Hippopotamus and Haunch. As may be observed, the two figures of the hippopotamus and the “haunch” (or milch-cow) are yoked together by a chain, one end of which is held by Apt, and the other is made fast to the “haunch” or cow. This is in the position of the pole which was the yoke or bond of heaven, and which was known in Babylonia as “the yoke of the enclosure.” The chain shows that the Great Bear was made fast to the pole for security in its swing round. It also shows that the pole was once imaged either in or by the constellation of the “haunch,” the seat, or milch-cow in that region. The leg or thigh was an Egyptian figure of the pole, as we find it in “the leg of Ptah,” a constellation which has been identified with the lady of the seat. Hence, “above the leg” is equivalent to “over the pole” (Ritual, ch. 7, 74, and 98, Renouf).
Heaven as a source of liquid life that dropped in dew and rain upon the earth was likened to a cow, or, in sign-language, was the cow. Apt is the cow of earth and Nut the cow of heaven. Apparently the cow of heaven, or Nut, supplied the earliest foundation for the pole which, as the figure of the cow dislimned, was represented by the leg of Nut (otherwise called the “thigh,” the “haunch” or “seat”) as the central figure of support in heaven. The cow being primary, it follows that the “leg of Nut” was an earlier image of the pole than the “leg of Ptah,” the staff of Anup, or the backbone of Osiris—which were also figures of fixity whether at or as the pole of Heaven. The leg or haunch of the cow was then left standing in the midst of the Milky Way. The speaker in the Ritual thus addresses it, “Oh, thou leg in the northern sky, and in that most conspicuous but inaccessible stream,” which is elsewhere termed the canal. In the pyramid texts it is called “the leg (Uarit) of the Akhemu-Seku,” the stars that never set—the eternals, as a type of stability (Pepi I, 411). Cassiopoea, the lady in the chair, also sits in the midst of the Milky Way. Thus the “seat” remains, if only as a chair; the white river flows, with nothing to account for it; and the lake of milk, the cow, the haunch, thigh or leg of Nut are all dislimned or have passed away.
The Great Bear made her circuit on the outside of the never-setting stars, whereas the “leg” or “haunch” was a constellation in the circle of perpetual apparition. It never set below the horizon, nor
did any of its stars go down through all the period of the long great year. Thus the bit of foothold in the watery vast of space was figured as the “seat,” the Meskhen, womb, or re-birth-place in the heaven of eternity. The deceased, when speaking of his going forth from the tomb, identifies this constellation with the place of re-birth above, saying, “I shall shine above the ‘haunch’ as I come forth in heaven” (Rit., ch. 74). That is, at the point where the “leg” was constellated to show the upward way upon the starry map to him who lay looking heavenward “with a corpse-like face.” The deceased in Amenta pleads for his re-birth above betwixt the thighs of the divine cow as a type of heaven (Rit., ch. 148). The Old Great Mother, as the hippopotamus, we repeat, was not within the circle of the never-setting stars, in the circumpolar Paradise. It was the milch-cow Hesit, not the water-cow, that “gave the white liquor which the glorified ones love”; the milk that flowed from the cow, whether she was divinized as Nut, or Mehurit the Heaven, or Hathor, or Isis the cow-headed goddesses. The cow Hesit was designated “the Divine Mother and fair nurse” as giver of the liquid of life when this was represented in heaven by the milk of the celestial cow.
This identification of the “thigh” as a totally different constellation from the Greater Bear will alter the reading of certain inscriptions in which the “thigh” and “Bear” have been mixed up together. For example, when the alignment was made for the Temple of Hathor to be rebuilt at Denderah, in the time of Augustus, the King tells us that he oriented the corners and established the temple as “it took place before,” whilst looking to the sky and directing his gaze to the Ak of the “thigh” constellation. Here the “Ak” denotes a central point, the axis or middle of the starry group. Also when the temple at Edfu was refounded (about 257-37 B.C.) the King who “stretches the measuring-cord” and lays the foundation-stone is represented as saying, that when doing this his eye was fixed upon the Meskhet or Meskhen, which has been supposed to be in the Great Bear. This also was in the constellation of the “haunch,” as may be seen by the fragment from a Theban tomb (p. 289) where the “haunch” is labelled the “Meskhen” or chamber of birth which the constellation indicated; the birth chamber of the cow above, that was copied in the temple of the cow-goddess below (Lockyer, The Dawn of Astronomy, p. 172).
