the STORY OF RE
"there arose out of the darkness a great shining egg, and this was Re."
In the beginning, before there was any land of Egypt, all was darkness, and there was nothing but a great waste of water called Nun. The power of Nun was such that there arose out of the darkness a great shining egg, and this was Re. Now Re was all-powerful, and he could take many forms. His power and the secret of it lay in his hidden name; but if he spoke other names, that which he named came into being. "I am Khepera at the dawn, and Re at noon, and Tem in the evening," he said. And the sun rose and passed across the sky and set for the first time. Then he named Shu, and the first winds blew; he named Tefnut the spitter, and the first rain fell. Next he named Geb, and the earth came into being; he named the goddess Nut, and she was the sky arched over the earth with her feet on one horizon and her hands on the other; he named Hapi, and the great River Nile flowed through Egypt and made it fruitful. After this Re named all things that are upon the earth, and they grew. Last of all he named mankind, and there were men and women in the land of Egypt. Then Re took on the shape of a man and became the first Pharaoh, ruling over the whole country for thousands and thousands of years, and giving such harvests that for ever afterwards the Egyptians spoke of the good things "which happened in the time of Re". But, being in the form of a man, Re grew old. In time men no longer feared him or obeyed his laws. They laughed at him, saying: "Look at Re! His bones are like silver, his flesh like gold, his hair is the colour of lapis lazuli!" Re was angry when he heard this, and he was more angry still at the evil deeds which men were doing in disobedience to his laws. So he called together the gods whom he had made - Shu and Tefnut and Geb and Nut - and he also summoned Nun. Soon the gods gathered about Re in his Secret Place, and the goddesses also. But mankind knew nothing of what was happening, and continued to jeer at Re and to break his commandments. Then Re spoke to Nun before the assembled gods: "Eldest of the gods, you who made me; and you gods whom I have made: look upon mankind who came into being at a glance of my Eye. See how men plot against me; hear what they say of me; tell me what I should do to them. For I will not destroy mankind until I have heard what you advise." Then Nun said: "My son Re, the god greater than he who made him and mightier than those whom he has created, turn your mighty Eye upon them and send destruction upon them in the form of your daughter, the goddess Sekhmet." Re answered: "Even now fear is falling upon them and they are fleeing into the desert and hiding themselves in the mountains in terror at the sound of my voice." "Send against them the glance of your Eye in the form Sekhmet!" cried all the other gods and goddesses, bowing before Re until their foreheads touched the ground. "...and her chief delight was in slaughter, and her pleasure was in blood." So at the terrible glance from the Eye of Re his daughter Sekhmet came into being, the fiercest of all goddesses. Like a lion she rushed upon her prey, and her chief delight was in slaughter, and her pleasure was in blood. At the bidding of Re she came into Upper and Lower Egypt to slay those who had scorned and disobeyed him: she killed them among the mountains which lie on either side of the Nile, and down beside the river, and in the burning deserts. All whom she saw she slew, rejoicing in slaughter and the taste of blood. Presently Re looked out over the land and saw what Sekhmet had done. Then he called to her, saying: "Come, my daughter, and tell me how you have obeyed my commands." Sekhmet answered with the terrible voice of a lioness as she tears her prey: "By the life which you have given me, I have indeed done vengeance on mankind, and my heart rejoices." Now for many nights the Nile ran red with blood, and Sekhmet's feet were red as she went hither and thither through all the land of Egypt slaying and slaying. Presently Re looked out over the earth once more, and now his heart was stirred with pity for men, even though they had rebelled against him. But none could stop the cruel goddess Sekhmet, not even Re himself: she must cease from slaying of her own accord -and Re saw that this could only come about through cunning. So he gave his command: "Bring before me swift messengers who will run upon the earth as silently as shadows and with the speed of the storm winds." When these were brought he said to them: "Go as fast as you can up the Nile to where it flows fiercely over the rocks and among the islands of the First Cataract; go to the isle that is called