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The mystery of who built Great Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Ruins) and to what purpose has finally been solved - it is in fact an ancient site for the worship of the Kundalini snake goddess and the practise of Tantrism. The mystery of who built Great Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Ruins) and to what purpose has finally been solved - it is in fact an ancient site for the worship of the Kundalini snake goddess and the practise of Tantrism. The mystery of who built Great Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Ruins) and to what purpose has finally been solved - it is in fact an ancient site for the worship of the Kundalini snake goddess and the practise of Tantrism.
Who built Great Zimbabwe? This is the question that has hung over these mysterious ruins ever since their discovery by the German explorer, Carl Mauch in 1871. During the past 130 years, one theory after another has been put forward, linking their construction to a variety of ancient peoples and civilisations: King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, the Phoenicians and Egyptians to name a few.

The current wisdom is that Great Zimbabwe was built by the indigenous people of Zimbabwe between the 12th and 14th centuries CE. This may be so, however there are some tantalising clues which - when coupled together with the beliefs of a particular sect of Hinduism - cast an entirely new light on the purpose for which one of its main sections was constructed.

The mystery of who built Great Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Ruins) and to what purpose has finally been solved - it is in fact an ancient site for the worship of the Kundalini snake goddess and the practise of Tantrism.

There are two main structures at Great Zimbabwe. The hilltop 'Acropolis' and the Mumbahuru ('House of the Great Woman'), or Great Enclosure, found in the valley below.

The Mumbahuru, with its 11m high granite outer walls, has a distinct egg or womb-like appearance. Contained within this massive outer wall is a maze of walls and passageways. What seems to have been largely overlooked and ignored is the distinct human shape outlined by these inner walls.

  The Mumbahuru, with its 11m high granite outer walls, has a distinct egg or womb-like appearance.
A bird's eye view of the Mumbahuru
(Great Enclosure).
A blueprint of the walls that make up the Mumbahuru.

The distinct outline of a figure sitting in a cross-legged, lotus position.

Aerial overviews of the granite-block walls of the Mumbahuru are usually presented in books on Great Zimbabwe with the north entrance at the top. However, when this layout is turned to the right almost 90 degrees, and the appropriate sections shaded in, a seated figure is suddenly revealed.
  On the left is a blueprint of the walls that make up the Mumbahuru - presented here in the way that it is normally presented in books on Great Zimbabwe, with the northern entrance situated at the top.

However, swivel this outline almost 90 degrees to the right, and shade in an area within the inner walls, and what is revealed is the distinct outline of a figure sitting in a cross-legged, lotus position. This seated figure, considered on its own, is enough to excite the imagination, however there are additional pieces of evidence that point strongly to a never-before formulated idea: that the Mumbahuru was used for the practice of Tantrism, the ancient Indian religion that utilises sexual energy and sexual imagery to attain spiritual enlightment.

Links between Great Zimbabwe and India have long been acknowledged by archaeologists and researchers. The earliest gold mines in Zimbabwe were believed to have been dug using methods found only in India, and the word Mashona, the name of the African people who inhabit this area, derives from 'shona ' an Indian word for gold. According to Dr Cyril Hromnik, the most well-known exponent of the early influence of India on Africa, 'material evidence of Indian presence in eastern, central and even southern Africa in the pre-1500 period is found in abundance.' He points out that ancient sources make it clear that Indian ships sailed regularly to the coast of East Africa and that Indian languages were commonly spoken by the traders in the ports of East Africa.

It's possible that Indians built Great Zimbabwe, or alternatively that the indigenous people who may have built it were heavily influenced by Indian Tantric beliefs. What evidence is there that the Mumbahuru was built and used specifically for Tantric practises? Quite a lot.
One of the central tenets of Tantric yoga is the belief in a powerful sexual energy, called the Kundalini, which is located in the Muladhara `chakra', an energy point located at the bottom of the spine in the genital area. The object of Tantric meditation and practise is to awaken this Kundalini energy - symbolised by a coiled, female serpent - causing it to rise up through the other chakras which are located up along the spine, until it penetrates the head, bringing about a state of spiritual bliss.
  The serpentine goddess figure of the Kundalini.
The serpentine goddess figure of the Kundalini.

