As previously said, the Babylonian accounts of the so-called creation did not begin as cosmogonical. They are legends of the first time, when as yet the heavens were not mapped out to illustrate the mythology. There were no types yet constellated in the firmament. The glorious dwelling of the gods was not yet built. The abyss was not yet formed; the waters were not yet gathered into one place. They were universal. The whole of the lands were sea, or the celestial water of the Nun. There was no stream or Via Lactea limned in the aërial vast. The upper region was not yet called heaven; the lower region was not yet called earth. Then the dwellings were constructed (in heaven) for the great gods. Constellations were fixed up whose figures were like animals. One of the figures constellated is that of the Great Mother, Tiamat. As it is said in the Assyrian story, “Then the Lord measured the offspring of the deep (Tiamat); the chief prophet made of her image the house of the firmament.” So in the Egyptian mythos the house of the firmament had been made in the image of Nut, the cow of heaven, or previously of Apt, the water-cow. In the Egyptian documents creation generally is attributed to Ptah, the first form of the god who was lord of all; one of whose zootypes was the beetle, as a figure of the former or the moulder of matter, which preceded the anthropomorphic image of the potter. Kheper was a title of Ptah as the former. The Egyptian word Kheper signifies formation, causing to assume a shape, as when the potter moulds his clay or the beetle rolls its eggs up in a ball of earth. Ptah is portrayed as a beetle in the matrix of matter shaping the product. At this stage the seven elemental forces enter his service as the moulders who are called his seven assistants or associate-gods, the Ali=Elohim. In one of the hymns it is said to Ptah, as Tanen, “There was given to thee a power over the things of earth that were in a state of inertness, and thou didst gather them together after thou didst exist in thy form of
Ta-tanen, in becoming the uniter of the double earth, which thy word of mouth begot and which thy hands have fashioned.” This was in making the lower earth of the Nun as the ground floor of Amenta, when the command to “let the earth come into being” was uttered by the God. It is also said, “When the heaven and earth were not as yet created, and when the waters had not yet come forth, thou didst knit together the earth; thou didst find thyself in the condition of the one who made his seat and who fashioned, or moulded, the two earths” (Budge, Gods of the Egyptians, vol. I, pp. 509-10) or who duplicated the earth.
In the Egyptian mythos Ptah was the great architect of the universe. But not the universe as a cosmological creation. The building, so to call it, was begun when the two pillars of the south and north were raised up by Sut and Horus, in that creation “of the first time” which is ascribed to Sut on the stele of the Sphinx, and in the creations that were indicated by the “upliftings of Shu” or the uniting of the double horizon by Har-Makhu. Various structures and structural alterations preceded the work of Ptah, the architect of the double earth and finisher of the building on a new foundation perfected for all eternity. Creation in the book of Genesis is described as an event, or a series of events, occurring once upon a time and once for all, whereas the genuine mythos represents the natural phenomena as constantly recurring. The earth was seen emerging every morning from the firmamental water, but not once for all. Darkness was seen rising up and coiling like some black reptile round about the earth at night, but not once for all. When Shu divided heaven and earth, or Nut from Seb at morning, this went on for ever: Nut descended on a visit to her lover every night. There was a first time to the uranographic representation of the myth as Egyptian, but not to the phenomena in external nature. In a sense there was no Horus or Orion in the heavens either figured or named until the type was constellated by the mystery-teachers, but the group of stars was always there ready to be called into being by name in what is termed “creation,” or the astronomical mythology. As Egyptian, then, the only creation of the heavens and the earth was mythical, not cosmological. It was uranographic formation, not the making of matter. But to show how the mythical creation was rendered cosmogonically we have only to take the title of Kheper-Ptah in his character of “Let-the-earth-be,” or let the hidden earth come into being. This in the Genesis becomes “Let the dry land appear (I, 9, 10), and the Elohim called the dry land earth.”
