May, 2006

 

Mythic Prelude:

 

The Bull of His Mother

 

Welcome again to the lusty, juicy month of May, when the flowers bloom, the trees leaf out, the students daydream out the window, the lambs, the birds and the bees frolic, the young man's fancy and the young woman's too turn to love less lightly than the poet claimed, and the Bull is in clover in the Venus-ruled month of Taurus. The month of mid-Spring is always such a heady, yet urgent, celebration of love that this year, as last year, the May UFC is devoted to the Goddess of Love and her domain. Or, more precisely, to love's netert: that is, the Universal Soul as we see it here in the visible realm in forms that look feminine to us because we observe in them the powers and qualities of wisdom and loyalty, nurturance and compassion, ferocity and protectiveness and love that women share with the females of other species in nature, the closest word in our language to neter (pronounced "knitter").

The ancient Nile culture of Khemit did not use this word to mean "god." Rather, Khemitians used it to suggest what the people felt before they wrote or even spoke: that here, in the falcon and the vulture, the lioness and the serpent, the frog and the scorpion, even the crocodile and the baboon, we are witnessing a power that is purer and stronger that what we have -- or at least what we have now. If we truly believe in human possibilities, then we trust that we can in fact gain what the neters have. We can see with the hawk's vision. A human mother can fight to defend her young as bravely as a vulture does. Men and women may love and find the truth just as an ibis seeks pure water. Thus the neters embody those abilities that we share with the Universal Source of our being, and that we can awaken and use if we know we have them and we dare to own them.

In this sense the neters, the very idea of them, is radically empowering, suggesting that it is our human responsibility not to obey or submit to what some priest or book says is "God's will," but rather to grow and evolve, to learn so much that in the end we have to teach before we explode from the inner pressure of what we have to share and give, to challenge ourselves far more fiercely than we challenge any mere badge or robe or belief.

It is no wonder that at this time, when awakening human beings everywhere sense more keenly than we ever have the capacities we share, and our duty to join in using them, that the world's eyes are pulled more irresistibly toward Khemit, toward the neters, toward the lost wisdoms that are being found again along the Nile when the world most needs them. For more on these terms, which we will use from now on in these pages instead of the inaccurate "Egypt" and "gods," please see the April UFC. Like this month's prelude, last month's also uses words from the ancient suf language because these words capture, as well as words can, the actual sounds that the indigenous African people of the Nile valley used. They are the working vocabulary of the Khemitian wisdom keeper Abd'el Hakim Awyan, whose teachings fill the UFC's Mythic Preludes for April through July because they are the topics of his North American lectures in June and July, 2006.

Our focus this month is The Bull of His Mother, the Khemitian matriarchy, and the true meaning of the symbols we see in images of the "king," or "pharaoh." Some of his usual regalia appear at left: the red and white "double crown" with its curious spiral curling from the front, the vulture -- more about her soon -- flying overhead, and that thing behind the figure's rear leg that looks strangely
like a tail because that's what it is. It's a bull's tail, and it identifies the one who wears it as the Hor, the Bull of His Mother, the male who is accorded special dignity and honor because the mother netert, the nurturer and protectress who is responsible for the life and abundance of the land, affirms that he is the one who is worthy, who can be trusted to care for her planet and her people. The point of his youth is to be ready for the moment shown here when he inhales the force of love from the lotus held by the falcon Hor -- not "Horus" --
and becomes one with the true spiritual warrior who embodies the best masculine qualities of courage and service, self-sacrifice and devotion, protectiveness and mercy.

The young hero does not become the Hor because he had any inherent right to the role, or because he's born into the right bloodline, or least of all because he's male. These delusions and ego tricks would arrive much later, during the male-dominated Age of Aries (c. 2,300 - 100 BC). In the preceding Age of Taurus (c. 4,500 - 2,300 BC), on the other hand, the shape of cultures everywhere was matriarchal, rooted in the supreme value of reverence for the sacred feminine as the stream of renewal and continuity whose health bears the promise of new life. Long before "caring for the cow" became a Taoist metaphor for spiritual practice, ancient peoples understood that while the Bull has the muscle, the Cow has the womb. Thus the ancient Khemitian and Vedic peoples would likely have thought it strange that we name the second sign of the western zodiac, and the Great Age linked with it, for Taurus the Bull. They would likely have chosen as a better symbol of mid-Spring, and the resurgence of life, the one without whom there is no Bull: the Cow, the endlessly fertile woman -- literally the womb-man -- of her kind.

This is how the ancient people of Khemit saw her, in this famous image from the mammisi, or birth chapel, in the energy center (not "temple") of Aset -- less accurately, Isis -- at what is usually called by its Greek name Philae. This word came from the much more ancient suf word Pilak. It means "the other end," that is, the lunar, feminine energy pole of the country, just as Giza is the solar, masculine pole. Aset has just given birth to Hor, and, under the protection of Djehuti (Thoth) and Amon, is hiding from the murderous intent of Set, lord of chaos and destruction. In one of our planet's primal myths, Set the merciless is out to slay new life at the earliest possible opportunity long before Moses -- himself a
scion of the Khemitian high priesthood -- has to be hidden in the bulrushes, and longer still before Mary and Joseph have to save the baby Jesus from King Herod by fleeing to -- where else? -- the place that they knew by its newer Greek name, Egypt.

