The Lost Light 3
Alvin Boyd Kuhn
THE MUMMY IN AMENTA
We now approach a phase of the general theme, the correction of popular misconception about which will be attended with the most momentous consequences for the whole of world religion. Only one or two other items of our revision of current belief will prove to be of more sensational interest. The matter that promises so largely is the Egyptian mummy and the practice of mummification. When the true signification of this marvelous custom of a sage race begins to dawn in clear light, it will assuredly seem as if modern appreciation of a great deposit of ancient knowledge could hardly have suffered so utter a rout, so total a wreckage.
General opinion, expressed and shared by the most learned of the Egyptologists, holds that the Egyptians mummified their dead for the reason that, believing in reincarnation or forms of transmigration, they desired the physical body to be preserved intact for the reoccupancy of the Ego or soul upon its return to earth. Common belief asserts that they hoped by this provision to make reincarnation easier for the returning soul, inasmuch as he would find his former body ready for him, and would not have to build a new one or enter the body of some animal. The quantity of “explanation” of this sort that one reads in the works of reputed scholars is indeed enough to drive any astute reasoner ad nauseam. Nothing betrays the shallow insufficiency of our knowledge so flagrantly as does this matter.
It would seem as if it should be unnecessary to issue a denial of the correctness of the popular theories just indicated. The truth of the matter should be evident to anyone who can frame a syllogism. One fact alone should have been sufficient to forestall the arrant blunder in misconceiving the mummification motive. An act performed for the alleged purpose of preservation began with a gross mutilation! The viscera, the whole of the organs of the chest and abdominal cavity were first removed, and the entrails placed in the Canopic jars at the four corners of the coffin. One does not mutilate that which one wishes to preserve. If this be not conclusive, let us add that at times both the head and the feet were cut off! Could the returning soul profitably use this old shriveled, leathery and mutilated shell as its next living tenement? Our idea has been a tacit insult to Egyptian intelligence. Surely we might have credited them from the start with being no such fools. Because we believed, under the lashing of medieval theologians, that Christ rose in his flesh and that we should do likewise at the last trump, we assumed that the Egyptians indulged their credulity in the same weird fashion. We are yet as children essaying to frame an explanation of the most profoundly symbolic act of the most illumined race of history.
It is the declaration drawn from our studies and supported by the evidence to be submitted, that the practice of embalmment was nothing more than a mighty rite of symbolism! One immediate item of confirmation is the fact that it was performed for only a relatively few of Egypt’s deceased, notably kings and functionaries. It was costly, required a hundred days, and so was indulged in only in the case of those who could afford such an elaborate funeral ritual. If the motive for mummification had been one arising out of universal philosophy or accepted religious theory, it would have been practiced generally, with rich and poor alike. Not all Catholic Christians can afford elaborate masses. No enlightened nation would countenance for centuries a practice based on a theory which made the difference in worldly wealth critical for the whole future destiny of the great mass of its inhabitants. If the hope of future evolutionary welfare depended on this performance with the cadaver, then Egypt was guilty of a felonious neglect of her general population in favor of her overlords. And we know that early nations were, as we like to say, superstitious in the extreme about the punctilious observance of funeral rites. Virgil tells of the dread of the heroes of having their dead bodies lie unburied on the sand (inhumatus arena). Egypt could not have given the benefit of a vital ceremony to only a limited class.
The effort is here made for the first time in our day to set forth the inner spiritual significance of this great rite. Our development of the obsolete meaning of “death” in primal theology has led us right up to the threshold of the denouement. One further step will take us into the heart of the age-old mystery.
In the esoteric doctrine which regarded the present life as death, and the living body as the soul’s tomb, we have the necessary background for adequate elucidation of the matter. The body was mummified to serve as a powerful moving symbol of the death of the soul in matter, and the various features of the meaning of this mundane life! Nothing more. But this far transcended in graphic impressiveness and cathartic virtue any theoretic dramatization of the philosophy of life made by any people since the days of Egypt’s glory. The mummy was designed to point the whole moral of human life in a form of overwhelming psychological power. To a deeply philosophical people the lifeless body became at once the most impressive symbol of the entire import of life itself. The preserved corpse became the mute but grandiloquent reminder of life and death, mortality and immortality, in one mighty emblem.
The custom was an attempt to utilize the cadaver as the central object in a ritual designed to incorporate the essential features of their entire philosophy of life. The import of a ceremony based on the ostensible preservation of a thing which obviously could not be preserved for living purposes, was the enforcement upon all minds of the truth that the mortal part of man could be immortalized! Concomitant with this, the ritual bore the message that the divine part of man, the immortal soul, though in this body it has gone to its “death,” is immortal still. It will defy death and corruption, as will the mummy.
The mummy was the cardinal object in a grandiose ritual precisely because it was a dead thing! It prefigured the nature of this life, which was, philosophically, death. The dead thing thus became the emblem of immortal life itself. The “dead” shall live forever. The mummy symboled life as death, and death as the gate to immortal life. And the preservation or immortalizing of the dead mortal by the infusion of spiritous oils, balsams, ichors, was to emblem the raising of this mortal to immortality through the adoption by the lower man of the spirit of eternal life from the injected Christ nature. By the infusion of the mind of Christ into the dead Adamic nature, born to sin, it could be raised to eternal life out of the realm of decay. To associate ritualistically the idea of undying existence with the defunct relic was to impress the lesson of the burial in matter of that divine fragment whose attribute is “life and everlastingness.” Under the garb and swathings of death, its mission was to bring life and immortality to light.
The embalming was not the enactment of a vague spiritual ideal. Every detail of the process, as Budge testified, was a typical performance with specific relevance. The injection of preservatives was designed to do for the corpse symbolically what the putting on of the Christ spirit would do for “the body of this death.”
An elaborate ritual was built up about the mummy. There were the mutilations and exsections, symbolizing the dismemberment or fragmentation of the divine intellect when cast into the distracting turmoil of sense life. The facial mask carried the implication of the “false” nature of the physical man, the personality, which was the mask (Latin: persona, a mask) the soul donned over its true self. The bound legs and arms symboled the limitation and motionlessness which matter ever imposes upon active spirit. The four Canopic jars at the corners of the coffin stood for the physical world, which is ever four-square as the base that upholds all higher life. The mummy case itself signified the body or earth, the physical house and habitat of the soul. The coffin lid served as the table for the mortuary meal, or the partaking of the “bread of Seb” or food of earth. The bandages were emblematic of the material vestures or bodies which enwrapped the soul, for one coming to earth it was “all meanly wrapped in swaddling clothes,” the “coats of skin” that God gave to Adam and Eve in Genesis. Then there was the light, signifying of course the presence of the glowing power of deity within the fleshly house. When darkness was over the land of Egypt, “the Israelites had light in their dwellings.” More meaningful still was the image of the hawk, or the hawk-headed Horus, which hovered over the mummy; for this was the figure of the resurrection, the soul as a bird leaving the body to return to the upper air of heaven. The ankh-cross, symbol of life when spirit and matter are tied together, the ankham-flower of immortality, the Tat cross, symbol of eternal stability, the level of Amentu, symbol of the balance of nature’s forces, the scarab, symbol of the resurrection, the vulture, the greenstone tablet of resin, all shadowed in one way or another the immortality of the spiritual principle lodged within the mortal vehicle. The spices and balsams were preservatives, sweet of savor. And the fluids that did so marvelously work their miracle of preservation upon the substance of decay, were as “the Amrit juice of immortality.” In many countries a liquor called Soma (the Greek word, incidentally, for the “spiritual” body) was considered to bestow immortality. A tribal chant runs, in one verse:
“We’ve quaffed the soma bright
And are immortal grown
We’ve entered into light
And all the gods have known.”
The lower man’s immediate relation to his soul permits him to drink of that immortalizing nectar, and as it was always Eve, or Hathor, or Ishtar, a goddess, a woman, who offers to man the tempting cup, the inference is that mundane experience with matter, the mother of life, is the brimming chalice for our deification.
The mummy thus stood for the soul buried in body, or sometimes perhaps for the body itself. By its descent the soul had become, as it were, the mummy. It became the Manes, or shade of a dead person, in the depiction.
Massey comes very close in one place to sensing that the mummy must be given a spiritual significance:
“Hence the chapter of ‘introducing the mummy into the Tuat [underworld] on the day of burial’ deals not with the earthly mummy, but the mummy of the dramatic mysteries as a figure of the living personality.”1
This is the truth; but having seen the mummy in its true light for a moment, Massey still adheres to his precarious endeavor to read “the mummy in Amenta” into the life after (bodily) death, instead of allocating it to its relationship to earth, where only the living personality was in function. His phrase – “the mummy of the dramatic mysteries” – to all intents and purposes concedes the legitimacy of our thesis as to the mummy’s true function.
But this scholar’s study is so splendid in the main that we will be enlightened by looking at portions of his material:
“Amenta as the place of graves is frequently indicated in the Hebrew scriptures, as in the description of the great typical burial-place in the valley of Hamon-Gog. This was in the Egypt described in the Book of Revelation as the city of dead carcasses, where also their Lord was crucified as Ptah-Sekari or Osiris-Tat. Amenta had been converted into a cemetery by the death and burial of the solar god, who was represented as the mummy in the lower Egypt of the nether earth. The Manes were likewise imaged as mummies in their coffins. They also rose again in the mummy-likeness of their Lord, and went up out of Egypt in the constellation of the Mummy (Sahu-Orion), or in the coffin of Osiris that was imaged in the Great Bear.”2
Can we miss the plain evidence here presented? The Manes were imaged as mummies in their coffins! Amenta (this earth) converted into a cemetery by the advent of the gods, our souls! We, the living on earth, figured unmistakably as mummies in our sarcophagi! Hence the grave and tomb of all ancient theology is the living physical body of man!
There will be profit in considering another Massey statement, since it reveals how he stumbled and fell at the very door of the truth:
“There is no possibility of the Manes coming back to earth for a new body or for a re-entry into the old mummy. As the Manes says, ‘his soul is not bound to his old body at the gates of Amenta’” (Chs. 26, 6).3
That the soul would not re-enter the old mummy is a vital point of truth, and Massey deserves all credit for discerning it. But that it would not return to enter a new body flies in the face of all ancient and universal belief in reincarnation. This is just the point of issue to be clarified. The soul returns from life to life to be re-clothed in new garments, since it assuredly does not take up life again in the mutilated and decomposed old hulk. The Manes positively states that he is not bound to the old body; but a score of times he says he will construct, or reappear in, a glorious new vesture. This of course is the spiritual body of the resurrection. But it is not built up in one brief life on earth. It is the product of many successive lives, each in a new physical body. There is no room for confusion or dispute on this matter.
Ptah, Atum and finally Osiris are described at different stages as the solar god in mummified form in Amenta.
“He was the buried life on earth, and hence the god in matter, imaged in the likeness of the mummy. . . . Such was the physical basis of the mythos of the mystery that is spiritual in the eschatology.”4
And we find desirable explicitness in the following passages:
“In the Osirian mythos, when the sun-god enters the underworld, it is as a mummy or ‘coffined one’ upon his way to the great resting place.” “The mummy-Osiris in Amenta is the figure of the sleeping deity. He is the god inert in matter, the sleeping or resting divinity.”5
Another most pertinent corroboration of our thesis that the mummy was but a ritualistic figure for the human soul “dead” in the body, is found in the following from Massey:6
“And just as Ra, the holy spirit, descends in Tattu on the mummy Osiris, and as Horus places his hands behind Osiris in the resurrection, so Iu7 comes to his body, the mummy in Amenta. Those who tow Ra along say, ‘The god comes to his body; the god is towed along toward his mummy.’ (Records, Vol. X, p. 132.) The sun-god, whether as Atum-Iu (Aiu or Aai) or Osiris-Ra, is a mummy in Amenta and a soul in heaven. Atum or Osiris, as the sun in Amenta, is the mummy buried down in Khebt,8 or lower Egypt.”9
These passages conclusively indicate that the mummy was the type of the god in the body.
Conquest of the carnal nature and escape from it is in another place called the “overthrowal of your coffins.” (Book of Hades, Fifth Division, Legend D.) Again, the earth is denominated “the coffin of Osiris, the coffin of Amenta.”
In his descent to open the tombs for the release of the sleeping captives Horus says: “I am come as the mummified one,” that is, in fleshly embodiment. It should be noted that this explicit statement of the god himself that he comes in the character of the mummy, taken with his other assurances that he comes to “those in their coffins,” must be admitted to certify the truth of our contention throughout – that it is the god who comes to be buried in the matter of a lower kingdom, from which burial both he and the lower entity will be raised again to higher estate. When the sun-god entered “the ark of earth, which is called his coffin or sarcophagus,” he was buried in obscurity and shorn of his power. In a sculptured sarcophagus of the fourth century the three Magi are offering gifts to the divine infant, a mummied child! Here the mummy is a figure of the divine nature circumscribed tightly by the garment of flesh. Need we remind the student that numberless images of the mummied Child-Jesus were found in Christian catacombs, tombs and chapels in the early centuries? At first view the linkage of the idea of death as suggested by the mummy, with the infant figure, rather than with the more appropriate stage of senility, seems an ineptitude. In early Christian and pre-Christian iconography Jesus was indeed often figured as an aged one, about to enter the grave. It only requires that we move the symbolic hint one short step forward to see the pertinence of the mummified child, called by the Egyptians the Khart. For the buried god was to have his rebirth in matter and to begin life anew as an infant. The deceased father god was to metamorphose into the new form of himself as his own child, as God the Son. While yet a baby-god, beginning his new career, he was cramped by the limitations of matter and the undeveloped stage of his own powers. He was the new god, who had not yet broken his bonds or risen from the limitations of his new incarnate situation.
It is evident that Hebraic development of archaic typology did not carry the figure of the mummy into Biblical literature. Yet a cognate symbolism is expressed through the word “flesh” mainly. Where the Kamite Ritual says: “My dead body shall not rot in the grave,” the Hebrew Psalmist writes: “My flesh shall dwell in safety. For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;10 neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption.”
But occasionally an original Egyptian term has been retained in Hebrew transcription. Such a term is Sekhem, one of the names of the burial-place of the Osiris-mummy in the Ritual. The deceased is buried as a mummy in Sekhem. Also the well of Jacob near Sechem answers to the well of Osiris at Abydos, and the oak or terebinth in Sechem to the tree of life in the Pool of Persea. The fields of Sechem correspond to the Sekhet-Hetep or fields of peace and plenty in the Kamite original.
Also the incident of Joseph carrying Jacob’s coffin matches Horus’ carrying the Osiris-mummy.
The word mummy is perhaps derived from the Egyptian mum, to “initiate into the mysteries.” This origin would suggest that the elaborate procedure of mummification was inaugurated to typify the whole broad meaning of the incarnation, as a submerging of high spirit in the dense state of mortal matter. For such a downward sweep through the world of material inertia was, as we shall see, the only, if fateful, path leading to the “initiation” of the spirits into the higher mysteries that lurk in the depths of life. The Sphinx riddle of life can be solved only by a living experience in all worlds from the lowest to the highest. Life’s own justification of its processes is the raison d’être of our mum- mification in gross earthly bodies, and the great Nilitic rite was designed to express nothing more.
Attention must now be given to the Egyptian word which was used to designate the mummy. It was usually marked upon the coffin lid. It may offer a connection of great potential fruitfulness for knowledge. It consisted of the consonants K R S with a suffix T, giving K R S T. The voweling is indeterminate, as it always was in ancient writing. Scholars have introduced an A before the R and another after it, making the word K A R A S T as generally written. There is probably no authoritative warrant for this spelling, but there has ever been a stout resistance to all suggestions that the alternative vowels, E, I, O or U be used in the form. Yet scholarship would be hard put to substantiate any objection to the spellings Karist, Karest, Kerast, Kerist or Krist. Indeed, as the root is very likely a cognate form with the Greek kreas, flesh, there would be more warrant for writing it Krast, Krest or Krist than the usual Karast. If we know how easily a “Kr” consonant metamorphoses into the Greek Chr, we can’t dismiss the suggested closeness of the word to the Greek Chrestos or Christos as an absurd improbability. This may indeed be the Kamite origin of our name Christ, whatever be the outcry against such a conclusion.
There are presented some other extremely interesting possibilities in this etymological situation, for by the use of another vowel we stand very close to the Latin crux, cross, the Middle English cros (cross) and our own word crust. For indeed the ground meaning of the entire incarnation story might well be expressed in the grouping of these very terms: The Christ on the cross is the encrusting of the divinity with flesh (Greek kreas). Not far away also is our word crystal, which contains the root meaning of any process of incrustation, or the precipitation of spirit energies into forms of solidification around an actuating nucleus of force. The large idea behind all these forms that stand so closely related in spelling is just that of spirit crystallizing and forming a crust about a spiritual node of life. And then the Greek word chruseos, golden, points to the end of the process to be consummated by the spirit in matter, when, metaphorically speaking, all baser forms of the encrusted covering or mummy will be transmuted by the divinity’s glowing fire into the purest spiritual “gold.” The “crystal sea” that is to receive all back into its depths links the two ends of the chemicalization, first downward, then upward, together in one coherence. Our kreas or mummy case, that becomes but the crust of our life here on the cross of flesh, kreas, will be translated into crystals of pure gold, chrysos, by undergoing the chrysalis transformation into full deification. Still within the circle of these meanings we have chrism, cruse (of ointment), chrisom, charism, an anointing oil (our cream – French cresme, with the “s” dropped out, being a derivative of this stem), and finally within the glow of its influence comes the bright outline of the meaning of the great sacrament of the Eucharist. If all this etymological flourish appears to be highly fanciful, let the reader be assured that not a single term of the interwoven ideas in this chain is missing from the ancient symbolism. If it is a delightful play of fancy, its poetic originators were the sages of old.
When, then, Osiris is called the Karast-mummy, the meaning is doubtless that of spirit “fleshed” or incarnate. The flesh was the crust crystallized about the soul and as such became not only the cross, but the cruet or cruse containing the golden liquor of life. The partaking of it was our Eucharist, and our final transfiguration will be the putting on of the golden hues of immortality, symboled by the insect chrysalis operation.11 “O thou who risest out of the golden” is an address to the soul in the Ritual.
Finally, then, we have Massey breaking through the philological defenses thrown up by the alarmed orthodox scholars and openly connecting the Egyptian Karast with the Greek Christos or Christ. He announces the derivation dogmatically:
“Say what you will or believe what you may, there is no other origin for Christ the Anointed than for Horus the karast or anointed son of God the Father. . . . Finally, then, the mystery of the mummy is the mystery of Christ. As Christian it is allowed to be forever inexplicable. As Osirian the mystery can be explained. It is one of the mysteries of Amenta, with a more primitive origin in the rites of Totemism.”12
He adds that Osiris as the Karast-mummy was the prototypal Corpus Christi. As Osiris-Sekari he was the coffined one. Aseris, or the Osiris, represented the god in the anguish of his burial in the cerements of the mortal body, whose cries and ejaculations are to be heard ascending from Amenta in many a page of the Ritual, or from Sheol in the Hebrew scriptures. Massey states what has not been readily acceptable to Christian apologists hitherto when he writes: “Indeed the total paraphernalia of the Christian mysteries had been made use of in Egyptian temples . . . Osiris in the monstrance should of itself suffice to show that the Egyptian Karast is the original Christ, and that the Egyptian mysteries were continued by the Gnostics and Christianized in Rome.”13
Immediately connected with the Christos is the term Messiah, since both terms, the one Greek, the other Egypto-Hebraic, mean “the anointed.” The word Messiah is traced to the Egyptian mes or mas, to steep, to anoint, as also to be born. Messu was the Egyptian word for “the anointed” initiate in the Mystery rites. The “-iah” was a quite significant suffix added by the Hebrews, meaning, like the ubiquitous suffix “el,” deity or God. As “-iah” or “-jah,” it occurs in many Hebrew sacred names, sometimes as a prefix, as in Jahweh, but mostly as a suffix, as in Elijah, Halleluiah, Messiah, Zechariah, Abijah, Nehemiah, Obediah, Isaiah, Hezekiah and a long list more. The name Messiah then denotes the “divinely anointed” one or the “born (reborn) deity.” When the first or natural man was anointed with the chrism of Christly grace, he was reborn as the Christos.
An item of great importance in this ritual was its performance always previous to the burial. It was a rite preparatory to the interment. Said Jesus himself of Mary: “In that she poured this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for my burial” (Matt. 26:12). She was symbolically enacting the Mystery rite of the chrism, and her performance quite definitely matched the previous practices of the Egyptians, from whom it was doubtless derived. But what does such an act denote in the larger interpretation here formulated? If the burial was the descent of the gods into bodily forms, then the anointing must have been enacted immediately antecedent to it or in direct conjunction with it. The etymology of the word sheds much light upon this whole confused matter. The “oint” portion of it is of course the French softening of the Latin “unct” stem; and this, whether philologists have yet discovered the connection or not, is derived from that mighty symbol of mingled divinity and humanity of ancient Egypt – the A N K H cross. The word Ankh, meaning love, life and tie, or life as the result of tying together by attraction or love the two nodes of life’s polarity, spirit and matter, suggests always and fundamentally the incarnation. For this is the “ankh-ing” of the two poles of being everywhere basic to life. The “unction” of the sacrament is really just the “junction” of the two life energies, with the “j” left off the word. Therefore the “anointing” is the pouring of the “oil of gladness,” the spiritual nature, upon the mortal nature of living man. The “unguents” of the mummification were the types of the shining higher infusion, and they prepared the soul for, or were integrally a part of, its burial in the grave of mortality. And the Messiah was then crucified in the flesh. On this point Massey speaks clearly:
“In preparation of Osiris for his burial, the ointment or unguents were compounded and applied by Neith. It was these that were to preserve the mummy from decay and dissolution.”14
Neith applies the preservatives in Egypt; Mary in the Gospels. And as the feminine figures emblem matter, we must take the ritual as dramatizing the anointing of divinity with materiality, rather than just the anointing of the physical man with divinity. The same situation is found in the baptism allegory, where the lower man, John the Baptist, anoints with his element, water, the very deity, Christ, himself. In that close conjunction and interrelation of the two natures which the great Ankh symbol connotes, each nature “anoints” the other, and it matters little for final outcomes of meaning which is considered. All ancient symbols denoting the two elements in life are not only dual in themselves, but may generally be interchanged without damage to the ground signification. This strange – and practically unknown – aspect of the science of typology merits a full chapter in itself; but perhaps it will be enough to point out its application in specific situations where it will clarify the exegesis. Since the soul’s burial in body is the cause and occasion of the release of its own higher potencies, its being anointed or baptized by matter (or “water”) is thus both its active and its passive anointing. Let it be remembered, it both converts matter and is converted by matter. This is ever the basic formula. The anointing thus becomes kindred with the embalming. The chrismatic ceremony was the “ankh-ing” or tying together of soul and flesh for fuller outflow, giving in the outcome the Karast or Christ. In man the angel and the animal-human anoint each other.
As the climactic step in a series of benefits which Horus, the deliverer and reconstituter of his father Osiris, enumerates in an address to the latter, he likens the anointing to the gift of grace and spiritual unction: “I have strengthened thine existence upon earth. I have given thee thy soul, thy strength, thy power. I have given thee thy victory. I have anointed thee with offerings of holy oil.”15
The whole procedure of incarnation from its inception to the Prodigal’s return, is to be seen as an anointing, first of spirit with flesh, then of flesh with spirit. Massey says that anointing was the mode of showing the glory of the Father in the person of his Son, and that Horus was anointed when he transformed from Horus the mortal to Horus the divine man.
The usual material for anointing was oil, but at least one other comes in as symbol. We are familiar with Jesus’ mixing his spittle with a little earth to anoint the eyes of the blind man in the Gospels. A Hawaiian legend also has it that the first man was created from red earth (the meaning of “Adam”) mixed with the spittle of the gods, and the triadic god then blew into his nose and bade him rise a living human being. Egyptian ideography pictures that the primeval god Tum conceived within himself, then spat, the spittle becoming the gods Shu and Tefnut, whose union as male and female produced the world. Another Kamite construction holds that the Eye of Ra (symbol of divine intelligence), being injured by the violent assault of Sut, was restored when anointed with spittle by Thoth.
In many more legends the gods are said to have mixed mortal clay with their blood, emblematic of their living power. The early myth-makers were adept at variation of the symbols. Horus, representing the god in man, says:
“He anointed my forehead as Lord of men, creating me as chief of mortals. He placed me in a palace as a youth, not yet come forth from my mother’s womb.”
This is a reference to the god’s burial in matter, where life was a process of gestation for a new birth in spirit. The mortal man has not yet resurrected, not yet come forth from mother nature’s womb! The spirit entombed is like Joseph in “Egypt” and Daniel in “Babylon” before they rose from out their “prisons” to become the rulers of the kingdom. We are still to have our birth out of matter into spirit. Our incarnation is our birth into body; our resurrection is to be our second birth, this time out of body.
Isaiah (61: 1,2) emphasizes the anointing in a famous verse: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the poor. He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,16 to proclaim liberty to the captives. . . .”
The “poor,” it is to be recalled, are equivalent to the Gentiles, the unregenerate natural man. They were the ones for whom the message of the Messiah was intended. The announcement from heaven to earth that a race of deities was about to descend to lift animal life into the kingdom of reason and articulate speech was verily “the good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people,” the best news ever wafted to the denizens of the planet up to that period. “Thou hast anointed my head with oil, my cup runneth over,” echoes the immortal Psalm (23). “Having had my flesh embalmed,” says the Osirified deceased in the Ritual (Ch. 64), “my body does not decay.” Hence flesh, inoculated with spirit, or the mummy embalmed, becomes immortal. And the Word was made flesh! And flesh will be immortalized!
But the Egyptians had a correlative phrase with “the Word made flesh.” It was “the Word made Truth.” The Logos or spirit made flesh produced the first birth, the natural man, the first Adam. This was not the true Word, for it was falsified by the admixture of the earthly, natural element, by which it voiced the animal note. As the boy’s voice at the age of manhood changes from a feminine to a masculine timbre, so the speech of the mortal had to swing away from the tones of its mother nature and issue as the voice of the spiritual Self. Figuratively at the human race’s age of twelve, always the number marking our spiritual perfecting, the Christ within us has to abandon the concerns of the maternal physical life and “be about his Father’s business,” – the spiritual life. The race must turn from Mother Nature to Father God at its spiritual puberty.
It is quite noteworthy in this connection that one of the most eminent of modern psychologists, C. G. Jung, has divided human life into two periods, which he calls the forenoon and afternoon of life, the boundary line being placed at the age of thirty-five. He says that in the forenoon mankind lives the life of “nature,” but turns in the “afternoon” to a life of “culture.” So that we find even the span of mortal life epitomizing the larger scheme, in that we begin the “day” of life by living under nature, and turn in the afternoon to the concerns of the spirit and the mind. “First that which is natural, then that which is spiritual,” St. Paul has reminded us. The world took form upon the model of divine ideas, Plato affirms. In us men a god is striving to stamp his lines of beauty and grace upon the features of an animal! The God-word was fleshed so that it could preserve and finally transfigure the mummy with its splendor. But – and let ultra-idealists be advised! – spirit had to have plastic matter upon which to imprint its form and comeliness, else it would have remained forever unknown. The visible manifestation of latent wisdom, power and love could be achieved only by the spirit’s encasement in a body. Matter, so derided by extreme “spiritual” theory, is the womb in which alone divine conceptions can be brought to birth. So that the fleshing of soul works the miracle of its own anointing. Flesh is the way and the means by which man, the divine thought, is christened with an ever fuller measure of the oil of beatification.
Carried some distance afield by certain involvements of the mummy discussion, we return to that aspect of it suggested by the mythical underworld. It has been already hinted that this nether world is our earth itself. But readers may not be fully aware that this assertion is here made directly in the face of all previous and present scholarship, and that it flouts all scholastic opinion. So open a challenge to world scholarship must summon additional proof to its support. The substantiation of the point is pivotal to the entire interpretation here advanced. The case wins or loses on the determination of this issue. Likewise the correct understanding of all theology hinges upon the outcome. As the many transactions involving the experience of the human soul in the body were enacted in Amenta, the underworld, the final meaning of the whole structure of theology is bound up with the correct location of this realm of gloomy shade. It is believed that the correction of the error under which the academic world has labored for centuries with regard to this region will necessitate the most sweeping alterations in religious and philosophical ideology, nothing short, in fact, of a total recasting of all meanings and values.
Amenta, the Egyptian term for this underworld, is given as a compound of the Egyptian “Amen,” meaning “secret,” “hidden”; and “ta,” “earth” or “land.” In this formation it becomes “the hidden earth” or “secret, hidden land.” It is the land where the divine sons were hidden away in “Egypt” till the “wrath” of the Karmic Lords should be appeased. “Amen” was the “hidden deity,” “the god in hiding.” His hieroglyph pictures him as kneeling under a canopy. The “wrath” of God, be it proclaimed at last, is no divine “anger,” in any human sense of the word, but the universally burning, consuming, transforming, building and destroying energy of Life itself, always anciently characterized as a “fire.” And the word seems derivative from “Ur-ath,” the original fiery force in matter, as “Ur” is “fire” and “-ath” is the feminine, that is, material classification. It therefore connotes the cosmical transforming energies locked up in the bosom of matter! This is of consummate importance. And all this complex ancient indirection of description is just to carry the idea that the soul must be tied down in its linkage with the deeply hidden energies of matter and body until the fiery potencies burning at that level refine and purify its grosser elements. A Biblical text speaks of its being “thrice refined in the fire,” and Egyptian scripts abound with statements of its purification “in the crucible of the great house of flame.” Maintaining the revolutionary thesis that Amenta is this earth, and not some realm elsewhere into which men relapse after earthly demise, the exposition will establish the fact that all the typology referring to it pertains to our own world. In every ancient system of cosmology this globe is the lowest of all planetary spheres. There can be no other hell, Tartarus, Avernus or Orcus, Sheol or Tophet below it. It is that darksome limbo where the Styx, the Phlegethon, the river of Lethe and other murky streams run their sluggish courses through the life of mortals.
