Saturday, March 27, 2021

Aion - The Original Satan


He Who Holds the Keys


Having carved variations of this leontocephaline figure, I thought it was time to explore this ancient deity further. Appearing as he does with a lion's head on a human body, girdled by a serpent, this imposing figure is found in ancient Mithraic temples throughout the Graeco-Roman world. His imagery is loaded with symbolism, but before we delve in we need figure out just who he is. 

This deity was known by many names: Aion, Sæculum, Kronos, but these were really just conventions, for he was truly nameless. For the purpose of this post, let's stick with Aion. 

Like the Zoroastrian, Zurvan, Aion isn't just a god of time, he is time; unyielding and absolute. He is the heavenly gatekeeper around whom fiery diadems glow. He stands at the outermost region of the cosmos, that of the aether, seen by ancients as a realm of fire. In fact, some of his statues were constructed so that flames could blast from the mouth. His fearsome jaws tear apart his progeny at the termination of each cosmic cycle. In ways his aspect is formidable, frightening, yet the lion’s head suggests courage and determination. 

As we can see, Aion is often depicted holding a set of keys. Those initiated in his ways  would have known him as a keeper of two gates -  two ways to escape the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. His silver key would open the Gate of Cancer, beyond which was the path to the ancestors and reincarnation. While the golden key would unlock the Capricorn Gate, revealing the way to escape the cyclic grip of necessity, through gnosis-like transcendence

From Ostia Antica

Aion’s wings represent four-fold time, while the serpent that coils about him, like an ouroboros, is cyclical motion; that of the sun, the planets and of time. While his body is adorned with zodiacal symbols, reinforcing his dominion over time and the process of the ages. He is sometimes attended by chthonic beasts, such as Cerberus, or flailing knots of snakes, all connected with the underworld. Sometimes he is portrayed with an eye on his chest, this 'eye of the soul' was also a symbol of divine intellect. The eye of Aion was used in magic too, inscribed on talismans and objects to bring power. 

In the city of Alexandria, Aion was worshipped under a number of guises, usually in conjunction with other deities: Pschai-Aion, Sarapis-Aion, Aion-Kronos amongst them. This coupling of deities reflects the idea that gods were not seen only as supernatural personages, but as metaphysical concepts. 

Early Christianity, seeking to escape the rigours of endless time via the teachings of Jesus - Aion, the figurehead of boundless time, became ‘Satan’. Indeed many of the trappings of Satan are evident in his imagery: his association with a realm of fire, the serpent and underworld affiliations. 

I haven’t yet managed to lay my hands on a copy of Carl Jung’s work, Aion, which delves into Christianity’s beginnings and associated symbolism, as well as exploring various archetypes. The title perks my interest. But in the meantime, I’ll keep carving him from time-to-time, drawn by the powerful imagery from over two-thousand years ago. 


The Mithras liturgy - Hans Dieter Betz

Magical Practice in the Latin West - Richard L. Gordon &  Francisco Marco Simón 

Mystery Religions in the Ancient World - Joscelyn Godwin

The Mysteries of Mithra - Franz Cumont




Thursday, March 25, 2021

Tiamat - Animated Short

 This is a short video I made using my carved stones, stop motion style. The story is from the Enuma Elish: the ancient creation myth of Mesopotamia. 

There's something about these ancient creation myths I find compelling. There are many parallels and similarities between myths of various cultures (which I've been researching thoroughly and will become a book at some point). 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Thor's Might Hammer, Mjolnir

“Shut up you wretched Wight

or my mighty hammer Mjölnir

will take away your talk.”

From ‘The flyting of Loki’

Thor's hammer carved in jet by Stone Mad Crafts
Mjolnir in Jet, carved by the Author

All the best storm gods have a weapon: Marduk, Indra and Zeus had their lightning bolts, and Thor had Mjölnir*. This mighty hammer was forged by the dwarves of Nidavellir.  

Mjölnir could level mountains and was the doom of many a giant. Once cast from Thor’s hand, the hammer never missed its target and always returned. Its name means crusher. Anyone who has heard thunder rolling through the mountains, like a giant stone wheel, can imagine how such ‘kennings’ became part of the mythic cycle, for Thor is elemental and powerful. His following was great, and he was seen more of a god of the people than was Odin.

In one humorous tale, the king of the giants, Thrymr, made off with Mjölnir. He said he would only return it on condition that Freyja be his wife. However, Thor disguised himself as the goddess, dressed in her bridal gown, and once he was in possession of his weapon he defeated the giants. 

In another episode, Thor used his hammer to smite the dragon, Midgardhsormr. Here we have the ancient battle theme; the forces of order over those of chaos, signified by the great serpent crushed by the sky god’s might. 

Mjölnir talismans were a popular item, and have been found in various forms. Many were quite plain, though highly decorated pieces are known. Such talismans gave their wearers attributes associated with Thor. Mjölnir was a symbol of strength, bravery, and possessed protective qualities too. Replica hammers were also used to consecrate and bless events and places — for this reason, in Norway, Thor was also patron of married couples, and rites pertaining to the union of marriage. 

Their use continues to this day, as you can tell by the picture of the piece I carved in 2020. To see more of my stone carving work please follow my Etsy shop.


*also known as Mullicrusher.


1: New Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology

2: The Essential Visual History of World Mythology - National Geographic.

3: The Eddas: Keys to the Mysteries of the North - James Allen Chisholm

4: The Forge and the Crucible - Mircea Eliade