Many of you may be familiar already with my series of articles on solving the 500 yr old mystery of the “meaning” behind Albrecht Durer`s Masterpiece “Melancholia I” but there was one thing that I could not do until I found the graphic below;-
The addition of this graphic allows you to more fully appreciate the cuts and manipulations that Durer completed to the original Jewish cube shaped altar that would have been housed in the Jewish Solomon`s Temple to come up with his “Durers Solid” shape. The stone block is meant to allegorically represent the time in history (163 BCE approx) when the Greek Seleucid Dynasty took over Solomon`s Temple in Jerusalem and defiled the Jews existing most sacred relic, the Cubic Altar, replacing it with their own Greek Rectangular Altar and effectively bringing Jewish religious worship at the Temple to a halt. This didn`t just mean a ban on burnt offerings from the Temple but also a ban on the Shema morning and Evening rituals, the very practices that were fundamental to being a Jew since the time of Moses and the 40yrs wanderings in the deserts. A major cataclysmic event in the history of the Jewish nation. Now you can see that without doubt, these manipulations of the cube were meant to hide a secret, the very secret that I had been alluding to in my articles, that Durer was in fact a Crypto Jew and that all of the clues in the picture are simply there to read if you have the eyes to look.
As can be seen from the diagram, there is no doubt about the message that Durer`s “stone of Destiny” was meant to tell, he has written it with a large Hebrew symbol and Jewish Gematria numbers. When the vertices of the stone are mapped out correctly, there can be only one message and only one audience- Jewish!
The numbers are not arbitrary, they are EXACT because they are produced by specific vertices of the shape and they are in 2 lines of 3 digits each- 648 and 579. Keen astronomers among you would already have recognized the number 648 as the number of full 40 year cycles that Venus would complete during a full precessional “wobble” of the earth poles (the zodiac appears to move 1 degree forward every 72 years due to this precessional phenomena, 30 degrees per star sign or 54 Venus cycles- so in one full precessional year it completes one full rotation of the zodiac 360 x 72 yrs = 25,920 yrs or 25,920/40 = 648 Venus cycles). In a previous blog of this series I had hinted that the 40yrs wandering by the Jewish people in the desert was linked to Venus` predictable cycle, this is because it has an almost perfect circular orbit around the sun, unlike the earth or the moon or any other planets in our solar system (which all have the more complex eliptical orbits) and therefore its more predictable than any other body in the heavens.
The precession of the equinoxes was not known in modern times until the 19th Century, similarly the movements of Venus were not fully understood, except it seems by the ancient Jewish astronomers, who clearly inherited the knowledge through the stories of their Torah/Pentateuch, (due to the huge timescales involved to collate the data for even one complete precessional cycle). It would seem that they used it to monitor the movement of the zodiac constellations through the 360 degrees of the earth`s precessional wobble, a bit like we use the minute hand on our watches to gauge the passage of the hour. Therefore one degree of precessional wobble would have taken 72 solar earth years or the more accurate and shorter time period to predict and measure of 9 x 8year cycles of venus is equal to 72yrs ( just short of 2 full 40yrs cycles of Venus). At the end of each 40yrs cycle Venus would be visible passing directly in front of the sun, on very auspicious occasions such as every 3 complete Venus cycles, it would transit across the centre of the sun and the probable reason why the entry into the promised land happened at the end of one of these periods. The fact that Venus transits across the Sun on 3 separate lines (either above or below the centre line dependent upon the cycle) would have given them the clue to Venus` having an angle of tilt to the Earths ecliptic just like the moon. I know this might sound a bit speculative but don`t forget that this ability to break down the 1 degree movement of the equinoxes into 9 much smaller parts based on the predictable eight year cycles of Venus is very useful in predicting seasons & navigation in an age when satellites and Atomic clocks did not exist. Remember also that in Durer`s Melancholia I picture, the mighty angels wing is resting on the number 1 of the magic square, perhaps alluding to this 1 degree measurement?
Co-incidentally the Sun also has a 9yrs 5dys cycle, it is the time it takes for a perfect SAROS eclipse of the SUN and twice this or 18yrs 11days 8hrs for a perfect SAROS eclipse of the MOON. During these eclipses the only thing visible through the darkness of the daylight eclipse would have been Venus since it does not align and reflects the light of either Sun or Moon.
Durer is demonstrating some advanced astronomical knowledge with this number especially when you see that it is linked to the second 3 digit number that translates as the watch tower (or as I believe, most probably a moon observatory) at Jericho. Remember also that 9 is the number in the Magic Square that was intentionally written strangely? Almost like a question mark or a sign for the Greek symbol theta- used to indicate a hidden or unknown angle such as the 1 degree of precession or possibly the 9yr synchronisation between the SUN, the MOON and VENUS in relation to the 72 year or 1 degree precessional wobble of the earth`s axis?
If we take the 25,920 years required for one complete cycle of the earth precessional wobble and divide it by Durers number 9 we get the number 2,880 – in Jewish terms this would be significant, the number 2 representing the dual nature of the cosmos followed by the number 880 which as we have seen was the total number of unique patterns that could be produced in the 4 x 4 number square depicted in the Melancholia I picture. The number 2,880 divided by Venus cycles of 40yrs = 72 cycles.
Adding these 4 digits together using Gematria (2+8+8+0= 18 and adding the 1 + 8 = 9) resolves the number 2,880 back to the number 9 which we have already seen was a very special number for the Jewish people not least because of this property of being able to be resolved back to itself through the sum of the digits that make up any number in which it is a multiple of but also because of the SAROS (more on this below) cycles of the SUN and MOON being based on multiples of 9 solar years. Even the magic squares used in Agrippa`s book of the occult are from Jewish Kabbalah (hidden knowledge) system of squares in a grid, used for cryptography since ancient times, the most famous of these being known as the Kabbalah of the 9 chambers. Each chamber housing three of the Jewish letters of the alphabet and each chamber also representing 3 phases or mansions of the moons sidereal 27.27 day cycles.
The number one on the Jupiter 4 x 4 magic square of Durers Melancholia I, as we have already said, has the tip of the mighty angels wing resting upon it, almost as if to give us the clue that this number is somehow linked to the other numbers within the magic square that have been ¨tampered¨ with by Durer. If the Earth precessional theory and the unknown Theta angle theory and the 648 x Venus 40yr cycle theory are correct, then it would make sense that the number 1 is meant to explain the 1 degree of the Earths precessional cycle being the unknown angle Theta and that this can be further refined into 1/9th of a degree by using the Venus cycle because all these bodies are in synchronous movement around the Sun. This knowledge of Solar, Lunar and Venus eclipses is proof of the Helio-centric solar system BEFORE Copernicus presented his thesis to the Pope and published it in 1530. Any one of these 3 phenomena is not proof on its own but a deep knowledge of all 3 bodies and their observable phases (caused by their angles of inclination to each others ecliptics), actually proves that it is the earth that is rotating around the SUN and not the other way around. History shows that this was very dangerous knowledge to share publicly with anyone and even 100yrs after Durers and Copernicus death, an Italian priest named Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for publicly stating this Heresy in 1600.
Interestingly the SUN and MOON`s SAROS ECLIPSES, whilst being based around multiples of 9 yrs cycles, also has 40 NON-SAROS eclipses before displaying a perfect SAROS ECLIPSE year (2 identical eclipses 6mths apart). Another pattern reflected in the Jericho tower building dimensions are the numbers 22, 14, 11, 9 and 7 when we use the unit of measure at the time, the cubit, which was roughly half a metre. There are 22 steps inside this circular tower that lead up to a square opening at the top and in the centre of it. The top platform of the tower has a radius of 7 cubits or 14 cubits diameter and the height of the tower is 20 cubits (top of steps to bottom of steps) plus 4 cubits to reach the ground. This could be co-incidence or it could be by design since the tower is circular in concept at the base and at the top (22 cubits diameter or 11 cubits radius at the base). The “22 steps” take the user from the larger 11 cubits radius base circle to the smaller radius top circle of 7 cubits in an almost perfect 2:1 cubits incline ratio (actually 20:11 cubits).
This physically demonstrates 3 profound engineering principles in a neolithic structure:-
Golden ratio of a circles diameter to its circumference -Pi. Clearly the steps were designed to exactly go from the perimeter of the large base circle into the centre of the smaller circle and that it would take exactly “22 steps”. There is no way to get to the centre of the tower to measure its circumference or radius except by going up the 22 steps and once at the top of the steps it is 7 cubits to get to the circumference of the upper tower in any direction. The key dimensions are 22 and 7 which define Pi as 3.142 when mentioned today in the context of a circle. Co-incidentally the diameter of the tower at the base is 22 cubits which gives a circumference of 69.124 cubits ( or maybe it was expressed as 3 diameters plus 3 cubits?) This would look like it was designed specifically to show this as 33yrs is a key cycle of the lunar/solar synchronization. But it could just as easily be a memo to remember the Sirius star (the brightest star in the sky) annual sojourn where it disappears from view for 69/70 days before re-appearing to announce the Nile Delta floods. Or both!
Golden ratio of a rectangle -Phi. When a right angle triangle has a hypotenuse that exactly fits the diameter of a circle, the triangle can mirror itself about the circle diameter to produce a rectangle that perfectly fits inside the circle and its long and short sides would be in the proportions of the Golden ratio of 1: 1.618. The gradient of the 22 steps fits this ratio, rising 20 cubits within a horizontal distance of 11 cubits.
Pythagoras Theorum. Use of the 2:1 incline hints at knowledge of the smallest whole numbered Pythagoras (or Kepler) triangle, the 5,1,2 triangle where 5 is actually the square root of the hypotenuse of a rectangle made from 2 cubes of sides equal to a single unit of measure, the cubit.
Is it possible that neolithic peoples of Jericho already understood Pi as 22/7 = 3.142, a number needed to calculate a circumference or orbit of a planet accurately using geometry eg. orbit distance/time of the moon or Venus? This is intriguing if these measurements are accurate as 2:1 also equals the egyptian SEKED or angle of slope which in turn produces a hypotenuse length equal to the square root of 5 (this is a golden ratio rectangle that is capable of revealing Phi = 1.618) and it looks as though the height of the structure was designed to be the same as the width of its base, cubic/conic. Generally speaking ancient structures dimensions were linked mathematically to the ideology of their builders and if this structure was dedicated to the Moon God we should expect to see that reflected into its dimensions. The 7 cubit radius of the top round platform could indicate the 7 day cycle of the moon, the diameter of 14 cubits representing 2 x 7 day cycles with 2 x semi circles representing the full 4 x 7 days or 28 day cycle in addition to its engineering secrets.
The sidereal month of the moon is based on the moon returning to its starting point in the sky with relation to the stars instead of the sun (synodic month based on shadows cast on the moon by the sun). It takes 27.27 days to complete the sidereal month which is a special number when you consider that its made up of 2 x 7 and 2 x 7 days.
The 11 cubit radius of the round base could indicate the difference between the solar and lunar years, the smaller circle, as we have said, representing the moon, completes its year 11 days earlier or that the smaller moons sidereal cycle completes at 11 months ( approximately every 300 or 299.97 days). Even the strange design feature of the “22 steps leading up to the Moon” being placed 4 cubits above the earth could have been done purposefully to represent that the moon was actually 4 times smaller in scale than the earth. Its orientation to the cardinal points and its relative position within the city of Jericho should also be of significance. It would be interesting if someone put these co-ordinates into a star program and turned back the skies to see when exactly it would line up correctly with the moons cycles to try and date its actual year of construction.
It gets even more intriguing when we know that the 11 day difference between a solar year and a lunar year synchronizes itself after 33yrs. This is also a significant number for the SUN, because a Solar cycle is a period of about 11 years in which fluctuations in the number and size of sunspots and solar prominences are repeated. Sunspot groups have a magnetic field with a north and a south pole, and in each 11-year rise and fall, the same polarity leads in a given hemisphere while the opposite polarity leads in the other. In each rise and fall, the latitude of sunspot eruption starts around 30° and drifts to the equator, but the magnetic fields of the follower spots (sunspots usually come in pairs, called leader and follower) drift poleward and reverse the polar field of the Sun and therefore the Solar systems electrical field. In the next 11-year period, the magnetic polarities are reversed but follow the same pattern. Therefore, the magnetic period is 22 years. (SOURCE: https://www.britannica.com/science/solar-cycle)
So between the Sun and the Moon we have these synchronising cycles occurring at 11yrs, 22yrs and 33yrs periods which have a secondary synchronization period of 300yrs which seem to be reflected in the towers primary dimensions and geometry.
There would appear to be a definite synchronization between the Sun, Moon and Venus which has been tracked since ancient times and that beats like the pulse of our solar system. This triumvirate of heavenly bodies are the key to understanding the cosmology of our universe. I would go even further than that and postulate that between these 3 celestial bodies, it is the MOON that unlocks their secrets, since it is the moon that most readily displays 2 different “speeds” when orbiting the Earth ( the sidereal month and the synodic month ) and it is the MOON which unlocks the phenomena of precessional “wobble” because otherwise eclipses would be more regular. This irregularity of eclipses is caused by a geometric tilt of 5.15 degrees of the Moons orbit around the earth and only once this is known or calculated, can you begin to predict full eclipses and go on to understand that it is the earth that is rotating around the SUN.
The second co-incidence is the number 579 which if you remember the key features of Durer`s magic square, the fact that all lines and diagonals add up to 34 and that the four central squares and the four corners all add up to 17- which is exactly half of 34? Well go ahead and divide 579 by 17 or 34 and check out the total…..( its almost perfect ) Since the numbers are also used to express letter values in Jewish Gematria there has been some compromise in my opinion so that the correct letters (see below) can display the word properly without any doubts.
Both of these numbers have context within the Masterpiece in addition to a word message revealed below. In Melancholia I, Durer had used the 4×4 magic square that was symbolic of Jupiter and even Agrippa (Durers contemporary in Nuremburg and author of 3 Books on occult philosophy) also states that this 4×4 magic square was accepted by most of the ancient cultures of the world to represent Jupiter the planet and its God Jove. It is a fact that the Roman Emperor Hadrian, after he crushed the Bar Kochba Jewish revolt and expelled the Jews from the Roman Empire in 163CE, built a Temple to Jupiter upon the very ruins of the Jewish Temple of Solomon. He also built a temple to Venus opposite this and which was later used as the site for the now Holy Sepulcher Church. Clearly Durer would have known this when choosing what iconography to represent the only Jewish Temple ever built in the world, Solomon`s Temple. This is why this particular Magic Square has been chosen above all others to label this picture as an allegorical representation of the House of God and the reasons for the slight changes to it in order to reflect better the Jewish Nation and its plight.
Jupiter has 4 of its own moons with the largest moon ( in modern times we call it Calista) having an orbit around Jupiter that takes 17 days. The significance of the number 34 has been highlighted in previous blogs but it should also be noted that it is also related to the 515 number that Durer had concealed upside down within the magic square (5.15 degrees is the angle that the moon is to the earths ecliptic) because 3.4 degrees is the angle that Venus is to the Earths ecliptic showing another relevant link between these numbers, the magic square, Solomon`s Temple, the earth, the sun, the moon, venus and ancient advanced Jewish astronomy.
But to interpret the 648 & 579 numbers correctly we would need to remember that Durer was writing or coding for his intended audience who were fellow Crypto Jews and normal Jewish people who were currently in the midst of a European mass ethnic cleansing program. That means he would be writing his message in Jewish/Hebrew language which reads from right to left, so we must reverse the numbers before we convert them into letters and words.
The hidden message now reads…
846 = which means an elevation or upright wall or structure with secondary meaning of Gods gathering or hiding place.
975= which means Jericho the city (remember that Jericho also literally translates as city of the Moon) or a watch tower for keeping a look out
This is not a large message but the system of delivery he was using does not afford the use of more than 6 letters at a time. Of course there are other Gematria permutations that can be applied to these letters but initially they make sense in their standard context within Melencholia I and the very real threat that the Jewish community was facing at the time this printing plate was produced.
The Upright wall…
The reference to the upright wall or structure I believe has 2 meanings. The first is an instruction of where to place the print in the home so that it complies with the Jewish Mitzvah requirements that God gave to Moses during the 40yrs in the desert. In this position, a person can use the print as his Temple mount or “God`s gathering Place”, like the wailing wall of the original Solomon`s Temple in Jerusalem to say their prayers to, their TEFILLIN and their SHEMA and by placing it on the wall near to a door it acts as the MEZUZAH. If you dont understand any of these terms or why the print can act as all of these Mitzvah requirements, please read my earlier Blogs on this.
The second meaning is to reference the great walls of Jericho which God smashed down for the Jewish people in their greatest ever victory against an enemy when they first entered the promised land after the 40yrs in the desert.
