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Open letter to science editors



The Ankh


Copyright (C) 1982 by Dwardu Cardona

1. Saturn

I have recently shown why Velikovsky's identification of the Hindu god Shiva as a personification of the planet Jupiter should be abandoned in favor of an identification as Saturn.(1) I have also presented evidence which indicates that the original hermaphrodite deity of ancient man was not Venus, as Zvi Rix had earlier argued,(2) but, once again, Saturn.(3) As I have already pointed out, a good example of the androgynous Saturn can be seen in Indic images which depict Shiva, under the name Ardhanarisvara, as being half male and half female.(4) H. Baumann, in describing one of these images, drew attention to the sign depicted on the deity's genitals "which we can recognise as the ancient Egyptian-Coptic ankh hieroglyph, but in a horizontal position: [*!* image]".(5)

"The dividing line which we can draw between the masculine and female halves of the deity separates the T-shaped sign as male (right) from the oval as female (left)"(6)

Thus, apart from the pictorial "pun" this ancient sign is here made to play, the depiction impels us to associate the ankh (also known as the crux ansata) with Saturn. Indeed, David Talbott has not only accepted it as such but has actually presented an excellent case for the identification of this symbol as a pictorial representation of Saturn's Polar Configuration.(7)

Zvi Rix had earlier appropriated the ankh for Velikovsky's proto-planet.(8) In this he relied on Paul Ernst Jablonski(9) whom he has stating that nobody can deny that since ancient times the ankh had been a sign of the planet Venus.(10) Rix himself called the ankh "the picture of the Typhon-comet",(11) thereby again identifying it as a symbol of the Venerian proto-planet. In all this, however, Rix cited no direct evidence. On the contrary, the data he himself presented ties the ankh, not to Venus, but to Saturn. Consider:

"An illustration of the Sunrise in Budge's version of The Book of the Dead . . . shows 'the emblem of life [*!* image] which has arms that support the Disk of the Sun.' "(12)

What Budge called the "Disk of the Sun" is, of course, the most common symbol of Ra and, as I have already indicated elsewhere,(13) Ra was one of the Egyptian anthropomorphs of the Saturnian Sun.

Rix also supplied the following:

"The author [Budge] then continues: 'In the papyrus of Ani we see the Sun's disk supported by a pair of arms which emerge from the sign of life [the ankh ]; this, in its turn, is supported by the pillar which symbolizes the tree-trunk which contained the dead body of Osiris.' "(14)

In a footnote, the editor of KRONOS added another quote from Budge plus a comment of his own:

" 'The ankh rests upon the top of the Tet [column], which rests upon a reed mat. The Tet represents Osiris, who was, in one respect, the dead sun of yesterday . . .' Velikovsky identifies Osiris with the planet Saturn."(15)

The symbolism in all this is unmistakable. Apart from the editor's reminder that Osiris is to be identified as Saturn, I have elsewhere identified "the dead sun of yesterday" as the same luminary.(16) The Tet (or Djed), as also the trunk of the Cosmic Tree wherein Osiris was entombed, symbolized the Saturnian appendage that both Talbott and I have already described.(17) In fact, all three depictions of the ankh described by Budge, and cited above, are perfect examples of the symbolism which derived directly from Saturn's Polar Configuration. What may not also be widely known is that Ankh was one of the names of Osiris(18) - and therefore one of the names of Saturn.

2. Vela X

In 1977, a new cosmogonic theory which is slowly gaining popularity burst upon the world. The brain child of George Michanowsky, it was the end result of many years of research. This theory is based on the remains of a supernova, in the form of a pulsar (PSR 0833-45) which, in 1968, was discovered by the Molonglo Radio Observatory in Australia. The pulsar was detected in the southern constellation Vela and thus received the popular designation Vela X.(19)

According to Michanowsky, the stellar explosion which gave birth to this pulsar occurred "about 400 parsecs or roughly 1,300 light years from our solar system".(20) Frederic B. Jueneman has it as "some 1,500 light years away".(21) It must therefore have appeared for a period of "at least many months . . . either as a gigantic light source by night or as a somewhat smaller second sun by day".(22) This celestial apparition, still according to Michanowsky, so awed ancient man that its psychological impact was responsible for" a quantum jump in human achievement".(23)

"My research [wrote Michanowsky] indicates that this heavenly event actually became the source of the creation myths, the cosmological concepts, and the cultural traditions of much of our civilization. Directly or indirectly, it produced many of the archetypal figures we encounter again and again in the world's great religions and it was somehow associated with the beginning of writing and the rise of science. It triggered in the ancient people of Mesopotamia a powerful interest in the study of the starry heavens . . ."(24)

