Sunday, November 13, 2011

natural instinct

A dog is by nature an excellent shepherd and herder of livestock as well as a natural tracker. The great natural philosophers of ancient Egypt would of course noticed this and deified these traits in their depictions of Anpu (Anubis) and Wepwawet (Ophois). Anpu is the watcher and shepherd of our soul. Wepwawet is the guide and herder of our soul. The flocks of sheep that these dogs would guide and watch over are symbolic of the soul: the onomatopoeically bleat of the sheep ba being the ancient Egyptian word for the immortal soul. As I have explained in previous blog entries, Asar (Osiris) is the personification of the ba and the myth surrounding Asar is the story of the ba and its incarnation into matter.  

Wepwawet is the celestial canine that guides Asar into and out of material incarnation. It is a story repeated each year in the night sky in the appearance and disappearance of Orion and his hunting dog, Canis Major.

Canis Major was known  in ancient Arabia as al-Kalb al-Akbar, the greater dog. Also Canis Major is known as al-Kalb al-Jabbar, the dog of the giant. The giant is of course Orion and here's a link to the connection between Orion and Asar if you are interested. One other name of interest is Mirzam al-Jawza, which means the herald of the Central One. Jawza correlates to the Giza plateau, the home of the three great pyramids of the ancient Egyptian 4th dynasty. A herald or an announcer points back to Wepwawet's role as the opener of the ways for the soul.

The word for dog in Hebrew is Caleb. The name's meaning is described as thus:

Caleb \c(a)-leb\ as a boy's name is pronounced KAY-leb. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Caleb is "faith, devotion, whole hearted". Biblical: Caleb, a companion of Moses and Joshua, was noted for his astute powers of observation and fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds; his devotion to God is symbolized by the "dog" in some traditions.

Kaleb \k(a)-leb\ as a boy's name is pronounced KAY-leb. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Kaleb is "dog; tenacious and aggressive". Biblical name. Caleb is the anglicized version.

In other Semitic languages the name means "servant of the Lord." Whether the biblical name is referring to a dog or a man that had the traits and instincts of a dog does not really matter. It's the principle behind the meaning that is important here.

In the fourth book of the old testament, Numbers, chapters 13 and 14 describe the journey of the twelve men sent out by Moses from the tribes of Israel to reconnoiter the land of Canaan. Ten of them caution the nation of Israel against moving against the giants that inhabit the land and long to return to Egypt. Only two of them, Caleb and Joshua, put their faith in the Lord's ability to deliver them to the promised land. It did not end well for the ten and the congregation that took their side. Eventually after wandering for forty more years in the Sinai wilderness the Israelites were allowed to enter the promised land with Joshua and Caleb being the elder statesmen allowed to enter. Now it's interesting that the name for the dog was chosen for an Israelite who first goes down the path to Canaan in order to lead the rest of them on their journey to the promised land. It's interesting because of the myth in ancient Egypt where an actual canine leads the soul through the darkness of matter and eventually to its re-birth in the east. This place was known as the Field of Rushes or the Field of Peace. In Numbers 14:24 the Lord's servant Caleb is described as having a different spirit. Could this be an allusion to Caleb being an instinctual spirit that is found in nature that is here to help the immortal soul?

If we take the biblical story of the Exodus out of Egypt as myth we can then begin to see the story come alive as the journey of the soul through material incarnation. Egypt is an allegory for matter in the Bible while Jerusalem is the allegory for the ultimate destination of the soul as the promised land. The soul needs to leave the bonds of matter and forge ahead along the path to re-birth in the east. Along the way there will be many trials and tribulations to test the resolve of your soul and not all make it, doomed to wander for forty years in the wilderness. The arcane "forty" that is recurring in the Bible is the esoteric symbol of (re)incarnation into matter that the soul would have to repeat if it did not reach the promised land. The goal and ultimate destination of our soul is to reach the promised land; we should take advantage of the help the natural world affords us to help us get there.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

psychopomp qu'est-ce que c'est?

