The quest for the unknowable seems like incredible folly and to pursue it with the idea I could somehow have it reveal itself to me seems like misguided hubris and delusion! But hey I've come this far in seven years of obsession, much farther than I ever thought I'd reach, so why not take an intellectual stab at this conundrum and perhaps lift the veil ever so slightly and let some light in. Of course this is really an exercise conducted for the benefit of myself being the writer and audience all rolled into one.
We live in a world of duality. What we are surrounded by are the feminine and masculine, light and dark, positive and negative, polarity and so on. In order to procreate the female and male must come together as one and exchange energy. From this unity a process of division is enacted which results in the creation of offspring. This can be a simplistic guide to use as a method for trying to understand creation from a cosmic standpoint; in other words we are looking for something that is an undivided whole that encapsulates these energies that would be the starting point for creation as we know it. So in essence everything we perceive in what we call our universe would naturally have emanated from an original condition of unity. This fits in synchronistically with the cosmic idea of the "big bang" and the spiritual concept that we are all one that comes from the same original divine source. Now a quick intellectual pit stop into what I think was the spark that caused what is referred to as the big bang or what it was that caused the one to separate into multitudinous forms of life. That spark was the addition of time into wholeness. Time is not an eternal constant but a malleable principle that when introduced causes separation - this is easily grasped by thinking about what keeps us apart in our lives. We are separated from our ancestors through the passage of time; we experience separation from friends and family at times by distance which then needs more time to negate its effects. Time is the concept of chronology as well as distance and separation, so not only do we perceive time as being an accumulated journey of passage, to wit, motion, that doesn't really have a destination but we also perceive it as something that keeps us separated from others and ultimately our origin. The search for this origin at least has some clues we can use to get an idea that we are on the right track. We are looking for something that is androgynous in the sense it would encapsulate the energies of the female and male as one and then cascade through division into what we perceive as the physical world. I think I can explain this through the rich and varied cosmology of the ancient Egyptians.
The consensus I gather from reading of the varied beliefs of the ancient Egyptians is that the Egyptians were confused and had multiple accounts of creation and competing theologies. It is a valid point because at first glance it sure does seem like a hodgepodge of deities, each with their own story of how creation issued forth from them. I'm going to briefly focus on the four major centres of what we would call their competing theologies with my goal to show they actually complement each other.
First off is the city of the eight known to classical students of Egypt by the Greek moniker Hermopolis, called Khmun by the ancient Egyptians.
As you can gather from the Greek, the titular deity of eight town was Hermes, the equivalent of the Egyptian wisdom god Thoth.
His female counterpart here is said to have been an aspect of Hathor called Hathor-Nehmetawai.
Hathor sistrum column at temple of Philae
In this city of the eight, eight columns fashioned as sistra held up the "House of Khmun, the House of the Golden One," the Golden One referring to an epithet of Hathor with the sistrum being iconic to her. This is interesting because of the idea of androgyny that comes forth from the combination of Thoth and Hathor, as in Greek they form the peculiar hermaphrodite.
A Roman fresco of Hermaphroditus from Herculaneum
The idea of the eight is referring to the primeval polarized elements of the undifferentiated mass, chaos would be a decent term for this though not in the sense of being wildly disorganized, instead the lacking of separation is a better explanation of the condition. Here is a good explanation of the eight, known as the Ogdoad, and as explained there really was no consensus concerning the beginnings of creation but rather just speculation and it would appear certain groups later in the dynastic history of ancient Egypt would promote the primacy of their favoured god by claiming they created these original eight.
The gods of the Ogdoad, with their names as they generally occur in later texts, show the following equivalences. Amun and Amaunet were hiddenness, Huh and Hauhet were formlessness, Kuk and Kauket were darkness, and Nun and Naunet were the watery abyss. From these eight deities came an egg bearing the god responsible for creating all other gods, humans, animals, plants, and so on. Originally Thoth might have been this creator god, but in texts generally coming from Heliopolis, Atum was inserted in his place. Coffin Text spell 76 is unusual in having Shu create the Ogdoad so Atum has priority in time as well as in the act of creation. The contemporaneous spell 335 (the earlier version of chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead) more clearly shows the priority of Nun...
Religion in Ancient Egypt, by Byron Esely Shafer, John Baines, Leonard H. Lesko, David P. Silverman, Fordham University, page 95.
There is a certain co-dependency in the Ogdoad in that creation could not proceed without the participation of all elements, hence different factions/gods staking their claim of primacy over the eight. The dualistic principle of female and male also is at work here as the eight were derived from four wholes.
The Ogdoad could be represented in human form, but sometimes the males have frog or jackal heads and the females snake heads.
Egyptian Mythology, Geraldine Pinch, page 176.
For the most part the feminine is associated with the serpent and in this chaotic water world of pre-existence she is represented as such. The masculine aspect of the four pairs are given more play in the study of the Ogdoad and basically that is because they are the active part of the dual nature of these principles.
4 pairs of the Ogdoad
The feminine as the mother gives the masculine life and this is the metamorphoses of the water bound tadpole into a frog that can come forth from the waters. So this means the hidden Amun, cosmic light, becomes present; Heh becomes the principle of time that creates form through separation; Kek differentiates now between the darkness and the light; and Nun becomes the waters that can now sustain life. The representations of the male as a jackal indicates the ability to move through the very beginnings of creation with instinctual tracking ability and the directional sense so as to not get lost in this primordial abyss. As was mentioned earlier from these eight came forth an egg that carried within it a god that would create the material universe. The eight can be thought of collectively as a goose.
The Ogdoad came together to form a cosmic egg which was fertilized by the god Amon in serpent form. In other versions of the myth, the cosmic egg was laid by Amon in his goose form or perhaps by Thoth in ibis form.
Magic in Ancient Egypt, Geraldine Pinch, page 23.
The creator god of Mennefer, Memphis to the Greeks, called Ptah seems to be the most likely one being referred to here as the egg coming from the goose and fertilized by Amun as Kamutef the enlivening light. Ptah is depicted as being mummified which would suggest he does encapsulate something within him, much like an egg.
The mummified Ptah
In Greek mythology, the parallel god to Ptah is Hephaestus who is the divine craftsman who fashions the world. The text from the Shabaka stone known as the Memphis Theology lends credence to the idea that within Ptah lies latent creation.
The text known as the Memphis Theology may date to the late New Kingdom. In it, Ptah is acclaimed as a self-created deity who made everything that existed through the powers of thought and speech. This concept is reconciled with the theology of Heliopolis by identifying Ptah with many of the deities from the creation myths of that city. Ptah was linked with Nun and Naunet, the deities of the Primeval Waters who "gave birth" to Atum.
