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ANCIENT EGYPT : To Become a Magician 4/27/11 9:22 PM

To Become A Magician
the sacred Great Word, its divine record by the ante-rational mind
and the magic of the everlasting existence of Pharaoh's light-life

by Wim van den Dungen

Thoth, Lord of Divine Scripture

after Champollion, J.F. : Panthéon Egyptien, planche 30C

"The sky quivers, the earth quakes before me,

for I am a magician, I possess magic."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 472 (§ 924) Page 1 of 27
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1 The genesis and growth of cognition.

1.1 The origin of cognition : in the beginning was the action.

1.2 Summary of the findings of Piaget.

1.3 An eclectical model on cognitive growth & the historico-psychological paradigm.

1.4 The early stages specified : mythical, pre-rational & proto-rational.

1.5 The importance of an integrated rationality.

1.6 The place of schema-theory.

2 The "Great Word" and divine scripture.

2.1 Brief predynastic chronology and the primeval goddess of the sacred.

2.2 The "Sia", "Hu", "Heka" & "Maat" of Re and Pharaoh in the Old Kingdom.

2.3 The mummification of the divine words.

2.4 Philosophy of language and the Egyptian language.

2.5 Early cognition and Archaic, Old and Middle Egyptian.

To Become A Magician

3 "Heka" : the magic of Re & the sacred Sky-goddess.

General considerations

3.1 The origin of Egyptian magic : the Great Sorceress & divine kingship.

3.2 The primeval "heka" of Hathor and Isis : love, life, death & resurrection.

3.3 The Ogdoadic "heka" of Thoth : let it be written, let it be done.

3.4 The core of Egyptian magic : the power of the Great Word.


Parapsychology prompts philosophy to reconsider the importance of magic and the magical. Egyptology must
bear the exercise too, for we know in Ancient Egypt magic ("heka") was the cornerstone of all major & minor
state cults as well as being crucial in the personal piety of the commoner. Page 2 of 27
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"The evidence for Extra Sensoric Perception (ESP) and Psychokinesis (PK) -and I have presented only brief
summaries of a few examples of it- seems to be adequate. Serious attention to the evidence should be
convincing to all except those who are irreversibly committed to the worldview of materialism and
sensationalism, according to which ESP and PK are impossible in principle."
Griffin, D.R. : Parapsychology, Philosophy and Spirituality : a Postmodern Exploration, State University of
New York Press - New York, 1997, p.89.

The egyptologist Jacq wrote :

"Un égyptologue qui ne croit pas à la religion égyptienne, qui ne partage pas une sympathie totale avec la
civilisation qu'il étudie, ne saurait, à notre avis, qui prononcer des paroles desséchées. L'intellectualisme, si
brillant soit-il, n'a jamais remplacé le sentiment vécu, même dans une discipline scientifique."
Jacq, 1983, p.7, my italics.

The fact "remote viewing" (the ability to access and provide accurate information through psychic means,
about a person, place, object or event, that is inaccessible through any normally accepted means, regardless
of distance, shielding or time) actually exists, begs the question 'How' ? Instead of focusing on the objective
(like a physical theory allowing for these unexplainable events - cf. "actio-in-distans"), contemporary magical
theory tends to view magic as the result of a particular magical state of consciousness accompanied by
corresponding actions and external forms. The latter are necessary, for the magician wants to direct the
process of the physical world.

"La magie égyptienne est une vision du monde qui éclaire des zones à la fois lumineuses et obscures de
l'âme humaine. Bien avant la psychanalyse, elle a été une voie de recherche féconde pour la connaissance
de l'ultime réalité qui est en nous. Elle a également servi à manipuler, non sans danger, une énergie
psychique que la science la plus rationnelle commence à redécouvrir, à tâtons et avec un certain
Jacq, Ch. : Ibidem, p.35, my italics.

In this paper, I try to understand how Ancient Egyptian thought arrived at its proto-rational stage. Such an
understanding can not deny that magical features prevailed in the earliest stage of their cognitive growth
(pre-logical or mythical thought). However, in Ancient Egypt, magic is particularly "mental" and it continued
to play a dominant role in the next stages of cognitive development. As magical rituals and techniques as
such are of no interest here, I will not present a comprehensive list of magical activities (as has been done
by others). Instead, I will try to focus on the "mental" core of Egyptian magic itself.

A life lived according to truth & justice (cf. "Maat") and the ceremonial release at death of the subtle foci of
consciousness and their co-relative bodies (cf. my paper on the Ba) out of the "net" of the physical plane
were the two major goals of the Ancient Egyptian. The former guaranteed that one would exist as a happy
human being on earth, the latter that one would put off one's humanity at death and continue to exist as a
deity in the afterlife, while having access to the physical plane via the mummy. Both goals were related, for
if one had been unjust on earth, no deification could be expected and total annihilation would ensue (to the
name of the justified deceased, the epithet "just of voice" was added, i.e. his or her heart had never
conceived unjust words and hence only truth had been uttered).

To realize these goals, the Egyptians placed their trust in the power of speech , or the ability to create by
uttering the proper words (creative utterance or "hu") insightfully conceived beforehand in the mind ("ab" or
heart). In the Memphis Theology, this power of creation through the word is cosmogonic and associated with
Ptah, but we find the independent concept as early as the Pyramid Texts. In fact, without "words of power",
there would be no Egyptian magic, rituals or ceremonialism. It is true that all kinds of actions accompanied
this use of words, but the deities would never send their doubles ("kau") souls ("bau") & power ("sekhem")
if the priests did not know what to say . The magical actions were important, but absolutely impotent without Page 3 of 27
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the words necessary to empower them. Moreover, to assume the form of the deities needed, precise
recitation was deemed necessary. Hence, Egyptian magic makes ample use of the auditive faculty (hearing
the words of justice and -if silence is not indicated- speaking the words of power). Besides uttering these
words of power, the auditive was also stimulated and underscored by using analogical languages like body
language, music and art to give magical rituals their full suggestive effectiveness.