As for the reference to the WatchTower, this is unmistakable- there can be only one known watchtower in the history of the Jews and it is in Jericho- the city of the Moon! Everyone knows that a watchtower symbolises vigilance, protection and defence in any culture but this also symbolises something deeper because Jericho is probably the oldest inhabited city/town in the whole of the world dating back to at least the last 9,000 yrs BCE (11,000yrs in total see this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdyE7-aiVkY). At the time the WatchTower was constructed there was also a large defensive wall around Jericho, protecting the Canaanite place of worship to their moon God. The Tower was most likely used as an observatory to track the movements of the Moon for use as an astronomical calendar just like Solomon`s Temple. Maybe it was even used to track the Sun and Venus as well after the Jews conquered Jericho, possibly even it tracked the constellations of the zodiac and the Heliacal rising of Sirius? Jericho is the first city in the promised land that the Jewish people conquered with the help of God (their Greatest ever victory over an enemy), so this place and the events surrounding it are significant for the Jewish people. The Bible specifically references the walls of Jericho coming tumbling down to achieve a Jewish victory over their enemies. Co-incidentally, the father of the Jewish people, Abraham the man whom God renamed Israel and founded the nation of Israel upon, also came from a city where the Moon God was the chief deity, the city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia or Sumeria. The Moon God “SIN” was one among the first 7 gods of Sumeria and they each had their own city-state containing a huge 300 ft high Ziggurat Temple devoted to them and where they kept extensive astronomical observation records since the dawn of civilisation. This is Durer stating his cultures origins, its pedigree or rights from ancient times, their roots with civilisations most advanced astronomers through Abraham`s lineage- truly Gods chosen people in any version of the Bible. Again, if you look at my previous blogs you can read in more detail about the particular Old Testament Bible texts Durer references in the Numbers of the Magic Square to confirm this.
“Melancholia I” now has even more significance as to why Durer included the “moonbow” on this Masterpiece (the moonbow is a clue to the moon city of Jericho where God destroys the enemies of the Israelites; a reference to Abraham the founding father of the nation of Israel, the man whom God changed his name to ¨Israel¨ and who was originally from the Sumerian Moon Gods city of Ur, as well as as a reference to the first Orb of man`s ascent to God and the 515 code link between Dante and Durer since 5.15 degrees is the angle of tilt between the earth and the moons ecliptic), it does not fit otherwise with the other Old Testament references contained in the Magic Square. Adding this hidden code reminds the viewer that it is no random choice, it perfectly complements the Gematria references from Durers solid and his Magic square, reminding Jewish people of God`s promise to protect them against their enemies and of his justice and retribution when the time is right.
Sending coded messages
Using Durer`s “stone of destiny” to send coded messages in this way is limited but even with only short 6 letter codes, most urgent important messages can be communicated to someone else who also has a copy of this fabulous masterpiece. The numbers in the original magic square can be changed and even the position moved to suit the particular 6 letters that need to be sent and Hebrew language does not generally use the 5 vowel sounds that we use in the west when writing words so 6 letters can become at least 12 letters in normal use (more if Gematria notaricon or other more advanced forms are used). Therefore this system requires no advanced knowledge of mathematics or draughtsmanship and is quick for anyone to master provided they know about extending the vertices/corners of the Durer solid. A simple 4×4 grid of numbers or letters is produced that contains the 6 digits code, just like a good luck talisman or a puzzle. This Masterpiece is quite awesome in every respect, it deserves more respect for its mystery than the enigmatic smile of Leonardo DaVinci` s Mona Lisa for example.
When has ANY other artist in the world ever produced a life-saving piece of work like this? Of course we cannot know for sure that the picture was effective in this way because of the secrecy surrounding its use and the time spans involved but the fact that he produced it at all with this particular narrative encoded into it and onto copper-plates for high volume printing at his own expense, is indicative that he intended to be distributing a lot of these prints and that he had the infrastructure to get them into the Jewish channel. They were never designed to be a book illustration or as part of a private collection but more as a Poster/Flyer leaflet. Perhaps it may even have gone out free as a poster in the same way that the anti-semitic propaganda did?
In light of the definitive nature that this new graphic throws on to my previous hypothesis, I have added some other content and graphics to the article “SOLVING A 500YR OLD ART MYSTERY-FINAL PART”. Please try to re-read this if you can find the time as it is much improved by these additions and should really convince you now about the purpose of the Trilogy that Durer completed in 1514. As far as I am aware, my blog is the only place in the world where you will get a full explanation of every component in each of the 3 Masterpieces and how their themes are interlinked to the same narrative.
Albrecht Durer was a Genius first, A CryptoJew second, A Humanitarian third and finally he was a Hero to his people and the spirit of mankind. Please share this article with at least one other person to amaze them, thank you!
Ok thats a bold title- more of what exactly? What I mean by this is we need to do more artistically for our world, more for our communities and their causes and more for our natural environment (which we are close to decimating within our own lifetimes by over-population and consumerism).
My reason for saying the above is that I recently wrote a series of Blog articles on a famous Artist and his story got me thinking about what he achieved with his art. The guy actually saved thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives by producing the particular art that he did and at the time he did it and for free, as a needed service to his community. The guy was an out and out Hero in my book since as the author of the art, if its true intention were discovered, its not as if he could hide and say he didnt produce it! He definitely would have been held responsible for it and that carried the death penalty of being burned at the stake during this particular era.
When I attempted to share this story with the custodians of this artists memory, the various museums who showcase his existing works and educate the public about his life etc, they were least bothered to learn about it, most never even opened the emails and the few “ART” newspapers I sent it to also didnt bother to publish the information or check/validate it or otherwise acknowledge it and that got me thinking. What has happened to our craft, our industry? Art, in all of its forms, used to be the medium of choice for communicating the big issues of the day, topics that were edgy, risky to talk about in a bar after you had or your friends had a few drinks, divisive issues etc, it was a way to get things out there, make people think, accept that there was a problem, deal with those problems etc.
Now it seems that even in the ART world we are distorting even our own artists so that they no longer resonate with the same vibrancy that they lived in this world with. How can we not be bothered about finding out some new facet of an artist that previously we thought we knew so well? We should at least be interested to investigate it and establish its authenticity but it seems that is not the case any longer. The custodians of our Art Museums seem more invested in how these new discoveries will affect their own book sales or professional credibility and egos than they do about the facts. Of course this is not just happening in the Art industry, I can recall the same thing started in the archaeology industry with Zafi Huwaz (sorry if I spelled your name wrong Zafi but you seem least bothered about facts like that when you were head of Egyptian antiquities ). He point blank refused to accept FACTS as proof that the pyramids were older than he himself had dated them or that any other culture could have antiquities that were more advanced or that pre-dated the pyramids! What business do people like this have in public office of any sort??
Maybe some of you have heard me say before that Art is the highest form of science but I will state it again just in case you did not. Its very important fundamental of life to understand this concept. Art is not only the form of the communication but it also the intelligence communicated through that form. The synchronisation of those two things can create beauty that is more than the sum of its parts in that it continues to resonate and take on a life of its own long after its creator has ceased to exist. Andy Warhol says it best when he said ” The point is not to live forever but to create things that will!” So this communication of intelligence that is beauty and that makes the receiver want to share and preserve it, is a science because it is the fundamental sign of intelligence. Without intelligence there can be no science.
Perhaps my logic is not well expressed here but I just know that I am right on this, I feel it in my bones. I also feel that we are all being sold short by our Governments on the big issues out there facing our existence, that we are being dubbed-down in a way that is very sinister. A way that we are accepting these days like we would never have done in the past. Like artists have NEVER done in the past and I thought why is that?
This is why I wrote this article, bcuz if you are reading it I want you to know that if you want your art to mean something then you have to start communicating the big issues of the day using your art. Forget about writing books and painting pictures for the rich and famous or getting a disbursement from some museum. Get out into your community and help somebody with your art, use your skill to communicate their message in a way that they never could, give their idea a life that transcends its creator and gives power to their cause (which incidentally should be a cause for humanity if you understood me right?)
According to world famous auction house Christie`s- Adolf Hitler a German Politician and leader of the Nazi Party, favourite picture was “The Knight, Death & The Devil” by German Renaissance Artist Albrecht Durer made in 1514.
Hitler (wrongly) interpreted this picture to represent a Catholic German Teutonic Knight fearlessly pushing-on even when confronted by this nightmarish scene. In fact both the Artist and the Art had quite opposite meanings!
For the last 500yrs German born Albrecht Durer has been described as a Catholic but new research shows that he was almost certainly a ” secret or Crypto-Jew” outwardly conforming to Catholic religious practices but secretly part of the German/Jewish Ashkenazi community of Nuremburg. Durer became famous during the early 1500`s making extraordinarily fine quality prints such as “The Knight, Death & The Devil’ (Hitlers favourite picture) and the other 2 prints that became known as his Masterpiece Trilogy, “Melancholia I” and ” St Jerome in his study”.
Durer was asked many times during his lifetime to explain the meaning behind these 3 Masterpieces but he refused to do so, now we can reveal that had he done so, he would not only have signed his own death warrant but also those of the many other Crypto-Jews (German/Jews who were using his prints to secretly carry on practising their faith in open view of their religious persecutors across Europe).
Across Europe, Jewish religious persecution was at its height, the Spanish Inquisition was under renewed vigour, torturing confessions and conversions out of Jews and Muslims alike and burning at the stake those who would not convert to Christianity or give up all of their possessions to the Church and leave. Durer lived in the Catholic Holy Roman Empire and was even employed as an Artist to the Holy Roman Emperor himself, Maximillian I, but this was no guarantee of safety. Maximillian had just employed a former Jew who had converted to Christianity to be the leader of his quest to hunt-out & expunge all Jews from his Empire. All previous methods of secrecy for the Jewish people were now in doubt, a new system of maintaining the “Mitzvah” (Jewish religious Law & practises that stretches back to the time of Moses) was the need of the hour.
Its quite incredible to imagine that these were the conditions under which Albrecht Durer was able to conceive his greatest ever artwork, his Trilogy of Masterpieces. Works and Art that quite literally saved a nation and countless lives.
The 10 minute read:-
If your time is limited right now then you can get a great idea of all the new research that shows exactly how Albrecht Durer was able to do this by just reading A 500 yr old Art Mystery Solved-Final Part but we strongly recommend that when you are able to do so, try to read all 5 blogs to get the in-depth details and analysis.
The 40 minute read:-
If you have the time then the whole series of 5 Blog articles will only take you 40 mins to read and give you an unprecedented depth of understanding of just how much skill was involved and artistry to weave all of the requirements of the Mitzvah into these pictures and yet still keep their meaning totally hidden except to its elite audience of Crypto-Jews. Click on these links to go to
In 1494 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) died of suspected poisoning at the court of Lorenzo de Medici (Father of the soon to be Pope Leo X). Mirandola would seem to have been a very charismatic young man and a favourite with the Medici, The Holy Roman Emperor and other notables of the Medici Art and Culture circle. Mirandola has later become famous as the founder of Christian Kabbalah and was the teacher of its secrets to the first German ever to have written it down, an associate of Durer`s friend Pirckheimer, Johannes Reuchlin, in 1490. Reuchlin eventually went on to publish the Art of Kabbalah in 1517 but only after he managed to acquit himself on the charge of Heresy from Pope Leo X in 1516, after 3yrs of legal battles with the Vatican over his book and interests with Mirandola & other leading Jews in the Nuremburg community.
At this time both Durer and his friend Pirckheimer were returning to Nuremburg from their studies in Italy and it seems likely that their similar interests in the Arts, the Medicis and eastern esoteric knowledge would all have led to their paths crossing with Reuchlin & Mirandola, well before the laters untimely death. This is interesting because Mirandola was surrounded by members of the Jewish Ashkenazi academic community, people like Johanen Alemana (kabbalah & alchemy), Asher Lemlin (who ignominiously announced he was the Messiah in 1503), Ellya Levita Bachu (literary academic) and Elijah del Medigo who taught him Arabic, kabbalah, Chaldean of Esdras, Zoroaster, Melchior, possibly the Hindu mathematics of Aryabhata and the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus during the years 1458-1493. Through the Medici personal and Papal Art patronage, Mirandola would have been mixing with such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Botticelli, Verrocchio and their Master “Brother Filippo Lippi” – an artist and Carmelite Monk whom the Medici adored!
Mirandola eclectic philosophy
Mirandola famously defended the Dignity of Man in 1486 at the young age of 23yrs, when he publicly stated his “eclectic” collection of 900 theses on religion, philosophy and alchemy which he had printed into a book, “Conclusiones philosophicae, cabalasticae et theologicae” – the first ever book to get banned by Pope Innocent VIII and by the Church as Heresy. Perhaps this was part of Mirandolas magnetic personality and the charm that pulled-in the Medicis and other great talents towards him?
He took the best of all philosophies, religions and Alchemy and combined them into one central narrative, not differentiating their origin from each other, preferring to think of them all as just different points of view of the same natural truth. A kind of “philosophical relativity theory” for humanity and even today this would resonate with very many people, dis-enfranchised with religion for one reason or another.
Durer begins the Trilogy
As Durer sat down in his studio in 1514 to begin the first etching of his Trilogy of Masterpieces, Europe was already deeply in the throws of what must have seemed like the Apocalypse scenes straight out of his Godfather, Koberger`s book, for which Durer had completed the prints in 1498. Pope Leo X, formerly Giovanni de Medici, Brother of Giuliano de Medici (1479-1516), had just been ordained in March and although he was sympathetic to the Jewish communities and showed them favour by allowing their printing presses in Rome, he was facing the onslaught of Crusades against the Muslim Ottoman empire, the Reformation of the Catholic church and with Martin Luther about to publish his 95 Thesis against the Popes Indulgences in 1517. He did not however, lift a hand to stop any of these religious excesses of the church, things got worse under Pope Leo X, he raised more taxes, granted more indulgences and had more religious persecutions by war in the name of Jesus Christ – Busy times indeed.
Inspiration for the Trilogy
It seems that Durer turned for inspiration for his Trilogy commentary on the current apocalypse to Dante and his Divine comedy of 1320 ” The Inferno”. The 3 master-piece settings of Durers pictures, mirror Dante Tragic Comedy;-
Hell or Inferno– Starts in Dantes dark wood where Durers Knight is riding through, on his way to Mount Purgatorio, ( the large hill with a building at the top, shown in the background behind the knight and that covers the entrance to the depths of Dantes Hell or Inferno).
Purgatorio– 7 levels or terraces of suffering and spiritual learning caused by the sin of Love- according to Dante. This is an interesting comment by Dante and one that could offer a tangible link between his Epic and Durers Melancholia I picture. It was long known that the ancient Jews and Chaldeans referred to the Moon God as SIN and his daughter was called Astarot (Goddess of both the Moon and Venus). Astarot then was also Goddess of both Love and War and this reference by Dante to the SIN of Love could be a double-entendre to the Moon that is depicted by Durer in Melancolia I as a “Moonbow”. This second picture of the trilogy, Melancholia I, captures the mood with the mighty Angel seated somewhere up on the mount of Purgatorio, overlooking the beach through a window with the book of 7 seals firmly closed under his right arm and that bind the 7 spirits intended for the regeneration of man. Looking out onto the water, boats ferry in the new “souls”, a star is pictured on the horizon falling to the earth. A sign detailed in the 22 chapter Book of Revelations foretelling this specific time period of events. The “MoonBow” outside the window signifying the celestial Moon behind and to the viewers left of the summit of Mount Purgatorio (Moonbows are rare and only visible near to a water source when the moon is behind you at no more than 42 degrees angle from horizon, hinting perhaps that the Moons position is important in some other way aswell?) and the moon was the first stage of Mans ascent to the heavens as noted in the old testament ascent of Elijah from the city of Jericoh (Jericoh literally means city of the Moon). The small Cherubim, guardian of Gods sacred lights of the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and the Tree of Knowledge, sits patiently, keeping note.
Paradisio– Earthly paradise in the garden of Eden, located at the top of mount Purgatorio and the first stage of the souls ascent to God. Durer shows aspects of the first of the seven Godly orbs involved in this ascent, the moon, by revealing the moon rainbow in Melancholia I. Paradisio itself is shown in his 3rd Picture, St Jerome working away in his study. It is Durers embodiment of Paradisio or the beginning of heaven on earth. A Saint is evidence of Mans required spiritual condition before he can begin his ascent to the moon, who better to depict in this state than the Catholic Saint and champion of Jewish causes on earth- St Jerome himself? I would suggest at this point that the fact he is sitting at Durers study in Nuremburg is a veiled reference by Durer that he himself should be considered in a similar light for the work he was doing, trying to help save the Jewish Ashkenazi community. Durer actually pictured himself in a self-portrait of 1500 as Leonardo Da Vinci`s Salvator Mundi (savior of he world) so perhaps this idea is not so far removed from truth.
New Twist on an old theme
Durer main story is not the same as Dante, although he does borrow the 3 settings and some characters from it, namely the Greyhound as a symbol of the risen Messiah and the enigmatic code 515. For those who have never read Dante Inferno, its an Epic of 100 verses or Cantos split into 3 sections or Canticles with one Canto serving as the introduction to each of the 3 Canticles that contain 33 Cantos each ( the number 33 is a key figure in the cycle of the moon which we deal with later). Apparently Dante had some association with the Knights Templar and witnessed the apostasy of the Pope and church that resulted in the burning to death of many of the Templar knights in 1309. Maybe that`s why Dante uses Tirza rima and other mechanisms of 3, as this was a significant number to their organisation, even to the point of always concealing a fourth or hidden number 3 whenever they displayed the figure 3 as the Holy Tau? I cant see any relevance to this from Durer`s prints immediately except to say that maybe its poetic, in that the inspiration for the setting of his masterpieces and the centre piece in the trilogy, Melancholia I is the enigmatic magic square which starts its “magic” by revealing its symmetries around the number 34, as if its the next Dante Canto. One other artist of this time, Botticelli, had also taken Dante`s epic poem to inspire his artwork but it looks to have been later than Durer and on a larger scale, 92 drawings in total. The nature of Botticelli work is good for comparison as it seeks to illustrate Dante` s work rather than be the inspiration of something new.
