Note: I used this image which is from Machu Picchu because it is a cave below the mountainous temple. It was common for ancient temples that soared above the earth to be coupled with caves beneath them for ceremonial work. It seemed appropriate in the vein of Jacob’s ladder (see below) as the two aspects of the temple could be seen as a gateway for communication and interplay between underworld and overworld realms.
There is no Biblical record of Jacob going to Egypt, at least before his “initiation” as there is for his ancestor Abraham. Nevertheless he had experiences that were akin to mystery school training and experience. Did he have these experiences because he was a mystic and prophet deeply in tune with nature and the divine energies inherent within? Or was he exposed to formal training? It is impossible to know but what we do know is that his experiences and finally the bestowal of a new name does follow the template of the mystery school.
When Jacob first sets out into the world he has a vision of divinity. This vision is commonly referred to as Jacob’s ladder. In this dream/vision, Jacob drams of a ladder or staircase spanning heaven and earth with angelic energies moving between the realms. This clues us in that something sacred is afoot. After this experience he goes off to find his family. He marries first Leah and then Rachel. Twenty years later comes home again with his wives and children.
Twenty years is a traditionally important time in esoteric studies. It is generally accepted that a student will study the outer mysteries for 10 years, and then the inner mysteries for 10 years. At the end of this 20-year period, the initiate is recognized as a master.[i]
Before entering his homeland, Jacob goes off by himself. In modern day parlance, we would say that he went on a vision quest. To those who witnessed, it appeared that he was wrestling with a stranger.Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. Genesis 32:2
The “he” in the following passage is the mysterious stranger:When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he wrenched Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained. . . . Then he said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.” But he answered, “I will not go unless you bless me.” Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob but Israel. . .” Genesis 32: 26, 27 and 29
Here is my own rewritten shamanic version of this tale:
As the MorningStar rose in the sky (dawn), Jacob was initiated and like all new initiates, like his ancestors Abram and Sarai before him, he was granted a new name, a spirit name. The name he was given was a blend of the gods of Egypt and Canaan. He took the name of the moon goddess of the Egyptians (Isis) and the Egyptian sun god (Ra), along with the Great Bull God of the Canaanites (El). Henceforth his name would be known as Is-Ra-El.
I go into greater detail about Jacob’s experience and discuss who the mysterious stranger was in Chapter 6 of ONE GODS. You can pre-order the book (and help support my work) by clicking on my crowdfunding link at the side of the page.
(Note: Check out the photo carefully. The cave is formed in the image of an eagle. The head is on the ground [roped off so one one steps on it] and the wings can be seen soaring from the rocks above it)
[i] Although these are the traditional times it takes for each of the studies, an individual student’s time may vary given their own spiritual path.