WHAT IS KNOWN IN THE ORTHODOX TRADITION ABOUT THE IMAGE OF THE MOTHER OF GOD WITH SEVEN ARROWS
As legend says, the initial miracle-working image of the Mother of God with seven arrows was drawn in remote antiquity. According to 19th century publications, this icon is over five hundred years old. In pre-revolutionary Russia there was a famous and respected copy of the icon, which was identified with its legendary original. However, particularities of the image iconography and the fact that the said copy was made on a canvas glued to a wooden board indicate its late origin. The copy was made in the 18th century, probably from the initial icon that had not been preserved and dated back to the 17th century, i.e. the time when many elements of Western iconography emerged in Russian painting. The wonderworking icon of the Mother of God “Seven Arrows” comes from northern Russia. Before the revolution it was kept in the Church of John the Divine on the bank of ToshnyaRiver, not far from Vologda. The legend about the icon resembles similar stories about Mother’s of God images seen in visions by different people. A peasant from Kadnikovsky uyezd (district) suffered from lameness for many years and had no hope already to get cured. Once he was sleeping, and a Divine voice ordered him to find an icon of the Mother of God in the Church of John the Divine bell tower where old icons were kept, and to pray in front of the icon with faith for his disease cure. Having come to that church, the peasant could not do right away what he’d been ordered in the vision. Only after his third request clergymen who did not trust his words let him enter the bell tower and go upstairs. It turned out the icon, being covered with dust and dirt, served as a simple wooden stair on which bell ringers stepped while going up or down the tower. Being terrified with their unintentional sacrilege, clergymen cleaned the icon and held a service in front of it, whereupon the peasant totally recovered. Several years later, the memory of the miracle started gradually fading away and could vanish totally, if it were not for a new God’s affair when the miraculous power of the Mother’s of God icon manifested itself again. In 1830, a horrible cholera epidemic overtook a major part of European Russia, including Vologda province. During the pestilence many sacred items were brought to Vologda from Toshnya, including the icon of the Mother of God with seven arrows, and placed in the “cold” (summer) Church of Dmitry Prilutsky on Navolok, in Vologda Zarechye, to the right of the main city bridge. Christ-loving inhabitants of Vologda held a religious procession with the Seven Arrows icon around the city. After the universal prayer in front of the wonderworking image, cholera abated just as suddenly as it had come.
A relatively late origin of the icon of the Mother of God “Seven Arrows” is evidenced by its iconography that allegorically communicates an evangelical narration of how righteous Simeon the God Receiver met the Mother of God and Little Christ (before the revolution there existed one more name of the Softening of Evil Hearts icon – “Simeon’s Prophecy”). For many years righteous Simeon had failed to understand the meaning of the words in the Book of Isaiah: “The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son…”, and one day when he grew old, by the Holy Spirit’s suggestion he came to the temple. On the same day Mary and Joseph brought Little Jesus there, following Moses’ law by which all Jewish parents had to bring their firstborns to the temple on the fortieth day after birth to initiate them into God. Righteous Simeon as a clergyman took the Child into his arms and, via the Holy Spirit seeing God in Him, exclaimed: “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace” (Luke 2, 29-32). Then, addressing the Mother of God, Simeon predicted about the Child: “This Child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce Your own soul, too.” (Luke 2, 34-35).
How the number of swords (arrows) is explained – let’s read attentively
According to Simeon’s prophecy, on the Seven Arrows icon the Mother of God is portrayed alone, without the Eternal Child. This image reflects solitary suffering of the Most Holy Mother of God, which She experienced for Her Divine Son throughout Her life and especially in the Last Days of the Saviour. The seven swords piercing the Mother’s of God heart on the Seven Arrows icon indicate the fullness of sorrow She experienced in Her earthly life. Generally speaking, in the Holy Writ number seven symbolizes the fullness of anything. Since ancient times, concepts of the seven major virtues and seven deadly sins became established in the church; further there are seven church sacraments, etc. The prophecy of righteous Simeon the God Receiver is depicted on the Seven Arrows icon via visible symbolic signs – the swords. The sword image associated in human imagination with bloodshed is not accidental on the icon that portrays great sorrow of the Mother of God, for, as the Book of Leviticus says, “… the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11). There is also another interpretation of the seven swords piercing the chest of the Most Holy Mother of God: they represent the seven sinful human passions that cause new spiritual torments for the Mother of God. A little iconographic difference between the Seven Arrows image and the Softening of Evil Hearts image is that on the former there are three “arrows” on one side and four on the other, whereas on the latter there are three “arrows” on each side and one below.
