The Feather of Life
Join Philip Coppens for the live, interactive video course "Learning from Ancient Aliens and the Egyptian Wisdom Tradition." In this five-part Evolver Intensives series, learn about the Ancient Egyptian mystery schools, their other-worldly origins, and their techniques for remembering your soul mission in this life. For this course, Philip will be joined by special guests Duncan Lunan, Andrew Collins, and Dr. Carmen Boulter. It starts on August 5.
Egypt. There is no other country in the world that can stir quite the same emotion in human beings than the civilization that graced the Nile. It is a place where heart and intellect merge. Whether religious or atheist, Egypt moves the soul. However much archaeology has made Egypt into a land of ruins, mummies and "surveys", there is an essence about Ancient Egypt that not only hangs in the air, but can be sensed by any human being when he sees the pyramids, the temples, the statues, the hieroglyphs. The mere sight of these speaks to our heart, in a way that our 21st century intellectual mindset hardly ever experiences. Ancient Egypt announces itself with a sense of awe, opening our very heart to the magic that each of us feels -- knows -- that it once held.
"Do you not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven or, to be more precise, that everything governed and moved in heaven came down to Egypt and was transferred there? If truth were told, our land is the temple of the whole world."
It is the "extended and unabridged edition" of the dictum "as above, so below". It suggests that the macrocosmos was reflected in the microcosmos, that the world of the Gods was reflected in Egypt, and the Gods and Egypt were reflected in any one of us. It is why Egypt speaks to us all, even though we often do not fully understand its calling. In truth, what Egypt does is present a challenge to each one of us, to transform ourselves and become like gods. This transformation was precisely why Egypt was built, and it was not built for the dead pharaohs, but for the living Ancient Egyptians who wanted to follow this path.
For the Ancient Egyptians, God was not some distant entity, but God was the same as man, and man was God, each of us containing a divine spark -- a part of God. It is that spark that springs into life and is addressed whenever we are confronted with the beauty -- the magic -- that is Ancient Egypt.
Egypt was a land of magic: it was an image of Heaven on Earth. But it came to an end. A text known as "The Lament" spoke of a dark future -- when Egypt as the ancient Egyptians knew it would no longer be: "And yet, since it befits the wise to know all things in advance, of this you must not remain ignorant: a time will come when it will appear that the Egyptians paid respect to divinity with faithful mind and painstaking reverence -- to no purpose. All their holy worship will be disappointed and perish without effect, for divinity will return from Earth to Heaven, and Egypt will be abandoned. The land that was the seat of reverence will be widowed by the powers and left destitute of their presence. When foreigners occupy the land and territory, not only will reverence fall into neglect but, even harder, a prohibition under penalty prescribed by law (so-called) will be enacted against reverence, fidelity and divine worship. Then this most holy land, seat of shrines and temples, will be filled completely with tombs and corpses."
And so it happened. Today, if we look at the television documentaries and the archaeologists and Egyptologists that appear in them, Egypt is indeed nothing but tombs and corpses.
But what about Ancient Egypt's religion? Archaeologists are not interested in this, as they consider it to be outside their area of expertise. Those who do address it argue that the ancient Egyptian civilization was impressive, but that their religion was ignorant of modern philosophical frameworks; several academics label the ancient Egyptian mindset as little better than primitive or one step beyond "savages".
We stand in awe of the temples and the statues of Horus in front of the Temple of Edfu and we see a beautiful statue, which tries to speak to us, but we don't truly hear, except that we need to take a photograph of it, as if we hope that later, at home, the image will speak to us. We do not see it the way it originally was. In Ancient Egyptian times, these statues were seen as alive, animated -- holding the spirit of the deity -- were the deity -- represented on Earth. But now the statues are indeed silent and "divinity has returned from Earth to Heaven". The bond between Heaven and Earth, so central to the ancient Egyptian mind, has been broken and nothing but a dead landscape remains. Whereas the Lament is at pains to explain that, as unlikely as it may seem for the Ancient Egyptian that this will happen, for modern man, it is as unlikely to imagine that a stone statue was once believed to be a living entity, an earthly residence for a god, somehow "alive".
Indeed, "O Egypt, Egypt, of your reverent deeds only stories will survive, and they will be incredible to your children! Only words cut in stone will survive to tell your faithful works, and the Scythian or Indian or some such neighbor barbarian will dwell in Egypt." Indeed.
As sad as this was, this was not the end of it. "Why weep, O Asclepius? Egypt will be carried away to worse things than this; she will be polluted with yet graver crimes. She, hitherto most holy, who so much loved the gods, only country of the Earth where the gods made their home in return for her devotion, she who taught men holiness and piety, will give example of the most atrocious cruelty, in that hour, weary of life, men will no longer regard the world as worthy object of their admiration and reverence." Egypt was seen as the land where the gods dwelled, but the worst crime was that future generations -- we -- would not only forget the magic that was Egypt, but the sanctity of life, and no longer "regard the world as worthy object of their admiration and reverence."
