“Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” [Song of Songs 6:10 KJV]
MUT [Mwt/Maut/Golden Dawn] – meaning “mother,” is the name of the African Queen who giveth birth, but was herself not born of any. Through the Old Kingdom period of ancient Egypt (2,686-2,134 BCE) Mut was believed to have originally existed as the female aspect of Nun (primeval waters). Her stature subsequently evolved during the 18th Dynasty (1539-1292 BCE) as mother from whom the cosmos emerged. Mut, the self-created goddess, was thus regarded as the divine world mother; mother of pharaohs; and queen of all goddesses and gods.
Mut thus personifies the mother aspect of the goddess within a special Trinity which includes her divine consort Amun (invoked as ‘Amen’ in prayer), who epitomizes the father aspect of gods; and Montu (aka Khonsu), their son who embodies the divine child. The sidelock of hair under his moon-god crown symbolizes Montu’s childhood status. Standing behind his enthroned father in the group picture above, Montu is significant also because of the symbols he wears and carries in common with two other African gods: Ausar (Osiris in Greek appropriations) and Ptah. These symbols of godhood include the plinth Montu stands on; his white shoulder-to-toes mummification swaddling; the menat that hangs behind his shoulders; the shepherd’s crook and flail he holds – along with the Was (sceptre of power); the Ankh (key of life); and the Djed (divine pillar/backbone).
The Djed Pillar is emblematic of the sacred Tree of Life which has a potent simultaneous association with African female deities and human genesis in the Garden of Eden. In ancient Egypt, the Tree of Life is a symbol of the Mother Goddess Mut who, it is said, was present at the splitting of the Ished Tree together with Re in Heliopolis after the Sun God’s victory over his enemies. Personifying the rising sun, the Ished Tree of Life was housed alongside the Benben pyramidion (capstone of the Egyptian pyramid &/or obelisk) in the courtyard of the Temple of Re. Home to the Bennu Bird (a phoenix representing the soul of the Sun God), this Tree of Life is protected by the Great Cat / Sphinx (personification of Re).
‘Raising the Djed Pillar’ became a re-enactment ritual honoring the Sun God – a coronation ceremony during which each Egyptian Pharaoh’s name and length of reign would be inscribed on a leaf of the Ished Tree of Life by Djehuti – Chief Scribe of the Gods. The fruit of the Ished Tree – symbolizing the sacred heart of Heru (Horus in Greek appropriations) – was said to provide privileged knowledge to these Pharaohs of the Divine Plan in place since the beginning of creation. It was believed that eating this fruit would ensure their Eternal Life as resurrected Gods. Indeed the first Ennead of Heliopolis (ancient Egyptian group of 9 deities) were said to have emerged from the Tree of Life, thus establishing the Djed Pillar as the axis mundi – or center, around which the universe of heaven and earth revolves.
A related account of the Djed Pillar comes up in the story of Ausar (Osiris in Greek appropriations) and Auset (Isis in Greek) in which Ausar – the King beloved by his wife Auset and Egyptian citizens – is killed by Set in a jealous bid to overthrow his rule. Ausar is tricked by Set to enter into a chest which has secretly been made to fit only him. The chest which is promptly sealed becomes Ausar‘s coffin, and is disposed of into the Nile River prior to Set‘s ascension to the Egyptian throne. At the Byblos site where it runs aground from the river’s Mediterranean-bound flow, a tree immediately takes root, enclosing the wooden coffin within its trunk. Auset’s search for her husband’s body leads her to the palace hall of the King of Byblos who’d ordered this sacred tree cut down and installed there as a pillar. Auset manages to extract her husband’s body from the heart of the tree, which thereafter becomes known in Egyptian lore as the Djed Pillar.
