“We came from the beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells, at the foothills of The Mountains of the Moon” ~ is a declaration in The Papyrus of Hunefer, which was a copy of the ancient Book of the Dead. Hunefer, owner of this papyrus, was “Scribe of Divine Offerings,” “Overseer of Royal Cattle,” and steward of Pharaoh Seti 1 during Khemet’s 19th Dynasty period [c. 1300 BCE]
“We…” refers to ancient Egyptians in the Delta region [papyrus symbol]
“…beginning of the Nile…” refers to the River Nile’s Great Lake estuary cradled in its East-Central African source [lotus symbol]. Nile comes from ‘Neilos’ – a Greek corruption of ‘nwy’ meaning ‘water’ in Khemet, though locals referred to it as ‘iterw’ meaning ‘the river.’
“…Mountains of the Moon” refers to the Rwenzori Mountains which border present-day Uganda and DR Congo. Some of the Nile waters flow from the peaks of these mountains.
Hapi [Hep/Hap/Hapy] – was a pre-dynastic name for the Nile deity of fertility who was also known as ‘Lord of the Fishes and Birds of the Marshes’ – provisions along with the annual inundation [known as the ‘Arrival of Hapi’] which have always sustained Nile Valley civilizations. So Hapi was often revered by citizens above other gods with chants, prayers, and sacrifices. Even Akhenaten [the so-called ‘heretic king’] could not banish Hapi as he had other gods during his reign. Instead, he tried to suggest that Hapi was an incarnation of Aten – the controversial solar disk god whom Akh’en’aten promoted himself as being the likeness of:
“I propitiate him who lives by truth,
The Lord of Diadems, Akhenaten,
Great in his lifetime.
O Hapi, by whose command
One is powerful
The food and nourishment of Egypt,
The vital ruler who forms me,
Makes me, fosters me…”
Hapi‘s blue or green skin denotes his status as a deity of fertility. God of both Upper and Lower Khemet, Hapi‘s portrayals included the lotus [symbolizing the life-giving/resurrecting source of the Nile’s Upper region] as well as the papyrus [which symbolized the Lower Nile Delta region where the river’s journey climaxed]. Depictions of twins ‘Hapi-Reset‘ [Upper Nile/lotus] and ‘Hapi-Meht‘ [Lower Nile/papyrus] tying together of these two plant symbols reflect the uniting of the “Two Lands.” Similarly, Hapi’s depiction as a hermaphrodite who was endowed with both feminine and masculine features [breasts and a penis], symbolized this same unity in human form, while the false beard of the pharaoh denotes Hapi‘s authority as Nile Valley god/dess. As a “key of life” principle, the co-creative unity and balance that must exist between divine feminine and masculine is a consistent and sacred African ideal, commonly portrayed as a ‘feminine’ oval surmounting a ‘masculine’ crucifix in the ancient ankh symbol.
To tarot deck readers, Hapi might be compared to the World card [#21 or XXI] – the final Major Arcana card which in some decks is depicted by an androgynous figure suspended between heaven/above and earth/below. The World card represents cosmic consciousness – the completion of a significant S/Hero’s journey cycle and a pause in life before the next big cycle begins once again with the Fool [usually the #0/“zero” card of the Major Arcana]. As such, the World amounts to our perfect union with the One uniting force of the universe [Ntu, in the Bantu world-view] which, seeded within the divine feminine womb, contains all the potentials for the next phase of our ascension journey.
The adinkra symbol of conjoined halves of a heart represents Sankofa – an African term that reminds us: “In order to move forward, you must reach back to reclaim that which may have been lost, forgotten, or stolen.” The process of truth-seeking in our respective journeys as divine feminine and masculine which provides the elixir that leads to our collective re-pair and ascension – is one of traversing the arcanum from “the fool” to “the world.” The elixir that is discovered in this process is ideally what ushers in humanity’s next-level, soul-restoring unity-consciousness which is referred to in Africa as Ubuntu, meaning “I am, because we are.”