Instead of understanding magic as a tool to change objective circumstances directly, I suggest (based on the
evidence from the earliest sources) that magic is a technology aimed at altering the magician's state of
consciousness in such a way that he or she has access to psychic abilities which do not only allow for
telepathy and telekinesis, but which make it also possible to influence the collective unconscious in such a
way that out of it particular, collective events may emerge & crystalize. Compare this with the effects of
strong suggestions during a deep state of hypnosis, but then on a collective scale. Direct suggestion of this
kind is like the empowering effect some charismatic leaders have on crowds.

In Ancient Egypt, Pharaoh and his Residence provided for the continuous presence of a power said to have
derived from "the gods" (Pharaoh as son of Re). In the Old Kingdom, he alone was the real center of the
divine on earth, for the spirits and souls of the deities existed in the sky . These gods & goddesses could
allow their "kau" and "bau" to accept the invitation spoken and enacted by the priests. In these ceremonial
performances, only the deities spoke, listened & moved. The priests (brought into trance through the
ongoing litanies ?), enacted complex mystery plays, divine interactions and events between the deities. The
priests identified themselves as much as possible with the pantheon.

The initiatic as well as the funerary rituals make use of this magical technique called "the assumption of
godforms", i.e. the total, personalized identification of a single priestly mind with a pure archetype, i.e. a
conscious, symbolical (albeit proto-rational) approximation of a natural forca & a cultural form. Ergo, it is
possible to view the Egyptian deities as forms or symbolizations of natural processes leading to a complex
syncretism in harmony with the fundamental unity of the "first time" in which all the deities were (and
continuously are) (re)created, (re)generated and (re)juvenated. The epistemic status of these godforms are
not rational but proto-rational. They are the archetypes of the collective unconscious of the Ancient Egyptian,
i.e. forms & symbolizations reflecting a collective understanding of certain processes of nature & culture.

"The Egyptians were the first to practice a Jungian psychology of archetypes and to recognize the
fundamental restorative power of the unconscious. They realized that in sleep and dreams, one experiences
these depths as a psychic reality in which one may encounter gods and the deceased alike."
Hornung, 1992, p.95.

In order to understand proto-rationality, we need an objective standard to measure these stages of cognitive
growth. In my Naar een Stuurkundige Antropologie (1993) I already developed an eclectical model on
cognitive development. It was based on the work of Piaget, Kohlberg, the neo-Freudian school and Maslow.
See also : Criticosynthesis, 2008.

Once the role of magic in the proto-rationality of the Ancient Egyptians has been understood, it may be
possible to contrast this knowledge with Greek philosophy, especially with the thought of those Greeks who
visited Egypt and studied there. It may become clear then, that many of the themes developed by Greek
philosophy did not arise "ex nihilo".

In a later stage, these comparisons will be helpful to clarify the relationships (resemblances and differences)
between Ancient Egyptian civilization and the Semitical cultures of the Jews and the Arabs, both influenced
by Ancient Greece.

1.The genesis & growth of cognition.

This chapter provides information enabling one to understand "ante-rationality", so that "instinct" may be
distinguished from "intuition". To arrive at this, the genesis & growth of cognition will be investigated. Two Page 4 of 27
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barriers are discovered : between reason and its ante-rational foundation, the early layers of cognitive
activity (mythical, pre-rational and proto-rational thought) and between reason and its intellect, the post-
formal layers of cognition related to intuition, creativity, inventivity, gnosis & the direct experience of the
Divine (mysticism). I argue for an integrated rationality able to make use of these barriers when necessary.

1.1 The origin of cognition : in the beginning was the action.

In his Le Structuralisme, Piaget defines his pivotal notion of "structure" as a system of transformations which
abides by certain laws and which sustains or enriches itself by a play of these transformations, which occur
without the use of external factors. This auto-structuration of a complete whole is defined as "auto-
regulation". In the individual, the latter is established by biological rhythms, biological & mental regulations
and mental operations. These can be theoretically formalized.

Piaget refuses to accept that "real" dialectical tensions between physical objects are the true foundations of
thought and cognition (its possibility, genesis & progressive development). Piaget never fills in what reality
is. He maintains no ontological view on reality-as-such, considered to be the borderline of both the
developing subject and its objective world, stage after stage.

The cognitive is approached as a process, for rationality grows in developmental stages, each calling for a
particular cognitive structure on the side of the subject. What reality is, is left open. Why ? Every objective
observation implies an observer bound by the limitations of a given stage of cognitive development, i.e. a
subjective epistemic form, containing ideosyncratic, opportunistic and particularized information.

Neither did Piaget choose for a strictly transcendental approach. Conditions which exist before cognition
itself (like in Foucault) are not introduced. What Popper called the "problem-solving" ability of man, can be
associated with Piaget's notion on "re-equilibration". Popper introduced the triad : problem, theory &
falsification. In anthropology and psychology Piaget introduced : activity, regulation & re-equilibration (auto-

Living substances begin their existence with action. This is rooted in biological processes. Action implies the
formation of cognitive structures which -at first- are exteriorized in coordinated external movements. After
repeated actions, interiorization, permanency, invariant principles and imagination allow for the emergence
of internal cognitive structures.

So the following sequence appears :

external actions (system) & reactions (environment) ;

interiorization and permanency ;

internal cognitive structures and auto-regulation ;

novel external actions.

These internal cognitive structures are constantly being transformed and regulated in order to adapt the
system to new situations. This process is recurrent and so always more complex cognitive structure emerge.
Ergo, the continuous emancipation of the different cognitive forms of equilibrium ( an always increasing
cognition) is the pivotal notion (cf. The Development of Thought, 1978). This increase is the natural result of
successfull re-equilibrations, in which logico-symbolical functions plays a major role.

Auto-regulation is also the result of the interactions between the system and its environment. Hence,
intersubjectivity is always essential in the construction of new and stronger cognitive structures. This implies
that cognitive processes not only appear as resulting from organical auto-regulation (of which they reflect
the essential mechanisms) but also emerge as differentiated organs of this regulation in the arena of
interactions with the environment. Cognition is the most differentiated biological organ of survival human Page 5 of 27
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beings have.

