Sunday, February 12, 2012

Elemental Worlds of Creation

Extract about the 4 worlds to follow:
In the Egyptian universe, the cosmogenesis was not defined by one episode. Rather, it was seen as a cyclic process in rhythmic phases, where four dimensions exist, interpenetrate, and interact through time and space.
In the first phase, the world of Manu (“horizons of waters") comes into being as the macrocosm or celestial sphere, from which the elements of creation emerge. Its image is a watery mass of undefined powers, where all possibilities are articu­lated, but not manifest.
In the second phase, the world ofAakhut (“luminous horizon") appears, in the fiery form of light that illuminates the primeval waters and impels patterns or forms to come into being.
In the third phase, the world of Rostau ("horizon of spirits") comes into being, symbolized as a mound upon which the forces of the upper worlds come to rest. This phase expresses the containment of the sacred fire in matter, the genesis of material life in microcosmic form.
The last phase of creation, the world of Ament ('horizon of the west") represents the phenomenal world the experience, where cyclic forces govern the conditions of existence-birth and death. Here, the return to the upper worlds becomes possible, as this realm expresses the fulfilment of the creative forces as well as their predestination for cyclic renewal. This world also possesses the mechanisms for the mutation of the physical form, which make possible the con­scious experience of moving through several phases of existence.
The four creative realms embody the elemental forms of the ancient uni­verse: Water (Manu), Fire (Aakhut), Earth (Rostau), and Air (Ament). As such, they do not represent conflicting or alternate themes of the cosmogenesis, but stages of manifest reality that exist interdependently. Each world possesses a cre­ator who proliferates particular functions that interact with the others, and each has an equally significant influence on the world of human life.
In these four worlds of creation, the Egyptians saw certain universal functions come into being as divinities, the Neteru (gods" or "divine principles," the Neter being the individual deity of a place or action).2 The Neteru represent universal forces that organize and maintain the life of creation. They also perform specific functions both in their natural realms and in the world that we experience. Hence, families of gods are depicted who govern processes in nature, in the human body, and in the phenomena of the sky-much of which brought confu­sion to many observers of Egyptian culture in ancient times. But each group of divinities conveys a comprehensive view of a reality that has both cosmological and mundane wisdom.
The principles that each creative family represents were articulated in distinctive philosophical schools that possessed unique imagery and temple traditions in an­cient Egypt. The cosmogony of Hermopolis in Middle Egypt was one of the earli­est, expressing the creative powers in the world of Manu as an ogdoad, or group of eight divinities (Nun and Naunet, Huh and Hauhet, Kuk and Kauket, Maat and Djehuti) who bring the elemental forms of life into being. Here, the creator is Nun, the primeval waters, who brings forth life from the darkness by stirring and speak­ing the creative utterance. Another group of divine powers, the Solar Triad (Ra, Khepri, and Sopdet), stems from archaic times. It is associated with the world of Manu by its imagery of creative beings in barques that cross the primeval ocean cyclically. These powers circulate the elemental forms of life through the universal landscape in epochs of time. In this family, the creator is Ra, the Sun god, who pre­cipitates life via light or illumination into the dark waters of Nun.
The world of Aakhut is represented by the triad of Memphis (Prah, Sekhmet­Bast, and Nefertum) where the creator is Ptah, the artificer who fabricates life forms through thought. In this world also operates the triad of Esna (Khnum, Neit, and Heka), who fuse the light of creation to these thought forms, evoking the patterns of life that come into being in the material world. The creatrix of this family is Neit, the androgynous "mother-father" of the gods who infuses elemen­tal substance with vitality. Of Khnum, he is depicted as the "fashioner" of the ma­terial form, and his powers extend from the immaterial world of fire into the visi­ble realms:
He fashioned mankind and engendered the gods,
All live by that which emanates from him .
. . . his manifestations are hidden among people,
They constitute all beings, since the time of the gods.
-Temple of Khnum, Ptolemaic Dynasty
The world of Rostau represents the organic world of creation, where the ennead (group of nine) of Heliopolis govern the processes of physical manifestation (Atum, Shu and Tefnut, Nut and Geb, Asar and Auset, Set and Nebt-Het). Arum is the creator who proliferates by spitting or ejaculating to bring forth his divine progeny. They are followed by the triad of Dendera, which rouses the creative powers within the manifest form (Het-Her, Hem, and Thy). They are completed by the Funerary Quaternary (Imset, Daumutef, Qebsenuf, and Haapi), which transmits the creative impulse from one form to another.
And in the world of Ament, the triad of Thebes governs the processes that mature and complete physical life (Amun, Mut, and Khons). The head in this realm is Amun, the invisible breath of creation. They share their functions with the Initiatory Triad (Hem Ur, Sokar, and Anpu), who refine the cosmic elements in the corporeal body, and the Cyclic Triad (Taurt, Hapi, and Apep), which brings completion to periodic processes and renewal in new realms.
Altogether, the four worlds of creation are constituted by ten families of Netem, who represent the principles of creative manifestation and embody the functions of the phenomenal world. Forty-two divinities inhabit this landscape, and express the mystic forces of Egypt's religious pantheon.
Within this cosmological scheme is found the mandate of Egyptian spirituality – the unity of life in interpenetrating worlds and its inevitable renewal. And while it was understood that these processes were natural events, the means of achieving these aims consciously and progressively comprised the legendary wisdom that has been sought through the ages.

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