History Online - Ancient Egypt
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
The civilization of Ancient Egypt lasted longer than the entire span of what we have come to accept as 'recorded history': over three thousand years. During these millenia the Egyptians developed a multitude of gods and goddesses, as well as esoteric practices that we are still unravelling the meaning of. Besides this, Egypt was the source of the first true monothestic religion, under the pharaoh Akhenaton. This rich tradition was mostly unknown until the early nineteenth century, when the Egyptian language was finally deciphered.
THE HISTORY OF CREATION
THE BOOK OF KNOWING THE EVOLUTIONS OF RA,
AND OF OVERTHROWING APEP
[These are] the words of the god Neb-er-tcher, who said: "I am the creator of what hath come into being, and I myself came into being under the form of the god Khepera, and I came into being in primeval time. I came into being in the form of Khepera, and I am the creator of what did come into being, that is to say, I formed myself out of the primeval matter, and I made and formed myself out of the substance which existed in primeval time. My name is AUSARES (i.e., Osiris), who is the primeval matter of primeval matter.
I have done my will in everything in this earth. I have spread myself abroad therein, and I have made strong my hand. I was ONE by myself, for they (i.e., the gods) had not been brought forth, and I had emitted from myself neither Shu nor Tefnut. I brought my own name into my mouth as a word of power, and I forthwith came into being under the form of things which are and under the form of Khepera. I came into being from out of primeval matter, and from the beginning I appeared under the form of the multitudinous things which exist; nothing whatsoever existed at that time in this earth, and it was I who made whatsoever was made.
I was ONE: by myself, and there was no other being who worked with me in that place. I made all the things under the forms of which I appeared then by means of the Soul-God which I raised into firmness at that time from out of Nu, from a state of inactivity. I found no place whatsoever there whereon I could stand, I worked by the power of a spell by means of my heart, I laid a foundation [for things] before me, and whatsoever was made, I made.
I was ONE by myself, and I laid the foundation of things [by means of] my heart, and I made the other things which came into being, and the things of Khepera which were made were manifold, and their offspring came into existence from the things to which they gave birth. I it was who emitted Shu, and I it was who emitted Tefnut, and from being the ONE, god (or, the only god) I became three gods; the two other gods who came into being on this earth sprang from me, and Shu and Tefnut rejoiced (or, were raised up) from out of Nu in which they were. Now behold, they brought my Eye to me after two hen periods since the time when they went forth from me.
I gathered together my members (which had appeared in my own body, and afterwards I had union with my hand, and my heart (or, will) came unto me from out of my hand, and the seed fell into my mouth, and I emitted from myself the gods Shu and Tefnut, and so from being the ONE god (or, the only, god) I became three gods; thus the two other gods who came into being on this earth sprang from ,me, and Shu and Tefnut rejoiced (or, were raised up) from out of Nu in which they were.
My father Nu saith:-They covered up (or, concealed) my Eye with the plant-like clouds which were behind them (i.e., Shu and Tefnut) for very many hen periods. Plants and creeping things [sprang up] from the god REM, through the tears which I let fall. I cried out to my Eye, and men and women came into existence.
Then I bestowed upon my Eye the uraeus of fire, and it was wroth with me when another Eye (i.e., the Moon) came and grew up in its place; its vigorous power fell on the plants, on the plants which I had placed there, and it set order among them, and it took up its place in my face, and it doth rule the whole earth.
Then Shu and Tefnut brought forth Osiris, and Heru-khenti-An-maa, and Set, and Isis, and Nephthys and behold, they have produced offspring, and have created multitudinous children in this earth, by means of the beings which came into existence from the creatures which they produced. They invoke my name, and they overthrow their enemies, and they make words of power for the overthrowing of Apep, over whose hands and arms AKER keepeth ward. His hands and arms shall not exist, his feet and leas shall not exist, and he is chained in one place whilst Ra inflicts upon him the blows which are decreed for him. He is thrown upon his accursed back, his face is slit open by reason of the evil which he hath done, and he shall remain upon his accursed back."
THE LEGEND OF RA AND ISIS
The Chapter of the divine (or, mighty) god, who created himself, who made the heavens and the earth, and the breath of life, and fire, and the gods, and men, and beasts, and cattle, and reptiles, and the fowl of the air, and the fish, who is the king of men and gods, [who existeth] in one Form, [to whom] periods of one hundred and twenty years axe as single years, whose names by reason of their multitude are unknowable, for [even] the gods know them not.
Behold, the goddess Isis lived in the form , of a woman, who had the knowledge of words [of power]. Her heart turned away in disgust from the millions of men, and she chose for herself the millions of the gods, but esteemed more highly the millions of the spirits. Was it not possible to become even as was Ra in heaven and upon earth, and to make [herself] mistress of the earth, and a [mighty] goddess-thus she meditated in her heart-by the knowledge of the Name of the holy god?
Behold, Ra entered [heaven] each day at the head of his mariners, establishing himself upon the double throne of the two horizons. Now the divine one had become old, he dribbled at the mouth, and he let his emissions go forth from him upon the earth, and his spittle fell upon the. ground. This Isis kneaded in her hand,' with [some] dust, and she fashioned it in the form of a sacred serpent, and made it to have the form of a dart, so that none might be able to escape alive from it, and she left it lying upon the road whereon the great god travelled, according to his desire, about the two lands.