Piagetian psychogenesis (based on the observation of children) shows that knowledge implies a developing
relationship between a thinking subject and the objects around it. This relationship grows and becomes
more complex. Stages of cognitive development can be defined by means of their typical cognitive events
and acquired mental forms. This development is not a priori (pre-conditions), a posteriori (empirical) but
constructivistic : the system is always adapting and creating new cognitive structures, causing novel behavior
which may be interiorized and form new internal cognitive forms, etc. The foundation of this process is
action itself , the fact that its movements are not random but coordinated. It is the form of this coordination,
the order, logic or symbolization of the pattern of the movements which eventually may stabilize as a
permanent mental operator.

Two main actions are distinguished :

sensori-motoric actions exist before language or any form of representational conceptualization ;

operational actions ensue as soon as the actor is conscious of the results & goals of actions and the
mechanisms of actions, i.e. the translation of action into some early form of conceptualized thought.

1.2 Summary of the findings of Piaget.

In Piaget's theory on cognitive development, two general functional principles are postulated : organization &

The former implies the tendency common to all forms of life to integrate structures (physical &
psychological) into systems of a higher order. The latter (to be divided in assimilation & accommodation)
shows how the individual not only modifies cognitive structures in reaction to demands (external) but also
uses his own structures to incorporate elements of the environment (internal). Organisms tend toward
equilibrium with the environment. Centration, decentration (crisis) & re-equilibration are the fundamental
processes forcing the cognitive texture of humans to become more complex.

Mental operators are the result of the interiorization of this cognitive evolution. An original, archaic sense of
identity is shaped. After prolonged exposure to new types of action -challenging the established original
centration and its equilibrium- a crisis ensues and decentration is the outcome. A higher-order equilibrium is
found through auto-regulation (re-equilibration).

In this way, several strands, levels, layers or planes of cognitive texture unfold. The process can be analysed
as follows :

1. repeated confrontation with a new kind of action ;

2. action-reflection or the interiorization of this novel action by means of semiotic factors ; this is the first
level of permanency or pre-concepts which have no decontextualized use ;

3. anticipation & retro-action using these pre-concepts, valid insofar as they symbolize the original action
but always with reference to context ;

4. final level of permanency : formal concepts, valid independent of the original action and context & the
formation of permanent cognitive (mental) operators.

Mental operators identify (symbolize) actions in sets, strands, layers of conscious, informational & material
activity. In this way, Piaget defined four layers of cognitive growth :

1. sensori-motoric cognition, between birth and 2 years of age ;

2. pre-operational cognition, between 2 and 6 ; Page 6 of 27
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3. concrete operatoric cognition, between 7 and 10 ;

4. formal-operatoric cognition, between 10 & 13.

1.3 An eclectical model on cognitive growth & the historico-psychological paradigm.

The work of Piaget, the findings of neo-Freudian theory (Lemay), Kohlberg's research on moral development
& some major theories on post-formal cognitive growth (Maslow, Tart, Wilber) yield a genetico-cognitive
model which integrates the three main perspectives on the living human being, namely the cognitive (Piaget,
Kohlberg), the socio-affective (Freud and his school) and the moral (Maslow and transpersonal psychology).
These explain the stability, continuity and architecture of a system of cognitive relationships, structures &

This part of the model is "vertical", in the sense that it explains how cognitive structures stand erect.
Complementary to this is the approach of Prigogine, who investigated the horizontal, dynamical features,
found to be irreversible (cf. infra).

Each phase is characterized by matter (pragmatics) and the complexification of its biological operations, by
information (syntax) or the synthetical symbolizations of these operations, and by consciousness (semantics)
summarizing the meanings & intentions which occur as a result of the activities of a living substance (casu
quo the body).

These findings can be expanded in three ways. Firstly, the Piagetian model did not only prove valid in the
psycho-cognitive realm, but can also be used as a tool to understand the evolution of cultural forms and the
crisis undergone by societies & civilizations (understood as living systems - cf. the historico-psychological
paradigm). Secondly, the stages encountered in the cognitive growth of individuals correspond with the
development of cognition in the human species as a whole (from mythical to rational thought and beyond -
cf. Jaynes, 1976). Thirdly, stages beyond the formal stage of cognitive growth can and will not be a priori

The historico-psychological paradigm used in my hermeneutical studies is a synthesis of Piaget's genetical

epistemology and the historical approach of civilization, seeking the general mental form or forms
underscoring the economical, socio-political, scientific, artistic, spiritual and symbolical (codified, written)
expressions of a given civilization in general and its overall, common cognitive structure (or cultural form) in
particular (cf. Jaynes, 1976). Its main principles are :

1. thought originates from action, i.e. coordinated movements. This coordination is a "form" which is : (a)
executed by the biological organism at hand, i.e. its matter, (b) explained through the interactions with
its environment or information and (c) given meaning by the unique identity or consciousness typical
for each member of a species ;

2. thought is based on an indirect, functional contact with the physical world, i.e. thought is always
mediated , by a third term (whereas fysiological processes are direct) ;

3. thought is a finite process which is an integrated part of a particular living organism but simultaneously
thought is also the extension with which consciousness may touch the universal, unconditional, infinite
& absolute ;

4. the development of thought depends on the successive improvements of the variety of its abstract
forms of equilibration, which is a historical process ;

5. the construction of more stable cognitive forms becomes necessary to resolve the contradictions which
characterize the previous stage, and so they are regulations of regulations, etc.

6. to explain the historical development of these equilibrations both individual as social factors are to be
taken into consideration. Society is a system of activities based on actions which influence each other Page 7 of 27
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reciprocally ;

7. the rise and development of a cultural form, especially its cognitive features, is understood as a
collective, historical equilibration on a higher, more stable level of civilization which allows for the
construction of new inner operators (actional, affective, cognitive, intuitional) and novel outer behavior
(as families, societies, cultures & civilizations), eliminating those tensions which disrupted the
development of civilization in an earlier stage of its cultural development.

To complete this model, we need to consider non-equilibrium dynamics or the notion of irreversible process
as developed by Prigogine in the context of his study of complex, open, communicative & energy-consuming
wholes, i.e. dissipative systems or organizations.

