The light of the world


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Alfred Nutt points out the difference betwixt the Irish paradise in the hollow hill and their paradise that is over-sea. “In the hollow hill type (The Wooing of Etain) the wonderland is not figured as lying across the sea, but rather . . . . within the Síd or fairy hills. No special insistence is laid upon the immortality of its inhabitants,” nor is there any portion of this land in which the amorous women dwell alone, as in the elysium over sea. (Nutt, The Voyage of Bran. The Happy Otherworld, ch. 9.) This is exactly as it would be if derived from the Kamite original. The lower paradise of two is in the mount of earth, also called the funeral mount of Amenta. The departed are not born immortals in that land; immortality is conditional. They have to fight and strive and wrestle with the powers of evil to compass it. These, like the Irish manes dwelling in the Síd or hollow hill, were the “folk of the goddess,” who was Hathor in the mount; whereas the spirits made perfect in the upper paradise are more expressly children of the supreme god, who was Horus, or Ra, or Osiris, according to the cult. We can trace the voyagers on the water way to this upper paradise. When Horus, or Ra, and his companions have conquered Apap, the Sebau, and other monstrous progeny of darkness, the solar bark emerges from the under-world upon the horizon of the orient heaven, and enters the water of dawn which is designated the “lake of emerald.” The speaker says, “O ye gods in your divine cycles who travel round the lake of emerald, come and defend the great one who is in the shrine from which all the divine cycle proceedeth”—that is, the god on board the solar bark. So in the voyage of Maelduin, after passing the islands of monstrous animals, the giants and devourers, the companions come to a sea of green crystal sparkling in the sunlight, and so transparent that they could see the sand quite clearly at the bottom. In this water they saw neither monsters nor any ugly animals. In like manner the crystal water is described in the Ritual as having neither fishes nor snakes in it. (Rit., ch. 110; Voyage of Maelduin, ch. 22, Joyce.)

The “Isle of Truth” is a name of the divine land across the waters, “Whosoever set foot on it was unable to tell a lie.” A naif way of indicating its truth-compelling influence. Surely this must be the Egyptian Maat, the land of truth. In starting on his voyage over sea it is the desire of the speaker to “attain the region of Maat” (Rit., ch. 1), which may be the region of truth, law, or righteousness. The celestial bridge betwixt the two is described in the Voyage of Maelduin as a bridge of crystal leading to a palace (ch. 18, Joyce). It also appears in the form of a solid arch of water which spans the elysian island from side to side. Under this the travellers walked without ever getting wet. (ch. 25, Joyce.) This in heaven is the archway of the galaxy that was represented as the river overhead. It is related that when the voyagers came at last in sight of land it was a little island with a large palace on it. Around the palace was a wall white all over without stain or flaw, as if it had been carved out of one unbroken rock of chalk, and it was so lofty that it seemed almost to reach the clouds. “A number of fine houses, all snowy white, were ranged round the inside, enclosing a level court in the middle on which all the houses opened.” (Joyce, Old Celtic Romances, pp. 131-133.) This in the Egyptian is the city of the white wall of the

celestial Memphis that was seen in the northern heaven at the summit of the mount. The Osiris looking up to this, his journey’s end, exclaims “May Sekhet the divine one (consort of Ptah) uplift me so that I may arise in heaven and issue my behests in Memphis, the city of the white wall.” (Rit., ch. 26.)

