Ancient Egypt and the Light of Sirius
© 2014 John F. Rychlicki III Leilah Publications
All rights reserved.

Any venture into the subject of ancient Egypt and ancient Egyptian religion is too broad to cover in a single volume, containing the history of several other mystic fraternities.   Modern mystic fraternities such as the Golden Dawn and Freemasonry speculate their occult teachings derive from ancient Egyptian mythology.  Specifically, occult teachings in various schools of the Invisible College originate in mythology concerning the star Sirius {Sothis}.  The heavens above were the living abode of the gods who ancient Egyptians believed were proactive in human destinies.

sopdetSothis is the Greek name for the Egyptian goddess, Sopdet (or Sepdet), personifying the ‘dog star,’ Sirius.  The heliacal rising of Sirius occurred during the inundation of the Nile River that signified the New Year in the ancient Egyptian calendar based on the zodiacal procession.  Sopdet was the goddess assigned to inundation, also as Sopdet the goddess of fertility since the inundation of the Nile was linked with agricultural growth.  Sopdet was represented as a woman with a star upon her brow and at times a seated Cow with a headdress crowned by either a flower or a star.  The plant is symbolic of the annual rising of Sirius and calendric New Year.  In Ptolemaic Egypt, Sopdet was depicted as a dog, as Isis-Sopdet.  Sirius was the principal decan in ancient Egyptian astronomy into which the night sky was divided; each group appearing for ten days.  Sirius was seen just before dawn in July, marking the celebratory New Year known as the “Coming of Sopdet.”

The period was called Sothic Cycle and is used by archaeologists to create a chronologic history of Egyptian dynasties.  The use of the Sothic system dates back to the Early Dynastic Period when Pharaoh Narmer united the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt 3200B.C..  The aspect of Sopdet being a fertility goddess in the Middle Kingdom Era changed from a star and agricultural goddess to a maternal nursing, fertility deity.  This change in iconography was due to her close association with water and with Isis (Isar, Iset) where the waters of the Nile ritually purified each Pharaoh and his Pharaonic lineage.

The embalming of the deceased took seventy days, the exact period when Sirius was not seen in the heavens with the naked eye before its helical rising.  Sothis prepared sustenance for the pharaoh living and dead, and was believed to be living on the horizon encircled by the Duat.  In the Pyramid texts, paralleling the story of Osiris and Isis, pharaoh was believed to have sired a child with Sopdet: “Pyramid texts, paralleling the story of Osiris and Isis, the pharaoh was believed to have had a child with Sopdet:  “your sister Isis comes to you rejoicing for love of you.  You have placed her on your phallus and your seed issues into her, she being ready as Sopdet, and Horus-Soped has come forth from you as Horus who is in Sopdet.”

In the Lamentations of Isis, Isis refers to herself as “Sopdet,” saying she will follow Osiris in heaven.  Sirius travels the night sky ahead of the larger constellation Orion, at the belt of Orion as a pointer a signpost.  Orion was identified with the dying Osiris; his sister-wife Isis reanimated his slain and dismembered remains.  Sopdet was also identified with Sopdet-Horus during the Middle Kingdom Period; in addition, her iconography was also linked to the god Anubis as Sopdet-Anpu.  Sopdet was venerated across Lower Egypt primarily, yet throughout ancient Egyptian dynastic periods we find evidence of her adoration in various temples.

The mysteries of Sirian worship in ancient Egypt give birth to mythology, mortuary rites, and magic that would become the foundation of pre-Christian mystic fraternities and Pagan mystery cults in Rome, Greece, and Persia.  In the Pyramid Texts 11:23B utterance 509, “His sister is Sothis, his guide is the morning star.”  Esoterically I equate Sothis and the morning star with what many initiates call the Holy Guardian Angel, and its various synonyms.  Sothis and Sutekh (Set) are identified as Sirius and the Morning Star, at times Set is personified as the Morning Star, or the black Sun/Son, the Sun (Son) behind the Sun, the Midnight Sun, and star at midnight.

