Axis Mundi
Published on July 21, 2016 by lahilden | Views: 1296

The axis mundi is found in various religious beliefs and philosophies around the world and refers to the center of the world where Heaven and Earth connect.  It is Latin for “the Axis of the Universe.”  This axis serves as a celestial and geographic pole; the connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet.

The symbols used to represent the axis mundi vary by culture, but some of its forms are natural objects like trees and mountains, while others are manmade like the totem pole, a staff, or a church steeple.  When examining the iconography of the cosmic tree, the branches represent the sky, the earth is the trunk, and the roots the underworld, which depicts all the dimensions.  The Sioux Indians considered the Black Hills to be the axis (the world’s center), while the Tibetan and Hinduism religions have Mount Kailash.  There can be several axis mundi locations within the same belief system.  The Chakra system recognized by the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, merged the concept of the human body as the pillar between heaven and earth. Yoga and Tai Chi originated from the concept of the human body serving as the axis mundi.

Jerusalem serves as an axis mundi for Christianity and Judaism, although the temple has been gone for 2000 years.  The Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico served as the axis mundi for the ancient Teotihuacan culture.

A practice used by Shamans is to traverse the axis mundi to access the knowledge needed for healing others.  The axis mundi is said to be the central pathway connecting the upper, middle, and lower world, along with the four dimensions, allowing the healer to travel to other realms. The axis mundi connects universal consciousness.  The shamans are said to release themselves from ego and enter the hypnotic state necessary to astral travel to another realm.  According to H.S. Webb in Exploring Shamanism: Using Ancient Rites to Discover the Unlimited Healing Powers of Cosmos and Consciousness, “In this space, a cancerous tumor can shrink and disappear in moments.  In this space, the shaman can see the location of a missing child.”  I have had personal experiences with shamans and admire their healing gifts and amazing insights.

The Buddha also represents the axis mundi, along with the Bodhi Tree under which he sat to gain his knowledge.  The tree is considered to be a reconciliation of macrocosm and microcosm.

The locations where axis mundi’s are present were called Omphalos by the ancient Greek, which means navel. The ancient Greeks had several axis mundi sites, perhaps the most notable is the Oracle at Delphi. Since ancient times people have spoken of coming into contact with these cosmic poles where they were transported to a different realm and returned with knowledge.  An axis mundi is said to be the place where communication can take place.

Here is the citadel of Machu Picchu in Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire and the “World’s Navel” (axis mundi) for its people.

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