Egyptian Mythology, Geraldine Pinch, page 182.
The texts of the dynastic period agree in associating Ptah with the oldest fetishes and gods of Egypt. Thus we have:
Ptah Nunu, i.e. Ptah-Chaos
Ptah Hap, i.e. Ptah-Nile
Ptah Tenen, i.e. Ptah-Earth
Ptah Aten, i.e. Ptah-Solar disk
He is also associated with the gods of the dead, i.e. Ptah-Asar (Osiris), Ptah-Seker, Ptah-Seker-Asar, and even Ptah-Seker-Tem, i.e. Ptah-Seker, and the setting, i.e. dying, sun. As Ptah-Tenen the god is united with the still more ancient Earth-god Geb.
From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt, E.A. Wallis Budge, page 159.
In addition, the etymology of Ptah can easily be traced back to its source and from this is uncovered clues that will eventually allow for nuanced speculation on the original source of the all.
One final Egyptian cosmological concept deserves mention here. In Ptolemaic hieroglyphs, the name of the god Ptah is written [heaven/heh/earth]. This writing, based on acrophonics, is composed of the p or pt ("heaven"), the t of ta ("earth"), and the h of heh ("support of heaven"). This image is not unlike the artistic representation in which the sky goddess Nut is separated from the earth god Geb by the air god Shu. In this Ptolemaic writing of his name, Ptah, the "fashioner" god, incorporates both the male aspect of Geb and the female aspect of Nut, and the writing carries further the concept of Ptah's androgyny found earlier in the Memphite Theology, which identified Ptah-Nun and Ptah Naunet. Thus this Ptah provides a further symbolic link between the Ennead (p, heaven and Nut; t, earth and Geb) and the Ogdoad (h. heh and Nun/Naunet).
Religion in Ancient Egypt, by Byron Esely Shafer, John Baines, Leonard H. Lesko, David P. Silverman, Fordham University, pages 121-122.
Like Atum, however, Ptah was also viewed as combining male and female elements within himself. This is seen in early texts, and in the latest period of Egyptian history the name of the god was written acrophonically as pet-ta-heh or p(et)+t(a)+h(eh) as though he were supporting the sky (pet) above the earth (ta) in the manner of the Heh deities, but also bridging and combining the female element of the sky and the male element of the earth in the androgynous manner of the primordial male-female duality Ptah-Naunet.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson, page 19.
Ptah is the creational intermediate link between the Ogdoad and the Ennead. It's the concept of androgyny when connected to the whole that is to be noted here. As the process of the creation of the world we live in unfolds it can be shown that at each step it proceeds from something that is whole. A few other ideas to contemplate before we move on are first of all the role of heh in the name of Ptah. As explained earlier the god Heh introduces time and time as eight Heh deities are shown here in combination with the god Shu as Shu once again is the support pillar that separates the sky from the earth.
Shu with 8 heh gods keeping Nut as the sky aloft
Shu stands with his arms raised supporting the arched body of Nut. This arm position was the hieroglyphic symbol that wrote the word ka (life force or vital essence), which helps to emphasize that Shu is making life possible. Many other beings, including the entities known as the Heh gods, can be shown assisting Shu to support the sky above the earth.
Egyptian Mythology, Geraldine Pinch, page 65.
The Heh in Ptah, once activated, allows the separation and creation of the universe. The other idea to bring up is the role of the wife of Ptah who is the raging goddess Sekhemet that I have written about previously. She is an aspect of the great goddess Hathor and what she does is power creation through the concept of Sekhem which in turn allows Ptah to actually create which means he breaks out of the egg or sheds the cloth that keeps him mummified. An interesting epithet of Sekhemet is "Lady of the Place of the Beginning of Time", telling us that time is what propelled the Ogdoad into being active and thus the first emanation of creation occurred in Memphis.
Ramesses II at the Temple of Derr offers to Ptah and Sekhemet
The child of Sekhemet and Ptah is Nefertem which means the beautiful Atum.
Nefertem at Karnak
Atum is the next step in creation that is unfolding and what we will now turn to in this study.
Nefertem symbolically emerges from the primordial waters as the lotus signifying the emergence of divine consciousness into the created world. Now as Atum, this is the concept of light appearing and is known as the Heliopolitan theology; this designation referring to the Greek Heliopolis - from the ancient Egyptian word Iunu. Iunu means pillar and from this we can ascertain it is referring to the upholding of the physical world by the physical elements that proceed from Atum though the Greeks by word play associated it with their sun god Helios. May I dare say Atlasopolis would have been a better choice? The group of gods and goddesses of Heliopolis are called by Egyptologists the Ennead.
Ennead of Heliopolis
There are nine differentiated deities within this grouping. Light as manifested in the sun when the division of Atum took place is referred to as Re. The first division produced Shu and Tefenet. Briefly, Shu represents the dry air that separates and Tefenet is moisture that corrodes. From these two came forth Geb the earth and Nut the sky. Once again though we find creation at a standstill as Nut and Geb are locked in a passionate embrace.
Nut and Geb in a sexual embrace
Shu separates these two with the help of the eight Heh deities which allows creation to flourish. The result are four children: Osiris as the recurring soul, the Ba of ancient Egyptian metaphysical speculation; Isis, the sister wife, who is the womb for the soul in the physical plane; Set, the murderer of Osiris and antagonist of his son Horus, and who represents the unbridled life force - the unfettered Ka; and Nephthys, the mistress of the house, who is the physical womb of creation. The ultimate creation of the nine is the reborn soul, represented as the baby Horus, who comes forth from the union of Isis and Osiris. If you look closely at the structure of the Ennead in Heliopolis it can be shown that all the gods and goddesses are representing aspects of the material world we can perceive except for these two. Atum-Re as the sun and its light, Shu as the separating air, Tefenet as moisture, Geb the earth, Nut the sky, Set the earthly life force whose strength kills the soul but also acts as a world pillar, and Nephthys the fashioner of the material to house the life force. The two outliers are Isis and Osiris who then produce the fruit that seems to be the purpose of all this creation in the first place, including the original spark going all the way back to the Ogdoad. It is quite the enterprise that has unfolded in order to have come forth a soul that has experienced creation, hatred, fear, death, and rebirth due in large part to the unconditional love of an all encompassing entity, may I speculatively say a Goddess whose presence in creation masquerades in many forms.