Elephantine and bring from it a great store of the red ochre which is to be found there." The messengers sped on their way and returned with the blood-red ochre to Heliopolis, the city of Re where stand the stone obelisks with points of gold that are like fingers pointing to the sun. It was night when they came to the city, but all day the women of Heliopolis had been brewing beer as Re bade them. Re came to where the beer stood waiting in seven thousand jars, and the gods came with him to see how by his wisdom he would save mankind. "Mingle the red ochre of Elephantine with the barley-beer," said Re, and it was done, so that the beer gleamed red in the moonlight like the blood of men. "Now take it to the place where Sekhmet proposes to slay men when the sun rises," said Re. And while it was still night the seven thousand jars of beer were taken and poured out over the fields so that the ground was covered to the depth of nine inches -- three times the measure of the palm of a man's hand-with the strong beer, whose other name is "sleep-maker". When day came Sekhmet the terrible came also, licking her lips at the thought of the men whom she would slay. She found the place flooded and no living creature in sight; but she saw the beer which was the colour of blood, and she thought it was blood indeed -- the blood of those whom she had slain. Then she laughed with joy, and her laughter was like the roar of a lioness hungry for the kill. Thinking that it was indeed blood, she stooped and drank. Again and yet again she drank, laughing with delight; and the strength of the beer mounted to her brain, so that she could no longer slay. At last she came reeling back to where Re was waiting; that day she had not killed even a single man. Then Re said: "You come in peace, sweet one." And her name was changed to Hathor, and her nature was changed also to the sweetness of love and the strength of desire. And henceforth Hathor laid low men and women only with the great power of love. But for ever after her priestesses drank in her honour of the beer of Heliopolis coloured with the red ochre of Elephantine when they celebrated her festival each New Year. So mankind was saved, and Re continued to rule old though he was. But the time was drawing near when he must leave the earth to reign for ever in the heavens, letting the younger gods rule in his place. For dwelling in the form of a man, of a Pharaoh of Egypt, Re was losing his wisdom; yet he continued to reign, and no one could take his power from him, since that power dwelt in his secret name which none knew but himself. If only anyone could discover his Name of Power, Re would reign no longer on earth; but only by magic arts was this possible. Geb and Nut had children: these were the younger gods whose day had come to rule, and their names were Osiris and Isis, Nephthys and Seth. Of these Isis was the wisest: she was cleverer than a million men, her knowledge was greater than that of a million of the noble dead. She knew all things in heaven and earth, except only for the Secret Name of Re, and that she now set herself to learn by guile. Now Re was growing older every day. As he passed across the land of Egypt his head shook from side to side with age, his jaw trembled, and he dribbled at the mouth as do the very old among men. As his spittle fell upon the ground it made mud, and this Isis took in her hands and kneaded together as if it had been dough. Then she formed it into the shape of a serpent, making the first cobra -- the uraeus, which ever after was the symbol of royalty worn by Pharaoh and his queen. "...the venom of its bite coursed through his veins..." Isis placed the first cobra in the dust of the road by which Re passed each day as he went through his two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. As Re passed by the cobra bit him and then vanished into the grass. But the venom of its bite coursed through his veins, and for a while Re was speechless, save for one great cry of pain which rang across the earth from the eastern to the western horizon. The gods who followed him crowded round, asking: "What is it? What ails you?" But he could find no words; his lips trembled and he shuddered in all his limbs, while the poison spread over his body as the Nile spreads over Egypt at the inundation. When at last he could speak, Re said: "Help me, you whom I have made. Something has hurt me, and I do not know what it is. I created all things, yet this thing I did not make. It is a pain such as I have never known before, and no other pain is equal to it. Yet who can hurt me?