Mirror of Isis - An Official Fellowship of Isis Publication

Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths
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COVER: Volume V, Issue 3, Samhain 2010
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An Isian Midwinter Meditation
Wenet the Swift One: Hare Goddess of Ancient Egypt
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Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths
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StarsheenThothEgg.jpg
Thoth holding the Egg of the Universe, original painting by Michael A. Starsheen

Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths
 
By Michael A. Starsheen

Most modern archaeologists and scholars look at the Egyptian creation myths as competing power-struggles between temple sites for control of the country. There is some merit to this, given that all of the royal family were priests of one sort or another, and that the apparently dominant "cult" seemed to follow the relocations of the Egyptian capital over the years. It is the simple, obvious explanation; after all, "the Egyptians were a primitive civilization, less advanced than we are."

Reality, as ever, is rather more complex. What some of us modern, "advanced" people see as a chaotic system through the filters and lenses of our own biases actually has an underlying and coherent integration for explaining how everything came to be. Amusingly, some of the things that modern scientists are now discovering about the beginnings of the universe and our Solar System/Earth have very clear parallels in the various Egyptian myths.

Myths are an excellent vehicle for the long-term transmission of information, given that they are rich in imagery that resonates in the unconscious mind and is retained. In a primarily illiterate society, the stories are vivid and memorable, and so are transmitted culturally over the course of many years. Especially in Egypt, decoding the information contained in the myths was the province of the priesthood, who were both the main body of literate people and initiated into "the mysteries". In other words, taught how to decode the meanings hidden in the imagery.

The downside of the Egyptian method was that only a handful of priests at any time had the key to all the information encoded in the stories. And it doesn't take much effort to kill them all in the various civil insurrections that the archaeologists use to mark the ends and beginnings of the various "dynasties." A great deal was lost, particularly between the IVth and Vth dynasties, as can easily be seen in the inferiority of the Vth dynasty pyramids. However the pyramids of Giza were built, the details were known by only a handful of priest-architects. So much has been lost.

I am going to give you my interpretation of these myths. I am sure that there will be many who wish to disagree and quibble over my analysis; however, the truth is that we are barely beginning to truly understand Egyptian civilization. Much of what we have is filtered through the Greeks from the very end of Egypt's decline and through our own Judeo-Christian perspectives. Until we can begin to take the Egyptians and their writings on their own terms, we will continue to distort and make mistakes in how we view them. If you dislike what I've written here, just realize it is my own filtering system and ancient memories coming into play.

(Of course, no one really believes in past life memories, do they? Information from them doesn't count. I've been a scientist too long.)

One factor in most of the myths is an element of union and synthesis. The principal movers of the activity are a male and a female deity whose union produces a synthesizing, unifying child. This both reflected the Egyptian emphasis on family (the archaeologists' explanation), and a knowledge of what modern philosophers call the process of "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" as a method for explaining a process. Especially in the later sets of myths, dealing directly with humanity and rule on earth, triads will appear again and again.

Another factor in the myths is the underlying knowledge of a single, unknowable "god-essence" that is the source of all that occurs in the universe. The Egyptian word for those we call gods was NTR, which we pronounce as "neter" or "netjer". The word means "those who watch." They were understood to be essential emanations of the unknowable god-essence, which allowed it to interact and influence the universe directly. They were thus intermediaries, not "GOD" in what we think of in the Judeo-Christian sense. The Egyptian world-view was substantially different from ours, which is a significant point to remember.

Lastly, remember that we are looking at a culture whose "recorded" history spans almost 4,000 years, with all the associated cultural shifts, revolutions, invasions, conquests, subsumption of other cultures, and the rest of it. "Unrecorded" history implies that their culture goes much further back in time than what archaeologists acknowledge; things change over that span of time. Even Christianity, which many of us think fixed and unchanging in the modern world bears little resemblance to Christianity in the times right after Christ's death, if you read its history. It has changed much in its 2,000 year history; why do we expect any less from Egypt?

 

 

About the Author: Michael A. Starsheen is an ordained priest in the Temple of Isis and the Fellowship of Isis. Michael put up what is believed to be the first ever FOI related website on the internet in late 1994. The website was titled after his FOI centre “Lyceum of Isis of the Stars.” It was primarily a teaching site for his lyceum. By early 1995 there were several pages on the site devoted to the Fellowship of Isis, including a copy of the Manifesto and detailed information about the Star of Ishtar Tiamat Dragon Diagram. He did it the hard way, because this was during the period when everything had to be programmed by hand - one pixel at a time. Michael is a skilled poet, writer, teacher and artist.  If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the art displayed with this article, it is available at Michael's storefront at lulu.com. His storefront contains a listing of his current books, "Mythic Voices" and "Universal Alchemy" and other pieces of his artwork. www.lulu.com/Starsheen

Michael is a member of the ArchPriesthood Union, ArchDruid Union and Grand Commander Union of the Fellowship of Isis.

 

 

Copyright 2010, Michael A. Starsheen

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