Before continuing on I'd like to address something that has been lost in this Heliopolitan story and it is the role of Set in the completion of creation and the ultimate purpose of all of this which is revealed as Horus the reborn soul.
Set hieroglyphic determinative
Set plays the part of the Heh separator here in a clandestine way. His murder of Osiris in the material world, the world of time, severs the relationship of Isis and Osiris and it is in a way abortive as their union to this point had been unable to conceive an offspring. It is this reason that Set can be represented with a hieroglyph that means to separate:
also he is referred to as a bringer of abortion; his birth was a premature and abortive escape from the womb of Nut and he carries forth this power in the attempt to destroy the birth of the soul in the material realm. I went further into this idea in this blog post.
Isis then dedicates her life to finding and reconstituting Osiris in order to bring him back to life through the use of divine magic to conceive the Horus child. After she becomes with child, Set acts the part of the separator once again as he hunts Osiris down and kills him for the second time in the mythos as Horus cannot ascend to the kingship of an unified Egypt without the death of Osiris. It is one reason why the concept of heh cyclical time and separation being a catalyst for creation has this connection that involves Heh, the eight Heh gods, Shu, and Set. Furthermore as time is a separator, Re can be placed in this category as well as the voyage of Re throughout the year delineates the day and night and the changing seasons. It is for this reason that Re treats Set as a treasured son and sticks up for him as the gods of Egypt are debating the future kingship of Egypt in the story 'The Contendings of Horus and Set'.
Getting back to the role of the Ennead, Atum was the androgyne originator of our world and the two that were always with him, Shu and Tefenet, represent time and order as the concept of neheh, cyclical time, was another name for Shu while Tefenet could be referred to as ma'at.
Tefenet and Shu with Re
The separation of these two from the all called Atum now ushered in another cycle of creation.
Lord of totality: Atum was the monad - the one from whom all else originally came. One of the ways in which his name might be translated carries the idea of 'totality', and in the Coffin Texts and elsewhere he is specifically called 'lord of totality' (CT III 27). From this perspective, everything which existed was a part of the 'flesh' of Atum, and every individual thing was said to be one of the millions of the god's kas, a concept which not only stressed the god's primacy in coming before all else but also his importance as a universal god.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson, page 99.
'I am Atum, the creator of the Eldest Gods,
I am he who gave birth to Shu,
I am that great He-She,
I am he who did what seemed good to him,
I took my space in the place of my will,
Mine is the space of those who move along
like those two serpentine circles.'
(Coffin Texts, I, 161 ff.)
Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt, R.T. Rundle Clark, page 80.
From the great creation of our world that came forth from the dynamic gods and goddesses of Heliopolis is the establishment of the rule of the earth that resided in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes; known as Waset from the hieroglyphs. Waset means power; the masculine form of this concept being 'was' which was a staff that symbolizes power and is often used as a pillar that upholds the four corners of our world.
Two was sceptres
It is why Thebes was known as south Iunu, as this designation demonstrated its connection to the pillars of Heliopolis that were central to the understanding of the world where humankind had come forth in as a consciously aware being. It's representing the delegation of the power to the ancient Egyptians to rule over and control the destiny of creation of the human race that within them have a spark of the original cosmic intelligence. This light, much like the soul, remains hidden. The ancient Egyptian word for hidden is Amun and it is Amun who reigns supreme in Thebes along with his goddess wife Mut, the mother goddess. Amun was merged with Re and as the king of the gods was called Amun-Re.
Amun-Re at Abydos temple of Seti I
Looking at this amalgamation closer it can be deduced that Amun was always the light, the great cosmic light that came forth from the original unity, that has manifested now as the light of the sun, just as Amun's association with Min as Min-Amun represented his untiring ability to create but unlike Min who is creating in a physical capacity, Amun is creating souls. The depictions of Amun as a ram bely this ability as the Ba is the ancient Egyptian concept for the soul.
Amun-Re as a ram from the Opet festival at Karnak
The sheep says Baaaaa and hence the onomatopoeic association with Amun and the soul. Their son is Khonsu who is associated with the moon and depicted as being mummified. Khonsu is latent human potential that has the ability to grow, create, and heal and within the association with the moon is a connection to the wisdom god of Hermopolis - Thoth.
The early Eighteenth Dynasty, devoted to Amun-Re, had clear connections with a moon god as well. Though he may have been the same Hermopolitan Thoth who appears in the names of the Thutmoside kings, this moon god was described and worshipped at Thebes as Khonsu, the son of Amun-Re and of Mut, "the Mother"
Religion in Ancient Egypt, by Byron Esely Shafer, John Baines, Leonard H. Lesko, David P. Silverman, Fordham University, page 105.
It can be argued at least by myself that Khonsu is an archetypical shaman. The soul had come forth as Horus in Heliopolis and Khonsu comes forth in Thebes to heal the soul from the sufferings and afflictions it will take on in its sojourn in matter. Is there an androgyne to be found in Thebes? Yes and it occurs in the figure of the great mother Goddess represented here as Mut.
Mut from the temple at Edfu
Mut is often depicted as a vulture, the vulture being a symbol for creation through parthenogenesis and she has a deep connection to the waters of creation as for instance in the temple grounds of Karnak is a crescent shape lake dedicated to her.
Mut precinct at Karnak
An epithet of Mut's is 'She Who Gives Birth, But Was Herself Not Born of Any', which is a tantalizing clue to her connection to the origin. Her sexuality as depicted in her relationship with her husband Amun is almost virginal and this is due in no small part because of her connection to the androgyne source, may I dare say the virgin?
It is interesting, however, that although Mut maintained her position as consort of Amun, in 'official' representations the relationship between the deities appears more familial than sexual. In sexual or fertility-related scenes Amun is portrayed with other 'younger' goddesses such as Isis and Hathor, but in formal scenes of power or matters of state it is Mut who is enthroned as the mature mother figure and powerful queen of the gods.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson, page 155.
