The light of the world


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across the waters of Amenta to the other world. The speaker in this character (Rit., ch. I) says, “I am the arch-craftsman on the day in which the ship of Sekari, or the coffined one (whether as Ptah or Osiris), is laid upon the stocks.” This was represented in a ceremony at Memphis, where the coffin, ark, or shrine of the god was placed upon a sledge and drawn in a procession round and round the great sanctuary when the drama of the resurrection was performed.

It was as the maker of Amenta that Ptah became the architect of the universe. When completed, the Egyptian universe consisted of heaven, earth, and the under-world, but it was not finished until he had formed the under-world or made the nether earth and heaven. Then Ptah, as the maker of Amenta, was called the architect of the universe. The tat-symbol, which was erected in Amenta as a type of eternal stability, was the backbone of Ptah as a figure of the god who was now the vertebral column and sustaining power, under, as well as over, all. The tat was also duplicated to form the gateway of eternity in the region of Tattu, when the double tats took the place of the two pillars of Sut and Horus in the house of Ptah. Ptah is described as the former of the egg of the sun and the moon. He is depicted in one of the representations, at Philæ, sitting at the potter’s wheel in the act of giving shape to an egg (Rosellini, Mon. del Culto, 21). But this is not to be taken literally. The representation is symbolical. Ptah was the creator of the circle in which the sun and moon revolved, when the passage through the under-world was finished; and the egg is a hieroglyphic sign of the circle, which circle was also a figure of the eternal pathway. This solar pathway made by Ptah reminds one of Vaughan’s magnificent image:

“I saw eternity the other night,

Like a vast ring of pure and endless light.”

Now, no Egyptologist whose work is known to the present writer has ever discriminated betwixt the “making of Amenta” and the cosmological creation in the Hebrew book of Genesis, which is a chief object of the present section. In his work on The Dawn of Civilization (Eng. tr., pp. 16-19) M. Maspero has given a version of what he supposes the Egyptians thought of the earth. He tells us “they imagined the whole universe to be a large box, nearly rectangular in form, whose greatest diameter was from south to north, and its least from east to west. The earth with its alternate continents and seas formed the bottom of the box; it was a narrow, oblong, and slightly concave floor, with Egypt in its centre.” M. Maspero’s oblong box, which is longest from the south to the north, is just a figure of the Nile valley, reproduced in the nether earth of Amenta as a mythical locality, not as a picture of the universe. He has taken the cover off Amenta and exposed its depths to the stars of heaven, as if it were the cavity of an immeasurable crater, and has left no ceiling to the lower earth, no nether sky of Nut for the sun to traverse when it was day in the under-world; consequently he has failed to reproduce the double earth that was the creation of Ptah and his co-workers.

The creation of Amenta by Ptah the opener was the cutting, carving, and hollowing out of the earth as tunnel for the heavenly bodies and the manes, which were now to make the passage through


instead of round the mount. This for the first time renders the fundamental meaning of the Hebrew Bara (a r B) to create, as when it is said (Gen. I. 1) that the Elohim created the heaven and the earth. Bara, applied to the creation of the world by the Elohim, signifies to cut, carve, fashion, and, in the form of Bari, to divide. The Elohim are the Ali or companions who, as the Knemmu or moulders with Ptah the opener, were the cutters, carvers, or potters, as fashioners of Amenta in the work of dividing the upper from the lower earth. The divine creation of the world resolves itself into the creation attributed to Ptah the opener and his co-workers the Ali, who divided the earth into upper and lower, and thus created, shaped, or moulded a nether world as the secret earth of eternity, the next world made tangible for foothold in spirit life. There was no use for one firmament above and one below until the double earth was created by the opener Ptah, and it was in the making of Amenta that the firmament was duplicated.

