Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World
THE UPPER MOUNT OF GLORY
Whatsoever shape was taken by the eternal dwelling-place on high, it was only attainable at the summit of the mount that reached up to the never-setting stars. And there is a consensus of widely-scattered evidence to show that the paradise of peace and plenty, of reunion and rejoicing, which is the object in view of “the Osiris” all through his journey outlined in the Ritual, is the upper paradise of a legend that is universal, the origin of which can be discovered in the astronomical mythology of Egypt The general tradition is that this paradise was a primeval place of birth, and that it was in the north, upon the summit of a mount now inaccessible to the living anywhere on earth. This circumpolar paradise is known to the oldest races in the world as an initial starting-point for gods and men.
We have sought to trace an origin for the primitive paradise of this universal legend to the human birthplace on the mount of earth, or Apta, with the beginning in the time and the domain of Sut, which was commemorated as a secret of the Sphinx. This place of birth, as we suggest, was thus repeated as a place of rebirth by the Egyptian mystery-teachers in the astronomical mythology, from which the universal legend spread around the world.
The Namoi, Barwan, and other tribes on the Darling River, in Australia, point out a paradise up the Milky Way to which the spirits of the righteous are welcomed by Baiame, who corresponds to the Kamite god of the polar paradise. He is called “the great master” [Page 377] and is the maker. It is he who sends the rain; and it was he who initiated the black-fellows into their mysteries (Brough Smyth, vol. ii. p.285). The aborigines of New Holland describe the dwelling-place of “Bayma” as a paradise to the north-east in a beautiful heaven. His throne is a crystal mountain of vast magnitude, the base of which is fixed in the great water, and its stupendous summit rises to the stars. In addition to this upper paradise upon the mount they also have an earthly paradise below. Moodgeegally, the first man, who lives in this nether paradise, is alone immortal; the same as human Horus in the lower paradise of Amenta. He has the power and privilege of visiting the upper heaven of Ballima, which is a three days journey from the happy land below. He climbs up to the heaven north-east by a lofty and precipitous mountain covered with beautiful trees. His ascent on foot is made easier by a path winding round the mountain which he ascends. A ladder or flight of steps erected at top of this mountain, leads up to heaven itself. Ballima, where the sun shines by night beneath our earth, is the Egyptian Hades. The exceeding high mountain is the mount of Amenta, and the great water out of which it rises with the steps up to heaven is the Egyptian
Nun. But neither the aborigines of New Holland, nor the missionaries, nor Mr. Manning knew anything of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or of the Nun, or the mount of Amenta, or the Aarru-fields, the double paradise, or the steps that led up to the solar boat. Yet these and other features of the Kamite mythos are all identifiable in the version here recovered from the aborigines of New Holland. (Notes on the Aborigines of New Holland made by James Manning in 1844-5. Copy presented by the author.)
The mount of the gods and the glorified is common in Africa, where, as we hold, the foundations of Egyptian mythology were laid; and there, as in other lands, it is a point of departure in the beginning for the race. Duff Macdonald says of the Yao tribes: “Some distinctly localize Mtanga as the god of Mangochi, the great hill that the Yao people left. I regret much that I did not see this hill before leaving Africa, as I have heard so much of it. To these people it is all that the many-ridged Olympus was to the Greek. The voice of Mtanga, some hold, is still audible on Mangochi. Others say that Mtanga never was a man, and that Mtanga is another word for Mulungu (god or spirit). He was concerned in the first
introduction of men into the world, and he is intimately associated with a year of plenty”. Thus we find the main features of the mythical mount extant in Inner Africa, which culminated in Mount Hetep as Egyptian.
It is the seat of the gods and the glorified. It is the primeval birth- place. It is the land of promise, of peace and rest, of water and eternal plenty, the scene of the Golden Age. It is the primitive paradise of the aborigines (Africana, i. 71). The god whose seat or station was the pole is the power that gives the water of heaven to our world. Anup in Egypt is the master of the inundation (Rit.,ch. 97). The pole was imaged by the mount, the cone, the round hillock, the artificial mound. Now the Gold Coast Africans worship a deity or nature-power named Bobowissi, whose seat or stool is the conical hill near Winnebah known as the Devil's Hill, a title given by the Portuguese. He is the maker and sender of rain, which [Page 378] descends in a devastating deluge when he is provoked to anger by those who break his law. Bobowissi also appoints the local deities, even as Anup assigned their places to the seven on the opening day of
creation in the Egyptian solar mythos (Rit., ch. 17; Ellis, The Tshi-speaking People, p. 22).
The heaven of the western Inoits, in which good spirits dwell, is a paradise above the firmament. This revolves about a mountain of prodigious magnitude and majesty, a meru that is situated in the remotest part of the polar regions. Here, as in the Egyptian circum-polar paradise, the spirits whose innate excellence has been proved by an extraordinary activity for good go to mingle with the never-setting stars. Various other features of this heaven are Egyptian. Mount Hetep as the land that is blest with water and the breezes of the north is an African, but not an Esquimaux, ideal. The god, as Num, is the breath of those who are in the firmament. The Inoit supreme being Torngarsuk, the Great Spirit, is the “lord of the breezes”. Still more remarkable is the fact that the souls of the Inoit are drawn from an atmospheric
reservoir of soul, to which in death the spirits of the just return. This is identical with the Egyptian lake of Sa, one of the two lakes in the polar paradise, which is the source of spirit-life and of life to the gods and the glorified. They also have the earthly and celestial paradise, one at the root of the mount, the other at the summit; the same as the Egyptian Aarru in Amenta below, and Aarru in the polar paradise of the northern heaven (Réclus, Primitive Folk, Eng. Trans., p. 106). This upper world of the Esquimaux, says Dr. Rink, may be considered identical with the mountain about the summit of which the vaulted sky for ever circled round. This is the celestial mountain as a figure of the pole. It was their mount of glory lighted with the aurora borealis.
The Egyptian Ta-Nuter or divine land of the gods is usually described as being in the Orient. But there was also a Ta-Nuter Meh-ti, which is rendered by Brugsch, “das nördliche Gottesland”, (Brugsch, Astron. and Astrol. Inscript., p. 179). This was the land of the gods in the north - that is, the polar paradise in heaven, not an elevated part of our earth. The breeze of the north was the breath of life to the Egyptians.
It is synonymous with blessedness. The paradise of Hetep is the garden blessed with breezes. The breeze of the north, however, would not represent heaven to the dwellers in the northern quarter of the world. But the paradise was figured in the north originally, and there it remained in every land to which the wisdom of Old Egypt went. This will explain the paradise of Airyana Vaêjô described in the Avesta.
