Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Story Of The Egyptian Gods

The principal creator god in Ancient Egyptian religion is the sun-god; in the Egyptian language, the word for sun is Ra, and this was one name for the sun-god, but he was also regularly called Atum, from the word tm 'complete'. The name Atum seems intended to evoke all matter as concentrated in the creator, before creation emerged. Creation is a process of unfurling, with the undivided All gradually fissioning into separable entities.

Atum already exists at least in potential within the primeval nothingness before creation. In some religious compositions, it is stated that his first offshoots were also already present. These are in the terms of human society his 'son' and 'daughter'; the male has the name Shu, from Sw 'to be dry', and the female is called Tefnet, from a rare word tfn 'to corrode' (so, in opposition to Sw, to be moist). The Coffin Texts also equate Shu with the grammatically masculine Egyptian word for life, Ankh, and Tefnet with the grammatically feminine Egyptian word for What is Right, Maat. In other writings, the crucial element that enables the creator to emerge is the female contribution - in different guises this can be not only Tefnet or Maat, but Hathor or the deified principle Iusaas (a name meaning 'she grows as she arrives')

The emergence of the creator is given various verbal and visual expression, predominantly associated with the new land emerging from the annual flood:
a heron alights on the first dry ground - this heron may be called bnw, the Egyptian equivalent and perhaps origin of the classical Greek phoenix a lotus flower emerges out of the water - in the New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC) and later, this motif is assigned to Nefertem, god of scented oils, lotus at the nose of Ra the mound itself offers the original sacred ground - temples are said to be sited on the primeval mound of the first time of creation

The various references to the emergence of the sun-god from the flood waters, and the following generations down to Osiris, are often called in Egyptolgy the 'Heliopolitan Theology' (Heliopolis being the Greek for 'city of the sun-god', the place with the Egyptian name Iunu in Lower Egypt province 13). As with the 'Hermopolitan Theology', this assumes much that we do not know - we do not know when or where these ideas developed, and they do not stand in absolute opposition to the ideas of the Eight forces existing before creation, but contain the continuation of the story beyond creation.

From Ra to Osiris and Horus
On 'myth'

There is no single Ancient Egyptian narration combining all the different motifs and expressions of the mysteries of creation and the origins of the present world. We have to summarise the episodes and references of numerous different sources. It is important to be aware that such a summary may be an entirely non-Egyptian, modern analytical response to the question of creation; the Egyptian response seems to have been not to tell stories (these emerge much later in the surviving record) but to express relations between different divine forces in groups like 'constellations' (this is the term Assmann has used for the Egyptian material).

The reign of Ra and its end
The sun-god is the first creator and ruler of creation. In references to his rule, more particularly in New Kingdom tales of the end of his reign, the world already seems to exist in the form it now has. There is no separate Ancient Egyptian composition describing the creation of mankind: they are already in existence early in the story of the world - in some accounts said to be from the tears of the sun-god (in Egyptian the word rmT 'people' evokes the word rmt 'to weep').
The first offshoots of Ra are Shu and Tefnet; they then produce two 'children' of their own - the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. In the language of natural science, we might say that the principles of dry and moist crystallised into the more solid dryness of the earth, and the expanse of sky that the Egyptians considered watery.

A New Kingdom religious composition records rebellion against Ra, prompting him to withdraw to the sky. This 'Tale of the Heavenly Cow' includes the story of Ra sending his eye out from his body, so as a separate offshoot, a 'daughter', to punish mankind. As Sekhmet (meaning 'the mighty goddess') she almost annihilates mankind; the gods trick her into becoming sweetly drunk, by colouring a lake of beer red to look like human blood - she reverts to her sweet character as the loving and maternal Hathor.

The children of Geb and Nut
Ra withdraws to the sky in this tale; this implies that creation has already reached the point where Geb and Nut, earth and sky, have been separated by Shu. The various scattered references indicate that this separation had to be enforced, to prevent the two from producing more divine offspring. However, they managed to win from Thoth (god of knowledge including the calculation of time) an extra five days at the end of the year, and on these extra days Tefnet gave birth to the gods Osiris and Seth, and the goddesses Isis and Nephthys. The elder son Osiris is the quintessential good god; he incurs the jealousy of his anarchic brother Seth, who murders him, dismembers him, and takes his place as the new king of the world. The sister-wife of Osiris is Isis, the great healer; she collects the limbs, revives the body enough to conceive a child, Horus. While the transfigured Osiris withdraws to the underworld to rule the dead, Isis protects Horus in the marshes of the Nile Delta until he is old enough to challenge his uncle. The battles of Horus and Seth are known from numerous sources, the most extended Ancient Egyptian source being a composition on a Ramesside papyrus from Thebes (now in the Chester Beatty collection in Dublin). Eventually in physical combat and in the courts of the gods Horus proves his case and wins his rightful place as heir of Osiris and king. In some versions Seth is given the deserts as his area of authority.

With the kingship of Horus, the unfurling of creation has reached its current stage of development. There is a Horus king on earth, latest 'son' of the sun-god; Ra rules the heavens from his daily boat journey around the world in the day and night skies, and Osiris rules the dead below. This is not a nature religion in the sense that the trees, rivers or mountains are personified divine beings, but there is divine force within the river (the flood, Hapy), and the gods are in one sense in the world as the sun (Ra), the earth (Geb), the sky (Nut).

Together the gods from Ra to Horus make up a group that can be calculated as nine deities - the Nine is the most common means of reference to larger groups of gods in Ancient Egyptian writings. Rituals preserved in funerary literature refer to a Great and a Small Nine (Egyptologists often use the Greek form Ennead). The Nine are not listed by name, but might be Ra, Shu and Tefnet, Geb and Nut, Osiris and Isis, Nephthys and Horus, omitting the disruptive presence of Seth.

It is not known when these stories were developed; in the Early Dynastic Period, Horus and Seth are prominent opposites, but without the presence of Isis or Ra or Osiris. Therefore our image of Egyptian religion may be an amalgam of episodes that took form during the third millennium BC. It is also not known where the stories developed, though it seems likely that the centralised royal court offered the most intense focus for religious and ritual composition.

Other episodes in the generations from Ra to Horus
The rebellion against Ra is not the only one in the story of the gods: one temple shrine now preserved in Ismailiya bears a Late Period hieroglyphic inscription recording the rebellion of Geb against his father Shu. The intrigues in the inscription can be interpreted as veiled references to disturbances in the political history of Egypt from the Late Period to Late Dynastic Period, but they may also present religious narrative elaborating on the otherwise bare succession of events in the mythic period of rule by the gods on earth.

