The secret nature of the cosmos has long been accepted as an unreachable enigma to the seekers of every age. The body held a similar miraculous mystery for millennia, until anatomy and astronomy revealed a glimpse of our inner and outer universe.
Even with these scientific advancements, innumerable secrets of the celestial and mundane worlds remain hidden. To discern the patterns of nature, the sages of old relied on universal principles and intuitive experimentation, bridging the gaps in knowledge between the macrocosm and microcosm.
To the occult philosopher, the world followed the same rule on every scale; as above, so below- such was the principle of correspondence. The enlightened adept used this axiom as a key to unlock a treasure hidden in plain sight. The wealth obtained was the knowledge of how the biology of man corresponded to the composition of every living system- Occult Anatomy.
Manly P. Hall (1901-1990) was an occult philosopher who wrote extensively on the secret teachings of every spiritual tradition. In his work, ‘The Occult Anatomy of Man‘, Hall elucidates the allegorical connection between man’s body and the rest of the world- drawing profound parallels to mythological and microscopic phenomenon.
“Occultism teaches that there is an entire universe within the human body; that it has its worlds, its planes, its gods and goddesses. Millions of minute cells are its inhabitants. These tiny creatures are grouped together into kingdoms, nations, and races, and become one thing composed of many parts. The Supreme Ruler and God of this great world is the consciousness in man which says “I am.” This consciousness picks up its universe and moves to another town. Every time it walks up and down the street it takes a hundred million solar systems with it, but because they are so infinitesimal, man cannot realize they are actually worlds.
In like manner, we are individual cells in the body of an infinite creation which is hurling itself through infinity at unknown speed. Suns, moons, and stars are merely bones in a great skeleton composed of all the substances of the universe. Our own little lives are merely part of that infinite life throbbing and coursing through the arteries and veins of space.”– Manly P. Hall, The Occult Anatomy of Man, pg. 21
With this perspective framing our approach, let us delve into the finer details of these anatomical correlations.
In his work, Manly conveys that through the lens of religious myth, esoteric human anatomy is categorized into 3 segments; Heaven, Earth, and Hell. Whether the conception comes from Norse mythology, Kabbalah or Christianity, the structure remains consistent.
Heaven is the brain, the higher realm of the Gods that has the ultimate authority over all others.
This is where the pineal gland (also known as the third eye or seat of the soul) is located. It is widely accepted in esoteric traditions that the divine enters the body through the crown of the head. Furthermore, the halo only manifests around the head of the divine individual.
Logic comes from the word Logos, which means the Word of God, or principle of divine reason. When we are logical, we are said to be using our heads. These and many other concepts correlate to a subconscious mythological understanding across all cultures that associate the head with heaven or divinity.
“The entire system is an anatomical myth, for the heaven world of the ancients- the domed temple on the top of the mountain- was the skull with its divine contents.”Manly P. Hall, The Occult Anatomy of Man, pg. 7
In addition, Earth is the border between opposing forces where both come into harmony. The Earth is a transitory medium where agents from Heaven and Hell can traverse and wage war, and where the souls of mortals may either be set free into their divinity above or trapped in suffering below.
The Heart carries the blood throughout the body and back to itself, maintaining the balance and flow of energy. This alludes to the larger transitory bridge of life energy that it represents.
The Himalaya mountains rise above the earth, representing the shoulders and upper half of the body. They are the highest mountains of the world. Somewhere upon their summit stands the temple, resting (like the heavens of the Greeks) upon the shoulders of Atlas. It is interesting to note that the atlas is the upper vertebra of the human spine upon which the condyles of the skull rest.Manly P. Hall, The Occult Anatomy of Man, pg. 7
Hell is where the impulses of anger, lust, and fear burn eternally in crimson flame. This can symbolize the Kundalini energy in its hibernation at the base of the spine or root chakra, which traditionally radiates the color red.
This segment is where our emotional reactions and sexual impulses, and thus all of our questionable decisions, originate. Our digestive system is home to a variety of bacteria who directly affect our mood, and our reproductive system secretes hormones which regulate our libido.
“It is the great beneath; for surely as we think of heaven as up, we think of hell as down, while this middle place (earth) seems to be the dividing line between them. In hell are the forces of evil, the tearing, rending, destroying powers which are always bringing sorrow to the earth and which struggle untiringly to overthrow the throne of the gods in heaven.”Manly P. Hall, The Occult Anatomy of Man, pg. 6
The bridge between these worlds is none other than the spinal column, comprised of 33 vertebrae which correlate to the 33 degrees of freemasonry as well as the 33 years that Jesus lived.
The Hindu tradition symbolizes the spine and the energies that travel along it as serpentine in nature. The Nadi energy channels of the spine are also three fold; The Ida and Pingala channels spiral around the central Sushumna channel like writhing snakes, creating seven intersections along the vertical expanse.
These seven energy intersections called chakras are represented by lotus blossoms due to the way their energy radiates out like spiraling petals of light. The Kundalini energy is the coiled serpent at the base of the spine that travels up the spinal cord into the brain to activate the seven lotus flowers.
“Higher Occultism teaches that the lotus blossoms (nerve centers on the spine) are reflections or negative poles bearing witness of seven great positive centers of consciousness located in the brain. These seven function through the centers on the spine in approximately the same way that the seven spirits before the throne function through the planetary bodies.”Manly P. Hall, The Occult Anatomy of Man, pg. 15
Alchemy is one of the most important occult symbol foundations related to anatomy. The process of alchemy is publicly recognized as a chemical science in which mundane substances (lead) are mixed and changed into substances of great symbolic value (gold).
The secret goal of this process was to transform the human soul by perfecting the body, mind and spirit; eventually opening the third eye (the philosopher’s stone).
“The alchemical furnace was the human body. The fire that burned in it was at the base of the spine. The chimney was the spinal cord up which the vapors passed to be gathered again and distilled in the brain.”Manly P. Hall, The Occult Anatomy of Man, pg. 26
The seven metals in alchemy, known as Gold, Silver, Mercury, Copper, Tin, Iron, and Lead, all had a corresponding planet. As alchemy was an allegory for human development, these planetary energies can also be ascribed to the seven chakras with their corresponding nerve centers and endocrine glands. In this way, the human body becomes the solar system through its own microcosmic orbit.
The culmination of research undertaken by Manly P. Hall spans diverse religions with no relation to one another, and yet the one thing that connects them all is their subconscious recognition of the inherent relationship between the human body and the whole cosmos.
Manly P. Hall was correct in declaring that the human body is a text through which we could understand the world. The revelations brought forth through Hall’s work bring new meaning to the phrase, “know thyself and thou shall know all the mysteries of the gods and the universe”.