Ahura-Mazda tells Zarathustra that he has created a delectable spot which was previously unapproachable or nowhere habitable. But in this first of regions and best of countries there was winter during ten months of the year. “Ten months of winter are there, two of summer, and these (latter) are cold as to water, cold as to earth, cold as to plants; then as the snow falls around there is the direst disaster” (Vendidad, Fargard, i.). The good god made the good creation, and Angro-Mainyus, the dark and deadly, is said to have formed a mighty serpent and brought on the frost that was created by the Daevas, who correspond to the Sebau in the Ritual as agents of evil in physical phenomena. It is also said in [Page 379] the Minokhird (p. 322, ff.) the Dev of winter is most vehement in Airyana Vaêjô. Which does not mean that the primal paradise was created at the northern pole of the earth, to be overtaken by the glacial period. The true interpretation is that the legendary paradise was astronomical, and that it was an enclosure at the north celestial pole, and not in the northern regions of the earth. In the Vendidad version it has been made geographical and rendered according to climate in some northern region of the earth; the evils of a winter world being then attributed to the devil, or the opposition of the black mind, Angro-Mainyus. There was no frost or winter in the circum-polar paradise, nor in the African birthplace of the legend in the oasis, whereas frost and winter were both met with in the highlands of the north, whether in Asia or in Europe, and this leads to a paradise in which there are ten months of bitter winter weather,
which is the result of rendering the celestial by the terrestrial north. In a supplement to the first Fargard of the Vendidad the time has been changed to suit a milder climate: “Seven months of summer are there; five months of winter were there”, which is in direct contradiction to the original text, and also opposed to the prototypal paradise with the life-giving breeze of the north in Africa, but is suitable to a milder climate, although one that is still in the cold north. The Chinese paradise, like the Egyptian, is at the north pole, the apex of the celestial mount. The summit is the seat of the gods. Heaven divided into the ten regions of space is identical with the Kamite heaven at the summit of Mount Hetep, that was divided into ten divine domains (Rit., ch. 110) which followed the celestial heptanomis and the enclosure of Am-Khemen, and preceded the zodiac with twelve signs. In no country is the mount of the north more sacred than in
China. For thousands of years the Chinese emperors have ascended the holy mountain T'ai to offer sacrifice to heaven. This mount is designated “Lord of the World”. To the north there is nothing but hills upon hills. It has 6,000 steps of hewn stone, each fifteen feet in length, leading upward like a staircase to the skies, exactly the same as the throne of Osiris, who “sits at the head of the staircase”.
The pole-star determined the one visible fixed centre of the starry universe, and the name of the Ainu as Ai-no-Ko is said to signify the “offspring of the centre”. That centre was the circumpolar paradise. The Japanese god of the pole-star, Ame-no-mi-naka-nushi-no-Kami, is likewise “the lord of the centre of heaven”. The tradition of the Ainu is that they came from the northern summit of the world. So high and inaccessible are those lofty tablelands that none of the living can attain them now. But the ancestral spirits go back to them after death. This, of course, identifies the circumpolar paradise of all the legends that had but one and the same origin - in the astronomical mythology. The region is identified still further by the bears. The ancestors of the Ainu are said to have married the bears of the mountains in this high homeland of the north (Griffis, The Mikado's Empire, pp. 27-29). We have the bears to-day, seven in the
lesser and seven in the larger constellation, still revolving round the stellar mount of glory.
The Koreans possess the same tradition of the human birthplace in the circumpolar paradise. Their first man, as ruler of Korea, [Page 380] descended from the great white mountain Tê Pek San. This also was the point of migration or beginning for the race, as it is in various other versions of the primeval tradition (Lowell, Percival, Choison, p.09). The Badagas say that in the north arises Mount Kaylasa, their Meru. In the north infinity opens on the kingdom of the shades. If four men be dispatched to the four cardinal points, three will return, but never will he who has walked beneath the rays of the polar star. He makes the ascent of the north, which is not a quarter, but the summit to a mountain, as in Egypt. All that is great and powerful comes from the north. The mother of the cow-goddesses dwelt on the Amnor, and the ancestors of the Badagas followed the cow. They came from the paradise of the north. Between the
invisible mountains of Kaylasa and Kanagiri flows the dread river that divides the world of the living from the world of the dead. That is the celestial water, the river of souls, which runs betwixt Mount Manu and Mount Hetep on the Egyptian map of heaven. This is not the north of the geographers. At the top of Mount Kaylasa is the palace of souls, the home of the blessed, in which their efforts are crowned with final success. This palace of souls answers to the royal palace referred to in the Ritual, where the speaker says, “I have made my way into the royal palace, and it was the bird-fly (or Abait) who brought me hither” (Rit., ch. 76, Renouf).
Montezuma the elder, in repeating an ancient tradition to Cortez, said, “Our fathers dwelt in that happy and prosperous place which they called Atzlan (a word that signifies whiteness). In this place there is a great mountain in the middle of the water which is called Culhuacan, because it has the peak turned somewhat over toward the bottom; and for this cause it is called Culhuacan, which means 'crooked mountain'. “The rest of the description of this delightful country shows that it was the circumpolar paradise upon the summit of the mount. And when it is identified with the mount of Hetep we may surmise that it became the mountain with its apex leaning over because it imaged the pole; so that when
the pole-star changed, the bent posture of the summit would become the curved figure by which Culhuacan was portrayed. In an Assyrian prayer this celestial mount is called the silver mountain. It is said, “Grant ye to the king, my lord, who has given such gifts to his gods, that he may attain to grey hairs and old age! And after the life of these days, in the feasts of the silver mountain (at the white summit of the pole), the heavenly courts, the abode of blessedness; and in the light of the happy fields may he dwell and live a life eternal, in the presence of the gods” (Records, vol. iii. pp. 133-4). Gwynnwesi, the blissful white abode of the Welsh, is another form of the paradise on the summit of the celestial mount in the north, which answers to the white mountain of the Koreans, the city of the white wall, the peak of pearl, and the Assyrian land of the silver sky. Another form is Gwasgwyn, the white mansion, which is the happy abode of the beatified dead. The imagery survives in the legends of Merlin, where we meet with the glass house, the bower of crystal; the tower without any wall, or without any “closure”; the transparent prison that was aerial as “a smoke of mist in the air”. Also the typical tree appears as a noble whitethorn, all in bloom - a figure, as we take it, of the starry pole. [Page 381] When Merlin died he is said to have taken with him the thirteen treasures of Britain, as he passed into the house of glass (Guest, Mab. ii. p. 354). The ancient British Avalon was represented as an island in the north on which the “Loadstone Castle” stood. This identifies the island with the celestial mount and the magnetic pole of the north.
Another local figure of the same significance is the Monte Calamitico, a magnetic mountain in the sea to the north of Greenland (Humboldt, Cosmos, vol. ii. p. 659, Bohn's Ed.). In the Apocalypse of Zosimas the Hermit there is a description of the paradise in which the blessed dwell. The seer was conveyed across the water that divides our earth from heaven by means of two trees which bent down and lifted him over in their arms (James, The Revelation of Peter, p. 69). The two trees are Egyptian, but as usual in Christian documents, the miracle has been added. “Lo, I come”. says the seer in the Ritual. “Let me plunge into the divine pool beneath the two divine sycamores of heaven and earth”, when he is about to ascend that “'most conspicuous but inaccessible stream”, the Milky Way (chs. 97, 98).
One ideograph of Hetep, the mount of glory, is a table heaped with provisions as the sign of plenty. In the mythical rendering it is a table-mountain. This will explain the round table of King Arthur and that table of the sun which was said to exist among the Ethiopians as described by Herodotus. “There is a meadow in the suburbs”, he says, furnished with the cooked flesh of all sorts of quadrupeds. It is filled with meat at night, “and in the day time whosoever chooses comes and feasts upon it. The inhabitants say that the earth itself from time to time produces these things”. Such is the description given of what is called the table of the sun. (Book iii. 17, 18.) This table of the sun is referred to in the Ritual (rubric to chs. 1 and 72). If the deceased has kept the commandments, it is said that there shall be given to him bread and beer and flesh upon the table of Ra - that is, the table of the solar god, which was the table-land upon the summit of Mount Hetep, the mount of peace and plenty, where the followers of Horus as the spirits of the just made perfect gathered together at the table of the Lord for their eternal feast. When the beatified spirit attains the meadow of Aarru and the “table of the sun”, he says, “ I rest at the table of my father Osiris” (Rit., ch. 70). The deceased asks that he may be made strong with the “thousands of loaves, beer, beef and fowl, and the flesh of the oxen and various kinds of birds upon the table of his father” (ch. 69). Thus, as the Egyptian Ritual of the Resurrection shows, “the Lord's table” was an institution in the Osirian mysteries which did not wait to be founded at the beginning of the present era. It has, of course, been remarked that the fellowship of Jesus with the twelve in the Gospels is a table-fellowship, and that he uses the image of a supper to symbolize the meeting in his father's kingdom. The gorging in a paradise of plenty described by later legends is indicated in the Pyramid Texts (Pepi I. 432; Merira, 618).