The cow of heaven as the milch-cow was portrayed standing or resting on the summit of the mount which was “connected with the sky,” as portrayed in the monuments. This, in the Persian rendering, was the cow upon the summit of Mount Alborz. In the Norse mythology it is the cow Audhumla. As the Prose Edda describes it, “immediately after the gelid vapours had been resolved into drops, there was formed out of them the cow named Audhumla. Four streams of milk ran from her teats, and thus she fed Ymir” (Prose Edda 6), just as the cow of heaven suckled Horus. Heaven, as the cow, is called the spouse upon the mountain. She is the mother of the solar bull, and, as goddess, is described as suckling her child Horus, and as having “drooping dugs” (Renouf, B. of D., ch. 62, note 1). The Milky Way was pictured as the celestial water, now called milk, that flowed from the cow of heaven couched upon the
summit of the mount, the apex of which was at the celestial pole; whether the cow was called Nut or Hesit, the Arg Roud, Audhumla, or the good lady. Now if we take the lady on the seat and the “haunch” or “thigh” as a figure of the cow, the position on the globe is this: the lady of heaven=the cow, or the mistress of the mount, is constellated in the middle of the Milky Way, which runs in two directions downwards from the summit of the pole. If we restore the figure of the cow or its co-type the “haunch,” this is the exact spot at which the river of milk once issued from the cow of heaven that gave her white liquid to Horus and the glorified; or water to the world in dew and rain. The Milky Way has been disfigured sadly by the Greeks, but still runs visibly as the river of the Nun or great deep, the white river that engirdles all the earth. The river Ganges, issuing from the mouth of the cow, retains the primitive type of a celestial source for the water that fell from heaven, as it was seen by night descending in the river of the Milky Way, or in four streams that issued from the udder of the cow, which supplied a figure of four quarters to the mount. The cow of heaven, or Nut, as giver of liquid life, was the earliest mistress of the mountain, or divine lady of the mound. Then the type of the good nurse, the suckler, was made anthropomorphic and the udder of the cow was superseded by the mammæ of the human mother. But it was a long way from the African cow or sow, as the suckler, to the wet-nurse divinized in human form.
Lastly, the cow of earth was the mother of salt water as well as fresh; both fresh and salt water being found in the African lakes. The Albert Nyanza, for instance, is a salt-water lake, and one of the two lakes of the cow or “haunch” at the pole was evidently a salt-water lake, as the primitive lake of purifying and healing. One of these, repeated in Amenta, is called the salt-water lake (Rit., ch. 17). The Zulu form of this celestial “source” is a young woman who makes the water. “Leave it to me” says Lu, the Samoan Nut, when there was no water, and she makes the water, which was salt (Turner, Samoa, p. 12). This may account for the origin of salt water in heaven. To very primitive folk urine was the first salt water used for cleansing, purifying, and healing. The earliest soap was made from the alkali in urine mixed with oil from the human skin. The Inoit, amongst others, still wash themselves with urine. The Banians of Momba wash in cow’s urine, because, as they say, the cow is their mother. An early type of the mother as wateress in heaven was the cow, and first of all it was the water-cow. Urine was a very primitive form of holy water as a means of purifying. At the present time holy water is yet sained and made sacred by adding the ingredient of salt to water that is fresh. Urine is also a means of purifying when the English schoolboy, about to bathe in the stream, will micturate down his left leg as a protective charm against the raw-head-and-bloody-bones, our form of the Apap monster, lurking at the bottom of the water. Thus, as the pitiful human need was primitively reflected in the African heaven, the earliest water of purification, the salt water, the source of the lake of purification,
was made by the cow. And so unbreakable is the chain with which the human race, its customs, its theology, and religious symbolism are bound together from the beginning that we may be absolutely certain that this is why salt is put into the baptismal font to make the water holy. This, we think, also touches the origin of the “salt woman” in the Navajo legend who is described as resting at the top of the reed mountain which rose up beyond the reach of the deluge. When the anthropomorphic type had been adopted the woman that made the water on the summit of the mount took the place of the cow. In such ways the matter of mythology was continued in the heavens on the grand scale of uranographic representation. In this celestial sign-language, the oldest book of wisdom in the world was written by the mystery teachers and can still be read upon the starry scroll of ancient night.
