A STUDY IN THE THEOLOGY
THE ANCIENT CHURCH BY
C. TH. ODHNER
THE ACADEMY BOOK ROOM
BRYN ATHYN. PA.
Reprinted 1978, 500 copies
(DEDICATION) IN MEMORIAM - WILLIAM HENRY BENADE
The mythological studies of Carl Theophilus Odhner explore the application of Emanuel Swedenborg's "Science of Correspondences" to Egyptian, Greek, and Roman myths. Swedenborg, 18th-century scientist, philosopher, and theologian, attributed to the world's myths a consistent inner content of spiritual meanings, veiled in symbolism. His own exegesis was confined primarily to the Testaments; but he demonstrated by profuse examples that the same interpretive key might be used to discover a common origin and a harmony of hidden meaning in all of these survivals of an ancient wisdom.
Mr. Odhner himself wrote at the turn of the century, when secular scholarship
in these fields was relatively primitive. Republication of his explorations
has been put off for a number of years because of doubts as to their accuracy
in some areas of fact -- especially in his often undisciplined etymologies -
and instances in which patient scholarship appears the victim of his far-reaching
search for grander patterns. The hope has persisted that the suspect elements
might be amended, and from time to time various men have begun revisions of
the text; unfortunately the press of other duties has kept these efforts from
Today a reawakened interest in the world of antiquity -- new archaeological discoveries, the decoding of antique inscriptions, and new psychological perspectives -- have produced a whole great secular literature on the meaning of myth. In the face of this new material, Odhner's penetrating explorations, inspired and guided by the revealed wonders of genuine correspondences, may be more valuable than ever.
The reprinting of these books does not deny the hope of new work being done which will more accurately answer to modern knowledge. It simply expresses the conviction that, until a better way is opened, our students should not be deprived of the dramatic introduction to the wonders of the ancient past that may be found on almost every page penned by this dynamic guide.
Bryn Athyn, Pa., 1978 Aubrey C. Odhner
Swedenborg, in a paper addressed apparently to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, writes as follows concerning the Egyptian hieroglyphics:
"It is well known that in Egypt there were Hieroglyphics, and that these were inscribed on the pillars and walls of the temples, etc.; and it is known, likewise, that no one at the present day knows what things were signified by them. But they are nothing else than the Correspondences of natural and spiritual things, which were cultivated by the Egyptians in their times more than by any of the people in Asia. The earliest inhabitants of Greece composed their fables according to these correspondences, and the most ancient style was none other than this.
"'I shall add here this new information, that all the things which appear before angels and spirits in the spiritual world, are nothing else but pure Correspondences. For this reason also the whole of the Sacred Scripture was written by Correspondences in order that by means of it, and because it is such, there may be a conjunction of the men of the Church with the angels of heaven. But because the Egyptians -- and with them others in the kingdoms of Asia -- began to turn these Correspondences into idolatries, to which the children of Israel were prone, therefore the latter were forbidden to recall these for any use among themselves, as appears clearly from the first precept of the Decalogue: 'Thou shalt not make unto thee the sculpture of any figure which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them, for I am Jehovah thy God,' (Deut. 5 : 8, 9), besides many other things elsewhere.
"From that time the Science of Correspondences fell into oblivion and,
indeed, gradually to such an extent that scarcely anyone at the present day
knows that there ever was such a science, or that it is of any importance. But
as the Lord is now about to establish a New Church, which is to be founded upon
p. 8 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, INTRODUCTION, CONT
the Word, and which is meant by the New Jerusalem in the Apocalypse, it has pleased the Lord to reveal that Science, and thus to open the Word such as it is interiorly in its bosom, i. e., in its internal sense. This was done through me in the arcana coelestia, published at London, and afterwards in the apocalypse revealed, published at Amsterdam.
"Inasmuch as this Science of Correspondences was the Science of sciences among the ancients, whence their wisdom was derived, it is of importance that someone of your Academy should devote labor upon this science, which may be done especially from the Correspondences disclosed in the apocalypse revealed and there demonstrated from the Word. If it should be so desired, / am willing to explain the egyptian hieroglyphics, which are nothing else than Correspondences, and to publish the explanation; nor can this be done by anyone else.
The italics are Swedenborg's own. The Latin original is published as an appendix to swedenborg's dreams, 1744, (Stockholm, 1860), and a rather faulty translation is given in Tafel's documents, Vol. II, pp. 753-755.
It does not appear that this remarkable paper was ever sent to the Royal Academy, but we can imagine the smiles of incredulity with which it would have been received. But the members of the New Church can realize that Swedenborg alone would have been able to explain the spiritual mysteries of Egypt, and that it remains for scholars connected with some New Church Academy to do so now or in the future. For in spite of the enormous development of modern Egyptology, from a linguistic and historical point of view, the sacred symbols of the ancient Egyptians are still enigmas which can be unfolded by the Science of Correspondences alone.
The Word of the Old and the New Testament abounds in references to Egypt,
and the Writings of the New Church are teeming with statements concerning the
spiritual significance of Egypt and its hieroglyphics. In the New Church, consequently,
there has always been a great expectant interest in these matters, and especially
in the Academy of the New Church where, from the beginning, this interest was
cultivated by our great founder,
p. 9 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, INTRODUCTION, CONT
the Rev. William H. Benade. Throughout his life he collected works on Egyptology, and these are now preserved in the Academy's Library. After his visit to Egypt in 1878 he became acquainted with the eminent Egyptologist, Prof. Lanzone, of Turin, and, through the generosity of Mr. John Pitcairn, acquired for the Academy Prof. Lanzone's choice collection of genuine Egyptian antiquities. This unique and invaluable collection is now exhibited in the archeological museum of the Academy, and constitutes, we believe, the most complete collection of mythological figures to be found in America. On his return to Philadelphia Mr. Benade gave a series of lectures on the antiquities of Egypt, and ever afterwards cultivated among his students an ardent interest in this subject.
In extenuation of the audacity of the present writer in attempting to unravel some of the mysteries of ancient Egypt, we can only say that this study has been our "pet hobby" for thirty years, not from a scientific but from a purely mythological and theological point of view. We believe that in the Science of Correspondences we have found the key to the symbols of Egypt, and that on applying the key to the doors of the ancient temples we have found there the Theology of the Ancient Church, in mar-velous prophetic agreement with the universal Theology of the New Church. We know that this claim and our tentative interpretations, will be received with incredulity by many of our brethren in the Church ; they will seem like the births of an overheated imagination, but someone must make a beginning, fearless of ridicule. The illustrations will speak convincingly for themselves, and future scholars will improve upon these our earliest efforts.
Before entering upon an interpretation of the Egyptian system of Mythology,
it will be necessary to explain some of the most common emblems or symbols by
which the various divinities are distinguished from one another, or which they
possess in common. Many of them still remain unexplained, owing to the difficulty
of ascertaining their exact natural meaning, for the Egyptologists do
not always know what natural objects are represented by some of these symbols.
They seem but little interested in this branch of their science and care only
for the linguistic
P. 10 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, INTRODUCTION, CONT
value of the hieroglyphics. We will therefore confine our interpretations to those symbols which are most readily recognizable as to their natural signification, or most self-explanatory to the eye of a New Churchmaan.
E. H. H. = Wallis Budge, Egyptian Heaven and Hell.
THE SACRED SYMBOLS OF EGYPT.
These may be divided into two general classes: first, the conventional or artificial emblems, and, second, the sacred animals. Among the first we have the "anch" or sign of life; the scepters or staffs of various kinds; the crowns, feathers, plumes and other forms of headgear; the "tet-pillar" or tree of degrees; the "neter" or sign of divinity; the "menat" or emblem of joy; etc.
Among the animals we have beasts such as the ram, the bull, cow, and calf, the lion and the cat, the dog-headed ape and the jackal, the "Set" animal, the hippopotamus and the swine; birds such as the hawk, the vulture, the ibis and the sphinx; reptiles such as the "uraeus" or royal serpent, the frog, and the crocodile; and two insects, the "scarabaeus" beetle and the scorpion. The correspondences of the animals are easily determined, but the conventional signs require more study. For the illustrations, copied by our untrained hand, we crave the indulgence of the reader.
1. the "anch."
SYMBOL OF REGENERATION AND SPIRITUAL LIFE.
Of all the symbols of the Egyptians, the one most frequently seen is the
peculiar cross which is known as the "anch" or "crux
anchata," -- formed by the combination of a cross and a loop which
was, perhaps, originally a circle. Almost every Egyptian divinity carries the
"anch" in one of his hands, while with the other he grasps
the long staff or scepter, known as the "tcham." The rays proceeding
from aten, the god of the solar disk, terminate in hands, each of which extends
an "anch" to the worshippers. The resurrected spirit is often represented
as rising out of the sepulchre, holding an "anch" in each hand, and
on his final entrance into "Amenti" or Heaven, the justified spirit
is again presented with the "anch" and the staff, as the symbols of
eternal life and spiritual power of progress and usefulness.
p. 13 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
While all Egyptologists admit that they do not know the origin of this symbol, or what natural object it represents, they unanimously declare that it signifies life, and especially life after death, eternal life. The reason for this signification they do not profess to know, but they tell us that the earliest Christians in Egypt adopted it as the symbol of the crucifixion, and it is frequently found on the Christian monuments in Egypt."*
To a Newchurchman this interesting symbol suggests many things, -- most obviously the crown of eternal life which is won by the cross of temptations. The signification of the cross, as meaning temptation, suffering, and death, was known to the Ancient Church throughout the world, long before the crucifixion of the Lord made it the most sacred emblem of the Christian faith. Its very form suggests at once the idea of the self-will of man, (the downward stroke), being broken by the level stroke of rational truth, the experience, when successful, resulting in the circle of eternal happiness.
The "anch" was represented in various elaborate forms, and in the book of the dead it is often provided with a pair of human arms and legs. In Fig. 3 (Plate i) of our illustrations the "anch" clearly represents the regenerated human soul, with delicate arms raised in adoration of the heavenly Sun. To us this simple symbol is full of tender and touching religious affection.
Closely connected with the "anch" is a symbol named "shen,"
which consists simply of a circle touching a horizontal line beneath it.
"This amulet," says Wallis Budge in his work on egyptian magic, p.
61, "is intended to represent the sun's orbit, and it became the symbol
of an undefined period of time, i. e. eternity; it was laid upon the body of
the dead with a view of giving to it life which should endure as long as the
sun revolved in its orbit in the heavens." To us it seems more likely that
it represents the Sun of the eternal world and for this reason eternity itself.
*Wilkinson, manners and customs of the ancient egyptians, vol. v, p. 283. We shall refer to this work as "Wilkinson, M. C"
p. 14 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
p. 15 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
2. staffs and scepters. symbols of the power of good and truth in ultimates.
Next to the "anch," the most common conventional symbol of the ancient Egyptians is the peculiar staff or scepter called "tcham" or "user," which every male divinity holds in his left hand. (Fig.1, Plate 2). It consists of a long rod, with two prongs at the nether end, and is surmounted with the head of a "cucupha," an unknown but evidently gentle animal, whose ears terminate in a feather. (Fig. 2.)* The Egyptologists are unanimous in declaring that the back part of the ear represents a feather, and the whole, therefore, is a startling combination of the bird and the beast forms. Birds, with their wings and feathers, signify intellectual things, doctrinals and truths, and the feather, as will be seen, was the universal emblem of truth among the Egyptians. Gentle beasts, on the other hand, represent affections and goods, and the handle of the staff, therefore, represents the conjunction of good and truth, while the staff itself signifies the power of good and truth in ultimates.
A staff signifies the power and forces of life from truth and good. In the original tongue a staff is so-called from its being leaned upon and affording support, which, in the spiritual world, is effected through truth and good. (A. 9098.)
As a "rod" represents the power of truth, that is, the power of good through truth, kings carried scepters, and the scepters were formed like short rods; for kings represent the Lord as to truth, and the scepter signifies the power which they have, not through dignity, but through the truth which must command, and no other truth than that which is from good.(A. 4876.)
The "tcham" scepter is often seen in combination with the "anch" and the "tet" or pillar of degrees, (Fig. 3), and a representation of thoth, the scribe of the gods, shows this divinity holding a bowl, in which is seen the "anch" enclosed on each side by a staff. (Fig. 4.) The staff represents the Divine Truth in ultimates and thus most especially the letter of the Word which supports the internal sense and contains it in its fulness and
*Maspero, history of egypt, [H. E.], vol. ii, p. 29. Wallis Budge, the gods
of the egyptians, [G. E.], vol. i, p. 520.
p. 16 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
power. The pillar of degrees, as shall be shown, represents the three degrees of the internal sense, and the "anch" signifies spiritual life. Fig. 3, therefore, represents the whole of the Word, with its life and spirit from good and truth, contained in their fulness and power in the sense of the letter. And Fig. 4, -- the symbol of thoth, who stands for the whole Ancient Word, -- signifies the letter of that Word, enclosing its internal spirit and life.
This staff or scepter was, like the "anch," presented to every justified spirit upon his final entrance into heaven, and the two "were deemed the greatest gifts bestowed by the Deity upon man." (Wilkinson, M. C., Vol. V, 283).
osiris, -- who represents the risen Lord in His glorified Human, judging "the quick and the dead," -- is often seen holding this staff in his two hands, together with the shepherd's crook and the flagellum or whip, (Fig. 5). The staff prophetically signified Him who is the Word incarnate and glorified. The shepherd's crook stands for His priestly office, the power of Divine Good gently leading the justified to the rewards of heavenly life. And the flagellum or whip stands for his royal office, the power of Divine Truth, by which evildoers are punished and cast into hell.
The staff held by the female divinities is a stalk of the papyrus plant, (Fig. 6), from which paper was made in ancient times. This plant, therefore, became the symbol of books, and especially the sacred books of the Ancient Word. The ark of "bulrushes.' (Exod. 2:3), in which the infant Moses was hidden, was made of the papyrus reed, and we may thus see why this ark represents the letter of the Word. In the hands of the goddesses, however, the papyrus staff represents more particulary the affection of truth, the love of the Word.
3. crowns and head-dresses. symbols of love and wisdom.
The crowns and head-dresses of the Egyptian divinities are of many and curious
shapes. The simplest of all is the Feather of the goddess maat, (Fig.
1, Plate 3), which has furnished us the key to the interpretation of the other
p. 17 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
p. 18 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
The name of the symbolic feather, as of the goddess, is moat, which means "what is straight," a rod, rule, canon, and it came to mean everything that is "right, true, truth; what is real, genuine, upright, righteous, just, steadfast, unalterable." (Wallis Budge, G. E., I:417). "The reason for the association of the ostrich feather with Maat, the goddess of truth, is unknown, as is also the primitive conception which underlies the name, but it is certainly very ancient, and probably dates from pre-dynastic times." (Ibid, p. 416). To a Newchurchman, however, the reason is not far to seek. The feather is the constituent part of a wing, and wings signify doctrines of spiritual truth, the systematic and orderly arrangement of truths in a series, by means of which the mind is elevated into higher regions of thought. Such were the wings of Pegasus; such are the "wings" of the angels. Thus the "great eagle with great wings and many feathers," in Ezechiel 17:7, "signifies the truths of faith, with an abundance of the knowledges of truth and good." (A. 8764; E. 281). The feather became the universal emblem of truth from the fact, also, that from time immemorial the quill has been used as the writer's pen, ("pen," from the Latin penna, means a feather), and writing -- strange to say -- was used originally for no other purpose than to communicate truth.
This correspondence having been established, we may now discover the meaning of the two crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, (Figs. 2 and 3), which, when united, resemble a champagne bottle in an ice-cooler. The crown of Lower Egypt (called "tesher") evidently represents a vessel for drawing water, and the curled feather, which is always seen rising out of it, is the general emblem of truth. The combination, therefore, suggests the faculty of the understanding containing the truths of wisdom, and as a divine crown it would seem to represent the Divine Wisdom whence the Divine Truth is derived. It is always painted a red color, because wisdom is of good.
That this is the meaning of the red crown became a certainty when we discovered
the signification of the crown of Upper Egypt (called "hetch"),
the key to which was furnished by an ancient picture in which it was represented
as a sheaf of wheat tied together near the top. Now, wheat is a general representa-
p. 19 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
tive of good, and the will of good, and when used in a divine crown it represents the Divine Will, the Divine Love which consists of nothing but the Divine Good. The crown of Upper Egypt is always painted white, to show that Love is of Wisdom. The two crowns, taken together (Fig. 3, called the "pshent" crown), signify therefore the spiritual and the celestial, the understanding and the will, truth and good, faith and charity, and in the supreme sense the Divine Love within the Divine Wisdom.
Applying this key, the mysteries of the whole Mythology of Egypt opened up as if by magic, for the key fitted into every door. Whenever a divinity carries the lower crown he represents some quality of the Divine Spiritual, and whenever he carries the upper crown he represents some quality of the Divine Celestial. This never fails, and it is confirmed by all the scientific facts of Egyptology.
Sometimes the crown of Lower Egypt is in the background, as in Fig. 4, to signify that the celestial characteristics are more prominent in the divinity represented. Fig. 5 shows the headdress of the goddess sati, who represents the celestial heaven. The vulture beneath the crown is the symbol of maternal love and protection, and the horns signify the power of celestial love. The "atef" crown consists of the crown of Upper Egypt alone together with a pair of feathers, and is shown either in profile, as in Fig. 6, or in full view, as in Fig. 7. The latter rests upon a pair of ram's horns and shows also the two suns, the Sun of the upper world and the sun of nature. Both figures represent celestial good with its own truth.
The "ureret" crown, symbol of Amen-Ra, consists of two long double feathers or plumes, (Fig. 8), painted red, blue and green, in alternating sections. Its very form suggests at once something "standing forth," and, like Amen-Ra himself, it represents in fact the Divine Existere, the Divine in its first manifestation and proceeding out of the Infinite Esse.
A crown signifies the wisdom which is of good, (A. 9930), and the Divine
Good, from which is the Divine Wisdom, (E.272). The golden crown seen on the
Son of Man in Rev. 14:14, signifies the Divine Wisdom from His Divine Love,
(R. 643). The reason a crown signifies wisdom is that all things which clothe
a man derive their signification from that part of
p. 20 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
the body which they invest or distinguish. A crown, therefore, signifies wisdom, because it is a distinction for the head, by which is understood wisdom, because wisdom has there its residence, (E. 126).
4. the "tet"-pillar, or tree of degrees. symbol of heaven as the "maximus homo."
Another very common symbol is the Pillar or "Tree of Degrees," of which thousands of little images, in clay or stone, have been found in the mummy cases. The hieroglyphic name has been variously read as "tet," "tat," or "didu"; we do not know which is the correct name, but for the sake of convenience we shall call it "tet."
All the Egyptologists agree that it is "the emblem of stability," but as to its further signification there have been all sorts of speculations. "The 'didu' has been variously interpreted," observes Maspero. "It has been taken for a kind of Nilometer, or a sculptor's or modeler's stand, or a painter's easel, or an altar with four superimposed tables, or a sort of pedestal bearing four door-lintels, or a series of four columns placed one behind another, of which the capitals only are visible, one above the other, etc. According to the Egyptian theologians, it represented the spine of Osiris." (H. E. 1:184). Maspero himself believes that it represents "the trunk of a tree, disbranched, and then set up in the ground. The symbol was afterwards so conventionalized as to represent four columns seen in perspective, one capital overlapping another; it thus became the image of the four pillars which uphold the world." (Ibid, p. 111). Dr. Budge, on the other hand, is certain that it is "intended to indicate the four branches of a roof-tree of a house, which were turned to the four cardinal points." (G. E., II:125). Others, again, hold that it represents "the sycamore tree, in the trunk of which the body of Osiris was hidden by Isis," but all agree that "it became a symbol of the highest religious importance," (W. Budge, egyptian magic, p.44).
Comparing the various pictures of the "Tree of Degrees," we have
become convinced that it was originally a representation of a palm-tree, (Fig.
1, Plate 4), but its natural origin is of less interest than its spiritual signification.
We believe that it stands in
p. 21 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
p. 22 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
general for (a) the Tree of Life, which figures so prominently in all the ancient mythologies, and that in prophetic anticipation it signifies (b) the glorified body of the Risen Lord, who Himself is the Tree of Life.
It is to be noted that the "tet" is always and exclusively the symbol of osiris, the God-man, who was born on earth, who blessed mankind with his wise teachings and beneficent rule, who was treacherously slain by the power of evil, but arose after death in his whole human but glorified body, to reign henceforth as the Divine Judge of the other world. Hence we often find the "tet" represented in the form of the mummied body of Osiris, holding the flagellum and the shepherd's crook.
And since it is the Divine of the Lord that makes Heaven, the "tet" also represents (c) Heaven in its three degrees, as pictured, somewhat grotesquely, in Fig. 2. The lowest degree, which is furnished with two horizontal lines, appears to signify the natural heaven with its two divisions. The second degree, which is represented with a pair of eyes, clearly signifies the spiritual heaven, the heaven of intelligence. The third degree, forming the forehead, is the celestial heaven, above which there are two other degrees, colored dark, which perhaps represent the super-celestial regions, immediately beneath the Sun of the spiritual world. This remarkable figure is copied from Wilkinson's manners and customs, Vol. VI, plate 25.
Another wonderful representation, (Fig. 3, copied from the same work, Vol. IV, p. 253), shows a man kneeling upon the earth and upholding the "tet" with his hands; above his head is a small sun. The "tet" itself shows a pair of arms and the usual three degrees, above which a scarab is standing with its forelegs raised in adoration of a higher sun. The meaning of the figure is self-evident to a Newchurchman and could well be used as an illustration of the doctrine that the human race beneath the natural sun is the support and basis of Heaven as a Grand Man. The scarab represents human life in ultimates and in inmosts, the whole of which is, or should be, directed solely to the worship of the Lord in His heavenly Sun.
Figure 4, (copied from Wilkinson, M. C., Vol. VI, plate 23), shows the god
ptah in the mummied form of Osiris, holding in
p. 23 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
his hands the staff and the "anch," and behind him is the Tree of Degrees. The staff, as has been shown, represents the Divine Truth in ultimates. ptah, as a mummy, with face and hands bare, represents the letter of the Word, which in itself would be dead but for the spiritual truth which in some places shines through it, (compare S. S. 55). The pillar behind him represents the Word in the heavens, i. e. the three degrees of the internal sense.
5. VARIOUS SACRED SYMBOLS
Besides the symbols described in the preceding pages there are many other conventional or conventionalized emblems, of which we shall mention only the most prominent.
