The light of the world



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Seb, the father of food, is clothed with papyrus reeds. The Mount of Earth was imaged as a papyrus-plant in the water of space. Lastly, the Mount of Amenta in the Ritual rises from a bed of papyrus reeds.

Hor-Apollo says of the Egyptians, “To denote ancient descent they depict a roll of papyrus, and by this they signify primeval food” (B. I, 30). This is the same as with the Zulus. The papyrus reed, Uat, was turned into a symbol of most ancient descent precisely because it had been the primeval food of the most ancient people, a totem of the most ancient mother of the race when called Uati in Egypt, and a type of the African paradise. As the symbolism shows, people were sometimes derived from and represented by the food on which they lived. Thus the papyrus reed that symbolizes ancient food and long descent would be the sign of the people who once lived on or who ate the shoots of the water plant. The Egyptians continued to be eaters of the lotus and papyrus shoots. Theirs was the land of the reed, and they, like the Zulus or the Japanese or the Pueblos, were the reed people in accordance with the primitive mode of heraldry, just as with the Arunta tribes the witchetty-grub people are those who live on the witchetty-grub as their special totemic food. In later times the papyrus plant was eaten by the Egyptians as a delicacy. Its shoots were gathered for that purpose annually. Bread made from the roots and the seed of the lotus was the gourmand’s delight. Lily loaves are mentioned in the Papyrus Anastasi. It is said in the Hymn to the Nile that when food is abundant the poor man disdains to eat the lotus or papyrus plant, which shows that it had been his diet when other food was scarce. The lotus and the papyrus are the two water plants worn as a headdress by the two figures that represent the Nile south and north, and who are often seen binding the flowers to the Sam symbol of Upper and Lower Egypt, as if joining the two countries together as the one land of the reed. Uthlanga is not irrecoverable. We glean from other Zulu legends that this was the African birthplace in the bed of reeds, where the two children, black and white, were born of dark and day, and where the race of the reed people broke off in the beginning. This cradle of creation is repeated mythically with Child-Horus in his nest of reeds or bed of the papyrus plant, when the field of reeds was figured in the heavens as the primitive paradise of food and drink.

In the so-called “cosmogony” of the Japanese it is set forth that the first thing in which life appeared on earth at the beginning was the reed, and the earliest land or “country-place stand” (Kunitoko tachi) was the land of the reed. Japan was named as the central land of the reed expanse from the fields of reed, whether geographical on the earth or astronomical in the fields of heaven. The “great reed” of the Japanese mythos is identical with the papyrus reed that represented the Mount of Earth in Egypt or the lotus of Meru in India. Any country figured as being atop of the reed would be the midland of the world, as Japan is said to be, and the Kamite reed will explain why the land of the Kami should be called Ashi-hara, the plain of reeds, when the reed is identified with the papyrus plant. Ashi-hara no naka tsu Kuni, “the Middle Kingdom of the Reed Plain,” which
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lies upon the summit of the globe, is an ancient name for Japan. This, if mundane, corresponds to the land of the papyrus reed in equatorial Africa, the summit of our earth; or, if only mythical, i.e., astronomical, to the reed field of the Aarru paradise upon the summit of the mount in heaven. Again, the great reed standing up out of the water is identical with the typical mount of earth in the Navajo mythology. As the mount grew higher, higher grew the reed. At the time of the deluge all that lived took refuge there, and were rescued from the drowning waters by the reed. This is the papyrus reed which cradled Horus amid the waters, like the infant Moses in the ark of bulrush, applied in a folk-tale on a larger scale (Matthews).

It is now proposed to seek for the birthplace of the beginnings in Central Africa, the land of the papyrus reed, around the equatorial lakes, by the aid of the Egyptian astronomical mythology and the legendary lore. In the first place, the Kami of Egypt, like the Kami of Japan, identify themselves by name as the reed-people. And the goddess Uati is the African great mother in the bed of reeds. For it was thence, in the region of the two lakes and in the land of the papyrus reed, that souls in the germ first emanated as the soul of life from water. The Kaffir tradition thus appears to preserve the natural fact which the Egyptians rendered mythically by means of the reed plant as a symbol of the primeval birthplace on earth with Horus issuing from the waters on the reed, which became the lap of life, the cradle and the ark of the eternal child, who is also called the shoot of the papyrus, the primitive Natzer.

