Mishkan ha-Echad

Tuesday 22 December 2015

The Horns of Metatron and Sandalphon

It may seem strange at first when some people encounter the diagram of the Kerubim and the Flaming Sword in the 1=10 Grade, which shows on either side of the Flaming Sword the heads (and only the heads) of the two Great Angels Metatron and Sandalphon, both of whom have horns.

These same angels are also drawn with horns on the Great Seal that is found on the Obligation and Membership Scroll of the Second Order.

Generally when we think of horned entities we think of devils and demons, not angels, so this can be quite a surprise to many, and may even lead some to question the nature of these depictions.

This view of horned beings was not always the case, however. For example, Moses was often depicted with horns, based on a translation of Exodus 34:29 in the Vulgate, where the Hebrew קרן (qaran) became the Latin cornuta (meaning "horned"). The Hebrew word can also be translated as "to display horns" (or, more simply, "horned"), based on its root word qeren (also spelled קרן, but with different pointing), which means "a horn."

This led to many popular renditions of a horned Moses, such as the well-known statue carved by Michelangelo around 1515, as shown below:

In fact, the concept of a horned Moses was very popular, and was replicated time and time again in paintings and statues.

However, there is an alternate (and more popular today) translation of the word qaran as "to send out rays" (or "rayed" or "shining," sometimes taken to mean "glorified"), and this tends to be supported by the Biblical verse itself, where Moses had just spoken with God and received the two tablets on Mount Sinai.

This conception is also depicted in artwork, such as this fresco by Andrea da Firenze:

Here we see the horns have become rays of light, which is a form that many may find easier to accept. Yet these could also be said to be horns of light.

This form of Moses was also tied to some stories about Metatron, where, for example, the angel appeared as a horned youth (see p. 424 of The Faces of the Chariot: Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel's Vision by David J. Halperin).

Another depiction of the horned Metatron can be found on the First Pentacle of the Sun in The Key of Solomon the King, translated by Mathers.

This design is essentially identical to how this Great Angel is shown in the diagram displayed in the 1=10 Grade, down to the shape of the horns. A similar, feminine form is given for Sandalphon on the other side.

Of course, the above is only scratching the surface when it comes to these "Bovine Horns," but it does show that horns have been used for many centuries to depict holy people or beings.

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