The Path of the Craftsmen in Ancient Egypt

One of the traditions in ancient Egypt was that of the artists and craftsmen. All of the best artists and craftsmen were trained in one place, the Temple of Ptah in Memphis (presently 20 minutes south of Cairo). all other artists and craftsmen were usually trained at the Temple or by people who were trained there.

These artists and craftsmen include: Architects, draftsmen, stone workers (large stones and small), jewelers, painters, eventually glass workers, dyers, (but not weavers, who studied at the Temple of Neith in the Delta). All the architects and draftsmen who produced all of the pyramids, temples, palaces, royal tombs, and even forts were trained here.

Have you noticed how all the men and women in paintings and statues have a similar body? Unlike the Greeks, who wanted to show how a persons body really looked like, the Egyptian were interested in showing the "inner essence" of the person. Therefore only in the background, the workers, and not the central family, are people shown as they really were, crippled people, occasional starvation, over weight persons, etc. Therefore the Egyptians were interested in the "inner man (or woman)."

Look at a book on Egyptian art and check out what the god/desses are holding or wearing. That is important to see what powers and attributes are being portrayed. For example, if Bes is holding a knife, she/he becomes a protector and avenger; if holding a sistrum, he/she (it's hard sometimes to tell which sex Bes is), becomes the God/desses of joy, pleasure, music, dance, and another kind of protector; if holding other objects or wearing other outfits, she/he becomes a Protector of Women and of the Family, of Mothers. The same holds true with all of the other gods and goddesses. Hence, Isis can be a Mother Goddess or a Goddess of Women, or of the Visible World depending on what she is wearing or carrying. All of this is taught by the temple of Ptah to the artists.

The similar thing occurs with amulets and talismans. Some amulets and talismans are always shown in a certain color or always made of certain material. The Buckle of Isis is almost always of red carnelian or garnets. The Ankh is almost never down in silver (because the ankh is associated with the Sun, and gold is the metal of the Sun).

The temple of Amon at Luxor is patterned after a human body; in fact, in the sanctuary part, if you observe the stones in the floor, you see that two different stones were used. If you had an archaeological map of the temple with the floor stones shown, and color in the darker stones, you end up with a huge side profile of a face! So the Temple of God reflected the Temple of Man!

Ptah had other powers and attributes than just artists and craftsmen (he was one of the Great Creator Gods), and was married to Sekhmet (who was into other traditions including healing). Ptah is also associated with the Science and Art of Alchemy. Their offspring is Nefertum, the God of perfumes and aromatherapy, and of the Lotus.

As you will see in future discussions, more than one god/dess is associated with a tradition. Ptah is one of the few gods who ever since predynastic periods, was always portrayed as a human.

Remember that most of the popular literature is from material of the New Kingdom and later periods. By then Horus was associated in the popular ancient Egyptian mind as the son of Isis, and especially popular as that during the Greco-Roman period.

Rituals and Ritual Elements

How many times do you get into a Book of Shadows and look at the rituals? How many of these rituals are complete from opening or drawing the circle, invocation of the four directions, blessings, consecrations, invocation, and closing? And how many are incomplete; in other words, missing some of the elements to the rituals, but maybe referring to use a certain 4 direction invocation or closing rite? Or missing complete elements; such as a hymn or invocation to a Goddess but no rituals around it?

To the major ancient Egyptian temple colleges, the elements of ritual were emphasized. A magician, priest/ess, magic worker at home would end up with several invocations to the four quarters, several closings, etc.

To the Egyptian; The Way of the Ritual; it's chief god/dess to be invoked and the way the ritual is to be directed (weather magic for example) will determine which other ritual elements are used.

Also remember that the Egyptians had generic ritual elements, usually blessings, consecrations and hymns. A generic hymn to a goddesses will have spaces in which the goddesses name, titles and some of her powers would be included.

There were more than one set of god/desses for the four directions; and even the direction that you started your ritual changes with the orientation of the ritual.

For example; if you wanted to do a ritual for fertility of the land, you start off facing south (the Life Giving Nile), then West (to appease the desert), then North (symbol of fertility), then the East (rising sun, cosmic fertility), then back to South. Naturally if you are solar oriented using gods like Amon, Ra, Horus, and goddesses like Sekhmet or Bast, you started with the east and work your way around (clockwise).

If you are invoking a goddess in your ritual you do not invoke the four sons of Horus, unless it is Isis or Nepthys that you are invoking. There are two sets of goddesses of the four directions, and one of the sets would do better.

There are at least three different sets of gods for the four directions, more, since Thoth has his own set, as does some cities.

I have a hand written 35 page list of powers and the god/desses associated with them. It probably corresponds to a book listed in the Library of the Temple of Horus called "The Book of God and Goddesses and their Powers".

So a magician at home would have more of a recipe collection of ritual elements rather than a book of Shadows of complete rituals, and would have the know how of how to put them together. I have about 3,000 such recipes, from Astral projection to Zoomor-phic projections, including blessings, opening and closing rites, spells, divination, consecration, initiation, weather, tantric, etc. The Pyramid Texts contain about 700 more, and the Coffin Texts, over 1,200 more. Original, not new.


The only fully developed cult of the cat existed in Egypt and it lasted for over 3,000 years. No one knows when the cat was first sanctified in Egypt.

Bast wasn't associated with Isis until the New Kingdom, about 1600 BCE and later. When associated with Isis it came to be recognized as the incarnation of deity, and it was the daughter of Isis and her husband, the sun-god Osiris (Osiris was also a Moon-god, Isis was also a Sun/Moon/Earth Goddess by then). The worship of Bast overlapped that of Isis, Hathor, Mut and others depending on the district in Egypt.

Bast had a solar son, Nefer-tum (He is associated with unguents, perfumes, aromatherapy, alchemy, Lotus) by the Sun God Amen-Ra, and Khensu, the Moon God, by Ptah.

Bast or Bastet, was originally a lion headed goddess, associated in powers and attributes with Sekhmet and Tefnut, and as such, Bastet has powers of ferocity and rapacity.

It is her later cat-headed form that Bastet became so immensely popular, although she never ceased to be worshiped as a lion headed goddess.

The earliest known portrait of Bastet was found in a temple of the 5th dynasty, a lion-headed goddess who was known a "Bastet, lady of Ankh-taui." One of the earliest forms of her as a cat headed goddess is in a papyrus of the 21st dynasty.

Bast cult center was at Bubastis, situated east of the Nile delta, and hence, Bast became known as the "Lady of the East" (also because of her association with the sun).

She then, is almost without exception, invoked while facing the East, and is one of the Goddesses of the Four Directions.

In the XII dynasty, Middle Kingdom, she had her own temple at Bubastis. In the 22nd dynasty, about 950 BCE, she was known as the Lady of Bubastis and became an immense power in Egypt, due to the Pharaohs embracing her as a national goddess.

The temple of Bastet has been vividly described by the historian Heroditus, who traveled in Egypt about 450 BCE. It stood in the center of the city of Bubastis and was virtually on an island, since it was surrounded (except at its entrance) by canals from the Nile, which were a hundred feet wide and overhung with trees. While the houses were gradually raised, the temple remained on its original level so that the whole city commanded a view down into it.

The temple was a building in the form of a square, and was made of red granite. Stone walls carved with figures surrounded the sacred enclosure, which consisted of a grove of very tall trees within which was hidden a shrine. In the center of the shrine was a statue of Bast. Note: This is the only temple in Egypt known to have had a sacred grove of trees in the center of it, and a shrine in the center. There are other sacred groves, some with shrines; but instead of being inside of temples, these are all out in the open.

Cats were found within the sacred temple area and were ritually fed. Temple maidens carried cats or kittens in baskets. April and May were the chief festivals and rituals for Bast.

All cats were revered in the Temple of Bast. Now the question is, what kind of cats did the Egyptians have?

  • Orange cats
  • Orange stripped cats
  • A tabby type
  • Black cats
  • Gray cats

And an Abyssinian type. Of course, Bast is also associated with Lioness, so small cubs and adult lionesses were also sacred to her.

Of the principal Egyptian festivals, that of Bast was one of the most popular. Herodotus describes how, in April and May, thousands of men and women set off on the pilgrim-age in parties which crowded into numerous boats. The voyage was gay if not positively orgiastic. Men played the flute, women a type of cymbal called crotala, and all joined in singing and hand-clapping. As they passed towns, the boats drew near to the banks and the women shouted bawdy jokes, often flinging their clothes up over their heads.

Eventually they arrived at Bubastis, sacrificing many animals, and consuming vast quantities of wine.

Cats were portrayed in every conceivable activity, sculptured every material from gold to mud, and in every size from colossal to minute size.

An orange brown cat is depicted on tomb walls, and so is a ginger cat, and gray tabbies.

During the Bubastite period (XXII dynasty), cat cemeteries became popular, and a huge profusion of cat amulets were being made.

During the entire time of Egypt, household cats were treated with the greatest respect. Many of them were bejeweled, and they were allowed to eat from the same dishes as their owners. Sick cats were tended with solicitude, and stray cats were fed with bread soaked in milk and with fish caught in the Nile and chopped up for them.

Cats love basking in patches of sunlight, and Bast was first worshiped as a form of the sun, the source and sustainer of life and light. Some of the Egyptians believed that when the Sun went down, a combat of cosmic proportions took place in the underworld. One of the legends had a Persea tree with a cat with a knife leaping on a spotted serpent and cutting off its head. During solar eclipses people would gather in the streets and shake knives and rattle sistrums in an effort to spur on the celestial cat and to terrify the threatening serpent in their struggle beside the Tree of Life.

From the cat's identification with the sun arisen the "cat's cradle", a name given to certain string-games. The cats cradle was used to control the movement of the Sun through sympathetic magic.

Sekhmet was combined with Bast and Ra for a tripartite goddess combining the attributes and powers of all three. It was a combination made for ceremonial magic only, as there is no public worship of Sekhmet-Bast-Ra at an individual level.

Are you soaking this all in with no questions? Remember the story about the cat and the Persea tree that I just related? You should have asked about the Persea tree and if this Egyptian Tree of Life is or can be grown in the U.S. and if we know it by another name. Come on, ask, come on, come, after all, its the Cat's Meow! There are two sacred trees in ancient Egypt. I mean sacred! One is the acacia (which varieties grows all over the US. The other is the Persea. There are only two varieties of Persea in the entire world. One is the Egyptian Persea, which I have no idea if it bears fruit. The other variety of Persea (which by Egyptian thought would be just as sacred) bears fruit. The other varieties common name is avocado! That's right, the avocado is a sacred tree of the ancient Egyptians. So the next time that you are preparing to eat guacamole, remember that you are eating a sacred dip! The green avocado would probably also be sacred to Osiris and any other god/dess of vegetation. The ancient Egyptians usually made their wands out of acacia or Persea, so if you have any of these trees, you can make your-self an Egyptian wand. Also remember that if you trim your tree, use the branches in the fireplace for a sacred fire!