The picture is loaded with matriarchal symbolism. Mother and child are seated at the river bank, where the water element of Aset meets the earth element of her husband Asar (aka Osiris) to create the new life represented by the limitlessly useful papyrus reeds and the ankh symbols on which Aset sits. Her headdress is the vulture, most fearlessly protective of all birds. Aset wears atop her crown chakra the cow's horns that enclose the disk of the Sun because she is in manifestation as Het-Heru (Hathor), the House of Hor.

These symbols are well known. But many other ancient Khemitian images, which are so familiar to us that "everybody knows" what they mean, are by now almost completely misunderstood. We have lost all intellectual grasp of their meaning, even though they retain their mysterious power in our mythic consciousness, and that is why Khemit magnetizes us more irresistibly every year.

The process of disenchantment -- literally the loss of our song -- usually happens in the same two stages: first mythic robbery, then oblivion: the forgetting of all clues about where the stolen riches might be, though there always seem to be treasure hunters who know there's a map hidden here somewhere. The mythic memory loss begins with disinterpretation. The new powers that be -- in our recent history they have all been male-dominant hierarchies -- use countermyths, lies and violence to slander and destroy the old, compelling symbols. Then comes misinterpretation. As time passes, the lies turn into common beliefs that almost everyone accepts. Most of the people, at least the ones who care about these things, assume they know what the ancient cultures were really like because all the books and professors have been saying the same things for centuries, no matter how patently silly their "facts" are. Our higher faculty of intuition tells us it is an astounding fantasy to believe that the ancients built the monuments of Giza by using copper tools to cut massive granite stones that they then hauled through the sand on wooden sledges. But such absurdities still form the accepted intellectual stock of "common knowledge." This is why most of our people, even the ones who long to know what is true, don't have a whisper of a clue about what the myths and symbols of Khemit meant to the matriarchal culture that first created them.

Take the "pharaoh's double crown," as shown here. We always read that the red part is the crown of "Lower Egypt" in the north, while the white part is the crown of "Upper Egypt" in the south. So the two crowns made into one symbolize the king's unifying power as the sole, supreme ruler of the two lands. Right?
Not within a week's camel ride, folks. We naturally wonder why, for openers, if this is a royal crown, reserved for the pharaoh and the falcon-headed Hor whom he represents on earth, that netert (fem. neter) like Neith, at right, wear the "red crown," and Aset, left, gets to wear the whole regalium. Is it possible that this symbol may actually be feminine in origin, and matriarchal in meaning? Yes. The "double crown" represents, in fact, the womb, the thymus gland through which the female intends the act of conception, and the spiral of the soul's birth journey from the spirit realm into life here in third density.
The lower part of the symbol is the womb, from which the child is born blood red, covered by the mother's placenta. As shown in the image at right, of "pharaoh Seti I" at Abydos, its shape is that of a chair in which the mother sits as she gives birth. We see it also in
this picture of a mother giving birth, flanked by a double Het-Heru. The arch that frames her is of course the het, the "house" of Hor. Khemitians would have had no trouble figuring out the placement of the spiral. It starts in front of where the mother's thymus gland would be as she sits in the chair, elongating and contracting
her body just before the moment of birth, and it terminates -- where else? -- precisely at her birth canal. Why is the sign of the chair always associated with Aset the Mother, as in the suf characters of her name, shown here? The seated figure at right identifies her as a netert, the
semicircle is the "t" at the end of her name, and the egg was obvious long before anybody heard of Easter. The critical piece is the chair. It is the Womb itself.

Why was it so crucially important for the mother's focus to be in her thymus gland, the high heart chakra, at the moment of birth? Because that's where it was at the moment when she performed the supreme intentional act of either accepting her man's seed, and allowing her egg to be fertilized, or concentrating her intention to kick the sperm out, and shield her egg from unwanted conception. This choice of receive-or-reject was not something the woman prepared for through an elaborate process of meditative training. Nor was it an intellectual "decision," as this word implies that one weighs alternatives and chooses one. Rather, the act of opening to conception was purely emotional and spiritual, based solely on the woman's feeling that this child will be born from an act of love, or will not.