Other aspects of creation

Ra the sun-god, source of light and energy, is only the most prominent and powerful among various aspects of creative power. Two prominent other aspects given name in Ancient Egyptian religious writing include:
Ptah - creation as intervention in and transformation of existing material, whether metal and stone (craft, art) or word (the Logos of Greek philosophical theology)
Khnum - creation as moulding of a physical form, as a potter moulds ceramic on the wheel, changing its shape but not its substance

Within the created world, prominent features given name in Ancient Egyptian religious writing include:
Thoth - knowledge, writing, calculation (and the moon - another prominent moon-god without the sphere of writing is Khons)

Bast - originally the power of ointment to heal and make beautiful, in some ways a milder, defensive version of the aggressive Sekhmet; until the first millennium BC depicted as lion(ess), from the Twenty-second Dynasty as cat

Ipy and Aha (later called Taweret and Bes) - protectors of mother and child at birth
Sobek - voracity, incarnate in the crocodile

Renenutet - abundance, protector of the harvest, depicted as serpent

There are also forces protecting the divine king, with great impact on development of local religious form:
Wadjyt - protecting the north, depicted as rearing cobra, main goddess at Buto in the Delta

Nekhbet - protecting the south, depicted as vulture with outstretched wings, main goddess at Elkab in southern Upper Egypt

Wepwawet - protecting movement by the king (the name means 'opener of the ways'), depicted as a standing jackal

Anubis, god of embalming, may in origin be related to the power of the divine child as king, since the word inp means 'king-child' in Egyptian. Kingship is at the centre of the expression of the divine, and the development of that expression, in Ancient Egypt; there is no visible impact from other areas of society, and the term 'popular religion' in Egyptology covers the areas of birth, harvest and law as experienced as much by the king and elite as by rural or urban workers.

Ancient Egyptian Mythology

Gods of Egypt (film)

Gods of Egypt is an upcoming American fantasy film featuring ancient Egyptian deities. The film is directed by Alex Proyas and stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler, and Geoffrey Rush. Butler plays the god of darkness Set who takes over the Egyptian empire, and Thwaites plays the mortal hero Bek who partners with the god Horus, played by Coster-Waldau, to save the world and to rescue his love.

Filming took place in Australia under the studio Summit Entertainment. While the film's production budget was $140 million, the parent company Lionsgate's financial exposure was less than $10 million due to tax incentives and pre-sales. When Lionsgate began promoting the film in November 2015, it received backlash for its predominantly white cast playing Egyptian characters. In response, Lionsgate and director Alex Proas apologized for the lack of casting diversity. Lionsgate plans to release Gods of Egypt in theaters on February 26, 2016. The film will be released in 2D and RealD 3D.

In this spectacular action-adventure inspired by the classic mythology of Egypt, the survival of mankind hangs in the balance as an unexpected mortal hero Bek (Brenton Thwaites) undertakes a thrilling journey to save the world and rescue his true love. In order to succeed, he must enlist the help of the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in an unlikely alliance against Set (Gerard Butler), the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. As their breathtaking battle against Set and his henchmen takes them into the afterlife and across the heavens, both god and mortal must pass tests of courage and sacrifice if they hope to prevail in the epic final confrontation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Osiris, Set, and Queen Aso.

But Seth the Evil One, their brother, envied Osiris and hated Isis. The more the people loved and praised Osiris, the more Seth hated him; and the more good he did and the happier mankind became, the stronger grew Seth's desire to kill his brother and rule in his place. Isis, however, was so full of wisdom and so watchful that Seth made no attempt to seize the throne while she was watching over the land of Egypt. And when Osiris returned from his travels Seth was among the first to welcome him back and kneel in reverence before "the good god Pharaoh Osiris".

Yet he had made his plans, aided by seventy-two of his wicked friends and Aso the evil queen of Ethiopia. Secretly Seth obtained the exact measurements of the body of Osiris, and caused beautiful chest to be made that would fit only him. It was fashioned of the rarest and most costly woods: cedar brought from Lebanon, and ebony from Punt at the south end of the Red Sea for no wood grows in Egypt except the soft and useless palm.

Then Seth gave a great feast in honour of Osiris; but the other guests were the two-and-seventy conspirators. It was the greatest feast that had yet been seen in Egypt, and the foods were choicer, the wines stronger and the dancing girls more beautiful than ever before. When the heart of Osiris had been made glad with feasting and song the chest was brought in, and all were amazed at its beauty.
Osiris marveled at the rare cedar inlaid with ebony and ivory, with less rare gold and silver, and painted inside with figures of gods and birds and animals, and he desired it greatly.

"I will give this chest to whosoever fits it most exactly!" cried Seth. And at once the conspirators began in turn to see if they could win it. But one was too tall and another too short; one was too fat and another too thin - and all tried in vain.

"Let me see if I will fit into this marvelous piece of work," said Osiris, and he laid himself down in the chest while all gathered round breathlessly.

"I fit exactly, and the chest is mine!" cried Osiris.

"It is yours indeed, and shall be so forever!" hissed Seth as he banged down the lid. Then in desperate haste he and the conspirators nailed it shut and sealed every crack with molten lead, so that Osiris the man died in the chest and his spirit went west across the Nile into Duat the Place of Testing; but, beyond it to Amenti, where those live for ever who have lived well on earth and passed the judgments of Duat, he could not pass as yet. Seth and his companions took the chest which held the body of Osiris and cast it into the Nile; and Hapi the Nile-god carried it out into the Great Green Sea where it was tossed for many days until it came to the shore of Phoenicia near the city of Byblos. Here the waves cast it into a tamarisk tree that grew on the shore; and the tree shot out branches and grew leaves and flowers to make a fit resting place for the body of the good god Osiris and very soon that tree became famous throughout the land.

Thoth, the heart and tongue of Ra

Thoth, was one of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, and his wife was Ma'at.

Thoth's chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks' interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and Shmounein in the Coptic rendering. In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities. He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens.

Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma'at) who stood on either side of Ra's boat. In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.

He was considered the heart and tongue of Ra as well as the means by which Ra's will was translated into speech. He has also been likened to the Logos of Plato and the mind of God (The All).

Thoth, like many Egyptian gods and nobility, held many titles. Among these were "Scribe of Ma'at in the Company of the Gods," "Lord of Ma'at," "Lord of Divine Words," "Judge of the Two Combatant Gods," "Judge of the Rekhekhui, the pacifier of the Gods, who Dwelleth in Unnu, the Great God in the Temple of Abtiti," "Twice Great," "Thrice Great,"" and "Three Times Great, Great."

Thoth has been involved in arbitration, magic, writing, science and the judging of the dead.

In the Egyptian mythology, he has played many vital and prominent roles, including being one of the two deities (the other being Ma'at) who stood on either side of Ra's boat. In the underworld, Duat, he appeared as an ape, A'an, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased's heart against the feather, representing the principle of Ma'at, was exactly even.

Thoth has played a prominent role in many of the Egyptian myths. Displaying his role as arbitrator, he had overseen the three epic battles between good and evil. All three battles are fundamentally the same and belong to different periods. The first battle took place between Ra and Apep, the second between Heru-Bekhutet and Set, and the third between Horus and Set . In each instance, the former god represented order while the latter represented chaos. If one god was seriously injured, Thoth would heal them to prevent either from overtaking the other.

Thoth was also prominent in the Asarian myth, being of great aid to Isis. After Isis/Aset gathered together the pieces of Asar's dismembered body, he gave her the words to resurrect him so she could be impregnated and bring forth Horus. After a battle between Horus and Set in which the latter plucked out Horus' eye, Thoth's counsel provided him the wisdom he needed to recover it. Thoth was the god who always speaks the words that fulfill the wishes of Ra.

This mythology also credits him with the creation of the 365 day calendar. Originally, according to the myth, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to bear children. Thoth gambled with the Moon for 1/72nd of its light (360/72 = 5), or 5 days, and won. During these 5 days, Nut gave birth to Kheru-ur (Horus the Elder, Face of Heaven), Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.