I’d like to note right away I don’t mind if someone is happy with such description and meaning of the number 7 on the Seven Arrows icon; if you like such interpretation, it’s your right. At that, I directed my attention to the Temple of Kukulkan located in Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. The point is that the brilliant constructors of this object of worship put the number 7 into it as well!
DESCRIPTION OF THE TEMPLE OF KUKULKAN IN CHICHEN ITZA
Hardly all sources contain description of the number 7 specifically. Usually description is as follows:
- “The Temple is strictly oriented towards the cardinal points. It performed the function of a calendar and was used for astronomical observations, divine services and, possibly, sacrificial offerings.”
- Four stairways with 91 stairs in each and a platform on the top make up 365 in sum, which equals to the number of days in a year. Maya created not just their own solar calendar of 365 days (Haab), but also a calendar for special purposes of 360 days (Tun), and a ritual calendar of 260 days (Tzolkin).
- 91 is the number of days separating each of the four phases of the solar activity annual cycle: winter solstice, vernal equinox, summer solstice, and autumnal equinox.
- Each pyramid facet has 9 stepped terraces corresponding to 9 underground worlds, according to Maya beliefs.
- Stairways divide each pyramid facet into 2 sections consisting of 9 stepped terraces, altogether making up 18, which equals to the number of months in the Maya calendar year.
- 52 stone reliefs on each facet symbolize the Mayan 52-year calendar cycle.
- The stairway on the northern side ends with serpent heads located near the foundation, which symbolize God Kukulkan.
- On the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, when the shadow of the stepped terraces falls on the said stairway, an illusion of a huge feathery serpent is created that is slowly descending towards its stone head.
And it’s not indicated how the serpent is crawling, though it’s crawling quite interestingly. Here’s a description from a different source:
On the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, a marvellous phenomenon called the “feathered serpent” may be observed on the pyramid. Approximately at 3 p.m. sunbeams fall on the pyramid balustrade. The light and shadow form seven triangles on the stairway, which resemble a body of a 37-meter dragon. As the sun is moving, Kukulkan whose head is engraved on stone near the pyramid foundation is moving, too.
And here’s even a more interesting description:
If we draw a straight line through the centre of the Temple of Kukulkan, such line will have a 17 degree deviation from the geographical north pole and a 2 degree deviation from the magnetic north pole. When I visited Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard), a Maya researcher told me, these 2 degrees arose over a thousand years, since the magnetic pole is not constant, but rather floating, although as of construction the Temple of Kukulkan was aligned with the earth magnetic pole with absolute accuracy. Such precise positioning of the building allowed recording the equinox days of 21 March and 22 September. Nobody knows how they managed to build the pyramid such way, but even at the 2-degree deviation the feathery serpent Kukulkan still crawls down from the sky to Xibalba on 21 March and goes back to the sky on 22 September, creating 7 bends of shadow that fall at an oblique angle from nine levels of the pyramid to the foundation of the northwest stairs.
There is a very bright image, on which the 7 bends are clearly visible:
Doesn’t the stairway with serpents and seven bends remind of the Chinvat Bridge? This is a path to the spiritual world or rather a symbolic depiction of such path, in the three-dimensional space in this particular case, for the Temple of Kukulkan is a three-dimensional object, as distinct from an icon which is a two-dimensional object.