We do not understand the ancient world, and that is indeed what the Lament prophesied: "This All, which is a good thing, the best that can be seen in the past, the present and the future, will be in danger of perishing; men will esteem it a burden; and then they will despise and no longer cherish this whole of the universe, incomparable work of God, glorious construction, good creation made up of an infinite diversity of forms, instrument of the will of God who, without envy, pours forth his favor on all his work, in which is assembled in one whole, in a harmonious diversity, all that can be seen that is worthy of reverence, praise and love. For darkness will be preferred to light; it will be thought better to die than to live; none will raise his eyes towards heaven; the pious man will be thought mad, the impious, wise; the frenzied will be thought brave, the worst criminal a good man."
This is very much a description of our times (and previous centuries), in which the foundation of the ancient world was abandoned. Ancient man saw its role on Earth as a contemplation of the divine creation, to admire God's work and be part of it. That harmony -- balance -- has now been abandoned, and it is of course one of the reasons why the gods left.
The Lament gives a description of the philosophy involved in this ancient mindset: "The soul and all the beliefs attached to it, according to which the soul is immortal by nature or foresees that it can obtain immortality as I have taught you -- this will be laughed at and thought nonsense." For the Ancient Egyptian, it was a given that the soul was immortal. There was no doubt about this. It was as real and known to them as we know water to be wet. But, indeed, in the modern world, the idea that the soul is immortal is thought by many to be nonsense. Science does not even address the issue and truly considers it to be a taboo subject.
The abandonment of the ancient Egyptian religion is our present era, but the prophecy itself applies to events that have occurred in our past: the advent of Christianity. Not the message of Jesus Christ, but how a few men altered it to create a teaching which said that eternal damnation is what is in stall for us, unless we embraced Christianity. What has typified two millennia of Christianity is fear-mongering: that unless you do as the Church tells and told you, bad things will happen; that you need to surrender, surrender the experience of experiencing spirituality yourself, and instead be content with passive belief that what someone in authority has told you is correct.
Such simplistic thinking was seen by the ancient Egyptians as "the darkness", as its philosophy was not only considered to be basic, but plain wrong. "The darkness" happened under Emperor Constantius, one of Constantine the Great's sons and successors, who issued a decree in 353 AD that ordered temples to be closed and pagan sacrifices to be banned; those who disobeyed the law were to be put to death, thus fulfilling the prophecy: "And believe me, it will be considered a capital crime under the law to give oneself to the religion of the mind. A new justice will be created and new laws. Nothing holy, nothing pious, nothing worthy of heaven and of the gods who dwell there, will be any more spoken of nor will find credence in the soul." In 353 AD, the soul of Ancient Egypt died. In 353 AD, something died inside every human being. The nightmare had happened: "The gods will separate themselves from men, deplorable divorce." The dictum "as above, so below" no longer applied and Egypt became the wasteland.
The Lament does not stop there and it moves into "post apocalyptic times": "Only the evil angels will remain, who will mingle with men, and constrain them by violence -- miserable creatures -- to all the excesses of criminal audacity, engaging them in wars, brigandage, frauds, and in everything which is contrary to the nature of the soul." But there is worse to come, and it is perhaps here that we see a prediction for our times: "Then the earth will lose its equilibrium, the sea will no longer be navigable, the heaven will no longer be full of stars, the stars will stop their courses in the heaven. Every divine voice will be silenced, and will be silent. The fruits of the Earth will molder, the soil will be no longer fertile, the air itself will grow thick with a lugubrious torpor. Such will be the old age of the world, irreligion, disorder, confusion of all goods."
The prophecy states that as the contact with the gods is lost, mankind is left to fend for his own, and makes a total mess of it, destroying the Earth, polluting the air. Worst of all, for the ancient Egyptians, it seems is the light pollution, as the "heaven will no longer be full of stars", those bright sparks in the night's sky that for them was the most visual blackboard against which the divine myths of the Gods had been projected. Egypt was dead.
But is Ancient Egypt truly dead? It cannot be, for the soul, this divine spark, is immortal. It cannot die. It can be suppressed, reduced to a tiny flame, but it can never be extinguished. It is why every image of Ancient Egypt stirs our soul and tries to awaken that divine spark.
The magic of Ancient Egypt is -- occasionally -- still alive. Some years ago, a Scandinavian museum made headline news when it reported that staff found that over a period of time, sometimes as little as a night or a day, some Egyptian statues in a glass cabinet on display in the museum had moved. Each time they repositioned them, but soon after, they had moved again and soon, staff ruled out any human interference; the statues somehow moved of their own accord, very much like ancient Egyptian statues apparently did. Lynn Picknett once spoke about a visit to the British Museum, in which she saw a woman offering some fine desert sand in front of one of the Sekhmet statues that grace its collection. She enquired why the visitor did this and the lady replied that on a previous visit to the museum, she had wondered whether these statues were happy, so far away from home, upon which the statue apparently answered that yes, it was, but what it missed most was the Egyptian sand. After a visit to Egypt, she brought back some sand and deposited it in front of the statue, so that it would no longer be unhappy. The ravings of a mad visitor to the British Museum? Perhaps, or perhaps someone who somehow was able to communicate with the "energy" of these statues, like the ancient Egyptians claimed to do.