A spring of water welling from abysmal depths of earth, that furnished food in the papyrus reed and other edible plants, is the earliest form in which the source of life was figured by the Kamite mystery teachers. This is recorded in the Ritual (ch. 172). It was in the birthplace of the reeds and of the reed people in the region of the reeds that light first broke out of darkness in the beginning in the domain of Sut, and where the twin children of darkness and of light were born. The Mother-earth as womb of universal life was the producer of food in various kinds, and the food was represented as her offspring. Horus on his papyrus imaged food in the water plant as well as in the later lentils, the branch of the tree, or in general vegetation. The stands of the offerings presented to the gods in the Ritual are commonly crowned with papyrus plants, which commemorate the food that was primeval. Thus the doctrine of life issuing in and from the papyrus reed was Egyptian as well as Japanese. Naturally the earliest life thus emanating from the water was not human life, but this would be included sooner or later in the mythical representation. Hence the legend of the first man, or person who issued from a reed in the water of the deluge. In this American Indian version the reed is a figure of the birthplace instead of the Zulu bed of reeds, or Uthlanga, the land of reeds, but the typical origin is the same; and as Egyptian the mythos is to be explained.

The origin of a saviour in the guise of a little child is traceable to Child-Horus, who brought new life to Egypt every year as the Messu of the inundation. This was Horus in his pre-solar and pre-human characters of the fish, the shoot of the papyrus, or the branch of endless years. In a later stage the image of Horus on his papyrus


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represented the young god as solar cause in creation. But in the primitive phase it was a soul of life or of food ascending from the water in vegetation, as he who climbs the stalk, ranging from Child-Horus to the Polynesian hero, and to Jack ascending heavenward by means of his bean-stalk. Now, of all the lands on earth there is no reed land to be compared with the land of the reeds round the equatorial lakes, where the papyrus grows about the waters in jungles and forests so dense that a charging herd of hippopotami could hardly penetrate the bush, which stands out of the water full fifteen feet in height (Johnston, H. H.), and there if anywhere upon this earth Uthlanga, the original reed land or birth land in the reeds, will yet be found. That is the natural fact which underlies the mythical representation when the Egyptians show us Horus “on his papyrus” rising from his natal bed of the papyrus plant. Child-Horus on his papyrus is the reed-born in mythology who reflects the natural fact of the human birthplace in the field, the bed, or nest of reeds on earth or in heaven—that is, the African oasis of the beginning, whether the offspring represents food or other elemental force. Now the Egyptian Aarru or paradise, established by Ra, was “a field of reeds” in seven divisions, and these were papyrus reeds which sprang up from the marshes. Thus the Kamite paradise was a land of the papyrus plant repeated on the summit of the mount in heaven at the north celestial pole (Naville, Destruction of Mankind). According to their way of registering a knowledge of the beginnings, the Egyptians were well acquainted with the equatorial regions, which they designated “Apta,” the uppermost point, the mount, or literally the “horn-point” of the earth. This was afterwards reproduced at the highest point above, when the primeval birth land was repeated as the land of rebirth for spirits in heaven.

It has now to be shown that much of the sign-language of astronomy which still survives on the celestial globe is interpretable on the ground and for the reason that the fundamental data of the underlying mythos was Egyptian, although the commencement in Africa may have been indefinitely earlier than the fulfillment in Egypt. From the beginning certain types evolved in the Egyptian mythology have been configurated in the planisphere, many of which remain extant on the celestial globe to-day. As a concept of primitive thought life came into the world by water. Hence in the mysteries of Osiris water is the throne of the eternal. Earth itself was the producer or the mother of the element, the wet-nurse in mythology, and water was her child by whom an ever-renewing source was imaged as a type in Child-Horus, the eternal child. Water, we shall see, was self-delineated as very heaven. Drought was self-delineated as a huge black reptile coiling round the mount of earth night after night and drinking up the water of light day after day. Darkness and light were self-delineated as two immense, wide-winged birds, one black and one white, which overspread the earth. The great squat-headed evil Apap in the Egyptian drawings is probably a water reptile, and possibly represents the mysterious monster of the lakes in the legends of Central Africa. But, wheresoever its habitat in nature, it supplied one of the types that were depicted in the astronomical ceiling of Kam—the types that have now to be followed


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by means of the mythography in the Sign-language of the starry sphere, amongst which Apap, the “hellish snake” of drought and dearth and darkness, still survives as our own constellation “Hydra,” the enormous reptile imaged in the celestial waters of the southern heaven. The hero of light that pierced the serpent of drought or the dragon of darkness was also represented as the golden hawk (later eagle), and at Hermopolis the Egyptians showed the figure of a hippopotamus upon which a hawk stood fighting with a serpent (Plutarch, On I. and O., p. 50). Now, as the hippopotamus was a zootype of the Mother-earth in the water of space, the hawk and serpent fighting on her back portrayed the war of light and darkness which had been fought from the beginning, the war that was a primary subject figured in the astronomical mythology. The hawk represented Horus, who was the bruiser of the serpent’s head. Thus the same conflict that was portrayed at Hermopolis may be seen in the constellation of Serpentarius as a uranograph depicted in the planisphere.