EXTRACTS FROM THE ALLATRA BOOK, WHERE THE NUMBER 7 IS PRESENT
As I have previously said, everything is interconnected in the world. The world is multi-dimensional and has different parallels. Man in the invisible world is an informationally complex space-oriented entity that steadily and simultaneously resides in six dimensions. So far this is difficult for contemporary people to understand, but I hope that with the development of qualitatively new physics and biophysics science will discover this fact as well. Man steadily and simultaneously resides in six dimensions that constantly influence each other. But during his lifetime man has a chance to unite his Personality with the Soul, to gain spiritual maturity and enter the 7th dimension (Nirvana, paradise), i.e. to achieve spiritual liberation and even to explore higher dimensions if he wishes to. (pages 174-175 of the AllatRa online version: more online)
It’s important to note that the Animal Mind power is limited only to six dimensions, which exactly make up the "material world" of the Universe. Roughly speaking, the material world comprises only 5% of the Universe. From the seventh dimension and up to the seventy-second, there is a world of energies and information that forms the material world of the Universe and perfects energy structures, due to the movement and power of Allat. And beyond the Universe there is a world qualitatively different from the Universe itself – the spiritual world, the world of God, where, as a matter of fact, a person can get as a new Spiritual Being. In such case, it is sufficient for a person to reach the seventh dimension, having escaped from the material captivity, in order to pass to the spiritual world afterwards according to his or her choice. (page 193)
Another way of saying it is if a person develops spiritually and his or her aspirations and desires are connected with the world of God, i.e. if the Spiritual nature dominates in the person, then eventually he or she will be able to abandon restrictions of the material world (six dimensions) during his or her lifetime and enter the seventh dimension. In this case, his or her energy structure in the seventh dimension becomes more complex. (page 196)
Rigden: Quite true. In rites and rituals of various religions seven repetitions of an external action often take place as a symbol of attainment of the seventh dimension during one’s lifetime, of a special spiritual procession (spiritual evolvement of a person during his or her lifetime) on the way to God. For instance, as you have correctly noted, in Islam it’s the seven circles around Kaaba and a number of other rites associated with the number seven. This is based on Muslim beliefs that Allah’s throne is located in paradise on the top of the seventh sky, where the “Extreme Lotus” (Sidrat al-Muntahā) is. There is Sufism, the esoteric branch of Islam, which has exerted a significant influence on religious dogmata, philosophy, literature, ethics, and poetry of Oriental Muslims. By the way, famous scientist and poet Omar Khayyam wrote his rubai in Sufi style as well. So, spiritual cognition, the path to God in Sufism includes seven spiritual stages on the way of self-perfection (Tariqat, originating from Arabic tarika meaning “a road”, “a way to the truth”). The stages are called makam (in translation from Arabic, this means “location”, “position”, “station”) – spiritual, stable state achieved by a Sufi on every stage; “stations” in the Tariqat. The way to God is described as a symbolical crossing of the so-called Seven Valleys (pages 556-557) The further text may be read, too.
It’s no mere chance that the Unburnt Bush icon is associated with a symbol of the immaculate conception by the Mother of God via the Holy Spirit. This is exactly the symbol of what I’ve told you. The Mother of God is a Conductor of God’s power for every human being who follows the spiritual path; it’s the power of God’s Love owing to which one’s Soul gets liberated from earthly incarnations. Jesus as the Spiritual Being from the other world restored the lost genuine Knowledge and gave people spiritual tools for spiritual salvation. That is, in other words, he left the keys. Improving himself or herself with those tools, a person gained a key to the lock, figuratively speaking. Whereas the Mother of God as the God’s power Conductor, as a spiritually liberated Being residing between the worlds for the sake of spiritual liberation of human souls, received the power and the signs from Him. And only when personal diligence and self-improvement work of a spiritually aspiring person got combined with the power of the Mother of God (Allat), merging of the Personality with the Soul took place, i.e. the person achieved liberation of his or her Soul, the seventh dimension or, as Christians say, “the paradise”, “the Kingdom of the Father and the Son”. It depended on the person’s choice only whether the sign would be active, and whether the person would Deserve gaining the divine power that would lead him or her to God. The key is given for people to use it. And in order the use the key one must apply efforts. This is the path of a spiritual human being, the path of unburnt spiritual impartiality, which together with God’s constructive power only can lead one to liberation. (page 614)
Now, let’s read an extract about the two-dimensionality:
Rigden: For man (in his perception) the functions of the second dimension (two-dimensional world) represent nothing more than a kind of storage and transmission of information, where signs and symbols play a significant role, although the functions of the second dimension are much broader. Here is a simple example. Any record assumes storing information. What is script, whether pictographic, ideographic, hieroglyphic or alphabetical? This is a sign system of recording human thoughts, which allows one to capture them in time and transmit over distance through conventional notation. In other words, it is notation in the two-dimensional world, which involves storing information in certain symbols and signs. For example, a cake recipe, or a guide for construction of a nuclear power plant, or an scheme of producing a nuclear bomb, and so on. If you have managed to read the recipe, but undertaken nothing, then nothing will happen. But if you can read, that is you understand the meaning of symbols, and then you apply a relevant force in line with the instructions and act, you will invariably get the result recorded in such recipe or manual. So is with a sign in the two-dimensional world: if you add energy to it, acting out of the three-dimensional world, the sign will start working. Consequently, we get either a cake, or light in the house, or a result that will destroy our house. (page 205)
EXPLANATION OF THE SEVEN ARROWS OR SOFTENING OF EVIL HEARTS ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD
Let’s go back to the two-dimensionality: to the Seven Arrows or Softening of Evil Hearts icon, as I see it. At that, I will emphasize again this is my personal opinion only, and I don’t mind if anyone prefers the official interpretation; and I’m not going to argue or prove anything. I don’t like it when people are trying to passionately convince me of something, foaming at the mouth. It’s not nice to foam at the mouth, let’s just stick to our respective opinions. I never dispute about God or faith! I admit it’s possible to dispute about a wallpaper colour with your own wife or about a product price with a shopkeeper in the marketplace, but not about God. Well, to cut a long story short, you understand that you’ve already won the dispute, so be happy, while I’ve simply moved aside not to get spattered. And I don’t mind anybody laughing. After all, people should be happy.