The mount or rock of Anup, also called his cliff (Rit., ch. 31), survives as the rock or fortress of Manannan in the land of promise. One title of the Irish mount is “the hill of two wheels in the pleasant plain of the Land of Promise.” (Clidna Dinnshenchas, Nutt, Voyage of Bran, p. 197.) This promises to shed light on a crux in the Ritual. In the description of the mount and the two portions of Sut and Horus the sign ¢ is employed ambiguously. (See Book of the Dead, Renouf, pp. 193-199.) But if the halves of night and day were figured as two cycles or circles of time the reading would be perfected, and the mount of Hetep would also be the hill of two wheels in the pleasant plain. It is said in the Rig-Veda (ch. 3, p. 6), “the two adorable Krishnas successively revolve.” It is also said, “the dark day and the light day revolve alternate.” The table-land which is called the plain of joy, the great plain, is one with Hetep, the table of the mount, in the Kamite paradise. The bathing on the great table-land in the island of the amorous queen is particularly noticeable. All who reach that summit bathe. Cormac was bathed, “though there were none to bathe him.” This answers to the place of final baptism in the lake of propitiation and of equipoise, where souls are purified “in the most high degree” (Rit., ch. 97). The tree of food in the midst of the garden of Hetep grows the fruit on which the gods and the assembled multitude of the manes feed and live. This, as aforementioned, is repeated in the Tale of Teigue as a “thickly-spreading apple-tree bearing fruit and ripe blossom alike.” This tree is to “serve the congregation that is to be in the mansion.” It also bore a fruit for the gods and spirits. Beer is the divine drink of the beatified, not only in Amenta, but also in the upper paradise. Osiris in the mythical Memphis, Hat-Ptah-Ka, says “O thou God of nutriment, O Great One who presidest over the mansions on high, give me bread and beer” (Rit., ch. 106). And beer was supplied in overflowing abundance. In the Wooing of Etain, Mider the lover sings of beer as the divine drink in the earthly paradise. “Heady to you the ale of Erin, but headier is the ale of the Green Land.” “When thou comest, Woman, to my strong folk, fresh swine’s flesh and beer shall be given thee by me, O white-skinned Woman.” It is also said of this wonderland, “When it rains, ’tis beer that falls.” Now, the beer that rained in the Irish paradise is identical with that which came down from the Egyptian heaven.

Notwithstanding the difference betwixt the number of attendants on the amorous queen and the number of Hathors, the seven have been correctly preserved in their primitive shape and character as the seven cows in the Irish paradise, the same as in the meadows of the Egyptian Aarru. In the adventures of Cormac in Faëry, the old wife tells the true tale of her seven cows, the milk of which is plentiful enough to supply all the inhabitants of the land of promise with nutriment. These are the cows of the Elysian Fields in the Ritual who are called the seven cows, providers of plenty. They are por-

trayed along with the bull who is personified as the hero in the folktales (Papyrus of Ani., pl. 35; Rit., ch. 148), and are invoked by the spirit of the Osiris to give him food and drink and sustenance for ever. Thus the “Irish version of the happy otherworld” becomes a dim-eyed memory of the old Egyptian astronomical mythology and eschatology. And as it is in Ireland so was it in Babylonia, India, China, Greece, Britain, and other lands that were lighted by the rays of Egypt’s wisdom that went down as the sunset of an ancient world, and rose again unrecognized by name as dayspring of the new. And thus the nearness to nature in its tenderest traits, the nobility of manners, the serene placidity, to be found in the Welsh and Irish fragments of the antique lore, were not necessarily native to the soil, but may have belonged to the higher civilization that was elsewhere developed, as now we know it to have flourished in the valley of the Nile. Neither was the painted Pict or woad-stained Briton the source of all this gentilesse and chivalry imported in the mythos and replanted in the islands by the “men of peace.” Such characters as Arthur and his twelve knights were not the products of men who dwelt in caves and wore the skins of animals. His mother Arth was goddess of the Great Bear—she who was Ta-Urt, the oldest form of the Great Mother in the astronomical mythology of Egypt. And as the characters were imported in the mythology, so likewise were the traits of character, and therefore these would not be indigenous to the islands of the north.


