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Sunday, September 4, 2011

a good caning

Isn't that an oxymoron?!

The Ancient Egyptian walking stick known as the was sceptre has been somewhat of a mystery to me.


It has an animal head that rests on a long rod that ends in a two pronged bottom.


Power and dominion are its symbolic meaning.  Pharaohs, priests and gods were often depicted carrying this staff and the Ancient Egyptian city of Waset (modern day Luxor and called Thebes by the Greeks) incorporates was in its name.  There are two deities known from Ancient Egypt as Was and Waset.  Waset was the original goddess of the Theban area, while Was is lesser known and appears in a 25th dynasty inscription attributed to Mentemhet:

Theban Divinities
I fashioned individual vessels. I equipped Wes and Weset, Victorious Thebes, Mistress of Might, as an emanation
Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four, J.H. Breasted, page 912.

Waset the goddess was linked with the god Montu.  Among Montu's attributes, one is being known as Lord of Waset.  He hails from just south of Waset from a town called Iuny (modern Armant, known to the Greeks as Hermonthis).  Montu was strong like a bull, warlike and helped Re on his nightly journey by fending of the serpent of existential nihilism, Apep.  Montu is usually depicted with the head of a falcon wearing a headdress of two long plumes that flank a solar disk.  He can also be depicted with the head of a bull that is adorned by the same feathers and sun disk.  The modern town of Armant, where Montu hails from, derives its name from Iunu-Montu.  Iunu means pillar in the Ancient Egyptian language.  The worship of the Buchis bull is the worship of the manifestation of the Ka of Montu.  The designation "Buchis" is from the combination of the Ba and the Akh.  Readers of previous entries of this blog will be familiar with the Ba.  The Akh is the awakened and enlightened Ba that has subdued the Ka and now uses the awesome power of the Ka for good, essentially this is the mature Horus (not the infant Horus).  The power of the Ka used for positive outcomes can only come about by the Ba re-awakening from the sleep of death and maturing into an Akh.  With this understanding we can determine that Montu is this aspect of the Ka that is now being used for good.  If you review my blog entry "iconoclastic cain and abel" you will get a better understanding of the Ka and its relationship to the Ba.  It is my contention that Osiris is the representation of the Ba and Set is the representation of the Ka.  This is why you will see depictions of Montu slaying the chaos serpent at the prow of the boat of Re and you will see Set represented in the same way.

It is interesting that in a passage where Ramses in the battle of Kadesh is compared to a god, the text of Luxor gives the name Seth, but the text of Abydos Month, while a papyrus text names Baal.  It may well be that in the Osiris centre Abydos the name of Seth was deliberately replaced by that of Month.  Month and Seth are both martial gods and are often spoken of together.  Seth is very rarely joined with other gods in the way that Ptah, Sokaris and Osiris could easily be put together to Ptah-Sokaris-Osiris.  One of the exceptions is Month-Seth, son of Re.  Month could even be depicted with the head of Seth.
Seth, God of Confusion, H. Te Velde, page 132


When Set is subdued by Horus we have the reconciliation of these two deities represented as Hrwyfy - Set and Horus united as "he with the two faces."

Figure from Seth, God of Confusion, H. Te Velde, page 69

The very much active Ka power still residing in this duality is Montu the falcon.  We know that the Egyptians considered Montu to be made up of this duality due to his name ending in the plural 'u'.


I'm almost done with the background for this blog entry so please bear with me for a bit longer.  The first depiction of a was sceptre dates to the first dynasty.  The fourth pharaoh of dynasty one, Djet, had a comb where two was sceptres act as pillars holding up the sky.

In the New Kingdom story, the Contendings of Horus and Seth, the two gods alternate between arguing their cases in front of the Divine Tribunal and fighting each other. Seth's main weapon is a gigantic mace or was sceptre that only he can lift.  He is presented as massively strong and monumentally stupid, like a giant in a fairy tale.
Egyptian Mythology (A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt), Geraldine Pinch, page 193

The Ka is life force on this material plane and when you could control the power of the was sceptre that means you had the power over material influences.  So what I have been trying to get at here is that the head of the was sceptre is a representation of the head of Set.  (The fantastical creature Set is a story in itself if you want to figure out what that creature is - if you're interested let me know and I'll write about it).  This is something I had questioned for awhile because I thought it could be the wise god Thoth.  The shape of the head was similar to Thoth's iconography, a crested ibis, and I thought it was plausible that our word wise could be connected with was.  Also the elderly would use this staff and the elderly are revered in all cultures as being wise.  I think it would be instructive here to see if there is any connection to the word wise.