Very apt, then, is the story of Isis and Osiris. Their infant, Horus, was suckled by Isis in solitude. She reared him in secret, and his limbs grew strong in the hidden land. None knew the hiding place, but it was somewhere in the marshes of Amenta, the lower Egypt of the mythos. This is matched in toto by the story of the birth of the mythical Sargon of Assyria. Likewise it is the background of the “flight into Egypt” of Jesus in the Gospels. The divine child had to be taken down into “Egypt” until the Herut menace was passed and in order that the son of God might be brought up out of it. As the angel of the Lord says to Joseph, “Arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt,” so at the birth of Horus the god Taht says to the mother, “Come, thou goddess Isis, hide thyself with thy child.” She is bidden to take him down into the marshes of Lower Egypt, called Kheb or Khebt. But the Egyptian version gives us more ground for understanding the maneuver as a cosmographic symbol, because Taht tells Osiris that there “these things shall befall: his limbs will grow, he will wax entirely strong, he will attain the dignity of Prince . . . and sit upon the throne of his father.” This is highly important, since it makes the hiding away a part of the cosmic process and not a mere incredible incident in Gospel “narrative.” In the mutilated Gospel account the sojourn in Egypt is left as if it were a matter of brief duration, followed by the child’s return. In the fuller Egyptian record it is seen that the dip into Lower Egypt is that necessary incubation in matter that must continue until it has brought the infant potentialities to actualization and function. As the seed in the soil, so the god in the earthly body and the “child” in “Lower Egypt” – all are hidden away for the growth that only thus could be attained. The secreting of the child is no more than the planting on earth of the divine seed in its appropriate soil – humanity.
In the Ritual the Manes, or Osiris-Nu, says: “I am he whose stream is secret.” Of Ptah it is also said: “Thy secret dwelling is in the depths (or the deep) of the secret waters and unknown” (Renouf: Hibbert Lectures, p. 321).
The presentation of the evidence supporting the mundane location of Amenta takes on from this point largely the semblance of a debate with Massey. If our study seems overburdened with his material, apology may be found in the explanation that, in the first place, he has fairly earned this amount of recognition, and secondly that his presentations focus the issues at stake with more definiteness than those of any other scholar. Though he missed the golden truth of this matter in the end, he still comes so close to it that he at times almost states it in spite of himself. The truth can hardly be better expounded than as the correction of his error, which proved so fatal at last to his work. No one has ever put more succinctly and clearly the nature of the experience of the soul or divine child in Amenta than he has done in the following excerpt:
“In the eschatology Horus, the child, is typical of the human soul which was incarnated in the blood of Isis, this immaculate virgin, to be made flesh, and to be born in mortal guise on earth as the son of Seb (god of earth) and to suffer all the afflictions of mortality. He descended to Amenta as the soul sinking in the dark of death. . . .”17
Everything in this passage points to the identity of Amenta with earth. Clearly as Massey saw through the thousand disguises of ancient method, he was tricked at last by the arcane ruse of presenting earth experience under the mask of a ritual for the dead. He could hardly bring himself to believe, sharp as was his break with orthodoxy, that the miscarriage of esoteric sense had gone so utterly awry as to misplace all religious values finally in a wrong world. The enormity of cleric aberrancy was already so shocking to him that he can be pardoned for failing to perceive that it was indeed still seven leagues worse.
He fought his way through by what seemed the only devise which would enable him to keep the judgment, hell, purgatory and the underworld in the after-death realm. He was forced to split the term “earth,” so frequently used with Amenta, into two parts, distinguishing an “earth of time” from an “earth of eternity.” He took Amenta to be this fancied “earth of eternity” beyond the grave or death. He located it vaguely in the post mortem state, and segregated it from the earth of time, or the earth we know. But a little reflection on his part would have told him that the term “earth” has no possible appropriateness to a non-physical existence in spiritual areas. The designations “land,” “country,” so often applied to the heavenly state of being, are used only by grace of euphemism or figure. Massey must have felt this, but it permitted him to use the word “earth” in reference to a purely celestial locale. This could not have been other than a bit disingenuous; and it cost him his place in renown and kept us an additional forty or fifty years in bondage to religious superstition.
He rightly insists that “not until we have mastered the wisdom of Egypt as recorded in Amenta shall we be enabled to read it on the surface of the earth.” This is precisely what should be said, but where do we have access to “wisdom recorded in Amenta” (considered as his spirit world) if not on this earth, either in books or in experience? Can we go to (his) heaven and read records left there? He speaks of a first paradise as being celestial and a second one as “sub-terrestrial,” and says that the latter is “the earthly paradise of legendary lore.” But, as has been shown, a “sub-terrestrial” residence for man is meaningless verbiage, imagery without possible counterpart in actuality. The “sub-” was to be taken as subsolary and perhaps sublunary, at any rate sub-celestial, but never – really – sub-terrestrial. If it was used for poetic figure, there need be no quarrel. The ancients did use subterranean caverns as types of our life in Amenta, but only as types. Of a surety we shall not read old Egypt’s mighty wisdom aright until we read it on the surface of this earth, for the inexpugnable reason that the “wisdom recorded in Amenta” is the wisdom pertaining to this earth! Amenta and this earth are one and the same place. Religion must bring back to this earth the core of all those meanings which took their flight from this sphere on the wings of scholarship’s egregious mislocation of the mythical region of Amenta.
His mistake, as that of all other scholars, was occasioned by loss of the archaic signification of “death.” Books of the dead, forsooth, must inescapably apply to deceased humans, and hence their rituals must be designed for the spirits of the departed on “that other shore.” It was thus not possible for anyone under this persuasion to discern that the Biblical phrase “after death” could mean its precise antithesis, as commonly viewed; that is, after entry into this life. It could not be seen that the phrase “deceased in their graves” had already been appropriated by the sages of Egypt to type the living denizens here on the globe.
Nevertheless the identification of Amenta with a post mortem state should have been seen at one glance as inadmissible in the light of a single consideration. Amenta, Hades, Sheol are always portrayed as the land of gloom, darkness and misery. These terms are often translated “hell” in the Bible and elsewhere. They are the dismal underworld. In it souls are imprisoned, captive, cut to pieces, mutilated, buried. Exactly opposite in description in every religion is the state of life after decease! It matches the Amenta characterization in no particular, but is its exact opposite. In it the soul finds release from the dark, heavy, dreary, wretched conditions that are descriptive of Amenta. It is the land of light, bliss, surcease from distress, rest and peace! The two portraitures will not mix! The Amenta of misery and gloom can’t be at the same time the Happy Isles, the Aarru-Hetep and the asphodel meads! If to enter the body is to undergo captivity, then to leave it is to regain freedom, not to enter Amenta. Surely in this confusion of two worlds of diametrically opposite classification our savants are convicted of the most amazing want of acumen in reaching conclusions preposterously out of line with the data of scholarship. Massey should have been enlightened by what he wrote in this passage: “Except when lighted up by the sun of night, Amenta was the land of darkness and the valley of the shadow of death. It remained thus, as it was at first, to those who could not escape the custody of Seb, the god of earth, ‘the great annihilator who resideth in the valley.’”
If Amenta was the place where the god of earth detained souls in darkness, its localization on earth would seem to be incontrovertibly indicated. Or was not the god of earth on earth? We might expect a god to inhabit his own kingdom, the one over which he ruled.
Osiris, king of the land of the dead, is denominated “lord of the shrine which standeth at the center of the earth.” (Rit., Ch. 64.) Massey speaks of “the human Horus” – and Horus was in Amenta. Humans exist only on the earth. The earth must be Amenta, then. He writes again that the drama “from which scenes are given in the Hebrew writings, as if these things occurred or would occur upon the earth, belongs to the mysteries of the Egyptian Amenta, and only as Egyptian could its characters ever be understood.” The scenes in Hebrew scriptures are drawn largely from the early Egyptian Mysteries, which typified cosmic and racial history under the forms of dramatic ritual. But they were not events of either Egyptian or Hebrew objective history. They did not “occur” anywhere on earth, but they portrayed the interior meaning of all that did occur on earth. The events were not here, but their meaning was. They were not occurrence factually, but the key to all occurrence. Massey thought the myths must be veridically true in (his) Amenta, since they were not objectively true on earth. He caught half the truth only. The myths were only symbolic language telling human dullness of mind what life meant. The moment the myths are alleged to have taken place in heaven or anywhere else, that moment superstition begins to stalk into the counsels of religion. Nothing could occur in Amenta as a place distinct from this earth, since it was a mythopoetic name for earth itself.
But the sad part of Massey’s story and the reason it is important for us to scrutinize his mistake is that it is the story of a whole race’s deception for sixteen centuries! The localization of Amenta in heaven instead of on earth has defeated the whole purpose of religion for ages. And no pen or tongue will ever record the monstrous fatuity involved in the spectacle of a race looking into the wrong world and waiting with sanctified stupidity for the fulfillment of values that have slipped by them ungrasped all the while! When religion gave up its effort to realize values in the life here and fixed despairing eyes on heaven, it betokened the decay of primal human virtue and a sinking back into mystical fetishism. Came the Greek “loss of nerve” and the turning from earth to heaven for the realization of hopes ground to dust on earth. And this shift of philosophical view left the ground of culture lie fallow, and bred the rank growth that covered the whole terrain of the Dark Ages. There is needed no other warrant for the extension of the material of this chapter to some length. As things have turned out, it may well be that true location of the Egyptian Amenta, instead of being a mere point in academic scholarship, is the critical item in the life of culture today. The collapse of true religion is ever marked by its turning for its real experience from earth to mystical heavens.
Scholars have not sufficiently or capably reflected on the significant fact that ancient sacred books or Bibles have been largely Books of the Dead. The obvious glaring peculiarity of this fact has never seemed to occur to students. It should from the first have provoked wonder and curiosity that the sages of antiquity would have indited their great tomes of wisdom in such a form as to serve as manuals in the life to come, and not as guides for the life lived in the sphere in which the books were available! Only the heavy tradition that religion was a preparation for a life to come, instead of a way of life here, could have stifled this natural reaction to a situation that is odd enough in all conscience. It is no slight or inconsequential thing that Budge writes in one sentence of “. . . religious texts written for the benefit of the dead in all periods . . .” (of Egyptian history), without the least suspicion that he was penning an astonishing thing. It had been ponderously assumed by scholarship that the ancient sages were more concerned with the hereafter and the next world than with life down here. How the march of history would have swung into different highways had the world known that we living men were those “dead” for whom the sagas were inscribed by the masters of knowledge! And what must be the sobering realization for present reflection of the fact that the primeval revelation given to early races for the guidance and instruction of all humanity has missed entirely the world for which it was intended!
The scene of critical spiritual transactions is not “over there” in spirit land, but here in this inner arena of man’s consciousness. Life’s ac- counts do not remain suspended during our active experience on earth, to be closed and settled when the exertion is over. We are weaving the fabric and pattern of our creation of ourselves when we are awake on earth, not when we are at repose in ethereal heavens. The droning cry of lugubrious religionism for centuries has been to live life on earth merely as the preparation for heaven. But there is no logic in the idea of making preparation for rest! It is the other way around: rest is a preparation for more work. The positive expression of life is the exertion of effort to achieve progress. Rest is just the cessation of the effort, and needs no preparation. The character of our effort may, to be sure, determine the nature of our rest, yet one should say, rather, its completeness. Rest is in some degree correlative with the effort. Still the logic is indefeasible, that we work to achieve our purposes, and not to gain rest. The presumption that this life is of minor consequence and has value only as the stepping-stone to another where true being is alone achieved, is one facet of that enormous fatuity of which we are holding orthodox indoctrination guilty. It is the last mark of the miscarriage of primal truth in the scriptures that its meaning and application have been diverted from that world it was intended to instruct, and projected over into another where its code can have no utility whatever. The offices of religion have fled to heaven, and must be brought back to earth. This return can be effected only by the right interpretation of the term “the dead” and the true location of Amenta, the scene of the judgment, hell, purgatory and the resurrection, and the seat of all evolutionary experience.
Massey asserts that “the nether earth was the other half of this” and that the “Gospel history has been based upon that other earth of the Manes being mistaken for the earth of mortals.” But he errs on both counts. For the “other half of this” life is lived in a sphere which all faiths have located above this one, and not nether to it. The spirit world can in no way be localized as under our world. His second statement misses truth through the fact that the events in the life of the Manes are not, as he supposes, actual transactions in the afterdeath life of the spirit, but are only allegorical depictions of the soul’s history in this life.
But he makes a point of great moment, worthy of transcription, when he states that the miracles of Jesus were not possible as objective events: “They are historically impossible because they were pre-extant as mythical representations . . . in the drama of the Mysteries, that was as non-historical as the Christmas pantomime. The miracles ascribed to Jesus on earth had been previously assigned to Iusa, the divine healer, who was non-historical in the pre-Christian religion. Horus, whose other name is Jesus, is the performer of the ‘miracles’ which are repeated in the Gospels; and which were first performed as the mysteries in the divine nether-world. But if Horus or Iusa be made human on earth, as a Jew in Judea, we are suddenly hemmed in by the miraculous, at the center of a maze with nothing antecedent for a clue; no path that leads to the heart of the mystery, and no visible means of exit therefrom. With the introduction of the human personage on mundane ground, the mythical inevitably becomes the miraculous; thus the history was founded on the miracles, which are perversions of the mythology that was provably pre-extant.”
It was in these discernments that Massey rose to heights of clear vision and made a contribution to the cause of religious sanity that can’t be rated too highly. This passage is a clear and courageous declaration of the long-lost truth of the matter. He performed a great service in discrediting the myths as history; but by thrusting them over into a purely suppositious world as alleged realities in the “eschatology,” he committed his costly blunder.
It was into Amenta that both Horus and Jesus descended to preach to the souls in prison. Horus’ object in making the descent was to utter the words of his father to the lifeless ones. So in the Pistis Sophia Jesus passed into Amenta as the teacher of the great mysteries. It is said in this Gnostic work: “Jesus spake these words unto his disciples in the midst of Amenta.”18 Moreover a special title is assigned to Jesus in Amenta. He is called Aber-Amentho; “Jesus, that is to say, Aber-Amentho,” is a formula several times repeated. Aber means lord or ruler; so that again Jesus and Horus are exactly matched in title.
If Jesus delivered his discourses to his disciples “in Amenta,” all question of where this hidden land is located should be settled forever. For unless all Gospels are accounts of the doings of wraiths in a spectral underworld, as even Massey suggests, we are bound to suppose that their transactions, historical or mythical, transpired on earth.
The hazy character of current Egyptological scholarship is notably manifest in a passage from Budge dealing with the location of the Tuat. It is clearly given in the Ritual as the gate of entry to the under- world. But Budge gives it as “the name of a district or region, neither in heaven nor upon earth, where the dead dwelt and through which the sun passed during the night.” Where else the Tuat might be, if neither in heaven nor on earth, deponent saith not. In another place (Egyptian Literature, Vol. I) he defines the Tuat once more. “Tuat is a very ancient name for the Other World, which was situated either parallel to Egypt, or across the celestial ocean which surrounded either world.” This goes far to prove that the science of Egyptology has been but a blind groping amid ideas utterly uncomprehended by the “learned” men in the field. Indeed Budge himself has penned what may be called his own “confession” on this score. For its downright candor and its general importance, it is quite worthy of insertion:
“Is it true that the more the subject of Egyptian religion and mythology is studied the less is known about them? The question is, however, thoroughly justified and every honest worker will admit that there are at the present time scores of passages even in such a comparatively well-known compilation as the Book of the Dead which are inexplicable, and scores of allusions to a fundamentally important mythological character of which the meanings are still unknown.” (Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. I.)
The sun passing through the Tuat depicted the divine soul as passing through its incarnation, which being in the darkness of the body was charactered as the “dark night of the soul.” As it entered the gate of Amenta, called the Tuat, it crossed the horizon line dividing the region of spirit or heaven from earth or embodiment, and there it stood in the twilight. Budge says that “the Tuat was a duplicate of Egypt,” laid out in nomes, with a river valley and other similar features. This should further identify it with our earth.
In Amenta the soul was said to receive a new heart shaped “by certain gods in the nether world according to the deeds done in the body whilst the person was living on earth.” Here again is confusion and a missing of the intent. The award of a new heart is not made like that of a prize on graduation day. The larger meaning is that the whole long experience of many lives creates a new heart, which is the resultant of the transformation of nature that is gradually accomplished by the whole process. It is quite impossible to draw intelligible meaning from the scriptures if we limit our survey to a single span of earth life as a prelude to an infinite “eternity” in its wake. Reason forbids our conceding to the actions of a single life on earth sufficient moment to fix the destiny of a soul forever. Ancient theology rested on no such irrational presumption.
Many statements aver that the soul passes into Amenta at death. Massey felt sure that this clinched his location of Amenta in the ghost world. He did not dream that the “death” the ancients spoke of brought the soul here instead of taking it away. The soul’s statement that it came “to overthrow mine adversaries upon the earth” should have enlightened him. The soul descends here to battle the lower nature, the only adversary contemplated in the whole range of holy writ.
The attendants of the soul in its incarnational descent say to it (Ch. 128): “We put an end to thy ills through thy being smitten to earth” – “in death,” Massey himself adds. But not even this brought discovery to his mind. The following is highly indicative also:
“From beginning to end of the Ritual we see that it is a being once human, man or woman, who is the traveler through the underworld. . . .”19
Even though the Ritual assigned to this underworld pilgrim all human characteristics, scholars still have missed the hint that he was the human. Later texts give to the Manes in Amenta all the traits and features of the earth mortal.
The solar god in Amenta is addressed as “thou who givest light to the earth.” This again is definite localization on earth. It was the sun-god who “tunneled the mount of earth and hollowed out Amenta,” – mistaken for two operations when they are of course one and the same. The sun-god’s “boring through the earth” was one of the tropes.
Instruction is derived from noting how Massey’s erroneous idea entangled him in the following passage:
“The lower paradise of two is in the mount of earth, also called the funeral mount of Amenta. [Identification again.] The departed are not born immortals in that land; immortality is conditional. They have to fight and strive and wrestle with the powers of evil to compass it.”20
His own exegesis convicts him of shallow thinking here. For he has stated repeatedly that the soul enters his spectral Amenta with character already formed by “the deeds done in the body.” His Amenta could not be the arena of moral conflict or fight to win immortality. He has indeed called it “the earth of eternity.” It is too late to writhe and wrestle for moral victory when that “Amenta” is entered. The earth is the one and only theater of spiritual struggle. So he errs in reiterating:
“The world-to-be in the upper paradise was what they made it by hard labor and by purification in Amenta.”21
Massey’s mistake, in common with that of much general religious opinion on these matters, lies in his affirming that after the termination of life in the body the soul first descends into Amenta, then later rises into Paradise. This flies in the face of all basic postulation of theology itself. The soul descends in coming to earth, and there is no lower region left into which it can further descend on quitting the body. Its incarnation in flesh drags it down, its release at decease lets it free to return upward. The false downward direction assigned to the soul on leaving earth is a perversion of true original conception due to the loss of the meaning of the term “death” in world religion. Profound philosophical insight corroborates the instinctive unconditioned idea which rises in connection with physical death, that the soul when released begins its ascent to celestial habitat. Only perverted theology inculcated the thought of further descent when the war between flesh and mind is over. The dissipation of that idea is ample justification for this chapter. Another sentence pictures his entanglement in the net:
“The sub-terrestrial paradise was mapped out for the Manes to work in, and work out their salvation from the ills of the flesh and the blemishes of the life on earth.”
But how can he call this dark, murky, dismal underworld of sub-terrestrial life a “paradise”? In no religion is paradise pictured as a gloomy and forbidding place. This obsession of his, that the soul must first go down into a region of agony and bloody sweat and fiery torture after separation from the body and be purged of its earthly sins before it can rise into paradise, warrants all this dissertation upon it because it is the delusion of millions.
It is conceivable and admissible that the soul upon release from body may need a period of time to throw off some heavier portions of its clinging earthly mires, before it can return to the highest place of purity. But in all reason it must be contended that the locale of such a stage must be above, not below, the earth life. If the soul lingers a while on a level of purgation after life here, it is at least on a plane one step higher than this.
The general commitments of this whole discussion are of sufficient importance to excuse a general critique of the pious theory that life equalizes the balance of her forces by having us commit error in one world and do penance or make atonement in another. Almost universal as is the idea, there is little foundation for it in the great systems of early racial instruction. It is an excrescence on the body of saner teaching.
We must reap as we sow. “He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.” Half the world has been hypnotized with the belief that mankind can atone in an ethereal world for “deeds done in the body.” Perfect justice would obviously require that we return to the same world in which acts were committed to square the Karmic accounts engendered by them. To work out our salvation from the ills of the flesh, the soul must at least be where flesh is! If we are to erase the blemishes of earth life, we must return to those conditions which constituted the nature of the problem in the first instance. In spirit world the problem is no longer present; it has been dissolved with matter. If we break the dishes in the kitchen we can hardly atone by singing in the parlor. How it is presumed by an eccentric theology that we can work out concrete problems in a world where concreteness has been dissolved, is not at all easy to see. Those who plan to win the unfought battles of spiritual life from a bower in Paradise had better take counsel with the ancient wisdom. There is no heavenly “peace without victory,” or a victory without St. Paul’s long fight. The arcane science tells modern ignorance why we are on earth. If there was some sufficient primal necessity for our coming to wrestle with flesh and sense in the first instance, then it must be essential that we continue to come until these forces and natures are overcome and raised. The wisdom of civilizations already hoary in Egypt’s time is back of that pronouncement, and it is back of no other. The static angelic immortality of the Christians, the “eternal spiritual progress in heaven” of the Christian Scientists, Spiritualists and other cultists, find their rebuke and their correction in the venerable knowledge of the ancient sages.
The divine word or the Logos “is to be made truth in the life lived on earth, so that the spirit when it entered the hall of judgment, was, as it were, its own book of life, written for the all-seeing eye.” This is magnificent truth that Massey states; but how infinitely more meaningful it becomes when it is known that the hall of judgment entered by the spirit to reap the fruits of former action and amend its ways, is not a spirit plane after death, but this present “underworld,” to which it will return, after a rest, to face the further issues involved in its evolution. Returning here again and again, the soul brings its own record book of life with it, written in its own character. Character can be built nowhere else than on earth. No religion has ever said that we would be judged for deeds done in the spirit world! We are asleep then and inactive, and making no Karma, as the East phrases it. As St. Paul says, sin is lying dormant until incarnation again brings the moral agent, the soul, into subjection to the body of sense, when “sin springs to life.”
The title of one of the chapters of the Ritual is: “Of introducing the mummy into the Tuat on the day of burial.” This becomes absurd if the mummy is the corpse and the Tuat a spectral realm of wraiths. No more than that a man can take his gold watch with him to heaven could a mummy be introduced into Massey’s and Budge’s Tuat! The burial is the advent of the “mummified” soul or Karast into its coffin-case of the physical body.
Elsewhere Massey equates “the pillar of earth” with “the Tat of Amenta” and still fails to see identification. In another connection he writes:
“Thus we can identify Eve or Chavvak, as Kefa or Kep, the Great Mother, with Adam or Atum in the Garden of Amenta.”22
Were not Adam and Eve on earth?
A striking pronouncement in the Papyrus of Ani should have awakened true intelligence in his mind: “The soul, or Manes, makes the journey through Amenta in the two halves of sex.” Where are there male and female sex distinctions save on earth? And one wonders how the scholar could have written the following and failed to see the basis of identity suggested:
“The mortal on earth was made up of seven constituent parts. The Osiris in Amenta had seven souls, which were collated, put together and unified to become the ever-living one.” But all students of ancient literature are aware that earth was the place where the collecting and unifying of the seven constituent souls of man were accomplished. Again a most direct hint of the truth was ignored by the savants. Also Greek metaphysical science asserts that the soul came down through nine stages “and became connected with the sublunary world and a terrene body, as the ninth and most abject gradation of her descent.”23 Here is philosophical testimony that negates the existence of any hell or underworld below life in the body. Any observer of human life knows that it is possible for the soul to fall to the most abject baseness while in the body. We are in the lowest of the hells – Amenta.
Again and again the texts say that Amenta is the dwelling of Seb, the god of earth.
Massey states that in the resurrection “man ascended from the earth below, or from below the earth.” The first point of departure is correctly placed; but the alternative, meant to be an appositive, is ruled out of court. Man was never below the earth.
In the Jewish scriptures twelve sons of Jacob go down into Egypt for corn; in the Book of Amenta twelve sons of Ra make a journey toward the entrance to Amenta, represented as a gorge between two mountains, heaven and earth, and they go down into the lower Egypt of the twelve sons of Ra make a journey toward the entrance to Amenta, represented as a gorge between two mountains, heaven and earth, and they go down into the lower Egypt of the mythos. All this is figurative for the descent of the twelve legions of angels of light (sons of Ra, the Light-God) upon this planet. These are the true prototypes of the twelve tribes of Israel, to whom the Eternal as recorded in one of the prophetic books of the Old Testament, before their descent, calls: “The underworld awaits you with eager joy. It watches with open jaws to receive you.” (Moffatt Trans.) In the Egyptian this is matched by the statement that “the reptile, or dragon, ‘eternal devourer’ is his name (Ch. 17), lurks and watches in the ‘bight of Amenta’ for its prey.” The “bight of Amenta” accurately matches the “recess of earth” in the Greek terminology. In another form of typology the twelve are called “the twelve reapers of the harvest on earth, which was reaped in Amenta by Horus and the twelve.”24 If the spiritual harvest was reaped “on earth” and “in Amenta,” earth and Amenta must be the same place.
Massey places the habitat of those “people that sat in darkness” and who saw a great light, in Amenta. When Horus descends to them to bring the divine light, he is declared to “descend from heaven to the darkness of Amenta as the Light of the World.” How could he be the light of the world if he did not come to the world? It is our earth, surely, and this is once more equated with Amenta.
When Satan takes Jesus into a high mountain for his trial (against the powers of matter) it was a place whence “all the kingdoms of the earth could be seen.”
Horus in his coming is said to kindle a light in the dark of death for the soul “or spiritual image in Amenta.” But he came to earth to bring light. When he arrived at the outer door of Amenta in his rising Horus says: “I arrive at the confines of earth.” Says Massey himself: “He was to be the light of the world in the mortal sphere.” And when Horus comes to give the breath of life to the inert Manes in Amenta and delivers his message, it is declared in the Rubric (to Ch. 70): “If this scripture is known upon earth, he (the Osiris) will have power to come forth to day and walk upon the earth among the living.”
An important link in the chain of evidence is the statement that the seven principles or vehicles that were integrated in one organism to form perfect man “were all believed to come into existence after death.”25 But as the khat or physical body was one of them, and it was incontestably dropped from association with the others after death, the phrase “after death” must here be taken in the peculiar theological sense delineated in this analysis. For only after the death and burial in body could the god begin the work of wedding the seven principles into an aggregate harmony. We are now put in position to grasp the works that take place “after death.” For in the light of the new-old meaning of “death” all the experiences dramatized as occurring after bodily demise can be seen as falling within, not outside of, the limits of earthly life. Physical birth here is the beginning of that “death” and the events of life thus come “after (the beginning of) death.” Even that redoubtable verse in the Bible, “It is given unto man once to die, and after that the judgment,” does not overrule the exegesis here advanced. The integration of the seven constituent principles in man can’t be carried on without the khat in a spirit-Amenta.
In describing the judgment of Ani (the Manes-soul) in Amenta, Budge writes: “Ani is here depicted in human form and wearing garments and ornaments similar to those which he wore on earth.” To explain this, to him, odd phenomenon, Budge weaves an intricate conjecture that
“the body which he has in this hall of judgment can’t be the body with which he had been endowed on earth, and we can probably understand that it is his spiritual body, wearing the white robes of the beatified dead in the world beyond the grave, that we see.”
But what more natural than that the hierophants should portray the personage in the drama representing the human in the likeness of the human? The scrolls of old Egypt depicted Ani in human form and dress because it was to him as a human being that the meaning of the drama applied. Budge (and all others) first allocates the trial of the deceased to the nondescript astral world and then wonders why the human character is represented as human! If the pundits will have it that the Amenta in which the judgment trial takes place is the realm of flitting specters, they will have to contrive as best they can to solve the perplexities of Egyptian procedure created by their own preconceptions. But if they will follow the indicated guidance of the symbology employed, they will find their difficulties obviated as if by a touch of magic. For if Amenta is our earth, then Ani may be expected to appear as the typical human, with flesh, complexion and ornaments to match, and a little clothing if needed!
The text says of Teta: “This Teta hath broken forever his sleep in his dwelling which is upon earth.” This assures us that the Amenta sleep takes place upon our earth.
Using “day” in the sense of incarnation, another text reads: “Thou appearest upon the earth each day,” under the figure of the rising sun, of course.
Another chapter title (132) in the Book of the Dead gives a clue that is inerrant: “The chapter of causing a man to come back to see his house upon earth.” And in the Saitic Recension the “house” is said to be in the underworld. The two are then equated.
Another chapter (152) gives a quite illuminative title: “Of building a house upon the earth.” As this “house” is the temple which Jesus said he would re-erect “in three days,” and is the central structure of all Masonry, it is important to note that its erection takes place on earth.
“I died yesterday, but I come today,” exclaims the Manes (Ch. 179). “He sitteth as a living being in Amenta,” affirms another verse. These do not sound like the expressions of the real defunct.
Budge tells us that the duty of supplying meat, drink and apparel to the “dead” was deputed to Anup, Keb and Osiris. Anup was the guide of souls in the underworld; Keb (Seb) was the god of earth; Osiris was the ruler of the kingdom of the dead. All three distinctly locate the region of death on this globe.
The following from Budge is noteworthy:26
“For the goddess (Taht-I-em-hetep) adds, Amenti is a place of stupor and darkness, and death calleth every one to him, gods and men, and great and little are all one to him; he seizeth the babe as well as the old man. Yet [Budge adds] the Egyptians did not27 live wantonly, as if this life were a preparation for a gloomy death. They lived in expectation of passing into a region of light and glory.”
Here is powerful confirmation of the contention that the Egyptians could not have regarded the gloomy and darksome Amenta as the region of life after death, and that the soul ascended to realms of glory and brightness on leaving the body instead of descending into the scholars’ purgatory – Amenta. The Egyptians were taught in the Mysteries that this life was the Amenti of stupor and darkness, and out of it they would pass to rest and brighter scenes in the empyrean. Budge supposes the call of “death” to be from the earth to heaven, when it is from heaven to earth, on the thesis here established. The call of death was the summons to bright angelic spirits to enter the life in body. It was St. Paul’s “command.” No wonder the noted Egyptologist has to register some incomprehension over the fact that the Egyptians were cheery in the face of passing at death into what he supposed was the fearsome Amenta. Pluto’s rape of Proserpine should have enlightened him. The Grim Reaper calls all souls, when ready for the human trial, into the kingdom of “death.” The other Egyptian designation for death is notable: “‘Devourer of Millions of Years’ is his name.” This would indicate the total cycle of incarnations to be of great duration, which indeed all esoteric teaching asserts it to be. And still more significant is another title given him: “His name is either Suti (Sut) or Smam-ur, the Earth-soul.” There is no escaping the invincible evidence: to die is to live on earth.
