The Hidden Lesson Of Alexandria’s Lighthouse

The Hidden Lesson Of Alexandria’s Lighthouse


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The Pharos

Oh look. A nautical themed post. Don’t all gasp at once.

When I was very young a cruise ship I was on sailed through a cyclone. At meal times, I remember watching the waitstaff, plates in both hands, wait on one side of the dining room and then race to the other side as the ship lurched from starboard to port.

(Our tables all had rubber runners on the outside so the plates wouldn’t slide off.)

The staff were rolling with the swell.

If they had simply decided to get from kitchen to table in the way they “willed it” then they’d all be wearing that ultimately disappointing spaghetti.

The waitstaff were unconscious Taoist metaphors. They were rolling with life’s chaos.

But sometimes you can’t do that.

Sometimes the star storm goes category 5 and you have to stop rolling. You have to batten down the hatches, tie yourself to a bunk and wait it out.

These are the impressions I picked up in the church of Santa Maria Del Mar in Barcelona… It is a place where people have figuratively and literally battened down the hatches.

And as promised, here is the Isis connection that got me thinking in this direction on my holiday in the first place. It’s from Sir James Fraser himself.

To Isis in her later character of patroness of mariners the Virgin Mary perhaps owes her beautiful epithet of Stella Maris, ‘Star of the Sea’, under which she is adored by tempest-tossed sailors. The attributes of a marine deity may have been bestowed on Isis by the seafaring Greeks of Alexandria. They are quite foreign to her original character and to the habits of the Egyptians, who had no love of the sea. [Note: Gordon disputes this last bit but it's part of the crazy rant you don't ever want to be around.]

On this hypothesis Sirius, the bright star of Isis, which on July mornings rises from the glassy waves of the eastern Mediterranean, a harbinger of halcyon weather to mariners, was the true Stella Maris, ‘the Star of the Sea’.

As the protective deity of Alexandria’s port, which like a mother’s arms provided protection and respite for travellers, there was a temple to Isis-Pharia attached to the ‘Pharos’ (lighthouse). Apparently her colossal statue once stood right outside it.

Here’s another quote from Talisman along the same line:

The connection between … Sirius  and Isis-Phari of the Pharos is probably due to the beacon of light from the lighthouse as it was seen from afar by sailors approaching the harbour, and may explain why the lighthouse was sometimes called ‘the second sun’ – a term used by the ancient Egyptians for the star Sirius.

There you have it.

When things go category 5 you need to stop trying to deliver spaghetti and let the storm take you where it’s going to go. After the clouds clear the Star of the Sea; in either form; will still be there -just like she always was.

Then you can set your bearings by her and carry on from wherever you have ended up.

This is the hidden lesson of Alexandria’s Lighthouse.

And also possibly ship-based food service.

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4 Comments

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  1. 2
    Gordon

    Ha! Careful what you wish for. My work situation may just be about to reorganise to include your Golem-y, Vampire-y corner of the world.

    You bring the maps. I’ll expense the drinks.

    PS – Yes, yes, the famous Golem is from Prague. But you know what I mean.

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