An Introduction to the Tale of Sleeping Beauty as Bible Story and da Vinci Code
Western Culture has been telling the story of Sleeping Beauty for a thousand years. The Tale was probably the first, among its companion stories… Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Snow White, to be told.
Carl Jung said that Fairy Tales represent the collective consciousness of a culture much as a dream represents the unconscious experience of the individual. As he considered dreams to be meaningful and instructive, so the Fairy Tale speaks to the larger audience of the cultural collective.
As a Fairy Tale then, Sleeping Beauty has something to say about the nature and fate of the soul of western culture. The story describes a legacy of ancient archetypes: A royal couple gives birth to a special and long awaited daughter who, ill fated by a resentful nemesis, falls short of fulfilling her role as royal Bride. For at the marriageable age of sixteen (in some versions fifteen) she will die. Within the symbolic language of this heritage, however, Beauty represents Life. And Life doesn’t die. Instead She sleeps for a very long time… relegated to the realm of the unconscious. She sleeps, as the story goes, until She is found, and loved.
As She sleeps, in most versions of the story, everyone in the castle sleeps too. Consider the Fairy Tale imagery in the following:
And thorns shall come up in her palaces,
nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof:
and it shall be an habitation of dragons… ~ Isaiah 34:13
The story of Sleeping Beauty tells us that during the celebration of Beauty’s birth a jealous and spiteful fairy cursed her to die at the moment of her maturity.
The Beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places:
How are the mighty fallen!
~ 2 Samuel 1:19
But, at that moment a good fairy steps up to announce that Beauty will not die, as Jesus does in Luke 8:52 when he is called to the house of a ruler of the temple, whose young daughter lay a dying:
Weep not; she is not dead but sleepeth. ~ Luke 8:52
The climax of Beauty’s birthday feast occurs with the curse that would claim her life, stating that; as She becomes ripe for marriage her curse will take effect, so that the pleasure of this union remains a fruit uneaten while Beauty sleeps. Genesis links The Tree of Life to woman, and the phallic serpent to the forbidden knowledge between them… which brings about the first curse of the Bible:
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; ~Genesis 3:17
The Tree of Life is also a tree of knowledge concerning the hermetic spirituality that lies beneath western monotheism. Christianity takes much of its spiritual imagery from ancient Hermeticism, while excluding the central image of Life represented by the Sacred Feminine. Though the tree has been deeply cut by the patriarchal politics of the Bible, it could not be felled. DaVinci and others worked the message of the Tree of Life repeatedly into the theme of the Last Supper… and in plain sight of the Church, made symbolic corrections to its doctrine of death. For without the Tree of Life and the Sacred Feminine what else remains?
She is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
those who hold to her are blessed. ~Proverbs 3:18 (International Version)
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates,
waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life… …all they that hate me love death. ~ Proverbs 8: 34-36 (KJV)
From an Hermetic perspective Jesus was chosen by John to participate as sacred lingam, groom, and counterpart to the great Yoni (John) as divine Bride. Da Vinci’s Last Supper does not here represent the last meal of a dying man. Da Vinci provides the Church’s required imagery, placing Jesus at the apparent center of the painting. Yet the embedded image of the Tree of Life gives another center to the painting. The Tree of Life pictured below has three pillars. The Dark Pillar on the left. The light pillar on the right. And the Central Pillar, representing the divine, or eternal dimension, within life. Da Vinci represents this pillar just as it appears on the Tree of Life below… as running through the center of the female chevron formed by the bodies of John on the left, and Jesus on the right.
The female chevron on the Tree of Life represents the Yoni (or John) as the source of all life. Life, as a Mother, produces both male and female. So that, in his Last Supper, the shape of the sacred chevron shows the twinning of these energies emerging from the same source: Yoni (John) as Sacred Feminine is also the divine Bride, through which the lovers return to their source. The mystical union of male and female in the presence of God was known, in the ancient world, as the Great or Sacred Marriage. Da Vinci’s Last Supper shows us John the Baptist as Sleeping Beauty. Beauty lies also at the center of the Tree of Life:
The word Yoni, in Sanskrit, refers to the female sex organ and its energy… which is considered the source of life… and seat of the transcendent. The female chevron, that extends between the pillars, represents the vessel of the living spirit of the Tree of Life. The corner of this chevron, known as the cornerstone, lies at the center of the tree. So that the Tree itself has a yonic, or bridal space, into which the entering lingam may join in union… and through which the Transcendent pours forth into the world. So the lingam and yoni, as sacred groom and bride, join in the Great Marriage between heaven and earth.
But this sacred rite, practiced for thousands of years throughout the ancient world, fell under the spell of biblical reproof:
Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah,
and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth,
and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom,
and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.
So the Bride slipped away from the standard narrative. Here, in part, is how I found her identity in John: The letter J did not enter the English language until the fifteenth century when a man named Trissino specifically distinguished the J from the I sound. Indeed the letter J was the last of the 26 letters to be added to the English alphabet. Jesus was known as Yeshua. John was yon, yona, yonas, or yoni.
The code Da Vinci used to show the link between Sleeping Beauty and John, is the same code we use to understand the hermetic principles of The Tree of Life. The system of symbols that describes the Tree is called Cabala. The word Cabala actually means Reception and, in the language of the Cabala, the so called Last Supper, as depicted by so many Renaissance artists, refers to a wedding reception. Indeed the paintings refer to THE Wedding Reception and to the Sacred Marriage of this most holy, ancient and royal pair.
Yet, there is trouble at the table. In DaVinci’s painting we see Peter touching John’s neck menacingly, while holding a knife behind his back. And, oh yes, as in so many other renderings on the theme of the last supper, the lovely John at the center of the scene… is asleep.