Whatsoever shape was taken by the eternal dwelling-place on high, it was only attainable at the summit of the mount that reached up to the never-setting stars. And there is a consensus of widely-scattered evidence to show that the paradise of peace and plenty, of reunion and rejoicing, which is the object in view of “the Osiris” all through his journey outlined in the Ritual, is the upper paradise of a legend that is universal, the origin of which can be discovered in the astronomical mythology of Egypt. The general tradition is that this paradise was a primæval place of birth, and that it was in the north, upon the summit of a mount now inaccessible to the living anywhere on earth. This circumpolar paradise is known to the oldest races in the world as an initial starting-point for gods and men.

We have sought to trace an origin for the primitive paradise of this universal legend to the human birthplace on the mount of earth, or Apta, with the beginning in the time and the domain of Sut, which was commemorated as a secret of the Sphinx. This place of birth, as we suggest, was thus repeated as a place of rebirth by the Egyptian mystery-teachers in the astronomical mythology, from which the universal legend spread around the world.

The Namoi, Barwan, and other tribes on the Darling River, in Australia, point out a paradise up the Milky Way to which the spirits of the righteous are welcomed by Baiame, who corresponds to the Kamite god of the polar paradise. He is called “the great master”
and is the maker. It is he who sends the rain; and it was he who initiated the black-fellows into their mysteries (Brough Smyth, vol. II, p. 285). The aborigines of New Holland describe the dwelling-place of “Bayma” as a paradise to the north-east in a beautiful heaven. His throne is a crystal mountain of vast magnitude, the base of which is fixed in the great water, and its stupendous summit rises to the stars. In addition to this upper paradise upon the mount they also have an earthly paradise below. Moodgeegally, the first man, who lives in this nether paradise, is alone immortal; the same as human Horus in the lower paradise of Amenta. He has the power and privilege of visiting the upper heaven of Ballima, which is a three days journey from the happy land below. He climbs up to the heaven north-east by a lofty and precipitous mountain covered with beautiful trees. His ascent on foot is made easier by a path winding round the mountain which he ascends. A ladder or flight of steps erected at top of this mountain, leads up to heaven itself. Ballima, where the sun shines by night beneath our earth, is the Egyptian Hades. The exceeding high mountain is the mount of Amenta, and the great water out of which it rises with the steps up to heaven is the Egyptian Nun. But neither the aborigines of New Holland, nor the missionaries, nor Mr. Manning knew anything of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or of the Nun, or the mount of Amenta, or the Aarru-fields, the double paradise, or the steps that led up to the solar boat. Yet these and other features of the Kamite mythos are all identifiable in the version here recovered from the aborigines of New Holland. (Notes on the Aborigines of New Holland made by James Manning in 1844-5. Copy presented by the author.)

The mount of the gods and the glorified is common in Africa, where, as we hold, the foundations of Egyptian mythology were laid; and there, as in other lands, it is a point of departure in the beginning for the race. Duff Macdonald says of the Yao tribes: “Some distinctly localize Mtanga as the god of Mangochi, the great hill that the Yao people left. I regret much that I did not see this hill before leaving Africa, as I have heard so much of it. To these people it is all that the many-ridged Olympus was to the Greek. The voice of Mtanga, some hold, is still audible on Mangochi. Others say that Mtanga never was a man, and that Mtanga is another word for Mulungu (god or spirit). He was concerned in the first introduction of men into the world, and he is intimately associated with a year of plenty.” Thus we find the main features of the mythical mount extant in Inner Africa, which culminated in Mount Hetep as Egyptian. It is the seat of the gods and the glorified. It is the primæval birthplace. It is the land of promise, of peace and rest, of water and eternal plenty, the scene of the Golden Age. It is the primitive paradise of the aborigines (Africana, I, 71). The god whose seat or station was the pole is the power that gives the water of heaven to our world. Anup in Egypt is the master of the inundation (Rit., ch. 97). The pole was imaged by the mount, the cone, the round hillock, the artificial mound. Now the Gold Coast Africans worship a deity or nature-power named Bobowissi, whose seat or stool is the conical hill near Winnebah known as the Devil’s Hill, a title given by the Portuguese. He is the maker and sender of rain, which

descends in a devastating deluge when he is provoked to anger by those who break his law. Bobowissi also appoints the local deities, even as Anup assigned their places to the seven on the opening day of creation in the Egyptian solar mythos (Rit., ch. 17; Ellis, The Tshi-speaking People, p. 22).