The “upliftings of Shu,” are spoken of and portrayed in the Egyptian Ritual. The first of these is said in ancient legends to have taken place at Hermopolis, where Shu stood on the mound to raise the firmament. This was the mound by which the mount of earth was imaged in Egypt as the altar of the mound-builders, constellated in Ara. At least two of Shu’s upliftings can be identified. In his rôle of An-hur, Shu was the uplifter of heaven, or Nut, by name. He is portrayed upon the mount or mound in the at of raising up the cow of Nut with his two hands, or pushing up the heaven assisted by his support-gods. And Kepheus standing on the mount with the rod in his uplifted hand remains a representative of Shu, who stood upon the mound to raise the firmament of Am-Khemen. In his character of An-hur, he was the uplifter of the sky or firmament in the pre-solar mythos. In the solar mythos he becomes auxiliary to Ra, and is called his son, Shu-Si-Ra. He is now the supporter of the sun-god who uplifts the solar orb upon the mount of dawn, or, as it is also phrased, he brings the eye of light to Ra. In doing this he kneels upon the horizon as the uplifter. He is the helper of the solar god (Horus or Ra) upon the horizon when the great battle was waged against the Apap of darkness, who fought so long and fiercely that the god came staggering upwards fainting from his wounds. (Rit., ch. 39.)
It has been said that all tradition respecting the personage known as “the kneeler” has been lost. Aratos knew nothing of the character. (Brown, Phainomena of Aratos, Introd., p. 5.) But in the Egyptian astronomical mythology the god Shu IS “the kneeler” personified. In this form he is portrayed upon the horizon or mount of dawn stooping on bended knee to uplift the solar disk, or to bear it on his head. He who had uplifted the starry firmament with his two hands, or with the forked stick called his rod, now represented the force that heaved up the sun in the position of “the kneeler.” In the “Phainomena” Aratos describes “the kneeler” in an attitude of worship with arms upraised “from both his shoulders each stretching on its side about a full arm’s length.” (Brown, lines 66, 69.) This is the attitude of Shu, but with the solar disk omitted. “The kneeler,” then, who is Al Jatha in Arabic and Engonansin in Greek, we identify with Shu, the deity who kneels upon the horizon to support his father Ra, the solar god, in his battle with the hosts of darkness. He also passed into the
Eschatology as the typical kneeler; thence the keeper of the door in the hall of judgment is named after Shu, “the kneeler.” The keeper says to the initiate in the mysteries, “I open not to thee, I allow thee not to pass by me, unless thou tellest my name.” The password, given in reply, is “the knee of Shu,” which he hath lent for the support of Osiris, is the name, that is as the supporter of the sun-god in the character of “the kneeler.” (Rit., ch. 125.) Shu-Anhur, in his twofold rôle may still be recognized on the celestial chart in the constellations of Kepheus and Leo, partly by means of the double Regulus. As An-hur in Kepheus he stands upon the mount to lift up heaven with his rod or staff, and as Shu or Regulus in Leo he is the supporter and uplifter of the solar orb on the horizon as “the kneeler.”
Shu the Kneeler. A picture in the constellation Lyra has survived to show us how the stories of the solar god were given a starry setting on the background of the dark. If we refer to this group upon the celestial globe we find a figure of the winged Disk or Hut which still identifies the constellation with Horus of Edfu, who is now called Horus-Behutet. What then was the story told of Horus in the stars by night which could be read in Lyra when conjoined and illustrated with the winged Solar Disk? We are shown a picture of Horus with his lyre, the prototype of Apollo with his lyre, and Orpheus with his lute. Horus with the lyre or harp of seven strings was the sevenfold one as a divine type of attainment, the octave and the height in music as well as in the building of the heavens. This Horus was the first form of the All-One, or Pan, in whom the Seven Powers were unified in perfect harmony, or in the music of the spheres. It was Horus who tore out the sinews of Sut and by depriving him of power turned the discord of the universe to harmony. He was consequently depicted in the constellation Lyra as the maker of music that was played on the harp, the lute, the lyre, or the sevenfold pipes of Pan as a figure of the All-One.
