It is one of the more notorious numbers ever known: 666. It is the “Number of the Beast“! Although, its recent rise to notoriety was vaulted by heavy metal bands everywhere, it’s been around for thousands of years, it has only been known as the Number of the Beast for under two millennia. The number and its association to “the Beast” comes from the New Testament Book of Revelations.
And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except one who has that mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for that number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. – Revelations 13:16-18
Who is this man? In order to find out who he was, one must embark on a journey through time, cultures, religions, politics and sciences of the era that the book was written. The one issue that faces modern readers of ancient texts is that they were written in an ancient time, in an ancient language, by ancient cultures with ancient linguistic nuances. One common method of telling a story was by the use of symbolism through allegory and parable. The knowledge of the authors was occulted. In many ways we today are generally more knowledgeable than the average of our ancestors. Explanations of moral and cultural stories had to be relayed in such a fashion that the average person of the time could understand them. Often, the authors worked with lessons hidden within the language and their understanding made them more powerful than the average person. For instance, “we as people don’t know how to cure pork so don’t eat it unless you want to get sick” gets translated into “God forbids you to eat pork”.
THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS
The first stop on this journey of understanding is The Book of Revelations – the last book in the New Testament. It is a compilation of dreams or revelations made to the author; whose name we know is John. The first four books in the Bible are the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Is the author of Revelations the same John who wrote the gospel? Most historians will agree that John of the Gospels is not the same person as John of Revelations. For instance it is pointed out that, according to historians, the language used in Revelation and the Gospel texts are different. The Gospel author knew Greek where as the Revelations author’s Greek was not as succinct.
Also, the use of language is quite different where the Gospel John seems to have known Jesus personally and the author of Revelations does not, referring to Him more as an entity or concept rather than a living being. One example of this is that Revelations author refers to Hades, a Greco-Roman concept in verse 1:18. Note that Hades, the place not the god, was a place where all dead people went. In Norse culture, Hel, the place ruled by the goddess of the same name, was where all people went except half of those who died in battle, who got to go Valhalla if selected by the Valkryies. It is believed that this John was living in exile on the island of Patmos. Some historians estimate that he wrote this piece in 95 CE while other scholars suggest 68 or 69 AD just after Nero. It also been surmised that this John was an astrologer.
Astrology is an ancient art that has had a major influence on our world. Unlike today, it was a major philosophy that was studied in universities until the Eighteenth Century. Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Galileo and Copernicus could all cast an astrological chart and understand it. The influences of astrology were far reaching from antiquity. The original role of the astrologer was as knowledgeable priest or priestess who would advise royalty on such decisions as if there would be a good harvest or if it was a good time to go to war or not. It was about 2500 years ago that it was more commonly was used in the western world on a more personal nature and by physicians used to diagnose patients.
Up until Uranus’ discovery in 1781 there were only 7 known “planets” and this is because they were the only ones that could be seen with the naked eye. They are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. (Planet means wandering star and star means a bright light in the sky; comets were “hairy stars”). This is why we have 7 days of the week. The days are named after the deities that planets in the Latin languages and in English they are the Norse deity equivalents.
In religions there are several references to the numbers 3, 4, 7 and 12:
- 3 qualities (cardinal, fixed and mutable),
- 4 elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth),
- 7 planets
- 12 signs of the zodiac.
There is a common thread through various belief systems that mention a man, a cow/bull, an eagle and a lion. In order to understand what these mean it is necessary to understand that zodiacal signs are divided into 3 categories – cardinal, fixed and mutable. Cardinal signs of the zodiac are at the beginning of the season, fixed are in the middle and mutable are at the end. These “animals” are the four fixed signs of the zodiac: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. Scorpio, the sign associated with a scorpion was originally a serpent and then an eagle.
In Egypt, there was an ancient goddess Hathor a “cow headed” deity that came to be near the beginning of the age of Taurus. A sculpture depicting 7 Hathors shows or explains that the 7 Hathors could predict a child’s life experience. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Harold Budge’s translation), these are the first four pylons you meet on your descent to the dead.