To relate a story, true: When I was married my wife and I brought home a tabby, and a very young boy, about five came up and wanted to pet the cat. He asked me what was her name, and I replied that we haven't named it yet, what would he suggest? He said Abaton. I replied that I would consider it, thinking that it was a strange name for a kid to come up with ("out of the mouths of babes”). About three days later, I was going over a book of cities and towns in ancient Egypt, and on a whim (which I have a lot of), looked up Abaton. Lo and behold, there was an Abaton in the Delta part of Egypt. And it was known as the city of the cats with "ton" meaning city, and "aba" meaning cat; or "cat city" to us folk. So our Tabby became known as Abaton, or Aba for short. A year later she became pregnant and we decided that in honor of the Egyptian intercalary days (those five remaining days of the ancient Egyptian calendar of 365 days, divided into 12 months of 30 days with 5 intercalary days left over, sacred to certain god/desses); as the kitties would pop out (so to speak), we would start naming them for the five god/desses. Well, eventually here they came, Isis, Nepthys, Osiris, Horus, and the last, a black kitty, Set. Set died that night, the only one that didn't live to a ripe old age. Horus grew up (a male cat by the way, we named them regardless of sex; when the first popped out, it became Isis; luckily sexually matched their names) to be a hunting cat, who would bring home live rabbits bigger than he was. Nepthys, a black female, was a lovable, loving cat who went to an excellent Wiccan friend, along with Isis, who was occasionally disruptive, usually lovable. Osiris stayed with us and even disappeared for a little over 2 months (close to the 72 day mummification process) until we thought that he was dead, but he came back and lived out his life playing big daddy, master of his domain, and approving the field mice and rabbits that brother Horus would bring back for his approval.

They are all gone none, but never forgotten. I now have two cats, a blue eyed, long white furry female originally called "Popcorn" (forgive her previous owners, Lord and Lady, they do not know better), but now called Sheba (although, to be truthful, she answers to any name). The other is a Calico, previously named Nikita (little one in Russian, and she is a little cat); now called Spook (she spooks easily, still hasn't figured out shadows yet, and doesn't come to any name called to her). Sheba, by the way, will willingly join you in the bathtub if you're taking a bath! In ritual she just lays there looking bored, but Spook, ah Spook; stays inside the circle and even watches the entities!

A Limerick From Jana Hollingsworth:
The five cats of Michael were named
For five Gods of Egypt far-famed.
Each suited its title
In character vital.
A five-year-old boy can be blamed.

From: LDE Black
Cat Fancy March 1993 pg 13, at bottom.

A French scientist has found evidence confirming that the domestic cat existed 4,000 years ago. During excavations of ancient Egyptian burial chambers, Alain Pierre Zivie, an Egyptologist, found a network of tombs that contained stacks and stacks of cat mummies. "Some historians believe the first house cats were wild with long coats," Zivie said, "but these cat mummies have short hair and look much like modern cats." Zivie made his discovery in Sakkara, 20 miles south of Cairo.”

From: Brenda Ryan
I have a set of hieroglyphic stamps put out by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Have you seen these? Are they useful at all for actual writing, are they accurate translations, or are they toys?

From: Michael Poe
The hieroglyphic stamps are very useful, extremely accurate of the hieroglyph. If using them in magic, be sure to bless and consecrate them first, along with the ink. You can use henna as an ink. Michael

From: Andy Balestracci
Did Hieroglyphics play a similar role in the Temple philosophy(ies) as seed syllables, i.e., that symbolized and embodied the first levels of creation (for lack of a better word) such as the Sanskrit alphabet of Hinduism (and maybe others)?

From: Michael Poe
Hieroglyphics did play a part in the Temple teachings, as symbols of the god/desses, of power objects, of inter-relations. They themselves had power within them and the mere act of writing them down (or using a rubber stamp in today's world) would give the spell more power. As for being seed syllables, I'm not sure; you will have to give a few more examples, but there are hieroglyphics that do stand for and embodied the levels of creation, but not all of them were syllables or letters. Remember that while a number of hieroglyphics stood for letters, and some syllables, most of them stood for showing what the letter/syllable was for; so that if two objects were spelled the same, another hieroglyphic of the object would be inserted. Example: Aunt and ant. In Egyptian Aunt would have a female human figure next to it, and in Ant, an ant would be next to it.

From: Ellen Gustafson
I was just wondering if you ever checked out the Stele of Revealing and studied It in relation to Its time frame, etc. Crowley's intent never was to reproduce the ancient Egyptian religion, as you know. In fact, the A:.A:. has as a guideline, that all cultural references are incidental, not to be taken literally. The Aeon of Horus is a new aeon, and not meant to return to the beliefs of ancient Egypt. I guess that's the difference in perspective. The Stele of Revealing is a funerary monument to Ank-f-n-Khonsu, a Theban priest of Month, or Mentu, who flourished, according to modern scholarship, 725 B.C.E. in Egypt's 25th dynasty. I copied this from notes in The Holy Books of Thelema. There is much about the Stele there. It is interesting that in the Bolouq (sp?) Museum, the Stele was classified as #666! LVX, Ellen

From: Michael Poe
That's cute, and very appropriate about the 666. Such stelaes of that period were for protection primarily, invoking various gods, including lesser spirits and beings, including many that weren't in existence prior to about 1,000 BCE. I have read Crowley's work, and unfortunately, he doesn't know ancient Egyptian, and the Golden Dawn, and A.A. knows very little; when they do use original material, it is always Greco-Roman Egyptian, a usually decadent form of Egyptian magic. Their interpretation of god/desses forms from ancient Egypt doesn't always jive with ancient Egypt's. That is probably because of the both the Greco-Roman later period information and their efforts to try to peg Egyptian god forms into Cabbala Sepheroah. Crowley is not ancient Egyptian magic. Even he acknowledges that his ritual that he did in Egypt didn't work out right. It's always potentially dangerous to try to fit square pegs into round holes! Or for that matter, try and change a religious tradition that was used for over 4,000 years by over a hundred million people (based on population estimate of 5-10,000,000 people at any one time, life span of 40 years, or 15-30,000,000 per 100 years X 4,000 years.

Moon Lore

Isis is also Goddess of the Sun as well as the Moon, so don't invoke her unless you know what you are doing (what symbols she should hold, what items should be on her head, etc.). Usually she is invoked as both Goddess of the Sun and Moon at the same time, rarely as Moon by itself.

Important Metaphysical Spots in Egypt Today

Since the Great Pyramid was built by the ancient Egyptians for a king, Khufu, that is not an important metaphysical spot. Before we get into an argument about that let me point out that the Great Pyramid has tombs around it by the workers who built it and mention it's building and its use as a burial place. There are also ancient Egyptian records of the Keeper Priests who lived there providing food to Khufu. There is absolutely no mention of it as an initiation place, and beside the stone coffin, Khufu's viscera was found there! However, Europeans are impressed by what is large and commanding (it embarrassed the ancient Egyptians) and put greater stock in the Great Pyramid than the Egyptians. Also what with the vast number of people in the occult who have visited there, it now has it's own aura added to it, and most people today can't tell the difference. So let's list the truly sacred.

The Temple of Bast at Bubastis; Delta area. Although not much remains there, it still exudes a feeling of serenity and peace there. Center to the Bast cat tradition.

Memphis: Temple of Ptah: also not well preserved, but serene with the ponds of water within the temple enclosure.

Sakkara: The tombs of Ptahhotep and Kaegemni are extremely magical, housing at one time two of the greatest teachers of Egypt.

The Labyrinth, near the Fayyum; Herodutus described it as having 3,000 rooms; 1,500 above, and 1,500 below ground that was so sacred, no one but high priests could enter the underground rooms. Extremely magical, and what is better, almost no tourists, even at the height of the tourist season! Initiations took place here.

Temple of Hathor at Denderah. Magical place with secret chambers and passageways, Initiation center of Hathor. The Zodiac ceiling was found in the Temple of Hathor at Denerah (original in British Museum, replica in temple).

Osirieon at Abydos: Center of the highest initiations of Osiris (his tomb is located nearby but has not yet been discovered). You can visit the once underground chambers where the initiations took place, surrounded by a pond, with a secret passageway (now underwater) supposedly going to Osiris's tombs.

The Ramesseum: West bank of Thebes; Luxor. Sit on the stone throne of Ramses, feel the power, or go find the initiation chamber there (the only one that utilizes a coffin). Highly magical.

The Temple of Hatshepsut, same general area.

Temples of Amon and Mut at Karnak and Luxor; if size impresses, this will! The courtyard itself can easily hold Notre Dame! Too bad so many tourists, but seek out the small temple of Sekhmet (but beware of doing rituals there, Sekhmet is unforgiving).

Temple of Horus, Edfu: Most complete temple in modern Egypt, lots of subtle power waiting to be reawakened, doing a gentle chant in the sanctuary can be heard over the entire temple!

Temple of Isis, Philae; despite being moved from the original island; still very magical, especially because of the surroundings.

Temple of Shahabu: The Egyptian equivalent of Tantric magick, it's place is unknown, and even to the ancient Priests, it's location was kept a secret!

Oracle of Amon; Siwa Oasis, where Alexander the Great went and never spoke of his prophecy!


The great god Horus was one of the most popular gods of ancient Egypt.

At least a 1,000 years before Egypt was unified a new group of people entered Egypt called the Followers of Horus. Whether from southern Africa, the Sahara are from the Red Sea area we don't know, but they settled in Upper Egypt and opposed the Followers of Set in the Delta. Eventually the Followers of Horus united Egypt and their king, Narmer or Menes became the first king of Dynastic Egypt, and the Horus name of the king started being used.

Who was Horus the Hawk or Falcon God? We are especially blessed since the Temple of Horus at Edfu is the best preserved temple in ancient Egypt, and on its walls contains such things as the different forms and powers of Horus, the names of the books in the Temple library, many rituals, hymns, and parts of the types of initiations.

First and foremost, perhaps, Horus was a sky god, whose right eye was the Sun and whose left eye was the Moon, and where we came up with the concept of the right side being solar, the left, lunar. Associated with the hawk soaring over the land, and his eyes being the Sun and Moon, came his attributes as "All-Seeing, All-Knowing", yet not interfering unless he chooses to, or is summoned (like a Master of Falcons summons his Hawk or Falcon).

Probably associated with the idea of a Falconer being protected by his birds, Horus is one of the most popular gods of Protection. Now remember that we have to speak in generalities, for Horus had over 24 different forms with associated aspects, so invoking one form would not necessarily get you another one of his powers (now you can understand why I am writing a book explaining all of this fully!).

Horus was also the patron god of martial arts, and a couple of his temples, and their colleges taught military warfare, strategy, tactics, and all sorts of fighting, the officer corps or military west point of ancient Egypt. this is one of Egypt's tradition.

Another tradition in which Horus figures prominently is Alchemy. Ptah, Horus, and Thoth were the leaders in the Egyptian school of Alchemy.

Although Horus, during the New Kingdom and later was especially popular as the Son of Isis, remember that that designation is only one of his many forms.

His real consort was Hathor, and Hathor means House of Horus. During one festival, the statue of Horus was removed from his sanctuary and sailed down the Nile in all the pomp and circumstance required and was put into Hathor's temple at Denderah for a connubial visit.

One of the most powerful forms of Protection Rituals in Ancient Egypt was invoking the four Sons of Horus as the four directions, and Horus as the Protector (and/or as the Avenger). In fact, the most common form of invocation of the four directions was the four sons of Horus; For women however, there are 2-3 sets of goddesses of the four directions.

While the four sons are associated with various parts of the human body, stomach, liver, etc., Horus himself is associated with the Eyes (it figures, doesn't it?), but not the third eye (which is one or both goddesses, Uatchet and Nekhibet). Sometimes used for astral sight, there are actually two ways to get to his heaven, by turning your astral body into a hawk, or a boat with a hawk on it.