It was on account of this new arrangement when the double earth was formed or the house of the two earths was built by Ptah that the fresh treaty was made by Seb betwixt the two opponents Sut and Horus. Seb, as arbitrator, calls on Sut and Horus to come from where they were born in the south and north, their original stations, to the mountain in the middle of the earth, which joined the portion of Sut to the portion of Horus in the equinox. This was the solar mount in Annu or Heliopolis. “The two earths meet in Annu, for it is the march or border-land of the two earths.” Peace was there proclaimed betwixt the warring twins. “This union is in the house of Ptah”; “the house of his two earths” in which is the boundary of south and north, and also the meeting-point of the two earths, lower and upper, as well as the junction of the domains of the north and south in the earlier division of the whole. When Amenta was made out the east and west were added to the south and north, and the heaven of four quarters was thus established on the solstices and equinoxes as the house of Ptah. The two earths are the upper earth of Seb and the lower earth of Ptah-Tatanen, lord of eternity. “Now Seb gave the inheritance (of his earth) to Horus.” “So Horus became the chief of the land,” which henceforth consisted of the two earths. Horus wears the double diadem as ruler of the double earth. He is now called “the traverser of the two earths,” and is no longer merely the uniter of both horizons. In the preface to the inscription from Memphis he is hailed thus, “Live Horus, the traverser of the two earths; the conquering Horus, the traverser of the two earths” (Stele of Shabaka). On this the English translators of the text remark, “We are not aware that this epithet occurs elsewhere than in the titles of Shabaka.” It could only apply to the solar god who shone upon the earth of time by day and on the earth of eternity in Amenta by night. The title was dependent on the creation of the twofold earth by Ptah. Broken as is the inscription, it is evident that the Osirian mythos has been tacked on partially to an earlier version relating to Ptah, his son Atum-Horus, and the Ali or associate gods of the Put-cycle. Thus Horus, the son of Osiris, takes the place of Atum-Horus, the son of Ptah, who was the earliest traverser of the two earths.

Amenta was not entirely “the happy other-world”; it was a world of various states and many parts. These included an upper and lower Egypt, the seven nomes of the Heptanomis, also the fourteen domains that were based upon the lower half of the lunar circle, and the fifteen domains that belonged to the solar reckoning (Rit., ch. 142). The inferno, the purgatory, and the paradise of Dante Alighieri are extant recognizably in the Book of the Dead as domains of Amenta. The manes had to go through the purgatory and pass by, if not through, the hells before they came to the outlet from the mount of earth in Amenta. This outlet was to the east; and here the Aarru field was planted to produce the harvest of eternity. In this field, which the garden followed as a type of tillage, stood the sycamore-tree of wisdom. We also meet with the two sycamores of the north and south that correspond to the tree of knowledge and the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. The tree of dawn was figured rising up above the horizon of earth with its rootage in the secret earth of Amenta. Here also rose the mount of rebirth, and either by climbing the mount or the tree in the wake of the sun-god the manes made their ascent to the upper paradise of Aarru in the fields of heaven. When Horus, or Iu, the Egyptian Jesus, came up from Amenta for his manifestation in the vernal equinox, it was from the terrestrial paradise of the lower Aarru.

If we would get a glimpse of the old lost earthly paradise we must descend in thought with the sun or manes in the west and traverse the subterranean passage to the east. There we emerge in the Aarru-fields to find ourselves in the Eden of Egypt glorified as the nether land of dawn. The great tree that towers evergreen above the horizon has its rootage here, and underneath this tree the blessed find rest and drink of the divine life-giving liquor which was afterwards called the homa, the soma, nepenthe, nectar, or other name for the drink which made immortal. In the mythology it was Hathor the goddess of dawn who gave the dew of the tree for drink and the fruit of the tree for food; which tree in Egypt was the sycamore fig. In the eschatology it is the heaven-mother Nut who pours out the liquid of life from the tree. The evidence for the Egyptian origin is fourfold. First, the green dawn is African, without parallel. Next, the tree is the sycamore fig, the tree of knowledge and of life in one. Thirdly, the imagery belongs to the mythical representation of the beginning; and lastly, it is repeated for a religious purpose in the eschatology. It is a common charge brought against the paradise of theology that it does not provide for progress and development in the life hereafter. But the Egyptian paradise in Amenta was not a place of unchanging bliss considered to be a kind of unearned increment. For them the world to come in Amenta was what they made it here. And the world to be in the upper paradise was what they made it by hard labour and by purification in Amenta. The sub-terrestrial paradise was mapped out for the manes to work in and work out their salvation from the ills of the flesh and blemishes of the life on earth. This was the promised land depicted at the end of the journey through the nether-world, whether as a garden, a vineyard, a harvest-field, or a table-mountain piled with food and drink. Every purpose of the primitive paradise had been summed up in the

promise of everlasting plenty, but in the Egyptian Aarru the plenty was the reward of industry. This was the field of divine harvest, no mere pleasure ground, where abundance was the result of toil. The soil was apportioned by the Lord of Eternity, and each one had to cultivate his share, no one lived upon another’s labour (164, 13). Indeed, the allotment in this life was cultivated magically whilst the workers were yet upon the upper earth. The Egyptians had outgrown the African custom of killing slaves for the purpose of sending their spirits as avant courriers to prepare the way for the potentate in spirit-world, but the modus operandi was symbolically practised.

