Man And The Divine Forces
1. Man’s Place In The Universal Order
As shown earlier, the universe is basically a hierarchy of energies at different orders of density. Our senses have some access to the densest form of energy, which is matter. The hierarchy of energies is interrelated, and each level is sustained by the level below it. This hierarchy of energies is set neatly into a vast matrix of deeply interfaced natural laws. It is both physical and metaphysical.
The faster forms of energies—these invisible energies in the universe—are called spirits, by many. Spirits/energies are organized at different orders of densities, which relates to the different speeds of molecules. These faster (invisible) energies inhabit certain areas or are associated with particular natural phenomena. Spirits (energies) exist in family-type groups (i.e., related to each other).
Ancient and Baladi Egyptians believe that the universal energy matrix consists of the unity’s inter-penetrating and interactive nine realms, which are commonly classified as seven heavens (metaphysical realms) and two earths (physical realms).
The two earthly realms are commonly known as The Two Lands. The number 8 is our physical (earthly) realm. The last realm—number 9—is where our complimentary opposite exists. [For more detailed information about this subject, read Egyptian Cosmology: The Animated Universe by Moustafa Gadalla.]
According to Egyptian philosophy, though all creation is spiritual in origin, man is born mortal but contains within himself the seed of the divine. His purpose in this life is to nourish that seed; and his reward, if successful, is eternal life, where he will reunite with his divine origin. Nourishing plants in the soil is analogous to nourishing the spirit on Earth by doing good deeds.
Man comes into the world with the higher divine faculties, which are the essence of his/her salvation, in an unawakened state. The way of Egyptian religion is, therefore, a system of practices aimed at awakening these dormant higher faculties. [For more detailed information about this subject, read Egyptian Cosmology: The Animated Universe by Moustafa Gadalla.]
2. The Image Of The Universe
It is commonly recognized by all theological and philosophical schools of thought that the human being is made in the image of God – i.e., a miniature universe – and that to understand the universe is to understand oneself, and vice versa.
Yet, no culture has ever practiced the above principle like the Ancient Egyptians. Central to their complete understanding of the universe was the knowledge that man was the embodiment of the laws of creation. As such, the physiological functions and processes of the various parts of the body were seen as manifestations of cosmic functions.
The Ancient Egyptian texts and symbols are permeated with this complete understanding that man (in whole and part) is the image of the universe (whole and part).
To Ancient Egyptians, man, as a miniature universe, represents the created images of all creation. Since Re (Ra)—the cosmic creative impulse—is called “The One Join together, Who Comes Out of His Own Members”, so the human being (the image of creation) is, likewise, A One Joined Together. The human body is a unity that consists of different parts joined together. In the Litany of Re, the body parts of the divine man are each identified with a neter/netert.
If man is the universe in miniature, then all factors in man are duplicated on a greater scale in the universe. All drives and forces which are powerful in man are also powerful in the universe at large. In accordance with the Egyptians’ cosmic consciousness, every action performed by man is believed to be linked to a greater pattern in the universe, including sneezing, blinking, spitting, shouting, weeping, dancing, playing, eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse.
Man, to the Ancient Egyptians, was the embodiment of the laws of creation. As such, the physiological functions and processes of various parts of the body were seen as manifestations of cosmic functions. Limbs and organs had a metaphysical function, in addition to their physical purpose. The parts of the body were consecrated to one of the neteru (divine principles), which appeared in the Egyptian records throughout its recovered history. In addition to the Litany of Re, here are other examples:
- Utterance 215 § 148-149, from the Sarcophagus Chamber of Unas’ Tomb (rubble pyramid) at Saqqara, identifies the parts of the body (head, nose, teeth, arms, legs, etc.), each with the divine neteru:
Thy head is that of Horus
. . .
thy nose is a Anubis
thy teeth are Sopdu
thy arms are Happy and Dua-mutef,
. . .
thy legs are Imesty and Kebeh-senuf,
. . .
All thy members are the twins of Atam.
- From the Papyrus of Ani, [pl. 32, item 42]:
My hair is Nun; my face is Re; my eyes are Hathor; my ears are Wepwawet; my nose is She who presides over her lotus-leaf; my lips are Anubis; my molars are Selket; my incisors are Isis; my arms are the Ram, the Lord of Mendes; my breast is Neith; my back is Seth; my phallus is Osiris; . . . my belly and my spine are Sekhmet; my buttocks are the Eye of Horus; my thighs and my calves are Nut; my feet are Ptah; . . . there is no member of mine devoid of a neter (god), and Thoth is the protection of all my flesh.
The above text leaves no doubt about the divinity of each member: there is no member of mine devoid of a neter (god).
The logical (and only) way to explain anything to human beings is on human terms and in human form. As such, the complicated scientific and philosophical information was reduced in Ancient Egypt, to events in human images and terms.
3. The Two Heavenly Courts
The Egyptians made two broad distinctions in the hierarchical metaphysical structure of the seven heavenly realms, as follows:
A. At the highest end of this celestial order, there exist three levels in a sort of heavenly court or council that are the equivalents of the Arch-angels and the Orders of Angels which we find in other systems of religion. Those are not involved with human activities on Earth
B. The Egyptians distinguished four lower groups that occupy in the celestial hierarchy positions identical with those of some Oriental Christian systems, the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and many great saints. Those lived on Earth for one time or another and after their Earthly departure, they continue to be involved with human activities on Earth.
In all periods of Egyptian history there existed this class of beings, some of whom are male and some female. They had many forms and shapes and could appear on Earth as men, women, animals, birds, reptiles, trees, plants, etc. They were stronger and more intelligent than men, but they had passions like men. They were credited with possessing some divine powers or characteristics, and yet they could suffer sickness and die.
[More info about the interaction between beings/energies in the universe is found in Egyptian Cosmology: The Animated Universe by Moustafa Gadalla.]
4. The Three Primary Heavenly Helpers
These are what are erroneously described as Minor Gods, Local Gods, etc. They are not a part of the neteru (gods, goddesses), as indicated earlier. Such groups lived on earth for one time or another, and after their Earthly departure, they continue to be involved with human activities on Earth, and are generally divided into three groups:
i. Family and close relatives
ii. Community Patrons—[Ancestral local/regional patrons]
The character of such departed souls as community patrons [“local gods”] cover a broad range, fulfilling the expectations of their descendants in the community at large.
They behave like superior human beings with the same passions and the same needs; but also with transcendental power. The city is the “House” of the ‘patron’.
They have shrines, holy objects and statues. They may appear in the form of stones, trees, animals or human beings.
It is conceivable that the patron of a particularly great and mighty town should be believed to exercise a sort of patronage, either politically or agriculturally, over that part which he had attained. This would determine his expanding influence on a larger area position, and he would become a great patron with a wider regional area.
Certain shrines show them to be purely local ‘patrons; many originally named after the towns; such as “him of Ombos”, “him of Edfu”, or “her of Bast” – they are really merely the genii of the towns.
iii. Folk Saints
Walis (folk saints) are the people who succeeded in traveling the spiritual Path, and who have attained union with the Divine. Such unification enables them to perform supernatural acts, influence and predict future events, etc. As a result, they become the intermediaries between the earthly living beings and the supernatural, heavenly realms.
After their earthly deaths, their spiritual force/blessing is thought to increase and to inhere in the persons (and, particularly, the places) associated with and chosen by them. [More information about such heavenly helpers and interactions with them can be found in Egyptian Cosmology: The Animated Universe and Egyptian Mystics: Seekers of The Way; both publications by Moustafa Gadalla.]