-for none knows my Secret Name which is hidden in my heart, giving me all power and guarding me against the magic of both wizard and witch. Nevertheless as I passed through the world which I have created, through the two lands that are my special care, something stung me. It is like fire, yet is not fire; it is like water and not water. I burn and I shiver, while all my limbs tremble. So call before me all the gods who have skill in healing and knowledge of magic, and wisdom that reaches to the heavens." Then all the gods came to Re, weeping and lamenting at the terrible thing which had befallen him. With them came Isis, the healer, the queen of magic, who breathes the breath of life and knows words to revive those who are dying. And she said: "What is it, divine father? Has a snake bitten you. Has a creature of your own creating lifted up its head against you? I will drive it out by the magic that is mine, and make it tremble and fall down before your glory." "I went by the usual way through my two lands of Egypt," answered Re, "for I wished to look upon all that I had made. And as I went I was bitten by a snake which I did not see -- a snake that, I had not created. Now I burn as if with fire and shiver as if my veins were filled with water, and the sweat runs down my face it runs down the faces of men on the hottest days of summer." "Tell me your Secret Name." said Isis in a sweet, soothing voice. "Tell it me, divine father; for only by speaking your name in my spells can I cure you." Then Re spoke the many names that were his: "I am Maker Heaven and Earth." he said. "I am Builder of the Mountains. I am Source of the Waters throughout all the world. I am Light and Darkness. I am Creator of the Great River of Egypt. I am the Kindler of the Fire that burns in the sky; yes, I am Khepera in the, morning, Re at the noontide, and Tum in the evening." But Isis said never a word, and the poison had its way in the veins of Re. For she knew that he had told her only the names which all men knew, and that his Secret Name, the Name of Power, still lay hidden in his heart. At last she said: "You know well that the name which I need to learn is not among those which you have spoken. Come, tell me the Secret Name; for if you do the poison will come forth and you will have an end of pain." The poison burned with a great burning, more powerful than any flame of fire, and Re cried out at last: "Let the Name of Power pass from my heart into the heart of Isis! But before it does, swear to me that you will tell it to no other save only the son whom you will have, whose name shall be Horus. And bind him first with such an oath that the name will remain with him and be passed on to no other gods or men." Isis the great magician swore the oath, and the knowledge of the Name of Power passed from the heart of Re into hers. Then she said: "By the name which I know, let the poison go from Re for ever!" So it passed from him and he had peace. But he reigned upon earth no longer. Instead he took his place in the high heavens, traveling each day across the sky in the likeness of the sun itself, and by night crossing the underworld of Amenti in the Boat of Re and passing through the twelve divisions of Duat where many dangers lurk. Yet Re passes safely, and with him he takes those souls of the dead who know all the charms and prayers and words that must be said. And so that a man might not go unprepared for his voyage in the Boat of Re, the Egyptians painted all the scenes of that journey on the walls of the tombs of the Pharaohs, with all the knowledge that was written in The Book of the Dead, of which a copy was buried in the grave of lesser men so that they too might read and come safely to the land beyond the west where the dead dwell. All content and images © April McDevitt, 1997-2004, All Rights Reserved
Destruction of Humanity
Author: In PerSeshen@yahoogrou ps.com, "katnewkirk" wrote: in: Pinch, Geraldine, _A Handbook of Egyptian Mythology_, ABC-CLIO,Inc. , Santa Barbara, CA, c. 2002, ISBN 1-57607-242- 8, (pp 74 -75)
After Ra had become the ruler of both gods and men,Humanity plotted against him, while his majesty, may he live, may he prosper, may he be healthy, had grown old. His bonesbecame silver, his flesh became gold, his hair true lapis lazuli.When his majesty saw how humanity was plotting against him, his majesty said to his followers "summon for me, my Eye, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, and the father and mothers who werewith me when I was in the primeval waters, as well as the godNun. Let him bring his followers with him, but bring themsecretly in case the humans see and their hearts escape.The gods and goddesses all came and asked Ra to speak. He told them, "Humanity, which came into being from my Eye, is plotting against me. Advise me what to