When the deceased is on his way to the mount of glory, he is borne to a region where he is filled with food by being fed from evening until daybreak, and then he is said to seize upon the god Hu, the god of aliment, of corn, of food - in short, the [Page 382] bread of life in a spiritual sense. The gorging and guzzling which are customary accompaniments of the Christmas festival in the north are a survival from the time when the primitive paradise was portrayed as a place of the grossest plenty. Even the more refined Egyptian gloried in the prospect of the earthly abundance being repeated for ever in heaven. This is what he says on sitting down at the table of the Lord: “I sit down in the midst of all the great gods of heaven. The fields lie before me; the produce is before me; I eat of it. I wax radiant upon it, I am saturated with it to my heart's content”. (Rit., ch. 77.)
The mount or altar in Hetep which is imaged as a pile of plenty, a table of offerings, a mountainous heap of food, is the prototype of those artificial mountains exhibited, for example, in Naples at the public festivals, from which all kinds of eatables are distributed in the wildest profusion among the people, whilst the goddess Tait, who is the cook of divine dainties in that land of Brobdingnagian abundance, will account for the paradise of cooks and cookery which survives in various versions of Le Pays de Cocagne, where the most delicious food already cooked is spontaneously produced like fruit upon the tree of life. A version of this promised land is current in the Southern States of America, amongst the
negroes, who preserve the tradition of a tree of life, on the branches of which hot buck-wheat cakes hang over a lake of molasses that takes the place of the Kamite lake of the waters of life. This land of the goddess Tait, the cook of the cakes and joints of meat already cooked, is the Kamite original of Cockaigne, the land of laziness and luxury, in which the streets were paved with pastry. The name is probably derived from the cookery: coquo, in Latin, to cook; Kuchou, in German, for a cake; and cocaigne in Old French, signifying abundance. The witches' Sabbath, however degraded, was a mode of celebrating this great festival according to the most primitive ideal of a paradise which overflowed with
food and drink, and the glory of the sex was celebrated with Titanic women, fierce as Sekhet, in evoking and matching the animal passion of primitive men. Even in the Rig Veda (ch. x. p. 154) it is said of the man who wins this heaven of blessedness, “Non urit ignis membrum virile nec arripit deus Yama semen ejus ” (much womankind shall be his in heaven). The witches' festival was held on the hill-top or high place, which is Mount Hetep in miniature. Each one brought an offering of food and drink to the feast, and Mount Hetep is an altar, heaped with oblations and offerings for a feast that was to last for ever. The food was brought in raw for this celestial banquet. The speaker says, “I net the ducks and I eat the dainties. I take care to catch the reptiles”. With these we may compare the reptiles in the witches'
cauldron. There is also a gruesome witch-like Kamite goddess Tseret, with long, flowing red hair, who is armed with Horus. The divine drink that was brewed in Hetep as beer is imitated by the witches as a product of the magic cauldron, the cauldron of Keridwen in the ancient British mysteries, which survived to some extent in the witches' Sabbath.
The milk of seven rich-uddered cows was typical of eternal plenty in the green pastures of this African paradise; or, in the later anthropomorphic [Page 383] imagery, seven women, young and beautiful as Hathor the goddess of love and loveliness, of music and dancing and sexual delight, were the figure of infinite felicity in this heaven which Mohammed so successfully adopted for the Turks. In both phases the seven were seen as the seven great stars of Ursa Major that were in attendance on “the bull of the seven cows”, or the spirit of the glorified deceased who had risen to heaven in the image of Amsu-Horus. The Hebrew paradise upon the summit of the mount in the promised land is the same ideal of primitive blessedness. “In this mountain”, says the prophet Isaiah, “shall the Lord of Hosts make unto the people a
feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow; of wines on the lees well refined” (Is. 25, 6). Papias, that ignoramus of a primitive Christian, also recounts how “the elders who saw John, the disciple of the Lord, related that they had heard from him how the Lord used to teach in regard to these times, and say: The days will come, in which vines shall grow, each having ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs and in each true twig ten thousand shoots, and in each one of the shoots ten thousand clusters, and on everyone of the clusters ten thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed will give five and twenty metretes. of wine. And when anyone of the saints shall lay hold of a cluster another shall cry out, ' I am a better cluster; take me: bless the Lord through me.' In like manner (the Lord declared) a grain of wheat would produce ten thousand ears, and that every ear should have ten thousand grains, and every grain would yield ten pounds (quinque bilibres) of clear, pure, fine flour; and that all other fruit-bearing trees, and seeds and grass, would produce in similar proportions (secundum congruentiam iis consequentem). And these things are borne witness to in writing by Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book, for there were five books compiled (syntetagmena) by him. And he says in addition, ' Now these things are credible to believers' ”. (Irenaeus, B. 5, ch. 33, 3-4, Ante-Nicene Library.)
The Kamite paradise was the place of plenty and of strong drink. The Indian's idea of future felicity, which consisted in being eternally intoxicated, is but an extension from this primary basis. The “cauldron of regeneration for spirits” was derived from the brewing-vat. Also it is noticeable that the Egyptian garden of Aarru or Allu, in the Ritual, has the same name as the grape, the vine-branch, and the wine. Hetep was the land that flowed with milk and honey, and the imagery is demonstrably Egyptian. It flowed with honey because the flowers were always in bloom. A curious illustration of this land of honey and its Egyptian origin may be drawn from the Ritual. There is a typical conductor that leads the spirits to their home in the Egyptian fields, called the abait or bird-fly, which in one form is the praying-mantis and in another the
honey-bee. This divine guide is called in ancient texts the tiller of the rudder of the neshemit ship of Osiris in which the spirits made their voyage across the waters to the land of honey, guided by the bee (Rit., chs. 76 and 104). The land flowing with milk is indicated by the seven cows of plenty, whilst the heavenly Nile would represent the honey, as it was the water that was likened to honey for sweetness. Indeed, there is a tradition that [Page 384] in the time of Nefer-Ka-Ra the Nile ran with honey or the taste of it for eleven days. (Brugsch, Egypt under the Pharaohs, Eng. trans. in one volume, p. 30.) The Egyptian paradise of Hetep is mapped out in ten divine domains which correspond to a heaven in ten divisions.
These ten divisions were lost, or superseded, like the ten islands of the lost Atalantis, when the zodiac of twelve signs was finally established. And naturally there would be ten populations lost, as in the Assyrian deluge. It follows that the ten tribes of Israel, who preceded the twelve, were lost at the same time and in the same way, the legend being one as astronomical, wheresoever met with in the märchen. There is a tradition that they will be found again in the Aarru-Hetep or Jerusalem above, the promised land which they attained at last. In the “Aethiopic Conflict of Matthew” it is said that the ten tribes “feed on honey and drink of the dew”. “The water we drink is not from springs, but from the leaves of trees growing in the gardens” (James, Texts and Studies, 70). These were they who passed in death like all the rest across the waters “into a farther country where mankind never dwelt”, because it was in the spirit-world. (2 Esdras, ch. xiii. 40-42.)