The Serpentarius, or “Ophinchus huge” was constellated in the Decans of Scorpio as a figure of Horus wrestling with the serpent of darkness. At this stage in the periodical display of the celestial pictures the sun was about to descend into Amenta from the point (say) of the Autumn Equinox in Scorpio, to grapple with the powers of darkness, decay, and dearth now rising in rebellion and gathering together for the annual assault. The drama could not be rendered in imagery directly solar; hence the representation figured as an object picture in the rising stars that showed the Lord of Light at death-grips with the serpent of the dark, in that sign where Horus or Osiris received his mortal wound. Thus, all along, the Gnosis was pictorially portrayed in heaven. Hence when the Osiris obtains
command over the celestial water he says, “Collector of souls is the name of my Bark. The picture of it is the representation of my glorious journey upon the canal.” The bark of salvation in which the souls of the glorified were gathered, we repeat, was solar, whilst the picture shown by night was stellar. The canal is the name of the Milky Way, and on this the glorious voyage was made by the Manes “to the abode of those who had found their faces as the glorified.” In another illustration the great ship of heaven, in the solar mythos, is the Ark of Ra. When seen by day, the solar orb is carried on board together with the solar god and the spirits perfected. But the literature of the subject, so to say, was represented, and the story was repeated, nightly in the stars.
The blind god “hungering for the morn” is a Greek figure of Orion, which explains nothing of itself. But Orion is the stellar representative by night of Horus the solar god in the darkness of Amenta who is An-ar-ef the sightless Horus, or Horus as the blind god whose sight was restored to him at dawn. Several constellations, Orion the hunter, Herakles, Serpentarius, Boötes, are portraits of Horus configurated in his various characters both mythical and eschatological. Amsu-Horus was the husbandman twice over as Egyptian; once in the mythology which sets forth the natural facts according to the seasons in Egypt; and once in the eschatology which figured the same facts typically in relation to the harvest in the after-life. Amsu, we consider, was the original of Boötes. On the celestial globe, high over Spica, Boötes rises with the sickle in his right hand as a symbol of the husbandman. Amsu issues from the tomb as the divine harvester, with the flail in his right hand. He is also the good herdsman, as is shown by the crook, whether as goatherd or shepherd, and this character of the husbandman as guardian is repeated by Boötes in the character of Bearward.
Some Egyptologists have conjectured that the wars of Horus in the Astronomical mythology were historical in Egypt. But this is to follow the will-o’-the-wisp of a popular delusion. The mass of primitive “history” in many lands has been derived from nursery legends and as folk-tale versions of the Egyptian wisdom. The lords of light and life that overcame the powers of drought and darkness were converted into ethnical personages and glorified as natural heroes. We are told by Diodorus of Sicily that the Egyptians looked upon the Greeks as impostors who reissued the ancient mythology as their own history; in this they were not alone. But the wars of Horus were fought in heaven and Amenta against the Sebau, the Dragon, the Serpent, with Orion for one of his great stellar figures. If there is any one figure constellated in heaven as the hero par excellence, in various characters, it is pre-eminently that of Orion. This, as Egyptian, is Horus or Heru. The word Heru signifies the chief; the one who is the over-lord, the ruler, the mighty one, the hero. This hero as Horus of the inundation was pre-solar. He was the annual bringer of food and drink before there was a sun-god, when the stars were the annunciators of the coming times and seasons to the waiting, watching world. Then the character was made solar, and lastly eschatological. Horus the mighty conqueror, the Nimrod, the slayer of the gigantic Apap, is
the giant-killer of all later lore, not only as the solar god but also as the earlier elemental power, and the various legends are the reliquary remains of his several characters.