The "symbolic eye," called "utat or "utchat," is one of the most common of the symbols and is frequently found as an amulet made of glazed faience, wood, precious stones, silver, or gold, Whole necklaces, made of nothing but these eyes, were wrapped around the mummies within and also outside the cloth wrapping, and in the inscriptions the eye was placed wherever the emblem of "understanding" seemed appropriate. Sometimes it was furnished with a pair of wings, or wings and legs, or with a pair of arms in a worshipping attitude (Fig. 3), or holding the "anch" in the hands. It is usually seen as a single eye, either the left or the right, but very often both eyes are represented, and sometimes it is seen in triple or quadruple forms. It was a most popular amulet, as its possession was supposed to confer safety and happiness under the protection of the all-seeing eye of God, and as a word the "utat" or "utchat" means "good health, safety and happiness." (Budge, the mummy, p. 264). The whole land of Egypt, among its other designations, was called "the land of the Eye," (Wilkinson, M. C., V:48), perhaps from the national self-consciousness that the science of correspondences was cultivated and understood in Egypt more than in other parts of the Ancient Church.
The Eye was especially associated with the worship of ptah and thoth, the
gods of the written Word, and it is strange that not one of the Egyptologists
has been able to hit upon the simple meaning of the Eye in front of these gods.
They know that both Ptah and Thoth, (who really are one and the same divinity),
p. 25 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
nify "revelation," but to the learned the Eye means simply "good luck," instead of its obvious signification as the understanding of the Word. But they do not know that the Ancient Church had a Word of its own. The Eye was not confined to these two divinities, however, but is found in connection with almost every god, and it is associated especially with the sacred boats or barges which so often are seen carrying the images of the various gods.
The association of Boats with religious ceremonies was not confined
to Egypt, but is found in the rituals of many other ancient nations, especially
Greece, where the image of Pallas Athene was carried about in a boat in the
annual Panathenian festival. This was observed also in Rome, in the festival
of Minerva on the Nineteenth day of June, and the reason was that Minerva or
Pallas Athene represents Divine Doctrine, springing immediately from the brow
of Divine Wisdom, and a boat signifies the same, -- Divine Doctrine drawn
from the Word, laden within with the good things of spiritual life. (A. 6385).
This spiritual ship is made of the beams of rational truths well fitted together,
-- a system of interior truths absolutely needed in order to navigate in safety
-- to interpret correctly -- the deep waters of the Word in the letter. This
religious significance of a boat or ship was carried over into the Christian
Church, without any understanding of its meaning. Little models of ships were
preserved in the reliquaries of the churches throughout the Middle Ages and
may still be seen in some of the old country churches in Europe, (the present
writer has seen it more than once), and it is quite possible that the term "the
nave" of a church (from navis, ship), is derived from this source.
In ancient Egypt, however, every divinity had his own sacred boat, (which was
carried about without touching water), for every god represented some general
principle of religion, and each general principle had its own chapter of doctrine.
And on each boat there was painted an Eye, or several eyes, because the
value of each doctrine depends upon the correct understanding thereof. The boat,
shown in Fig. 10, is copied from the work of Dr. Wallis Budge, entitled the
egyptian heaven and hell, Vol. I, p. 23, where it is called "the Boat of
the Full Moon." (The title of this work suggests an association of ideas
connected with Swedenborg's work on heaven and hell, and the
p. 26 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
suspicion that the distinguished author is acquainted with Swedenborg is confirmed by the numerous and truly spiritual ideas which are found throughout his many works. In learning and intelligence Dr. Budge stands facile princeps among the Egyptologists of past and present, and his sincere and simple faith in the One-ness of God and in the reality of life after death, make his works a pleasure to read. German and French Egyptologists are, nearly all of them, skeptics, materialists and atheists, and their attempts to interpret the lofty mythology of Egypt are simply ludicrous and, what is worse, "unscientific." According to them, alt religion is based on the worship of dead matter. Osiris is the Nile, Isis the fruitful mud of the Nile, etc. But the English Egyptologists, such as Wilkinson, Rawlinson, Sayce, and especially Dr. Budge, show a more rational spirit, derived from the light of the Christian Religion, -- and, with the last-named, the new and true Christian Religion may have had some unacknowledged influence.)
The menat, (Fig. 4, 5 and 6), is a curious emblem, the origin of which is not fully determined. It is sometimes carried in the hand by the gods, but is usually seen pendent from the back of the neck. It is always painted a light color and is said to be symbolic of joy and pleasure, (Budge, G. E., I:430). As a word "menat" means death and a happy ending, and, to judge from its form and its position behind the head, it would seem to signify happiness after death from the conjugial of good and truth. Fig. 6 is the special symbol of hathor, the goddess of beauty, joy and conjugial love.
neter, (Fig. 6 and 7), is supposed to represent an axe and is the universal emblem of Divinity. One axe signifies the One God (Osiris) ; many axes mean a company of gods; three axes stand for all the gods. (Budge, book of the dead, Vocabulary, p. 182.) The axe evidently represents truth in its power, and hence dominion and authority; it was for this reason the Roman "lie-tors" carried an axe in a bundle of rods in front of the chief magistrates, and it may have been from a similar reason that the axe became the symbol of divinity among the ancient Egyptians, but the subject is involved in considerable obscurity.
The curious emblem shown in Fig. 9 is introduced here simply
p. 27 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED SYMBOLS
in order to invite suggestions from our readers as to its possible meaning. It is often seen proceeding from the knees of the gods, but we have not been able to find any notice of it in the works on Egyptology, and it has proved too difficult for our unaided ingenuity. The tail, which is seen hanging behind the divinities, without touching their bodies, remains another mystery.
There are many other conventional emblems, of minor importance, which are
more easily interpreted and which will be noticed in connection with the various
gods and goddesses.
P. 28 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT.
Swedenborg, accompanied by an angel guide, once visited the heaven of the Silver Age. "We came first to a hill on the border between the east and the south, and while we were on its sloping height he pointed out to me a very extended region of country and far away as it were a mountainous eminence, and between it and the hill on which we stood there was a valley, and beyond that a plain and an acclivity gently rising from it.*
"We descended the hill to cross the valley, and we saw here and there on either side images of wood and stone carved in the likeness of men, and of various beasts, birds, and fishes. I asked the angel, 'What are these ? Are they idols ?'
"He replied, 'Certainly not! They are figures representative of various moral virtues and spiritual truths. With the people of that age there was a knowledge of Correspondences; and as every man, beast, bird, and fish, corresponds to some quality, therefore each sculptured form represents some aspect of virtue or truth, and a number of them together represent the virtue or the truth itself in a general comprehensive form. These, in Egypt, were called hieroglyphics." (C. L. 76.)
And in the work on divine providence we read:
Amongst the ancients there was the science of correspondences, which is also the science of representations, the very science of the wise, which was especially cultivated in Egypt; hence their hieroglyphics. From their science of correspondences they knew the signification of animals of every kind, also the signification of all kinds of trees, and of mountains, hills, rivers and fountains, and of the sun, the moon, and the stars. And as all their worship was representative, consisting of pure correspondences, they therefore worshipped on mountains and hills and in groves and gardens. And for this reason also they consecrated fountains, and in their adoration of
*The view was such as might be gained by the mind's eye looking eastward
from the Libyan hills over the valley of the Nile towards the mountains of Canaan
and Sinai, and beyond these the plane of Babylonia and the plateau of Assyria.
p. 29 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
God they turned their faces to the rising sun. And they furthermore made sculptured horses, oxen, calves, lambs, and also birds, fishes, and serpents, and in their houses and other places they arranged these in series according to the spiritual things of the Church to which they corresponded or which they represented. They also placed such things in their temples, in order to call to mind the holy things which they signified. After a time, when the science of correspondences had been forgotten, their posterity began to worship the very sculptures as in themselves holy, not knowing that their fathers of ancient times had not seen any holiness in these things, but only that they represented and therefore signified holy things according to correspondences. (D. P. 255.)
The custom of representing spiritual goods and truths, and their opposite evils and falsities, in the form of symbolic animals, arose from the representatives seen in the world of spirits in the days when the ancients enjoyed open communion with the other world. Here angels and spirits and their various affections and thoughts are actually seen represented in the forms of the animal world, especially when viewed at a distance, for on closer approach the human forms appear. And the reason for this is that as man was created in the image and likeness of God, so animals were created in a more or less remote likeness of man, in correspondence to human thoughts and affections.
To the Greeks and Romans, -- among whom the Ancient Church itself had never
existed, -- the symbolic animals of Egypt were a source of merriment and ridicule.
Thus Antiphanes, in his lycon, speaking jestingly of the Egyptians, says: "Clever
as they are reputed in other things, they show themselves doubly so in thinking
the eel equal to the gods; for surely it is more worthy of honor than any deity,
since we have only to give prayers to the gods; but upon the eel we must spend
at least twelve drachms or more, -- merely to smell it, -- so perfectly holy
is this animal!" And Juvenal, in his I5th Satire, thus lashes the superstitions
of Egypt: "Who knows what monsters mad Egypt can worship? This place adores
a crocodile; this one venerates an ibis full of serpents; whole towns worship
a dog, but nobody Diana," etc. But to such ignorant misapprehensions the
Egyptian priests replied, in a conversation with the wisest man of Athens: "O
Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children, nor is there among you such a
thing as an aged Grecian.
p. 30 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
All your souls are juvenile, neither containing any ancient opinion derived from remote tradition, nor any learning hoary from its existence in former periods of time." (Plato, in timaeus, p. 467.)
Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson observes, in this connection: "In justice, therefore, some allowance should be made for the allegorical religion of the Egyptians; and when we reflect that it contained many important truths, founded upon early revelations made to mankind, and treasured up in secret to prevent their perversion, we may be disposed to look more favorably on the doctrines they entertained, and to understand why it was considered worthy of the divine legislator [Moses] to be 'learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.' " (manners and customs, vol. iv, p. 166.)
The symbolic animals of Egypt may be divided into four classes, according to their natural qualities:
First, a few clean and useful animals, such as the ram, the bull, the cow and the calf, naturally representing good and noble things.
Second, a great number of beasts, in themselves unclean or evil, but possessing certain particular properties which enabled them to represent qualities of good and truth; these included the lion and the cat, the dog-headed ape and the jackal, the hawk, the vulture and the ibis, the royal serpent, the frog and the beetle.
Third, certain unclean and evil animals always representing infernal things; among these we have the hippopotamus and the swine, the crocodile, and the scorpion.
Fourth, composite animals, of a purely mythological character, such as the sphinx, the "Set" animal, the phoenix, etc., representing either good or evil, according to their varying forms.
In the present study, however, it seems necessary to consider these animals
in the order of the frequency of their representation, taking up first those
which have the most general and inclusive signification.
p. 31 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
1. THE ROYAL SERPENT.
The most common of all the symbolic animals is the "uraeus" or royal serpent which meets us everywhere on the monuments; his winged emblem surmounts the "pylon" or gateway of every temple; his head and inflated chest protrude from the crown or head-dress of every god and king. He is, par excellence, the national emblem of Egypt, which in its very geographical formation by the winding path of the Nile resembles a serpentine beast.
The royal serpent of Egypt was, by the Roman writers, named "Uraeus," from the Egyptian arart, which is connected with the Coptic word ouro, "a king," while by the Greeks it was named "basilisk," from basileus, "king." It is a species of cobra, (Fig. I, plate 6; copied from Maspero. H. E. 1:42), a small, black, poisonous asp, still abounding in Egypt; when approached it will erect its head and inflate its throat and chest in readiness to dart forward. Its bite is frequently fatal, but it is quite easily tamed by the serpent charmers and, if well fed with milk, it will even become a pet, permitting children to play with it. This quality, perhaps, is what is referred to in the words of Isaiah II :8: "The sucking child shall play upon the hole of the viper, and upon the den of the basilisk shall the weaned child thrust his hand."
A conventionalized and winged form of the "uraeus" is shown in Fig. 2. Its puffed-up chest is a vivid image of the inflated pride of sensual science. Fig. 3 is the national emblem of Egypt: two great wings extending from a solar disk encircled by two basilisks. This is the figure which is always found above the pylons of the temples; the sun signifies love, the serpent wisdom in ultimates, and the wings the doctrines of scientific truth, protecting the worship of a sensual church.
Fig. 5, (Budge, Ib. 1: 147), shows a serpent with a human head, and in front three anch crosses and a pair of tongues. With this may be compared the image of the Philistine god, Dagon, "who was like a man above and a fish below; this image was so devised because a man signifies intelligence, and a fish knowledge, and these two make one." (S. 23.)
Below this figure we have two serpents (Figs. 6, 7, Budge, Ib.
p. 32 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
p. 33 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
1: 237), one carrying on his back the crown of Upper Egypt with a human head on either side and the other carrying the crown of Lower Egypt with one head in front. The latter represents, perhaps, science as the means of progress in the human understanding, while the former indicates that science is, or should be, more especially the means of progress in the doubly human virtue of charity and the good of life.
The papyrus stalk with a winding serpent, (Fig. 8), is very commonly seen in the hands of the goddesses, and seems to represent the power of the affection and perception of scientific truth.
As to the spiritual meaning of the serpent there is a great deal of information in the Writings.
By serpents, in the Word, are signified sensual things which are the ultimates of the life of man. The reason is that all animals signify the affections of man, and the affections of angels and spirits in the spiritual world also appear at a distance like animals, and the merely sensual affections appear like serpents. This is because serpents creep on the ground and lick up the dust; and sensuals are the lowest things of the understanding and the will, for they stand forth next to the world and are nourished from its objects and delights, which affect only the material senses of the body. Harmful serpents, which are of many kinds, signify the sensuals which are dependent on evil affections, which make the interiors of the mind with those who are insane from falsities of evil; and harmless serpents signify the sensuals which are dependent on good affections, which make the interiors of the mind with those who are wise from truths of good. (R. 455.)
To the Egyptians, therefore, the serpent -- cautiously raising his head to
look about him -- because the special symbol of the prudence, circumspection
and astuteness which constitute the wisdom of the natural man; it is to be remembered
that the Lord Himself taught His disciples to be "wise as serpents and
innocent as doves." Nay, the Lord Himself assumed a human sensual nature
which He glorified or made Divine, and this Divine Sensual was prophetically
represented by the brazen serpent on the cross, which brought healing
to those bitten by the fiery flying serpents, if they looked to it. This Divine
Sensual is the visible and audible form of the Divine Human now revealed
in the 3
p. 34 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
Writings of the New Church, and only by looking to Him can men be saved from the deadly influence of modern sensual science and modern sensual life. Here alone is our protection, for the brazen serpent "signifies the Divine Sensual of the Lord who alone exercises circumspection and Providence." (A. 179, 425; E. 70.)
We may understand, therefore, how the royal serpent of Egypt came to signify in the supreme sense the Divine Wisdom itself, and hence Divine Science, the science of Divine things, and especially the science of correspondences, which was the science of sciences in Egypt. In the Garden of Eden this serpent was a harmless, useful and necessary thing, created by God Himself, for the celestial man could not have existed in this world unless endowed with an ultimate sensual nature. This serpent, with them, was the possessor of "the tree of science," for all knowledges must first be imbibed by means of the external senses. It became a seductive and poisonous beast only when the men of the Golden Age permitted the appearances of the senses to over-rule the voice of celestial perception which spoke from within.
Throughout the subsequent ages, for good and for evil, the role of the serpent
has been played by Egypt. In the Ancient Church the science of correspondences
reached its highest development in Egypt, and from this spiritual science there
gradually developed, a priori, the beginnings of natural sciences such
as astronomy, geometry, mathematics, chemistry, geography, etc. In classical
times Egypt was the great international university, where men such as Herodotus,
Pythagoras, Plato and possibly Aristotle pursued their studies, and after the
Macedonian conquest the "Museum" at Alexandria not only contained
the greatest library in the world but was for centuries the home of the leading
lights of science. Here also the Hebrew Scriptures were first translated into
Greek, and here Philo, the Jew, laid the foundation for the Neo-platonic school
of philosophy. But corruption, also, went hand in hand with the great scientific
development; from the beginning of historic times Magic flourished in Egypt
by means of correspondences perverted, turning religion into superstition and
spreading moral corruption far and wide.
p. 35 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
The destruction of Egypt through the influence of a perverted science found a fitting symbol in the suicide of Cleopatra by the poison of the basilisk.
In the Christian Church, also, Egypt at first proved a blessing, and then a deadly curse. The catechumenal school at Alexandria became the first Christian university, where the Christian Theology received its first scientific development at the hands of Clement and Origen. But the new light was soon extinguished by the jealousy of the hierarchy. Alexandria became the centre of gnostical heresies, (gnosis means a pretended hidden "knowledge"), and from this tree of science there came forth a two-headed serpent to seduce the Christian Church with Arianism on the one hand, and Athanasianism on the other, -- both based originally on Egyptian tritheism.
2. THE ROYAL VULTURE.
As the "Uraeus" is the royal emblem of gods and kings, so the "Mut" or royal vulture is the emblem of goddesses and queens, who almost always wear a representation of this bird upon their heads, in place of a crown or head-dress: the head of the vulture protruding in front, with the wings falling down on either side of the lady's neck, and the tail feathers extending from the back (Fig. 11. Plate 6), the whole made into a kind of helmet, generally of gold. And as the winged "uraeus" is placed above the pylons of the temples, so the vulture is represented with widespread wings (Fig. 10) on the ceilings of the temples, in the central avenues of the portico, and on the under side of the lintels of the doors which lead to the sanctuary. As an amulet a golden vulture was placed on the neck of the mummy on the day of the funeral, for this was supposed to carry with it the protection of "Mother" Isis. (Budge, the mummy, p. 260.)
The name of this vulture, mut, -- written with the hieroglyphics for
a vulture, a female breast, an egg, and a woman, -- is the regular word for
"mother," and as such this animal is the special symbol of the goddess
mut, who, as the female counterpart of amen-ra represents "mother nature,"
the "great world mother," or the idea of motherhood itself. It is
known in Egypt under
p. 36 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
the Arabic name rdkham, which is identical with the Hebrew word racham, a "gier-eagle," as it is translated in the Authorized Version, (Levit. 11:18 and Deut. 14:17). The Hebrew root racham means originally "womb," and hence "mother love, mercy, compassion," and the name was given to the Egyptian vulture on account of her intense love for her young. (Gesenius Heb. Lex.)
This maternal instinct accounts for the Egyptian choice of an otherwise unclean bird to represent maternal love and protection, though it was venerated also on account of its great usefulness in removing dead bodies, offal, and other impurities which, if left on the ground, might cause great damage in the hot climate of Egypt. On this account it is treated with great consideration by the modern Mohammedans of Egypt, to whom it is known as "Pharaoh's hen." (Wilkinson M. C., V:2O3.) According to Budge "the cult of the vulture is extremely ancient in Egypt, and dates probably from pre-dynastic times, for one of AElian the oldest titles of the Pharaohs of Egypt is 'Lord of the city of the Vulture (Nekhebet or Eileithyiapolis), lord of the city of the uraeus' (Uatchet, or Buto), and it is found engraved on monuments of the late prae-dynastic and early archaic periods. [a Roman writer in the time of Alexander Severus] . . . says that all vultures are females, and no male vulture was ever known; to obtain young they turn their backs to the south, or south-east wind, which fecundates them, and they bring forth young after three years." (G. E. 11:372.)
The vulture, like the eagle and the hawk, can have nothing but an evil correspondence, both being in themselves evil beasts. But even as evil men by certain external qualities may represent heavenly and Divine things, so the maternal instinct in the vulture makes a basis for a good representation. And on comparing the qualities of the vulture and the eagle, we find that they have a very similar signification, so much so that we may clearly interpret the symbol of the vulture by the meaning of the eagle.
p. 37 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings, so Jehovah alone did lead him." (32:10-12.)
It is the instruction in the truths and goods of faith which is here described, and is compared to an eagle. (A. 3901.)
Their instruction in truths, guarding from falsities, and the opening of the interiors of their minds so that they may come into the light of Heaven and thus into the understanding of truth and good, which is intelligence, is described by an "eagle," its nest on high, its brooding over its young, and carrying them upon its wings. (E. 281.)
It is the work of education, therefore, that was especially symbolized by the royal vulture of Egypt, for this work is the especial use of the maternal love of Heaven and the Church, as represented by the goddesses and queens of Egypt. For the work of Education was developed in Egypt as nowhere else in the Ancient Church, and Egypt as a whole, as has been shown, was the great international university of the ancient world.
"The fourth animal was like a flying eagle," (Rev. 4:7), signifies the Divine Truth of the Word as to cognitions and thence understanding. By "flying eagles" are signified the cognitions from which comes understanding, for while they are flying they know and see; they also have sharp eyes and see clearly, and the eyes signify understanding. "To fly" signifies to. perceive and instruct and, in the supreme sense, to look out for and provide. (R. 244.)
A "flying eagle" signifies the appearance of the Divine Protection and Providence in ultimates as to intelligence and as to clear-sightedness on every side. (E. 281.)
The "face of an eagle," (Ezech. 1:10), signifies circumspection and thence Providence. . . . Such was the signification of an eagle in the Ancient Church. (A. 3901.)
3. THE SCARABAEUS BEETLE.
"Flying things of the lowest sort, which are insects, signify truths or falsities which are more ignoble and obscure, such as are those things which belong to the Sensual." (A. 7441.)
"Flying insects signify such things as are of the thought, thus truths or falsities, but in the extremes of man." (A. 9331.)
Egypt as a whole represents the lowest or sensual degree of the human mind,
and hence, consciously or unconsciously, the
p. 38 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
Egyptians were led to adopt some of the lowest forms of animal life -- such as the serpent and the beetle -- as symbols of the high -est principles. As the serpent with them represented wisdom in ultimates and hence in the inmost, so the beetle represented to them life in ultimates and hence all life, life itself, for the ultimate is the containant of the whole.
The particular beetle which was chosen for this supreme representation, (Fig.1,
plate 7), belongs to a very numerous group of dung-feeding Lamellicorns, (i.
e., beetles having antennae terminating in a set of flat lamellae or little
plates). The Greeks gave to this beetle the name of skarabeios, -- a word
of unknown meaning, -- but the Egyptians called it khepera, which means
both esse and fieri, "being" and "becoming;"
it also means "to roll, to
p. 39 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
evolve," -- a fact which should encourage the evolutionists in looking to the beetle as their racial ancestor.
The scarabaeus beetle "is generally of a black hue, but amongst them are to be found some adorned with the richest metallic colors. A remarkable peculiarity exists in the structure and situation of the hind legs, which are placed so near the extremity of the body, and so far from each other, as to give the insect a most extraordinary appearance when walking. This peculiar formation is nevertheless particularly serviceable to its possessors in rolling the balls of excrementitious matter in which they enclose their eggs." (Budge, the mummy, p. 232.)