There are superficial similarities between the 2 Masterpieces though, Dante uses 3 different settings to take us through his poem, Purgatorio, Inferno and Paradisio whilst Durer shows us the same 3 settings visually as pictures that can be identified from within Dantes poem (but crucially leaving out the defining detail to Purgatory and Hell which the Jews do not believe in). Another similarity is that both artists go to great lengths to demonstrate mathematical and scientific knowledge in their work: Dante references astrological time differences between the position of the stars, the Sun and the Moon whilst moving between the entrance and the exit of Hell and Purgatory among other things: Durer seems pre-occupied with 2D and 3D geometric shape properties along with mathematical codes, the 515 reference, the enigmatic greyhound and the Moon. All of these are out of place in each of their works which strangely makes it a similarity.
Lastly, both artists were involved in what can best be described as civil wars within the same Holy Roman Empire, even the cause was the same- the long protracted “silk road” trade-route war (over the flow of goods through what was left of the Roman Empire) between the Middle East and the Western Europe. Despite the time period being separated by at least 200 years, both men were outsiders within their own communities and faced similar political issues and personal danger in their daily life.
515 code and the Book of Revelations
As stated above, these “Trade Wars” had been initiated and carried out publicly as Holy Wars or Wars of Religious Intolerance for dominance of the East-West trade routes of the world. In Durers time the Jewish community had been dragged into the War since the Catholic Spanish had just reclaimed Spain back from Muslim trade rule after nearly 800 years of dominance and the Muslims had been largely more tolerant of the Jewish community than the Catholic Spanish during these times. The backlash to this was that unofficially, expulsion of the Jews from Spain and other Catholic European countries started in 1492 with forced conversions, meaning Muslims and Jews who owned property and could not leave Spain, were forced to convert to Christianity under pain of death or torture from 1501. Anyone who helped to identify Jews was rewarded with half of their property, the other half went the Catholic Church Inquisition that had been set up to find and expose them.
Nowhere along this East-West trade route was safe from this kind of military action (called Pogroms) and Durer was right at the heart of its confluence in German Nuremburg. His decision to use his Art as a means for his Jewish community to conceal their identity openly within such circumstances and then to use the mass-production technology and distribution systems of the newly invented printing-press is pure Genius and deserves to be brought into the light. Here then is how he managed to do it.
Durers main content comes from the Catholic Bible and not directly from the Jewish Torah or Talmud. What he does is to reference the fundamental aspects of the Jewish religion, those things that specifically make “a Jew a Jew” and not a Christian by cross-referencing them from the Catholic Bible Old Testament texts (all Jewish Bibles and religious texts were being confiscated and burned at the time) and even then these Catholic Bible references were hidden in Durer`s pictures in such a way that only Jewish people would be able to link them together. He starts by using the Book of Revelations, common to both Jews and Christians alike and written during the period 100CE (allegedly by St John, venerated by the Templars as their patron saint but more likely a John of Pathos, one of many Jewish exiles following the expulsion of Jews from the Roman Empire by Hadrian). The book contains 22 chapters written after the death of the Messiah and received as a vision by “St John”. In the vision, the existence of 7 Divine mysteries are revealed in a book of 7 seals that can only be opened by the risen Messiah (lamb of God) and guarded by a mighty Angel, the Angel of Liberty and Freedom. It is here that Durer borrows the Greyhound from Dante`s Inferno that represent the Messiah, but since this masterpiece is set in Revelations, the Messiah/Greyhound is used allegorically and has yet to wake up and loose the seals. In Durer`s portrayal of the Greyhound it is a kind of Hybrid or Androgynous looking, mainly Greyhound but having lamb-like facial features, that make it more identifiable as the Messiah lamb that has been sheared of its fleece (not fully recovered yet from his ordeal on the cross). The 4 nails on the floor show that the Messiah has been loosed from the cross.
Elijah the biblical prophet revered by Jews of medieval Northwestern Europe (Ashkenaz), with particular attention to the rituals of Passover Seder, served as a symbol for the theme of redemption, and his inclusion in the Passover ceremony was introduced and gained momentum specifically in Ashkenaz during the High Middle Ages. The symbol of Elijah eventually overshadowed the image of the Messiah (for whom he was seen as a forerunner) by becoming the ultimate guest of honor at the ceremony. Passover Haggadah illumination programs reveal another facet of Elijah’s characterization in Ashkenazi thought: as the loyal protector of Israel symbolized by the image of a dog- yet another reason for the androgynous nature of Durers lamb/greyhound, perhaps even a reference to the “Dog Star” of Sirius ( the falling star shown in the background of the picture) that disappears from the sky each year for 70 days just before it reappears to signal the Nile deluge floods?
The 515 number that is written in Durer magic square can be seen by turning the picture upside down, its a coded message of prayer that goes back to Moses and the book of Exodus in the first instance and back to “St John” and the book of Revelations in the second instance (chapter 5, verses 1-5).
As I have shown in Blog 2 in this series, the Flying chameleon in “Melancholia I” is meant as a visual clue to reference both the Book of Exodus (given to Moses on Mt Sinai with the 10 Commandments and the Shema prayer, during the 40yrs wandering in the wilderness) and the Book of Revelations. This animal is mentioned as an animal on the “forbidden to eat” list in the Book of Exodus, additionally the remaining letters of the “Melancholia I and Chameleon” anagram, the L and the I, when added together as Jewish numbers equal 30+10 = 40 or the number of years that the Exodus lasted for thereby confirming the anagram solution is from the book of Exodus. The Chameleon also references the Book of Revelations by the very nature of the way in which it has exposed the anagram Melancholia I by turning its skin inside-out, thereby revealing its inner-most self to the viewer- literally a revelation. This could also have the dual allegorical purpose of meaning that the animal is not what it appears to be and that underneath its skin lies its true nature, just like the Crypto-Jews.
In fact the Book of Exodus is also not what it appears to be. The word Exodus is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word Shemot which is the name the Jews give to this book and it means the Book of Names ( they also call it the book of numbers since the Hebrew letters all have number values). The Greek translators have given the book a title which refers to the journey of the Jewish people out of Egypt and into a new land, the Greek Exodus means “way out” or “path” or “road” in the Latin. The Book of Names refers to the first chapter where God explains that even though the stars of the sky appear to be innumerable, still God has named them and knows them all. In a like manner he has named all of the Israelites and knows them all and their number. This number and name theme is something that pulls us back to the Magic Square and its number theme of 34.
In chapter 34 of the book of Exodus/Names/Numbers we see that at the heart of this book is the Sinaitic Covenant, a contract between God and his people, the Jews. It was negotiated on their behalf by Moses on Mount Sinai during the 40 year wanderings in the desert and God. This contract details what exactly it means to be a Jew and it is set down in writing and orally for them to agree to and follow. For the first time God gives his ineffable name to Moses as YHVH ( 3 vowels and 4 consonants which can be read either as the number 34 or 3+4=7 ). Here is a very clear symbolic imagery between the magic square and the name of the Jewish God but it gets even more definitive….
On the picture Melancholia I we can see Durers monogram on the right hand side underneath the seat with his date of completing the artwork as 1514. This number also appears in the 4 x 4 Jupiter magic square of 34 contained in Cornelius Agrippas book on occult philosophy but in a different location than the one in Durers artwork. It has moved 180 degrees around the square and other numbers have also been changed in position but the basic quality of all horizontal, vertical and diagonal squares of any 4 numbers still sum to the magic total of 34 (we have seen the significance of the number 34 in the Book of Exodus). So what is the significance of the number 1514 in this magic square in a Jewish context?
As stated previously, the Book of Exodus/Names/Numbers chronicles the Jewish people escaping out of Egypt led by their patriarch Moses. The start of this journey began on the first full moon after the vernal equinox, we know this because it has been celebrated ever since by the Jewish people as the feast of PASSOVER. It celebrates the success of the 10th and final plague on the Egyptian people where God sends the Angel of Death to pass over the land of Egypt and kill the first born male of every household except where the doors were marked by the Jewish sign – The MEZUZOT. Originally this sign was made in Goats blood on the doors opening lintel and upright post, at a slight angle like a right-angle triangle. This feast is not important to Catholic religions it is only important to Jewish people and marks a fundamental difference in the calendars between the 2 religions, namely that the Jewish Calendar and feast days are Moon centric and the Catholic Calendar and feast days are Solar centric. This is the entire reason for Durers veiled references to the Moon throughout and the explicit reason for the prominence of 1514 number in the magic square – this was the date of the first-ever feast of the actual Passover!
The date 1514 would have been the year 1514BCE to be precise, on the first full moon after the vernal equinox on 21 March. If you check history books you will find that the actual date is quoted as 1513BCE but this is just like us saying that this year is 2021 when in fact 2021 has already passed and we are living through 2022. The same is true of the Passover date, Durer has used the more accurate Moon date to authenticate the Passover meaning. This Lunar calendrical link to the foundation event of Jewish freedom along with other Lunar symbology is pretty solid evidence that this is not co-incidence.
In the book of Exodus, Moses prayed to God 515 times asking God to forgive his people and allow them to enter the promised land of “milk and honey” after their 40 years wanderings in the desert. The number 515 is written as 5+30+80+400 in Jewish Gematria ( each number also has a letter value) it spells the Jewish old testament word TIPHLAH. This word is a fundamental Old Jewish word for a pleading type of prayer (and one that is linked to TEFILLIN prayers) that Moses used at this time to God, so this is yet another indication about a very specific type of Jewish prayer related to a particular time during the 40yr Exodus and not something any Christian would ever be able to understand.
“Weep not: Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals there of”. Its important to remember here that Revelations is a prophecy of the future, there are no time lines contained in it so we do not know when the Messiah looses off the seals, merely that at some time in the future he has the power to do it. So the number 515 references directly the Messiah (as both the lamb of God and the lion of Judah) and the Jewish word for a pleading prayer for Gods mercy (usually described by the Hebrew word Chesed) and that in Revelations chapter 5:1-5 there is a direct reference to the book of seals held by a mighty Angel and that the Messiah has the power to open them. The 7 seals that loose the 7 spirits into the world to effect the regeneration of Man (7 spirits represent the 7 orders of Angels that are below the 2 orders of Angels that minister to the God head) I would also like to point out that this interpretation resolves the debate on the number of keys contained on the mighty angels belt in Durer`s picture- its 7! Directly related to the 7 seals that are contained within the book for the 7 spirits or levels of Angels. One key is almost hidden, it shows only its spine but that would have been to purposefully disguise the hidden meaning from all but its elite audience.
Solomons Temple and 515
The first Temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians who enslaved the Jewish people and kept Daniel (from the Royal House of David and Judah) as a Royal hostage for the next 70yrs. When they were finally set free by the fall of Babylon they returned to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the Temple. This second Temple was re-sanctified in 515 or 516 BCE so this could also be an additional reference to that Temple or that Temple period starting, which was a major event in the history of the Jews and neatly references the Book of Daniel(written in captivity) and the Book of Ezra Nehemiah (written after the end of captivity). Ezrah Nehemiah the scribe, returned from Babylon in the second wave of Jews at this time and was tasked with re-teaching the Jews the Oral Torah which they had lost during the long captivity period of not being allowed to practice their religion. He is credited with establishing the 120 man great Assembly that was the forerunner to the Sanhedrin. The second Temple would again suffer desecration but this time at the hands of the Greeks in 167 BCE (as per the prophesy in the Book of Daniel) but ultimately survive until the Romans tore it down completely in 70 CE after another Jewish revolt which finally ended in 73 CE and the capitulation of the Jewish stronghold of Masada on the sea of Galilee. There was a brief resurgence by the Jews against the Romans in 135CE that was crushed by Emperor Hadrian who promptly built a Temple to the chief Roman Deity Jove, God of Jupiter, on top of the ruins of Solomon`s Temple as a visual marker that Judaism was finished for good. He also built a wall in Britannia at the northernmost limit of his Empire to keep the Picts out. Did he suspect that Jews would try to use this as the “backdoor” to get back in to the Roman Empire? It seems possible that the Jews were already established in this area through tin trading links with the earlier Phoenician Empire that the Romans had displaced. Either way, the timing and magnitude of the task signify a similar significant statement to their audience- its over now!
The Messiahs name is 34
The real significance of using the Magic Square of number 34 is that the number itself is symbolically linked by the Jews to the Messiah and Gods names. When the Messiah wakes from his slumber and opens the seals, we are told in the Book of Revelations, that the Angels and the heavens will rejoice and sing. What will they sing? Probably a Jewish religious song that praises God, they are called a psalms, most were written by the “root of David” (73 were written by David or his son known as Solomon) exalting the Lords name but there are more than 100 psalms in total- so which one to sing?
If we take the number 34 that appears so prominently everywhere in Durer`s magic square, we already know that the Messiah was 33/34 at the time of his crucifixion, so both numbers are symbolic of him, in addition we know that it is made from the number 3 and the number 4 which are both used as version of the Messiahs name in Jewish, in fact they are the most famous versions being also used in Roman (in Latin;LUX and INRI; in Jewish YAH and YHWH) to denote his name also, 3 letters and 4 letters. Adding these two symbolic numbers we get the number 7 which is used by the Jews as the single numeric to represent his name since it is the number of perfection and light. This comes from the time of Moses and his instructions to build the first Tabernacle to house the Ark of the Covenant, Gods presence was symbolised by the 7th central light of the Jewish Menorah, light being the physical embodiment God in this earthly dimension, composed as it were of the 7 visible colours of the sun rainbow.
In my opinion Durer`s magic square is screaming out the Messiah name and acting as the Jewish Mezuzah (see Blog 4) already but lets take a look at the Biblical psalm number 34 in detail, it was written by one of the Lions of Judah himself, King David. There are many verses, so lets just pick out the numerically interesting ones, 3, 4, 7 and 17 ( the magic square has 16 numbers which when any 4 are added together total 34, therefore 34 is the 17th number of the square and also one of the magic numbers of the diagonal being half of 34). The number 17 is also the 7th Prime number which the Jews regard as the perfect number of God. When the 2 numbers are displayed side by side eg. 3417 we have another interesting Jewish number, this being a Birkat Hachma year where according to the Jewish calendar, the Sun and Moon are both in the exact position they were in on the day of creation ( the Sun was created in the position of the vernal equinox immediately after sundown on the fourth day of the week of Creation, which is equivalent to sunset on Tuesday of that week and this only happens every 28yrs ).
Psalm 34 verse 3
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
Psalm 34 verse 4
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34 Verse 7
The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him and delivereth them.
Psalm 34 verse 17
The righteous cry and the Lord heareth and delivereth them out of their troubles.
If ever you were being oppressed for your religious beliefs (and undoubtedly the Jews were at this time!), this is the kind of thing you would be wanting to remind yourself of on a daily basis. I cannot see how anyone could doubt the intention for the configuration of this magic square, it is clearly performing all of the functions of the Jewish Mezuzah and more. Every single meaning is taken from the Jewish part of the Bible- The Old Testament. There are no CATHOLIC NEW TESTAMENT references and all references are specific to the Jewish people and their redemption by God. Why was this needed now and why was it required to be hidden in this way?
In 1514 when Durer produced this Trilogy of Masterpieces, the purge of Jews from Europe had by no means abated, in fact it had only just started since the Spanish Inquisition by the Dominican Orders was yet to start officially and the acquisition of the Holy Roman Empire (where Durer lived in Nuremburg/Germany) into the Catholic Spanish Habsburg Dynasty by Charles V was also in its infancy. The remaining Muslims and Jews would revolt against this action in 1520, citing that the Pope had ordered all Monarchies to allow freedom of religion to Jews and Muslims but the Catholic Pope would respond by releasing the Spanish Kings from this oath in 1525 and the inquisition would start again, officially lasting another 300 yrs! Durer`s own experience of the inquisition in Germany had allowed him to see first-hand how the Jews were being identified by their own people who had converted to Catholicism and so it would have been important to him to help his community by developing a clandestine method of fulfilling their daily religious obligations without fear of discovery by the authorities. A former Jew born in Nuremburg, named Johannes Pfefferkorn, who had converted to Christianity and so also knew existing Jewish customs and ways to identify them, had just managed to get an order from Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian I, to confiscate & burn all Jewish books from 1509 onwards and to be responsible for the mission to end Judaism in Germany forever. From 1513 to 1514 Pfefferkorn was publishing many public pamphlets to stir up racial hatred against the Jews and gain support in his cause, eventually winning most territories within the Holy Roman Empire over to his goal, culminating in the expunging of the Jewish Ancestral Ashkenazi community of Regensburg in 1519 (just 5 short years after Durer finished his Masterpieces). For this reason it became necessary to change the format of the Jewish Mezuzah at precisely the time of Durers Trilogy. Even Pfefferkorn and his teams would have no clue about the true purpose of these pictures hanging in somebody`s home, they would be “state of he art” technology as it were.