The Egyptians called the equator Ap-ta, as the highest land or summit of the earth. This, the earthly Apta in the equatorial regions, was then rendered mythically as the Apta or highest point of the northern heavens in the astronomical representation. And naturally the chief facts of the earthly paradise were repeated for a purpose in the circumpolar highland. Hence the Aarru paradise, as a field of papyrus reeds oozing with the water of life that supplied the world, from the two great lakes into which the element divided at the head of the celestial river or the White Nile of the “Milky Way.” In coming down the Nile from Karua, the lake country, the migrants had to pass through parching desert sands, which made the south a synonym for Sut, as it is in Egyptian. Their future heaven was in the north, whence came the blessed breezes with the breath of healing from the very land of life. And all the time ahead of them was that fixed polar star in the north—fixed, that is, as a centre of rest and peace amidst the starry revolutions of the heavens. Emerging from Cooler breezes brought the breath of life to meet them on the way, and plenty of sweet, fresh water realized the heaven of the African. The Kami found their old lost paradise in “Uat,” the name signifying green, fresh, well-watered. Uat was literally the land of wet as water. Here then was heaven in the north, heaven as the north, heaven in the water and the breezes of the north. And on this they founded a celestial garden or enclosure, which was configurated by them in the northern heaven as the primitive paradise of edible plants and plenty of water. The river Nile was traced back by the Egyptians to a double source. This in later times was localized at Elephantine, but not originally. The Nile was known to issue from the two great lakes which were the southern source of the river according to the Ritual. A tablet discovered at Gebel Silsileh refers to two of the ancient festivals of the Nile which had fallen into disuse in the time of Rameses II. In this it is said, “I know what is written in the book-store kept in the library, that whenever the Nile cometh forth from the two fountains, the offerings of the gods are to be plenty” (Records of the Past, vol. X, 41). The river was timed


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to come forth from its double welling-place on the 15th of Epiphi, and the inundation to reach Gebel Silsileh, or Khennut, on the 15th of Taht. The first of these dates corresponds to our May the 31st; the second to August the 4th. This allows two months and three days for the inundation to travel from its swollen and overflowing double-breasted source, wheresoever that was localized, to Gebel Silsileh. The length of the river from the Victoria Nyanza to the sea is now estimated at 3,370 miles. It is less than 3,000 to Silsileh, and water flowing at the rate of only two miles an hour would make 3,120 miles in sixty-five days. This seems to afford good evidence that the two fountains were identified with the two lakes, and that the double source was afterwards repeated locally lower down at Elephantine. The Egyptians had tracked the river to its sources “in the recesses,” called “the Tuat of the south,” and the inundation to the bursting forth and overflowing of the southern lakes at high flood (Hymn to the Nile; also Ritual, ch. 149).

The mother of water in the northern heaven was imaged as the water-cow. Another type of the birthplace was the thigh or haunch of the cow, and one of the two lakes at the head of the Milky Way in the region of the northern pole was called the “lake of the thigh.” The Osiris (ch. 149), on attaining the divine regions of water, air, and food, or, as we say, heaven, exultingly exclaims, “I alight at ‘the thigh of the lake.’” This was the thigh of the cow that was constellated in heaven at least twice over, as a sign of the birthplace, when the birth was water, or Horus, the child of the inundation. Now the name of Tanganyika, from the African “tanga” for “the thigh” and “nyika” for the water, signifies the lake of the thigh or haunch. But the thigh is only a symbol which in Sign-language denotes the birthplace that was imaged more completely by the Cow itself; the water-cow of Apt, in Apta, which represented earth as the great mother and giver of the water that, according to the legend, burst forth from the abyss in the deluge of the inundation when the lake was formed at first. The lake of the thigh=Tanganyika was constellated in the northern heaven by name as a uranograph, and this lake of the thigh or haunch was the lake of the water-cow. Hence we find the cow and the haunch are blended together in one group of stars that is labelled the “Meskhen,” as the womb or birthplace at the summit of the pole. (P. 289.) And, although this lake in Africa is a little over the line to the south, it is near enough to have been reckoned on it, and therefore to have been the earthly prototype of the great lake at the horn-point of the northern pole which the Ritual denominates the “lake of equipoise” as well as the lake of the thigh. Amongst the other signs that were configurated at the summit of the northern heaven as object-pictures of the old primeval homeland were the fields of the papyrus reed, the waters welling from unfathomable depths, the ancient mother as the water-cow of Apt, who was the living image of Apta as the birthplace in the reeds. Thus, with the aid of their uranographs the Egyptian mystery teachers showed the birthplace in the fields of the papyrus plant; the reed bed in Uthlanga, where the black and white twins of darkness and day were born; the birthplace of the water flowing from its secret source in the land of the two lakes called “the