The scarabseus is said to be born at the edge of the desert and spends the half of its life in crawling down to the bank of the Nile. Here the female gathers a ball of dung and mud, from one to two inches in diameter, and deposits in it a great number of eggs. The male and the female then take turns in rolling the ball back to the edge of the desert, where they bury it in a hole in the sand, to be hatched out by the heat of the sun. They usually drag it along with their hind legs, but are often seen carrying it on their heads with the front legs.
There is scarcely any difference, externally, between the male and the female of the species, and hence there arose the notion that there were no females among them, but that all were male. On this account the scarabaeus came to typify the idea of "the Only-begotten of the Father," the medium of original creation. A survival of this ancient conception still remains in Upper Egypt and Nubia, for "to this day the insect is dried, pounded, and mixed with water, and then drunk by women who believe it to be an unfailing specific for the production of large families." (Budge, G. E., II:38i.)
The beetle was especially associated with ra, the sun-god, -- partly, perhaps,
on account of the round shape of its ball, which contains the germs of a new
generation as the ball of the sun contains the germs of all life in the universe,
-- and partly, also, because the scarabaeus becomes especially lively during
the hottest hours of the day, flying about in the sunlight when all other creatures
seek shade and rest. Hence the sun-god is often represented with a beetle on
the top of his head, or with a beetle
p. 40 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
instead of a head. (Fig. 2.) Very often, also, the scarabaeus is shown with a small red ball behind him, and a large red ball in front, the two representing the nether and the upper sun.
The resurrection of man in a spiritual body was also "symbolized by the germs of life rolled up in the egg-balls of the beetle, and the power which made those to become living creatures was that which made man's spiritual body to come into being.'' (Budge, G. E., I: 357.) "It was this idea which was at the root of the Egyptian custom of wearing figures of the beetle, and of placing them in the tombs and on the bodies of the dead; the myriads of scarabs which have been found in all parts of Egypt testify to the universality of this custom." (Ibid.) These scarabs, made of black or green stone, often contain brief inscrip- -tions, stating the name of the deceased, with prayers or sacred formulas supposed to be useful in the other life. (Fig. 3.)
4. THE RAM.
Of all the symbolic animals of Egypt, the ram has the highest and holiest correspondence. While seldom used as an hiero-glyphic, he is seen most frequently in the shape of a sphinx, either in his own entire form, or as a ram with a human head, of with the body of a lion, or in various other combinations. Long avenues of these majestic sphinxes, beautifully carved and polished, are seen among the ruins of Upper Egypt, sometimes extending for miles, as in the case of the great avenue leading from Karnak to Luxor. These avenues of sphinxes represented to the Egyptians the stream of the Divine Providence, everywhere leading, guarding and protecting. This symbolic ram was furnished with two pair of horns, -- one pair curving down and forwards, the other, long, flat and twisted, extending upwards and sideways, -- (Figs. 4 and 5, plate 7) to represent the Divine Power of Love extending everywhere.
The ram was the special symbol of two divinities, khnemu and osiris. The
former stands at the head of the Egyptian Pantheon and represents the Infinite
itself, the supreme Esse, the Divine Father of all creation. The ram, as the
father of the flock, was the fitting symbol of the Divine Fatherhood, and hence
Khnemu was almost always represented as a man with the head
p. 41 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
of a ram; he is also painted a dark blue, to signify the invisible Divine.
When associated with Osiris, the ram is a prophetic symbol of the Lord in His Divine Human, the "Lamb of God," the God-Man who has rendered visible the Infinite Divine. Hence Osiris is often represented with a pair of ram's horns, and he himself is called "the Ram, lord of Tattu," which means judge of the dead in the under world, or world of spirits. (Budge, G. E. I:103.) The Greeks, mistaking this for "Amend," or Heaven, made the Osiris ram known as the "Ram of Mendes," in whom the soul of Osiris was supposed to dwell. Mendes was also identified with a town in ancient Egypt, where a sacred ram was kept in honor of Osiris. Like the Apis-bull, this ram was distinguished by certain peculiar markings, and when one ram died his successor was sought for with great diligence throughout the country, and, when found, consecrated with great festivities.
As the sheep in general corresponds to celestial affections, the goods of charity and innocence, so the ram, as the male of the sheep, corresponds to the truth of celestial good, and the power of this truth. And in the supreme sense the ram signifies "the internal of the Lord's Divine Human united to the Divine good of His Divine love, which was in Himself," (A. 10052, 10076), that is, the union or unition of Osiris with Khnemu.
5. the Cow and the bullock.
It is a curious fact that the more a people is steeped in the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, the more do they worship merely natural good. Of spiritual charity they have no conception and do not wish to hear, but natural good, kindness, "helpfulness," "altruism," are to them the summum bonum, as long as it does not necessitate the shunning of spiritual evils as sins against God.
This fact lies at the bottom of the worship of the bovine species among the
faith-alone branches of the Hamitic race, nations such as the Babylonians, Phoenicians
and Egyptians. The worship of the bull and the cow first arose among the Chaldeans,
the direct descendants of Ham, in the idolatry of Enlil and Ishtar, and spread
thence on the one hand to Canaan, where the Phoenicians
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worshipped the bull-headed Baal and the cow-headed Ashtoreth, and on the other hand to Egypt, where the bull became the special symbol of Osiris, "the Lord" par excellence, and the cow the symbol of Hathor, the goddess of beauty and love.
To an agricultural people, such as the Egyptians, the bull and the cow naturally represented that which is most good and useful on the natural plane, furnishing as they do not only food-products such as milk, cream, butter, cheese and meat, but also service as beasts of burden. Thus the cow, by her usefulness, gentleness and beauty, (even the Romans spoke of "cow-eyed Juno" as the type of beauty), came to represent not only goodness in general, but that highest form of domestic good which we call conjugial love. This love they termed "Hathor" and represented it as a cow coming forth from the mountains of "Amend" or Heaven. (Fig. 2, plate 8.) And the bull, on account of his great strength, fecundating power, and mightiness in battle, they looked upon as representing the truth of natural good, in which all interior forms of good and truth reside in their generative potency and fulness of power. Hence they regarded the sacred bull at first as the special representative of Osiris, the prophecied Redeemer, and afterwards as the incarnation of that god.
Greek and Roman writers, such as Herodotus, Plutarch, AElian, Ammianus Marcellinus, Diodorus Siculus and Pliny, relate many marvelous stories of the sacred bull, Apis, (in Egyptian Hap or Hapi), but their accounts are so full of manifest absurdities and contradictions that we can adopt as facts only those few features which they have in common and which agree with the discoveries of modern Egyptology.
From these sources we learn that the veneration of the bull, Apis, is of
unknown antiquity, dating from prae-dynastic times, and that it continued to
the last period of Egyptian history. According to Herodotus, (book II:27-29),
the sacred bull, which was always kept at Memphis, was black, with certain peculiar
white markings, having a square white spot on the forehead, on the back the
figure of an eagle, the outlines of a beetle on the tongue, and double hairs
in the tail. But in the numerous antique bronze figures of the Apis, he is usually
p. 43 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
p. 44 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
a triangular piece of silver in his forehead, between his horns a solar disk and a serpent, on the back above the forelegs a vulture, (not an eagle), then the outlines of a square saddle cloth, and over the hind quarters a winged scarab. (Fig. 1, plate 8.)
At Memphis the sacred bull was tended with the utmost care in a special temple and by a special priesthood. Here he was washed daily in hot baths, the body anointed with precious unguents, perfumed with sweetest odors, fed with the choicest food, watered from a special well, rested on the softest bedding, etc. His birthday was celebrated annually in a festival of seven days, when he was led about garlanded amidst the adoring shouts of the populace. It is said that he was allowed to live only twenty-five years, when he was disposed of, carefully embalmed and buried at enormous expense, while all Egypt went into mourning until his successor had been found. Each Apis was buried in a rock-hewn tomb, and a small chapel was built over it. The chain of these subterranean tombs at Memphis was called the Sera-peum, and in later times it became known as "the Labyrinth," which may still be seen at Sakkara.
To find a new Apis was the next most important "new business" of the nation. The calf had to be born on the day when the old Apis died, and had to have the same peculiar markings. Every herd in Egypt was minutely searched, and lucky was the owner of the herd in which the Apis was found. All Egypt went wild with rejoicing, and the bull-calf, after forty days of purification, was installed in his new honors amidst great festivities. For the use of the Apis was more than merely ornamental or representative; he was, in fact, the chief living oracle in Egypt, being consulted on all important national affairs. If he ate certain food offered to him, it was a good omen; if he refused, a bad omen. If he went into one of his stalls, the prospects were favorable; if into another, unfavorable, etc.
Besides the Apis-bull at Memphis, there was another sacred bull, called Mnevis,
(Fig. 3), kept at Hieropolis, to the northeast of modern Cairo, and there are
reasons to believe that this one was the model of the "golden calf"
made and worshipped by the Israelites at Mount Sinai. Hierapolis or On, the
most ancient shrine in Egypt, was in the neighborhood of the land of
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Goshen, where the Israelites had sojourned, and Joseph, it will be remembered, had married the daughter of the priest of On. The Mnevis of On, moreover, is colored bright yellow on the monuments, while the Apis is painted black and white. But no images of either of them, actually made of gold, have been found in Egypt, for reasons easily imagined.
Living or dead, the Apis was connected with Osiris. When dead, the soul of the old Apis went to join Osiris, while the soul of Osiris immediately filled the new Apis. The combined souls were called "Ausar-Hapi," or Osiris-Apis, whom the Greeks called Serapis. This divinity was represented with the mummied body of Osiris, having the head of a bull, on his head the sun and the moon, and the two feathers of Amen-Ra; in his hands the full regalia of staffs and sceptres, and on his side a breastplate of divination. Under the form of Serapis, the combined worship of Osiris and Apis survived the rest of the old Egyptian cult, and his image and temple were not destroyed until the fourth century A. D.
The bulls and cows, adored by the Egyptians, were usually represented as young bullocks and heifers, and hence these images are spoken of as "calves" in the letter of the Word. Thus we read in Jeremiah 46:20 that "Egypt is a very beautiful cow-calf," -- the historical sense evidently referring to the national worship of Hathor. And of the sacred "calves" in Egypt we read as follows in the Writings:
For the sake of illustration, take the worship of the calf with the Egyptians. They knew what a calf represented, namely, the good of charity; and so long as they knew this and thought of this when they saw calves, or when in their feasts of charity they made the calf ready, and afterwards when calves were made use of in sacrifices, they thought sanely and together with the angels in heaven, to whom a calf stands for the good of charity. But when they began to make calves of gold, and placed them in their temples and worshipped them, they then thought insanely and together with the infernals. Thus they turned a true representative into a false one. (A. 7779.)
The reason the children of Israel made themselves a golden calf and worshipped
it as Jehovah, was that the Egyptian idolatry remained in their hearts.
... In Egypt, the chief of the idols were cow-calves and bull-calves of gold,
for the reason that a cow-calf signified scientific truth,
p. 46 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
which is the truth of the natural man, and a bull-calf the good thereof, which is the good of the natural man; also because gold signifies good. . . . But when the representatives of celestial things there were turned into idolatry and finally into magic, then, there as elsewhere, the very representative images became idols and began to be worshipped. Hence came the idolatry of the ancients and the magic of the Egyptians. (A. 9391.)
By a "bullock" in the Word is represented "what is celestial natural, or, what is the same, natural good," (A. 2180), and in the supreme sense "the Divine Natural of the Lord." (A. 2830.) This is the reason why the Apis was considered the special representative of Osiris, for even as the Egyptians knew from the Ancient Word that the Lord as a Divine Man would glorify His Sensual degree, (which they represented by the royal serpent), so they represented the whole of the Natural with Him, glorified both as to truth and as to good, by the Apis of Osiris, whom they termed "the bull of the other world."
6. THE DOGHEADED APE.
Among the sacred animals of Egypt, one of the most curious is the Cynocephalus or Dogheaded Ape, which, usually painted green, is frequently seen on the monuments and in the papyri. This ape, in Egyptian called aan or aanau, was in ancient times, as at present, brought from upper Nubia and the Sudan, which is its native habitat and where it is still regarded as an extremely clever beast, in intelligence superior even to man.
At sunrise these apes set up a mighty chattering in the forests and they
were on this account regarded by the ancient Egyptians as incarnations of "the
spirits of the dawn, which, having sung hymns of praise whilst the sun was rising,
turned into apes as soon as he had risen." (Budge, G. E., II: 365.) On
account of their supposed cleverness, also, they were generally represented
as companions of thoth, the god of science, literature and the written Word,
and are almost invariably seen standing in the sacred boat of this Ibis-headed
divinity, with forepaws stretched out in an attitude of adoration. Sometimes
the ape is seen alone, holding a small Ibis in his hand, and sometimes he is
associated with ra, the sun-god, or khonsu, the moon-god, always in a
p. 47 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
boat, and always in a worshipful attitude. The Egyptians supposed that he was singing hymns in praise of the god whom he is facing.
In the remarkable "judgment-scenes" in the book of the dead, -- representing the final judgment upon man in the world of spirits, -- the Cynocephalus is seated on top of the pillar which supports the great Balance, in the scales of which the heart of the man is weighed against the "feather of truth." Being regarded as skilled in the science of numbers and measurements and as "the genius of the equilibrium and the equinoxes," the duty of the ape in the weighing of the soul was to watch the pointer and report to thoth, (who is standing by with pencil and pad in his hands), when the beam is exactly level. He appears again in a scene representing the judgment upon a wicked spirit, who in the form of a dejected-looking pig is being driven away in a boat by two apes with whips. (Wilkinson, vol. VI., plate 87.) The head of the Cynocephalus also forms the cover of one of the four funerary urns in which were sealed up some of the entrails of the mummy and which were deposited in its sepulchre. The first urn is crowned with the head of a man, the second with a hawk, the third with a jackal, and the fourth with an ape; these were known as the "four genii of Amend" or "the four children of Horus," which, we believe, originally represented the four divisions of heaven: the man, the celestial heaven; the hawk, the spiritual; the jackal, the celestial natural; and the ape, the spiritual natural.
In attempting to interpret the Cynocephalus as a symbol we must consider
the signification of the dog as well as the ape. Dogs generally correspond to
unclean lusts, but they also have a good signification. "Dogs are the appetites
of saying and teaching such things as are of doctrine. When the appetites are
good, the dogs are good; and when the appetites are evil, so are the dogs."
(D. 4853.) For instance, the three hundred Israelites "who lapped water
with their hands as a dog lappeth," in Judges 7:5, signify "those
who have an appetite for truths; thus who, from some natural affection strive
to know truths." (E. 455.) In a good sense, therefore, dogs, on account
of their humility, obedience and faithfulness, represent those who are the lowliest
p. 48 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
within the Church, and also the Gentiles outside the Church. (A. 7784, 9231.)
Apes, similarly, in general correspond to falsities and crazy persuasions, notions that are rational and human in appearance only, but they also have a good signification, as in I Kings 10:22, where we read that "once in three years there came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold and silver, ivory, apes and peacocks to Solomon," all these tributes signifying "the truths and goods of the external Church." (E. 514.) From all these considerations we judge that the Dog-headed Ape stands as the representative of simple good spirits of the lowest order, or angels of the spiritual-natural heaven; in other words, affections of the natural truth revealed in the letter of the Word and the simple love of justice and fairness. Hence the association of the ape with thoth, the letter of the Word; and hence his position in the . scene of the judgment. The illustration of the ape in the boat, (Fig. 3, plate 8), with the Eye above his hands and facing Thoth, seems to us to speak as clearly as the words of the Psalmist: "The opening of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple." (Ps. 119:130.)
7. THE JACKAL.
The Jackal, which is always associated with anubis, the god of the burial and the resurrection, is a canine animal which in external appearance and internal structure is very similar to the domestic dog, especially a shepherd's dog; it has a long head, a very pointed muzzle and grayish-yellow fur, and is, in fact, regarded by some naturalists as representing that original stock from which the dog is supposed to have evolved. Though extremely shy and cunning, he is easily tamed, when in captivity, and becomes quite gentle and obedient, but on account of his offensive odor he is seldom adopted as a pet.
Of distinctly nocturnal habits, the jackals of Egypt come forth at sunset
from the caves and holes in the mountains of the desert, hunting in packs, prowling
about the ancient ruins, (Fig. 1, plate 9), prying on the henroosts and vineyards
of farms and villages, and making the night hideous with their peculiarly mournful
howling. A shriek from one member of the pack is the signal
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for a general chorus of screams, barks and dismal whines, which often sound like the wailing cries of a child lost in the wilderness, and this is kept up during the greater part of the night.
This melancholy concert may account in part for the association of the wicked jackal with a gentle and benevolent divinity such as Anubis, as it probably reminded the ancient Egyptians of the lamentations and dirges of the mourners at a funeral party. The full figure of the animal is seldom represented on the monuments, but Anubis himself is always depicted as a human figure with the head of a jackal, (Fig. 2, plate 9), always painted black, to suggest night and death; the god is generally seen bending over the bier on which rests the body of the dead, gently stroking him into renewed life, and then conducting the resurrected spirit in his spiritual body into the judgment hall of Osiris in the intermediate world.
Just as the significance of the Egyptian vulture can be explained only by
that of the eagle, so the symbolic meaning of the jackal can be solved only
by the correspondence of the closely related dog. Those Greek and Roman authors
who have written on Egypt, all supposed that the head of Anubis was simply the
head of a dog who watched over the spirit of man in life and in death, because
the dog, as Plutarch observes, "is equally watchful by day and by night."
Wilkinson admits that "it is difficult to distinguish between the jackal
and the fox-dog." (M. C. 5 :i43), and Wallis Budge regards it as proved
that the Egyptians themselves "did not carefully distinguish between the
wolf, the jackal, and the dog." (G. E. 11:367.). We may regard it as settled,
then, that the ancient Egyptians looked upon the jackal as nothing but a species
of dog whom they associated with the ideas of death, burial and resurrection,
not only because of his mournful howling, but also because of his nocturnal
habits, his habitat in the mountains and deserts where the dead were buried,
and his prowling about the tombs at night. Thus they adopted him as the symbol
and representative of those gentle spirits who stand guard over the dead body,
who assist in the process of resuscitation, and who introduce the resurrected
man into his new and spiritual life. (Comp. H. H. 449, 450.)
p. 51 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
Obedience is the one great virtue of a good dog, and obedience, simple and unquestioning obedience to the will of the Lord, is the distinguishing virtue of the angels of the lowest or natural heaven, especially of those of the celestial natural heaven, even as obedience is in general the virtue that introduces man into the life of regeneration. Death and burial represent nothing else than the death of the self-life and resurrection into the regenerate life. Hence we conclude that even as the dog-headed ape of Thoth represents the simple affection of knowing and understanding the natural truth of the letter of the Word, and thus the angels of the spiritual-natural heaven, so the jackal of Anubis represents the affection of obeying this same truth in life, and thus the angels of the celestial-natural heaven.
8. THE LION AND THE CAT.
The Lion is usually associated with ra, or horus, or deities of a solar character, the great, round, yellow face of the king of beasts calling to mind the solar disk, his fiery eyes and terrible power recalling the fierce heat of the Egyptian sun, etc. Dawn and sunset were represented as two lions, seated back to back, supporting between them the horizon over which the sun is seen travelling.
Thus far go the somewhat obvious "interpretations" of modern Egyptologists,
to whom the idea of both the lion and sun representing the Sun of spiritual
life would seem like "wild allegorizing." They know, however, that
the lion as an hieroglyphic signifies power, and as a phonetic sign stands
for the letter R, because this sound expresses power. Spiritually considered,
the lion, in his fighting and conquering strength, represents "the good
of celestial love and the derivative truth in its power, and in the opposite
sense the evil of the love of self in its power." (A. C. 6367.) To "roar
like a lion" signifies an ardent affection to defend Heaven and the Church,
and thus to save the angels of Heaven and the men of the Church, which is done
by destroying the falsities of evil by means of Divine Truth and its power."
(A. E. 601.) And the Lord in His Divine Human, who from His own power subjugated
the hells and reduced all things into order, is "called 'the lion of the
tribe of Judah' from the Omnipotence
p. 52 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
which is of His Divine Love and His Divine Truth thence." (Ibid.) This power He exercised through His Word, in which the Divine Truth is in its fulness, in its holiness and in its power, and hence "a lion signifies the Divine Truth of the Word as to power; and as the Lord is the Divine Truth itself, or the Word, He is called a lion." (A. R. 265.)
It was on this account that the cherubim seen by Ezechiel and John "had the face of a lion, from the omnipotence of Divine truth from the Divine good, which is of Providence," (A. C. 6367), for the cherubim represent the power of the Word in the letter guarding and protecting the internal sense. Hence "because lions represent power, guard, and protection against falsities and evils, there were two lions at the sides of the ivory throne of Solomon, and twelve lions upon its six steps." (A. E. 278.)
This also was the origin of the sphinxes of Egypt, which were of various forms, but most commonly figures of lions with human head. "The Egyptians placed statues of lions at the doors of their palaces and tombs to guard both the living and the dead, and to keep evil spirits and fleshly foes from entering into the gates to do harm to those who were inside them." (Budge, G. E. II:361.) For the ancients were well aware of the protective sphere of the celestial angels, whom the sphinxes represent, "because where these come, the evil flee away, for the evil cannot endure their presence; it is these who are signified by 'an old lion.'" (A. C. 6369.)
The "great Sphinx" guarding the pyramids of Ghizeh is the noblest example of these leonine cherubim, even as it is without doubt the most ancient monument in Egypt, antedating the pyramids themselves. Exactly facing the rising sun, it was placed there not only as a protector of the vast necropolis of Memphis, but also, we believe, to represent the Divine Providence itself guarding the whole land of Egypt and the Church there. For from the east came the Egyptians themselves and all their light, and from the east came the worst of their enemies in a spiritual as well as a natural sense.
Inasmuch as a lion signifies not only the Lord as to the Divine Truth, but
likewise Heaven and the Church in respect to that Truth from the Lord,"
(A. E. 601), therefore the Egyptians rep-
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resented a very prominent goddess, named bast, with the head of a lioness. (Fig. 3, plate 9; G. E. I:444.) Concerning this divinity there has been much speculation; the Greeks identified her with Diana or Athene, (both erroneously), and she is generally known as "the cat-headed goddess," though her head is unmistakably that of a lioness. Wallis Budge has given us the clue to the signification of bast, when he informs us that the name bast is derived from bes, the word for fire, and that he regards this goddess "as a personification of the power of the sun, which makes itself known in the form of heat." (G. E. I :447.)