Warlord Set

Set, the god of the desert, storms, and Upper Egypt, which was the southern half of the Kingdom. Set was a martial god, and therefore popular with soldiers and generals. 

Set or Seth (also spelled Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty) is a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. In Ancient Greek, the god's name is given as Sēth. Set is not, however, a god to be ignored or avoided; he has a positive role where he is employed by Ra on his solar boat to repel the serpent of Chaos Apep. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus' role as lord of the black (soil) land.

During the Second Intermediate Period (1650–1550 BC), a group of Asiatic foreign chiefs known as the Hyksos (literally, "rulers of foreign lands") gained the rulership of Egypt, and ruled the Nile Delta, from Avaris. They chose Set, originally Upper Egypt's chief god, the god of foreigners and the god they found most similar to their own chief god, as their patron, and then Set became worshiped as the chief god once again.

Jan Assmann argues that because the Ancient Egyptians could never conceive of a "lonely" god lacking personality, Seth the desert god, who was worshiped exclusively, represented a manifestation of evil.

When Ahmose I overthrew the Hyksos and expelled them from Egypt (c. 1522 BC), Egyptian attitudes towards Asiatic foreigners became xenophobic, and royal propaganda discredited the period of Hyksos rule. Nonetheless, the Set cult at Avaris flourished, and the Egyptian garrison of Ahmose stationed there became part of the priesthood of Set.

The founder of the Nineteenth Dynasty, Ramesses I came from a military family from Avaris with strong ties to the priesthood of Set. Several of the Ramesside kings were named for Set, most notably Seti I (literally, "man of Set") and Setnakht (literally, "Set is strong"). In addition, one of the garrisons of Ramesses II held Set as its patron deity, and Ramesses II erected the so-called Four Hundred Years' Stele at Pi-Ramesses, commemorating the 400 year anniversary of the Set cult in the Delta.

Set also became associated with foreign gods during the New Kingdom, particularly in the Delta. Set was also identified by the Egyptians with the Hittite deity Teshub, who was a storm god like Set.

According to Herman te Velde, the demonization of Set took place after Egypt's conquest by several foreign nations in the Third Intermediate and Late Periods. Set, who had traditionally been the god of foreigners, thus also became associated with foreign oppressors, including the Assyrian and Persian empires. It was during this time that Set was particularly vilified, and his defeat by Horus widely celebrated.

Set's negative aspects were emphasized during this period. Set was the killer of Osiris, having hacked Osiris' body into pieces and dispersed it so that he could not be resurrected. The Greeks later linked Set with Typhon because both were evil forces, storm deities, and sons of the Earth that attacked the main gods.

Nevertheless, throughout this period, in some outlying regions of Egypt Set was still regarded as the heroic chief deity.

Set has also been classed as a Trickster deity who, as a god of disorder, resorts to deception to achieve bad ends.

Horus - Attacked [hunting?] by Hippo!

Horus was also said to be a god of war and hunting. The Horus falcon is shown upon a standard on the predynastic Hunters Palette in the "lion hunt".

Thus he became a symbol of majesty and power as well as the model of the pharaohs. The Pharaohs were said to be Horus in human form.

Furthermore, Nemty, another war god, was later identified as Horus.

Since Horus was said to be the sky, he was considered to also contain the sun and moon. It became said that the sun was his right eye and the moon his left, and that they traversed the sky when he, a falcon, flew across it. Later, the reason that the moon was not as bright as the sun was explained by a tale, known as the The Contendings of Horus and Seth. In this tale, it was said that Set, the patron of Upper Egypt, and Horus, the patron of Lower Egypt, had battled for Egypt brutally, with neither side victorious, until eventually the gods sided with Horus.

As Horus was the ultimate victor he became known as Harsiesis, Heru-ur or Har-Wer (ḥr.w wr 'Horus the Great'), but more usually translated as Horus the Elder. In the struggle Set had lost a testicle, explaining why the desert, which Set represented, is infertile. Horus' left eye had also been gouged out, then a new eye was created by part of Khonsu, the moon god, and was replaced.

Horus was occasionally shown in art as a naked boy with a finger in his mouth sitting on a lotus with his mother. In the form of a youth, Horus was referred to as Neferhor. This is also spelled Nefer Hor, Nephoros or Nopheros (nfr ḥr.w) meaning 'The Good Horus'.

Wedjat, Eye of Horus

The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and royal power from deities, in this case from Horus or Ra. The symbol is seen on images of Horus' mother, Isis, and on other deities associated with her.

In the Egyptian language, the word for this symbol was "Wedjat". It was the eye of one of the earliest of Egyptian deities, Wadjet, who later became associated with Bast, Mut, and Hathor as well. Wedjat was a solar deity and this symbol began as her eye, an all seeing eye. In early artwork, Hathor is also depicted with this eye. Funerary amulets were often made in the shape of the Eye of Horus. The Wedjat or Eye of Horus is "the central element" of seven "gold, faience, carnelian and lapis lazuli" bracelets found on the mummy of Shoshenq II. The Wedjat "was intended to protect the king [here] in the afterlife" and to ward off evil. Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern sailors would frequently paint the symbol on the bow of their vessel to ensure safe sea travel.

Bastet ( or Bast )

Bastet ( or Bast ) was depicted with the head of a cat or lion.She was an Egyptian goddess from Lower Egypt who was associated with joy, music and dancing.She was the mother of Mihos, another lion god, and the wife of Ptah, god of the arts and crafts.Bastet is mentioned in the Book of the Dead where she destroyed the bodies of the deceased with her 'royal flame' if they failed any of the tests for entry to the underworld.

Bastet first appears in the 3rd millennium BC, where she is depicted as either a fierce lioness or a woman with the head of a lioness. Images of Bast were often created from a local stone, named alabaster today. The lioness was the fiercest hunter among the animals in Africa, hunting in co-operative groups of related females.

Originally she was viewed as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt. As protector, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra, who was also a solar deity, gaining her the titles Lady of Flame and Eye of Ra.

Her role in the Egyptian pantheon became diminished as Sekhmet, a similar lioness war deity, became more dominant in the unified culture of Lower and Upper Egypt known as the Two Lands.

In the first millennium BC, when domesticated cats were popularly kept as pets, Bastet began to be represented as a woman with the head of a cat. In the 2nd millennium, domestic cats appeared as Bastet's sacred animal. After the 11th century BCE, Bast was commonly depicted as a woman with the head of a cat or lioness, often carrying a sistrum (sacred rattle) and an aegis. When the Greeks started to settle in Egypt, around the 5th century BCE, Bastet started to gain some of the characteristics of Artemis, such as transitioning from a sun goddess to a moon goddess.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Southlands – realm of mystery and adventure!

The long-awaited Southlands Campaign Setting has arrived in glorious, gem-like digital form! Within its 300 pages you’ll find vast riches and terrible dangers: cursed tombs and wild spirits, fierce warriors and lost cities, and legendary monsters that prowl, slither and fly in the deserts, savannahs and jungles of Midgard’s largest continent. Those brave enough to venture into the Southlands might find wealth beyond imagining—or a horrible death.
Southlands includes everything you need to run a thrilling Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaign of high adventure in the hotter climates, including:
  • The rich histories, hidden secrets and mighty gods of the Corsair Coast, the Kingdoms of Salt and Steel, the Dominion of the Wind Lords, god-haunted Nuria Natal, and more
  • Five new playable races: proud werelions, havoc-loving gnolls, monstrous trollkin, plant-based kijani and insectoid tosculi
  • Guidelines for playing aasimar, tengu, jinnborn, lizardfolk, minotaurs, ramag and tieflings in the Southlands
  • A path for ambitious adventurers to become mythic heroes by seizing the divine spark of a dead god!
A vast continent sprawls before you, filled with the roaring of beasts, the clash of steel, the aroma of rare spices and perfumes, and the glittering of jewels. Take up your blade, and venture forth into the Southlands!