It must be pointed out, however, that the occurrence has been dated to "sometime between 9000 and 4000 B.C.".(25) From an astronomical point of view there is nothing, at present, which can narrow this gap. Michanowsky opted for the lower date on no particular evidence; he merely wished to bring it as close to the beginning of the Sumerian civilization as possible. But in 4000 B.C. copper smelting in Israel and Spain was already a going concern.(26) Earlier than that, around 4500 B.C., the Karanovo people of the Balkans had already reached a high level of technology.(27) Therefore, if Michanowsky expects archaeologists to concur with his view that it was the Vela X star burst which was responsible for man's forward leap in human achievement, he had better opt for an earlier date. With an estimated time stretching all the way back to 9000 B.C., he should have absolutely no problem accomplishing this. But then on what basis can his theory be tested?

Actually, mining complexes in Swaziland have been carbon dated to such an impossible-sounding date as 26,000 B.C.(28) But since, personally, I have absolutely no confidence in the accuracy of radiocarbon dating, I will not burden Michanowsky with this added rebuttal.

In any case, it is not my intention to take Michanowsky to task on all of this. A general critique of his theory would entail a volume ten times the length of the one he penned. For the present I merely wish to focus on his interpretation of the ankh because, after all, it is this subject that forms the basis of the present paper.

The Sumerian connection with Vela X was discovered by Michanowsky in a reference which appears in a cuneiform list of star names: "The gigantic star of the god Ea in the constellation Vela of the god Ea."(29) As seen by the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia, Vela X would have appeared low on the horizon with "its luminous reflection on the waters of the Persian Gulf stretched like a shiny ribbon from [watery] horizon to [nearby] shore".(30) It is this superimposed tableau that Michanowsky saw symbolized in the ankh.

"Michanowsky's study of Egyptian sources has led him to conclude that the ankh symbol is actually a stylized representation of the Vela star burst. The loop at the top of the ankh, he says, represents the actual star burst, the horizontal line symbolizes the southern horizon, and the vertical bottom line stands for the reflection the star made in the water in those days when the Persian Gulf extended much farther to the northwest than it does now."(31)

From Egypt, one would think, Vela X might have been similarly viewed against the background of the Red Sea. Even so, Michanowsky is of the opinion that the ankh owes its origin, not to the Egyptians, but to the Sumerians.

"No truly satisfactory explanation for the origin of 'ANKH' has ever been found among Egyptian sources. Michanowsky has now traced this expression to the Sumerian AN-HA, originally written HA-AN in cuneiform and meaning 'Fish of Heaven.' This was one of the epithets of the god E-A who, as Michanowsky has explained in his book, was the southern sea and sky god with whom the Sumerians had identified the great supernova."(32)

The god Ea has, however, already been recognized by de Santillana and von Dechend as the personification of the planet Saturn.(33) So also Enki,(34) whom even Michanowsky accepted as being the same as Ea.(35) Nor is this equation the sole contention of de Santillana and von Dechend. Julian Morgenstern had much earlier equated Enki/Ea with the Canaanite El;(36) and it has long been known that El was merely another name for Saturn.(37) In fact, Michanowsky's entire work is littered with purely Saturnian motifs but he did not seem to recognize this fact. Only once did he acknowledge a connection between Saturn and Vela X,(38) but he swept the implication aside as of no consequence.

What Michanowsky is therefore obligated to explain is what had the Vela X starburst - and its supposed representation, the ankh - to do with the planet Saturn?

Actually, it is safe to state that it would not have mattered much in which constellation Vela X, or any other starburst, might have occurred - most, if not all, of the constellations were directly or indirectly connected with Ea/Saturn and/or other Saturnian deities and motifs.(39)

3. Venus

Lewis M. Greenberg was not unaware of the ankh's association with Saturn for it was he who had added the Saturnian connection to Rix's Venerian appropriation by way of an editorial footnote.(40) The ankh's curious resemblance to a stylized comet, however, must have proved something of a temptation. Added to this, of course, was Jablonski's belief that the ankh has been, since ancient times, the sign of the planet Venus.(41) It is therefore understandable that Greenberg, with Warner Sizemore, should tentatively accept the Venerian identification.(42) Recently, Greenberg has asked me to consider whether the ankh could have been passed on from Saturn to Venus. This would be in keeping with my hypothesis that certain Saturnian names, characteristics, features, and motifs were at a later date appropriated by Venus.(43) I found the suggestion worth considering.