There are not wanting forthright statements from the Egyptians themselves which should prove conclusive as to the point under discussion. Massey himself gives one of them:
“In the inscriptions on the sarcophagus of Seti the earth is used as equivalent to Amenti and opposed to heaven.”28
Yet he did not see that this inscription was destructive of his own interpretation. He says further:
“Also the sun descending into the underworld is thus addressed: ‘Open the Earth! traverse the Hades and the Sky! Ra, come to us!”
If now mundane life be found to be the seat of all human experience and human meaning, what must be made of the Biblical adjuration not to lay up treasures on earth? If this life is the scene and theater of destiny, why should it be ignored and scorned?
A part of the answer is that, to be sure, values are not held here in permanency. Obviously they could not be, if the bodies through which they are implemented disappear. But neither are they enjoyed forever in the spiritual existence which the soul has in the interim between lives. But the great and momentous question then arises: if they abide in perpetuity neither on earth nor in heaven, where are they preserved? The answer is: in the inner spiritual entity of the man wherever he goes; it is his permanent possession and he takes it with him always. It is his, whether in or out of the body, as St. Paul says. But – and this is the item of final import for man – though the gains of evolving life are not held on earth in perpetuity, it is on earth that they are won! And this knowledge is the sum and substance of philosophy. The soul comes to earth to win its pearl of great price in the depths of what is called the great sea of mortal life.
The scholar’s thesis that religious texts were written for the benefit of the dead is the dire result of the complete reversal of the meaning of ancient typology. All the offices of poetry vindicate the claim that imagery uses the less real to depict the more real; a natural process to depict a spiritual one; a fairy tale to portray the deepest living realities. But a perverted theology used the real to depict the unreal. As to the mummy, current misconception holds that its preservation was to suggest an absolutely unreal future for the defunct body that could have no future and for the soul that as certainly could not return to it. On the contrary, the symbolism centering about the mummy, an entirely insignificant and unreal thing, was an elaborate device to impress on living humanity the far more real experience of the immortal self interred in the coffin of the fleshly body, but immortalized there.
The Books of the Dead should be pondered by the Western world with a new intensity. For with the new canon of interpretation laid down in the present work to guide our thinking, the title will yield a stunning realization of the catastrophic blunder of sixteen centuries of theological blindness. And flashing through awakened intelligence will dawn that benign understanding that religious scripts were meant for human guidance through this benighted land of the dead, the only Amenta, Sheol, Hades, Tophet or underworld ever contemplated by the original framers of the grand mythos. And not the less impressive will be that philosophical recognition, at last as at first, that man is himself the mummy, “dead” on earth, but preserved to immortality by the injection of the Amrit or Soma juice of the Christ nature.
1. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 416.
2. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 644.
3. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 198.
4. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 211.
5. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 416.
6. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 648.
7. Iu, a name of the Egyptian Messiah, equivalent to Jesus or Horus.
8. As we saw, equals the “cave” of the body.
9. Upper Egypt, by the uranographic transfer, denotes the spiritual man and his spiritual body, while Lower Egypt denotes the carnal man and his body of flesh.
10. Sheol may be taken as identical with the Egyptian Amenta.
11. So named because of the golden hues of the chrysalis.
12. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 219.
13. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 213.
14. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 883.
15. Ritual, Ch. 173 (Renouf and Naville).
16. The specific significance of this term will appear in the chapter on Dismemberment.
17. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 190.
18. Mead’s Translation, p. 394.
19. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 210.
20. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 374.
21. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 415.
22. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 455.
23. Taylor: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 105.
24. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 709.
25. Budge: Introduction to the Book of the Dead, p. xc.
26. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, II, p. 144.
27. Italics are Budge’s.
28. The Natural Genesis, I, p. 525.
DISMEMBERMENT AND DISFIGUREMENT
The answer to the riddle of the generally feeble pulse of religion in the modern age has been compounded out of the material adduced in the preceding chapters. But there are many distinct doctrinal items the corruption of the significance of which is a strong ancillary cause of the reduced power of ancient faith, and one of these can now be enunciated. In the light of extended exposition we shall be able to see why it was that the gods’ descent into our realm, heralded by angel hosts as the event of supreme omen thus far in the history of the globe, has failed to bring to every mortal the climactic joy it was designed to release. It will be seen why the celestial tidings proclaimed of old to bring an era of peace and good-will to all men have stirred us so faintly. A false theology has stepped in between the supernal messengers and the minds of the sons of earth to dull the thrill of the “good news.” On the day of the Advent heaven’s arches rang with the proclamation of peace and amity among men on the basis of the fact that a fragment of divinity had been lodged in the holy of holies of the temple of each human body. Emanuel had come to dwell with man. But the exuberant joyousness of all mortal hearts over the event has been clogged. No longer the substance but only the shadow of the truth remains to kindle Yuletide ecstasy. The allegory of the birth in the stable or cave was devised to keep mankind in exultant memory of its divinity. Alas! It speaks no more of our divinity. It extols the godly nature of but one. The paeans of sacred hilarity that are raised for the birth of our Savior are appropriate and efficacious only as that Savior stands as symbol of the glorious birth within ourselves. Long ago Angelus Silesius, a Christian mystic, admonished Christendom:
“Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
But not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn; The cross on Golgotha thou lookest to in vain
Unless within thyself it be set up again.”
If the birth of the god in each individual heart is not the interior meaning of the Nativity, then we celebrate the event to no purpose. No amount of adoration accorded to a newborn king in Judea will avail to redeem a single wayward heart if the Christ Child is not eventually domiciled in the breast of the individual. The King of Righteousness must be cradled in the manger of each human self ere the myth can work its magic in the world.
This miscarriage of the vital significance of the event has come about entirely through the desuetude of the doctrine that may be denominated by the Greeks’ philosophical term, the god’s dismemberment. The reconstruction of pristine wisdom can’t be encompassed without the rehabilitation of this great doctrine. Sunk entirely out of sight, its restoration to its integral office in the body of theology will enable that science to function again with the semblance of its former power.
For the god came to earth not in his entirety, not in his single deific unity, but torn into hosts of fragments, grouped in twelve principal divisions. How could he hope to enter every mortal life, to tabernacle in every breast, if he came as one unit? This is just the mistake that Christian doctrinism made, fatal to humanity at large. It is a matter of simple logic. To be the divine guest in every human life he had to suffer fragmentation into as many portions as there were to be mortal children for him to father, in order that each might possess a share of his nature. This procedure was necessitated by the conditions extant. The terms under which the law of incubation operates require that the forces of life on any plane must take rootage in the soil of the kingdom below, as the sheer seeds of their own capabilities, and fragment their unity by division to accommodate their higher potencies to the lesser capacities of the lower organisms. These could not carry the heavier voltage of life in its unitary volume on the plane above. Man on earth could never implement and incorporate the full power of heaven. The embodiment of superior force in less capacious vehicles is accomplished by the partition of that upper unity into fragments, after the analogy of the oak tree in its annual production of a thousand embryonic units of its potential nature, each of which, when incubated in the mothering womb of the soil below it, is capable of regenerating its dying parent. And so every divine son of God raises his Father from the dead, as did Jesus and Horus. The god in man can’t move across the dividing line between the kingdoms, stepping from the divine level down into the human, without suffering a dismantling of his integrity and a partitioning of his “body” into a multitude. He must experience a diminution of his intellectual genius analogous to what a human mind would suffer if it was to be incorporated in the brain of a dog. And Daniel does say this very thing! “An animal’s mind shall be given unto him.” Only a portion of the god’s intellectual light, and that reduced in strength and luminosity, could function in the brain mechanism of animal man. In short, the gods could not transplant their full and mature selfhood into man, but only the seeds of its next cycle of growth. Indeed all projection of deity outward into matter is in embryonic form. Divine thought is sent out to take root in matter, there to have its cycle of new growth. The analogy of the oak and its acorns leaves nothing wanting for understanding of the evolutionary method. And it clarifies for us the incarnation, as being the planting, germinating, budding and flowering in mortal life, of the seed-germ of divinity. Jesus is the embryonic deity, born in the crib or crypt of man’s mortal nature.
Clement of Alexandria, describing the sacra of the Mysteries, speaks of those who ignorantly worship “a boy torn to pieces by the Titans.” This was Bacchus, in a part of whose Mystery ritual the body of the god was represented as torn into pieces by the Titans and scattered over the earth! It is significant that in the drama the god is cut into pieces while enticed into contemplating his image in a mirror. Greek philosophy spoke of the soul’s projecting a similitude of herself into matter. She was to reproduce a likeness of herself in flesh, for the lower must be formed in the image of the higher. Man is to reproduce, as the acorn the oak, the image of his maker. This detail is an intimation that it was the god’s inclination toward a life of sense, depicted by his bending down (Cf. the fable of Narcissus) to gaze delightedly at his reflection in the water of generation, that preceded his fall and divulsion into fragments. Jupiter, hurling his thunderbolts at the Titans, the forces of elementary nature, committed the members of Bacchus to Apollo, the Sun-god, that he might properly inter them. The god’s heart, which had been snatched away by Pallas (the higher mind) during the laceration, and preserved for a new generation, emerges, and about it as a nucleus the scattered members are reassembled, and he is restored to his pristine integrity!
Turning to Egypt there is found an exactly parallel mythos, which has the god Osiris in place of the Greek Dionysus. Says Budge:
“Throughout the Egyptian texts it is assumed that the god suffered death and mutilation at the hands of his enemies; that various members of his body were scattered about the land of Egypt; that his sister-wife Isis ‘sought him sorrowing’ and at length found him; that she fanned him with her wings and gave him air; that she raised up his body and was reunited with him; that she conceived and brought forth a child (Horus); and that he (Osiris) became the god and king of the underworld. In the legend of Osiris as given by Plutarch (De Iside et Osiride) it is said that he was murdered at the instigation of Typhon or Set, who tore the body into fourteen pieces, which he scattered throughout the land; Isis collected these pieces. . . .”1
It is hard to think that this legend or glyph of our evolutionary history has stood in the books for five thousand years and failed eventually to illuminate the race’s understanding of its own cosmic situation.
Osiris was not the only sun-deity whose body suffered dismemberment in the Egyptian pantheon, for Ptah, an earlier god, shared the same mythic fate. Under his name of Ptah-Sekari he underwent fragmentation as did Osiris. For “Sekari is the title of the suffering Ptah, and sekar means to cut; cut in pieces; sacrifice; or, as we have the word in English, to score or scarify.”2 Ptah was said to be the earliest form of God the Father, who became a voluntary sacrifice in “Egypt,” and who, in the name of Sekari, was the silent sufferer, the coffined one, the deity that opened the nether world for the Manes. As a solar god he went down into Amenta. There he died and rose again. Atum, son of Ptah, also became the voluntary sacrifice as the source of life to mortals. As the “silent Sekari” Ptah was an earlier type of the figure of Jesus, who was as a lamb dumb before his shearers, and opened not his mouth against his accusers. The title of Sekari is in fact added to Osiris, as well as to Ptah, and as Osiris-Sekari he is the dismembered and mutilated mummy in his coffin. The Speaker in the Ritual cries: “The darkness in which Sekari dwells is terrifying to the weak.” The Egyptian festival of the resurrection, celebrated every year in the month Choiak (Nov. 27 to Dec. 26, Alexandrian year) was devoted to the god Osiris-Ptah-Sekari, “who had been dead and was alive again; cut to pieces and reconstituted with his vertebrae sound and not a bone of his body found to be broken or missing.” (Cf. the Gospels: “And they brake all his bones.” This was the form of the dismemberment, to be followed by the reconstitution.)
That which applied to the Osiris-god also applied to “the dead in Osiris.” (Cf. the Gospels: “Dead in Christ.”) “They were figuratively cut in pieces as the tangible image of abstract death.”3 “When the mortal entered Amenta it was in the likeness of Osiris, who had been bodily dismembered in his death, and who had to be reconstituted to rise again as the spirit that never died.”4 It is certain that the Manes was considered to have suffered dismemberment like his ensampler Osiris, because it is written that before the mortal Manes could attain the ultimate state of spirit in the image of Horus the immortal, he must be put together part by part like Osiris, the dismembered god. From a divided being he had to be made whole again as Neb-er-ter, “the god entire.” In one phase of the drama the deceased is put together bone by bone after the model of the backbone of Osiris. The backbone was an emblem of sustaining power, matching indeed the Tat cross of stability. In the Ritual (Ch. 102) Horus says: “I have come myself and delivered the god in his dismembered condition. I have healed the trunk and fastened the shoulder and made firm the leg.” Horus, entering the lower world to seek and to save that which is lost in the obscurity of matter, says (Ch. 78): “I advance whithersoever there lieth a wreck in the field of eternity.” On their drop into matter, the first episode in the gods’ mutilation was the loss of their intellectual unity, typified by the figurative cutting off of their heads. “And the god Horus shall cut off their heads in heaven where they are) in the form of feathered fowl, and their hind parts shall be on the earth in the form of animals. . . .” It is even directly stated that “Ra mutilates his own person” for the benefit of mortals. Thoth later came and healed the mutilations. As Thoth was the god of knowledge, it can be seen on what plane of comprehension the mutilation and healing are to be given meaning. The dismemberment was only the division of unified intellect into partial vision. The reconstitution of the torn divinity is referred to in the address to Teta, the “dead” king on earth: “Hail, hail! Rise up, thou Teta! Thou hast received thy head, thou hast embraced thy bones, thou hast gathered together thy flesh.”
In far India the Lord of Creation, Prajapati, was represented as having undergone dismemberment. Likewise Sarasvati. There is no question as to the wide prevalence of the symbol.
Nothing is more shattering to our modern sense of superiority and condescension with regard to early nations believed to have been “primitive” and ignorant, than to find in their literary relics the outlines of some of the grandest conceptions of Platonic or other high philosophic theory. In a Mexican legend we come upon the idea of the god’s dismemberment in a striking form. A story portrayed the union of physical man with a higher spirit under the imagery of mixing a bone with blood. The tale runs to the effect that the Great Mother of the gods instructs them, in the creation of man, to go down to Mistlanteuctli, the Lord of Hades, and beg him to give them a bone or some ashes of the dead, who are with him. These would represent the lower natural body. Having received this, they were told to sacrifice over it, sprinkling the blood from their own bodies upon it. This would typify the impartation of their own divine natures to the mortals. After consultation they dispatched one of their number, Xolotl, down to Hades. He succeeded in procuring a bone six feet long (a certain identification with the human body) from Mistlanteuctli and started off with it at full speed. Wroth at this, the infernal chief gave chase, causing Xolotl a hasty fall, in which the bone was broken in pieces. The messenger gathered up in all haste what he could, and despite the stumble made his escape. Reaching the earth he put the fragments of bone into a basin and all the gods drew blood from their bodies and sprinkled it into the vessel. On the fourth day there was a movement among the wetted bones and a boy lay there before all, and in four days more of blood-letting and sprinkling, a girl came to life. If the Bible student is inclined to disdain this myth as profitless, let him turn to Ezekiel (37) and reflect on what he finds there. For the Biblical fable of the valley of dry bones contains five or six distinct points of identity with this legend: the operation of the gods upon the lifeless bones, a noise, a stirring and movement among the bones, a coming together and eventual constitution of them into living bodies, with flesh and sinew, and their creation as humans, male and female, as in Genesis.
The early Egyptians laconically dramatized the doctrine of dismem- berment, but the intellectual Greeks wrote elaborate disquisitions upon its import. It is set forth by the Platonists with dialectical precision. The doctrine grows out of the very laws of thought. It is no whimsical speculative fancy. It rests on a logical necessity. For if life is to proceed from primal unity to manifest multiplicity and diversity, there is no way for the One to multiply itself save by an initial division of itself. Life proceeds from oneness and identity of nature into number and differentiation, and the structure of thought requires that multiformity arise from unity by partition of that unity. The One must break himself into pieces, tear himself apart, and this is the meaning of the mutilations and exsections of the gods. The One must give himself to division. And with division comes addition of forms, multiplication of units and combinations, but subtraction of deific power in the divided parts.
Each wave of creative impulse quivered outward from the central heart of being and, like falling water, body-blood and tree-sap, was fragmented by the resistance of matter. From plane to plane the dispersion continued. Wholes were broken into parts, which as wholes on their own plane went into further partition to plant the field of the next lower level. With his own inseparable being torn into multiple division, and each part an integral unit of the total, his life is seminally distributed in each. He lives in the parts and the parts live in him. The fragments are the cells of his body. “We are the members of one body, and Christ is the head.” So Greek philosophy states that “each superior divinity becomes the leader of a multitude, generated from himself.” And at last there is the basis for comprehensible sense in the phrase “the Lord of Hosts.” Each deity is the lord of a host, who are the fragmented children of his own body.
Each unit of division, when incubated in the lower realm, begins to renew its father’s life. It must arise and return unto the father’s estate. The son must restore the parent who has died in him to his former greatness, with something added. He must raise that which has fallen and redeem that which has been lost. No one shall see the father save him to whom the son revealeth him. This was the typical function of Horus in relation to Osiris in Egypt, as it was that of Jesus to God his Father in the Gospels.
Buried within the heart of each fragment, then, is the hidden lord of divine life, and from no one is he absent. He dwells there to be the guide, the guardian, the comforter and informing intelligence of the organism. He is the holy spirit, the flame, the ray, the lamp unto our feet. Says St. Paul (I Cor. 4:7): “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts . . . but we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” The ancients oft termed this presence the daemon or guardian angel, as in the famous case of Socrates. He is that attendant monitor who stands behind the scenes of the outer life, instant to bless, ready to save, a never-failing help in trouble. His counsel is never lacking, if one seeks it or has not previously stilled its small voice. It reasons with us until many times seven. It abides within our inner shrine, patiently awaiting the hour of our discovery and recognition of its presence.
We must take time to hear the voice of Greek wisdom anent the dismemberment:
“In the first place, then, we are made up from fragments (says Olympiodorus), because, through falling into generation, our life has proceeded into the most distant and extreme division; and from Titanic fragments, because the Titans are the ultimate artificers of things, and stand immediately next to whatever is constituted from them. But furthermore, our irrational life is Titanic, by which the rational and higher life is torn to pieces. Hence when we disperse the Dionysus, or intuitive intellect contained in the secret recesses of our nature, breaking in pieces the kindred and divine form of our essence, and which communicates, as it were, both with things subordinate and supreme, then we become the Titans (or apostates); but when we establish ourselves in union with this Dionysiacal or kindred form, then we become Bacchuses, or perfect guardians and keepers of our irrational life; for Dionysus, whom in this respect we resemble, is himself an ephorus or guardian deity; dissolving at his pleasure the bonds by which the soul is united to the body, since he is the cause of a parted life. But it is necessary that the passive or feminine nature of our irrational part, through which we are bound to body, and which is nothing more than the resounding echo, as it were, of soul, should suffer the punishment incurred by descent; for when the soul casts aside the (divine) peculiarity of her nature, she requires her own, but at the same time, a multiform body, that she may again become in need of a common form, which she has lost through Titanic dispersion in matter.”5
“Now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” Had we held our culture closer to the heart of Greek philosophy we should have seen the whole of things more clearly. We are the Titans who tore the divine philosophical fire away from the central altar in the empyrean and scattered it like sparks amongst the race of mortals. And these Titans, or Satanic hosts, were those apostates who compounded the felony of stealing divine fire by further carrying its dispersion into remote depths of matter. Yet they were the agents of deity to bring salvation, or the purifying, cleansing fire, to man on earth. They distributed the divine life in fragments among mortals, administering the cosmic Eucharist of the broken body and shed blood of the gods for a benison to all humanity. The divine intellectual power, the mind of the god, was divided amongst us, not, however, with the loss of the total unity of the godhead on his own plane. Only his lower fragments in body felt their reduction to poverty. Says Taylor:
And thus much for the mysteries of Bacchus, which, as well as those of Ceres, relate in one part to the descent of a partial intellect into matter, and its condition while united with the dark tenement of body; but there appears to be this difference between the two, that in the fable of Ceres and Proserpina, the descent of the whole rational soul is considered; and in that of Bacchus the scattering and going forth of that supreme part alone of our nature which we properly characterize by the appellation of intellect.”6
In Proclus’ Hymn to Minerva we have a spirited statement of the unified god-mind, Bacchus, fragmented:
“The Titans fell against his life conspired;
And with relentless rage and thirst for gore,
Their hands his members into fragments tore.”
Olympiodorus unfolds the dialectical thesis in three propositions: (1). It is necessary that soul place a likeness of herself in body. (2). It is essential that she should sympathize with this image of herself, as it tends to seek integration with its parent. (3). “Being situated in a divided nature, it is necessary that she should be torn to pieces and fall into a last separation,” after which she shall free herself from the simulacrum and rise again to unity. The gods impart their divided essence to mortals and then the fragments seek to rejoin their parents and be united again with them in nature. Bacchus pursued his image, formed in the mirror of matter, and thus was carried downward and scattered into fragments. But Apollo collected the fragments and restored them to union in the heavens.
If the Bible student judges all this to be foreign to his interpretation of his Book of Wisdom, let him consult the nineteenth chapter of Judges, and read the story of the rape and destruction of the concubine of a man whose name is not given, but described as “a Levite . . . in the remote highlands of Ephraim,” which would seem to identify him with some higher spiritual principle. The concubine, who left for her father’s house in a fit of rage, would perhaps correspond to Proserpina, the detached incarnating soul. The man sought her, and after long dallying with her reluctant father, started home with her, “from Bethlehem to the remote highlands of Ephraim.” At Gibeah, among the Banjaminites, they lodged over night, and there the unruly citizens, “certain sons of Belial” (our lower propensities) attacked the house, forcing the man finally to send out his host’s virgin daughter and his own concubine to be ravished by the crowd. In the morning he lifted the concubine’s body on his ass and took her home. Here “he took a knife and cut up the concubine’s body, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, which he sent all over the country of Israel, telling his messengers to ask all the inhabitants, ‘Was ever such a crime committed since the Israelites left Egypt?’” Twelve baskets of fragments in the New Testament miracle; twelve legions of angels ready to come to Jesus’ assistance in the garden of Gethsemane; twelve stones set in the midst of the Jordan when Joshua led the Israelites from Amenta into the Promised Land; twelve fragments of the soul’s dismembered life in the story in Judges! If the literalist insists that Judges is talking about a concubine in the flesh, and not a principle of divided intellect in Greek philosophy, the all-sufficient answer is that he thus keeps the incidents of his Book on a level where they mean nothing and hold no instruction or appeal for the mind of man. And the proof of this is that on the level on which he keeps them nobody pays any attention to them. Only through Greek philosophy can we lift such neglected allegories to a height of impressive significance.
In the “miracle” of the Lord’s feeding the five thousand with the loaves and fishes in the Gospel narrative we have a repetition of the dramatization of the Eucharistic rite minus only the accompanying statement from the Christ himself that the loaves were his own body, broken for the multitude of humans. We have set the stage certainly however, for the first full and clear comprehension of the meaning of the disciples’ “gathering up” (the Egyptian reconstitution) twelve baskets of fragments. In multiplying the bread, he dramatized the doctrine of the dismemberment, which was in twelve main sections or groups.
But Christian intelligence is not aware that in the very heart of its own chief rite of formalism this great doctrine lives in unsuspected completeness. St. Paul makes a specific announcement of it in I Corinthians (11:23):
“I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself, namely, that on the night he was betrayed the Lord Jesus took a loaf, and after thanking God he broke it, saying, ‘This means my body broken for you; do this in memory of me.”
Here is the fragmentation of the god announced at the heart of the Christian Eucharist! The body of the Messiah broken for us! The main symbol in all Christian ritual is the breaking of a piece of bread into fragments and distributing them out among the communicants! And all theological acumen has missed the relation of this to Greek Platonism just because the recital was not explicit enough to state that the Lord’s body was broken into pieces.
Scholars have long quarreled over the word translated “broken,” and will do so again, doubtless more violently than before, when the attempt is made to relate its meaning to the Greek doctrine of dismemberment here suggested. But the quarrel is gratuitous. There may be dispute about the word, but there can be no dispute about the act of breaking the bread, which dramatizes the meaning. For Jesus dismembered the bread as the indisputable outward symbol of the cosmic truth of his fragmented body of spirit; and to avoid the use of the participle “broken” in the verse would be a faithless betrayal of the obvious meaning of the text. Here then is Greek esoteric philosophy functioning on the innermost altar of the Christian faith!
The entire temple of Christian theology would be beautified and strengthened if this cardinal doctrine could once more be adequately envisaged and included in living presentation. But, the true meaning lost, and the spiritual signification deeply buried under the outer debris of the myths, the Church has nothing more sublime to offer its devo- tees than the picture of a physical body suffering alleged laceration on a wooden cross! Such a body could not rise and be reconstituted. But the unit body of deific virtue, distributed out into myriad earthly vessels of human life, broken thus and buried piecemeal in the soil of mortal flesh, could be reassembled and reunited in the increasing brotherhood of humanity. There is no truth in ancient scripture outside of a spiritual rendering of the material. As soon as the Church returns to the true original meaning of the “broken body of our Lord,” it may take up again its prime function as nourisher of the souls of men.
Incarnation brought dismemberment; but this was not the only form of diminished power and beauty incurred in the process. The god also suffered many kinds of disfigurement. Dead and buried in matter, he was typed under a variety of figures representing his suffering and deformity. The depictions included those of a decrepit old man, a wizened babe (the mummy-Christ), a maimed, crippled, wounded, dumb, deformed, disfigured, demoniac, deaf, naked and ugly little child! He was bereft in every particular. Several of the early Church Fathers, misled by the change from drama to alleged history, actually described the person of Jesus as not comely and radiant, but ugly and deformed! This is but one of the many absurdities that came to light when allegorism was converted over into realism. Some of the disfigurement material from the Scriptures must be presented here briefly:
“In the Egyptian mysteries, all who enter the nether world as Manes to rise again as spirits, are blind and deaf and dumb and maimed and impotent because they are the dead. Their condition is typified by that of the mortal Horus who is portrayed as blind and maimed, deaf and dumb, in An-ar-ef, the abode of occultation, the house of obscurity . . . where all the citizens were deaf and dumb, maimed and blind, awaiting the cure that only came with the divine healer, who is Horus of the resurrection in the Ritual, or Khnum, the caster out of demons, or Iu-em-hetep, the healer, or Jesus in the Gospels, gnostic or agnostic. This restoring of sight to the blind man, or the two blind men, was one of the mysteries of Amenta that is reproduced amongst the miracles in the canonical Gospels.”7
When Horus, the deliverer, descends into Amenta he is hailed as the Prince in the City of the Blind; that is, of the dead who are sleeping in their prison cells. He comes to shine into their sepulchers and to restore spiritual sight to the blind on earth. Horus is designated “he who dissipates the darkness and gives eyes to the gods in obscurity.”8
“The typical blind man in Amenta is Horus in the gloom of his sightless condition, as the human soul obscured in matter, or groping in the darkness of the grave. Sut has deprived him of his faculties. This is Horus An-ar-ef in the city of the blind.”
What becomes of the Gospel healings and miraculous cures in the light of this antecedent material in the Egyptian scripts? It is a question momentous for the future of orthodoxy. There seems to be but one answer open to sincerity: the New Testament “miracles” are the reproductions of ancient Egyptian religious dramatizations in the Mysteries, and not actual occurrences.
Horus, prince in the city of blindness, as his father was king in the realm of the dead, comes to reconstitute his father whole and entire, and to give lost sight to all those dead as and in Osiris. The Manes were all blind, and the god had to work a magical operation on them to restore their sight. We have the Gospels dramatizing the god’s opening up of intellectual faculty when at the typical age of twelve years he makes his transformation into the adult. The Egyptian emblem of the hawk’s head given him at that epoch betokens his restored sight. His eye, stolen from him by Sut, is then restored. Under the astrological sign of Orion Horus was typed as the god of the night or dark, the blind god who received sight at dawn. He describes himself as the mortal born blind and dumb in An-ar-ef, the abode of occultation, but who in regaining his own sight will likewise open the eyes of the prisoners in their cells. The circle of the gods rejoices at seeing Horus take his father’s throne and scepter and rule over the earth, replacing blindness with spiritual sight.
A most suggestive portrayal of this condition was hinted at in a calendar published in 1878 at Alexandria, in which there is recited a tradition that on December 19 “serpents become blind,” and that on March 24 they “open their eyes.” (A. Nourse, p. 24). As the serpent typed here the divine soul, the imagery is readily grasped. One must connect the story with the yearly astrology to see its full appropriateness. We read that three months of the year were assigned to the blind serpent or dragon in the abyss. The three months, as elsewhere three days and the three kingdoms below the human, figured the period of the god’s burial in the material worlds. “As Jonas was three days in the whale’s belly, so must the Son of Man be three days in the bowels of the earth.”
Jesus after his baptism announces his messianic commission to preach “recovery of sight to the blind,” and healing to them that are bruised. And St. Paul writes that we wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, “who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation.” Of Jesus it is written that “to many blind he gave sight,” not physical but spiritual.
The story of Samson, the luni-solar hero, does not omit the feature of loss of sight, when, as the god in incarnation, he is shorn of his power and bound helpless. He is eyeless in Gaza, pitiful and forlorn, like “the blind Orion hungering for the morn” – the return of the lost light. The Hebrews have a Talmudic tradition that Samson was lame in both his feet, which was also the status of the child-Horus, who was pictured as maimed and halt in his lower members, the crippled deity, as he is called by Plutarch.
Isaiah’s chapter (61) in which the Manes announces that the Lord has sent him to bind up the broken-hearted and to open blind eyes, has been noted. But Isaiah has a far more touching portraiture of the suffering servant in reference to his disfigurement in chapter 53:
“His visage was so marred, more than any man, and his form more than
the sons of men.
Disfigured till he seemed a man no more,
Deformed out of the semblance of a man.”
Horus bewails the loss of his eye to Sut who has pierced it, or stolen it. He cries: “I am Horus. I come to search for mine eyes.” In the spring Sut restores the god’s sight.
