Friday, September 21, 2012

Nun and Atum

In pure Heliopolitan mythology, Atum both rises from the waters of Nun on the primordial mound and is the primordial mound.   He represents the creative potential that exists within the waters.  These are the same waters that Vishnu floats on in Hindu myth.  In the other theologies, different gods are incorporated into the Heliopolitan model.

In  Memphite theology, the god Ptah is associated with the mound, thus one-uping  Atum.  Atum and the other gods then become the heart and tongue of Ptah.  This preserves the already-existing  model while allowing the priests of Ptah to make their god the supreme creator god.

In Hermopolitan theology, we're shown what's happening in Nun.  We see the eight chaos gods who represent the qualities of Nun.  These chaos gods form the soul of Thoth, the supreme creator god of the priests of Hermopolis.  He then causes the mound to rise on which sits Atum.  Well, actually he causes the lotus to grow out of the waters, on which sits the sun god Ra.  This is not a contradiction, just an alternative image.  The lotus and the mound are the same, as are Atum and Ra.

Atum, the uncreated creator, emerges from the waters on his mound in the form of Khepri the dung beetle.  Khepri represents the sun at morning, and his name means "He Who Becomes" (or something like that).  He later takes the form of Ra, the sun at noon.  Oddly enough, the setting sun is seen as Atum in the form of an old man with a staff.  I think this has to do with the belief that Atum will one day dissolve the universe and return to the waters of Nun.  It's said that Osiris will join him, being the only thing besides Atum that will continue to exist.

Atum, being alone, creates Shu and Tefnut.  I'll talk more about that next time.  He does this through heka (magic).  Heka, personified as a god, boasts in inscriptions that he existed before all the gods.  Some view the Memphite version as being the first full expression of what would later become logos philosophy, but I think the Heliopolitan version does so just as well.  Heka or Shu (depending on which version of the myth you use--in fact, the two are interchangeable) is the agency through which the gods and the world are created, which is logos philosophy.

Ta-tenen is an earth god who was associated with the primordial mound, and the mound was often called by his name.  More commonly it was known as the benben.  This was also the name of the capstone of obelisks and pyramids, which were representations of the primordial mound.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Egyptian Tree of Life Part 2

 Okay, here's a new tree with corrections and additional associations.  All of these are drawn from actual Egyptian mythology and beliefs.  There are some startling, almost exact correlations between the standard tree and this, and some that are not so much.  Next I'll start posting about each sphere (more or less).  One thing I'd like to do is flip it so it grows upward (like an actual tree).  This makes more sense for Egyptian mythology where the primordial mound rises up out of the waters. And really, there is no difference between height and depth except perspective.  My drawing program doesn't understand this and won't let me do it, so...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Egyptian Tree of Life Part 1

So, this is my version.  I did take the position of the Duat from the other tree, otherwise I came up with everything myself.  I'm still working on attributions and stuff, so this is far from complete.  I started with Heliopolitan theology and added in both Hermopolitan and Memphite theology.  With Hermopolitan theology, Nun (the primordial waters) contains the Ogdoad (eight gods who represent the forces present in Nun), the totality of which is represented by Thoth.  These are equivalent to Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur on a standard tree.  With Memphite theology, the mound that arises out of Nun, ta-tanen or benben (that second Nun is a mistake, I'll fix that) is associated with Ptah.  The rising of the mound takes the place of the contraction or Tzimtzum.  On that mound is Atum, who creates Shu and Tefnut, who give birth to Geb and Nut, who give birth to the next four.  That's the classic Heliopolitan Ennead.  The birth of Horus turns the Ennead into a decad.

The paths between the spheres (I'll use spheres instead of sephiroth) is what's known in kabbalah as the lighting flash.  It shows the order of emanation from the first sphere to the last.  It's the path of the flow of divine energy.  In Egyptian thought, this is Heka or magic (personified as a god).  In inscriptions, Heka boasts of existing before all the gods and of having created them.  Heka could be seen as the logos,  the divine expression by which Atum created and continues to create everything.  It is the energy which binds the world together.  Shu can also be seen as the logos, and these two are interchangeable.  In some pictures, Heka replaces Shu in his typical position of separating Geb and Nut.

Alright, it's late and I'm tired.  More later.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Better Late Than Never

I meant to keep up with this blog better than I have, but o well.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about ancient Egypt.  I've been trying to link its mythology to Kabbalah, especially the tree of life.  What I've been doing now completely supersedes the correspondences I posted before after reading part of The Zohar.  I'll post more about this later, but I need to make a chart.  Now I've got to figure out how to do that.  Here's an image from someone who's thinking along the same lines as I am (though I was able to create the same basic image and correspondences on my own just working with Heliopolitan theology).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Allons-y, Hamlet!

