The pillar of heaven naturally stood upon the earth to support the heavens; but when the earth was hollowed out by Ptah, the excavator, there was another earth below in which the pillar had to be re-erected, and this pillar of the double mount was represented by the double Tat of Ptah as the backbone of that god, or later of Osiris. The Japanese also have the two pillars called the awful pillar of heaven, the pillar being a co-type with the mount. “Heaven’s one pillar” was an ancient name for the Japanese island of Ski (Chamberlain, Kojiki, p. 23). The Japanese have also a pillar whose foundation is at the centre of the world, where stands the tat or pole of Ptah supporting the nether sky. In Chinese legendary lore there is a pillar that sustains the earth. They also have a pillar which sustains the heaven. These two correspond to the pillar of Shu that supports the firmament above and the tat-pillar of Ptah which supports the earth in Amenta below. These are distinct from each other; they belong to two entirely different mythical creations, and cannot be resolved into one single pillar derived from the mount of earth as axis-
pillar of the heavens. Heaven had rested on the pillar of the earth or the pillars raised upon the mundane mount by Shu. But the tat-pillar of Ptah was erected in the nether earth of two. Consequently our earth was then supported on the pillar of Ptah. This will explain the tradition of the Chinese, the Thlinkeet Indians, and others, that the earth rests upon a pillar. Thus, as Egyptian, there are two divine pillars answering to the double mount, which we call the pillar of Shu and the tat-pillar of Ptah. One is the sustainer of the firmament above the earth, the other is the support of the firmament below the earth. The two together are the double pillars of earth and heaven. This will enable us to read one of the many Greek märchen, which reflect and refract the Egyptian mythos.
There is a legend of Herakles relieving Atlas as sustainer of the heavens, or, in the original, the ceilings of the double earth. Atlas is the Egyptian Shu-Anhur, the elevator of the sky. And the relief of Atlas by Herakles is equivalent to the relief of Shu by the sun-god Ptah as sustainer of all things in Amenta, when the pillar of earth or tat of Amenta was added to the pillar of heaven. When the earth was doubled and the nocturnal sun god passed through Amenta as Ptah or Sekari with his tat, he was the sustainer in the nether earth who might be said to relieve Shu of his burden in the upper earth. Horus is the prototype of Herakles, and Horus or Ptah in Amenta is the mighty Herakles of this Greek fancy which so often takes the place of fundamental fact. There is no trusting the märchen in their Greek or Hindu, Hebrew or Christian guise, without comparing them with the originals. Greek legends also assert that Herakles separated two mountains to form the two columns or pillars which were a dual figure of the twofold mundane and celestial mount. This helps to identify the double columns with the mount of earth and the mount of heaven. Many illustrations could be cited of these two pillars erected at the entrance to the temple or house of a god. Herakles, says Herodotus, was worshipped in a temple at Tyre, and in the temple “were two pillars, one of fine gold, the other of emerald stone, both shining exceedingly at night” (Bk. II, 44). These are, to say the least, somewhat suggestive of the green mount of earth, the Egyptian mount of emerald, and the golden mount of heaven, which survive as the “green hill” far away and “Jerusalem the golden” in the Christian hymns.
The backbone was a figure of the pole: it is at one time the backbone of Sut, at another the backbone of Anup, at another of Ptah or Osiris—the backbone being a natural type of sustaining power. This at first was single as a figure of the pole. It was duplicated in Amenta, the same as was the pillar of support and other figures of sustaining power. The power of Ptah in Amenta is not simply that of the pillar or backbone. These are doubled in the earth of eternity to express his power as sustainer of the universe. The figure is referred to in the magic papyrus as the long backbone of Ptah, the Nemma. “O Nemma of the great face, of the long backbone, of the deformed legs! O long column which commences in (both) the upper and the lower heaven. O lord of the great body which reposes in Annu,” the place of the column or pole, now doubled in Amenta (Magic Papyrus, Records, vol. X, p. 152). There was a tendency to blend the twofold mount in one as in the double Mount
Meru, which is sometimes denominated the North Pole, but was primarily a figure on earth of the pole in heaven, like the mound of earth and the cone or pillar. But Meru was doubled or divided into upper and lower, called Su-Meru and Ku-Meru, when it imaged the mount that was opened for the passage of the heavenly bodies through the nether earth. One mountain standing in the east and one in the north were not vertically blended in one. They were symbolical of the double mount of earth and heaven as a figure, but this was in the end, not at the starting-point.
