The Meskhen, or Birthplace. The history of Horus is depicted in the heavens as if upon the walls and windows of some vast cathedral of immensity. This was the subject of subjects in the astronomical mythology. He was conceived of a virgin mother in the sign of Virgo. His birth or advent was announced by the star Phact in the constellation Columbia. The
earliest mother who conceived as a virgin in mythology was represented by the sacred heifer of the immaculate Isis. Also by the white vulture in the cult of the Virgin Neith. She was the dove of Hathor in the worship of Iusāas, the mother of Iusa. The human only comes in as a challenging element when the mythos is related as history. When the woman took the place of the heifer, the vulture, the dove, or other zootype of virginity–that is, when the type was humanized and Horus imaged as a child–the doctrine of incarnation, or the incorporation of a spirit of life in matter, had entered into the human sphere. Thus the mystical virgin and child in human guise, whether in Egypt or in any other land, was a result of doctrinal development, and the doctrine itself could not be understood without a knowledge of the earlier phase. When the type of the Great Mother and her youngling had been changed from the totemic zootype to the anthrotype, and the goddess was imaged as a woman, a child became the figure of a superhuman power that was ever-coming, ever-renewing, ever-repeating, ever-incorporating or incarnating, ever-manifesting in phenomena. Then the youthful god was naturally born as a child. This was Har-Ur, the child of Isis or the Virgin Neith. Horus the child or shoot, on the papyrus or on his mother’s lap, is representative of the resurrection and renewal of life for another year. Horus came to Egypt as saviour of the people from the dreaded drought. He came, invested with “the power of the southern lakes,” to drown the dragon in the inundation. In one he is the child of light. In both he comes to wrestle with the enemy of man in various natural phenomena on earth, and likewise in the internecine struggle which is represented by the astronomical mythology as the war in heaven, and which may be summed up as the war of Horus and the dragon. Horus brings the water of the inundation which is the source of life to Egypt. The little one is cradled on the Nile in his ark of the papyrus reed. He is assailed by Apap, the dragon of drought, who lies in wait to destroy the young deliverer when he is born. As bringer of the waters Horus slays the dragon of drought, which would otherwise have drunk the inundation dry. He also treads the serpent of darkness under food as the renewer of light. Under the name of Iu-em-hetep, Horus came as the proverbial “prince of peace.” The word hetep denotes peace or rest, plenty of food, and also good luck. His coming in this character had a very tangible significance, for the inundation brought the season of rest to Egypt, which was celebrated by the Uaka festival, when the prince came out of Ethiopia as the giver of rest to the weary, bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, and wine for the periodic wassail. In the solar mythos Horus became the lord of light, but food and drink were first, according to the human needs.
The fabled “war in heaven” began with the contending elements that strove with each other for supremacy, whether as light and darkness, water and drought, or food and famine. Thus Horus of the inundation came by water as the deliverer when the land was suffering from the dragon of drought. The picture was then constellated in the southern heaven. Horus the victor was represented by Orion
rising from the river and wielding the insignia of his sovereignty. His weapon is the club of Herakles in Greece; it was the whip of ruling power as the Egyptian khu. He rises from Eridanus as conqueror of the hydra-dragon that is overwhelmed beneath the waters when the drought was put an end to by the lord of life with the water for his weapon. Here is a motive for the war betwixt the dragon and the infant that was born to universal rule or predestined to be king. Horus also came as conqueror of the dragon of darkness. But it is of more importance to know that the evil reptile Apap represented drought and famine, disease and death. This was the mortal enemy of man that drank up all the water in the world; hence the battle for the water. All the earth round the warfare of the hero with the monster is for water as well as for light, because the monster is representative of drought as well as darkness. At first it is the water-reptile in the African lake; then the “hellish snake Apap” drinks up the water of the Nile. In Australia it is the monstrous frog that drinks up all the water. It is also the chimerical, malignant wild beast that is slain by Gilgames. This struggle, as some of the drawings show, is literally over the water. Lastly, it becomes the sea-monster of the Greek mythology, whereas the original conflict was for drinking water.
When Horus came by water as Ichthus the fish who gave himself for food, he swam the deluge of the inundation when there was no boat or ark to breast the waters. But when the bark was built Argo is constellated as the ark of Horus. This is figured in the planisphere with the child on board and the devouring Apap coiling round it seeking to destroy the babe, the infant saviour of the world, who brings the food and water as the lord of life.
Now Sothis in its heliacal rising was not the only star of annunciation at the birth of Horus the child. Farther south, the Dove, or rather the star Phact, was also a harbinger of the inundation. Still farther was the glorious star Canopus, the pilot of the Argo at the starting-point of the journey by water, which was the river Nile as the terrestrial water imaged uranographically. The Egyptians commemorated the birthday of the world—that is, of the age, the cycle, the beginning of time, as the day when Horus rose up on the lotus, or papyrus, from the waters of the Nun. Otherwise stated, this was the natal day of Horus in the inundation, which was afterwards applied to Atum by the priests of On or Annu in the eschatology. Thus the birthday of the inundation was the birthday of a primordial year, or the birthday of the world. The constellation Hydra represents the Apap-reptile of the Egyptian mythos. This is a monster extending over some one hundred degrees in the planisphere. From lack of better knowledge, this type of evil has been called the “water-serpent,” which gives no clue to its character. It is figured in the water of the southern heaven, and is that fearsome monster which in various legends drinks up all the water. In the later solar mythos Apap, the enemy of Ra, is the blind devourer darkness. But as the adversary of the elder Horus–he of the inundation–Apap or Hydra is the dragon of drought. Drought in the old dark land was veritably “the curse,” and the evil dragon as its deadly image was the primitive type of physical, not of moral evil. The inundation was the source
of life to Egypt. It was her annual salvation, and Horus, or Sebek the fish-man, was her saviour. The earliest saviour ever known was the giver of food and drink to those who were famishing. This is the origin of a saviour as the shoot of a water-plant, the branch of a tree, or a great fish—the bigger the better, as a sign of abundance. This was how a saviour could be represented as Ichthus the fish. This was how a saviour could come by water to the world; hence the subject of subjects was the war of elements, of darkness in conflict with the light, of drought with the waters, of sterility with fertility, of dearth with plenty.
The powers of good and evil, represented in the mythos, were also figured in the stars and portrayed in the religious drama as the eternal conflict of the twins Sut and Horus, of Shu and the impious rebels, of Ra and the Apap-reptile. In the earliest mythos Horus precedes Ra as the eternal antagonist of the dragon or serpent. This is the first Horus who was the seed of the Great Mother, whom the Semites call “the woman.” He bruised or pierced the serpent’s head at one season, and was bitten by the serpent in the heel at another. One was the season of renewal for the waters, for food, for the growing light, and for the breezes of the north. The other was the season of drought, of sterility, of darkness, and for the withering blast of the desert. “In Upper Egypt,” says Maspero, “there is a wide-spread belief in the existence of a monstrous serpent that dwells at the bottom of the river Nile” (Dawn of Civilization, Eng. trans., p. 90). This is the Apap-dragon of evil, especially of drought. Hence the crumbling of the banks and the falls of earth in the dry season are attributed to the great serpent which lies at the bottom of the river, where it was drowned by the inundation with great rejoicings of the people every year. It is as the fiery dragon of drought that the Apap is spoken of in an inscription of Amenhetep III. In this, vengeance is threatened on those royal secretaries who neglect their duties to the Theban god Amen-Ra, and it is said, “They shall become like the hellish snake Apap on the morning of the new year; they shall be overwhelmed in the great flood” (Brugsch, Egypt, p. 210, Eng. trans. in one vol.). The morning of the new year was at that time determined by the heliacal rising of Sothis as announcer of the inundation in which the Apap-dragon of drought was drowned. This picture is to be seen in the planisphere with the figure of the fiery Hydra overwhelmed in the water of the inundation. It was represented in the mythology that when Horus had conquered Apap in one of his great battles the reptile sank, pierced with wounds, into the depths of the waters, and this event was said to have occurred at the very moment of the new year (cited by Maspero from Birch and Chabas, The Dawn of Civilization, Eng. trans., p. 159). This is the exact position of Hydra in the waters of the south, as still shown on the celestial globe. Thus Hydra, as the drowned, dead reptile, forms a fellow picture in the planisphere to that of Apap drowned in the lake of heaven, according to the description in the Ritual (ch. 39).
