The space created by the temple, for augury, originally, appears to have been in order to better observe the flight of birds across the sky. To afford them focus and meaning.
Their point of origin, the direction of travel, and the type, and number, of the birds seen being instrumental in formulating a reading, or answer, to a particular question.
Winged creatures, the world over, were once regarded as a symbol for spirituality and, as such, were deemed to be acceptable indicators of the divine will.
The practice of taking auguries later degenerated into animal sacrifice and the examination of animal entrails in order to ascertain this same divine will?
It is difficult to fathom what prompted this change.
Animal and human sacrifices have, it seems, always been acceptable as propitiatory offerings to the gods of barbaric tribes and nations, and at some point these two practices must have become irrevocably mixed…
The notion of ‘time’, in bird, or animal, auguries plays a double role.
The augury usually takes place at a particular time which is deemed significant, to those seeking the augury – a feast day, or a calendar threshold, or a marriage, or a sporting event, or the eve of a battle.
The augury circumvents the normal processes of linear time by predicting an auspicious, that is, a good, or inauspicious, that is, a bad, outcome for the people involved in the event at which the augury is taken, or to which it is directed.
The basis for a belief in the possible efficacy of such rites is simple enough to formulate –
‘All things inform each other, and all things act in conformity with this continuity.’
Augurs with littus – a ritual wand.
The lituus was a spiral wand, similar in shape to the tip of many Western European crosiers, which was used as a cult instrument in ancient religions, by augurs, to mark out a ritual space in the sky (a templum).
The passage of birds through this templum indicated divine favour or disfavour for a given undertaking.
The lituus was also used as a symbol of office for colleges of the augurs to mark them out as a distinct priestly class.
The symbolism is here quite clear, the wand is ‘time’ which spirals back upon itself in order to facilitate the prediction.
I wonder if our modern day ecclesiastics have any idea about the origins, or function, of their ‘crooked staffs’.
It seems highly unlikely as they are reluctant to admit to any interaction with ‘divine will’ except through prayer.
Long-Man of Wilmington – The temple of the body?
Knowing what we do about modern day magical temples, it is tempting to speculate on the precise nature of the templum shape traced in the sky.
Was it only two vertical lines which were drawn in the air with the lituus?
The horizontal is always ‘of earth’ while the vertical is symbolically ‘of heaven’.
Even where the templum is four-sided, and thus symbolic of the cardinal points, the East and West are regarded as open for the vessels of the officiating Priest and Priestess who together step down the divine emanation and circulate it throughout, and around, the temple space.
Our templum drawn in the air, then, closely parallels a sanctum with its three components of ‘the divine’ held in potent suspension between two poles.
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