The items on the Floor
I believe these items are meant to represent the main artisan employments of the German Ashkenazi communities, Bakers, goldsmiths, stone masons, carpenters, printers, apothecaries etc., indicating that this picture would become their new “Temple” until this particular oppression had passed.
Some kind of nozzle apparatus (apothecary or medic instrument). Another favourite occupation of Jews but also it was the profession of Dante (author of the Inferno) at the time his faction won a trade-war in Florence 1300 CE. So could also be an allegory to the inspiration behind this trilogy. A Medieval Jewish Apothecary was also an exponent of Astronomy and Astrology Arts and this usually got them accused of performing witchcraft or sorcery, especially since they would also make “magic-square” amulets for good-luck charms. The word Physic in medieval times was actually used to describe the study of engineering which was kind of a code-word for “magic” or hermetic arts, it was used so that the subject did not alarm church authorities of the time. So a Royal physician was actually a doctor of astrology and astronomy or if you were Jewish the terms were Mazalot (Cosmos) and Goralot (oracles) as opposed to a Medic or Doctor of Medicine.
4 large carpentry nails allegorically showing that the Messiah has been released from the crucifixion and is risen but also that those symbols of his redemption, the cross and the nails, are about to be used by the “hammer” (representing the church itself as Pope Julius II) against Gods people.
A straight-edge for measuring and drawing straight lines, common to most skilled craftsman guilds but also one of the 2 symbols of majesty or rule, the rod and ring. (see later description of Durers solid and the Delian puzzle or squaring the cube)
A smoothing plane for wood. Allegorically I dont have any idea about this object other than artisanal but on a visual note I think that it alludes to smoothing the rough surfaces of the 2 sides of the stone Altar block where I believe Durer has concealed a hidden image of a head or skull within the 2 rough surfaces. I believe that the image is distorted by the stretching of the block in the 2 dimensions to produce its current shape from that of the square (see later blog on the viewing angles to get a better understanding of this).
A rough hand saw for wood cutting of trees or vines. Vines or specifically the Jewish word for vine or wine meant “secret knowledge” or “wisdom”- a clue to the allegorical nature of the picture perhaps? It would also link into a the St Jerome picture which references a mis-translation of the word for a fruit of the vine.
A wooden gauge for shaping a curved surface. There are 3 “gauges” or steps in this measuring device. It most obviously alludes to the ancient puzzle of the Delian problem or squaring the circle but it also gives an ancient partial solution to the problem itself as the 3rd and 4th stage of measurement of a circle or sphere in a gnomon come close to a solution of the Delian problem ( The gauge could also be said to represent the 3 steps taken to change the original cubic shape of the altar block into “Durers solid”). Again the number digits 3 & 4 pop up emphasizing Gods name with the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Stone sphere with radius the same as the compass held by Angel (see later description of Durers solid to understand how this links in with the Jewish symbology and their astrological/astronomical knowledge of the Sun, Moon, Venus spheres).
A claw hammer for carpentry that allegorically represents the Pope who will use the Catholic Church of God to persecute Gods Church less Jewish people. The Hammer of the Jews was in effect the Pope, Julius II, Known as the Warrior Pope or Fearsome Pope due to his recruitment of a personal Army which he led into battles. He was the Pope immediately before Pope Leo X who died in 1513 around the same time that this print was made.
A greyhound or sleeping dog (see previous references to Dantes marvelous Messianic Greyhound that protects him against the wolf of avarice and greed in his poem the Inferno). Allegorically the Messiah was also known as the Lamb of God or the Lion of Judah, Jesus being from the Royal house of David, so this would mean that all 3 pictures now contain a Lion and /or a dog in them confirming that they are in FACT ALL CONNECTED and part of a trilogy.
A set of ladders with 7 visible steps or rungs, the first 7 steps of the Jewish Jacobs ladder, linking Mans earthly paradise to the first Level of Gods, the Celestial orb of the Moon (possibly leaning at 72 degree angle to allegorically represent the Jewish book of the Zohar 135 CE, which is the first Jewish book that details the 72 Angels of the 9 Orders of Angels and how to make their names from the letters of the Shem HaMephorash in the first paragraph of Genesis). It was important for Durer to reference the Zohar directly in this picture since from the time the Jews were expelled from the Temple and Jerusalem by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 136 CE, it was the Zohar which was used as a Holy book until the Rabbis could compile and document the written Torah from their oral records in 1300 CE. In this way the ladders are another signpost to the viewer about the name or names of God constructed from the Shem HaMephorash. On a visual level, ladders leaning against the wall of another higher structure in this way are symbolically indicative of a look-out or watchtower of some sort as stated in Durers hidden codes and references to the watch tower of Jericoh.
A mill-stone. Many Crypto-Jews were millers (muller in German) or bakers, including Durers own Godfather Koberger (he later went into printing when the famous astronomer/astrologer/mathematician Johannes Muller arrived in Nuremburg from Mathias Corvinus court in Hungary.). It was a common trade since one of the Laws of God in Exodus ( the Mitzvah commandments) was that the Jew must give a bread offering every day to their God when they enter into a new land. Originally this would have been the promised land but later was taken to mean any new land the Jewish diaspora would journey into. So bread or more commonly flour, was a prayer offering (shewbread) in the temples and homes of Jewish people. In this sense it is another allegory to Jewish prayers. The mill-stone is also mentioned in the Book of Revelations as the method which God would use to commercially destroy Babylon, by making the mill stones stand idle!
A crucible with burning charcoal heating a triangular shaped metal vessel would be representing the ancient Jewish metallurgy skills dating back to their zenith and the time of the first Temple of Solomon along with the more modern Printers, Goldsmiths & Coppersmiths (Durers immediate family and relatives principal occupations) and also symbolic of the second temple mount altar in Jerusalem, where up until 70CE, ritual animal sacrifices were still made everyday to God as burnt offerings and the shewbread (manna) was also burnt.
A pair of Tongs for use with the crucible – allegorically represent the Jewish Temple priests known as the Sadducees. They were the religious ruling authority while the Temple was standing in Jerusalem up until 70 CE.
A pair of Pincers (used for removal of nails from wood) allegorically these represent the Jewish Community priests known as Pharisees. The destruction of the Temple in 70 CE effectively gave them the ascendancy in shaping Jewish law and life since their power base was the oral Torah practised in the community synagogues of the Jews. This oral Torah (The Mishna and Gemara) became the only existing source of the Jewish Bible once the Temple and scriptures had been burned & destroyed by the Romans and so they set about compiling the first Talmud based on their oral records. These people became known as Rabbi`s and they started Rabbinical Judaism from this time.
The Bag of Money on the floor is probably referring to the general corruption within the Catholic church with the selling of indulgences and offices to the highest bidder. More specifically though, Banco di Santo Spirito building or Papal Bank that was inaugurated by Pope Leo in 1513 along with his Papal Bull allowing Christians to profit from money-lending for the first time (usury) as long as it was at Papal rates and the Pope got its share. Initially this was an encouraged practice for Jewish apothecaries to engage in. But it would be 1605 before this building became properly operational as Europe`s first International Bank.
The large stone polygon (see below) but also note that this is allegorically intended to represent the original Jewish stone altar that was carved with the ineffable name of God on it, the cube shaped altar from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Solomons Temple) that was defiled by the greeks and replaced by a Greek altar in 167 BCE. On a visual level it is disguised as a “double cube” or rectangular stone altar from the Greek Island of Delios and the Delios puzzle-(“How to double the volume of an existing cube using only a compass and a straight edge. How much do you increase the edge by?”). Attempts have been made by various scholars to show that Durer had solved this “unsolvable” problem and concealed the answer within this picture but my answer would be why conceal the solution? There were 3 such “unsolved” ancient Greek geometric puzzles at the time and any mathematician who could solve any of them would become famous beyond his lifetime. Durer would go on to publish his mathematics book 10yrs after this Masterpiece, where he offered a solution to one of those puzzles, trisecting the angle, but he does not mention any solution to the Delian problem or of squaring the circle (the other 2 problems). So this is proof that he had no solution that completely solved either at the time of these prints, otherwise why publish just this one 10yrs later? The presence of this block is one of miss-direction, it completely takes the viewer off on a wild-goose chase of speculation and perfectly disguises its hidden meaning ( the original Jewish “cubic” shaped Temple stone of Jerusalem)
A wax-seal making pot which I believe is reference to all the land contracts and treaties that the Church was getting involved in instead of saving souls. Namely the treaty of Tordesillas which had just split the world in 2 halves along the 370 leagues Meridian west of Cape Verde Islands: to the left of this everything belonged to Spain: to the right of this everything belonged to Portugal, Both were Catholic states. The church would claim the “souls” of all the indigenous people who would thus be enslaved and then converted to Christianity from these pagan lands, along with property for their new churches to be built on and 10% incomes from their communities.
The Stone or Durers Solid
Much has been written about the geometric and mathematical properties of this stone so I dont think there is much need of re-hashing this area, I would only summarise that every facet of this object has purpose in the context of the Jewish narrative. Durers “stone of destiny” is similar in one very important aspect to the stones of destiny that were worn by the Jewish High-Priest on his breast plate. It had 12 precious stones on this breast plate that were inscribed with the 12 tribes of Israel (but were also representative of the12 “houses” of the Zodiak & astronomy called Mazalot in Jewish) and 2 stones of Destiny (Urim & Thummim- ¨to do or not to do¨) placed on the inside of the breastplate and used for interpreting the Book of oracles called the Goralot (a book conceived by King David and his advisors for communicating directly with God in times of great urgency). Durers stone reveals both of these features when the 12 vertices are projected downwards to produce the form of the Jewish Star of David on the floor ( 6 points and 6 inverse points = 12 points or divisors), which is itself derived from 2 equilateral triangles. This is dealt with in more detail below.
The Stones Mystery shape explained
The stone starts as the cubic stone of the Jewish Temple Mount that gets defiled or cut by the Greeks and replaced with their rectangular or double-cube altar in 167 BCE. These cuts or defiling are represented in the divine shapes of the equilateral 60 degree Triangle (cut from the top and bottom corners of the opposing diagonals of the original cube shape that is symmetrical or mirrored along the two points of the equilateral triangles that are now one on top of cube and one on bottom of cube) and that then leads to its irregular pentagonal shape, giving the block a “dis-figured” look and strange sitting angle. The distinctive Jewish cube shaped altar is then further disguised by extending its length along 2 of its dimensions (similar to the shape made by the 4 numbers used in the magic square to represent the angles and the Biblical references) by an amount equal to the Golden ratio of the cube. Thus forming a Golden ratio rectangle composed of two golden ratio triangles whose hypotenuse, forms the diameter of a circle that perfectly encompasses the golden ratio rectangle.
Golden ratio & the Pentagram of Jerusalem/Solomon Temple
The Golden ratio is also referenced by the same group of numbers, as are the internal and external angles of pentagrams and pentagons. The pentagram was very important symbolically to the Jews as was the equilateral triangle, 2 of which are used to construct the Star of David. This duality theme is constant in Jewish religious texts, since the time of Moses when God gave the Torah in 2 forms (written and oral), it is also the meaning behind mirrored images, mirror numbers and mirror texts in Jewish codes. Having this dual quality in them makes them God like in essence, positive and negative being the basic requirements for all of creation.
Archaeologically, the pentagram (5 x 72 degree angles or spokes) was in use by the Jews much earlier than the Star of David and has been found as a seal for the city of Jerusalem as early as the late 8th Century BCE, being stamped onto pottery vessels with the 5 letter Jewish name for Jerusalem as YRSLM, each letter being placed in the space between each of the 5 points. The Golden ratio triangle is used to construct both the pentagram, the pentagon and even the hexagon needed to create all forms of the Jewish national symbols so its presence is highly significant to a Jew. Interestingly, the planet Venus (called the morning and evening star) traces out a five-pointed pentagram shape in the sky when seen from the earth every 8 years. After 8 such cycles or 40 years it returns to its exact astronomical starting point with such accuracy that it could be used even today as an atomic clock or calendar. This 40 year cycle and its significance to the Jewish symbol and their time in the desert seems to link in well with the other symbolism of Solomon`s Temple in Jerusalem being also a kind of giant astrological clock as well as place of worship. The Hexagram symbol below, known as the star of David, and symbol of the Jews can easily be further subdivided into another 6 points using the inverse point between any of the 2 star points, to give a perfectly divided 12 points of the zodiac. These zodiac star constellations are used in astronomy to track the movements of both the Sun and the Moon in space, lending credibility to the theory that all of the Jewish iconography of that era was related to Solomons Temple of the Sun & Moon.
Gematria for the above square
In Hebrew Gematria the text or numbers are read from right to left so the following values would be the correct interpretation according to Hebrew gematria values:-
846 gives the root word ” ushsharna” meaning an upright wall or structure
975 gives the root word “bachan” meaning a watch tower for keeping a look out from.
Again the message would seem to be that the picture is meant as some kind of Talisman to protect or guard the owner from harm and it should be put on a wall or upright structure (and used just like the mezuzah and tefillin as previously stated in my blogs)
Secrets of the Magic square
The way that Durer had manipulated the numbers from the original Cornelius Agrippa magic square, forces us to focus on these numbers and what significance they may have, was it just a good luck Talisman or was there something more? If we look at the 2 horizontal lines where the etching mistakes have been made, we have seen that the shape is of a rectangle 2 x 4 squares with the numbers 5 or 6, 8 12, 9. Without any manipulation these numbers have given us the Bible references from the Jewish Books of Moses that describe items shown allegorically in the picture. When the same numbers are multiplied diagonally and vertically they give us geometric numbers that relate directly to significant shapes to the Jewish diaspora and also that cross-reference to shapes exhibited by the stone sitting in the picture. All the symbolism is 100% Jewish so far.
Geometry of the Stone
The references to the internal and external angles of a regular pentagram, along with the reference to the 60 degree angle of the equilateral triangle and the “Phi” symbol for the golden ratio, lead me to think that the side of the equilateral triangle would be the same as the golden ratio length of the original cube and that this length would also equal the diameter of the stone sphere on the floor or double the distance of the compass gauge held by the Angel. The Durer graph shows the effect of this relationship in a single plane, exposing the Jewish Star of David and a Pentagram contained within a subscribed circle if we also extend the diameter of the stone sphere by the amount of the Golden ratio. The points of the 3D solid 12 x vertices lying around the circumference of the circle, make a Hamiltonian graph, which is useful for constructing some kabbalah communication ciphers (as is the magic square) thus making the construction of such shapes very simply just from overlaying a piece of paper onto the print and tracing down the vertices to the circle drawn to that size. As you can see from the diagram above the position of the 6 numbers selected from the “magic square” is not possible to discern until the vertices are projected downwards onto the star of David below and vice-versa, making it possible to conceal short codes or words as used in traditional Kabbalah just by changing the numbers or position of the numbers in a simple 3×3 grid.
When I first read through Dantes Inferno, I was struck with a similar sense of feeling as I had been when reading the medieval Grimoires and Occult books of the European middle ages. That behind the skilfully woven text, well articulated ideas and elaborate descriptions of concentric levels of Hell, there was a political propaganda being communicated to a specific audience, one who would pick up on the clues and be able to decipher its cryptographic mechanism. It seems that behind the Art of Albrecht Durers Melancholia I, there is also a similar political narrative and the elaborate communication system of kabbalah, allowing its initiates to use the 2 magic mechanisms to construct or decipher cryptographic messages from members of their community or just even to simply recognize a fellow member without doubt.
Why Dante Inspired Durer
Of course the audience and the mechanisms are different, coming from a period separated by more than 200yrs but the purpose is the same. In Dantes case he was an Exile from the Holy Roman Empire, too dangerous to allow back into the country but Dante still had ambitions to rebel against his ruling elite and so he needed clandestine methods of communication to speak with his followers from within the ruling elite. It seems likely that this could have been done through a published work such as his Inferno, with diagrams of his ” Coding Mechanism” clandestinely contained within the illustrations of his verses or even just using the 3 beat rhythm of the Tirza Rima cantos ( a cryptographic technique in its own right). Of course it is not known if Dante communicated parts of his “poem” backwards and forwards to political allies but we do know that the poem took at least 10yrs, possibly more, to complete which is quite a long time! So its credible that it could have been a means of regularly corresponding in code during this time period as he was still politically active during this time period but I have not given it any more thought than this.
Durer the Cryptic Jew?
Durer, in my opinion, was a Cryptic Jew, outwardly professing to be Catholic but inwardly part of the German /Jewish Ashkenazi community that had blood ties directly to the “lion of Judah” and the Messiah himself. Ashkenazi Jews were mainly from the 10 “Lost tribes” of Israel who migrated out of the North of the country up into Cilesia/Armenia, around and across the Black sea into the Balkans areas intially before following the route of the Danube river flood plain and into the lands now known as Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Northern Italy and Eastern France (in Durer`s time they would be collectively known as the Holy Roman Empire).