The psychopomp is the guide of the soul. Psyche is from the Greek word for soul and pomp from the Greek pompos which means guide. The psychopomp assists at the crossing where worlds meet and assists you in the journey through this new world. In ancient Egypt, this role was shared by the two jackal deities Anpu (Anubis in Greek) and Wepwawet (Ophois in Greek). Anpu opened the roads to the north and Wepwawet guided the soul through the paths of the south. In this respect, the north and south are metaphors for the soul's journey through the two different planes of existence. The northern path is referring to the road the soul travels when it leaves the bonds of existence entombed in matter. In modern day parlance, it's the journey to the final judgment and hopefully your reward in heaven. Anpu is the one who leads you to the great hall of Maat and assists in the weighing of your heart. It is important to remember what matters is the weight of your heart, not the size. (Yeah I'm a big Alice in Chains fan). The path of the south is the soul's journey through this world in the dark, i.e. ensconced in matter. Wepwawet will lead you through this time of darkness which your soul experiences in this material world.

The mummy in ancient Egypt is the symbol of the soul entombed in matter and that symbol is mythicized in the life and death of Asar (Osiris in Greek). The constellation of Orion in the southern night sky, representing Asar, is no longer visible in the night sky for seventy days in the late spring and it is during these days when Asar is trapped in the plane of matter that he is mummified, hence the seventy day period of mummification followed by the ancient Egyptians. However, it is the dog star, known to us as Sirius, who is the guide of this personification of the ancient Egyptian word for the soul called the "ba" through the disappearance of Asar into matter and his subsequent rebirth into the spiritual plane which is symbolized by the night sky. Wepwawet is the guide of Asar throughout this perilous journey. One of the great festivals at the holy site of Abydos, the Great Going Forth, re-enacted this journey. Wepwawet leads Asar from the temple to his tomb in the western desert. During this journey they cross over water, the psychopomp's role is the carrying of the soul over the waters of incarnation to save the soul from drowning in materialism.

The star Sirius rises in midsummer, the dog days of summer - a saying that belies the connection of Sirius to canines. This is the brightest star in the constellation of Canis Major, the companion dog of Orion. In far east cultures, Sirius is known as the celestial wolf and the indigenous peoples of North America considered Sirius a dog. Interesting is the positioning of Canis Major under the heel of Orion and how we teach our dogs to heel while out walking with them.  

I've touched on Orion being known in ancient Arabia as al Jabbar and the Arabian astronomers referred to Canis Major as the greater dog - Al-Kalb al-Akbar. It was also referred to as the dog of the giant - Al-Kalb al-Jabbar. I'll get to the Arabic name for the dog, Kalb, later on in this blog entry. I'm also fully aware of the ancient Egyptians referring to the star Sirius as Sopdet, which was another name for Aset (Isis in Greek). However, the equating of Aset to Sirius is also true of the ancient Egyptians equating of Aset to all bright stars in the sky. This makes sense because Aset is the womb (land/matter) for the light to gather in.

Wepwawet's standard is the royal placenta which denotes the fact that it is Wepwawet who leads the Pharaoh along the path of birth/death into matter and then death/birth into his immortality among the imperishable stars of the circumpolar region in the sky. It has also been noted that the Pharaoh becomes Wepwawet upon his death, with this meaning describing the Pharaoh's role as guide and protector of his people.

Wepwawet was also the bestower of legitimacy upon the Pharaoh. This is evident in the major part Wepwawet plays in the Heb Sed festival that is a 30 year jubilee celebration of rulership which needs to be renewed. As well, Wepwawet features prominently at Abydos in granting Seti I of the 19th Dynasty the right to rule by offering him the royal insignia and also participates in the purification of Seti I.

The pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty assumed power due to their connections to the military and therefore stressed the importance of Wepwawet granting them this legitimacy.

In the Poetical Stela of Thothmose III of the 18th dynasty we read this about Wepwawet:
I let them see your majesty as southern jackal,
the racer, the runner, roving the Two Lands.