Checking in with the Online Etymological Dictionary we get these origins of wise:

wise (adj.) 
Old English wis, from Proto Germanic *wisaz (confer Old Saxon, Old Frisian  wis, Old Norse viss, Dutch wijs, German weise "wise"), from past participle adjective *wittos of Proto-Indo-European base *weid- "to see," hence "to know" (see vision). Slang meaning "aware, cunning" first attested 1896. Related to the source of Old English witan "to know, wit."
wise (n.) 
"way of proceeding, manner," Old English wise, ultimately from the same source as wise (adj.). Confer Old Saxon wisa, Old Frisian wis, Danish vis, Middle Dutch wise, Dutch wijs, Old High German wisa, German Weise "way, manner." Most common in English now as a suffix (e.g. likewise). For sense evolution from "to see" to "way of proceeding," confer cognate Greek eidos "form, shape, kind," also "course of action." Ground sense is "to see/know the way."


It is possible to construct an argument that the was sceptre is referring to the wise Thoth in the form of an ibis however the meaning in ancient Egypt of the was gets in the way.  The was denotes power and dominion over material influences and this is not the definition of a wise man.  Enter the wizard!

wizard 
mid-15c., "philosopher, sage," from Middle English wys "wise" (see wise (adj.)) + -ard. Confer Lithuanian zynyste "magic," zynys "sorcerer," zyne "witch," all from zinoti "to know." The ground sense is perhaps "to know the future." The meaning "one with magical power" did not emerge distinctly until c.1550, the distinction between philosophy and magic being blurred in the Middle Ages.


A so-called sorcerer would have this power over all that is existent in the material world.  It seems that the words wise and wizard would originally refer to a philosopher and in particular a philosopher who would incorporate sorcery to control the elements.

Easton's Bible Dictionary says this about a wizard:

a pretender to supernatural knowledge and power, "a knowing one," as the original Hebrew word signifies. Such an one was forbidden on pain of death to practise his deceptions (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27; 1 Sam. 28:3; Isa. 8:19; 19:3).
wizard. Dictionary.com. Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wizard (accessed: July 13, 2011).

I like the use of the word 'deceptions' here since it is a word usually used in a religious sense when talking about the Prince of Darkness.  So this is a good time to segue into my primary purpose for writing this blog entry.  I wanted to connect the concept of Satan, Cain, Set and the was sceptre.  Once again I direct you to read my blog entry "iconoclastic cain and abel" so that you will be familiar with my argument of Cain being synonymous with Set.

A little auto-brainstorming on the name Cain first.  I get Qayin, Kayin, Cane, Keen.  I'll start with Cain and use a website that gives the meaning of the name as thus:

Cain has four separate origins. From the Hebrew, it means 'a spear'. In Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition, Cain was the world's first murderer. In Welsh Cain is a feminine name meaning 'beautiful' or 'fair' (this usage is completely unrelated to the Hebrew name). Thirdly, as a surname, Cain can be English or French in origin. In English it is derived from the Middle English word for a cane or reed, and was used of a tall, thin person. In French the surname comes from the town of Caen in Normandy, which was named for Gaulish words meaning 'battle plain'.

So you can see that despite the difference in spelling between cain and cane, they do share the meaning of a cane, spear or reed.  Pulling up the definition on dictionary.com the word cane reveals this information:

cane
[keyn]
noun, verb, caned, can·ing.
–noun
1. a stick or short staff used to assist one in walking; walking stick.
2. a long, hollow or pithy, jointed woody stem, as that of bamboo, rattan, sugar cane, and certain palms.
3. a plant having such a stem.

cane. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cane (accessed: September 04, 2011).