On the Seven Arrows icon, the number of swords (arrows) shows us the number of dimensions that a human being can and must perceive during his or her lifetime. 6 swords represent the animal mind, the material world, while the seventh sword, which on the Softening of Evil Hearts icon is even separated from the rest and placed below, is a symbol of the seventh dimension, the spiritual world that every person should strive for. And the Mother of God is actually sorrowful only because too few people come to perceive and take all seven swords from Her heart, whereas most people are satisfied with just three swords, leaving other four in Her heart as they were. This is sad indeed. Furthermore, looking at the Mother’s of God image, people ask Her for earthly things, e.g. apartments, cars, successful business, and so on. Isn’t this grievous for Her? In actual fact, they can ask for assistance and advice on how to take all these swords. The Mother’s of God heart is the Path to the Spiritual World. She will help everyone who asks.
Disposition of the swords in the Softening of Evil Hearts icon resembles a chalice (where the seventh sword is a stem) or a flower. Or, for instance, the six swords on the Mother’s of God shoulders are like the Nile delta, while the seventh sword is the river itself. Or, if we simplify it, it’s a down-pointing triangle.
Let me cite another extract from the AllatRa book.
In the primordial Knowledge a down-pointing equilateral triangle means not just the Front Aspect with the help of which a person is spiritually growing and evolving. Since the earliest times this symbol has meant the creative power of Allat, i.e. the movement of the spiritual from the initial point of incarnation, manifestation of the Creator’s plan to permanent creation and expansion, to a perfect form contained in the plan. It is no coincidence that in ancient times a down-pointing triangle was associated with the symbol of the feminine, with supreme goddesses who, according to beliefs of different peoples, embodied creative functions of the Great Mother as the progenitress of the entire world, and connection with the water environment (which was associated with the spiritual world). (pages 355-356 of the AllatRa online version: read online)
ONCE MORE ABOUT THE FATIMA PROPHECY OF VIRGIN MARY
Further information will be very interesting for those who like prophecies. A motif of the heart of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Mary (everyone can call Her as convenient) is present in the Fatima prophecy that relates to Russia. Its text was cited previously, but I’ll repeat it.
Before 1927 Lucia didn’t tell about the heart. A heart covered with thorns had appeared to the children, and Lucia interpreted it as Mary’s Immaculate Heart struck with sorrow because of human sinfulness. The following dialogue was due to the event:
Lucia asked Our Lady if she would take them to heaven. Our Lady answered:
"Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon. You, however, are to stay here a longer time. Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish the devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and their souls will be loved by God as flowers placed by me before His throne."
When Lucia asked if she were going to be left alone, Our Lady responded:
"No, my daughter. Does this cause you to suffer a great deal? I will never leave you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."
THE SECOND SECRET
You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.
Here, Vatican’s hand makes itself felt. “The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me” is a too patent addition by Vatican, for is one person able to consecrate a whole country to the Mother of God? The answer is obvious: whoever he is, one person cannot do anything of that sort. Yet, who can do this in such case? Certainly, people themselves, those who live in the said territories; they possess the entire power, while holy fathers don’t. If we recall the 1990s, a spiritual rise took place in the society, old churches were restored and new opened, and people started attending the churches (though some did it just for show). And there were those who did not attend churches, but came to believe in God, and this was wonderful. Faith arose in people, and the Mother of God gained Her home.
By the way, in my opinion, the last sentence of the above prophecy was added by Vatican totally. “The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” The prophecy actually ends with the words: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
THE MYRRH-STREAMING ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD “SOFTENING OF EVIL HEARTS” IN BACHURINO
Exactly in the late 1990s a very interesting event took place, associated with the icon we refer to herein. I shall only add that 2 May 1999 is the day on which Saint Blessed Matrona of Moscow was canonized.