In his famous book, La Nouvelle Alliance, Prigogine poses the question how highly intelligent systems escape
the constant chaotic movements which surrounds them ? Indeed, Piaget (psychology) focused on the forms
of equilibrium which characterize the relative stability of a given stage of cognitive development. These forms
represent order, structure or architecture (stability, conservation, repetition). Prigogine (physics), aware of
the entropic qualities of physical systems with complex trajectories (initial position + dynamical process),
emphasized the chaotic dynamics of the environment and is therefore impressed by the architecture of order
evidenced by complex systems. The fact that crisis (decentration) is necessary to trigger re-equilibration, as
well as the observation that crisis is initiated by interacting with the environment, were put into evidence by
Piaget and are confirmed by the analysis of complex trajectories by Prigogine (cf. Chaos).

Both positions are complementary, and focus on a different functional horizon of complex systems. Prigogine
studies the horizontal, dynamical characteristics of a system, the fact that they constantly reorganize to
survive the entropic decay around them. Piaget investigates the vertical, static architecture of a system, the
fact that it has a strong backbone which is the result of many years of evolution and uncountable trials &

Both acknowledge that systems go through crisis and define auto-regulation (Piaget) and auto-structuration
(Prigogine) as explicative for the continuous reorganization (permanent reformation) to which highly
intelligent systems submit themselves, especially when the number of interaction with the environment is
large (increasing the arrival of new input). Because fluctuations rise, more interactions increase the chance
of crisis and trigger crisis (decentration). Only crisis will increase the survival-needs of a system and trigger
auto-structuration which can be measured as :

a decrease of entropy or negative entropy (i.e. neg entropy in a galacy largely composed out of entropic
matter). Complex life is a refutation of the "black box"-model, the "closed systems"-theories and the
"stimulus-reflex"-thinking ;

a more comprehensive database which allows for more information to be stored, assimilated and made
to work to solve problems ;

a more coherent field of consciousness, able to attribute meaning to the objects which are part of it.

"Le calcul montre que plus un système est complexe, plus sont élevées les chances que, pour tout état,
certaines fluctuations soient dangereuses. (...) Il est probable que dans les systèmes très complexes, où les
espèces ou les individus interagissent de manière très diversifiée, la diffusion, la communication entre tous
les points du système est également très rapide. (...) Ainsi, ce serait la rapidité de communication que
déterminerait la complexité maximale que peut atteindre l'organisation d'un système sans devenir trop
Prigogine, I. & Stengers, I. : La Nouvelle Alliance, Gallimard - Paris, 1979, p.178, my italics.

A swift communication indeed increases fluctuations, but the latter do not destroy the system because a
critical balance has been realized.

"La taille critique est donc déterminée par une compétition entre le 'pouvoir d'intégration' du système et les Page 8 of 27
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méchanismes chimique qui amplifient la fluctuation à l'intérieur de la sousrégion fluctuante."

Prigogine, I. & Stengers, I. : Ibidem, p.178.

Hence, auto-regulation through the dynamics of conflict, implies both external (environment) and internal
(power of integration) changes. The latter, vertical aspect of a system, defies entropy as long as it can and
this with an exemplary tenacity. But if no power of integration is operative or if it is not strong enough
compared with the fluctuations at hand, then an increase of chaos is the most likely outcome. This reduces
the existing heterogeneity and variety to a more standardized and uniform format. It makes the system
withdraw and collapse. For this reduced system avoids communication and hence fossilizes out of the lack of
new input and the absence of auto-regulation.

1.4 The early stages specified : mythical, pre-rational & proto-rational.

When investigating ancient cultures in general and Egyptian civilization in particular, the first three layers of
cognitive growth are essential.

Let me list their specifics :


First substage :

1. adualism and only a virtual consciousness of identity ;

2. primitive action testifies that a quasi complete indifferentiation exists between the subjective and the
objective ;

3. actions are quasi not coordinated, i.e. random movements are frequent.

Second substage :

1. first decentration of actions with regard to their material origin (the physical body) ;

2. first objectification by a subject experiencing itself for the first time as the source of actions ;

3. objectification of actions and the experience of spatiality ;

4. objects are linked because of the growing coordination of actual actions ;

5. links between actions in means/goals schemes, allowing the subject to experience itself as the source
of action (initiative), moving beyond the dependence between the external object and the acting body

6. spatial & temporal permanency and causal relationships are observed ;

7. differentiation (between object and subject) leads to logico-mathematical structures, whereas the
distinction between actions related to the subject and those related to the external objects becomes
the startingpoint of causal relationships ;

8. the putting together of schematics derived from external objects or from the forms of actions which
have been applied to external objects.

Comments :

The earliest stage of mythical thought is adual. The only "symbols" and "forms" are the material events
themselves in all their immediacy and wholeness. This non-verbal core makes myth as analogical as art
(music). In mythical thought, everything is immediate and the immediate is all. Ergo, myth goes against the Page 9 of 27
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differentiation which feeds the complexification of thought & cognition.

"But while the true tendency of scientific, analytical-critical thinking is toward liberation from this substantial
approach, it is characteristic of myth that despite all the 'spirituality' of its objects and contents , its 'logic' -
the form of its contents- clings to bodies."
Cassirer, E. : The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Yale University Press - Yale, 1955, vol.2., p.59.

Even before the rise of language, we see that knowledge has forms which are part of action itself, namely
by differentiating between object & subject of experience and by being conscious of the material,
exteriorized schematics connected to both.

The first differentiation occurs when, on the level of material, actual, immediate actions, the object is placed
before the subject of experience. This emergence of subjectivity implies the decentration of the movements
of the physical executive agent (the body), which unveils the subject as source of action and prepares for
the interiorizations of pre-rational thought. By this foundational difference between the body and the
empirical subject, consciousness can be attributed to a focus of identity (ego).

This stage of mythical thought is non-verbal. Nevertheless, actions are triggered by a subject which is
conscious of a whole network of practical and material actualizations, although without any conceptual
knowledge but only through immediate, exteriorized material schemes. Mythical thought is irrational, i.e.
runs against the principle of logic itself. Irrationality is the foundation of all ante-rational thinking, the "good"
reason why rationality is called for ...