The mouse, the mole and the shrewmouse were all employed as symbols of the soul shut up in darkness, in the crypt of the body. Yet only by such burrowing in the dark underworld could the soul be transformed into a new and higher stage of life.
Harpocrates, the Greek-Egyptian god of healing, is traceable to the Egyptian Har-p-khart, who as a crippled deity was said to be begotten in the dark. The term “khart” signifies a deformed child, and includes also the idea of speechless. It should not be overlooked that our own word “infant,” from the Latin, means “speechless!” Har(Horus) -p(the) -khart(speechless child) was the character depicting the god just born into matter, and not yet able to manifest or utter “the Word made Truth.” One of the supreme features of Horus’ mission was to open dumb mouths, or to give mouths to the dumb. This was to cause their lives to express the words of power and truth. Isaiah sings that “the dumb are to break forth into singing and the lame to leap for joy.” Jesus was silent when accused. This is all to typify the infant god in the flesh, who has not yet learned to articulate the living reality of spiritual truth. As the human infant is speechless for an initial period of some two years, so the god is silent in the expression of his divine nature for a corresponding period at the beginning of his incarnate nature for a corresponding period at the beginning of his incarnate sojourn. At the judgment trial vindication for the Manes was assured if he could assert that he had given bread to the hungry, speech to the speechless, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked and a boat to him that had suffered shipwreck on the Nile – of life.
A further anthropological reference of great importance is suggested by the typology of the dawn of speech, in that it carries an allusion to the opening up of the faculty of speech by the race with the coming of the gods. Psychology reveals that speech was necessary for the development of thought. But it is just as rational to say that the power to think made speech possible.
Deprivation of breath was another form of typology for “the dead.” And with breathing stopped, there was also the motionless heart. The Osiris says:
“I am motionless in the fields of those who are dumb in death. But I shall wake, and my soul shall speak in the dwelling of Tum, the Lord of Annu.”
For it was in Beth-Annu (Bethany) in Egypt, the place of weeping, that Osiris lay in his coffin inert and motionless. Hence Osiris is portrayed in the likeness of the mummy called “the breathless one”; also “the god with the non-beating heart.” Mummification set the seal of indestructability on the soul. The god in his advent announces:
“I utter Ra’s words to the men of the present generation, and I repeat his words to him who is deprived of breath” – the Manes in Amenta. (Rit., Ch. 36). Multitudes of crippled people followed Jesus into the mountains and cast themselves at his feet to be healed. “And he healed them; insomuch that the multitude wondered when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking and the blind seeing.” (Matt. 15:29 ff.).
A festival known as the Hakera was celebrated in Egypt. The name means “fasting” and the festival terminated the fasting with a feast. It was for the benefit of those who had been deprived of breath, who were dumb and blind, motionless and inert – in short, the deceased lying helpless like “wrecks” in the fields of Amenta.
Upon the Gnostic monuments in the Roman catacombs Jesus is portrayed in one of his two characters, matching Horus, as the little, old and ugly Jesus; in the other he corresponds to Horus of the beautiful face. The first is the suffering infant Messiah, the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, the despised and afflicted one. As Jesus in this character was never more than twelve years of age, “Old Child was his name.” In the Pistis Sophia Jesus is again pictured in his two characters, the first being that of the puny child, the mortal Horus, born of the virgin mother (nature) as her blind and deaf, her dumb and impubescent child. It was the human Horus again who was pierced and tortured by Sut in death until the day of his triumph, when he rose to become king and conqueror in his turn. We are by this exposition permitted to see the mythical character of Job, the assailed one, subjected to the assaults of Sut (Satan). Practically all the central figures of the Old Testament enact the role of the Manes, the soul of buried deity.
In the Orphic Tablets the dead person is thus addressed: “Hail, thou who hast endured the suffering, such as thou hadst never suffered before; thou hast become god from man!” One portion of the Mystery ritual recited the sufferings of Psyche in the underworld of Pluto and her rescue by Eros, as described by Apuleius (The Golden Ass), in the cult of Isis. “Almost always,” says Dr. Cheetham, speaking of the Mysteries, “the suffering of a god – suffering followed by triumph – seems to have been the subject of the sacred drama.”9 The minds of the neophytes were prepared for the glorious breaking of the light by the preliminary ordeal of darkness, fatigue and terrors, typical of this earth life. Carpenter10 compares with the wounding of the side of Jesus an Aztec ceremonial of lighting a holy fire and communicating it to the multitude from the wounded breast of a human victim, celebrated every fifty-two years, when the constellation of the Pleiades is at the zenith. (Prescott, Conquest of Mexico, Bk. I, Ch. 4).
In the Ritual the Manes cries: “Decree this, O Atum, that if I see thy face, I shall not be pained by the signs of thy sufferings.” In Luke (24:26) it is asked: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and enter into his glory?” And John declares that in the world we shall have tribulation.
Budge describes a form of the suffering Messiah:
“Thus the great god Ra, when bitten by the adder which Isis made, suffered violent pains in his body, and the sweat of agony rolled down his face, and he would have died if Isis had not treated him after he revealed to her his hidden name.”11
The serpent formed by the goddess is the lower nature which is made to sting the life of the god into a coma upon his incarnation. A prayer in the Ritual pleads that the divine beings do away with the sorrow of the Osiris-Nu, his sufferings and his pains, and that his ills be removed. Massey draws a composite picture of the god beset with material limitation:
“This was the Horus of the incarnation, the god made flesh in the imperfect human form, the type of voluntary sacrifice, the image of suffering; being an innocent little child, maimed in his lower members, marred in his visage, lame and blind and dumb and altogether imperfect.”12
But the most appealing portrayal of this phase of the Christ experience, save that of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the picture of the “suffering servant” in Isaiah (Ch. 53). It is so striking that we must make space for it, in the beautiful language of the Moffatt translation:
“He was despised and shunned by men,
A man of pain who knew what sickness was;
like one from whom men turn with shuddering,
he was despised, we took no heed of him.
And yet ours was the pain he bore,
the sorrow he endured!
We thought him suffering from a stroke
at God’s own hand; yet he was wounded because we had sinned;
‘twas our misdeeds that crushed him;
‘twas for our welfare that he was chastised;
the blows that fell to him
have brought us healing.
. . . . . .
And the Eternal laid on him
the guilt of all of us.
He was ill-treated, yet he bore it humbly,
he never would complain;
Dumb as a sheep led to the slaughter,
dumb as a ewe before the shearers.
They did away with him unjustly;
and who heeded how he fell,
torn from the land of the living,
struck down for sins of ours?
They laid him in a felon’s grave,
and buried him with criminals,
though he was guilty of no violence
nor had he uttered a false word.
. . . . . .
he shall succeed triumphantly,
since he has shed his life-blood,
and let himself be numbered among rebels,
bearing the great world’s sins
and interposing for rebellious men.”
This is a graphic depiction of the nature and office of the Christos, and written long before the appearance of any historical Jesus! The Gospel “life” of Jesus, Isaiah’s account of the suffering servant, the chronicle of Job’s afflictions, the pre-Christian Gnostic story of the suffering Christ-Aeon and the description of the pierced, wounded, crucified Horus of antique Egyptian records, match each other with unmistakable fidelity.
The diminished glory of descending godhood is also portrayed under the figure of disrobing. As the soul descends from one plane to another she is represented as being divested of one of her robes of glory at each step. The student of esotericism will see at once the meaning of this. Each plane clothes the soul with a body of its proper matter, pneumatikon, psychikon, physikon, or spiritual, psychic, physical. As the soul steps down the grades of being she takes on a coarser body, which is equivalent to her losing a more ethereal one, at each landing. And the incubus of each heavier one yields her a less and less vivid contact with reality. At last she descends virtually disrobed into the prison and tomb of the gross body.
In the Ritual (Ch. 71) we are told that in his incarnation Horus, or Iu, the Su, (Iusu, Jesu, or Jesus) “disrobes himself” to “reveal himself” when he “presents himself to the earth.” The Babylonian goddess Ishtar is said to have made her descent through seven gates, at each of which she was stripped of one of her robes of glory.13 Massey gives us an important point in Comparative Religion in the following:
“The mutilation of Osiris in his coffin, the stripping of his corpse and tearing it asunder by Sut, who scattered it piecemeal, is represented by the stripping of the dead body of Jesus whilst it still hung on the cross, and parting his garments among the spoilers. ‘For they stripped him and put on him a scarlet robe.’”14
The god sinking into earthly embodiment is stripped of his finer robes and covered with the scarlet, red-blooded body of flesh!
In the Ritual (Ch. 172) the text runs:
“Thou puttest on the pure garment and thou divistest thyself of the apron when thou stretchest thyself upon the funeral bed. Thou receivest a bandage of the finest linen.”
Which is to say, that on the return, the coarse bodies are thrown off and the robes of radiant light resumed. And what more apt symbol of the fleshly body than an apron? It is a garment put on to fend off the grime of earth, to hang between the purity of spirit and the smudginess of matter!
It is of the utmost significance that in the Genesis account it is twice said that Adam and Eve knew they were naked, and that they felt no shame the first time, but were overcome with shame after their fall into nakedness. The sense is that their first nakedness came while they were still in the “garden,” the celestial paradise, and probably intimates their freedom from coarse garments of the lower natures. Their later nakedness came when they had been spiritually stripped, though clothed with coats of skin, or fleshly vestures. The “shame” arose from the god’s recognition of his having fallen into a state of comparative degradation in which he would have to resort to sexual methods of procreation, when hitherto his life had been renewed by the sheer force of divine will, called kriyashakti in the East. Paul speaks of this body of our shame, as do Plotinus and the Neo-Platonists generally. It is the main basis of the widespread ascetic inclination in history. And the Jesus of the Pistis Sophia tells Salome that his kingdom shall come when “thou hast trampled under foot the garment of shame” and restored the soul, split into male and female segments here on earth, to its pristine whole, or androgyne condition.
In the Ritual the judgment is designated as that of the clothed and naked. If the Manes appeared naked before the judges, it meant that he had not overcome the grossness of his physical nature and robed himself in more radiant spiritual garb. To appear clothed was to have resumed the shining vestments of light. There is comment on this in Revelation (16:15): “Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments lest he walk naked and see his shame.” The seductions of earth and flesh were strong enough to cause many of the Manes to lose the luster of their inner vestures. Thus disrobed of their finer garments, they presented the evidence of their poor condition to pass the ordeals of the judgment. What further light do we need to interpret Jesus’ parable of the man ejected from the marriage feast because he came in without a wedding garment? Massey comments:
“The Manes in the Ritual consist of the clothed and the naked. Those who pass the judgment hall become the clothed. The beatified spirits are invested with the robe of the righteous, the stole of Ra, in the garden.”15
In the resurrection ceremony of Osiris, the god is divested of his funerary garment and receives a bandage of the finest linen from the attendants of Ra (Rit., Ch. 172).
It is notable in this light that in Revelation the angel discerned in flight toward the earth came with outstretched wings “and veiled face.” And what Exodus says of Moses has meaning in this connection (Ch. 34):
“Whenever he went into the presence of the Eternal to speak to him, he took the veil off, till he came out again; and when he came out and gave the Israelites the orders he had received, the Israelites would notice that the face of Moses was in a glow; whereupon Moses drew the veil over his face again till he went into the presence of the Eternal.” In this symbolic fashion the wise seers of old represented the incarnational going in and out before the Lord, the adventuring of the immortal soul out into body where it put on the veils of matter and flesh, and its retiring again into the holiest shrine of spirit where it dropped its heavier outer bodies and again became “clothed in light as with a garment.”
In the Hindu, Egyptian and Greek Mystery rites the ceremony of indicating the soul’s pilgrimage round the Cycle of Necessity was performed over what was called the “Snake’s Hole,” and the “Inevitable Circle.” It was imaged by a coiled snake. A part of the rite was to strip the snake in token of its sloughing, a symbol of the divestiture of the soul to be clothed anew in bright raiment. Proclus states that in the most holy Mysteries the mystae were divested of their garments to receive a new divine nature, or vestment of salvation.
Horus covers the naked body of Osiris with a white robe when he comes to raise the inert one. This act is paralleled in the Hebrew scriptures when Shem and Japheth go in backward to cover the nakedness of their father Noah. The drunkenness of Noah here betokens the swooning which accompanies the descent, as already set forth.
A number of verses in the Bible yield new and impressive evidence if read in the sense here indicated. The “coats of skin” made for Adam and Eve by God would be taken as the outer physical vehicles. The Psalms entreat that “thy priests be clothed with righteousness.” Proverbs states that “drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” Isaiah speaks of the joyful ones being clothed with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. Jesus’ declaration that he was naked and “ye clothed me” would be inconsequential if taken as a historical fact. But in II Corinthians (Ch. 5) Paul gives strong confirmation of the higher sense:
“(For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we should be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life).”
“It makes me sigh, indeed, this yearning to be under the cover of my heavenly habitation, since I am sure that once so covered I shall not be ‘naked’ at the hour of death. I do sigh within this tent of mine with heavy anxiety – not that I want to be stripped, no, but to be under cover of the other, to have my mortal element absorbed by life . . . Come what may, then, I am confident; I know that while I reside in the body I am away from the Lord (for I have to lead my life in faith without seeing him); and in this confidence I would fain get away from the body and reside with the Lord.”
This is direct and eloquent confirmation of Greek and Egyptian philosophy in the Christian Book. Here is the soul conscious of its alienation from heaven, miserably exiled in the flesh, made poor in spirit, yet striving resolutely to carry the mortal burden up the hill to its summit. Revelation (3:17) has a passage hardly less germane:
“Thou knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked; I counsel thee to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that thou may be rich, white raiment to clothe you and prevent the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to rub on your eyes that you may see.”
Revelation (19:8) gives a definition of our spiritual clothing, when referring to the soul, the bride: “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, dazzling white; (the white linen is the righteousness of saints).” For those who rebel stubbornly against the mythical interpretation of the Bible, let it be noted that here the writer of holy gospel positively states that a physical thing, linen, is a spiritual quality.
And he that rode on the white horse is described as “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; (his name is called THE LOGOS of God).” And here a Bible personage is merely a figure of an item of Greek philosophy! Will we not be instructed by such things?
It needs but to make the transfer in meaning from material to ethereal or spiritual clothing to discern the depth of practical significance in these allusions. The revelation will be lost only for those who persist in the assumption that Oriental imagery was so much fanciful froth, and not an endeavor to delineate by poetic figure a veridical basis of fact and phenomena. Instead of vaunting ourselves in superiority over presumed primitive crudity, we may have to demonstrate even our own good rating as pupils of sage wisdom when that is presented. The ancients had more to conceal than we yet seem capable of grasping.
1. Introduction to the Book of the Dead, p. lxxx.
2. Massey: The Natural Genesis, I, p. 108 ff.
3. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 154.
4. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 479.
5. Taylor: Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 134.
6. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 152. 7. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 814.
8. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 815.
9. Quoted by Edward Carpenter: Pagan and Christian Creeds, p. 239.
10. Pagan and Christian Creeds, p. 28 (note).
11. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, I, p. 352.
12. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 525.
13. Talbot: The Legends of Ishtar; Records of the Past (Vol. I).
14. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 877.
15. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 466.
AMBROSIA AND NECTAR
Theological confusion over the ancient use of bread and wine and various foods as types of spiritual nourishment makes necessary a chapter to clarify these matters. All such figures – heavenly manna, bread, wheat, ambrosia, nectar, meat, corn, wine, honey, barley – are forms of typology suggestive of the deific life ordered to mortals for their immortal nutriment. The body of spiritual intellect, Ceres, which was the true “cereal” food for man, was crushed into bits and then welded into cake so that it might be “eaten” by mortals. The body of Christ was the intellectual bread broken to be made edible and assimilable by our lower range of digestive capacity. We could not eat the god in his wholeness, or his rawness. The golden grain of life-giving wheat had to be crushed, ground, lacerated, before it could be rendered fit food for our consumption, in the Eucharistic cake and the sacrificial meal on the altar. Jesus says that we must “eat” his body, and the Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans (Apocryphal) says that the wheat of God must be ground between the teeth of wild animals, our animal bodies, to be made the pure bread of Christ.
The breaking of the bread and the libation of the wine are now clearly seen to be emblematic of the partition of the unified energy of the god’s life for distribution to the races of men. The banquets of the gods, the Passover feasts, the funerary meals, the last suppers and the Totemic repasts were all forms of a primary Eucharist. Man was given the transcendent privilege of feeding upon the life of the gods! And it can be freely admitted that nowhere is the necessity of transferring a literal physical meaning over to a spiritual one more definitely apparent than here.
The final definitive meaning of the great Eucharistic rite is bound up in the reconstitution of lost significance in this doctrine. The entire debate as to the matter of transubstantiation, transfusion, the partaking of the material body and blood or their inner essence, finds its resolution in the premises of this interpretation. Strangely enough it is now seen to be possible to give up the physical meaning of the sacrament and yet take it as a thing of literal reality. Man is literally to eat his Lord’s body; only it is not a physical body. The eating is literal and real enough, but neither it nor the body eaten is physical. Stout human good sense has revolted at a rite of swallowing a physical body, but theology has failed to picture how we can partake of a spiritual essence or body of divinity. The absorption and transmutation of currents of deific life in our own nature is as possible as our digestion of food. The physical rite was only a symbol and, its higher meaning once apprehended, its efficacy is secured. The eating of bread and drinking of wine outwardly dramatize the inner reality, a transubstantiation which can be literally, though not physically, true.
Says St. Paul: shun idolatry, then, my beloved [doubtless the material sense of the symbols.]
I am speaking to sensible people: weigh my words for yourselves.
The cup of blessing which we bless,
is that not participating in the blood of Christ?
The bread we break,
is that not participating in the body of Christ?
(for many as we are, we are one Bread, one Body, since we all
partake of the one Bread).”1
But the nauseous ecclesiastical wrangling over whether the bread and wine were the body and blood of a historical Jesus, or merely symbols of them, points to the frightful desecration of the wholly spiritual and figurative nature of the drama. The inner sense of this mighty typology passed out of ken with the submergence of Greek wisdom under canonical literalism. The body of Christ, emblemed by bread, wheat, ambrosia, meat, flesh or other forms of solid food, can mean nothing but the substantial essence of divine nature; the blood, wine, nectar, ichor, honey and liquid forms of nourishment can mean only that same divinity when liquefied to be poured out in streams of nourishment for man. The cutting of meat is to render it macerable; the grinding of grain is to render it edible; the crushing of the grape for wine is to liquefy it for drinking. In every case there is the destruction of the bodily integrity of the food, and a fragmentation for better assimilation. The ritualism of Christianity thus still dramatizes the principles of Greek spiritual philosophy, which it persists in denying as part of a true religious system. If we were to eat the body of Christos and drink his blood, the first had to be macerated and the second liquefied.
Briefly, solid food typified divine essence on its own high plane, the more ethereal states being the more substantial! Liquid forms emblemed the same divine nature poured out in streams, “rivers of vivification,” for the feeding of “secondary natures.” Also in its descent godhood became admixed with the “watery” elements of the life down here and were further liquefied thereby. Solid food was the emblem of stability; liquid food the sign of that mobile essence which was to run out in blessing.
The several symbols must be looked at more minutely, for they cover deep suggestions of vital meaning. We take first that of bread. There is in all literature no more direct and compelling statement of the spiritual significance of bread than the verses of John’s Gospel (6:47 ff). Says Jesus:
“I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat Manna in the wilderness and have died; such is the bread that comes down from heaven, that a man shall eat of it and shall not die.
“And in truth the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.
“Verily, verily I say unto you, Unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have not life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
“For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me and I in him.”2
The bread is, then, the radiant divine principle of light and life. The blood is the pledge of the same life poured out for man’s behoof. But Jesus was not the only divine personage who offered his body and blood for the nourishment of mortals. Says Massey:
“Horus was not only the bread of life derived from heaven and the producer of bread in the character of Amsu, the husbandman; he also gave his flesh for food and his blood for drink.”3 Horus says (Rit., Ch. 53A): “I am the possessor of bread in Annu. I have bread in heaven with Ra.” Again the deceased says: “I am the lord of cakes in Annu; and my bread is in heaven with Ra, and my cakes are on the earth with the god Seb.” The distinction here between bread in heaven and cakes on earth is perhaps of vast significance, matching, as it does, many assertions that the soul is in heaven and the body on earth. The cake form of the divine pastry must have been regarded as a state of soul more highly advanced or refined by organic evolution. Many texts carry out the two types. The soul continues: “I eat of what they [the gods] eat there; and I eat of the cakes which are in the hall of the lord of sepulchral offerings” – or bread with the gods in heaven and cakes with the “dead” on earth. And in the Rubric to the 71st chapter of the Ritual this meaning is confirmed: “Sepulchral bread shall be given to him and he shall come forth into the presence of Ra day by day, and every day, regularly and continually.” Sepulchral bread, like the funerary meals, undoubtedly refers to the “bread of Seb,” or food of earth, earth and body being the sepulcher of the soul.
Wheat is much employed as a symbol. The law of divine incubation in matter is expressly intimated in Budge’s account of the Resurrection in Egypt:
“The grain which is put into the ground is the dead Osiris, and the grain which has germinated is the Osiris who has once again renewed his life.”4
The resurrection of Osiris is closely interwoven with the germination of wheat. Jesus announces: “My father giveth you the true bread out of heaven and giveth life unto the world.” And as Jesus was the divine bread out of heaven, the consubstantial essence with the Father, so Horus: “He is Horus, he is the flesh and blood of his father Osiris.” Horus in his Christological character says: “I am a soul and my soul is divine. I am he who produceth food. I am the food that perisheth not – in my name of self-originating force, together with Nu” – the Mother Heaven. (Rit., Ch. 85).
The body of Christ could not be mystically eaten in its wholeness and unreduced power. It had to be crushed and bruised, broken and mutilated, so that from its deep gashes would flow out the living streams. If taken literally and materially, the wounded side is not only gruesome, but carries only a feeble suggestion of its grand meaning. And herein lies the spiritual meaning of all blood sacrifice and “shed blood.” There is no truth found in it until for “blood” (of the gods) we read “divine intellect.” Had early theology made it clear, in a word, that the “shed blood” of God connoted spiritual force, which we must embody in our lives, there would have been a vastly less amount of actual “bloodshed” in European history! The god shed his life essence for us out of his earth-bruised body of deific mind.
On this divine wheat, it is said, Osiris and his followers lived. It was a form of Osiris himself, as the god who brought it from heaven, and those who are it and lived upon it nourished themselves upon their god. As he came to feed them, he is declared to have “provided them with food and drink as he passed through the Tuat.” How the partaking of the divine body would affect man is set forth by Budge:
“Eating and drinking with the spirits raised man’s nature and ‘made his spirit divine,’ and destroyed the feeling of separation which came with the appearance of death . . . And it must always be remembered that the altar was the place to possess the power of transmuting the offerings which were laid upon it and of turning them into spiritual entities of such a nature that they became suitable food for the god Osiris and his spirits.”5
But we are those spirits, the living men or Manes in this underworld. The recovered Logia, or “sayings of the Lord,” give a most direct allusion to the dismemberment doctrine of the Eucharist in the line: “the flesh of the Son of God, broken for all souls.”
By a slight shifting of the symbol, the ceremony performed in the rites of many lands, of eating the serpent and drinking the dragon’s blood, was a replica of the Eucharistic festival. For the serpent was universally a type of supernal wisdom – “wise as serpents” – or the intellectual nature of the gods.
Horus, we find, was the Kamite prototype of Bacchus, Lord of Wine. Like Bacchus and Jesus, Horus is the vine, whose season was celebrated at the Uaka festival, with prodigious rejoicing and a deluge of drink. The divine mania, declared by Plato to be better than laborious reason, was the heady transport resulting from the imbibing of the spiritual liquor of life. The Bacchic feast of intoxication was, however sensual in later performance, a token of the legitimate and blessed ecstasy of the soul upon partaking of the heavenly wine. The vine and the mixing bowl were constellated as celestial symbols, the latter as the cluster called the Crater (Latin: bowl) or the Goblet, the sacramental cup or grail. The juice of the grape was the blood of Horus or Osiris, in the Egyptian Eucharist.
The Manes in one of the chapters in the Ritual prays that he may have possession of all things whatsoever that were offered ritualistically for him in the nether world, the “table of offerings which was heaped” for him on earth, “the solicitations that were uttered” for him, “that he may feed upon the bread of Seb,” or food of earth experience. “Let me have possession of my funeral meals.” A fact that should loom large in any valuation of Eucharistic meaning is that the flat surface of the coffin lid of the mummified Osiris constituted the table of the Egyptian Last Supper. It was the board whereon were served the mortuary meals. This unmistakable connection of the Eucharist with the burial, which is only the passing of the god into the mummy or incarnate form, speaks volubly as to the hidden relation of the two symbolic operations. For the god, about to be buried in body, was to be eaten by the mortal nature.
Ancient tribes indulged in the rite of a symbolic feeding upon the body of their god. At times when spiritual symbology had passed into the literalism of ignorance and barbarity, a living victim was cut to pieces and actually eaten by the celebrants. In very early periods of the matriarchate, when the mother was the only known giver and fount of life, a living mother was dedicated to the office of hostia or victim, and her body cut up and eaten as a token of the distribution of her fecund life. “The primordial Eucharist was eating the Mother’s flesh and drinking her blood!6 A converted phase of this custom exhibits the idea of the “disrobing” combined with the Eucharistic rite:
“A young girl called (significantly) the Meriah, was stripped stark naked and bound with cords to a maypole crowned with flowers, and ultimately put to death . . . torn to pieces and partly eaten.”7
Human sacrifices were later commuted to animal offerings. And when crude natural instincts were softened by humane ideals, bread and wine were substituted. Thus one can see how an original spiritual conception, passing from hand to hand in the lapse of time and changing mores, reverts at one time to a brutal literalism amongst untamed peoples and again rises to symbolism in more cultured races. Through all stages, however, can be seen the lineaments of the germinal high spiritual idea back of each rite.
One of the Egyptian texts reads: “Shesmu cuts them in pieces and cooks them in his fiery cauldrons.” Another line runs: “O, Osiris-Pepi, the Sma-Bull is brought to thee cut in pieces.”
Expressing a phallic significance to the ritual, it is of interest to note that in very remote tribal celebrations of the Eucharist the female participants invited the fecundating offices of the males. The two sisters, or wife and sister, of Horus plead with the still recumbent god to arise and come and embrace them. There are two women in the Biblical resurrection scene. And when Isis and Nephthys invite the young lord to come to them, Isis says: “Thou comest to us from thy retreat to . . . distribute the bread of thy being, that the gods may live and men also.” This is of transcendent importance as pointing to the verification of the basic thesis of our study, that the dip into incarnation is an avenue of evolutionary advance for both the god and the animal-human in their linked lives. It is striking that in this context both Jesus and Horus are themselves raised up from death, and both raise up in turn those below. Two far separate streams of evolution are confluent in man, and both are going onward as the result of their co-operative life in one body. The Manes pleads:
“May I go in and come out without repulse at the pylons of the lords of the underworld; may there be given unto me loaves of bread in the house of coolness, and offerings of food in Annu (Heliopolis) and a homestead forever in Sekhet-Aarru (paradise), with wheat and barley therefor.”8
And the Rubric to this chapter recites that if the chapter be known by the Manes he shall come forth in Sekhet-Aarru, “and he shall eat of that wheat and barley and his limbs shall be nourished therewith, and his body shall be like unto the bodies of the gods.” Here is perfect matching of Egyptian script with Paul’s statement that Christ shall “change our vile body into the likeness of his glorious body.”
Holy Thursday was especially consecrated by the Roman Church to a commemoration of the Last Supper, and the institution of the Eucharistic meal was fixed, at which the corpus of the Christ, already dead, was laid out to be eaten sacramentally. In the Gospels the Last Supper, with Jesus present, is eaten before the crucifixion has occurred. There is obviously confusion of ancient ritualistic practice here, yet strangely enough no grave violence is done to the inner significance either way, since the Christ was “dead” in the one sense, and alive in the other. The whole of incarnation is the “crucifixion, death and burial” of the Lord.
After the raising of Osiris Taht says: “I have celebrated the festival of Eve’s provender,” or the meal which came to be called the Last Supper. The raising of Lazarus is likewise commemorated by a supper. “So they made him a supper there” (John 12:2).
In the Greek Mystery play the candidate for initiation underwent the taurobolium or bull’s-blood bath. He stood under a grating and received upon his naked body the dripping blood of the sacrificial bull, in token that his nature was being suffused with the shed blood of the god emblemed by the astrological sign of Taurus, as in Christian practice it was the blood of the ram or lamb, the zodiacal Aries. The sign of the sun in the spring equinox determined the zodiacal type under which the Christos was figured. Elsewhere animal blood was actually drunk as a more literal partaking of the emblem of divine life.
In the Ritual the evening meal depicted the absorption of the higher nature into and by the lower, and the occasion was called the “Night of Laying Provision on the Altar.” Not in a given moment of time, but in the total course of the cycle, each physical body was to be transubstantiated into spirit. The whole round of human incarnations was provided to this end. As the physical was converted into sublimated essence, we have an explanation of the strange disappearance of the physical body in all resurrection scenes. In one of the texts cited by Birch concerning the burial of Osiris at Abydos, it is said that the sepulchral chamber was searched, but the body was not found. “The ‘Shade’ it was found.”9 In Marcion’s account of the resurrection no body is found in the tomb; only the phantom or shade was visible there. So in the Johannine version (Ch. 20:17) the body of Jesus is missing; the “Shade” is present in the tomb. But this was of a texture which forbade it being touched.
The night of the evening meal was called also “the night of hiding him who is supreme of attributes” (Rit., Ch. 18). We have seen that the descent into the tomb of body was considered a hiding, and the period of incarnation was called the night of the soul.
The Eucharistic emblems are many and varied. The deceased in the Ritual prays: “Grant unto me ale, and let me cleanse myself by means of the haunch and by the offerings of cakes.” In Chapter 65 cakes of white grain and ale of red grain are mentioned. The juxtaposition of the statements in the following citation is noteworthy, as identifying the emblems with their non-material references: “Thou descendest under protection; are given unto thee breed, wine and cakes . . . thou art endowed with a soul, with power and with will.” “he hungers not, for he eats bread-cakes made of fine flour . . . He lives on the daily bread which comes in this season” – of incarnation. “He shall have offered wine and cakes and roasted fowl for the journey . . .” The bird was a universal symbol of the soul, and its descent into the lower fires of earth and hell provided the basis of the allegory of “roasting.” In Chapter 106 the Manes says: “Give me bread and beer. Let me be made pure by the sacrificial joint, together with white bread.” Horus is both the bread of life and the divine corn (Rit. Ch. 83). In I Corinthians (37:38) Paul has a remarkable imagery of divine food:
“And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.”