That Apap was cut up and drowned in the waters of the inundation is likewise shown by the constellation Corvus, or the Crow. The bird stands on the body of the monster, and, as Aratos remarks (line 449)
“seems to peck the folds” of its prey. Corvus thus plays its part as scavenger of the inundation, and at the same time demonstrates that Hydra is drowned and dead. Thus far we see that certain natural facts were given a celestial setting as object-pictures in the stars. The abyss of the beginning was constellated as “the water” low down in the south. The birth of water from the Mother-earth was figured in the Southern Fish. Horus, the young deliverer who came by water periodically as the bringer of food, was shown in the shoot of the papyrus plant; he also figures as Ichthus the fish. The river of the water of life was represented by Eridanus, which can be traced back to its birthplace in the abyss, with the inundation rushing from the southern lakes. Various herald-stars of Horus and the waters, like Fomalhaut, Achernar, Canopus, and Phact, can also be identified according to their rising at different stages of the progress made by Horus down into the valley of the Nile.
We will now take a turn round the zodiac, with a view of briefly identifying its signs with the seasons of Egypt and the characters in the mythology, the first and foremost being that of Horus, the eternal, ever-coming child. As represented in the zodiac, Horus of the inundation was conceived by his virgin mother in the sign of Virgo. This was the promised prince of peace who came to rest the weary from their work and to labour for them while they rested, listening to the waters and the welcome word the inundation brought. Then was the message of good tidings sent as if from heaven itself, which was made known by the mother of the babe. She first sang the song of invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The mother of life was now descending with the waters, or with Horus in utero, as the most blessed among women the virgin brooding over her conception and inwardly working out the mystery of fertilization and fulfilment. In the mythical rendering of natural fact a child or youngling had been made prime mover of the universe. “I have set myself in motion,” says Child-Horus (Rit., ch. 42). “I am the heir, the primary power of motion and of rest” (Rit., ch. 63A). The doctrine is repeated when the Greeks maintained that Eros was the primal cause of all things (Hesiod, Theogony). Babe-Horus in his coming forth is compared with the lotus or papyrus issuing from the great stream.
The birthplace of water (and of food) in the abyss of source became the birthplace of Horus in the inundation. This was represented in the later mythos by the swamps and marshes in which Isis hid herself with her babe and suckled Horus in a secret place. The water in which Horus came to Egypt was the inundation of the Nile that burst up from the abyss—the bau, the tepht of source in the recesses of the south. And as we read the signs, the river Nile was constellated in Eridanus as the river of the inundation. The name of Eridanus, like the celestial river itself, is very sure to have had an Egyptian origin. Eri, later Uri, was an Egyptian name of the inundation, meaning the great, the mighty; whilst tun or tanu signifies that which rises up in revolt, the bursting forth from the gulf or well of the south. Thus rendered, Eri-tana or Iarutana would be the mighty river rising up in the inundation and bursting forth from out the birthplace in the abyss, as is depicted in the Ritual. If we
glance at the river constellated on the celestial globe, we see that Eridanus runs one way, from the foot of Orion to the star Achernar, which has been called “the end of the river.” But, if looked at the other way, Achernar marks the point of departure from the south towards the north. And if this river represents the earthly Nile, the replica would naturally run the way of the original. That alone will explain the course of the water and its ending at the foot of Orion, who rises from the river as did Horus of the inundation coming “out of Æthiopia” (or Equatoria), or from that ancient south in which the tepht of source was localized at first as “the water,” and afterwards configurated in the stars that indicate the river of the inundation winding on its northward way. Other stars announced the coming of the Nile, or the birth of Horus in the water of the inundation. The star Phact, says Lockyer, “so little familiar to us northerners, is one of the most conspicuous stars in the southern portion of the heavens, and its heliacal rising heralded the solstice and the rise of the Nile before the heliacal rising of Sirius was useful for the purpose. In Phact we have the star symbolized by the ancient Egyptians under the name of the goddess Tekhi, whose figure leads the procession of the months” (Dawn of Astronomy, p. 224). In the Arabic names of the stars the star Phact is named from a word that signifies “the thigh,” and the thigh was an Egyptian type of the birthplace, as we shall find it also figured in Egypt as well as in the northern heaven. Now, the so-called sacred year of the Egyptians opened at a certain starting-point on the first of the month Taht, or Tehuti, equivalent to our 20th of July. But this month in an earlier star calendar is called the month of the goddess Tekhi. Tekh or tekhi is an Egyptian word for liquid, to supply with drink, and Tekhi is the month of the inundation. But the month Tekhi, or Taht, was not named from the first beginning of the inundation. The previous month, the last of the twelve in the sacred year, was named Mesore, or Mesuri, from mes, for birth, and uri, later eri, the inundation. Thus the actual birth of the river (in one place or other) is marked in the last month of the Egyptian year instead of the first, the question being, At what point of the course did the actual birth take place? The birth of water, of Horus as Ichthus, had been indicated by the star Fomalhaut at the Fish’s mouth; the star Phact was a herald of Horus in the inundation; Canopus, the pilot of Argo Navis, showed that Horus was on board the ark, or on his cradle of the papyrus plant; and the dog-star Sothis was the later guide to the watchers of the heavens in Egypt. If the arrival of the inundation at some particular point is dated by the heliacal rising of the dog-star in the month of Tekhi or Taht (July), the name of the previous month shows the birth of the waters was reckoned to be earlier. This is the month Mesore or Mesuri, and Mesore answers roughly to the month of June. In the sacred year the 1st of Mesore corresponds to our June 15th and to July 25th in the Alexandrian year. Obviously the name of Mesore refers to the birth of the waters farther south, which was announced by the herald star Fomalhaut, Achernar, Canopus, or Phact, according to their position and to the stage of high water at the different times along the route.
The seasons in Egypt have been previously compared with the imagery in the planisphere (Nat. Genesis), but might have been more closely verified. There were but two in the beginning with the Great Mother and her Sut and Horus twins. These were the seasons of the summer waters and the winter drought. The season of the waters and of rest is as plainly pictured in the southern heaven as ever it was actual in the valley of the Nile. That quarter on the celestial globe is full of the inundation and its signs, as it will be for all time. The inundation was not only pictured in the southern heaven rising from its most secret source in the abyss “down south,” which was figured with the mouth of the Fish, and continued running northward in the river named Eridanus; it was also constellated in the zodiac, and can be traced there in accordance with the seasons of the year. The earliest hint of the inundation is given zodiacally in the month Mesore. In the Greco-Egyptian planisphere according to Kircher, Horus is figured in the decans of the Twins, at death-grips with the Apap-reptile which the inundation comes to drown. Thus the battle is portrayed twice over, once as the struggle of Horus (or Ra) and the serpent constellated in the decans of the Gemini, and once on the ecliptic as the contest of the Sut and Horus twins.