Amenta may be said to open with the funeral valley in the west, and to end with the mount of resurrection in the east. In the Osirian mythos when the sun god enters the under-world it is as the mummy or the “coffined one” upon his way to the great resting-place.

Except when lighted by the sun of night. Amenta was a land of darkness and a valley of the shadow of death. It remained thus, as it was at first, to those who could not escape from the custody of Seb, the god of earth, “the great annihilator who resideth in the valley” (Rit., ch. 19). The resurrection in this nether region was the issuing forth to day which followed the burial on earth.

As it comes to us, the Ritual is comparatively late. The pre-Osirian mythos–solar, lunar, and stellar–is obscured by the Osirian eschatology. It lives on, however, in the Litanies and other fragments, which show that Atum-Horus, the son of Ptah, was the earliest representative of the nocturnal sun that made the passage of Amenta and rose again upon the horizon of the resurrection as the master, and, as was also said, the maker of eternity, by perfecting the circle through and round the double earth. Amenta, in the solar mythos, was looked on as the graveyard of the buried sun that died or became inert upon his journey through the under world. In the eschatology it was also depicted as a sort of cemetery or burial-place. Hence the chapter of “introducing the mummy into the Tuat on the day of burial” (Naville, Todt., kap. 1 B)—not the earthly mummy, but the mummy of the dramatic mystery as a figure of the living personality. In the book of knowing that which is in Amenta there is a description of the sandy realm of Sekari and of those who are resting on their sand. This points to the sandy district as a primitive burial-place in which the bodies of the dead were first preserved from corruption and decay. Before the mummies could have been embalmed in Egypt, the dead were buried in the sand for preservation of the body; and the burial-place in a sandy district was repeated in Amenta as the sandy realm of Sekari, the silent or the coffined one, who was Ptah-Sekari in the pre-Osirian religion.

It is the creation of Amenta, then, not of the universe, that is the subject of the mythos which was made cosmical in the Hebrew book of Genesis. The speaker is the god who came into being in the form of Kheper the creator or maker of all things that came into existence after he came into being. He was in Ta-nen, the earth of the Nun, the abyss within the upper earth. This was a land of darkness, the place where nothing grew, a type of which was preserved in the region of Anrutef. In this land there was no heaven, no sun or moon overhead, nor earth beneath the feet. Or, as the text has it, there was
nothing to stand on. And as there was no earth, there were no plants nor creeping things of earth. No created things yet existed in this land, this lower earth that was waste and void; and there was only darkness on the face of the deep. There was nothing but the primeval matter for Kheper-Ptah and his assistants to mould into shape for the making of the secondary earth in Amenta. Whilst the under-world was yet the primordial abyss, it was the void of Apap, the dwelling-place of the things of darkness; but now it was the work of Atum as the master of Amenta to make war on Apap; to protect the tree or plants and the water of life; to bruise the serpent’s head or slay the dragon of drought and the destroyer of vegetation.

