PRAGUE ZODIAC STRUCTURE
Four early Christian churches (St. Klement in the Old Town, St. Vitus at Prague Castle, former Sts. Philip and James in the Arbes Square and St. Stephan in the New Town) take up such positions in the Prague ground plan that aligned, they stand in the shape of a cross. Milan Špůrek, a renowned Bohemian astrologist and geologist, called the formation “the Basic Cross”. This Basic Cross is at right-angle with an equal length of both arms (2400 ms).
The substantial point is that the geometry is based on a solstitial line, above which the sun rises or sets on the local horizon on solstices.
The symbolical solstice line is actually the arm, which links the cathedral of St. Vitus (originally an ancient Slavic pagan place of sacrifices), Žiži hilltop, (on which the Prague Castle and the cathedral were later built) with the church of St. Stephan (standing on another ancient holy place, “Rybnicek” - “Little Pond” - where once holy springs rose) is in fact. Namely, standing at the sunset on the summer solstice at St. Stephan, with a clear interspace, it was possible to see the sun setting right behind the cathedral of St. Vitus. The position of St. Vitus then marks out the summer solstice. Vice versa, standing at the cathedral on the winter solstice we can observe the sun rising from behind the Rybnicek area with St. Stephan. St. Stephan then marks out the winter solstice. The second arm is on analogy with the equinox line, where St. Klement marks out the spring equinox and Sts. Philip and James the autumn equinox. In present times the phenomenon also called “Prague Solstice” is hardly observable because the interspace among the churches is so built up. We have to plot on paper to see it. However, in the early Christian period, to which the churches date back, the whole scene was easy to observe because there was nothing obscuring the view.
Equinoxes and solstices are the basic points of the yearly cycle. While solstice is a moment when the sun is in its highest or lowest position above the horizon during the whole year, indicating the longest or the shortest day, the equinoxes occur when the sun is in the middle between its positions of solstices and the day and night are of equal length (equi-nox = equal night). Each of these moments is a start of one of the four seasons of the year. And this heavenly law is captured in Prague’s ground plan which makes Prague a big stone calendar. But let’s go further.
Besides, the four points of equinoxes and solstices are also the crucial points of the tropical zodiac. The circle of the tropical zodiac actually represents the seeming orbit, on which the sun revolves around the Earth during the year cycle. This circle is divided by the solstices and equinoxes into four basic quadrants, which can be further divided into thirds, creating thus a cycle of 12 equally long steps - signs. (A step means “tropos” in Greek, i.e., the “tropical” zodiac). The tropical zodiac - respectively the year cycle - can be more-or-less made identical with a “peasant year” of civilizations living on the northern hemisphere where western astrology was born. Its every sign [step] indicates its certain typical phase. The cycle begins with the spring equinox and each quadrant of the three signs then represents one season of the year with three months.
The Prague Basic Cross is a projection of this whole structure on the Earth - and what more - upon the face of a town: it divides Prague’s horizon into four quadrants which are practically (with only a one-degree deviation) halved by the directions of the basic points of compass. By dividing the quadrant into thirds altogether, twelve sectors of the circle are formed - the twelve zodiacal fields of the so-called Prague Zodiac, relevant to the zodiacal signs.
The beginning of every zodiacal quadrant - the solstice or the equinox - is made identical with the beginning of one of the four basic or cardinal signs: Aries - starts with the spring equinox, Cancer - starts with the summer solstice, Libra - with the autumn equinox, and Capricorn - with the winter solstice. They are the basic signs – that explains the basic cross. The above four mentioned sanctuaries then symbolically mark out the initial degrees of these basic or cardinal signs in Prague’s ground plan: St. Clement - the start of Aries, St. Vitus - the start of Cancer, Sts. Philip and James - the beginning of Libra and St. Stephan - the beginning of Capricorn.
Isn’t it surprising then that - for instance - the attribute of St. Clement, to whom the consecrated church starts the first sign of Aries (the spring equinox), is a ram, and that the first Christian churches in Bohemia would be consecrated just to this saint?
Or that the feast of St. Vitus (cathedral of St. Vitus = the summer solstice = Cancer) was celebrated - according to the Julian calendar - just on the summer solstice and that the Saint’s name resembles a name of an old Slavic goddess “Svantovit”, (St Vitus in Czech goes like “Svaty-Vit”) whose feast fell at the same time?
The four following signs, marked in astrology as fixed, figure in the directions of the main points of the compass: Taurus in the north, Leo in the west, Scorpio in the south and Aquarius in the east. Corresponding to these directional orientations are the four morphologically important dominants of the area: Letná, Strahov (with Petrin hill), Vysehrad and Zizkov (with Vitkov heights). The four fixed signs are called “the four pillars of the zodiac” – they are the centers of the year’s seasons and bear the most significant salient feature of the seasons. Similarly the four heights create the pillars of the Prague medieval fortification.
The remaining four signs are marked as mutual (or mobile): Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. Most main medieval routes of Prague lead through these sectors.
