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 The Religious Reform of Imhotep

 

The complete plan of the gods according to Osirian reform

 

THE ANCIENT GOD HORUS : God of the sky, sun and the moon

 

Worshipped since predynastic times up until the first 2 dynasties, he shared with his rival Set, the first place in Egyptian polytheism, where many gods (most half-human, half animal) were honored in each district.

In reality each region honoured " its gods and its creator ", surrounded by a multitude of strange and often terrifying gods. However, Horus was considered to be the leader of the people and the precursor of Osiris and his son Horus (the younger).

Horus (meaning distant), is the ancient falcon hunter, the king of the sky, that the people of Edfor assimilated with the sky god Behedety, the great god of Damauhow and Edfor. His right eye was the sun, his left eye the moon, and he was symbolized by a winged URAEUS. This symbol was placed above the doors of the temples to keep away evil spirits. He was thus a link with ancient times, and his image and symbols evolved during the three centuries of Osirian reforms.

Using the name Horakhty (the sun at the horizon), Horus became Re (at the zenith of the sky). King Horus, the all powerful, became confused with the united gods ATOUM and Re. Thus it was not just by chance that the son of Osiris and Isis took the role, the name and the power of Horus the falcon (who also played such an important role in the Shaman religion).

 

HORUS / Horsaisis : the son of Isis and heir of Osiris

 

The Egyptian priests assigned to Horus (the son of Isis) four sons. Each one had a precise role in the rituals of embalming, not only of their father who had been killed by Set, but also of the bodies of the believers, whose organs they guarded in special funeral vases.

Note the name Harmakhis was also, at the start of the new kingdom, the name of the sphinx (the guardian of the portal to the next world).

 

HARPOCRATE

HARMAKHIS

HARSOMTOUS

HORNEDJITEF

Horus child sat
on knees of Isis

Horus in
 the infinite horizon

Horus that unites
the two earths

Horus that takes
care of his father

 

From the 3rd dynasty onwards, Horus the son of Isis took over the role of the ancient Horus, the falcon god of Edfor. Horus, as the son of Isis symbolically took the throne that had belonged to his father. In fact, it would have been impossible for the people to build the huge pyramids, which direct our attention up to the heavens, without the overriding idea of resurrection (which was incarnated by Osiris), who in turn gave this temporal and spiritual power to his son Horus.

 

 

The word "Shed" means "savior" is used to describe Horus.

The inscription 3,IV on the temple of Edfor which shows HORUS Behedety (the sky god of the town of Behedet Damanhour in the Delta), replacing the ancient HORUS in the temple while keeping his symbol of the sun protected by 2 Uranus and 2 falcon wings above the doors of the temples.

 

I am Horus, millions of years old !
The throne was passed down to me and
I will occupy it because the mouth of my father spoke and he is dead.
Osiris has gone towards the eastern horizon.
I shall become his breath, which has for him and his soul all that he needs,
and which will continue to be the guide of his people.

 

ATTRIBUTES OF THE 4 SONS OF HORUS the younger,
concerning the preservation of organs during the ritual of embalming.

A M S E T

DOUAMUTEF

H A P Y

QEBENSENOUF

Mummy with a
 human head who
watches over the
liver

Mummy with a head of
a dog's who watches
(with the help of Neth)
over the stomach

Mummy with a head of
a dog or a baboon who
watches over the lungs
of the dead

Mummy with a head of
a falcon, who with Selquit
watches over the
intestines of the dead

 

Hapy was also the "genie of the Nile", the hidden power of the river, appearing as a androgynous man only wearing his boatsman’s belt. He represented the floods which fertilized the grain and fed the people.

 

S E T  :  Murderer of his brother OSIRIS

 

Set was a very ancient god from the south, originating in the city of OMBOS in the Vth district (formally Noubit across from Coptos). He was perhaps of Semitic origin, and he was the guardian of the flocks of sheep, and he was represented as a mixture of a dog and a donkey (Later he became a mischievous red dog).

In predynastic times, several wars took place between the South and the North. At an undetermined time, Horus became the god of Upper Egypt and Set that of the Delta. The South was defeated several times by the Delta, and the king who unified the 2 countries banned Set, declaring him undesirable.