The 110th chapter of the Ritual suffices of itself to prove the Kamite origin of the mount of glory and the circumpolar paradise. This is the chapter of coming forth from the nether-world by day, or with the sun, and arriving in the garden of Aarru, on the mount of resurrection in Hetep, and at “the grand domain, blest with the breezes”. This was the heaven lifted up by Shu of old as the summit of attainment. It is called “the beautiful creation which he raiseth up”, the mansion of his stars which had been again and again renewed in the heaven of astronomy. In the eschatology it was the heaven of reconciliation, reunion, and of rest. It had been the heaven of Abydos, of Annu, Thebes, Memphis, Hermopolis, and
other cities on earth, and now it was the heaven of eternity, the heaven of spirits perfected; also the heaven of Chaldean, Hebrew, Hindu, Japanese, Greek, and all the others who repeated the astronomical imagery and founded their religious teaching on the wisdom of ancient Egypt. The summit of Hetep was the seat of Hathor, queen of heaven and mother of fair love on earth. She who had drawn the world in offering her full breast as nurse to Horus now offered it upon the mount of glory to the weary spirits whom she gathered in her motherly embrace. She was also represented by those seven cows or meris, as the giver of plenty in the meadows of Aarru, so abundantly that the river called the Milky Way was as the overflowing plenitude from this perpetual source. On a tablet in the Louvre (ch. 14) this divine mother of gods and men is asked for “the white liquor that the glorified ones love”. This is distinctly called milk upon
a Florentine tablet (2567), and vases of her milk are mentioned in the inscriptions of Denderah (Rit., ch. 110, note 9, Renouf). Hesit the cow is identified with Hathor the divine mother, the fair nurse, the mistress of heaven and sovereign of the gods. She was the cow-mother, and her child was the calf who became her bull as fertilizer. Hence the deceased as Horus in Hetep exclaims, “I am the bull, raised on high in the blue, lord of the bull's field ” (Rit., ch. 110, Renouf), whose cow or nourisher is Hesit. (Dümichen, [Page 385] Resultate, 27, 6.) In this way the cow of heaven supplied not only milk for the infant Horus, but for all who were reborn as babes in the new life, and the heaven of plenty and of rest was tenderly pictured in the welling bosom of the motherhood, thus divinized upon the mount. When the departed have reached the summit of life upon the mount of spirits perfected, they emerge in the garden of Hetep or paradise of Aarru. Here they attain the land of promise in the highest sense of spiritual fulfilment. They eat of the fruit of the tree and drink the water of life, or the milk of the old First Great Mother, who yields it in the form of Hesit the cow: the ancient mother of gods and men to whom the Egyptians assigned a foremost station in the starry heavens. Here the beatified spirits who sat upon their thrones of ba-metal, “raised on high in the blue”, among the never-setting stars, extended the hand of welcome to the coming generations of human beings. Three classes of human beings are recognized in the past, present, and future of existence: the Pait are those of the past, the Rekhit are the living, and the Hamemet are the future generations. In one of her inscriptions Queen Hatshepsu appeals to these latter as future witnesses to the glory of her present work. She says, “I make this known to the Hamemet, who will live in times to come”. (Records, vol. xii. pp. 131-136.) The name denotes the unembodied, or, more literally, the unmummied, from Ha, before, and mem or mum, the mummy. These are the future beings to whom the glorified spirits extend their welcome in the garden of beginning and rebirth; and it is in this enclosure or paradise that we shall at last discover the garden on the summit of the mount in the north that has become a traditional cradle and creatory of life itself as the rebirth place of the glorified. It is said to Ra, who had become the highest god, “ Glory to thee upon the mount of glory. Hail to thee who purifiest and preparest the generations yet unborn, and to whom this great quarter of heaven offereth homage”. (Rit., ch. 130.) This great quarter was the northern summit in the region of the two lakes of Sa and of Purification. The divine re-birthplace of the soul constellated in the meskhen was converted by the later races, Asiatic, European,. American, Polynesian, into the primeval place of human birth, from whence the successive migrations were supposed to have issued forth, because the localities and the scenery of earth had been substituted for those of the divine or mythical world of the Egyptian eschatology.
The “original Aryan home”, the Iranian paradise, the Semitic garden of Eden, the Greek elysian fields are each derived from the Egyptian Sekhet-hetep, the fields of peace and plenty, or the Sekhet Aarru, where amid the still waters are portrayed the islands of the blessed, the amaranthine meads and pastures ever green. When Assyriologists speak of Urdu the mountain of the world as the primitive cradle of the human race (Trans. Soc. Bib. Arch., vol. vi. p. 535), they are oblivious of the fact that there are fifty or a hundred such cradles of the race. Hence over eighty different sites have been assigned to the garden of the beginning, called Edin or Eden by the Semites. The Akkadian Urdhu is one with or corresponds to the Egyptian Urtu, a name both for the ascent or mount and the thigh or haunch, as a figure of the birthplace, human or divine. The [Page 386] emigrants from Urdhu, like the Meropes, were the people of the thigh.
The Hyperboreans were reputed to dwell above the north wind, as Festus says, “supra aquilonis flatum”, which gives us an astronomical hint. Apparently the bird aquila represents the Egyptian vulture mut, which is described in the Ritual (ch. 149) as being on or above the leg constellation: “I am the divine vulture who is on the uarit”. But whether it does or does not, the Hyperboreans are localized above Aquila in the northern heaven in the celestial pole-land, where dwelt the ancestors of the Ainu, and the Hamemet of the Egyptian theology. Again, the constellation of the thigh, as sign of the meskhen, womb, or birthplace, will show us the origin of the Meropes. The word μέροπες ; (or people of the thigh) was a sacred expression used by the Greeks to denote mankind. It is said of the Hyperboreans by Hellanikos (fragment 96) that they dwelt beyond the Ripaian mountains, and were the teachers of justice, and ate the fruit of trees. This identifies them with the glorified spirits in the polar paradise by two unmistakable determinatives of locality. One is the tree, or wood, of life, on the fruit of which the gods and glorified were fed; the other is the maat or judgment seat upon the summit of the mount, where sat the great judge as Anup, or Atum, or Osiris, in succession according to the reigning dynasty of gods, that were stellar, lunar, or solar.
Mythical monsters like the Cyclops have descended from this birthplace of the beginning. According to Hesiod, the Cyclops were Titans, and the Titans are the giants who were properly a group of seven in later tradition. They were the assistants of Hapaestus, the worker in fire, who was the Greek Vulcan. This tends to identify them with the seven Khnemmu, who were the assistants of Ptah, the metallurgist; the seven who were the giants of an earlier time as turners of the sphere in huge and monstrous form.
Homer calls Mycenae, the ark-city on the summit, the altar of the Cyclops; and the altar is a final form of the mount which was figured in the constellation “Ara”. In one character the seven powers that were grouped in the Lesser Bear were the giants, and the giants as Cyclops had but one eye between them.
Naturally Polaris as the one eye to the seven was said to be the one eye of the seven, and the giants were then said to have been one-eyed. This would account for the Arimaspoi and other one-eyed people as dwellers in the uttermost vertical north. All was golden in the primal paradise, and according to Hesiod there was a “golden race of men”. These were they who came the first. This race was stellar, like the gold that made the circumpolar heaven golden. They were the glorious ones, the never-setting ones, the born immortals in the everlasting “golden-hued region whose food never fails”, described in the Vendidad (Fargard ii., line 103).
Now, the question for those who looked up longingly to this paradise of peace and plenty as the summit of attainment for another life was how to reach that landing-place of souls and haven of supreme desire.