Wonderfully symbolic is also the fact that both arms of this Basic Cross (and after dividing the quadrants into thirds, also all of the 12 zodiacal rays) cross each other in a place of a highly significant name: the presbytery of the rotunda of the Holy Cross! Translated into the language of astrology: Holy Cross means the cross of solstices and equinoxes. The cross, which is created by connection of the starts of the basic (cardinal) e.g. solstitial and equinox sings of the zodiac: Aries - Libra, Capricorn - Cancer. And that is precisely what the rotunda represents in the Prague ground plan: it is a symbolic cross of the Prague solstices and equinoxes. This sanctuary was built sometime at the end of 11th century and it creates the center of the whole structure. Milan Špůrek didn’t hesitate to term it as the true mystical central point of the whole town.
Nevertheless, this is only the beginning. Everything suggests that the zodiac, which we can call the Prague Zodiac, works. Namely in two basic aspects we find the following:
1) The structure of the town shows specific features within the framework of the single sectors of the Prague Zodiac, corresponding with the symbolical meanings of the relevant signs. It regards types of buildings, countryside setup and historic events. This has been already mentioned briefly in the text above.
2) As it turns out, the town itself works as a living zodiacal matrix that sensibly communicates with the horoscopes of people or events, related to Prague. A horoscope is a rather complicated network of relationships of energies, symbolically expressed by positions of planets in a structure of astrological signs and houses. If such a horoscope is put on the Prague’s ground plan and oriented according to the Prague Zodiac, positions of the planets in the horoscope respond with an admirable accuracy to the places related to the event or person and the energies connected to it. Špůrek then considers that events within the framework of the city happen only sometimes and somewhere, not anytime and anywhere!
As an example, we can use the birth horoscope of the Czech King Charles IV (1319 - 1378) who has been highly praised in the city of Prague as well as the whole of this country and called the “Father of the Homeland” (and who claimed to be a descendant and a heir to the prophetess Libuše’s lineage). In his birth horoscope planets are strikingly grouped into the cross of the mutual signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. In a projection onto the plan of the Prague Zodiac, these planetary cross positions point to Charles’s main foundations: the Sun (in Gemini and 12th house) points to the Charles Bridge, Jupiter (Virgo, 4th house) points to Karlstejn – an astonishing castle near Prague, Neptune (Sagittarius, 6th house) points to the mystical system of the New Town sanctuaries, and Pluto (Pisces, 10th house) to the Karolinum - the Charles University (see the word “Universe” in it).
But that’s not all. The chart seems to speak in a mysterious language to us. The deeper we go into it, the more we are amazed. For instance, we will briefly mention the Charles Bridge. Charles’s Sun crossing the bridge resonates deeply with the fact that the bridge was actually consecrated to the Sun’s principle. Its patron saint is no other than St. Vitus (CZ: Svaty Vit), a Christianized form of Svantovit, the pre-Christian Slavic Sun god, venerated by the clairvoyant princess Libuše. It was Svantovit’s sacred horse, after all, who, having been mystically sent by her, found her husband Přemysl – Premyslid, the founder and name-giver of the Premyslid dynasty Charles’s IV mother came from. And within astrology, besides other things, Sun = Father.
Further (:-)), Jupiter in Virgo pointing to Karlstejn, a mystical castle near Prague, astonishes those who are interested in the story of the Holy Grail and Templars. Karlstejn was allegedly designed as a “safe-box” for the sought after Holy Grail. (Some esoteric circles have been considering Charles IV who was known to be a mystic and an alchemist during his life, also to be one of the Holy Grail’s keepers.)
In astrology, Jupiter indicates distant routes for wisdom while Virgo hints of the Virgin Mary, the mystic emotional center (4th house!) of Templars. Templars are thought to have been the authors of a highly mysterious system of early gothic cathedrals in France consecrated to the Virgin (“Notre Dame”) that geometrically copies the Virgo stellar constellation. And they are also thought to have been the inventors/key-keepers of the Gothic style itself – a style that was putatively meant to be developing human energies with the use of healing esoteric aspects of the gothic architecture - which allegedly came to being after they had unearthed a secret knowledge during their 9 founders’ voyage to Jerusalem in 12th century, namely on the spot of the former Temple of Solomon where they - altogether prominent French noblemen - had been digging for 9 years. And what they allegedly found there was some tool or knowledge (and perhaps inscribed on a stone that was stored in what is known as the Ark of Covenant) reaching far beyond the standard human capacities and embracing in itself, beside other things, the mysteries of the ancient Egypt as well.) Some researchers see mysterious connections among the Gothic style (that appeared abruptly all over Europe short after Templars returned to France and the order became enormously rich within a brief time) and the Holy Grail story and Our Lady or Black Madonna, a famous and pre-Christian statue of whom resides in the underground of the famous and alchemic French cathedral in Chartres built by Templars...
It is not a chance that it has been bruited about that the mysterious and classified art of the builders of cathedrals and their mystical walls – as of the original Masons – contained principles of magic, alchemy, numerology, astrology and general esoteric spirituality, handed over in a chain of masters as far as from the ancient Egypt (hence the effort to keep the things in secret as well for such things might mean death in the given times, controlled by inquisition.)