Their settlements are mingled with many tribes along both sides of the river and traces of them can still be seen today easily from as far back as 70-135 CE. This route can be traced back to the ancient Silk Road that continued East into Persia and the Far East and was also the route taken by the European knights of the first crusade circa 1100 CE when they decided to head back into the Holy Land to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims. The other popular migratory route out of Israel for those who could afford it, was by boat across the Mediterranean sea to either Ravenna or Naples (Modern day Italy), Spain/Portugal (Marano Jews who were displaced by the Spanish Inquisition came from here) or completely outside the Roman Empire to Britain/Ireland/Scotland (Pictland then) and even North Western Europe such as Sweden, Denmark and the Baltic.
At the time Durer completed these masterpieces, all across Europe but particularly within Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, this community was being expunged with the same venom as the Muslim invaders of Islam. To make matters worse, a Papal Bull of 1484 had been issued which made the practice of magic, fortune telling (astrology) or witchcraft a Heretical crime, punishable by burning at the stake. This was followed in 1487 with the printing of the Malleus Maleficarum in the Holy Roman Empire which called for the extermination of such people, Jews were particularly vulnerable to such accusations (most Jewish literature fell into this “magic” category especially religious texts). It seems logical to think that these cryptic Jews would also require clandestine methods of protecting their identities from their Catholic persecutors. Durers pictures would solve both needs elegantly, a fitting use to the Artwork that undoubtedly are his Masterpieces.
Inspiration for a community
These pictures could be openly displayed in any Crypto Jewish home in place of their usual religious symbols and yet they displayed all of the fundamental signs of those religious symbols. In many ways they were superior, the pictures display more emotion and meaning than the written words, just look at the mighty angels face and the flying chimera! These pictures would inspire his community to keep strong and keep together through out all of the troubles that they were enduring. They are magnificent in their concept and execution.
How the other Masterpieces are linked to the Melancholia I narrative.
Masterpiece Number 1- The Dark wood
This, in my opinion, is the first picture in Durer`s Trilogy, as it starts at the beginning of Dante`s Inferno which I believe is the basis for all 3 of Durer`s masterpieces. The characters are drawn from the Book of Revelation again, as in Melancholia I, but here we see 2 of the 4 riders of the apocalypse. The main focus of the picture is the second knight from chapter 6 verse 3 and 4 (together adding up to the magic number 34).
The knight is recognizable as the rider of the red horse, with his sword and lance. The second rider of the Apocalypse.
“And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword”
This rider is an allegory for the pagan religions who set out to destroy Christianity in its early days, in its glory days of rapid growth across the world.
Unfortunately, I think that this is the wrong rider and that it originally should have been the 3rd rider from the Apocalypse in Durers picture riding past the 4th pale rider of death. The 3rd rider more correctly describes the political situation that Durer and his people were enduring, namely the persecution of their faith by the Catholic church itself. Had it of been the 3rd rider it would have been in perfect keeping with the 3 & 4 narrative of the other pictures ( the 3rd and 4th rider of the apocalypse) but in my opinion I think Durer decided to disguise the Knight in this picture by using knight number 2 who is much less obvious to identify as anything other than a Knight. There is good evidence to suggest Durer was doing just this when you take another look at Melancholia I. You will notice that there is a set of scales sitting above the head of the mighty Angel. I believe that the knight is coming to collect these scales in exchange for his lance, since the scales are the apparatus described in the book of Revelations for the 3rd Knight and the Angels gaze is fixed off to the left of the picture on something which is out of view and also from his expression, something which he does not like or trust. Further evidence of this is that Durer produced a right-facing version of this picture which meant that the rider would have been coming towards the “mighty Angel”. Then there is the inclusion of the 4th Knight within this picture who is holding the timer and waiting patiently. I believe that this is the clearest indication that this really is the 3rd Knight in “disguise” because he precedes the 4th Knight who. apart from being unmistakable, cannot start his campaign until the 3rd Knight has completed his time and so he shows that he is next by holding up the timer, indicating that we are in fact looking at the 3rd Knight. If this is the case then we have the 34 number iconography back into the picture as both Knights 3 & 4 are present.
If I am right, then the ploy has worked because for more than 500 years people would have wrongly identified this Knight. He is meant to be an allegory representing the corruption of the church as in the original iconography of the Book of Revelations. The lance or Pike with the “fox fur” is also an allegory to the 1512 Holy-League Battle of Ravenna where even though the Forces of Pope Julian II (” the war dog” and “Hammer of the Jews”) were beaten, they managed to kill the leader of their enemy`s army, the French Aristocrat Gaston de Foix, demoralising them and ultimately winning the war. Durer uses a play on the word Foix (pronounced FWA) and Fox – the lance representing the infantry pikemen who ultimately killed Gaston de Foix, the brilliant young commander of their Army. Why Gaston de Foix to represent this particular battle within this particular Holy War? I think it has something to do with the Foix region and his particular blood line because both are significant to Jewish Gnosticism in general, the Foix Castle was the centre of European Jewish Gnosticism at one time and both the chameleon dragon and the dog feature in Gaston de Foix`s heraldic family bloodline.
Underneath the Knights horse we can see some nice detail that ties the picture and true meaning in with Melancholia I, as we see the small lizard/dragon like chameleon (previously the chimera/dragon like creature in Melancholia I) scurrying out of the way of the passing “Knight” or Catholic states administered by the corrupt churches in allegorical terms. Although the chameleon is properly represented in this picture with its dragon/lizard-like appearance and ability for disguise, it is allegorically representing the Lion of Judah ( another play on the letters of the ¨chame –lion” name) and one of the objects that tie this Trilogy of pictures together since all 3 can be said to show a Lion in each picture now.
The other rider is recognisable as the 4th Knight, the rider of the pale horse.
“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth”.
This rider is an allegory for the final stages of corruption, a great persecuting ecclesiastical power, the Papacy! The universal church had become one vast republic during the middle ages, wielding immense power over kingship and states. Its levels of apostasy and corruption were unbridled, their decisions upheld by the arm of civil power and now even their own military power (under threat of excommunication), their tyranny no match for their clerical ambitions.
Masterpiece Number 3- Heaven on earth (St Jerome in Durer`s study)
This is the final masterpiece in the Trilogy, showing St Jerome writing some correspondence in Durer`s study at Nuremburg, perhaps a letter to the viewer? According to the narrative of Dante, this study should be at the top of the mount of Purgatorio, the start of Heaven on Earth. We can see that everyone looks content and satisfied in this picture, St Jerome is finishing off some work, the translation books are put away on the shelf, and he is just completing some correspondence or other. Durer has cleverly included Jesus on a cross to further make this picture look very Catholic but since they are showing their back to the viewer it is of little offence to a Jewish person who would have this picture hanging in their home. Above and behind him the sands of time have no gauge, unlike in the other 2 pictures, perhaps indicating that his time here on earth is completed and he is in the perfect state to ascend up into the first heavenly orb of the moon with the Cherubim.
An interesting feature of this picture is the hanging fruit or vegetable from the ceiling that refers to a miss-translation that Jerome corrected in one of the Bibles he worked on. The Latin word should actually have been the word for grape or wine which was the meaning in the Hebrew version but had been rendered as this large vegetable of the cucumber genus! You should remember that apart from the obvious reference to Jeromes great diligence in his work it also highlights the word wine or vine which is representing a greater mystery or secret in the picture, since the Gematria value of wine is 70- which means great secret or wisdom to be learned. There are 3 empty seats in the room, who were they for? Someone who had left or someone who is yet to come? Maybe the 2 Angels and the Messiah/ Greyhound?
Durer also departs from the normal environment that he typically portrayed St Jerome in, the wilderness. So there is great significance in this and we must try to interpret what message he is trying to convey to us with this change, otherwise why to do it? Here he situates Jerome in his own study, a house which he had only just bought 2yrs previously from the recently deceased Bernhard Walther who was the partner of Regio Montanus Muller, Astronomer/Astrologer to Hungarian King Matthius Corvinus in Europe and reputedly the foremost scientist/astronomer/astrologer of his day. RegioMontanus Mueller died 1476 in Rome while consulting the Pope about updating the Julian Calendar for the Catholic countries. The building was used for their astronomy since 1472, manufacturing astronomical gauges /equipment (including globes) and for printing of their ephemeris (charts and treatises of heavenly bodies movements). These manuscripts and tables were the most recent astronomical treatises that inspired Nicholaus Capernicus (also a Holy Roman Empire resident and who used Bernhard Walthers observations of Mercury as a proof to his treatise ) to finalise and publish his theory of a heliocentric solar system in manuscript form in 1510. It would seem highly likely that Durer, who had worked on producing the first printed star-maps for their ephemeris and globes would have discussed and been a reader of these ground-breaking manuscripts with his friends and scholars Schoner, Walther & Prickleheimer, well before its printing date and certainly before he produced his own trilogy of Masterpieces.
Another Translation Error?
Regio Montanus Muller was also employed by the church to do translation work just like St Jerome except he had been given the task to re-translate the Epytoma Almagesti by Ptolemi ( the Greek star catalogue and mysteries of the cosmos). The primary reason for this job was the same as St Jerome getting his commission to re-translate the Bibles- the original translations had been very badly done and successive copying of manuscripts had led to even more errors by the various scribes. It was whilst doing this epic work that RegioMontanus stumbled across a theory by one of Pythagoras` students, Aristarchus, who had postulated a helio-centric version of our solar system but whom history had ignored. There were no proofs of the theory but something in it led Regio Montanus to believe that he could prove this theory correct by careful observation and tracking of the celestial orbs and so he began the work that Capernicus would later complete. I believe that RegioMontanus believed he could prove the Helio-centric system because he had re-discovered and understood the concept of parallax, allowing him to measure great distances using rudimentary equipment and the laser-like accuracy/speed of light along with the geometry of triangles. Parallax was most certainly understood by the Egyptians and Indian cultures but had been lost to antiquity for medieval Europe like so much other knowledge such as optics.
It can also now be seen that all three of these Durer Masterpieces have 4 common elements or items and that this clearly links the trilogy together. In the first 2 pictures some subterfuge is used to disguise them a little but in the last they are clearly on view indicating that this is the final picture in the series and actually the key to unlock the meaning of the other 2 pictures (St Jerome the Christian Saint of the Jews` persecutors is the key).
The common items in all 3 pictures are :-
The Dogs ( War dogs are referred to by the ancient Greek chronicler Plutarch, in reference to Aratus the Corinthian strategist who led his forces 17 times successfully in battle. Conversely the “dogs of war” are the political and societal restraints against war that operate during times of peace. Both types are shown across the 3 pictures). Corinth was heavily populated by Greeks and Jews with the Apostle, St Paul, having written 2 Epistles there to convert them to Christianity.
Durers Mezuzah Board/slate board (as opposed to his normal monogram just etched onto the engraving- see Blog 4 in this series)
A Lion (sometimes chame-lion)
A skull (somewhere in the block etching on melancholia I and that I believe needs the picture to be viewed from a particular angle or combination of 2 angles to demonstrate the Parallax effect). The angle or angles should be 34 degrees but not more than 42 degrees, the angle required for the Moonbow effect.
At least one theme of a mis-translation in them. Melancholia has the flying chamelion which should have been some kind of bird or fowl that the Jews were not meant to eat. St Jerome has the mis-translation about the vegetable that should have actually been a grape vine. Both of these pictures hint at RegioMontanus` presence – one with the mill stone and the sphere, the other being the fact that St Jerome is actually sitting in Regio Montanus` observatory in Nuremburg. RegioMontanus was also famous for exposing a mis-translation of the Almagesti by George of Trebizond! I see also a mis-translation reference in the Knight, the Devil and Death composition too. The mistake this time is a deliberate one by Durer himself, it is he who deliberately inserts the wrong horseman of the apocalypse and hangs his scales on the wall of Melancholia I to confuse us! Oh and the reference to Regio Montanus in the “knight, the Devil and Death” picture? That would be the mountain in the background which is a play on his nick-name of “REGIO MONTANUS” which meant King of the Hills.
The conclusions made in this series of 5 blogs have been made on the facts as they stand within each of these pictures. They should not be seen as co-incidence since they have been deliberately manipulated by the artist to contrive some effect. My explanation of these items is only valid if the artist was part of the Ashkenazi/German/Jewish ethnic group at the time these Masterpieces were produced. Outside of this time frame and outside of this community there is no explanation for them at all, therefore they must have been the only motivation for Durer to produce them.
The Trilogy was definitely constructed as an interlinked narrative as can be seen by the many common or shared elements in them, and inspired by the 3 settings in Dante Inferno. The “facts” used to de-bunk the myths surrounding the meaning of ” Melancholia I” are from the picture itself, only the background of Durer`s Jewish origins is speculation by me, speculation that is based on the circumstantial evidence of the community he lived in and the times that inspired him to produce this trilogy of masterpieces at his own expense, the only large engravings he ever did on copper plate due to their specific use and the volumes required. The last words should go to Albrecht Durer himself…
“We cannot altogether attain perfection, shall we therefore cease from our learning? The lie is in our understanding, and darkness is so firmly entrenched in our mind that even our groping will fail”.
Surely a comment directed at the religious and scientific authorities of his time and something that holds true even today- especially in the Art World. Thank you for reading!
Our previous 4 blogs on this topic deal with unravelling the full mysteries surrounding the etching Melancholia I by Albrecht Durer but this is just a stand alone blog having some fun with the numerology and symbolism of the square itself. Take a look at our previous blogs if you like this and want to dive deeper!
First Magic Square in Print
Although this particular magic square had been in existence for a long time prior to its use by Durer and Agrippa, it had never been published and was mainly confined to a small circulation of hand written manuscripts for a select or secret knowledge. All of that was changed in 1450 when Gutenberg invented the printing press just 15 kms away from Durer and Agrippa`s home towns. In the space of 20 years Gutenberg practically lost his identity and credit for this invention when his partner, a Jewish money-lender (Angel Investor in modern day parlance!) called in the Loan just before Gutenberg was able to complete his first batch of 200 Bibles. Of course he was unable to pay and the Jewish community took over this new technology, moved it down the road a bit to the city of Nuremburg and transformed Nuremburg into a metropolis of trade and knowledge, attracting the most learned minds from across the known world, eager to share and sell their knowledge.
Nuremburg-Home of Jewish Printing
By 1514 Durer was already established in Nuremburg as a leading artist designing plates for these Jewish printing houses and Nuremburg had a bustling Jewish community. Publishing the magic square would have been a novelty to most non-Jews across Europe although they would never come to know its deeper secrets, these would stay reserved for the hidden community of Jewish Kabbalists. The square is “magic” because it has geometric properties that are intrinsic to its 2D Euclidean dimensions and numeric properties intrinsic to the numbers from 1-16 that are contained within each of its smaller squares.
17 Euclidean Wallpaper Patterns
These Euclidean patterns are geometrically pleasing and were part of a more rigid art of Tile or Wallpaper designs. There are certain rules of symmetry that must be observed and in that case there are only 17 possible designs. The number 17 can be seen in Durers magic square when you add up any 2 of the numbers in the 4 central diagonal squares of the larger magic square, as if he is testifying to this knowledge. Again you can find the same 17 number by adding together any 2 diagonals of the outer corners. 17 is the 7th Prime number, 34/2, and carries special religious and esoteric significance, it is also the number that when the component parts of 34 (the age of the Messiah at death) are added together produce 7 which in Jewish religion is symbolic of Gods name and his holiness, it is the favourite number in Jewish religion, being the number of completeness & perfection. The Jewish Menora candlestick from their Temple furniture has 7 lights on it, 7 colours contained in the visible light spectrum of white light. Cosmically there are 7 heavenly bodies in orbit with the Earth, that are visible with the naked eye, 7 spirits (levels of Angels) sent into the world to effect the regeneration of man, etc.
Jewish Names for God in numbers
The Jews had many other names for God like the 72 x 3 letter names of God from Genesis either on their own or added to the 2 letter name of God (El or Eh) to make the 72 x 5 letter names of God (Jah “God gives”, was also an early 3 letter name for God and is widely used in the psalms).The number 4 is probably the most famous and well known names for God being called the Tetragrammaton IHVH perhaps this being a 4 x 4 square is Gods square?. There was also a 5 letter name of God being known as the Pentagrammaton IHSVH which was also very revered since the 5th element after earth, water, fire and air, was the Holy spirit or essence of Life. A hidden 5th column on the right could be possible containing his Holy 4 letter name or just the Number 7 (3+4) representing this name or some other combination of these special numbers, 3,4,5 and 7 (Pythagoras` holy numbers also)
73 & 37 The Mirror numbers 731 & 137
Numerically the magic square has many secrets to uncover but one of the most mind-blowing in my opinion is the relationship to Quantum mechanics and other abstract natural prime numbers of science. If you start adding up all the unique combinations of any 4 numbers within the square that can make 34, the maximum possible total is 86, then if you multiply this number x 34 (the total sum of all the numbers within the square) = 731 ( or 17 x 43 = 731). 731 could be read as Psalm 73 verse 1 in the Book of Psalms written by David of Judah, father of Solomon and the bloodline of the Messiah, says ” Surely God is good to Israel….”. In Jewish Gematria this means that the number 73 has some amazing numerical and geometric properties, a very special number, being the 21st prime number and also a mirror number, 73 is the 37th odd number as well as being the mirror of itself, 73 x 37 = 2701 which is the 73rd triangular number and the 34th hexagonal number (Hexagonal numbers have the geometric property of producing the Star of David shape, the symbolic shape of the Jewish people). The sum of the first 7 words of Genesis in Hebrew Gematria = 2701 and the sum of all the numbers from 1-73 = 2701. Those same 7 words contains 28 letters in Hebrew and 28 is the 7th Triangular number and the 3rd Hexagonal number). A magic square can be made using the first 73 consecutive prime numbers (Gakuno Abe) and in Jewish Gematria , 73 is one of the words for wisdom. The Gematria connection is interesting because this system when combined with the Jewish method of reversing the order of letters makes it easy to hide or disguise knowledge in plain site. It was a system used by Da Vinci who used to write his study notes using a mirror so that they were less easy to read but Jews would use this system to also write numbers backwards or encrypted using Kabbalah. Spotting any version of a mirror number in Kabbalah is a good sign to check the reverse value.