1. because of the introduction of semiotical factors (symbolical play, language, and the formation of
mental images), the coordination of movements is no longer exclusively triggered by their practical and
material actualizations without any knowledge of their existence as abstract forms, i.e. the first layer of
thought occurs : the difference between subject & object is a signal and gives rise to the sign ;

2. upon the simple action, a new type of interiorized action is erected which is not conceptual because the
interiorization itself is nothing more than a copy of the development of the actions using signs and
imagination ;

3. no object of thought is realized but only an internal structure of the actions in a pre-concept formed by
imagination and language ;

4. pre-verbal intelligence and interiorization of imitation in imaginal representations ;

5. psychomorph view on causality : no distinction between objects and the actions of the subjects ;

6. objects are living beings with qualities attributed to them as a result of interactions ;

7. at first, no logical distinction is made between "all" and "few" and comparisons are comprehended in
an absolute way, i.e. A < B is possible, but A < B < C is not ;

8. finally, the difference between class and individual is grasped, but transitivity and reversibility are not
mastered ;

9. the pre-concepts & pre-relations are dependent on the variations existing between the relational
characteristics of objects & can not be reversed, making them rather impermanent and difficult to
maintain. They stand between action-schema and concept.

Comments :

A tremendous leap forwards ensues. The formation of a subjective focus was necessary to allow for the next
step : interiorization and the actual articulation of pre-concepts, leading up to pre-relations between objects, Page 10 of 27
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but the latter remain psychomorph.


1. again a radical change occurs : concepts and relations emerge and the interiorized actions receive the
status of "operations", allowing for transformations. The latter make it possible to change the variable
factors while keeping others invariant ;

2. the increase of coordinations forms coordinating systems & structures which are capable of becoming
closed systems by virtue of a play of anticipative and retrospective constructions of thought (imaginal
thought-forms) ;

3. these mental operations, instead of introducing corrections when the actions are finished, exist by the
pre-correction of errors and this thanks to the double play of anticipation & retroaction or "perfect
regulation" ;

4. transitivity is mastered which causes the enclosedness of the formal system ;

5. necessity is grasped ;

6. constructive abstraction, new, unifying coordinations which allow for the emergence of a total system
and auto-regulation (or the equilbration caused by perfect regulation) ;

7. transitivity, conservation and reversibility are given ;

8. the mental operations are "concrete", not "formal", implying that they (a) exclusively appear in
immediate contexts and (b) deal with objects only (i.e. are not reflective) ;

9. the concrete operatoric structures are not established through a system of combinations but one step
at a time ;

10. this stage is paradoxal : a balanced development of logico-mathematical operations versus the
limitations imposed upon the concrete operations. This conflict triggers the next, final stage, which
covers the formal operations.

Conclusion :

Proto-rationality is always limited by a given context. Moreover, there is no reflection upon the conditions of
subjectivity (just as in the pre-rational stage objects remained psychomorph). This contextualization leaves
in place uncoordinated actions and concepts which are the expression of many serious & fundamental

The formal operations leave these contextual entanglements behind, and give a universal, a-temporal
embedding to the cognitive process. Cognition is liberated from the immediate events and able to
conceptualize logical & mathematical truths (deduction) as well as physical causalities in abstract terms,
without any consideration for their actual occurence, if any (as in an inner thought-experiment). Thought is
able to combine propositions. Self-reflection happens and the internal, transcendental conditions of the
cognitive apparatus are discovered (cf. Rules, Prolegomena, Knowledge, Criticosynthesis).

1.5 The importance of an integrated rationality.

Firstly, an integrated rationality knows how to use the mythical, pre-rational and proto-rational layers of
cognitive development in affective, non-verbal, analogical and contextual happenings. This is reason in
harmony with instinct. Secondly, in its own domain, the production of empirico-formal propositions, reason
works in harmony with a set of normative rules governing the "game" of "true knowing" or production of
knowledge that works. This is reason in harmony with the completion of itself. Thirdly, a multi-dimensional
rationality (cf. Marcuse, Maslow, Wilber) explores the meta-formal, creative and inventive operators, i.e. Page 11 of 27
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seeks to understand intellectual "perception" ("gnosis", "intuition") as a higher ("intellectual") complement of

reason. This is reason in harmony with intuition. Only when pre-nominal, nominal and meta-nominal thought
is allowed to exist in the logical space of a possible cognition (cf. transcendental logic), may a
comprehensive picture on the extensive potential of cognition ensue.

1.6 The place of schema-theory.

The last three decades has seen the rise of schema theory across the fields of linguistics, anthropology,
psychology and artificial intelligence. Human cognition utilizes structures even more complex than prototypes
called "frame", "scene", "scenario", "script" or "schema". In cognitive sciences and in ethnoscience they are
used as a model for classification and generative grammar. The schema is primarily a set of relationships,
some of which amounts to a structure, generating pictoral, verbal and behavioral outputs. The elements
associate with great flexibility & interchangeability, although connected. For the schema's first attribute is
that of being a relation. The schemata are also called mental structures and abstract representations of
environmental regularities. Events activate schemata which allow us to comprehend ourselves & the world
around us.

Schema-theory is part of genetic epistemology. The term is used to define a structured set of generalizable
characteristics of an action. Repetition, crisis & reformation yield strands of co-relative actions. Ergo,
different types of schemata emerge :

sensori-motoric, mythical thought : aduality implies only one relationship, namely with immediate
physicality ; object & subject reflect perfectly ; earliest schemata are restricted to the internal structure
of the actions (the coordination) as they exist in the actual moment and differentiate between the
actions connecting the subjects and the actions connecting the objects. The action-scheme can not be
manipulated by a thought and is triggered when it practically materializes ;

pre-operatoric, pre-rational thought : object and subject are differentiated and interiorized ; the
subject is liberated from its entanglement in the actual situation of the actions ; early psychomorph
causality. The subjective is projected upon the objective and the objective is viewed as the mirror of
the subjective. The emergence of pre-concepts and pre-conceptual schemata does not allow for
permanency and logical control. The beginning of decentration occurs and eventually objectification
ensues ... ;

concrete-operatoric, proto-rational thought : conceptual structures emerge which provide insight in the
essential moments of the operational mental construction : (a) constructive generalization ; (b) the
ability to understand each step and the total system (1 to 2 to 3 ... and (c) an autoregulation enabling
one to run through the system in two ways, causing conservation. The conceptual schemata are
"concrete" because they only function in contexts and not yet in formal schemata.