There was heaven, but by what means could the height be climbed or the water crossed when as yet there were no boats or bridges built ? Clearly there was nothing for it, from the first, but to leap or swim the waters flowing twixt the mount that was [Page 387] mundane and the mount of glory. Hence the Great Mother Apt and Sut her son were figured as totemic hippopotami, and Sebek as the crocodile, for the passage of the water. This was in a mythical representation of natural phenomena, the same mode of progression being continued in the eschatology. When the deceased is about to cross the water betwixt the two worlds he says, “It is I who traverse the heavens. May I have command of the water”. (Rit., ch. 62.) But, previous to being self-invested with the necessary power, he prayed to be carried across by the
Great Mother, who was imaged as the pregnant hippopotamus in the constellation of the bear, or as the milch-cow in the meskhen, or the moon. For this reason the Great Bear was also called the coffin of Osiris, as the typical place of rebirth. She is the ark of souls who saved them from the waters in the cabin which was uterine. The mother of life as Apt the water-cow was followed by Hesit the milch-cow, and in a later though very ancient representation it is the domesticated cow that carries the dead across the waters to the summit of the mount. But the earliest carrier of souls across the waters in death is Apt, the most ancient mother of life. In the astronomical phase she is the goddess of the seven stars in Ursa Major and mother of the seven typical eternals who were safe for ever from the deluge in the never setting stars (Rit., ch. 17). In lands of lower latitude than ours the Great Bear, i.e., the female hippopotamus, set at times beneath the horizon or was hidden behind the mount of earth, to rise again as the bringer-forth of life from the waters, because the reproducer of souls for a future life. It is as the bringer of human souls to their rebirth that she, the hippopotamus, is portrayed as human in her abundant breasts and procreant womb. In that guise she was the womb of life, great with the souls she carried across the waters on their way to the upper paradise, when there was neither boat nor bridge extant. This is generally represented by the mummy being borne upon the back of the cow that carries it
off full speed by land or water till the islands of the blessed are in view. In these scenes the dead are carried out-side the cow, whereas with Apt the souls were carried in the uterus or meskhen. In the mysteries of the Ritual (ch.64) when the Osiris (deceased) is crossing the waters that have burst forth in a deluge, he exclaims, “Anup is my bearer”. In this instance the jackal is the carrier, the psychopompus, because it represents the power of the pole as the support of the soul in death. In consequence of being raised up by Anup, the guide of roads (Ap-Uat), deceased also exclaims, “ I hide myself among you, O ye stars that never set”. Which shows that he was raised to the region of the eternals, the Akhemu-Seku, or non-setting stars (ch.44) whose position was fixed for ever as the most ancient lords of eternity, with
Anup at their head. When the concept of an atmosphere succeeded the likeness of water, the birds of air could be employed as types. The sun was represented by the golden hawk, the moon by the black and white ibis; the stars, that did not set, as beautiful white birds a-floating on the lake in the paradise of Aarru on the summit of the mount. Deceased also exclaims, “ I am the swallow! I am the swallow! ” as one particular form of a bird of passage, on his way to the celestial country (ch. 86). Or he assumes the power of the bennu-bird, or the [Page 388] shen-shen, both of which ascend the air to a great height in spiral whirls. Deceased in this character prays that he may “wheel round in whirls” and circle heavenward with the spiral motion of the bennu, i.e., the typical phoenix (ch. 83). It was in this guise the soul of Osiris rose again to ascend the tree of life or of dawn, hence the soul of the Osiris does the same. The moon was imaged also as the ibis on whose wings the orb made its celestial ascent. The Osiris pleads that he may ascend to heaven in the disc of the moon, or in the power of Taht, the lunar god who showed the way by night. The ibis now bears off the deceased across the water on its wings, and does battle with Sut, the power of darkness, for a passage.
The natives of Torres Straits Islands have a tradition that at death the spirits of their departed wing their northward way in the shape of flying-foxes to the polar paradise of all the aboriginal races. The power of wings is thus added to the spirit as the superhuman mode of flight. Swimming and flying are the two modes of locomotion here illustrated, until we come to the tree as means of climbing. The natural human way of ascent is climbing. But by no direct means could the helpless watchers climb the heavens with their hands and feet, and they had no wings of their own. As they were frugivorous, they could climb the tree, and the tree supplied a mental means of ascent for those who climbed the heavens as the souls of the departed. Dawn on the summit was imaged as a great green tree upon the mount. Thus the ascent was represented by both the mountain and the tree. Both were means of the ascent at the coming forth by climbing from the dark land of Amenta. It may be premised that the papyrus-reed which rose from out the water was an earlier type of climbing heavenward than the tree. Child-Horus on his papyrus was a figure of this ascent by means of the plant or stalk. When the Messu came by water it was by climbing up the stalk like little Jack. The pedestal of Horus, made of stone, was based on the papyrus-plant emerging from the water, and when this was buried with the mummy it was a type of the ascent to heaven. The ascent emerging from the deep, as Mount Meru in India, was called “the lotus (= papyrus) of immensity”, which also shows the water-plant to be a co-type with the mount or tree as the figure of the ascent. The tree is portrayed as a means of salvation amid the over-whelming waters which had to be crossed by the manes in the Ritual. The tree, then, like the mount and steps, was a typical means of ascent to heaven
by which spirits attained the polar paradise. It was a natural ladder. There is no race so primitive but has a tree-type of the ascent to heaven. With the Mbocobis of Paraguay the souls of the dead ascend the llagdigua tree, which is a connecting link betwixt their earth and heaven (Humboldt). The same water and tree occur in the Rig-Veda (ii. 66 and 183), when Bhuggu, son of Tugra, has to cross the great waters and is “cast headlong into the deep and plunged into inextricable darkness”. He likewise clings for support to the tree “stationed in the midst of the ocean”. The Australian natives make use of the tree as a mode of ascent to heaven for the spirits of the departed. The wizards also profess that they go up to consult the spirits of the dead by ascending a tree. Some of them make a pathway for the spirits to ascend and descend the tree of earth and [Page 389] heaven by cutting out a strip of bark, taken spirally from the top of a large tree down to the ground. (Howitt, On ,some Australian Ceremonies of Initiation.)
The tree or pole as means of climbing is variously illustrated. The Yao-Miao people bind their dead with withies to a tree for the soul to make the ascent. At other times the branch of a tree or bamboo pole is stuck in the grave for the soul of deceased to climb by (Colquhoun, A. R., Across Chrysê, vol. ii. p. 369).
The Guarinis of Brazil were the worshippers of the god Tamoi who ascended the tree of dawn, like Tum his Egyptian prototype. Up this the spirits were to follow in his wake, and he would welcome them to paradise when they attained the summit of the tree. The Polynesians tell of the tree that reached up to the moon. When the deluge of Raitea occurred and the world of the seven divisions was submerged the survivors were saved by the tree that reached up to the moon or on an island (the mount) named Toamarama, the moon-tree or the tree reaching to the moon (Ellis, Polynesian Researches, vol .ii. p. 58). So that both the mount and tree are here described together under one name. The Samoans have various legends of the way to heaven. One of these describes it as a mount, the summit of which reached up to
the skies. Another tells of the tree that measured sixty miles in height. According to one account, when the topmost branches of the tree were reached the climbers had to wait for a high wind which swayed them to and fro for a while and all of a sudden slung them into paradise. The Samoans also had a tree with steps that formed a sort of ladder up to heaven. Thus the mount, tree, and ladder were all extant in one group amongst the people of the Pacific islands (Turner, Samoa, pp. 199,200). Both the mount and tree were modes of ascent in thought, and physical means of reaching a little higher towards heaven in making offerings to the powers. In Africa the prayer-tree is a common institution. The Yao people lay their offering of first-fruits at the root of the prayer-tree before they themselves begin to eat the new crop of
maize or pumpkins. In another widespread custom the offerings were hung upon the branches of the tree. The Molucca Islanders have the typical tree of ascent to heaven. This tree stood at the place of sacrifice where the offerings were made. Thus with them, as with various other primitive races, the tree was the first natural altar and stairs that figured the way and means of ascent to heaven.