The 10m high conical tower whose phallic shape closely resembles some of the the stone 'fertility objects'.
The 10m high conical tower whose phallic shape closely resembles some of the the stone 'fertility objects' illustrated on this page. This tower is situated just next to the genital area of the seated figure and undoubtedly represents his erect manhood.

Reinforcing the Kundalini idea is the serpentine chevron pattern found running along the outside top of the outer wall. This pattern stretches in an arc that effectively cups the bottom of the figure, thus indicating where the Kundalini energy is located (see dotted line in the wall diagram.) The fact that this chevron pattern is made up of two serpentine lines also echoes Tantric symbolism: in Indian art, the serpentine Kundalini energy is pictured going up two intertwining nerve channels up the spine to the brain, these being called the ida and pingala.

  The Mumbahuru appears to be an exact blueprint of the central symbols of Tantrism. Look at the lower part of the seated figure: the round crescent at the base of the figure can be seen as the outline of his scrotum, which in turn is situated right next to one of the most well known features of the Mumbahuru, the phallic conical tower. This area would be synonomous with the Muladhara chakra in which the Kundalini resides.

A long, narrow passageway begins right next to the figure's genitals and probably represents the route the Kundalini takes as it travels up his spine to his head.

The top of the outer wall of the Mumbahuru showing the famous chevron pattern.

The top of the outer wall of the Mumbahuru showing the famous chevron pattern. This serpentine design could be linked to the Kundalini energy that adepts of Tantrism strive to awaken. It is located along the section of the wall that runs in an arc around the bottom of the seated figure.
The dual ida and pingala aspects of the Kundalini.
The dual ida and pingala aspects of the Kundalini.


Some of the stone 'fertility objects' excavated from inside the Mumbahuru during the 19th century. Measuring about 10cm, these phallic objects are believed to have been used at Great Zimbabwe to awaken the Kundalini energy - as depicted in the accompanying picture of the male and female yogis.

  When the stone altar section (the scrotum shape as viewed from above) was excavated in the 19th century, scores of so-called `fertility stones' were discovered. Some of these are on display in the South African Museum in Cape Town, and at Groote Schuur which was once the home of Cecil Rhodes. Averaging about 10cm in length, it does not take any great intellectual leap to see that they are stone dildos.

Some of the stone `fertility objects' excavated from inside the Mumbahuru during the 19th century.

An Indian yogi and his female partner make use of 'lingams' to help arouse their Kundalini energy.
An Indian yogi and his female partner make use of 'lingams' to help arouse their Kundalini energy.

  One of the methods by which Indian Tantrists endeavour to awaken the Kundalini serpent goddess - which is said to lie coiled three and a half times in the Muladhara chakra - is to insert a phallus-shaped object (representing the 'lingam' of the god Shiva) into the anus while meditating. The pressure of the 'lingam' is thought to help force the Kundalini energy out of this chakra and up the spine to the brain. The accompanying illustration from an ancient Tantric manual shows an Indian Tantrist and his female partner doing exactly this. In shape and size, the 'lingams' being used in this illustration are identical in shape and size with the ones from Great Zimbabwe.
It seems likely that the Mumbahuru was built as a centre for the practice of the sort of activity portrayed in the Tantric manual, with the practioners using the stone phalli excavated from the altar to awaken their Kundalini energy. The fact that the stone phalli were discovered on the scrotum-shaped altar is doubtlessly significant. These stone phalli can in fact be seen as miniature representations of the phallic tower itself which sticks up from alongside the scrotum of the seated figure.
The figure within the enclosure probably represents Shiva, the Indian god who stands at the centre of all Tantric ritual and is the role model for every aspiring Tantric yogi. Shiva, who is both the god of destruction and mystical illumination, is worshipped throughout India in the form of stone lingams and he is widely portrayed sitting in the lotus position, as he is here. In Indian art, Shiva is often pictured sitting in a cave which is symbolic of the womb - which is pretty much exactly what the outer wall of the Mumbahuru seems to represent.