In the village of Bachurino near Moscow, there is a marvellous myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God “Seven Arrows” or “Softening of Evil Hearts”. When you approach it, you immediately feel a tender and thrilling fragrance of myrrh, and if you look closely you can see little drops of the “heavenly dew” on the surface, scattered on the image like tiny transparent pearls. Myrrh has been streaming from the icon for more than 14 years, thus the icon is rightfully called “living”, for it immediately reacts to various events taking place in the society by bleeding or myrrh-streaming. The icon can rarely be found in the chapel where two other icons have started streaming myrrh as well, since it is “traveling” around the globe and heals suffering and infirm people in various countries. Everyone who touches this sacred item leaves with divine assistance and protection of the Mother of God.
Margarita Vorobyeva, Moscow resident and the icon keeper who has literally given her life to serve the Most Holy Mother of God, told us about the miracles taking place after people’s prayers to the icon.
- Margarita, please, tell when and where the Seven Arrows icon of the Mother of God started streaming myrrh.
— Next year it’ll be already 15 years since the icon became myrrh-streaming. It started in 1999 in our apartment in Izmaylovo, where we then lived. On 2 May my daughter visited Mother Matrona of Moscow in Pokrovsky Monastery, bought a small icon of Matrona, attached it to the relics, and brought it home. And on the night of 2-3 May the first 10 of our icons started streaming myrrh. A week later she took 25 roubles and said she’s going to a shop in Sofrino located near the Church of Christ the Saviour in Kropotkinska Street to buy one more icon. She didn’t tell me which one in particular and just said: “I’ll buy, bring it, and you’ll see”… I still remember how I gave her 25 roubles, she went to the shop in Sofrino and purchased that very icon which you now see in the chapel and which has become famous all over the world. This was an ordinary printed icon of the Mother of God “Softening of Evil Hearts”.
— What has happed to the icon when it started streaming myrrh?
— When the icon started streaming myrrh, it began to get renewed and filled with myrrh bottom-up, like a chalice. Now the entire icon is filled with myrrh. Just imagine, if we take any photograph, glue it to cardboard and put it in a liquid, what will take place? The photograph will surely come unstuck. The icon has been streaming myrrh for over 14 years already, and nothing like that has happened, though it’s an ordinary lithograph…
— An amazing, wonderful smell is coming from the icon. Is it always so fragrant, or are there days when it is “silent”?
- It doesn’t have any stable smell. The smell changes always and everywhere. Apparently, the icon “communicates” with us somehow via subtle aroma nuances, but we fail to understand the Mother of God because of our ignorance and sinfulness. We haven’t yet learnt to understand; neither we understand situations when the icon smells more sharply and manifestly, or more gently and “imperceptibly”… The Commission on Scientific Research of Orthodox Miracles established under the Russian Orthodox Church came to us and took the myrrh for tests. Scientists have determined the myrrh resembles resin secreted by a conifer that grows in warm countries, which resin possesses five vivifying characteristics, including wound healing, antidepressant, etc. There is even a film about this.
Read more here.
THE FIRST STEP HAS BEEN TAKEN... THE SECOND ONE DEPENDS ON PEOPLE!
The first step has been taken: Russia has been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God, while the second step is what He is talking about. This is consolidation of all people on the Spiritual basis. And everything depends on ourselves, people, just like upon the first step. I’d only like to note the first step was taken too late, and millions of people were killed in the Second World War, while that could have been avoided, as the prophecy says: the Mother of God would have eliminated such circumstances. Who wishes will think about this, and those who don’t care, never care anyway.
In conclusion, I would like to cite the lines describing the Fatima apparition of Virgin Mary again. These lines are addressed not to Lucia only, but to all and everyone who are able to understand and feel the meaning.
So, when Lucia asked if she were going to be left alone, Our Lady responded:
"No, my daughter. Does this cause you to suffer a great deal? I will never leave you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."
Certainly, I don’t like giving advices, and I won’t do that to anyone. Nonetheless, I’d like to tell everyone who has read what I’ve written above and grasped at least something: you can try and place the Softening of Evil Hearts icon above or on your desk where you work on your computer or laptop, and, before you write anything, look at the Mother of God for a minute. She will add Wisdom to your words…
* Kukulkan (/kuːkuːlˈkän/) ("Plumed Serpent", "Feathered Serpent") is the name of a Maya snake deity that also serves to designate historical persons. Kukulkan is closely related to the god Q’uq’umatz of the K’iche’ Maya and to Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs. (Wikipedia)
Received from Igor