The4 most important numbers in nature & science
Checking the reverse value of 731 we get a number that Richard Feynman said might hold the key to the grand unified theory of science! Wow! The number is 137 and its also the normal Gematria number value for the word Kabbalah (the 4 numbers are written as 5+30+2+100 – just a co-incidence that kabbalah means passed down knowledge and is represented by 4 letters/numbers just like the 4 letter name of god in the Tetragrammaton) Its not just a co-incidence of numbers but also a co incidence of meaning, since the word kabbalah comes from the Zohar book itself, meaning the Divine radiance or light of God. According to Feynman 1/137 as a number constant appears at the intersection of:-
Einsteins Theory of Relativity (speed of light)
Electromagnetism (electric charge carried by a single electron)
Quantum mechanics theory (Plancks constant)
The Theory of Gravity
Again we have a central theme of 4 component parts coming out of this. That`s a pretty awesome CV as a number and there are more properties such that 137 degrees is also the Golden Angle when a circle is divided according to the Golden ratio, it is a Pythagorean Prime number, a Pure number, and the 33rd Prime number. So this magic number square holds all of the 3 key Golden ratios now with this last one. Previously we saw that it held the Golden rectangle ratio Phi, which is used to produce the Fibonacci sequence of the Golden spiral.
Nine reversed or Theta or Phi?
Theta (on the left) is the value of an unknown angle and is denoted in mathematics by a symbol very similar to the symbol for diameter of a circle. It is a Greek symbol for the 8th letter in the Greek alphabet and has a value of 9 in their number system. If you take a look at this number again closely you will see that Durer has done something strange with this number on the engraving. From a distance it looks like he has etched the number 9 in reverse but on closer inspection you can see that it is an even more strange shape, it could even be the symbol of the Golden ratio Phi ( meaning divine animated object and the 21st letter in the Greek alphabet or 500 in the number system). Compare that to the lower case version of Theta and you will see that it is pretty close to it without giving the entire game away! I believe that Durer has left us all the clues to solve the rest of this pictures mysteries, in the way that he has manipulated this magic square. Theta is part of a bunch of clues that explain how he constructed the shape of the block to the left of the Angels in Melancholia I.
Mystery of the 515 code
The final number manipulation by Durer is with the engraving of the 2 number 5s in the magic square. If we turn the square through 180 degrees so that it is upside down (mirrored) we will see something unique about these numbers.
The two 5s have been engraved to look perfect when viewed from this upside down angle, again this is no co-incidence! They now clearly stand out as the new number 515. The only other readable number is 11 which needs no manipulation so its unclear if it is linked to 515 or not at this stage. What can this mean? Next Blog I will explain this and how it pulls the other parts of the picture even more tightly together than before.
Last blog we discussed a little about Durer`s Slavic/Jewish ancestry, his likely schooling in Kabbalah, what Kabbalah was and listed all of the items strewn about the floor of Melencholia I. Today I am going to take the Kabbalah theme a little further to try and demonstrate beyond doubt that we are not imagining these links to Durer`s Jewish knowledge.
Magic squares, Artists & Cryptographers at court
Take a look at the 4×4 square on the wall of the Melancholia I, situated beneath what I am calling the door bell or calling bell. At the time of this etching Durer was part of the Holy Roman Emperor`s inner circle of courtiers and undoubtedly would be aware of Cornelius Agrippa, Abbot Trithemius of Sponheim, Johannes Wier (Agrippas student), Johannen Alemano, Pico della Mirandolla, Paracelsus (abbreviated name), Johannes Werner, Abramelin of Worms and Johann Reuchlin, all of whom were active in various studies of Jewish Kabbalah on behalf of the Emperor. The cryptographers, Abbot Trithemius and his student Cornelius Agrippa had both written books on cryptology that were dedicated to the Emperor and contained the same magic square that we see in Durer`s etching. So did Durer indulge in some plagiarism here or did he already have prior knowledge of magic squares? More importantly, why include this in his print? Most Art historians will tell you that he simply found it amusing that Agrippa`s 4×4 magic square contained the numbers that formed the year of his mothers death and co-incidentally the year he completed the painting (verified by his monogram elsewhere in the painting confirming its date of completion)
The Hand of a Magician
I reject this idea because Durer didnt just use the same 4×4 magic square as Agrippa, he actually made some unique changes to it that did not alter the mathematical characteristics of the square but DID alter the significance of the square- making it a uniquely different kind of Talisman with a specific purpose. This type of magic square talisman was uniquely Jewish and would normally be issued by a Jewish physik or Apothecary to solve some problem or protect the wearer from some spiritual issue. The subtleties of the new magic square are so good that they act like a magicians sleight of hand in miss-directing the viewer. For me then, the evidence of these changes shows a level of understanding that surpasses the information detailed in Agrippa`s book and that Agrippa admits are taken from the secrets of the Jewish Kabbalah (based on the 27 letters of the Jewish alphabet, commonly called the Cabala of the 9 chambers, there being 3 letters/numbers assigned to each square of the grid of 9 chambers or squares and used variously by Templar Knights and Freemasons hundreds of years earlier during the Crusades)
The significance of 1514
Had Durer simply wished to entertain his viewers with a magic square on his print he could have rotated the square of Agrippa by 180 degrees in a clockwise direction to re-position the numbers 15 and 14 from the top of the square to the bottom of the square, but he did not do that. Why? Why even change the position of the number at all? It would still read 1514 at the top of the picture and commemorate the death of his mother right? He changes the position to draw our attention to it, since Jewish people would already be familiar with the version used by Agrippa as it was initially from their own Holy Books. By placing the number at the bottom of the picture where the tip of the angels wings are, we cant help noticing the link between the position of those numbers and the date the etching was completed. We congratulate ourselves for spotting this bit of number manipulation by the artist and move on. Some people linger a bit longer and start to notice the symmetry of the number blocks, all lines of 4 numbers adding up to 34, there are many patterns to amuse you in this square, any 2 diametrically opposite numbers add up to 17 and so on. Then, even they move on to some other aspect of the picture.
What they miss is the significance of these numbers and of the meaning of the square symbol that only the elite audience for whom this picture was intended would spot and start to understand a deeper Biblical meaning. There is some Kabbalah Biblical knowledge in these number patterns ( there are 880 mathematically possible variations of 4×4 magic squares but this particular one is the most special combination that takes all of the numbers from 1-16 and gives the 34 number total to the sum of any 4 numbers in a straight line. ) along with some allegorical meanings and of course, the deep seated cryptographic meaning based on Kabbalah mathematics. Allegorically the 4×4 square and its “right hand of God, Angel” symbolism are also used by several other items described in the Pentateuch book of Exodus (the same book where we had the allegorical reference to the chamelion in a previous blog).
Tefillin – Evidence and Justice
The most obvious of these is the TEFILLIN, 4 black leather boxes that contain parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah (the first 5 books of the Jewish Bible, said to be written by Moses during the Exodus), they are bound into a square shape and tied onto the head to sit in a position between the eyes. Writing in the 14C Jacob Ben Asher says that they are there as a sign of Gods presence among the Jews and that the word Tefillin means Justice/Evidence. The texts inside them are very specific (Exodus 13:1-10, Exodus 13:11-16, Deut 6:4-9, Deut 11:13-21), they have to have a specific number of characters (3188 or 797 per book) and are designed as a remembrance of the Exodus, the 40 year wanderings of the tribe of Israel through the deserts, wilderness or Deuteronomy, south of their promised land. The Tefillin are bound in a cube shape to represent the cubic altar stone in the Jewish Tabernacle, their Holy of Hollies, the stone that is inscribed with the ineffable name of God that represents the truth. I am not sure if anyone knows even today what form this particular name takes, as there are many names for God but it seems likely that it is either a 3, 4, 5 or some combination of these numbers of letters, since these are held in the highest regard by the Jews (and their mathematicians/astronomers). Tefillin have been found with the oldest Jewish scriptures in existence, the dead sea scrolls of Qumran, dating back to the lifetime of Jesus of the Jews, the Messiah, so we know that they are a fundamental ID of Jewish culture.
So the 4×4 magic square could be symbolic of the Jewish 4 Books of the Tefillin bound into a square and tied to a Jewish persons head when praying, in remembrance of the Exodus of their people and a sign of Gods presence among them by representing the place where God resided during this time, the square shaped Holy of Hollies of the Tabernacle tent containing the cube shaped stone altar, inscribed with the ineffable name of God on it (the tent itself being the precursor to Solomon`s later Temple in Jerusalem). The sum of the 4 numbers in the magic square being 34 is therefore a probable reference to Gods name/names that would be inscribed upon it.
Mezuzah and Shema
The second item that the 4×4 magic square could be symbolic of would be the Jewish MEZUZAH, a stone or wooden container that also held a parchment with the words of God, taken from the SHEMA or morning/evening prayer (the word Shema means the divine name of God in aramaic and is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew HA-SHEM or Adonai, or Lord and is said as the evening and the morning prayer by all Jews and the first piece of scripture taught to their children. It is the most important prayer in their religion and is enshrined in the Books of Exodus as law for them to say twice each day.) The Mezuzah were inscribed on the front with one prayer and on the back with 2 prayers. This item was sacred, according to Moses` law in the book of numbers (and Deuteronomy 6:9) Jews were ” to write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house”.
This item took on special significance for Jewish Diaspora during the persecutions of the 11C where a particular sect of the Jews, instead of abandoning the custom, started to encrypt the 2 inscriptions on the MEZUZAH to make it appear like a Christian prayer instead of a Jewish one. The 2 inscriptions consist of just 4 words in total, one with the word Shaddai or Almighty, and the first three Jewish words of the Shema, written as a Caeser cipher shift of one letter on the 3rd, 4th and 5th words of the Shema ( 3,4,5 having particular significance to them as versions of Gods name and also as used in mathematics & geometry as Pythagarus triangle sides, etc). So just like the Tefillin, there are 4 prayers represented by the Mezuzah item, prayers that are literally the foundations of their faith- the Shema Prayer which must be said daily according to the Law stated by Moses.
The Mezuzah as we have said is fastened to the door with 2 studs or nails, top and bottom, and usually at a slight angle from the perpendicular or upright. I believe that our magic square is meant to represent the Mezuzah allegorically and not as an entertainment to the viewer as a magik square. One of my reasons for this is its position within the picture, Durer has positioned a door bell above it, indicating the presence of a door nearby. The Mezuzah was fastened to one side of the door or gate so fixing to the wall would be acceptable provided the wall was the one to which the door post was fastened and the Mezuzah was acceptably close enough to the entrance of the door. But where then would the words or references to the Shema be in that case? For the Mezuzah to function correctly, there must be reference to the Shema! We have to remember that allegories are designed to defeat our rational thinking mind. We must work with them symbolically, contemplating their allegorical meaning and exercising their symbols. During the Holy Roman Empire persecutions of the Jews in 1490`s, the Jewish community would have been looking for a new and more secret way to keep their promises to God but at the same time not expose their religious identity. If the Magic square can be shown to fulfil these requirements then it is safe to say it was a form of Mezuzah.
Of course, it may just be co-incidence that Durer`s adopted “Crypto-German” family name and before that, the family`s ‘Crypto-Slavic” name, meant Door. This would indicate that he was indeed of authentic Ashkenazi community descent and that the flying animal in the Melancholia print has further significance as a chimera ( a verbal play on this Jewish Tribes founding fathers time as head of the Cimmerian Gauls & Celts before the migration down the Danube river and into Germany).
Mystery of the “missing numbers” and the Shema explained
Lets take a closer look at that magic square again! If you examine the left hand side of the square you will notice that Durer appears to have been careless with his engraving and made several mistakes when executing the middle 2 numbers. Here we see that when he shuffled the numbers around to re-align the magic square he seems to have got confused and started to engrave a 6 where the 5 is now sitting and the number 9 has turned into an ambiguous 9 that looks more like the sign for the mathematical function of Theta or the Golden ratio. Theta comes into play later on but for now lets consider it as 9 and we can see that reading from the top down we have 6:9. This means nothing unless you are Jewish I would imagine! However, we just saw above that this chapter and verse from Pentateuch Book of Deuteronomy, written by Moses during the Jewish Exodus from Egypt (referenced by the parchments and inscriptions on TEFILLINs and MEZUZAHs) are specifically about the the Shema morning/evening prayer. This prayer was the essence of Jewish faith, in that it states that God redeems the Jewish people from all forms of foreign domination (slavery or persecution). It makes their people, Gods chosen people. So any Jewish person with a catholic Bible could go to this section in the Book of Deuteronomy and read this law using number reference Ch6: V9 it symbolises BOTH the Tefillin and the Mezuzah. Therefore numbers have been used to replace Jewish letters which in turn were there to represent the most important or fundamental Jewish Laws symbolically.
The Mezuzah was meant to be situated on the wall or door post at the entrance to the house and usually at a slight angle (one cant help wondering if the Durer door logo that appears on most of Durer`s prints is a subtle version of this but in reverse to disguise its true meaning, with the wooden slate as an over-sized Mezuzah and his Logo of the door made up of the Greek letters A and D symbolising the first 4 prayer words that would normally be represented on the Mezuzah? That would mean that the basic idea had already been in his head previously but in simple form. Durers original slavic name meant “Door” which in his time frame was the word used to describe cryptographers (Doormen or Gatekeepers) an interesting choice that Durer senior had made before the move to Nuremburg from the lands of Mathias Corvinus.
It is also probable that the slate pads had another ancient symbolic meaning dating back to the Jewish King Davids time, the father of Solomon. At that time the High Priest of the temple also performed oracles for the King in times of great urgency using stones of destiny, calling on God as opposed to the normal method of God calling upon them in visions or Dream/Prophesy. These stones of Destiny would be used by the priest to determine a course of action, 12 of the stones were in his breast-plate or Ephod for “calling God” and 2 stones were hidden from view inside the breast plate for the divination or “answer”. Its not totally clear how these were used but it seems they eventually gave the enquirer of the question a choice of 2 options- a bit like tossing a coin, one side means yes and the other side means no. Durers chalk board could also have represented this ancient ritual, with the chalk board having 2 sides and generally being found on the ground where it has “landed”. Durer message is telling the Jewish viewer that their Jewish “fate” is to have faith in God and keep saying the prayers of Teffilin, Shema and Mezuzah as represented by his monogram- God will protect them.
There can be no interpretation or coincidence in the engraved number deformations. The mistakes in the letter engraving are intentional and designed to be only seen by the most inquiring of observer, one who had been drawn in to look a little closer at the magic square after spotting the 1514 date being duplicated within the engraving. The movement of the date to the bottom of the picture is a mirror move of the original numbers in the Agrippa square and if we do the same thing by looking to the 2 mirror squares of 5 and 9 (our hidden 6:9) we will see 8 sitting above 12. I believe this to be a similar Bible reference but this time to the Book of Daniel chapter 8 verse 12.
The reason I think Book of Daniel is because this picture is linked to another 2 pictures as part of a Trilogy of masterpieces by Durer, so it is logical to think that there must be certain common elements between them. St Jerome stands out as a champion for the Jewish causes and particularly for the inclusion of the Book of Daniel and the Book of Ezras as part of the original Biblical Canon of Christianity. However, the inclusion of the Lion in Durer`s picture of St Jerome`s study would point to the Book of Daniel in this case ( Daniel famously survived a night in the lions Den).
Melancholia and St Jerome
For this we need to remember that Melancholia 1 is part of a Trilogy of masterpieces and that they are linked to a wider narrative, as stated previously. The other engraving that Durer liked to give out with this print was St Jerome in his study (Durer`s Study in Nuremberg as it turns out). St Jerome gets a lot of attention from Durer during his lifetime but it was because he had special significance within the community that commissioned his work, the German Crypto-Jews of the Nuremberg printing Houses. People like his Godfather Anton Koberger, who arrived in Nuremburg with Durers father from the court of Hungarian King Matthius Corvinus, as a bread-maker and quickly became the most successful printer in Germany and most of Europe.