On the basis of this natural interpretation, which is supported by the evidence of all modern Egyptologists, we conclude that Bast, the lioness-headed "lady of the East," goddess of fire and heat, represents the same as the Greek Hestia or Vesta, goddess of the hearth and of the sacred fire: i. e., celestial good, which simply means the celestial love of the Divine Truth.
This identification of Bast with Vesta suggests an explanation of the extraordinary veneration of cats in Egypt, which caused so much merriment in the rest of the classical world. As at the present day, so in ancient times Egypt was swarming with cats, and they were regarded as so sacred that, as Cicero observes, "never did anyone hear tell of a cat having been killed by an Egyptian," while Diodorus Siculus tells a story of a Roman who was lynched by an Egyptian mob because he had accidentally killed a cat. When a cat died in a house, all the inmates shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning, and the body of the sacred puss was embalmed with great care, ceremoniously buried, and sometimes carried from great distances to Bubastis, the center of the worship of Bast, where thousands of cat-mummies have been found. This veneration for cats in the end proved the ruin of Egyptian independence, for it is related that Cambyses, when invading Egypt in 528 B. C., collected a great quantity of cats and placed them in front of his army at the fateful battle of Pelusium. The Egyptians, rather than hitting the sacred animals with their arrows, turned tail and fled, and left the country open to the Persians.
The constant association of the cat with Bast, the Egyptian Vesta, goddess
of the fire and the hearth, does not require a far-
p. 54 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
fetched explanation. As in Greece and in other countries of the ancient world, so also in Egypt the domestic hearth and the everburning fire upon it were regarded as most sacro-sanct in the private life of the family. And the cats constantly crouching by the fireside, thus became the companions of Bast and partakers of her supreme sanctity.
9. THE HAWK.
Among the symbolic birds of Egypt the most prominent are the hawk and the Ibis, the former sacred to horus, the latter to thoth. Birds, with their power of elevating themselves from the ground and of proceeding rapidly on higher planes, represent rational and intellectual affections which "on the wings of thought" lift themselves from earthly things to higher and wider perspectives. (A. C. 3901; A. E. 282, 1100.)
The hawk, keen-eyed and swift, serenely soaring in highest air, was to the Egyptians a symbol of the Divine in the heavens, which is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Divine Intelligence. Hence this bird is always associated with horus, who is sometimes represented simply as a hawk, sometimes as a hawk
with human head, or as a human figure with a hawk's head. (Fig. 4, plate
9; G. E. I.: 466). In order to emphasize the idea of "intelligence,"
the sculptors adorned the face of the hawk with peculiar conventional features,
making prominent its sharp eyes. That "to fly" signifies to proceed,
is evident without any arguments, and it is equally self-evident that Horus,
the son of Osiris, represents the Divine Proceeding. An inscription which we
found in Dr. Budge's egyptian heaven and hell, and which we here reproduce,
describes Horus as always "journeying, journeying, travelling." (E.
H. H. I:115.)
p. 55 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS The first figure of the above hieroglyphics represents an ax and is the ideogram for a god; the second is an "anch" and represents life; the third is a feather and signifies truth; then follow three snails in the act of creeping, and below them two papyrus rolls, each furnished with a pair of legs in the act of walking, and finally a single line with a pair of legs. The whole is translated by Dr. Budge as "the god, living and true, journeying, journeying, traveling." But why the two papyrus rolls? The papyrus roll signifies a book, and here evidently the Word of God, which is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord. In this connection it is of interest to note a statement by Diodorus, (quoted by Wilkinson, M. C., vol. V., p. 205): "The hawk is reputed to have been worshipped because augurs use them for divining future events in Egypt; and some say that in former times a book (papyrus), bound round with a purple thread, and containing a written account of the modes of worshipping and honoring the gods, was brought by one of these birds to the priests at Thebes." This manifestly refers to the primeval revelation of the Ancient Word, proceeding from the Divine in the heavens.
10. THE IBIS.
The banks of the Nile are teeming with all kinds of water fowls, but the reasons why among all these the Ibis was selected for extraordinary honors will perhaps never be fully known. There seems to be nothing very remarkable about this bird, which at the present day is seldom found in Egypt. Its native habitat is Nubia and Sudan, but in ancient times it must have been very common throughout Egypt, as mummies of the bird are found in all parts of the country. Bronze figurines are also very common and on the monuments and in the papyri it is one of the most familiar figures. It is the constant companion of thoth, "the god of the divine words," and the god himself is invariably represented with the head of an Ibis. (Fig. 6, plate 9.)
On account of its religious associations the bird is known to zoologists
as the Ibis religiosa; its body measures about two feet six inches, and
it has long black legs, white and black plumage, short tail, and a very long
black bill, curved and slender. (Fig.
p. 56 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
5, plate 9.) It does not, as far as is known, consume any greater quantity of reptiles than other water fowls, but Herodotus reports that it was revered because "it destroyed the winged serpents which were brought over into Egypt from the deserts of Libya by the west wind," and the ancient priests related that Thoth, when pursued by Set, the evil power, saved himself by assuming the form of an Ibis. The name of Thoth (tehuti) is, in fact, derived from tehu, which is the most ancient name of the Ibis.
We are not able to give the particular correspondence of the Ibis, but its general significance seems clear. It is a bird of the water and as such signifies the affections of natural and sensual truth, such as stands forth in the letter of the Word. It is typically "a bird out of Egypt," (Hosea 11 :11), which signifies "the scientific intellectual," (A: C. 1186), and it may be that the sight of this bird, standing on the bank of the Nile and gazing into the waters, as it were, in deep meditation, reminded the ancient Egyptians of an earnest student of the Ancient Word inquiring into the mysteries hidden in the letter. Hence, perhaps, its association with thoth, and hence the figure of the sacred eye, which almost always accompanies the picture of the Ibis.
11. ANIMALS REPRESENTING EVIL.
Among the animals which never have a good signification, but always represent evils and falsities, we need to note only the hippopotamus, the swine, the scorpion and the crocodile.
A. the hippopotamus. The name of this ugly and useless monster is certainly
a libel on the noble horse, for it should be called a river-swine rather than
a river-horse. It is no longer found anywhere in Egypt, but was very common
in ancient times, and it was by no means regarded as sacred or worshipped, as
the Egyptologists assert, but was feared, hated and killed, as is proved by
frequent scenes representing the hunting of the beast. In the day-time wallowing
lazily in the mud, at night they left the river, coming up in troops to cultivated
ground, where they did immense damage to the growing crops, by their ponderous
tread destroying even more than they could devour. Though generally harmless
to people, they are apt to become ferocious when pursued, capsizing boats or
crushing them between their enormous jaws.
p. 57 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
According to Plutarch, the hippopotamus "was reckoned amongst the animals emblematic of the Evil Being," (Wilkinson, M. C. vol. V:178), and the goddess ta-urt, the female counterpart of set, the evil power itself, is always depicted with the head and body of the hippopotamus, long and flaccid breasts, hind quarters of a lion, and back and tail of a crocodile; in her hands she holds the emblem of lasciviousness, -- most certainly a repulsive combination of sinister suggestions. (Fig. 2, plate 10.)
The hippopotamus is not mentioned either in the Scriptures or the Writings, but as a great and evil beast of the river of Egypt it clearly corresponds to evil in general, more especially the evil of perverted sensual scientifics. As a convincing illustration we reproduce a picture representing Horus, standing victoriously upon the back of a chained hippopotamus and driving a spear into its head. (Fig. 1, plate 10. Budge, G. E. I:494.)
B. the swine. That the swine represents filthy lusts is known by common perception. In Egypt this animal was always associated with Set or Typhon. In the book of the dead, (chapter 112), we are told that Ra one day said to Horus: "Let me see what is coming to pass in thine eye," and having looked he said to Horus, "Look at that black pig." Horus thereupon looked and immediately felt that a great injury had been done to his eye, and he said to Ra, "Verily, my eye seemeth as if it were an eye upon which Suti had inflicted a blow." The text goes on to say that the black pig was none other than Suti (Set), who had transformed himself into a black pig and had aimed the blow which had damaged the eye of Horus. As the result of this, the god Ra ordered his companion gods henceforth to regard the pig as an abominable animal. (G. E. II:368.)
C. the scorpion is frequently depicted on the monuments; it is generally
associated with the powers of evil, but sometimes the goddess Isis is represented
with a scorpion on her head. This, however, means that the goddess had overcome
the evil represented by the scorpion, for it was quite common, both in Egypt
and in Greece, to affix to the deities symbols of the enemies which they had
vanquished. Scorpions are frequently mentioned in the Word, and by them and
their poisonous tails are
p. 58 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
signified "adroit reasonings from falsities through which they persuade and thus cause injury." (A. C. 10071.) "By a scorpion is signified a deadly persuasion. For a scorpion, when it strikes a man, induces a stupor on his members, and if the wound is not healed it causes death." (A. R. 425, 428.)
D. the crocodile, like the scorpion, was naturally regarded as the incarnation of falsity and evil, of death and all the powers of darkness. Owing originally to the fear which it inspires, it afterwards came to be regarded as sacred in some districts in Egypt, while diligently hunted in other, often neighboring districts. This sometimes led to bloody naval combats between the worshippers and the hunters of the crocodiles. As to their signification we learn that "they who are in falsities from evil appear as basilisks and crocodiles," (A. R. 601). "In the Word, the deceitful are signified by crocodiles." (Ibid. 624.)
12. FABULOUS AND COMPOSITE ANIMALS.
Our account of the symbolic animals would not be complete without a brief
consideration of a purely mythological and representative class of beasts, such
as the phoenix, the "Set"-animal, the hell-dog, and a great variety
of composite animals. These fabulous forms are not mere figments of imagination,
but are actually to be seen in the world of spirits, and they were seen there
by those in the Ancient Church who still possessed the open eye. We read that
"in the world of spirits there are presented to view animals such as horses,
oxen, sheep, etc., together with other animals of various kinds, sometimes such
as are never seen on the earth but are only representative." (A. C. 2179.)
All these animals are spiritual appearances formed out of the sphere-substances
of the spirits and they vary according to the affections of the spirits.
"There are as many spheres as there are affections, and compositions of
affections," (A. C. 1505), and hence also "there are seen composite
animals like those seen by the prophets and described in the Word." (A.
E. 1200.) Swedenborg states that he had seen there such composite animals, as,
for instance, "a monster rising out of the earth, with seven heads, his
feet like those of a bear and his mouth like a lion's, altogether
p. 59 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
like the beast which is described in Apoc. 13: 1, 2." (A. R. 926.) A person who in the life of the body had studied the things of the memory only was seen at a distance as an animal combining in parts the forms of a horse, a cow, and a dog. (S. D. 4011.)
A. The phoenix or "Bennu" was a fabulous bird well known throughout
the ancient world, but originating probably in Egypt.
B. The "set"-animal is so called partly because it is unlike any
known beast, and partly because it is always associated with
The combined figures of set and the hawk-headed horus, (Fig. 4, plate
10), strikingly represent the contrast of light and
C. The hell-dog was a composite animal having the head of a crocodile, the
forequarters of a wolf, or perhaps lion, and the hindquarters of an hippopotamus,
the whole nevertheless leaving the impression of a barking dog. (Fig. 6, plate
10; G. E. II:
p. 60 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
p. 61 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE SACRED ANIMALS
144.) Its name in Egyptian is "Am-mit," and this name is said to mean "the eater of the dead," or "the devourer of the unjustified," (Budge, G. E. I: 60), because it was supposed to devour the souls of all those who had been weighed and found wanting in the judgment hall of Osiris. (Ib. II: 146.) In the judgment scenes it is always depicted as "the Accusing Spirit" seated on the closed portals of hell and reporting to Osiris all the evil things that could be found against the spirit who is being weighed, while on the other hand all the good things the man had done in his natural life are represented by cakes, fruits, onions, etc., piled on an altar in front of the merciful god. It is one of those frequent Egyptian illustrations that would seem to have the power to convince even a hardened sceptic.
D. Beside the fabulous animals mentioned above there are a great number of
other composite beasts of the most curious combinations, such as the leopard
with the head of a serpent, (Fig. 5, plate 10; G. E. I: 59), a winged lion with
the head of an eagle, the indescribable animal called "Sak," (Fig.
8, plate 10; G. E. I:60), and the leopard with a human head and a pair of wings
in the middle of his back. (Fig. 7, plate 10.) This latter brings strongly to
mind one of the four beasts seen by Daniel, which was "like a leopard which
had four wings upon his back," the leopard signifying the Word falsified,
and the wings signifying the confirmations of falsity by means of perverted
intellectual reasonings. (A. R. 575; A. E. 780.)
p. 62 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT
"From ancient times the Egyptians knew Jehovah, because the Ancient Church had been in Egypt." (A. C. 7097.) Under the name jehovah the one true God was worshipped universally in the Ancient Church; to the men of the Silver Age in its purity this name was the Divine name, and to them it involved the whole of all theology and religion. But so holy is this name, so replete with Divine arcana, that "when Divine worship had been perverted in Egypt, they were no longer permitted to worship Jehovah, and at last not even to know that Jehovah was the God of the Ancient Church, lest they should profane the name of Jehovah," (A. C. 7097; 5702), as is evident from the reply of Pharaoh to Moses: "Who is the Jehovah, whose name I must hear, to send away Israel? I know not the Jehovah." (Ex. 5:2.)
This loss of the knowledge of Jehovah must have taken place at a very early period of the decline of the Ancient Church in Egypt, -- probably in pre-dynastic times, for the most ancient records that have been deciphered bear no trace of the name. There are, indeed, certain minor divinities whose names faintly resemble the sacred name, but these have been so variously trans-scribed by the Egyptologists that the connection must be considered doubtful.
But while the knowledge of the sacred name seems to have been utterly lost even among the highest ranks of the Egyptian hierarchy, a knowledge of the Unity of the Godhead lingered with the priesthood even to the end of the nation.
In the esoteric religions of antiquity this knowledge was guarded with jealous care by those who had been initiated into the sacred mysteries, while the common people, more and more tending to sensualism and superstition, were suffered to remain in gross polytheism, lest ignorance and vice should profane the last remnants of spiritual truth. Such, at least, was the pretence of the hierarchy.
Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, in his manners and customs of
p. 63 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, EGYPTIAN MONOTHEISM
the ancient egyptians, was, perhaps, the first Egyptologist who clearly recognized the essential monotheism of the Egyptian religion. "The priests who were initiated into, and who understood the mysteries of their religion, believed in one Deity alone; and, in performing their adorations to any particular member of their Pantheon, addressed themselves directly to the sole ruler of the universe, through that particular form.
"Each form, (whether called Ptah, Amun, or any other of the figures representing various characters of the Deity), was one of His attributes; in the same manner as our expressions 'the Creator,' 'the Omniscient,' 'the Almighty,' or any other title, indicate one and the same Being; and hence arose the distinction between the great Gods and those of an inferior grade, which were physical objects, as the sun and the moon; or abstract notions of various kinds, as 'valor,' 'strength,' 'intellectual gifts,' and the like, personified under different forms.
"Upon this principle it is probable that gods were made of the virtues, the senses, and, in short, every abstract idea which has reference to the Deity or man; and we may therefore expect to find, in this catalogue, intellect, might, wisdom, creative power, the generative and productive principles, thought, will, goodness, mercy, compassion, divine vengeance, prudence, temperance, fortitude, fate, love, hope, charity, joy," etc. (Vol. 4, pp. 172-I73-)
"Though the priests were aware of the nature of their gods, and all those who understood the mysteries of the religion looked upon the Divinty as a sole and undivided Being, the people, not admitted to a participation of those important secrets, were left in perfect ignorance respecting the objects they were taught to adore; and every one was not only permitted, but encouraged, to believe the real sanctity of the idol, and the actual existence of the god whose figure he beheld." (Ibid. p. 175.)
"It is still doubtful if the Egyptians really represented, under any
form, their idea of the unity of the Deity; it is not improbable that His name,
as with the Jews, was regarded with such profound respect as never to be uttered;
and the Being of Beings, 'who is, and was, and will be,' was, perhaps, not even
referred to in the sculptures, nor supposed to be approachable, unless under
p. 64 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, EGYPTIAN MONOTHEISM
the name and form of some deified attribute, indicative of His power and connection with mankind." (Ibid. p. 178.)
Dr. Wallis Budge, after showing that the Egyptian term seklier neter, (in the Prisse Papyrus), should be translated "Divine Providence" and not "fate," asks this question: "Who then is the God whose power and providence and government of the world are here proclaimed? The answer to this question is that the God referred to is God, whose power men of the stamp of Ptah-hetep discerned even at the remote period in which he lived, and whose attributes they clearly distinguished; He was in their opinion too great to be called anything else but God, and though, no doubt, they offered sacrifices to the gods in the temple of Memphis, after the manner of their countrymen, they knew that God was an entirely different Being from those 'gods.' " (G. E. I:126.)
"We have no means of saying whether this idea of oneness or unity was first applied to Ra or to some more ancient god such as Horus, but it is, in the writer's opinion, quite certain that it existed in the minds of the educated classes of Egypt in the earliest times, and that in all periods it was the central point of their conceptions of God." (Ibid. p. 133.)
According to the late Prof. C. T. Tiele in his histoire comparee des ANCIENNES
religions, the Symbolism of Egypt "being misunderstood by the ignorant
folk, produced serious errors, and the forms under which the Egyptians represented
their gods, and which are repellant to our refined tastes, answered in their
minds to an idea of divinity which was purer and more spiritual than the noble
and beautiful forms of the gods of Hellas. The ignorant felt no repugnance to
monstrous representations be-cause they appeared as representations having a
profound and mysterious meaning; the learned understood the meanings of the
symbols, and paid their adoration through them to the truth of which they were
the coverings. In other words, the uneducated loved a plurality of gods, while
the priests and educated classes who could read and understand books, adopted
the idea of One God, the creator of all beings in heaven and on earth, who,
for want of a better word, were called 'gods.' "
p. 65 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, EGYPTIAN MONOTHEISM
De Rouge, writing in the revue archeologique, (1860, p. 73), says: "The unity of a supreme and self-existent Being, his eternity, his almightiness, and eternal reproduction thereby as God; the attributing of the creation of the world and of all living beings to the supreme God; the immortality of the soul, completed by the dogma of punishments and rewards; such is the sublime and persistent base which, notwithstanding all deviations and all mythological embellishments, must secure for the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians a most honorable place among the religions of antiquity."
Mariette Bey, in his description of the principal monuments at the Egyptian Museum at Bulak near Cairo, says: "At the head of the Egyptian pantheon soars a God who is One, immortal, uncreated, invisible and hidden in the inaccessible depths of his essence; he is the creator of the heavens and of the earth; he has made everything which exists, and nothing has been made without him; such is the God who is reserved for the initiated of the Sanctuary." (notice, 1876, p. 17.)
Chabas states that "the One God, who existed before all things, who represents the pure and abstract idea of divinity, is not clearly specialized by any one single personage of the vast Egyptian pantheon. Neither Ptah, nor Seb, nor Thoth, nor Ra, nor Osiris, nor any other God, is a personification of him at all times; but of these sometimes one and at other times another is invoked in terms which assimilate these intimately with the supreme type; the innumerable gods of Egypt are only attributes and different aspects of this unique type." (calendrier des jours, p. 107.)
Perhaps the greatest of all the supporters of the doctrine of ancient Egyptian
monotheism was the late Dr. Brugsch, "who assigned to the word for God,
neter, the highly philosophical meaning which has been quoted above.
Accepting the view, which the Egyptians themselves held, that the gods were
only names of the various attributes of the One God, he searched through the
' religious literature and collected from the hymns, prayers, etc., which were
addressed to the various gods and goddesses in various periods, a number of
epithets and attributes which were bestowed upon them by their worshippers.
These extracts he
p. 66 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, EGYPTIAN MONOTHEISM
classified, and when they were grouped and arranged they formed a description of God such as it would be difficult to find a parallel for outside of the Holy Scriptures." (Budge, G. E. I:140.)
"Whence came the Egyptian conception of monotheism, or when it first sprang up, cannot be said, but in its oldest form it is coeval with the dynastic civilization of Egypt at least, and it may well date from far earlier times. The monotheistic idea is not the peculiar attribute of any one people or period. It may seem unnecessary to discuss Egyptian monotheism at such lengths, but the matter is one of great interest and importance because the literature of Egypt proves it to have been in existence in that country for more than three thousand five hundred years before Christ; in fact, Egyptian monotheism is the oldest form of monotheism known to us." (Ibid. p. 145.)
"The Egyptians, after the period of the IVth Dynasty, were the victims of conservatism and conventionality, and, we might also add, of the priesthoods of Heliopolis and Thebes; but for these powerful and wealthy confraternities the history of the religion of Egypt would have been very different. The conception of monotheism, which is so clearly expressed in the moral precepts of the Early Empire, would have developed rapidly, and in its growth it would have obliterated the remains of the old and obsolete faiths which had crystallized, and which existed in layers side by side with the higher doctrine. But the decay which set in after the IVth Dynasty, and which stifled the development of painting and sculpture, also attacked the religion of the country ; and the noble conception of monotheism, with its cult of the unseen, was unable to compete with the worship of symbols which could be seen and handled." (Ibid. p. 154.)
In view of the almost unanimous testimony of the Egyptologists as to the
original and essential monotheism of the Egyptian religion, the gross idolatry
of the people as a whole, and the complicated polytheism of the Pantheon seem
all the more amazing. In no other nation of the ancient world do we find such
a bewildering multitude of divinities. "One would think," says Maspero,
"that the country had been inhabited for the most part by gods, and contained
just sufficient men and animals to satisfy
p. 67 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, EGYPTIAN MONOTHEISM
the requirements of their worship." (history of egypt, I. p. 108.) The people of Egypt represented the scientific mind in the Ancient Church, and this mind, being external, delights in a multiplicity of forms, of fixed and well defined systems, which, when once adopted, are adhered to with the greatest tenacity. The theology of the Ancient Church was thus formulated and systematized in Egypt more than in any other country. The essentials, the qualities, attributes and various operations of the one God were here enumerated and arranged in precise systems, and in a great variety of such systems; each quality was marked with a distinct name and received a distinct embodiment in some representative image, and these masses and images remained as objects of worship long after the internal ideas had been perverted and forgotten.
Again, the number of the deities were greatly increased by the habit of adding to their original appellations the names of the localities where temples had been erected for their worship. New divinities arose also by the combination of the names of several older ones. The rival priesthoods in Heliopolis, in Memphis, in Thebes, and other cities, insisted upon their own conceptions of the old ideas under special favorite names, systems and images. The veneration of departed saints and heroes added to the number of deities. A highly developed spirit-worship followed as a result of open intercourse with spirits among the Egyptian magicians. Foreign gods were gradually introduced by successive invaders from Syria and Ethiopia, and to add to the confusion, nature-worship arose as the spiritual correspondences were forgotten, demanding the adoration of natural auras and elements, the sun, the moon and the hosts of the sky, the four quarters of heaven, the Nile, the desert, etc., not to speak of all the sacred animals.