The remarkable passage from the Apocryphal Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans, already quoted should be recalled at this point, as it definitely states that the soul comes to be food to the wild beasts, by whom it will attain its new godhood. The figure of the soul as wheat, ground between the teeth of the wild animals to be made the pure bread of Christ, is a most pungent typograph, – of the incarnation. And this passage prepares the ground for understanding the relevance of the manger symbolism in the Nativity scene. The Christ, at birth, was laid in a manger, the place where animals eat! He came to be eaten by the lower, animal nature.
In the Ritual the soul entreats: “Give thou bread to this Pepi, give thou beer to him, of the bread of eternity, and of the beer of everlastingness.” “This bread which can’t go mouldy is brought to Pepi, and this wine which can’t go sour.” What sublime imagery for states of spiritual immortality, and natures that change not!
A special feature in connection with the Eucharistic bread is seen in several passages from the Ritual, which are of great weight in stabilizing the general position of the purely figurative nature of the symbols. It is found in the chapter “of not eating filth in the underworld.”:
“Let food come unto me from the place whither thou wilt bring food, and let me live upon the seven loaves of bread, which shall be brought as food before Horus, and upon bread which is brought before Thoth . . . Let me not eat filth and let me not trip up and fall in the underworld.”
Again in the “chapter of not letting a man perform a journey being hungry” we read:
“Let me live upon the seven cakes which shall be brought unto me, four cakes before Horus, and three cakes before Thoth.”
Four is the number of the lower physical world of the body, three the number of the soul as the triad of mind, soul, spirit. Horus was the soul in matter, Thoth the cosmic spirit.
Massey writes that a three-days fast was ended by the feeding of the multitude on what the Ritual terms “celestial diet,” i.e., the “seven loaves” of heavenly bread that were supplied as sustenance for the risen dead in Annu, “the place of multiplying bread.” In this phrase descriptive of Annu (Anu), one of the cities named as both the place of death and resurrection of the sun-god, we find the open sesame to the New Testament “miracle” of Jesus feeding the multitude. But in the Gospel “miracle,” instead of the seven loaves we have the five loaves and the two small fishes, the latter being introduced evidently to bring in the Piscean house along with Virgo, the house of bread.
Hebrew symbology closely matches Egyptian. In Exodus (29) one reads that
“With the former lamb you must offer about seven pints of fine flour mixed with nearly three pints of beaten oil, and nearly three pints of wine as a libation . . . This is to be a regular burnt-offering made, age after age, at the entrance of the Trysting-Tent before the Eternal, where I meet you and speak to you.”
If it was known that this Trysting-Tent is the human body, where alone God can meet man and speak to him, and that the three pints of oil and wine stand for the three elements of divine consciousness that are to be mixed with the seven elementary powers of nature or physis, the brotherhood of man might not so fearfully have miscarried. The human body is the place where the two lovers, spirit and matter, or body and soul, make their tryst, and that they are to make their libation to the Eternal before the entrance to the tent indicates that the higher and lower partners to the coming marriage compound their elements as they enter into incarnation. One stroke of symbolism tells us more than volumes of theology.
Divine food is called sometimes simply “meat.” “Thou hast in great abundance in the Fields of the Gods the meat and drink which the gods live upon therein.”
Even butter comes in as a type of representation, and coming from a female source, indicates the material foundation of life. The seven cows of Hathor produce the divine butter. As the formation of primal matter out of the primeval undifferentiated essence was pictured as a kind of curdling, the butter symbolism has a profound cosmical significance.
The Manes’ life is fed upon divine food throughout its sojourn in Amenta; Horus and Jesus, Jonah and Ioannes of Babylonia, all came as the zodiacal Pisces, or the Fish, offering themselves as food for man while he is immersed in the sea of generation! The Egyptians saw in the tortoise, which lived half in water and half on land, the sign of Libra, the Balance, and took it as another type of divine nourishment, when the two natures, divine and human, are in equilibration in the body.
When the Manes have sufficiently cultivated the fields of Aarru, Ra says to them: “Your own possessions, gods, and your own domains, elect, are yours. Now eat. Ra . . . appoints you your food.” They have labored at cultivation and at last they collect their harvest of corn. Their seeds are warmed into germination by the sunlight of Ra at his appearance. The radiance of the god in human life causes the divine seed buried in us to sprout and grow as the sun fructifies plants in any earthly garden. The elect, enveloped in light, are fed mysteriously with food from heaven. Milk is one of the types used and is called “the white liquor which the glorified ones love,” and it was supplied by the seven cows, of course, providers of plenty in the meadows of Aarru. The seven cows, of course, emblem the seven modifications of cosmic en- ergy which create and sustain the worlds of life, the appropriate counterparts of which irradiate man’s being and formulate his basic constitution. The uplifted Manes says: “I eat of the food of Sekhet-Hetep and I go onward to the domain of the starry gods.” The zodiacal twelve supply food to the gods and the elect in two groups, seven reapers and five collectors of corn (Book of Hades). The spiritualized Manes live on the food of Ra, “and the meats belong to the inhabitants of Amenta,” a possible reference to the animal bodies on earth. The divine food is apparently repeated in the quails and manna that were sent from heaven in the Biblical account. The Osiris-Nu asserts: “I am the divine soul of Ra proceeding from the god Nu; that divine soul which is God. I am the creator of the divine food . . . which is not corrupted in my name of Soul.” This soul “comes to him and brings him abundance of celestial food, and what the god lives on he also lives on, and he partakes of the food and drink and offerings of the god.” At another place we are told that the Manes “maketh his purificatory substances with figs and wine from the vineyard of the god.”
As the living rivers flow forth out of the heart of eternal matter, the womb of all life, the godly nutriment is again proffered to man streaming from the breast of the Mother Isis or Hathor. “She giveth him her breast and he suckleth thereat.” Paul (I Corinthians 10:1, 2) writes that all those in Christ have eaten “the same supernatural food and all drank the same supernatural drink (drinking from the supernatural Rock which accompanied them – and that Rock was Christ).” Revelation (2:17) enlightens us with the following: “To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the hidden manna.” When the deceased is making his way through Amenta, Hathor, the Egyptian Venus, goddess of Love, emerges from the trees and offers him a drink of fruit juice, which she prepared to woo him with. By accepting this gift he is bound to remain the guest of the goddess and return no more to the world of the living, unless by her permission. This fruit is not that which is sent down gratuitously from heaven, but the fruit of the soul’s living experience on earth, yet it is the same thing in the end. For it is sent down as seed, and bears its fruit on the ends of the branches of the Tree of Life and Knowledge, of the taste of good and evil here on earth. And this is the same tree which in the last chapter in the Bible is declared to bear twelve fruits upon its branches. These twelve fruits are the completed unfoldment of the twelve original types of Kumeric infant deity that will be brought to their maturity by cultivation on this planet. The bread of Seb becomes metamorphosed eventually into the divine food. Eve and Hathor are identical figures. They offer to virgin spiritual units and to animal man the opportunity to live, grow and create, out of which cycle they will emerge as gods, through knowledge of good and evil. And the temptation is baited with the promise, “yet shall not surely die.” The fruit of earthly life is divinization. Says Massey:
“Hathor was the goddess draped in golden vesture, who drew men with the cords of a love that was irresistible.”
“Instead of being damned eternally through eating the fruit of the tree, the Manes in Amenta are divinized piecemeal as the result of eating it.” (Rit., Ch. 82).10
Again pause must be made to reflect that had these two items of theology been known in clear light, as here presented, whole centuries of human bigotry and hate might have been painted in brighter colors.
Red as the color of blood, and white, the color of milk, emblem the two natures of man, his bodily birth through the mother’s blood, and his later nourishment through her milk. Red is connected closely with the first Adam, whose name means in one interpretation, Red Earth, that is, physical matter mixed with red blood. In this character he would be the answer to the Bible’s query, “Who is this that comes from Edom, with his garments crimson in Bozrah?” Edom was this man Adam, red earth, mortal clay mixed with the life essence of divinity typed by the blood, in which the Old Testament affirms several times the life of the soul is to be found. And he who comes out of Edom may be taken as the Christ, the Son of Man. For the first Adam is to give birth to the second Adam. Blood here types the divine part of man, as contrasted with earth or with water. Jesus emblems the two births as those of “water and the blood.” But when the blood is used to typify the lower natural man then it is contrasted with the white essence, the mother’s milk, a higher nutriment than her blood, or with the father’s seminal essence. White universally types that which is spiritually highest, up to the shining white raiment of the redeemed. Perfection being the synthesis of all lower or divided natures in original unity, white represents that perfection, as it is the synthesis of the colors. Ra says to the god: “Light the earth up bright! My benefits are for you who are in the light.” The food he promised them is itself of the nature of intellectual light. “The immortal liquor is the Solar Light.”11 No utterance surpasses this for sublime import. A Chaldean Oracle asserts that “the Intelligible is food to that which understands.” And the solar light is intelligence, shining abroad.
Looking now at wine, many phases of meaning not commonly considered are brought to view. The grape and the vine share in the symbolism. There is first the significant detail, brought out by Massey, that the Egyptian Garden of Aarru, or Allu (the Islamic Garden of Allah!) has in the Ritual the same essence as the substance of that celestial life itself in the Paradise above. The wine offered by the gods for man’s uplift is their celestial nature.
Horus came as the lord of wine and is said to be “full of wine” at the Uaka festival. The old “festival of intoxication” is the prototype of all later communal rites that celebrate the outpouring of lofty deity. The form of this festival has become universally popular, but as usual its interior meaning has been lost. The Christian Agape and Eucharist are moderate demonstrations of the same old effort to commemorate the perpetual gift of divine afflatus to mankind. Horus achieved the sub-title of “the Jocund” when he rose up “full of wine,” and was astrologically typed as Orion, with the constellation of the Crater or bowl for his cup. The fable said that this cup held seven thousand gallons of intoxicating drink and that Horus brought the grapes to make the wine. “Thou didst put grapes in the water that cometh forth from Edfu.” The seven thousand had no explicit numerical significance beyond the number seven itself, the thousands only adding the idea of multiple division and diffusion. Horus came to distribute to the thousands of mortals the divine essence in its seven-fold expression in the full gamut of its nature. Who shall prove that the Jesus of the canonical Gospels, who gained notoriety as a wine-bibber and came eating and drinking, is not a frayed copy of this Kamite original? For Greece in her Bacchus repeated the same type. Christ came to intoxicate man with the divine wine.
In the Assyrian account of the Deluge those who came out of the ark poured out a libation of seven jugs of wine. And they built an altar on the peak of the mountain, or set up contact between man and god at the summit of man’s spiritual being. Likewise after the Deluge Noah planted the vine and became intoxicated. This vine may be seen in the decans of Virgo, where the star Vindemeatrix denotes the time of the vintage in Egypt, a symbol of the infusion of the higher nature into the lower.
The Christ treading the grapes in the winepress is all very like the portrait of Har-Tema (Horus), the mighty avenger of his despoiled father, and he came at the end and the re-beginning of the cycle of incarnation, which is called the year of redemption. Careful research discloses that Edom is another name for Esau, the Red; he had asked to be fed with pottage, translated in one text “red.” Edom, not identical with Eden, seems to refer to earth as the “red land.” In all its Biblical usages Edom refers to the lower kingdom of human nature, not the celestial sphere in any case. Edom was heavily punished by the Eternal, David put garrisons in it and reduced its people to servants, and they later revolted. It refused passage to the Israelites, as the lower nature refused entry to the godly part. In Obadiah (I:6) we read: “But what a ransacking of Edom! What a rifling of her treasures!” Edmonites were Esau’s descendants. The avenging god’s anger (dramatization merely, of course) is apparently vented upon the lower propensities of human nature, which are the foes of his incarnating enterprise, the obstructors of his path and mutilators of his father Osiris. The figure of treading the winevat is a noble one and definitely points to the earth as the great winepress wherein the essence of the mortal nature is crushed and trampled by deity into a liquor to reinforce the god’s dying life. That the god trod the winepress alone is evidence of the loneliness of his mission. Jesus’ loneliness is accentuated in the Gospel drama. That the god comes from the underworld stained with the blood of his foes is an allegorical way of saying that he had not kept himself entirely “unspotted from the world” in his wrestling with the flesh. Greek philosophy asserts that his garments were badly stained by terrene contacts.
Plutarch tells us that the Egyptian priests conceived vines to have sprung from the blood of those fallen deities mixed with the earth. A Babylonian legend sets forth that the blood of the god Belus was mixed with the earth in the same way. Man is compounded of the mud of earth for his body, and the blood of the gods for his animating soul. He is Adam, red earth.
Hathor, the great mother of the living in Egyptian mythology, pours out the heavenly drink made from the fruit of the sycamore-fig tree, a most prominent ancient form of the tree of life. Hathor was the Shekhem, or shrine of the child, figured as the bearing tree, the genetrix, the womb, bird-cage and significantly the tomb, not that of final death, but of buried life about to germinate. The word Shekhem, hidden shrine, is from sekh, “liquid,” “drink.” Teka means “to supply with drink.” The fig, like the pomegranate, is an emblem of the womb. The Persea fruit is the fruit of the sycamore-fig tree. Sycamore is from sykos (sukos), the Greek for the fig-tree, from the fruit of which a powerful beverage was made. The root means latent power unfolded, as by fermentation; to fill with aeriform spirit force, as by the bubbles of air in fermentation. It becomes possible now to sense the meaning of Jesus’ pronouncement (Luke 17:6):
“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed ye would say unto this sycamore tree [Moffatt: ‘mulberry’], Be thou rooted up and be thou planted in the sea; and it would have obeyed you.”
As Revelation and the Book of the Dead both describe the entry of divine fire into the “sea,” causing a fermentation in it to spiritualize or divinize it, the sycamore’s removal into the sea to lodge inspiriting power in it at last comes to clear significance. To have faith as a grain of mustard seed, so tiny, is for the soul, buried in the deep soil of the mortal self, to have an instinctive assurance that, like the life in any seed, it will rise out of death to live again.
Who can fail to trace the Genesis story in the following legend preserved among the Hottentots? The deity, Heitsi Eibib, tells his son Urisip, the whitish one, not to eat of the raisin trees in the valley. Heitsi Eibib in his travels came to a valley (the earth) in which the raisin trees were ripe. There he was attacked by a severe illness. Then his young second wife (Eve is often called Adam’s second wife, Lilith being the first) said: “This brave one is taken ill on account of these raisins; death is here at the place.” The old man told his son: “I shall not live, I feel it.” And he spoke further: “This is the thing which I order you not to do: Of the raisin trees of this valley ye shall not eat, for if ye eat of them I shall infect you; and ye shall surely die in a similar way.” So he died. When they moved to another place, they heard always from the side whence they had come a noise as of people eating raisins and singing. The song ran:
“I, father of Urisip,
Father of this unclean one;
I, who had to eat these raisins and died,
And, dying, live.”
The raisin tree gave dysentery, and this natural detail was used to prefigure the sickness, swooning, distress and intoxication that came over the gods upon their plunge into this life, or their eating of the fruit of the tree whose juice made them drunk with a mixture of spiritous and sensuous ingredients. This is, in short, to type the effect of incarnation upon the god as a bewildering, befuddling, stupefying drunkenness, as from a semi-poison injected into his blood; and such indeed the Platonists have ever described it.
“Heaven is pregnant with wine” is an Egyptian fragment.
In the Book of Judges (Ch. 6) Gideon, the son of Joash, is found beating out some wheat inside the winepress to save it from Midian, when the angel of the Lord comes down to entrust him with the commission to redeem Israel. What appears here like a mixed metaphor is perhaps only a close mingling of several customary symbols. Beating out the chaff was a kindred figure with that of stamping out the wine.
Greek philosophy, rising sphinxlike out of the Orphic Mysteries, proclaims a hidden meaning of the grapes in the winepress. Thomas Taylor says that the pressing of grapes is as evident a symbol of the dispersion of divine energy into humanity as could well be devised.12 The grape was for this reason consecrated to Bacchus, who personalized empyreal intelligence flowing out in divided streams. Previous to its pressing it aptly represented that which is collected into one; when pressed into juice it aptly represented the diffusion of the same. Hence wine-pressing symbols the crushing and division of unity to flow into multiplicity and spiritize divided creatural life. What is most singular is that Taylor likens this process to another oft-used typology, that of fleece, stating that the Greek word for “wool,” lenos, is practically identical with that for a “winepress,” lenôs. The tearing and carding of wool matches the liquidation of the grape for purposes of typism. Should it be deemed strange, then, that Gideon, found threshing wheat in the winepress, should immediately ask the Eternal to authenticate his commission to him by the test of the dew on the fleece? It need hardly be pointed out what strength these symbols of wine and fleece, along with flour, bring to the theory of dismemberment. And there is also the obvious suggestion of the fruitful rendering of the symbolism of the mythological Golden Fleece (Aries of the zodiac), as typing the Christ avatar who came under that sign. Fleece, says Taylor, is the symbol of laceration or distribution of intellect, or Dionysus, into matter; and he adds that Isidorus traces lana (Latin: “wool”) from laniando, “tearing,” as vellus (Latin: “fleece”) from vellendo, also “tearing.” “Delano,” “to tear asunder,” he uses “in relation to Bacchic discerption.” So succinctly and integrally is the history of ideas preserved in the amber of words.
“The typical tree of life in an Egyptian-Greek planisphere is the grapevine. This is the tree still represented by the female vine-dresser and the male grape-gatherer in the decans of Virgo [W. H. Higgins, Arabic Names of the Stars]. Orion rose up when the grapes were ripe to represent the deliverer who was coming ‘full of wine.’”13
The birthplace of the grapes was figured in or near the sign of Virgo, the mother of the child who was to rise up out of death to bring salvation to lower man under the symbol of the vine. He was also typed as the rising Nile, bringing a new birth to the parched land of Egypt. And the grape ripened with the rising inundation! In ways that astonish us with the fidelity of the parallelism, both natural and astronomical phenomena reflect man’s inner history.
The vine and sycamore tree were two types of producing life in the Kamite Paradise. In the Papyrus of Nu the Manes prays that he may sit under his own vine and also beneath the refreshing foliage of the sycamore-fig tree of Hathor. The Garden of Aarru is the garden of the grape, and the god Osiris is sometimes seated in a Naos, under the vine, from which branches of grapes are hanging. Moreover Osiris was charactered as the vine and his son Horus the unbu or Branch. Need we pause to point out the identity of this with the Biblical sentence (I Kings 4:25): “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree”? Jesus was the true vine of the Logos and we are his branches, destined to bear the fruit. Horus bore the same representative character in Egypt. The American Indians have traditions of tribes climbing to safety across the Mississippi, or up out of the interior of mother earth to the land of light, by means of trees with overhanging branches and grapevines. (Schoolcraft: VI, 14). Jack climbing the bean stalk to overcome the ogre is a variant of the aboriginal type-legend.
The Eucharist easily lends itself to characterization as a festival of intoxication if it is viewed in the light of the following lines from the Ritual: “Are not all hearts drunk through love of thee, O Un-Nefer (Osiris), triumphant?” The entire body of mystic testimony from St. Augustine to St. Francis of Assizi and on through to the modern revivalist, is to the effect of the spiritual intoxication of the supreme love frenzy or mania, as Plato terms it. It needs no descanting to enhance it further. There is every warrant for the ancient imagery. Only it must be seen as working at both ends of the gamut. The meaning covered by intoxication, a swooning and giddy stupefaction after his entry into mortal body; while mortal man undergoes a more positive intoxication, an exaltation and marvelous giddy expansion of his faculties when he becomes filled with the power of divine intellect and begins to feel its influence expanding the whole range and vividness of his consciousness. The one is to be thought of as a scattering of wits, the other as an overpowering afflatus. Yet incarnation is the open door to both god and animal for the advance into higher life, and their opposite elements finally so merge in the new expansion that the intoxication is the same for both in the end. The god, drunk with animal sensual enjoyment, and the animal mind, intoxicated with undreamed-of delirium, reel onward together in the dance of life, and who shall sharply distinguish where intoxication ends and ecstasy begins? All this is germane to the understanding of the symbolism and the irrefragible factuality behind it.
The Delaware Indians put into effect an outward demonstration of the intoxicating imagery when in one of their festivals an old man threw handfuls of tobacco on heated stones in a tent, and the sitters, narcotized by the fumes, were carried in a swoon. The ceremony typed the inhalation of spirit, producing a delirious rapture. Vapor has ever been a mode of representing spirit, and the smoke of the Indian’s pipe was suggestive of allaying the fierce nature of rude forest children to mildness and peace.
The Egyptian typology placed a Lake of Sa in the northern heavens. Sa was the name of a sort of ichor that circulated in the veins of the gods and perfected mortals. This they could communicate to men on earth and give them health, vigor and new life. This datum will be of significance when we come to study the Egyptian spirit body, the Sahu.
Honey, as symbol, shared place with the Greek nectar served at the tables of the Olympian gods. Its plain suggestion is of the sweetness of the divine life as sustenance for starving mortals, and as bestowing immortality. Some of its relevance of course can be traced to its origin from the bee. There is a tradition that bees alone of all animals descended from Paradise. Virgil (Georgics IV) celebrates the never-dying bee that ascends alive into heaven. The faithful diligent insect is thus an image of the immortal soul, or the god. Egyptian typology makes the Abait, or bird-fly, the guide of the souls of the dead on their way to the fields of Aarru, the land of celestial honey. The “beeline” directness of travel betokens the unerring sense of the soul, lost afar in Amenta’s fields, to go straight home. This Aarru is, of course, “Jerusalem the Golden, with milk and honey blest” of the Christian hymn. The “ba” name of the astral or ethereal body of man in Egypt may be related to “bee.” For ba is also a word for “honey.” Honey was used in embalming. It is suggestively entwined with the imagery of the “meads of amaranth.” The soul is as the bee gathering sweet honey of immortality from the flowers of life experience on earth. Also the bee reproduces the new life in plants by acting as the intermediator between male and female flower elements; and the divine soul likewise links male spirit and female body and marries them in man.
The myth represents the sun, eternal type of divine generative source, as “letting water fall from his eyes; it is changed into working bees; they work in the flowers of each kind, and honey and wax are produced instead of water.” Shu and Tefnut give honey to the living members. Divine emanations, falling as tear drops, diffuse their power of blessing over the earth, like Shakespeare’s “gentle rain from heaven.”
The Samson story in Judges bears on the meaning of honey. “Out of the strong came forth honey.” The honey was found by the solar god (Samson means “solar”) in the decaying carcass of the lion upon his return. The return types evolution, as the outward journey, involution. The god, as the lion, is “slain” on the outward arc or descent, overcome by matter. But in evolution, the bees (the soul) have built their nest of sweet honey in the very midst of the old decay, in the very body of corruption. In the Persian myth we see the lion depicted with a bee in his mouth.
There are, however, intimations of involved astrological reference in the linking together of the bee and the lion. Massey thinks that the bee typifies the sweet refreshing waters of the inundation in Egypt, which came to its fullest outpouring in the month of July, the sign of the lion. His elaboration of the point is lengthy and the reader is referred to his Lecture on Luniolatry. The lion, or lioness, he claims, types the fiery solar heat (Cf. the lioness in heat) and the bee the cooling influence of the waters. For the hero, Samson, fairly immersed in symbols of the number thirty, obviously is a soli-lunar character, and the full moon in the lion sign rose in conjunction with the sign of Aquarius, the Waterman. The moon brought the cool waters that conquered the solar heat. The application of the typism may hint at the god’s bringing the force of cool intellectual judgment to allay the fierce heat of sensual passion of the lower self. The types of divinity in the summer season are the reverse of those appropriate to the winter. Salvation comes to man in the heat of summer in the form of shade, coolness and water. Earth and water type the lower self and the evil side under winter’s symbolism. But they spell salvation under reversed conditions. The duality and reversibility of the symbols must be constantly borne in mind.
The most meaningful aspect of the wine symbolism is perhaps that of fermentation. This arises from the development in the liquid of a potent energy at first latent. Hidden and buried, silent and inert, the dynamic fiery spirit rises to activity and exerts an influence that yields to mortals a semblance of divine inspiration and glorious liberty. As a symbol it is far-reaching and vivid. The “spirit” in wine and the spirit in man are not inaptly related even as a pun. The Greeks indulged in such puns, as in the Cratylus of Plato, and yet have covered the most majestic significations under these light touches. The “spirit” in wine is a graphic figure of the other spirit. Wine is water that has in it the fire of spirit, and in American pioneer days it was often called “fire-water.” Fire universally typed spirit. Grape juice is just water of earth that has had injected in it a power engendered by the sun, again the type of spirit, as it passed through the length of the vine to be deposited in the berry at the end. The sun, like the Christ it symboled in his “miracle” at Cana, turns water into wine in any vineyard!
The Egyptian goddess who represented the “spirit” of alcoholic fermentation was Sekhet, and her pictures show her carrying the sun-disk on the head of a lioness. Her name is also, says Massey, the name for the Bee. As a goddess Sekhet is the fiery energy of Mother Nature, which engenders the ferment out of which comes the soul, the bee. For she is also the goddess of sweetness or pleasure, literally “goddess of the honeymoon.” She is designated the “force or energy of the gods, astonisher of mankind.” (Birch, Gallery, p. 17.) She was the inspirer of the male, his Sakti, or creative force. The Egyptian sakh means “to inflame,” “to inspire,” and Sekhet is the double force personified as female. This sakh brings us close again to the syc- of the sycamore fig, whose juice bred spirit intoxication, and the Greek psyche hovers close in the background of this etymology. The soul is, or causes, the divine ferment in the body of life, developed there, as in the vine, by the sun of man’s spiritual self. Drink and divinity are thus found under one name, as were fleece and grape, seven and peace, star and soul.
Isis, whose original variant names were Hes, Hesit, Sesit, Sesh, etc., also carries this element of Sekhet’s function. Sesh means primarily “breath,” which is the inspirer (Latin: spiro, I breathe) in the sense of imparting the gift of higher life of spirit to a creature “dead” in matter. Man was not finished until God had breathed into him divine breath. Ses, Sesh is “breath,” “flame,” “combustion”; also “the spirit of wine.” From it Massey traces the “svas” from which we have the Swastika, the sign of vivifying fire, – “tika” meaning “cross.”
Another root yields meaning along the same line. Kep means “to light,” “kindle,” “heat,” “cause a ferment.” And from it Massey derives the Greek fire-forger of the gods, Vulcan or Hephaestus, who is Kep and the Greek root of the Latin aestas, summer heat. He forges for the gods whatever needs to be shaped by fire. Vapor produced from water by heat was the primitive illustration for breath which gave a creature its soul. It was a natural marvel, this emergence of a principle of fiery energy in vapor form, so likely a type of soul engendered in man out of the mixture of his lower earth and water elements.
Horus and Jesus, both turning water into wine, represented this transforming power of the god, maturing the inert elements of sense and feeling into spiritual character. Horus put grapes into the water, and “the water of Teta is as wine even as that of Ra.” The Jewish Feast of the Tent or Tabernacle was a ceremony embodying the turning of water into wine.
There are many instances of rivers and seas being turned into blood, Revelation reports that at the sound of the angel’s trumpet a mountain, around which lightning played (symbol of the divine emanations, Jove’s thunderbolts), went down into the sea and changed its waters into blood. As the first forms of life were generated in sea water, their initial body plasms were just that water. In eras of evolution this primitive life fluid was gradually transmuted, by the operation upon it of even higher voltages of life force, into that which eventually in man became human blood! Sea water has been turned into blood in man’s constitution! Blood is the fluid containing the living dynamic, and the Bible states that the soul dwells in the blood. Now, astonishingly, chemical analysis reveals that sea water and human blood are identical in elementary composition. It has remained for science and ancient symbolism to combine in this latter day to tell us the hidden meaning of one of the greatest spiritual allegories that theology failed to interpret for eighteen centuries.
Blood is the last of the Eucharistic signs to be dealt with. Few Christians can tell capably why it was that the human race had to be redeemed by the blood of an innocent victim poured out for its guilt. There is so glaring an inference of vicariousness here that common sense has halted long before giving credence to this dogma. It seems to contravene all natural justice and leaves an unstudied laity incredulous and unconvinced. There could be found no ground of fitness in the necessity that made a being of a higher rank, a god, come down and suffer gratuitously for sins of ours. With its linkage to evolution and anthropology cut totally away from it, there was no way to connect the doctrine with elucidative reference. Even Massey revolts in horror from the Biblical verse, in the words of the Son: “My father! This day shalt thou refresh thyself in blood.” The picture of a blood-lustful deity terrifies us. But such revulsion is gratuitous. The primal implications hold nothing to cause us horror. The Son is only reminding the Father that the descent of his germinal essence into the blood of this human body would give him his next cycle of rebirth and renewal. “Day” is one of the glyphs for cycle, aeon, round of incarnation, as in Genesis with its seven “days” of creation. The god finds fresh experience and new conquest in each life; he renews himself like the phoenix or the eagle, when bathed in new blood-bodies in incarnation. In our cycle he does this in the blood of man. But what might well cause Massey and the whole world abhorrence is that blood as symbol should have been taken for blood as substance, and that a whole millennium and a half of alleged civilized history has been deluded with the picture of a human personage buying unearned redemption for a race by the gruesome act of pouring out the blood of his physical body on a wooden cross! Rational reaction from religion is largely, if not overwhelmingly, justified. To a degree distressing to contemplate religion has befogged the mind of the world by converting the forms of ancient tropism into a sense repugnant even to the intelligence of children.