do about it." Nun, and the other deities advise Ra to send his Eye against the rebels. "No Eye is more able to smite them. Let it go down as Hathor."The guilty ones among humanity flee into the desert through fear of Ra, but Hathor slaughters them and wades in their blood. When she returns to Ra, she tells him that she has "overpowered humanity and it was sweet to my heart." Ra replies, "I shall have power over them as king by culling them." Thus, says the text, "the Powerful One came into being."The goddess intends to continue her slaughter the next day, but for reasons that are not explained, Ra has changed his mind. He summons messengers who can travel as fast as shadows and sends them to fetch a large quantity of a red mineral. The he orders the Side-lock Wearer in Heliopolis, a title of the high priest of Ra, to grind up the mineral while his maid servants mash barley to make beer. They make 7,000 jars of beer and add the red mineral to it to make the beer look like blood. Ra has the beer taken to the place where the goddess plans to destroy humanity. Before dawn Ra pours the red beer out until the fields are flooded to a depth of "three palms." When the goddess arrives at dawn, she sees her own beautiful reflection in the flood. "She drank and it delighted her heart. She came back drunk without having noticed humanity." Ra welcomed her back and from that day on alcohol was drunk during the festivals of Hathor.It is not clear whether Ra took pity on humanity after the first day's slaughter or whether he only wanted to save the portion of humanity that he regarded as innocent. The latter is probably implied by the fact that the people killed on the first day have fled to the desert, part of the realm of chaos. These people became Enemies of Ra, a group that is shown in the Underworld Books being horribly tortured in the afterlife. The second day's slaughter is to take place in fields, presumably in the agricultural land of the Nile Valley, usually associated with the realm of order.The goddess Maat was sometimes said to have been sent down to live among humanity. She would stay with a virtuous person even after their death, but in times of general disorder and strife she would withdraw. Humanity was sometimes divided into the Followers of Horus (good) and the Followers of Seth (bad). This division appears to justify the ruthless destruction of many humans by the gods. A ritual drama inscribed on the walls of the temple of Horus of Edfu describes a rebellion by the people of Nubia in the 363rd year of Ra's reign. The rebels are tricked into killing each other, and their leader, Seth, is beheaded. A myth in Papyrus Jumihac tells how the goddess transforms herself into a form of Hathor, slaughters all the Followers of Seth with her fire, and wades in their blood. This might seem a direct borrowing from the Book of the Heavenly Cow, but it should probably be seen as an example of a repeating pattern of events.In the Book of the Heavenly Cow, even though the rebels have been defeated, the world can never be the same again. Ra announces that he is sick and weary, and he cannot bear to remain on earth. Nun, the god of the primeval waters, orders Shu and Nut to help Ra. Nut is transformed into a cow, and Ra rides away on her back. As the earth darkens, some of humanity beg Ra to stay, and they shoot at his enemies. This, says the text, was how death came into being. From this point on, humanity has to fight and die to maintain the divine order.Nut carries Ra up into the heavens, and the single creator god transforms into many heavenly bodies. He creates the fields of paradise for the spirits of the dead. Nut "began to tremble because of the height," so Ra creates the Heh gods who live in the twilight. Shu and the Heh gods support the body of Nut. The Ra tells Geb to warn the powerful serpents who live under the earth not to abuse their magic because he will still look down on them. Ra puts Osiris in charge of Humanity and calls "the moon of Thoth" into being, so that Thoth can rule the night sky as his deputy. This begins the era when the world was ruled by a series of lesser gods.
The Path of RA
The first article which I want to share with you is the following written by Vincent Bridges. Please go to his site to read more.
In the theology of the priests of Heliopolis, we catch a glimpse of mankind’s earliest spiritual understanding of the nature of light. Those clever theologians managed to describe its relativistic quality — nothing with any matter at all can go faster than light — in terms of a mythological unity of great depth and philosophical complexity, the “operative and creative power” imagined by the Egyptians as the great god RA.