Amongst the harbingers of the inundation were the beetles that rolled up their seed in little balls of dung and buried them upon the river bank for safety against the coming flood. The Nile-beetle was figured where the Crab is constellated now. Here begins the imagery of the inundation in the zodiac, with the month Mesore. The beetle, busy on the banks of the Nile, was set above as a uranograph which showed the beginning or the birth of the new inundation at some well-known point in time and locality. The figure of the beetle rolling up its seed with its tentacles is apparently repeated in the Akkadian name of this same month, which is Su Kulna, the seizer of seed, with Cancer (or the beetle) for its zodiacal sign. An earlier type of Sirius than the dog was the bennu or nictorax. This was a beautiful water-bird that came to Egypt as a herald of the inundation, and was given the most glorious of extra-zodiacal signs. The bennu was the prototype of the mythical phœnix. The ibis as a bird of passage also came to fish the waters of the inundation. This too was constellated for a symbol. We find it figured in a zodiac attributed to the second Hermes—that is, Taht, the lunar deity (Nat. Gen. plate). In this the sign of Cancer is the ibis-headed god. The ibis was a typical fisher, and therefore a sign of coming plenty to the fishers waiting for the waters, and their wealth of food. The lion in the hieroglyphics is a figure of great force, and when the sun had reached the lion sign the rushing waters had attained their fullest volume. As Hor-Apollo tells us, the Egyptians portray a lion as a sign of the inundation, “because when the sun is in Leo it augments the rising of the Nile.” Indeed, he says it happens at times that one half of the new water is supplied to Egypt while the sun remaineth in that sign (B. I, 21), At the same time of year the lion was a figure of the solar force at furnace heat, an image therefore of a double force. In the next sign is the Virgin who conceived the child that represented the food which was dependent on the waters of the inundation. This was indicated by the later ear of
corn, the green wheat ear of the mysteries, which is held in the hand of Neith or Isis in Virgo, and still survives in the star Spica of this constellation.
The elder Horus came not only in the water. He was also the Kamite prototype of Bacchus as the lord of wine. When Horus came the grapes were ripe in Egypt and ready to be converted into wine. The season of grapes is dated July 13th in the Egyptian calendar. There is but little left upon the modern globe of the ancient constellation of the Vine, but the star Epsilon, called Vindemiatrix is still the sign of grape-gathering, and as we read in the calendar—“July the 9th: the Nile begins to rise abundantly. July 28th: abundance of grapes” (Egyptian Calendar, A.D. 1878, p. 19). Vindemiatrix, the sign of grapes being ripe, is described by Aratos as being so large in size and bright in splendour as to rival the stars in the Great Bear’s tail, whereas at present it is but a star of the third magnitude (lines 130-140). The grape-gathering in Egypt is depicted in or near the signs of Virgo and the Vine. It is said of Horus at Edfu, “Thou didst put grapes into the water which cometh forth from Edfu.” From that day forth the water of Edfu was called the water of grapes—that is, wine. So anciently was the metaphor of the gospel miracle founded on the natural fact. Uaka is a name of the inundation, and also of the festival at which the deluge of drink was symbolically celebrated by the libation that was correspondingly colossal. The vine was not only set in heaven to denote the vindemia or time for gathering the grapes, the overflow was also figured in the constellation Crater, or the Goblet, as a sign of the “uaka” that was held in Egypt when the land was full of water and the folks were full of wine. When the constellation Crater rose it showed that the urn or vase, an artificial type of the inundation, was overflowing with the waters that restored the drooping life of Egypt. At that time the Egyptians celebrated a feast in honour of Hathor, at which a deluge of drink flowed freely. It is frankly described in the inscriptions as “the festival of intoxication,” and was commemorated at Denderah in the month of Taht, the month of the year that opened with the inundation and the helical rising of Sothis. Various other fruits were ripe, including dates. Also water-melons were abundant. But Horus is the vine, whose advent was celebrated at the uaka festival with prodigious rejoicings and a deluge of drink of which the vine and cup, or mixing-bowl, were constellated as celestial symbols. The juice of the grape was the blood of Horus or Osiris in the Kamite Eucharist. Hence the sacramental cup was figured in the constellation “Crater,” the Goblet, or it may be the jar, from the Egyptian karau, a jar, the cup having two characters, one in the mythology and one in the eschatology.
In an ancient planisphere reproduced by Dupuis (Planches de l’Origine de Tous les Cultes, no. 10) the swallow appears in close proximity to Isis the virgin of the zodiac. In the Egyptian mythos the swallow represented Isis in her character of the widow, when she was wandering like the bird of passage from one land to another seeking for her lost Osiris. Thus Isis in her two characters of the virgin and the widow was figured in the zodiac and in the decans
of Virgo, which two characters are only to be found in Egyptian mythology.
Libra, or the Scales, was at one time a figure of the equinox, but its more probable origin is in relation to the supremely important waters of the inundation. The four months of the water-season, the first of the three tetramenes, began with the lion, and ended with the scorpion. The inundation reached its point of equipoise coincidently with the entrance of the sun into the sign that was figured as the Balance or the Scales. The tortoise or abtu of the Nile had been an earlier zodiacal sign than that of the Scales, by which it was superseded. When the Nile-tortoise climbed the banks of the river to give itself for food, it naturally became a self-constituted sign of the inundation to be figured in a group of stars. Thus the tortoise=Libra would denote the point at which the earth was emerging like a tortoise or a turtle from the deluge of the waters which periodically overspread the land.
The scorpion was not a type of evil in the zodiac. It represented Isis-Serkh who fought for Horus when the birthplace was in Scorpio. A fragment of the myth survives in the Ritual. It is the merest allusion, but suffices to show that in the wars of the solar god (Horus or Ra) with the enemy Apap, Isis-Serkh joined in the battle and was wounded. The passage is confused but, as rendered by Renouf, it runs: “Apap falleth; Apap goeth down. And more grave for thee is the taste (tepit) than that sweet proof through the scorpion-goddess (Isis-Serkh) which she practised for thee, in the pain that she suffered.” When the summer solstice was in the sign of Leo the autumn equinox occurred in Scorpio, and it would be then and there the scorpion-goddess gave proof of her sympathy and suffering on behalf of Horus or of Ra in the latter mythos. It is evident that Scorpio was the sign at one of the cardinal points, for it is said of Apap in this battle, “Apap is in bonds.” “The gods of the south, the north, the west and the east have bound him.” These include the goddesses as helpers. Hence it is said to Apap: “Thy whole heart is torn out by the lynx-goddess. Chains are flung upon thee by the scorpion-goddess. Slaughter is dealt upon thee by Maati.” (Rit., ch. 39.) About the time of the autumn equinox the water of the inundation began to subside. At this point the power of Horus in the light was on the wane, and both were represented now by him who was born to die down in the dwindling water and the lessening light. The word Serkhu, which is the name of Isis as the scorpion-goddess, signifies to breathe, and to supply breath. Thus Scorpio is the sign of a breathing-space which followed the water-season. Whilst the sun was in the constellation Libra (or the tortoise) the waters had attained their height and were resting at the equipoise. Then it entered the sign of Scorpio. The scorpion lived in dry earth, and was only to be seen when the waters had subsided.