Get Southlands today at the Kobold Store, Paizo, or DriveThruRPG — and pick up the glorious Southlands Map!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How the Pyramids Were Built.

Should readers object that I have chosen a single unfortunate misstep (everyone makes mistakes) out of 600+ pages of otherwise careful analysis to prove a point, similar strictures apply to the Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton 'analysis' of pyramid building. Now, this is not quite the same situation as Domingo's forensic work, which is the result of a carefully developed methodology that commonly works in practice. Here, Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton do not incriminate themselves in a single glorious paragraph, but rather over the space of some 60 diffuse, ultimately self-contradictory pages.

This comes from their entry in the Daily Grail website but it is a resume of their treatment of the subject in their book:

Our readers will be aware that our research for Giza: The Truth led us t o come out in favour of the orthodox explanations as to when the Giza pyramids were built (c. 2500 BC) and why (primarily as funerary edifices, but accepting that there was a great deal of esoteric symbolism and ritual involved). As to how they were built , we feel that there is no conclusive evidence in the pyramids themselves which requires us to look outside of essentially orthodox explanations, even in the "worst" case of the 70-tonne granite blocks which had to be dragged up (in our view via a spiral ramp) to between one third and one half of the height of the Great Pyramid to form the ceilings/floors of the King's and Relieving Chambers. Nor do we feel that the logistics of Khufu building the Great Pyramid in something like 20 years - or even his father Sneferu's achievement of erecting three sizeable pyramids in a similar period - were impossible, or required anything other than massive commitment and dedication to a national cause, and superb project management skills. This is notwithstanding our boundless admiration for the quality of the workmanship, and our acceptance that, for example, tube drills were used with great skill - albeit that we do not believe at this stage that these tools were powered by anything other than human or animal labour; (for more on the "advanced technology" issues refer to our ongoing debate with Chris Dunn which will be posted on both our web sites shortly).

Readers will also be aware that we have provided a thorough analysis of the issues relating to many of the other "alternative" theories, such as the redating of the Sphinx and the Orion correlation, and ultimately we believe these too to be fatally flawed - not from any ideological perspective, merely because we do not believe that the evidence in these cases supports the hypothesis.

However there are two areas in which we might be said to depart from the orthodox line. The first is that of acoustics, where ongoing work by researchers such as John Reid is suggesting that the ancient Egyptians had a highly advanced understanding of acoustic properties and design - although we feel it is critical that such theories be evaluated in the context of, for example, other 4th Dynasty pyramids such as those at Dashur, as opposed to concentrating exclusively on the Great Pyramid and to a lesser extent its counterparts at Giza. And the second is that of sonic levitation - which is clearly not entirely unrelated.

To elaborate further, many of the huge limestone monoliths which form the core of the walls of the surviving mortuary and valley temples on the Giza Plateau are acknowledged by Egyptologists to weigh as much as 200 tonnes. This is a different order of magnitude again from the largest 70-tonne blocks in the Great Pyramid (or any other). Although the orthodox school has been happy to deliberate at length on the use of ramps etc. to erect the pyramids, these larger temple monoliths have tended to be swept under the carpet by them. (For example, in the otherwise excellent reference works such as Edwards' The Pyramids of Egypt' and Lehner's 'The Complete Pyramids', whole chapters are devoted to construction methods but the temples are ignored.) If we are to be totally honest and unbiased in our analysis, this is not acceptable just because it raises uncomfortable questions.

We are not qualified engineers. However, within the constraints of the tight time limits imposed when we were writing and researching the book - and despite our reasonable satisfaction with the logistics etc. of pyramid construction - we were unable to rationally explain the use of such massive blocks in the temples. Remember that the layout of these edifices is completely different. Suppose you could erect a presumably straight ramp of sufficiently dense material - and we have heard it suggested that once we are dealing with these kind of weights, only a ramp made of solid stone itself would not collapse - in order to drag these blocks up to the second and third courses of the temples. You need at a conservative estimate something like 600 men to drag a 200-tonne block (this estimate of a third of a tonne per man seems reasonably sound from experiments when slopes are involved). Irrespective of how many columns they are arranged in, where do they go when they get to the top of the ramp? There is no huge flat platform awaiting them as there is in a pyramid. So perhaps after each pull the lead line jumps down the other side, although this is hardly an ideal situation for pulling one's weight effectively! But what about once the opposite wall, or an intermediate partition wall, is in place? The size of these edifices is simply not sufficient, at least in some cases, for such obstructions not to be encountered well before the column of men had completed their hauling. So then we might suggest that the interiors were completely filled in with sand or whatever in order to provide a flat platform for the men to continue their hauling. But it seemed to us when we were researching this topic, and it still does, that once you get to this stage you are clutching at straws in your attempts to provide an "orthodox" explanation.

Occams Razor is certainly no longer at work. Accordingly we felt that the question posed correctly and legitimately by the alternative school had not been satisfactorily answered - that is that even if you can come up with an orthodox solution as to how these blocks were erected, it would be so convoluted and difficult that the further question remains: why on earth would the builders make life SO difficult for themselves?

Here again, as non-engineers and non-movers-of-stone, they beg to differ with the engineers, quarrymen and crane drivers familiar with moving huge chunks of heavy matter. These acknowledged experts in various relevant fields assert that their own level of expertise is insufficient to account for the very large FACT of carefully fitted 200 ton blocks in the Sphinx and Valley temples and 70 ton blocks in the Kings chamber halfway up the pyramid. After concerted studies of the problems involved in pyramid building, they maintain that no known simple method of ramps, levers and sledges (which was apparently all the ancient Egyptians had at their disposal) explains their ability to move the stones into place.

In and of itself, that expert opinion does NOT mean that the Egyptians COULDN'T have done it that way. What it does mean is that Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton's characteristically uninformed conviction that that is how they did do it is as arrogant as it is uninformed.

To support that conviction there are only the opinions of non-engineer Egyptologists, which are by definition suspect, and a single clever but manifestly inappropriate ramp-and-rope experiment by Mark Lehner in which average size 1/2 - 2 ton blocks blocks, similar to those in the core masonry of the Great Pyramid were successfully but roughly wrestled more or less into place up mud-slicked rubble ramps to the height of twenty feet . (Note: When the cameras weren't trained on the action, a bulldozer was pushing the recalcitrant blocks into easy striking distance. Shortage of time was the reason given.)
This admittedly interesting little exercise was then cited by Lehner et al as 'proof' of how the ancients must have done it, and Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton agree. They decide, meticulous scholars that they are, that they (like Lehner) will ignore for the moment, the problems involved in getting 70 ton granite blocks up ramps 200 feet high to roof over the King's Chamber.

This is roughly equivalent to me deciding to get into body building. I start off maybe able to press 100 lbs. After six months of hard work say I can press 200 pounds and I then claim that at that rate, doubling my prowess every six months, in five years I can press five tons.