The Kamite teachers also imaged the two poles as the two trees called the two sycamores of the south and north. The later tree in Eridu, as well as the Norse tree Yggdrasil, was compounded of the two as the tree which had its roots down south or in the under-world, and its branches high up in the northern heaven; a twofold tree that corresponded to the double mount. Again, the rock is a co-type with the mount, and the double rock is equivalent to the twofold mount. These two were also blended in one as in the rock that “begat” the Israelites. The rock and the double rock are both mentioned in the Ritual (ch. 134). Taht the moon-god is said to be the “son of the rock proceeding from the place of the two rocks” in Anruti (Renouf, ch. 134). The name of Anruti identifies the double rock with the double horizon, which was also called the double mount, . The son of the rock who proceeds from the two rocks is the moon-god as the son of earth and heaven, or son of the double mount of earth and heaven, the two rocks having been blended in one as a typical figure of Osiris, the rock of eternity, imaged as the pole of heaven. The twofold origin of the mythical mount is now sufficiently established in relation to identifiable natural facts which alone can furnish the proof that the mount, the pole, the tree, the paradise, pillar, column, or backbone were single in the stellar and are duplicated in the solar mythos, and that this duplication followed on the making of Amenta.
The Rig-Veda speaks of “him who, as the collective pillar of heaven, sustains the sky” (Wilson, 3, 143, 144). This collective pillar was the dual type of the twofold mount of earth and of heaven imaged in one figure of support. The Hebrew pillar of the lower and upper paradise that is called “the strength of the hill Zion” was another form of the collective pillar. As Egyptian, this collective pillar was the double tat of Ptah erected in Amenta. The tat-pillar of Ptah and Osiris was continued in the ancient Germanic Irmin pillars, which were mostly made of wood. The mythical pillar Irminsul was that which joined together earth and heaven, like the mount of Amenta and the tat-support of the gods. The Irmin-pillars were a form of the Hermae in Greece that were set up as boundary signs at cross roads and street corners to mark the extent of certain lands. This points to an origin for their name. In Egyptian the word remen or ermen denotes the extent as far as the limit or boundary. Rema or erma is a measure of land. The deity Irmin, like Hermes of the pillar, was a god of boundaries.
If the mount or the pillar had been single and not double, there would have been no voyage across the water that flowed between the mount of earth and the mount of heaven; no need of boat or bridge
or place of “jumping off” from one side to the other. If the mythical mount had simply been a single figure of the universe axis (as O’Neil describes it), the climbers would have gone straight up to heaven, whereas the solar mount of glory in the east did not and could not blend vertically with the stellar mount of glory in the north. The mount was dual; the water ran betwixt the two, and that necessitated the means of crossing from one to the other. Nothing could make the universe axis twofold, in keeping with the double mount of earth and heaven. And this duality alone will explain why one type should be considered female, the other male. The mount or pillar of earth was an image of the Great Mother as bringer-forth, and the mount or pillar of heaven was typical of the fatherhood, the “rock that begat,” or rather of two sexes in one nature as they were blended in the deity Ptah, Atum, Osiris, Ihuh, and Brahma. The type of this duality is to be seen in the navel, the umbilicus, and the nabhiyoni united and imaged in one as a figure of the birthplace and prototype of the navel mounds; the pit below and the pile of stones above, the well and pyramid, the church and steeple, the grave and monument.