Now according to a very ancient myth, there had been war in heaven from the time when the slayer of the dragon was female, and the Great Mother protected her child from the devouring reptile of the dark with her arrow or lance of light in the moon. This is seen when Isis pierces the head of Apap in the firmamental water. Also when Hemt-Nu, the lady of heaven, lightens up the firmament by overthrowing the devouring monster of the dark (Rit., ch. 80). The two opponents Sut and Horus also fought their battle in heaven when an eclipse befell the moon, and when Sut flung his filth upon the face of Horus, and Horus seized the genitals of Sut with his own fingers to emasculate himself (Rit., ch. 17). But when Amenta was formed the scene of strife was shifted to the new earth that was shaped by Ptah the divine artificer. As it is said in the Book of the Dead (ch. 17), when Amenta was created, and Ra assumed the sovereignty, Amenta also became “the scene of strife among the gods.” The speaker, who is Atum-Ra, says, “I am Ra at his first appearance. I am the great god self-produced. A scene of strife arose among the gods when I assumed command” (ch. 17). The great cause of strife in Amenta is depicted as the Apap-reptile, of whom it is said, “Eternal devourer is his name.” It is the serpent of darkness, the fiery dragon of drought, the destroyer of vegetable life. Night by night the evil reptile attacks the tree of life in the midst of the garden, as shown in the vignettes to the Ritual. This, in the eschatology, is the adversary of Osiris and the enemy of souls. The nocturnal sun as seer in the darkness of Amenta is depicted as the great cat in conflict with the evil serpent. Ra says, “I am the great cat who frequenteth the persea-tree (of life) in Annu, on the night of battle when the defeat of the Sebau is effected and the adversaries of the inviolate god (Osiris) are exterminated.” On the night of conflict occurs the defeat of the children of failure. And it is added, “There was conflict in the whole universe, in heaven and upon the earth.” The conflict betwixt Ra and the Apap is identified as being fought for the water as well as for the light; the mortal enemy of man being drought as well as darkness. The strife in heaven, earth, and Amenta was the raison d’être of his coming who is called the prince of peace, and, who, as Iu-em-hetep, is the bringer of peace because he came to stop the war that was elemental, not tribal or racial, but the war of darkness against light, the war of drought against water, the war of famine against fertility, or, as mythically rendered, the war of Apap against Ra, the Sebau against Un-Nefer, Sut against Horus, or the serpent against the seed of the woman. The types had been evolved in the

mythology which were continued in theology. Horus of the inundation had come as the prince of peace who slew the dragon of drought; as the young solar god he pierced the serpent of darkness. As prince of peace he passed into the eschatology. This is he who in his incarnation says, “I am the lord on high, and I descend to the earth of Seb that I may put a stop to evil. I come that I may overthrow my adversaries upon the earth, though my dead body may be buried” (Rit., ch. 85). Iu-em-hetep, as is indicated by the name, comes to bring peace and goodwill to earth as conqueror of drought, and dearth, and darkness. He grapples with the dragon in the constellation Hydra, and vanquishes it with the water of the inundation. He bruises the serpent of darkness as “Ophiucus”; he wrestles with the evil Sut and overcomes him in the constellation of the Twins.

The first chapter of the Book of the Dead was repeated on the day when the Osiris N. was buried. His entrance into the under-world as a manes corresponds to that of Osiris the mummy of Amenta, who represents the inert or breathless god, and who also enters the place of burial called the Kâsu. In the absence of the sun there would be nought but darkness visible, in this the land of the dead, but for the presence of Taht the moon-god. In this character the manes greets Osiris, saying, “O bull of Amenta, it is Taht the everlasting king who is here!”—as the night-light of the sufferer dying in the dark. “I am the great god in the bark who have fought for thee”—that is, against Apap and all the powers of evil. Apuat is also present to uplift and save the manes who might otherwise fall headlong into the lake of Putrata, where the monster lies in wait to devour its prey. (Rit., ch. 44.) It was as the moon in Amenta that Ra is said to have created Taht–a far older god–as a beautiful light to show the face of Apap, his evil enemy. But this was not the moon that was made and hung up in the Hebrew Genesis as a creation of four-and-twenty hours. Taht carried the lunar lamp called “the eye of Horus” in the darkness of the nether earth, to show the hidden lurking-place of the adversary. Thus, in the opening chapter of the Ritual the manes rises in Amenta after death on earth in the character of Taht the god who is the lunar light as representative of the supreme god in the dark of death and in the ways of darkness in the under-world, which means that the Osiris N. deceased enters the nether earth, in the likeness of Taht, to make war upon the dragon on behalf of the sun-god struggling with the monster coiling round him in the darkness of Amenta. In this way the war that is fought out in the night of the nether earth was dramatized in the Book of the Dead, where the souls of the deceased carry on the battle on behalf of the good Unnefer, whether as Horus or Osiris-Ra.