Technology doesn't work that way. Most technological methods, like the human body, tend to have inherent, self-imposed limits. What works with a ton does not, in and of itself, mean that it will work with 70 or 200 tons.

But now, having thrown their joint inexpertise in behind orthodoxy --while ignoring all those informed contrary opinions, along with the 70 ton blocks-- they reverse themselves and decide that ramps/levers/unlimited manpower will not suffice, after all, to explain the 200 tons blocks in the Sphinx and Valley Temples. What will? Well, acoustic levitation maybe? And off they go on another diffuse ramble into the resonant properties of the King's Chamber and 'burial' chambers of the Red Pyramid (Dahshur), citing various sound experiments done there and then off into the sound levitation experiments that we, in our Mystery of the Sphinx video, cited as a possibility in principle. In principle because, at present an elaborate space age machine is capable only of levitating a pea-size pebble. They speculate that, hey! if the resonant properties of the chambers cited above are deliberately 'tuned' to specific frequencies (I think they are, too) then maybe that knowledge combined with some (totally unidentified and undemonstrable) ancient Egyptian gravity-reversing technology was what put the 200 ton blocks into place after all.

But of course, if they had such a technology in place for 200 ton blocks, then why go to the prodigious trouble of building gigantic building ramps to put the smaller stones of the pyramids into place? (It should be noted that engineers have calculated that the ramps --nearly a mile long-- necessary to haul the blocks into place would take up several times more material than the pyramid itself. Moreover, the ramps would have to be added to continually as the levels went up.) The point is that orthodox explanations for how the pyramids were built, do NOT --except in principle-- suffice to explain how they were built, while the speculation about acoustic levitation is no better, actually worse, since we DO know the Egyptians had ramps, ropes and plenty of manpower, while they do not appear to have had anything resembling an acoustic technology.

It is a non-argument, circular, vulnerable, silly and as always, selective. Yet for those without detailed knowledge of the vast body of work done on these problems, and a grasp of the numerous pros and cons, it looks like scholarship -- hence those favorable reviews proudly posted by them on various websites. Some respondents to these Giza: The (Half) Truth posts have expressed quite different opinions. Here's one that I suspect will not find its way onto their website, though I hereby give permission to use it.

Nigel Fox, who owns an advertising agency in South Africa and who is widely read on these matters, writes:

'The mind picture it evoked was of a rooster scratching over an old manure heap, keeping a beady eye cocked for any palatable morsels and passing over those not to its taste. Just a tad selective in the choice of facts and very liberal with the - "It didn't convince us, so it must be wrong" - opinionated judgements. Some of the language was disparaging to the point of being slanderous and delivered from the high and mighty throne of the supreme pontiffs of Egyptology. As an apologia for the Establishment, I'm sure it does a job for the hidebound, added an extra skin to the already thick coat they wear. But for anyone with an open mind, the odour of bigotry and the careful selectivity of the material screamed bias loud and clear. Peck, peck goes the rooster's beak, another nugget that sits well in my crop. Ptooi ! That bit stuck in the craw, so we'd best get rid of it before anybody notices.'

Even Zahi Hawass, as orthodox an Egyptologist as any, acknowledges that no one REALLY knows how the pyramids were built, (though he, too, ascribes to the ramp theory in one form or another). The credentialed engineers, quarrymen and crane drivers, on the other hand, tend to believe that since they can't figure out how the task was accomplished with simple technology, it couldn't have been done that way. But this is erring in the other direction. In other words, the field is open. Pyramid building is a game without agreed-upon rules and anyone can play.

It seems to me that the best way to approach this game is VERY gingerly ... and systematically. And to this end I offer my own contribution -- the result of vast (non-expert) reading of the various experts who've played this game. Unlike Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton, given the data to hand, I prefer to avoid conclusions of any sort, but at least I like to think that by categorizing the problems a more fruitful approach to them may be opened.

There are, it seems to me, but four possible explanations for building the pyramids, none of them necessarily mutually exclusive.

1. A simple technology (ramps/levers/sledges) brilliantly applied.
This is of course the only solution allowed by Egyptologists, even though we cannot reproduce such results today. On the other hand, despite what the starry-eyed New Agers (and indeed, the hard-nosed engineers) may say, this cannot be dis-allowed. Put a violin in my hands and I will quickly prove to you that music cannot be wrung from this intractable device. But give the violin to a virtuoso and out comes Bach's Partita or the Paganini Violin Concerto . Just because we can't move 200 ton blocks up a ramp, doesn't mean they couldn't. To use another analogy: did the Kitty Hawk prefigure the space shuttle and 'prove' that soon there would be space travel? The first generation of aeronautic engineers might well have scoffed at such a notion, (this was the stuff of science fiction) yet there is the space shuttle. But it is not even an exponential extension of existing Kitty Hawk technologies that make the space shuttle possible; rather it is the simultaneous application of a spectrum of new techologies undreamed-of a century ago: plastics, computers, rocketry, lasers and so on...

Our present-day engineers scoff at the ramp/rope/ manpower hypothesis, yet there are the pyramids. Does this mean that's how they must have been built? To Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton that's what it means, but it doesn't mean that to anyone who can think straight, or think at all. It means that in a best case scenario, given the evidence to hand, perhaps it should be given precedence over other explanations, all of them hypothetical (including this one!) and that is all that it means.

2. A hard technology for which there is no evidence.
This sounds on the surface outrageous, but who knows what ancient technology may have looked like. Suppose, 5000 years from now, a computer is found, and technology at that time does not use electricity or microchips and there is no record of such instruments. Computers turn up in archeological digs but they are mute bits of plastic with no moving parts. They might be fobbed off as ceremonial/religious artifacts (with some justification perhaps.) Who could guess that the Library of Congress could be stored on a few internal chips, or that prodigious mathematical calculations could be performed on them with the touch of a few keys? Maybe certain familiar but mysterious symbols of Egypt --the djed column for instance-- were actually technological devices, and we just don't know how to use them?

Who knows? Graham Hancock, in his book The Sign and the Seal makes what I think is a pretty good case for the Ark of the Covenant as just such a technological device. Given the Old Testament evidence to hand (for whatever that may be worth) it sure doesn't sound like a purely 'religious' symbol. (Acoustic levitation might fit in here, or in '3' following, or possibly in both.)

3. A soft technology -- mind power-- for which, by definition, there can be no evidence, and the knowledge was a priestly secret and/or references in the texts have been mis-translated.

The Egyptians were very good at keeping secrets; the texts refer to secret knowledge over and over again. It was the garrulous Greeks, Pythagorean defectors, who let the secrets outs of the bag. Ancient Egyptian, unlike Sanskrit, is not a living tradition and has had to be re-constructed from scratch mainly by scholars hostile to a mystical and esoteric tradition. Thus, possible references to such a soft technology may have been misunderstood or ignored. Yogis, Zen masters, advanced martial artists, and shamans can routinely perform physical feats that to the rest of us look and are impossible. But there is a volume of evidence to prove they can do it. There are recorded cases where a woman, with her child trapped beneath a car, lifts up the car to get the child out, something she could not even imagine doing in a normal state of consciousness. Maybe the pyramids were massive group consciousness-raising exercises, in and of themselves, or in conjunction with a simple or even a hard technology? Or both?