2. The "Great Word" and divine scripture.

2.1 Brief predynastic chronology

The study of predynastic Egypt started with Petrie in 1895 (sequence dating by ordering ceramics with
respect to decoration & manifacture at the sites at Nagada, Abydos and Hu). In 1923, the Badarian culture
was discovered (cf. Badari in Upper Egypt). The first major synthesis was that of Kantor in 1944 and 1952.
In 1960, Butzler initiated the study of Nile floods and other elements of the palaeoenvironmental record of
Egypt. Through the 1970s and into the 1980s, studies by Hassan focused on enviromental reconstruction,
subsistence, settlement & demographic investigations. He also investigated the cognitive schema of
predynastic peoples through their rock art and the mythogenesis of the early state.

Thousands of years of prehistory left no textual witnesses , but some of its elements did determine the
cultural form of Egypt : Page 12 of 27
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the landscape : life-threatening deserts bounding a narrow cultivable valley, with luxuriant growth,
yearly inundated by the water of the Nile with a fertile triangle in the Delta, gaining in size when the
sea of the tertiary period sinks ;

the climate : down through the neolithic period, Egypt had equatorial African features (hot and humid
with abundant rainfall). This changed after the Old Kingdom, to become the dry and desert-like climate
of today ;

the people : when the last wet period (ca. 5500 BCE) ended, the Nile valley became attractive for
human settlement. Upper Egypt assumed cultural leadership, and Badarian and Naqadan cultures span
the fourth millenium.

Evidence suggests that the domestication of cattle and the cultivation of cereals appeared in the Western
Desert ca. 5000 BCE Mid-Holocene aridity probably encouraged desert herders and farmers to settle along
the banks of the Nile. The following chronology of the cultures of predynastic Egypt may be helpful :

Neolithic period (so called for the Delta and the Fayum, and "predynastic period" in Upper Egypt) : the
interval between the emergence of farming villages on the banks of the Nile and the initiation of the
Egyptian nation-state. The earliest evidence of Neolithic communities in the Nile Valley dates between
5000 and 4100 BCE (cf. Merimda Beni Salama). The Badarians (cf. Badari, Upper Egypt) were a
farming and herding community. These settlers raised cattle, sheep/goats and pigs. They cultivated
barley and wheat and agriculture was supplemented by fishing and fowling. Pottery, glass, copper and
glazed staetite were found at some sites. They provided their dead with food and placed female
figurines in the graves.

Middle Predynastic period (ca. 4000 - 3600 BCE) : with Amratian culture (cf. site of el-Amra, Sohag -
Naqada I) agriculture inceased, hunting deceased and a marked technological change took place.
Pottery not yet diffused from Mesopotamia was created with geometrical and naturalistic designs,
unstructured in layout. Concentration and centralization of power in its incipient stages with the
formation of a managerial class. Transportation of goods along the Nile. Social status evidences in
funerary cults. Religious activity around female deities such as Hathor. Graven images in tombs, head
of deceased pointing South, looking West.

Late Predynastic period (ca. 3600 - 3300 BCE) : in Gerzean culture (cf. site of el-Gerza, Fayum -
Naqada II), fundamantal changes, techniques were improved. Contacts with Mesopotamia. Cult centers
and urban centers emerged, associated with chiefdoms, principalities, provincial states and village
corporations united into regional kingdoms. Trade continued to flourish and wealth distinctions became
more salient. Whole burial treasures. Cow goddess Hathor ;

Terminal Predynastic period (ca. 3300 - 3000 BCE) : The rise of the Egyptian state was the result of
wars and alliances. Over at least 250 years, fragmentation and reunification occurred. In Upper Egypt,
there were the kingdoms of Naqada and Hierakonpolis, and in the Delta the petty kingdoms of Buto,
Sais, Tell el-Balamoun, etc. The first major power emerged when the two kingdoms of Hierakonpolis
(Nekhen) and Naqada united . The kings from Hierakonpolis, later known as the "Followers of Horus"
conquered and annexed the kingdom of Naqada (Seth) and later the Delta.

The culmination of the process of unification led to a single nation state (Narmer Palette). In this
period, the nomes are administrative divisions in which authority rested in a local deity (this situation
may go back to the Gerzean). These divisions more or less overlap with the territorial boundaries of the
historical nomes (a nome was also an agricultural fact, defined in terms of flood basins). In the last
decades of the predynastic period, events dating to the beginnings of kingship were already many
generations old and without written records. Hence, predynastic Egypt passed into myth. Stone became
the preferred material for the eternity of the afterlife. Trade and cultural relationships occasionally
interrupted during the late Gerzean period by war ... Page 13 of 27
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painted bowl of man harpooning a hippopotamus

Amratian culture - site of el-Amra - Merimda Beni Salama - ca.3800 BCE - Metropolitan

! A few important predynastic realizations :

a spoken language ;

administrative organization of provinces, groups of nomes ;

chieftains accumulating power and prestige and founding the myth of kingship leading to the
unification of Upper Egypt ;

commercial and artistic activities ;

the wish to unity the Nile valley into one state (conquering Middle Egypt and the Delta) ;

a traditional notion of the sacred rooted in the worship of the primeval goddess ;

oral tradition of mythologies, stories, legends, charms, songs, hymns & funerary rituals assuring the
afterlife of the deceased ;

artistic works in clay and ivory - stone increasingly becoming the preferred material to eternalize the
afterlife ;

Gerzean ware design schemata reveal the lessening importance of the feminine in religion and the
concomittant increase in masculine religious principles ;

the first "mnemonic" symbols and semi-cursive hieroglyphs appear on labels of recipients, suggesting
that the first hieratic (the cursive form of hieroglyphs) was predynastic and already in use in everyday