The entire theological theme of blood sacrifice, so literalized in the Old Testament rites, reduces itself to the one simple meaning of divine life poured out to circulate vitally through the mental and spiritual veins of man on earth. Mortal man underwent a transfusion of deific “blood.” Divine energies of consciousness course and thrill through our life. This higher infusion regenerates us, makes us new. The lamb slain on the altar was but the ceremonial token of this meaning. The bull-bath of Mithraic rites was the washing away of sin in the blood of the Tauric emanation of deity. On the other side, however, the consuming of the animal on the altar by fire that flashed down from heaven was the token of the transfiguration of the animal nature in man into immortal purity by the aeonial “burning” of the godly fire in life after life. Man was nourished in the substance of animal life, as the candle flame feeds upon the animal tallow below it, converting it from gross substance into divine flame. That a race of people could for centuries believe that God demanded the killing and burning of actual animals on actual altars for his sensuous delight of sniffing the odors of roasting flesh – a sweat savor unto his nostrils – well nigh destroys faith in human intelligence. The imputation of gory sensualism to supreme deity, the unconscionable assumption that he would delight in the slaughter of billions of his own creatures, and that he would discharge man’s sins by accepting the suffering of a lower order of his creatures as yet incapable of sin, form a list of theological aberrations that have gone far to throw the general mind into nearly barbarian besottedness.
The cleansing power of the blood was in part at least borrowed from the fact of the menstrual process. The ancient allegorists did not hesitate to employ the generative functions in the way of cosmic analogues. It is outwardly easy to fasten the charge of phallicism on the symbolic religion of the past. But man’s creative processes are typical of all creative process, and the sages did not scruple to use the known functionism to depict the unknown cosmic procedures. There is no taint of ill in this until sordid sensuality invades the realm of pure depiction. Each incarnation in earthly bodies subjected the soul to a sort of menstrual purification, working, so to say, a lot of bad blood out of the system of god-man. It linked him with a body of flesh which came “under the law” of periodicity and purgation. Books on primeval religious customs tell of men dressing as women and laboring to manifest the menstrualia, in token of the entry of the god into his feminine phase, becoming a child of Mother Nature. In Egypt Tefnut (the Greek Daphne) was a name formed from the root tefn, tebn, “to shed, drip, drop.” The same root means also to “rise up, spread, illumine,” as the dawn. The dawn of womanhood came with the cleansing by blood.
However theology might like to disown the connection, this background looms as essential for our interpretation of the Gospel “bloody sweat” of the savior in the Garden of Gethsemane. The menstrual purification of the god in Egypt was in Smen! Legends of Tem, Atum and Ra portray them as shedding drops of their blood, under male symbolism, to fall on the earth and create mankind, or man and woman, Shu and Tefnut, Hu and Sa. The relation of Smen to the essence of the male blood is obvious. The gods poured out their vital life to fecundate matter, their mother and sister, to give creation a new birth. This general typism is all that could ever have been hinted at under the figure of the bloody sweat. The emission of life-fluid is accompanied by sweating. The male and female aspects of the meaning enter side by side. Smen, says Massey, was the place appointed for the purging, purifying and cleansing of souls. It is the place of pain and torment, the birthplace of the new moon, symbol of the infant birth of solar light in humanity. Hesmen is the Egyptian name for the rhythmic purgation. It is the voice of matter, the woman, saying in the Ritual: “I am the woman, the orb in the darkness; I have brought my orb to darkness where it is changed to light.” The bloody sweat of the god in Smen is described as “the flux emanating from Osiris,” when Osiris is the god in his feminine or material expression. It is the divine “shedding of blood,” without which humanity would have no cosmic opportunity to escape the eternal weight of karmic “sin.”
Where the outpouring of deific power was not as yet linked with Mother Nature’s body, was not yet implemented by its proper Shakti, or force in matter, the god was figured as “masturbating.” Kheper-Ra was the Egyptian deity fulfilling this function. His type was the beetle or scarabaeus, which, according to Egyptian belief, created its young by itself alone, without the female. There was hidden in this symbolism the truth that would have settled the famous “filioque” dispute that split the early Church into Greek and Roman Catholicism.
Chapter 17 of the Ritual runs:
“O ye gods who are in the presence of Osiris, grant me your arms, for I am the god who shall come into being among you. Who then are these? They are the drops of blood which came forth from the phallus of Ra when he went forth to perform mutilation upon himself. They sprang into being as the gods Hu and Sa.” [In another legend Shu and Tefnut.]
The Ritual states that “the sun mutilates himself, and from the streams of blood all things come into existence.” Here is so-called phallicism, yet with sublimity.
Matching the Assyrian and Egyptian jugs of wine and pitchers of mixed drink, the Hebrews (Leviticus 4) were ordered to sprinkle some blood seven times before the Eternal in front of the curtain of the inner sanctuary. This was for a sweet savor and soothing fragrance to deity. In their sacrifices they were instructed never to consume the blood of any animal: “The soul of any creature lies in its blood . . . blood expiates by reason of the soul in it.”
Esau was called “red” because he sucked his mother’s blood before his birth. He is said to have sold his birthright for a mess of “red.” Tradition shows him to have been a divinity imaged by the solar hawk, which symbolized blood “because they say that this bird does not drink water but blood, by which the soul is nourished” (Hor-Apollo, Bk. I, 6). The soul lives on natural forces, its Mother’s blood, before it is born into Christhood in man.
One of the marvels in Exodus that were to persuade the reluctant Egyptians to let the Israelites go was the turning into blood some water that Moses poured on the ground. The pouring it on the ground would point to the necessity of making the transformation on earth. A Mexican legend sets forth the vivification of the dead remains of former races by the blood of the gods.
As the sun of spirit descending into the darkness of matter, in the evening or autumn, the god was suggestively depicted as the woman, suffering, becoming ill, wasting her substance unproductively. The god linked with Mother Nature was as a woman not yet impregnated by spirit. It required the passage of “virtue” from the Christ to stop her wastage.
A further aspect of the red-and-white symbolism comes to view here. If the red types the mother’s blood giving generation, the white types the seminal life of spirit. The union of the white of divinity with the red of nature produces the new birth. Nor did the sages overlook the meaningful fact that it is the white creative essence of the father’s blood that releases the stream of the mother’s white nourishment for the new child. So the first or natural man, born of the blood, the first Adam or “red earth,” is raised to his status of spiritual new birth by “the white liquor which the glorified ones love.” And both the mother’s and the father’s condensation of white creative and sustaining essence is distilled out of the natural red blood. Our divinization turns us from red to white. Under Christmas tropism, the red stands for the divine; the green – universal color of nature – for the physical.
The red color of the evening sun, sinking into his feminine phase, and the red color of the morning sun, when for a brief space of his infancy he is still close to his Mother Earth, like the human child tied through the first years to his mother, again beautifully adumbrate the feminine connotation of red; while the white blaze of the sun throughout the day suggests the male or spiritual power.
In the Ritual (Ch. 37A) the Speaker is told he shall make four troughs of clay and shall “fill them with milk of a white cow.” The four containers of the divine ichor are the physical, etheric, emotional and concrete mental natures in man’s lower self. An instructive picturing of the human creation is given in this Kamite description: the basis of the oblation in the Egyptian sacrifice is “the blood of beings that have been destroyed.”
“Said by the majesty of the god, Let them begin with Elephantine and bring to me the fruits in quantity. And when the fruits had been brought they were given . . . (Lacuna).
“The Sekti (miller) of Annu was grinding the fruits, while the priestesses poured the juices into vases; and those fruits were put into vessels with the blood of the beings, and there were seven thousand pitchers of drink.
“And there came the majesty of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, with the gods, to see the drink after he had ordered the goddess to destroy the beings in three days of navigation.”
The Assyrian seven jugs and the Egyptian seven thousand pitchers of drink are brewed from the blood of the massacred beings (the dismembered incarnating gods) mingled with the juice of the fruits of earth. This is vastly significant. Massey comments instructively:
“Blood and the fruit of earth were the two primitive forms of the offering, and these are blended together in a deluge of intoxicating drink.”14
The plain inference here is that the mingling in one drink of the juices of the fruits of earth and the blood of the “beings,” is a type of the blending in one composite nature of the life of the gods and that of animal-man – the base of all religion.
An exactly similar depiction is found in the Berosan account of the Babylonian creation. The deity Belus cut off his own head; whereupon the other gods mixed the blood as it gushed out with the earth, and from the mixture men were formed. “On this account it is that men are rational and partake of divine knowledge.”
The Beast in Revelation is to be overcome by the blood of the Lamb. The lower sense creature in us is to be raised up by the infusion of godlike quality from above.
We are now in possession of much of the multifarious data which will enable proper judgment to be exercised in interpreting the central significance of the Eucharistic meal. We commemorate our partaking of the Lord’s body and blood to remind our sluggish sense that there dwells in us a god, whose nature is compounded with that of a beast. In the drama the Lord assigned immediately a pointed reason for his institution of the rite. And in this reason we come upon one of the pivotal elements of the Platonic philosophy, the loss of which out of Christian theology has contributed to our generally palsied grasp of fundamental truth. Little is it dreamed that the Lord himself announced the great Platonic doctrine of “reminiscence” in the midst of his ordination of the Eucharist. The world’s astutest students have been puzzled and perplexed over the great Academician’s principle of regained memory for the soul, and they have labeled it a philosophical fantasy, a finely spun poetization. That it bears direct relation to our earthly history has not been discerned by scholars.
When the Christos concluded his injunction to eat the broken fragments of his body and to drink the flowing stream of his life-blood with the command: “Do this in memory of me,” he set Plato’s great doctrine at the very heart of Christianity. But Christianity could not catch the relevance of the statement because it did not have the correlative tenets of the dismemberment and disfigurement. The restoration of memory can have understanding only in relation to a previous loss of it. Paradise regained must follow Paradise lost. So “rememberment” is the repairing of the dismemberment. Reminiscence is the recuperation of shattered memory. Death must have its resurrection. Divine intellect, dispersed into all forms of divulsion and enfeeblement, torn into fragments, with the links of connection lost, condemned to wander blindly in murks and shadows, must be reintegrated in the end. “My reason returned unto me,” says the reconstituted Nebuchadnezzar. The Prodigal Son remembered his forgotten Father’s house on high. Away off in that “far country,” the Vale of Lethe and Land of Oblivion, the exiled soul begins to recover from its amnesia, and the divine nostalgia sets in to lead it back home.
A Chaldean Oracle states that the “paternal principle” of higher intellect “will not receive the will of the soul till she has departed from oblivion; and has spoken the word, assuming the memory of her paternal sacred impression.” Immersed in scattered and partial images of reality, the soul can’t regain her former unity of vision until she has restored some semblance of her former integrity of intellection. She must weave the tangled strands of mental fleece again into a garment with pattern matching archetypal ideals.
The figures of both Jesus and Jonah, fast asleep in the holds of their respective ships in the storm are variant types of this oblivion of the god in his mundane journey. In a similar episode in the career of Horus, “there was deep slumber within the ship.”
Iamblichus paints a beautiful picture of the gods gathering up the loose shreds of memory and weaving them again into the design of original loveliness, to escape their dire condition of forgetfulness:
“Neither is it proper to say that the soul primarily consists of harmony and rhythm. For thus enthusiasm would be adapted to the soul alone. It is better . . . to assert that the soul, before she gave herself to body, was the auditor of divine harmony; and that hence, when she proceeded into body and heard melodies of such a kind as especially preserve the divine vestiges of memory, she embraced these, from them recollected divine harmony, and tends and is allied to it, and as much as possible participates of it.”15
Amid her distraction the soul catches faint and feeble glimpses of former felicity and these stir her latent recollection of harmonies known before. Through them she strives to integrate her former bliss and grandeur. And this states the whole office of ritual religion!
Plato’s esoteric principle, grounded in segments of recondite anthropology lost out of modern consideration, is one vital to all theory and practique of education. Subtle principles of cultural technique are involved in the incarnational situation which make learning not at all the acquiring of something new and alien to the soul, but the remembering or recollecting of scattered fragments of things inherently kin to consciousness itself. Culture is reintegration, not the acquiring of a collection.
Of the nine Muses of classical mythology Mnemosyne is the goddess of memory, and memory is thus indicated as one of the nine paths by which we return to our divinity. Mercury also shared the function of rehabilitating the memory. A note by Thomas Taylor reads:
“Hermes disperses the sleep and oblivion with which the different herds of souls are oppressed. He is likewise the supplier of recollection, the end of which is a genuine intellectual apprehension of divine natures.”16
As man is a rational soul thrust into an irrational life, the province of Mercury is to impress upon the mind, distracted by the shifting flux of this world’s dream images, the beauty of the stable principles of Universal Mind that were visioned by the soul in her own world. Chapter 90 of the Ritual gives a prayer in these words:
“O thou who restorest memory in the mouth of the dead through the words of power which they possess, let my mouth be opened through the words of power which I possess.”
The title of Chapter 25 is itself convincing: “The chapter of making a man possess memory in the underworld.” This again is the whole office of religion. Of what, be it asked, could a man on earth be expected to have memory, if not of a former life which he had forgotten?
If religion is to be animated and inspired by its most forceful significance, it must be practiced with a view to awakening in earthbound souls lost divine memories. This is the import of all its song, its ritual, its rhythms and prayers. A powerful reinforcement of spiritual unction and dynamic life would well up out of its decadent forms if this motif were revived. Salvation, the aim of religion, is by way of rekindled memory of slumbering divinity.
In an address to Pepi it is written that the god “setteth his remembrance upon men and his love before the gods.” Indeed the Ritual records the fact that the deceased in Amenta was shown his Ka (higher soul body) and assured that it accompanied him through the lower earth in order that he might not utterly forget his divine moorings, or as he says, “that he might not suffer loss of identity by forgetting his name.” Man is on earth like one stricken with amnesia. Showing him his Ka bestirs the Manes to recall his divine name and nature. Also the passage of Osiris through the underworld is effected only by means of his preserving all the mystical names in memory. Ra has 75 names, Osiris 153. As the “name” stood for one of the higher spiritual principles, to call upon the name of the Lord, or to know the deity’s name, was to have come en rapport with his higher nature. This presupposed the restoration of all the soul’s higher metaphysical faculties. This is given elsewhere as knowing the names of all the gates and their god keepers, past whom the voyaging soul had to go.
In the Orphic Mysteries of Greece the phrase occurs more than once: “I am a child of earth and the starry sky, but my race is of heaven alone.” The “dead” man is instructed to address these words to the guardian of the Lake of Memory, while he asks for a drink of water from the lake. In our highest flights toward divine consciousness we drink from that Lake of Memory and regale ourselves anew with aboriginal harmonies. If it holds true to its prime purpose the persistent vogue of religion in human society is abundantly warranted.
Max Müller gives an important link of philology when he derives the Sanskrit word Smara, “love,” from Smar, “to recollect”!17 He states that the German Schmerz, “pain,” and the English “smart,” come from this root. Love, then, like learning, is only the memory of former transports and ecstasies of the glory the soul once had with the Father before the worlds.
When, therefore, Jesus breaks the bread and sips the wine in token of his death till he come – his discerption and dismantling – he is dramatizing the necessity of their “remembering” his scattered selfhood in their lives. The Ritual of Egypt assigns a name to the ship of Horus as it passes across the sea of this lower life, which name shows the archaic origin of the sage philosophy of Greece: “Collector of souls is the name of my barque”! Recollection is the soul’s office on earth. We are to gather up in the boat of our life the twelve baskets of scattered fragments and restore the broken body of our Lord “whole and entire.”
Out of the dissertation on divine food here elaborated there should accrue to the modern mind a new and grander sense of the Christ’s ordinance: “Do this in memory of me.” And an elevated consciousness arising from the double sense of the word “remember” should lift humanity once more to an awareness of its mission, which is to bind up the broken and dismembered body of the Lord of Hosts, by welding together the nations in the spirit of a lofty fraternity. In the light of restored sublimity to the doctrine, every individual will know that the appeal to remember his deity comes not from an isolated figure in ancient Judea, but from the living god within, begging all to drink the cup of communion with him and thus hasten to forge that recollection of him which alone will effect his release from the dreary grave of the body.
1. I Corinthians 10:14 ff.
2. It is impossible to pass these verses by without a remark upon what is commented upon them by Schweitzer, one of the most popular European writers of the day on religious themes, in a recent work. He follows his quotation of John’s verses with the statement that it is not the purpose of John’s discourse to be understood; that its aim is solely to direct attention to the miracle which is to happen in connection with the bread in the future; and that it does not matter, therefore, that it should offend the multitude.
One is indeed permitted to ask: What is the poverty of modern spiritual discernment when it is frankly stated by a leading religious publicist that John’s immortal verses are not meant to be understood? But, after all, is it to be wondered at that there should be complete befogging of vision when all but a few Docetic wings of Christian thought have been bent on taking the eating of the flesh and the drinking of the blood of the Son of Man in a physical sense? There has not seemed to be present the matured capacity to assimilate the entirely spiritual purport of the transaction.
3. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 900.
4. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, II, p. 32.
5. Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, I, p. 264.
6. Massey: Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 64.
7. Reclus: Primitive Folk, pp. 311-315.
8. Budge: Introduction to the Book of the Dead, p. xcix.
9. Proceedings: Biblical Archaeology, Dec. 2, 1884, p. 45.
10. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 465.
11. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 3.
12. Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, p. 142.
13. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 729.
14. Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, p. 561.
15. Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 133.
16. In Iamblichus’ Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, p. 7.
17. Lectures, Vol. I, p. 383. Ed. 1862.
EARTH, WATER, AIR, FIRE
The possibility of making an effective interpretation of arcane scriptures will be seen to be closely interwoven with the part played in symbolic structure by the four elements, earth, water, air and fire. Grasp of the ideas hidden under the use of these four emblems comes close to putting one in possession of the key to most of the mystery. The revelation of the full force of their application will prove astonishing.
Much absurdity has found expression in common belief as to their significance. It has everywhere been asserted that the ancients conceived all substances to be composed of these four primary and irreducible constituents, instead of the ninety-two mineral elements of modern chemistry. This is folly. What they were dealing with is a vastly different formula. They were not asserting man’s physical body, with all other things, was compounded of only four elements. They held man’s total constitution to be compounded of four distinct grades or modifications of original essence, each of which gave him a body, by virtue of which his life effected its conscious expression in four different worlds at the same time. Each of the bodies was charactered and symboled by one of the four elements, and the more sublimated ones interpenetrated the coarser, localizing the functionism of all four in the lower one, man’s physical body, symboled by the earth; an emotional body, of which water was the suggestive emblem; a mental body, with air as its sign; and a spiritual body, typed by fire or the sun. A fifth, not yet evolved to function in humanity and beyond the ken of mortal knowledge, was predicated as the development of a distant future. It was called a body of aether, the fifth element, called by Aristotle a term equivalent to “quintessence.” It yet lies latent and undifferentiated in the inner core of the element of fire. The Bibles of antiquity can’t be understood unless this basic predication be made, that man lives not alone on one plane of nature, but on four, and that he makes contact with the realities of each of them by means of a body composed of the matter indigenous to that realm. His focus of consciousness may pass from one to the other of the four bodies under pressure of the swing of his interests. When we grandiloquently speak of living within the whole range of our being, we are unwittingly repeating a conception of ancient theory, the literal truth of which we have lost the data to comprehend.
Of an eventual septenary constitution man has as yet progressed only so far as to have deployed into function the lower quaternary of powers. Plato in the Timaeus says that “three genera of mortals yet await to be created.” Each emanation of energic force brings to manifestation one of the bodies of our composite mechanism, as it does one of the planes of nature. We are now in the fourth of such rounds or cycles, and have therefore developed four of the ultimate seven bodies of our equipment for contacting the reality of all worlds. And these four bodies are typed by earth, water, air and fire, symbolically.
The matter of the contemporary existence of these four (or five) bodies within the single space of the physical may occasion some incredulity as to the ancient theory. But modern science has itself opened the door of explanation here. It is a matter of the fineness of molecular particles and interstitial spaces. Certain rays can be passed through “solid” substances, because their electrons swing in minute orbits amid vaster ones. It is declared esoterically that the atomic matter of which each of man’s four bodies is composed is in structural essence a sevenfold attenuation or sublimation of the one which it interpenetrates. Each one interpenetrates its coarser neighbor, and at the same time is interpenetrated by its next finer associate. So the four dwell together, occupying the same three-dimensional area, yet with a “great gulf” fixed between each pair, the abyss of difference of electronic vibration, wave length, frequency and radial orbit. This is the great gulf that divides each world from all others. It is not a chasm of spacial distance, but a hiatus between vibrational frequencies, wave length and other forms of potency. To bridge the abyss and step from one world to another, it is requisite that man should be able to tune up, or down, the mathematical “pitch” of his consciousness, as exemplified by the “tuning in” process of the radio. Two discordant tones of consciousness are not on the same plane, or in the same world. Their failure to harmonize puts them into different areas of the field of life.
The five planes were represented by the five geometric figures, the cube for earth, the sphere for water, the triangle for fire, the crescent for air, and the candle-flame tip for aether. Certain significations of the figure-symbols will be presented in the sequel, but it is doubtful if anyone at present knows authoritatively the full range of meaning attached to them. In some drawings of the series, air, the third, and fire, the fourth, are reversed in position. Their relative place in the order is doubtless of vital importance, but for the ends of religious symbolism, it seems not to be a question of critical value. After examination of many applications of the typing it has been found advantageous to make a more condensed grouping of the four under the two heads of fire and water, as these two appear to do double duty in carrying the burden of the symbolism.
This reduces the fourfold nature of man to the broad generality of the dualism, or the compound of two elements, the divine and the earthly, in one body.
This will be found to serve the readiest purposes of interpreting the many myths, for there appears to be a vast preponderance of the dual representation in the scriptures and folk-lore of the world, under the wide imagery of fire and water.
The two most distinctive symbols, then, are fire and water, and their proper interpretation almost alone gives a key to the religious texts. Let fire be taken to refer undeviatingly to our higher or divine segment, and water to our lower or animal-human portion; or fire to connote the god from heaven, and water the earthly man, the first Adam. In an even more condensed form, fire may type the soul and water the body. Classifications so general are not to be taken as scientifically precise; but they will be seen to be systematically applicable, without loss of explicit meaning. The fifth element, aether, may profitably be ignored, as it stands for the innermost essence of all manifest life, and humanity is not in conscious relation to its high mode of activity.
Oddly enough, by one of those inversions to which the imagery is susceptible, the serpent has become a symbol of both the fire and the water elements, and hence types both our divine and our sensual natures. “When above it was the serpent of air and fire, and when below the serpent of water and earth.”1 There was the fiery serpent that Moses lifted up, and the water dragon of Revelation, of the Aeneid and other classical works. There is the Good Serpent, Agathodaemon, and the Evil Serpent, Kakodaemon, symbol of Satan. Water, too, became a dual sign, with a higher and lower translation. As the first it was an emblem of the outpourings of divinity, the water of life that Jesus promised to the woman at the well; as the second, it typed the fluctuating, restless, sensual nature in which the divine fire was so nearly drowned out. Even fire shares the dual meaning, for it symbols the celestial life, the fire of Prometheus, Jove’s thunderbolt, as well as the fires of the torture and hell of earthly existence. The Ritual speaks of our baptism on earth “in the Pool of the Double Fire.” This is easily comprehensible because of the shifting of the divine beings from the empyrean to the mundane sphere of activity. In heaven it was a pure and clear flame; on earth it was fed with damp, coarse fuel, and became lurid in hue and charged with noxious, sulphurous gases, and turned to steam and smoke. A large part of the whole significance of the incarnation can be seen reflected in the imagery of fire introduced into a semi-watery condition. Our work will be wasted effort if it does not succeed in imprinting on every imagination the indelible suggestion that our earthly history is adumbrated by the picture of an imperishable and unquenchable spark of divine fire struggling to live and expand its power in a moist environment. Our inmost essence is as a central nucleus of fire striving valiantly to light a mass of damp green wood – the animal nature. The resultant smoke and smudge is the perfect type of our life here, intellectually and spiritually. These were the very symbols of our terrene existence employed in Greek philosophy.
This peculiar duality of the symbols, discerned throughout, is itself a reflection of the twofold movement, or double status, of the soul in incarnation. For that which began as heavenly passed into earthly embodiment, and the pertinence of the symbols had to change with the change of milieu. All the heavenly symbols became inwrought with earthly reference and imperfection, and thus picked up the implication of evil. On earth, then, we may expect to find the celestial symbols with meanings almost completely reversed, or with their purity besmirched, so to say. It is not surprising that the wise Egyptians should have given us a picture of this very reversal in one of their typical vignettes. For, says Massey: “The god advancing in a reversed position is the sun [the god, soul] in the underworld. The image accords exactly with an Egyptian scene of the sun passing through the Hades, where we see the twelve gods of the earth, or the lower domain of night, marching towards a mountain turned upside down, and two typical personages are also turned upside down. This is an illustration of the passage of the sun through the underworld. The reversed (people) on the same monument are the dead. Thus the Osirified deceased who had attained the second life, in the Ritual says exultingly, ‘I do not walk on my head.’ The dead, as the Akhu, are the spirits, and the Atua is a spirit who comes walking upside down.” (Book of Hades.)2
One of the rites of the resurrection was the “erecting of the Tat,” or setting the Tat cross or the mummy upright on its feet. In addition to the imagery of death in all its forms to type our spiritually defunct condition here, there was employed also the idea of an entire reversal of position to portray the true state of the soul in its untoward predicament. We are heavenly spirits turned upside down on earth! Earth reverses heavenly lines of motion. It reflects the pattern of things in the mount, but inverted. The highest symbols of heaven therefore fall at the very bottom of earthly tracing. And the very spirit of the god who came to earth, renouncing his bliss on high to bring immortal gifts to man, was himself later inverted into the personification of evil! We have, then, the angels of light turned into demons, the bright flame of divinity metamorphosed into the lurid fire of hell, the waters of life becoming the raging seas that engulfed the boats of Jonah and Jesus, the serpent of wisdom becoming the dragon of evil.
With the four basic elements now established, it is interesting to note the curious typical results obtained when any two are brought together, as the fact of incarnation does bring all four together in man. Some remarkable and surprising combinations are produced, both in symbol and in actuality.
Man’s lower nature, as seen in any diagram, is composed of the elements of earth and water, his higher nature of fire and air. Any time either of the two upper is crossed with either of the two lower, there is a rough symbol of incarnation, or combination of the divine with the human. But the two that together comprise either our lower or higher nature may also be found in correlation. This is admirably seen in the two lower, where the mixture of earth and water produces, as any child can tell, mud or mire. At once we have a key to translate the significance of the papyrus swamps of Egyptian legends, the “miry clay” of Plato and the Bible, and the celebrated Reed (not Red) Sea of Exodus (see Moffatt Translation). The marshes of Lower Egypt in which Horus and Jesus and Sargon were all secreted can be taken now as the glyphs of the human physical body, compounded of earth and water. The body is itself about seven-eighths water and the remainder earth. The lotus, papyrus or reed has a number of meanings, but in the main they typify the new life springing up out of the mud and water, to flower out in the air and the fire of the sun. The risen Horus is figured seated on a lotus pad above the water.
Mud, as the type of matter (and matter, mud, and mother all come from the same linguistic root), is dialectically analyzed in the Greek philosophy:
“Matter,” says Simplicius in his commentary on the first book of Aristotle’s Physics, “is nothing else then mutation of sensibles, with respect to intelligibles, deviating from thence and carried down to non-being. These things, indeed, which are the properties of sensibles are irrational, corporeal, distributed into parts, and passing into bulk and divulsion through an ultimate progression into generation, viz., into matter; for matter is always truly the last sediment. Hence also the Egyptians call the dregs of the first (or highest) life, which they symbolically denominate water, matter, being, as it were, a certain mire.”
What Simplicius is quaintly telling us in terms of reasoned analysis of the elements of being which are quite “Greek” to us moderns, is that matter is to be thought of as a kind of sediment deposited on the lowest levels of inert life by the crystallization of ethereal forces, precisely as snow is the sedimentary deposit of vaporous states of water, subjected to a reduction of temperature. Nature furnishes a perfect analogy for every truth.
A common ancient symbolic term for our life here is the “sea of generation.” Iamblichus joins Heraclitus in likening generation to a water symbol, that of a river, as being always in flux. It is the river of Lethe, flowing through the dark meadows of Ate, as Empedocles says. It represents in its swirling currents the voracity of matter and the light-hating world, as the gods say, and the winding streams under which many are drawn down, as the Chaldean Oracles assert. The fitness of the meadow to stand for this life is seen in its lying always in a low marshy place contiguous to a stream. It tells of land and water in juxtaposition and therefore matches mire in its suggestiveness.
Plotinus in a passage already quoted has called our descent a fall into dark mire. The Hebrew Psalmist, in the words of the incarnated deity, cries:
“Save me, O God! for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing. I am come in unto deep waters where the floods overwhelm me.”
Without the skill of the Greeks in dealing with abstruse facts of cosmology under symbolic typism we are hardly prepared to catch the aptness of the figure of water for the creeping inroads of sensual impulse upon the divine purity. But the god cries that the waters of animal passion have come in to inundate his soul. Again he prays:
“Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink. Let me be delivered from them that hate me. Let not the water-floods overwhelm me, neither let the deep swallow me up.”
His gratitude for eventual deliverance takes the form (Ps. 40):
“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”
Yet – “he hath founded the earth upon the waters and established it upon the floods” (Ps. 24), because out of the water and the mud of mortal life was to come the new generation, the son, Jesus or Horus, as the young shoot of the papyrus reed of divine life.
The mire and filth of the Augean stables cleansed by Hercules is another form of this imagery, for the solar hero turns into them the waters of two rivers. The two streams represent those of spirit and matter, generally, and only out of the interworking of the two does eventual purgation come.
A vivid light can now be thrown on such a fiction as this: Horus was mutilated and his members cast into the water. To find them Isis invoked the aid of Sebek, or Sevekh, the crocodile-god, an ancient solar deity, who, having examined the banks of the swamps with his claws, took his net and fished out the pieces. Sebek then reconstituted the god whole and entire. The significance of Sebek’s participation is in his name, which means “seven,” intimating that a septenary development was entailed in the perfective process. Man is perfected always in a cycle of seven stages.
Water and earth yield another deposit than that of mud or mire, a very curious one. Water, depositing particles of mineral earth, petrifies a piece of wood, a combination of water, earth and air. Not even such a symbol is irrelevant, since it speaks in loudest tones of the hardening influence of the lower nature upon the higher, and images the Gorgon shield, turning all softer natures to stone.