Interesting Quotes

Note: That I will use the term god in place of neter, but if you are goddess oriented, you can use that instead.

Early Egyptian saying:
Put not thy faith in length of years,
For the Gods regard a lifetime as but an hour;
A man remains over after reaching the haven of Death.
His deeds are laid beside him for all treasure.
He who has reached it without wrongdoing,
Shall continue yonder like a god,
Stepping forward like a Lord of Eternity.

God does not confine his favor to the prosperous and the powerful.
He bestows it also upon the poor.
His will is that they be fed and clothed, and exempted from tasks beyond their strength.
That they may not be oppressed, and unnecessary tears be spared them.

From Ramses II:
The mortal person is a manifestation on earth of His Divine Spirit.
Splendid actions and great deeds are worthy and precious to the gods. but the tasks the Gods alone see- they surpass all.

The Ways to God are as many as the breaths in the bodies of men.

Quote from the entrance to the College of Priests, Temple of Horus at Edfu, Egypt:
"Knowledge is the Way to Life;
The Way to Life leads to the Way to God.
The Way to God leads to Inner Knowledge.
Inner Knowledge leads to Wisdom.
Wisdom becomes Life."

The Egyptian word "Neter" is neutral and literally translates as "Abstract Principle" or "Divine Principle."

Ancient Egypt had no conception of the Ultimate as being either male or female, for to them, the Ultimate Deity combined both sexes. It's only when the "Divine Principle" starts descending down through the planes that male and female deities begin.

Ancient Egypt, for those who don't know, may have had a god, or a goddess as a national deity (worshiped during national holidays, etc), and a god or a goddess has head of a city or nome (state); such as Bast, head of Bubastis; but to the Egyptians, god and goddess were co-partners, were in reality none was above the other (except-ions might be during certain festivals, or the Sun goddess rules during the day, the Moon God during the night; that's right, many male moon gods and many female solar goddesses!).

PS: Although that inscription was found at the College of the Temple of Horus, it did not directly refer to Horus, or Heru by name, therefore, "Divine Principle" is the logical translation since they did use the word "neter" in the saying.

Egyptian Ritual Music

They used a five note scale, and had such instruments as lutes, pipes and flutes, drums, zills, tambourine, and sistra. The sistra or sistrum was the most magical instrument used, based on three horizontal metal bars with round metal clappers sliding on them.
) (
I-I-I-I clappers
I-I-I-I clappers
I handle

These were used by women only, and only during ceremonies and ceremonial singing. We have made several reproductions, most don't sound very well. But I was able to "rattle" an original and it sounded wonderful. Something of a cross between a babbling brook and wind chimes. Developed by the Egyptians to help bring on trance states and whatever other emotional responses prior to and during ritual, it may very well have worked, especially with half a dozen or more going at once.

The Metaphysical Parts Of Man

The material body: the spirits of the heart is called Hati. Of hearing, Setem; of sight, Maa; of taste, Hu; of touch, Saa; of the material body, Khat.

The astral or Inner Self: Setem, compassion, the ability to feel rightly. Maa, justice, the ability to perceive rightly. Hu, command, divine utterance. Saa, perception, knowledge, understanding. Heka, magic. Ab, the seat of life, source of will and intentions. Ka, the astral body; principle of the body and protective genius. Khu, the intellect; low form Khu, highest intellect.

Then we have the Khaibit, or Dweller; the Shadow, the part before, at and after the Dweller of the Threshold.

Higher up, the Ba, soul, sublime, and multi-leveled.

Next comes the Sahu, part of the spiritual self and is the spiritual body otherwise called the spiritual body.

There is also the sekem; lower force; the power of forms, names, and life.

There is also the Sa, the higher force, essential energy of all.

To give you an idea of the complexity of it all:
Touch: Saa (Sia) god of feeling, knowledge, understanding, intelligence. Personification of perception, to feel, to understand (comes from Memphis and the Ptah/Sekhmet/Nefertum triad).

As Saau-ur "The Great Intelligence: the cognitive reception of a situation, object or idea. Saau-ur is mentioned as early as the Vth dynasty.

As Saa Amenti-Ra "The Intelligence of the Amenti of Ra" god of conscience and character.

Sa is a god of protection within his functions and is associated with Hu, taste. Oddly enough Sa is associated also with the heart. Hu and Saa together are the Eyes of Horus. More importantly they are the tongue and heart of Ptah; as such it is thru the heart that men relate their lives to moral precepts, and to be craftsmen.

The first Tarot cards known were found in Italy. A reproduction of them has been done and is usable. I believe that they were nailed to something. Perhaps someone can fill in where it was found and the time period they were made.

Bernard Bromage, in his book, which I can't recall the exact title of (it was years ago), but is something like The Secret Wisdom of the Egyptians. Basically the book is fairly uninteresting as it relates to how ancient Egyptian traditions really worked. But there was, in one paragraph, something that struck my eye. In discussing, I believe, the Tarot he says (and despite not remembering the title, I do remember the sentence) "The Tarot, of course, originated from the Temple of Serapis in Naples, Italy." Well, here is something specific. Now to find a picture or reference from another source on a Temple of Serapis in Naples. Ancient Egypt did expand their temples outside of Egypt, and had temples and sanctuaries in Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, and other places. To make a long story longer, it took about five years before I finally found a reference to the Temple of Serapis in Italy. The reference referred to the excavation report done early in this century; that the temple is now pretty much at water level, that the illustrations on the wall were destroyed by WWII. That means that if the Tarot came from a chance find, it would be in the excavation report, if it came from illustrations on the walls, it would still be in the report. A friend of mine was in Naples and took a picture of the temple, and indeed, it was awash with water and the illustrations were definitely not there. Was Bromage right? Did there exist a pre-tarot illustrations in either wall form or chance papyrus? If true, did it include the minor arcana as well? If only the major arcana, what was it supposed to portray at that period of time? Perhaps the path of the initiate as supposed today? And whose initiate; a Roman/Egyptian one or an Egyptian one? Where indeed is the excavation report? It was printed in Italian, but is there illustrations or photos of the illustrations? Is there a reference to cards or a papyrus or manuscript? Are there English translations? How did the Tarot get from a 3-5th century ad temple to 13-14th century cards? We know that the Italians were interested in retrieving Greek and Roman statues and works during that period; was that why and when the transition was made? All of these things depended on finding the excavation report. And if the report confirmed it, then did it mean that an even earlier version existed in Egypt? Lo and behold this could take forever (like this note is). But finally, voila! The French Institute of Archeology in Cairo found the report for me and sent me a translation of the illustrations found on the wall. The report consisted of, among other things not particularly germane here, of descriptions of the illustrations, and a statue standing in the entrance. There are 20 illustrations that were on the wall prior to their destruction during WWII.

Assuming for a moment that Major Arcana card number 0, which is the fool and generally interpreted as the initiate starting out on his journey, it would follow that, given the sequence of illustrations on the temple's walls, that indeed the card would be the initiate of Serapis.

Card One: Magician:
Found at the entrance to the temple, just inside, was a partially damaged statue of the god Khnemu, and in front of him, an altar. The god Khnemu is the only god in ancient Egypt that is shown (and even at that, rarely), and applies in this case, with one hand pointed towards the sky, the other towards the earth. Khnemu is the god of the Nile, and since in the major arcana, water in the cards represents the flow of consciousness, it follows that the flow starts from Khnemu, the Nile (at least for Egyptians it would). The ritual equipment would have been placed on the altar.

Card II: High Priestess:
The first illustrations, the first one on the left side is of Veiled Isis (also one of only two Egyptian goddesses ever shown veiled). The illustration was between two pillars, the lotus and a papyrus pillar, and in the illustration Isis is seated, holding a lotus. Crown of sun and crescent moon.

Card III: Empress:
The second illustration again shows Isis, this time holding and suckling the baby Horus. Crown of Isis, the throne, symbol of the maternal power behind the throne, etc.

Card IV: Emperor:
The third illustration is of a Roman emperor in Egyptian garb, holding the was and flail.

Card V: Hierophant:
The next illustration is of an Egyptian priest, dressed in the leopards garb, making offerings to an altar.

Card VI: Lovers:
The next one is of the unification of Northern and Southern Egypt. The intertwining of the lotus and sedge plant, two Hapi gods (Showing both male and female traits). The Egyptian meaning is very similar to the card.

Card VII: Chariot:
Shrine procession, with two sphinxes in front of the shrine, being dragged by 4 anubian priests and 4 Horus priests (in a Temple of Serapis in Egypt, it actually is a chariot scene).

Card VIII: Strength:
The illustration is of the goddess Sekhmet, the Lioness goddess, who is the Egyptian symbol of strength. The scene also has a priestess offering a symbol of her heart to her (which is done after the balance, weighting of the heart).

Card IX: Hermit or Sage:
The next illustration on the temple wall is of Imhotep, the prime example of the perfect man or Sage/Priest, with a scroll in hand.

Card X: Wheel:
The illustration is of the 7 Hathors, long regarded as the 7 fates in ancient Egypt and part of the concept of time as regarding man.

Card XI: Justice:
This illustration is a quite common one in ancient Egypt, the Judgment scene, where the initiate or deceased is judged of his heart (actions, etc.) against truth.

Card XII: Hanged Man:
This illustration in the temple walls, although badly damaged, does show Osiris, who you may remember, was martyred, cut into bits, put back together, etc., and who symbolizes resurrection.

Card XIII: Death or the Reaper:
This scene, also badly damaged, clearly shows the god Set (Lord of Chaos and Disorder) with what looks like Anubis before him (the Guardian of your soul, the Guide of the Initiate). The interpretation works in well with our interpretation of the 13th card.

Card XIV: Temperance or Alchemist:
The illustration in the temple, damaged up to the waist of the individuals, shows Horus and Set, which would mean in its broadest sense, the tempering of one's bad traits with the good, the unification from within.

Card XV: Devil or Black Magician:
This illustration is a classic Egyptian one of the solar god Ra fighting Apophis, with a lesser scene of priests offering. In Egyptian initiations, this is the part of the Dweller of the Threshold, and the attempted crossing.

Card XVI: Tower or Lightning:
The illustration is of two obelisks. Obelisks, you may remember, always stood in front of the temple. Obelisks represented the first ray of light striking the earth. It would symbolize here the initiate passing the Dweller and now ready to enter the temple for final initiation for the first time, like the light hitting the earth for the first time, the transition is almost complete.

Card XVII: Star:
The goddess Seshat and a libation scene. Priestess with two bowls, one of water, the other of earth in front of Seshat, a Bennu bird in the water. Seshat has many attributes, but she has a star as a crown, the only one that does, and she is a consort of Thoth (god of Ceremonial Magic) as well as being the goddess of Libraries and Sacred Knowledge. The initiate is about to, or is receiving his sacred knowledge about the world, himself, and of magic.

Card XVIII: Moon:
Top part of illustration only, of Khonsi, God of the Moon, and possibly of Thoth, also a God of the Moon.

Card XIX: Sun:
Clear painting/carving of the sun god Ra. flanked by hawks (also solar deities, Horus) and the sign of eternity. Perhaps at this point the initiate, now at dawn, is led out (or the doors are opened to reveal the morning sun) with the initiate now in the light (symbolically and realistically).

Card XX: Judgment:
Illustration scene of initiate, hand in hand with the god Thoth, being led away from the Weighing of the Heart scene. His heart has been found true and just, in balance.