4. Aliens dunnit.
I personally like this explanation less than the others. I prefer to think that people rather like ourselves, but unencumbered with our stultifying and banal rationalist/materialist baggage, did it. Still, anyone who looks seriously into UFO literature, has to acknowledge that something is going on out there and they (whoever 'they' may be) are periodically coming here. Why I cannot imagine. But who knows? We go up there, why shouldn't they come down here -- and once here, for alien reasons of their own, build pyramids? Alien builders perhaps should not be dismissed out of hand. And since no one to date can adequately explain how they did it with simple ramps, levers and sledges either, or any other way, this explanation is hardly goofier than those.

The point is that the facile assurances given by Ogilvie-Herald/Lawton endorsing the orthodox viewpoint are illegitimate, their exclusion of contrary, genuinely informed opinion is typical of their selective bogus sch olarship, and their long-winded acoustic levitation hypothesis is pure speculation and self-contradictory besides. We still don't know how the pyramids were built. Period. Full stop. Over to you...

The “FIRST TIME” of Osiris

The Egyptians associated the first appearance of the phoenix with a golden age in their history known as Zep Tepi, the “First Time.” They were convinced the foundations of their civilization were established during this remote and glorious epoch. R. T. Rundle Clark, former professor of Egyptology at Manchester University, commented on the ancients’ conception of the First Time: “Anything whose existence or authority had to be justified or explained must be referred to the ‘First Time.’ This was true for natural phenomena, rituals, royal insignia, the plans of temples, magical or medical formulae, the hieroglyphic system of writing, the calendar—the whole paraphernalia of the civilization ... All that was good or efficacious was established on the principles laid down in the “First Time”—which was, therefore, a golden age of absolute perfection...”

“Anything whose existence or authority had to be justified or explained must be referred to the ‘First Time.’ This was true for natural phenomena, rituals, royal insignia, the plans of temples, magical or medical formulae, the hieroglyphic system of writing, the calendar – the whole paraphernalia of the civilization…All that was good or efficacious was established on the principles laid down in the “First Time” – which was, therefore, a golden age of absolute perfection…”
—R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
The First Time seems to have been the period during which Osiris reigned as foremost king of Egypt. It was during this era that he established law (maat) and initiated worship of Ra, Egypt’s monotheistic God. Rundle Clark explained:
“The reign of Osiris was a golden age, the model for subsequent generations.”
—R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
Maat and monotheism, the “model for subsequent generations” set forth by Osiris, was the driving force behind Egyptian culture for thousands of years.
What exactly does the phrase “the First Time” mean? Could it possibly be an arcane reference to the first appearance–the First Coming–of the Christian Savior on earth? Was there a Messianic guiding force behind the rise of Egyptian culture?—The same Messianic guiding force that has inaugurated the empire of Christendom? Was the “First Time” an era during which an ancient Messianic tradition was established? —A tradition aimed at revealing cultural wisdom, law, and spiritual truth to mankind during different historical epochs? Is the Third Time almost upon us again? Is the Savior machine about to activate once again, perhaps for the third and final time?
Richard Cassaro is author of the new book Written In Stone:
- See more at: http://www.richardcassaro.com/osiris-the-first-messiah-was-jesus-the-second-coming-of-egypts-christ#sthash.cw6ehNwp.dpuf

“Anything whose existence or authority had to be justified or explained must be referred to the ‘First Time.’ This was true for natural phenomena, rituals, royal insignia, the plans of temples, magical or medical formulae, the hieroglyphic system of writing, the calendar – the whole paraphernalia of the civilization…All that was good or efficacious was established on the principles laid down in the “First Time” – which was, therefore, a golden age of absolute perfection…”
—R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
The First Time seems to have been the period during which Osiris reigned as foremost king of Egypt. It was during this era that he established law (maat) and initiated worship of Ra, Egypt’s monotheistic God. Rundle Clark explained:
“The reign of Osiris was a golden age, the model for subsequent generations.”
—R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
Maat and monotheism, the “model for subsequent generations” set forth by Osiris, was the driving force behind Egyptian culture for thousands of years.
What exactly does the phrase “the First Time” mean? Could it possibly be an arcane reference to the first appearance–the First Coming–of the Christian Savior on earth? Was there a Messianic guiding force behind the rise of Egyptian culture?—The same Messianic guiding force that has inaugurated the empire of Christendom? Was the “First Time” an era during which an ancient Messianic tradition was established? —A tradition aimed at revealing cultural wisdom, law, and spiritual truth to mankind during different historical epochs? Is the Third Time almost upon us again? Is the Savior machine about to activate once again, perhaps for the third and final time?
Richard Cassaro is author of the new book Written In Stone:
- See more at: http://www.richardcassaro.com/osiris-the-first-messiah-was-jesus-the-second-coming-of-egypts-christ#sthash.cw6ehNwp.dpuf
“Anything whose existence or authority had to be justified or explained must be referred to the ‘First Time.’ This was true for natural phenomena, rituals, royal insignia, the plans of temples, magical or medical formulae, the hieroglyphic system of writing, the calendar – the whole paraphernalia of the civilization…All that was good or efficacious was established on the principles laid down in the “First Time” – which was, therefore, a golden age of absolute perfection…”
—R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
The First Time seems to have been the period during which Osiris reigned as foremost king of Egypt. It was during this era that he established law (maat) and initiated worship of Ra, Egypt’s monotheistic God. Rundle Clark explained:
“The reign of Osiris was a golden age, the model for subsequent generations.”
—R. T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt
Maat and monotheism, the “model for subsequent generations” set forth by Osiris, was the driving force behind Egyptian culture for thousands of years.
What exactly does the phrase “the First Time” mean? Could it possibly be an arcane reference to the first appearance–the First Coming–of the Christian Savior on earth? Was there a Messianic guiding force behind the rise of Egyptian culture?—The same Messianic guiding force that has inaugurated the empire of Christendom? Was the “First Time” an era during which an ancient Messianic tradition was established? —A tradition aimed at revealing cultural wisdom, law, and spiritual truth to mankind during different historical epochs? Is the Third Time almost upon us again? Is the Savior machine about to activate once again, perhaps for the third and final time?
Richard Cassaro is author of the new book Written In Stone:
- See more at: http://www.richardcassaro.com/osiris-the-first-messiah-was-jesus-the-second-coming-of-egypts-christ#sthash.cw6ehNwp.dpuf

Friday, July 24, 2015

Desert of Desolation

An Egypt themed AD&D adventure path that combines three previously published adventures:

I3: Pharaoh

I4: Oasis of the White Palm

I5: Lost Tomb of Martek

Three of the I-series of AD&D adventures were grouped and published as a single book under the title Desert of Desolation. The combined work includes some reworking of the original modules and adds some additional details - most notably, a campaign level map linking all the adventures and an ancient script for the writings used throughout the adventures. The result is a module that is nearly a campaign in itself.

The module includes a fold-out map of the desert region and several color handouts for players. Dungeon maps are provided in a small accompanying booklet. The module is written as a single story and plays as a large adventure (vs. a series of related modules).