There was a time between the IIIrd and Vth dynasties where a new mythology began. Geb and Nout had 5 children: Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys. One day Set took Osiris to a banquet. During the meal, he promised to give a wonderful gift to the person whose measurements matched exactly those of a sarcophagus that he had specially made to fit the measurements of Osiris.

When Osiris lay down in the coffin, the lid was closed, and the whole thing was thrown into the Nile, where Osiris drowned. Isis found her husband’s body, Set revived it and cut the cadaver into pieces which he scattered over all the districts of Egypt. But Isis, with the help of the god Arubis, found the pieces of her husband, reassembled them all to resuscitate him sufficiently to be spiritually impregnated by him. His phallus disappeared forever into the mouth of a fish. This was the first resurrection of the soul after death on this earth.

Isis gave birth to a boy whom she named HORUS. He took revenge over his father’s death by emasculating Set during a fight in the desert east of Cairo. Set in turn put out Horus’s eye, but the latter recovered and finally with the help of the god Thot, Horus recovered the throne.

Following this the Egyptians associated Set with the image of the huge serpent god APOPIS, who represented the idea of preventing chaos. He appeared from the ashes each day to try to stop the sun ship which traveled through the night. APOPIS personified a wicked spirit who disturbed the natural order of things.

Set was also the god of storms and tempests, of deserts and oases. He represented the difficulties against which we struggle to ensure our spiritual rebirths.

During the last intermediate period (1785 BC to 1570 BC), the Hyksos invaders (who had assimilated Set with the Phoenician god Baal) adopted him as the god of the town Avaris in the Nile Delta.

Around 800 BC he was to become considered as a homosexual performing ineffective acts. He was the god of strangers and invaders. In the Ptolemic period he was often shown as a repulsive hippopotamus, who by shrieking loudly at night prevented people from sleeping. He was also shown as a crocodile, a devious and dangerous animal.

 

T H O T  :  the great god of action and wisdom

 

THOT with the head of an Ibis on the sun ship

 

THOT was the ancient god of wisdom, the scribe of the gods and the Master of sacred writings, who was honoured already at Hermopolis-Parva in the Delta, where they sometimes showed him as a baboon god, who had preceded him in the temple. It was in this form that he left with the lion SHOU to find the fugitive and wild lioness TEFNOUT (the sister of SHOU and daughter of Re).

In the Pyramid Texts he is shown in his celestial form as a man with the head of an Ibis. He was a very important deity who helped to judge souls at he tribunal of Osiris. His job was to make notes and compare the weight of the souls with that of the feather of Maat, who was the goddess who symbolized truth.

As was the custom, He was given a wife, the goddess SHESAT (of writing). Thot was also the god of the moon but he was also the uncontested master of speech, and of wise sayings, and it was because of this that he was assimilated as the tongue of the god PTAH.

A talented advocate, he made a plea to the tribunal of the supreme Ennead for the restoration of the throne to Horus (the heir of Osiris), and for the organs lost during the battle between Set and Horus.

 

O S I R I S  :  the god with the power of spiritual rebirth

 

 

Just as Cain killed his brother Abel, Osiris was cunningly killed by his brother SET. He was the like the seed that died and was reborn, (just like the Nile floods, the waxing and waning moon, or even the sun, which as the source of life personified, travels across the earth in the shadow of the evening to be reborn each morning on the other side of the Nile).

As god of the dead and rebirth, he was King-Judge who presided over the celestial tribunal which rewarded or punished souls who were summoned to cross over into the underground world of the dead.

Osiris was the pillar, the cornerstone of the new religion which invited the people to climb up towards the sky using the stairway of the pyramids. The precursor of Christ, (who was also put to death by his compatriots in religion), Osiris was also symbolized by a stranger called IMOTEP, who seemed to have come from another time (almost another world), to bring a message to future generations to help them live, suffer and be reborn into another life.

This message from IMOTEP and his unknown assistants is like the mission of a prophet who would make the people question (without negating the old beliefs and superstitions). This work was long and exacting, and seemed to anticipate the ups and down of the next 2 millennia. This was like the continual struggle between good and evil; and as men come and go, no one is like another.