When, in the year 1890, the present writer first essayed to unravel the intricate
coil's of Egyptian mythology, -- having tried his hand, as we believe with some
success, in the simpler systems of the Assyro-Babylonian-Canaanitish Pantheon,
-- *he was forced
*See new church life, 1889, pp. 141, 157, 177, 191; and 1890, pp. 39, 59, 104, 139.
p. 68 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, EGYPTIAN MONOTHEISM
to give up the attempt an account of the apparent hopelessness of discovering
any coherent system of theology in the mazes of Egyptian polytheism which were
continually growing more confusing on account of the habit of each Egyptologist
to give a new reading to most of the divine names. The effort, therefore, was
permitted to rest for some twenty years, but in the meantime light was received
in the interpretation of the Graeco-Roman system of mythology,** which we gradually
recognized as being very closely related to the Egyptian system. We must acknowledge
our indebtedness, also, to the epoch-making work of Dr. Wallis Budge, the gods
of the egyptians, which has summarized and greatly simplified the Egyptian Pantheon.
For the sake of convenience we have adopted the nomenclature introduced by Dr.
*See new church life, 1905, pp. 21, 79, 145, 270, 403, 593, 647; 1906, pp. 211, 347, 533; 1907, pp. 27, 83, 160; 1909, p. 351.
p. 69 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT
The Pantheon of Egypt numbers about eight hundred deities, but out of this chaotic multitude there are only about two dozen that stand forth in very distinctive outlines. These group themselves as follows, according to their emblems and attributes, in correspondence with the essential ideas of the Theology of the Ancient Church as understood in Egypt.
1. khnemu. Symbol, the ram = the Infinite Father, the Divine Esse.
2. amen. Symbol, the two long plumes = the Divine Form, the Divine Existere.
3. ra. Symbol, the solar disk = the Divine within the spiritual sun.
4. ptah. Symbol, the pillar of degrees = the Logos, Divine Revelation.
5. thoth. Symbols, the Ibis and writing tablet = the written Word.
6. horus the elder. Symbol, the hawk = the Divine Proceeding, before the Incarnation.
7. khensu. Symbol, the moon = the Divine Truth as the proceeding Divine.
' 8. osiris. Symbols, the staff and the whip = the glorified Human, the promised Messiah, judging the quick and the dead. 9. horus the younger. Symbol, the infant lock of hair = the Holy Spirit proceeding from the glorified Human.
10. anubis. Symbol, the jackal = resurrection after death.
11. khem, the one-armed mummy with a whip = Ham, father of Mizraim and ancestral god of Egypt.
12. aten. Symbol, the solar disk with rays ending in hands = the "Adonai" of the Hebrews.
13. bes, a grotesque figure, with a harp = the god of mirth.
14. set. Symbol, the black tapir = the evil power.
p. 70 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, THE EGYPTIANPANTHEON
15. Isis, the wife of Osiris. Symbol, a throne = the Celestial Kingdom and the Internal Church.
16. nephthys, the associate wife of Osiris. Symbol, a house = the Spiritual Kingdom and the External Church.
17. satet, the wife of Khnemu. Symbol, the Upper Crown = celestial good; identical with Isis.
18. anqet, second wife of Khnemu. Symbol, a cap of feathers; identical with Nephthys.
19. mut, the wife of Amen. Symbol, the vulture = the universal motherhood of Heaven and the Church.
20. maat, the wife of Ptah. Symbol, the single feather = spiritual good, the affection of truth in general.
21. hathqr, the goddess of love and beauty. Symbol, the cow -- natural good, conjugial love.
22 bast, Symbols, the lioness and the basket = the good of charity in general.
23. neith. Symbols, the bow and the shuttle ,= the good of faith in general.
24. taurt, the wife of Set. Symbol, the female hippopotamus = the love of
p. 71 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT
As the supreme head of the Egyptian Pantheon we recognize without hesitation the divinity with the head of a ram, whose name has been variously rendered as Khnemu, Chnumu, Chnu-phis, Kneph, Neph, with several other variants. According to inscriptions quoted by Dr. Brugsch,* "the most glorious image of the Divine in Elephantine is the ram's headed Chnumu, the Former of man, the creator of the gods, he who first shaped this earth with his hands, he who is his own origin, the original creative power, primeval fountain of all that is, source of all being, the father of the gods;" and the inscription further describes him as "the god Nun," i. e. the watery or elementary first substance out of which all forms, heavenly or earthly, have been made. He is "the maker of things which are, creator of things which shall be, the source of things which exist, Father of fathers, and Mother of mothers." He "made the first egg, [Chaos], from which sprang the sun, and he made the gods, and fashioned the first man upon a potter's wheel, and he continued to 'build up' their bodies and maintain their life." (Budge, gods of the egyptians, II: 50, 51).
According to all the authorities the name of Khnemu is connected with a root
meaning "to join, to write," and also "to build," -- a derivation
which suggests the idea of the Infinite Esse, the Divine Love, as the first
and continuous Divine substance, in which all things are infinitely and
yet distinctly one, -- the one and only substance out of which all finite forms
have been created or built. This original substance is represented by the water-jug
which forms the first and only essential component part of the hieroglyphics
which form the name of Khnemu, -- the others having a purely alphabetic value,
the owl standing for the letter M, and the chicken for U. As the god of the
primeval water or creative element, he is sometimes
*religion und mythologie der alten egypter, part II, pp. 297-311.
p. 72 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, KHNEMU, THE DIVINE ESSE
seen with outstretched hands over which water is flowing, and sometimes he is seen with the water jug above the horns of the ram.
Ancient as well as modern students of the Egyptian religion unite in ascribing to Khnemu the attributes of primeval
creative power. Porphyry states that this god "is represented with an
egg proceeding out of his month, and out of this egg proceeds another god, named
Ptah." (Wilkinson, manners and customs, IV : 240.) "The inhabitants
of the Thebais," says Plutarch, "worship their god Khneph alone, whom
they look upon, as without beginning, so without end." (Ibid, 238.)
p. 73 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, KHNEMU, THE DIVINE ESSE
kinson regards him as identical with "the Spirit of God which moved
upon the face of the waters," (Ibid, 237), and Wallis Budge describes
him as "the god who existed before anything else was, who made himself,
who was the creative power which made and which sustains all things" (G.
E. II: 42.) "We have seen that the spirit or soul of Khnemu pervaded all
things, and that the god whose symbol was a ram was the creator of men and gods,
and in connection with this must be noted the fact that, together with Ptah,
he built up the edifice of the material universe according to the plans which
he had made under the guidance and direction of Thoth," (Ibid, p.
54), -- that is, according to the Word which was in the beginning with God.
The invariable symbol of Khnemu is the ram, which, as the father of the flock,
represented the supreme Fatherhood of the Divine Itself, the Divine Esse. In
order to represent this inmost Divine as being in itself invisible and incomprehensible,
the body of Khnemu was painted a dark blue; and in order to signify that this
inmost Divine is the Divine Celestial itself, or the Divine Love, the head of
the ram wears the crown of Upper Egypt alone.
p. 74 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT
AMEN OR AMEN-RA, THE DIVINE EXISTERE.
In Amen or Amen-Ra, the great god of Thebes, we have a clear-cut conception, easily distinguished and interpreted. The very first glance at his strong manly figure, -- always depicted in an attitude of stepping forth, and always wearing the "ureret" crown of two lofty plumes towering from his head-dress, -- im-
presses the beholder with the idea of something Divine standing forth.
Sometimes he is seen with the head of a ram, to indicate his close relation
to the Infinite itself as represented by Khnemu; sometimes with the head
of a hawk, to show his relation to the Divine Proceeding represented by Horus;
but always he is wearing the two plumes, in alternate sections colored
p. 75 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, AMEN OR AMEN-RA, THE DIVINE EXISTERE
red, blue and green; and it is said in the book of the dead, (chapter 17:30), that "the plumes upon the head of Amen-Ra are Isis and Nephthys," and again, "his two eyes are the two plumes which are upon his head."
A feather, as we have shown, was the universal Egyptian emblem of Truth, and the two great feathers or plumes of Amen-Ra represent to our mind the two great truths or doctrines of good and of truth, of charity and of faith, which proceed from the Divine Wisdom of the Lord. These two, in their three degrees, (the colored sections), make the whole of the Word, and in their reception by the angels they constitute the two kingdoms of heaven, (Isis and Nephthys). And Amen-Ra himself, -- whose body is often colored light blue, like the Brahman Vishnu, as if to indicate his exalted and heavenly character, -- is a striking representation of the Divine in its first Standing Forth out of the Infinite, the Divine in its first Form and Manifestation, in other words, the Divine Existere, the Divine Spiritual itself. This interpretation is supported not only by his distinctiv symbol, the two feathers, but also by the meaning of his name and by the fundamental characteristics attributed to him in the inscriptions.
The name amen, (as a Sun-god he was called Amen-Ra), is said to mean "what
is hidden," "what is not seen," and according to Dr. Budge "it
indicates the god which cannot be seen with mortal eyes, and who is invisible
as well as inscrutable, to gods as well as men." (G. E. II: 2). But according
to the same authority, the name is also connected with a root meaning "'to
abide, to be permanent,' and one of the attributes which were applied to him
was that of eternal." (Ibid.) All this agrees with the character
of Amen-Ra as the Divine Form or Existere, which in itself is Infinite
and therefore "hidden," yet in its proceeding becomes manifest as
the Eternal Form, the Divine Human from eternity. In the hymns to Amen-Ra we
find the following expressions: "Homage to thee, O Amen-Ra, who dost rest
upon Maat [Truth]. . . . Thou are unknown, and no tongue hath power to declare
thy similitude; only thou thyself [canst do this]. . . . Thou are the lord of
p. 76 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, AMEN OR AMEN-RA, THE DIVINE EXISTERE
telligence, and knowledge is that which proceedeth from thy mouth. . . . Hail, thou form who art one, thou creator of all things; hail, thou only one, thou maker of things which exist. . . . Thou art the Beautiful Face which gladdeneth the breast. Thou art the Form of forms, with a lofty crown." (G. E. II: 10, 11.)
And in other papyri we read: "This holy god, the lord of all the gods, Amen-Ra, . . . the first Divine substance which gave birth unto the other two Divine substances! The Being through whom every god hath existence, the one one who hath made everything which hath come into existence since primeval times when the world was created; the Being whose births are hidden, whose evolutions are manifold, and whose growths are unknown; the holy Form, beloved, terrible, and mighty in his risings; . . . the terrible one of the double Divine Face; the Divine Aged one; the Divine Form, who dwelleth in the forms of all the gods. . . . Though he can be seen in form, and observation can be made of him at his appearance, yet he cannot be understood." (Ibid, pp. 13-15.)
Equally distinct is the idea of Eternity which is attributed to Amen-Ra: "Thou dost travel through untold spaces millions and hundreds of thousands of years; . . . the everlasting one who cometh and hath his might; who bringeth the remotest limit of eternity; . . . who maketh decrees for millions of double millions of years; . . . who hath formed eternity and everlastingness." (Ibid.) In this connection, and when comparing Khnemu with Amen-Ra, we call to mind the teaching of the Heavenly Doctrine that "by the Infinite the angels understood the Divine Esse, and by the Eternal the Divine Exis-tere." (D. P. 48; T. C. R. 31; A. E. 972).
A highly significative scene which we here reproduce, (from G. E. II:17),
represents Amen-Ra under two forms standing back to back, -- the one form, with
the head of a ram, facing inward, while the other form, with the plumed head
of a man, faces outward. We have here a wonderful representation of the Esse
and the Existere, the Infinite and the Eternal, and the picture strongly reminds
us of Swedenborg's descrip-
p. 77 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, AMEN OR AMEN-RA, THE DIVINE EXISTERE
tion of "the Nexus" and the First Natural Point, in the work on the infinite and in the principia, -- that first and only Form of forms which is "infinite on one side and finite on the other," "the first Divine Substance which gave birth unto the other two Divine substances," -- the first and the second finite! This grand conception, which forms the very crux of the whole doctrine of creation, was not absolutely original with Swedenborg, but was vaguely known also to the Greek philosophers, who undoubtedly derived the idea from Egypt and thus from the theology and cosmic philosophy of the Ancient Church.
p. 78 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT
Very closely connected with Amen, and almost undistinguish-able from him as to general attributes, is the great and ancient deity known as Ra, who, like Amen, is generally represented in the human form, with the heavily bearded face of a man, though he is often seen with the head of hawk. His one distinctive emblem is the large, red solar disk above his head, with a royal serpent entwined about the sun; the body itself of Ra
is usually painted red. The centre of his worship was the ancient city of
an, the Hebrew on, a few miles to the northeast of Cairo. The Egyptians also
called it Pa Ra, the "city of the Sun," which the Hebrews translated
into Bethshemech and the Greeks into Heliopolis. Here was the greatest university
and theological school in all Egypt, and here was kept the bull Mnevis, sacred
to Ra; this place, also, was the supposed birth-
p. 79 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, RA, THE SPIRITUAL SUN
place of the mythical bird Phoenix, which represented the daily death and re-birth of the sun.
With the exception of Osiris, none of the Egyptian gods enjoyed as general a worship as Ra, who seems to be the leading representative of the supreme Being, although he was not regarded as the supreme Being himself, and in some respects appears to have been inferior to Khnemu, Amen and Osiris. Like them he was termed the creator of gods and men, the maker of heaven, the earth and the lower world, source of all life and light, the personification of goodness and truth, the eternal opponent of darkness and evil. As Dr. Budge remarks, "there is scarcely an attribute of importance ascribed to our God, for which there is no equivalent in the hymns and texts which relate to Ra." (G. E. I:342).
The reason for this universality of Divine attributes ascribed to Ra, and the merging with him of almost every other deity, is to be found, we believe, in the root meaning of his name. Attempts have been made to derive the name from roots signifying "to make to be," "operative and creative power," etc., but most of the Egyptologists admit the name to be of unknown origin, and materialistic interpreters such as Maspero and Wiedemann, insist that "it means the sun and nothing more," but they refrain from telling us the origin of the word for the sun, (ra). But knowing as we do that the Egyptians did not possess the sound of L in their language, but always pronounced it R, we feel convinced that the name ra is nothing but the Egyptian form of the Hebrew el or the Assyrian ilu, both of which involve the root meaning of strength and power, and stand for the general idea of "God."
That Ra was a sun-god, and was identified with the sun of the natural world,
we freely admit, but to the Egyptians the natural sun itself was but the chief
mundane representative of the spiritual Sun, "the sun of the intellectual
world," as Plato terms it. And as they knew this higher sun to be the first
proceeding or immediate encompassing sphere of the God-man in its midst, so
Ra became identified with the spiritual Sun and with the idea of God as a Man
within it. His symbols, the red solar disk with encompassing serpent, signify
the Divine Love,
p. 80 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, RA, THE SPIRITUAL SUN
surrounded by the Divine Wisdom. As the Divine Man within the spiritual Sun, Ra is represented with the head of a man; as the first proceeding from the God-man, he is represented with the hawk's head of Horus, and in each case he stands for the general idea of "God."
That the Egyptians were well aware of the existence of a spiritual Sun, is abundantly evident from direct statements in their sacred texts, and is self-evident also from symbolic representations too numerous for references. We need call to mind only the double suns, one nether and one upper, which are to be
seen on almost every atef crown, (the white crown of Upper Egypt). As a final and convincing proof we reproduce here a figure of the upper Sun, inflowing into the lower one, as found in Maspero's history of egypt, vol. I, p. 148. The two bird-men, seen at each side, represent the souls of the blessed, in an attitude of adoration.
In regard to the sun-worship of the Egyptians we learn in the Heavenly Doctrine
that "the Ancient Church understood nothing else by the sun than the Lord
and the Divine Celestial of His Love, and, therefore, they had the rite of praying
p. 81 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, RA, THE SPIRITUAL SUN
the rising of the sun, not even thinking of the sun at that time. But their posterity, after they had lost this knowledge, began to worship the sun itself, and the moon; and this worship spread to many nations, to such an extent that they dedicated temples and set up pillars [obelisks] to them; and as the sun and the moon then took on an opposite meaning, they now signified the love of self and the love of the world, which are directly contrary to celestial and spiritual loves." (A. C. 2441; A. E. 401).
In Egypt, according to Wilkinson, (vol. 4, p. 210), "the sun was both a physical and metaphysical deity, and under these two characters was worshipped as Ra and Amen-Ra: the real sun the ruler of the world in the firmament; and the ideal ruler of the universe as king of the Gods." And besides this, "it appears that the Egyptians made of the sun several deities: as, the Intellectual Sun, the physical orb, the cause of heat, the author of light, the power of the sun, the vivifying cause, the sun in the firmament, and the sun in his resting place" (Ibid, p. 299). The same enlightened Egyptologist emphatically declares: "I must, from the evidence before me, deny that physical agents constituted the principal deities of the Egyptians. If their metaphysical doctrines, divulged alone to the initiated, are not within our reach, sufficient is shown to convince us that the nature of the great gods was not derived from mere physical objects." (Ibid, pp. 292, 293). The fact is that the wiser ones amongst them did not at all worship, nor even think, of the physical sun, when adoring Ra or any other of the forms of the Sun-god, but all these were so many representations of the Divine Man who in ancient times revealed Himself within the sun of the spiritual world.*
Besides his character as the god of the Sun, Ra figures also as the king
or god of the most ancient times, the Golden Age in Egypt, even as Ouranos figures
in Graeco-Roman mythology. During his reign, long since vanished, "the
soil was more generous; the harvests -- without the laborer's toil -- were higher
*See further our paper on "The Sun of Heaven as represented in the Ancient Mythologies," in new church life, 1907, pp. 83, 160. 6
p. 82 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, RA, THE SPIRITUAL SUN
and more abundant, and when the Egyptians of the Pharaonic times wished to mark their admiration of any person or thing, they said that the like had never been known since the time of Ra." (Maspero, hist. egypt, vol. 1:229.) According to this original representation of Ra, we find in Egypt distinct traces of legends from the Ancient Word, referring to the fall of the Most Ancient Church, -- confused and tedious stories such as the Legends of Ra and Isis, describing in many words how Isis grew weary of men and was seized with the desire to rule over Ra in heaven, a power which could be obtained only by forcing the god to reveal his secret name. Ra, in the meantime, was growing old; his mouth ran, and the spittle fell upon the earth. Out of the mud resulting from the mixture Isis now shaped a serpent which she placed in the way of Ra. The god, bitten by the serpent, could find no relief until he had revealed his secret name to Isis, who then cured him by her magic formulas. (Wiedemann, religion of the ancient egyptians, pp. 54-58). It does not seem difficult to discern here the essential elements of the story in Genesis: the woman, her desire to know and be as God, and finally the serpent. Other stories, related in the book of the dead, allude to a myth in which Ra is said to have been mutilated by his son or grandson, Seb, even as Ouranos was mutilated by Kronos, (signifying that the Divine Truth of the Most Ancient Church was profaned by the Antediluvians). From the drops of blood which fell from Ra after his mutilation there arose a race of fearful giants known as the Ammiu, just as the Cyclops and Erinnyes arose from the blood of Ouranos. In another papyrus Seb is said to have been punished for this impious act by his son, Osiris, even as Kronos was overthrown by his son, Zeus. In the text Osiris states: "I, even I, am Osiris, who shut in his father, Seb, together with his mother, Nut, on the day of making the great slaughter," (Budge, G. E. II:99, 100).
In support of the same genealogical correlation we quote the following note
from Wiedemann (R. A. E. p. 32) "According to a remarkable cosmogonical
myth, at the beginning of the creation, after heaven and earth were uplifted
from out the
p. 83 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, RA, THE SPIRITUAL SUN
primeval waters, Ra produced his children Shu and Tefnut of his own body alone, without the cooperation of any goddess. From Shu and Tefnut were born Seb and Nut, and from these Osiris, Horus the Elder, Set, Isis, and Nephthys."
This genealogical descent of Osiris, and the stories concerning Ra and Seb,
are of the greatest importance in establishing the correlation of Egyptian with
Greek mythology, as may be seen from a comparison between the two family trees:
In the Greek genealogy there is no generation corresponding to the Egyptian
Shu and Tefnut, (by whom is probably represented the earlier posterity of the
Most Ancient Church), but even so conservative an Egyptologist as Dr. Brugsch
admits the striking correlation of the other generations of the two divine dynasties:
Ra = Ouranos, [the Most Ancient Church itself] ; Seb = Kronos or Saturn, [the
Titanic antediluvians] ; Osiris = Zeus or Jupiter, as Isis = Juno, [both of
them representing the Ancient Church]. That Ra afterwards became the chief representative
of the Lord in the spiritual Sun, may have been caused by a memory of the fact
that the man of the celestial church actually did worship the Lord as a Divine
Man surrounded by the Sun of heaven.
p. 84 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT, SATET, ANQET AND MUT .
Always associated with Khnemu, in the sacred triad worshipped especially in the island of Elephantine in Upper Egypt, there are two sister-goddesses named Satet and Anqet.
satet or sati, the principal wife of Khnemu, wears the crown of Upper Egypt alone, from which projects upward a pair of long and slender cow's horns. The distinctive hieroglyphic in her name is an arrow piercing the skin of an animal, and it is possible that this was intended to represent the faculty of celestial perception penetrating sensual appearances. According to Horapollo, (an Egyptian priest who wrote a treatise on the Hieroglyphics some time after the birth of the Lord), Satet represents heaven; and he adds the observation that "the Egyptians think it absurd to designate the heaven in the masculine, [as the Greeks do], but represent it in the feminine, inasmuch as the generation of the sun and the moon and the rest of the stars is perfected in it, which is the peculiar property of a female." (W. 4:268.) All the goddesses of Egypt represent Heaven and the Church, but Satet, as indicated by her crown, clearly stands for the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven, and consequently the Internal Church, which immediately receives the Divine Celestial represented by Khnemu.
anqet, (also called Anouke or Anukit), the second wife of Khnemu, is depicted
with a foreign-looking crown of feathers standing upright in a close ring. Her
name is said to be derived from a root meaning "to surround, embrace,"
and she is supposed to represent "the waters of the Nile which embrace,
nourish and fructify the fields." (G. E. II: 57) ; just as Satet is supposed
to represent "the Inundation of the Nile." But while in later ages
the spiritual correspondences were replaced by natural ones, the more ancient
ideas were distinctly internal. We learn that as Khnemu had two sister wives,
Satet and Anqet, so Osiris, (who is but another name for Khnemu, in a different
series), had two sister wives, Isis and Nephthys. Dr. Brugsch and Dr.
p. 85 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - SATET, ANQET AND MUT
p. 86 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - SATET, ANQET AND MUT
Budge agree in identifying Satet with Isis and Anqet with Nephthys. And as both Satet and Isis represent the Celestial Kingdom and the Internal Church, so Anqet and Nephthys both represent the Spiritual Kingdom and the External Church. (Compare Adah and Zillah, the two wives of Lamech; and Rachel and Leah, the two wives of Jacob.) That such is the signification of Anqet is indicated by the crown of feathers, by the meaning of her name "to surround," and by the determinative hieroglyphic of her name, a serpent, signifying "knowledge."
