings:

a) Pope Alexander VI adoring the crucified Christ affirms the primacy of the Christian religion

b) but in reference to Egyptian beliefs, it seems to mean that the old religions are not wrong but they have paved the way for Christianity, sensible to the thought of Pico della Mirandola who argued that "all truth is one". The syncretism of knowledge (astrology, Scholastic, cabal, chiromancy, etc ...) specific to the humanist philosophy seeks to cover all disciplines and all knowledge. For the time, the thoughts of Ficino, Erasmus or Pico della Mirandola, by implementing their own freedom of thought, renewed knowledge by the association and the confrontation of different kinds of knowledge and the alleged truths.

The Hunt of the Unicorn does she illustrate the replacement of old pagan religions by Christianity ? The tapestry does she glorify the victory of Christianity ?

In the tapestry 2, the unicorn is represented kneeling,
head almost kissing a cross at the foot of the fountain.


Detail of the ceiling in the Hall of the Saints
Osiris and the Apis bull to serve a mythical explanation
for the armorial bearings of the Borgia family


Pinturicchio painted also in castle of St Angelo, directly controlled by the Pope, a cycle on the Pope's victory over Charles VIII of France. The frescoes were destroyed in September 1628, during the work ordered by Pope Urban VIII Barberini. There are only descriptions as those of the German Johann Fichard, visiting Rome in 1536.

In a great profusion of details and portraits of contemporary characters, this painted "chronic" recounted the recent events that took place from January 16 to 28, 1495, during the last days of presence in Rome of Charles VIII, marked by peace sealed between the French sovereign and Alexander VI at the banquet in the Borgia Apartment. Jean Perréal who accompanied the French king has certainly seen these works of art.


Alexander VI was a man of action but also a philanthropist ; he has surrounded himself with philosophers ; he protected them (as John Pico della Mirandola) probably for purposes of propaganda and he rewarded them with offices and honors in the papal curia, in the University or in the Roman Academy founded by Julius Pomponius Leto, a great philologist and passionate of classical Rome. Alexander VI also showed a keen interest in archaeological researches that he financed in Rome.

Michelangelo Buonarroti arrived in Rome in 1496. At just 23, in 1499, he sculpted his famous Pietà, which was said that Christ's face was that of John Borgia, son of Pope Alexander, who was murdered under mysterious circumstances in Rome two years earlier in 1497.

In the following website : go to "CONTENUS", choose "Principaux musées" and "Borgia Apartments"



Here, we must return to
the universal symbolism of the cross.


The next chapter "The Solar Gods" is taken from the site :

" From 26 000 years and more, all solar gods or "Son of God" have the same characteristics. They are born from a virgin three days after the winter solstice, always identified with the death of the sun. The third day after the winter solstice is the date December 25, recurrent birth.

The representation of the Virgin and child God has remained the same since Babylon, only the names change : Semiramis / Tammuz, Isis / Horus, Mary / Jesus.

The symbol of the Cross is systematic, it marks the four seasons of the solar cycle. Mithra "Son of God" was crucified, Virishna "Son of God" was crucified, Horus "Son of God" was depicted lying on a cross, Adonis "son of God" was crucified, Quetzalcoatl and Krishna are also shown nailed to a cross. Death of the Gods saviors to redeem our sins is a common factor, and they resurrect the dead at Easter, the day when the sun is closest to Earth.

If, symbolically, we recognize together that the sun itself is crucified on the cross of the four seasons of eternity, we could perhaps do without some dissimulations and have, in conscience, the key to almost all solar mythical figures called "Son of God." We would then simply locate the house where the sun is astrologically to decode the symbolism of the era in question of any terrestrial tradition or religious. "




Gilbert Durand, in The anthropological structures of the imaginary (Boombana Publications, 1999) writes ( pp. 378-381 in French book) :

" Eliade (Treaty of History of religions, Payot, 1949, p. 253-254) seems to be right when he connects the vegetation myths to the legends on the cross. This connection is still practiced in a too rational way through the plants that resurrect the deaths in Indian, Iranian or Chinese traditions.

Indeed, if these virtues are attributed by the Christian folklore to the wood of the cross, as does for example the legend of St. Helena, we believe that this sense is secondary. The Christian cross, erected as wood, as an artificial tree, drains only the symbolic meanings inherent in any vegetal symbolism.

In fact, the cross is often identified with a tree, by the iconography and the legend ; it consequently becomes ascension ladder, because the tree is contaminated by the archetypes of ascension.

On the legend of the cross, the symbolism of the drink of eternity, the fruit of the tree or the rose blooming on dead wood, also is grafted.

But mainly through all these symbols, it should be noted that the cross is a symbol of spatial aggregation, as Guénon has shown in a book (The Symbolism of the Cross, Vega, 1950).

The symbol of the cross is a union of opposites, a sign of aggregation of the gunas which should be compared to the Hindu tradition, and Kua (the union of Yin and Yang) of the Chinese tradition such as the Pythagorean tetraktys.
This symbolism is particularly noticeable in the mythical tradition of the ancient Mexicans. The cross is a symbol of the entire world, the central link of the years.

Much better, Mexican mythology gives us all the symbolic palette that comes gather under the sign of the cross : that is Xiuhtecutli, the fire god who sits on the "home" of the Universe.

Place of the synthesis, the center presents an ambiguous face : a negative aspect and a favorable aspect. At last, in the Codex Borgia, the center is represented by a multicolored tree whose vertical ambiguity is clear ; it is topped with a quetzal, bird of the East, and springs from the body of an earth goddess, symbol of the West.

More, this cosmic tree is accompanied, on one side by the Great God Quetzalcoatl, the god who sacrificed himself on a pyre to give life to the sun and to Venus, on the other side by Macuilxochitl, god of the dawn, of spring, but also of games, music, dance, love.

We will examine the technological and finally sexual roots of this almost semiological archetype of the union of opposites, and thereby we see how the connection of the fire, the sexuality and the wooden cross form a perfectly coherent constellation whose the sign of the cross is the overdetermined emblem. Thereby we discover the pattern of rhythmic movement and the sexual act that underlies and orders subjectively any dream and any meditation on the cycle.

Page 389, Gilbert Durand writes : " This gigantic mythical constellation that connects the fire, the cross, the friction and the gyration, the sexuality and the music seems to be summed up in a note of Marcel Granet, on a ritual object found in searches of Lo-Lang in Japan. This object consists of a circular plate of hardwood arranged at a square board of soft wood. "





Some anothers elements about The Cloisters

The museum visit begins with this mural called the "Lion Passant" from the Spanish monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza (Castile-León, Burgos) and dating from 1200.

Well look at the left edge of the fresco : it is a zigzag line that recalls the "tracing board" and that we find framing images Masonic containing all the Masonic symbols of the "chamber of reflection" or "Cabinet of reflection".

In France, this border appears as the "lake of love" in rope :

The knotted rope (complete with tassels) is used very frequently in the tables edge of French Lodge and particularly as the limit.
The serrated edge (consisting of alternating white and black triangles) frames almost always, like teeth, (Indented tarsel) the tables of English Lodges. Is it to protect themselves from outside influences ?

Website on the History and Symbolism of "The Chain of Union" :

Can we conclude that each hall of The Cloisters and The Cloisters in their entirety contain, in the context of a "Chain of Union", the entire Masonic symbolism ?

The other fresco, known as "Dragon passant", is near that of the Lion.

Here are joined side by side in the same hall the first Mercury and Sulphur, beginning of any "operation" of alchemy.






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