There is an Egyptian account of “creation” to be found in the Papyrus of Nes-Amsu (British Museum, No. 10, 188), which was written for a priest of Panopolis in the thirteenth year of “Alexander the son of Alexander,” or about B.C. 312. It is called “The Book of Knowing the Evolutions of Ra, and the Overthrowal of Apap.” It purports to contain the words that were spoken by Neb-er-ter, a title of Osiris, the entire or all-one-god, as lord over all. There are two versions of the legend. In the first the creator-god is Kheper-Ptah. In the second he is Osiris; the same legend being applied in two different cults, at Memphis and Abydos. In the second version Osiris-Neb-er-ter is the speaker as creator. He says, “I produced
myself from primeval matter. Osiris is my name. There existed no created things in this land.” A land is here described in which the plants and creeping things of earth had no existence. Neb-er-ter was alone by himself in that land, and there was no other being who worked with him in that land. This was in Tanen, the nether earth of Ptah. The beetle-headed Ptah was the Egyptian creator in his primary form, the so-called maker of the heaven and the earth, but in a creation that was not cosmogonical. These, then, are the words that were also spoken in the first version by Kheper-Ptah, who formed the earth of eternity and discreted the two earths in the making of Amenta, on his coming into existence, when, according to the current phraseology, neither heaven nor earth was yet extant, and when the soil of earth, the plants and creeping things of earth, had not yet been created in that land. Kheper-Ptah then found a co-worker in the goddess Mâ, the Egyptian Wisdom, whom the present writer had previously identified with the Hebrew Kochmah in “A Book of the Beginnings.” Working with Mâ denotes creation according to eternal law or undeviating rule.
Evidence for the non-cosmogonical nature of Kheper-Ptah’s creation may be gathered from the fact that the celestial bodies, sun, moon, and stars, were not among the things that were called into being by him. The sun as “the eye of Nu,” the Nun or firmament, and the primeval matter of the paut were pre-extant. Nor does either of the two versions mention the creation of birds, or beasts, or cattle. Moreover, a male-god who existed alone in the Nun as Kheper the begetter or father-god is impossible on the face of the inscription, because Nu the god of the celestial water was already extant in the character of a begetter. Kheper calls him “my father Nu,” and the solar orb is also called “the eye of Nu.” Besides which Kheper-Ptah was preceded by several dynasties of deities, lunar, stellar, or elemental. The Put-company of the nine gods was preceded by that of the eight; the eight by that of the seven Ali, or associates; the seven Uræus-divinities; the seven Khuti; and these by the mothers Apt, Neith, Tefnut, and the seven cows or Hathors.
The foundation of monotheism was laid when the various powers were combined in a single deity to be worshipped as the one true eternal spirit. These were primarily the Great Mother and her seven elemental powers. And when the goddess was superseded by the god Ptah, both sexes were included in the one Supreme Being who was now the Lord over all. It was the same with Osiris, as the pictures show. Asar was the mother and child (Hes-Ar) in one, and the perfect triune type was completed in God the father. There was no God the father without God the mother and God the child. In the mythological text from Memphis we read of Ptah in his divine forms. In one of these he is designated “Ptah of the earth.” “The Mother giving birth to Atum and his associate-gods” (line 14). Ptah of the earth was then “in the great resting-place” as the maker of Amenta. This was the place of that new creation and rearrangement of the things that were pre-extant before the time of Ptah the opener, and this one god who was latest is now considered to be the source of all the gods and goddesses who had preceded him. Ptah became the god who was born of his own becoming, or of his own self-
originating force, and who came into existence in the person of his own son—as a mode of representing the eternal manifesting in the sphere of time. According to the school of thought, the male had been substituted for the mother as the begetter in matter. Hence the beetle of Kheper in this phase of male-creator can be seen in the great French work on Egypt, a copy of which may be consulted in the British Museum. In these pictures, as in the legend of creation translated by Dr. Budge, the imagery shows with sufficient plainness how creative source was figured in the likeness of male nature. This has been rendered with all its naked crudity, but needs the gnosis for an explanation. By the gnosis here is meant that science of Egyptian symbolism which alone enables us to read the palimpsest of the past that was scribbled over and over again by the teachers of the ancient wisdom. For example, Kheper in the pictures is the male, as beetle, who emanes the matter of creation from his own body, as does the spider or the silkworm. In the later legend of Ra and Apap the anthropomorphic type replaced the beetle; Kheper has been imaged in the likeness of a masturbating male, and then the act has been attributed in reality to the black-skinned race (Budge, Gods of the Egyptians, vol. I, p. 304.) But as the beetle was a pre-anthropomorphic type of Kheper, we might ask if that also was a masturbating male, as the producer of matter from itself? So necessary is the gnosis of the primitive sign-language for the reading of these remains, to prevent debasement of the type and perversion of the meaning.