The testimonial of the Papyrus of Hunefer thus presents a dilemma by drawing attention to the waters at the “…beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells” – a spiritual resource which was stolen through the violence of colonial assaults, nonsensical geographic constructs, and subsequently-falsified texts [biblical… historical… philosophical… geographical…]. In Kiswahili, these waters at the source of the Nile are referred to as ‘Maziwa Mkuu,’ meaning ‘great milk’ – a tacit African recognition of the Milky Way flowing as the nurturing heavenly river on earth which blossomed in ancient times as Khemet. “Victoria” – the river’s yet-to-be-reclaimed source – has, by her blatant presence, poisoned sacred waters, created a false matrix, and maintained a state of arrested development [the Fool] over a consequently colonized human consciousness [the World]… even as we stand today at the emancipatory cusp of the Age of Aquaria [card of the Star/Water Bearer].
Nut – Goddess of the Sky whose arms and legs create the four pillars between heaven and earth – is the primordial water-bearer, as depicted in her crown. (She is often synthesized with goddess Hathor – prototype of the Madonna-Child as Divine Womb and Celestial Nurse [milk-provider].) As I’ve posted previously, the water-bearer is epitomized by the African woman whose water vessel symbolizes humanity’s womb and portal into life. Culturally she is regarded as maternal in her element as the ocean, seas, and lakes – such as the veneration given to the Yoruba orisha [deity] Yemaya. On the other hand, as the river orisha Oshun, she is associated with sensuality, playfulness, fertility, love and beauty. Both are aspects of the same goddess archetype which, according to followers throughout the African world, unite in the figure of Mami Wata – a figure who is commonly depicted as a mermaid holding a mirror and/or a fan. All three orishas prefer the color gold, interchangeably with yellow.
For me, the confluence in Hapi’s S/Hero’s Journey through this Nile Valley Mystery becomes a ground-breaking revelation when the right pieces are understood within a non-linear [read: “non-Eurocentric”] playing field. The proposition: “We came from the beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells, at the foothills of The Mountains of the Moon” [from the Papyrus of Hunefer] signals the divinely-sanctioned return and reunion of the African God/dess. The unbreakable bonds of their sacred union [“Upper/Lower… North/South… above/below… within/without…”] are represented through Hapi‘s imagery and symbology, including the significance of the papyrus and the lily respectively, as well as within their sacred tethering. This revelation-through-symbol to me also connects with Tut’ankh’amun [pictured right. See posts here & here]. Corresponding biblical references abound, e.g.: “The queen of the south shall rise… behold, a greater than Solomon is here” [Matthew 12: 42]; “Make haste my beloved…” [SoS 8: 14]; “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” [Rev 3: 11]…
In Khemet, crowns represent an evolution of consciousness resulting from the respective journeys of the divine feminine in concert with her divine masculine who, as Tut’ankh’amun, travels through the after-world on his necessary mission. Their successful outcome and bond becomes the nucleus of a collective/communal levelling-up… Hotep ❤ M
From ancient times to the present day, Africa’s collective imagination has to one degree or another been influenced by the leopard as a symbol of its cultural and spiritual potency. The black panther is the melanistic color variant of leopards in Africa, so perhaps the phenomenal success of the movie of the same name can be used as a current barometer of that potency. North, south, east, west, and diaspora – the leopard is a powerful symbol of African warriors, sages, magicians, priests, gods, goddesses, queens, and kings. In West Africa, sculptures from Ife and Benin portray the leopard as a symbol of wisdom. This statue from ancient North Africa depicting King Tutankhamun riding through the underworld on the back Read More
“Great, another broken white boy for us to fix!” One of several funny lines from Black Panther delivered by Shuri in reference to CIA Agent Everett Ross. “What the hail!” My line when I left the theater on President’s Day with mixed feelings about the movie, but mostly about the droplets of ice which had just begun falling from LA’s South Bay skies onto my African head-wrap. Was this a sign? Movie promos had gone hard with Gil Scott Heron’s classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, I mused while trying to extract pieces of the odd weather from my son’s fro for inspection. But why not build a strategic alliance between African cousins rather than having T’Challa, in true bourgeois liberal fashion, make a Wakanda charity-case out of Killmonger’s Oakland after the fact? Mom, it’s not your story… Huh?! Read More
