The first example is that cited in "Kolob, the God Star," analyzing the Pearl of Great Price, and more specifically the vision in Abraham. The polar configuration was the primary feature of his vision. This appears to be the case in the Old Testament book of Daniel as well.
In Daniel, chapter 2, we find that King Nebuchadneaazar has a dream that leaves him “troubled.” While he cannot remember the dream, he is certain that if one of his sages can refresh his memory, that same person will certainly know the interpretation of the dream.
The wise men (Chaldeans) were at a loss. They had no idea what the king had dreamed, much less the interpretation thereof. What is more, they asserted that no one should be expected to know the dreams of another. When the king heard this, he became furious. He threatened to kill them all.
At this point in the narrative, the wise men seek out Daniel, who appeals to the king for more time to divine the dream and its meaning.
We pickup the account in verse 19.
Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
Daniel answered and said, blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
I think thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter. (Daniel 2:19-23.)
The prophet’s common vision
Daniel’s enthusiasm comes from more than simply learning in vision of the king’s dream. His euphoria likely stems from the fact that he was shown the Polar Configuration in vision and recognized it as the source of all religious tradition. The evidence of this is in Daniel’s words to King Nebuchadnezzar, as we shall see shortly.
Note Daniel’s reference to the change of times and seasons in the above verses. One of the most profound differences between the world at Daniel’s time (our time as well, in fact) and the Patriarchal Age was the radical change in the heavens and the earth. The contrast between the two ages was so dramatic that the Apostle Peter was later to write “the old world that then was … perished.” (2 Peter 3:5.)
This radical change necessitated a whole new way of calculating the day of the year and the time of day. While in the heavens, Saturn and its appendages were the equivalent of a celestial clock and calendar. Instead of looking at one’s watch, as we do today, the ancients had only to glance at the heavens in order to determine the time of day. Many ancient monuments were constructed after the collapse of the polar column in order to record the passage of time, using the periodicity of the new heavens, yet employing the symbolism of the old Saturnian system. Stonehenge, for example was both a celestial observatory and a circular calendar. And because it preserved the time keeping elements of the ancient Saturnian system, it was also a sacred place, fit for rites and rituals — a temple, in other words — connected with both the old and the new heavens.
Hence, the ongoing debate about whether sacred compounds like Stonehenge are calendars to mark the passage of time, observatories to track the motion of the sun, moon and stars, or sacred compounds for religious rites and rituals is truly futile. Such sacred sites served as all three at once! (Notably, modern temples serve these same three functions.) Indeed, the very layout of modern timepieces reflects the circular arrangement of the ancient Saturnian system, as do monuments such as Stonehenge.
Seasons, as we know them, were nonexistent in the Saturnian Age. When seasons began, after the polar configuration seemingly exited the heavens, the calendar became a vital necessity for tracking the seasons and marking the passage of time. Thus, it was natural and proper for Daniel to attribute the change of the “time and the seasons” to God and the vision he had just seen.
Saturnian traditions revealed in a dream
Daniel ultimately reveals to the king a rather interesting narrative that bears scrutiny in light of what we know about ancient Saturn and the Polar Configuration of planets.
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee and the form thereof was terrible.
This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. (Daniel 2:31-33.)
This description matches the appearance of the Polar Configuration during the phase that gave rise to the celestial, heaven man, angel or god standing upon the Earth and answers to the archetypal symbol of Saturn’s crescent as outstretched arms, Venus in the center of Saturn as the head, Mars at the top of the polar column as the chest or heart, and the column itself as the belly and lower limbs.
Here we see an Egyptian version of this image.
This is the Babylonian version of the same astral image.
This is an artist rendition of how it appeared above the Earth in the ancient heavens.
This is the same image that the apostle John declared to be an angel of God. It is also likely that this is the image that is referred to in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 133, verse 18 wherein the Lord is made to “stand upon the mount of Olivet and upon the mighty ocean, even the great deep, and upon the islands of the sea, and upon the land of Zion,” a remarkable feat for a man (even a resurrected god), but an accurate description of the ‘heaven man’ image. (Incidentally, this speaks volumes about events that will be seen to occur in the last days as described in this remarkable revelation to Joseph Smith.)