After coming into being himself Kheper-Ptah is called the creator of all things that came into being. And here, if anywhere, we may identify the Word that was in the beginning, and was God. For Kheper says he brought his name into his own mouth; he uttered it as the word that was in the beginning. Other things were spoken or called into being by the word of his mouth. Of these things he says, “I raised them up from out of the Nun (or Nu) and from a state of inertia.” He had found no place where he could stand. But he laid a foundation with Mâ, who, as we know, became the co-worker with Ptah the divine artificer. In version B. of the Egyptian document the creator, as Kheper, says, “I made what I made by means of divine soul; I worked with the spirit,” which is the action assigned to the Elohim, however differently stated. Soul, it is said in one of the texts, is “the breath of the gods” (Budge, Gods of the Egyptians, vol. I, ch. 8). Creation by means of the word was the work of Ptah in his character of “Let the earth exist.” Stated in modern language, he might be said to have called his creations into being by word of mouth in uttering the word to his co-workers. This word, as Egyptian, was the well-known Hekau or great magical word of power, which was female before it was assigned to the deity as male; the living word of Apt; the great magic power of Isis or of Mâ, before it was ascribed to Ptah in the monotheism of Memphis. Creation by the word is calling into being things which did not pre-exist or were not previously entified, figured, or known by name. In the Ritual the word of power becomes a ceremonial act, and, as a mode of sign-
language, to be said or uttered magically, is to be performed. Creation by the word is expressed in the character of Ptah by his title of “Let-the-earth-be.” This is the creation by fiat, or the word, in the book of Genesis, when the Elohim say, “Let there be light”—“Let there be a firmament”—“Let the dry land appear”—“Let the earth put forth grass”—“Let the earth bring forth”—“Let us make man in our image”—and it was so. The word and act were one. And this was the Kamite creation by the word that was in the beginning; the word of Kheper-Ptah, who said, “Let the earth come into existence”—that is, the lower of the two, called Amenta, the secret earth. This mode of calling and coming into being by means of the word explains how the god could issue forth from silence as a word, how created things or beings could be said to have emanated from the mouth of the god, and how the divine wisdom, whether as Mâ or Kochmah, could be said to come out of the mouth of the most high. It is known that the name was often held to be an equivalent for the thing, the act, or person, and in the text from Memphis the creation by Ptah is in a measure resolved into a process of naming. In this it is said, “Now the creation of all the gods (that is to say, of Atum and his associate-gods) was when proclamation was made of all the divine names in his wisdom”—the wisdom of Ptah. Thus things, in this case gods, or powers, were created when names were given to them. The principle is applied in the book of Genesis, when it is said that “out of the ground Iahu-Elohim formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field” (ch. II, 19-20). In these and other texts creation is reduced to a process of naming as a mode of representation, and in this way the uranographic mythology was founded on the figuring and naming of the constellations.
When the Supreme Being had been imaged or personified, the powers previously extant were represented as his offspring, his names, or members of his body. Hence the seven associate-gods, the Ali or Elohim, are now called the limbs, joints, the hands, the fingers, the lips, the teeth, the breath of the god, or, reversely stated, these parts of the one god become the associate gods, as a sevenfold emanation from Kheper-Ptah. “Now Ptah was satisfied after his making of all things, and conferring all the divine names. He formed the gods, he made the towns, he designed the nomes, he placed the gods in their shrines. He made their company flourish.” “All the limbs moved when he uttered the word of wisdom which came forth from the tongue and worked a blessing upon all things.” The word (lit. speech) became the making of men and the creation of gods for Ptah-Tatanen-Sepu.