In some Egyptian zodiacs (zodiac of Esné) the Sagittarius, or Archer, is the compound figure of a centaur based on the lion instead of the horse, with the human face of Shu in front and the face of Tefnut the lioness behind. Shu was the elemental power of breathing force, and his twin-sister represents moisture. Her name Tef-nut signifies the dew of heaven, and the dew of heaven was now the water
of earth in Egypt, the breath of Shu and moisture of Tefnut being imaged as the power of the twin brother and sister. Tefnut, the sister of Shu, was joined with him in his battles on behalf of Horus. “She is like fire against the wicked ones—” the Sami and the Sebau, “thundering against those who are to be annihilated for ever,” as it is said in the magical texts. When the sun entered this sign the Nile was failing, the day grew shorter than the night; and Horus needed all the help that could be given. Hence Shu the fighting force was configurated as the Archer. Shu, the power of the Air, had been against the rebel powers of darkness and of drought now mustering their forces in the nether-world for renewing the assault.
Nowhere is it more necessary to compare the face of the underlying fact with the mask of the mythos to see how closely the mould was fitted to the features of nature by the Egyptians. In Egypt, and in that country only, can the time of drought be absolutely identified with winter. Now the Apap-dragon in Egyptian mythology is the dragon of drought, and the dragon of drought is the fiery dragon. Hence Apap in the form of Hydra is cut in pieces to be drowned in the water of the inundation. In Egypt only did the figure correspond to fact as the image of drought in winter caused by the dragon of darkness. And it is this correspondence of natural fact to the symbolical figure which will account for the fire-breathing dragon of winter in Europe which survives where it does not apply from lack of the necessary climatic conditions. The Norse mythology preserves the fiery dragon as a representative of winter in countries where it cannot be correlated with heat or drought. It survives with us in the pastime of snap-dragon sacred to the winter season at Christmas. Here the dragon keeps its character as the representative of drought in relation to the proper season of drought in Egypt as the fire-breathing dragon. Moreover, the dragon of drought and of darkness are one and the same in winter; on that account only did the dragon of darkness apply at winter-time in Europe, and not as the dragon of drought.
Yet, the drowning of the dragon of drought became a European pastime in many lands where there were seldom any lack of water, and never any want of it in winter. According to the seasons of Egypt, at the time when the sun had reached the sign of the sea-goat not only had the fresh water of the inundation ceased to flow, the water from the Mediterranean travelling upwards from the sea was now the stronger current, bitter and brackish and detestable. The sea-goat is a compound type of goat and fish. The fish signifies water; the water was now coming from the sea, and the sea-water was naturally imaged by the sea-goat. Further, it is possible that the salt nature of the water at this point was indicated by the goat, seeing that a young goat is an Egyptian ideograph of the word Ab for thirst; or it may be the offensiveness of the goat represented the repellent nature of “Salt Typhon’s foam.”
When the sun was in the sign of Aquarius the moon at full had taken up the leadership by night in heaven, as the mother-moon. This was she who fetched the water of life from the lower regions and gave re-birth to vegetation in the upper-world. The great goddess
that renewed the light above was also the renewer of the waters from the springs of source in the abyss below. In one legend which, like several others, is common to Egypt and Babylonia, the Great Mother, as Isis, also as Ishtar, descends into the under-world in search of the water of life, otherwise represented as her child, who was Horus or Tammuz according to the cult. The “Descent of Ishtar” is dated in the Aramaic-Akkadian calendar by the month Ki-Gingir-na, “the errand of Ishtar,” which was dedicated to the goddess with “Virgo” as its zodiacal sign. This descent in search of the vanished water, the lost light, the disappearing child, was obviously made by the goddess in her lunar character. It was as the moon that Ishtar passed through the seven gates on her downward way when she was stripped of all her glory. (Talbot, The Legend of Ishtar; Records of the Past, vol. I.) This search for the water of life occurs some five months earlier in the Babylonian calendar than in the Egyptian year. Plutarch, in speaking of the mysteries, tells us that “on the eve of the winter solstice” the Egyptians “carry the cow seven times round the Temple,” which is called “the seeking for Osiris.” (Isis and Osiris, 52.) This in the pre-Osirian mythos was the elder Horus as the mother’s child. Plutarch adds that the goddess who in one character is the earth-mother was in great distress from want of water in the winter-time. The lost Osiris of the legend was not only signified by the loss of solar potency that Isis went to seek for, it was also the renewal of water that she sighed for and wept in the first drops of the new inundation. The disappearance of the water in Egypt was coincident with the shrinking of the sun in the winter solstice; both were commemorated in the mourning of Isis. The journey of Isis in search of the water of life was about the time of the winter solstice, when the water disappeared from Egypt and the coming time of drought began. The season coincided with the sun in the sign of Aquarius when the lost Osiris or Child-Horus was re-discovered by the weeping mother seeking for the water in the nether-world. The same errand is ascribed to Ishtar in the Babylonian version of the mythos. But in the re-adjustment to the change of season in the Akkadian calendar, the search is given to the month Ki-Gingir-na when the sun was in the sign of Virgo.
The renewer of the water from the beginning was female. At first it was Apt the water-cow. Then Hathor or Nut the milch-cow, then Isis as the weeping-mother who had lost her child. In the legend of Leylet en-Nuktah, or “Night of the Drop,” a miraculous tear was supposed to fall from Heaven on to the Nile, and, according to Pausanias, it was taught that the rise of the river was dependent on the drops that fell from the eyes of Isis. In the Coptic calendar the “Night of the Drop” is dated Baouneh 11th=June 17th, by means of which the first drops of the inundation could be traced to the Great Mother weeping for the lost Osiris, or the earlier Horus of the inundation. Now, when the tail of the Great Bear pointed northward and the sun coincided with the sign of Aquarius there was a re-birth of water from the abyss that issued from the mouth of Piscis Australis. The picture of source in the abyss was now repeated, and the wet-nurse or wateress was constellated in the zodiac as the multimammalian Menat, who was a later form of Apt the water-cow.
The imagery shows the perennial source of water in the under-world, and that which proceeded from the mouth of the fish now emanates from the numerous mammæ of the wet-nurse on the ecliptic. Thus the birth and re-birth of water are represented six months apart with the Great Bear presiding over both. In other words the water (or Child-Horus) that was lost to Egypt in the upper world was now re-found by the Great Mother seeking in the abyss of source from whence she drew the water of renewal for another year. The abyss was founded in the south. Aquarius is a southern sign, and it took six months altogether to bring the water from the abyss to its fulfilment in the inundation. The sun had reached its “Utat” at the point of southing for the region where the Urn of the waters was to be refilled; the Nile replenished from the abyss of source configurated as the fish’s mouth. When the winter-sun was low down in the solstice it was southing slowly through the deep outside the earth. The hidden source of water was the same, when represented by the wet-nurse in the zodiac, as that from which the inundation issued in the south. There was but one abyss, whether this was indicated by the fish’s mouth, the dugs of Apt, the female breast of Hapi-Mu, or the multi-mammæ of the suckler Menat. At the time when the inundation had run dry in Egypt the February rains were re-commencing in the equatorial regions. The lakes began to swell and the waters of the White Nile to rise and rush forth on their joyful journey towards the north. The new flood only reached the Delta just in time to save the country from drought and sterility. “Krater” was the urn or waterpot of the inundation. This in the south was brimming full. But when the sun had reached Aquarius, behold! the urn was empty. Hence the reversal of the vessel in his hands. The inundation was poured out. The urn needed to be replenished anew from the well of secret source, or the mouth of the abyss. Hitherto it has been conjectured that water from the urn was pouring downward toward the mouth of the abyss. But this would have no meaning in the mythos by which the imagery has to be interpreted. The water comes up from that welling-source depicted low down in the south now looked to for the future inundation. When the uranograph of Aquarius is rightly read, we see the last of the inundation in Egypt. The water poured out from the urn has come to an end. The urn, or bucket, being at times reversed, is consequently empty. Also the mode of replenishment from the tepht of source, or well of the deep, is indicated in the planisphere. On studying the figure of the “southern fish” we see a stream of water springing up from its mouth in the direction of Aquarius. And this is met by Aquarius with his empty urn held in position to receive the water of the new inundation from the welling-source in the abyss.