KinglistThe Medsu-Bedset, the Blackheads, indicate the dim beginnings in ancient Egyptian stellar mythology.  Those who ascended from the nether-world were of the solar race that came into existence with the sun as it is represented in the legendary lore, that is, when the solar mythos was established.  The tradition of the dog-star people found in various countries is that they were born when no sun or moon yet had come into existence.  That is, they were pre-solar and pre-lunar in their reckoning of time.  These are they, as was said by the Egyptians, who issued from the eye of Sut, or Darkness, the earliest type of which we reckon to have been Sothis, whether as the pole-star in the southern or the northern heaven.

The Elder Gods and Goddesses of the first races developed their praeter-human powers from the Chthonian magic that originated with and from the earth, not from hybrid ancestral human “spirits” and totemic animal magic.  The adorants of the dog-star, the ‘blackheads” associated with Sutekh at Hyksos, worshipped the demon-serpent of the Tuat said to measure seventy cubits long, gaining in strength from devouring the souls of the dead.  To locate the star which the blackheads adored in their Chthonian magic, opposed to the solar magic of the Serapis school of mysteries, find the constellation Orion, then locate the three stars in ‘Orion’s belt,’ following them down to the horizon, to the Dog Star.  The ancient Egyptians were masters of death; they unlocked the secrets of death and the transmigration of the soul; in doing so, they held the keys to immortality.

These secrets were transmitted to Adepts independent of their memories, over the centuries as cultures ascended and fell.  Sirius is listed by Cornelius Agrippa as predating ancient Egypt, in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh that mentions Gilgamesh drawn irresistibly “heavy star” in a dream of Gilgamesh that cannot be lifted despite his great efforts.  The star descends to him having brilliant effulgence, and illuminates the hero of the epic.  Gilgamesh had for his companions fifty oarsmen of the mythic ship, ‘Argo,’ a constellation in Canis Major heavenly host to Sirius.  In Greek mythology, Orion’s dog became Sirius, and Greek initiates associated Sirius with the heat of the summer, calling it Therios, the “scorcher,” or “burner.”

The West African tribe, Dogon, adored Sirius for an estimated five thousand years according to archaeologists.  The Dogon worshipped Sirius B as the celestial home of their amphibian gods (a source of David Icke’s theories?) whom magically transported to the earth in three-pronged heavenly vehicles.  The believed Sirius was the axis of the universe, producing all worlds and souls in a great spiral motion.  In the Holy Qur’an, Surah 53:49 An’Najm (Arabic, ‘The Star’), Sirius receives honorable mention; “that He is the Lord of Sirius.”  In Arabic, Sirius is Shir’a, the brightest star in the heavens, which is also known by the names of Mirzam al’Jawza’, al’Kalb al’Akbar, al’Kalb al’Jabbar, and Ash’Shi ‘ra al’Abur.

Sirius is 23 times as luminous as the Sun, but as it shines over eight light-years away from the earth, it appears to be smaller and less luminous than the Sun.  The Bani Khuza’ah, a neighbouring tribe of the Quraish, was particularly known for being adorants of Sirius.  The Quranic verse means, according to translator Yusuf Ali “Your destinies are not made and controlled by Shi is but by the Lord of Shi’ra.”  Sirius was the astronomical foundation of the entire ancient Egyptian religious system.  Since Sirius shewn for the entire summer season, ancient Egyptians believed it responsible for increase in heat, scientifically false of course, yet interesting mythologically.  The phrase “dog days of summer’ stemmed from this belief.  Like the Dogon of West Africa, the ancient Egyptians believed Sothis to be the axis of the entire universe, from which all worlds and souls manifested.

With the Leonic appearance of Sirius in June-July over the Nile River Valley, the inundations brought significant harvest and crop to the agrarian communities in the desert valley stricken by oppressive summer heat.  Ancient Egyptian priesthoods, inheriting the gifts of the Phoenician, and Chaldean mystics were magi who practiced solar rites and incantations.  Heliopolitan magic explains creation in terms of the emanation of the Ennead, the first nine Gods, from whom the rest of Creations arise.  Heliopolitan priests were concerned with the procession of the heavens, from which evolved a concise theology and pantheon.

sothis1In its helical ascendant, Sirius was called the “Star of Annunciation,’ marking the birth of solar Horus (Heru).  According to Rosicrucian scholar Frater Francis Yates, the Star of Annunciation is a sign marking the transformation of the world, as the omen would be viewed at dusk by the naked eye.  “After a time,” writes Yates, “there will be a general reformation both of divine and human things according to our design and expectation of desire.  For it is fitting that before the rising of the sun there should appear aurora, or divine light breaking forth in the sky.”  During the reign of Augustus Octavian {27B.C. -14A.D.} around when the Emperor named Vespasian as his heir, commoners and magi witnessed the Star of Annunciation in the eastern quarter of the sky.  Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky associates the omen as a signpost marking the birth of the Gnostic Christ.