So the alleged white crown of the one whom patriarchs called pharaoh does not symbolize the king's authority over everything from Minya -- the"city of love" -- to Aswan. Rather, this "bulbous" object has the exact shape of the thymus gland, in the "high heart" chakra, because this is the center of intention where the mother
exercises her supreme power to accept or deny a new child. And this is why, in what is not really a double crown, the spiral has to pass through the white gland to get to the red chair where the Bull of his Mother will be born.
Breeeathe, as they tell the mother in labor. We need a little rest after this strange, startling material. In the rest of what follows, we'll look at some light relief in a few clear, charming and little-understood images of the respective qualities and power roles not only of mother and child, but also of women and men in general, in the art of ancient Khemit.
Ever wonder why middle-rank officials, like the one at left, wear wigs that closely follow the contour of the head, while scribes always have those flaring wigs that make their heads look like triangles? It's because the most exalted scribes, possessing the intelligence and diligence to love the truth and pursue it with clarity to the point of wisdom, are thought to have the feminine quality of true devotion. That's why they wear female wigs.
Ever wonder why, during Khemit's very long history, paintings and statues of couples can show the two partners in such a bewildering array of respective sizes and positions, and postures of formality and intimacy, solemnity and play, that we can hardly tell what kinds of relationships, whether predictably up-and-down or amazingly equal, women and men actually had? It all makes clearer sense, though, if we imagine that what these images show us is the gradual trend from a very old mother culture to a newer male power structure. We begin with two couples from the so-called Old Kingdom, really the High Matriarchy, that is usually dated about 3100 - 2200 BC. As these figures show, we are decidedly in the Age of the Cow.
At left are "king" Menkhaure (Mycerinus) and Khamerenebty II, who naturally make us want to know how people's love lives in ancient times must have had a deliciously languorous tempo because it took the lovers so much time just to murmur each other's names. She is holding him in body language that couldn't be plainer. It says: This belongs to me. He is mine.
It's the same at right with the wife of a man whose legs tell us he was probably a treasury official. The Khemitians often put dwarves in charge of the money because if they tried to abscond, they couldn't run far. These two couples, as very different as they are, have the same kind of power deal. No matter if one is rich enough to afford diorite or has to settle for painted clay, the common theme is easy enough to see in the confident women and the serene, contented faces and postures of the men: whether we're talking politically or emotionally, it is so vastly less stressful to accept the way things are, and live happily as a kept man. Four thousand years before Chaucer's Wife of Bath said the same thing, the people of Khemit had it nailed.
By the time we get to the "18th Dynasty" at the start of what most men would rather call the New Kingdom than the Late Matriarchy it really was, we are in the first half of the much more masculine Age of Aries, at about 1550 BC. We now see many images that look like this one. Whether the couple are as august as "Amenhotep III and his queen," whose statues dominate the atrium of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, or they are a humbler couple like the ones shown here -- the official Neberhebef and his wife -- the bodies, once again, do not lie.
The usual color contrast -- red and white again -- is here, with the darker iron oxide hue for the male and a whiter shade for female. Their arms around one another's backs show that the woman may no longer be dominant, but she is hardly oppressed either. The couple have a bond of equality, mutual respect, even -- gasp! -- affection. We will soon see much more of this in the celebrated art of the Amarna culture grown by Akhnaton and Nefertiti, of whom more in Baltimore.
In the centuries that followed, with Khemit under external threat from foreign enemies and in the grip of the hanuti -- see April UFC -- the matriarchy finally gave way to patriarchy, and the host of fearbound problems that plague us to this day. No illustrations are needed here of the kinds of grotesque stonework, if not art, that patriarchy produces. You've seen the pictures of the one who kept calling himself Ramses the Great until everybody else agreed with him, and no one could see that he was really Ramses the Terrified, so pitifully in dread of death that he tried to beat it by placing gigantic images of himself everywhere. Just google Ramses II Abu Simbel, and you see the result. The seated statues of the king -- no longer in quotes -- are as high as an eight-storey building. The queen is lucky to be life size, and you may need your zoom feature to find the children. This is what happens when a man does not honor the mother of his children, and of his own life.
And, for that matter, his own father, if egyptologists are right -- the law of averages does favor this -- in supposing that Ramses' father was Seti I, said to have built in front of the Osireion in Abydos the energy site that is filled with magnificent reliefs like this one.

The message is clear enough. The one who is officially the king may be holding his bull tail in his left hand, and he may have on his head the war crown that he wears in his chariot, at the head of his army. And he may have in his right hand the crook that symbolizes his role as the shepherd of his people. But behind the crook is the right hand of the one who holds him and all his power. On her crown is the cobra, emblem of her resolve to strike and kill when she must in order to protect her young.

At his chin there is no ceremonial beard, but only the left hand of his mother, holding him with inexpressible tenderness and honor. Not even the suf letters -- not "hieroglyphs" -- around the picture tell us what he is saying, but we can easily imagine: Thank you for not kicking me out. I will do my best to keep your trust. And her words, perhaps, are predictable too: I have no doubt you will. I know I have chosen well. You are the Bull of Your Mother.

The words keep resonating, the images keep reappearing, for thousands of years because they are the true myths that, like Aset's womb, are the carriers of our very life. Like the Mayan glyphs and numbers that were never quite wiped out by conquistadores and Franciscans, and just as the European pagan culture has survived even the best efforts of Christians to turn the great god Pan into the Devil by taking away his pipes and giving him bat wings to go with his cloven hoof and horns, the Khemitian wisdom is living. It is neither gone nor forgotten.

If anything, the Khemitian music sounds more clearly now in the ancient spaces here that were expressly built for transformation and healing through sounds. And it resounds more confidently as we remember the song that was stolen from us so long ago that we've forgotten that it once belonged to us all.

And it sounds more joyously now, in the spring, in the month of the Cow.

Find that song. Sing it strong. Keep holding that frequency.

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 Copyright 2006 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.