In the Osirian mythos Isis, or the cow-headed Hesi, had become the wateress or wet-nurse to the world in place of Apt the water-cow and Hathor the milch-cow; and now the New Nile was attributed to the tears which Isis shed for the lost Osiris or the earlier Child-Horus, when he vanished with the sinking water in the under-world.
It is possible to take one step further round the zodiac and thus include the sign of the fishes. But it has to be explained that Horus in the zodiac was not simply the lord of life, as the bringer of food
and water in the inundation. Horus in the zodiac was also the solar god, who was the child conceived in Virgo, as Horus of the inundation, who was Horus of the resurrection, lord of the harvest, in the sign of Pisces. In the Greco-Kamite zodiacs the fish-mother gives re-birth to her child as a fish in the constellation of the fishes. (Book of the Beginnings, plate.) Also in other monuments, the mother, as Hathor-Isis, bears the fish upon her head. Thus the fish-man or fish-god was re-born of the fish-mother in the abode of the abyss or the house of the fish, and the point of emergence for the sun-god in the zodiac was indicated by the sign of the fish or fishes at the time when the crocodile was the fish of Neith as Sebek-Horus. No representation of the inundation or the drought is directly apparent in the sign of Aries and Taurus. But the drama was not limited to the zodiac. The rising Pleiads and the “rainy Hyades” have ever been the harbingers of water or of spring. One name of the Hyades in Greek is Hues, the Sows or Suculæ, and in Egypt, Rerit the Sow was a figure of the Great Mother as the wet-nurse or suckler, who was represented at one time by the seven sows, at another by the seven cows, at another by the many-breasted Menat as the typical provider of plenty.
In certain old Egyptian calendars, the periodic triumph of Horus over the plagues of drought and darkness was commemorated by a festival called “the wounding of Sut.” The event is referred to as occurring on the first of the month, Epiphi—May 16th in the sacred year; June 25th in the Alexandrian year. This was exactly one month previous to the birth of the new inundation dated July 25th. And as the month Mesore agrees with the sun in the sign of Cancer or the beetles, so the month Epiphi coincided with the sun in the sign of the Gemini, who were Sut and Horus as the twins contending for supremacy in the equinox or on the mount. At this point Sut was mortally wounded, and the victory of Horus, the bringer of water and food and the renewer of light, was perfectly complete. (Festival Calendars of Esné and Edfû.) Now the worst was over. The long holiday celebrated by the Uaka festival had come at last with its relief. And here the Egyptian holiday was one with a holy day as the time of rest from labour, and the great feast of eating and drinking was a mode of giving thanks as well as of making merry. The fulfiller in the water and the grapes was welcomed in the drink he brought, with the drinking and the eating, at the festival of intoxication, dedicated to the goddess Hathor. The history of Horus the child-hero, the eternal Messu who became incarnate as a typical saviour of the world, was thus portrayed and could be repeated by all who understood the mythos which was depicted in the book above. His birth from the water was imaged by the figure of Horus on his papyrus, which is represented astronomically in a scene from the rectangular zodiac of Denderah. Horus in this is represented by the hawk on the papyrus-plant emerging from the water. By means of this we can identify the birth of the babe who was born “from between the knees of Sothis” (Rit., ch. 65) as Horus of the inundation.
The walls and windows of the house on high have been emblazoned like all Italy with pictures of the Virgin Mother and her child; the
Virgin Mother in one character who conceived, and the Great Mother as bringer-forth in the character of gestator. The planisphere contains a whole pantheon of Egyptian deities. They are the gods and goddesses of Egypt, the mythological personages and zootypes that make up the vast procession which moves on for ever round and round according to the revolutions of the earth or the apparent revolution of the sphere. Taking the same order in which the sings on the ecliptic are read to-day when Aries has become Princeps Zodiaci, we can identify at least a dozen deities of Egypt with the twelve signs. (1) The ram-headed Amen with the constellation Aries; (2) Osiris, the Bull of Eternity, with the sign of Taurus; (3) the Sut-Horus Twins with the Gemini; (4) the beetle-headed Kheper-Ptah with the sign of the Beetle, later Crab; (5) the lion-faced Atum with the sign of Leo; (6) the Virgin Neith with the constellation Virgo; (7) Har-Makhu of the Scales with the sign of Libra; (8) Isis-Serkh, the scorpion goddess, with the sign of Scorpio; (9) Shu and Tefnut figured as the Archer with the sign of Sagittarius; (10) Num, the goat-headed, who presided over the abyss with the sign of Capricornus; (11) Menat, the divine wet-nurse, with the sign of Aquarius; (12) Horus of the two crocodiles with the sign of Pisces. Enough to show that the zodiac was a lower gallery in the pantheon of the Egyptian planisphere. And it is not humanly conceivable that all these gods and goddesses and nature powers of Egypt were constellated as figures in the starry vast by any other than the Egyptian “mystery teachers” of the heavens.
There may have been some kind of stellar enclosure round the pole of Sut in the south before a circumpolar paradise could have been configurated in the northern heaven by the Astronomers in the land of Kamit. But, even so, it is not necessary to assume a knowledge of Precession to explain the sinking of the pole and its accompanying stars that went down in the southern Deep. To those who travelled northward from the equatorial regions heading for the valley of the Nile there was an actual subsidence and submergence of a human fore-world in the south. This was a matter of latitude determinable by the stars that sank into the abyss, the natural fact that preceded the figure in mythology. The abyss became the grave as it were of some lost world which had once been real on the earth. But the imagery of this far country has been preserved twice over, and is still extant; once in the constellation figures and once in the double earth of Ptah’s Amenta. That fore-world of the south was reproduced by the Egyptians of the north when they raised their circumpolar paradise to picture for all time some features of the old primeval home. The southern pole star sank into the blind abyss together with the little bit of foothold that was first established. This, in later legend, would become a fall from heaven, or submergence in a deluge, as the fact was figured in the astronomical mythology. Hence we find the legends of the lost paradise: the primal pair as man and cow, the twin brothers, the fall from heaven, the deluge, and other stories as indigenous products at the centre of the old dark land.