When the solar mythos had been added to the stellar, the pathway to paradise was through the nether-world. The road of the sun in the mythos now became the road of souls in the eschatology. The entrance to the under-world was consequently in the west. The maker of the road was the nocturnal sun as the bull or god of the west. One name of the western hill is Manu. It is said to Ra when setting, “Wake up from thy rest; thine abode is in Manu” (Rit., ch. 15). This apparently survives in the Samoan Mane. At death, the soul went to a paradise in the western horizon called Mane=Manu. “The dying,” says the missionary Turner, “were urgent in begging those around them to see and make the tapunea or pessomancy go all right, and so secure an entrance to the Mane paradise” (Samoa, p. 294). If the pebbles used for divination turned out odd instead of even it was thought that the soul would be caught and crushed between two great stones at the entrance to the mount. The “hollow pit” was a name of the Samoan Hades. At the bottom there was a running stream which floated the spirits away to the Hades of Polotu. They were but little more than alive and only half conscious until they reached Polotu, where there was a bathing-place called Vaiola or “the water of life.” In this water all infirmities were washed away and the aged recovered their lost youth. Their new bodies were singularly volatile, like the Egyptian sahu. They could ascend to earth at night, become luminous sparks or vapour, revisit their old homes and retire at early dawn to the bush or to Polotu (Turner, Samoa, pp. 258, 259). The subterranean world of the Lapps is identical with the Amenta of the Egyptians. Jabma-Aimo is the house of the dead in the nether-earth, which is a place of transition for those who have their bodies renewed, who pass on and are taken up to heaven. Their home of the gods, Taivo Aimo, also answers to the upper Aarru-paradise of the Ritual. The jackal or dog is the guide of the dead through the paths of darkness in the nether-earth, and the Inoit dead are said to descend by the “dog’s path” into their under-world. This is a most obscure road, answering to the path of darkness in Amenta. The subterranean region described at times as being
submarine is the common sub-terrestrial paradise of the Inoit people generally.
When the nether-world had been completely excavated by Ptah, Amenta was established as the lower story of two in the mount of earth which henceforth becomes the mount of Amenta. The name denotes the hidden or secret (Amen) earth (ta). It is also called the earth of eternity, the land of the living; for the Egyptians call those the living whom the less spiritualistic moderns designate the dead. The mount of earth became the mount of Amenta because Amenta had been tunnelled through the lower earth. It became the funereal mount because Amenta was the earth of the manes. In the Egyptian chart the west is the beautiful gate of entrance to this divine nether-world, otherwise called the land of life. It is not paradise itself, but the way to it through purgatory. The beautiful gate of exit was at the place of sunrise, not sunset, in the garden eastward, and this was the locality of the terrestrial paradise, which was a copy of the garden of Aarru first configurated in the circumpolar heaven of the stellar mythology. The dead in Egypt were called “the westerners.” On the way to the place of burial the mourners sang the funeral song “To the west, to the west, to the west!” The mummy was ferried over the water to the western mount, where Hathor-Isis or the cow waited to receive the solar god, and in his track the souls of the departed. The entrance to the mount was shown as the mouth of the cow, or cleft in the rock, such as was seen in the immediate neighbourhood of Abydos, which was reached through a narrow gorge in the Libyan range, whose “mouth” opened in front of the temple of Osiris-Khentamenta a little to the north-west of the city (Maspero, Dawn of Civilization, Eng. tr., p. 197). Here the souls of the departed were supposed to enter and descend into the nether-world. The sun-god is described in his passage to the western horizon (or mount), whilst earth, as the mother, stretches her arms out to receive him. “In rapture is thy mother, the goddess Meru, as thou dost emit the irradiation of light till thou reachest that mountain which is in Akar,” i.e., till sunset, when he will enter the female receptacle for his new birth. Taking this to be imaged by Isis as the sacred heifer, the place of entrance is her mouth, and the place of exit was uterine, to the east of the mount (Magic Papyrus, p. 5, Records, vol. X, 145.)