Pharaoh is an Egyptian-styled adventure that includes a pyramid map and a trap-filled maze.[1] In Pharaoh, the player characters (PCs) are driven into the desert for a crime they did not commit.[2] The characters journey to the sunken city of Pazar and from there must travel to the haunted tomb of an ancient pharaoh. While in the desert, the characters encounter the spirit of Amun-Re, a pharaoh cursed to wander the desert until his tomb is robbed. Amun-Re begs the PCs to remove his staff of ruling and Star Gem from his tomb to break his curse. The tomb was built to be thief-proof and has so far lived up to its reputation. While in Amun-Re's pyramid, the characters can use an item called the dome of flight to control or reverse gravity; carelessness can cause them to fall upwards. The palm trees in this room bear exploding fruit. The characters also encounter a maze with numerous traps. The module contains wilderness maps, and a number of smaller adventures as well.

Oasis of the White Palm
In Oasis of the White Palm, the PCs arrive at the Oasis of the White Palm, which is on the brink of turmoil. Shadalah, who is to be the bride of the sheikh's eldest son, has been kidnapped. The sheikh believes her to be held by his enemies somewhere in the oasis. The PCs must solve the mystery before they can progress further. Once the characters make the contacts they need at the oasis, they continue to the temple of Set and the crypt of Badr al-Mosak, and the adventure concludes in the city of Phoenix; there, the PCs must obtain the three Star Gems (the one from Amun-Re's tomb in the previous adventure and two more introduced here) and free the djinni if they plan to move on to the next module. The Oasis of the White Palm module contains wilderness maps, and also includes a number of smaller adventures.

Lost Tomb of Martek
The goal of the PCs is the tomb of the millennium-dead wizard Martek. The tomb lies in the vast Desert of Desolation, and the majority of the adventure takes place within Martek's tomb. The adventurers have to cross a sea of glass on skate-ships, and then pass through the Crystal Prism and the Mobius Tower in order to reach the final crypt. The adventure is organized into seven parts, taking the party from the desert through a number of planes on their way to the Citadel of Martek. They must use the Star Gems to revive the dead wizard. When they have done so, he lets them choose from a variety of magical treasure, and leaves to defeat the Efreet.

Wepwawet - The Wolf God

In late Egyptian mythology, Wepwawet (hieroglyphic wp-w3w.t; also rendered  UpuautWep-wawetWepawet, and Ophois) was originally a war deity, whose cult centre was Asyut in Upper Egypt (Lycopolis in the Greco-Roman period). His name means, opener of the ways and he is often depicted as a wolf standing at the prow of a solar-boat. Some interpret that Wepwawet was seen as a scout, going out to clear routes for the army to proceed forward. One inscription from the Sinai states that Wepwawet "opens the way" to king Sekhemkhet's victory.

Wepwawet originally was seen as a wolf deity, thus the Greek name of Lycopolis, meaning city of wolves, and it is likely the case that Wepwawet was originally just a symbol of the pharaoh, seeking to associate with wolf-like attributes, that later became deified as a mascot to accompany the pharaoh. Likewise, Wepwawet was said to accompany the pharaoh on hunts, in which capacity he was titled(one with) sharp arrow more powerful than the gods.

Over time, the connection to war, and thus to death, led to Wepwawet also being seen as one who opened the ways to, and through, Duat, for the spirits of the dead. Through this, and the similarity of the jackal to the wolf, Wepwawet became associated with Anubis, a deity that was worshiped in Asyut, eventually being considered his son. Seen as a jackal, he also was said to be Set's son. Consequently, Wepwawet often is confused with Anubis. This deity appears in the Temple of Seti I at Abydos.

In later Egyptian art, Wepwawet was depicted as a wolf or a jackal, or as a man with the head of a wolf or a jackal. Even when considered a jackal, Wepwawet usually was shown with grey, or white fur, reflecting his lupine origins. He was depicted dressed as a soldier, as well as carrying other military equipment—a mace and abow.

For what generally is considered to be lauding purposes of the pharaohs, a later myth briefly was circulated claiming that Wepwawet was born at the sanctuary of Wadjet, the sacred site for the oldest goddess of Lower Egypt that is located in the heart of Lower Egypt. Consequently, Wepwawet, who had hitherto been the standard of Upper Egypt alone, formed an integral part of royal rituals, symbolizing the unification of Egypt.

In later pyramid texts, Wepwawet is called "Ra" who has gone up from the horizon, perhaps as the "opener" of the sky. In the later Egyptian funerary context, Wepwawet assists at the Opening of the mouth ceremony and guides the deceased into the netherworld.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Netjer: The One God of Ancient Egypt

Netjer," a Kemetic word meaning "divine power," is the One Self-Created Deity which manifests in myriads of forms, which we call Names (Kemetic Orthodoxy is a monolatry, NOT a polytheism or monotheism. 

Kemetic Orthodoxy is a modern practice of the religious tradition of Ancient Egypt (known to its own people as Kemet). Through the foundation of ancient thought and spiritual structure, devotees of Kemetic Orthodoxy follow the path their forebears first walked more than 4,000 years ago. Kemetic Orthodoxy is an African Traditional Religion and bears similarity to several other African and African Diaspora religions (such as the West African religions of the Yoruba, Akan, and Dahomeyan peoples and the Afro-Caribbean practices of Vodou, Candomble, and Santeria) as well some of the practices known from ancient northeastern Africa and the ancient Near East. Practicing Kemetic Orthodoxy requires a commitment to preserving the cultural heritage established in the past which Kemetic Orthodoxy continues to represent, even in places and times well removed from its original practice. 

The Kemetic Orthodox faith, both in its modern and ancient practice, is a monolatrous religion. 

Monolatry is a different concept than monotheism, where it is believed God manifests in one form and one form only, nor it a full polytheism, where many gods appear in many separate and distinct forms. In some ways, it represents synthesis of the two, in a multi-god structure still providing the possibility of understanding all divine beings as part of one divine source. 

A monolatrous religion professes one divine force (Netjer in the Kemetic language, meaning "divine power") that is in turn comprised of other separate, yet interlinked aspects, like a team can be defined both as one entity (the sum of its parts) and by individual members themselves. The "gods and goddesses" of Ancient Egypt, while clearly differentiated from each other in some respects and not as clearly in others, also each represent an aspect of Netjer, as Its Names (after the practice of recognizing Netjer "in Its Name of..." in ritual invocations). The Names of Netjer are in addition to being individual entities, also representative aspects of the Self-Created One, and are parts of that whole Being. Each Name of Netjer, like the parts of the human body, has differing structure and function, yet each part is required to constitute the entire Person.

How is Kemetic Orthodoxy practiced?
Kemetic Orthodoxy is divided into three main categories of devotion. First is the formal worship service, comprising the "state" ritual. These practices are perhaps the best known from antiquity due to their preservation in source material and upon the very walls of ancient temples. Changed only very slightly over the millennia, these conservative rites are preserved by the Kemetic Orthodox priesthood as closely to their original practice as possible. Illustrative of these formal rites is the Rite of the House of the Morning, a daily greeting of the sunrise along with invocations and praise to Netjer for a new day. Each sunrise is significant, as a physical and symbolic representation of the eternal reassurance that Ma'at (a central concept of the faith, denoting universal order and "truth" in an absolute sense) have been preserved and that life will continue to exist. 

The second category of Kemetic Orthodox worship is "personal piety": the devotional practice of all followers, including priests and laymen. The foundation of the Kemetic Orthodox faith is found in a universal rite called the Senut (Shrine): every devotee, whether congregant or priest, and even the Nisut (AUS) Herself, performs a daily set of prayers in an established household shrine to communicate with and worship Netjer. While this ritual is simple in comparison to the pomp and fanfare of the state rites, it forms the backbone of Kemetic Orthodoxy's entire ritual practice and constitutes its most important sacrament.