Card XXI: World:
The last illustration is somewhat damaged but clear enough to show the famous Nut, Geb, Shu scene. This scene is of the goddess of the Heavens, Nut, over the god of earth, Geb, with the god of space, Shu, in between. This is the classic Egyptian motif of all the world, heaven, earth and everything in between. The initiate is now one with all.

Now, although all of the above scenes are for initiates, this could mean two things:

  1. This is a "storyboard" set of illustrations of one, albeit, long and very involved type of initiation.
  2. This is a "storyboard" set of illustrations of a series of steps and initiations of any initiate of Serapis and could conceivably take a lifetime to achieve.

It is important to note that this room does not have one illustration of Serapis himself in it! He shows up on the outside of the temple in illustrations! The excavation report concluded that this room was either a special place of initiations or a special place of worship. During the 10th-16th centuries, when the Europeans were rediscovering Greek and Roman statues, books, etc., this temple could very well have been recovered and uncovered. In fact the illustrations were partially still open to view before the excavation! I have traced several temples of Serapis, and have been trying to get notes on their illustrations as well. Two temples of Serapis in Egypt, one during the Greek/Ptolemaic period, and one of the 19th dynasty also show like illustrations, getting more and more Egyptian as the temples got older.

Did the Egyptians actually have tarot cards of the major arcana? Not likely, as papyrus would be pretty much impossible to shuffle!! But here is the initial result of my study, it took years to find this material. Did the Temple of Serapis inspire the Italians to make the Major Arcana of the Tarot? It certainly contained the elements and the interpretation! Perhaps Bromage, who is rarely right, was right about this one. Further studies on Serapis temples that I did seem to keep the illustrations in order, but we do have a big gap between the temple and the first known cards!

The tradition of Serapis starts from an early age, from the 1st dynasty of about 3,100 BCE with Seken-ka as the first master of the tradition. In the XVIII dynasty Amenhotep enhanced the tradition, as did XIX dynastic Khawmwese, XXVI dynastic Amen-em-apt, XXXth dynastic Nectanebus, the last native king of Egypt, who ordered the spread of Egyptian temples throughout the known world.

During the Roman period, Psoiphis and Chaeremon were leaders in the tradition.

We have possible other sources of the ancient origin of Tarot including the ancient book, 78 Phases of Ra, the Book of Gates (it has 21 gates).

There are temples of Serapis at Alexandria, Naples, Rome, Memphis. The nome state of Ament's capital was sacred to Serapis, called Apis, from the pre-Serapis tradition of Apis, from which Serapis is derived. There is a temple of Serapis in northern Amant called He-tsekha-hera.

There is a temple of Serapis at Pithom (the Bible mentions the city); a cult center at Mendes, one at north Meteliles.

Now, is the word Tarot actually Egyptian or a derivation of an ancient Egyptian word or words? It very well could be. Ta and ro or rot are two Egyptian sounds.

Ta = the following words:
thou bread, cake to give
staff (wand) this moment/time
land/earth to journey Thoth
earth god time
essence of a god glory the

You also have the possibilities: tara: (long a) meaning time or season; teru: meaning a god of light.

Ra, ro, or rot (no Egyptian vowels):
man chapter of a book a covered court
mouth, entrance, opening, door, gate, entrance to a
path or road
sun, day sun god words, acts,
storehouse or chamber

Chapters of Coming Forth by Day
" " Divine Rites
" " Mysteries
" " Praisings

So you see, if Egyptian, it could mean "journey of the road" or "journey of time" or any number of things! It could mean "the glorious road." Or it all could be just a coincidence! It's up to you.

A later related note: To give you an example of the differences, take the Strength card. That normally is depicted as a woman holding open the jaws of a male lion, quiet strength in check. In the temples of Serapis that corresponds to the illustration of the goddess Sekhmet. Sekhmet is a lioness goddess, but is usually depicted with a small mane! Hence, in Egypt, the female and male are combined into the Sekhmet form. The Isis Veiled card is almost the same in the two illustrations. Isis is shown veiled (one of two goddesses ever shown that way), sitting, holding stalks of wheat and a container of water in the Roman Serapis temples.

Another later related note: So far, there hasn't been found any evidence of wood, stone, papyrus, or any other form of the major arcana for use in divination. Note that many of the arcana of the Temple of Serapis are common motifs, and as such, can be found in clay, stone, papyrus, etc.; but never has been found in a group, incomplete set or not. Perhaps to the Egyptians, the Major Arcana was not a form of divination but the initiate's initiation or life cycle.

Divination was used in ancient Egypt, by both priests and people alike. I have various types of divination by bowls, by oracles, by dreams, by ceremonies. There is even divination by casting stones into a certain type of decorated bowl of water. There is divination by using a particular set of the popular Senet game. But, alas, none yet by Tarot.

There is a lot of information out there about divination and ceremonies, but much of it, like I said before, is in German, French, Arabic, and part in English. For example, there is a two volume work on Senet, including the divination part, but alas, it is in German. See if you can get a book by Serge Saureon, called, the "Priests of Ancient Egypt." Although it is mainly during the Greek period of ancient Egypt, much has not changed. If you look at the translations of the Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead (Papyrus of Ani, translated by Faulkner), you would find that it is a lot of disjointed rituals put together. Most was not originally written for the dead, it was just slightly revised. In the Pyramid texts and Coffin Texts, for example, you have texts on astral projection, blessing tools, consecration, initiation, hymns, etc. If you can find an English copy of the Harris Papyrus (good luck, long out of print, very expensive), it is the magical texts and divination.


I am familiar with the Church of Light organization in Los Angeles. They are no help in assistance, as all of their information is of Greek/Roman period and doesn't go any further back, and I already have the Greco/Roman period down. It's true that Iamblichus did write about Egyptian initiation, but the translations of his work do not include any descriptions of Tarot-like illustrations. Unlike what the Church of Light says, the translations are readily available. One must remember that initiations done in the 4th century do not and will not accurately reflect the initiations that took place in ancient Egypt. Egypt took a profound change in the late dynastic period prior to the Greeks, and even more during the Greek and Roman periods. Much of the magic, mysteries were lost and new ones invented or gaps were substituted by current thought. It was a decaying period for Egypt, adopting to Greek ways and then to Roman ones. The mysteries and initiations became an echo of what they once were.

The Church of the Eternal Source, also in Los Angeles, on the other hand, is a very Egyptian mystery oriented organization, but centers around the Old, Middle and New Kingdom, using the original papyrus and temple inscriptions for their mysteries and initiations. But still, in both cases, their knowledge is limited by what has been published and available. The translations and the original documents about such things are either not published, or published in limited editions and not available in most libraries. The French Institute of Archeology in Cairo has the most complete library of all published and unpublished material related to ancient Egypt. I use them extensively.

The Church of Light, on the other hand, uses adapted to modern symbolism, not ancient ones. The Tower card would never have been done in ancient Egypt like the Church of Light did it. In essence the Church made up a Neo-Egyptian religion incorporating ancient symbols and modern thought, when they just could have used the ancient symbols as is. In other words, they tried, without much research, to make a modern Tarot deck using ancient symbols out of place, rather than making an ancient tarot deck using ancient symbols in place. Then they think that this is going to get you in touch with ancient Egypt. Wrong! It may get you in touch with modern man's (since the time of Blavatsky) metaphysical idea of what ancient Egypt was, but to get in touch with ancient Egypt, you need to use ancient Egyptian methods. Kind of like getting a model airplane and putting it together without a picture to go by or the guide to do it right.

The Inherent Difficulty of Studying Ancient Egyptian Religion

Throughout its 4,000 odd year old history there is no systematic account of the doctrines used. Different men living at different times do not think alike; and no college of priests had formulated a system of beliefs that was received by all clergy and laity alike. 42 nomes; 42 religions in 4,000 years! Changes were extent, differences, even in the same periods, were great. But all had one thing in common, Organic Totality.

Organic Totality: the physical environment, human organizations, conscience, language and ultimate goals, all make up Egypt's totality. Egypt did not have a central dogma or sacred book. But the one thing that prevented them from losing their individuality and from coalescing into a common unit is the belief in more than one set of gods. The Egyptian religions were both personal and nationalistic. It was personal to each individual or family; private, interwoven with a sense of personal right and wrong, with a personal shrine or "niche" in every house to their personal gods/desses. It was nationalistic because usually the place of the national seat of government determined, for the most part, the overall thought of the period, the morality of the period. The Egyptian religion offers a variety of paths to the ultimate source by individual contact and tailoring information and guidance according to an individual's needs and level of development.

Three aspects of the Egyptian religion and culture:

  1. Polytheism; all gods and goddesses are emanations or forces from one source (although in each state, the one source may have a different name).
  2. Actualization of the Individual; the development of the potential of the individual was important to the Egyptian colleges.
  3. Direct communication/relationship of an individual's surroundings.

The kings of Egypt had from three to five "great names" and Lee mentioned only one, the Horus name. There is also the "nebti" name. This name is from the Two Ladies, Nekhebet and Uatchet, and Pharaoh becomes the force uniting the dual monarchy. This name goes back to the 1st dynasty and is based on the two capitals of pre-dynastic Egypt, Neken and Buto, seats of the two goddesses. The third name is the "bee" name. "He who belongs to the sedge plant and the bee," the "nesu-list" name, symbolizing the union of Upper and Lower Egypt. Predynastic: According to Manetho, a race of people came into Egypt and some became the founders and rulers of This and Memphis. The system of solar theology arrived in Lower Egypt (Delta) as early as 5,000 BCE in the form of the "Shensu Heru" or Followers of Horus. They made their way to upper Egypt before the 1st dynasty. In predynastic times there were two distinct kingdoms, Upper and Lower Egypt, with their capitals at Neken (slightly north of Thebes) and Buto (in the Delta). We have names of at least 12 kings of these two areas, although the Book of Sothis lists 86 kings, and the "Old Chronicles" lists 84.

There are several approaches taken by metaphysically minded people of today about ancient Egypt. There are those who see only what Edgar Cayce or something like Urantia has to say about Egypt, and don't take the time to discover Egypt for themselves, or to see if what they learned was actually true. There are those who have worked beyond Cayce, and find a "pull" towards Egypt and read many books about the subject. Unfortunately, Budge, the most predominant writer, gives an unrealistic view of ancient Egypt, and many things are not mentioned, such as personal worship, initiations, changes of consciousness; therefore the reader is forced to rely on another source, who may not know anything at all about Egypt, but a lot about metaphysics and give you bum information. Elizabeth Haitch's book, "Initiation," supposedly an Egyptian initiation, bears no relation to an actual Egyptian initiation and should be treated as fantasy. Then there are those in metaphysics that like to practice the ancient religions. Their approach is usually through another tradition, i.e. Golden Dawn, or Wicca. Both of these traditions (Wicca having many traditions and only some incorporate Egyptian into them) do not draw upon real Egyptian traditions. The Golden Dawn uses Greco-Roman Egyptian Tradition, acknowledged by Egyptologists as the period when most of the Egyptian traditions have been radically changed by outside influences, much already lost, and even hieroglyphic writing being incomprehensible. The Wicca traditions take god/desses wholesale, give them new attributes, new powers that they never had, have the rituals in English, etc.