Ani comes to Osiris “Hail Only One! Behold, thou are in the sekhet boat, He goeth round the horizon of Heaven” The pylons guarding the Underworld were described as follows:
“approaching the 1st pylon which was guarded by a bird-headed deity”
“approaching the 2nd pylon which was guarded by a lion-headed deity”
“approaching the 3rd pylon which was guarded by a man-headed deity”
“approaching the 4th pylon which was guarded by a cow-headed deity”
John of Patmos in Revelations mentions these as beings around the God in the following verse:
And there were the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the centre around the throne, there were four living creatures covered with eyes in the front and the back. The first creature resembled a lion, the second was like a calf, the third had a face like that of a human being, and the fourth looked like an eagle in flight. – Revelations 4:5-4:7
RELIGION IN ROME
There were several religions in Rome aside from the Roman religion since Rome was very cosmopolitan at the time as this was a result of conquering most of the known western world. It is interesting to note that in the sanctioned Roman religion there were 12 main gods that were worshipped: Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Vesta, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars, Mercurius, Neptunus, Volcanus, and Apollo. One will notice that this is the same number as signs of the zodiac.
While the Romans were not always tolerant of other religions in the early days, as the empire grew they started to tolerate them. An example of the diversity in Rome was the cult of Isis. This was very popular religion with a lot of the lower classes and slaves. One factor adding to its popularity was that it was open to both men and women. This is in stark contrast to the other popular non-Roman religion – that of Mithraism. A Persian religion based on the teachings of Zoroaster. Mithraism was a religion for the middle class and the military and it was for men only.
Mithraism was a dualistic religion where there was a good god of light and order, the Ahura-Mazda and the god of dark and chaos, Ahrima. Mithras was the son of Ahura-Mazda and sent to Earth to kill the Bull. Actually, this is another example of religion incorporating astrological lessons as this religion came to be in the latter half of the age of Aries and the killing of the Bull is a sign that the age of Taurus was over. The same thing happened with Moses, who smashed the golden calf as Judaism was religion which spawn off of the worship of Amon-Ra , the rams headed deity, who came to the forefront during the age of Aries.
The Roman version of Mithraism was an initiatory cult where new members were at the bottom ranks of the group no matter what his status was outside the group and they would slowly work their way up the ranks. This cult had 7 levels of initiation and their astrological connects were not hidden nor implied but explicitly named after the planets.
Corvis (Crow) – Mercury level. The crow is the harbinger of death but is also the messenger of the Sun. Therefore at this level the initiate “dies” and gets baptised by the messenger of the Sun.
Nymphus (Bee Chrysalis) – Venus level. Here, the initiate becomes the male bride of Mithras. For the duration of this stage, the initiate must be celibate as he is vowed to Mithras.
Miles (Soldier) – Mars level. The initiate is bound and blindfolded very much like in Wiccan and Masonic initiatory ceremonies. He is offered a crown on the end of a sword and once he accepts the crown the binds are cut. However, he removes the crown stating that Mithras is his crown.
Leo – Jupiter Level. This is the first level of advanced degrees. He gets honey to wash his hands and to anoint his tongue. One of his chores is to carry the food that is prepared by the lesser degrees to the higher initiates for the “Last Supper”. This last supper was adopted into the Christian mythology later.
Perses (Persian) – Moon Level. Mithras is associated with the constellation of Perseus. The initiate receives a harpe or curved sword.
Heliodromus (Sun Runner) – Sun Level. This level is symbolic of Mithras and the initiate gets the privilege of sitting next to the “Father” at the Last Supper.
Pater (Father) – Saturn Level. This is the highest level. The Pater will teach and lead the group and will sit on the council of Pontiffs.
The star shown below is the Chaldean Star. If one follows the star along the lines starting with Saturn at the top you end up with the days of the week.
Astrological, if one goes clockwise you have the Chaldean order which is associated with planetary hours which are also associated with the speed at which the planets move, Saturn being the slowest and the Moon the fastest.
With respect to the Mithraic levels of initiation, they follow the lines with of the star with Saturn, Sun, Moon but then Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury follow the clockwise pattern. This could be a study on its own as to why this order was chosen but it is most likely that Father-Mother-Son trinity are the important planets, then the others follow rank with respect to speed of their orbit.
There are a couple of areas of key interest to this study. The first is that the symbol of the Sun in our modern system is the circle with a dot in the centre, Q. The symbol for the Sun in ancient times was the cross of four directions, + (remember the fixed cross).
The second thing is that Mithras was viewed as the Sun, who was the son of the father, Saturn. The third is that Mithraic followers would often tattoo or mark this symbol on their foreheads or on their hands.
This religion grew and by the end of the reign of Antonius Pius circa 150CE it was still expanding. It is believed that Nero, who reigned from 54-68CE, showed interest in becoming an initiate of Mithraism. Historian Franz Cumont believes Nero made rank of Perses (Moon).
