“Ignore, o Asclepius, that Egypt is a copy of the sky, or, rather, the place where move and are projected here below?”
Paolo Lucarelli: According to Diodorus Siculus, the Egyptian priests found in their registers the information that Orpheus, Museum, Melampus, Daedalus, Homer, Lycurgus, Solon, Plato, Pythagoras, Eudoxus, Democritus had come as disciples on the banks of the Nile (1). Plutarch gave precise information about places and teachers, “… the wisest among the Greeks: Solon, Thales, Plato, Eudoxus, Pythagoras, Lycurgus, and also … came to Egypt and met with priests. They say that Eudoxus was a disciple of Chnoufis of Memphis, Solon of Sonchis of Sais, and Pythagoras of Enufis of Heliopolis. It seems it was especially Pythagoras to remain so impressed and admired of these men, to transfuse their tendency to symbolism and mystery in his doctrines adapting them to an enigmatic form (2).
Iamblichus confirmed, citing Hermes as master: “.. the ancient stelae of Hermes, which long time ago had been thoroughly studied by Plato and Pythagoras and formed their philosophy …” (3).
Concerning Pythagoras, in particular, this tradition was deeply rooted, it testified to Isocrates, pointing to the Egyptian religion: “If I did not have to rush up, I would say many wonderful things about their piety (of Egyptians), I’m not the only one that sees it or the first, but many have already known, both men of today and people of the past. Among these was Pythagoras of Samos, who went to Egypt and made himself their disciple, first brought to Greece the study of all sorts of philosophy and more than others took care of the sacrifices and religious ceremonies “(4).
We could multiply quotations, to evidence that the myth, legend, tradition, or whatever you call it, on an Egypt repository of all the cults and all the sciences was well stabilized at the dawn of our era, to continue in time until very close to our years (5). In opposition, of course, to a myth more robust and highly popular, though not less unlikely, that pretends the human intellect is able to grow and get out of the darkness only in Greece, around the fifth century BC and spread from there, as a “logos spermatikós ” of incredible fecundity, diffusing art, science, philosophy, and reason in the universe.
We do not comment on either one or the other, both lacking of consistency, and associated with partial views, but nonetheless restricted. Both have, in some respects connected with the theory of cycles (6), a limited hermeneutic validity.
We must confess, therefore, that having to make a choice, we are attracted by the image of a repository of sacred knowledge, where you just let it filter out a sigh to generate a thought of art. This would then be the truly unfathomable mystery of an Egypt that was never revealed and that remains untouchable in the millennia.
We now read the hieroglyphics, the “sacred writing”, which was used continuously and with very slight changes from the beginning of the third millennium to the first century BC. We read, or better, decipher because there is no knowledge of the vocalization of the ancient people who lived in that land which the Greeks called “Aigyptos,” the Egyptian KA-PTAH-HUT, the land of the “Ka” of Ptah (7). We decipher them with unease because it is enough to just depth their lyrics to discover that we do not understand them, are they so alien to our common thinking?
Just in the first instance, it will be enough the fact that in the language of the people that all described as very religious, you have not found any word to mean “religion” or “devotion” or “faith”. The use, taken from Coptic to translate with “god” or “goddess” the word NETER (8) also seems very questionable: the scholars had to admit that this term probably does not at all correspond to the image or emotion it arouses in us.
We note that the Pythagorean sign representing it is a painted ax, perhaps from stone, tucked into a long wooden handle. The colors show that it was secured with leather straps or ropes. It seems indisputably represented as a weapon and menacing destructive aspect. Perhaps the “power” is its most likely significance, to indicate in what we now call “God”, a particular form of that universal power, eternal and invincible, always terrible, which is the basis of the same event.
It remains the curious fact, in a symbolic universe that seems very consistent over time, that the more ancient Hermetic Philosophers, until the Middle Ages, represented the same “secret fire” main instrument of the art of Alchemy, but also, particularly embodiment an essential part of the Spirit. This analogy would perhaps make less abstruse or incomprehensible certain liturgical texts of the Egyptian temples, which give detailed instructions on a form of ‘manufacture of the gods, “which must be drawn from heaven to earth in a material medium inevitable and convenient. So in the morning, for example, the priest was to “render to God its soul”, that is, fix it in certain ways in the statue or the chosen representation.
Here, again, “soul” for BA is a forced and rough translation if we consider that being an option that only has “dead” and “gods”, and that’s appearing to be their function of embodiment.
Note that in ancient Egyptian did not exist the vowel “e”, it had been introduced to facilitate the pronunciation of words whose vocalization is not known. So it is given, in the plural, the same name as the sacred books of the library or the temples, which are described in the rites or myths in which the imaginary aspects are made visible (9).
Also, the “secret fire” must be “manufactured” by the artist in his/her early works. It can sometimes be depicted as an angel with the symbol of the apostle Matthew whom we owe the Gospel of Science, of Maat, the order-justice-truth which is opposed to chaos. Daughter of the demiurge, the gods live and love in her. Together with Life, the symbol of which is often correlated (10), represents the element of conservation, particularly the one that should be maintained because the rest continue to be. In hermeticism, we would say that it is the saline principle embodiment of every possible source and the crystal order for excellence in nature. The glyph of the goddess shows her squatting: she gave rise to the time and to the astrological symbol of Virgo, an earth sign. I the composition of the word MAAT appears in the “cubit”, the instrument used to measure. As the degrees of fire should be careful, “geometrically,” said the ancient alchemical texts, measured as not to spoil the Opera.