In looking at a number of Last Supper paintings I was struck by the woman called John, seated with Jesus at the center of the table, who sleeps in painting after painting: her feminine features unmistakable. I slowly became aware also of features of the Tree of Life within the paintings that suggested that John was not only female, but that she was a very particular and powerful female that had been cut out of the churches’ story.
As a student of Cabalistic thought, and familiar with some of the language of the Tree of Life, I began to see unmistakable representations of the Tree imbedded in at least twenty other artist’s renderings of the Last Supper. The sweet faced John we see at the center of these paintings represents the central sphere on the Tree of Life. The Hebrew name for this center sphere, or sepherah, is Tiphareth. The name rendered in English… is Beauty.
The story of Sleeping Beauty, along with that of Cinderella and Snow White, had already been told for more than 400 years by DaVinci’s time and were well known throughout the Renaissance era. That artists of the period would know and depict Beauty’s story is not surprising… but that they should link Sleeping Beauty to the Biblical John was a big surprise… showing that the theme of these paintings represents an alternative, though deeply contested, interpretation of this New Testament event. Sleeping Beauty is cursed by a jealous fairy who bares a certain resemblance to Yahweh:
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD,
whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: ~Exodus 34:14
Our princess in magical company, who embodies all the blessings of beauty and virtue, is cursed by a single jealous figure. In killing her there would be an end to her marriage rite, and to the memory of her heritage. Yet, as these paintings show… Beauty lives, and her heritage continues in secret.
These Last Supper paintings use the language of Cabala to describe the Tree of Life with Beauty and her groom, Jesus, at center. This place, like the other centers on the tree, has a Cabalistic name and number: The meanings of which are developed in the Cabalistic primer for understanding the Tree of Life. This primer is called the Tarot. The Tarot keys contain the symbols and images associated with the teachings of the Tree.
Beauty’s number is six. Number six refers to the yonic space at the center of the Tree of Life. Six is associated specifically with sexual union on the spiritual dimension, and with the archetypal pair depicted as The Lovers in the Sixth Tarot key. Put simply, Cabalistic symbols form the secret code by which the meaning of Da Vinci’s painting, as well as a host of other Last Supper paintings, may be understood. These paintings show Beauty as John at the center of the table with Jesus, her chosen groom. This meal, accordingly, is not the last meal of a condemned man… but is part of a sexual celebration which culminates in the experience of divine union.
Apparently the code for saying such blasphemous things remained unbroken by the church… who saw in the paintings only what they wanted to see: On the surface they appear to conform to church doctrine… if only by bearing the official name of The Last Supper… given by the church to this particular moment in the New Testament story.
According to John Gray, Professor of Hebrew, Semitic languages, and Biblical Criticism at the University of Aberdeen…
The sacred marriage between god and goddess was an important
rite in Sumerian religion and indeed in nature religion among the
Semites in the Near East in all periods and regions except Israel. ~ Near Eastern Mythology Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine
Hermetic spirituality was challenged and largely overcome by a particular band of nomadic semites who could not abide by the Tree. Calling themselves the children of Abraham they chose a warrior of a father god who demanded strict obedience. Abraham, who would willingly sacrifice his son to his god, became the first absolute subject of the new god, and the model of obedience for subsequent generations of his children. Abraham showed a more complete and abject devotion to Yahweh than Adam, who could not resist a taste of the Tree. The mother god, as a Tree of Life, was abandoned. A poignant example of this is written as the vision of King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel:
Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and
beheld a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
The tree grew and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto Heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth;
The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
Suddenly the King’s vision shifts, and he sees a watcher descend from Heaven, whom he believes to be an holy one:
He cried aloud and said thus; Hew down the tree, cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit; let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches…
~ Daniel 4:10-14
The passage refers to his tree, but what is described is the the female archetype of the Tree of Life. From earliest Sumer, through the times of metropolitan Canaan, the king was linked to The Tree of Life, symbolizing the mother goddess, and joined with Her in sacred marriage at every new year.
His office is to tend and fertilize the tree, and to extend the blessings of life to the people. The assault on the political and spiritual powers of Babylon, and of Jerusalem, begins with such images of cutting down the tree and burning its branches.
What is the vine tree more than any tree..?
Therefore thus saith the Lord God; as the vine tree
among the trees of the forest which I have given to the fire
for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
~Ezekiel (15:2 & 6)
DaVinci’s last supper shows Peter with a distinct malice toward John. He stands up from the table with a hand to her throat. The other hand, behind his back, holds a large knife. The correlation of this scene with Sleeping Beauty creates a clear picture of Peter, the rock of the church, as the murderous fairy.
Yahweh is surely behind him as he himself wages open war on the daughters of Jerusalem:
Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet ~Isaiah 3:16.
Therefore the LORD will smite with a scab the crown
of the head of the daughters of Zion (Isaiah 3:17).
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the
daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of
Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment,
and by the spirit of burning (Isaiah 4:4).
The child, Beauty, represents an ongoing spiritual legacy of sacred duality. Like the eastern image of Yin Yang, this duality describes the movement of two… within the One Unity to be realized. The two created of the One… join in sacred union… to re-member the One. Yet… the One God of the Hermetic Mystery was somehow transformed into the one and only male God of the current Christian narrative. Names were changed in Biblical text, genders were switched, and even the calendar has been changed to wipe Her clean from our memory.
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth:
And the former shall not be remembered,
nor come into mind
~ Isaiah 65:17
But Life does not die, and the hearts of the people remember deeply what they can not recall. And we are given a trail of breadcrumbs to follow…