In African oral tradition we have a communication concept surrounding the power of the word to generate and/or aesthetize life. In BaNtu culture, this is referred to as Nommo. This same concept in Khemet was referred to as Hekau – “words of power” which were key to the alkhemical authority of god-as-magician. Often viewed as the female version of Djehuti (Khemet’s god of magical arts and foremost scribe of the gods) goddess Seshat accompanied Khemet’s widowed Queen Auset in guarding murdered King Ausar‘s reconstituted and mummified corpse to ensure that he would go on to become God of the afterlife. Read More
Ausar, god of the afterlife whom many believe holds the seven heavenly stars in his glorified form in the Hunter constellation, was said to have had a great passion for song and dance during his popular reign in Kemet. So much so that he recruited several African Muses to accompany him on a tour to teach the legendary Nile Valley arts of cultivation throughout Asia and Europe, and always had a troupe of musicians back at his court. These Muses became Goddesses in Kemet, but the later Greek conquest of Ausar’s kingdom led to their colonial conversion and subjugation under Apollo Musagete – “Apollo, Leader of the Muses” – of the Olympian world. Read More
I didn’t grow up a comic-book super-fan (more like occasional reader), nor grew to become enticed by Hollywood’s silver-screen adventures of super-heroes from the big-3 comic-book universes: Marvel, DC, and X-Men. Marvel’s recently-released trailer for the Black Panther movie (set for release on February 16th, 2018) may just have changed all that. Read More
~ Posted in honor of African-American Music Appreciation Month, June 2017 ~
“The artist is meant to put the objects of this world together in such a way that through them you will experience that light, that radiance which is the light of our consciousness and which all things both hide and, when properly looked upon, reveal. The hero journey is one of the universal patterns through which that radiance shows brightly.” [Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss] Read More
The biggest night in show business is the annual Academy Awards show which pulls in a television viewing audience of 40 million (give or take). It’s where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (founded in the 1920s) recognizes the merits of its most talented artists/craftspeople and honors them with a golden idol, a statue whose nick-name Oscar means ‘divine spear.’ The specter of Hollywood as an ideological battlefield where dreams and stories as cultural artifacts fight, bleed and die for acceptance in the dream factory run by mainstream [white] gods is not farfetched from the industry’s competitive, often cut-throat reality. Harsher still are the ironic implications of the Oscar award itself whose form Read More
Hwt-hr is the Kemetic version of Hathor, meaning ‘Mansion of Heru.’ Indeed, as Heru’s divine consort, Hathor is regarded as the sky in which he – as the sun god and “Djedi Sky Walker”/ Dancer – dwells. Hathor is worshipped as goddess of music, dance, beauty, fertility, childbirth, women, children and foreign lands who personifies feminine love, joy, motherhood, and nature in general. Women particularly aspired to embody this deeply loved goddess’s conjoined roles as wife, mother, and lover which gained Hathor the titles of ‘Lady of the House of Jubilation’, as well as ‘The One Who Fills the Sanctuary with Joy’.
The depictions detailed in some of the most ancient and venerated temples that were built on and with her African earth testify to goddess Hathor’s similar regard as the Mansion of Heru in the heavens. One of the earliest temples of worship to Hathor was built in Dendera (Upper Kemet) during the first Intermediate period. Inside this particular site, where Hathor was worshipped as ‘Mistress of Dendera’ there are stone reliefs on the walls, which some have argued illustrate that electricity was harnessed in Kemetic times. Originally accessible only to high priest initiates, the accompanying texts warn about the potential abuse of the energy and wisdom depicted on these reliefs. Resembling a light bulb, the Dendera light reliefs alternatively depict the Hermopolis myth of creation in which the lotus flower from the primordial sea of Nun gives birth to the sun god, Atum-Ra – represented by the emerging snake. The surrounding bulb/bubble represents the field of the universe within which this creative process occurs.
Dendera, Hathor‘s main cult site, was where she was considered to be the mother as well as consort of Horus of Edfu. Subsequent temple (and chapel) sites dedicated to Hathor include the Hathor Chapel at the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the Temple of Hathor and Ma’at at Deir el-Medina – both in Luxor’s West Bank; the Temple of Hathor at Philae Island, Aswan; and the Temple of Hathor at Timna Valley, Israel. Popular with commoners and royalty alike throughout the ancient world, evidence of devotion to this goddess – before her attributes were absorbed by goddess Auset – also abounds in the Giza Valley Temple of Khafre, as well as in the Luxor Temple of Amun~Mut~Montu/Khonsu (“Triad of Waset“).