The pairing of Mut and Amun in Thebes brings us back again to the water and light motif that I began with in the study of the Ogdoad. Now that I have detailed this cascading creation theology of the ancient Egyptians, let's reconnect it with the Ogdoad. Memphis represents Nun and Naunet, Heliopolis is Heh and Hauhet, Thebes is Amun and Amaunet, and Kek and Kaukhet are chaos personified - which is Hermopolis. We can make further defining connections within this Ogdoad. Nun and Naunet represent the waters that will give birth to creation and Amun and Amaunet act as the light that is the impetus, and the figurative impregnation of these waters. The two other pairs, Heh and Hauhet and Kek and Kauket are separators that are in opposition to the former two. Heh and Hauhet separate through the force of time while Kek and Kaukhet separate through what could be called cyclic entropy - the inclination to return to chaos and darkness. The night represents a return to this condition on a smaller scale when compared to these original forces. Going even further Nun and Naunet represent the feminine mother of all creation and Amun and Amaunet the masculine light that enlivens the feminine. It's the ancient Egyptian concept of Kamutef here - the bull (Ka) of his mother. In addition you can see the pairing of the two forces of separation. Heh and Hauhet separate through time and Kek and Kauket through darkness and division. Projecting that out into the physical manifestation of powers as delineated in the Ennead of Heliopolis it can be found in Atum-Re as the one who initiate the cycles of time from the circuit of the sun and the first emanations from Atum are Shu and Tefenet who can be referred to in name as the concepts of time that are called neheh and djet.
The two life-giving principles can thus be equated with a series of different paired features. Shu embodies as dry air the force of preservation, and thus not only life itself but also the concept of time as a series of events endlessly repeated in an eternal cycle called by the Egyptians neheh. Tefnut is the opposite as moist and so corrosive air, and embodies the relentless rule of change and the concept of time as a series of unique events in a single line called by the Egyptians djet. Neheh is the pattern of time that we recognize in the repeated seasons of the year, or repeated cycles of movement of sun, moon and stars, while djet is the chronological sequence of time that we observe in the succession of individual years and individual generations.
Ancient Egyptian Religion, Stephen Quirke, page 26.
neheh and djet time at Denderah temple
The concept of time needs the idea of separation as this passage from Coffin Texts IV, Spell 325 details:
(He gave Command to the Primeval Waters that he might have power thereby)
and that was his appearance at the beginning.
A powerful one, whose might subdued the powers [of the Abyss],
it curbed the eye when it raged and burnt,
it introduced the primeval gods,
it was supreme over the deities,
it created Time-
(Which was when Shu was there to raise the sky; it curbed the demon of darkness)
that was Shu, that it might bring heart to the Tousled and cheer their bulls.
What it said, the same was performed,
that it might cause a light, like the sun, in the night.
(variant: that the gods should likewise have form by night)
Now I am Command,
what I said was good, and what came forth from my mouth was good,
and what I now say, the same shall be performed, for I am Command....'
(Coffin Texts IV, Spell 325. The variants occur in coffins from Gebelein and Aswan (Eleventh Dynasty).
The opening lines refer to two mythical trees about which nothing is known. The text is distinctive by its allusions to the powers of chaos that threatened the rise of the ordered world. The chief of these was the <?> of God himself which rebelled and had to be curbed by the Divine Command. The most important clarification, however, is the lines which say that the creation of time is the same thing as the raising of the sky and the coming of light. Before that the gods had been 'tousled', in the state of confusion and dismay.
Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt, R.T. Rundle Clark, page 76.
The above passage sure has tantalizing allusions to the Logos of Greek philosophy that is found in the New Testament Gospel of John and it's not a stretch to say "Command" is the great, well three times great, Hermes/Thoth of Hermopolis fame. What we see from that passage is time proceeds due to separation and division. We see Set riding in the boat of Re keeping the snake Apophis at bay as this serpent is bent on stopping the procession of time.
Set and Apophis
It is for this reason that Re is supportive of the kingship of Set over all of Egypt in 'The Contendings of Horus and Set' and from this we can see why they are in fact kindred spirits and we can also make the connection between Heh and Hauhet and Kek and Kauket in the Ogdoad as being in opposition to the other two powers in order to enact the division which promulgates creation. There seems to be another reason hidden here though. Creation has come forth through the chaos of the eight and into the formation of the universe as described in the Memphite Theology and on to the formation of our physical world with the appearance of Atum as light on the primeval mound. From this came forth mankind in Thebes as the ruler of all of creation. This is cyclical and Set powers the boat of time, the sun boat of Re, onwards in an attempt to keep the Heliopolitan cycle of creation continuing. However the serpent Apophis represents the return to the primeval conditions of the Ogdoad. The Heliopolitan gods, especially Re and Set, fight against this because it essentially means their end. Atum had already declared the predestined cyclical end in the Book of the Dead spell 175, as he tells Osiris that he will eventually destroy the world, submerging everything back into the primal waters of Nun. It is interesting that the Goddess Neith is considered not only the mother of Re as a manifestation of light but also Apophis as the entropic darkness who is said to be either formed from the umbilical cord that attached Re to her or he was created when she spat into the waters of Nun. Atum says he will destroy the world and this is suggesting not only that Re is an aspect of Atum but the brother Apophis is also an aspect of Atum. Atum is literally pregnant with all sorts of dualistic principles. This process of creation that we are involved in does seem to have a purpose though as it would seem to me that instead of returning to the darkness and chaos of the Ogdoad ruled by Kek and Kaukhet we are to strive to return to an unity presided over by the cosmic light and love as represented by Amun and Amaunet that had remained hidden in the previous iteration of the Ogdoad. The act of creation initiated by the original unity you see now has as its purpose the coming forth of the light that is now in humankind, mythicized as Horus, as the preeminent force. The forces of chaos, Kek/Kaukhet and Set work in their own way to prevent this. We need to recognize the light within us and from this realization will enact a tipping point in all of creation that will empower love, light, peace, and unity for all.
Time creates death, separation, and suffering but contradictorily also allows the flowering expression of creation on a cosmic scale. Are we involved in a cosmic battle to see who makes life possible? Is it the light of Shu as expressed by the cosmology of Heliopolis or the light in humankind, the Theban cosmology, as the soul that can now direct its own future by exercising the power that resides within? Could it be a cosmic battle between cyclical time and time that does need to cause separation anymore? Is this the ultimate meaning of any attempts at discovering the meaning of life? Is it to create within creation life that can self direct its existence free of the force of division that is necessary to create? To live in peace as one - is this how it is to be accomplished and why there is such a battle raging over the control of our souls - the precious commodity of light within us? Let's turn now to the origin of the Ogdoad.