“Let-the-earth-be” is one of the titles of Ptah as the god who calls the earth into existence. Which looks, at first sight, like a cosmographical creation. But the earth which was evolved by Ptah and his associate-gods, the Ali, Phœnician Elohim, is not this world, not our earth. If it were, it would not be the double earth, the earth that was duplicated in the making of Amenta. In the text from Memphis (line 6) it is said that “Ptah was satisfied after making all things, all the divine names.” He saw that it was good, and this
satisfaction of the creator in his work is repeated in the book of Genesis. Seven times over Elohim saw that the work was good, and like Ptah, or the Put-company of gods, he or they were satisfied. But the making of Amenta by Ptah and the great paut of gods or Ali was an actual creation of imagination, not a mere “calling” of things into existence by naming them. It was also the creation of an earth, but not of the earth on which we stand. It was known as Ta-nen, the earth in the Nun; also as the lower earth distinguished from the upper earth, to which it was added when the earth was duplicated as the work of Ptah and the associate-gods. The firmament of upper earth was raised aloft by Shu, when establishing the pole of Am Khemen. The firmament of the nether earth was lifted up by Ptah. This was celebrated as his suspension of the sky. But the lower firmament is the sky that was raised up by him in Amenta, the earth of eternity, not in the upper earth of time.
Thus, the creation of Amenta was not the commencement of the external universe, although another heaven and earth were then called into being. At first there was no heaven and no earth in this unformulated realm of desert darkness. Or, as the Hebrew version has it, “the earth was waste and void.” There was no light of day or lamp of night, as neither sun nor moon could pass that way until the earth was hollowed out and a sky suspended overhead by Ptah the opener and his Ali, or companions, who were afterwards repeated in the Elohim of the Hebrew Genesis. So in the enclosure of Yima there was at first no light of stars, or moon, or sun. This was the condition of primeval darkness in which the Elohim said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” The question being where and how? In the making of Amenta Ptah was the uplifter of the lower firmament, with which he roofed the under-world within the earth. This is recognized in the Ritual (ch. 64), when the speaker down in Amenta says, “Mine is the radiance in which Ptah floateth over his firmament”—that is, the light of this new heaven and earth, which were solely a creation of astronomical mythology. In another text we read, “Hail to thee, Ptah-Tanen. The heaven was yet uncreated, uncreated was the earth, the water flowed not; thou hast put together the earth, thou hast united thy limbs, thou hast reckoned thy members; what thou hast found apart, thou hast put into its place. O let us give glory to the god who hath raised up the sky, and who causeth his disk to float over the bosom of Nut, who hath made the gods and men and all their generations, who hath made all lands and countries, and the great sea, in his name of Let-the-earth-be” (cited by Renouf, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 222-3). This, being late, has the look of cosmology. But the sky raised up by Ptah was over the earth in Amenta; the sky that was imaged by the sign of heaven reversed. When Ra is being exalted above all previous gods in the glosses to the seventeenth chapter of the Ritual it is said that he had exercised his sovereignty as Unen the opener when there was as yet no firmament. That is before Ptah had created the firmament below the earth, which is called the “lower firmament” in the Babylonian legends of creation. This beginning with the raising of the firmament is alluded to in the name of the gate-keeper to the second hall in the House of Osiris, who is designated “Him who raised up or created
the beginning” (Rit., 147, 7). But, as before shown, there were two upliftings of the firmament, one above the earth and one below.
There is hieroglyphic evidence that the Egyptian creation of the earth by Ptah was not cosmical but a mode of hollowing out Amenta in the lower earth, and of tunnelling the mount to make a passage through. The sign for Ta, the earth, is a hollow tube, a pipe, a reed, or the tibia (leg-bone). Thus, a passage hollowed out is an ideograph of the earth that was formed by Ptah and his Knemmu, the moulders. It was the tunnel of Ptah with its gates of entrance and exit that first gave significance to the expression, “the ends of the earth.” The manes in the Ritual who has passed through exclaims, “I have come out of the Tuat: I am come from the ends of the earth” (ch. 75, 1). The opening of Amenta was a primitive mode of thinking through the ground of solid earth, as it stood in the waters of the Nun, and of making out a pathway for the sun or solar god to travel by in passing through from one horizon to the other. Thus, the making of Amenta was a work of imagination based upon a ground of natural fact. Before the earth was known to float and revolve in space, it was thought of as a fixture like a mountain or an island, a tree or a stalk of papyrus standing in the firmamental water. Then it was made out, as mythically rendered, that somehow the sun passed through the under-world of earth by night. This was portrayed in several ways. In one, a tortoise was the type. With Kheper-Ptah, the beetle was the burrower in and through the hidden earth. Ptah, as the divine worker, shaper, or creator in this subterranean world, was also imaged by an embryo-in-utero as way-maker in the womb of matter, or the earth. Fire was another solar type. Hence Ptah was the worker with that element, and his associate-gods became the blacksmiths and metallurgists, who blazed their way below from west to east through Tanen, earlier Tanun, termed the earth of Ptah. Then followed Ra in his primordial sovereignty as Atum, son of Ptah. He crosses (later) in the solar bark that sailed the Urnas water by night. But first of all he had to wriggle through the mud of the abyss in the likeness of an eel.