Note that each segment of the great image described by Daniel was said to be of certain elements: head of gold, beast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. This is clearly an indication of the appearance, brightness and color of each element of the Polar Configuration that gave rise to the ‘heaven man’ image.
The brightness of this apparition was said to be “excellent,” and its form “terrible.” All the elements of the Polar Configuration were in this specific alignment or arrangement at only one time during a 24-hour period: at the time we call midnight. At the point in the day/night cycle, the entire configuration became astonishingly bright, much like today’s moon rising in a blackened sky at midnight.
The celestial stone
But there is yet more to the king’s vision as described by Daniel.
Thou sawest til that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces.
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:34-35.)
These verses describe the metamorphosis of the heaven man image. While it is unlikely that this event saw the dissolution of the Polar Configuration, which event came much later in its career, this was a notable state in the long evolution of that peculiar arrangement of planets. Ultimately, at the end of the Saturn epoch, Saturn and its satellites did vanish into the darkness of space, “that no place was found for them.” Therefore, the statement is correct, but not chronological. In the meantime, the configuration continued to evolve into many other forms before its final dismemberment. Evidence of the continued evolution is in the narrative itself, as we shall see.
The stone that “was cut out without hands” was Mars. In the early stages of the ancient configuration of planets, Mars appeared to be in the center of Venus, which appeared to be in the center of Saturn. It had remained stationary relative to the other visible planets while Venus underwent many dramatic changes before returning to a more stable position. (See "The Saturn Epic: In the Beginning.")
Now it was Mars’ turn to become unstable. Mars exited its apparent position in the center of Venus and began to ‘wander’ or ‘descend’ without any apparent outside intervention. Thus, it was said to have been “cut out without hands.”
As Mars appeared to descend, it seemed to grow larger because it was, in fact, moving toward the Earth along the shared axis of rotation. Thus it seemed to ‘descend’ and ‘grow’ at the same time. By the time Mars reached the position shown in Figure 1, the ‘pillar’ or ‘mountain’ appeared between Earth’s northern horizon and the approaching Mars. Thus, in Daniel’s depiction, the “stone” became a “great mountain.”
The plasma stretching between Earth and Mars, Daniel’s “mountain,” now appeared to form a skirt about the legs of the heavenly apparition, while Mars was seen as the torso. The crescent on Saturn formed the outstretched arms of the figure with Venus as the head. (See the above illustrations.)
The plasma in the pillar (skirt/mountain) must have been spectacularly bright and colorful, as pictures from the Hubble telescope have shown in other such plasma structures in our galaxy. Thus, earthly spectators assigned the colors of various metals to the “image” to describe its wondrous appearance. Daniel’s account merely repeats those cultural traditions of the colorful image.
But, as Mars continued its descent and growth, the mountain appeared to collapse and the grouping seemed to come apart. Thus, in Daniel’s account the stone “smote the image upon his feet, that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces.”
Mars continued its apparent descent as it approached Earth along the common axis of rotation until both the polar column and Mars appeared to be a literal appendage or “mountain” on Earth’s northernmost horizon. Or, as Daniel told it, “… the stone … became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”
As Mars and the polar column approached most closely to the Earth, the ground beneath the feet of onlookers began to quake, furthering the impression that an impact of some kind had take place. Hence, they had the idea that the stone “smote” the image. Darkness shrouded the Earth and the great cities fell, lending yet more weight to the idea that the image had been destroyed as well.
When the darkness dissipated after an indeterminate length of time, Earth’s inhabitants saw the polar configuration once again. However, Mars had begun to withdraw from its former proximity to the Earth. A new phase of the Saturnian configuration had begun.
Of course, Daniel gave an interpretation of the dream.
This is the dream, and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beast of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. (Daniel 2:36-38.)
In antiquity, the role of the monarch was clearly defined by Saturn traditions. He was god’s agent on earth, the successor to the original, celestial monarch, Saturn. Any interpretation of dreams that involved that heavenly prototype of all earthly kings would, by necessity, follow that concept. Daniel indulges in neither flattery, as some have suggested, nor exaggeration to ingratiate himself to the king by referring to Nebuchadnezzar as the gold head. He was merely articulating cultural tradition.
