I cannot see myself without a looking glass nor can I define who I am without the input and interaction with others. The mere attempt at separation from my surroundings leads ultimately back to dependence. Try as I may to build an idea of myself that is devoid of ego it eventually results in frustration. The ego wants to build up a great persona that stands above the masses but then is entirely dependent on the masses for its status as an individual. Talk about a recipe for neurosis. Curiously though my thoughts inside my head do feel as if I am a distinct individual and it is only through deliberate interaction with others that I become part of a group. But though I feel separate in my head we all long to connect with others to feel whole. I tend to believe it is a limitation of our condition that causes us to perceive that we are separate individuals. The condition would be our souls ensconced in a material body.
The entrapment would be due to vibrational frequency that does not allow our souls to enter into other dimensions. Before you pronounce my thoughts as deluded take for instance the animal kingdom and its pack/flock/pride behaviour. Animals tend to live in group structures and the observation of flocks of birds lets you see the dynamic of shared consciousness at work when they move as one while darting through the sky. Humans retain the idea of tribe and family due to our animal origins as opposed to the soul of man that is alone and searching. So at the physical base level there is a distinct lack of individuality. I believe, and I have my own empirical evidence that the soul can change frequencies while in this material plane and access different dimensions in its search for home. Through this activity you can connect with a strange world and interact with spirits, ultimately realizing that there is nothing separate and all is one. Communication is instantaneous thought without the baggage of physical gesture to facilitate this exchange. When I experienced this firsthand, external thoughts that were definitely not my own and did not come from my head, populated my intellectual sphere in rapid response complete with visual, auditorial, and olfactory stimuli. This state is what the ancients called visions. The symbolism of the mirror in the ancient world was a gateway to this occult world(s).
As a kid I was often told of the superstition that if you break a mirror it is then seven years bad luck for you. Why the seven years symbolism? The seven brings to mind the seven Hathors. This aspect of the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor foretold the future. They are present at the birth of a child to pronounce its fate. They predict the Nile inundation and consequently the abundance of the grain harvest. They also offer protection against evil spirits.
The Seven Hathors are generally a positive force in magic. They are appealed to in love spells and their red hair-ribbons could be used to bind dangerous spirits.
Magic in Ancient Egypt, Geraldine Pinch, pages 37-38
The constellation of Taurus houses the group of seven stars known as the Pleiades. Taurus is the great "Bull of the West" and his harem are the seven Hathors as this vignette from the Book of the Dead demonstrates.
Seven Hathors from Spell 148
The Pleiades are fairly easy to spot in the nighttime sky once you know where to look. My favourite time to observe them is a cold and clear winter's night. Something magical happens when you do experience this. The stars twinkle like diamonds in the light and the shape of the constellation is reminiscent of a mirror as it has a defined handle and a viewing platform. To me when I see this seems like such a profound expression of the Goddess and her jewel encrusted effluence. I don't have any proof of a connection of the Pleiades and a mirror however I wanted to point out the power of individual observation and how it can stimulate your thought processes.
Anyway back to the idea of a mirror and visions. The history of the word should be examined. Here are the entries from the Online Etymological Dictionary:
"to reflect," 1590s, from mirror (n.). Related: Mirrored; mirroring. The Middle English verb mirouren (early 15c.) meant "to be a model" (for conduct, behavior, etc.), while miren (mid-14c., from Old French mirer) meant "to look in a mirror."
early 13c., from Old French mireoir "a reflecting glass, looking glass; observation, model, example," earlier miradoir (11c.), from mirer "look at" (oneself in a mirror), "observe, watch, contemplate," from Vulgar Latin *mirare "to look at," variant of Latin mirari "to wonder at, admire" (see miracle). Figurative usage is attested from c.1300. Used in divination since classical and biblical times; mirrors in modern England are the subject of at least 14 known superstitions, according to folklorists. Belief that breaking one brings bad luck is attested from 1777. The Spanish cognate, mirador (from mirar "to look, look at, behold"), has come to mean "watch tower." Mirror ball attested from 1968.
One thing that immediately jumps to mind is the 'mir' that begins the word. Whenever I see the 'mr' combination I immediately look for connections to a Goddess. In ancient Egypt a 'mr' is a pyramid. Without going into a grand exposition on the pyramid I will just say that look at them as vehicles for rebirth. Khufu, the pharaoh for whom the Great Pyramid is named after, called his pyramid akhet. Akhet is the magical place in the east, the portal, from whereabouts the sun makes its grand entrance at the break of day. It is fittingly another name for the great goddess Hathor who gives birth to this child, Ihy, in the gold of the morning's light. This 'mr' combination finds its way into feminine names such as Mary and Miriam. These biblical names conceal the presence of the Goddess in the Bible but the secret has been let out. The mount of Moriah plays a prominent role in the Bible as well when Abraham ascends the mountain to sacrifice his son Isaac. Appearing to him before he sacrifices his son is the angel of the Lord, this mysterious angel likely being feminine. We find 'mr' in classical language referring to the sea as well. In Latin the sea is called mare and today we have many of its derivatives such as marina and mermaids. The goddess Aphrodite is said to have sprung up from the sea foam.
