The Deep Roots of the Lion’s Gate

By.: Ranilo Abando (Manila, November 28, 2020) ****

You may have wondered why many gates or entrances of large buildings and other structures around the world are decorated with statues of lions.  The practice of putting lion statues at gates and entrances has deep roots in ancient human history and is ultimately based on important knowledge brought down to this virtual physical world from high up the mind column.

The ancient Lion Gate shown above is in the south-western part of the fortifications in the Hattusa archaeological site. It was built in the early 14th century B.C. by the Hittites in an area located in modern-day Turkey. The door takes its name from the two sculptured lions whose heads, breasts and feet were cut out of the exterior of the huge stone blocks lining the passageway.  A pair of sculpted sphinxes in the form of winged lions with human heads, is found in another gate at the southern part of Hattusa.

Shown above is the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt.  This monument is very old and likely to have been built before 4,000 B.C.  A sphinx is basically a human-headed lion.  The ancients who built this monument obviously placed great importance to the symbolism of the lion in relation to human existence.

Shown above is the Lion Gate in Mycenae, Greece, an ancient megalithic monument.

The lion gate above is in Sigiriya, an ancient megalithic site in Sri Lanka. Much of the lion figure had already been destroyed, but the enormous megalithic paws of the lion can still be seen in the picture.

Shown above are lion sculptures at the sides of a passageway in the ancient Forbidden City in Beijing, China.  Many gates and entrances of old buildings in China are guarded by such lion sculptures.

The lion-bodied Aker was an earth-god in ancient Egypt.  He was believed to guard the gates of the dawn from which the sun rose each morning.  Aker was originally described as one of the earth gods guarding the “gate to the yonder site”.  As the ancient Egyptians believed that the gates of the morning and evening were guarded by Aker, they often placed statues of lions at the doors of their palaces and tombs.

Aker is believed to be guarding the sun god Ra, as he enters the netherworld during sunset and returns to the land of the living at sunrise.  The sun god symbolizes the human spirit.  Similar to the cycles of the physical sun, the cycles of the ordinary human spirit involve descent into the lower mind and rebirth in the virtual physical world (sunset of Ra) and then ascent again into a bright celestial dreamworld in his upper mind after physical death (sunrise of Ra).  The meaning of the lion symbolism in this case is a positive one, representing the spiritual Will of a spirit.  Without spiritual will, the human spirit would not choose to leave its blissful dreamworld in the higher mind, cross the “gate” or boundary between the higher and lower sections of his mind, and descend into another unpleasant cycle of virtual physical life in the lower mind. When this new cycle of life is completed and he physically dies, the “lion” or his spiritual will would likewise enable his spirit to ascend again and cross the “gate” or lower boundary of the higher mind and let his mind weave again his own dream paradise.  You can imagine the very strong spiritual will required for an advanced spirit that is already permanently residing in a lofty reality in the higher mind to choose to cross that “gate” again and descend to the lower mind, just to teach higher knowledge to humans.

In the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City in Central America, there is a large Aztec reliquary that is carved in the shape of a full “jaguar” (photo above). This amazing sculpture which weighs over six tons was unearthed at Templo Mayor in Mexico City way back in 1790. The most intriguing characteristics of this so-called jaguar sculpture are that it has no spots, which a jaguar has, and it has a mane, which a jaguar does not have.  Instead, it looks like a lion figure.  However, there were no lions in the Americas in ancient times and during those times there was no people-to-people communication link between the Americas and Africa/Eurasia where lions live.  It is intriguing how those ancient people of Central America were able to get the idea of how lions look like. It is easily explained by the fact that knowledge like these come from high up the mind column, and not necessarily spread laterally across apparently vast physical spaces.

Lions in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh

The above drawing of Gilgamesh killing a lion is a copy of an Assyrian stone sculpture.  The ancient story goes like this:  On his way to find Utnapishtim, Gilgamesh enters a mountain pass at night.  The moon lights the path, and Gilgamesh sees lions circling about.  Afraid, he appeals to Sin, the Moon god, for protection.  He descends on the lions and kills them with a violent passion. (From Tablets 8 and 9).

This is a complex metaphor. The travel of Gilgamesh through a mountain pass at night refers to travel up the mind column after a person’s physical death.  The moon lighting his path refers to moral and spiritual knowledge learned by the human spirit during his just-concluded lifetime and is now helping his spirit during its journey along the Intermediate Zone which is what the ancients called the underworld or netherworld – the zone between the bottom zone of the lower mind that builds the virtual physical reality and the lower boundary of the upper mind. Although the thinking part of the mind is shut down at this juncture, the effect of the good actions and thoughts from these knowledge allows for a generally smooth journey during this risky phase of the journey.