So where does the Ogdoad come from? We have the clue of Thoth and Hathor as the hermaphrodite of Hermopolis that were the two that came forth from the original unity of all. If we look to Heliopolis which seems to be describing to us the creation of the microcosm, our world, as opposed to the macrocosm, the whole universe, then we can use it as a guide to be sure we are correct in looking for the original androgyne at the head of the Ogdoad and its formation. In Heliopolis it is Atum as the hermaphrodite who begets the differentiated sexed pair Shu and Tefenet who have two children Geb and Nut. From these two are born four children who are paired as Isis and Osiris and Nephthys and Set. So you can see a division into 4 pairs of male/female that is similar to the Ogdoad. Taking this a step further let's examine again the roles of the pairs of the Ennead that have come forth and find their equivalencies in the Ogdoad. We can state first of all that the Ennead is creation at the stage where our world with its recognizable physical characteristics is formed. Light manifests as the creator Re; air separates the elements as Shu; moisture gives life as the feminine Tefenet; the earth is Geb; the sky is Nut; the soul comes forth as Osiris; the womb of the soul is Isis; chaos and darkness necessarily appears in the guise of Set; and Nephthys is the womb for life as differentiated from the womb for the soul. So extrapolating from this let's apply the same reasoning to the Ogdoad with the understanding the Ogdoad would represent an earlier and coarser stage of creation coming forth. We don't know the identity of the monad at the head of the Ogdoad, which would be the ultimate source, but we do know the four pairs that proceeded from that source. Keep in mind that this source we know of is what we would call androgynous. Ptah from Memphis is the sum of all matter - sky, land, and air the separator, coming forth. Atum from Heliopolis is the light coming forth to differentiate itself from darkness in this creationary process. Mut from Thebes is the all within this last stage of creation that has unfolded. It is by no accident that Atum and Mut as totality are reverse spellings of each other. This gives us a clue since we can see each monad is displaying a dominant gendered characteristic. Atum-male, Mut-female. That leaves us with Ptah-male, ?-female. Alright the monad we are looking for has a dominant female character so let's get back to finding equivalencies between the Ogdoad and the Ennead to see if that helps. Shu the separator with his connection to the eight Heh gods that separate the sky and earth with his counterpart Tefenet compares favourably with Heh and Hauhet, cyclical time that begins the process of separation that compels the monad into a cascade of creative division. Next up is Nut and Geb, sky and earth and their equivalence can be found in Nun and Naunet, the waters of creation. The Ogdoad stage of creation has not reached the point of differentiation as revealed in Nut and Geb but it's the same idea being expressed here. Moving on we have Osiris and Isis, the puzzling pair that represent the concept of a hidden soul that comes forth in man, whatever that may be. The soul, called the Ba, is often represented as a ram, Osiris can be depicted wearing a crown of ram's horns. This gives us the clue of the connection to Amun whose name means hidden and he can be represented as a ram. Amun is that hidden gem of creation that is the light, that light manifesting eventually as Re, and celebrated as the syncretic great god of Egypt Amun-Re, but he still maintains an unknowable hidden quality that is equivalent to the soul. The soul as light when individuated is called Osiris. The partner of Amun in the Ogdoad is Amaunet whose name means the west.
The west is the entrance into creation of the light, in other words Amaunet is the mother of the light in humankind. We go to our physical death in the west, which is a return to Amaunet or what was called Amenta and from a spiritual standpoint you can extrapolate that the light goes to its death in matter in the west. Amaunet as the west is giving birth to the light in matter as death and birth are in actuality just transitory states. Isis acts the part of the womb for the gestation of the light in the physical plane and ultimately that will produce the light reborn as Horus as the light as Osiris was attacked and murdered by Set upon entry into the physical plane. As I have said before, the purpose of all this creation seems to have its ultimate flowering in the coming forth of Horus; what that means for us as humans who carry the light within us is that the ultimate purpose is to seek out and find this light and then to let it shine. So the final pairing of the Ogdoad, Kek and Kauket represent darkness and chaos. For this reason Kek can also be called the bringer of light as the darkness precedes the light. The equivalency in the Ennead is obviously Set, the author of confusion and darkness along with his beleaguered partner Nephthys. Set is a separator as well and it is as the darkness that this is accomplished. The darkness comes and separates the light from the rest of creation which plunges creation once again into a confused state. When the light returns, life returns as well. The darkness within us keeps us separated from the light that is within us. This is pretty heady stuff! Okay I hope all that is understandable and will help in the process of determining who is responsible for all of this. We are looking for a mystery. The clues are creator, androgyny, hermaphrodite, the source, origin, weaver of creation, creator of light.
I turn now to this grandiose statement made by the Goddess Neith in an inscription at her temple called Sapi-meht at Sais in the Libyan desert as reported by Plutarch, a Greek historian who lived from circa 46 - 120 A.D.:
I am All That Has Been, That Is, and That Will Be.
No mortal has yet been able to lift the veil that covers Me.
As the following text indicates, Neith is recognized as a goddess - but one who incorporates both male and female properties and power. She is unique and mysterious and is credited with creation.
Neith from the tomb of Nefertari
You are the Lady of Sais…whose two-thirds are masculine and one-third is feminine.
Unique Goddess, mysterious and great
who came to be in the beginning
and caused everything to come to be…
the divine mother of Re, who shines in the horizon
the mysterious one who radiates her brightness.
The Great Goddesses of Egypt, Barbara S. Lesko, pages 60-61.
Neith is described as an androgynous creator that is the origin of all and is also the source of light. The famous ancient Egyptian story of continual fighting between Horus and Set called 'The Contendings of Horus and Set' has in it an appeal to Neith to rule on which of the two combatants should be awarded the double crown of Egypt and in the request to Neith she is addressed as the following:
Neith… who is called "the eldest, the Mother of the gods, who shone on the first face," implying that she predated everyone else.
The Great Goddesses of Egypt, Barbara S. Lesko, page 57.
As a solution, Neith suggested that Horus be made king and Set be given two Semitic goddesses as consolation. All the gods agreed with the wisdom of her solution except of course Set.
Before proceeding further we should get some more background on this mysterious goddess. As the oldest of the Egyptian goddesses, we find different spellings of her name such as Neith, Neit, Mehetweret, Net, Nit, and Anet. In addition in the Libyan desert there was the worship of a goddess, Tanit, which means the 'land of Neith'. The Romans equated Tanit with their mother goddess Juno; Juno being the Roman iteration of the Greek goddess Hera, wife of Zeus. In her homeland of Egypt her name is derived for a word meaning 'that which is' and she is described as a goddess of war, a patroness of weaving, one of the four goddesses that watched over the deceased as the protectoress of Duamutef, the guardian of the deceased's stomach,
Neith protecting Tutankhamun's coffin
Neith wearing the Red Crown
She is referred to as Ua-Netert, Divinity One. Neith is generally depicted as a woman adorned with either the Red Crown or her emblem, which is a shield crossed with two arrows, representing her hunting and martial aspects and in this regard she could be shown carrying a bow and arrows.