In that Greece that would not have learned anything from Egypt, Maat was led to the etymology of words involving the ideas of reason and measure, “Mathema,” discipline, science, “mathèmatikós” mathematical “mathesis’, a measure of learning “mathétéuo,” instruct “metron,” measure.
Fantasies badly accommodated to a disappeared mystery. Tat or Thoth, who the Greeks called Hermes Trismegistus, taught: “Ignore, therefore, O Asclepius, that Egypt is a copy of the sky, or, rather, the place where move and are projected here below all the transactions which govern and put to work all the forces of heaven? Indeed, to say the very truth, our land is the temple of the world. And yet, given that the wises should include all the things to come, there’s one that you need to know. There will come a time when it will seem that the Egyptians have honored their gods in vain, in the piety of their hearts, with regular worship …
The gods, abandoning the land, will return to heaven, they will leave Egypt, this land, which was the home of the sacred liturgy, now the widow of its gods, no longer enjoys their presence.
“… Then this holiest land, home to shrines and temples, and will be completely covered with the dead and their tombs. O Egypt, Egypt, your all cults will not be left than fables, and the same will seem incredible to your posterity, and only the words engraved in stone will survive to tell your acts of mercy .. “(11).
Only “stories” then, and “words of stone “will ambiguously remain to tell the Egyptian wisdom. Myths and symbols, misunderstood iconography, preserved in mysterious ways, submitted to the senses of the patient full of ignorance, proposed to the disbelief of passers-by who mistake them for naive art products, or card games. Beautiful walls of pints, imaginative papyrus, descriptions of hell, which we read puzzled, as the facades of cathedrals badly in their comment on hypothetical and meaningless repetition of vices, virtues, and crafts.
Tourists admire the hard work of craftsmanship, scholar desperately tries banal sources to provide peace of mind, the manufacturer denies the most obvious questions, and the ecclesiastic, envious keeper of buildings that do not belong, deforms their moral dogmas.
Yet something transpires. Targeted reports, precise guidelines, eerie colors, unusual perspectives, and transparent stories, all create reasonable doubt. So the honest scholars finally concede to this unbearable Egyptians at least one unique mythopoetic talent. A curious power that allowed, from the very beginning, an unquestionable unity between what we today call “religion” and the physical sciences or natural sciences. So much those phenomena appear interconnected to the myths, the liturgies, that, for convenience of language, we will continue to call “gods”. Finally, it is stated: “… the religious documents were related to a representation of a universe so meticulous and detailed, that religion had to be a real theoretical physics, having in itself all the elements of cosmology, cosmogony, which tended to become as a result of the cyclical concept of ‘universe … “(12).
The only missing thing, to these scholars, is one last step to replace the image of secular science, that of a “sacred physics” because they find themselves in consistent agreement with Dom Pernety when he wrote: “The Hermetic Philosophers say that we must understand all stories the Egyptians in a quite different way from what they present to the mind at first. They had not invented all these names and these tales, but for the common people to be not allowed to discover the true way of making gold and the universal medicine … “(13).
The conclusion of the “religious of the Benedictine congregation of St. Maurus,” seems a bit ‘too spagyric and limited. We prefer a more correct and complete practice of Alchemy. As well as defined it for us once, masterfully, Eugene Canseliet: Experimental Metaphysics.
A cosmology or cosmogony, then, may well come from the empirical vision, and not only from the mental, of a mineral and metallic microcosm subject to all the cycles of Nature, to the Artist’s will. So then he can tell, teach, and transform into myth, legend, and fable, not the product of human imagination, but precisely what he saw.
Our contemporary, reduced at the mercy of the vagaries of smoky psychisms more or less acute and perceptive, which gives the name of “philosophies”, should not generalize their misfortunes: there could have existed happier age, where people rested their lucky convictions of ‘facts’ and not on opinions.
“… in its kingdom (of Sulphur) there is a mirror where you see the whole world. Anyone who looks in the mirror can see and learn the knowledge of all three parts of the world, can become so wise in these three kingdoms, those were Aristotle and Avicenna, and many others, like those of former ages, they saw in that mirror how the World was created … “(14).
So taught Michael Sendivogius, the latest in a fairy tale, no less “amazing” than the Egyptian.
On the same parallel as Babylon (15) Heliopolis stands, in the Egyptian IUN-U, a very ancient sanctuary of sun worship. Here, since the pre-dynastic times, they told of how the Sun, RA, uniting to himself, created Shu, the air, and Tefnut, the wet. They in turn begat GEB. the male earth, and Nut, the goddess of the sky, but so interconnected that the air had to intervene to separate them. From these four children were born, paired two by two: Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Neftys.
This is the great Ennead of Heliopolis, the first “tale of Genesis” which gave rise to a myth that does not cease to fascinate: the story of Osiris, his death, and resurrection. It is also the story of a love that goes beyond death because one can not talk of Osiris without his beloved Isis.<