The lions that Gilgamesh found circling about him represent the running programs of the “beast” aspect of the human’s lower mind, a dark or negative expression of spiritual will flowing from above the mind column.  Gilgamesh killing the lions refers to the departed human spirit killing the passions being generated by this “beast” aspect of his lower mind just before he passes the lower boundary of his higher mind.  If that human spirit was unable to kill those “lions”, he would have been stranded in that intermediate zone and his spirit will be effectively “frozen” in an unpleasant dream reality.

Shown above is a sculpture of the ancient Greek hero Heracles slaying the Nemean lion. This lion metaphor has the same meaning as the lions that Gilgamesh killed.

The Symbolism of the Egyptian Lion-headed Goddess Sekhmet

A drawing of the ancient Egyptian lion-headed goddess Sekhmet is shown above with her sun disk and serpent crown.  Sekhmet is a solar deity (meaning, a concept related to the spirit), sometimes called the daughter of the sun god Ra (symbolizing the spirit) and often associated with the goddesses Hathor (symbolizing spiritual qualities such as bliss and contentment).  Sekhmet represents the power of action needed to manifest and continue spiritual evolution. Such motivation to act can take many different forms. 

One of such forms is pure spiritual will at the higher end of the spectrum. It is spiritual will which enables a spirit to cross the “gates” of the celestial realm and take an incarnated life down on earth, which is a particularly hard decision to make.  A spirit without such will would refuse to take that plunge, as crossing that “gate” would mean a lot of suffering during earth life, though it is often a necessary decision to make in order to gain experience and knowledge in this virtual physical world. 

It is also important to note that the same spiritual will which motivated us to incarnate down on earth, will also motivate us to turn around and pursue enlightenment in order to find our way back to our true home above the mind column.

However, that same flow of spiritual motivation can also take a form that is at the lower end of the spectrum.  Sekhmet’s Egyptian name also indicates a dark side that expresses her aggressive and destructive fierceness, her enormous sexual power and ability to arouse desire.  That is why Sekhmet was also regarded as a punisher of the damned in the underworld.  So, motivation that takes the form of dark passions, such as jealousy, hate, sorrow, fear, anger, lust, and greed, can be spiritually destructive if left uncontrolled. 

In a myth about the end of Ra’s rule on earth, Ra sends Sekhmet to destroy mortals who conspired against him.  In the myth, Sekhmet’s blood-lust was not quelled even after the end of battle and led to her destroying almost all of humanity, so Ra poured out beer dyed with red ochre or hematite so that it resembled blood.  Mistaking the beer for blood, she became so drunk that she gave up the slaughter and returned peacefully to Ra.

That myth shows us the middle spectrum in the Sekhmet concept.  The myth is an allegory that teaches us about the dangers of misguided idealism.  For a motivated person who follows an ideology, there is this feeling of divinity in his goals.  But if that idealism lacks guiding light flowing from the higher mind, that ideology often becomes a cause of tragedy.  Handing power to an unwise person like that so he can implement his misguided ideology could result in massacres of many people.  Tragic examples of these misguided ideologies in human history that were implemented by motivated persons include Nazism, Stalinism, religious radicalism, and aggressive nationalism.  These ideologies that were pursued without wisdom resulted in the deaths of millions of people, just like what happened in the metaphorical story of Sekhmet.

Thus, the concept of Sekhmet reminds us that there are both dark and enlightened forces deep inside our human nature. A person needs to understand these forces in order to put his destiny in his own hands.

By the way, the topmost photo is a depiction of a griffin, an ancient symbol of the human lower mind. The lower mind can be described as a monster because it is partly composed of spiritual matter and partly composed of chaos matter (from the singularity of the “abyss”).  It is depicted as having the lower body of a dark lion because spiritual will coming from above the mind column is often expressed by it in the ugly form of dark passions and carnal desires.  It has the eagle’s head, wings, feathers and claws because it is partly composed of spirit matter.

(Thanks to for the photos above, except those photos with specific attribution at their bottom)

Published by rabando

I am a Filipino and a geologist by profession but I have also been an ardent searcher for answers to the fundamental questions of human existence ever since 42 years ago. It has been a long, lonely and difficult journey. Why are we here? Where did we come from? What on earth is this world where I found my self in? Surprisingly, I found out that the answers are right there under our noses. There just need to be some adjustments in the way people think.

One thought on “The Deep Roots of the Lion’s Gate

  1. Your explanation of the place of the lion as being the keeper of the gate, both in an earthly way, in the carved rocks at the entrance to towns and villages, as the photos showed. And the metaphysical explanation was also quite thought-provoking. I’ve saved this post, and will have it printed out, because I think there is some great wisdom to contemplate here.

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