Neith in different guises
In addition she could be depicted with a weaving shuttle above her.
Neith with shuttle
The ancient Egyptian word for weave is ntt which belies the connection between the Goddess and creation through the act of weaving the world into existence. This shuttle also looks like a vesica piscis which is a shape that is the intersection of two circles with the same radius, intersecting in such a way that the center of each circle lies on the circumference of the other and has allusions to the feminine and birth.
Tutankamun's golden bed as Mehetweret
In addition she could be represented as a primordial serpent in accordance with the iconography of many ancient goddesses.
The goddess could also appear in serpentine form as protectress of the king or of Re, as may be seen in The Book of the Dead (BD 185) and in the gilded wooden cobra found in Tutankhamun's tomb.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson, page 158.
Neith as a cobra
Neith is described as the mother of the physical light of our world, Re, and his dark counterpart, Sebek, the chthonic crocodile deity as well as the entropic serpent Apophis as mentioned earlier. As explained above, it was believed Neith was self-produced and was of both masculine and feminine natures. The vulture was iconic to her persona as the vulture was connected with the idea of the virgin and it was believed the female vulture became pregnant merely by exposing herself to the wind. As a corollary to this idea it was said that she was the one who created birth.
The metaphors of creation and birth clearly overlap and as mother of the gods, Neith is naturally seen as an archetypal mother figure. In the New Kingdom she was regarded as the mother of humans as well as gods, and a text dating from the 6th century BC states that it was she who invented birth.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson, page 157.
This following text from the walls of the temple at Esna sums up her androgyny aspect and of her creation of the origin of the all that was self produced that I have shown is represented as the four pairs of elemental powers of the Ogdoad.
Father of fathers and Mother of the mothers, the divinity who came into being was in the midst of the primeval waters having appeared out of herself while the land was in twilight and no land had yet come forth and no plant had yet grown. She illumined the rays of her two eyes and dawn came into being. Then she said: let this place become land for me in the midst of the primeval waters in order that I might rest on it. And this place became land in the midst of the primeval water, just as she said, and thus came into being "the land of the waters" [=Esna] and Sais…
Then she was pleased with this mound, and thus Egypt came into being in jubilation.
The Great Goddesses of Egypt, Barbara S. Lesko, page 61.
Neith is described here as the Father of the fathers and Mother of the mothers which is a reference to the male and female polarities of each power of the Ogdoad. The land being in twilight refers to a state of chaos and darkness, Kek and Kauket of the original Ogdoad being the dominant power at the time, as I have shown that these four powers are creationary cycles. Illumined the rays of her two eyes in an allusion to the sun and moon being symbols of the light that enlivens the creation that has differentiated itself into day and night and references Amun and Amaunet. What should also be taken note of is the association of the two eyes with light and the two serpents that are protectors of the light. It is this twinning of the serpent and the light again that I had made mention of earlier in this opus. Land is produced by separation of these powers and this is a reference to Heh and Hauhet as agents of separation. And lastly the land of the waters is referring to the waters that spawned creation, an obvious reference to Nun and Naunet. This text has clearly spelled out Neith as encapsulating all of the powers inherent in the Ogdoad which was the catalyst for the unfolding of creation. This act of creation makes no special cause between the dualistic principles of good and evil or light and darkness as they are necessary parts of creation.
In Roman times, texts inscribed in the temple of Khnum at Esna attempted to claim Neith as an Upper Egyptian deity who emerged from the primeval waters to create the world before travelling northward to establish her Delta city of Sais. These same texts claim that Neith created both Re and the sun god's archenemy Apophis making her the original demiurge. Neith was also considered to have created mankind, and in the 'Contendings of Horus and Seth' she is specifically called Neith 'the eldest, mother of the gods, who illuminated the first face'.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson, page 157.
The light comes forth from Neith and in Heliopolis becomes manifest in the sun that illuminates our world as Re. The motion of Re creates neheh time which is cyclical time. True to form, Neith also created the opposite principle that seeks to stop the cycle, the snake demon called Apophis that Set is tasked to keep away from the boat of Re during his perilous midnight journey through the underworld. All this comes from Neith as Neith is the original unity, the idea of a first time that came forth as the Ogdoad personified.
Neith is the androgyne that when separated becomes male and female, Amun and Mut of Thebes being the ultimate expression come forth in ancient Egypt as the masculine light and the feminine mother. The all also comes forth as Thoth and Hathor, the light as wisdom paired with the feminine mother representing love. The Ogdoad of Hermopolis as described was the active domain of Kek and Kaukhet, the undifferentiated chaos of darkness. Heh and Hauhet, the principles of time, are added to this primordial mass and act the part of the 'big bang' or to put it into nuclear terms, they cause the splitting of the atom and the subsequent release of the forces of the Ogdoad flowers into creation as we know it over the course of billions of years. Creation's catalysts are Amun and Amaunet as the cosmic light and Nun and Naunet as the agents of birth. This creation necessarily still contains within it the darkness and always will but the process now enacted steers a course to the coming forth of the light within humankind; the goal is for humankind to take on the active role as an enlightened creator and perpetuate the light throughout creation. The forces of darkness work to prevent the ascendency of the light within humankind so cyclically the universe will either be trapped in a cycle of time where the darkness reigns or eventually creation will return to the age of Kek and Kaukhet in the chaotic Ogdoad.
Neith weaves the rich tapestry, this garment the all. The shuttle she wears is symbolic of not only the weaving of the universe but also has associations to the linen bandages that encase the mummified. In addition she had warlike attributes as she could be represented with the bow and arrows. This aspect contributed to her masculine aspects with the act of releasing the arrow carrying allusions to the masculine sexual act. Curiously the writing of her name in hieroglyphs contained within it the determinative of an ejaculating phallus giving rise to the aspect of her that contains not only the mother but the power to enliven the seed within her.
Neith's name with the phallus determinative
She is by no means passive but contains within her the fierce attributes of a warrior goddess that will stop at nothing to protect her children.
Still another expression of the waters out of which lands emerged was Neit, a goddess whose main temple stood at Sais and whose role included the masculine territory of hunt and warfare; Neit as aggressive water formed the natural mother, in Egyptian expression, to the crocodile Sobek, a god revered particularly at dangerous riverbanks where the threat of crocodiles loomed especially large…
Ancient Egyptian Religion, Stephen Quirke, page 51.