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lake of equipoise” and “the lake of the thigh,” or Tanga, whence the name Tanganyika. There was the water that for ever flowed in fields for ever fresh and green, which figured now the water of life that has no limit, and the food that is eternal in the Kamite eschatology. In the astronomy Apta was the mount of earth as a figure of the equator, whereas the summit of the circumpolar paradise was the mount of heaven as a figure of the pole. In the final picture to the Ritual (ch. 186) the mount of Amenta stands in a morass of the papyrus reed. The cow that represented the great mother is portrayed in the two forms of Apt the water-cow and Hathor the milch-cow, as the typical mother amongst the reeds in the place of birth on the earth and thence of rebirth in heaven. Thus, as we interpret it, the imagery of equatoria was commemorated in the uranographic representation or Sign-language of the astronomical mythology.

Sir Harry Johnston sees traces of the Egyptian or Hamitic influence amongst the more primitive dwarfs and Negroes of the equatorial regions, but this he speaks of as the result of a returning wave from the Nilotic races. Assuredly the Kamite race of migratory colonizers on the lower Nile did return in later times in search of the old home. Their voyages by water and travels by land had become the subject of popular tales. But this was as travellers, adventurers, naturalists, and miners who explored their hinterland, dug for metals or gems, imported strange animals, and transplanted precious trees to furnish incense for the goddesses and gods. It was not the grown-up, civilized Ruti of Egypt, who called themselves “the men” par excellence, that went back to beget the ape-like race of Negroid dwarfs in the central regions of Africa, or to people the impenetrable forests with non-civilized, ignorant, undeveloped manikins. That was not the route of evolution.


It is an ancient and world-travelling tradition that heaven and earth were close together in the beginning. Now the heaven signified in the oldest of all mythologies, the Kamite, was the starry heaven of night upraised by Shu as he stood upon the mount of earth. This was the heaven in which the stars of our two Bears revolved about the pole. The writer of the present work has seen in equatorial regions how the Southern Cross arises and the Bears go down for those who are going south. The northern pole-star dips and disappears, and with it sinks the primal paradise of mythology in general that was configurated in the stars about the pole. On coming north again, the old lost paradise arose once more as paradise regained. At a certain point, in regions of no latitude, the pole-star rests for ever on the horizon in the north, or, as the Egyptians figured it, upon the mount of earth in Apta. The heaven of the ancient legends and of the equatorial astronomers was close to the earth, because the pole-star rested on the summit of the mount like Anup on his mountain. Such traditions were deposited as the mythical mode of representing natural fact, however much the fact may be obscured. Now, the ordinary heaven of night and day could not supply the natural fact. Heaven is no farther off from earth than ever. Yet there is a starting point in the various mythologies that is equivalent to this beginning, at which time heaven rested on the earth, and was afterwards separated from it by the mythical uplifter of
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the sky. The name of heaven denotes the up-heaven. Nut or Nu, the Egyptian name for heaven, has the meaning and the sign of uplifted. And there was but one starting point at which the heaven could be said to rest upon the earth. This was in the regions of no latitude, where the pole-stars were to be seen upon the two horizons. As the nomads travelled towards the north, this heaven of the pole, which touched the earth in equatoria, naturally rose up from the mount, or, as mythically rendered, it was raised by Shu, who stood upon the steps of Am-Khemen to reach the height, and push the two apart with his huge staff that was the giant’s figure of the north celestial pole. There were no solstices in Apta. Time, if any, was always equinoctial there. And on this equal measure of day and dark the first division of the circle, the sep or turn-round of the sphere, was founded. When Shu upraised the sky it was equally divided between Sut and Horus, the portion of each being half of the water, half of the mount, or half of the twenty-four hours. And this was the time made permanent in Amenta, where the later register for all such simple mysteries was kept. There are twelve hours light and twelve hours dark in this nether-world, the same as in the equatorial regions. It is the equinoctial time of Shu and Maati. The earth was not an upright pillar in Apta, with the starry sphere revolving round it on a horizontal plane. The risings and settings of the stars were vertical, and the two fixed centres of the poles were on the two horizons, or, in accordance with the Egyptian expression, on the northern and the southern sides of the mount of earth. The sky, as the celestial water, was also divided into two great lakes, one to the north and one to the south of the mount. These survive in the Ritual as the Lake of Kharu and the Lake of Ru to the south and the north of the Bakhu hill “on which heaven resteth” (chs. 108 and 109). The system of dividing the celestial water was apparently founded on the two great equatorial lakes at the head of the Nile, which were repeated in the two lakes of Amenta and in the other pictures of the double source of the great stream now figured in heaven at the head of the Milky Way as “the stream without end.”