No one studies the Egyptian traditions from the texts, temples, or tombs in order to find out how it works. Except me. Perhaps that is because I believe in finding out about a tradition by getting it from the original sources. And a major part of the problem is that although there are a lot of books, they are for the most part, too general. To find out what the Egyptians practiced, how, why, when and by whom requires years of searching obscure journals, papers, translations of texts, excavation reports (which have illustrations, translations of what was excavated) of tombs, houses, temples, and how many people have the time, money, experience to do that? Almost no one. So everyone else makes it up or speculates about it. I am going to try to make up for this loss by publishing a series of books on the ancient Egyptian personal worship, and the Temple Priesthood. What was taught, how was it taught, who did they teach it to, who were the teachers, how were they qualified, where was it taught, what differences are there between personal worship at home and temple worship, etc.?

There was a note about religions borrowing elements from others and that it happened for millennia. Such is definitely not the case. Granted it is easy to find a few that did, Christianity, Islam, Roman. And granted it is easy to find more that borrowed some of its tradition, but let's look at a couple of those.

There is no evidence that the Ancient Egyptian religion came out from somewhere else. From pre-dynastic to the Middle Kingdom there were only one or two examples where borrowing took place, but in each and every case, they adopted the entire system. In fact in almost every case of a pagan religion part of another system, they almost invariably adopted the priesthood with it, or had the priesthood teach them, Or made it a part but separate from the main religion. This is totally different from today's pagans. Instead of being taught from the priesthood of the other religion or adopting the entire priesthood, they take bits and snatches that they don't understand and adopt it.

Now it is agreed by both Egyptologists, The Church of the Eternal Source (see Drawing Down the Moon), and many Hermeticists that in the Late Period of ancient Egypt, the priesthood not only started forgetting the important esoteric side of their own religion, but started adopting others bits and pieces, without the total integration that they practiced earlier. It resulted in an almost total breakdown of usefulness in practicing magic, mumbling now meaningless phrases, and effectiveness in their magic and rituals.

One can count numberless examples of just how much one can be effective when you only know a small part of the whole (kind of like driving a car for the first time when the only thing you know about is the trunk).

Also in ancient Egyptian, Hindu, Buddhism, and many American Indian religions (and paganism in the 1950-1970's) there was a belief that a symbol, if believed in by a large number of people over a large span of time, is far more effective than a symbol that is used by a small group over a short period of time. Does it not hold true that a magical object is imbued with more magic every time it is used?

Thus, then how effective can a system be if it is 20-30 years old, practiced by 500 people, using symbols that are either brand new or misunderstood? (Like using a red pentagram for bring forth the earth element; how less effective is it as opposed to a green one which has been used by millions of people for thousands of years?)

Occult philosophy by these groups and many others maintain that the more powerful an object is based on the formula: # of people using it + # of years in use + the ability of the individual to use it + the correctness in its use. The astral plane is exclusively made up by just this principle, and it's this plane where much of the magic is done.

The effectiveness of the individual to practice his magic or religion is also directly proportional to the abilities and effectiveness of his/her teacher, and the degree of success in achieving the goals in his/her training.

From: Mary Reyburn
On borrowing, syncretism is and was common among many religions, including Egyptians, as you note. It tends to occur most frequently in cultures with regular contact with different practices. One of the Sun Dances, I think it's the Cherokee, is supposed to be syncretic. Who they got it from escapes me, my anthro classes are practically history themselves by now! Selective borrowings are, as you note, tricky things. But, we would be poorer without it. And ceremonial magic aside, symbol use is more free-form than most of us would prefer. Not quite, words mean what I want them to mean, but symbols are much more personal than the "Official" correspondences. The "well-worn path" of symbol meaning is certainly helpful in some traditions, but is completely irrelevant to someone who is using symbols on a personal level. Although less potent magickally, religiously personal symbolism is much more potent than time-worn symbols. Besides, how else do new religions develop symbolism?

From: Domi O'Brien
In ADF ritual we specifically note that the more — and the more of us — that call upon the old gods the more they respond to our need — one is reminded of "the old gods only sleep, you know, although betrayed and slandered; they guarded us from every woe, and blessed each crop and fine herd —" and, oddly enough, Tinker Bell — if you believe in fairies — read DDW — we focus belief, and will.

From: Gary Ohlemiller
This is an interesting dichotomy I haven't heard much about before. One group seems to prefer the Bonewits/Parapsychological approach which holds that the power of a symbol comes from the strength of association it holds in the individual's unconscious. Mr. Poe seems to advocate a Jungian approach in which the archetype exists "objectively" and is waiting there to be used. Does anyone out there have enough practical experience to tell us which is more efficacious?
I sure don't.

From: Michael Poe
In reference to what is more effective or powerful, actually both together would be the most powerful of all. My little experience, such as it is, has been working in the area for 20 years, bring apprenticed to an Havasupi shaman, personal knowledge from four other systems, watching and working with three other shamans, and personal tours to sacred sites around the world. Go to a sacred site and see just how powerful it still is, like a huge untapped battery. Feel a talisman that was made and used 4,000 years ago, yet still has as much or more power than anything you have touched by a modern worker of almost any system. I gave a 4,500 year old scarab that hasn't been used since to a friend of mine who put it in a box. Two months later, when he opened the box to use it he found the box has been burned from the inside out. (although admittedly that scarab is an exception). I have found that both ways can work, but an old cultural symbol (in Jungian terms) is more in our subconscious as a type of universal symbol, and will be more powerful and last longer than a personal one.

Get the most magically powerful person you know, have him/her do a circle ritual in a square area, and go back a month later and see if you can find it by feeling for it. Go to an ancient sacred spot that hasn't been used for hundreds or thousands of years and feel its power. Which is greater? My bet goes to the ancient one. More use over more time.


There are some definite misconceptions expressed here on Alchemy. Alchemy is not about transmuting lead into gold (that was, at the most, a test on your elixir), it does not involve using electricity, it is not part of tantric.

One of the problems involved is that people get a tradition that they don't understand and misuse the term until it loses almost all of its original meaning.

Alchemy is a spiritual experience that is a combination of two things, the transmutation of the workers spirit with the transmutation of physical substances (which creates the Elixir of Life).

While in the broad sense that Alchemy is a transmutation, it has no part in Tantric.

The physical and metaphysical process has always been described in allegories, hence the confusion of work with metals.

In order to practice alchemy today, you need to read only about 2 or 3 good books on the subject

Gold of a Thousand Mornings is a non-fiction book describing alchemy by a man/wife team in France. It dwells on both the spiritual and physical aspects and describes the work that they did.

An Alchemists Handbook has a brief description of the meaning and the "Great Work" (as it is called), and gives you in great detail how to do the physical work.

In order for alchemy to work, you need to do both at the same time as you need self transformation to work in order for the physical transformation to work.

The chemical side of work delves mainly into herbs, and if you use herbs in your regular work, then you will have real use with alchemy.

In the chemical aspect, the herb's essence is extracted (the gold from the dross), as well as yourself (your essence is purified). To do so, you usually need chemical glassware such as a condenser, or soylent extractor. This is a typical operation when making perfume from flowers or making an herbal extraction. The main difference is that the extraction takes place with a magical bent to it. rituals are done during the extraction process, timing is essential (astrological, lunar, and solar, and seasonal timing) .

So, since you may already be familiar with blessing and consecration of magical tools, and putting power into them, a very similar thing is done to yourself (a human vessel) and your herbal product during the alchemical process.

Also, there are two existing alchemical schools, one in France, one in Utah (of all places!)

If you already use herbs in your other work, following this process will net you much more powerful herbal concoctions as well as a more powerful and spiritual self.

I myself use the process. One of the aspects in alchemy is that one gathers certain herbs, minerals to produce an elixir that will extend life (as one of it's benefits) but before ingesting it, an alchemist would sometimes test it by adding a pinch of it to lead, and if it turned into gold, then your elixir is finished and can be used.

However, turning lead into gold was never the end product for the work, but merely a test. You can make other useful herbal/concoctions without achieving the 'Elixir of Life.' Since alchemy is non-denominational, it can be used with practically any tradition.

The source of the word Alchemy has had a lot of discussion among alchemical writers and alchemists. Although chemy did eventually become chemistry, the origin of the word did not.

The most agreed upon definition of the term Alchemy is this: Al (arab word meaning the) Khemia; meaning Egypt, which comes from the ancient Egyptian word for Egypt meaning "black land" thus: The Black Land since Alchemy does originate in Egypt, it makes sense.

The first alchemical work is called the Emerald Tablet, written by Thoth, or Hermes Trismigistos.

The father of alchemy is Zoismos, an Egyptian.

The mother of alchemy is Marie, the Egyptian, who describes in her works the actual equipment used. (the only person who does!).


The Fellowship of Isis is the only group that I am aware of that worships only Isis and is not a Wiccan group. Their headquarters is on the British Isles but has many members in the US. They do, however, use almost exclusively late Dynastic and Greco-Roman Isis rituals, which many people believe are disbased and not well understood (true of most of the Egyptian traditions at that time).

The Church of the Eternal Source uses rituals from the Old to New Kingdom (I-XXIst. Dynasty) and includes Isis. It is a federation of Egyptian temples, so there are Priests of Horus, Thoth, Ptah, Priestesses of Bast, Sekhmet/Bast, Hathor and Isis. And, oh yes, a priest and priestess of Osiris. They are currently looking at an initiation plan based on ancient Egyptian sources to possibly adopt as their own.

If there is a group by the name that the person mentioned, it may be either a new Egyptian traditions group, or an eclectic Wiccan group.

Isis was never worshiped by Wiccans prior to the 1950's and should best be worshiped by people acquainted with the ancient Egyptian Traditions related to her. Isis went through many changes, adding more powers and attributes as time went on. She wasn't even called a Mother Goddess for the first 2,000 years of her worship.

Most people who don't know ancient Egyptian traditions don't get the response from Isis that they expect (or a totally different response). Isis is very powerful, but exacting. It's always best to know what power relates to which of her forms in order to invoke her.

One thing to remember. Isis belongs to several ancient Egyptian traditions. As such, you won't be aware of her powers and attributes unless you are familiar with the Egyptian traditions. For example, as an Enchantress, she is invoked with a special form in mind (holding specific objects, in specific positions, wearing specific clothes). Not to have that form in mind, according to ancient Egyptian tradition, is to negate your entire ritual, or to degrade it (it won't have the effect as much as if you did it the right way), or to have an effect entirely different. Isis, for one, has many powers and attributes, and many forms. Just invoking her in a different direction invokes a power you may not be aware of. As such she can appear to be both benign or terrible (she is one of the Dweller of the Door, or Threshold goddesses). Even during the Egyptian period, 4,000 BCE (predynastic) to 641 ad (the closing of her last temple) she went through many modifications and changes. She wasn't even known as a mother goddess for at least 1,500 years!

It's too bad that people borrow god/desses from traditions that they know little about, to use in ritual. If they knew the tradition better, their ritual would be better.

There is also an Isis heaven to astral project to, but again, in Egyptian tradition, you must know the way, the form to use to get there, otherwise you go to a false one. She also appears as an astral guide, but again, only assumes a specific form.

Unfortunately there is little written about how to actually practice Egyptian ritual (although the Church of the Eternal Source knows). That is a gap that I hope to fill one day, having spent over 30 years studying ancient Egypt, worked there for several years in the tombs and temples, and have the best resources available to me in the term of published and unpublished material. I am currently working on what could be several volumes on the Theory and Practice of the Ancient Egyptian Traditions (good title!)

