Chapter 3. Symbolic powers

King Tutankhamun’s pectoral necklace, 1323 BCE

King Tut’s pectoral

The winged scarab, Khepri, oversaw the passage of sun and moon through the sky. Its body was made of glass formed by the impact of a meteor on desert sand. Khepri holds up a boat that carries the eye of Horus flanked by cobras. The eye of Horus could restore life and protect the young king from harm.

Egyptian funerary boat from the Tomb of the Officials at Beni Hassan, Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, Reading, UK

Egyptian funerary boat

Egyptians put models of boats in tombs to ferry the departed across the sky to the shore of the afterlife. Each season, Ra crossed the sky to bring the floods of the Nile and the hot sun for fertile crops.

Our Lady of Kazan, 16th-century copy, Yelokhovo Cathedral, Moscow

Our Lady of Kazan

It’s not clear whether the icon that was stolen in 1904 was the original or a copy. It doesn’t matter. The Fátima image at the Kazan Cathedral protects all of Russia. This icon repelled invasions by the Poles in 1612, the Swedes in 1709, and the French in 1812, among other miracles. It’s a window through which one may speak directly to the Virgin Mary, the Holy Protectress.

Horloge astrolabique, Cathedrale Notre Dame de Chartres, 1528. Photo by Tom Sharp

Horloge astrolabique

By this time, 1528, it had all been worked out. Salvation was assured. The cathedral was built at the beginning of the thirteenth century, but when this part of the choir wall was carved by Jehan Soulas, it had all been worked out. Seven times each day, for vigils, lauds, mass, lectio, sext, vespers, and compline, they met to pray, to praise, to sing, all at the appointed hours, at the appointed days, the seasons, and the years.