Hermopolis Theological System
Egypt had one river of significance, the Nile, and smaller
villages grew up alongside its banks.
Each of these village communities
manifested a mythology, but these mythologies did not create tensions among the
The Hermopolis theological system declared that in the
beginning there was nothing but an immense Chaos,
Nun - an ocean of shapeless magma
containing the potential for life surrounded by Naunet.
In this Chaos
there had been a consciousness in existence since antiquity.
Heliopolitan System, the Ogdoad, continued morphing gods until eight gods had
sprung forth from the Chaos.
Four males wearing the heads of toads, and
the four females wearing the heads of snakes.
They form the pairs of
Nun and Naunet (primordial matter and primordial space); Kuk and Kauket (the
illimitable and the boundless); Huh and Hauhet (darkness and obscurity); Amon
and Amaunet (hidden and concealed ones).
These eight bring forth Ra, the
3000 BC The Memphite theology presents the teachings of Menes,
who establishes a new capital at Memphis.
Memphite theology all local and former mythological traditions are brought to
their theological goal in the god Ptah, architect of material
Creation was first a spiritual and intellectual activity,
facilitated by the divine heart (emotion) and tongue (speech/word) of
Creation became a physical activity carried out by
Ptah, the Father of the Sun, who produced
the Ennead from his heart, tongue
Ptah had two children, Shu and Tefnut.
Shu and Tefnut
had two children, Geb and Nut.
In the days before Ptah had left the
Earth, before he had begun to grow old, his great wisdom told him that if the
goddess Nut bore children, one of them would end his reign among men.
Ptah laid a curse upon Nut - that she should not be able to bear any child upon
any day in the year.
Filled with Sorrow, Nut went
for help to Thoth, the thrice-great god of wisdom/magic/learning, architect of
that the curse of Ptah, once spoken, could never be recalled, but in his wisdom
he found a way of escape.
Thoth went to Khonsu, the Moon, and
challenged him to a contest of draughts.
after game they play and Thoth always won.
The stakes grew higher
Khonsu wagered his own light and lost.
Khonsu could play no more.
Then Thoth the thrice-great
in wisdom/magic/learning gathered up the light and made it into five extra days
which were set between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.
Since his match with Thoth, Khonsu the Moon has not had enough light to
shine throughout the month, but dwindles into darkness and then grows to his
full glory again; for he had lost the light needed to make five whole
On the first of these five new days
Osiris (grandson of the Sun), the eldest son
of Nut, is born.
On the second day the second son of Nut, Horus (Day),
came into being.
On the third day the third son of
Nut is born, Seth (Night).
On the fourth Isis saw
the light, and Nephthys born the night of the fifth.
In this way the
curse of Ptah was both fulfilled and defeated: for the days on which the
children of Nut were born belonged to no year.
Isis, by her craft, learned the secret name of Ptah leaving
Osiris to become sole ruler of Egypt and
reign on Earth as Ptah had done before him.
Osiris and Isis found the people both savage and
brutish, fighting among themselves while killing and eating one another.
Isis discovered barley and millet.
Osiris taught the people how to plant
the seeds when the Nile had risen in the yearly inundation leaving fertile mud
over the fields; how to tend and water the crops; how to cut the millet when it
was ripe; how to thresh the grain on the threshing floors, dry it and grind it
to flour and make it into bread.
Osiris then showed them also how to
plant vines and make the grapes into wine; and they knew already how to brew
beer out of the barley as their grain had gotten wet before.
people of Egypt had learned to make bread and
cut only the flesh of the dead
animals Osiris taught were suitable, he went on to teach them Law, and how
to live peacefully together, delighting themselves with
As soon as Egypt was
filled with peace and plenty, Osiris set out across the land to bring his
blessings upon other nations.
While Osiris was away he left Isis to rule
over the land, which she did both wisely and well.
Seth envied Osiris and hated Isis.
more the people loved and praised Osiris, the more Seth hated him; and the more
good Osiris did and the happier mankind became, the stronger grew Seth's desire
to kill Osiris and rule in his place.
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".
Seth obtained the exact
measurements of the body of Osiris, and commissioned a beautiful chest to be
crafted 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
gave a great feast in honor of Osiris.
When the heart of Osiris had
been made glad with feasting and song the chest was brought in, and all were
amazed at its exquisite beauty.
Osiris marveled at the
rare cedar inlaid with ebony and ivory,
with less rare gold and silver, painted inside with brilliantly colored figures
of gods in animal forms.
Osiris wished to own it.
"I will give
this chest to whosoever fits it most exactly!" cried Seth.
"Let me see
if I will fit into this marvelous crafted chest," said Osiris, and he laid down
in the chest.
"It is yours indeed, and shall be so forever!" hissed
Seth, the Deceiver, as he banged down the lid and sealed it with molten
Seth took the chest containing Osiris and cast it into the Nile.
As the chest floated toward the great green sea it became hung in the
reeds of an island in the marshes of the delta.
Later Seth came hunting
wild boars with his dogs, hunting by night after his custom, since he loved the
darkness in which evil things abound.
