In Vedic literature we find texts that carry on an I-E tradition that life-power (AV 18.2.23 “being, power, and energy”) is attained by the moon and stars via their capacity as “watchers.” That is, the celestial bodies reflect the rays of the sun by watching—not unlike mirrors—the disc of the sun. The moon is a disc of water that is able to reflect (and in a sense contain) fire in the form of sun rays [1]. According to Sāyana’s Vedic commentary,

The demons obtained supremacy merely by looking at Dadhyanc, the son of the Atharvan priest, while he was alive. And when he went to heaven, the earth was filled with demons. Indra, who could not fight with the demons, searched for that sage, and he was told that he had gone to heaven. Then Indra asked the people there, ‘Is there no limb left of him here?’ and they replied, ‘There is the horse-head by which he told the Aśvins the secret of the honey…’. They discovered [Dadhyanc’s horse-head] in Saryanavat and brought it. (-) With the bones of that head, Indra slew the demons [2].

Dadhyanc is the ritual priest who holds the secret of the soma sacrifice. Essentially, Dadhyanc is a controller of the sun’s energy paths; he allows the flow of rays from heaven to earth. The Divine Twins—the Aśvins—learn of his secret by substituting Dadhyanc’s priest-head with an Aśvin horse head (a third function, “fertility”-type head) [3]. Note that though the head-cutting–which we must associate with Dumezil’s second or warrior function–cannot be averted, the Aśvins, representing the Dumezilian third (fertility) function, can “grow” heads. Thus the warrior deity Indra’s bellicose activity is integrated with the Aśvins’ generative dynamis [4].

The motif that lies behind the Dadhyanc references I have termed I-E homogenesis, for according to this mytheme the primeval male human generates a male twin by tapping into a feminine, non-“hypostatic” energy, the latter not being a “personal actor” in the story, but is considered a sophianic energy wielded by mythic male “actors.” We have what amounts to an ancient mannerbund—male Indra, male Dadhyanc, and male Aśvins. However, this fraternal aspect of the I-E homogenesis is offset by a more menacing, terror-fraught side: The primal male must generate a son, an image of himself, usually with the only sexual partner in sight being his male twin, who is overcome through the mediation of a female energy [5]. The material manifestation of this female sophianic energy is either “soma” (in this context being associated with reproductive fluid) or the male reproductive part, in the present case the “limb” of Dadhyanc. In the passage above, the limb is revealed to Indra to be Dadhyanc’s horse-head. So what is the significance of all this? For an answer, we must turn to another ancient Indian text that deals with horses and reproduction…

In the Mārkandeya Purāna, the Aśvins’ father Viśvakarman pushes his seed into the nose of his wife, who has taken a horse form to avoid intercourse with a man. The seed flies into her “nose” (bodily cavity other than the standard entry—this is in line with the idea of male-on-male reproduction through a nonstandard or unsanctioned orifice) and the Aśvins fly out of their mother’s mouth. We have only to picture the touching together of the noses of two horse heads to get the right image: the touching is between two male organs represented by the elongated equine heads [6]. The image is of two “Tab A”s locking horns, with the second reproductive cone being forced into the role of a “Slot B.”

Renaissance theologian Nicholas of Cusa’s “diagram P” may be a later formulation of the same homogenetic motif of two comingled photocephalic cones as a kind of heiros gamos. The image of two triangles enjoined base-to-apex and apex-to-base represented for Cusanus God’s unity with creation, which was (in true Augustino-Platonic fashion) more fundamentally a relation of two abstract forms: Unity and Otherness. Unity, for Nicholas, was as the Maleness of all things; Otherness was the feminine, which, being no more than the “non-male” or non-unified, turns out literally to be “nothing” [6a]! In other words, the I-E Father deity seeks to be self-contained and secure in His own radical simplicity. The mechanism for attaining this eudaemonia? God the Father penetrates his own Son (His feminine mirror-image or twin), as thoroughly as possible with the light of His Unity. The end result: the opposition of Unity and Otherness that lies within the Father (and threatens his security by suggesting that the Father must be Father of a Son) is reinterpreted as an opposition between Unity (the maleness or virility of the Father) and Otherness (the feminine fear of annihilation, the Father’s nagging suspicion that He cannot dispel Otherness by Divine Fiat, that is, by His own conscious self-assertion).

To return to the ancient Indic frame of reference: In another Vedic passage, the “arms of Dadhyanc” are used by Indra to destroy the demons, who obtain power by imitating the sun-watching of the stars and planets (the real “watchers”) [7]. It is possible that these watchers are a source for the “mysticism of light” evidenced in Hellenistic religions and philosophies, and also in later manifestations of western esotericism, and thus for the aural eros found in the West from Plato’s Symposium and Phaedo, down through Augustino-Platonic mysticism and Pietistic, Boehmenist “Sophia” theology. This theme of I-E homogenesis has also become manifest in the Eastern Orthodox world through the heresy of Sophiology.

In any case, Dadhyanc’s horse-head is “fiery” and is associated with the sun; thus the demons’ ability to gain power by visually drinking its rays. But why are bones involved? And why skull-bones? The skull of the primal man, to follow another I-E mytheme—that of the macroanthropos purusa—is the vault of the sky, where the seeds of divine energy are available; it is from this vault that the rays of divine energy shine down [8]. The night sky’s luminous bodies represent the fact that discontinuities and imperfections in the sub-lunar sphere do not occlude the flow of divine solar energy, for ritual actions and ascetic practices can bring the energy to earth even when the sun is below the horizon. Thus, Dadhyanc’s horse head is aflame like a detached sun, and it is—like the real sun—below the ground, in this case beneath a lake’s surface.