Passages from the Pyramid Texts consider Hor-em-akhet (Harmachis) Horus-of-the-Horizon as the incarnation of the morning star, and the Son of Suns.  The Egyptian pantheon truly was a multivalent imperial religion, not solely polytheistic or henotheistic.  The ancient Egyptian pantheon was an Imperial Religion of life, death, and rebirth through the adoration of the stars and secretive funerary magic.  The development of monotheism and henotheistic thought stems from solar-phallic cult worship of Aten, a solar deity popularized by Pharaoh Akhenaten.  Semitic communities emulated solar henotheistic developments by assigning supremacy to Yahweh, a local deity to the Semite tribes.  Amenhotep IV {Akhenaten} is commonly reported as the Pharaoh responsible for the implementation of henotheistic solar-worship scholars refer to as “Atenism.”

Pharaoh Akhenaten lived at Thebes with Nefertiti and his six daughters, permitting initially worship of Egypt’s traditional solar deities to continue but near the Temple of Karnak, which was Amun-Ra’s cult center, when he erected several massive buildings including temples to the Aten, the solar disk of Egyptian creation.  Eventually the already fragile relationship between Amenhotep IV and the priests of Amun-Re deteriorated.  In Year 5 of his reign, Amenhotep IV took decisive steps to establish the Aten as the exclusive god of Egypt; disbanding the priesthoods of all the other gods and diverting the income from other cults to support the adoration of Aten.  To emphasize his complete allegiance to the Aten, the pharaoh officially changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten or ‘Servant of the Aten.’  Akhenaten’s fifth year of reign marked the beginning of construction on his new capital, Akhetaten or ‘Horizon of Aten’, at the site known to us as Amarna.

Freud argues that Moses had been an Atenist priest forced to leave Egypt with his followers after Akhenaten’s death.  {Freud, Sigmund 1939.  Moses and Monotheism: Three Essays.}  Freud and mainstream Egyptologists {Curtis, Samuel 2005, and Primitive Semitic Religion Today Kessinger Publications} agree that there are direct correlations between the development of Judaism and other Semitic religious traditions with Atenism.  {Osman, Ahmed 1987.  Stranger in the Valley of the Kings: solving the mystery of an ancient Egyptian mummy.  San Francisco: Harper & Row.  pp.29-30}  The beginnings of Egyptian Imperial Religion lay in the cult-worship of the Mother-Son, surviving in iconography spanning thousands of years of culture, including depictions of the Virgin Mary with the Christ child in Christian art.

Sopdet was considered as the “Opener of the Year’ by the Nile Valley communities, while Heru (Horus) was seen as the “Opener of the Day,” a mythological child and subordinate to Sothis, circumventing the solar cult of Atenism.  The mythology of the Mater-Puer aeternus is a common mystery found in ancient Rome, Greece, Persia, and Sumer transmitting later into Biblical traditions and their mystic fraternities many of the same perpetuating the secret iconography in contemporary occult initiations.  The mythology is not a “mystery” in the sense of an unknown or concealed occult blueprint or cipher for initiation, nor is it a philosophic revelation; we also discount the Mater-Puer aeternus as a religious Arcanum.  This mythos reflects the depths of collective human consciousness, lying beneath the surface of Christian liturgy, Gnostic ritual, Masonic degrees, Sumerian and Jewish traditions.

The earliest known hieroglyphic conception of the Mater-goddess was in the form of a Hippopotamus, the primeval devourer of the watery abyss.  This conception of the water-devouring Mother Goddess transfigures in Greek mythology as Typhon the Great Dragon of the Seas.  According to the Shabaka Stone, Geb the Egyptian creation-deity divided Egypt into two halves, giving Upper Egypt the southern desert to Set and Lower Egypt, the northern region of the Nile delta, to Horus, in order to end their feud.  According to the stone, in a later judgment Geb united all Egypt awarding the Kingdoms to Horus.  Interpreting this myth as a historical record indicates that Lower Egypt {Horus’ land} conquered Upper Egypt {Set’s land}; yet, in fact Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt.