After the making of Amenta there followed a re-division of the earth betwixt the two contending twins, which, as herein maintained, was now the double earth of day and night, of Seb and Ptah, of time and eternity. The war that broke out in Amenta, when Atum took possession of this nether earth that was prepared for him by Ptah, includes the conflict of Ra and the Apap-reptile which is portrayed in the vignettes to the Ritual, and the battles of the twin-brothers Sut and Horus for possession of the Aarru-garden, the same that they had fought in external nature.
In a document translated by Chabas there is an account of the agreement between Horus and Sut. This is a calendar of lucky and unlucky days with mythological allusions. Under the date of Athyr 27th, it is said that Kamit, the cultivated land, was given to Horus as his domain; and the Tesherit, the red land or desert, was given to Sut as his domain (Papyrus Sallier, IV, Chabas, Le Calendrier des jours fastes). The black land of rich fertile loam, and the red land, or desert, thus divided were a form of the double earth as the upper and lower land which followed on the founding of Amenta; the division being no longer limited to south and north, or to the two halves of the lunation. The upper and lower crowns, white and red, were also brought to bear as symbols of the upper and lower earth. Hence we are told in this papyrus that on the 29th of Athyr the white crown was given to Horus and the red crown to Sut, as the rulers of the two territories here assigned to the two opponents warring for supremacy in the Egypt of Amenta. The red and white crowns had been previously given to Sut and Horus as the rulers of the south and north; Sut being Suten in the south, and Horus king of the north. But in the Sallier Papyrus a change is made in the disposition of the two crowns. The white crown was now given to Horus and the red crown to Sut, as the symbols of the upper and lower lands, the desert of Sut and the fertile land of Horus, or the wilderness of Anrutef and the paradise of plenty in the Sekhet-Aarru. In one of his battles with Sut, Horus, having got the better of him, takes possession of both the upper and lower land. He says, “I am Horus, the lord of Kamit (the black land) and the heir of Tesherit (the red land), which I have also seized. I who am the invincible one” (Rit., ch. 138). It is also said to Horus in “the crown of triumph” (Rit., ch. 19), “Thy father Seb hath decreed that thou shouldst be his heir. He hath decreed for thee the two earths, absolutely and without condition.” Horus thus becomes the ruler of the double earth and the wearer of the double diadem, who united the white and the red crown of the upper and lower earths, not merely as the two crowns of the north and south in the earlier mythos.

A new type of deity had been evolved in Atum-Horus, the son of Ptah. As solar god, he was the first that went both under and over in making the eternal round of night and day. “It is thou who hast created eternity,” is said to Atum-Ra, the divider and traverser of the double earth. This is the god “who goeth round in his orb, and giveth light to the whole circumference which the solar orb enlighteneth.” He who had been Horus of the two horizons and also Kheper the self-originating force was now the traverser and enlightener of the double earth with his rays (Rit., ch. 15). After being concealed from men by night he presents himself each day at dawn; his glories are too great to be told as he “arises out of the golden.” “The land of the gods, the colours of Puanta are seen in them, that men may form an estimate of that which is hidden from their faces” (ch. 15, Renouf). He divides the earths by his passage through. He lights up the Tuat with his glories and wakens the manes in their hidden abodes by shining into their sepulchres and coffins. He opens the Tuat and disposes of all its doors in the under-world. The Litany of Ra is described as being the book of the worship of Ra and the worship of

Tum, that is Atum-Ra, in Amenta. He is worshipped as the master of the hidden spheres who himself is invisible in darkness and who causes the principles (of life) to arise. He is the only one that unites the generative substances. His body is so great that it conceals his shape. He is born of his own becoming and manifests as his own son. In the adoration of Ra it is said to Atum as he entereth Amenta or “setteth in the land of life,” “All the gods of Amenta are in exultation at thy glory. They of the hidden abodes adore thee, and the great ones make offerings to thee, who have created for thee the soil or ground of earth.” That was in the making of the double earth, not in the making of the earth itself as a cosmogonical creation. In short, it was not earth-making, but the framing of the double earth, with Amenta as the pathway of eternity.

With the opening of Amenta, not only was a new world established in the double earth of Ptah—a new dynasty of deities was also founded. This was the Osirian group of five, consisting of Osiris, Isis and Nephthys, sightless Horus and Sut, who were called the children of Seb. Here, again, the twin opponents, Sut and Horus, were far older than Osiris, but were brought on with the great gods, the Great Mother, and the two sisters, in this newer combination of the powers effected in the under-world, the nether portion of the double earth.

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