Aphrodite and her sea foam origins
This idea of the waters and 'mr' is found in the Old Testament as well. It is Miriam who leads the Israelites to the bitter water that is called mar. This is an elaborate connection of Miriam to the bitter tasting and sweet smelling myrrh fragrance that is a huge part of Goddess lore. The Greeks go as far to have a goddess named Myrrha (also known as Smyrna) that is a rival of Aphrodite's in beauty and births Adonis. These tales are linked to the Semitic goddess Ba'alat that is ultimately traced back to the Egyptian goddess Hathor. The ancient Egyptian word for myrrh is the hieroglyphic of a cobra over a papyrus stalk and this hieroglyphic is for the green goddess serpent known as wadjet. Wadjet is the name for Hathor in her snake form and is connected with Lower Egypt. It is through Hathor I will now flood the reader with the connection of the mirror and the Goddess.
First of all among the numerous towns and grottos where Hathor had worship sites I'd like to highlight a place called Meir, which is the necropolis of the Upper Egyptian town of Kusae. Kusae was the capital of the 14th nome of Upper Egypt which emblems were the lower sycamore and viper giving us the connection once again to Hathor.
Much farther north in Middle Egypt, and thus closer to the royal capital at Memphis, was the town of Kusae, where Hathor was the chief deity as Lady of Kusae, at least from the early Middle Kingdom. The great tombs belonging to local princes at Meir testify to their devotion to this goddess, who was also referred to there by a priestess's text as The Gold.
The Great Goddesses of Egypt, Barbara S. Lesko, page 96
At festivals, celebrations, and invocations of Hathor mirrors are one of the instruments used.
The sistrum was more than a musical instrument; it became the symbol of the goddess, and her power was believed to emanate from it. Mirrors were also used in her cult starting in the late Old Kingdom. They caught the sun's light and thus came to be thought of as one of the implements in which the great goddess was manifest. Her priestesses danced with mirrors, and mirrors were portrayed on Middle Kingdom coffins (and sometimes deposited in the coffin) along with Hathor's necklace of many rows of beads, which also would have emitted a rustling sound.
The Great Goddesses of Egypt, Barbara S. Lesko, page 100
The use of a reflective surface in ancient Egypt was a major component of ceremonies designed for entering into a state that was induced in order to come into contact with the spirits, Hathor being the conduit for these connections.
Copper Mirror with Hathor Head
In the book 'Dancing for Hathor' the author Carolyn Graves-Brown gives a fantastic description of such a ceremony and also draws the conclusion that "One might wonder if at times the goddess Hathor was a means by which it was possible to see into ‘other worlds’." I have been quite perplexed as to why more who study the ancient Egyptians do not come to this conclusion when presented with these scenes of ecstasy and veneration of the gods and goddesses of this occult world. The ancient Egyptian world of gods and goddesses and rich descriptions of the netherworld remains for most the superstitious beliefs and fanciful imaginations of a culture obsessed with death and living beyond this world. Based on my own experiences I have no doubt they did see into 'other worlds' and it was through the goddess Hathor that they experienced the divine.
At Dendera, Hathor is ‘mistress of the dance, queen of happiness’. Music, dance and intoxication are not only Hathorian, but occur in many religions in association with breaking down barriers between our world and that of the gods and the deceased. Ecstatic emotion is one means of transcending this world. The association of Hathor, and hence of Hathorian dancers, with breaking down barriers between one world and another appears in a text which describes the movements performed by Hathorian musicians in night-time dances for the goddess: ‘Singers, vital and beautiful, are intoxicated by speedily moving their legs out before them’. Perhaps this was a kind of zikr designed to bring on an altered state of consciousness during the ritual.
One might wonder if at times the goddess Hathor was a means by which it was possible to see into ‘other worlds’. The mirrors associated with the goddess, as well as being linked to her solar and beauty aspects, might be linked with scrything (a means of seeing into other worlds through reflective surfaces), and music (hand clappers and sistra) is also associated with inducing trance-like states. Mirror dances, like other dances, took place for Hathor; mirrors were used in religious rituals, not simply for personal grooming, and were often owned by priestesses. The words ‘for your ka’ are associated both with offering alcohol and with offering mirrors. The phrase ‘for your ka’ might be taken literally, with the mirror being the depository of the soul. Each person has his ka – a part of his soul – and he goes to it when he dies.
Dancing for Hathor, Carolyn Graves-Brown, pages 167-168
Graves-Brown mentions scrying, which is the use of reflective surfaces to see into other worlds.
divination of distant or future events based on visions seen in a ball of rock crystal. Divination based on an analysis of reflections in water, on polished metal, or on precious stones was practiced by early humans, who probably interpreted these phenomena as a vision of the spirit world. Scrying became widespread by the 5th century AD and was condemned by the medieval Christian church as the work of the devil.
scrying. Dictionary.com. © Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/scrying (accessed: December 08, 2013).