Queens of the first Dynasty were enthroned under the title “She Who Sees Horus and Set.”  The Pyramid Texts present the pharaoh as a fusion of the Set-Horus.  Pharaohs believed that they balanced and reconciled competing cosmic principles.  The concept of a dual-god twin-child Set-Horus appeared combining features of both, common in Egyptian theology.  Set-Horus transfigured to Sut-Har, Gods of the Two Horizons.  The term Pharaoh derives from Har-Iu, meaning the Coming Twin, the “Son of the Two Houses (Iu).”  This was Shus-en-Har of the Hyksos; the rulers of the Shus were called Heks.

The Medsu-Bedset was a political faction contriving an initial disparaging of Set’s name and mythos.  His priesthood resisted a unification of the Upper and Lower kingdoms of Egypt by the followers of Horus {with the followers of Osiris and Isis}.  This political split was echoed in the Osiris and Isis mysteries, and in subsequent battles with Horus.  The followers of Horus thus denigrated Set as chaotic and warlike.  By the 22nd Dynasty, Set was equated with his archenemy, Apep, and his images on temples were replaced with images of Thoth.  Scholars date the vilification of Set to after Egypt’s conquest by the Persian ruler Cambyses II.  Set, traditionally the god of foreigners also became associated with foreign oppression, including the Achaemenid Persians, Ptolemaic dynasty, and Roman Empire.  {Lesko, Leonard H. 1987.  Seth: In The Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Mircea Eliade, 2nd edition (2005) edited by Lindsay Jones.  Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson-Gale.  ISBN 0-02-865733-0}

As dynasties and Atenism progressed, the worship of the Goddess of the Night Sky, Nut (referred to as “She Who Covers the Sky”) and her son Sutekh (Set) fell into disrepute.  A Pater-God was needed to account for the generation of cascading light upon the soil.  The concept of Tum was gradually incorporated as the Setting Sun establishing the Four Suns (Sons), the Equinoctial points, and Solstices.  Tum evolved theologically into Atum, as Egyptian deities often transfigured, and the Solar Fatherhood was established under Atum-Ra, or Amen-Ra.

Disrepute and political rivalry developed between the esoteric priesthoods of Osiris and Atum-Ra against the priesthoods of Set-Horus, the Ever-coming Son.  The taunt bantered about by the Society of Aten against the Set-Heru priests was, Orphan, without father, as the priests of Set and Horus worshipped only the Twin-Gods and Nut, “She Who Covers the Night Sky.”  I mentioned the linguistic root, Iu, from which pharaoh comes from Har-Iu.  We also have Iu as the root of “jew,” Iu’sif responsible for Yusuf (Arabic) or Joseph; and Iu’Pater or Jupiter, Father of the Greek Pantheon.

Amenhotep IV introduced Atenism in Year 5 of his reign (1348B.C.), raising the Aten to the status of consummate god after originally permitting the ritual adorations of the traditional gods.  To stress his new religious conversion Aten’s name was inscribed in cartouche form normally reserved for Pharaohs, a distinction of Atenism.  This religious reformation appears to coincide with the proclamation of the Sed festival, a pharaonic jubilee intended to reinforce the Pharaoh’s divine powers of kingship.  Traditionally held in the thirtieth year of a Pharaoh’s reign, Sed was a festival in honour of Amenhotep III, whom Egyptologists {Aldred, Cyril, Akhenaten, King of Egypt, Redford; Donald B., Akhenaten: The Heretic King; Reeves, Nicholas, Akhenaton: Egypt’s False Prophet} believe had a coregency with Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) lasting two to twelve years.  {Rosalie David, Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt, Facts on File Inc., 1998. p.124}

Year 5 in his reign marked the construction of a new capital, Akhetaten (Horizon of the Aten), at the site presently known as Amarna.  Evidence of this comes from three of the boundary stelae used to mark the boundaries of this new capital.  During this time, Amenhotep IV officially changed his name to Akhenaten as a testament of a new Covenant with Aten.  The date given for the new name likely falls around January 2 of that year.  In Year 7 of his reign (1346/1344 B.C.), the imperial capital relocated from Thebes to Akhetaten.  The relocation from the traditional ceremonial centres to Akhetaten signaled a dramatic transition in the focus of religious and political power.