Let us sift the evidence. I start first with Jablonski's statement. This, unfortunately, turns out to be somewhat hollow for he presented no direct evidence from ancient times that would connect the ankh with Venus. Michanowsky was actually correct when he stated that no satisfactory explanation for the ankh's origin had ever been found in Egyptian sources. This much had earlier been shown by Budge:

" . . . the Egyptians do not appear to have known what object the picture represented, and no modern Egyptologist has satisfactorily identified it."(44)

The ankh's connection with Saturn has been derived through its association, and direct identification, with Osiris. Those mythologists who sought the origin of the ankh seem to have overlooked the fact that Ankh was the same as Osiris, who was the same as Tammuz,(45) who was the same as Saturn.(46)

In keeping with Greenberg's suggestion, can we find a similar connection between the ankh and Venus? The ankh was as commonly associated on Egyptian monuments and documents with Isis as it was with Osiris. And, in fact, another name for Isis was simply Ankhet.(47) Readers of Worlds In Collision will at once remind me that Isis was the goddess of the planet Venus.(48) This identification is based on a passage of Pliny wherein it is stated that " . . . some have called it [Venus] the star of Juno, others of Isis . . .".(49) As the wife of Osiris/Saturn, however, Isis could not have been Venus. In this instance, even Velikovsky opted for a different identification. According to him, in earlier times, Isis personified the planet Jupiter.(50) The evidence for this, unfortunately, is nowhere apparent and I, for one, do not accept it.

In her name of Ankhet, Isis was merely the feminine of Ankh who was Osiris. Even the actual Egyptian name which the Greeks transcribed as Isis (i.e., Ast or Aset) can be argued to be the feminine of the Egyptian name of Osiris (Ousir, Asar, or Asr). This reminds one of the Mahadevi who, as the wife of Shiva/Saturn, was also called Shiva.(51) The female Shiva was merely the sakti, or energy, of the male Shiva and therefore one with him and Saturn.(52) As the wife of Osiris, Isis was no less. Osiris and Isis were only the male and female aspects of the androgynous Saturn. Talbott, of course, has already presented ample evidence in favor of Isis as a personification of Saturn.(53) But since we cannot rightly ignore Pliny's statement, we are left with only one conclusion. As in the case of the Mahadevi, we see here a transition in which the name of a Saturnian deity - in this instance Isis - was later foisted on the planet Venus.

The same transition can also be traced through Osiris himself. Despite the equations presented above which identify this deity as an aspect of Saturn, by Ptolemaic times Osiris was considered the god of the planet Venus.(54) One can therefore see how the ankh, which was originally one of the symbols for Osiris/Isis/Saturn could have, in later times, passed on to Osiris/Isis/Venus. The modern symbol for the planet Venus, [*!* imageVenus symbol] is after all, only a modernized version of the ankh [*!* image Egyptian text].

It should nevertheless be borne in mind that, as a symbol for Venus, the ankh is a stolen one. While the Venerian connection can, to some extent, be considered valid, it should definitely be avoided as a depiction of cometary Venus. The ankh's resemblance to a stylized comet must remain purely coincidental.