Built as mansions of the gods, the sacred architecture and décor of Kemetic temples adhere to sound philosophical principles that facilitate humanity’s connections on earth to the higher consciousness of the heavens. Hathor’s goddess aspects inform the design details in the afore-mentioned temples, each a 5-D mansion that speaks in symbol, proportion, volume, harmony, and time – asking us to solve the human-divine puzzle in our inner/understanding and outward exaltations. Indeed, the Luxor Temple – in which several proverbs surrounding the cardinal concept of “KNOW THY SELF” are inscribed – was built in the idealized proportions of a human frame to help facilitate the discovery that within us are written all the laws of the universe.
Referred to as the “Temple in Man,” the Luxor Temple – constructed circa 1400BCE – is sectioned out (see aerial perspective above) in R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz’s research to correlate architecturally with our human anatomy (see book cover right). Among the many fascinating details that are brought to light is the scene illustrated within the ‘throat’ area of Luxor Temple’s architectural interiors depicting a special communication taking place between Amun and his consort, goddess Mut. The surrounding transcriptions indicate that in this conversation Amun is informing his beloved that she will give birth to the divine king. This declaration by Amun [1350 BCE] was appropriated in much later biblical accounts of the “Annunciation” in which an angel (“Gabriel”) announces that a virgin (“Mary”) will conceive and become the mother of a divine savior (“Jesus”) who is the son of God. Christianity’s version thus recast and rescripted this and other key details of the Nativity play from the original mythology inscribed in the Luxor Temple. Though Khonsu is the son of the Triad of Waset, it’s Heru in the related African Trinity who plays the role of “savior” in original mythologies.
The Hypostyle Hall (pictured above) – the ‘lung’/moon section in the Luxor Temple per Schwaller’s architectural reading – is designed to represent the papyrus swamp in the same mythology where goddess Hathor safeguards and nourishes the child Heru until he comes of age to avenge his father Ausar’s murder against evil Set and restore the throne of Kemet to him (Heru) as Ausar’s rightful heir. Schwaller’s research of the sacred architecture and lessons also reveal that the architectural design elements of later Christian Coptic churches were appropriated from the section of this same magnificent Luxor Temple that correlates to the ‘heart’/sun.
Hathor’s Temple at Dendera, referred to as the “Womb of Time” is where her birthday is celebrated on the day Sopdet (‘Sirius’ in Greek) first rises in the sky, heralding the annual inundation of the Nile = the New Year. As the “Sovereign/Lady of the Stars,” Hathor was the ultimate sky goddess whose priestesses and priests sang, danced, and entertained in their rituals of worship to her. The architectural details and décor of this ancient Dendera temple immortalize Hathor as the Sky Mansion of Heru… Goddess of Fertility… and Goddess of Music… among other attributes. The temple columns which stand on the earth (constituted by the floor) and hold aloft the skies (regarded in the ceiling) represent the shaft of the sistrum – Hathor’s celebratory musical instrument.
The face of Hathor as Fertility Goddess displayed at the top of each column is designed to represent the female creative organ of the uterus in its triangular shape, with the elongated ears evident as the fallopian tubes. Because of the ways in which dance and sexuality incarnated in Hathor, she became known by other epithets such as Lady of the Vulva and Hand of God. As such, Hathor‘s attributes as the divine feminine correlate with the dynamics of oral tradition in the organic drama through which life comes into being from an Africa-centered perspective. Heru – her masculine consort in this existential drama – does his share in holding up the skies of Heaven, as illustrated in the ceiling decor of Hathor‘s Temple, aka the earthly Mansion of Heru at Dendera:One of several hymns to Hathor performed at this Dendera Temple says: “Thou art the Mistress of Jubilation, the Queen of the Dance, the Mistress of Music, the Queen of the Harp Playing, the Lady of the Choral Dance, the Queen of Wreath Weaving, the Mistress of Inebriety Without End.”