The heaven of the western Inoits, in which good spirits dwell, is a paradise above the firmament. This revolves about a mountain of prodigious magnitude and majesty, a Meru that is situated in the remotest part of the polar regions. Here, as in the Egyptian circumpolar paradise, the spirits whose innate excellence has been proved by an extraordinary activity for good go to mingle with the never-setting stars. Various other features of this heaven are Egyptian. Mount Hetep as the land that is blest with water and the breezes of the north is an African, but not an Esquimaux, ideal. The god, as Num, is the breath of those who are in the firmament. The Inoit supreme being Torngarsuk, the Great Spirit, is the “lord of the breezes.” Still more remarkable is the fact that the souls of the Inoit are drawn from an atmospheric reservoir of soul, to which in death the spirits of the just return. This is identical with the Egyptian lake of Sa, one of the two lakes in the polar paradise, which is the source of spirit-life and of life to the gods and the glorified. They also have the earthly and celestial paradise, one at the root of the mount, the other at the summit; the same as the Egyptian Aarru in Amenta below, and Aarru in the polar paradise of the northern heaven (Réclus, Primitive Folk, Eng. trans., p. 106). This upper world of the Esquimaux, says Dr. Rink, may be considered identical with the mountain about the summit of which the vaulted sky for ever circled round. This is the celestial mountain as a figure of the pole. It was their mount of glory lighted with the aurora borealis.

The Egyptian Ta-Nuter or divine land of the gods is usually described as being in the Orient. But there was also a Ta-Nuter Meh-ti, which is rendered by Brugsch, “das nördliche Gottesland” (Brugsch, Astron. and Astrol. Inscript., p. 179). This was the land of the gods in the north—that is, the polar paradise in heaven, not an elevated part of our earth. The breeze of the north was the breath of life to the Egyptians. It is synonymous with blessedness. The paradise of Hetep is the garden blessed with breezes. The breeze of the north, however, would not represent heaven to the dwellers in the northern quarter of the world. But the paradise was figured in the north originally, and there it remained in every land to which the wisdom of Old Egypt went. This will explain the paradise of Airyana Vaêjô described in the Avesta. Ahura-Mazda tells Zarathustra that he has created a delectable spot which was previously unapproachable or nowhere habitable. But in this first of regions and best of countries there was winter during ten months of the year. “Ten months of winter are there, two of summer, and these (latter) are cold as to water, cold as to earth, cold as to plants; then as the snow falls around there is the direst disaster” (Vendidad, Fargard I). The good god made the good creation, and Angro-Mainyus, the dark and deadly, is said to have formed a mighty serpent and brought on the frost that was created by the Dævas, who correspond to the Sebau in the Ritual as agents of evil in physical phenomena. It is also said in