The entrance into the mount of earth which was personified as the old first mother is one of the exploits of Maui in the märchen of the Maori. Maui, at the end of his victorious career, that is at sunset, comes back to the country of his father and the land of his great ancestress Hine-neu-te-Po, the great woman of the under-world, who is to be seen in the horizon, “flashing, and, as it were, opening and shutting.” So Apt the hippopotamus and Hathor the cow may be seen in the cleft of the mount that opened at sunset for the passage of the solar god, the mouth of the cow being equivalent to the cleft in the mount. Maui came to where the ancient giantess lay sleeping, with the object of passing through her without waking her. He entered her body, but when he was half in and half out, a little bird, the Tiwakawaka, laughed aloud to see the sight, and woke the sleeper, who closed her thighs on Maui and crushed him so
that he died, and thus brought death into the world; otherwise, it was fabled that the solar hero died to rise again in passing through the nether-world of darkness, and this was a primitive mode of portrayal. In the Kamite mythos he passes through the female hippopotamus or cow, or the sphinx, all of which were figures of the mother in the mount, otherwise the ancient Mother-earth. It is common for a cavern or entrance in the west to be pointed out as the way into spirit-world that leads to the fields of paradise. This is found in the Aztec Mictlan or land of the dead. The Fijian descent into the under-world is exactly the same as the Egyptian. The dead go down in the west on their way to the judgment seat of Ndengei (Williams, Fiji, vol. I, p. 239), just as the Egyptian dead embark in the west for the judgment seat of Osiris. The nether-earth, Ngamat, of the Australian Woiworun also corresponds to the Kamite Amenta. It is the receptacle of the sun beyond the western edge of the earth, and likewise an abode for the departed, who do not remain there permanently, but come back to our earth at times as the ngamaget, like the manes in the Ritual. (Howitt on Australian medicine-men.)
In various märchen and other irresponsible legends derived from mythology we hear of heaven being situated in the west—that is, as the place of sunset. The Buddhists have their western paradise. The paradise of the Ottomacks of Guiana and of the Araucanians is in the west. The heaven of the Todas, the Kalmucks, the Samoans, and others was localized in the west. The Iroquois and Ojibwas describe the souls of their dead as travelling westward till they come to the plains of paradise. The Sekhet Hetep or the fields of rest in Aarru are represented in the noble island of Flath Innis, the place of rest from storm and strife to which the Keltic heroes went in death, as a paradise in the western ocean. The Elysian Fields and Golden Isles of the Greeks were in the west. But that is only because the entrance to the earthly paradise was in the west, according to the solar mythos. At Samoa, says Gill, a spirit leaving the dead body at the most easterly island of the group would be compelled to traverse the entire series of islands, passing the channels between at given points, ere it could descend to the subterranean spirit-world at the most westerly point of Savaiki (p. 160), which rightly identifies the west with the gate of entrance to the earth of eternity.
In the wisdom of “Manihiki” it is related as another of the exploits of Maui that he found out the way to the nether-world. He had watched and seen his father go according to his wont to the main pillar of his dwelling and say “O pillar! open, open up, that Manuahifare may enter and descend to the nether-world,” which was the Heptanomis or seven sunken islands of Avaiki. The pillar immediately opened, and Manuahifare descended. Maui repeated the magic words of his father, and to his great joy the pillar obediently opened, and he boldly made his descent into the lower regions. Whilst exploring this subterranean spirit-world, Maui fell in with a blind old woman, who turned out to be his own grandmother. Here also was the paradise in which the tree of healing grew, and with the fruit of which Maui restored sight to the eyes of Ina-the-blind. (Gill, Myths and Songs, pp. 64-66.) The incident of a rock or door that
opens when the magic formula is uttered, and in no other way, is well-nigh universal. It may be termed the “open sesame” legend. In a Chinese version Chang discovers the entrance to the under-world by finding out the secret of the stone door in the cave of Kwang-siu-fu in Kiang-si. “One day he overheard a genie saying, “Stone door, open! Mr. Kwei-ku is coming.” Thereupon the door opened and the genie went in. When he came out he said, “Stone door, shut! Mr. Kwei-ku is going.” Chang tried the charm, and found a vast paradise within, and there he lost his old grandmother. (Denny’s Folk-lore of China, p. 134.) In a Zulu tale the word is “Rock of two holes, open for me, that I may enter” (Callaway, Tales, pp. 140-142). In a Samoan rendering it is “Rock, divide! I am Talanga: I have come to work” (Turner, Nineteen Years in Polynesia, p. 252). The sacred hole-stone, the needle’s eye, the chimney, or the cow, and other apertures through which the twice-born was passed as an initiate in the mysteries derive their symbolical significance from this passage through the rock or mount of earth. It was the same with the human soul in the eschatology as it had been with the soul of the sun in the mythology. Sometimes the hole in the dolmen or other stone that people wriggled through was very small. This increased the difficulty, and was a practical illustration of the trials in the passage of Amenta. There was one near the summit of a rocky mountain island in Ireland called the “eye of the needle,” which is described as “a narrow opening like a chimney.” To understand the custom we must read the Ritual.