Information On Bast from ancient Egyptian sources

Powers and Attributes of Bast:

  • Lady of the East (IVth Dynasty on)
  • Female Personification of Fire
  • The Light Bearer
  • Female power of Light, Heat, Sun, Fire, Mild Heat of the day and Year
  • Power of germination of seeds
  • Power of early Summer
  • Goddess of the Birth Chamber
  • Goddess of Full Moon
  • Goddess of Cats
  • Protection

Bast festivals occur in April and May in her temple at Bubastis, facing east.

The Greeks associated her with Diana.

Bast was also used to learn words of power to vanquish the powers of darkness (IVth Dynasty).

Bast attributes are also related to cats.

Bast had at least four different forms (and no breastplate related by another, more contemporary book)

From: Brandy Williams
Ref.: The Book of Goddess and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan. "She originated in the Nile delta, but by 930 B.C., the power of Bast was acknowledged by all Egyptians. At first she was a lion-goddess of sunset, symbolizing the fertilizing force of the sun's rays. Later her image grew tamer: she became a cat carrying the sun, or a cat-headed woman who bore on her breastplate the lion of her former self." Bast ruled pleasure and dancing, music and joy. At Bubastis ("House of Bast"), the center of her worship, great celebrations were held. Boatloads of worshipers — hundreds of thousands of them, Herodotus said — were greeted by pleasant flute melodies as they debarked for a worship service combined with a vast trade fair. Bast's followers believed that in return for this reverent celebration Bast bestowed both mental and physical health.

As a cat goddess of the moon she lit up the night, throwing light on things which would otherwise be concealed. Moon lights up a world hidden in darkness, and the cat gives us insight with her light of the under, or inner world. The Moon is the searcher, a seeker of Truth. Bast is known as the Lady of Truth. Beams of the moon point the way and a narrow path called a cat walk, usually called in Egyptian as the Middle Way or Path.

When a cat curls up with its head touching its tail, it forms a circle, symbol of eternity.

Bast also symbolizes sensuality, grace, coordination of movement.

Bubastis (town of Bast) also called Per-Bast, Pa-Bast, Pibeseth, Tell-Basta
Location: lower Egypt, northern kingdom and capital of the 18th nome or state, Am-Khent.
Time Period of Bubastis: IInd Dynasty to at least 640 ad.
IInd Dynasty: "in the reign of the 1st king, a chasm opened up and many people perished."
IV: Khufu (builder of the Great Pyramid) built here.
XXII: Libyans ruled Egypt here
640 ad: Bubastis still alive and worshiping cats here.

Temple of Bast on an island with only an entrance-way bridging it. There is also a Temple to Thoth, and a shrine to Temit.
Minor gods:
Temit: Lady of the Two Lands and Osiris: the thigh of Osiris is in a hidden chest at Netert.
Triad at Bubastis: Bast, Osiris, Heru-hekennu, and to a lesser extent: Nefer-tem.
Invoke the cat Bast to learn words of power to vanquish the powers of darkness
(IVth dynasty on)
Bast attributes related to cats;
refusal to take things over seriously
science of relaxation, never waste energy
accepts the nature of things, superb indifference to opinion,
refusal to be at beck and call insistence of complete freedom of expression
when a cat curls up with its head touching its tail, it
forms a circle, symbol of eternity
luxuriating sensuality, grace, coordination of movement

Egyptian cats are typically orange-brown, ginger and a gray tabby.

As a lioness, (her earliest forms), painted green, she personifies the Sun. As a cat, she has connections with the moon. Mother of lion god Ari-hes of Aphroditopolis, Mother of Sekhem, of Denderah

Bast is also considered to be the Soul of Isis.

Forms usually seen:

  1. Upright cat, holding a sistrum and aegis, surrounded by four protector cats.
  2. woman's body, head of lion or cat, holding sistrum and either a basket or an aegis (can hold uatchet)
  3. Aegis of Bast sometimes has a head of a cat crowned with solar disk and uraeus, emblems of Sekhmet.
  4. Lion headed woman, oldest form of Bast. In 5th Dynasty temple called, "Bastet, Lady of Ankh-Taui."

Also associated with:
Mut-Bast: personification of the moon in Thebes, she is a woman wearing horns on her head with a sun's disk between them. Mut-Bast is the counterpart of Amen-Ra-Temu-Khepera-Heru-Khuti Sekhmet, as a counter-part Assessor Thenemi (he who goes backwards) and who comes forth from Bast.
Assessor Basti

A good description of the Festival of Bast, called the Festival of Lights, has been described by various Greek and Roman writers.

The temple of Bast in Bubastis, while on an island, is lower than the rest of the city, and therefore, is the only temple that the people can see into the courtyard. Also there is a sacred grove of trees in the courtyard (the only one known of all temples in Egypt). At the festival of Lights, all light in the city is extinguished. then a new fire is made in the temple and the priests come out to light the torches of the people who then parade throughout the city to relight all the home fires. by the Greek/Roman period there was also a kind of sexual license at the time at the festival. Food and drink for all (which is typical of the temple festivals).

Speaking of cats! I had a request from Jennifer about Wadjet, the rearing cobra, sometimes lioness. Good observation, most people don't know that Wadjet is very occasionally depicted as a Cat. Here is the answer.

Wadjet, the cobra depicts two things: the real snake (in the proverbial papyrus grass) with it's dangerous forms and powers. And two, the Kundalini, or Serpent Fire of the human body coming out of the third eye! That's why the serpent is always on the crown or is the crown over the third eye. It's also symbolic of the sun. I know, you think that the Kundalini comes out of the top of your head, as Hindus would have you believe. Could be true, but in Egypt, when one works with Wadjet's fire, you direct the route to the third eye (the burning, purifying fire), while redirecting a lesser (gentle growing heat of the sun) to the top of your head (hence, the Lotus depicted on top of the head).

So, yes, different aspects of her nature. As depicted as Wadjet the cat, here is a dichotomy! Cats protect humans from snakes, so Wadjet is also invoked to protect humans from her very own physical manifestation, the deadly cobra. As depicted as a cat, it shows her protection from her very real counterpart, the asp. Asp and you shall receive!

Now as to relationships with Bast/Sekhmet/Mut. Think of fire and think of sun/moon. Think of opposing sections of the same thing (burning fire, gentle heat; light of day, dark of night) and you have some basic differences between Bast/Sekhmet. Have you seen the National Geographic special on cats: our pets and how they relate to the big cats. think of the attributes of the big cats and think of Sekhmet; think of the attributes of the domesticated cats (really, cats domesticate people) and think of Bast. The shared attributes of Bast And Sekhmet are the same as the shared attributes of big vs. little cats. Mut is a maternal cat, big or small. Sekhmet destroys, but she is also a healer Bast is playful, but also protective When the Christians decided to kill all the cats in Egypt in the 700's ad, they did so. Two years later, the Black Death came out of Egypt and devastated Christian Europe.

Was this revenge by Sekhmet and Bast onto the Christian population for destroying their physical symbols, the little kitties? Or was it because the amount of cats kept down the rat population enough that the Black Death (a rat flea borne disease) didn't come out until the decline of the cats? Or both?

A Blessing for the Dead

(To Bast)
Having worked with the High Priestess of Sekhmet-Bast-Ra (and taught most everything she knows), and member of the Egyptian temple federation, Church of the Eternal Source, I have the information you need.

Since you don't practice Egyptian traditions, instead of giving you a whole ritual, I will give you a hymn/prayer to Bast that is a Blessing for the Dead, that you can incorporate into your ritual, plus hints. Bast is a goddess for the Sun and the Moon, but for the dead Sunset is the best time; Night comes second, sunrise third, and daylight comes in fourth for ritual for this.

Face the West, setting sun (or if not at sunset, either the moon or the sun depending on you doing it in the day or night time.

If you have an oil lamp lit it; if not use white candles, and a little votive candle. Bless the two white ones to Bast, the votive to the dead cat.

Meditate upon the cats attributes; able to see at night, intelligent, quick, independent, very maternal, luxury minded and sensual. (if you have a cat, invite her in your circle).

Bast nefer dy ankh
Beautiful Bast giving Life,

A Bast, shu asenu
Hail Bast, in visible form, casting light into the darkness

sesept em kekui,

I have come before you, the path is opened,
the earth is at peace.

i kua ser-ten, uat sesh-tha, ta em hetep.

(Egyptian pronunciation is optional, but in ancient Egypt was imperative to speak the language to create the sounds to get the response.)

O Great goddess, Bast,
Soul of Isis,
Heart of the Sun-hear my call.
Enter now this consecrated shrine (or circle)
Make Thy presence known to me.

(envision the dead cat)
Aid thy servant in reaching the source of all things,
Guide thy servant's steps on the true path
Answer your physical manifestation's soul's desire for Thou.
Blessed be Bast,
Who gathers her children into life everlasting.
Blessed be Bast,
The Beloved of Bast has gone to the Horizon,
Your physical manifestation lives now only in the sunset.
May it's ka endure and it's shadow seek the light.

The power of Bast protects her,
Shut en Bast sau.

From: Pete Stapleton
Michael Poe, I knew if I posted here i would find someone who could help me resolve some of problems regarding the failure of certain historical astrological techniques. The Egyptian calendar I was referring to was the 30 day lunar calendar — the one introduced to the Romans. To my knowledge there has never been an Egyptian Solar Calendar. I'm sure I must have misunderstood your post — or you may have confused my reference. So we will both relate to the same calendar — I refer to the 360 day lunar Calendar composed of twelve 30 day lunar months and with the extra five days added on each year. This was the calendar discussed at the meeting called to discuss what to do with the extra five days of the year — which resulted in the Decree of Canopious — I think if was first published about 250 BC or thereabouts — hope this helps. I am impressed with your EZ cosmos program which shows the sky 4,117 BC to 10,000 AD — how delightful for you. I wonder if you could tell me how such a program handled the calculation past 500 BC — to my knowledge even Ptolemy's eclipse tables only go back to about 580 BC — which suggests some problems with calculations beyond that date — but I'm certain you must have taken this factor into account — so could you help me understand what they are? Certainly the meeting to account for the extra five days of the year at that time must have been the reason why there is not any contiguous record extant in the entire world past 580 BC. I would appreciate your help here. Then next area where you have set me straight is the day starting with sunrise at that time. I know the marking stars and the water clocks of that era all showed the day starting with Sun set — but certainly you have a better grip of the details and can explain why all the watchers began their vigil and day at sunset.

I do think the evidence points very definitely toward the source of the constellational names being that of river based culture where there was a great inundation once a year — but since you make the point that the Egyptians at that time didn't have the present names, then what did they have — or what other river based culture was there where there was a flood of the dimensions of the Nile river within the Nile valley. The zodiac at one time on the ceiling of the Temple of Dendrah has to have been painted about 100 CE and the constellational names as we use them today were in existence much before that time. I am also a little confused about your reference to Sign as being distinct from Constellations. There never was a zodiac of Signs prior to the 8th century CE. All previous reference were to the star spangled constellations — each precisely 30 degrees in length — each measured by a precise 30-day lunation — again I refer you to the problem of what to do with the extra five days of the year meeting. It is my understanding that the Kings list and the dynasty lists are in complete disarray — so how do you know these astronomical texts you mention relate to the 18th dynasty. Also, I do believe the Pleiades were referred to as the seven sisters in ancient Egypt — but of course I will bow to superior knowledge — I wonder if you could cite the reference. As far as being the goddess of Fate and Fortune — the influence of this particular pattern was then and is now considered quit negative — bad luck.