the Minokhird (p. 322, ff.) the Dev of winter is most vehement in Airyana Vaêjô. Which does not mean that the primal paradise was created at the northern pole of the earth, to be overtaken by the glacial period. The true interpretation is that the legendary paradise was astronomical, and that it was an enclosure at the north celestial pole, and not in the northern regions of the earth. In the Vendidad version it has been made geographical and rendered according to climate in some northern region of the earth; the evils of a winter world being then attributed to the devil, or the opposition of the black mind, Angro-Mainyus. There was no frost or winter in the circumpolar paradise, nor in the African birthplace of the legend in the oasis, whereas frost and winter were both met with in the highlands of the north, whether in Asia or in Europe, and this leads to a paradise in which there are ten months of bitter winter weather, which is the result of rendering the celestial by the terrestrial north. In a supplement to the first Fargard of the Vendidad the time has been changed to suit a milder climate: “Seven months of summer are there; five months of winter were there,” which is in direct contradiction to the original text, and also opposed to the prototypal paradise with the life-giving breeze of the north in Africa, but is suitable to a milder climate, although one that is still in the cold north. The Chinese paradise, like the Egyptian, is at the north pole, the apex of the celestial mount. The summit is the seat of the gods. Heaven divided into the ten regions of space is identical with the Kamite heaven at the summit of Mount Hetep, that was divided into ten divine domains (Rit., ch. 110) which followed the celestial Heptanomis and the enclosure of Am-Khemen, and preceded the zodiac with twelve signs. In no country is the mount of the north more sacred than in China. For thousands of years the Chinese emperors have ascended the holy mountain T’ai to offer sacrifice to heaven. This mount is designated “Lord of the World.” To the north there is nothing but hills upon hills. It has 6,000 steps of hewn stone, each fifteen feet in length, leading upward like a staircase to the skies, exactly the same as the throne of Osiris, who “sits at the head of the staircase.”

The pole-star determined the one visible fixed centre of the starry universe, and the name of the Ainu as Ai-no-Ko is said to signify the “offspring of the centre.” That centre was the circumpolar paradise. The Japanese god of the pole-star, Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-Kami, is likewise “the lord of the centre of heaven.” The tradition of the Ainu is that they came from the northern summit of the world. So high and inaccessible are those lofty tablelands that none of the living can attain them now. But the ancestral spirits go back to them after death. This, of course, identifies the circumpolar paradise of all the legends that had but one and the same origin—in the astronomical mythology. The region is identified still further by the bears. The ancestors of the Ainu are said to have married the bears of the mountains in this high homeland of the north (Griffis, The Mikado’s Empire, pp. 27-29). We have the bears to-day, seven in the lesser and seven in the larger constellation, still revolving round the stellar mount of glory.

The Koreans possess the same tradition of the human birthplace in the circumpolar paradise. Their first man, as ruler of Korea,
descended from the great white mountain Tê Pek San. This also was the point of migration or beginning for the race, as it is in various other versions of the primeval tradition (Lowell, Percival, Choison, p. 209). The Badagas say that in the north arises Mount Kaylasa, their Meru. In the north infinity opens on the kingdom of the shades. If four men be dispatched to the four cardinal points, three will return, but never will he who has walked beneath the rays of the polar star. He makes the ascent of the north, which is not a quarter, but the summit to a mountain, as in Egypt. All that is great and powerful comes from the north. The mother of the cow-goddesses dwelt on the Amnor, and the ancestors of the Badagas followed the cow. They came from the paradise of the north. Between the invisible mountains of Kaylasa and Kanagiri flows the dread river that divides the world of the living from the world of the dead. That is the celestial water, the river of souls, which runs betwixt Mount Manu and Mount Hetep on the Egyptian map of heaven. This is not the north of the geographers. At the top of Mount Kaylasa is the palace of souls, the home of the blessed, in which their efforts are crowned with final success. This palace of souls answers to the royal palace referred to in the Ritual, where the speaker says, “I have made my way into the royal palace, and it was the bird-fly (or Abait) who brought me hither” (Rit., ch. 76, Renouf).