St Jerome & the Jews
St Jerome was popular with Jews for a number of reasons, firstly he realised that the Ptolemaic Bible, the Septuagint, was badly translated from Hebrew into Aramaic and that many meanings (and mathematical calculations, since Kabbalah was based on letters representing numbers) had changed the meanings or calculations of key texts. Secondly he also translated and compiled the commentary on St Paul- the Apostle convert. St Paul was important to the Jewish community because he did not differentiate between the Jews and the Christian doctrines and it is his Teachings and Theology that are the foundations of Christianity even today. Thirdly, St Jerome supported the Book of Daniel as an authentic Old Testament cannon and translated it from the Hebrew.
St Jerome & Jewish lineage
St Jerome also supported Josephus` (a contemporary Jewish/Roman historian who was there at the fall of the second Temple in Jerusalem 70CE) in his assertion that Noahs 3rd son, Japheth was the founder of the Gallation and Cimmerian tribes of Albania, Turkey and the Caucases who migrated down through the Danube with his brother Asher and along onto the Rhine land of Germany and into France. These became known as Ashkenazi. This authentication of their lineage was very important to the Jewish communities and they venerated St Jerome because of it.
Ashkenazi Jews trace their lineage back to Adam, of the Biblical Adam & Eve fame and of whom Rabbi Meir (died CE 163) said “..was a great Hasid, having fasted over 130 years..”. Hasid and the Hassideans is a Greek second temple term mentioned in the Talmud. Hassidic, sometimes called Chassidism or Chassidi, comes from the word Chessed meaning Piety in Jewish. This further correlates the assertion in our previous blog that the adult angel in the picture is in fact the “right hand of God” and one of the 8 Angels of the 4th order of the 72 Angels known as Chessed. Another interesting point here is that in the vision of Daniel, the Greeks who over threw the Jewish altar stone of Solomons Temple, were eventually kicked out of Jerusalem by the revolt of the 2 Maccabee brothers who were Hassidic Jews from the Hasmodean Dynasty. This nicely puts into context the point of including the Book of Daniel chapter into the picture- but only if it was intended to address the Ashkenazi German/Jewish community?!!
St Jerome & Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is quite small and can be read easily, our interest is the chapter 8, Verse 12 “…and it cast down Truth (Gods Cubic altar stone) on the ground”, where Daniel is describing his vision of the Temple in Jerusalem being desecrated by the Greeks who install their own rectangular Golden Ratio altar and begin worshiping Zeus there (Zeus was the Greek God of the planet Jupiter and so this is the first reference to the Jewish Temple of Solomon being associated to Jupiter and the 4×4 magic square of Jupiter shown in this picture). This actually happened but the key take away from this is that the Jewish altar was torn down, people were forced to convert to a pagan religion and that the most important prayer in the Jewish religion, the Shema, the morning and evening prayers, were forbidden. It is another direct reference to the morning and evening prayers. It may also go some way to explaining why the odd shaped stone in the picture seems miss-shaped and at the wrong angle (torn down and defiled) but we will explain all of that in the next Blog.
The 2nd set of Numbers
Now when we look again at the magic square there are other Biblical references that you can investigate but these are the most significant in my opinion as they cross reference each other and also tie in to other items in Melancholia and another etchings significance in the Trilogy, St Jerome in his study (The lion in the St Jerome study is symbolic of his support of The Book of Daniel and his visions during the 70yrs captivity in Babylon. Daniel was from the Tribe of Judah, the lions of Israel). The other significant number pairing is with the 4 “corners of the rectangle” made from the final etched numbers of 5:9 and 8:12. Firstly, these 4 corners of the rectangle add up to 34 which we shall see later is significant as representing the name of God but is also significant as the acute angle of a very significant triangle that would map out the original 365 degree circle used in ancient calendars to mark the original 365 days of the year. The other 2 angles of this triangle being 73 degrees and the right-angle triangle formed from this isosceles triangle being made from the 3 angles 73, 17 and 90. So the numbers 34 and 17 manifest themselves in a triangle with the number or angle 73 degrees. Five identical isosceles triangles of 73 degrees, and 2 x 117 degree angles would produce a circle or pentagram containing 365 degrees equal to 1 degree of the earths rotation about the Sun per day of the solar year. Today we use 5 x 72 degrees isosceles triangles which gives us the 360 degree of a circle- 5 degrees or 5 days short of the perfect angular time for a solar year.
Multiplying the top pair of 5 and 8 we get 40 ( the number of years that the Exodus wanderings in the wilderness lasted and which now cross references with the spare letters LI from the chameleon anagram, just as long as you use Jewish number values for these letters, L&I =30 &10). This very strong co-incidence of 40 adds more weight to the earlier numbers being Bible references from the Torah period of the Exodus added to the fact that the specific verses identify fundamental events and laws that were formulated only during this time is crucial. Data that cross-references in this way is pretty conclusive-it has to be there by design.
Multiplying the bottom pair we get 108 which is the number of degrees for each internal angle of a regular pentagon (also the distance between the earth and the Sun when measured as multiples of the Suns diameter and the distance between the Earth and the Moon when measured in multiples of the Earths diameter. The name of the Jewish Temple comes from the name SOL- meaning Sun and MON meaning moon – SOL-O-MONs temple, the temple measured the movement of these astrological bodies so this would seem a strong number reference to that particular temple and the altar stone within it ).
This is an interesting number to find linked into this rectangular shape and having previously been the source of our Jewish cubic altar that was desecrated by the Greeks in Daniel`s 8:12 dream. To me it directs us straight at the only other pentagonal/rectangular shaped object in the etching- the block of stone! Now multiply those same 4 numbers but in the opposite direction and we get 9 x 8 =72 degrees which are the exterior angles of a regular pentagon contained in a circle of 360 degrees ( also according to Aristeas it was the original number of translators employed to translate the Jewish Bible into Greek, it was the number of Angels within the 9 Heirarchy of heaven and in the Zohar Kabbalah, it is the number of 3 letter names for God in Exodus and it is the number of degrees of Jacobs ladder, it is the interior angle of a regular pentagram and the number of years required to measure 1 degree of the earths processional wobble). The other multiplication 5 x 12=60 degrees which is the internal angle of an equilateral triangle (such as the ones cut out of the rectangle/pentagonal shaped stone on the same etching) 6 equilateral triangles make up a Hexagon whose vertices can be circumscribed to form a perfect circle, and whose vesica pisces form the basis for another Jewish icon the seven nested circles of the tree of life. The circle and 60 degrees are also numerical representations of the Temple of Solomon key function, that of a celestial clock, powered by the Moon and the Sun.
There is another interesting point about the numbers 5 and 12, if they are read from left to right they equal half a kilobyte of computer data. This is not a random number. The same number also represents the Golden ratio of Phi, the apparent symbol that is representing the number 9 in this magic square. The number 512 is used to calculate perfect angles around a circle when constructing pentagrams or pentagons inside a circle of a known side/ length without a compass. It is the smallest whole numbered Pythagorean triangle, having right angle sides of 1 and 2, giving a hypotenuse of length 161/72. When 2 such triangles are mirrored along the hypotenuse side, the rectangle is known as the Golden rectangle. Halving the length of the hypotenuse will give the centre point of the diameter of a circle that exactly contains this rectangle. Adding the diameter of such a circle to the short side length of this Golden rectangle, produces the Golden ratio (Phi) of 1.618. The same result can be derived from simply using 2 equal sized squares next to each other (more on this sacred geometry in my next blog).
This same number of 512 pops up again as the approximate value of Pi correct to 2 decimal places, the number of times a circles circumference can be divided by its diameter. (2 to the power of 9 = 512 which when divided by 163 (9 SAROS moon cycles) = 3.141).
Here then are 4 numerical “co-incidences” that correlate pictorially, textually & allegorically with the picture. Lets just say that the probability of this happening is quite remote if we consider that Durer could have chosen any 1 of the 880 mathematically possible 4×4 magic squares. Each of these co-incidences is either calling out the name of God as Jewish people would understand it ( as a number 7 or Gematria of 7 eg., 3+4 = 7) or it is symbolically calling out the Jewish Temple of the Lord with its cubic altar stone that has the name of the Lord inscribed upon it. Nothing here can be remotely described as Catholic since all the textual references date to the pre- Christian times of the Jewish Moses Pentateuch, Christianity just simply didnt exist as a faith then.
Spanish Edict of Expulsion
Back to 1514 and Durer`s Nuremburg was facing a similar Apostasy as depicted in Daniels Biblical visions, across large parts of Europe, particularly in Germany where the Ashkenazi Jews were forced to burn their books and be expelled from all Christian lands. The Holy Roman Empire would see 705 Jewish settlements wiped out between 1400-1520, Regensburg the centre of their community would be cleaned out by 1519 – just 5 years after Durers Masterpieces were completed. There was a sharp upward trend in Jewish persecution following the eviction of the Jews from Spain and Portugal in 1492 ( known unflatteringly as the marranos/jewish pigs). Spain’s Edict of Expulsion gave Jews a stark choice: Convert, depart, or die burnt at the stake.
Close to Home
In a bizarre twist of fate in Nuremburg, Durer`s best friend, Pirckheimer a German Patrician, led the movement on behalf of the Holy Roman Emperor to expel the Jews in the “pogrom” during 1498-1499 but after Pirckheimer stepped down, a converted Jew by the name of Pfefferkern took up the mission until at least 1519. By 1570 there were barely 2,000 Jews left in the whole of the Holy Roman Empire! Clearly there was a very real and present danger to be a Jew living in Europe and more especially the Holy Roman Empire.
Next Blog we discuss the enigmatic stone, the theta symbol from the 4×4 magic square and how it fits into the narrative of the 3 levels of the Kabbalah understanding. We save the 4th Level of understanding for the very last blog on this subject and cover all items in Melancholia I at once. Thank you for reading the series so far.
Thanks for joining me again here for part three, I hope you are following things ok so far, if not please ask me to clarify anything by posting your comments at the end of the Blog, thanks.
We mentioned in the first blog of the series that Albrecht Durer was of Hungarian/Jewish descent, now we will explain a little about how this Jewish ancestry impacted other “Crypto-Jews” or hidden Jews during the medieval renaissance period in time and how it could be reasonable to believe it may have affected Durer if he was also a Crypto-Jew. The reader must judge for themselves, based on the evidence contained within the prints.
Although there is strong evidence that the Jewish part of the Bible ( the first 5 books called the Pentateuch or Books of Moses) contains some pretty convincing evidence that there are deeper mathematical and astronomical sciences embedded within the texts, it can only be seen in very select areas, such as the first paragraph of Genesis and in no way convinces the reader that the whole of the Pentateuch was purposefully written in such a way. In short, these kinds of additions could have been added at selected spots during many of the compilations that have happened since the first manuscripts were produced during Moses time.
The same cannot be said for later versions of the Pentateuch, during the times following their expulsion from Jerusalem and the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70CE and their later migrations throughout Europe. This was the time when the term the “lost tribes” of Israel came to be known, referring to the expulsion of the Jewish Hasmodean Dynasty by the Romans and the need for the 12 Tribes of Israel to hide amongst the Gentiles of the world in order to avoid further persecution within what was already a Huge Roman Empire.
Jewish Diaspora & Cryptology
Eventually there emerged a new teaching for the Jews, The Zohar or Book of Radiance, developed in around 135CE after Roman Emperor Hadrian had successfully pursued the Jews to the outer limits of the Roman Empire (Scotland, NE Europe and Albania), but not published until the 13th Century by Moses of Leon, Spain (this time during the Christian era persecution of the Jews). By the time of the 13th Century the Jews had got caught-up in between the Christians attempting to reclaim their Spanish lands from a Muslim invasion that had lasted for the previous 800 years! These times were extremely tricky to be openly Jewish and it would not be a surprise to learn that this foundation book of Jewish mystical “teachings” had been written very differently than the Old Testament.
The Zohar`s central theme is Kabbalah, which means received wisdom or knowledge and this line of Jewish mysticism has survived up until the modern day, mainly through Europe. Zohar takes a theme from the Torah (the oral version of the Pentateuch), it talks about the 4 levels of knowledge that can be obtained when one spiritually enters the orchard of the tree of knowledge, seeking pure divine wisdom. The Kabbalah of the Zohar develops this idea into a complex system of communication codes and mathematical treatises hidden within the text of spiritual meditations or religious teachings. You can read more about the Kabbalah methods all over the internet today but back in the day, this stuff was Top Secret, only passed down within the Jewish community and after many years of being within that community. In addition to that, you had to have reached a minimum of 40yrs of age before you could even start to study it, so its secrets were very tightly guarded indeed.
All of this is important because in 1514 when Durer completed this engraving and the other 2 in the trilogy, he could have been studying Kabbalah for 3-4 yrs and been quite advanced within its mathematical teachings. Certainly we know that he was developing coded languages with his friend Willibald Pirckheimer for use by the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian I, because it is mentioned in his letters of 1506. Again around 1506 Durer had started to wear a beard for the first time in his life, a symbol amongst Jews that they are embarking upon a progressed state of religious devotion. It was also during 1506, writing from another Jewish enclave in Italy, that Durer complained about returning home to Pirckheimer ” …but here (Jewish enclave in Italy) I am treated like a Gentleman, at home (Nuremburg the centre of his fame) I am treated like a parasite!”. Obviously not the kind of thing you would be saying if you were a famous German Patrician Artist, returning to your German home in the commercial and technology capital of Europe.
As we start to understand a little about Durer and the times he was operating in, his circle of friends and his interests, it becomes clearer why we must consider the possibility that they would have influenced this deeply personal engraving of Melancholia I. Durer did not produce this to order, it was his own design and therefore motivated by his own personal reasons and perhaps carrying his own personal message. undoubtedly each one is a masterpiece of design, picture composition and technical excellence. If they do in fact have Kabbalistic influences in them then we must understand a little bit more about Kabbalah itself.
Kabbalah- entering the Orchard
We spoke a little earlier about Kabbalah being a kind of “received wisdom” handed down to elders of the Jewish communities of Europe, the Jewish Diaspora if you will. Adam to Abraham, Abraham to Moses, Moses to Joshua and so on down to Moses of Leon etc. The ability for this community to communicate with each other undetected was a very necessary precaution and so they developed techniques that were embedded into the Zohar of pure divine wisdom. The basis of these techniques was the idea that there were 4 levels of understanding in any communication ( 4 types of Pardez or fruit of the Orchard)
PSHAT- The basic level of understanding
REMEZ- An allegorical idea of understanding
DRUSH- A Biblical text level of understanding
SOD- The secrets, deep secrets concealed by the art of Kabbalah number and letter formulae.
PSHAT in the context of the 3 masterpieces (including Melancholia 1) would be the visual picture and the emotional power or feelings that this evokes in the viewer.
REMEZ would be the allegorical meaning contained within the constituent subject parts of each picture. Allegorical meanings are subject to interpretation and usually have many interpretations with only one being correct. They are designed only to be understood by their elite audience and contain a key that is known only to that audience. For more on allegories and how to better understand them, refer to the guy credited with creating the first ever allegory called “the Cave” by Plato, the Ancient Greek philosopher.
DRUSH is the 3rd level of understanding but in my experience it does not necessarily mean that it is harder to find than the previous levels. It is just listed at number 3 because the number itself is deeply religious to Jews as well as to most other Christian and non-Christian faiths, it represents the spiritual trinity of the forces of creation. Therefore Drush is giving us Biblical narrative or clues that may also be allegorical or mathematical in nature. For example, in Melancholia 1 we see lots of references to Biblical characters, Biblical events and Biblical items, some of which we have touched on previously.
SOD is the fourth and most challenging level since access to this level of Kabbalah is designed to be impossible without first having deep knowledge of the various mathematical coding systems used in Kabbalah and handed down by the community upon reaching a certain maturity or trust level. This level involves the substitution of numbers for letters (Gematria in its simplest form) and vice-versa along with increasingly more complex number manipulations. Even then the Kabbalist must correctly collect the clues from the other 3 levels before he can apply them to get the final message.
Unfortunately, at the time Durer was making these prints, Jewish books were being burned by the authorities or confiscated as a minimum, the only book that people were allowed to possess was the Catholic Bible. So people could no longer use their Jewish Holy books even to pray with, let alone pass on discreet messages to one another! If they did intend to continue using similar Kabbalah systems they would now need to be based on the Catholic Bible versions of the Pentateuch.
Objects on the floor
Back to the picture! Remember that we are just touching on things at the moment, listing the pieces of the puzzle like a jigsaw, so that we can put them together again but this time in the order that they were intended for their elite audience and hopefully get a glimpse of what Durer was saying for the first time in 500 yrs.
So lets list down here now, the items that Durer has laid out for us to see, scattered around on the floor of this scene.
Some kind of nozzle apparatus
4 large carpentry nails
A smoothing plane for wood
A rough hand saw for wood cutting
A wooden gauge for shaping a curved surface
Stone sphere with radius the same as the compass held by Angel
A claw hammer for carpentry
An emaciated sleeping dog
A set of ladders with 7 visible steps or rungs
A crucible with burning charcoal heating a triangular shaped metal vessel
A pair of Tongs
The large stone polygon
Some kind of ornate vessel that looks like a wax-seal making pot for sealing written documents with.
I hope this has started to shine the light a little on this picture for you and I honestly cant wait until the next Blog when I get to explain some of these objects to you and go deeper into Durer`s mind when he conceived this quite amazing piece of Art. Au revoir for now peeps!