But the grand scheme of uranographic representation was completed in the valley of the Nile where the north celestial pole had
become the central summit of the starry system. The south was the scene of so-called “creation.” The creation which as Egyptian literally signifies “of the first time.” And as we learn from the inscription of Tahtmes on the stele of the Sphinx, the first time goes back to the days and domain of Sut; Sut who is traditionally “the inventor of astronomy,” and who as such had erected the pillar of the pole star. The domain of Sut was in the south. And it is shown by the ancient legends and the primitive constellations that the beginnings of the astral mythos were in equatoria looking south. The abyss of water was figured in the south. The earth-mother in the abyss is in the south. The monsters representative of her hugeness were constellated in the south. The tree first planted in the abyss was in the south. The fore-world that sank down beneath the waters of the deluge was in the south, and according to the legend lies to-day beneath the waters of Tanga, or the Thigh, in the lake of the birthplace, Tanganyika. Egypt was set in heaven as the upper land, and lower Egypt was repeated in Amenta. The name of Egypt is at root Egyptian. It is derivable from Kep, later Kheb, whence Khept, or Khepti, is a plural for the double land. Kep-Kep, another dual form, had been a name of Nubia. Kep, or Kheb, signifies the chamber, the womb, the birthplace. It is likewise a name of the water-cow that was configurated as a type of Egypt in the planisphere. The hieroglyphic “Khept” is a symbol of the birthplace. This is the Thigh, the Haunch, or Meskhen of the Mother Khept (or Apt). Thus the Egyptian Nome of the “haunch” was the Nome of the birthplace in Khept, Khebt, or Egypt. When the anthrotype had succeeded the zootype we find that Egypt was figured as a female lying on her back with feet to the northward pointing in the direction of the Great Bear constellation. This was the motherland in the likeness of the human mother who had taken the place and position of the African water-cow, an image of the birthplace and abode being thus palpably continued (Stoboeus, Ecl. Eth., p. 992, from a fragment of Hermes) as a figure of Egypt thus identified by nature and by name as the birthplace and bringer-forth. The “haunch” or thigh is an ideographic sign that was constellated in the northern heaven as a figure of the birthplace, and if so in the celestial chart, assuredly it had the same significance for a birthplace on the Libyan bank of the river Nile, hence its elevation to the sphere as a uranographic symbol of locality. A place of settlement is still called the seat, and the “haunch” in sign-language was the seat. Primordially it was the natural seat of the squatters who sat with heel to haunch. And the same symbol was figured in the northern heaven to denote the astronome of the “haunch” as a seat or birthplace above, whatsoever the birth and whosoever was the divinized Nomarch. We may be certain it was not without intention that the great pyramid of Gizeh was founded by King Kufu in the nome of the “haunch,” the seat of the Great Mother, Khebt, or Egypt. The inhabitants of lower Egypt also remained faithful to the Tree as a twofold sign which is the sycamore of Hathor in the south, and the sycamore of Nut in the north. There was a territory of the upper and lower Oleander, also of the upper and lower Terebin tree. As Maspero remarks, “the principality of the Terebin (tree) occupied the very heart of Egypt, a country well suited to be the cradle of an infant civilization” (Dawn of Civilization, p. 71, Eng.
tr.). “The district of the white wall, marched with that of the haunch” alongside of each other on the Nile, as they were likewise constellated in the northern heaven.
Am-Khemen, the paradise of the eight great gods in the mythology, had its likeness in the nome of the hare, the chief town of which was Khemenu, the present Ashmunein, the town of Taht, who was an eighth to the seven gods in the lunar mythos. It was upon the steps of the mound in Khemenu that Shu stood as elevator of the cow of Nut=heaven of the eight great gods, which shows the priority of the nome in Egypt as the prototype of the astronome that was constellated in the northern stars. Kenset is an Egyptian name for Nubia, and according to the pyramid texts there was a celestial locality of the same name in the astronomical mythology which holds the mirror aloft to reflect the Kenset that was prototypal on the earth, as it likewise reflected the nomes of the haunch, the tree, the pillar, or others localized at first below.
Another Egyptian nome was called the Serpent-mountain, which was also repeated above with the great serpent winding round the tree or mountain of the north celestial pole. Thus the beginnings of the race and the environment were depicted for a purpose in the heaven of the north, and the field of the papyrus-reed that furnished the primeval food in the southern birthplace was set in Heaven, as the Aarru-field of peace and everlasting plenty on the summit of Mount Hetep at the pole.
In the Ritual (ch. 109) the paradise of plenty, first denoted by the water plants, has become the harvest-field which is surrounded and protected by a wall of steel. The wheat in this divine domain grew seven cubits high and was two cubits long in the ear. The barley, from which beer was brewed, was four cubits in the ear, but the original paradise, the Aarru or Allu, from which the Greeks derived their Elysian fields, was constellated as the land of the papyrus reed, the shoots of which were eaten as the primitive food that grew in the greatest abundance in the region of the two great lakes. The most primitive ideal of paradise was that of an ever-green oasis, in the midst of the African desert, welling with life-giving water, and with the large-leaved sycamore fig tree or dom-palm or the papyrus plant at the centre as a figure of food. Inner Africa contains the prototype of the Egyptian paradise in a land of welling waters where the food came of itself and was perpetually renewed, and there was little need for labour. And when the outward movements of the wandering nomads began, and thirst and hunger were to be faced in waterless wastes of rootless desert sand, there would be yearnings of regret for the old lost home and birth-land left behind, now glorified by distance and the glamour of tradition. And so the universal legend grew which was not absolutely baseless. The felicity enjoyed in this primeval land of legendary lore is such as was possessed at one time on the earth, the upper paradise being a sublimated replica of a lower or terrestrial paradise. Thus, the primitive paradise of the Egyptians, as a land from which the human race had come, was constellated in the northern heaven as the top of attainment in a world to which they were going for an everlasting home, and in a clime where food and air and water never failed.
In the North, an Egypt of the heavens was figured first within the circle of the Greater Bear. This was the land of Khept, as a celestial locality. The circle was then divided into south and north, as double Egypt, upper and lower, and the two halves were described as the domains of Sut and Horus, who were the first two children of the ancient Genetrix, the mother of seven offspring altogether.