First off, if you haven't seen the David Tennant version of Hamlet, you should watch it. It's available on DvD and iTunes and whatever. Tennant brings a great manic quality to Hamlet which fans of Dr. Who will be familiar with (he was the tenth Doctor). It's the first version of Hamlet I've seen where all the funny parts are actually funny! (All of Shakepeare's tragedy's have quite a lot of humor in them.)
Watching this led me to think about the structure of Hamlet. Whether you know it or not, the basic plot of Hamlet is ancient. It goes back to at least ancient Egypt and the story of Osiris. Osiris is killed by his brother Set, who is overthrown in turn by his nephew Horus (Osiris' son).
Hamlet follows this basic plot with variations. One of the biggest variations is that Hamlet dies in the end. If Hamlet is the Horus figure, killing his uncle (another variation) and avenging his father, he should become king and re-establish his father's kingdom. But he doesn't. After killing his uncle Claudius, Hamlet in turn dies. Order is re-established by a secondary figure called Fortinbras. Why does this happen and does it make sense?
Yes, it makes perfect sense. First, this is a tragedy, which means that the main character has to die. But above and beyond that, Shakespeare has created a situation where Hamlet cannot fulfill his role as a Horus figure and needs another Horus figure, Fortinbras, to do so.
Fortinbras is a Horus figure too? Yes, and here's why. The world of Hamlet is essentially two worlds. There's the smaller world of Denmark, the Danish court, and the larger world of Scandinavia. Characters in the play fulfill different, or fail to fulfill any, roll within these two worlds. For instance, within the larger world of Scandinavia, Fortinbras is Horus and Hamlet (through association with his family) is Set. In the smaller world of the Danish court, however, Hamlet is Horus and Fortinbras has essentially no role (until he enters at the end of the play).
To explain this, we need to look at the two worlds separately. First, the smaller world of the Danish court. In this world, Hamlet Sr. (Hamlet's father is also named Hamlet) is the rightful king. He's the Osiris figure. He's murdered by his brother Claudius, who then seizes the crown and becomes king. Claudius is the Set figure, the usurper. Hamlet Jr. becomes of aware of this and eventually kills Claudius, making him the Horus figure, the avenger. Another way of thinking of these character types is Rightful Ruler or King, Usurper, and Avenger.
In the world of Scandinavia, things are different. Originally, Fortinbras Sr. was the ruler of Norway and Denmark (like Hamlet, Fortinbras' father was also named Fortinbras). In this world, Fortinbras Sr. is the rightful king. He loses the throne of Denmark to Hamlet Sr., who kills him in battle. Hamlet Sr. then is the Set figure of this world, the usurper (as is his entire family, which is why Hamlet also fulfills the role of Set in this world). Fortinbras Jr. is then the Horus figure who should avenge his father, but he can't.
In the play, Fortinbras Jr. wants to invade Denmark and reclaim his father's kingdom, but he's forbidden from doing so by the King of Norway.  So Fortinbras, the man of action, can't act and can't fulfill his role as Horus. Instead, his double in the smaller would, Hamlet, is forced to act. Hamlet, though, is the man of inaction. He is both Set and Horus at the same time. He both benefits from his father's usurpation and suffers from his uncle's usurpation. In the end, he chooses to become Horus the Avenger.
But even with the death of his uncle Claudius, a basic wrong still exists. Hamlet still is a Set figure in the larger world. Fortinbras still needs to reclaim his father's kingdom. So Hamlet has to die. Before he does, he passes the kingship to his double Fortinbras, who enters after Hamlet dies. Fortinbras then can fulfill his role as Horus by re-establishing his father's kingdom.
At the end of Hamlet, all wrongs are righted, all roles fulfilled. The two worlds are brought in to harmony. Shakespeare, not that this needs confirmation from me, is a complete genius. Now go watch the play.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'd like to draw attention to my friend Mike's website:

Mike has a book coming out next year, a real book (called Up Jumps the Devil) by a real publisher (Ecco/HaperCollins). He's also posting a great blog which is definitely worth reading.

Go there, now!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hiatus Over

I'm just posting to let all my loyal readers (all one of them, assuming he still reads this) that I'm still alive and will start updating this blog again.  It's been a hard winter in more ways than one.  Now that it's lightened up (both literary and metaphorically), I can blog again.