From: Michael Poe
You are partially out of my league except for the Egyptian lunar calendar, which was not made up of 30 days months, but 28 day months. Of course since the Egyptians was made up of 42 states, two kingdoms, and at least 13-14 traditions, there was more than one calendar. there was one based on the Sothic year (when Sirius sets just before the sun rises, which is a 365 day solar calendar; a Lunar calendar of 28 day months (which eventually coincided with the solar during the "Sothic" cycle), a 260 day calendar not based on any aspect of the sky, a solar 360 day calendar with five "intercalerary" days. Their lunar calendar was made up of seven day weeks, while the solar had 10 day weeks. Oddly enough (or perhaps not so oddly), the solar calendar was the civil calendar for working, the lunar calendar was for the farmers.

My EZ Cosmos program, which shows the sky from anywhere on earth from 4,117 BCE to 10,000 CE, can give me the beginning Sothic year during ancient Egypt. It gave me the date of the 1st day of the 1st use of the Sothic calendar (which also coincided with the lunar calendar that year). A friend of mine did an astrology chart that showed a most intriguing configuration for that time.

In case you're wondering, the year always starts on sunup, so the date was sun up at Memphis, Egypt at a certain day in July, in a certain year. Of course the Egyptians didn't, at the time, have the same zodiac names, although they recognized the constellations. The first zodiac of the common signs (or today's signs) in Egypt were done in the temple of Denderah (temple of Hathor), a beautiful work on the ceiling. Astronomy played a big part in ancient Egypt, notice the astronomical texts of the 18th dynasty.

In case you are interested, Pleides was called the seven Hathors in ancient Egypt, and were considered the goddesses of fate and fortune.

The Temple of Ta At Heliopolis

The Temple of Ra in Heliopolis as described by Herodutus. Probably the largest temple in the world, it was about 2/3 of a mile long, and a ¼ of a mile in width.

The courtyard was described as made with polished black basalt stones, so polished that it reflected the stars above and made it look like one was walking among the stars. In the middle of the courtyard was a full size tree, its trunk and branches made with Lapis Lazuli, its leaves made with Turquoise! No doubt a most impressive courtyard!

The entire temple is now under the suburb of Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo. A small portion was uncovered three years ago, and showed the black basaltic paving stones of the courtyard.

Tarot Symbolism

From: Michael Poe
Since the tarot is not related to any Hindu philosophy, I don't, and neither do the earlier tarot references, refer to their philosophy to the symbolism, which is generally Hermetic (Hermetic is derived from Hebrew, Christian, Greek, and Egyptian). In hermeticism the eye is also symbolic of the Eye of Horus, the Egyptian Hawk god, who soars over the earth seeing everything that happens. White, red and black also refer to Egyptian garments worn by Initiates at least as early as the Greco-Roman period and represents some-thing completely different than the Hindu. White is the undergarment because it symbolizes the purified; the first garment put on after the initiate bathes in the sacred lake. The red lining is for the Inundation of the Nile, or potential life giving. and Black is symbolic of the black earth of Egypt, the life, manifested.

In the Waite deck, the dog also represents God, which it is if spelled backward, nipping the initiate along the path, but in ancient Egypt it is Anubis, the Guide and Guardian of the Initiate. Right hand and left hand have always in Hermeticism been associated with the Sun (right) and Moon (left), with the symbolism and meanings associated with both (and corresponds to what was previously noted)

Actually, all of the early Tarot decks, from the very first found in Italy up to the 1970's, reflect Hermeticism, and probably should be interpreted that way.

However, currently there are so many different types of variations that interpretations of elements may need to be referenced to a particular deck. Hence, although, taking the Waite deck in view, the Hindu interpretation of the clothes changes the meaning from the original meaning of the card.

Symbolism of the tarot is not universal. For example, black represents death (as a color) in Hermeticism, the tarot, and western civilization; but in eastern civilization black represent life, and white represents death. clearly a problem there!

Skeletons generally represent death or afterlife to western civilization, but to some native American tribes and other people, it represents power and not death! Hence, not every symbol in the Tarot is universal or has a universal meaning. The tarot cards in general, like Jungian's archetypes, are universal, but the individual symbols are not.

Another example: the lightning hitting the pyramid and the person falling off has no meaning with civilizations that don't have pyramids, and little to most that do. However, did you know that the pyramid in ancient Egypt represented the obelisk, which symbolizes the first ray of light (lightening) striking Earth? And that the pyramid, represents the top of the obelisk, that the obelisk were lightning rods? Pyramid in ancient Egyptian language means "Place to Ascend", whereas the card shows the person falling off after being struck by the first ray of light!

Now, as to the left/right hand depictions. Of course in the earlier decks the Magician does not hold all four elements, but are located on the table.

The Ace of cups, representing water, is not feminine in ancient Egypt; it is either masculine or both. Wands are neuter (the word for wand is neither male or female), earth can be either male or female, and air is male (while heaven is female). In fact the variety of male, female, neutral of the elements vary greatly in shamanistic religions of the Native Americans. But it is Hermeticism, which combines the Hebrew, Christian (more accurately Gnostic/Coptic), Egyptian and Greek, than assigns our present meanings to the four elements and suits.

Since the earliest deck is Italian of the 14-15th century, the major influence would have been Hermeticism, not Hindu or other eastern religion. Bernard Bromage builds a decent case for Egyptian origin, which I explored in previous notes (did you see it, the symbols were so close that there had to be an influence). One may expect some Arab/Islamic influence (the Crusades were over), but the interest in Greek/Roman art and writers were great at that time.

Mixed Pantheons, Etc.

Pan is not Bacchus, or the great horned god of Europe.

Despite the eclectic mind of today's Wiccan, that is of associating all male gods with each other and all female gods with each other, is a disservice to both the god/dess and to the tradition.

Ancient Egyptian traditions (of which there were a dozen or more) taught that you don't mix gods and goddesses indiscriminately, even if they do share some attributes or powers. Their "High Concept" was that even any one god/dess has several powers and to invoke specific powers required the knowledge of what sacred symbols are associated with that power, even if he/she (the god/dess) should be sitting down or standing up, the ritual done in daylight or nighttime. Many shamastic religions don't mix and match their god/desses, don't do sun god/desses at night and vice versa. The thoughts or reasons behind it is that mixing and matching causes:

  • The ritual will not be as effective.
  • The ritual may not be effective.
  • The ritual or the residue afterward will have powers that weren't intentioned by the person, but was part and parcel to the god/dess invoked.
  • The ritual will backfire.
  • The ritual will have residue that will be uncomfortable.
  • It's warps the lines of power (more shamanistic thinking than Egyptian, who says that it warps the Sa, which translates as spiritual power).

Many shamanistic religions do not ground their power after the ritual (after all, it usually is being held at a sacred spot). They feel that either because the power will be contained at the power spot, or the powers you invoked were clear enough not to leave a side effect. Still, I am not proposing to not ground yourself afterward.

So, what I do propose is to not try to associate one god/dess with another. None of them will have the exact same attributes or powers. And invoking Pan and Bacchus at an Egyptian temple, or Pan at Stonehenge is just as bad as invoking Gabriel at the Great Pyramid! It won't work, you won't get the power from the spot you want, only your own, or negative power.

Isis, for instance is considered by most Wiccan's as one of the Great Mother Goddesses. yet in ancient Egypt, out of her 3,000 year history, most of the time she was not known as a Mother Goddesses.

At the Church of the Eternal Source (federation of Egyptian temples) Isis Priest/esses rarely held out for very long. All kind of terrible things generally happened to them. The main reason is that all of them used part of Isis's powers, and would not work, or refused to recognize her other powers. Eventually though, they seeped in anyway and to their detriment. Had they recognized all of her powers in the first place, things might have been different.

Perhaps your basic misconception is that all goddesses represent the same forces; they don't; and neither do the gods.

Yes, basically there is one great force that encompasses both male and female powers. This basic force, as it filters down, differentiates into different types of forces, and these forces are the god/desses that we know.

Isis doesn't have the same powers as Sekhmet or Hathor or Bast. they may share some of the powers, but they have powers unique to them. Kind of like Leonardo De Vinci knowing a lot about everything, but Cellini was an excellent goldsmith, Van Gogh a painter, Perot a businessman.

Hence, not all goddesses are the same, nor do they have the same powers.

You might consider it like rivers and oceans in reverse. The ocean has all the attributes, and it drains it attributes into separate rivers (some swift, some calm, some wide, some narrow, some short, some long.

In Egypt the ultimate deity was called "Neter", which translates as "Divine Principle" and the work is neuter, having both male and female principles within. The next in order is a male neter and a neteriat, a god and a goddess. Below that comes numerous god/ desses which more specific powers and attributes.

Now the question is, where these receptacles of specific powers invented by mankind or higher powers? In the long run, it doesn't matter as long as they work.

Patheonists generally believe that there was a highest deity, followed by two (male and female), followed by others down to the spirits of earth, air, fire and water.

If you want to make use of a specific power, you should go to a specific spirit or god/dess who has that power. You may not have a great success with one who only has some of it, or is so undefined or has so many other powers that it may get a little lost.

If you want spicy food, don't go with a mole sauce, go for a Jalapeno sauce.

Also it seems that the further away from the highest deity to get, the closer and more responsive it is to you.

You may find that you get a better response with a fire ritual when using a fire elemental than of Sekhmet, and even less than using Amon (a solar god).

The Ankh

Unfortunately the entry for "Ankh" in Barbara Walker's "Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" got just about everything wrong. The ankh is not evolved from an ancient symbol of the Goddess in Libya and Phoenicia; the narrow triangle surmounted by a crossbar and a round or oval head in both Libya and Phoenic evolved long after the standard Egyptian ankh was made. In fact, it wasn't until after the ancient Egyptians either conquered or did extensive trading with both areas did their symbols evolve. Well, maybe the book didn't get it all wrong. It is a symbol for life (although not universal, for universal means that it was used universally or all over the world, and it isn't). It is true that both gods and goddesses in ancient Egypt held it, but they never presented it to kings and the people, the scenes show the god/dess holding it to the person's lips or head (which means bestowing life, and was not a present). the part about the Christians is true, and it's true that the ankh is the hieroglyph for the word "life", and is used in a common saying "Life, Health, Strength."

But the ancient Egyptians never said that the ankh represented the union of male and female sexual symbols (which were quite different symbols and bore no relation to the ankh, or resemblance to it). It was not the "Key of the Nile" (except maybe it was mentioned by the Greeks, who got most everything wrong about Egypt), nor is there any sacred marriage between God and Goddess taking place at the source of the Nile before the flood. In fact, in all of the Egyptian mythologies there is not one mention of any God and Goddess being married at the source of the Nile. The copts and the Gnostics both used the Ankh or Crux Ansate (Coptic word) before the 5th century ad, and both are Christian (well, an argument can be made about the Gnostics being Christians).The question is then: what did the ancient Egyptians consider the ankh representation? There are two ancient Egyptian references to the ankh representation, and both agree.

The round oval or loop represented the Sun rising above, but not yet above the horizon; in the desert that makes the Sun elongate next to the horizon, making a loop like affair. The crossbar represents the horizon.