As mentioned, the kings from Hierakonpolis (later to be knows as the "Followers of Horus") conquered and
annexed the kingdom of Naqada in terminal predynastic times. The deity of Naqada was Seth. The legends
of the great conflict between Horus and Seth and the subjugation of the latter by the former as well as that
of the "Two Lands" may refer to this unification (of Upper Egypt). The next step involved the annexation of
the key nomes of Middle Egypt and the remaining Northern nomes. Finally, consolidation of the rule over the
Delta (not necessarily total conquest) encouraged the conquerors to establish a new capital : Memphis. The
unification of Egypt was thus completed ca. 3100 - 2950 BCE When the two Kingdoms were newly united,
Heliopolis was already important (in the first Dynasties or Thinite period). In the Pyramid Texts (881b) the
first kings were identified or compared with "Horus, son of Atum". Page 14 of 27
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The transition to the Dynastic Egyptian State was marked by a new order based on justice and the rule of
law instead of on military power. This stabilization of this concept of order by and through Pharaoh,
protecting Egypt against the chaotic forces, was the key invention of the early Dynasties and of the Old
Kingdom as a whole.

"The incredible amount of quality excavation and survey over the Nile Valley has allowed a very good picture
of predynastic material life to emerge. With aid from hieroglyphic writing, early Dynastic religion, and other
historical sources, cognitive interpretations must be made using the same artifacts which have been used for
only material ends in the past. As mentioned earlier, this is beginning to take place in Egyptian archeology."
Czerwinski, 1995, p.39.

! the predynastic, sacred & feminine source of divine kingship

Although agriculture was the decisive economical factor responsible for the rise of Egyptian civilization, other
elements played their role. According to Hassan (1992), mythogenetic changes were an essential ingredient
in the rise of the state and they were not merely a consequence of economic or political developments. In
my opinion, this makes the Egyptian cultural form so exceedingly interesting.

"Ritual and myth provided individuals with a matrix of sacred meaning in which economic, social, and
political developments were grounded and reinforced. Similarly, economic and political developments
provided a framework for the transformation of ritual and myth along a co-evolutionary course."
Hassan, 1992, p.307.

For Hassan, the ideational aspects involved are the assimilation of the sacred power of female deities by
Pharaoh. The power Pharaoh had over others was legitimated by sacred myths that linked him with
supernatural forces . In predynastic times, female deities were associated with the sacred domains of birth,
death and resurrection , as well as with plants, domestic animals and the cycles of nature. The ritual domain
of the gods focussed on hunting and judicature. This composite nature of female deities can be observed in
ancient goddesses like Hathor who was polymorphic. In addition to her image of a cow (prominent as
goddess of the sky in the Narmer Palette and as Great Mother suggestive of the idea of birth from the
womb), she was also a tree-goddess and a goddess of the sky. She was both mother as goddess of the
deceased. This complexity must, according to Hassan, be regarded as a manifestation of the primeval
goddess who combined many of the functions that later were differentiated and assigned to other deities.

This important sacred role of goddesses is confirmed by the prominent role played by goddesses in the
pantheon, the representations of female figures in late predynastic Naqada II iconography, the equal status
women enjoyed in this society and the association of women with the sacred domains of existence (birth,
fertility, creation, death and resurrection). Moreover, in the Old Kingdom, the mother of the royal heir was
his official consort and on the Palermo Stone the name of Pharaoh was directly followed by that of his
mother. Neither were the tombs of some of the early queens essentially different from those of Pharaoh,
protected during his life by the "Two Ladies", the goddess Nekhbet -a vulture- and Wadjet -a cobra-, both
representing Upper and Lower Egypt respectively ...

"You are a son of the Great Wild Cow. She conceives you, she bears you, she puts you within her wing."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 554 (§ 1370).

With this unification and assimilation, all power was centralized in Pharaoh, a "Follower of Horus". This sky
god, was represented by a falcon. The Horus name in Pharaoh's titulary, also called banner-name or Ka-
name, shows Pharaoh as the earthly embodiment (incarnation) of Horus.

These "Followers of Horus" represented the notion of royal ancestor worship as a legitimization of male
power, for all kings were so many incarnations of the same sky-god . Each ruler became part of this upon his
death. Divine kingship emerged when legitimate descent was coupled with the image (myth) of divine
power, and the acquisition of such power was achieved by assimilating pre-existent goddess cults and their
sacred domains. Page 15 of 27
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"The King is the son of one who is unknown ; she bore the King to him whose face is yellow, Lord of the
night skies."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 320 (§§ 515-516).

Pharaoh became the son, brother and husband of the primeval sky-goddess (Hathor) and as such became
divine. As these goddesses were identified with nature, they ruled over creation, resurrection, nurture &
protection, i.e. the areas of the sacred and the supernatural . This assimilation was not complete, and hence
goddesses continued to play their part as mothers, sisters and wives . Marriage with a sister was hence
considered a sacred marriage, reaffirming the divinity of Pharaoh.

"The Ennead and the Osirian myths proved to be durable schemata (organizing formats) for the cosmogony
of divine kingship. The myths conserve the power of female deities, but at the same time provide a cosmic
rationale for the rule of a male king and hereditary succession. The struggle between Seth and Horus and
the triumph of Horus, as well as the judgement of the gods in favor of Horus, established the rule of Law
(Ma'at) and resolves the potential conflicts between clans over kingship and succession."
Hassan, F.A. : Art.cit., p.319, my italics.

The power of Pharaoh was invigorated by

the ceremonies of the so-called "Sed"
festival (cf. the statue of Pharaoh Ninetjer in
Sed festival garb - Dynasty II), during which
he was recoronated to re-assert his
sovereignty (cf. my paper on Akhenaten).
He received the chiefs (princes) of Upper
and Lower Egypt, who payed him homage
and proclaimed their allegiance to the

A key feature of this ritual (the rules of

which are to be found in New Kingdom
sources) was the Heb-Sed court (or court of
the "festival of the tail"), which had chapels
of the various nomes, containing the statues
of their respective deities (cf. the festival
court at the southeast of the Step Pyramid
of Djoser).