The female counterpart of Amen-Ra is known by the name of mut, (variously read Ament, Maut, or Tmau), a name which simply means "mother," and she was regarded as the great "world-mother" who conceived and brought forth all things that exist. Other goddesses, such as Isis, Nephthys, and others, are occasionally hailed as the "mother goddess," but Mut carried this title par excellence, and she had hardly any other attributes. Her distinctive symbol is the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, and the hieroglyphics constituting her name are a vulture, a female breast, an egg, and a sitting woman. She is often represented with large protruding wings on her arms, stretched out at full length at right angles from her body.
The Egyptologists say that this goddess "symbolized Nature, the
mother of all things," but a New Church student may venture to say that
she, the wearer of the double crown, represents Heaven as a whole,
as to both good and truth, and, in cosmic sense, that first and universal aura
which makes Heaven as a whole, and which constitutes that first passive, receptive
and reactive element in which and out of which all lower forms have been conceived
p. 87 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT
This interesting deity is considered one of the great primeval gods of Egypt, and from earliest times to the end of the nation his distinctive characteristics appear to have suffered no change. So great was the reverence paid to him throughout the land that the whole country became known as Het-ka-Ptah, "the house of the 'double' of Ptah," which by the Greeks was pronounced Aigyptos, and by us "Egypt," though originally it was only the name of the city of Memphis, the most ancient capital of the nation.
With singular unanimity all the Egyptologists agree that the name of Ptah,
(by the Greeks written "Pthah"), can be recognized, letter for letter,
in the well known Hebrew verb patach, "to open," "to begin,"
and derivatively, "to carve, to engrave, to make a sculpture." Each
of these meanings thoroughly supports our interpretation of the significance
of Ptah, who stands for the idea of Revelation, the Divine Word, the
creative Logos which was in the beginning with God. By it were all things
made that were made; by it the Infinite created, [in Hebrew bara, "carved"],
all things out of His own Divine substance, and by it He opens His Infinity
to His human creatures in representative types or letters which in ancient times
were carved upon tablets of stone. Ptah is generally represented as a man clothed
in a close-fitting garment or mummy shroud, with face and hands bare, while
on his head is a skull-cap without any crown or other emblematic ornaments.
He is sometimes seen standing, sometimes sitting on an ornamental chair or throne,
holding in one hand a roll of papyrus, and in the other a writer's pen ;* but
whether standing or sitting there is always beneath him a kind of pedestal,
the name of which is Moat, (= truth), "shaped like a cubit rod which
is the sign for truth and just measurement." (Wiedemann, p. 131.) When
standing he holds in his two hands the usual staff, com-
*"The writings of Ptah" are referred to in the book of the dead. g.E. i:502.)
p. 88 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - PTAH, THE DIVINE LOGOS.
p. 89 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - PTAH, THE DIVINE LOGOS.
bined with the anch and a miniature tet-pillar, and at his back there is again the tet-pillar with its three degrees, while from the back of his neck there extends into the highest degree of the tet-pillar the menat, formed like a pendant bell-shaped flower.
Every one of these emblems is full of significance, representing various truths of the Doctrine concerning the Word.
1). The close-fitting garment or mummy shroud represents the letter of the Word, in itself dead, while the naked face and hands represent the internal sense which in places is open even in the letter. The Assyrians and Babylonians in the same way represented the letter of the Word by their god Nebo.* The bald head with the skull-cap again represents the letter of the Word in which, as a whole, spiritual truths are not apparent, (compare the "bald head" of Elisha, who represents the letter of the Word).
2). The papyrus-roll and the writer's pen speak for themselves as signs of the written Word. The pedestal of "truth" also, is the self-evident emblem of the letter of the Word as the basis of the internal senses. The staff represents the Word as the "firmament" which confirms and supports the interior truth, while the anch in his hands is the universal emblem of spiritual life and holiness. Thus we find that the ancient Egyptians were well acquainted with the "New" Church Doctrine that the letter of the Word is the basis, firmament and containant of the internal sense, and that in it the Divine Truth is in its fulness, in its holiness and in its power.
3. The tet-pillar behind Ptah speaks volumes concerning that internal sense behind the letter which is contained in a series of three successive degrees, while the menat, -- the emblem of conjunction and delight, -- is a symbol of the affection and delight which is extended especially to those who enter into the inmost sense of the Word, -- the sense which treats of uses, of goods, of love to the neighbor and to the Lord, and which like a flower exhales the fragrant delight of perception.
Porphyry states that Ptah came forth from an egg which issued
*In Hebrew, nebu, a prophet, from naba, to bubble forth, to utter inspired sentences. The name is frequently used as part of personal names such as Nebuchadnezzar, Nabopolassar, etc.
p. 90 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - PTAH, THE DIVINE LOGOS.
from the mouth of Khnemu, and the monuments describe him as "the Lord of Truth;" "the very great god who came into being in the earliest time;" "the Father of the mighty fathers; Father of the beginning; he who created the sun-egg and the moon-egg;" he from whose eye the gods came forth, while men came forth from his mouth. Ptah is recognized as the primeval creative power; not such as the sun, for he is never represented with any solar emblems, "but as an abstract idea of intellectual power." A basrelief in the island of Philae shows him turning upon a potter's wheel a lump of clay, or, as others say, a chaos-egg, from which all things were made, just as Khnemu, Amen and Ra are represented in the same creative act. But their distinctive emblems show that the One Creator is thus variously represented as to His distinct essentials, just as a Newchurchman might, without contradicting himself, ascribe the act of Creation successively to the Divine Love itself, to the Divine Wisdom, to the spiritual Sun, and to the Word.
Regarded originally as the creative Logos, Ptah became gradually invested with the character of a demiurge and master architect and designer of everything created, as the chief god of all handicraft, the great artificer in metals, as smelter, caster, sculptor and engraver of all forms in the universe. By the Greeks he was identified with Hephaistos or Vulcan, (= Tubal-cain, the "loud-sounding smith," the "instructor of every artificer in brass and iron"), but Hephaistos was a very subordinate deity as compared with Ptah, and Wiedemann shows that "Ptah has no essential connection whatever with Hephaistos," (R. A. E., p. 137), unless it be, as he suggests, that the name of Hephaistos was originally derived from Ptah.
Many of the Egyptologists recognize the close relation of Ptah with the Ibis-headed
god Thoth. The attributes and associations of the two are, indeed, very similar.
Ptah like Thoth, figures as the scribe of the gods, and like him is called "Lord
of moat," i. e., of "truth." The goddess Maat, the wife
of Thoth, is also said to be the wife of Ptah, and Dr. Budge comes very close
to the true interpretation of the two deities when he states that "Thoth
was in reality only a personification of the intelligence of Ptah." (G.
E. i:516.) For though both of them represent the Word, Thoth
p. 91 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - PTAH, THE DIVINE LOGOS.
more particularly stands for the understanding of the Word in its interior sense, as is evident from his emblems: the Ibis bird, the utchat eye, the crescent moon, etc.
The form of Ptah figures also in various combinations with other deities, forming new series of representations. Of these we will mention only two: Ptah-Tanen and Ptah-Seker-Asar.
Ptah-Tanen shows the mummied body of Ptah, with the ram's horns of Khnemu, the plumes of Amen, and the solar disk of Ra. The Egyptologists do not know the meaning of the word "Tanen," and are equally in the dark as to the significance of the composite deity himself; but, judging from the emblems on his head, we feel safe in suggesting that he represents the Divine Trinity of Esse, Existere and Procedere, the whole contained in the letter of the Word. (G. E. i:508.)
Another composite form is that of Ptah-Seker-Asar, or, as the Greek writers
name him, Phthah-Sokaris, whom Budge interprets as "a personification of
the union of the primeval creative power with a form of the inert powers of
darkness, or in other words, Ptah-Seker is a form of Osiris, that is to say,
of the night sun, or the dead Sun-god." (G. E. i:503). Now Seker* is a
somewhat obscure deity, represented by the mummied body of Ptah and the hawk's
head of Horus. But by the hawk the Egyptians invariably represented the Divine
Proceeding, and the combined forms of Ptah and Horus, (Ptah-Seker), clearly
signify the Word as the Divine Proceeding. And the further combination of Ptah-Seker
with the crown of Osiris, (the crown of Upper Egypt), represents the
combined idea of the Word as the Divine Proceeding fulfilled in the glorified
resurrection-body of the promised Redeemer. A curious form of Ptah-Seker-Asar
is that in which the triune god appears as a chubby infant or squat pigmy, with
a large bald head and thick limbs; on the top of his head he usually has a beetle,
but sometimes the plumes of Amen. "An examination of the variants of this
form proves that he was supposed to possess the creative power of Khepera, which
is symbolized by the beetle, and the youth and vigor of Harpocrates, [the
*His name still survices in the neighborhood of the vast necropolis of Memphis in the village of Saqqarah.
p. 92 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - PTAH, THE DIVINE LOGOS.
younger Horus], which is represented by the lock of hair on the right side
of his head; and as he sometimes stands upon a crocodile, and holds a serpent
in each hand, he must have possessed the powers of several of the great solar
gods. Ptah-Seker-Asar is, then, like Osiris, the type and symbol of the resurrection
from the dead, and he has been fittingly described as 'the triune god of the
resurrection.'" (Budge, G. E. i:507-508.) To us, however, this pigmy form,
which is also supposed to represent an embryo, signifies not only the
Logos as the first creative conatus, but also the same Logos as "the Only-begotten,"
who was born an infant on the earth and who by the might of His Innocence conquered
the powers of hell. As the Word incarnate He was born, and as the Word fulfilled
He arose from the dead, the triune God of the Resurrection, -- Ptah-Sek'er-Osiris,
-- to whom in the book of the dead is ascribed the double function of "opening
the mouth of the dead," and of "fashioning the new bodies in which
the souls of the dead were to live in the underworld." (G. E. i:5O1.) For
it is the Lord as the Word that opens heaven and bestows eternal life.
p. 93 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - BAST, THE AFFECTION OF GOOD
Among the Egyptian goddesses none except Isis and Hathor is of greater mythological importance than Bast, the lioness-headed counterpart of Ptah. It is under the name of Bast, (Basit, or Pasht), that she was worshipped as the goddess of peace in her special sanctuary at Bubastis, while in Memphis her name was Sekhet, and she there appears as a lioness-headed goddess of vengeance and war. It is generally admitted, however, that Bast and Sekhet are essentially one and the same divinity, though with apparently opposite attributes. According to Wiedemann, (religion of the ancient egyptians, p. 138), Sekhet "is one in nature with other feline-headed goddesses: the lioness-headed Tefnut, Mut of Thebes, Pakht of Speos, and Bast of Bubastis, -- all of whom represent the variable power of the Sun, from genial warmth to scorching heat." And Budge, though minutely differentiating between Sekhet and Bast, admits that "it is probable that Bast was a female counterpart of Ptah-Seker-Asar." (G. E. i:158.)
According to the wearisome monotone of the naturalistic school of interpretation,
which never can raise its eyes above the natural sun, Sekhet with her knives
personifies the fierce and violent heat of the natural sun because she
is said to destroy the souls of the wicked in the spiritual world (!);
while Bast, with her more ladylike emblems, personifies the more gentle heat
with encourages the growth of vegetation and "makes the human germ to grow
in the mother's womb." The trouble with these brilliant interpretations:
is that they make both Sekhet and Bast to be solar divinities, while Ptah, their
male counterpart, is decidedly and admittedly -- not a sun-god. But the difficulty
vanishes when it is seen that Ptah represents the Word and that both
Sekhet and Bast personify -- not mere natural temperature -- but spiritual heat
of the most sublime degree, the celestial love of the Word which on the one
hand bestows all growth in the internal life of re-
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p. 95 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - BAST, THE AFFECTION OF GOOD
generation, and on the other hand wages relentless warfare against all the powers of hell that oppose heavenly life.
According to the same stupid school of materialistic interpretation Bast was entitled "the lady of the East," because her principal shrine was situated in the Delta, on the eastern branch of the Nile, in the city of Pa-Bast, ("the city of Bast," known to the Hebrews as Pibeseth and to the Greeks as Bubastis.) But Bast was not called "lady of the East" from any such geographical limitations, -- for she was honored with an equal worship on the western bank of the Nile as on the eastern, -- but because the Egyptians knew that the East represented the celestial love of the Lord, just as they knew that the goddess Neith was called "lady of the West," because she represented the intellectual faith of the Church.
Bubastis, on the eastern branch of the Nile, was undoubtedly chosen as the principal shrine of the goddess in order to correspond to her general representation. Here she had a magnificent temple, (recently excavated by M. Naville), which in ancient times was visited by Herodotus, who describes the splendid annual festivals held in honor of Bast, when wealthy Egyptians gaily repaired to Bubastis in richly decorated boats to offer their gifts to the goddess, -- and also to bury there the carefully embalmed and bandaged corpses of their favorite cats, thousands of which have been found among the ruins of "Tel-Basta."
The earlier Egyptologists insisted that Bast herself was cat-headed, but this contention now appears to have been abandoned, for even a cursory glance at her various images shows that her head is indeed that of a lioness. As we have shown before in treating of the sacred animals, the cats became sacred to Bast not only because of their resemblance to a miniature lioness, but more especially because this goddess was identical with the Greek Hestia or Vesta, patroness of the sacred fire on the domestic hearth, to which, in ancient times as in modern, all tabbies were irresistibly attracted. The very name "Vesta," may have been derived from "Bast."
The name of Bast, as seems to have been definitely established, is derived
from the word bes, meaning "fire." Her image, like that of
Ptah, never wears a crown or head-dress of any sort, but
p. 96 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - BAST, THE AFFECTION OF GOOD
above her lioness' head there rises a royal serpent, while in her right hand she carries a musical instrument known as a sistrum, and on her left arm a basket.
All the emblems, attributes and characteristics of Bast, as well as the meaning of her name, point clearly to the conclusion that she represents something distinctly celestial, something of the will, of good, of affection, charity and love. We need no argument in proof of the assertion that the lion is the chief animal representative of the Lord in His Divine Omnipotence, and that the lioness consequently represents the celestial love of the Lord. This love is the inmost life of every heavenly affection, and hence we need not be surprised that Bast has been "identified" with a great number of other goddesses. As the special companion of Ptah -- the Word -- she clearly represents that inmost, and, therefore, celestial love of the Word which is the real love of the Lord. Bast, moreover, is said to be "the personification of the soul of Isis," (G. E. i: 447), and by Isis, as will be shown, is represented the Internal Church. It is the celestial love of the Word, the inmost and purest affection of the Divine Truth, that makes the very soul of the Internal Church.
The royal serpent on the head of Bast is the emblem of that simple and unadorned
wisdom which is the crown of this celestial love of the Word. The sistrum, as
a stringed instrument, is the Egyptian symbol for harmony, beauty, and delight,
and corresponds to the affection of truth. And the basket on her arm, bringing
good gifts to men, corresponds to the affection of good, the good will which
contains and carries the goods of celestial love. (A. C. 5144, 9996.) Such was
the ancient conception of that love which the Egyptians termed "lady of
the East," and to whom they prayed: "May she grant all life and power,
all health and joy of heart!"
p. 97 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT
"The character of Thoth," says Dr. Budge, "is a lofty and beautiful conception, and is, perhaps, the highest idea of deity ever fashioned in the Egyptian mind, which, as we have already seen, was somewhat prone to dwell on the material side of divine matters. Thoth, however, as the personification of the mind of God, and as the all-pervading and governing and directing power of heaven and earth, forms a feature of the Egyptian religion which is as sublime as the belief in the resurrection of the dead in a spiritual body, and as the doctrine of everlasting life." (G.E. i: 415.)
And Wilkinson, with a similar spiritual discernment, points out that "the very fact of a god being figured with a human body and the head of an ibis, might sufficiently prove the allegorical character of Thoth, or Mercury, the emblems of the communicating medium of the Divine Intellect, and suggest the impossibility of any other than an emblematic existence." (manners and customs, vol. 4, p. 171.) Thoth, "the god of letters and the patron of learning, was the medium of communication between the gods and mankind. It was through him that all mental gifts were imparted to man. He was, in short, a deification of the abstract idea of the intellect, or a personification of the intellect of the Deity." (Ibid. vol. 5, p. 9.) Plato, Plutarch and lambli-chus describe him as a ministering spirit, "carrying the prayers of mortals to heaven, and bringing down in return oracles and all other blessings of life." (Ibid. vol. 5, p. 10.)
Armed with the supporting opinions of authorities such as these, we do not
fear the accusation of "wild allegorizing" when concluding that Thoth
stands as the universal representative of the word as to its internal sense,
or, what is the same, the
p. 98 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - THOTH, THE ANCIENT WORD
p. 99 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - THOTH, THE ANCIENT WORD
only a personification of the intelligence of Ptah," (G. E. i: 516), i. e., the understanding of the Word. That this is the correct interpretation of the ibis-headed god, is proved further by all the emblems and attributes of Thoth.
The Egyptian name of this deity is Tehuti or Dhuti and we are assured that it is derived from the oldest known name of the ibis, tehu, with the termination ti, i. e., "belonging to the ibis." This etymology, however, is considered doubtful by other authorities, and it does not seem likely that any deity would be named after one of his emblems.
The ibis head is, par excellence, the characteristic emblem of Thoth and seems to signify "the scientific intellectual," (A. C. 1186), that is to say, the intellectual faculty of the Egyptian scientific mind. Sometimes the head is bare, but more often it is surmounted by the crescent moon and the sun-disk, or by the moon and a standing feather, or by the twisted horns of a ram with the Atef crown of Upper Egypt and the two suns; at times he is adorned with a triple crown, -- three Atefs standing side by side, which Dr. Brugsch tells us was known as the "Thoth crown," probably in reference to his title of "thrice great," -- trismegistos. The sun and the moon refer, of course, to the doctrine of charity and faith; the moon and the feather refer to faith and its understanding of truth; and the ram's horn with the Atef crown symbolize the good of Divine Love predominating in the internal sense of the Word.
In his hands the ibis-headed god sometimes holds the anch and the
staff which signify spiritual life and power in ultimates, while other representations
show him as "scribe of the gods," holding the writing-tablet and the
reed pen, or a long staff with little pegs all along one side, used for purposes
of counting. In front of him there is always the "symbolic eye," sometimes
two or four eyes, in various positions. Occasionally he is holding the Eye between
his two hands, or he is seen facing a large mirror with the Eye in the midst
of it, -- a very evident representation of the Word with its internal sense
as reflecting the face of God; or he is holding a bowl in which is seen an anch
enclosed on each side by a small staff, to signify the Word in the letter enclosing
the spirit and life within. Finally there is, as his in-
p. 100 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - THOTH, THE ANCIENT WORD
variable companion, the dog-headed ape standing before the god in an attitude of adoration, often holding the Eye in his hands, a symbol of the humble acknowledgment that a single-hearted person derives all genuine understanding from the Word in its internal sense.
Not the emblems alone confirm our interpretation of Thoth, but also all the attributes ascribed to him in ancient Egyptian literature. "Thoth, according to innumerable statements on the monuments, is 'the lord of the holy speech,' 'the one who is wise in the holy speech,' 'the speaker in the upper hemisphere,' 'the powerful speaker,' 'the one of a sweet tongue,' etc. He is the one who has bestowed speech and writing, for he is 'the lord of scripture, the lord of the papyrus, the king of books,' and his instruments are the ink-pot and the writing-tablet." (Brugsch, rel. und myth., p. 446.) All scribes regarded him as their patron and tutelary deity and invoked his aid in their labors. He himself is "the Scribe of the gods," "lord of writing," "master of the papyrus," "maker of the palette and the ink-jar," "the great god of words," "the lord of Divine words," "the lord of the words of God." (Budge, egyptian magic, p. 128.)
But he was not the lord of words alone, but of that which words stand for, or originally stood for, -- Truth, Divine Truth. "All the actions of Thoth 'rest upon the Truth;' he 'propitiates the gods by means of the Truth,' and 'he lives on (or in) the Truth.' As 'king of the Truth' and 'lord of the Truth,' he writes down the laws of the land and performs his office as judge of men and gods. In all his works and deeds the object of his efforts is the Truth, the same as the goddess maat, who on this account is his beloved sister and consort." (Brugsch, rel. und myth., p. 447.)
The "Johannine" doctrine of the creative Logos, by which were made
all things that were made, stands forth most distinctly in the Egyptian doctrine
concerning Thoth. "At the creation of the world it was Thoth who reduced
to words the will of the unseen and unknown creative Power, and who uttered
them in such wise that the universe came into being." (Budge, eg. magic,
p. 128.) "Lord of the voice, master of words and of books, possessor or
inventor of those magic writings which noth-
p. 101 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - THOTH, THE ANCIENT WORD
ing in heaven, or earth, or in Hades can withstand, . . . Thoth had accomplished the creation, not by muscular effort, but by means of formulas, or even of the voice alone, 'the first time' when he awoke in the Nu, for primeval chaos]. In fact, the articulate word and the voice were believed to be the most potent of creative forces, not remaining immaterial or issuing from the lips, but condensing, so to speak, into tangible substance, into bodies which were themselves animated by creative life and energy; into gods and goddesses who lived or who created in their turn." (Maspero, hist. of eg., vol. i, p. 208, 209.)
The power of Thoth as the creative Word, and as the "guide, philosopher and friend" of gods and man, is thus described by Dr. Budge in his gods of the egyptians, (vol. i:407-408). "Thoth was held to be both the heart and the tongue of Ra, that is to say, he was the reason and the mental power of the gods, and also the means by which their will was translated into speech; from one aspect he was speech itself, and in later times he may well have represented, as Dr. Birch said, the Logos of Plato. In every legend in which Thoth takes a prominent part, we see that it is he who speaks the word that results in the wishes of Ra being carried into effect, and it is evident that when once he had given the word of command, that command could not fail to be carried out by one means or the other. He spoke the words which resulted in the creation of the heavens and the earth; and he taught Isis the words which enabled her to revivify the dead body of Orisis in such wise that Orisis could beget a child by her; and he gave her the formulae which brought back her son Horus to life after he had been stung by a scorpion."