This powerful archetypal image was crafted by the rehket-sa, or “assembly of sages,” of Heliopolis, with the help of a group of beings known as the Henmemet, or “The Shining Ones.” From earliest times, (the spelling of the name of the city itself, Annu — a finned spear-head, a jar and the symbol for city — suggests the place where the space-ships land their cargo). Heliopolis seems to have been a very cosmopolitan place, one where several races and a few interplanetary species mingled freely. The spelling of the name Henmemet suggests a group of physical beings, definitely not spirits, who are “filled with light.” This phrase re-occurs as the priests of RA try to describe life for the departed believer in the Boat of a Million Years; in a sense, the followers of RA would become like the Henmemet and travel the stars fed and clothed with light. Perhaps it is these celestial voyagers who educated the sages of Annu in the arts of mathematics, geometry, physics, astronomy, and so on through the familiar list of the early dynasties’ unexpected sophistication. Wherever they learned or discovered the information, the priests of Annu were the first humans to code these physical constants, clues to the structure of the universe, into a mythical theology that is descriptive of the actual nature of both physical and psychological reality.
If we think of RA as the personification of all that we now call the nature of light, then his role as the original creative principle suddenly comes into sharp focus. Time, we are told, began with the first appearance of RA; eternity is referred to as “since the time of RA.” These are ideas that strongly suggest the role of light as the ultimate yardstick of the space/time continuum. Without the activity of photon binding and threshold kindling, our physical reality would not exist. It is the discontinuous nature of quantum events, the absorption and emission of photons, which creates this discreet and sentient existence. Therefore, RA, when understood as the nature of light, does creatively enact our world and all its parts.
The ancient Egyptians expressed this in the way they spelled the word, ra. The “r” sound is rendered as a mouth, or a vesica piscis and the “a” is the out-stretched hand symbol. The determinatives are: a sun symbol with a line to the ground and the seated god figure, which tells us that this ra is a god who localizes the energy of the sun, or great light. The phonetic symbols suggest, in hieroglyphic rebus fashion, that the waves give or supply the energy of the sun. The mouth of RA is a schematic for the sine wave of a vibrating string, and, as the vesica, generates the irrational number of the square root of 3. This number divides the volume-form of the cube (a cube with edges equal to 1; a rectangular plane is passed diagonally through the cube, the diagonal of which equals the square root of three) and, remember, every form in the created universe is a volume. Think of the square root of the as a form generator, regular polygons arising one after the other in the succession of vesica constructions unfolding from the self division of unity. This form-creating flow, the glyphs suggest,is the gift of the local energy source, the sun. This gift of form is the essence of what the Egyptian theologians considered divine. In that sense, RA was indisputably the One God, the unity at the heart of diversity.
Hang on to that realization. It is a clue to understanding the basic mysteries of Egyptian theology. The Followers of RA, like the Henmemet, who visited Heliopolis in the early dynastic era, were real people, not spirits. It is from them that the concept of “God the Principle,” the “RA Function” passed to the priests of the City of the Sun. The “Light Beings,” that is, creatures who are fed on, clothed by, and enveloped in light, naturally became the focus of the religious concept they taught. If we believe (as the early Egyptians thought) in the RA Function, the “One God who is All Gods,” then we will become like these light beings when we die. Like them, we will voyage forever in the Boat of a Million Years…
Beliefs like these were popular with the priests and the intellectuals, but the mass of Egyptian people never wavered from their faith in the shamanic paradise of Osiris, a vegetation god whose worship created a cult of the deified dead. If the RA function existed since the beginning of time, then the Osiris cult surely has its beginnings in the moment the first Handy monkey learned of death. The only god worthy of respect to that grieving monkey was one who could assuage the awful lonely emptiness of extinction. An afterlife of judgement and reward ensured that existence was continuous and that it had meaning, even if that meaning was judged as negative. Ausar Un-Nefer, Osiris the Justified One, filled the existential void of death with a panoply of shamanic ordeals and divine interaction. Life was anything but dull in the Hall of the Lord of the Dead.