The vertical section below the crossbar is the "Path of the Sun", which would be the light casting a path across the Nile. Hence, the Ankh represents Life because it represents the Path across the Nile (life blood of Egypt, but oddly enough the Nile is either male or hermaphrodite) past the horizon to the Sun (which, depending on the traditions of Egypt can be either male or female, but usually male).

The most ancient ankhs cross bar was actually the symbol of the two mountains of sunrise and sunset (life and death, east and west), and also consisted of papyrus (or some other plant tied together). Taken as the two mountains, then the ankh represents the path of birth, life, and death. It never had male or female attributes, but as the path of birth, life and death, represents both.

Co-Partnership in Ancient Egypt

The goddess dominated group seem to be the most outspoken in the BBS, and it's a good thing that this particular subject was broached, as all the co-partner groups have come out (and alleviated the possible false impression that Wicca was just goddess oriented to those who are new).

Horned gods in Egypt include Amon, Menthu, Serapis, Sokar.

Since at the inception of ancient Egypt, 42 different societies were involved in the consolidation of the kingdom (later to become nomes or states), and these societies were patrilineal or matrilineal, accommodation had to be made for both, so laws were passed making male and females equal. It was the 2nd King of the 1st Dynasty (around 3,070 BCE) that passed a law that women could rule Egypt.

Here they are, with the dynasties that they belonged.

  1. Ist Dyn. Merneith
  2. " Horneith
  3. IV " Henutsen
  4. V " Inty
  5. VI " Ankhsenmerira
  6. " Nitrokris (Noblest and Loveliest)
  7. VII queen, name unknown
  8. VII queen, name unknown
  9. XII Sebek-neferu-Ra
  10. XIII Aufna
  11. XVIII Hatshepsut
  12. Ptolemiac Period Cleopatra II
  13. " " Cleopatra III
  14. " " Cleopatra VII (the famous one)

In the high magic section of ancient Egypt (the temples and their staff), in the temples to Gods the male priesthood predominated. Conversely in the temples to the Goddesses the female priesthood predominated (yet you still find male and females in both). Since many of the groups of gods in the cities were triads (male, female, off-spring), there were rituals to each separately, and rituals for both. Many times the god was worshiped in the day, the goddess at night, but of course, in Egypt, where many traditions did their own thing, sometimes it was reversed. In others, such as the city of Memphis, the female was the Sun, the male god was the moon or something else.

Now as to magic and worship within the family and village. this is the part that is closest in tone to Wicca, so those of you into Wicca may find this interesting (especially as this is a little explored area even within Egyptology!). All families had a family shrine. Who presided over the shrine was usually determined by whether any in the family was an initiated priest/priestess. If none were, the eldest son usually presided (but again, there were many exceptions, in states where goddesses predominated, it was the eldest daughter). The orientation of the family life (farmer, sailor, trader, etc) determined the chief god/dess. A farmer's family usually had Osiris and Isis and co-partners; a healers, Sekhmet and Thoth.

In villages, where there were no temples, then there were groups of interested people who belonged to a group, more formal than the family group, less formal than a temple, and was headed by an initiated priest/ess. Hence, in a village where there may be four initiated people, there usually would be four groups. For example, in a suburb of Hermopolis state there was a male healer of Thoth, a female healer of Sekhmet, a priest of Thoth, and a Priestess of Isis. Hence, there was a healing group, a female oriented (emphasis on midwife types) group, a divination group, and a family group (Isis). Some people belonged to several groups. All groups also worshiped other god/dess besides the chief one, and even in Isis, Osiris, during part of the year, had more emphasis than Isis. The Isis group did their magical thing in a sacred grove (another similarity, as sacred groves were important).

Many families had dual shrines, with eldest son leading the god rituals, and eldest daughter leading the goddess, and neither predominated. In fact, god and goddess were considered essential, each predominate in their powers, but always complementing each other.

In the big temples, there was a lot of god/dess images going on visits to their spouses, and once a year, all of the god/desses journeyed down the Nile to the main temple.

There is a book called Mythological Papyrus that has exact copies of the initiations of both priests and priestesses of various god/desses of the 21st Dynasty. All involved astral journeys of some sort according to their traditions.

For those who are really into goddess worship you will be pleased to know that the last operating temple of Egypt was the Temple of Isis at Philae before it was closed by the Christians in the late 5th/early 6th century, however people continued coming for 100 years later, despite the Islamic conquest over the Christians in Egypt during that century.


Hatshepsut is well known because the next Pharaoh became famous and his monuments (and those of hers that he defaced) are still in existence.

In case you, or anyone else is interested, and especially if you are planning on a trip to Egypt in the future, Queen Henutsen, also called Isis, Mistress of the Pyramids and wife of Khufu (or Cheops) is sometimes seen in a white robe flittering (if that is a correct term) around the Great Pyramids and the other pyramids. The Egyptians raised Henut-sen to the status of a Goddess and shrines were built for her. If you visit the pyramids, give an offering or a prayer to her, for she is the Mistress of the Pyramids and Guardian thereof. In ancient Egypt, to say the name of a person who is deceased is to make them live forever in heaven.

By the way, other ruling queens were later elevated to Goddesshood, Nitrokris, Merneith, Hatshepsut.

If one looks carefully at the legends (also the sources and time periods of each legend) concerning Isis, one is led to the conclusion that there were indeed, two Isis's. There was Isis, the Goddess worshiped in the Predynastic period, and there was Isis, the Queen, who eventually merged with the goddess to our presently known Isis.

The early stories of Isis's, shows a definite mythology of Isis the goddess, and a historical treatment of Isis the queen. Can it be, you ask? Yes. Predynastic and early Dynastic rulers had very short names, many of them named after their local gods. There was a predynastic king of Upper Egypt called Aher, named after Anher, the God of War. There are other examples, and everyone knows that later kings still incorporated God/desses names into their own names.

Perhaps then the Contendings of Horus and Set, which is a tale of Osiris the King and Isis the Queen battling their brother Set, between the two kingdoms is actually a revised version of 2 brothers vying to unite the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt in predynastic times, with the names of the King and Queen of Upper Egypt being Osiris and Isis (or a close version thereof), versus Set of Lower Egypt (or a version thereof). It is interesting to note that up until the 7th Dynasty, the Egyptians reported to have known exactly where the tomb of King Osiris was in Abydos, and regularly put offerings there. during the 2nd Intermediate period (civil wars abounded), this knowledge was lost, and another tomb was misidentified as the tomb of Osiris.

Therefore, if indeed, as the ancient Egyptians insist, that there was indeed a real Osiris, then it follows that there was an Isis that lived and breathed.

The canonization of people in ancient Egypt into a form of saints or even gods are as old as predynastic times and existed all the way through to Cleopatra VII, last ruler of Egypt. There are famous women who were not rulers who were thus canonized.

If you want to read more about Osiris, I suggest you read:
Henri Frankfort: Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
E. Wallis Budge: Osiris (not great, but comprehensive)
W. Faulkner: The Egyptian Book of the Dead
Rundle: Ancient Egyptian Religion
Sigmund Morenz: Ancient Egyptian Religion
Klaus Baier: Osiris, His Tomb in Abydos (article in the French Institute of Archeology of Cairo, if you read French).

Have you gotten a newsletter in May? The CES is currently undergoing a restructuring, there should be 4 newsletters and 1 to 2 Khepera (journals) per year. I will be contributing to both. In past newsletters I have contributed some spells, rituals, and many hymns that have been translated from temple walls or papyri or osteraca. I will be doing more extensive articles for the magazine, like one that will be on the metaphysical parts of man in ancient Egypt. Much of the material are extracts from my Magnum Opus. 90% of it is on paper as notes, and 1st drafts. Only 10% currently on computer, and that is where the future time will go. As putting it on computer, the notes will become 1st drafts; the 1st drafts will become more finished and polished to the 2nd draft stage (with additional notes added in; isn't computers a wonderful tool; insert note between sentences or add a paragraph without having to retype the entire page!). The 3rd and probable final draft will be adding last notes, final polishing, footnote, indexing, and grammar and sentence checking. The Rituals, hymns, spells, blessings, consecrations, 4 directional rituals, initiations are complete on paper, with about 10% of that on computer. Basically all of this is going into a data base, so cross referencing can be done. Although it may not be needed (but you may want to think about doing it) in Wicca, in Egyptian it is essential because of the traditions and large time frame involved.

Type: Blessing, Consecration, astral projection, mantras (yes, even mantras in Egypt).

Main God/dess or Goddess: Main goddess invoked, plus any others, also there are some generic rites.

Traditions: Identifies the different traditions this particular ritual comes from.

Source: Where did I acquire this? Much is from translations from published books (like Excavations at Abydos by Petrie (translations of hymns on temple walls), or from the French Institute of Archeology in Cairo.

Time Period: Important occasionally because the god/dess powers and attributes changed over time.

Form: What does the god/dess look like, stand/sit, hold during this spell/ritual. Visualizing one form of Isis that naturally invokes one set of specific powers, but using a ritual that invokes another set of powers creates conflict, and at best, won't be effective, and at worst, down right dangerous.

Corresponding Codes: Since most Egyptian rituals are composed (as are Wicca) of elements, such as drawing the circle, consecration, blessing, hymns, etc.; in Egypt they were given to the individual in parts. The individual was already trained on how to put the parts together. Hence, he or she may have 5-6 ways to invoke the 4 directions, using three sets of god/desses. He/she may also have ten blessings, 20 hymns, etc. to different gods/goddesses. He has to know (like an alchemist) how to successfully match the parts together to make a successful whole.

Recommendations on Books on Ancient Egypt and It's Practices

Priests of Ancient Egypt: Serge Sauron (last word is probably misspelled.)
Egyptian Religion: by Morenz
Ancient Egyptian Thought and Culture: Henri Frankfort
Egyptian Temples: by Margaret Murray
Isis in the Greco-Roman World: probably by Michael Hoffman.

Michael Poe's Egyptian Reading List

Compiled by Lady Lyn DenElder Black

Ancient Egypt Thought & Culture, Henri Frankfort
Ancient Egyptian Literature, Miriam Lichtheim 3 vol. set
Ancient Egyptians, A. Rosalie David
Egyptian Astronomical Texts, 3 vol. Neugebauer & Richard Parker..astrology/astronomy
Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Mercer, SAB vocabulary & exercises
Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Faulkner
Egyptian Reading, deBuck, Middle Egypt texts, exercises
Egyptian Religion, Sigmund Morenz
Egyptian Temples, Serge Sauneron
Egyptian Temples, Margaret Murray
Isis in the Greco-Roman World, Michael Hoffman
Origins of the Zodiac, Rupert Gleadow, astronomy/astrology
Priests of Ancient Egypt, Serge Sauneron
Rise & Fall of the Middle Kingdom, H.E.Winlock
anything by Henri Frankfort

There are some more specific books out, one on Thoth, one on Hathor, one on Imhotep, and a couple of others. The most interesting ones not on the list are also long out of print; The Coffin Texts (XI-XII Dynasty) of about 1,200 rituals and spells. The Pyramid Texts (IV-VI Dynasties) of about 700 rituals and spells, The Harris Magickal Papyrus, whose English edition runs around $1,700 or more, assuming you can find one. I finally found a German and perhaps a French translation and have a friend whose roommate reads both. The Harris Magical Papyrus is considered the most important magickal papyrus ever found. I believe that Michael Grant is the author of Isis in the Greco-Roman world, but will check up on that.

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