The Pharaoh of dynasty Unas was proud to boast of his association with Neith as the aggressive mother of the waters.
Utterance 317 (The Pyramid Text of Unas)
Behold! Today Unas comes from out of the great waters,
From the belly of the Female Crocodile,
From the primordial deep, from the river in heaven above.
He comes forth from Neith in a great flood of celestial waters.
Unas is Sobek. His green plume on his forehead,
His shape the shape of watchful witness.
His chest uplifted, his breast fierce and strong.
He rushes forth from between the legs and from beneath the tail of the Great Goddess.
The one who resides in the splendor of Light
The Radiant One herself.
(translation by Normandi Ellis)
Neith is described in the above passage as 'The Radiant One herself' and the ancient Greek historian Herodotus describes a festival known as the 'Feast of Lamps' in which the participants keep lamps and torches burning all night. Neith as the Goddess of Light is the generator of light and the protector of light as this light journeys through darkness on a voyage of discovery. It brings to mind the Hindu festival of Diwali which at its esoteric core is the celebration of the discovery of the light within.
It is pretty clear Neith was the most revered goddess in early dynastic Egypt. The largest temple in ancient Egypt devoted to Neith is called Sapi-meht, at Sais, the capital of the fifth nome of Lower Egypt. In Upper Egypt her worship centred around the first cataract of the Nile at Elephantine where she was portrayed with the head of a lioness. Here is an interesting depiction of Neith showing the lioness head being part of her attributes as well as the sense of androgyny once again with the display of a phallus as ithyphallic.
Neith as genetrix
Champollion, Jean-François, 1790-1832. - Brooklyn Museum
The Nile's origins were mythologically portrayed as originating from Elephantine and it is hard to deny the allusions here to the waters of Nun coming forth from its passive state in the Ogdoad. Her husband here was Khnum, the ram-headed creator of the Ka and her son was Tutu, a form of the god Shu who played the part of the separator that enabled creation to flourish.
The earliest portrayal of what is thought to be a sacred shrine in Egypt is associated with Neith. Her symbol stands in the enclosure of a reed-built sanctuary on an ebony label from Abydos which seems to depict a visit made by the 1st-dynasty King Aha to a sanctuary of Neith. Yet widespread depictions of Neith's standard on early pottery indicate the goddess was venerated over a considerable area, and she was doubtless the most important goddess of the Early Dynastic Period. This pre-eminence may have eventually been challenged, however, and the 5th-dynasty King Userkaf is believed to have re-emphasized the cult of Neith after the later rulers of the 4th dynasty had supplanted her with Hathor. Nevertheless, there is ample evidence that Neith's status continued to be high. By the Old Kingdom Neith also had a sanctuary at Memphis, and the Coffin Text (Spell 408) also refer to her as 'mistress of Mendes', indicating an important presence there.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson, pages 158-159.
I'm not sure 'challenged' is a proper assessment of the ascendency and supposed supplanting of Neith. As creation comes forth, she would move to what we would call a senatorial role in the background as her children would take centre stage in the grand play of creation. What is most tantalizing about the figure of Neith and the connection to the androgyne that is the all is that her Greek counterpart is Athena and Athena is the Greek spelling of Neith transposed.
In his dialogue Cratylus, the Greek philosopher Plato, 428/427 BC – 348/347 BC, gives the etymology of Athena's name, based on the view of the ancient Athenians:
Socrates: That is a graver matter, and there, my friend, the modern interpreters of Homer may, I think, assist in explaining the view of the ancients. For most of these in their explanations of the poet, assert that he meant by Athene "mind" (nous) and "intelligence" (dianoia), and the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion about her; and indeed calls her by a still higher title, "divine intelligence" (Thou noesis), as though he would say: This is she who has the mind of God (Theonoa);- using a as a dialectical variety e, and taking away i and s. Perhaps, however, the name Theonoe may mean "she who knows divine things" (Theia noousa) better than others. Nor shall we be far wrong in supposing that the author of it wished to identify this Goddess with moral intelligence (en ethei noesin), and therefore gave her the name ethonoe; which, however, either he or his successors have altered into what they thought a nicer form, and called her Athene.
Cratylus, Plato, Translated by Benjamin Jowett.
Athena as the veiled virgin goddess matches many of the attributes of Neith. She is the Greek goddess of culture, wisdom, laws, crafts, and political and military strategy.
Her symbols included the owl (wisdom) and the snake (ancient symbol of female power). A serpent often accompanies Athena and frequently is depicted at the base of the staff of her lance.
Hadrian's cuirass depicting Athena with owl and snake
One last topic I'd like to look at involves the idea of Kamutef, the bull of his mother, and how it ultimately relates to the hermaphrodite unity that divides itself into creation. The light is the Kamutef of the monad after it has separated into its two constituent forces of matter and light. That's ultimately the esoteric meaning of Kamutef, especially as Amun and his association to the notion that he is the Ka, the bull, or the phallus that provides the seed that impregnates the material mother and allows creation to flourish. It would be instructive at this point to recall the expression of the essence of Neith in hieroglyphics with the phallus. Nowhere is this as well depicted then in this marvellous ancient site in the Sudan, the Nubia of the classical world, called Jebel Barkal.
The name Kamutef (“Bull of his Mother”) is taken to mean that Amun as Ka (=“Bull” or phallic being), written with the “bull” hieroglyph, impregnated his wife-consort, the goddess Mut ("Mother"), who then gave birth to him as his own son (i.e. the king = Ka = “Bull”), so that Amun became both his own father and son, and Mut became both his wife and “mother.” On the other hand, the god’s name can be understood as “Ka of his Mother,” in which the word “ka,” written with a hieroglyph representing a pair of open arms, conveyed the meaning that Amun was the “divine twin, essence” of Mut – in other words, that He, the father, was also She, the mother! As hard as this is to fathom, Egyptian artists sometimes portrayed this combined father-mother deity. Such a dual-sexed Kamutef appears, for example, in the Khonsu temple at Karnak, where Amun’s ithyphallic body has been given the lion head of Sekhmet/Mut (“Eye of Re”) - and the Theban triad has been reduced to two! In this scene (painted without the deity being named or explained) the god and goddess have become One, followed by their child, a bull-headed Khonsu, who doubtless symbolizes both the royal Ka (=”Bull”/king) and Moon.
(fig. 57)Fig. 57: Painted relief inside the Khonsu Temple at Karnak, showing Ramses IX before the dual-sexed Kamutef and Khonsu (as Ka/”Bull”). (Photo: Susanne Gänsicke.)
