The sacred virgins were the cors (cf
Kore or Persephone of the
Pomegranate, see previous notes) who sang in choirs and who, like
Ariadne at Knossos, performed the sacred spiral dance of the "choros"
which, in ancient times, were also the chorus of narrators of
religious ritual, ballad and tragedy.
This chorus, in later Rome comprising of only the cream of noble
youth and maidenhood, danced the maze around a central core
in effect the eye of the storm or whirlwind, symbolized by a column
or pillar, upon which roosted the dove of the spirit, the Magdal,
which represented the corpus callosum and the wings of the
matter of the cerebral hemispheres of the human brain.
As late as 1660 a turf maze in Hilton, Huntingdonshire sported just
such an obelisk capped with a sphere, placed there by its builder, a
Similar to Chartres, but in a more direct fashion still, the path to
the centre of the maze is straighforward. At Saffron Walden, prior
to the turn of the last century, the centre of its turf maze was
occupied by an Ash tree or Aes tree (Na’Nuine), symbolic of the
Goddess of sovereignty and reminiscent of the Fairy Aes Dan, the
Danish Aesir or first gods, the Asher of the Egyptians (Isis and Osiris) and the
Asuras or Shining Ones of the Scythian Aryans.
Merlin Emrys was married to Ninian or Na’Nuine, replicating the
union between Odin and Yggdrasil.
Also pertinent to the maze, as the genitalia of the Cor or
(OED), and variously therefore the triangle of Daleth in which is
set the All Seeing Eye of God, is the Cor, as the pupil of the eye.
The graveyards in which are located the barrows or bergs of the high
Kings of the Dan at Uppsala are triangular.
Further linguistic relationships include Cor: A Horn, as in
or Cernunnos. This is related to Keras; the horn of the
Horn Gate of
true visions which is one of the portals of the Underworld. Keras is
related to the verb Krainousi, meaning "to attain fulfillment".
Possibly fanciful, though tantalizing, is the idea that the "Horn
Gate of true visions" was originally the arch of the open legs of
the Meremaid, attired in her Scythian, horn plated ritual armour.
However, Michael Grant suggests, in his commentary on the Aeneid,
that this relates to cornu, the eye with its horny tissue, the
cornea, whilst the other gate, the Ivory Gate of falsehood,
corresponds to the teeth and the mouth. He elaborates that what is
seen first hand is truer than that which is related in speech, a
pertinent observation well fitting the magical idea that Gnosis is
greater than belief and initiation is more powerful than faith.
Nevertheless, in relation to the Horn gate, it is still poetically
and charmingly supportive of Cor, as the Eye in The Triangle.
In elaborating on the concept of Cor as cornu and in further
pursuing the Horn and Ivory symbolism, we should look at the twin
pillars of the temple: Boaz and Joachim. One is black and the other
is white, corresponding to the Horn and Ivory Gates of Hades in
Virgil’s Aenead. Bull’s horn is often black in colour whilst Ivory
is obviously white.
In the major arcana of the Waite Tarot which, with its wealth of
organo-alchemical, Solomonic symbolism could well be termed the
Tarot of the Vampire or the "a la carte menu" of the
second card, the High Priestess portraying the virgin Isis, is
seated before a veil decorated with Persephone’s
is suspended between the two pillars.
Partly concealed beneath her blue robe she holds a scroll on her lap
bearing the legend Torah, or Law. One recollects the Welsh story of
the virgin’s lap and its association with the female organs in the
story of King Math.
Here it is indicated that the law resides within her womb and that
she and it are situated between the pillars and thus represent and
occupy the point of Zen balance or stillness derived from divine
union, which is symbolized in British witch tradition by the seesaw
and the candle.
Kabalistically speaking she sits at the Core of the Llan, the
sanctuary of the temple in the labyrinth, before the invisible
middle pillar of the tree of life and it is in this position, in
ceremonial magic, that initiates position themselves psychically in
anticipation of a final communion with their Holy Guardian Angel
which for them anyway, is the Ende-Werk of the Hermetic process, as
envisioned by modern occultists.
