Marvel’s Moon Knight, Moses & The Divine Self in Lichfield Cathedral, England
“You come from far away, With pictures in your eyes, Of coffeeshops and morning streets, In the blue and silent sunrise, But night is the cathedral, Where we recognized the sign, We strangers know each other now, As part of the whole design. Oh, hold me like a baby, That will not fall asleep, Curl me up inside you …” Suzanne Vega, Gypsy.
Lichfield Cathedral is a unique medieval building in central England. It is built of sandstone quarried from the nearby village of Hopwas. Like all sacred buildings, its architectural design expresses a beauty in its geometry, allowing the observer to contemplate the nature of all things. Its design is used to structure and project ideas, aesthetics and a beauty that connects you with the Divine within.
Here we speculate how the Cathedral’s architecture represents the prophet Moses and his siblings, Aaron and Miriam. We examine the ancient Egyptian heart weighing belief from the ‘Book of the Dead’. Here, Maat, Anubis and Thoth in the afterlife balance the heart with a feather to see if it is pure and able to proceed to the land of Osiris and be born again. Finally, we review Marvel Studio’s recent series ‘Moon Knight’ on Disney+ and how its story plays out these myths.
Meditating on the Cathedral’s aesthetics teaches a connection to the Infinite. Our soul at its centre is Divine, and we can connect to it in this life, even experiencing eternity, if only for an instant. By finding our way through the reeds of life, eternal life becomes an experience for this life. Our afterlife is something we connect with today, not after our death. As it is said in the gnostic Gospel of Philip, “Those who say that the Lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up and then died, we are to receive the resurrection while we live.”
The Heart, the Centre of Nature & Mirror of the Soul
“They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5 (NIV)
The heart is the mirror of the natural and spiritual worlds. It is a point of balance, at one beat per second, or 1 Hz, midway between the smallest and largest aspects of nature in the Milky Way. By examining nature, we find the electron of a hydrogen atom beats to the order of 10¹⁵ Hz, and the ‘frequency’ of our Solar System describes a Galactic year at 10-¹⁵ Hz (250 million years). The vertical angle of the central spire of Lichfield Cathedral is 83.5 degrees, which is the angle of our Sun (or Solar System) to the Milky Way galaxy, demonstrating that the architects built into the design this concept of our local eternity. So within, there is a harmonic, with without. In comparison to the spiritual realm, all faiths teach that ‘purity of the heart’ determines the balance of the upper and lower worlds.
The Weighing of the Heart in the Egyptian Book of the Dead
“In the beat of a heart, the suck of a breath, you are the universe.” The Egyptian Book of the Dead. c.1550 BC
In ancient Egypt, it was believed that the heart recorded all the good and bad deeds of a person’s life and would be balanced against the feather of Maat, the goddess of truth and justice, in the afterlife. The scales were watched by Anubis, the jackal-headed god of embalming, and the results were recorded by Thoth, the ibis-headed god of writing. If a person had led a decent life, the heart balanced with the feather and the person was rendered worthy of living forever in paradise with Osiris. If not, they would be devoured by Ammit, a goddess with the forequarters of a lion, the hindquarters of a hippopotamus, and the head of a crocodile — the three largest “man-eating” animals known to the ancient Egyptians.
The Israelites and the Heart
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
The ancient Israelites saw the heart as the seat of consciousness. They had no concept or even a word for ‘brain’. They believed you knew, understood, had the wisdom and discerned truth in the heart. Emotion was seated in the heart and led you to make choices determined by your desires. This is reflected in the Jewish Shema prayer, “You shall love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart”.
Architectural Centres and Moses the Mirror
“It is a great advantage for us to be able to consult someone who knows us, so that we may learn to know ourselves.” The Interior Castle, Saint Theresa of Avila (1515–1582).
Lichfield Cathedral is full of metaphorical mirrors, balances and centres throughout its design. In this way, we make connections between architecture and the allegory of Moses, Aaron and Miriam. These prophets of the Torah, who were siblings, led the Israelites out of Egypt and across the wilderness. Miriam was the older sister and helped save Moses from being killed by the Pharaoh by placing him in a basket in the Nile amongst the reeds where he was found and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and grew up with the Egyptian royal family. Aaron was his older brother who served as his high priest in the wilderness.