Egypt was a land of magic. Today, many of us pray, and ask God to help us. The gods were called upon and asked to manifest themselves. This was done via a ritual, which involved the invocation of the First Time, which was seen as an existence outside of this reality, but nevertheless totally real. It was the way the Universe had been formed by the Creator God in all of its perfection -- Paradise -- Heaven. It was this perfect creation that Ancient Egypt tried to recreate on Earth, so that "as above, so below" was true.
The Ancient Egyptian priest -- a magician -- travelled to the First Time and re-enacted the divine rituals whereby the Gods were invited to descend to Earth, for the benefit of mankind. These scenarios -- templates -- are known to us, as they are, for example, the story of the battle of Horus against Seth, Good against Evil. In the ritual, an image of the god that was called upon was fabricated. Then, the "opening of the mouth" was performed, by reciting certain words of power, which meant that the image became filled with the presence of the god. The statue became his residence, the channel through which the priest could maintain a connection with the Gods, who thus resided both on Earth as well as in the First Time; who was present on Earth.
Not only gods resided in statues. Statues of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs were believed to hold his ka. The ka was a spiritual double and was born with every man and lived on after he died as long as it had a place to live. It is why the body was mummified, to try and preserve this, but it could also apparently be transferred onto something else, like an "artificial body": a statue. The "opening of the mouth" ceremony performed on the deceased Pharaoh was precisely linked with tying the ka to its earthly residence.
Everything was interrelated and interdependent. The purpose of all rituals in ceremonial magic was -- and is -- to unite the microcosm with the macrocosm, to join God, or the gods, when invoked (in prayer or concentrated thought) with human consciousness. When such a supreme union was achieved, the subject and object became one. The magician felt that he was consciously in touch with all elements of the Universe, therefore, he could control them.
The ancient Egyptians stated that the human magical act resulted in "heka", the cosmic energy, which was meant to flow. The Lament suggests that this energy solidified, when the gods were no longer worshipped -- Heaven and Earth separated because this energy did not flow from the above to the below, and vice versa.
Many books have been written about Ancient Egypt. Some, like the works of Willem Zitman and Robert Bauval, show how the heavens were depicted in the monuments of Ancient Egypt, specifically, the pyramids. But there is not a single book out there that captures the essence of Ancient Egypt: the mindset that the ancient Egyptians possessed, what we would call their religion, which is a misnomer, for the Ancient Egyptians had no word for religion. Religion is largely a passive mode, a doctrine, about the realms of the soul, God or the gods, and how to behave. For the Ancient Egyptians, religion was active, experienced and lived every day; it was a science, of the mind, of the soul, of the world -- there was nothing to be taken on faith, for everything was experienced.
The core of their belief was based on the basic duality of order versus chaos. Order was to be maintained, and this was not order by the rule of law as we know it today, but order in accordance with divine guidance. If order was purely a human affair, then the result would soon be chaos, and our times are evidence of this. Chaos could never be defeated, but it could be controlled; the goal was to have balance between order and chaos, which the Ancient Egyptians labeled Ma'at.
To attain Ma'at, there were seven cardinal principles, or virtues. Each person was meant to aspire to these perpetually and when done so, human perfectibility would be attained. These seven virtues were translated as nine commands -- nine principles -- which had to be adhered to. These "Nine Commandments" were the principle directive on how to live your life, and the underlying "engine" was the Seven Virtues. A life thus lived would result in a person having fulfilled his life's mission, so that he was ready for the Afterlife, and the possibility to meet the Gods. At this meeting, the deceased would utter the so-called "Negative Confession", in which the heart of the deceased declared that he had not killed, not stolen, etc. If the heart could say this without lying to itself, the deceased was confirmed by the gods as having lived a just life.
In this work, I will combine the wisdom teaching of Ancient Egypt: the framework of their religion, which we need to understand. But the main focus will be on how we can live a balanced life, today, by using the same virtues and principles of the Ancient Egyptians, so that we too, at the end of our lives, can say we have lived a good life, a life in which we have let the heka -- the cosmic energy -- flow, so that we live in balance with ourselves, Mankind and Nature, for the greater good of all. Ancient Egypt was a success story: it is the story of a people who adhered to these principles for thousands of years, until a moment in time when there were simply too many uneducated people outside of Ancient Egypt, who by force destroyed the divine balance. But throughout history, there have been individuals who have seen the power of ancient Egyptian teachings and have applied it to their own lives. One period where this is seen the most prominent is the Renaissance, when art was created that continues to speak to our soul, on par with the power of Ancient Egypt. For both are built upon the same doctrine and the Renaissance was indeed a period in which the principles and virtues of Ancient Egypt were briefly reborn.
This work will allow you to be reborn.
Image by monomala, courtesy of Creative Commons license.Tweet