However, Wepwawet was also popular with the common Egyptian:

Wepwawet's role as a kind of celestial guide dog made him a popular deity with ordinary people who faced dangerous journeys in life or death.
Handbook of Egyptian mythology, by Geraldine Pinch, page 213

The opener, Anpu, opens the mouth and eyes of the newly mummified deceased. This allows the truth, light, and spiritual nourishment to enter into the mummified body which in turns awakens the heart and allows it to grow. Throughout previous blog entries, I have articulated the symbolic meaning of not only mummification but the dual meaning that life and death could mean to the ancient Egyptians. It is a syncretic existence whereby the soul dies in matter whilst at the same time the material essence becomes dominate. As the material existence wanes, the spiritual is re-born. Mediating between these two states of metaphysical existence is the great Wepwawet. Wepwawet guides the aspirant to and through these two complementary planes of existence. It's the place I go to die and the place where my soul is re-born. This existence is dark; the darkness is where you find the jackal. Jackals are nocturnal and roam in the darkness. Canines, being excellent guides, become the pathfinder par excellence for the soul and its journey through the duat, (pronounced do-wah) the riddle ancient Egyptians encoded in their enigmatic literature which us confounded moderns call their funerary literature.

So, Wepwawet is a guide who helps carry our soul, which is embedded in material form, over the waters of this metaphorical cleansing sojourn into the deep that is cyclically experienced by the constellation of Orion and esoterically encoded into the ancient Egyptian story of Asar. If you're still reading here comes the good part.

I have met a bunch of people in my lifetime who have the Christian name Christopher. Like most things we come across in life, I never really gave the name a second thought and assumed it had some connection to Jesus. Well of course it does; but, what about the echoes into our ancient past that is embedded into this name?

Let's use the Online Etymologically Dictionary to start hammering away at this moniker:

masc. proper name, Church Latin Christophoros, from Greek khristophoros, literally "Christ-bearing;" from phoros "bearer," from pherein "to carry" (see infer). In medieval legend he was a giant (one of the rare virtuous ones) who aided travellers by carrying them across a river. Medallions with his image worn by travellers are known from the Middle Ages (e.g. Chaucer's Yeoman).

Christopher it seems was a giant who helped out travellers on their journeys. More specifically, he would carry the Christ over water, the carrying part from the the -opher in Christopher. There is a Saint Christopher in the Catholic tradition. He is the patron saint of travellers. Saint Christopher carried Christ across an unfordable river. As he crossed, the weight of the sins Christ was bearing increased to the point where Christopher almost did not complete the crossing. Christopher became a popular saint especially revered by travellers and especially sea bound voyageurs.  

Also, there are the unexplainable pictures of St. Christopher as a dog-headed man that survive from Eastern Orthodox Church lore. This has been explained away as the Byzantine misinterpretation of the Latin term Cananeus to read canines. I imagine there's a better explanation if we open that door into ancient Egypt.

On towards delving into the -opher part of the name to see if we get at the meaning passed down from its latin and greek roots. I dug up the word metaphor from the Online Etymological Dictionary to help out:

1530s, from Middle French metaphore, from Latin metaphora, from Greek metaphora "a transfer," especially of the sense of one word to a different word, literally "a carrying over," from metapherein "transfer, carry over," from meta- "over, across" (see meta-) + pherein "to carry, bear" (see infer). Related: Metaphoric; metaphorical; metaphorically.

The word infer is described as such:

1520s, from Latin inferre "bring into, carry in; deduce, infer, conclude, draw an inference; bring against," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + ferre "carry, bear," from Proto-Indo-European *bher- (1) "to bear, to carry, to take" (confer Sanskrit bharati "carries;" Avestan baraiti "carries;" Old Persian barantiy "they carry;" Armenian berem "I carry;" Greek pherein "to carry;" Old Irish beru/berim "I catch, I bring forth;" Gothic bairan "to carry;" 

This in turn leads us to words ferry and fare which describe voyages across water:

Old English ferian "to carry, convey, bring, transport," from Proto Germaic *farjanan (confer Old Frisian feria "carry, transport," Old Norse ferja "to pass over, to ferry," Gothic farjan "travel by boat"), from Proto-Indo-European *per- "going, passage." Related to fare (verb). Related: Ferried; ferries; ferrying. The noun is early 15c., perhaps earlier and from Old Norse ferju- "passage across water," ultimately from the same Germanic root.

Old English fær "journey, road, passage, expedition," strong neuter of faran "to journey" (see fare (verb)); merged with faru "journey, expedition, companions, baggage," strong feminine of faran.
Old English faran "to journey, set forth, go, travel, wander, get on, undergo, make one's way," from Proto Germaic *faranan (confer Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic faran, Old Norse, Old Frisian fara, Dutch varen, German fahren), from Proto-Indo-European *por- "going, passage," from base *per- "to lead, pass over" (see port (1)). Related: Fared; faring.