And for the area of Prague it can be added that an early Baroque statue of the Black Madonna rests right in the bowels of the Prague’s House At the Stone Bell (or the stone Belly? J) where Charles IV was born and probably also conceived… And that he was born 4 years after the Templars order had been forcedly abolished by the French king and the pope and 2 years after its leaders had been burnt to death in Paris in 1314, after having been accused of heretical, pagan-like religious rituals… After all, Charles IV, born in Prague and brought up in Paris, is sometimes suspected to have been one of the heirs of their secret legacy.
These reflections are just minute hints of the theme of the PRAGUE ZODIAC which you can experience in our walks. (The theme is so vast that it made me to write a truly voluminous book-novel Prague Zodiac about it after all :-) which is a forthcoming novel now). But what I’d like to tell you at this moment above all is that it’s not important to accept the Prague Zodiac mystery without reservations and trust it entirely if it feels uncomfortable for you. The point is to look at it individually, in a symbolical way. We can be as children who have to neither trust nor deny. We can perceive it as a song or a poem and let it be and flow around us and in us. And perhaps in this mode the sense of the universe dwells - to let things happen. With our heart and mind open, we can cross a Threshold – somewhere inside us and also in the physical world around us - and experience our Connection with the Wholeness…
And that’s the substantial thing Prague Zodiac Walks (or books :-)) can give you. To experience the world, the universe and yourself as one.
…And by the way…, if we speak about Prague as about a Threshold through which it is possible to enter the ocean of universal Unity, I’d like to add the following at the end of this part: Prague is a town with the eldest continual settlement in the world according to some opinions – people have lived here for 750.000 years at least according to archeological evidence. And so the myth of the princess Libuše – the myth of founding the city in the era before the arrival of Christianity, that is before the arrival of the visible, through writing and stone architecture recorded culture that was overlaying the previous pagan culture constantly, while suppressing it as a demonic thing - as well as the existence of the Prague Zodiac itself that resonates with this myth so remarkably – represent in the space of this city SOMETHING immensely old (and timeless in its essence), which was captured and resumed by the later known culture through its Christian architecture, although it is necessary to look for it beneath the surface. And moreover - if it captured it in itself in the form of the arrangement of those early Christian churches, standing on places that had already been holy for the preceding cultures, then it’s a question how much it was a matter of a standard ideological opposition in the given cases (hundreds of Christian churches all over Europe are located on spots of earlier pagan shrines – as this was a strategy of the religious war that the Catholic Church waged against paganism) and how much it was a matter of conscious, albeit hidden, underground, esoteric work of some significant historic figures (such as Charles IV) who, under the veil of the dominating and binding ideology that was able to burn its opponents to death for the so-called heretic opinions (recall the Templars for instance), took up the thread of the mystically-magic legacy of the pre-Christian cultures quite intentionally (because they didn’t feel any danger in them but an opportunity to enlightenment) and who were able not to stay on the surface only even in the Christian cult, within the superficial search for power through which millions of historic bearers of the Christian faith would arrogate to themselves the ownership of the only correct truth, but they were looking for and finding the form-independent Source in it as well that is present in Everything: i.e., beyond all walls, fences and bars of all beliefs, ideologies and dogmas – beyond all the greed of the human ego that loves to form and thus seize the formless spirituality into religions out of power-greedy impulses.)
And this SOMETHING that has been captured in the stone body of Prague in many places already mentioned, moreover, obviously thrones even in the very name of Praha (= Prague in the Czech language). For this is derived from nothing else but from the word Práh (= a Threshold) according to myths…
…When the princess Libuše, one of whose lineage members was also Charles IV as he proudly professed through the ink of his chroniclers, pronounced her memorable starry prophecy about the future city that would touch the stars with its glory (where another allegory is hidden, by the way, since Sláva (=Glory in Czech) is also a name of an ancient Slavonic goddess, a form of Venus, Holy Virgin, Black Madonna etc.), she told the members of her entourage to go to a spot beyond the bend of the river Vltava, onto the top amidst an old forest, bordered by the stream Brusnice and by the rocky hill next to the woods of Strahov, where they would find a man chiseling a threshold of his house. There they were told to build a castle and call it Praha.
And if we add to it that it is right this mythical spot where the real and glorious Prague Castle stands, dominated by the St Vitus cathedral, whose Christian saint’s feast fell on the summer solstice day in the original Julian calendar, which had used to be crucial as well for the already mentioned pagan god of Sun Svantovit who was also connected with Libuše, with Přemysl and with the pagan place of offerings called Žiži that had been in the place of the Prague Castle before the arrival of Christianity according to myths and even according to the oldest Christian chronicles and therefore also before the construction of the Christian sanctuaries there and that became a crucial point of the structure of the Prague Zodiac through the gothic church founded by Charles IV – of the structure which is a mystical Threshold between earthiness and the Universe the spiritual power of which transcends all traditions and religions that have ever tried to dominate and appropriate the spirituality – you might feel a hint perhaps of the giant dimension of what the word Práh-Threshold means in the case of Praha.