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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hier staan ons voor die Heilige God van hemel en aarde

Came across a NYT article about the Day of the Vow (Dec. 16). On this day, South Africa's Afrikaners celebrate the day their ancestors made a deal with God just before engaging in a battle--the Battle of Blood River--in which a few hundred of them managed to kill 3,000 or so Zulus. Welcome to Post-Apartheid South Africa.

The article is an interesting look at how, despite some integration in society, SA remains pretty solidly segregated, especially among the poorer classes. A trash collector at the site, one of the few blacks to be seen that day, had this to say: "I don’t know anything about their holiday."

The Day of the Vow is celebrated at the Voortrekker Monument in the Hall of the Cenotaph. The last paragraph of the article caught our eye:

The reading of the vow is one of the two most solemn moments of the prayer service. The other comes precisely at midday as families lean over the parapets that overlook the cenotaph.


Careful calculations were made by the monument’s designers, and exactly at noon on each Dec. 16, the sun shines through a small opening in the dome, alighting on the empty tomb 138 feet below and yet again signaling for many that it was the Lord’s will that the land be theirs.

You can imagine why we were intrigued.

The website of the monument has this to say of the cenotaph:
The Cenotaph is the central focus point of the Monument. The word cenotaph means "empty tomb". It is therefore the symbolic resting place of Piet Retief and all the other Voortrekkers who died during the Great Trek...

Once a year, on 16 December, the sun shines through an opening in the dome roof of the Monument onto the middle of the Cenotaph.


It shines on the words
"Ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika", literally translated: "We for thee South Africa." The architect, Gerard Moerdijk, planned this specifically because the ray of sunlight symbolizes God's blessing on the life and work of the Voortrekkers.

The Cenotaph Hall consists of a 34,5 x 34,5 metre area and is decorated with the flags from the different Voortrekker Republics...

Against the Northern wall is a nave with a lantern where a flame has been kept burning since 1938. The Symbolic Ox Wagon Trek took place in 1938. It started in Cape Town and ended at Monument Hill where the foundation stone was laid for the erection of the Monument.

The Cenotaph Hall is generally accepted as the most sensitive area of the Monument. For this reason, activities are limited to religious and culture related events.

It all sounds so pagan, like ancestor and sun worship all mixed up into one. But apparently we're not the first to grok this, and it would appear to more than our own fanciful imaginations. There may also be connections to Freemasonry; its Egyptian character is far more certain.

Wikipedia:

"Alta Steenkamp links the
Voortrekker Monument to the....Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Leipzig, Germany. According to Dr. Steenkamp the masonic subtext of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal is reflected in the Voortrekker Monument, because Moerdyk had used the geometric order and some spatial proportions of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal. This Germanization of the Voortrekker Monument occurred after Moerdyk's original design had caused a public outcry in the press, due to its resemblance to an Egyptian open air temple."

The Völkerschlachtdenkmal, or "Monument to the Battle of Nations" is a monument in Leipzig erected to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig (1813). The monument is said to reflect sketches of the Temple of Solomon and the symbolism of Freemasonry. Indeed, one source says it houses a "Masonic temple" but we can't verify this; it sounds like a dubious claim. Ironically, for all its alleged Jewish and Masonic symbolism, it was a favored spot for Hitler's speeches when he passed through Leipzig.

According to author Christopher Hodapp (Freemasonry for Dummies), Völkerschlachtdenkmal architect Bruno Schmitz (1858-1916) was in fact a Freemason; the same cannot be said for Gerard Moerdijk (1890-1958). Another war monument by Schmitz, by the way, the Indiana Soldier and Sailor's Monument, does feature 32 flights of stairs with 330 numbered steps (and one unnumbered). This may or may not be a coincidence; or you can take it as evidence he imbued his designs with Masonic symbolism. (Incidentally, the Soldier and Sailor's Monument in Syracuse, NY is found in Clinton Square--formerly known as Masonic Park!)

As for the unquestionable Egyptianism of the Voortrekker Monument, mentioned above, its design was initially:

based on a causeway consisting of two Egyptian temple
obelisks. During 1936, the year of his final Voortrekker Monument design, architect Gerard Moerdijk visited Egypt, including the Karnak Temple Compex in Luxor (Thebes). There Nefertiti's husband had erected three sun sanctuaries, one of which was called the Hwt-benben ('mansion of the Benben').

Despite the externally revised
Voortrekker Monument, its interior maintained visible links with the sun civilization of ancient Africa in Egypt. The main symbol in the Voortrekker Monument is an annual sun disc illumination at mid-noon on a central stone.

....

The Voortrekker Monument consists of three levels: bottom cellar, middle hall and top dome. In the bottom cellar is an empty tomb stone called the Cenotaph, or Sarcophagus according to Moerdijk.
The middle Hall of Heroes harbours the historical wall frieze. The upper dome with Egyptian backlighting simulates the open sky.

....

Looking from the sky dome downwards, a chevron pattern on the floor of the Hall of Heroes, radiates outwards like 32 sun rays from the centre opening. In Moerdijk's architecture, the natural sun forms a 33rd ray through the same opening. Moerdijk said the chevron pattern on the floor depicts water
, as does the double chevron hieroglyph from the civilization of old Egypt. Moerdijk stated that all roads on the terrain of building art, lead back to old Egypt.

Based on Moerdijk's reference to the watery floor of the Hall of Heroes, as well as his statement about old Egypt, the opening in the water-floor can be identified with the watery abyss, as in the creation theology of ancient African civilization. Rising out of this watery abyss, was the primeval mound, the Benben stone.
 