The genius of the IVth Dynasty Heliopolitan theologians and social scientists lies in their creative resolution to the problem of these two contrasting afterlives. Ausar (Osiris) was invited into the Boat of a Million Years and was asked to sit at the right hand of RA. In fact, he was asked to be RA’s regent, his viceroy among the monkeys, as it were. The name, Ausar is spelled with the eye of RA above a throne, and the god figure as a determinative. His distinctive function, “stability,” symbolized by the backbone-like djed, was once, along with “light,” considered one of the powers of RA. Osiris worship, with its shamanic paradise, was thus elevated by its merger with the RA function to the level of an universal religion. As such it long out lasted the priests of RA, whose functions were usurped by Amun of Thebes. (Although a memorialized form of the ancient wisdom continued to be celebrated among the ruins of Heliopolis until the arrival of the Arabs in the seventh century of the Common era.)
The union of these two god-forms produced the central mystery of the Egyptian religious experience. A line of the Vth Dynasty Pyramid Texts reads: “The Great Secret, The Great Mystery; it is RA, it is Osiris.” This could be interpreted as: “The Great Secret: we are of extra-terrestrial origin — The Great Mystery: we can return to that level of being; it is RA (who reveals the Great Secret), it is Osiris, (who shows us the Great Mystery).”
This blending of cosmological and metaphorical values supplied the inner tension that kept the Egyptian mysteries vital for over three thousand years. The path of RA offered a transcendentally cosmological existence in the boat of a million years, while the path of Osiris promised eternity in an astral metaphor for life along the Nile. We are told in the “Book of the Dead” that RA and Osiris are twin souls, united between the pillars of the Djed, but we are left with few clues as to how this unification was to be accomplished.
The clues that we do have (see discussions at Edfu and Letopolis) point to the agency of Heru-Ur, the elder sky god who somehow manages to be both cosmological and metaphorical and therefore acts as a medium for their unification. Strangely enough, the Neophyte Ritual of the nineteenth century magical group, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, suggests the same process by having the god-form of Heru-Ur (Aeouris) be the active or initiatory form of Osiris. In that same ritual, much is made of an Egyptian phrase, “Khabs m Pehket,” which is translated as “Light in Extension.” With this inspired choice, the Order penetrated to the core of the Egyptian mysteries.
The Egyptians had many words that meant “light,” showing a subtle and sophisticated understanding of both physics and optics by their varied spellings and usage. But one, the one used by the Order, had a very unusual series of meanings associated with it. Khabs in its root meanings suggests “to shine or sparkle like a star.” It can also mean the star itself, or any other celestial “lamp,” as in the “Lamps of the Decans.” This meaning of “lamplight” became a mystical phrase associated by the experience of being filled with light, as were the Henmemet. In this sense it passed into Islam as the 35th verse of the 24th sura of the Koran, becoming over time the focus of many Sufi sects, including the Al Hagag Sufis of the Temple Mosque at Luxor. Khabs implies the whole mystery of RA and “the Path of Becoming Light,” as pehket (the word translated as “extension” by the Golden Dawn), expresses the physically focused nature of the Osiris cult.
How these fragments of Heliopolitan wisdom found their way into a nineteenth century English magical society is quite another story, but their very survival indicates the deep archetypal power of these formulations. “Light in Extension” seems to be the key to activating the Equinox of the Gods, the Unification of the Paths of RA and Osiris, and the medium through which this will occur (is occurring!) seems to be that of the ancient God of the Sky, Heru-Ur. After all, March 21 in the Cairo calendar is called the “feast of Re-constituting Heaven: The Company of the Gods, union of the houses of RA, Ausar and Heru.”
Â© 1995 Vincent Bridges