Mithras Born from a Rock

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This is cognate with the twelve sons and tribes of Israel. Same for the twelve apostles of Christ, twelve Imams of Islam, twelve labours of Hercules, the twelve Olympians and Shiva's twelve Jyotirlingas, to name a few. All of these can be considered a reference to the zodiacal division of the sky. But why twelve?

The twelve signs of the zodiac goes back beyond the Babylonians to the Rig Veda, the oldest Vedic text. In it, there are clear references to a chakra or wheel of 360 spokes placed in the sky. The number 360 and its related numbers like 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 108, 432 and 720 occur commonly in Vedic symbolism. In fact, it is in the hymns of the great Rishi Dirghatamas (RV I.140 – 164) that we have the clearest such references.

Most of the astronomical information occurs in his famous Asya Vamasya Hymn I.164. Much of this hymn can be understood as a description of the zodiac:

"11. The wheel of law with twelve spokes does not decay as it revolves around heaven. Oh Fire, here your 720 sons abide.

12. The Father with five feet and twelve forms, they say, dwells in the higher half of heaven full of waters. Others say that he is the clear-seeing one who dwells below in a sevenfold wheel that has six spokes.

48. Twelve are its fellies (circumference). The wheel is one. It has three naves. Who has understood it? It are held together like spokes the 360, both moving and non-moving."

Thus, we find the ancient Vedics divided the heavens into twelve signs, each a group of thirty to create 360 degrees.

But still - what was so important about twelve that it would be considered divine? The only possible answer is they knew that twelve is the most balanced and harmonic number possible. It seems the ancient astronomer priests studied the science of harmonics in geometry and numbers and used this to describe the celestial realm.

Twelve is a composite number representing the smallest number with exactly six divisors. It is also a highly composite number, the next one being twenty-four, which is the first to form a square prime. The square of any prime number larger than three is then always twelve. It is the first “abundant number,” in fact a “superabundant number,” and is a sublime number having a perfect number of divisors in which the sum of its divisors also forms a perfect number. In addition to being highly composite and superabundant, twelve is superfactorial, since it is the product of the first three factorials, and is uniquely characterized by having the first four positive integers appearing in the equation 12 = 3 x 4.

In music, twelve is the simplest division of a periodic octave which provides optimal contrast between tension and resolution for melodies and harmony. We can even organically measure this balance in every piece of music we hear. This is because our auditory system evolved from the resonant bonding of carbon-12 and water.