I cant believe it, we actually maxed out facebook in 3 weeks! At first I was happy with everyones effort to reach the milestone of 5,000 friends in such a small time but to be honest it just created another problem!! How do we continue to grow followers and why does facebook put limits on your account in this way? I had no idea it had a limit at all.
The answer on how to continue to grow your facebook account is to convert to a Fan base page although why we did not get offered that option at the start I am not sure, we did enter all of our Business details, company name etc and entered my name as a secondary thing, a requirement of opening any facebook page apparently and hey presto! Facebook created our account in my personal name! Not sure what we will lose in the process of changing over and how useful the new “fan” page will be compared to the functionality of the facebook page, steep learning curve for someone from an “old skool” education.
Apparently facebook limits you to 5,000 friends for technical reasons and hides that fact behind the excuse that less than 1% of people have more than 2-3,000 friends. I am not arguing with them, after all the service is free and its pretty damn good for free, if a bit inconvenient at times, so I will just have to cope and get this facebook fans page up and running (hopefully without losing too much functionality).
Twitter, Linked-In & Blogs Disappoint
Social media channels are not really turning out to be quite what I was expecting at the start of my journey down the internet super-highway. I had imagined that it would be a bit like jumping into a huge ocean with waves coming and going in all directions, taking my messages to anywhere that I wanted to send them, people and places just waiting to receive my latest thoughts and creations. What a mistake! Unless you already have your following, you will find it hard work on any of the platforms to build up any kind of audience, in fact that seems to be an art in itself.
You can shout from the roof tops on Twitter but unless someone is following you or you start to write “tweets” on the trending topics just to get noticed, you are wasting your time. Blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn also suffer from a similar kind of inertia that can be demoralising in the early days. I guess after some time I will just forget about it since I was always expecting to advertise to bring in traffic to the website. Its just that you kind of get caught up in the whole hype of being able to connect with everyone just by doing what you do best, unfortunately its never going to happen that way unless you pay an expert to spend a year writing blogs and tweaking SEO tags, pumping out facebook posts and twitter “tweets”. Back to my plan A, which was to use Google, Facebook and LinkedIn as paid advertising traffic platforms to drive traffic to the website directly.
Social Media is not Real-Life
Social Media is not real-life and if you are not careful you will end up using all of your creative juices trying to work out how to “hack the system”, producing endless digital drivel, just to satisfy some algorithm somewhere!! My new approach is much more liberating to my art and I am sure that the benefits in my artistic productivity will be better for the business. Now you know why we are switching to Facebook Fan page and I apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for your support so far.
Last time we established the identity of our Angels so we will continue with our theme by identifying the flying creature that carries or exposes the title to this Durer engraving. I should like to thank Zhenya Gershman, an Internationally renowned artist from Russia, for her work on this subject which led me to my own unique interpretation of this animal.
The first thing that strikes most people is this animals resemblance to a bat, the skin-like wings, the dog-like head, its fur as opposed to skin or scales etc. However, the tail is not of a bat and tapers off like a dogs tail or a serpent/lizard tail, therefore this animal is not of the natural world.
Secondly we can see that the “wings” are fashioned in a way that makes us think that this animal ripped open his own body to expose his inner skin with the words MELENCHOLIA I etched onto them.
Thirdly we notice that the word “Melencholia I” has been miss-spelled and should have been spelled as “Melancholia I”. Now this could have been a simple typo graphical error made by Durer and we cannot discount this possibility in our analysis but we can certainly conclude that Durer did mean to call the engraving this name and the associated meaning it carried during his lifetime.
So we have 3 items that grab our attention about this animal that do not match with what we are expecting to see and these are the 3 clues that will help us resolve the ID of this animal. As before with the Angels, we cannot attempt to solve the meaning of the whole picture at this stage but must first assemble all of the clues.
Lets take the miss spelling of the name, this is where I am grateful for Zhenya Gershman for her interpretation of this anomaly, she and her “R” team deduced that the miss spelling was a clue that the title was in fact an anagram (jumbled up letters of another word) which they resolved to CHAMELION which is the current spelling but is far more likely to be the Greek spelling from the Septuagint version of the Christian Bible CHAMEILEON. This would still leave “L I” to resolve the anagram completely but we will come to that later. I think this is a correct interpretation of this clue but it does not fit with the graphic depiction of the animal we see. Zhenya`s team go on to cite Pliny the Elder, a Roman historian, who describes a Chamelion in his book (Natural History- 10 volumes published in 77CE) and relate their extra letters to the chapter where he describes this animal which is clearly some kind of land lizard, able to camouflage itself by changing its skin colour, unable to fly and without fur. So for me this still does not explain the visual appearance of the animal we see in the engraving and so we need to look deeper or dismiss this.
Given the Angelic figures in this engraving, it is far more likely that Durer got his inspiration for this creature from a miss translation of the original Hebrew Bible into Greek. The original Septuagint version of the Jewish Bible was translated at a time when most Jewish people didnt even speak Jewish anymore, most only spoke Aramaic or Greek which was very different, and so their Jewish texts were translated into Greek during the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt ( the last Greek Dynasty of Egypt before the Romans invaded). Many Jewish words were not known even to their own people at this time so there were numerous errors in translations from the old texts. If we track back through the Septuagint we see that the word Chamaileon is used only twice, in the books of Leviticus and Genesis, to describe an animal that is unclean or unfit to eat in Gods list of forbidden food (Given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai during the 40 years in the wilderness or Exodus). This makes it easy to identify the actual Jewish word that the Greeks were trying to translate and the word is TINSHEMETH.
This makes things a little clearer for us since even today people interpret this Jewish word to mean either a mole (mammal) or a water-fowl bird. Taking a look at the head and claws of our mystery animal I can see only one possible description- the mole. But this raises the question of it being in flight and of it having the long tapering tail (moles do have tapering tales but they are not long). I feel that this is a hint to us by Durer not to believe everything we read (a warning against fake news or mis-translations perhaps?), since the animal he has made, combines the features of all three possible translations, making it a kind of chimera type animal. The fact that he has engineered the animal in this way is also another strong indicator that the anagram solution is the correct interpretation, the chimera being a kind of jumbled up version of the correct translation of the original Jewish word along with the incorrect versions.
So if this anagram solution is correct we should be able to explain why we have the 2 extra letters left over from the solution. My understanding of this is that the Jewish numbering system, like the Greeks and the Romans, relied on the letters of the alphabet to represent numbers as well as letters. In the Jewish alphabet L & I would carry the number values of 30 & 10 giving a total of 40. The number 40 is a cross-reference to a specific period in the Bibles, specifically the Book of Exodus, where the tribe is wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years. It is the specific time and place where this creature is mentioned in print so that there can be no doubt about its identity or where to look to find its reference.
If this sounds far-fetched then it should be remembered that Durer used to gift this print with another print in this trilogy, St Jerome in his study. So far nobody has actually offered an explanation as to why he did this other than the fact that both contain religious figures, in one an Angel and in the other a Saint. But in the St Jerome picture, there is a visual reference to a miss translation of a particular Bible text by St Jerome himself (Jerome was famous for being the first person to translate the Bible into Latin directly from Hebrew because he himself had found many errors in the Greek Septuagint version). So now we know that each print contains a direct reference to a particular miss translation of the Bible, one miss translation into Greek and one miss translation into Latin, only the original Jewish Bible remains without criticism in these two engravings but there is one more engraving to examine in this masterpiece trilogy!
Its not our purpose to interpret anything at this point, merely to identify the component pieces of the puzzle and now we have identified the flying animal and how it came to look as it does and why the title is miss-spelled.
Some time ago I realised that after years of drawing the human face, I had neglected to keep up my study of its other limbs, particularly hands, so I began some deep study on this subject to brush-up my skills. During my researches I re-visited some of Albrecht Durer`s studies of hand compositions. Durer was probably the greatest German artist of all time and despite being a contemporary of Leonardi Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Raphael and Bellini, he has probably never quite achieved the same recognition today due to the fact that he produced very few painted masterpieces, preferring to engrave his artworks for use as plates on printing presses. According to him, this employment paid more than painted portraits in 16th century Nuremburg, Germany!
Although the above engraving is now a stand alone artwork it was actually just a small part of a much larger composition featuring a number of figures, testimony to Durer`s pursuit of perfection of even minor aspects of his engravings.
Looking at one masterpiece led to another and then another until I was face to face with one one of the most talked about masterpieces in the world- the Melancholia-1 by Albrecht Durer (see top of blog). This engraving, and its quite hard to believe that anyone could engrave such a fantastically detailed and exquisite picture with just a sylus and a plate of copper, has defied most art critics attempts at explanation for the last 500 yrs.
It has you wrapped-up into it the moment you start to look at it and you just never get bored of looking and enjoying the way it makes you look again. Every nook and cranny is just packed with ambiguities and contradictions built into it! What about the figures in the composition, who are they and why are they there?? It seems the most widely accepted understanding of the print is that it represents the physical and mental condition of Melancholia (16th century depression) and that the figures are the Angel of Genius with Putti or Cherubim as a companion. Renaisscence europe believed that the Angel of Genius could inspire flights of creativity beyond the generally accepted limits of accomplishments (melanchola generosa), but that it could also bring depression, insanity and spiritual torpor or state of lowered mental activity (melancholia miseria).
At the time Durer made the 1514 engraving in Nuremburg, another polymath German, Heinrich Agrippa, was also making waves in Nuremburg with his 3 books on the Occult. These were later to be banned by the religious authorities but they were in manuscript form long enough for some art critics to suggest that Durer was planning a series of 3 engravings featuring the 3 states of Melancholia as described in the Agrippa book.
As proof that Durer was indeed borrowing an idea from Agrippa`s Occult book, they cite the facts that Durer labelled the engraving with the number I, indicating that there would be 2 more engravings and the fact that the medical condition of Melancholia was believed by astrologists of the time to be influenced by the planet Saturn, which they say is shown in the background of the picture, beneath the rainbow style arc. Finally they say it is proven that Durer did read Agrippa manuscript on Occult because he also “borrowed” the 4×4 Jewish magic square from it, something I would agree with because it was possibly the first time this kind of thing had ever come into the public domain and too much of a co-incidence considering that both men were in the employ of the Holy Roman Emperor, at the same time period.
However, in Agrippa`s Occult book, this condition of melancholic and the 3 states he describes, are attributed to the planet of Saturn whose magic square is a 3×3 square. Therefore we cannot assume that Durer was influenced by Agrippas book in the way that previous critics have suggested, even if we still believe that Durer did have in mind producing more than 1 state of Melancholia as described above (melancholia generosa and melancholia miseria).
The magic square that Durer copied from Agrippa Occult book is less of a co-incidence with regard to the composition of the engraving though, since Durer makes some subtle changes to the position of numbers that reference specific text in the old testament books of the Bible, traditionally these are known as the Jewish part of the Bible, coming from Moses time. Agrippa only shows one version of the 4×4 magik square out of a possible 880 unique versions that can be made, so why did Durer have to use the same one as Agrippa? I will cover the magik square in more detail another time but in order to help resolve the identity of the Angel we should be aware that the particular 1-16 magic square of 4×4 =34 in Agrippa`s book was symbolic of the Jewish 4th order of Angels, the right hand of God whose quality was known as Chessed/Mercy, it was also symbolic of the planet Jupiter who was ruled by one of the 72 Angels. Agrippa covered many ancient civilisations beliefs in his Occult Philosophica Book but was particularly enamoured with the Jewish one, so perhaps it was also important to Durer for this reason also?
Durer seems highly likely to have been influenced by this book on the Occult, though in different ways than have been imagined so far, despite the books name it had little to do with the Occult and witch craft. Instead it was a thesis on advanced mathematics, linguistics, astronomy, astrology and cryptography, all obscured behind the veneer of a book on the Occult/witchcraft. It is probably no co-incidence that Durer embarked on a frenetic project of writing his own books on geometry, mathematics, properties of light (still used today in computer renditions of light falling on an object in virtual reality) and even fortifications, shortly after this engraving.
Back to the picture! I believe the key quite literally to this masterpiece are the angelic figures (one of whom has a bunch of keys and a money purse tied to their belt) and the title of the piece itself- Melancholia I. Albrecht Durer was actually of Slavic/Jewish descent from a family of Goldsmiths who had moved to Germany from Yugoslavia after a revolt within the Court of Mathius Corvinus (then all part of the Holy Roman Empire). His Slavic/Jewish roots would have made him acutely aware of the Old Testament Bible accounts and their allegorical stories (hidden meanings). In fact one of the pictures in the trilogy, St Jerome in his study, also hints at this Slavic/Jewish background as St Jerome was from a similar geographical Slavish/Jewish area, called Strido in Roman Times, near Dalmatia & Thrace and he was famous for being the first person to translate a Jewish version of the Bible into Latin (as opposed to the current Greek version into Latin). So I think there is good reason to believe this complex engraving is also allegorical in nature, containing many narratives, normally four if it is to align with the Jewish Kabbalah methods of allegorical encryption and “entering into Pardez- the orchard of knowledge”.
The starting point to unravel this engraving are the Angels, who or what are they? If we take the Biblical book of Genesis as our guide and the oldest known reference to angels, we see that there are 72 Angels in total whose names are listed in the first chapter of Genesis It gives the formula for working out the 72 names from 3 letter names into 5 letter names and lists the God-like qualities that each angel possesses, emphasising that the 72 qualities are all part of God and so therefore the Angelic names are also names of God. It is some time later in other books that these are split down into other sub-groups. The Zohar and the Kabbalah of the Jews are the first to do this (but all others follow the same rules) and they further split the 72 angels into 9 orders of 8 angels per order. Here we have only 2 types. The small cupid like angel is a Cherubim, tasked with recording what happens in the universe (see the scribe pad and stylus he is using) and guarding the East gate where the Tree of Life sits in the Biblical garden of Eden. In the Old Testament part of the Bible (The books of Moses the Jew) the Cherubim are described as having 4 faces (the face of a lion, a bull, an eagle and a man) and 4 pairs of wings and many eyes, since they are the guardians of Gods Holy light, the sun, the moon and the stars but this way of portraying them in art had gone out of fashion long before Durer`s time and instead the ¨Putto¨ (or chubby child with wings) style of portraying Cherubim was used by artists to highlight their character of innocence and purity. Cherubim are the second highest order of Angels and hold the wisdom of the Universe, they do not normally mix with Angels from the lower 6 levels (another reason why they are highlighted as innocent and pure), so the appearance of the Cherubim with another Angel in this way is probably highlighting to us that something significant is happening (or not happening) here.
The second Angel is more difficult to identify but if we look above her we can see that there is a sun-dial and an hour glass, both of which represent time. The bell to the right symbolises that the time is your time (when it is rung of course), so it is yet another symbol of time or calling. Looking above the Cherubim we see a set of scales that are generally symbolic of judgement or Veritas in Latin.
Therefore on the Biblical second level of allegorical meaning (the first level being the immediate visual art we see) the symbolism here is of a time of judgement. Normally there are two angels that assist in the judgement process with God according to Bibles, the Angel of Charity (misericordia in Latin) and the Angel of Justice (judicium in Latin), the quality of “truth” being the result of their actions. These two angels can be seen on many artworks of the time and going back to at least 800CE to the start of the Carolingian Dynasty (Jewish Hasmodean bloodline) of Europe. Angels are one of the few subjects that cannot be allegorically represented and must be clearly represented in medieval iconography however, there were no guidelines about which part of their identity or character was represented.
In Jewish and Kabbalah circles, the God like quality of Charity/Mercy or Misericordia in Latin, was known as Chesed in Hebrew. This Jewish term is rather a complex one because as well as defining the God-like quality of Love, mercy, charity, pity, piety & victory, it also could mean something close to the opposite of these things, defeat, apostasy, misery, despondency etc or Melancholia reflecting the Jewish idea of duality in nature. Now take a look at our Angels again, we can see that they are showing qualities close to being the opposite of Misericordia. For this reason I believe that Albrecht Durer has chosen to portray the less well known aspect of the Jewish Chesed 4th Order of Angels, as Melancholia I (instead of the normal Chesed Misericordia qualities) which would have been more easily recognised by its viewers. Further evidence that this Angel is meant to represent Chesed is symbolised by the 4×4 magik square which is mentioned in Agrippa`s Occult book as representing the Jewish 4th Sephirot also known as Chesed or Dominions on the Jewish tree of life and associated with the planet Jupiter. Re-enforcing the status of this Angel as the “right hand of God”, we see a bunch of 6 or 7 keys on display hanging from her belt along with a purse of money, the clear symbols of High Office, power, knowledge and life. Dominions Angels are responsible for keeping the natural order of the universe as God designed it by enforcing the universal laws of nature and of all the other ranks of Angels below them. There is a quote from the book of revelations where a similarly dressed mighty angel is described holding a book of seals in his right hand ( note this angel has a similar book under her right arm?) and Saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”
Why Durer went to these lengths to obscure the identity of the Angel and thus hide a major clue to the true meaning of the engraving is not evident at this level, we need to go deeper into the picture.Unfortunately we dont have time to continue with the rest of this exposition but if you would like to know more on the rest of my interpretation please leave a comment and I could continue this in another blog. Thanks for getting this far!