From Heliopolis, the Osirian cult moved to Busiris, taking the place of the former god king ANJTY, a man who had two rams horns and two feathers on his head. In his hands he held the sceptre Heka (the symbol of magic), and the flagellum (the insignia of royalty which the heir apparent received when he ascended to the throne). Busiris was the capital of the Delta during the pre-dynastic period, but lost the status during the Old Kingdom to Bouto (a town situated between Alexandria and Sais). Busiris (which Strabon called in Greek Cynopolis), remained renowned for its large temple dedicated to the goddess Isis.

OSIRIS was shown as a mummy covered in bandages. On his head was the white mitre of Upper Egypt (!), and in his hands a sceptre and a whip to punish the wicked. One explanation of the mitre was that the priests of Abydos pretended that Osiris had drowned near them in the Nile, and that they had the head of the dead king in a pottery jug. (Set had cut up the body and scattered the pieces all over Egypt !)

This did not stop the cult of Osiris from spreading; he became in the people’s consciousness "the being supremely good", loved by all the people for his suffering, in order to show the way to eternal life.

More than 2500 years before the birth of Jesus, Osiris was also born by a spiritual conception, like him he was the light which chased away the shadows. Killed by his religious brothers, he was reborn and went up into the heavens to judge peoples’ souls according to their personal merits...

 

I S I S  :  the mother-queen, with temporal and spiritual powers

 

  

Isis - The queen-goddess of mystical origins, whose name is only two letters away from that of her husband OSIRIS, (who was murdered by SET). Like the great mother goddess of antiquity, Isis was often worshipped, and her help solicited as a healer and a protective mother.

According to legend (with the aid of Anubis - the god of the embalmers, and her sister Nephthys), she recovered the pieces of her spouse, which were scattered over all the districts of Egypt. Knowing the mysterious secret of Re, from which he gained all his strength, she used it to revive her husband for a few instants, during which time she was spiritually impregnated by him :

Here are comments from some extracts of the Texts of the Pyramids :

" Isis in the shape of a vulture, hovering over the stomach of Osiris, has used his power, in the presence of Nephthys, their sister, who kept the head of Osiris in the city of Saïs (Saout), because their Lord is Osiris, the Lord of Saïs, because their god is in you. "

Jesus often spoke figuratively, with an underlying meaning to his words, but we can still be astonished at some of the sentences with metaphorical meanings found on the tombs of the fifth dynasty!

Under the New Empire, ISIS was beloved and adored by ALL as the : "UNIVERSAL MOTHER" and the goddess of ALL, and particularly of those who suffered. She comforted the poor and those that were about to die. She had the power of reviving the dead, since her part in the resurrection of the spirit of Osiris.

Just like Mary at Golgotha in the Christian religion, who becomes by her sufferings with the disciple John, "the Mother of all humanity", Isis suffered and became, with her son Horus, the great mother goddess who drove back the forces of darkness and won through her sufferings a decisive victory over evil.

She became the Eternal Queen of the Sky, with many faces. She was the divine mediator who interceded in favor of human beings during their life on earth and at the time of the judgement of their souls in the sky.

In contrast with Hathor, the cow goddess, who held the newborn sun between her horns for protection, Isis embodied the ideal female companion, the inconsolable widow and the devoted mother. The picture of her nursing her child already was very frequently seen in the temples, (and also in Minor Asia and in Rome where she was worshipped in the great temple which the emperor Caligula constructed, remembering his childhood in Egypt).

 

The laments of ISIS  (papyrus of Berlin n° 3 008)

" O thou, Supreme God of mind and flesh, this home is also yours. Hear the prayer of your daughter whom you cannot abandon after giving so much hope to her heart. My soul flies toward You and asks you to come back to this Home which is also yours. Come to see the one that loves your son with all her heart and all her soul, just as she loves you. O Lord, HEAR to the call of your daughter. Come! "

 

The greatness of Isis reaches its culmination of faith here, identifying with all the mothers and wives who have cried over a son or a spouse dead on the field of battle, or taken in the flower of youth by an accident or a cruel illness.

O cruel death where is your victory ? When our time has passed and with white hair, they will (finally) be reunited with the souls that they loved in the next world. Things temporal, material, tyrants, camps of the winners or the vanquished, jails, mayhem, illnesses and all the pain and suffering of the world. You alone, Death, you reunite those that pain had separated and that love had united!