Montezuma the elder, in repeating an ancient tradition to Cortez, said, “Our fathers dwelt in that happy and prosperous place which they called Atzlan (a word that signifies whiteness). In this place there is a great mountain in the middle of the water which is called Culhuacan, because it has the peak turned somewhat over toward the bottom; and for this cause it is called Culhuacan, which means ‘crooked mountain.’” The rest of the description of this delightful country shows that it was the circumpolar paradise upon the summit of the mount. And when it is identified with the mount of Hetep we may surmise that it became the mountain with its apex leaning over because it imaged the pole; so that when the pole-star changed, the bent posture of the summit would become the curved figure by which Culhuacan was portrayed. In an Assyrian prayer this celestial mount is called the silver mountain. It is said, “Grant ye to the king, my lord, who has given such gifts to his gods, that he may attain to grey hairs and old age! And after the life of these days, in the feasts of the silver mountain (at the white summit of the pole), the heavenly courts, the abode of blessedness; and in the light of the happy fields may he dwell and live a life eternal, in the presence of the gods” (Records, vol. III, pp. 133-4). Gwynnwesi, the blissful white abode of the Welsh, is another form of the paradise on the summit of the celestial mount in the north, which answers to the white mountain of the Koreans, the city of the white wall, the peak of pearl, and the Assyrian land of the silver sky. Another form is Gwasgwyn, the white mansion, which is the happy abode of the beatified dead. The imagery survives in the legends of Merlin, where we meet with the glass house, the bower of crystal; the tower without any wall, or without any “closure”; the transparent prison that was aerial as “a smoke of mist in the air.” Also the typical tree appears as a noble whitethorn, all in bloom—a figure, as we take it, of the starry pole.

When Merlin died he is said to have taken with him the thirteen treasures of Britain, as he passed into the house of glass (Guest, Mab., II, p. 354). The ancient British Avalon was represented as an island in the north on which the “Loadstone Castle” stood. This identifies the island with the celestial mount and the magnetic pole of the north. Another local figure of the same significance is the Monte Calamitico, a magnetic mountain in the sea to the north of Greenland (Humboldt, Cosmos, vol. II, p. 659, Bohn’s Ed.) In the Apocalypse of Zosimas the Hermit there is a description of the paradise in which the blessed dwell. The seer was conveyed across the water that divides our earth from heaven by means of two trees which bent down and lifted him over in their arms (James, The Revelation of Peter, p. 69). The two trees are Egyptian, but as usual in Christian documents, the miracle has been added. “Lo, I come,” says the seer in the Ritual. “Let me plunge into the divine pool beneath the two divine sycamores of heaven and earth,” when he is about to ascend that “most conspicuous but inaccessible stream,” the Milky Way (chs. 97, 98).

One ideograph of Hetep, the mount of glory, is a table heaped with provisions as the sign of plenty. In the mythical rendering it is a table-mountain. This will explain the round table of King Arthur and that table of the sun which was said to exist among the Ethiopians as described by Herodotus. “There is a meadow in the suburbs,” he says, furnished with the cooked flesh of all sorts of quadrupeds. It is filled with meat at night, “and in the day time whosoever chooses comes and feasts upon it. The inhabitants say that the earth itself from time to time produces these things.” Such is the description given of what is called the table of the sun. (Book III, 17, 18.) This table of the sun is referred to in the Ritual (rubric to chs. 1 and 72). If the deceased has kept the commandments, it is said that there shall be given to him bread and beer and flesh upon the table of Ra—that is, the table of the solar god, which was the table-land upon the summit of Mount Hetep, the mount of peace and plenty, where the followers of Horus as the spirits of the just made perfect gathered together at the table of the Lord for their eternal feast. When the beatified spirit attains the meadow of Aarru and the “table of the sun,” he says, “I rest at the table of my father Osiris” (Rit., ch. 70). The deceased asks that he may be made strong with the “thousands of loaves, beer, beef and fowl, and the flesh of the oxen and various kinds of birds upon the table of his father” (ch. 69). Thus, as the Egyptian Ritual of the Resurrection shows, “the Lord’s table” was an institution in the Osirian mysteries which did not wait to be founded at the beginning of the present era. It has, of course, been remarked that the fellowship of Jesus with the twelve in the Gospels is a table-fellowship, and that he uses the image of a supper to symbolize the meeting in his father’s kingdom. The gorging in a paradise of plenty described by later legends is indicated in the Pyramid Texts (Pepi I, 432; Merira, 618). When the deceased is on his way to the mount of glory, he is borne to a region where he is filled with food by being fed from evening until daybreak, and then he is said to seize upon the god Hu, the god of aliment, of corn, of food—in short, the

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