Then the holy god rose up in the tabernacle of the gods in the great double house (life, strength, health!) among those who were in his train, and [as] he journeyed on his way according to his daily wont, the holy serpent shot its fang into him, and the living fire was departing from the god's own body, and the reptile destroyed the dweller among the cedars.
And the mighty god opened his mouth, and the cry of His Majesty (life, strength, health!) reached unto the heavens, and the company of the gods said, "What is it?" and his gods said, "What is the matter?" And the god found [no words] wherewith to answer concerning himself. His jaws shook, his lips trembled, and the poison took possession of all his flesh just as Hapi (i.e., the Nile) taketh possession of the land through which he floweth.
Then the great god made firm his heart (i.e., took courage) and he cried out to those who were in his following:-" Come ye unto me, O ye who have come into being from my members,' ye gods who have proceeded from me, for I would make you to know what hath happened. I have been smitten by some deadly thing, of which my heart hath no knowledge, and which I have neither seen with my eyes nor made with my hand; and I have no knowledge at all who hath done this to me. I have never before felt any pain like unto it, and no pain can be worse than this [is]. I am a Prince, the son of a Prince, and the divine emanation which was produced from a god. I am a Great One, the son of a Great One, and my father hath determined for me my name. I have multitudes of names, and I have multitudes of forms, and my being existeth in every god. I have been invoked (or, proclaimed?) by Temu and Heru.-Hekennu.
My father and my mother uttered my name, and [they] hid it in my body at my birth so that none of those who would use against me words of power might succeed in making their enchantments have dominion over Me. I had come forth from my tabernacle to look upon that which I had made, and was making my way through the two lands which I had made, when a blow was aimed at me, but I know not of what kind.
Behold, is it fire? Behold, is it water? My heart is full of burning fire, my limbs axe shivering, and my members have darting pains in them. Let there be brought unto me my children the gods, who possess words of magic, whose mouths are cunning [in uttering them], and whose powers reach up to heaven."
Then his children came unto him, and every god was there with his cry of lamentation; and Isis came with her words of magic, and the place of her mouth [was filled with] the breath of life, for the words which she putteth together destroy diseases, and her words make to live those whose throats are choked (i.e., the dead).
And she said, "What is this, O divine father? What is it ? Hath a serpent shot his venom into thee? Hath a thing which thou hast fashioned lifted up its head against thee ? Verily it shall be overthrown by beneficent words of power, and I will make it to retreat in the sight of thy rays."
The holy god opened his mouth, [saying], I was going along the road and passing through the two lands of my country, for my heart wished to look upon what I had made, when I was bitten by a serpent which I did not see; behold, is it fire? Behold, is it water? I am colder than water, I am hotter than fire, all my members sweat, I myself quake, mine eye is unsteady. I cannot look at the heavens, and water forceth itself on my face as in the time of the Inundation."
And Isis said unto Ra, "O my divine father, tell me thy name, for he who is able to pronounce his name liveth." [And Ra said], "I am the maker of the heavens and the earth, I have knit together the mountains, and I have created everything which existeth upon them. I am the maker of the Waters, and I have made Meht-ur to come into being; I have made the Bull of his Mother, and I have made the joys of love to exist. I am the maker of heaven, and I have made to be hidden the two gods of the horizon, and I have placed the souls of the gods within them. I am the Being who openeth his eyes and the light cometh; I am the Being who shutteth his eyes and there is darkness. I am the Being who giveth the command, and the waters of Hapi (the Nile) burst forth, I am the Being whose name the gods know not. I am the maker of the hours and the creator of the days. I am the opener (i.e., inaugurator) of the festivals, and the maker of the floods of water. I am the creator of the fire of life whereby the works of the houses are caused to come into being. I am Kheperi in the morning, and Ra (at the time of his culmination (i.e., noon), and Temu in the evening."'
Nevertheless the poison was not driven from its course, and the great god felt no better. Then Isis said unto Ra, "Among the things which thou hast said unto me thy name hath not been mentioned. O declare thou it unto me, and the poison shall come forth; for the person who hath declared his name shall live."
Meanwhile the poison burned with blazing fire and the heat thereof was stronger than that of a blazing flame. Then. the Majesty of Ra, said, "I will allow myself to be searched through by Isis, and my name shall come forth from my body and go into hers."
Then the divine one hid himself from the gods, and the throne in the Boat of Millions of Years was empty. And it came to pass that when it was the time for the heart to come forth [from the god], she said unto her son Horus, "The great god shall bind himself by an oath to give his two eyes." Thus was the great god made to yield up his name, and Isis, the great lady of enchantments, said, "Flow on, poison, and come forth from Ra; let the Eye of Horus come forth from the god and shine(?) outside his mouth. I have worked, and I make the poison to fall on the ground, for the venom hath been mastered.
Verily the name hath been taken away from the great god. Let Ra live, and let the poison die; and if the poison live then Ra shall die. And similarly, a certain man, the son of a certain man, shall live and tbe poison shall die."
These were the words which spake Isis, the great lady, the mistress of the gods, and she had knowledge of Ra in his own name. The above words shall be said over an image of Temu and an image of Heru-Hekennu, and over an image of Isis and an image of Horus.