It’s an exciting time in Egyptology for mystics and magicians. Now more than ever, the interested amateur has a good chance of accurately unpicking the gnomic imagery and allusions of the Ancient Egyptian mystics—and thereby successfully visiting their headspace.
Of course, mystics and magicians have been doing inner plane archaeology for centuries. (For details on getting your own astral bullwhip and fedora, see the Quareia course.) But now—wonderfully—the Egyptological scholarly consensus is starting to catch up with our magical spelunkings.
We can happily pat ourselves on the back when an Egyptologist identifies a magical pattern in Ancient Egyptian religious art which we have long known to have been there, despite until-recently-received scholarly wisdom. For instance the south-facing four-directional pattern, its extreme continuity over the millennia, and its definite presence in Egyptian religious art. (Bomhard 2012, pp.117–124: see Further Reading, below.)
“Blue stains? You’ve been swallowing some shit, mate!”
Before Egyptologists could interpret mystical Egyptian texts mystically, and know that such an interpretation was merited, their understanding of the Egyptian language had to advance a great deal. This understanding didn’t really reach critical mass until the late twentieth century. But then we had an outpouring of new interpretations of Egyptian religious writings—and a generation of Egyptologists who really took Egyptian religion seriously. Today’s Egyptologists are hyper-aware of its philosophical integrity, complexity, and maturity, and respect it even though they do not share its beliefs—though with some of them, I do wonder…
Yesterday I went to the British Museum to see the Sunken Cities exhibition. (If you can, do yourself a favour and go. Read Plutarch’s Isis and Osiris first, as he details the exact theological phase of the Egyptian religion that the exhibition covers.)
The exhibition shop was selling the seventh monograph of the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology, The Decree of Saïs: The Stelae of Thonis-Heracleion and Naukratis, by Anne-Sophie von Bomhard. I flicked through it, wondering if it had anything of use to my researches.
My jaw hit the floor…
Now, my book is developing a huge bulge in its section on Creation. At the moment that piece of the puzzle runs to four chapters and about seventy pages. I may be able to edit it down a bit, but it’s not even half complete. And recently I reached an impasse. Gaps had opened up in my exposition, gaps I couldn’t fill with hard evidence. I was pretty sure I knew what went in the gaps, but I lacked both the concrete examples and mainstream Egyptological support for my interpretations. Both are very important for my book: it has been made absolutely clear to me that the only inner observations I am to include are those made by Ancient Egyptian priests. I’m to curate their work, not to supply my own.
Cut back to the BM, and my slack-jawed amazement at Anne-Sophie von Bomhard’s monograph. Which filled all the gaps in my Creation chapters. Every single one.
The double uraei—creative and destructive eyes—and how they fit into the four-directional pattern? Check.
The directional attributes of Nut with the cross-quarters? Check.
Confusions with whether the Ogdoad go inside or outside of Creation? Check.
And several others…
Von Bomhard’s very recent monograph, published in 2012, has effectively plugged all the leaks in my Creation chapters. The remaining work for the Creation section is tracking down plenty of examples from primary sources, and laying a very clear trail for the reader to navigate their way through the necessary twists and turns.
Von Bomhard discuses the arrangement of the texts and figures depicted on the Decree of Sais, and the possible symbolism behind them. The bulk of the text is occupied by a careful transliteration and translation of the text, followed by an exhaustive bibliography, an index of words discussed, a synoptic overview of orthographic and figurative variations, and an index of Egyptian words.
Contains an English translation of Plutarch’s Isis and Osiris, side-by-side with the original Greek. Also contains The E at Delphi, The Oracles at Delphi, and Obsolescence of Oracles.