It seems that a new religion must exalt the Sun of Life more successfully than Christianity has ever succeeded in doing. . . . Akhenaten in his gardens by the Nile had a vision of what might be, but it was too soon. If we cannot move nearer to this vision now, it will be too late. . . . Meanwhile the sun shines upon us all in turn. . . . There is just a chance that it may awaken us to a Good Morning. —Man and the Sun, Jacquetta Hawkes
Jacquetta Hawkes (1910–1996) was the daughter of Nobel Prize–winner Sir Frederick Hopkins, the first cousin of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hawkes began to grow an awareness of the poetry of history at an early age and was drawn to archaeology, which she read for her degree at Newnham College in her hometown of Cambridge. In 1931 she began her lifelong work conducting research and excavations in Britain, Ireland, France, and Palestine. Her first book was on the archaeology of ancient Britain; her last, on the archaeology of the entire ancient world. During and immediately after World War II, she held several government posts and founded the United Kingdom Commission for UNESCO, the United Nations education and cultural organization. Over the next forty years Hawkes wrote prolifically, authoring bold and poetic books on archaeology, geology, and the history of humankind.
In 1962 she published Man and the Sun. The book was regarded by some to be a belated product of the school of comparative religion founded by Sir James Frazer. Her earlier book Man on Earth (1954) had been an informative and beautiful synthesis of science and imagination that attempted to give to the layperson an impression of what has been happening to humankind on earth, a history of the emergence of the human species. Man and the Sun went further. This book was a synthesis of cosmography, geology, biology, archaeology, and the cultural history of religions in which Hawkes showed her wide and deep learning in condensed and felicitous language and provided poetic descriptions that detail not only humanity’s physical dependence on the radiations of the sun but also the sun’s pervasive effects on human minds and spirits. Her marvelous presentation of the early history of the Roman Church, its marriage to the older religions that flourished in the empire, and its emergence as an organized and universal state religion graphically depicts the transition of Christianity from a mystical Church into a temporal one. Her treatment of the older religions that revered the sun contributes greatly to humanity’s knowledge of the past. The book also contains the hope for a future religion of Christianity that will respond to the higher aspects of the sun and the Intelligible Light that it transmits to the world.
What Jacquetta Hawkes wrote on the subject of religion enlightens the reader and leads to new avenues of thought. Her writings are a valuable contribution toward general recognition of the future and the importance of a newly emerging Christianity.
Robert Petrovich October 2002
This article was previously published on the Community Communique.