Such activity incurs the wrath of subsequent religious movements that wish to distance themselves and forcibly stamp out the practicing of the occult from popular pagan worship. It would be quite difficult to promulgate a monotheistic cult if members were in constant contact with spirits that contradict the message you are trying to teach. If it goes against enforced beliefs it is then termed as the work of the devil. Perhaps it is the other way around? In researching the meaning and origin of the idea of an idol this is made clear as the Greek eidolon is a word describing the art of scrying.
mid-13c., "image of a deity as an object of (pagan) worship," from Old French idole "idol, graven image, pagan god," from Late Latin idolum "image (mental or physical), form," used in Church Latin for "false god," from Greek eidolon "appearance, reflection in water or a mirror," later "mental image, apparition, phantom," also "material image, statue," from eidos "form" (see -oid). Figurative sense of "something idolized" is first recorded 1560s (in Middle English the figurative sense was "someone who is false or untrustworthy"). Meaning "a person so adored" is from 1590s.
In ancient Egypt the cross called an ankh that was used to symbolize life and offered in many temple scenes to the Pharaoh by the divine, curiously also can denote a mirror.
Atum offering Life to Pharaoh
Underlying this association is the idea of the life granted here in the physical plane has a spiritual counterpart if you look into the rounded part of the ankh. The cross is suggestive of a passage between worlds with the upper part of the cross possibly representing the way into seeing into the occult and the lower part of the cross representing the current state of physical manifestation.
To get back to the idea of the Goddess and her association with myrrh I'd like to introduce the history of the word myrrh. It is one of those rare words that institutional scholars will credit with being unquestionably derived from a Semitic source.
Old English myrre, from Latin myrrha (also source of Dutch mirre, German Myrrhe, French myrrhe, Italian, Spanish mirra), from Greek myrrha, from a Semitic source (cf. Akkadian murru, Hebrew mor, Arabic murr "myrrh"), from a root meaning "was bitter."
I have mentioned earlier its association to the idea of something that is bitter. If you taste the essential oil of myrrh it has a peculiarly bitter taste. The Hebrew word for myrrh is mor and I conjecture from this that the idea of the Egyptian Goddess Hathor and myrrh was so prevalent during these times and area of the lands of the Levant that were in constant contact and traded extensively with the Egyptians that the fragrant resin of the Goddess was eventually referred to as a word associated with the Goddess and rebirth, that word being transliterated from ancient Egypt as mr.
I touched on earlier the instances in the Bible in which the use of 'mr' in names and places is suggesting the presence of the Goddess. As I have explained, the visionary experience is accessed through the Goddess. The Old Testament has instances where the patriarchs witness frightening visions, are spoken to, and enter into sacred ground that is the domain of the Goddess. I will examine some of these instances now.
The first contact of the original couple of creation, Adam and Eve, with the supernatural occurs in the garden of Eden with a serpent. The serpent was long known in the ancient world as being associated with the Goddess and visions and by this relationship it is connected to wisdom as well. It is the serpent who encourages Eve to partake of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 3. Eating the fruit of that tree is giving them knowledge that is reserved for the gods. It is akin to a visionary experience. A common vision for partakers in a hallucinogenic decoction called ayahuasca is the serpent in combination with the great mother goddess archetype.
Serpents, goddesses, and ayahuasca
Later in the Old Testament Jacob consults the divine for guidance as to whether he should sojourn in Egypt in Genesis 46:
Genesis 46:2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
At Beersheba Jacob enters into conversation with the gods. Visions is translated from the Hebrew mar'ah, mar'ah being the feminine version of 'to see' from ra'ah which is used in the context of seeing both literally and figuratively. Mar'ah, visions, also carries the meaning of a mirror. The mar part here is connected with the feminine in terms of names such as Miriam and water such in Exodus 15:23 when the journeying Israelites come upon the bitter (mar) waters of a place in the desert called Marah. I connect this to the feminine and the waters to show that the idea of the visions Jacob is having here at Beersheba is done through the feminine.
In Exodus 3 is the famous scene of Moses approaching divinity appearing in a burning bush:
Exodus 3.3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
Moses turns in order to not look directly upon this vision. Sight in this verse is translated from the Hebrew mar'ah as well. This verse does not spell out again whether Moses is having these visions in a dream or if it is via a psychotropic substance, however the inclusion of the bush does give credence to the idea that access to the divine in these cases is done through visionary plants. The angel appears in a burning bush and the bush is not consumed by fire. The bush has been speculated to be the desert thriving acacia, long known for its visionary properties as well as its association with goddesses such as the ancient Egyptian Hathor. The acacia is similar to a bush common to Africa and Arabia called the Balsamodendron Myrrha giving us once again the connection to myrrh and lending credence to my claim that visionary experiences are accessed through the Goddess. In Genesis 28:12 Jacob had a vision of the ladder at Bethel where he encountered the gods and set up a pillar to commemorate the encounter. This time a mountain is used as a similar device to the pillar with both sharing the ability to house the gods.
As you can easily connect now, our word for the mirror traces its existence back to the idea of visionary activity and the Goddess. Seeing is believing.