Air and water in conjunction provide much matter for symbology. In the first place there is air in water, and it needs only the application of the still more energic element fire to beget life and engender most of the other forms of living symbolism. In ice or cold water the energies of life remain inert; let fire be applied and the resultant energization gives us a faint suggestion of the whole meaning of the entry of the gods into the province of less active substances. Fire plunged into water most pointedly dramatizes the basic import of the whole incarnation procedure. The soul, a fiery nucleus of noetic intelligence, is plunged into the watery habitat of the fleshly body. The moral fight is a combat between the fire of spirit and the water of emotion and desire; and fire must win the victory by eventually drying up and converting into steam the heavy humid nature of animal-man. Fire must dry out a path across the sea of generation, so that it may cross this Reed (Red) Sea out of Egypt, as also the Jordan River, into the Holy Land, without wetting its feet! Fire enters the watery realm of body, already permeated by air in hidden form. Heat raises the water into vapor, which, being an airy form of water, suggests the birth of mind out of emotion. We read in the Ritual (Ch. 164): “Oh, the Being dormant within his body, making his burning in flame, glowing within the sea by his vapor. Come, give the fire, transport [perhaps better, “transform”] the vapor of the Being.” The vapor was a type of the breath of life, air containing moisture, symbol of the soul that was linked with emotion. It was a plea for the god to come and sublimate the emotional element of the lower self, water, by unifying it with air, mind. Each higher element is able to raise the potential of the one below it and refine it. So earth (sense) is raised and purified by water (emotion); water (emotion) by air (mind); and air (mind) by fire (spirit). This gives us the key table of values. By their simple application in various combinations a hundred intimate meanings of ancient scriptures may be resolved into comprehensible reading.
A common form of air and water mixed is foam or bubbles. Froth arises when air becomes violently active in water. Fire, spirit, quickens and intensifies the process. We have here the ground for the solution of that riddle of Greek mythology which makes Venus to be born from the sea-foam, produced by the energy of the great God Jupiter striding through the sea. It is a beautiful allegory, hinting that the goddess of Love is born in the evolutionary process when air, mind, is injected into the field of the animal impulses and passions. This came when the god, descending, brought air and fire to energize the elements in the sea water (of the body). Froth would intimate the elevation of emotion to the plane of thought, or the thorough mixing of thought with emotion, – perhaps also the emotionalizing of thought. Bubbles rising to the surface suggest the evolution of thought out of the very depths of the physical and emotional departments of man. The Egyptian image of the water-cow indicated life emanating from the primordial waters. And the rising of Aphrodite into breathing life and beauty out of the foam marks this idea as Egyptian in origin. Nu-ti, “froth,” is the same word as Neith, who was one of the early Kamite personifications of the first life rising from the waters. Neith is Hathor, the Egyptian Venus, the mother of life, twofold in character as liquid and aeriform. Her celestial representative was Ursa Major, the Great Bear (or Bearer, suggests Massey), the great dipper in which the water of life was held, and from which, as it turned around the pole, it was periodically poured out and again dipped up! In early times its orbit dipped down into the sub-horizonal sea. So this great sidereal directory of the heavens became the greatest of astronomical symbols to the ancients, dramatizing the seven great elementary mother powers of nature that periodically arose out of the waters of life. Operated by its handle of three stars, typing the solar triad of mind, soul and spirit, it caught up the living waters in its four-starred cup, the fourfold physical basis of all things.
The Egyptian male-female pair of Shu and Tefnut personify the dual subsistence of breath and moisture. “These in one form may be the breath of life and its dew, as Tef is to drip or drop.”3 Air and moisture are combined in the breath of mortals. The creative breath of mortal life is emaned and drips its moisture upon the earth in rain, fog or dew. The spirit of God outbreathed as air or breath, from which was precipitated the water of life on earth. Rain is distilled out of the bosom of the air. In the form of vapor, visible or invisible, the upper heaven holds the celestial water, the type of divine life embosomed in air – emotions germinally latent in thoughts. And when this water has fallen to earth, it takes the action of fiery spirit to convert it back again to heavenly state, and this can only be done by the superior energy transmuting its nature from liquid to vapor or “spirit” form.
The deceased, awaiting his resurrection, cries to Nu: “Give me water and the breath of life!” The reply comes: “I bring thee the vase containing the abundant water for rejoicing the heart by its effusion, that thou mayest breathe the breath of life resulting from it.” Water, though not in its liquid form, is the first aspect of matter in all the oldest mythologies and cosmologies. It is indeed the primal substance of the universal mother. In the Berosan account of creation the primal mother is called Thallath, which is the Greek thallassa, “the sea.” Tiamat and Typhon are equivalent to Tefnut (Greek Daphne), the Great Depth, or Tepht (also Tophet). Basically, mother, matter and water are one. Plato speaks of water as “the liquid of the whole vivification.” Again he alludes to it mystically as “a certain fountain.”
The interpenetration of the gross bodies by the subtler ones in man may perhaps be realistically depicted by the relations subsisting between the four elements in the outer world. Living physical bodies of earthly constituency hold water, the water embosoms air, and in the air is the hidden potency of fire. The elements consistently interpenetrate each other, the finer in the coarse. We have already traced the vivid symbolism of fermentation, or the generation of air in water, type of the enkindling of spirit. At the baptism of Jesus by John, according to Justin Martyr, “a fire was kindled in the waters of the Jordan.” This matches the Egyptian “a burning within the sea.” Spirit sets its ferment and its blaze a-going amid the watery elements of the body.
Seeking in the heights and depths of the natural creation for symbols of truth, the mythographers could not miss so patent a type as that of the fish leaping out of the water. It was a vivid suggestion of the soul in matter leaping in aspiration for short breaths of air in the kingdom above it. Whether it be seeking a moment’s breath of a diviner air in the kingdom above, or only a fly as food, it projects itself from the lower to a higher plane, prefiguring the sallies of the human soul – often otherwise represented by ichthys, the fish – from its mortal habitat into the purer realms of spirit. The soul, like the fish, must occasionally clutch at a morsel of more heavenly food. The fish stood for the immortal soul as breather in the water of mundane existence.
A Norse myth tells of the division of a single primal world into two halves, or the separation of the two waters of the firmament, as in Genesis. The one was a world of water, the other of air, and the beings in the lower water ascend by night to breathe the pure air of the upper half; and it is said the sun consumes them like vapor. This would restate the Assumption of the Virgin, the festival of the old astronomical phenomenon of August and early September, when the sun absorbs the constellation of the Virgin, emblematic of the dissolution of all physical worlds in the bosom of the Absolute. It might be said that after every day and every incarnation man ascends to inhale refreshing draughts of spiritual air on an upper plane. Without this frequent release and relief he could not support prolonged existence in the denser world below.
The “secret of Horus in An” is the mystery of how his mother caught him in the water. Neith, given by Massey as equivalent to “net,” fished him out. Cosmically he typified the first life emanating from the water; humanly the god coming to birth in the water of the body. Many of the symbols can be worked on two or even more planes of explanation. Every cosmic process has its reflection in the natural world, again in the spiritual life of man, and lastly in the very physiology of the body. Nature is meaningless nowhere.
The perch on the head of Neith or Hathor is a badge of the birth from water. Neith also carries the shuttle or knitter for her net, wherewith she becomes a catcher of men out of the waters, and draws them up into the world of air and spirit.
The East has always portrayed true being as an escape from the waters of life. Hence the widespread use of the fisherman’s net as an emblem of salvation. Jesus did not startle his disciples with a new metaphor when he called them to be “fishers of men.” Two Ritual chapters furnish suggestion here. Chapter 153A is entitled “of coming forth from the net,” and 153B “of coming forth from the Catcher of Fish.” Water so obviously presented a menace to life by drowning that it becomes the focus of ideas emphasizing an escape from evil. As such it is not the water of life, but the water of death. It signified the lower life of generation, or life in “death.” Water stops our breathing and perils the air-sustained life of deity. An oyster that could keep shut up and safe under water was one of the figures of spiritual security.
Nun in the Chaldean is the Great Fish; Nuna in Syriac is the constellation Cetus, the Whale. Nun of the Hebrew alphabet is the fish, as Mem is water. The picture of a great fish “breathing out” water caused it to be personified as the mother heaven that poured forth water and the breath of life. The Egyptians also made the lotus, ascending from the water, a symbol of breath, and the Egyptian Seshin for “lotus” is from ses, “breath.”
The close philosophical relation of water and air is shown in a number of languages by the identical derivation of the words “to swim” and “to be born.” Birth and swimming in or on water are practically synonymous. It is best seen in the Latin. The same root, na, means both “to be born” and “to swim.” Being born of water, avers Massey, is but to be borne upon it. As man was not able to live under water, life was pictured as a coming out of it or a floating upon it. To be born into life, therefore, was to escape from the water, and come up where breath was obtainable. The very first act of the babe new-born out of the water of the womb is to catch its first breath! Immersed in the waters of generation, of sense and desire, man can’t come to his real life, or second birth, until he can rise out of the “water” to breathe the more vivifying air of the heaven of mind and spirit. The power of the sun (god) to stimulate life and growth could not reach him effectively in the kingdom of water (nature); he had first to lift his head out of the water into the kingdom of air (mind) before the rays of the god could breed spiritually within him.
From the na stem we trace both “naval” and “navel,” relating birth and sailing. Nef, says Massey, means in Egyptian both “sailor” and “to breathe.” The navel was one of the earliest doorways between the two worlds (of water and air), and as such it maintained its symbolic value. The navel was an image of breath in the waters of the womb. It was the channel by which the breath of life passed into the soul in the water. The god, through whom we partake of the breath of life from a higher plane, is spiritually our navel, located at the very center of our being. In the ideography the female came to be regarded as the furnisher of water, and the male as the supplier of breath, the combination yielding life. These were Tefnut and Shu. He became the inspirer of soul, she the former of flesh. It was the god, masculine, who breathed the breath of life into the nostrils. In the Ritual the Speaker, coming to his new life, says he has been “snatched from the waters of his Mother” and “emaned from the nostrils of his Father Osiris.” The Chinese matched this with their Ying and Yin, the male and female, or breath and water sources.
The water and the lotus were both female emblems at first. The papyrus-scepter of Uat is the express sign of the feminine nature of Uati, who represented the features of both wet and heat, water and breath, or body and soul, heat being necessary to turn water into vapor or breath.
A simple yet strong ideograph of the unified action of water and air is a ship driven by the wind. The wind (intellect) imparts motion to that which navigates the waters. The body is driven by the mind! Mind and wind, both unseen, energize the visible.
Very suggestive is the request in the Ritual (Ch. 55): “May air be given unto these young divine beings,” a reference to the Kumaras or Innocents when first plunged into their material baptism. And even more directly pertinent is the chapter title (56): “Of sniffing air in the waters of the underworld.” And another title (Ch. 54) is: “Of giving air to the overseer of the palace . . . Nu, triumphant, in the underworld.” And again Chapter 57 is that “of breathing the air and having dominion over the waters of the underworld.” When Horus rises he is exultingly welcomed as escaping from the dark lower region, “without water and without air,” as the condition of soul in matter.
In Africa and Central America the god Houragan (Hurricane) was the personification of the mingled power of water and air. Hurakan in Quiché means a stream of water that pours straight down. In the hieroglyphics Hura is heaven (Greek: oura-nos), “over,” “above.” Khan is a watery tempest. Typhon, the abyss of primordial heaven, is identical with typhoon. Mixcohuatl, the “cloud serpent,” the chief of the Mexican gods, bears the name of the tropical whirlwind.
The flying fish came in for its share of appropriate suggestiveness, and another bird, the hissing widgeon, which issued from the waters to fly along the surface, became a symbol of the soaring free soul, which was nearly always pictured as winged or feathered.
Naturally all species of aero-aquatic birds came under the scope of this typology. The bird that could rise off the water and soar away was inescapably a type of the rising soul. But the ancients joined the two kinds of life in one creature which became one of the most universal of all symbols, the winged serpent or feathered snake. Recent researches in Central America have brought to light the wide prevalence of this emblem in the Mayan and other civilizations on the American continent. And since it was general in Asia and Africa in remote times, the question of intercommunication or separate origin is once more pertinently raised. The snake that could fly is the incontrovertible evidence of ancient knowledge of the union of divinity and earthiness in man’s organic life. Man that is born of water and the spirit (air) should once again become wise as to his dual origin. And modern man should cease to belittle the mythopoetic genius of his ancestors who endeavored, with almost incredible sagacity, to embody important knowledge of cosmic facts in imperishable glyphs. In the terms of evolutionary biology the swan is the feathered snake, and Hansa, the bird of primordial life and intelligence that floats above the waters of the abyss, is the eternal emblem of that spiritual life that has stepped into our fluctuating sea of natural impulse to bring order, harmony and beauty into the realm of nescience and chaos.
The Akhekh gryphon is a dragon with wings. Wings and feathers supply the type of air and fire in the later Bird of the Sun. The bird symbolized the swift-darting and lofty-soaring motion of divine intelligence. The French Swan-Dragon unites the bird’s head with the serpent’s tail. An ancient Greek work makes the first godly nature a serpent which later transmuted into a hawk. One form of the gryphon was the body of a beast, the tail of a serpent and the head of a peacock. This is the mythical cockatrice. It was so named because of its origin from the egg of a cock hatched by a serpent. The divine is hatched and nurtured in the body of nature.
Earth with water yielded mire, or sensuousness; water with air suggested mingled emotion and dawning thought; spiritous wine hinted at a fiery element in water, or “fire-water.” Beside Isis, whose name derives from stems meaning to breathe and ferment, there is the goddess Uati, a name congenital perhaps with our “wet” and “heat,” if not the basis of “water” itself. She was the genetrix, and signified wet and heat in conjunction; and her function suggests the conversion of water into breathing life by the mother in heat, or gestating! Unleavened bread would represent the natural man unspiritualized by the ferment of divine efficacies. It would show the first Adam, the man unregenerate, born of water, the natural body, but not of the spirit. Leavened bread was “spiritualized” bread. And oddly enough the little leaven that leaveneth the whole lump does indeed generate by its ferment a sort of breathing in the dough, for the latter becomes permeated with air bubbles which work to the surface. Bring the god of fire into matter and the latter begins to manifest the breath of life. Fire rises, and is the ultimate type of evolution, in which life sparks ascend to the empyrean. Water falls, and is the type of involution, or life descending to incubate in matter. But water below, acted upon by fire, is transformed into a sublimated state in which it can effect its return to the empyrean. The gist of the story of religion is here. Fire had to be brought down from heaven to convert fallen water into spiritous vapor, to enable it to rise again.
Physical nature presents a notable exemplification of the fourfold elemental typology in the phenomenon of a thunderstorm. Our universal mother has set the advertising sign of her modes and configurations all about us, but only the ancients heeded her message or read her language. The upper air, or heaven, surcharged with electricity, discharges its pent energies above the earth in flashes of fire. The mighty potency performs a sort of electrolysis upon the constituent elements of the air, dismembering, so to say, the unit mass of embosomed moisture held in suspension in the atmosphere and sending it in fragments to the earth to nourish the life of man and beast. Not an item or detail of the theological typism is lacking in the phenomenon. As the fire emanation from heaven operated to precipitate its latent forces in the broken globules of water to the earth to fructify its life, so the fiery nature of deity came potentially to earth in fragments to liberate its powers in new growth. The celestial energy of pure spirit runs down the gamut of fire, air, water and earth. In man likewise a flash of the fire of spirit darts out of the surcharged bosom of the upper aether of consciousness, agitates the elements of the plane of mind next below it, these in turn release emotions on the plane below, and they deposit a final influence upon the very material of the earthy body. Each plane in succession receives the effects of the outrush of life from above. A breeze ruffling the surface of a pond is a vivid symbol of a thought stirring the emotions, the type of which is water. And the waves washing the shores portray in a measure the emotional wear and tear on the body. “Let nature be your teacher,” says Wordsworth.
But a still more eloquent symbol comes to view to edify the mind of man at the end of the shower: the rainbow! In its sevenfold coloration we read again the septenary design of all natural constitution, including the life of man. The one divine essence of white light, shining out through the descending waters, is broken into its seven constituent rays. All manifest form must therefore be septenary in structure. Every cycle runs its course and comes to its perfection in seven sub-cycles. Hence the Eternal placed the rainbow in the heavens, at the end of the rain, in token that “never again will he destroy mankind.” For man, at the end of his sojourn in the watery habitat of body, will have completed his perfection in seven stages and will not need further immersion in the sea of generation. As the rainbow disappears with the last rain, the sun reigns alone again in its one white light.
A unitary ray of light, passed through a three-faced glass prism and breaking into its seven colors, is a memorable certification of cosmic creational method. Man actually presents a three-faced transparent medium for the first light in the upper levels of his nature to provide the requisite condition for this phenomenon in his life. The immortal unit of spirit itself has segmented already into a triad which hovers in the upper sphere of consciousness. It is the great solar triad of Mind-Soul-Spirit, the reflection in human make-up of the cosmic Trinity of Will-Wisdom-Activity. It is man’s triangle of conscious faculty and it is of bright essence. Through it shines the one unbroken ray of Intelligence from the primal fount of light to be reflected on the physical screen of human life on earth, in a final sevenfold differentiation.
Still another phase of portrayal meets us in nature when we consider the change from a watery beginning to a fiery heyday in the progress of each day’s summer sun. The dewy freshness of dawn (water) and the burning heat of mid-day (fire) are personalized in Egypt by the goddesses Tefnut and Sekhet respectively. Tef(n) connotes the meaning of “dew” and “moisture” from its primary signification of “to drip, or drop.” Then the watery phase of the goddess is superseded by the fiery one, and Tefnut becomes Sekhet, the heat principle which engenders ferment and new life. This is the transformation of Daphne (Tefnut) dawn, into the laurel or wood of fire, in the Greek poetization.
Another Ritual title (Ch. 163) is deeply suggestive: “Of not allowing the body of a man to molder away in the underworld.” (The spiritual body is meant here, as the physical body does molder away.) The Manes is addressed:
“Hail, thou who art lying prostrate within thy body, whose flame cometh into being from out of the fire that blazeth within the sea (or water) in such wise that the sea (or water) is raised up on high out of the fire thereof.”
If there are still any who dispute the mythical nature of ancient constructions, let them demonstrate how a fire blazing in the midst of a sea could be spoken of otherwise than allegorically. But when one knows that a universal code of symbol language made fire represent spiritual mind, and water flesh and carnality, then it can be seen how the poets speak rationally of a fire blazing in the sea and trying to raise it up again in vapor or spirit.
Another strong confirmation of the analysis is found in the Ritual (Ch. 176). In comment on it Budge writes: “As fire and boiling water existed in the underworld, he hastened to protect himself from burns and scalds by the use of chapters 63A and 63B.” For the titles of these two chapters are: “Of drinking water and not being burnt by fire in the underworld,” and “Of not being scalded with water.” How squarely this is matched in the Bible (Is. 43):
“When thou passest through the waters I shall be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle on thee.”
The underworld, then, is the place where fire and water are joined in affective relation; and where could this conjunction take place other than in the physical body?
And what pithy moral corollaries are discerned in the analogies if they are carried into particulars! The god (fire) stood in danger, as the Greeks clearly intimate, of suffering from the exhalations arising from its contact with the humors of the carnal body. It must be seen that the god’s entry into the body of an inferior being would result in the injection of an increased voltage, as it were, in the activities of all its forces. Animality would be more keenly energized as the transforming ferment began its work. The god stood in danger of being “burned,” “scalded” by the “steam” engendered by the heightening of all lower psycho-chemical powers. The enhanced potential of the sense and emotion functionism provided by his own alliance with them, might overpower him.
One of the phallic renderings of the rainbow symbolism is curiously interesting. It is made to allegorize the prohibition of the male from union with the female during menstruation. Erymanthus, the son of Apollo, was said to have been struck blind because he looked on Venus when she was bathing. Acteon, seeing Diana at her bath, was turned into a stag. David was punished for his relations with Bathsheba, whom he saw bathing. What is the significance of the punishment of all these solar heroes for contacting the woman during her period? It is but one of the forms of cryptic typology under which ancient sagacity limned in outline the “fall” of the god when he linked his life with the feminine or material powers in a cycle of manifestation. He is dramatized as contaminating himself by his union with the wasting expenditure of natural force. He looks upon mother nature when she is shedding her life-blood fruitlessly. The glance of his eye, the sun, through her shower fixes the sevenfold division of physical nature in the sky. But the rainbow comes at the end of the rainstorm, and union of spirit with matter at the end of its outpouring is the time propitious for fecundation and the new birth. At any rate the punishment allotted to deity for intercourse with the flowing stream of the natural physical order, typed as feminine, is his being reduced to imprisonment in the animal body of man! Like the rainbow, this is sevenfold in organization. The sun, peeking out and beholding nature dripping, projects the sign of his intercourse with matter upon the opposite side of heaven in his septenary dismemberment. The sevenfold fission of his primal unity shows the disruption of his integrity in the sight of all the earth!
This is not empty imagery. It has had historical actualization in a strange way. It is related in Genesis (6) and in other racial epics that the sons of God had untimely intercourse with the females of the more advanced animal species, breeding the races of half-human, half-animal types. Early connection with the female animals instituted the miscegenation that so nearly thwarted the cosmic plan. As a result of the unleashing of powerful procreative forces in the animal world there ensued an unnatural production of hybrid monsters and prodigies of lust, which, the books hint, had to be expunged from evolution by the sinking of continents. One of the backgrounds of the “deluge” is thus erected. Procreation in the Golden Age or Edenic state was by kriyashakti, exercised by the will and the mind. This was possible because incarnation had not yet been fully achieved, and the forms of flesh were of ethereal tenuity. But miscegenation began prematurely and bred misshapen monsters. The enhancing of the keen powers of sense by the entry of the gods intensified the carnal mind, and a more or less promiscuous generation ran riot. This is the meaning of the harlotry or whoredom against which the Eternal vents his displeasure so vehemently throughout the prophetic books of the Old Testament. It is also allegorized by the various tempests on the sea into which the solar heroes must be cast, after being awakened, to still the raging waters of animal lust. This is the meaning of Jonah’s being cast into the waters after the casting of lots showing him responsible for the tempest. As the belly is the seat of the sexual and animal nature, the solar god is appropriately placed in the fish’s belly. And that neither Jonah’s venture nor Jesus’ burial is historical is indicated by the fact that both were held captive in this cavern of death for three days!
In the Eternal’s promise to Noah that the rainbow after every storm would remind him of his compact not to bring further destruction on the earth, he concludes with: “and the waters shall never again become a deluge to destroy every creature.” The structure of this sentence is enlightening; for it is to be noted that the Eternal does not say that there shall be no waters to cover the earth, but that the waters of living force released for evolutionary purposes shall not again get out of hand and “become a deluge.”
Of great value in this connection is the latter part of an Egyptian inscription called the Destruction of Mankind, dealing with the rebellion and fall of the angels. It ends similarly to that of Noah:
“When the deluge of blood is over, it is stated by the majesty of Ra: ‘I shall now protect men on this account. I raise my hand (in token) that I shall not again destroy men.’” Here it is distinctly called a deluge of blood, not of water, signifying that the fiery nature of deity was drowned in the blood of incarnation. This points clearly to the racial biological nature of the deluge and away from any historical imputation whatever. Cosmology, biology, racial origin and individual spiritual history are all woven together in the skein of both the rainbow and the deluge symbolism. The thread that is missing is objective history!
The four elemental symbols are found to suggest these interesting correlations when two or more are seen in interplay. But there is almost no end of allusions to each of them separately in the tomes of the old wisdom. Much of this material is too valuable to be passed by. We begin with earth at the bottom.
This element need not be dealt with at great length. It is readily seen for what it truly is, the nethermost stratum of matter to which intelligence descends to manifest. The mineral kingdom of earth, the physical base of man’s body, marks the nadir of the downward sweep and the turning point or pivot. On its descending arc life undergoes a subjection of its finer forces to sluggish inert matter, on the analogy of a fire being reduced in burning potency. The earth is thus the opposite pole to heaven, as matter is the opposite node to spirit. And forever between these two extremes of positive and negative being plies the tireless shuttle of life. From spirit to matter and back again is the schedule of life’s endless journey. The ultimate significance of this is the profound mystery of all being. But Life is; and one of its activities is the cyclical periodicity of its creative function, its circulation around the wheel of birth, growth and death. It rhythmically institutes a progressive order, runs its course, perfects its products and then annihilates these products (to outward sense), leaving their seeds of new life, however, to flower in the next cycle.
Archaic wisdom expounds more intricate cosmic and evolutionary data than modern science has yet picked up. It asserts that the stars and planets are living beings, like humans. If a mortal-immortal man has four distinct bodies appertaining to his entire being, so does a planet. The ancient science says that each globe physically discernible is but one of a chain of seven bodies existing, like man’s vestures, in four types of matter symboled, again like man’s bodies, by earth, water, air and fire. A life wave emanating from the Father darts outward and courses around this chain of seven globes, organizing them in fact, and creating a kingdom of kindred matter on each plane. The direction is downward or matterward for the first four globes, after which it turns again spiritward and sweeps upward through the last three. That is, the life wave builds a planetary spirit body on the plane of spirit (fire), a more material body on the plane of mind (air), a still more dense one on the plane of emotion (water), and finally an entirely material globe on the plane of mineral earth. Then it turns upward in its swing, rebuilding new globe bodies on the subtler planes through which it descended till it rests at last in the glorious new spirit body on the plane of the empyreal fire. On the fourth or lowest plane it builds up, lives and then retires from, the dense physical globe which is the earth.
The earth is thus the place of critical interest in the whole cycle. The life wave is sent forth to return with a harvest of more abundant life. Now it is only as spirit contacts and overcomes the inertia of matter that it brings its own potentialities to birth. Abiding eternally on its own plane, as Platonic philosophy says, it remains non-productive. It must go forth, seek adventure, meet with opposition, wrestle with the powers that would choke it, and achieve its new cyclical victory in a world of adversity. As Plotinus writes, “It is not enough for the soul merely to exist; she must show what she is capable of begetting.” Here is the model and the genius of all romance, all drama. And the earth is the scene of this conflict between the embryonic immortal and the titanic mortal forces. And where the earth stands in the chain of planetary bodies, the physical body of man stands in the chain of vehicles or vestures which compose each individual. The human body is the seat and arena of the great conflict of personal destiny. Without dwelling in and mastering the body of flesh, the individual soul, as says Plotinus, would never know her powers. She would be spiritual, as she was from the start; but she would dream her existence away without ever becoming consciously aware of her latent creative capabilities, if she did not incarnate. Incarnation is evolution’s method of setting the seal of reality upon conscious life. This is the office of earth-life in the cycle and of incarnation for the individual soul. And it is the crucial point in all philosophy, as it is the critical point in individual destiny. As for the soul her pathway to heaven runs through the earth, and on it she goes to her “death” to be born anew. In the Ritual (Ch. 19) the chapter of the Crown of Triumph shows the meaning of placing a floral wreath or crown upon the mummy in the sheta or coffin. It was to depict that the “garland of earth in the nether world becomes the crown of triumph for eternal wear.” The crown of life was given to those who had suffered on earth. Earth and the body were the double arena in which the soul wrought out its perfection. Untried, untested in the fires of bodily experience, its faculties could not have been forged into strength, power and beauty. The soul comes into the underworld of darkness to win the immortal crown of light and glory, for only by victory over the powers of darkness can the light be brought to shining.
The Ritual makes it clear that the underworld of the earth is the realm to which the father Osiris, or Amen-Ra, or other deity pictured as aged, comes to regain his youth. “The old man (Amen-Ra) shineth in the form of one that is young”; “the old man that maketh himself young again”; “the unknown one who hideth himself from that which cometh forth from him”; and finally the one who is “deified in the underworld.” In the Book of Breathings the Manes is told:
“Then doth thy soul breathe forever and ever, and thy form is made anew with thy life upon earth; thou art made divine along with the souls of the gods, thy heart is the heart of Ra, and thy members are the members of the great god.”
“And the god Ap-uat (i.e., the Opener of the Ways) hath opened up for thee a prosperous path.”
The Manes cries to Ra, his divinity:
“Make thou thy roads glad for me; and make broad for me thy paths when I shall set out from earth for the life in the celestial regions.”
Saying that the divine speech of Ra is in his ears in the Tuat (underworld) the Manes prays that “no defects of my mother be imputed to me.” This is to say: let no stains from my contacts with mother earth adhere to me. Yet to the unit of undivinized spirit it is told: “Through Keb (Seb) thou dost become a spirit.” Apotheosis is on earth. The swamps of earth are the miry path to the Aarru-Hetep at the summit of the mount. We meet in the Ritual the statement that “Earth opens to Ra! Earth closes to Apap!” It is the story of the Reed (Red) Sea over again. The physical domain opens as the soul learns the keys of magic power that part the waters. These keys are virtue, discipline, wisdom. But earth closes to block the way to Apap, or evil and ignorance. Earth provides the conditions that induce every quality of spirit to burgeon in beauty; but it brings to nought the counsels of the ungodly through karmic law. To live in the lower, sensual, grasping nature is to plunge into the waters and be overwhelmed; to aspire after fervent righteousness is to find that dry land between the parted waters.
The next element is water, and this is a more pertinent symbol of the lower self in man even than earth. It stands in two senses, first, for the primordial essence of all substance, the water of the abyss, the mother principle of all things; secondly for the higher water of life. The first is called in Egypt the water of the Nun, or of Nu (Nnu, equated with Noah by Massey). The Greek Nux (Nyx), Latin Nox, perhaps matches this goddess of the infinite void, in whom there is nothing but the sheer potentiality of life. As this is the primal darkness and the void, Nu, Nun, Nyx, is apparently the linguistic original of all things negative in speech, as “no,” “none,” “not,” “nought,” “never,” “negative,” German “nichts.” But out of it flashed the first ray of light. It was the water of source, and life is born out of water.
But the primal abyss splits into two firmaments, and there is the water above to match the water below. So secondly there is the water of life, the higher firmament. This is practically equivalent to spirit and is another but less used form of the fire symbol itself. The rain that falls from the skies, and not the flowing water below, would be its type.
Closer to man, however, there is a third application of the water symbol. The element is made to stand for the second of his constituent principles, the emotional nature, which is so closely inwrought with his physical body as generally to include the latter in its reference. This is the most suggestive and fruitful use of water as symbol. It is the water of earth, of sense, of generation, that holds the threat of drowning the god. It is the water in which he has to learn to walk without sinking! It is the water that he has to transmute into wine as spirit. Water is the aptest symbol of the lower life because of its fluid nature and its constant motion and fluctuation, picturing sense and emotion. Life cast amid the senses and the feelings is in unceasing flux, as Heraclitus said. Like the restless throb of ocean, it is never still. No figure could better portray the dual sense-emotion life of mortals than the heaving bosom of the sea, or the moving current of a river or brook.