The great popularity of Thoth throughout the history of Egypt is easily understood
from the fact that he was preeminently the god of Science and of all sciences,
both human and Divine. Plato, in his phaedrus, relates that this god "according
to tradition, first discovered numbers and the art of reckoning, geometry and
astronomy, the games of chess and hazard, and likewise letters." And Brugsch
states that Thoth "taught a knowledge of the heavens; he taught astronomy
in connection with astrology, taught arithmetic and mathematics, the science
of measuring the earth and the fields, chorography,
p. 102 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - THOTH, THE ANCIENT WORD
botany, etc., and was regarded also as the inventor of the laws of musical harmony." (rel. und myth., p. 498.) In the inscriptions he is called "he who reckons in the heavens, the counter of the stars, the enumerator of the earth and what is therein." He "measured time, counted days, numbered the months and recorded the years," and in the Egyptian calendar the first month of the year, and the first day of each month, were named after Thoth. It was Thoth who had taught men arithmetic; Thoth had revealed to them the mysteries of geometry and mensuration; Thoth had constructed instruments and promulgated the laws of music; Thoth had instituted the art of drawing, and had codified its unchanging rules. He had been the inventor and patron of all that was useful and beautiful in the Nile valley, and the climax of his beneficence was reached by his invention of the principles of writing, without which humanity would have been liable to forget his teaching, and to lose the advantage of his discoveries." (Maspero, hist. of eg., vol. i, p. 314.) "His knowledge and powers of calculation measured out the heavens and planned the earth and everything which is in them; his will and power kept the forces in heaven and on earth in equilibrium ; it was his great skill in celestial mathematics which made proper use of the laws upon which the foundation and maintenance of the universe rested; it was he who directed the motions of the heavenly bodies and their times and seasons; and without his words the gods, whose existence depended upon them, could not have kept their place among the followers of Ra." (G. E. i:407-408.) And, finally, "his pre-eminence in magic naturally led to his becoming the god of medicine, for magic was fully as important to the medical practitioners of the Nile valley as knowledge of remedies." (Wiedemann, rel. of the anc. eg. p. 227.)
But more important than the invention of all these natural sciences were
the services of Thoth as the first teacher or reveal-er of all knowledge concerning
God and the worship of him. According to Diodorus, Thoth was "the first
who taught man the proper mode of approaching the Deity with prayer and sacrifice."
"He was the first to found a system of theology, and to organize a settled
government in the country. He estab-
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lished the worship of the gods, and made rules concerning the times and nature of their sacrifices; he composed the hymns and prayers which men addressed to them, and drew up liturgical works." (G. E. i:414.) Thoth is "the author of the Memorabilia of the gods, the composer of the hymns to the gods and of the curses against Set and his crew, and he is also the inventor of the magic formulas and talismans which give protection against the influence of evil. . . . All these attributes of the inscriptions are in thorough accord with the unanimous testimony of the classical writers, who describe the god Thoth as the founder of theology, of states-craft, and of all the sciences and the fine arts. According to these writers, Thoth was the first to teach everything that had relation to the nature and essence of the Divine; he instituted the State and its order, wrote the first laws, invented the letters, differentiated the vowels from the consonants, was the first grammarian, author of poetry, and at the same time was the first philosopher." (Brugsch, rel. und myth., pp. 447, 448.)
Closer and closer we approach to a faint recollection of Thoth as the Ancient Word, as handed down in the traditions concerning "Hermes Trismegistus," described in new church life, 1905, pp. 655-657. We will add here only that the researches among the ruins on the Nile have abundantly established the title of Thoth, the Egyptian Hermes, as "three times great" or "thrice greatest," and that Thoth himself was considered the original author of the book of the dead, "certain chapters of which he wrote with his own fingers, as he also wrote the book of respiration." (G. E. i:409.) "His teachings, which were engraved on tablets of stone and on the walls of secret temple-chambers, were afterwards written down on rolls of skin and of papyrus, and formed a special library known as 'the Books of Thoth,' or the Hermetic Writings, the number and titles of which have been enumerated in a remarkable passage by Clement of Alexandria," (Brugsch, rel. und myth., p. 448)
The services of Thoth to man were not confined to this world alone but followed
him beyond the grave, even as the Word, and the true understanding thereof is
the only safe guide in the journey of the soul through the varying states of
the world of
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spirits. Not only was Thoth "the author of the funeral books by which the deseased gained everlasting life," but he, with Anubis, raised up the spirit of man after death and possessed the power to utter the name of the deceased in such a way that his new, spiritual body would straightway come into being in the realm of Osiris." (G. E. i:401, 402.) "It was after death that man most needed the help of Thoth; it was Thoth who would restore to him his speech, teach him to recite the true formulas, and with Anubis conduct him to the Judgment Hall." (Wiedemann, rel. of the anc. eg., p. 228.) "As 'king' or 'lord of the Truth,' Thoth gives to the inhabitants of the deep the rules for their wanderings in the underworld from the West to the East. . . . It is he who, as the advocate of Osiris and the Osiris-man, is helping them to victory over their enemies in the other world; or, as the inscription states, 'he makes their voice true;' he 'opens up the Truth, sets lose her voice,' and lets it ascend to the god of light.'" (Brugsch, rel. und myth., pp. 447, 448.) It was the formulae of Thoth that "opened the secret pylons," [gates], to the resurrected spirit and "provided him with the necessary meat and drink and apparel; they repelled baleful friends and evil spirits, and gave him the power to know the secret or hidden names of the monsters in the underworld, and to utter them in such a way that they became his friends and helped him on his journey." (G. E. i:409.)
On the arrival of the resurrected spirit in the dreaded Judgment Hall of
Osiris, his heart is placed in a jar on one of the scales of the Great Balance,
and the feather of Maat, the emblem of truth and justice, is placed on the other,
while Thoth, with his tablet and pen, stands by as recording angel, to note
down the result of the weighing. It is not called "the weighing of the
heart," however, nor the weighing of the deeds of the man, but "the
weighing of words," utcha metet, (G. E. i:403), for the Egyptians
believed that in the other life the true character of the spirit would reveal
itself in his words. The Lord Himself also taught this doctrine: "I
say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account
thereof in the day of
p. 105 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - THOTH, THE ANCIENT WORD
Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.". (Matth. 12:36, 37.)
The weighing completed, Thoth with his opened book finally presents the whole
record before Osiris on his judgment seat, and then "the dead are judged
out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
p. 106 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT
Though maat, the goddess of the single feather, is sometimes described as the female counterpart of Ptah, she is at the same time the constant associate of Thoth, and this to such a degree that she may be said to be simply a female Thoth. This, of course, involves no contradiction in her correspondence, for as Ptah includes Thoth as the letter of the Word includes the internal sense, so Maat, the affection of the interior truth of the Word, includes in her love the letter as well as the spirit of the Word.
Maat is represented as a woman wearing upon her head a single ostrich feather, the simple but universal symbol of truth. Sometimes she is figured with the body of a woman, but with a feather instead of a head, and she is also, at times, provided with a pair of wings attached to her arms. As the goddess of truth and justice she is occasionally seen with bandaged eyes, like the Greek Themis, to represent impartial judgment, uninfluenced by personal considerations.
Like Ptah and Osiris she is always standing or sitting on the peculiar kind of pedestal which is called maat, after the name of the goddess, and which has been variously interpreted as a "flute," a "cubit," or a sculptor's "chisel;" there seems to be no reason for regarding it as the figure of a flute, and it would be ridiculous to base the images of the gods on so insecure a foundation. The idea of a "cubit" agrees with the conception of maat as a standard of true measurement, and the idea of a sculptor's "chisel" connects with the idea of the written Word as the basis of all internal truth.
"About the meaning of the word maat," says Dr. Budge, "there
is, fortunately, no difficulty, for from many passages in texts of all periods
we learn that it indicated primarily 'that which is straight', ... a rule, or
law, or canon, by which the lives of men and their actions were kept straight
and governed. . . .
p. 107 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - MAAT, THE AFFECTION OF TRUTH
The Egyptians used the word in a physical and a moral sense, and thus it came to mean 'right, true, truth, real, genuine, upright, just, steadfast, unalterable," etc. (G. E. i:417.)
The hieroglyphics composing her name include the maat pedestal, a
sickle, an arm, a feather, and a carpenter's level, as if to signify that the
power (arm) of the affection of truth lies in equitable (level) judgment (sickle)
according to truth (feather), based upon the letter of the Word, (the pedestal).
Her name is often written in the dual form, Maati, and she is then supposed
to represent the goddess of the South and the North, i. e., charity and
faith, or the celestial and the spiritual. In her dual form she is always present
in the Judgment Hall of Osiris, and the Hall itself is called "the Two
OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN.
Our studies in the Theology of the Ancient Egyptians have taken us through a course quite similar to the sequence of subjects in the first chapter of the true christian religion : "Egyptian Monotheism" corresponding to "The Unity of God;" Khnemu representing "The Divine Esse, which is Jehovah;" Amen, "the Divine Existere;" and Ra, "the Divine Essence:" We then took up Ptah and Thoth, corresponding to the "Doctrine of the Word or the Sacred Scriptures" of the Ancient Church, and we shall now present the story of osiris as prefiguring the Doctrine of "the Lord the Redeemer."
From the first dynasty to the last Osiris was worshipped as the national
god of Egypt, and it is generally admitted that the whole Osirian theology was
based upon systems of religious thought and life, long preceding the dynastic
period, and therefore dating from the Ancient Church itself. To Osiris were
ascribed all the attributes of the One Supreme God who had created all things,
and he was moreover regarded as the only God who was able to bestow life everlasting,
because he alone had the power of making "men and women to be born again."
(Budge, the gods of the egyptians, vol. i. p. 152.) "These things were
declared of no other god, and no other god united in his person the attributes
of an ethical god, and an almighty creative god, and a god who was the vivifier
of the dead. The conception of Osiris included the conceptions of every other
god, but the conception of no other god included that of Osiris." (Ib.)
"From hundreds of funeral and other texts we learn that Osiris was
held to be partly divine and partly human," [or, to speak more correctly,
Divinely Human]. "Unlike any other Egyptian god he possessed two natures
and two bodies, the one divine and the other human, and two souls, the one divine
and the other human, and two spirits, the one divine and the other human."
(Ib. p. 150.) He alone of all the gods had been born a man on the earth;
here he had redeemed
p. 109 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN
mankind from ignorance and evil, but had been treacherously slain by the powers of darkness. After death, however, he arose again in a complete and glorified human body, a body Divine and at the same time human. As such he "passed into the region of the Underworld, where he became the judge and god of the dead, and, as we have seen, was made the possessor of all the attributes of the sun-god Ra and of the great One God." (Ib.) In other words, to him was given all power in heaven and on earth and the right to judge the quick and the dead.
The figure and story of Osiris is nothing less than the Egyptian representation
of the original Messianic prophecy, derived from the Ancient Word, the story
of the Incarnation of the Word
p. 110 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN
which was in the beginning with God, the story of the Lord in His human, the one Divine Person in whom dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily. "From first to last Osiris was to the Egyptians the god-man who suffered, and died, and rose again, and reigned eternally in heaven." (G. E. ii:126.) He was, par excellence, "the Lord," and throughout the history of Egypt his name was used almost as the term "the Lord" is being used by the members of the New Church.
Numerous attempts have been made to explain the meaning of the name "Osiris," (in Egyptian As-ar), but without success, and, says Dr. Budge, "the truth of the matter seems to be that the ancient Egyptians knew just as little about the original meaning of the name As-ar as we do, and that they had no better means of obtaining information about it than we have." (G. E. ii:114.) The Egyptologists can derive no etymological light from the hieroglyphics composing his name -- a throne and an eye -- a very simple yet baffling combination. As to the spiritual significance of these signs they are equally in the dark, for it does not seem to have occurred to them that a throne always represents Heaven, and the eye is the Eye of the Heavenly Father, the God-Man who alone sees and reigns in Heaven, the Visible God who is seen in the heavenly sun.
The figure of Osiris is invariably represented as a human form in the white shroud of a mummy; his face and hands are always bare and generally colored a light green; on his head he wears the white crown of Upper Egypt, bordered with ostrich plumes; in the hands of his crossed arms he holds the curved shepherd's crook and the flagellum.
The crown of Osiris is of a form peculiar to himself exclusively, and is
worn by no other divinity unless to signify a merging with the idea of Osiris.
It is an especially rounded crown of Upper Egypt to represent the predominating
character of the Divine Good, for Osiris was most especially the good
god, the god of Divine Goodness; sometimes the curved ram's horns of Khnemu
are seen beneath the crown, for Khnemu was said to be "the soul of Osiris,"
(G. E. i:1O3; ii:131), even as we might say that the Divine Esse is the soul
of the Divine Human.
p. 111 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN
The mummied form on the maat pedestal clearly represents the glorified
Human as the Word fulfilled, the face and hands bare and green to represent
the Divine life shining through the shroud of the literal sense. The
shepherd's crook or staff is the symbol of heavenly rewards for the faithful
of the flock; and the flagellum or whip the symbol of everlasting punishment
for the unfaithful. In this connection we must quote the statement of Dr. Budge
in his most recent work, osiris and the egyptian resurrection, vol. i. p. 79:
"Osiris was 'the great Word,' and he was 'the Word of what cometh into
being and what is not.' In other words, Osiris the Word spake the words through
which all things in heaven came into being from non-existence." In a very
ancient version of the book of the dead, dating from the first dynasty, we find
this eternal "Osiris-Word" uttering the
p. 112 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN
following sentence: "I am Yesterday, and I am To-day, and I have the power to be born a second time," (G. E. ii:116), -- in substance meaning "I am He who was, and who is, and who is to come."
The chief title or attribute of Osiris was "Un-nefer," a word which Dr. Brusch derives from un, "to open, to make manifest," and neferu, "good things," (rel. und myth. p. 81), and Osiris was above all the other deities "the Good Being," the one supremely good, the Divine Good itself. "We see in him the goodness of the Deity, which was supposed to have been manifested upon earth for the benefit of mankind." (Wilkinson, M. C. 4:325.)
THE STORY OF OSIRIS.
Before Osiris came into the world, the Egyptians were savages and did not know how to cultivate the fruits of the earth. But "Osiris taught them the art of making agricultural implements, field labor, the rotation of crops, the harvesting of wheat and barley, and vine culture. . . . As he had been the model of a just and pacific king, so did he desire to be that of a victorious conqueror of nations; and, placing the regency in the hands of Isis, he went forth to war against Asia, accompanied by Thoth and Anubis. [Compare the journey of Jupiter and Mercury]. He made little or no use of force and arms, but he attacked men by gentleness and persuasion, softened them with song in which voices were accompanied by instruments, and taught them also the arts which he had made known to the Egyptians. No country escaped his beneficent action, and he did not return to the banks of the Nile until he had traversed and civilized the world from one horizon to the other." (Maspero, history of egypt, i:249.)
No connected account of the earthly life and death of Osiris has been found
among the Egyptian papyri and monuments. According to Plutarch, in his book
de iside et osiride, Osiris was the son of Kronos and Rhea, who correspond to
the Egyptian gods Seb and Nut. On his return to Egypt from the foreign expedition
of peaceful conquest, as described above, he resumed his beneficent reign but
was betrayed by his red-headed and evil-minded brother, Typhon, whom the Egyptians
knew under the
p. 113 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN
name of Set. The latter, who had long coveted the crown of Egypt and the possession of Isis, now formed a conspiracy with seventy-two officers of the court and invited Osiris to a banquet, in the midst of which he brought in a wooden chest of great beauty and cunning workmanship, -- probably a highly ornamented mummy case. This was offered as a present to anyone of the guests whom it should exactly fit; one after another tried it, but without winning the prize, but when finally Osiris lay down within it the conspirators quickly put on the lid, nailed it firmly down, soldered it together with melted lead, and then threw it into the Nile, whence it was carried to the sea. Isis, on learning of her husband's fate, put on mourning apparel and wandered about the world in search of the coffin, which she finally found cast up by the sea at Byblos* in Phoenicia.
Opening the box she found her husband's body which she tenderly embraced
and conveyed to Egypt in a boat. The body, however, was discovered by Typhon,
who on a moon-lit night, cut it up into fourteen pieces which he scattered in
various parts of the Nile valley, but which Isis subsequently recovered after
a long and mournful search. Later on Osiris returned from the other world, united
with Isis, and became the posthumous begetter of his son, Horus, who after long
battles vanquished Typhon and avenged his father. Such, when eliminating many
*Byblos means "book," -- an evident allusion to the Ancient Word. 8
p. 114 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN
tedious and fabulous details, is an outline of the story of Osiris as recounted by Plutarch; other details, relating to the resurrection of Osiris, are supplied by original documents in the papyri, of which Dr. Budge presents the following summaries:
"It is clear from the above passages that the head of Osiris was cut off, that his body was broken up and its internal organs separated, and that his bones were scattered. It is equally clear that his head, bones and organs were re-united, that his body was reconstituted and restored to life, and that he had the power to speak, and to command his followers as he had done when on earth. And by whom was the reconstitution of the body of Osiris effected? The texts answer this question, and tell us that it was by Horus, the son of Osiris, who was assisted by his four sons." (osiris and the egyptian resurrection, vol. i. p. 70.)
And again we read in the same work, p. 74: "From the above passage it
is clear that Horus did not only collect and reunite the flesh and bones of
Osiris, but that he made him once more a complete man, endowed with all his
members. Having done this, it was necessary to restore to Osiris the power to
breathe, to speak, to see, to walk, and to employ his body in any way he saw
fit." The manner in which this was accomplished involves another story.
The Eye of Horus had been carried away by the arch-fiend, Set, and it was only
after a serious conflict and by the aid of Thoth that Horus succeeded in wresting
it away from the enemy. "Now the Eye of Horus contained his soul, that
is to say, his life, and during the period when his Eye was in the hands of
Set he was a dead god." Nevertheless "Horus restored life to himself
by bringing back his Eye to his body, and he made Osiris to live again by transferring
the Eye to him." (Ib. p. 32.) "When the body of Osiris was
ready to leave this earth for heaven, some difficulty, it seems, arose in raising
him up to the sky, and a ladder was found to be necessary." (Ib.
p. 75.) But "when Osiris stepped from the ladder into heaven, he entered
in among the company of the gods as a 'living being,' not merely as one about
to begin a second state of existence with the limited powers and faculties which
he possessed on earth, but as one who felt that he had the right to rule heaven
and the denizens thereof. He possessed a com-
p. 115 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN
plete body, the nature of which had been changed by ceremonies which Horus and his sons had performed for him; the number of his bones was complete, and every internal organ and limb were in their place and in a perfect state." (Ib. p. 77.)
The Divine perfection of the Resurrection-body of Osiris is thus described
in a prayer of King Thothmes III: "Homage to thee, O my divine father Osiris;
thou hast thy being with thy members. Thou didst not decay, thou didst not turn
into worms, thou didst not rot away, thou didst not become corruption, thou
didst not putrefy. [And therefore] I shall not decay, I shall not rot, I shall
not putrefy, I shall have my being, I shall live, [ shall germinate, I shall
wake up in peace." On this Dr. Budge comments: "Because the human
body of Osiris rose from the dead, the body of every man could rise from the
p. 116 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - OSIRIS, THE GOD-MAN
also, but man lacked what Osiris possessed, i. e., the divine body, soul, spirit and nature, which had brought about the resurrection of his human body, soul, spirit, and nature." (G. E. i:151.)
The question will arise as to the time and circumstances under which Horus was begotten and brought forth. All the Osiris legends agree in representing Isis as being childless when her husband died, and yet it is Horus, -- her son by Osiris, -- that assists in the Resurrection of his father. We puzzled long over this problem, until, in Dr. Budge's most recent work, we found quoted a remarkable passage in the Pyramid Texts, explaining how Isis succeeded in obtaining a child by her dead husband: "Thy sister Isis cometh unto thee rejoicing in her love for thee. Thou settest her upon thee, thy issue entereth into her, and she becometh great with child like the star Sept. (O. E. R. i:93-) Or, as described in a hymn to Osiris of a somewhat later period:
"Thy sister Isis acted as a protectoress to thee. . . . Isis avenged her brother. She went about seeking untiringly. She flew, [as a swallow], round and round over the earth uttering wailing cries of grief, and she did not alight on the ground until she had found him. She made light to appear from her feathers, she made air to come into being by means of her two wings, and she cried out the death cries for her brother. She made to rise up the helpless members of him whose heart was at rest; she drew from him his essence, and she made therefrom an heir. She suckled the child in solitariness, and none knew where his place was, and he grew in strength, and his arm increased in strength in the house of Keb." (Ib. p. 94.)
the interpretation of the myth.
Many attempts have been made to interpret the story of Osiris, but mostly
by the inverted method of trying to explain a distinctly religious and spiritual
myth as hiding a purely historical and material inner meaning. Some have regarded
this story as a "solar myth," describing the daily journey of the
sun which, as it were, dies each night and arises glorified in a new day, but
the Egyptologists generally reject this interpretation on account of the overwhelmingly
human and non-solar character of Osiris.
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Others, including Plutarch himself, believed that Osiris typified "the inundations of the Nile," Isis "the irrigated portion of the land of Egypt," Horus, their offspring, "the vapors and exhalations reproducing rain," Typhon, or Set, "the sea, which swallowed up the Nile water," and so on, and so on, in endless and muddy profusion.
The early Christian Fathers, such as Clement and Origen, dimly recognized the Messianic import of the legend, and its prophetic nature is, indeed, self-evident. But it has an historical sense, as well, not of a personal character, but one related to the internal historical sense of the Word.
I. its historical meaning. As we have shown before, the god Ra stands, historically, for a recollection of the Golden Age, like the Greek Ouranos. Seb, his grandson, represents the last posterity of the Most Ancient Church, like the Greek Kronos or Saturn. Osiris and Isis, (like Jupiter and Juno), are in general the Ancient Church during and after the Flood; and Set, their malignant brother, is the profane spirit of the Antediluvians who, like Typhon and the Titans, tried to destroy the new religion.
More particularly, Osiris, the beneficent king, teacher, and civilizing missionary, is the New Divine Revelation, the Ancient Word, which was given to Noah. It is of interest to note in this connection that the monuments as well as the classical writers speak of Osiris as "the first to drink wine, and he taught men to plant the vine and how to make and preserve wine," (O. E. R. 1:10), and Dr. Budge, (in the same work), reproduces vignettes from the papyri showing a pool of water, near which is growing a luxuriant vine, extending its branches and fruit to the figure of Osiris, (Ib. p. 19), -- signs pointing to a tradition concerning Noah. Osiris, moreover, held Hermes in high honor and invariably accepted his advice upon all matters. (Ib. p. 10.) Now ' Hermes, or Thoth, as we have shown, clearly represents the Ancient Word, and in the first instance the Book of Enoch, which was the first of that Word.