[The Benben stone, named after the mound, was a sacred stone in the solar temple of Heliopolis. It was the location on which the first rays of the sun fell. It is thought to have been the prototype for later obelisks, and the capstones of the great pyramids were based on its design.]

....

In Moerdijk's biblical theology...God can communicate in two ways: through scripture as well as through nature. Moerdijk merges both methods in one revealing moment of space-time. He - the creator God in the trinitarian tradition of the Trekkers - becomes the WE, within the shining disc illuminating the words on the stone.
["We for thee South Africa."] Via the sun, heaven and earth are simulated to be visibly connected through a ray of light.

The appearance of a shining sun disc on the Cenotaph stone, transforms the Trekker vow in analogy to the
Philosophers Stone of the alchemists. The notion of, as above so below, is inverted to: as below, so above. Instead of posterity repeating a human vow from before the Battle of Blood River, the sun shifts the focus to the trinitarian god of the Trekkers, as he communicates through Moerdijk's sun architecture, making himself a heavenly vow with the words: WE - as in GOD - FOR YOU SOUTH-AFRICA.

Moerdijk himself was an outspoken
Afrocentrist architect. At the inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument, Moerdijk mentioned Africa's greatness as imparted by ancient Egyptian constructions.

....


Moerdijk stated that the purpose of a building had to be clearly visible.
[Shades of architecture parlante] The creator aspect of Ra, symbolised by the sun at mid-noon, was in ancient times known as Aten. Aten was written as a dot enclosed by a circle in Egyptian hieroglyphics. The monument incorporates the Aten-hieroglyph by allowing the sun to shine through an aperture in the sky dome. Looking upwards at mid noon, the aperture is visible as a backlit dot inside the circular sky dome. At 12:00am on 16 December the sun is projected as a disc-dot onto the cenotaph stone. Looking down from the top dome, the floor aperture in the Hall of Heroes is once again seen to encircle the disc, as the sun's rays strike the cenotaph stone. Moerdijk's message as implied by the interior design is: through exodus out of the British Cape Colony, God has created a new African civilization inland.

In order to give thanks to this new creation of civilization, Moerdijk, recalling Abraham of old, outwardly designed the Voortrekker Monument as an altar.


(above quotes are from Wikipedia, itself based on
Man en Monument, by Irma Vermeulen)

....

So, no real further comment. We will return to the Benben stone at Heliopolis, where the Phoenix was worshipped, perhaps in relationship to Phoenecian pillar worship and some of Urbain Vitry's Egyptian stylings. We continue to be amazed at how all these things keep coming together.

9 comments:

  1. jacobmouw@hotmail.com
    Stel belang in VTM

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry to be thickheaded, but what do these comments mean?

    ReplyDelete
  3. toets = test

    Stel belang in VTM = Interested in VTM

    I exchanged emails with Jacob. A very nice fellow. He said if I ever visited SA to look him up and he'd give me a place to stay and lend me a car. I'd love to take him up on it. SA is apparently beautiful and the people pretty cool. If Jacob is any indication, I'd say that last is true!

    I have this long percolating interest in white Africans in SA, ex-Rhodesia, Kenya etc. It occurs to me there are now several generations of whites in Africa and they are Africans just as much as we are Americans. Not the originals, but thoroughly shaped by our history and environment. Personally, the proximity of my European heritage and my years living in Europe have modulated that somewhat, but I realize that I am fundamentally American in outlook, just as these European-Africans are African in outlook. I'd like to look into that ethnic experience a bit more.

    It's quite weird, too, because my wife in the US would be cast as "Hispanic" or "Latina" in outlook, but over here, we have a shared "American-ness" which forms our opinions and values, often leaving us shaking our heads at some of the folly we see around us. I don't want to overstate that, we're fundamentally the same as a French, Spanish or Portuguese guy, but there's still certain things Europeans take for granted that we treasure as rare gifts--such as being unemployed doesn't mean you won't eat, or that you might have to skip a doctor's visit if the heating bill was high this month, etc. That and a different understanding of land....and space....

    10 years oif musing on these things can't easily be encapsulated in a comment though! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This whole thing makes me sad because,Afrikaners see this monument as something special to their culture,and where they came from. If you go look closely,and do enough research,you will see that the Voortrekker monument looks exactly like the halls,the Illuminati perform their rituals in. On the sides of the Monument,Piet Ritief is carved out showing all kinds of freemasonry signs(where he gives an oath),and also on his water bottle(the all seing eye). The sun coming through the sky dome,is a form of sun-whorsiping...ect

    ReplyDelete
  5. This article about whites-only communities is related in my humble onion: Whites only enclave....

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was wondering why there were so many search keywords related to this post in the past week or so. It's because the 16th was the Day of the Vow....

    ReplyDelete
  7. To say then that the Masonic qualities of the Voortrekker Monument are due to the unoriginality of its design is not to be derogatory towards it but rather as a contribution to an aspect of its history that has remained largely unexplored. The influence of Freemasonry on the design of the Völkerslachdenkmal is undisputed and these esoteric spatial qualities found their way, unintentionally, into the design of the Voortrekker Monument. It is not that the Voortrekker Monument is a Masonic Temple but simply that it borrowed so liberally from a monument with a sub text deliberately Masonic, that it becomes both the first face and the second–the face of the profane world and that of the initiated. ‘A shared spatial symbolism: the Voortrekker Monument, the Völkerslachtdenkmal and Freemasonry’’ by Alta Steenkamp - School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics, University of Cape Town

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'd read this. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention. Just wondering what part of it you find comment-worthy? Best regards, D.

    ReplyDelete

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