In effect, the Tantric devotees would have been located inside the symbolic stone body of Shiva. Perhaps the ritual enacted within his body consisted of them awakening their Kundalinis at the altar area using the stone 'lingams'. As the energy began to unfold within them, they probably then proceeded up the spinal passageway,

  The seated figure within the Mumbahuru probably depicts the Indian god Shiva.
The seated figure within the Mumbahuru probably depicts the Indian god Shiva. He is seen here adorned with snakes which symbolize the power of his Shakti - his female partner.
thereby acting out the ascent of the Kundalini energy that was taking place within their own bodies. The final stage of the journey at the end of the passageway would have been to enter Shiva's head, where a mystical state of consciousness was perhaps attained.

As fate would have it, there is a Zulu term which points to a direct link between indigenous African religion and the Indian concept of the Kundalini. In his book 'Song of the Stars: the lore of a Zulu shaman', Credo Mutwa writes: 'My grandfather taught the Zulu version of what is called in English 'meditation'. How to breathe softly and gently like a whisper until you feel something like a hot coiled snake ascending your spine and bursting through the top of your head - a fearsome thing that is known as umbilini. This umbilini, my grandfather told me, is the source, the primal source of the sangoma's powers. A sangoma must be able to summon this umbilini at will through the beating of the drum and through meditation.'

Unlike the Judaeo-Christian view of the snake representing evil, in ancient African, Egyptian and Indian religion it is generally regarded as a positive symbol, representing as it does the creative life-force of the earth goddess.

In the South African region this snake goddess was called Mamlambo; in Zimbabwe she is identified with the Zambezi river serpent, Inyaminyami; in West Africa today she is called Mamiwata; in ancient Egypt she was known as Wadjet (one of the various forms taken by the goddess Isis); and in India she is associated with both the Kundalini and Shakti, the consort of Shiva. In all these cultures it is the snake - usually the cobra - that is her symbolic manifestation.

The snake goddess Mamiwata.
One of the most popular deities in West Africa today is the snake goddess Mamiwata.
In Egypt, the `uraeus' snake on a person's forehead was a sign of spiritual illumination.
In Egypt, the 'uraeus' snake on a person's forehead was a sign of spiritual illumination, echoing the Indian belief that the serpent energy from below achieved its ultimate flowering in the 'third eye', situated in the middle of the forehead.
In India the snake symbolises the creative energy of the Kundalini and the Great Goddess.
In India the snake symbolises
the creative energy of the Kundalini and the Great Goddess.


One has only to compare the ancient religious art of Egypt and that of contemporary Hinduism to realise that the snake symbol is pivotal to both these religions. In Egypt, the coiled cobra motif - the 'uraeus' - featured on the foreheads of gods and pharoahs. In Indian religious thought, this same female serpent energy (Kundalini) is believed to be responsible for opening the mystic 'third eye' which in Hindu belief is thought to be located in the middle of the forehead.

Great Zimbabwe seems to not only contain a blueprint of the Tantric method of awakening the serpent energy within, but its enigmatic soapstone birds seem to point to similar bird imagery that was so central to Egyptian religion. Thus, what we have at Great Zimbabwe is an ancient structure that seems to echo the religious traditions of both India and Egypt

  The chevron design on the outer wall of the Mumbahuru is clearly echoed in this Egyptian wall carving.
The chevron design on the outer wall of the Mumbahuru is clearly echoed in this
Egyptian wall carving.

The sacred falcon of Horus from a temple at Edfu The shared bird/snake imagery of Egypt and Great Zimbabwe. On the left is a stele of the sacred falcon of Horus from a temple at Edfu, and on the right is a soapstone bird statue at Great Zimbabwe with the distinctive serpentine chevron pattern below it. A soapstone bird statue at Great Zimbabwe
Whether Great Zimbabwe was built by Indians or Egyptians, or by Africans whose religious practises were influenced by these cultures, will probably always remain a mystery. In the final analysis, what is perhaps more important than who actually built Great Zimbabwe, is the spiritual symbol that it has preserved in stone down through the centuries.

Here at Great Zimbabwe, viewed from high above the sun-baked earth of Africa, is the outline of a figure in quiet, yet virile repose, and which can at the same time be seen to represent a child waiting to be born. At a time when the term 'African Renaissance' is very much in vogue, perhaps the egg-like Mumbahuru should be collectively embraced as Africa's timeless symbol of a potential new dawn, in which a vibrant, new culture is born phoenix-like out of the ashes of the present Apocalyptic nightmare of war, corruption, famine and disease.





The words of Isis inscribed on her temple at Sais, Egypt.