1. D. Cardona, "Child of Saturn," Part II, KRONOS VII:2 (Winter 1982), pp. 29-40.
2. Z. Rix, "Notes on the Androgynous Comet," SISR I:5 (Summer 1977), p. 18.
3. D. Cardona, op. cit., Part III, KRONOS VII:3 (Spring 1982), pp. 8-10.
4. Ibid, p. 9; Cf. S. Kramrisch, The Presence of Siva (Princeton, 1981), pp. 205 ff.
5. H Baumann, Das Doppelte Geschlecht: Ethnologische Studien zur Bisexualität in Ritus und Mythus (1955), p. 148 (as quoted by Z. Rix, loc. cit.).
6. Ibid.
7. D. N. Talbott, The Saturn Myth (N.Y., 1980), pp. 323-324.
8. Z. Rix, "The Great Terror," KRONOS I:1 (Spring 1975), pp. 58-60.
9. Ibid.
10. Idem, "Notes on the Androgynous Comet," (see note No. 2), p. 19.
11. Idem, "Strapazierte Sandalen," SISR II:2 (December 1977), p. 32.
12. Idem, "The Great Terror," (see note No. 8), p. 59.
13. D. Cardona, "Let There Be Light," KRONOS III:3 (Spring 1978), pp. 44 ff.
14. Z. Rix, loc. cit.
15. Ibid., p. 63, n. 43 (emphasis as given).
16. D. Cardona, "The Sun of Night," KRONOS III:1 (Fall 1977), p. 35.
17. Idem, "The Mystery of the Pleiades," KRONOS III:4 (Summer 1978), p. 38; D. N. Talbott, op. cit., pp. 172 ff.
18. E. A. W. Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians (N.Y., 1904/1969), Vol. II, p. 139.
19. F. B. Jueneman, Limits of Uncertainty (Chicago, 1975), pp. 104-105.
20. G. Michanowsky, The Once and Future Star (N.Y., 1977), pp. 14-15.
21. F. B. Jueneman, op. cit., p. 104.
22. G. Michanowsky, op. cit., p. 5.
23. Idem, "Star of Enlightenment," Science Digest (August, 1981), p. 10.
24. Idem, The Once and Future Star (see note No. 20), p. 5.
25. Ibid., p. 14.
26. B. Rothenberg, "Archaeometallurgy is Exploring Mining's Ancient History," Engineering and Mining Journal (Dec. 1977), pp. 68-73.
27. M Gimbutas, "Varna: A Sensationally Rich Cemetery of the Karanovo Civilisation About 4500 B.C.," Expedition XIX:4 (1977), pp. 139-147.
28. A. Boshier and P. Beaumont "Mining in South Africa and the Emergence of Modern Man," Optima (March 1972).
29. B Rensberger, "Star Light, Star Bright," New York Times (Jan. 7, 1978), p. 19; but read pp. 28-43 of Michanowsky's work (see note No. 20) for complete story. (NOTE: Elsewhere I intend to show that the constellation Vela was appropriated by Ea/Saturn long before the outburst of Vela X.)
30. P. Huyghe, "The Star of Enlightenment," Science Digest (March 1981), p. 73.
31. Ibid., p. 75.
32. Anonymous, "The Riddle of the Ankh," True Flying Saucers and UFOs Quarterly (Fall 1978), p. 37.
33. G. de Santillana and H. von Dechend, Hamlet 's Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time (Boston, 1969), p. 419.
34. Ibid., pp. 135, 223. (NOTE: The perusal of most of Hamlet's Mill is required in order to understand fully how the equations cited were derived.)
35. G. Michanowsky, op. cit., p. 31.
36. J. Morgenstern, "Divine Triad in Biblical Mythology," Journal of Biblical Literature LXIV (1945), pp. 15, 16.
37. D. Cardona, "Let There Be Light," (see note No. 13), pp. 34-35, where other references are cited.
38. G. Michanowsky, op. cit., p. 74.
39. D. Talbott, op. cit., pp. 331-332; the present author also intends to treat this subject more fully in a future paper to be titled "The Birth of the Constellations".
40. See note No. 15 above.
41. P. E. Jablonski, Pantheon Aegyptorum, as cited by Z. Rix (see note No. 8), pp. 58, 63.
42. L. M. Greenberg and W. B. Sizemore, "Jerusalem - City of Venus," KRONOS III: 3 (Spring 1978), pp. 73-74.
43. D. Cardona, "Child of Saturn," Part III, KRONOS VII:3, pp. 10-12.
44. E. A. W. Budge, Osiris and the Egyptian Religion of Resurrection (N.Y., 1911/1973), Vol. II, p. 199.
45. W. F. Albright, "The Mouth of the Rivers," The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures XXXV:4 (July 1919), pp. 181, 182.
46. A. Seremias, Handbuch der Altorientalischen Geisteskultur (Leipzig, 1913), pp. 92, 137.
47. E. A. W. Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians (see note No. 18), Vol. II, p. 216.
48. I. Velikovsky, Worlds In Collision (N.Y., 1950), p. 170.
49. Pliny, Natural History, ii, 6.
50. I. Velikovsky, op. cit., p. 174; idem, "On Saturn and the Flood," KRONOS V:1 (Fall 1979), pp. 4, 6.
51. D. Cardona, "Child of Saturn," Part III, KRONOS VII:3, p. 9.
52. Ibid., pp. 8-9.
53. D. N. Talbott,op. cit., pp. 27, 81, 108, 151, 154, 237, 238, 250 ff., 274, 282, 293, 317, 305, 350.
54. E. A. W. Budge, The Gods . . ., op. cit., p. 303; J. C. Ridpath, History of the World (Cincinnati, 1894), Vol. I, p. 90.

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