And from this information, we can guess at the origin of the safe haven provided by a port:

"harbor," Old English port "harbor, haven," reinforced by Old French port, both Old English and Old French from Latin portus "port, harbor," originally "entrance, passage," from Proto-Indo-European *prtu- "a going, a passage," from base *per- "to lead, pass over" (confer Sanskrit parayati "carries over;" Greek poros "journey, passage, way," peirein "to pierce, run through;" Latin porta "gate, door," portare "passage," peritus "experienced;" Avestan peretush "passage, ford, bridge;" Armenian hordan "go forward;" Welsh rhyd "ford;" Old Church Slavonic pariti "fly;" Old English faran "to go, journey," Old Norse fjörðr "inlet, estuary").

Alright, that makes it pretty clear Christopher carries the Christ over water. We can take water here literally as being an actual river this dog-headed man carried Jesus over or we can picture it metaphorically that a beast with the innate tracking and guiding instincts of a dog carried the light called Christ over the waters of material incarnation. Your choice.

Before I end this entry, I want to go back to the ancient Egyptian word for the ceremony of the Opening of the Mouth and Eyes which is "wpr".  

When the 'w' is transliterated into the Greek language it usually becomes a vowel; this is what I was getting at in my last blog entry "the guide of my soul" when I mentioned the Greek translation of Wepwawet into Ophois. The 'w' in this case became an 'o' though I have also seen it become other vowels. Since there were no vowels in the ancient Egyptian language, there is no consistent way of transliterating; however, we do know that in any case the Greeks considered this sound to be a vowel and not a consonant. It is also of some interest that the 't' at the end of Wepwawet, which was used to connect him to the feminine world of matter, was considered silent and the two 'w' in the middle treated the second 'w' as being weak, the Greeks coming up with "ois" which is reminiscent of French language ending of words which are pronounced "wah". At any rate, I do sense some distant connection of "wpr" to the pherein of the Greeks. But what is even more interesting is the Opening of the Mouth and Eyes ceremony and its connection to the jackals who open the way. I love taking pictures; so, I'm very familiar with the concept of the aperture. The Online Etymological Dictionary gives us this history:

early 15c., from Latin apertura "an opening," from apertus, past participle of aperire "to open" (see overt).

And the history of the word overt from the French:

early 14c., "open to view," from Old French overt (French ouvert), past participle of ovrir "to open," from Latin aperire "to open, uncover," from Proto-Indo-European *ap-wer-yo- from *ap- "off, away" + base *wer- "to cover" (see weir). Confer Latin operire "to cover," from the same root with Proto-Indo-European prefix *op- "over;" and Lithuanian atveriu "open," uzveriu "shut."

The carrier of the soul is also the opener that leads this soul to rebirth. We have seen how the jackals do this for Asar but there is also the female goddess Hathor (from the ancient Egyptian pronunciation Hwt-Har) who performs this duty for Re.

The cow horns on Hathor's head cradling Re is pictorially presenting to us her role as the opener for Re's rebirth. Hathor is also always present at scenes of birth and death. If we trace Hathor's evolution into Greek and Roman mythology, we can determine she evolved into the Greek Aphrodite and then the Venus of the Romans. The Greeks knew she was an opener and therefore gave her the name that began with "aphr". The month April is from aperio, "I open," and in this sense Aphrodite is the opener of the year which begins at the vernal equinox. The Romans knew this idea as well and I know this because much like Canis Major would be the carrier and opener of the path to rebirth for Orion, the same idea would be expressed in the word phosphorous which would describe Venus and her role as the morning star which is the herald for the daily rebirth of the sun. The Online Etymological Dictionary again:

1620s, "the morning star," from Latin Phosphorus "morning star," from Greek Phosphoros "morning star," literally "torchbearer," from phos "light" (related to phainein "to show, to bring to light;" see phantasm) + phoros "bearer," from pherein "to carry" (see infer).

So, there you have it, the canine is the symbol that opens the pathway and guides the light, which has been almost extinguished within ourselves, through the darkness of incarnation in matter. This blog entry is longer than I intended; so, the exploration of the Arabic word for dog, Kalb, will be up next.