The third category of Kemetic Orthodox worship involves ancestral devotion. Akhu, or the blessed dead, are one step closer to Netjer than mortal man. In revering and remembering our ancestors and loved ones who have passed on, they live forever. We leave offerings to our ancestors, and venerate them so that they, in turn, will protect and look kindly upon us.

[Author Note: The spelling of Netjer in English with "tj," rather than "Neter" or "ntr" as sometimes written in Egyptology books, has been adopted by the House of Netjer at my direction after research, as I believe it is the most accurate way to phoneticize the Kemetic word in English. In Kemetic, the word is written with the hieroglyphic symbol of a flag, after the ritual flags hung above temple entrances. I have been very pleased to see the use of this more accurate Romanization in many Websites since our spelling was forwarded - it has been known to the scholarly community for some time and many books not in English already use it, but the spelling "ntr" (neter) had been the standard in English.]

Yinepu (Anpu; G/R Anubis) "The Royal Child" A Name of predynastic origins, depicted either as a full jackal or as a jackal-headed man, Yinepu originally, as Khenty-amenti or "Foremost of Westerners," was both embalmer and caretaker of the deceased, and the guardian of tomb and necropolis. Over time Wesir's popularity would absorb much of Yinepu's nature, causing Him to be written into the myths as Wesir's son by Nebt-het (alternately Set's son or Aset's son) and relegating Him to the role merely of embalmer and overseer of the funerary processes. Masks of Yinepu were routinely worn by the Sem-priest officiating at the funeral and the 70-day mummification process; images of Yinepu wrapping bandages, pouring oils or embracing the coffin are generally not actually images of the Netjer Himself, but of His servants doing His work. In later times Yinepu would be syncretised with Greek Hermes and seen as a "psychopompos"or messenger/guide of the deceased soul; in Kemetic iconography, Yinepu can be seen leading the deceased person into the Hall of Double Truth, where He then weighs the deceased's heart against the feather of Ma'at.
Aten (Aton, Yiten) - "Sun's Disk" Aten is the physically visible sun, the yellow sphere in earth's sky that can fructify or scorch. The Aten-disk is venerated as a form of Shu, Ra, or Heru from the late Middle Kingdom onward and was not, as some have erroneously stated, "invented" by New Kingdom pharaoh Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten. However, beginning with Akhenaten's father, Amenhotep III, Aten enjoyed a higher level of worship, and during Akhenaten's reign, for reasons not entirely clear in the historic record, Akhenaten declared all other Names invalid and Their priests useless, and ordered Kemet to worship him as the "Sole One of Aten," who would then take the people's prayers to His Father (he did not order them to worship Aten; the texts state that only Akhenaten is qualified to do this as the Disk's intermediary). Akhenaten's religious reforms, which did not represent monotheism as has been often suggested (Akhenaten offers Ma'at in friezes, and some of his hymns refer to "Ra-Heru-akhety in His Name of Shu Who is in Aten," indicating Akhenaten's "destruction" of other Names was selective), did not long outlast him; a backlash against the Atenist movement by the priesthood of Amen-Ra after Akhenaten's death resulted in the loss of much of this Name's information.

Set (Sutekh; G/R Seth) - (unknown, derived possibly either from the word "to dazzle" (setken) or "stabilizing staff/pillar" (setes)) In the oldest mythologies, Set is "He Before Whom the Sky Shakes," a sky-Netjer like Heru, and specifically of the storm, with lightning and thunder His heralds. Eventually, because of His natural opposition to His brother/nephew Heru, and also because during the Second Intermediate Period, invading Hyksos forces identified their own chief god with Him, Set's reputation changed. Into the New Kingdom with the rise of the cult of Wesir, which posited Set (as lord of the desert which crept into the arable land at the end of every year) as the "murderer" of the Lord of the Black Land, Set was literally demonized, and in late periods was identified with Apep as a symbol of complete destruction and with later religions' concepts of "the Devil," including both Greek Typhon and Hebraic "Satan." It is important to note that both are non-Kemetic understandings - Set at all times, while not exactly a "nice guy," is a necessary force in the universe - that of strength and violent force - and in Kemetic myth, even Ra acknowledges this, by awarding the post of guardian of the Boat of Millions of Years to Set after the kingship is given to Heru, because Set "is the only one strong enough to do it." Set is symbolized by the ass and the hippopotamus and the pig, and sometimes the jackal (and at least theoretically the hyena); however, His main theophany is an unknown canid with square ears and a forked tail, often called simply the "Set-animal," whose species has been a mystery to Egyptologists. In late 1996, a large mammal with square ears and a forked tail allegedly was caught and killed in Upper Egypt. Called "salawa" by the locals, the animal has been theorized to be part of the family from which the South African Cape Hunting Dog comes; its extreme size and appearance lend credence to the folktales surrounding this newly-discovered desert mammal as "Set."
Hornung, Erik; [translated from German by John Baines]. Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and The Many. Cornell University Press, 1982. ISBN 0-8014-1223-4.

A thought-provoking look at the philosophy behind Kemetic religion, Kemetic concepts of Deity, and their contribution to the development of other world religions and philosophies, masterfully translated from the original German by Egyptologist John Baines. Not for beginners. Very highly recommended.

Meeks, Dimitri and Christine Favard; [translated from French by G. M. Goshgarian]. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-801-43115-8.

The next ground-breaking book since Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt, Daily Life may well replace Hornung as the most comprehensive study on Kemetic theology. The Meeks take an interesting perspective, which is to present the Names of Netjer as if they were a people and the book were an anthropological study of a living tribe. Covers the philosophical intricacies of ancient Egyptian religion as well as some of the hard facts: rites, temples, priesthood, and the three-tiered calendrical system tied into the festival days of the Names. May not be for beginners, but is more accessible than Hornung. Available both in hardback and paperback. Highly recommended.

Morenz, Siegfried. [translated from German] Egyptian Religion. Cornell Paperbacks. ISBN 0-8014-8029-9.

A wonderful discussion of Kemetic religion from both theological and philosophical perspectives. Not an easy book to read, but a valuable one; I believe it to be superior to Henri Frankfort's book of the same title.

Ritner, Robert Kriech. The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization #54, 1993. ISBN 0-918986-756-3.

Perhaps the most ambitious study of ancient Egyptian "magic" to date, Ritner's dissertation is a compendium of source material for the structure and form of rites practiced in Kemet. While materials are limited for periods before the end of the New Kingdom (an issue for all Egyptology), Ritner has done a spectacular job of bringing together diverse symbolic, physical and theological points of interest, from the use of prayer for medicinal purposes to execration, blessing, divination and other ritual as "magic." Not for beginners; as a dissertation it expects readers to be familiar with a number of Kemetic philosophical arguments, and passages are rendered in hieroglyph, hieratic, demotic, Arabic, Coptic and European languages without translation.

Rundle-Clark, R.T. Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27112-7.

A concise discussion of the theology of Kemet as well as its differing myth cycles, symbolic language, cosmology, etc.

Schafer, Byron E., ed. Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths and Personal Practice. Cornell University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8014-2550-6.

A collection of scholarly papers on Kemetic religion, sacred kingship and conceptions of Netjer.