The Egyptians also preserved traditions of Ta-nuter, the holy land that was known by the name of Punt or Puanta. Maspero spells the name Puanit. The present writer has rendered it Puanta. One meaning of anta, in Egyptian, is yellow or golden. Hence Puanta the golden. The name is applied in the Ritual (ch. 15) to the land of dawn, or anta, as the golden=the land of gold. This was the mythical or divine Anta in Amenta where the tree of golden Hathor grew. In that case, Puanta or Punt is identical with the orient in the mythos. But the land of Puanta is also geographical, and there was an Egyptian tradition that this divine country could be reached by ascending the river Nile (Maspero, Histoire Ancienne, p. 5). It was reported that in a remote region south you came to an unknown great water which bathed Puanta or the holy land, Ta-nuter. This, we suggest, was that nearest and largest of all the African lakes, now called the Victoria Nyanza, from which the river Nile debouches on its journey north. We gather from the inscriptions of Der-el-Bahari that the inhabitants of that Puanta for which the expedition of Queen Hatshepsu sailed were lake-dwellers. The houses, built on piles, were


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reached by means of ladders, and pile-dwellings imply that the people of Puanta were dwellers on the lake. Further, it is recorded on the monuments that two naval expeditions were made by the Egyptians to the land of Puanta. The first occurred in the reign of Sankh-Ka-Ra, the last king of the eleventh dynasty, long before the expedition to Puanta was made in the time of Queen Hatshepsu (eighteenth dynasty). The leader of this earlier expedition was a nobleman named Hannu, who describes his passage inland through the desert and the cultivated land. On his return to Egypt from the gold land, he speaks of coming back from the land of Seba, and thus far identifies the one with the other. He says: “When I returned from Seba, or Sebœa, I had executed the king’s command, for I brought him back all kinds of presents which I had met with in the ports of Puanta, and I came back by the road of Uak and of Hannu” (Inscription, Rohan). In the story of the shipwrecked sailor the speaker says of his voyage: “I was going to the mines of Pharaoh, in a ship that was 150 cubits long and 40 cubits wide, with 150 of the best sailors in Egypt.” He was shipwrecked on an island, which turned out to be in the land of Puanta. The serpent ruler of the island says to the sailor: “I am prince of the land of Puanta.” It is not said that this was the land of the mines, but he was sailing to the mines when he reached the land of Puanta (Petrie, Egyptian Tales, pp. 82, 90). An inscription found in the tomb of Iua and Thua (of the eighteenth dynasty), which tomb was rich in gold, informs us that the gold had been brought from “the lands of the south.” Also the Mazai tribes are known to have had relations with the people of Puanta. Puanta, as a geographical locality, is said to lie next to the spirit world, or the land of the shades, which is spoken of as being in the south, but as far away as sailors could go up-stream; in fact, it was where the celestial waters came from heaven at the sources of the Nile. This surely means that Puanta, the gold land, was at the summit of this world, and therefore closest to the next, where there was nothing but the firmamental water betwixt them and the islands of the blessed.

If Mashonaland should prove to be the gold land of Puanta, this would be the geographical Puanta, not Arabia, from which the golden Hathor and the hawk of gold originally came. The symbolism of the ruined cities of Mashonaland, discovered by the explorer Bent, suffices at least to show that the Egyptians of a very remote age had worked the gold mines in that country. Horus on his pedestal or papyrus is a figure not to be mistaken, whether the bird is a hawk or a vulture, for there was also a very ancient Horus of the vulture that was the bird of Neith. The hawk or vulture on the pedestal or papyrus (Uat) was indefinitely older than the human type of Horus the child in Egypt. Horus as the hawk or vulture, standing on the column within the necklace zone or cestus, was the child of Hathor; and these two, Hathor and Horus, were the divine mother and child. The gold hawk of Horus is connected with the Egyptian mines, whilst precious metals and stones, especially the turquoise, were expressly sacred to the goddess Hathor. The Egyptian goddess Hathor, as a form of the Earth-mother, was the mistress of the mines, and of precious stones and metals, called mafkat. It was here she gave birth to the blue-eyed golden Horus as her child, her golden calf or hawk of gold. The


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