On her head the High Priestess wears a crown comprising of the disc
of the Ajna chakra or sephiroth of Kether positioned between the
draconian horns of divinity, on her breast she wears the
white cross of Iao or Thymus the Healer (see notes on
endocrinology), and at her feet rests the crescent of the new moon.
The classical symbolic link between the feet and the
derives from the empirically obvious, explained by modern
neurological anatomy linked to recent studies of the compensatory
adjustments made by amputees who develop ghost limbs. Neuro-surgeons
locate the nerve terminals for the feet immediately adjacent to the
nerve terminals for the genitals. This delightful discovery also
goes some way in explaining how the body’s meridian lines work.
Again in this particular instance the High Priestess Icon
demonstrates that the middle pillar, the Perrone of the
Tree of Life represents the spinal cord of the Swan Princess and that she and her
sephira, the Apples of Iduina, are the Daleth or doorway to the
Cor as Kore or corn, as in
John Barleycorn and the Barley Mow, is
associated with the circular field, a variant or adjunct of the
sacred Llan grove, in which the sacred grain was grown for the cakes
and ale served at pre-christian ceremonial journeys to the
Other/Underworld. Human sacrifices were strongly associated with the
Barley Mow and the blood was sprinkled as a libation across the
Further to this the word Hospital or Ysbyty in Welsh is associated
primarily and anciently with hospitality and the Ysbytys were
druidic houses, rather like Templar Preceptories or small
monasteries or Bangors where local people or travellers could go and
refresh and heal themselves. The sign outside such an establishment
was usually a druidic Blue Boar and it was a part of
Brehon Law that
any given region should have a certain number of these
establishments to which were attached the Barley Mow adjacent to the
Sacred Grove nearby.
The ritual function of the Barley Mow and the public rites in the
Grove can be viewed as an intentionally pagan (pagani - a Roman
social numerical unit corresponding to a Sept) or popular derivation
of the higher rites of Enthea and were probably devised as a
devotional ceremonies for the Celtic peasantry of the rural septs,
or pagani, by the Scythian druids whose Bards, one recollects, also
sang into being gods for them to worship.
From this we discover the origins of the rustic games which parodied
the quest for the grail in the common mazes of Merrie England.
Lastly Cor as Corvus Corvidae (see OED), the
Raven or Morgana whose
position in the story of Holger Dansk, was under a tree at the
centre of a circular garden protected by a serpent or
one level the serpent also represents the Nidhe Hogga,
serpent of the Cosmos).
As such Morgana is, like Ariadne, Melusine and
Sleeping Beauty; the
Virgin at the centre of the labyrinth. The
Corvus of Morgana was
interchangeable with the dove in Hebrew Kabala, as a
divination (Cor: the eye: "to see") and the underworld or
The Raven was originally sacred to Lilith. Etymology derived from
OED. (The serpent-necked Serpilion dove is interchangeable with the
swan and is related to the Solar Caduceus).
In parody of the sacred ritual dance, in later ages, maidens and
youths danced the Maypole and Morris Men danced the ring around the
Maze at whose centre the Maypole was often erected. The idea that
the Maypole was a phallic symbol is only true on one level.
At its highest level the maypole was the Tree of Life and thus the
Spinal Column, at the head of which rests the Dove of the Brain. The
true significance of the Maypole dance can be observed by watching
what happens as the girls and boys (see sacrifice to the Minotaur
above) weave the web of coloured ribbons around the pole. With each
step the maidens and youths get closer to the pole itself as if
drawn into the Maze.
The interlaced pattern of the woven ribbons represents the web of
Elphane or Arachne, the web of the
Fates or Fairies (Mori-gans), in
one sense drawing them closer to the maze’s centre and their doom.
(In Sanskrit ’Tantra’ means to weave the web of energy.) As they
dance closer, the woven ribbons around the pole itself tighten up
and begin to symbolize the helix pattern of the nerve channels that
encase the spinal chord, on their way down to the base of the spine
and ultimately the womb, the central point of the labyrinth.