By the light of the moon he saw
the chest of cedar wood inlaid with
ebony and ivory, with gold and silver, and recognized it.
At the sight
anger overcame him in a red cloud, Seth flew into a rage and rendered like a
panther of the south.
Seth tore open the chest, took the body of
Osiris, and rent it into many pieces which he scattered up and down the Nile so
that the crocodiles might eat them.
Isis missing Osiris begin to search for
Nephthys left her wicked husband Seth and came to join her sister,
Anubis, the son of Osiris and Nephthys, taking the form of a
jackal, assisted in the search.
As Isis searched along the Nile and
among the many streams of the delta she made her way in a boat made of papyrus.
The crocodiles, in their reverence for the goddess, touched neither the
rent pieces of Osiris nor Isis herself.
Indeed ever afterwards anyone
who sailed the Nile in a boat made of papyrus was safe from them, for they
thought that it was Isis still questing after the pieces of her husband's body.
Isis gathered the pieces together, rejoined them by magic, caused the
body to be embalmed and hidden away in a tomb of which she alone knew.
After this the spirit of Osiris passed into Amenti to rule over the
dead until the last great battle, when Horus would slay Seth and Osiris return
As Horus grew in this world the
spirit of Osiris visited him often and taught him all that a great warrior
should know - how to fight Seth in both body and spirit -
a final battle between
good and evil.
When Osiris knew that the time had come for Horus to
declare war on Seth he bade him gather together a great army and sail up the
Nile to attack him in the deserts of the south.
theological system began in the Delta, at Heliopolis not far from the head of
It was accepted because
Amun, Ra, Amun-Ra, or Ptah
could easily be made the chief god in any local area, or a local goddess
could become his consort, which eventually increased the Egyptian
Hammurabi, the Babylonian,
added gods of local surrounding tribes just as the Egyptians had
Later, following the same model of empire building
the Roman Catholics
added a pantheon of Saints.
The acceptance of the sun god, Amum/Ra,
fit the mindset of the ancient tribes living along the Nile as Amum/Ra was seen
everday in a papyrus barque crossing the ocean of the sky.
the Greek sun god, drove his chariot across the sky.)
In front of the towering
golden sandstone entrance to the temple of Edfu stands an imposing granite
statue of a falcon, about 12-feet tall, representing Horus.
into Horus' chest is a small figure of a Ptolemy.
To buttress his
political legitimacy, the alien neo-pharaoh carved himself into the stone of a
The Pharaoh of Egypt had been playing this
game for 5,000 years.
Three millenniums before the birth of
Jesus of Nazareth
descended gods, the Pharaohs, had already built a unified kingdom down the
valley of the Nile.
The Pharaohs presented themselves as children and
intimates of the sun god Ra, of
Osiris and of their divine offspring
Ra, the sun god, went through a daily cycle of death and
rebirth, dying at the end of each day and being reborn in the morning as
Ra-Horakhty or Horus, and it was through this cycle that the blessed dead
traveled so as to enjoy rebirth along with the Sun.
Local deities in
the Mediterranean region were interchangeable in whole or in part for the
deities of like nature or kind of trade partners due to the large movement of
Over the centuries, as the politics changed, there
were diety mergers,
hostile diety takeovers and
synthetic blending of religious
Luxor luminaries Amun and Ra eventually merged to become
Amun-Ra, a strong new
Ptolemy I Soter
declares himself Pharaoh of
Egypt and creates a powerful Hellenistic dynasty that rules an area
stretching from southern Syria to Cyrene and south to
The Ptolemaic successors of
III of Macedonia promoted Serapis,
a deliberate blending of gods worshiped by the tribes surrounding the
Mediterranean with the most well known Greek and Roman gods.
At the Greco-Roman temple of Philae, you see a
mother-and-child image sculpted on the walls of the sanctuary, but the face of
the mother has been chiseled away.
In a Christian time,
Isis was rebranded Mary, turning
August 29, 30 BC Caesarion, Ptolemy XV, executed on the orders
With the fall of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, Egypt is made into
a Roman colony, marking the end of the Hellenistic age.
January 27 BC Octavian, having amassed constitutional power
for the new Egyptian colony, renames himself Augustus ('the Revered') and
establishes himself as the first Roman emperor, inaugurating the Principate era
of the Roman Empire.
"Politics, seen from this perspective
of 5,000 years of Egyptian history, is something very different from what you
find in American civics
It's not about the installation of this or that
logically and legally constructed political system, based on this or that
bending and merging gods, ideologies and
legal systems, adapting to internal and external forces, mixing coercion and
patronage, sharing some of the spoils where necessary, but always with
the goal of maximizing their own
power and wealth and hanging on to it for as long possible - for yourself, and
your children, and your children's children.
Those who take the
legitimating religion or ideology too seriously - be it
socialism - are missing
the point. The gods are continually morphing;
what endures over the
millenniums is men's lust for power and wealth and their vain quest for
immortality." - Timothy Garton Ash
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