Daniel follows that pronouncement with an explanation that each of the other parts of the image represents four subsequent kingdoms, each inferior to the one that immediately precedes it. Apparently, the idea that the whole of civilization is deteriorating is not new to our time. Representing mankind in a long, downward spiral, except where God intervenes through his prophets, is the entire message of the scriptures.
“… on earth as it is in heaven.”
Note that this is an instance of how one time celestial objects were employed to give order and meaning to earthly events and conditions. It is an example of imposing the heavenly order of things on the earthly, a commonly used device in antiquity.
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44.)
The analogy of earthly kings and kingdoms is made complete in Daniel’s exposition. It is the kingdom of God that, like the celestial stone, shall roll forth and consume all others.
Here we see the power of analogy at work. The evolving Polar Configuration is made to depict the world and the kingdom of God. As the prophets attempted to convert the ‘pagans,’ they were forced to use the religious traditions of those same people to teach gospel principles. What better way to change hearts and minds than to put a unique twist on that which is familiar and comfortable to your audience?
“If it works, use it,” seems to be the rule. This can be seen in the teachings of virtually every prophet, including the Savior’s use of parables. It is why most of the scriptures, the gospel, temple ritual and temple iconography has pagan roots. It was the pagans, with their obvious Saturn traditions, that the prophets were sent to convert.
Of course, there is inherent danger in this practice: Later generations might mistake the symbols and imagery used as teaching tools for the real thing. Additionally, converts may retain their beliefs in pagan traditions even after converting to the gospel. This is the drawback or downside to using symbolism at all, from whatever source.
Joseph Smith emphasized the validity of the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He let Daniel’s interpretation stand, adding only that the church he founded was the beginning of the kingdom that would consume all others seen in Daniel’s vision. All the brethren since Joseph have taught this same thing.
More dream symbolism
In chapter 4, the king has another dream with a new set of symbols.
Thus were the vision of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. (Daniel 4: 10-12.)
The heavenly tree was only another expression of the polar configuration, the pillar being the trunk of the tree and its branches being the crescent in an inverted position from that of the heaven man.
This was the appearance of the polar configuration at midday in the ancient, day/night cycle.
Though we do not readily recognize it as such, it was the principal symbol for an ancient cult that worshipped trees or worshipped in groves. The Israelite prophets called it Asherah (Ashtoreth), and they condemned its worship. (See "Temple Symbols and Christmas.")
Still more symbolism
Yet another dream in chapter 7 introduces us to yet another set of symbols. These are four beasts. Notice the remarkable similarity between these beasts and those listed in Ezekiel 1:10 and Revelation 4:6,7. It seems clear that the ancients frequently associated beasts with several aspects of the Saturn configuration.
There is a clear difference between Daniel’s beasts and those of Ezekiel and Revelation. It appears that the visions in Ezekiel and Revelation deal with the daily cycle of the Polar Configuration with each of the four beasts representing the four primary points of the compass. These originate in the four principle positions of Saturn’s rotating crescent in a 24-hour period—midnight, morning, midday, and evening. Coincidentally, Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the four beasts he found on the Egyptian papyri is the same: These four beasts represent the four cardinal points of the compass. The vision of Daniel deals with four primary stages during the evolution of the Saturnian configuration of planets. Hence, it’s use of the symbolic number four, personified in the four beasts. (See "The Eagle, the Bull, the Lion and the Man.")
A multitude of traditions
Thus we see that understanding the early history of our planet and its unique heavenly manifestations is vital to understanding the prophets because they taught the lessons of the gospel with traditions and stories — myths, if you will — that originated in the Saturnian congregation of planets as they metamorphosed over time as well as the plasma constructs that emerged between planets. These archetypes evolved into a multitude of icons and images in every ancient culture, becoming the basis for legends of epic dimensions.
The lesson to be learned here is that we should not mistake imagery for reality. We would do well to use our newfound knowledge to enhance our understanding by separating the planetary traditions from the lessons they were designed to teach.
© Anthony E. Larson, 2000