Moses, the most important prophet in the Torah, is the principal mirror of G-d’s wisdom and is found in the architecture of the Crossing, the central part of the Cathedral under the main spire. Moses balances, and connects, the upper and lower worlds, just as this point in the Cathedral is situated halfway up the hill. The geometry of the Crossing is based on a cube of five dimensions, which relate to the three dimensions of space, one of time and one of spirit. As the mirror of G-d’s wisdom, Moses is pure revelation, and his face is described as shining with a reflected radiance and sometimes shown in art with rays of light coming out of his head. This is the point in the Cathedral that correlates with the part of the soul called Yechidah (derived from the Hebrew for ‘unity’), which connects us directly to G-d, where we are one with everyone and all of creation, now, before and in the future. As discussed elsewhere it is the symbolic point in the Cathedral at which heaven, earth and all of time are one.
Aaron the Kaleidoscope and Miriam the Flow of Divine Light
“He witnessed a kaleidoscopic multi-coloured horizon through his mother’s eyes as she opened the colouring book and proved that broken crayons still colour.” Shalaka Kulkarni
The name Aaron is derived from the ancient Egyptian ‘Aaru’ meaning, ‘the Egyptian heaven ruled by Osiris’. By this etymology and in this allegory, Aaron unfolds, likely in 8-architectural dimensions that enclose Moses, with both the Chapter House and the Nave. Like a prism, Aaron separates the colours of the blinding light that is the revelation of Moses, so like a rainbow, its beauty can be seen. The Cathedral design tells us that the law given to Moses on Sinai granted Aaron the priesthood for his male descendants. The kaleidoscope of Aaron scattering Moses' revelation into endless reflections down the generations.
Miriam can be found in the feminine structures of the architecture. As a prophetess, she also creates a potential for the flow of Divine light (or water) from the Lady Chapel at the east end, reflected by Moses, projected onto the West Face and seen by the world as the Shekinah. This is the screen that is the world upon which we see creation and revelation shine and in the world. She is also represented at the bottom of the hill in Lichfield’s Market Square by St Mary’s Church.
The Cathedral design spells out the mechanism of creation as the combination of a giant spinning wheel and loom that continually constructs and maintains the fabric of the universe as the ‘garment’ of G-d. In this analogy, G-d’s wisdom creates the silk thread descending from the central spire, Moses spins the yarn in the Crossing, Aaron separates the colours of the threads in the Chapter House and manufactures them in the Nave. Miriam weaves the fabric of the universe upon the West Face, tailoring a veil from the pattern of heaven from the angels in the Choir.
And so, in Moses, Aaron and Miriam, we have a parallel allegory of the weighing of the heart spell from the Egyptian Book of the Dead with Maat, Anubis and Thoth, at the same time beautifully rendered into the geometry of the architecture of Lichfield Cathedral. This is a moral story of judgment and a direct taste of the Divine Self. Just as the Book of the Dead connects the heart to new life with Osiris, and Moses connects us to G-d’s wisdom, so Lichfield Cathedral is, as discussed previously, a geographical balance point in distance between Jerusalem and Mecca, and by compass-bearing to Bethlehem at the moment of the sunrise every Christmas morning.
Marvel Studios Moon Knight
“I have a sleeping disorder. I can’t tell the difference between life and dreams. I’m losing it.” Steven Grant in Moon Knight, Marvel Studios.
Marvel Studio’s Moon Knight, an adaptation of the 1970s Marvel Comic, tells the story of British Museum gift shop worker Steven Grant coming to understand his dissociative identity alter ego, Marc Spector, the son of a rabbi and previous CIA operative and mercenary. Steven is plagued by blackouts and memories of another life in Marc. Steven and Marc learn to communicate with each other through mirrors. As the story unfolds, they attempt to resolve their split personalities with the help of their collective love interest Layla El-Faouly. Their relationships interplay in the same way as do the psychodynamics of our sub-consciousness, self-consciousness and super-consciousness.
To save themselves from their opponent Arthur Harrow, an avatar of the Egyptian God Ammit, they come to understand their mutual connection as avatars to the Egyptian God of the moon Khonsu, the night traveller. The weighing of the heart spell in the Egyptian Book of the Dead is central to the plot, and there is rich symbolism in the filming and direction. Mirrors, kaleidoscopes, and references to dimensions, play on words and relationships. There is a fantastic depiction of Steven and Marc in the afterlife as if they are trapped in a psychiatric institution but transported to scenes in the Egyptian afterlife. These scenes are truly potentially Oscar-winning.
The use of Marc as a lost Jewish figure, and the involvement of ancient Egyptian mythology, is the kind of genius combination that Marvel excels at. There are also hidden tesseracts, like all the other Marvel films and series. See if you can find them.
Excerpt from “Eye of Heaven. Lichfield Cathedral a Theory of Everything”, published by Unicordia Forest Publishing UK.
The ideas expressed in this article are pure speculation, and the author does not claim any truth or originality.
Photography of Lichfield Cathedral by the author.
Film image copyright Marvel Studios, Moon Knight, Disney+ 2022