The Kasia of Bengal hold the opinion that the stars are souls which once were men who climbed up to heaven by means of the tree, and were left aloft in the branches when the trunk was severed below. In the Huron version given by Brebeuf, the tree of ascent to the upper world has passed into the trunk of a tree that enables the departed to cross the water of death. Here, too, we find the guide of roads for the spirits as the dog that is both the guardian and the guide of souls. In the Choctaw rendering the tree has become a log of pine stripped of its bark - that is, a kind of slippery pole by which men cross or climb to paradise or else falloff into the chasm that awaits the wicked down below.
Then the tree type passes into the pole and staff. But the most tangible figure for mental foothold in climbing based on natural fact was the mount. I n almost every land there is a mountain known as the mount by which the souls of the dead ascend to the paradise first [Page 390] mapped out astronomically at the celestial pole. This in mythology is the mount of the north, the mount of the cow, of the haunch, the navel, the womb, the leg, the meskhen and other images of the birthplace on earth applied to the place of rebirth in heaven. In Borneo the native guides pointed to the summit of Mount Kina-Balu as the landingplace of the ancestral souls. They showed the meat on which the spirits fed, but did not dare to pass the night in this abode of the re-arisen dead, or rather the local likeness of the celestial mount. In the Rocky Mountains, near Denver, is the “garden of the gods” and the mount of ascent up which the manes climb to attain the summit of life and happiness. So is it in West Java, where the mountain Gunung Danka is described as being the site of paradise, which means, here as elsewhere, that the paradisaical mountain was the earthly local representative of the celestial mount of glory. “The Path of the Shades”, by Basil Thomson, in the New Review, April, 1896, page 417, contains an account of the Fijian sacred mountain Nakauvandra, together with the motive for rearing it. According to local tradition, the ghosts of the dead were great disturbers of the living. They were willing to leave this earth if they could but make their way to the sacred mountain by which the heaven of rest was reached. The tribes then banded together to make a road for the ghosts to travel over on their last journey, so that they might trouble the living no more. In the year 1892 a surveyor employed to traverse the boundaries of native lands in Fiji re-discovered this most ancient Via Sacra, or pathway of the shades. He was taken by his guides along the crest of a high ridge, the water-shed between the Rewa river and the eastern coast of the island of Vitilevu. Cutting away through the undergrowth, he found that the path on which he walked was level, and was seldom more than two feet wide; that hill top was joined to hill top by a razor-edged embankment. He reflected that nature never works in straight lines with so soft a material as earth: that natural banks of earth are always washed into deep depressions by the rains until they become mere rounded uneven slopes. And when his guides had cleared away a patch of the undergrowth, he came upon unmistakable proof that the embankment on which he stood was artificial. The little glens had been bridged with causeways, thirty or forty feet in height in the deepest parts, tapering to a feather-edge at the top, so as to form a winding path along the line of the hill tops that extended, so the natives said, clear to Nakauvandra, the sacred mountain, forty miles away. For a people without spades or picks, the piling of this embankment must have been a gigantic task. Every pound of earth must have been carried up laboriously in little cocoanut-leaf baskets, and paid for in daily feasts to the workers. And all to represent the road to heaven.
Whatsoever the means of ascent, the toil of climbing up to heaven was stupendous. The Mexican Mount Culhuacan, for instance, is a Hill Difficulty indeed. The upper part is formed of sand so fine that it offers no foothold for any mortal tread. This is a mode of showing, not merely saying, how hard it is to climb, and none but righteous spirits could attain the paradise upon the summit.
Naturally the staircase, as the work of human hands, is comparatively late. But it follows, as the pathway from the tomb. At [Page 391] Abydos, the seat of Osiris as god in the highest is at the head of the staircase, when he was the power presiding over the pole of heaven (Rit., chs. 7 and 22). Thebes was another city in which the celestial staircase was imaged. As it is said in the inscription of Queen Hatshepsu, “Thebes is a heaven upon earth. It is the august staircase of the beginning of time. It is the Utat of the universal Lord, his heart's throne, which sustains his glories and holds within it all who accompany him” in the circle of Osiris, who presided at the top of the steps above the pole of heaven.
(Rit., ch. 7; Records, vol. xii. page 133) The mound or stairway with the seven steps was permanently figured in the seven-stepped pyramid of Sakkarah as an image of the mount with steps that showed the way to heaven in the astronomical mythology. The ambition of the Babel-builders, described in the book of Genesis, is to erect “a tower whose top may reach to heaven” (Gen. xi. 4). Here the tower with seven tiers takes the place of the mount with seven steps or tree of seven branches, or the ladder, as a mode of reaching the summit of attainment.
The pillar follows the mount as a co-type of the pole, first as a pillar of wood, then as a pillar of stone, or metal, or of glass. In various legends the celestial pole is imaged as a pillar of glass or other slippery substance, which also indicates the difficulty of getting to heaven. This is the pillar by which the manes make their ascent every Sabbath day from the lower to the upper paradise; and having got a glimpse of all the glory, they slide down again into the subterranean world (Yalkut Kadash, f. 57. c. 2, Stehelin, vol. ii. p. 25).
It is related in a Taoist work that once upon a time a Chinese king endeavoured to climb up to heaven by a pillar of enormous height, but it was so slippery that he always slid back again to the ground (Chinese Repository, vol. vii, page 519). And without doubt this slippery pillar still survives as the greasy pole of the British pastimes, which are not continued for their grossness, but because they once had a sacred significance. In this, the heaven of eternal plenty on the mount is represented by the leg of mutton at the top of the pole.
The slippery pole or pillar of glass can be paralleled in the Odyssey. “One rock reaches with sharp peak up to the wide heaven, and a dark cloud encompasses it. No mortal man may scale it or set foot thereon, for the rock is sheer and smooth as if it were polished”.
This is not the mundane mount where mortals find their foothold, but the celestial mount, which none but spirits ever scaled in any form of the mythology. When glass began to be manufactured it would supply the material for a very perfect likeness to the aerial mount of heaven. The tower of glass would succeed the tower of brick and the mound of earth. There is a story told by Nennius in his Historia Britannium of “Nimeth the second who came to Erin”, and who, in sailing the ocean with his thirty vessels (luni-solar month), sees a glass tower in the midst of the waters, with men on it who give no answer when they are addressed. This seems to have been because of its height. So in Taliessin's account of the glass fort of Arthur, “three score hundreds stood upon the wall; it was hard to converse with the watchmen”. Nimeth attacks the tower, and all his thirty vessels are sunk or wrecked. (Rhys, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 263-264; Skene. [Page 392] Book of Taliessin, vol. ii. 155.) Taliessin the Bard professes to have been in the tower of glass as well as in Amenta or Hades. This juxtaposition of the tower with the nether-world shows that the dome of glass was a form of the celestial summit. There is a glass hill in the Norse folk-tales. The princess is only to be won by the youth who can ride up the hill of glass. The ash-Iad, a male counterpart of Cinderella, is the only one who at all succeeds. At the first trial he rides a third of the way up, and the king's daughter rolls a golden apple down to him. On the second day he rides two-thirds of the way up, and wins a second golden apple. On the third day he ascends to the top of the hill, and takes the third apple from the lap of the princess. Of course he wins the daughter of the king and half the kingdom besides. In this version the glass hill is the mount of the pole. The king in these märchen is Ra in the Egyptian mythos. The princess was Hathor, goddess of love. The kingdom in two halves was the double earth. Horus wins the second half, and unites the two into one kingdom by climbing the hill of glass and winning the princess as his wife. The tree on which the golden apples grew is the tree of dawn, the tree of Hathor the princess. The hero, who is the king's son, sometimes lives as a kitchen-Iad beneath the stairs; and in the mythos the staircase is a co-type with the mount or hill of glass. This shows that the stairs stand in the lower world, where the fire of old suns and moons will explain the ashes in which the cinder-girl or ash-Iad proverbially sit in their poor and lowly estate when the moon and sun are in the nether earth.
