The Sphinx

This monument has mystified travellers since the dawn of time.

Although the Sphinx has suffered over the centuries the archetype itself is perennial. Today the Red Lion remains the most enigmatic sculpture on Earth and has influenced many cultures around the world—versions can be seen in Greece, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand. Below is an example from an Attic grave monument:

There is much disagreement over the age of the Sphinx but the water erosion around the enclosure would suggest that it predates dynastic Egypt. Indeed, the age is so great that even the pharaohs considered the Sphinx to be ancient. By studying the weathering, geologists concluded that this monument was carved during the archaic Zep Tepi.

The Sphinx was inspired by the inverted pentagram that crosses key points in the body. Since the angelic heart is “all love” and the demonic third eye is “all power”, we might say that our heart is the lioness and our third eye is the serpent. So “beauty’s” qualities are intuition, faith and love while the “beast’s” strengths are perception, truth and power.

The inverted pentagram also balances unity and duality (Isis and Set) via the nose and is the inspiration for the Myth of Osiris. It also implies the fractal starseed that germinates as a series of smaller pentagrams—the blueprint of the cosmos. In other words, the infinite within the finite:

Above: the lyre of Hermes reborn as the lute of Pythagoras

So if we belly breathe “love as power” via the nose, then this leads naturally to deeper levels of awareness. In other words, they are complimentary—for within the tenderness of love, power finds its purpose and within the depths of power, love finds its strength. Below we can see the LOVEPOWER of the starseed we call the Magician:

But Carl Jung takes us one step further: “As opposites never unite at their own level, a supraordinate ‘third’ is always required, in which the two parts can come together…it is able to unite them both, reconciling their conceptual polarity through its form and their emotional polarity through its numinosity.” In other words, a symbol within the physical body that anchors opposing forces:

This is the Ankh that is apparent in our biology. The Ankh was often held up to the nose in Egyptian reliefs; nasal breathing balances our energy and hence our state. When we realise this, peace prevails between the mirrored forces of duality and non-duality.

In fact, our demons will only give up their names when they are loved; if the shunned aspects of ourselves feel safe enough to step from the shadows. Loving the darkness then, is really a huge leap of faith—the hero’s journey towards peace. In other words:


In truth, our psyche is not really full of demons but rather the disassociated parts of ourselves that we have not yet learned to love. We must therefore transmute the grief, the fear and the pain. We never know when our demons will show up, though they normally rear their heads when we’re emotionally vulnerable. Perhaps now we can introduce the Riddle of the Sphinx:

I am the dance of Sun and Moon,
Of day and night, death and bloom.
In every moment I am there,
In every breath, in every prayer.

When I wake I feel the thrill,
Of renewing my eternal will.
Through mortal eyes I see it all,
As kings rise and ever fall.

Within my heart a lion’s might,
A serpent’s eye burning bright.
Eternal love and sovereign power
Guide my steps, hour by hour.

In the darkness I learned to see,
The living image inside of me.
I am the spirit in the void—

The gleam of gold, unalloyed.

Beauty and the beast combine,
Faith as truth, a duet sublime.
So who am I of human strife,
The essence of cosmic life?

If you replied “Universal Man,” “Primordial Man” or “Adam Kadmon” then good for you! “Quintessential Man” then, balances these polarities as the Lord of Life. In Jungian terms, this is the individuated person—the whole, authentic “king” once known as Osiris.

The symbolism of the Red Lion can vary in different alchemical texts, but it generally represents the goal of alchemy which is the union of the opposites—ultimately the marriage of the anima and the anima mundi.

Cosmic man!