NERO AND THE PERSECUTIONS OF THE CHRISTIANS
The Roman emperor Nero (lived 37-68 AD, ruled 54-68 AD) persecuted the first Christians. He accused the Christians of starting a fire which destroyed half of the city of Rome in 64 AD (Tacitus, Annals 15.44). There are some that believe Nero himself started the fire in order to redevelop that part of Rome.
The Romans became somewhat tolerated other religions in the latter part of the Empire, including Mithraism which a large number of their army followed. Before this “tolerance”, the Jews and Christians were not the only religion to be suppressed by the Romans as other Pagan religions such as the cult of Bacchus and Magna Mater were also under the same oppression. However, this group, the Christians, must have come up on the radar somehow to have them be labelled as scapegoats for the burning of Rome. Jesus, himself, was a criminal in the eyes of the Romans as they felt the need to quell a potential uprising in Jerusalem at the time. Christianity must have gained in popularity as a counter to the Roman Empire which was set to quashed states around the Mediterranean.
It may be that Christianity was probably seen as a political movement more than a religion since it made a man king above a Caesar. This can be seen from the fact Christians were also less likely to pay homage to the Caesar as were members of other religions lead to them being singled out. There are several accounts which Christians were asked to burn incense as an offering to Caesar or say praise on to him to which they refused thus leading them to be executed for refusing to do so. As we are not part of that culture at that time we have no idea how offensive this act could have been perceived. As a persecuted group, the Christians would definitely call the initiator of such repressive acts that Nero inflicted, an Anti-Christ.
It is believe by many Biblical scholars that the number 666 refers to Nero. While Revelations was written after Nero committed suicide, many people at that time thought Nero had faked his suicideand that he was going to come out of hiding. In the ancient art of numerology, it associates numbers with letters and hence providing a meaning to the name. The numbers of one’s birthday also associates the birth to a numerological “horoscope” as well. The ancient scholars, whether Roman or Greek, wrote in Greek. The Greek spelling of Caesar Nero, “Nerōn Kaisar,” transliterates into Hebrew as “nvrn rsq” or “nrwn qsr”. Adding the corresponding numeric values of the letters yields 666, as shown:
There are other names that have been associated with this number: the Papacy (Vicarius Filii Dei), Martin Luther, Muhammad (Maometis in Greek). The one problem with numerology as anything could be worked out in the right combination to give you 666. In fact by looking at the Latin for Nero you get Nero Caesar which becomes Nrw Qsr in Hebrew and you get 616 which is was the number of the Beast in some books. This is only a part of the puzzle and to fully understand where number comes from one must subsequently investigate magic squares.
The Pythagoreans worked with numbers and astrology and other sciences of the day. One of the magical mysteries that have come from them, although disputably they origin may have come from China, is the art of magic squares. These squares were so fascinating to the ancients and moderns as well. The first is a 3×3 square.
If one totals each row or column of the square of the Sun/Sol , you will get (6+ 32 + 3 + 34 + 35 +1 =) 111. 35 + 8 +23 +17 + 26 + 2 = 111
If you sum the total of each of the sides you will get…..666!
WHO IS THE BEAST?
By looking at the passage in Revelations:
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for that number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
In his passage, John distinctly says that the number is that of a man. By numerology, using letter totals we can see that Emperor Nero works out but we can also see that many other names work as well. However, we know that John was more an astrologer of his day.
“no one will be able to buy or to sell, except one who has that mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
This line is the clue which we need to solve our puzzle. We know that Nero was fascinated with Mithraism and he was also an initiate. We also are aware at this period in time that a lot of Roman soldiers and merchants practiced the religion and they would tattoo the symbol of Mithras on them. We know that the ancient symbol of the Sun was the cross, much like the swastika of the Buddhist/Vikings/Romans and the Native American Medicine wheel. Through the system of magic squares, we know that the number of the magic square of the Sun was 666. We know that Nero was responsible for being the first Emperor to actively persecute Christians. We now can conclude that the most probable person that Beast could be is Nero! Judging by historical events, one other conclusion is that we ascertain is that the text was probably written in the 68 C.E. era.
The author John, goes on to predict the coming apocalypse which given by the seven seals (planets?). This is probably a code for astrological transits such as a black horse with the scales (Saturn in Libra) and a creature with a loud voice of thunder on a white horse with a man and a bow (Jupiter in Sagittarius). However, this is a study for another time.