The Tree of Life
This spinal column or Core Pole, the Ankh shaped
Bethel Stone, is
not simply or solely the penis of some god of mundane fertility, but
the main trunk of the Tree of Life that is Diana, it is the backbone
of the Virgin Goddess, huntress and protector, and any virgin royal
priestess, or Cor, who represents her.
On a smaller scale the Maypole is the Thyrsus of Dionysus, topped
with its pine cone. In Scandinavia the maypole relates to the Axis Mundi, the lynch pin which was said to hold the sun in place and
whose foundation lay buried beneath the world.
The Axis Mundi is The World Ash or Aes and the
Trunk of the Ash, the
Maypole, represents the spine of the Goddess or priestess. Thus the
sun represents the Ajna Chakra, the halo of christianity, whilst the
Earth represents the virgin womb and this symbolism is repeated in
the Ankh cross, dealt with in a further essay.
The maze or spiral dance around the Maypole is a development from
the earlier chorus around the stones and the later witches spiral
and ring dance, whose origins are to be found in the dance around
the Core or Perron stone at the centre of the Labyrinth within the
ancient Grove. Sometimes these Perron stones had pine cones carved
at the top, as a variant of the dove but which are identical in
It must be remembered that the virgin at the centre of the maze, the
Melusine, was also a Morrighan who fed on virgin blood, a practice
echoed in the story of the blood letting of Parcival’s sister and
the symbol of the healing blood of Christ (properly the blood of his
mother or wife).
The web of fairy magic drew maidens and youths in as sacrifices, but
if the rite was reversed and they were drawn in to feed themselves,
then they were to feed on fairy "food", of which priest-ridden,
terrified humans said that at the first taste, one remains in Elphame, damned forever.
The "food" stills the chattering monkey in the head, changes
consciousness and deepens perception and one can no longer see the
mundane world of petty mortal care, where the trivial is of such
import. One sees instead a realm of wider, deeper meaning that in
other cultures is called the Kingdom of Heaven. One is healed and
"saved" by the Blood. Amen!
In other traditions the condemned were forced to tread the labyrinth
on the Common before being hanged from "The Gallows Tree". In some
distant memory, the executors of the condemned man’s fate believed
that in walking the maze first, the convict’s spirit would be
loosened from his body and more readily set free upon execution, in
a similar fashion to those who, it was believed, were hanged at
In this is dimly recollected the more profound idea of the maze
concealing at its centre the truth of enlightenment and the freeing
quality that transcendence has upon consciousness. In this idea, as
in religious observance, the central mystery and its mechanics have
been lost, to be replaced by superstitious mimicry.
Nevertheless, as evidence, it reveals historical ideas about the
nature and function of the labyrinth. At the end of the maze lay
death on a tree. At the end of Theseus’ journey through the
labyrinth he slayed the Minotaur, himself. Having
died to one state
of consciousness, Theseus united with Ariadne and was
another state of perception altogether. We have dealt with the
concept of death on a tree where the tree represents the female for
and upon whom the hero sacrifices his life and through whom he
In another sense the labyrinth represents the ever moving,
spiralling vortex of the galaxy and the cosmos at whose centre there
is utter stillness as in the centre of the maze, the journey’s end;
death of the lesser self, stillness and release. Thus the centre of
the maze is the nix, the nil point, the womb and the tomb, where the
worm of fear dies and is reborn as the embryo of new consciousness.
The maze as Time, related to the spinning of the web of fate, is a
very interesting concept and by its design implies that time folds
back on itself in layers. Depending on what time width one imagines,
instead of time being solely lineal, it might be suggested by the
maze design that periods are folded on top of one another, like the
skins of an onion or the web of a spider, so that the Greek
classical period might lie just beneath the medieval period, which
itself might be covered by the Victorian age.
This might go some way in explaining why some ages seem to wish to
revive the former glories of other particular ages past. If they are
adjacent to each other in the time fold, then it seems likely that
they may influence each other, just as they do in lineal time. The
corollary of this is the shamanic concept of chronological filaments
or spirals packed against each other