The new Revelation given to Noah was the object of intense hatred on the
part of the Nephilim, and their efforts to pervert , and destroy it were the
cause of the temptations of the Noahtic
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Church. At first they sealed up Osiris in a mummy case, i. e., covered
up the living internal truth by the dogmas of a dead literalism; and afterwards
they cut the body of Osiris into pieces and threw them into the Nile, i.
e., perverted the truth by scientific falsities of doctrine. But Isis, the
interior affection of truth in the new spiritual Church, had already conceived
the essence of the new Revelation, and in the solitude of the papyrus
swamp she brought forth Horus, i. e., the real spirit of the Divine
Word. It was this Spirit that vanquished the powers of darkness, and when the
understanding of this Spirit, (the Eye of Horus), was applied to the dead letter
of the Word, it rose again, glorified and Divine in every part, to reign supreme
in the Ancient Church and in the Ancient Heaven.
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sacrifice to the machinations of Typho, the evil one, to have assumed the office in a future state of judge of mankind." (Ib. p. 189.) "The existence of Osiris on earth was, of course, a speculative theory, -- an allegory, not altogether unlike the 'avatars' of the Indian Vishnoo; and some may be disposed to think that the Egyptians, being aware of the promises of the real Savior, had anticipated that event, recording it as though it had already happened, and introducing that mystery into their religious system." (Ib. p. 326.) Dr. Budge, also, recognizes the remarkable parallelisms between the story of Osiris and the story of the Christ, and regards the former as having prepared the way for the reception of Christianity in Egypt. (G. E. ii:22O.) In conclusion we need but point to all that we have adduced above concerning the Divinely Human character of Osiris, and his resurrection in a complete and glorified body.
THE OFFICE OF OSIRIS IN THE OTHER WORLD.
Being himself "Eternity and Everlastingness," it was Osiris who "made men and women to be born again," the new birth
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being "the birth into the new life of the world which is beyond the grave and is everlasting. Osiris could give life because he was life, -- he could make men to rise from the dead because he was the resurrection." (G. E. ii:141.) And the Egyptians believed that the name of Osiris would be given after death to all virtuous men and women, without distinction of sex. They would then be "Osiris-men" and "Osiris-women," because having become regenerated, even as he was glorified, they would in a finite measure partake of his infinite quality. To represent this Osirian quality of future angelic companions, the Egyptians placed in the coffins of the deceased great numbers of little figures, -- all in the form of Osiris, -- which are known as Ushabtiu or "Respondents," because they were to respond for the deceased in the Judgment Hall of Osiris and afterwards work for him and with him in the Elysian fields.
As for Osiris himself, he sits enthroned for ever in the great Judgment Hall
which is situated in Tuat, the world which is intermediate between Heaven
and Hell. Here he is the final arbiter of the eternal lot of men and women,
for all are finally judged according to their reception or rejection of the
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ISIS, HEAVEN AND THE CHURCH.
Isis, the sister and royal consort of Osiris was the national goddess of Egypt even as Osiris was the national god, and this from the earliest dynastic times even to the end of the ancient religion. The centre of her worship was the beautiful temple-covered island of Philae, where her cult maintained itself until the fifth century* of our era, -- the last dying embers of the Ancient Church.
As the attributes of all the other gods of the Egyptians were absorbed by Osiris, -- the Divine Man in whom dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily, -- so his consort, Isis, absorbed in herself the attributes of all the other goddesses. "It is manifestly impossible," says Dr. Budge, "to limit the attributes of Isis, for we have seen that she possesses the powers of a water goddess, an earth goddess, a corn goddess, a star goddess, a queen of the Underworld, and a woman, and that she united in herself one or more of the attributes of all the goddesses of Egypt known to us. (GODS of the egyptians, 2:216.) For each goddess represented some specific affection or quality of Heaven and the Church, and Isis, the "myrionymus," the goddess of ten thousand names, represents all these affections or heavenly qualities in one complex, thus Heaven itself, and the Church itself, as one whole.
Nevertheless, and because of this universal representation, Isis occupies
in the Egyptian Pantheon a position that is entirely different from any other
goddess, for she was specifically the personification of heavenly goodness
itself, even as Osiris personified the Divine Goodness. Isis was
the great and beneficent goddess and mother, whose influence and love pervaded
all heaven and earth and the abode of the dead, and she was the personifica-
*From an inscription on the temple of Isis, at Philae, it is known that her worship continued here until 453 A. D., -- seventy years after Theodosius, by a decree, had prohibited the old pagan worship in Egypt. (Wiedemann, religion of the ancient egyptians, p. 219.)
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tion of the great feminine creative power which conceived and brought forth every living creature and thing, from the gods in heaven to man on the earth and to the insect on the ground; what she brought forth she protected and cared for, fed and nourished, and she employed her life in using her power graciously and successfully, not only in creating new beings but in restoring those that were dead. She was, besides these things, the highest type of a faithful and loving wife and mother, and it was in this capacity that the Egyptians honored and worshipped her most. (G. E. 2:203.)
The monuments mention, among her innumerable acts of beneficence, that Isis weaned the primitive people from their barbarism: she healed their diseases by means of medicine and words of Divine magic; she united women to men in legitimate marriages; she taught them to grind the grain between flat stones, and how to prepare the bread for the household; she invented the loom by the help of her sister, Nephthys, and was the first to weave and bleach linen. (Maspero, history of egypt,1 :249.)
The name of Isis, ("Ast"), has, like the name of Osiris, "up to the present defied all explanation, and it is clear from the punning derivations to which the Egyptians themselves had recourse, that they knew no more about the meaning of her name than we do." (G. E. 2:202.) "The symbol of the name, Isis, is a seat or throne, but we have no means of connecting it with the attributes of the goddess in such a way as to give a rational explanation of her name, and all the derivations hitherto proposed must be regarded as mere guesses." (Ibid.) And the learned and "authoritative" Prof. Wiedemann observes that "this throne or chair denotes nothing peculiar to the nature of the goddess, but is merely the ideagram used in writing her Egyptian name, the meaning of which is unknown." (R. A. E. p. 219.)
This professed ignorance as to the meaning of "a throne" betrays
either a woeful lack of imagination or a wilful ignoring of the simplest evidences
of religious symbolism. The common perception of mankind in all ages has known
that a throne signifies Heaven, and the Bible, the Old Testament as
well as the New, is replete with distinct statements to this effect. "Thus
saith Jehovah, The Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my
p. 123 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - ISIS, HEAVEN AND THE CHURCH
foot-stool." (Is. 66:1.) "Swear neither by Heaven, for it is God's throne." (Matth. 5:34.) We need quote no more, nor worry as to the philological meaning of the name Isis.
The most common representations of Isis show her as a woman wearing the queenly head-dress of a vulture, signifying the protecting care of heavenly love, and in her hand she carries the papyrus scepter, symbol of the power of the affection of truth. Above the head-dress she wears either a throne, or a pair of cow's horns enclosing the solar disk, or the double crown, or two plumes. Sometimes she is seen with the head of a cow, and occasionally with a pair of ram's horns beneath the double crowns. Very often she is seen standing behind the enthroned Osiris, and as it were enfolding her husband between her winged arms.
One of the most common representations of Isis- shows her seated, with the suckling Horus at her breast; this form, on the introduction of Christianity into Egypt, was at once identified with the Madonna and the Child, nay, became the foundation of the innumerable representations of the "mother of God," with the Child at her breast, which spread from Egypt into all parts of the Christian Church. Hence also spread the worship of Mary, whom the Monophysites termed theotokos, -- "the one who gave birth to God," -- and so deeply rooted was the worship of Mary-Isis among the Christians in Egypt that the Coptic Church there split off from the Catholic Church on account of this heresy, and remains Monophysite to the present day.
But the Christians in Egypt were totally mistaken in identifying Isis with the Virgin Mary, as is evident from the whole myth of Osiris, Isis and Horus. As has been shown above, Osiris was a prophetic representation of the Lord in His human, and Isis represents, -- not His mother, but Heaven and the Church conjoined with Him as His wife. Isis, it seems, was childless before the resurrection of Osiris, because there could not be a complete conjunction between the Church and the Lord until after the Glorification. Then, after her dead husband had been restored to life, she was united to Him, and as the result of their union she conceived her son, Horus, (see G. E. 2:204), who represents the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Glorified Human.
Osiris having ascended to Heaven, the pregnant Isis was per-
p. 124 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - ISIS, HEAVEN AND THE CHURCH
sistently persecuted by Set, the power of evil and darkness, and to escape his malignity Isis now fled to the wilderness, where in a lonesome papyrus swamp she gave birth to her son. "I, Isis, conceived a man child, and I was heavy with Horus. I, the goddess, bare Horus, the son of Isis, within a nest of papyrus plants. I
rejoiced over him with exceeding great joy, for I saw in him one who would
make answer for his father. I hid him, and I concealed him, for I was afraid
lest he should be bitten." (G. E. 2:2O9,) Who cannot see here a prophetic
representation of the Woman in the wilderness, described in the Apocalypse ?
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Heru, the Egyptian name of Horus, is said to mean "he who is above," or "that which is above," but it is also connected with Hre, the word for "face" or "countenance," involving the idea that Horus "represented the Face of heaven, i. e., the Face of an otherwise unknown and invisible god." (G. E. 1:466.) The hieroglyphics composing his name are: 1) the sign for the wind-pipe = h, which also stands for breath or spirit; 2) a human face; 3) an open mouth = r; 4) a chick = u; and 5) the head of a hawk, which always stands for a spirit, whether human or divine. It is possible that the Greeks hence derived the name of their war god, Ares, (Mars), who stands for the same idea as Horus, that is, the Divine Truth proceeding and fighting against evil and falsity.
There are a great many different Horus-gods, or varying forms of the god Horus, but we will here consider only the two most important forms: Horus the Elder and Horus the Younger. Some of the Egyptologists declare these two to be absolutely identical, while others make them so distinct from each other as to have nothing in common. The fact is that both forms represent the Divine Proceeding, but Horus the Elder stands for the idea of the Divine Spirit before the Incarnation, while the Younger Horus was a prophetic representation of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Glorified Human of the Lord. Of this distinction, however, the learned in the Old Church can have no idea; they do not even suspect that Horus in either form represents the Spirit of God. But the theologians of the Ancient Church in Egypt possessed the true Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in definite outline and with a wealth of details that is to us a source of constantly growing astonishment.
I. horus the elder, (Heru-ur), whom the Greeks called Aroeris,
is described in the monuments as the son of Ra, but according to Plutarch,
in de iside, he was the grandson of Ra (Ouranos), and son of Kronos and Rhea,
i. e., of Seb and Nut,
p. 126 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - HORUS, THE DIVINE PROCEEDING
and thus a brother of Osiris. In either case, he was of a generation anterior to that of the Younger Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, and seems to be identical with the Greek Phoebus, the Titan sun-god, whose place was afterwards usurped by Apollo, just as Neptune came to occupy the place of his Titan grand-uncle Oceanos.
The Egyptologists have great difficulty in distinguishing Horus the Elder from the god Ra, from whom he is said to have "proceeded." According to Maspero, (H. E. 1 :I34), "Horus and Ra have so permeated each other, that none could say where the one began and the other ended. One by one, all the functions of Ra were usurped by Horus, and all the designations of Horus were appropriated by Ra." To a Newchurchman this does not present any unsurmountable difficulties, for Ra stands for the Sun of the spiritual world, and Horus the Elder is the spiritual Light thence proceeding; and that which proceeds is and possesses all the attributes of that from which it proceeds. The light from the sun is the sun, as far as the human eye is concerned.
The Elder Horus is represented as a human figure with the head of a hawk,
or as a lion with a human head, or the hawk's head, or simply as a hawk. Above
the head there is a pair of ram's horns and the crown of Upper Egypt with the
two suns, or sometimes the sun-disk with encircling serpent. The body of the
lion represents the omnipotence of the Divine Truth, and it
p. 127 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - HORUS, THE DIVINE PROCEEDING
was to Horus, in this aspect, that the famous lion-bodied and human-headed Sphinx of Ghizeh was dedicated. But the distinguishing and characteristic symbol of Horus is the Hawk. The Hawk, to the earliest Egyptians, was a most impressive emblem of that which is high, that which is above our human earth-bound life, that which is Divine in the heavens. They knew that all the atmospheres, in their four-fold degrees, are the Divine spheres proceeding from the spiritual sun, and constitute the substantial breath from the mouth of God. And the golden-mottled sparrow hawk, -- sailing swiftly in highest air without a tremor of his wings, keen of sight, and putting all other birds to flight, -- naturally became the visible representation of "the Divine in the heavens," which is the Divine Truth, the Divine Light, which is ever proceeding from the heavenly Sun, and which is ever operating to enlighten the human mind. That the Egyptians had a very clear conception of Horus as the Divine Proceeding is evident beyond doubt from the hieroglyphic inscription which we reproduced on p. 54 of this volume, representing Horus as "the true and living god, journeying, journeying, travelling." His being called "the Face of Heaven," "the Face of an otherwise unknown and invisible god," is in distinct harmony with the idea of Horus the Elder representing the Spirit of God before the Incarnation, for from most ancient times the invisible God rendered Himself visible by means of representative angels who were completely filled with the Spirit of God.
II. horus the younger, who was not until Osiris had been glorified, represents that Holy Spirit "which was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified." In order to understand the difference between the two forms of Horus, we must here introduce some teachings from the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem:
"The Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit are two distinct things ; the
Spirit of God did not operate, and could not operate upon man, except imperceptibly;
but the Holy Spirit, which proceeds only from the Lord, operates upon man perceptibly,
and makes man able to comprehend spiritual verities in a natural manner, for
the Lord united the Divine Natural to His Divine Celestial and Divine Spiritual,
and He operates through it from them.
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. . . Hence it is said that 'the Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.' John 7:39." (NINE questions, v.)
"There is no mention of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, but only 'the Spirit of Holiness,' in three places, . . . but frequently in the New Testament. The reason is that the Holy Spirit was first when the Lord came into the world, for it proceeded out of Him from the Father. . . . Hence it is that in the Word of the Old Testament it is nowhere stated that the Prophets spoke from the Holy Spirit, but from Jehovah." (T. C. R. 158.)
"Afterwards, when glorified, the Lord became Divine Good, even as to His Human; and then, from this, proceeded the Divine Truth, which is 'the Spirit of Truth,' or 'the Holy Spirit.'" (A. C. 8127.)
"The reason why it is said that 'the Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified,' is that while the Lord was in the world, He Himself taught Divine Truth; but when He was glorified, which was after the resurrection, He taught it through angels and spirits. This Holy which proceeds from the Lord and flows into man through angels and spirits, whether manifestly or not manifestly, is 'the Holy Spirit' mentioned in this statement; for it is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord that is called 'holy' in the Word." (A. C. 9818.)
"Horus the Younger" is a literal translation of the Egyptian name "heru-p-khart,' which the Greeks turned to "Harpo-krates," and he is represented in many different forms, among which we distinguish three predominant types: 1. Horus, the Child; 2. Horus, the Avenger of his Father; and, 3, Horus as a funerary god.
We have referred to Horus the Child in the story of Osiris and Isis: how
he was begotten of Osiris and conceived of Isis after the death of her husband;
how he was born in a wilderness of papyrus plants and, like Moses, laid in an
ark made of the papyrus reed; how he was stung to death by scorpions sent forth
by Set, but restored to life by the magic words of Thoth, or by the power of
his own "eye;" how he afterwards was removed
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from his persecutors and grew up to become the victorious avenger of his father, -- in all of which we cannot but discern a remarkable likeness to the Apocalyptic story of the Man-child born by the woman in the wilderness.
I. Among the numerous representations of Horus the Child we see him first as a newborn infant on the knees of Isis; again as an infant springing into existence out of a lotus-flower which blossomed in the heavenly abyss of "Nu" at dawn in the be-
ginning of the new year; this latter representation is almost identical with the Hindu pictures of the birth of Buddha. Another form shows Horus as a child of larger growth, wearing the triple crown of Upper Egypt; here, as in all the figures of Horus the Child, he is seen sucking his forefinger, in the manner of infants, and wears the conventional braided lock of hair which was the special mark of infancy. And finally we see him as an infant, trampling upon crocodiles and strangling serpents and scorpions in his chubby hands, -- a favorite way of representing the final victory of Divine Truth over all the powers of hell.
2. As "Horus the Avenger" the hawk-headed god appears in
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a series of significant representations, of which we may note the following:
a) As the great god of war, in full action; on his head the double crown, in his right hand a war-club, and in his left a bow and three arrows, -- a most "striking" picture! (G. E. 1:474.) b) With ram's horns supporting a five-fold crown of Upper Egypt; in his right hand an "anch," and in his left a sickle, -- clearly representing the Divine Truth executing the final judgment, but judging nevertheless from Divine love and mercy (G. E. 1:470.) c) Standing upon an hippopotamus that is bound with iron chains around its legs and mouth, while the god is driving a long spear into its head, -- representing the power of evil conquered and bound by the Divine Truth. d) Horus without crowns or weapons, but with his right hand outstretched, in an attitude of teaching and explaining. (G. E. 1:476.) e) Horus seated, holding in his right hand a long staff and in his left a bowl containing the simple crown of Upper Egypt, -- representing the Divine Truth teaching the good of life out of the Word. (G. E. 1:488.)
3. As the son of Osiris, the great king of all those who had died, Horus
was intimately associated with the idea of death, burial, and resurrection,
-- meaning here the death of the life of self, and the awakening into the life
of regeneration by means of the Holy Spirit of Divine Truth proceeding
from the Glorified Human of the Lord. Thus Horus became a funerary god, in many
respects identical with his jackal-headed cousin or brother, Anubis. The monuments
describe him as having taken charge of the mummification and funeral of his
father with such loving attention that "his filial affection became the
pattern which was followed by every pious Egyptian from time immemorial."
We find, however, that Horus was believed to help the dead generally, even as
he helped Osiris, and all men hoped that he would come to their assistance after
death, and act as a mediator between the judge of the Underworld and themselves.
In the Judgment Scene in the book of the dead, (Papyrus of Ani, plates 3 and
4), Horus, the son of Isis, "leads the deceased, after the heart has been
weighed, into the presence of Osiris, and he says to his
p. 131 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - HORUS, THE DIVINE PROCEEDING
father, 'I have come to thee, O Un-nefer, and I have brought unto thee Osiris Ani,' and then goes on to say that Thoth has weighed Ani's heart in the Balance according to the decree of the gods, and has found it right and true. He also asks Osiris that Ani may be allowed to appear in his presence, and that cakes and ale may be given him, and that he may be among the followers of Horus forever." (G. E. 1:49O.)
"More than this, however, was done for the deceased by Horus, for he
took the bodies of the dead under his care as he took the body of his father
Osiris into his own hands, and superintended the performance of his funeral
rites and ceremonies." (Ibid.) In this work he was assisted by four
gods or spirits known as "the Followers of Horus" or "the Four
Children of Horus," which are to us of great symbolic interest. They are
supposed to represent "the four pillars of heaven," "the four
quarters," etc., but to us they are of far deeper significance. "In
the book of the dead these four children of Horus play very prominent parts,
and the deceased endeavored to gain their help and protection at all costs,
both by offerings and prayers. In the pictures of the funeral procession four
men draw along the coffin containing the mummied intestines of the deceased,
four animals are taken for sacrifice, and all the instruments used in
the ceremony of 'opening the mouth,' as well as the vases and boxes of unguents,
etc., are in quadruplicate. Even prayers and formulae are said four times
over." (G. E. 1:491.) Each one of these four "Children of Horus"
had his own name and was supposed to preside over a certain quarter of heaven
and to be the protector of certain viscera, i. e., interiors of man.
We would suggest, however, that they represent something more than this, viz.,
the four heavens and the four interior senses of the Word. The body of each
of them is that of a mummy, (the letter of the Word), but one of them has the
head of a man, another the head of a hawk; the third has the head of a jackal,
and the fourth the head of a cynocephalus, (or dog-headed ape). The man represents
the celestial heaven and the celestial sense of the Word. The hawk stands
for the spiritual heaven and the spiritual sense accommodated to the angels
there. The jackal, as we have endeavored to prove, represents the celestial-natural
p. 132 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - HORUS, THE DIVINE PROCEEDING
heaven, the heaven of obedience, and the interior-moral sense of the Word. And the dog-headed ape stands, as we believe, for the spiritual-natural heaven, (p. 48), and the interior historical sense of the Word, which is the lowest degree of the internal sense. This interpretation will no doubt seem fanciful to many, but the key seems to fit in a remarkable manner.
In the accompanying cut (from G. E. 1:490), the four "Children of Horus" are seen standing about a funeral chest, from which a resurrected spirit is rising, with the sign of eternal life in each hand. It will be noticed that the man and the jackal stand nearest to the awakened spirit, for these two represent the angels of the celestial kingdom, who actually assist in the process of resuscitation, (H. H. 449, 450); while the hawk and the ape, representing the angels of the spiritual kingdom, stand further off. In the Judgment Hall the four children of Horus are seen standing upon a great lotus-flower immediately in front of Osiris upon his throne, and they undoubtedly signify the four heavens united in prayers of intercession for the spirit about to be judged. The whole scene reminds us forcibly of the "four living creatures," in Ezekiel 1:10, and of the "four beasts" in Revelation 4:7, of whom we read, "And in the midst of the throne and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes
p. 133 CORRESPONDENCES OF EGYPT - HORUS, THE DIVINE PROCEEDING
before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast
like a calf, and the third beast had a face as of a man, and the fourth beast
was like a flying eagle." Instead of the lion and the calf, two of the
"beasts" in the Egyptian judgment scene are a jackal and an ape, but
the man is the same in both scenes, and the hawk is closely related to the eagle.
The four beasts in the Apocalypse represent "the Word of the Lord from
first principles in ultimates and its guards." (A. R. 239.) They also represent
"the Lord's guard and providence," (A. E. 277), and "Heaven as
to the Word, for the heavens are heavens from the reception of Divine Truth
through the Word from the Lord." (A. R. 275.) And "the reason they
were four animals or cherubs was that 'four' signifies conjunction into one,
and they who are in Heaven enjoy such conjunction." (A. E. 362.) The remaining
gods of the Egyptians are so largely mere variants of the divinities already
described, that their interpretation becomes a matter of easy solution in the
light of the principles here presented.
Amen-Ra, 69, 74, 76,
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