In Year 9 of his reign (1344/1342 B.C.), Akhenaten strengthened the Atenist conversion echoing Emperor Constantine’s mystic conversion and imperial adoption of Christianity, declaring the Aten to be the only principle god of the Egyptian pantheon.  Aten became a universal deity, and all worship of traditional gods was forbidden, including the veneration of idols, even privately in citizen’s homes; an arena the Egyptian state had previously not mingled with in religious provisions.

In Hymn to the Aten, the deity is exalted as a supreme being and not an equal in the pantheon:

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!

They are hidden from the face (of man).

O sole god, like whom there is no other!

Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,

Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,

Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,

And what is on high, flying with its wings.

The countries of Syria and Nubia, the land of Egypt,

Thou settest every man in his place,

Thou suppliest their necessities:

Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.

Their tongues are separate in speech,

And their natures as well;

Their skins are distinguished,

As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.

Thou makest a Nile in the underworld,

Thou bringest forth as thou desirest

To maintain the people (of Egypt)

According as thou madest them for thyself,

The lord of all of them, wearying (himself) with them,

The lord of every land, rising for them,

The Aton of the day, great of majesty.

Akhenaten staged the ritual regicide of the traditional god Amun, and ordered the defacing of Amun’s temples throughout the empire, including all of the traditional pantheon gods.  The term for ‘gods’ (plural) was proscribed, and hieroglyphic inscriptions of the words for ‘mother’ were excised and re-written phonetically.  The imperial conversion to Atenism was  a measure of Pharaoh’s influence and power, in addition to the dynamic political circumstances of the period, allowing for such a revolutionary conversion, if only for twenty years.

The discoveries of the Amarna Letters provide crucial evidence about the twilight states of Akhenaten’s reign and Atenism.  Theorized Atenic priests discarded the letters after being transferred to papyrus, the findings comprise a priceless cache of clay message tablets sent from imperial prefectures and foreign allies.  The letters suggest that Akhenaten was obsessed with his new religion, and that his neglect of internal regional affairs was causing disorder across the massive Egyptian empire.

The Regents of subject prefectures wrote to beg for gold,  complaining to Akhenaten of being slighted.  Also discovered were reports of a major plague spreading across the eastern imperial prefectures.  The pestilence appears to have claimed the life of Akhenaten’s main wife, Nefertiti and several of his six daughters, contributing to Akhenaten’s declining personal interest on the part of in governing effectively, and his increasing fanaticism with Atenic conversions.

The Atenic conversion of Year 9 resulted from Akhenaten’s determination to enforce a misconstruction among the common people that Aten was really a type of sun god like Atum-Ra.  Instead, the theology of Atenism was enforced that such representations were above all of principles, of Aten’s transcendental presence in Egyptian society.  The Atenic conversion is a henotheistic module, suggestive of even proto-monotheism.  In the Year 9 of his reign, Akhenaten also reconstituted the Atenic priesthood into an exclusive initiatory and secret society called the Society of Aten.

The Society of Aten received priests exclusively in ritual initiations conducted in Atenic Temples at Karnak (later deliberately dismantled by the Priesthood of Atum-Ra) and Thebes.  Their initiations and solar phallic ceremonies reflected the Aten as a transcendent being, from which all the traditional gods of the pantheon were merely the Aten manifesting divine effulgence in a different scope of visions.

The Society of Aten was responsible for the construction of Atenic Temples that were later dismantled and razed after the death of Akhenaten.  It was a secretive Brotherhood directly obedient to Akhenaten, who composed the Hymn to the Aten with the Society priests, representing the human awakening from sleep to the light.  Akhenaten referred to his Society of Aten, as the “illuminated ones.”  We now have one of our first speculative encounters with the Illuminati.  Aten traditionally derives from a synthesis of Ra-Horus, in ancient Egyptian called Ra-Herakhty; Ra, who is Horus of the two horizons.