Before Amenta had been moulded by the Put-cycle of powers there was a secret and infertile earth conceived of in the Nun, where nothing grew and nought was cultivated, as no soil or sata had been yet prepared, and no light had then appeared. But this earth of eternity was not the world of human life, and consequently no human beings were created in Amenta. Atum, though a man in form, was not a human being. This will explain why neither man nor woman was created or formed by Kheper-Ptah, in the Book of Knowing the Evolutions of Ra. There was no man or woman in the genuine mythos. These only came into existence when the gods and manes had been euhemerized and creation was set forth as cosmogonical through literalization of the astronomical mythology and adulteration of the ancient wisdom.
It has been assumed by some Egyptologists that the two earths, or the double earth, were limited to the division of space into south and north by the passage of the sun from east to west. But in the making of Amenta the one earth was divided into upper and lower, with a firmament or sky to each, and thus the earth was duplicated;
hence the making of Amenta was the creation of a double earth or an earth that was doubled. An apt illustration of this double earth may be seen in the vignettes to the papyrus of Ani, where scenes in the upper-earth life are portrayed at the head of the page, with scenes in the life of Amenta underneath. Thus on pages 5 and 6 the funeral procession of Ani is to be seen wending its way to the sepulchre, carrying the laid-out mummy, whilst Ani as the manes is to be seen on his journey through the nether earth accompanied by Tutu, his wife in spirit-world.
The nether earth, when not yet excavated, was a world of solid darkness, because unvisited by sun or moon. When Amenta was hollowed out by Ptah it was for his son Atum, who is Ra at his first appearance in Amenta as the solar god, the first to pass through this realm of subterranean night. Naturally when the sun appeared “there was light,” and darkness with its host of evil powers fled, as related in the legendary lore. It is to this old netherland of darkness, with no outlet, that the goddess Ishtar descended in search of the water of life. It was a land without an exit, through which no passage had been made; from whose visitants, the dead, the light was shut out. “The light they behold not, in darkness they dwell.” “Dust is their bread; their food is mud.” Still the secret source of water, and thence of life, was hidden in that land. This was the world of the gnomes, the goblins, and other elemental sprites, which, as Egyptian, are summed up, under the serpent-type, as seven Uræus-powers born in the nether earth (Rit., ch. 83). As Babylonian they were the seven “spirits of earth,” or Anunnaki. The beginning in this region was with the abyss inside the earth from whence the water welled that was to be most sacredly preserved as very source itself. This subterranean realm had somewhat the character of a mine with the water welling upward from the unplumbed depths below. It was a mine of hidden treasure, one form of which was gold. But first of all the treasure was water, the primary element of life. Hence a fount of the water of life was localized in the well of this under-world which the Egyptians divinized as the Neter-Kar because it was the course of water and the way by which life came into the world. Here the spirits of earth, the powers of Khar, the Assyrian Anunnaki, were portrayed as watchers over the water of life and protectors of the hidden treasures underground. It was these spirits of earth that peopled our mines and became the jealous guardians of their metals. These were the elemental spirits, not the spirits of the dead who were worshipped as the human ancestors; the gods, not the glorified. It is distinctly stated in the great Harris papyrus (plate 44, lines 4 and 6) that Ptah the opener “formed the hollow of the under-world, so that the sun could pass through as revivifier of the dead; and that he also encircled the earth with the firmamental water on which the solar bark might ride all round.” The sun-god here was Atum in his eschatological character. Also, in a hymn to the earlier elemental powers found upon the walls of the temple in the oasis of El-Khargeh, it is said to Ptah, “Thou hast made the double earth. Thou hast placed thy throne in the life of the double earth. Thy soul is the fourfold pillar and the ark of the two heavens.” Ptah the excavator of the nether earth is now the builder of the ark in which the dead are borne