One typical mode of rising to heaven was by means of a dense column of smoke! This was acted by kindling a fire on the grave of the deceased, so that the spirit might ascend as it were in a chariot of cloud. (Samoa, Turner, pp. 199 and 335.) The Samoans explained that this was done to save the soul from sinking into the pit. The same type was obviously continued in the smoke of incense rising from the altar. Other illustrations might be cited to show that the ladder by which the wizard, witch, or conjurer sought to reach the land of spirits was imaged by means of something drawn out of or in some way emitted from his mouth, a mere thread, a film, a substance like gossamer, which probably represents the
spirit in a filamental form, when the soul was identified with the breath or under the same name as it is in the Egyptian word “nef” for breath and spirit. Thus the substance drawn from the mouth of the wonderworker represented a kind of ladder as the visible mode of ascent for the soul exhibited in primitive mysteries. The mystery is still extant and still performed to a gaping crowd in the English market-place, when the conjurer, who is now an acrobat, draws from his mouth a ladder or spiral pole made of shavings, or shall we call it the cone of the pole, which was once a figure of the ascent to heaven, that was followed by the ladder and the steps, the pyramid, the Babel-tower, the minaret and spire, until its final form upon the lowermost line of descent became the pinnacle made in spiral coils of shavings proceeding upward from the conjurer's mouth by dexterous sleight of hand, as the great mount of god, the staircase of Osiris, the figure of the pole at its final vanishing point. Thus the conjurer's twist of shavings drawn from his mouth may illustrate a mode of the mysteries when it [Page 393] was taught that the soul of breath came forth from the mouth as its own ladder or means of ascent to the upper world.
Another illustration of the difficulty in climbing up to heaven may be seen in the ladder formed of knives which is made use of by the Taoist jugglers in China. This is constructed of two upright bamboos, with knives or sword-blades set between, edge uppermost, for steps. The ladder was a co-type with the mount and steps of ascent. The Japanese have a mythical mountain called Kurahashi, the dark ladder.
The speaker, in a passage quoted by O'Neil, says he climbs this vertical ladder by the aid of his sister.
“Steep though Kurahashi be, steep it is not when I climb it with my sister” (The Night of the Gods, vol. ii. p. 1015). The sister is a goddess whom we look upon as lunar. There was also a ladder-mount near Ptolemais which is mentioned by Josephus Jew. War, ii. 70). Certain sacred hills in England, called the “Step Hills”, repeat the ladder of ascent to heaven. There is one near Ivinghoe (Bucks) which is evidently an artificial formation. Cader Idris is reputed to have had 365 steps from bottom to summit. The Egyptians solemnized a feast of the dead or festival of the steps, by which they celebrated the ascent of the manes from the valley of Amenta to the summit of the mount.
When bridges were built, a bridge supplied the typical means of crossing the celestial waters. The earliest figure of a bridge in heaven was probably the rainbow. This was the Norse bridge made by the gods that reached from earth to the height of heaven and down again to the earth, and was therefore a visualized way for the coming and going of souls. In the Prose Edda, Gangler asks, “Which is the path leading from earth to heaven?”. The answer of Har is,“ Hast thou not been told that the gods made a bridge from earth to heaven and called it Bifrost ? But perhaps thou callest it the rainbow”. (Prose Edda, 13.) The name of Bifrost denotes the evanescent aerial bridge. The rainbow is certainly a form of the celestial bridge, though possibly the type may not have been Egyptian. It is a pathway for spirits to the Brahmanic Svarga. It is the snake-bridge that crosses the river of the dead to the dwelling beyond in a North American Indian version of the mythos. Also, the souls of Maori chieftains are supposed to mount heavenward by means of the rainbow. The Samoans called the rainbow Laa Maomao, the great step or the long step of the god (Turner, Samoa, p. 35). Wang-liang, or the king's bridge, is a constellation in the Chinese planisphere which is described as the bridge that spans the moat of the ruler's castle. This is crossed by kings and chieftains when they go to pay their homage to the monarch. The moat was also crossed by boat. This moat corresponds to the waterway of the Egyptians, and to the “way which is above the earth”; in short, the galaxy on which the souls of the dead were carried in the bark of Ra (Rit.,
ch. 4). The bridge, boat, and water, together with the tree of life, and other symbols of the garden of peace, including the kissing doves, may be seen portrayed upon the ordinary willow-pattern china plate.
The bridge survives in some old British ballads as the “Brig 0' Dread”. One of these is called “a Iyke-wake dirge”, in which the journey of the dead is described. In “Lady Culross's Dream” it is “a narrow bridge of tree” suspended over an unfathomable gulf. But, as Scott [Page 394] points out, the most minute description of “the Brig 0' Dread” occurs in the legend of Sir Owain, who, after many frightful adventures in St. Patrick's purgatory = Amenta, arrives at the bridge which, in the legend, is placed between purgatory and paradise.
“Lo ! Sir Knight, see'st thou this?
This is the Brigge of paradis.
Here over thou must go.
Whoso falleth off the Brigge adown,
For him is no redemption”.
He falls into the void of Apap, or the lake of outer darkness. The moral of the dirge is that whatsoever good works have been done on earth will be waiting at the bridge and help the deceased to cross the gulf. (Scott, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.)
The pyramid is an artificial figure of the mount as means of the ascent to heaven. And now, if we place ourselves with the mummy at the bottom of the Well, we shall see that the tubular shaft of the great pyramid at Gizeh represented the way to heaven as it was imaged to Egyptian thought. The Pharaoh resting at the foot might scan not merely the starry vast, but could fix his gaze in death upon the heaven of spirits at the summit of the mount, the paradise of peace, the enclosure that was finally configurated in the circle of the seven pole-stars that crossed his telescope (the passage pointing northward) one by one in the circuit of precession, or the heaven of eternity. The pole-star, a Draconis, was not the only one that would come within range of that great tube. The great pyramid was founded on the Egyptian astronomy, but was not built simply to register the fact that a Draconis was the fixed point and polar pivot of all the stellar motion during some 3,700 years in the vast circuit of precession. The ceilings of the pyramid chambers were sprinkled over with stars to resemble the face of the sky by night. Astronomical tables gave the aspect of the heavens tenat by tenat throughout the year. So that the manes “had but to lift their eyes” and see in what part of the firmament the course lay night after night. Thus, lying in his sarcophagus, the dead man found his future destinies depicted thereon, and learned to understand the blessedness of the gods. (Maspero, Egyptian Archy. Eng. trans., pp. 158-160.) The chief course was mapped out along the river of the Milky Way, as is shown in the Ritual, by the boat of souls ascending to the polar paradise. The deceased, who is about to rise again and set his legs in motion, prays that he may “go up to Sekhet-Aarru, and arrive in Sekhet-hetep”. Lying as the mummy in Amenta, he says “I shine above the leg as I come forth in heaven, but (here, meantime) I lie helpless with a corpse-like face.
I faint. I faint before the teeth of those whose mouth raveneth in the nether-world”. (Ch. 74, Renouf.) The cynosure of the watcher is a point above the constellation called “the leg” by the Egyptian astronomers.