It's safe to say Cain or Cane refers to a walking stick.  Let's check out what the Bible Dictionary says about a cane:

a tall sedgy plant with a hollow stem, growing in moist places. In Isa. 43:24; Jer. 6:20, the Hebrew word _kaneh_ is thus rendered, giving its name to the plant. It is rendered "reed" in 1 Kings 14:15; Job 40:21; Isa. 19:6; 35:7. In Ps. 68:30 the expression "company of spearmen" is in the margin and the Revised Version "beasts of the reeds," referring probably to the crocodile or the hippopotamus as a symbol of Egypt. 
cane. Dictionary.com. Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cane (accessed: July 13, 2011).

Here we have the Bible Dictionary describing a cane as a papyrus sedge that comes from the reeds of lower Egypt.  The papyrus was the symbol for lower Egypt and lower Egypt can refer to the northern part of Egypt, specifically the marsh areas in the northern delta or metaphorically it can refer to the material plane of existence as opposed to upper Egypt which refers to the spiritual plane.  Throughout the temples in Egypt you can observe papyrus columns separating the sky from the floor of the temple in essence the papyrus columns holding up the sky much like the was sceptre.


Furthermore cane refers to the "beasts of the reeds" or being in the "company of spearmen."  We know from the story of Isis and Osiris that when Isis gave birth to Horus in the material plane (lower Egypt in the marshes) she had to hide him amongst the reeds lest Set track him down and kill him.  As well Set could manifest as a hippopotamus or a crocodile among other dangerous creatures thus identifying the "beasts of the reeds" with manifestations of Set.

Let's go back again to the Online Etymological Dictionary to get a handle on "keen."

keen (adj.) 
Old English cene "bold brave," later "clever, wise," from Proto-Germanic *kan- "be able to" (see can). Original prehistoric senses seem to have been both "brave" and "skilled;" confer Old Norse kænn "skillful, wise," Middle Dutch coene "bold," Old High German kuon "pugnacious, strong," German Kühn "bold, daring." Sense of "eager" is from mid-14c. 

So the name Keen correlates well with our earlier findings on wise and wizard.  Just for fun we can lump "ken" into the same category:

ken (v.) 
"to know," Scottish dialect, from Old English cennan "make known, declare, acknowledge," originally "make to know," causative of cunnan "to become acquainted with, to know" (see can (v.)).


My presentation of the evidence I will bring now to a close.  I think it's clear that a cane is a walking stick that in antiquity had magical powers.  This cane comes from the marshy delta of lower Egypt frequented by Set, who was known to be able to control a sceptre that granted supernatural power over material forces.  The cane would have been made from a hollow papyrus stem surmounted with the head of Set.  This power however was a power used for good which we can ascertain from the connection of Montu with the was and the similarities of the Ka power of Set and Montu.  Gods, goddesses and enlightened members of ancient Egyptian society were shown with this cane, the was sceptre, which articulated their power over the material influences.  Demonstrating the correlation between the names Cain, Kayen, Cane and Keen it is clear that the biblical name Cain is an allusion to the ancient Egyptian Set.

This now allows us to speculate on the meaning of "the mark of Cain."  A cane is used to give a caning which is a form of corporal discipline administered with a long walking stick.


A good caning is going to leave a mark.  I'm not sure why it's called a "good caning."  There's nothing good about it!  Caning can result in large red welts, deep wounds and permanent scarring.  Throughout mankind's history corporal punishment has been used to beat both animals and people into submission; in fact it is used to tame or cower the beast into submission.  Speculating even further I'd ascertain the mark of the beast in the Book of Revelation draws its inspiration from the mark of Cain.  A beast is an animal and Set, the beast of ancient Egypt, is the untamed Ka which is basically an animal and is represented by the power of the bull in ancient Egypt.  This untamed beast kills the spirit encapsulated within everyman, mythicized in ancient Egypt as Osiris.  It is through the love of Isis that Osiris is remembered and thus he impregnates Isis so she can give birth to the future king, Horus, who will subdue this Set and use this power to reign over all his enemies.  The was sceptre controls this power both figuratively and literally.  The walking stick demonstrates your mastery over the unkind elements and its practical use is such that you could also use it beat someone or something with this stick until they conform.