The sun-god made his passage through the mount of earth, or the sphinx, for his rebirth and resurrection on the eastern side, and the opening in the rock was at the end or at the summit, in the Tser hill, the rock of the horizon. In the Russian märchen Prince Ivan=Horus the prince, climbs up the magical ladder to get into the “great house” of the “tremendously high steep mountain.” His sister=the princess, or lunar lady, calls to him from the balcony. “See, there is a chink in the enclosure. Touch it with your little finger and it will become a door!” This he does, and obtains entrance into the mountain of Amenta. (Ralston, Russian Folk-tales, 102.)
The cleft or opening in the mount was also termed the grotto. And it is possible that this survives in the “grotto” that is exhibited in England, and is made of oyster-shells at the time when oysters are supposed to be first opened on one particular day of the year. This illustrates an ancient custom but not a legal enactment respecting oysters. The opening of the oyster=the annual opening of the earth in the equinox. The grotto is an interior or shrine, and the light which is kindled within it points rather to the sun than to the lamp in any Christian sanctuary. The day and the ceremony have been assigned to St. James, but that is only one more item in the total system of falsification designated Christian. Osiris also had his shrine “which standeth in the centre of the earth.” (Rit., ch. 64, Renouf, and Book of Hades.) The under-world of the Karens of Burmah is the Egyptian Amenta. They also have the double mount into which the sun enters at sunset (or in the equinox). The mount consists of two great strata of rock, one lower and one upper, which continually open and shut as with an upper and a lower jaw, but the
Karens have no idea how the upper stratum is supported. At their departure from earth the Manes are thus addressed: “Thou goest unto Thama. Thou goest through the crevices of rocks. At the opening and shutting of the western gates of rock, thou goest in between. Thou goest below the earth where the sun travels.” (Mason, “Karens,” Journal of the Asiatic Soc., Bengal, pt. 2, pp. 233-4, 1865.) The dead descend to Khu-the and appear before Thama the great judge in Hades, who may be identified with the Egyptian Tumu or Atum, the great judge in the Kamite Amenta, who is the representative of the setting sun as Atum-Ra and of the rising sun as Atum-Horus (Nefer-Atum).
The difficulty of obtaining entrance to the mount was insuperable to mortals. Hence the need of divine assistance. The sun-god as opener in the mythology led up to the god as opener for souls in the eschatology. In this character Horus became the door and the way of life to the manes, who followed in his wake of glory through the dark of death. The principle subject of the inscriptions written on the sarcophagus of Seti I., now in the Soane Museum, is the nocturnal passage of the sun or the sun-god through the nether-earth by night, having the blessed on his right hand, the damned upon his left. There are twelve divisions to the passage, which correspond to the twelve hours of the night. But the first of these divisions, that of entrance, is without a door, whereas the last of the twelve, that of exit, has a double door. Here the entrance to Amenta consists of a blind doorway or a door which neither mortal nor manes could know the secret of, and none but the god, primarily solar, could open. Hence the need of a deity as the opener, or a god who is the door and the way on grounds as tangible as those of the door in the mythology of Amenta. (The Book of Hades, Records of the Past, vol. X, p. 81.) When the god comes to illuminate the valley of darkness the doors open one after the other and he enters with his followers—those who were equipped or, as the legend of the Ten Virgins has it, whose lamps were already trimmed. The door then closes, “and they who are left behind in their porch cry out when they hear it shut.” Thus we attain a natural origin for the mythos, the eschatology, and the folk-tales told concerning the hidden door that was sometimes represented by a revolving stone, and the secret password or “Open sesame!” that was communicated to the initiates in the mysteries. If properly equipped, the Osiris is in possession of the magical words of power that secure the opening of every gate, including this hidden entrance to Amenta. These words he carries in his hand, in death, as his papyrus roll; or, better still, he knows them by heart, and has made them truth in his own life and death. He exclaims, “I am accoutred and equipped with thy words of power, O Ra,” the god, that is, who says of himself, “I am he who closeth and he who openeth, and I am but one” (Rit., ch. 17, Renouf).