 

The myth of abundant Floods :

 

In Egypt since the prehistoric times the flooding was a natural phenomenon which came every year towards mid July, this date corresponding with the Egyptian new year. This flooding fluctuated from one year to the next, according to the amount of rain that had fallen on the high plateaux of Nubia that fed into the Nile and its tributaries. The floods could be at a very low level, and this would correspond to a year of drought; or they could irrigate the dry earth generously for three months and guarantee the germination of the seeds and assure the people a good harvest.

And we can understand why the natural elements, like the rain, the sun, the floods or drought had a vital importance for the first tribes of people. Actually various mythologies grew up around the floods, with these different aspects :

 

The irrigation by channels fertilizing Egyptian agriculture since prehistoric times:

 

 

From the IIIrd dynasty the flooding is associated in myth with the gathering of the pieces of Osiris which had been scattered throughout the various districts, they were going to refresh the earth. Certain priests saw in the flooding: the mystical tears of Isis crying for her dead husband.

So we see that the Egyptians associated several symbols with this phenomenon of the flooding, on which the people depended for their main food supply.

The water of life according to an excerpt from the "ancient Texts of the Pyramids" :

" Here is the WATER OF LIFE which is in the sky and on the earth,
The sky blazes and the earth quivers for you (the flooding),
When the god (Hapy of the Nile) is born, the two hills cleave apart,
The god appears and spreads throughout his body. "

 

R e  ou  R a  :  the Sun god

 

The cult of Re the Sun god of HELIOPOLIS spread over all Egypt is represented in a man's form with a disk on his head, (or at Memphis in the shape of sacred bull: Mnevis).

According to legend, Re was born as a black scarab which travelled through the night. (In those days there were some flying scarabs which are now extinct). In the morning the scarab was transformed into the child KHEPRI, whose name means "life is coming." Until noon the child grew until it had the shape of a man with the head of a falcon, he was called Re-HORATKY (with the strength of king Horus at his zenith).

In the evening, when the star disappeared behind the mountains of the West, Re was merged with ATOUM, the invisible spirit, and became ATOUM-Re. He was represented as an old man who went away in his boat, disappearing down the river, only to be born again in the dawn on the other bank of the Nile.

In the 2nd dynasty the Pharaoh, believed themselves to be the sons of the sun. By the 5th dynasty, they saw themselves as incarnations of the sun; thus the Pharaoh was in Re and Re was in the Pharaoh.

The main source of life, the sun incorporated the powers of the kings and the main divinites, thus one sees the names Atoum-Re, Amon-Re, Knouhm-Re, Osiris-Re and Horus-Re.....

IHET was the primordial cow or mother of the sun, who after its birth, placed it between her horns for protection. As for the goddess TASENETNEFERET, she was considered in later times to be the eye of Re and the sister of the sun. At Kom-Ombo, she was united with Horus the ancient, and became the wife of Haroeris.

  

 

The companions of Re at Heliopolis :

 

NEBETHETEPET :
(assimilated with Hathor). With the goddess IOUSSAS (the woman of contentment), these two goddesses inspired the creator god ATOUM-Re of Heliopolis to create the world.

SHESEMTET :
(one of the faces of Hathor which is seen in the Uraeus).

MAAT :
Daughter of ATOUM, she is the essence of light and the goddess of truth, representing divine JUSTICE. She is also the symbol of feminine charm.

 

The daughters of Re :

 

PAKHET :
The lioness goddess of Beni Hassan, who guarded the borders of desert.

BASTET :
The cat goddess of Bubastis, who was the goddess who guarded the home, or in her lioness form she was the eye of Re.

TEFNOUT :
The lioness of Leontopolis, she was the main representative of the dangerous goddesses.

HATHOR :
As a dangerous goddess, Hathor united with the strength of Maat, repelled the attacks of the forces of chaos.

  

P T A H  :  the "mummified" god with shaven head

 

 

 

It is hard to imagine all the dangers in Lower Egypt (the Delta), and especially in the marshes of Fayoum in ancient times. The country was infested with crocodiles (especially during the time of the floods, when they ventured as far as the peasants’ lands.)

This fear certainly influenced the inhabitants to honor the terrifying god Sobek (or Soukhos) who was a man with the head of a crocodile. He was the son of the goddess Neith of Sais, and the priests expected him to combat the enemies of divine order.