The Vedas present the horse head of Dadhyanc as a “bone” that can be used to defeat demons. Since the bone is situated in the “Divine Twin” mytheme, we should not be shocked to see the Vedas equate Dadhyanc’s head with a pair of bones–the “limbs of Dadhyanc,” [See note 7]–used by Indra to kill demons. These arm bones are doubtless priapic, following a widespread tendency to substitute “limb” or “thigh” for “male part” in mythic narratives [9]. This “limb as phallus” theme as an example of I-E homogenesis is evinced in Norse myth:

Othin spake: “Seventh answer me well, If thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now: How begat he children, the giant grim, who never a giantess knew?” Vafthruthnir spake: “They say ‘neath the arms of the giant of ice grew man-child and maid together; And foot with foot did the wise one fashion / A son that six heads bore” (Vafthruthnismol 32-33) [10].

Here we see that two limbs/organs of one male frost giant copulate and produce a son, this unique all-male reproduction being the specific solution to the specific problem of how a male god can find a mate in order to make another being in His image. The solution arrived at in the I-E homogenetic myth: Males reproduce without females because the category of “female” is demoted from the level of “person” or “actor” to the level of “energy” or “act.” The female represents the dynamism of the male, but the active and passive partners must be male.

A parallel text in Tacitus presents Tuisto as a male god who produces a man (Mannus) out of his own body (Germania 2) [11]. But Tuisto is no more a hermaphrodite than is Dadhyanc, and so we must conclude that the “maid” on the Norse frost giant’s body is in fact the weaker Divine Twin from I-E tradition. This weaker, more passive brother is overcome by the “higher” brother. The dominant brother buries his effeminate counterpart in the earth; in the Edda version, this primal fratricide doubles as an archetypal reproductive act: three brothers rise from the ground representing the I-E Three Functions. Thus, the all-male birth of the first man is replicated when the first man bears sons without the services of a female.

I believe the demons mentioned in the Vedic texts in conjunction with Indra and with Dandhyanc’s bones are “pseudo-stars” or imposter luminaries that mimic the stars and the moon by using (illicitly) the magic power of the sun. Perhaps we have non-Aryans who steal the soma or who are perceived to be a threat to the order tenuously preserved by Brahmin ritualism.

Viewed in light of the I-E homogenesis mytheme, the pieces of Dadhyanc’s skull appear to be analogous to the stars, which are either tiny white fragments of solar energy on the atmosphere, or pinholes in the purushal skullcap that let the divine rays of heaven stream down to humans. Ironically, the I-E homogenetic myth originated in the skulls of males who viewed the cosmos as a huge male skull. How is order, virtue, and law to be maintained in such a world? Through violent rituals of male-bonding that “reproduce” the original divine outpouring of eros.


[1] On the moon as a “water disc,” see Sāyana’s commentary on Rgveda 1.84.15 in Hindu Myths: A Sourcebook Translated from the Sanskrit, translated by Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, UK: Penguin, 1975), 59.

[2] Sāyana’s commentary on Rgveda 1.84.13, in O’Flaherty, Hindu Myths, 58.

[3] Śatapatha Brāhmana, in O’Flaherty, Hindu Myths, 57.

[4] On Georges Dumezil’s notion of I-E trifunctionality, see C. Scott Littleton, The New Comparative Mythology: An Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dumézil, 3rd edition (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1982).

[5] I-E homogenesis may have influenced the Franks to believe that the filioque doctrine—with its Son-father brotherhood and its shared dove of love—was an essential tenet of Christian belief, despite the Pope’s insistence that the interpolation be removed from the Frankish Church’s Creed and the Eastern Church’s condemnation of it as a heresy. For an Eastern Orthodox critique of the filioque as the core of Frankish Civilization, see John S. Romanides, “The Filioque,” accessed 8 November, 2014,

[6] Mārkandeya Purāna 105, in O’Flaherty, Hindu Myths, 69.

[6a] See Nicholas of Cusa, De Coniecturis I.9.42ff; English translation by Jasper Hopkins in Nicholas of Cusa: Metaphysical Speculations: Volume Two (Minneapolis, MN: Arthur J. Banning Press, 2000), 182ff; image of diagram, p. 183. Cf. horizontal version of “diagram P” in Prudence Allen, The Concept of Woman, Volume Two: The Early Humanist Reformation, 1250-1500 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2002), 767.

[7] RV 1.84.13; accessed 8 November, 2014,

[8] RV 10.90.13-14; cit. in James L. Kelley, “Doxaphysics: A Reassessment of the Ancient Doctrine of the Soul,” accessed 8 November, 2014,, 8. On Dadhyanc’s bones and their association with the moon and stars, see R. Griffiths’ footnote to RV 1.16.12 in The Hymns of the Rgveda, 2 vols (Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1963): “Dadhyanc may be the old moon whose bones when he dies, become the stars with which Indra slays the fiends of darkness” (1.53).

[9] Recall that the Greek god Dionysus was born from Zeus’s “thigh,” which Carl A.P. Ruck interprets as “between his thighs,” since Dionysus’ “emblem is the phallus” (Apples of Apollo: Pagan and Christian Mysteries of the Eucharist [Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2001], 5).

[10] The Poetic Edda, translated by Henry Adams Bellows (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1936), 77.

[11] Tacitus, Germania, translated by Lamberto Bozzi, accessed 6 November, 2014,



This entry was posted in Demonism, Eastern Orthodox Theology, Eastern Religions, Eastern Religions; Orthodoxy; Eastern Orthodox Theology, Franks, Middle Ages, Orthodoxy, Three Orders, Vedas, Vitruvian Man and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


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