Nature indeed holds before us a marvelous textual illustration of the whole cyclical life process in her water-circulation system. We have the ocean as the source of all rising water emanations. The sun elevates great masses of moisture into the skies by its power; and a reduction of temperature causes this water vapor to condense and fall upon the land. From remote highlands it trickles into the brooks, streams, rivers and bays, and finally rejoins its primal sea of source. The circuit bristles with analogies to the life cycle at every turn. The sun’s function in lifting masses of vapor invisibly to heaven types the spirit’s power to refine the unseen elements of consciousness and elevate the substance of life. The reduction in temperature symbolizes a procedure in evolution which leads souls back to earth. The condensation of the vapor mass into individual drops symbols the dismemberment of deity. The fall to earth matches the descent of the gods. The beneficent agency of the rain in uplifting natural growth is evident as a parallel with the work of the god in uplifting the human. Without water from heaven humanity would be equally sterile, spiritually, as are the animals. The return to primal unity in the sea is manifest in the conversion of individual selfishness back to social and spiritual solidarity. Then comes a step in the cycle that yields the utmost of instruction for thought. Every phase of the round is visible except that in which the water is lifted from the sea again into heaven. The entire cycle is perceptible except the one arc in which matter is returned to spirit (vapor) form. In every visible round of life process there is always the one stage that is invisible!
This observation holds a pointed moral for science and truth-seeking generally. It has been the unwillingness to recognize the reality of the process of life in its invisible stages that has kept science from discerning full truth. For human life runs a similar cycle, issuing from the subjective or spirit world into the objective palpable life of body, and retiring again. But, like the vapor rising from the ocean, its return to heaven and its positive existence there is unseen. Science stands on its firm denial of the soul’s subsistence after death on the sheer ground of its disappearance. Nature’s typology intimates that, like the vapor that has risen to the skies, it will return again to earth, and that it must therefore be subsistent in the interim. As the water cycle is complete in spite of one invisible segment, so the natural cycle of life is complete, with no arc missing. The apparently missing link is found in the unseen world. But is not science itself finding that the most vital and dynamic realities are in the unseen world?
The sally of the gods into nature’s realm is imaged as a welling forth of water from a living rock or secret source. Ihuh (Jehovah), the Lord, is described in Egypt as “the fountain of living waters” (Psalms, 29:10). Revelation speaks similarly (Ch. 22:1): “And he showed me a river of water of life brought as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God.” And in Isaiah when it is said that the dumb shall break forth into singing, it is added: “Waters are to well forth in the wilderness, streams in the desert.” Jesus cried:
“If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37).
In the Ritual the god says: “I flood the land with water.” There were various pools and lakes which the Manes was to cross on his journey through the underworld. Pepi, the soul, is called “the efflux of the celestial water, and he appeared when Nu came into being.” For the Manes the promise is made: “He shall quaff water at the fountain head.” In an Irish myth seven streams flowed forth from “Counla’s Well” into the River Shannon. All cosmic effluence is in seven rays or streams. The Egyptian text says of the Manes: “He gulpeth down seven cubits of the great waters.” The Rig-Veda (10:8, 3) gives us a similar hint, though it has several loftier interpretations: “When the sun flew up, the (seven) Arushis refreshed their bodies in the water.” The disappearance by day of the seven stars of the Great Bear, which always typed these seven creative emanations, is probably the natural basis of this poetization. The water issuing from the base of a rock is typical of godly life emanating from the eternal rock of being. In the Ritual we meet with the hero who, like Moses, causes water to gush from the rock. He says: “I make the water to issue forth.” Of this water the children of light “drink abundantly.” The water of dawn, the dew, symbolizing the first outpouring, is called “the water of Tefnut,” twin sister of Shu, god of life by air. And it is notable that in the Hebrew version the first to make the water come forth by miracle for the people to drink is Miriam, whose relation to Moses is identical with that of Tefnut to Shu. This Shu, as the son of Nun, the firmamental water, is the life in breath; and almost unquestionably furnishes the prototypal character of Joshua, the son of Nun in the Hebrew book. And Joshua is identical by name with Jesus. The text pictures the goddess Nut standing beneath her sycamore tree, from which she pours out the water of life, as Hathor offers her fruit juice from the tree.
The Hawaiian mythoi have a rock that yields water on being struck with a rod.
Heaven as the source of celestial water is indicated in the derivation of the Greek Ouranos, “heaven,” from the Egyptian Urnas, which is the celestial water (probably giving the root of our “urn”). It is the blood of Ouranos that gives birth to Aphrodite.
Neptune is traced to the Egyptian nef, “sailor,” and this god was the sun over the waters, the god who completed the circuit round or over the waters.
Water was the first creation, and up out of its depths came the emanating gods to get the breath of life. Could one find a more astonishing replica of this cosmic situation than that furnished by the modus of human birth? Every child who in this life is to travel from nature to God issues into life out of a sack of water, and the first thing done by the attendant is to stimulate the latent breathing power. “Tefnut bears him, Shu gives him life.”
The gods who brought the water of life down to mortals had thereafter to endure the drenching by this same element in its earthly form. Says Daniel: “He shall be drenched with the dews of heaven.” As the original cosmic water was the Nun, or the negation of all positive life, so the earthly shadow of water, that is, matter, is similarly a type of the negation of life. It is inert. The Egyptian ideograph of privation, negation, is a wave of water! And many Indian languages have a similar term for “he dies” and “water.” This indicates the idea of death by drowning, the paraphrase of incarnation. The gods descend to drink of the waters of carnal life at the peril of their immortal souls. The dead beneath the waters, says Massey, are the Manes in Amenta, where the waters are an image of the lower Nun, the water not above, but below, the horizon. Isis sought her drowned son Horus in the waters of the underworld, from which he was fished out by Sevekh. Bacchus, lord of the humid nature, in being raised again, ascends from the water, enters the air and comes then as the Fanman or Winnower, the purifier by air (mind). (Plutarch: De Iside et Osiride) This marks once more the evolution of natural man over into the kingdom of spirit, the transition from water to air, or from emotion to mind, from Tefnut to Sekhet, or from Tefnut to Shu. Jonah, the personification of the god in matter, cried from “the belly of death”:
“For thou didst cast me into the depth, in the heart of the seas, and the flood was round about me; all thy waves and thy billows passed over me . . . The waters compassed me about, even to the soul. The deep was round about me; the weeds were wrapped about my head.”
Job (26) cries that “the dead tremble beneath the waves . . . He stilleth the sea by his power,” as did Jonah and Jesus, Horus and Tammuz and others. “He turneth back the waterflood which is over the thigh of the goddess Nut . . .” The Manes in dread of the deluge prays to “have power over the water and not be drowned” (Rit., Ch. 57). Glimpsing his coming earthly victory, he cries: “I am the being who is never overwhelmed in the waters.”
Herod in attempting to kill Jesus by a slaughter of the innocents is paralleled by the Pharaoh. He attempted to blot out the menace of the Israelites by ordering the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male children at the time of birth by drowning (Exod. I:22). This is a depiction of the general danger menacing the god during his incarnation in the watery realm of the body. The Psalms express it indirectly (74): “Thou breakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.” The gods had to break the power of the elementary lives engendered in the lower or water kingdoms. Sargon says that his mother gave him to the river, “which drowned me not.”
“He drew me out of great waters,” sings the Psalmist. Moses is water-born. Josephus explains the name as signifying “one who was taken out of the water.” Moffatt translates it as “removed” (from the water). Pharaoh’s daughter called the name of the child Mosheh, and said “because I drew him out of the water.” (Exod. II:10). Maui, of New Zealand legend, like Moses and Sargon, was drawn out of the water at birth. And the floating ark was the coffin. The Speaker says: “I am coffined in an ark like Horus, to whom his cradle is brought.” This cradle is often represented as a nest of papyrus reeds, equated thus with the ark of bulrushes. Thor in the Norse mythos had to wade through the waters, there being no bridge for him, as he fares to the Doomstead under the Ygdrasil. The root of this great Norse tree of life was beneath the water, its stem and branches above, like the lotus. The Ygdrasil ash stands in the well of the Urdar fountain. The Egyptian Pool of Persea nourished the roots of “the two divine sycamore trees of earth and heaven.” In Revelation the tree of life is planted on both sides of the river of waters.
It was in the storm on the sea that the distressed sailors in the gray light of dawn saw Jesus walking upon the troubled waters, drawing nigh to them. In quieting the storm he played the part of Horus in the Ritual, of whom it is written: “He hath destroyed the water-flood of his mother” – nature. In another form this stands: “He hath dispersed the power of the raging rain-storm.” And again: “He hath dispersed for thee the rain-storm, he hath driven away for thee the water-flood, he hath broken for thee the tempests.” All this prefigures the stilling of the strong restless power of the natural elements in man’s lower life, the mother-material nature, symboled by water. The god descending into the sphere of “water” was imaged by the duck, goose or swan; who all dive for food under the water. In a beautiful myth of the island of Celebes, seven celestial nymphs descend from the sky to bathe. They are seen by Kasimbaha, who stole the robes of one of them named Utahagi. These robes gave her the power of flying, and without them she was caught. She became his wife and bore him a son. Here we find ignorant primitives, according to scholastic rating, preserving a definite legend of the highest spiritual truth. For the robe stolen by the man on earth was her divine vesture, the immortal spiritual body.
The Ritual speaks eloquently again in one of its chapter titles: “Of drinking water in the underworld.” And in this chapter the Manes prays: “May there be granted to me mastery over the water courses as over the members of Set (Sut).”
One of the Chinese Trinity of gods “showed the people how to cultivate the ground which had been reclaimed from the waters” (Shu-King). We have in this imagery the meaning of “casting bread upon the waters.” It is the going out into incarnation of that “bread” which cometh down out of heaven for the life of the world. As the life in generation is distressful for the god, one of the promises pertaining to final release from the ordeal emphasizes that “there shall be no more night, no more sea” in the blessed homeland of the father. But the bread cast out is multiplied and returns a sevenfold increase.
The zodiacal sign of Aquarius is the Waterman pouring from an urn the water of life in a double stream. The sacred literature is filled with references to the two waters, or the water of the double source. In many myths there are two streams, two springs, two wells, two lakes. Cosmically the two indicate the original fission of God’s being into the two poles of positive and negative life, or spirit and matter. This was the divine life that emanated in two streams to fructify creation. In the lower world it is reflected in the division between the water of the air above and on the earth below, vapor and liquid, cloud on high and stream on the ground. Sometimes the goddesses representing primal fecundity are cut in two, as Tiamat, Isis, Neith, Hathor, Apt, Rerit. Thus Nut was the goddess of celestial water and Apt of the terrestrial; Isis of the heavenly, Nephthys of the earthly. These were pictured as the two cows or two groups of seven cows (as in Pharaoh’s dream) or a cow of two colors, fore and hind. The cow, as productive source of life-food, was paired into the water-cow of earth and the milch-cow of heaven. The water-cow symboled Mother Nature alone, before the advent of divine spirit, the masculine bull, into creation – matter unfructified by intelligence. The seven cows betoken the seven creative Elohim, the living energies of matter. The two living streams of water were put in the uranograph in the form of a water-course with two branches, one of which was the Iarutana (Egy.), Eridanus (Greek), Jordan (Hebrew); and the other the milk stream, the Milky Way, Via Lactea. The Eridanus, or earth water, was the stream that had to be passed over in incarnation; the Milky Way was the water course by which the soul ascended again into the heavens of spirit. The cow of earth was constellated in the seven stars of the Great Bear, the Milch-cow of heaven in Cassiopeia.
The Hindu Aditi, as the Great Mother of the Gods, becomes twain. She yields milk for the gods, and is identical with the heaven cow in Egypt. Aditi was the primal form of Dyaus (Zeus), the sky divinity. She alternates with Diti as mother of the embryo that was divided into seven parts, the seven Elohim. As Aditi she was the undivided Absolute; as Diti she was the divided one, mother of the two streams of outpoured life.
Of Ra it is written: “Thou bringest the milk of Isis to him and the water-flood of Nephthys.” Or again: “Thou hast brought the milk of Isis to Teta, and the water of the celestial stream of Nephthys.”
The Egyptians figured the two waters in the Nile, with its two arms, the Blue Nile and the White Nile. In the planispheres the south was Upper Egypt (by elevation); so the heavenly chart depicts the celestial Nile or Eridanus (Jordan) as pouring forth its divine stream from the southern sky, rising from the star Achernar in Eridanus constellation, and traveling northward to Orion’s foot, or where Orion rises up as Horus, the lord of the fertilizing inundation. Horus’ representative in the planisphere is Orion. In the celestial chart Orion is found standing, club in hand, the mighty hunter, with one foot on the water of the River Eridanus. By this it is depicted that the young solar god, our divinity, rises up where the stream of natural evolution ends and stands over it invested with the majesty and power of the lord of the lower waters of sense and emotion. Also in the case of the Nile there were two sources of its water, one earthly, the Lake Nyanza, the other celestial, or the rain and snow from heaven in the highlands of source.
The Persian Bundahish details the two waters of origin as female and male seed. “All milk arises from the seed of the males and the blood is that of the females.” The two waters, or blood and milk, were both typed as feminine at first, to represent nature as productive without spiritual fecundation. To symbol the latter, the one was afterwards made masculine. The first pair was the mother’s blood and milk; the second, blood and seminally-engendered milk, or milk treated as of male generation.
As in the cosmos, matter, the virgin mother of life, was evolving her forms without the visible presence of animating divine intelligence, that is, before a creature embodying intelligence had been evolved, so in human racial history the body of man was built up by nature without the ensouling presence of mind. Matter and its inherent force, the feminine aspect of life, alone occupied the field. Marvelously this phase is paralleled not only in some aspects of biology but in early racial history itself. Following upon Totemic social organization there was the Matriarchate, when the woman was head and ruler, because she was the only known producer of life. The function of fatherhood was obscurely known. The mother and later the daughter, or the mother and her sister, were the only known bonds of blood relation for the children. As in the cosmos, so in human society, the male element, while operative, was hidden out of sight and knowledge. A child was related only through two women, mother and daughter, or mother and aunt. Massey asserts in a hundred pages that these two are the archetypal forms of the two wives, or two women who are dramatis personae in nearly every religious myth of origin. Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Laban, David, Moses, Samson had two wives, and the Old Testament is replete with stories of two women, who are sisters, as Aholah and Aholibah, in Ezekiel. Two Meris figure in the story of Osiris, and the two Maries in that of Jesus.
Two pools were pictured in the Ritual, the Pool of Natron and the Pool of Salt. Also the Pool of the North and the Pool of the South.
The male or seminal element, then, marked the introduction of spiritual vivification into the natural order. A new birth ensued for nature, new powers were released for her creatures, and they sprang forward to attain a new status in conscious being. The element injected into nature to produce this generation was typified, both by the Gnostics and by Jesus, as “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” The sowing of the spiritual seed, or the potentiality of the god, was the earnest of man’s redemption from animal status. The effort to fix the character of our “salvation” without knowing specifically the nature of our “fall” – without definite knowledge of what we were to be saved from – has held the human mind for centuries captive to a vague dread, a bogie apprehension, that has been a vast discredit to theology. Salt is the figure of preservation. As in the case of the mummy unguents, salt was to preserve the lower nature of man from decay.
Curiously the two Pools are elsewhere called the Pool of the Moon and the Pool of the Sun. In the Pool of Natron, or Hesmen, or Smen, the bloody sweat of menstruation, we have the feminine, that is, material aspect of life, for which the moon ever stands, in opposition to the sun, which is masculine, life-generative and vivifying. The moon in its phase unlighted by the sun represented the woman, nature, in her unproductive stage. She was in her virgin state, unwedded to male spirit, unfecundated by mind. Impregnation by Intelligence would make her productive and take her out from under her subjection “to the law” of periodicity and matter.
And this alone is the meaning of the “miracle” in which Jesus heals the woman with an issue of blood from her youth, who touched the hem of his robe and received the perceptible discharge of his power. The incident is just one of the old mythic depictions, using the sexual procreative functionism as a weather-vane of spiritual meaning. When matter, the virgin mother, received the impregnation of spirit, the periodic course of nature was interrupted and a miraculous new birth of life was inaugurated. The stoppage of her issue of blood was but the sign of the entrance of deity into humanity. For the ceasing of the natural flow is the sure index of the ensuing advent of a higher birth. Nature, running to waste without fruitage, was healed by divine impregnation or vivification. Christianity has been content to take from this incident the meager wealth of a physical “cure”; ancient poetic genius deposited in it a mine of inexhaustible cosmic suggestiveness, a source of great moral enrichment for all.
That antique document, the Book of Enoch, comments directly upon the point under discussion (80:7-10):
“The water which is above shall be the agent (male) and the water which is under the earth shall be the recipient, and all shall be destroyed.”
Jesus said that he was from above and natural man from beneath. It is found in the Ritual that in the Pool of Natron and the Pool of Salt the sun was reborn each day and the moon each night. The circuit of experience each day, or each life, for both the divine man (sun) and the animal man (moon) amounted to a rebaptism and renewal of life. “I grow young each day,” exults the soul in the Ritual.
The constellation of the Great Bear was called “The Well of the Seven Stars.” The Hebrew Beer-Sheba (Sheba meaning obviously “seven”) was an early form of the primordial water. Beer-Sheba in the Septuagint is given as “Phrear Horkou” (Greek), meaning: “The well of the oath.” What can this strange name connote, save that it is a subtle designation for this life in watery body, to which the soul descended under the karmic “command” or covenant, or oath, which binds it to return to this living well of life? The twin pools were located in Anu, the white water being southward, the red northward. In the Ritual one name for it is the “Well of Sem-Sem.” Sem-Sem denotes regenesis. The Ritual says: “Inexplicable is the Sem-Sem, which is the greatest of all secrets.” It was the place where sun and moon were renewed. In consequence it was a place where the deceased seeks the waters of regeneration, or fount of youth. He says (Ch. 97): “I wash in the Pool of Peace. I draw water from the Divine Pool under the two Sycamores of heaven and earth. All justification is redoubled on my behalf.” “Osiris is pure by the Well of the South and the North.”
In plain language all this metaphorization means simply that man, a biune being, strides forward in his evolution by dipping in the experiences of both the carnal embodiment, the Pool of Natron, the “Nature” Pool, and in the god’s divine essence, the Pool of Salt, the “Spirit” Pool.
The water of life is sometimes said to be concealed between two lofty mountains which stand close together. But for two or three minutes each day they move apart, and the seeker of the healing and vivifying water must be ready on the instant to dart through, fill his two flasks and instantly rush back. Zechariah (14:4) hints at this:
“And the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof towards the East and towards the West, and half of the mountain shall remove toward the North and half toward the South.”
“Day” is a glyph for a cycle of any length, here an incarnation. The period of openness between the two mountains is just the time between birth and death in this life, during which brief moment, the soul must fall speedily to work to wrest all it can from this opportunity for contact between the two natures, animal and divine. It must strive quickly to fill its cup of experience from the flowing waters. The night cometh when no man can work. For this is the only time in its evolution when it can drink from the double spring, the two pools. The two or three minutes coincide with the two (or three) days in the tomb.
And by the shifting of the earth’s axis the east-west relation was supplanted by the north-south one, as referred to by Zechariah.
The Egyptian god Hapi, being of both sexes, denotes the eunuch in whom the two were united. He is the epicene personification, androgyne. From the mouth of Hapi issues the one stream which enters two other figures from whose two mouths it is emaned in a double stream. This is the one water dividing into two in the mythology. In the astrograph this is Aquarius.
In Egyptian and Hebrew traditions the deity is represented as shedding two creative tears, a poetic version of the two waters.
In the Hindu picture of Mahadeva and Parvati the waters of Soma are seen issuing from the head of the male deity and from the mouth of the cow, the feminine emblem. Siva is the mouth of the male source and Parvati, the Great Mother, is that of the feminine source. “He who knows the golden reed standing in the midst of the waters is the mysterious Prajapati, the generator.”
Milk from the body signified the female water, while Soma juice figured the male element, the wine that went to the head!
The ancient mother source was portrayed as twofold, a breathing land-animal in front, a water-animal behind, typing the elements of water and air. This is seen in the zodiacal Capricorn, the sea-goat, land-goat in front, sea animal in the rear. The Hindu goddess Maya hovers over the waters, and presses her two breasts with both hands, ejecting the twofold stream of living nutriment. The Hermaean Zodiac shows the Great Bear with streaming breasts, and the zodiacal Virgin is represented by the Bear as unproductive in Virgo, but the “bearer” in the sign of Pisces, where she is half fish and half human. Ishtar, another personification of the genetrix, was dual. One of her names was Semiramis, the daughter of Atergatis. The latter has the tail of a fish, but the daughter was wholly human. The fish denoted water, and the dove on Ishtar’s head signified air, again throwing sense and soul into relation.
Since the Eridanus is the Jordan, the word merits closer attention. It came from the Egyptian Iarutana. Eri, later Uri, was an Egyptian name for the inundation, meaning “great, mighty,” whilst tun or tana signified “that which rises up and bursts and bonds.” In Eritanu, or Iarutana, we then have the mighty river rising to overflow its banks. Astrologically it was placed in the heavenly chart as issuing from the mouth of the constellation of the Southern Fish, type of life source, and flowing north to the foot of Orion.
It is of note that in Joshua (22) it is said the Eternal made the Jordan the boundary between the main body of the Israelites and the Reubenites and Gadites, who had not been permitted to cross into the Promised Land because, as it is put, “you have no share in the Eternal.” Naturally this stream of life force sweeping mankind onward marks the boundary between the animal and the spiritual kingdoms. Animal man can’t cross it until he has been bathed in its waters and been purified and transformed. We are crossing this boundary line between our lower and higher natures.
There is plentiful use of the water symbol under the special form of the sea. “The angel descended until he reached the sea of the earth, and he stood with his right foot upon it.” This matches Horus-Orion in the starry chart standing with his foot upon the end of the Jordan River. The Dragon poured forth the water flood to overwhelm the Woman cast out of heaven. This points to the release of the surging forces of the carnal nature upon the soul after incarnation. But the earth opened to swallow up the released waters and helped the Woman, at which the Beast waxed more wroth; “and he waged war against them upon the borders of the sea which encompassed the earth.” This is Paul’s war of the carnal mind against the spirit on the rim or boundary between earth and sea, our two natures!
The watery field of life is pictured as a “crystal sea wherein the fire was reflected, and upon it there stood those who had overcome the influence of the Beast, who had not worshipped his image nor borne upon them the mark of his number.”
Ra brings to Teta “the power to journey over the Great Green Sea.” The Manes (Teta) “goes round about the Lake and on the flood of the Great Green Sea.” Again: “Thou sailest over the Lake of Kha, in the north of heaven, like a star passing over the Great Green Sea . . . as far as the place where is the star Seh (Orion).” This matches the location of the Eridanus. Hawaiian tradition says that the voyaging souls “waded safely through the sea.”
One of the most specific corroborations of the meaning of the water symbol is found in Revelation in the expression that when the books of life were opened, “the sea gave up its dead, for Death and Hades found no more any place, because they were judged and cast down.” Orthodox typology present two varying symbols of what takes place “when the dead are raised.” One says the graves were opened; the other that the sea gave up its dead. Here is a land and water conflict, only resolvable by symbolism, which may use many figures to picture one truth. But literal history falls meaningless between two varying statements of fact. The grave and the sea both refer to mortal life, which under any figure yields up its living “dead” at the end of the accomplished cycle. Then the seer “beheld the fashioning of the earth anew; for the sea out of which the Beast had risen was now no more.” “There shall be . . . no more sea.”
It is necessary to give some space to the symbolism of the fish, for it carries part of the imputation of the water element. For practical purposes it is possible to equate the four terms, fish, sea, matter and mother, in significance. The fish denotes, first, life in submergence, or the god in matter, who yet does not die, who can still breathe under the elements. But more specifically it intimates the source of life flowing outward toward matter. It is the outrance, not the entrance, of life. The whale spouting out its water stream is suggestive. The Eridanus poured forth from the mouth of the Southern Fish. The os tincae, or tench’s mouth, was one of the religious symbols of frequent occurrence. Watching a fish, one notes an apparent expulsion of water from the mouth with the semblance of chewing. It is the door of life’s emanation, and it is the denizen of the waters out of which life streams. The zodiacal Pisces is the sign of the birth of saviors. Jesus, Horus, Ioannes and others came as Ichthys (Ichthus), “fish” in Greek. And we have the fish-avatar of Vishnu. The door of life is figured in the shape of a fish-mouth at the western or feminine end of a church. The Pope’s miter is the mouth of a fish. The soul of life comes by way of the water.
The Vesica Piscis or fish’s bladder denoted the presence of air in the water, and the bubbles rising from the fish’s mouth double this hint as to the presence of mind in matter. The fish was a lower symbol than the swan or duck, for it must swim in the water; the other can float on the surface. In this sense it types the god caught, trapped in water; also likely to be caught in a net. It is said that cynocephali, who lay in wait to seize fish, “were allowed to catch them because of their ignorance.” It is the soul’s lack of full knowledge that causes it to be caught again and again in the meshes of carnality.
The fish zodiacally stands for the feet of the man. The mermaid with tail of fish represented the body as partaking in its nether half of the lower forces of life. Man’s feet are in the water of life. Ishtar-Semiramis was given the tail of a fish. The tail also portrays the, as yet, non-dual character of life, creative power not yet bifrond. It shows the non-division of the legs. The mummied Christ figure in the Catacombs, with legs bound helplessly together, depicts the god strapped in the bonds of the natural elements, not yet having manifested the duality. He can’t use his two legs and walk, like a god. He is only the first, natural man, not man and god conjoined.
Semiramis’ brother was Ichthys in the statue at Ascalon. Ichthys was a title of Bacchus. In the Hermaean Zodiac Pisces is named Ichthon, and the fish is the female goddess who brought forth the young sun-god as her Piscean offspring, whether called Horus in Egypt, Jesus in Palestine and Rome, or Marduk, the fish of Hea, in Assyria. Christ was Ichthys the Fish from 255 B.C. unto about 1900 A.D., or for the period of the Piscean era in the precession. Previous to that he was Aries, the Lamb of God. Who will figure him now as the Waterman?
An old Egyptian story, the tale of Setnau, written by Taht himself, and alleged to be so potent that two pages of it, when recited, would open the secrets of nature and unlock all mysteries, says: “The divine power will raise fishes to the surface of the water.” Metaphorically this refers to the power of the god to lift the natural man, immersed in the sea of material life, to mastery over his lower self, and bring him to the top or surface of his fleshly nature from out of the depths of it.
The Ritual reports the god as declaring: “I am the great and mighty Fish which is in the city of Qem-Ur.” This is the god in matter. But it is promised that Ra “shall be separated from the Egg and from the Abtu Fish.” Abtu is a form of Abydos, the place of burial of the god. Ra shall be freed from the fish or submerged state. Two chapter titles tell of “coming forth from the net” and from “the catcher of the fish.” The swampy region from which Sevekh, solar deity, recovered the mutilated limbs of Horus, was called Ta-Remu, “the land of the Fish,” a name given it by Ra.
Gathering up some scattered fragments of the water emblem, we note Homer describing the river Titaresius flowing from the Styx as pure and unmixed with the taint of death and gliding like oil over the surface of the water by which the gods made their covenant. Oil on troubled waters may be seen to be a profounder symbolism than was conceived before. For the god, oil is no chance symbol, as it was regularly employed in the anointing to type celestial radiance, the sheen of the divine glory. To pour oil on the waters is indeed to quiet the storms of raging animality by the calm of reason and the gentleness of love.
In the Hebrew the water of life flows from the rock Tser till the time of Miriam’s passing away. This represents the female source. The change to the masculine phase occurs when the water gushes forth for the first time from the rock Seba (Beer-Sheba) by the command of Moses. This was the water of Meribah, and in the Egyptian Meri is water, and Bah is the male.
In Judges (30) God split the rock as sign of the dual nature, and water flowed forth to quench Samson’s thirst, as in the case of Moses.
The throne on which Osiris is seated is sometimes placed, in the vignettes to the Ritual, on water, still or running. This is to say that the god is seated above the unstable foundation of the changing earth life. But life is to be established through its experience here, and so “he hath established it upon the floods.”
When the god had been transformed he is said to “have gained power over fresh water.” As salt typed the saving grace of divinity, the fresh water would point to the new and as yet unsaved natural creature. “Moisture,” says the Chaldean Oracles, “is a symbol of life, and hence both Plato and, prior to Plato, the gods call the soul at one time a drop from the whole of vivification; and at another time a certain fountain of it.”
The chapter can be brought to a close with a few intimations of the air symbolism. It is much less general than those of water and fire. The Sanskrit “Asu,” meaning “vital breath” is of great importance because it is the base of Asura (Persian: Ahura, surname of Ahura-Mazda), one of the specific names of the hosts of incarnating gods.
Both Horus and Jesus came forth with a fan in their hands, as the Winnower. This emblem is a clear glyph for the principle of mind. Intellect is to sweep out the chaff of sensuality and free the golden grain. Those initiated into the Greater Mysteries were washed with water and then breathed upon, fanned and winnowed by the purifying spirit. This was the dual baptism of water and the spirit, or fire. One of the two great symbols held in the hands of the Gods in Egypt was a fan called the Khi, the sign of air, breath and spirit. The other was the Hek, or Aut-crook, which denoted laying hold, in the downward direction, of matter by spirit; in the reversed direction, of spirit by the lower personality. Lack of air, or smothering, was a twin type with drowning for the limitations of incarnation. A phrase of the Ritual indicates this: “whose throat stinketh for lack of air.” In descending to seek her lost brother and husband Osiris, Isis is claimed to have “made light appear from her feathers; she made air to come into being by means of her two wings,” – another personation of the fanner or winnower. The god fans the mortal to keep him from being suffocated for lack of air, mind. The god brings us intellect, which indeed keeps us from being smothered by the intolerable life of sense. The cogency of leaven as a symbol lies in its generating air within the material mass. The raising of dough is synonymous with the resurrection of mortality. In the Ritual there is a “chapter of giving air to the soul in the underworld.” Mind came as our savior.
1. Massey: The Natural Genesis, I, p. 344.
2. The Natural Genesis, I, p. 529.
3. Massey: The Natural Genesis, I, p. 147.