They have to go a long way round to work who would understand the scientific grouping of the stars according to the principles of astro-mythology. For instance, Orion as the hunter and Lupus the hare are two southern constellations. But Orion does not mean that a scriptural character was taken out of the Bible and constellated as a typical sportsman, and the mighty hunter of a miserable hare. It is an almost universal representation that the sun or solar god pursues the moon for ever daily and nightly in a never-ceasing chase. This is how the story was configurated by the mystery teachers of the heavens in the grouping of the stars. Such a chase implies the character of the hunter, and Orion, as representative of the solar Horus, is the hunter. The pursuit of the moon is signified by the stellar symbol of the hare. In sign-language, and in many lands, the hare has been a lunar zootype as the wide-eyed leaper that was followed night by night, day after day, by the solar hunter in his perpetual round. Thus the hare, known as a symbol of the moon over half the world, is shown to have been a totemic type of the nome, and a figure of the lunar deity in Egypt. The hare was imaged as a primitive constellation at the feet of Orion, who in one character was the mighty hunter. But he is not the hunter of so insignificant an animal as the hare. Neither was Orion the hunter only a figure of the sun pursuing the moon, or the hare. He was the mythical hunter in other characters. In the stellar mythos he was the hunter of the powers of darkness with the dogs of Horus, Kyon and Prokyon. On coming forth from the darkness of Amenta in the resurrection, the Osiris says: “I come forth as a Bennu (a type of Sothis) at dawn.” “I urge on the hounds of Horus” (Rit., ch. 13). He was the hunter of the powers of darkness on behalf of Horus in the solar mythos, and likewise in the phase of eschatology as Sahu-Orion, or Orion as the Sahu, that is Horus in his glorious body. We may look on Horus, the original of Herakles, as the earliest child that ever strangled serpents. He is portrayed in this character as the child standing upon two crocodiles and crushing the serpents with both hands.
Horus strangling Serpents. In later legends told of Herakles the Greeks have added the cradle as a further illustration of the children’s story. But, ages earlier, before the figures were humanized, Horus pierced the serpent of evil when he was represented in the form of a hawk fighting with a serpent on the back of a hippopotamus at Hermopolis (Plutarch, I. and O., p. 50). He also fought the
serpent as an ichneumon or mongoose, and as a cat, each of which preceded the anthropomorphic type of an infant in the cradle. The wars of Apap and Horus, or Ra, also of Sut and Osiris in the eschatology, were thus dramatically rendered in the astronomical mythology. The grapple first began with Horus and the reptile Apap. This is repeated by Horus the little hero crushing the serpent in the constellation of “Ophiuchus,” that is by Horus in the character of conqueror who triumphed over drought, darkness, decay, and finally of death. In a scene copied by Maspero from the zodiac of Denderah, Horus, on his papyrus, rises from the waters, and is preceded by Orion in his papyrus bark. Orion was a figure of the stellar Horus, or Horus of the inundation. But Horus represented by the sparrow-hawk has become the solar god now born of Hathor the milch-cow. All three appear together in this scene (Dawn of Civilization, Eng. tr., p. 97). Now if we turn to the celestial globe we find Orion standing club in hand as the mighty warrior with one foot on the waters of the river Eridanus=Horus of the inundation invested with the majesty and power of the solar god. In the Egyptian drawing the two characters are distinct, but in the Greek compound these are blended in the one hero known as Herakles the slayer of serpents as an infant in his cradle.
In very old Egyptian traditions Sahu-Orion was represented as the wild hunter who traversed the nether world by night and hunted there whilst it was day on earth. The powers of darkness, the Sebau and the Sami, were the objects of pursuit. They are hunted for food; and the chase, the capture, killing, and cutting up of the carcases are described in the terminology of cannibals—so ancient is the legend of the wild hunter, a form of whom may probably survive with us as Herne=Orion the hunter. In the solar mythos the lord of light was Horus, or, later, Ra or Osiris, waging war upon the evil powers in the under-world, and hunting them to death by night and devouring them as the mode of destruction; the drama being represented in the stellar phase with the figure of Orion as the lord of light made visible by night. The cannibalism of the past becomes present in the language of the inscriptions. Eating and drinking were the primary modes of assimilating strength and sustenance. The idea still lives in partaking of the Eucharistic meal in which the god is supposed to be assimilated by the eating and drinking of the elements. It is said in the Book of the Dead (ch. 149) that the great spirits, the khus, or glorious ones, “live on the shades of the motionless.” They eat the souls of the undeveloped dead; eating being applied to spirit as well as matter.