Naturally, given the strong association of Jebel Barkal with both Kamutef and the “Eye/Uraeus of Re/Horus,” and the fact that the pinnacle was thought to embody both at once, one is tempted to view this image as an esoteric rendering of the god as revealed at Jebel Barkal.
III. D. The Jebel Barkal Pinnacle as Uraeus God: Amun-Kamutef; Phallic Entity; and Manifestation of All Procreative and Fertility Gods
The outcropping of rock at Jebel Barkal, called the pinnacle, was understood to be both female, as represented by the uraeus serpent, and masculine, being represented as the ram headed phallic presence of Amun as Amun-Re Kamutef. This pinnacle at the Nile's 5th cataract discovered by military expeditions of early 18th dynasty Pharaohs is representing the encapsulation of the feminine and masculine in the one.
The Egyptians considered the uraeus to be the serpent form of any and all of the most powerful goddesses. The uraeiform pinnacle, therefore, would have indicated to them that all goddesses were present within Jebel Barkal.
III. B. The Jebel Barkal Pinnacle as Uraeus Goddess: God’s Uraeus (“Eye of Re”); King’s Uraeus (“Eye of Horus”); the “Two Eyes/Uraei of God;” and Manifestation of All Goddesses
Fig. 27a:The pinnacle seen from the southwest (=downstream [“north”]). (Photo: T. Kendall)
Finally I'll close with this excerpt about Jebel Barkal in the Book of the Dead:
Differing from the other spells, Spell 164 seems to be making allusions to the pinnacle as the leonine goddess Sekhmet-Bastet, “Eye of Re,” who later in the text is identified as Mut and Weret-Hekau. (The latter goddesses, it will be remembered, are those at Jebel Barkal who occupy B 300 and B 1100[?], respectively). She is also called “royal wife of the lion god Heq,” which is the Amun-aspect described in Spells 162 and 162 Variant. In 162, the god is called “He of Heqheqed…Embracer of the Great Goddess.” Obviously, if the god and goddess were manifested in the pinnacle simultaneously, then they would be in a state of permanent “embrace,” which means that their identities – and sexes – would be merged, like the strange detiy pictured in the Khonsu Temple at Thebes (cf. fig. 57) (Allen 1974, 160, n 63).
III. G. Jebel Barkal in the Book of the Dead
The Nubian Spells of the Book of the Dead reveal to us that the Egyptians believed that a mysterious Creator God, having and uniting many forms, resided far to the south of their own country – in a land that was a kind of Underworld - where they believed the Sun was born, where time began, where kingship emerged, where Osiris dwelt, from which the Nile inundation emanated each year, and to which the sun traveled each night for his daily rebirth. The spells provide clues that this place was Napata. Taharqo, too, believed that this place was Napata – the mid-point of the great bend of the Nile, where the riverbanks had exactly the opposite symbolic meanings they had in Egypt - where river “west” became east, and where, thus, “death” became “life.” He built his tomb northeast of Jebel Barkal, on the “west” bank, to ensure his own (and the god’s) resurrection.
Since in all these aspects Jebel Barkal (southern Ipet-Sut) appears to have had the same god and ritual significance as Luxor Temple (Ipet-resyt: “Southern Ipet”) at Thebes, we must now revisit the theory, first seriously proposed by Pamminger (1992), that Luxor Temple was built by the Egyptians as a way of housing locally the primeval Nubian god, recognized to dwell at the Nile headwaters in Kush, so that the kings could conveniently visit him at Thebes without the necessity of having to make the arduous journey to his “real home” at Jebel Barkal, approximately 1250 kilometers upriver.
III. G. Jebel Barkal in the Book of the Dead
I would add that not only is Thebes a copy of Jebel Barkal but Elephantine is an attempt to replicate this condition as well. Jebel Barkal is the original manifestation of the Ogdoad we have been exploring, encapsulating within it the idea of the hermaphrodite we have been searching for. Kamutef, as the procreating male can take on the forms of all the gods and the uraeus as Weret Hekau is the embodiment of all the goddesses.
These two aspects become one at the pinnacle of Jebel Barkal.
Fig. 76: Alternate vignette of Spell 163: The god Atum “of Heliopolis” takes the form of the serpent of cyclical solar and royal decline and rebirth. The composite deity he faces is Kamutef transforming into many gods. The text written beside the latter describes him as both the “eldest” and also “Khepri (the new born sun) rising.” The images would seem to be secretive renderings of Napata and its god. (Mysliwiec 1978, fig. 62)
Fig. 34a-b: Two details of the electrum handle of the bronze mirror found in the tomb of King Shabaqo at el-Kurru (Ku. 15; Dunham, 1950, pl. 62). The handle was decorated with the figures of four goddesses, symbolizing the transformations of the “Eye of Re” from south to north. Standing in the south (Nubia) is a lion-headed goddess, representing Sekhmet or Tefnut as the ‘unpacified Eye.” As the “Eye” travels north to Egypt, she transforms into the goddesses of the west and east: Hathor and Mut respectively. When the “Eye” arrives in Egypt she becomes Amun’s living uraeus and wife – and appears in the form of Shabaqo’s own sister, the princess Amenirdis, who was married to the god in Thebes. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA 21.318). (Photos: T. Kendall)
That's all the evidence and thoughts I will present concerning the identity of the all as revealed through ancient Egyptian theology/mythology. Simply put it is an union of love and light represented by the embrace of the totality of all the goddess and gods and could be depicted as a hermaphrodite. It's Thoth and Hathor at Hermopolis, Neith and Khnum at Elephantine, Amun-Re and Mut at Thebes, and Amun-Re Kamutef and the great serpent of magic Weret Hekau at Jebel Barkal.
The role of the sexual act in creation was not something the ancient Egyptians were shy at portraying. In sum, sexual union of the dualistic feminine and masculine whole is the essence of unity. It's the passionate embrace of the complementary opposites of female and male that when joined as one represents creation in a state of wholeness which precedes the flowering into many forms and dimensions of life. As a unified whole, the energy builds much like being in the throws of an ecstatic sexual state. The release of the energy, orgasm, is the big bang that then reverberates throughout all creation. Sexual energy pervades creation; it is especially heightened in elevated forms of consciousness while out in nature. The Amazon jungle is the most sexual place I have ever experienced and it is this energy that is the lifeblood of creation. It compels us to physically come together once again so that we can create on a physical level. The desire to come together as one is a result of that mysterious attractor called love in the universe. Creation is unselfish, creation is Love, and Love is the way back to the expression of unity.