The kings of the first official dynasties drained a large area of the marshes and built Memphis, that became, under Djeser, the capital of the kingdom; whilst Heliopolis became the religious capital.

Whereas at Heliopolis, ATOUM-Re surmounted the divine enneade at Memphis, they worshipped the god SOKAR (as a mummy with the head of a falcon), who crossed the sacred Nile river in his boat Henou, to awaken the sun on the other side. Probably it is his silhouette that is engraved on King Narmer’s stone, he is seated facing the royal throne. This leads us to believe that since the first official dynasty the forerunners of Imhotep were already trying to introduce the idea of resurrection to the royal court, hoping to preserve the image of Horus the ancient as the embodiment of the monarchy.

During the third dynasty, a new god (PTAH), appeared in Memphis, who also was seen as a mummified king, and the clergy assigned to SOKAR the responsibility of guarding the city of the dead at Saqqarah, at the site called ROSEATOU.

In the texts of the Pyramids in the fifth chapter of the book of Amdouat we see again the story of the sun travelling at night through the caves of Sokar before being born again at dawn.

PTAH was a god evolved from the image of the ancient god Horus - Sokar and kept the appearance of a "royal mummy" holding in his hands the ANKA the Egyptian cross, the DJED sign which symbolized the dorsal column of Osiris (which contained the vital fluid) and also the scepter OUAS of divine power. Using the name PTAH-TENEN, this god became the one who had initiated life on earth. Sometimes in Upper Egypt he was seen as a lion who mated with the lioness goddess, Sekhmet, to give birth to the warrior god Nefertoum: the symbol of the perpetual return of the sun.

Sokar, Ptah and Osiris eventually became known as one person, and this fusion became total during the third Intermediate period (1085 BC to 730BC).

Certainly the stylized drawing of SOKAR on the stone of King Narmer (3150 BC) was incomplete but we must remember that Narmer was one of the first kings of protohistory - he reigned before the advent of writing. However, he did start the building of the necropoles at Saqquarah and Abydos.

Thus 400 years before the arrival of Imhotep, we note the introduction of this god of the dead who had a human form and represented already the concept of life after death.

Unlike other religions IMHOTEP did not banish the ancient gods but gave them a secondary importance. He transformed them and used them to show the people some fundamental ideas: conscience, justice and truth.

It was not enough to just order the people to construct the pyramids, it was necessary to motivate them to work under their own volition and with love, at this tremendous task.

Occasionally, the people identified PTAH with the ancient bull APIS. This cult during the New Kingdom spread as far as Deir el Medineh, where he was associated with the goddess MERESGER (half woman, half serpent), in a temple near to the Valley where the queens were buried.

 

The Goddess  H A T H O R  :  the nurturer of Horus the Younger

 

 

 

HATHOR changed in multiple form over the course of time from the ancient mother protectress to a young seductive woman. (Later she became the Hindu goddess DEVI).

 

 

A T O U M  :  the Great Invisible god of Heliopolis

 

He was the great God of Heliopolis, (where the High Priest Imhotep governed). His name means:

He who is and is not... The Lord of the Universe - The ALL and the nothing... Atoum became the invisible force that restored the dying sun and was the father of the light that passed over the kingdom of the dead and gave new life each day.

He also fathered the goddess Maat, the incarnation of truth and justice, who was also one of the wives of Re. His cult was important when Memphis was the capital of Egypt, but when Thebes replaced Memphis, Atoum was overshadowed by AMON (who seemed to be a spiritual copy of the shepherd god Atoum), and perpetuated the presence of the Supreme, Omnipotent, All-Powerful and Invisible god in the new religious capital of Thebes.

 

A N U B I S  :  the god of the dead and of embalment

 

He was the god of the dead, who took part in the judgement of souls right from the start of the Old Kingdom. Associated with Osiris he was for a long time the god of the embalment, a rite that he had performed for the first time on the body of Osiris, which had been restored and resuscitated by his wife Isis.

Henceforth Anubis offered his services to all who died, and he guided them according to the Texts of the Pyramids to the celestial regions. He was represented as a man with the head of a jackal.

 

Anubis, the devourer, Thot and Horus judge the souls of the dead

  

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