Thus, according to the present reading of the astronomical mythology, the imagery configurated in the stars was African in origin, and the teachers of its primitive mysteries were Egyptian. The seven astronomes in the celestial heptanomis of the seven Egyptian nomes, we hold to have been figured first on earth, and subsequently imaged in the heavens. Following the totemic sept of the sevens Egypt appears to have been mapped out first in seven nomes, and this heptanomis below to have been repeated in the planisphere. Seven nomes are said to have been, according to a later transliteration of names, those of the Memphites, Heracleopolites, Crocodileopolites, Aphroditopolites, Oxyrhynchites, Cynopolites, and Hermopolites. The great and lesser oases were considered to be parts of the heptanomis (Budge, E. A. W., The Mummy, p. 8). The goddess of the Great Bear, Khebt or Apt, was mother of the fields of heaven when they consisted of the seven astronomes. Those fields of the papyrus reed were figured within the circle made by the annual turn round of the seven stars about the north celestial pole. This, in the mythos, formed the enclosure of the typical tree, which was planted in the midst of the garden—the tree of life or food in the celestial waters, otherwise the tree of the pole in the astronomical mythology. The constellation of the female hippopotamus (or Great Bear) was the mother of the time-circles. It was a clock or horologe, on account of its wheeling round the pole once every four and twenty hours. This, or the “haunch,” is obscurely referred to in the text from the Temple of Denderah, as the clock or instrument by which the moon-god, Tehuti, measured the hours. Hence, the hippopotamus remained a hieroglyphic sign for the hour (Hor-Apollo, B. II, 20). The Great Bear was also a clock of the four quarters in the circle of the year, as is witnessed by the saying of the Chinese: when the tail of the Great Bear points to the east it is spring; when it points to the south it is summer; when it points to the west it is autumn; when it points to the north it is winter. In Egypt, when the Great Bear pointed to the south, or, astronomically, when the constellation had attained its southernmost elongation, it was the time of the inundation, the birthday of the year, which was also called the birthday of the world. Now, this is the particular point at which apparently the planisphere, or orrery, was set at starting, whether two thousand or twenty-eight thousand years ago. As the celestial globe has come to us it looks as if a starting-point in time might still be made out in the year of the Great Bear and the inundation with the tail-stars of the Bear as pointers to the birthplace of the waters, coming from the south with their salvation, and with Horus in the ark as the deliverer from the dragon of drought and thence doctrinally as the saviour of the world. It is a common assumption that the earliest Egyptian year was a year of 360 days based upon twelve moons of thirty days each. There was such a reckoning, and
no doubt its origin was lunar. This would be attributed to the moon-god, Tehuti (Taht), who was the measurer, although not only as the reckoner of lunar time; hence he became the opener of the year, beginning with the first month assigned to Taht. But, in an older table of the months found at the Ramesseum and at Edfu, the goddess Tekhi is the opener of the year, and not the moon-god, Taht. Here the first month has the name of Tekhi versus Taht. The word Tekhi signifies a supply of liquid, to supply with drink, and the goddess Tekhi is the opener of the year with the inundation. We regard this year of the Great Bear and the inundation (that of Apt, Menat or Tekhi) as primary. Next comes the year of 360 days, to which the five days were added by Taht; this was lunar, or luni-stellar. The inundation was a primary factor in the establishment of time in Egypt and the foundation of the year. The fact is recognized in the “Hymn to the Nile” when it is said “Stable are thy decrees for Egypt,” that is, in the fixed periodic return of the waters. Also, as the teacher of time, the Nile is said to be the inspirer of Taht, who was the measurer of time by means of the Great Bear, the moon, and the inundation. Under the name of Tekhi, the Old Great Mother was the giver of liquid and supplier of drink; as Apt or Khept she was the water-cow with a woman’s breasts; as Neith she was the suckler of crocodiles; as Rerit she was the suckler in the form of the many-teated sow; as Hesi (Greek Isis) she was the milch-cow, and as Menat she was the wet-nurse. Under all these types she was primordially the Mother-earth, and fundamentally related to the water-source, or in Egypt to the inundation. This is the Old First Mother who was given the Great Bear as her constellation in the northern heaven where she became the maker of the starry revolutions or cycles, and thence the mother of the earliest year in time. It was a year dependent on the inundation and determined by the birth of Horus as the crocodile-headed Sebek who, like Arthur, was the son of the Great Bear, otherwise the crocodile of the inundation. The birth is represented in the astronomical fragment from a Theban tomb. In this the Old First Mother has just given birth to her young crocodile and dropped it in front of her. Thus we behold the birth of Sebek, which according to the sign-language is equally the birth of another year, at the moment when the Great Bear’s tail is pointing to the birthplace (see fig., p. 289).
One of the old Egyptian legends, briefly repeated by Plutarch, may afford us a hint concerning this beginning of the year with the annual revolution of the Great Mother in Ursa Major as the hippopotamus or crocodile. According to this the solar god discovered that the Great Mother, Rhea, had been cohabiting secretly with Saturn. He consequently laid a spell upon her that she should not bring forth a child in either a month or a year. Then Hermes being likewise in love with the goddess copulated with her, and afterwards playing counters with the female moon he won from her the seventieth part of each one of her lights. Out of the whole he composed five days, and added these to the three hundred and sixty, which days the Egyptians call the additional days. Who then were the Kamite originals of the Greek Rhea, Saturn and Hermes? Rhea, like Apt, or Nut, was the mother of the gods.
Saturn the dragon was a form of Sebek, the crocodile-headed Horus, the prototype of the good dragon; and Hermes is the Egyptian Tehuti, the moon-god. The secret connection of the Great Mother with Saturn agrees with the connection between the goddess of the Great Bear and Sebek, who was married to his mother. The year of the Great Bear and the inundation, or of Apt and Sebek, was found to be wrong, and this was righted when Taht-Hermes, the measurer of time by the Great Bear and the moon, had added the five additional days to the earlier year, and thus established the truer cycle of 365 days to the year, by means of his co-operation with the moon. Thus the mother of the revolutions established the earliest cycle of time in the circle of the year which ended when the Bear was pointing to the birthplace of the water in the south, and the festival of “the Tail” was celebrated for the coming of the inundation. The tail of the Great Bear, as pointer or indicator on the face of the celestial horologe, was obviously still employed and reckoned with for the Seb-Heb festival, which was celebrated by the Egyptians every thirty years. This feast, or a section of it, was known by name as “the Festival of the Tail.” It was the anniversary of some very special year of years. There was a lord of the thirty-year festival, who was at one period Ptah, at another Horus. The birthplace of the inundation when the Great Bear pointed to it in the southern quarter was a point for ever fixed in the region of the waters, let us say (for the moment) coincident with the sign of Leo. That point did not retrocede. But when the place of birth, as solar, was shifted to the vernal equinox and the equinox receded, the birthplace went with it from zodiacal sign to sign. The time of the sun parted company with the time of the Great Bear and the inundation, for a cycle of 26,000 years. A great change was made when the time of the inundation was supplemented by the time of the sun. The birthplace of Horus (of the waters) had been in the south at the season of the year when the tail of the Bear denoted the birthplace in that quarter of the heavens and the Great Mother presided over the birth of the child, the crocodile or the papyrus shoot. The birthplace in the solar mythos was shifted, and the point was determined by the position of the vernal equinox as it travelled from sign to sign in the great circuit of precession: from Virgo to Leo, from Cancer to the Twins, from the Bull to the Ram, from the Fishes to the Waterer. Whether in the pre-solar or the solar mythos, whether as Apt, Tekhi or Hathor, the old Genetrix presided over the birth of Horus, on this great birthday that was commemorated in Egypt as the birthday of creation. It was an unparalleled meeting-point. The star Phact, in the constellation Columbia, far south, announced the inundation. Canopus showed the babe on board the bark, ascending from the south. Heralded by Sothis, his dog, Orion rose up from the river, at the north end of Eridanus, the stellar representative of him who came as Horus of the inundation. This advent is depicted in the monuments (Maspero, D. of C., Eng. tr., p. 97).
Thus the Egyptian sacred year is that of the Inundation and the Bear. Its opening coincided roughly with the summer solstice–when the solstices had at length been recognized–with the sun in the lion-sign. And of course when the solstice, or the sun, was in
that sign, the vernal equinox was passing through the sign of Taurus. Now, the earliest year we read of in Babylonia is that which opened with the vernal equinox in the sign of the “directing bull.” This was the same year or cycle, sign for sign, as the Egyptian sacred year with the solstice in Leo, but with a different point of commencement, the Egyptian starting from the solstice; or rather from what had ever been the fixed point of the inundation; the Babylonian from the vernal equinox. Khebt, the goddess of the Great Bear, was said to “preside over the birth of the Sun.” In the stellar mythos she had presided over the birth of Horus in the inundation. But when solar time was established the child was solar too, and the sun-god Horus Har-Makhu superseded Sebek of the inundation. His place of birth was shifted to the vernal equinox, and the birth itself was thenceforth timed no longer to the inundation. Horus, the Child or Messu of the inundation, on his papyrus, was now brought forth by Hathor, with Sothis as the Star of Annunciation. The birth took place in “Sothis,” the birthday being determined by the heliacal rising of the star, as well as by the Tail of Ursa Major. Khebt, or Apt, the Old First Mother, still presided, as great correlator over all, as if she were the midwife or meskhenat in attendance at the birth when Hathor had become the mother. The goddess Hathor was termed the mistress of the beginning of the year in relation to the rising of Sothis; and Hathor was a form of the hippopotamus-headed mother of the beginnings in the Great Bear, with the milch-cow substituted for the water-cow; both being types of the wet-nurse and giver of the precious liquid of life. And when the celestial figures of the astral Mythology were constellated in the northern heaven the ancient Genetrix had been portrayed already in the three characters of mother-earth, the mother of water, and the mother of breath. But before we have done with the Great Bear Constellation in the northern heaven we have to point out a primitive symbol of her who was figured as the mother of beginnings by nature and by name.