Historic renderings of goddess Hathor often depict her in the image of a cow, the sun disc and uraeus (rearing cobra emblem of divine authority) within its subtending horns acting symbolically to clarify her significance and status. However despite her legendary popularity and importance, Hathor is a prime example of how the Kemetic tradition merges deities over time in order to advance or evolve their complementary mythologies. She herself supplanted Bat, a cow-goddess representing the source of nourishment; and became interchangeable with cat-goddess Bast (goddess of music, dance, joy, protection, family and love).
As a spiritual metaphor, the cow represents the Milky Way, the heavenly configuration of the Nile River that was so essential to the existence and sustainment of the sacred wisdom and philosophical belief systems that evolved within the Ma’atrix of Africa’s Nile Valley. Hathor‘s “Celestial Nurse” role as mother/giver and nurturer of life to Heru and her association with the Milky Way over time became attributed to Auset. Renderings of Hathor wearing a cow-horned crown while holding the suckling infant Heru on her lap thus became interpreted as Auset – wife of Ausar and mother of Heru – which were later supplanted by Christian iconography and its appropriated mythologies.
Auset is said to be the more merciful goddess, whereas Hathor pursues her goals with a single-minded fervor which – when driven by anger – turns her into the leonine warrior goddess, Sekhmet. As such Hathor becomes the Eye of Re – defender of the sun god to whom, in this form, she is regarded as daughter/mother/ consort – preventing chaos from agents of disorder that threaten his rule… her aspect as Ma’at. It is an iteration of the epic saga of Heru in the restoration of righteous authority and order against the evil and chaos of usurper Set. The ancient Book of the Heavenly Cow tells a story about Sekhmet‘s role at the end of the 28-year war that was fought to unify Upper and Lower Kemet and begin the Middle Kingdom era. In this story it is said that so strong was Sekhmet’s blood-lust during her rage-fueled rampage of slaughter against enemies of Re in the Lower Kingdom that the only way she could be made to stop and return to her gentle form as Hathor was by becoming intoxicated from drinking vast amounts of crimson-colored beer that Re poured on the ground to resemble blood.
Central to Kemetic concepts of the female divinity, the Eye of Re was associated with other goddesses, notably Mut – consort to Amun – who’d take on the typical leonine form in this warrior aspect. Since each of the falcon-headed god Heru‘s eyes were respectively equated with the sun and the moon, his solar (right) eye was the one referred to as the Eye of Re, whereas the lunar (left) one was referred to as the Eye of Heru. Hathor – “Lady of the southern Sycamore” – is said to have used milk from her sacred tree to restore sight to Heru‘s lunar eye after his legendary bruising battle against Set. “His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set.” [KJV – SoS 5:12] Similar to Mut in regard to her status as a tree deity (thus Djed pillar) Hathor was sometimes depicted handing out water to the deceased from her Sycamore. As ‘Lady of the West’ (the direction of the setting sun) Hathor was said to protect and assist the dead in their final journey, and often appears on sarcophagi.
Associated with dream-interpretation, fate and prophetic knowledge of every person’s life from birth through their death, protection from evil, and help in matters of love, this divine-feminine Mansion of Heru/ Hero may thus also thus be regarded as Hathor of the Ma’atrix = ‘Goddess of the S/Hero’s Journey’ which enjoins each and every one of us in our lifetimes. The ‘Seven Hathors’ (illustrated) – worshipped in seven cities, including Waset where the triad of Amun~Mut~Khonsu was preeminent – are said to be present in human form at the birth of a child, but are accompanied by the sky-bull in their cow form in a funerary context where they are believed to nourish and protect the deceased from harm.
“Nitakungojea Milele” ♥ …RIP Al Jarreau (3/12/40 ~ 2/12/17)
“Sky God… God of Hunting… Warrior God… Lord of the Horizon… Divine Falcon… He who came forth from Hapi [Africa’s Nile God]… Dweller in Sopdet [Star of Auset]… God of Kingship… Heir of his Father…” are some of the epithets ascribed to Heru, one of Africa’s most storied gods of salvation. Heru‘s hunting prowess is represented in the falcon or hawk whose right and left eyes respectively denote the sun and moon; and who is said to hold the stars in his speckled feathers as his wings create the wind. The circumstances of Heru’s placement in the Holy Trinity which includes Ausar (his father) and Auset (his mother), and his triumphant role in the battle against evil [Set]