In a different account, Set (god of foreigners, chaos, violence, the wilderness…) murders and mutilates Ausar – scattering all 14 pieces of his body throughout the wilderness (diaspora) where Auset must search to piece him back together. After finding all but one piece (Ausar’s manhood – which is symbolized in the African architecture of the obelisk) – Auset then uses linen and myrrh to swaddle, anoint and consecrate him in the first mummification ritual of Egyptian history. Through divine intervention, she and Ausar are enabled to posthumously conceive a son named Heru (Horus) who grows up to avenge his father’s death and regain the Egyptian throne from Set, the usurper. ‘Raising the Djed Pillar’ thus further becomes deeply symbolic of the rebirth of Ausar, pre-configuring later ‘resurrection’… ‘virgin birth’… and ‘savior’ stories.
“I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me…” [Song of Songs 1: 5-6 KJV]
Because of her association as the Tree of Life upon whom the Sun looks with great favor, Mut – African Mother-Goddess and Djed-I Queen – has unique and significant standing as “fairest among women” [SoS 1: 8 KJV]. Counted among the original gods beginning in the late New Kingdom (c1300-664 BCE), Mut has many notable epithets among which are “Mother of the Sun in Whom He Rises.”
One can imagine Goddess Mut speaking through the words of the Shulamite in the biblical Song of Songs when the question arises: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” [SoS 8:5 KJV] She responds:“I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.” [SoS 8:5-7 KJV]
The Djed-I Queen‘s signature vulture crown testifies to her mysterious powers of deliverance, transformation, and rebirth within the realm of the dead. Mut‘s ability to deliver souls and bodies from ‘the abode of demons which are in the evil chamber’ is described in Chapter 164 of the Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptian funerary text also known as the Book of Coming Forth by Day – alternatively translated as the Book of Emerging Forth Into the Light. Her ‘overthrowing of Apep’ – the serpent who was hostile to the Sun God – is one such example of the level of power she has been favored by her divine consort to exercise.
The Djed-I Queen‘s journey of/for love, searching through the ‘wilderness’ (perhaps an allegory for the diaspora created by slavery) may be interpreted as Mut in her aspect of the Divine Seeker – goddess Auset – in search of the pieces of her beloved. The wisdom she gains along the way is reflected in proverbs inscribed into the walls of the Luxor Temple of Amun-Mut-Montu, such as:
- “A phenomenon always arises from the interaction of complementarity. If you want something look for the complement that will elicit it. Set causes Heru. Heru redeems Set.”
- “When the governing class isn’t chosen for quality it is chosen for material wealth: this always means decadence, the lowest stage a society can reach.”
- “If the master teaches what is error, the disciple’s submission is slavery. If he teaches truth, this submission is ennoblement.”
- “Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought.”
- “The kingdom of Heaven is already within you; if you understand yourself you will find it.”
This stage of her quest may be interpreted as the Djed-I Queen in her aspect of goddess Ma’at (beloved consort of Djehuti) who strives to prevent the world from turning to chaos through the restoration of truth, heavenly order, justice, etc., and whose 42 Principles are said to have pre-configured the biblical 10 Commandments. It was goddess Ma’at who declared Heru the rightful ruler of Kemet (Africa-centric term for ‘ancient Egypt’) over Set. Her crown depicts the feather against which souls are weighed in the afterlife.
Mut the Djed-I Queen is like the symbolic blue lotus flower or water lily portrayed in the art (particularly of South/Upper Egypt) emerging from the primordial waters of Nun and bearing the Sun God. The papyrus, featuring stronger in the art of North/Lower Egypt, eventually began to be portrayed together with the lotus to symbolize – like the Egyptian Double Crown – the unification of the two kingdoms. Often portrayed wearing the Unification/Double Crown (or alternatively the royal throne) atop her signature vulture crown, Mut is a composite of the renowned African Queen of the South who embodies the great powers affiliated with the waters at the source of the Nile River. As spells in the Book of Coming Forth by Day attest, death and resurrection are consciously associated with the symbolic lotus which retracts into the waters at night, and emerges afresh with the morning Sun. During the Middle Kingdom, when Amun-Re’s authority was at its height, Mut was worshiped in the temple as “the Great Lady of Isheru~the Sacred Lake… the Lady of Heaven… Queen of the Gods…”
Mut/Mother. Beloved Djed-I Queen “…behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”