A magical implement commonly called the “bull-roarer” is found in divers parts of the world. It is one of the simplest things that ever acquired a primitive sacredness from being made use of as a means of invocation in the religious mysteries and totemic ceremonies of the past; an implement that is dying out in England to-day as a toy now called the “fun of the fair.” The Arunta Churinga shows that the “whirler,” “roarer” or thun-thunie, originally represented the female. Hence it has the phallic emblem of the vulva figured on it as a device in the language of signs. (N. T., p. 150.) Others of the churinga are womb-shaped. The ornament of others also indicates the human birthplace. Moreover, life is portrayed in the act of issuing from the wood, as tree-frogs issued from the tree. Enough to show the primitive nature of the symbol. It is used in the mysteries as a means of calling the initiates who are about to be made into men. The special dance of the nude young women, their exhibition of the embellished organ and peculiar appeal to the youngsters, demonstrates that the call is made by female nature at the time for that fulfilment of the male which was the object of the ceremony. These women were making the visible call that was audible in the sound of the bull-roarer. In the course of time the implements had changed hands as
the mysteries became more and more masculine and the women were excluded from the ceremonies. But the Kurnai have two kinds of “Roarer,” one of which represents the inspiring spirit as female; this was primary. At first the “whirler” used in the mysteries to call the initiates for young-man-making was the voice of the female calling on the male, to become a man; to be brave in fulfilling the laws of Tabu and rules of personal conduct; to be true to the brotherhood, and “not to eat the forbidden food.” The forms of the magical instrument differ, but all are used for whirling round to make the call. Now Khebt, the Old First Mother in Egyptian mythology, who was constellated in the Great Bear, is portrayed with the “bull-roarer” held in front of her womb. The name of the Egyptian instrument is “menait,” which literally signifies the whirler, from men to rotate, to whirl round. Thus the symbol of the whirling round can be traced to the mother of the revolutions as a figure in the astronomical mythology of Egypt. The Great Bear goddess was portrayed in this position as the “mother of the revolutions” and the maker of motion in a circle. Hers was the primary power that drew or turned, hurled or whirled the starry system round about the pole, as the mighty hippopotamus in the celestial waters. Her names of Rerit and Menait both indicate the character of rotator, which is signified by the menait in her hands. The goddess of the Great Bear (hippopotamus) was adored at Ombos as the “living word.” She is configurated in the planisphere with huge jaws wide open in the act of uttering the word, or of roaring. The Egyptian wisdom implies that the menait held in front of the First Mother signified the female emblem, the original instrument of magical power. With the roar of Rerit the water-cow called to her young bulls, and her roar would be imitated by the bull-roarer, menait or turndun, in calling them, and as the voice of the female calling on the totemic mysteries. Thus we find the goddess Apt, or Khebt the roarer, as a hippopotamus, the Great Bear, “rurring” or whirling round, with the “bull-roarer” as her sign and symbol, at the centre of the northern heaven (see fig., p. 124, also p. 311).
There is a remarkable survival of what may be tentatively termed the cult of the Great Bear amongst the Mandaites or Sabeans of Mesopotamia, who are worshippers of the “living word.” In the performance of their worship the eyes are fixed upon the pointers of the Great Bear. They celebrate a kind of feast of tabernacles annually, for which they erect a tabernacle called the Mishkena or Meskhen. Lastly, the primordial star-cult of the Great Bear is also British. In the ancient Welsh mythology the Great Mother Arth is the goddess of the Great Bear, and Arthur=Horus is her solar son who makes his celestial voyage with the seven in the ark.
Hitherto Egyptologists have been inclined to regard the female hippopotamus (our Great Bear) and the “haunch” as one and the same constellation. This premature guess is erroneous. They were both signs of the Great Mother, but in two separate constellations which represented two different characters. In the Egyptian planisphere, as at Denderah, the female hippopotamus answers to our Great Bear, whereas the sign of the “haunch” is on the far side of the Lesser Bear, in the position of Cassiopoea, the lady in the chair. If
we take the tail-star of the Bear as guide, the constellation Cassiopoea is almost exactly opposite. Thus when the tail of the bear is pointing north in winter, Cassiopoea is at its southern elongation. These are two different types of the Great Mother, who was Apt the Earth-Mother in one character, as the water-cow, and Nut the Mother Heaven in the other, as the milch-cow. Also in the illustration on a Theban tomb the constellation of the “haunch” is widely distinct from the hippopotamus. And it is this constellation that is distinguished by name as the “meskhen” with the hieroglyphics written on it which read, , Mes-khe-n, the womb as place or chamber of birth depicted in the constellation of the “haunch” or “thigh.” It is noticeable that the head of the milch-cow is portrayed upon the “haunch.” This distinguishes the one cow from the other, the milch-cow of Nut from the water-cow of Khebt or Apt, or our Great Bear. It also shows that the “thigh” or “haunch” belonged to the milch-cow, and represented the same celestial “seat” and place of origin as the later lady in the chair. But, whether it is figured as the cow or Meskhen, the “thigh,” “haunch,” or leg of the cow, it signified the birthplace of the celestial waters in the mythos, and the place of re-birth for souls in the heaven of eternity. Then follows the tampering and retouching process of the Euphrateans, Greeks, or other modern claimants to the ancient wisdom. The place of the “seat” or “thigh” was given to a woman sitting in a chair, and the lady of the chair usurps the throne of Isis with her seat and the pre-anthropomorphic type that was constellated ages on ages earlier in Egypt as the cow of Nut or heaven. The “thigh” in sign-language is a type of birth and thence of the birthplace, when the birth was water, as we find it constellated in the northern heaven. The star “Phact” (in Arabic, the thigh) shows us that this birthplace had been constellated in the southern hemisphere as the sign of Tekhi the giver of water in the inundation. Thus the “thigh” was figured both in the south and in the north to signify the birthplace and the birth of water. In the south the water was the river Nile, and in the north it is the river of the Milky Way. These are the two waters of earth and heaven proceeding from the cow that was the water-cow of Apt or Tekhi in the earth, and the milch-cow of Nut in heaven. As before said, one of the two great lakes at the celestial pole is the Lake of the “Thigh” or “Haunch,” which is mentioned by name in the Ritual (ch. 149). It is also called the Thigh of Khar-aba, at the head of the canal, or Milky Way. The Lake of the Thigh was the birthplace of the waters above, where the milch-cow or her “haunch” was a constellated figure of source whence flowed the great white river of the Via Lactea. The leg (thigh, seat, womb, or haunch) of Nut, the celestial cow, once stood where the lady in the chair is seated now. Nut, or the milch-cow, was the bringer to re-birth in this region of the pole. The Seven Powers brought to their re-birth in Seven Great Spirits were constellated as her children in the Lesser Bear, as seven stars that never set, but were fixtures for eternity. The two constellations of the hippopotamus and the “haunch,” or Meskhen, are also found in the rectangular zodiac that was carved upon the ceiling of the Great Temple at Denderah.