This was a constellation in the northern sky which has been identified by Renouf with the group of Cassiopeia, and which the Egyptians named the meskhen or creatory of the cow. The earliest figure of an ark in heaven, or on the waters of the Nun, was that of Horus on his papyrus-reed, who issued as the soul of life in vegetation from the abyss. As the sacred bark borne heavenward in the mysteries shows, this was a figure of the papyrus [Page 395] flower which had been the cradle of Child-Horus previous to its being imaged in the eschatology or astronomy. When the boat was built the souls of the deceased were ferried over the waters in the mythical bark which was at first stellar, next lunar, and lastly solar. There is a bark that voyaged round the pole as Ursa Minor, with seven souls or glorious ones on board, seen in the seven stars that never set, a primary type of the eternals. In another text we find a prayer for the deceased, “that he may reach the horizon with his father the sun, in the solar bark; that his soul may rise to heaven in the disc of the moon; that his Sahu (or celestial body) may shine in the stars of Orion, on the bosom of heaven” (Book of Sen-Sen Records, vol. iv. p. 12 I ). Here are three forms of the boat of souls, one in the stellar, one in the lunar, and one in the solar representation, at three different stages of the mythos. Modern astronomy speaks of the starry vast as a revolving sphere, where the ancient wisdom called it the ship of heaven or the bark of eternity. At first the superhuman force that hauled the system round was thought of as a mighty monster swimming the celestial lake - a hippopotamus or a crocodile, or a compound of both. This was the Great Mother of the revolutions, who was constellated as the primum mobile, the goddess Apt depicted in the Great Bear as the procreant womb of life, the mother and nurse of universal life. Seven powers were born of her, and represented under different types as hippopotami, crocodiles, jackals, apes or uas-eared animals. Seven such were figured as the pullers round the pivot of the pole. When the boat was launched the seven were grouped as seven kabbirs or sailors in the Lesser Bear that made the voyage nightly, annually, and for ever round the mount. They were likewise portrayed as seven tow-men of the starry vast, and haulers of the solar boat, the bark of millions of years, the vessel that was rowed by the twelve kings or twelve great gods around the final zodiac. We learn from the solar mythos that the rope of the towers was made fast to the star Ak, which is to be identified with the pole. The tow men say, “The rope is with Ak”. “ Ra calls it, and the rope puts itself in its place”. Ra is then in Amenta, and the rope of the towers is fastened at the upper end to the pole. Ra says, “Power to you, towers. Tow me to the dwelling of stable things. Free yourselves on this mysterious mountain of the horizon”. This towing upward of the solar bark is one of the great mysteries of Amenta.
(Book of Hades, vi. pp. 8-32.) The “navigators for this great god” who tow the boat are also said to take their oars and row for Ra. Ra says to them, “Take your oars, unite yourselves to your stars”. “O my pilots, you shall not perish, gods of the never-setting stars” (Akhemu-Seku). Thus the solar boat or ship of heaven was navigated by the gods of the non-setting stars who voyaged round about the pole; who did not sink below the horizon, but became the lords of eternity.
A Chinese constellation in the Milky Way is called “the ship of heaven”, and the “ship of Nu” as Egyptian IS the ship of heaven by name. It is sailed over the void of the Apap-reptile or dragon of darkness, also called the lake of Putrata, into which the souls fall headlong who do not secure salvation on board the bark, and have no other means of attaining the “tip of heaven” in the Aarru-paradise [Page 396](Rit., ch. 99). The ship Argo Navis, as a constellation, is a reduced form of “the ark of heaven” which is described in the Ritual ( ch.99). Four parts of the ship of Nu remain in the Arabic figure of Argo Navis, viz., the “poop”, the “keel”, the “mast”, and the “sail”. In the Ritual the “ship of Nu” is described in all its parts.
“Backbone of Apuat” is the name of the keel. Akar (in Amenta) is the name of the hold. “Leg of Hathor” is the name of the hull. The “two columns of the nether-world” is the name of the stem and stem posts, or masts. “Amsta, Hapi, Tuamutef, and Kabhsenuf” are the names of the ribs; “Nut” is the name of the sail.
“Bearer of the great one whilst she passeth” is the name of the mast. “Lord of the double earth in the shrine” is the name of the mooring-post. The foundation was laid on, or in, the backbone of Anup, which was once the type of stability as a figure of the pole, the earliest fixed foundation laid in the building of the heavens. Akar is another name for Amenta, the hollow nether-world of three, this ship being a threedecker.
Amsta, Hapi, Tuamutef, and Kabhsenuf are the supports of the sky at the four comers or sides of the vessel. They are also the four oars of the vessel. The mooring-post was an image of the pole, to which the stellar ark or solar bark was fastened by the cable, as it made the voyage round the starry mount. The ship of heaven, then, is a figure of the nether-world in its hold and of the four quarters in its ribs, which are also represented as the four paddles, one at each of the cardinal points. This was constellated in the heavens as an ark that made the voyage up the Milky Way to the tip of heaven and the place of coming forth upon the mount of glory. The ship of heaven was an ark of salvation for souls.
Those who did not find safety on board are described as falling headlong into the gulf of Putrata where the dragon Apap lurked to devour them. Now, in the planisphere the constellation Hydra is next to the ship Argo, and Hydra the water-snake is identical in character and position with the Apap-reptile who devoured those that fell into the void, otherwise the bottomless pit of the abyss. A knowledge of this ship and its constituent parts, together with the course of its journey through the heavens, was necessary to the initiate in making his passage to the paradise of the pole. The Osiris was not allowed to pass on board unless he could answer every question put and tell the name of every part of the vessel. The names given show that the different parts of the vessel were configurated in the stars according to the mythical types, and that the mystery was astronomical. Finally, the great bark of salvation was solar, with Horus at the out-look. The deceased prays to the god who is on board, “O Ra, in that thy name of Ra, since thou passest through those who perish headlong: do thou keep me standing on my feet”. “Are you coming into the bark?” says the great god Atum-Ra, with a naïve familiar invitation that reminds us somewhat of the invitation “come with us” of more recent salvationists. “The bark advanceth. Acclamation cometh from the mount of glory and greeting from the lines of measurement”. These are the cheers with which the boat is hailed and welcomed by the inhabitants of the upper paradise. “Lo, the lamp is lifted up in Annu” as a light by night to lead them on the way when they come to the heaven of the stars that set, and [Page 397] they have to steer by the pole-star as their guide of ways. While the Osiris passes over the waters to the west the Khabsu gods get ready for lighting up the heavens with their starry lamps, to greet the passengers approaching in the bark with acclamations of great joy. “All right is the Osiris; his future is in Annu”, the eternal city at the pole. The glorified deceased sails in the great bark on the stream of the god Hetep, the White Way, until he comes to the ten divisions of the circumpolar paradise. These he enters to take possession of them one by one. As an astronomical foundation, the upper paradise of all mythology upon the mount of glory was dependent on establishing the celestial pole for a fixture in the waters of surrounding space, or, as' the Ritual phrases it, “a mooring-post” for the ship of souls. Here was the rock of safety and the tree to which the sinking spirits clung for their salvation. Here the mariner says,
“I make myself fast to the block of moorage on the heavenly stream”. That is, to the pole which was figured as the final mooring-post upon the landing-stage of an eternal shore.
The Kamite paradise, as an enclosure of the water and the tree of life upon the summit of the mount, is traceable in four different forms. At first it was the primitive paradise of the Oasis in the south. Next it is the circumpolar paradise of Am-Khemen, upraised by Anhur in the north. The third one is the paradise of Atum in the garden of Amenta. The final paradise was founded on the mount of glory for the spirits of the just made perfect in the heaven of eternity. Thus there are four types of paradise. And these apparently are enumerated and described in Irish legendary lore when Cesair, “ the first woman who landed in Ireland before the Flood”, says of her great knowledge, “Truly I am well versed in the world's history, for Inis Patmos is precisely the earth's fourth paradise, the others being
(I) Inis Daleb in the world's southern,
(2) Inis Escandra in its boreal part, and
(3) Adam's paradise”.
The fourth paradise is that in which the righteous dwell who have attained to everlasting life (Adventures of Teigue, Son of Cian, Nutt, The Happy Other world, page 203). In such ways relics of the astronomical mythology remain unrecognized in many scattered fragments of the ancient wisdom.