Four times Pharaoh moved round a track as

the ruler of the South and four times as the
ruler of the North. He was the supreme
life-size statue of Djoser over-seer, like the falcon. With this act he
in Sed regalia (IIIth Dynasty) showed that all the deities accepted,
Cairo Museum reaffirmed and reinforced his divine rule and
also his physical ability to do so.

The deities in their chapels represented the temples of Egypt, for Pharaoh was the ultimate high priest,
thanks to whom the deities dwelled in their statues by sending their doubles and souls (cf. my paper on the

"Be not unaware of me, O god ; if you know me, I will know you."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 262 (§ 327).

Each of the statues had thus been made alife by the "Opening of the Mouth" ritual and in the Heb-Sed court
they were not alone (as they were in their respective places of worship) but they were together with the Page 16 of 27
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doubles and souls of the rest of the pantheon, gathered around Pharaoh who metaphorically "flew above"
them as a bird.

Although Pharaoh, to become a divine king, had assimilated the sacred power of the primeval goddess, he
was not yet a god himself (as Pharaoh) . In the first Dynasties, Pharaoh represented divine kingship which
guaranteed the solid theocratic unity of the "Two Lands". The king was a "Follower of Horus" and his power
was legitimized by the notion of royal ancestor worship. His divinity was not yet based on any filial
relationship (Pharaoh was not called "son of Horus") but on the sacrality he assimilated from the primeval
sky-goddess allowing him to soar into the sky like a falcon, acting as sole overseer of the "Two Lands" ...

Between the IIth and the IVth Dynasties, Re gradually surpassed Horus in importance. Re became the active
power in the world, a position previously exclusively held by Horus (i.e. the king). Pharaoh was no longer an
incarnation of the same Horus but he was a unique son of Re, a god in his own right. So the transition from
the universal mother goddess to this god-king was formalized in the Solar cosmogony of Heliopolis. Pharaoh
assumed the title "son of Re" in Dynasty IV.

The transition from the incarnational to the filial approach of kingship also introduced a different foundation
for its divine nature : instead of being based on ancestor worship (for all kings were the same Horus),
Pharaoh himself became the object of cult, and as the sole god physically abiding on Earth , he was the
exclusive mediator between the deities abiding in the sky and human culture (each Pharoah was another son
of Re). Only Pharaoh faced the deities.

This Solar interpretation of kingship formalized the measurable presence of deified masculine authority which
had started with a national justice system, set in place after unification. Divine kingship (the masculine
power of the hunter combined with the sacredness of the primeval goddess) was aiming at the theo-political
unity of the state though the institutions of Pharaoh and his will to manifest his divine presence, first as
Horus & next as a god in monumental and other sublime artworks everywhere in Egypt.

2.2 The "Sia", "Hu", "Heka" & "Maat" of Re and Pharaoh in the Old Kingdom.

! the emergence of the solar cult of Re

In the early dynastic period, the sky-god Horus incarnated as Pharaoh. But that Re was associated with
kingship too is evidenced by Pharaoh Re-neb of the IIth Dynasty. The hieroglyph for the Sun -a circle with a
central dot- first appears in late predynastic times. Pharaoh Radjedef (ca. 2548 - 2540 BCE - IVth Dynasty)
was the first king to bear the name "son of Re", although not in his titulary (this will be done by his brother
or half brother Khephren who completed the royal titulary).

The Solar cult which developed in Heliopolis was closely connected with the separation between the Sun (in
the sky) and Nun, the endless waters (originally Atum was worshipped in On, but he was solarized and
assimilated by Re). This distinction was related to creation itself. Water referred to Nun and the Nile,
whereas the luminous Sun and its rise and dusk connected with the appearence of the mound or hill of
creation (in "zep tepy", the first time between pre-creation and creation). The overseeing qualities of Horus
are also found in Re, who fused with a sky-god into Re-Harakhty.

In the Old Kingdom (ca.2670 - 2205 BCE, from Dynasty III to VI), Harakhty was venerated in On (Heliopolis)
as "Horus of the Horizon". Re-Harakhty was worshipped in his traditional form of the heroic god. He was
represented as a falcon bearing the uræus-encircled solar disk on his vertex. He is the Sun god emerging at
dawn, sovereign of the sky.

"The reed-floats of the sky are set in place for Re.

That he may cross on them to the horizon.
The reed-floats of the sky are set in place for Herakhti.
That Harakhti may cross on them to Re."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 263 (§ 337). Page 17 of 27
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Pyramid Texts, utterance 263 (§ 337).

Horus of the Horizon, combined Re and Horus , and as Re-Harakhty the translation "King of the Sky" is also
applicable. This god was a solarized Horus , symbolizing the emerging, dawning power of the fully
rejuvenated & regenerated Solar deity. In the Heliopolitan view, Re created the world and so he was also
associated with Atum. Re, as the real father of Pharaoh, played a central role in the whole of Ancient
Egyptian religious history, culminating in the New Solar Theology of the early New Kingdom and Amarna
culture, to merge, in late Ramesside theology, with the all-encompassing theology of Amun-Re.

The real expansion of the cult of Re came with the ruling family of Dynasty V. As the Westcar Papyrus
relates, every Pharaoh was the son of Re, begotten of the wife of the high priest of Heliopolis. These kings
devoted a large proportion of the resources of the state to build Sun temples, open structures, surrounding
the Solar emblem of the "benben", the first place of creation and prototype of the more slender obelisk. Re
remained the guarantee of every monarch's worth.

! the power of the mind, the Great Word and its protection

In the Pyramid Texts (end Vth and VIth Dynasties, ca. 2300 - 2200 BCE), Re makes use of wisdom &
understanding ("Sia"), creative, authoritative utterance ("Hu") and powerful magic ("Heka"). These passages
make clear that Sia, Hu and Heka are personifications of the creative, vertical activity and power of Re and
his son, Pharaoh, who ascends to the sky. This activity and power are however rooted in mental factors, as
was the whole cosmic (Re) and terrestial (Pharaoh) order.

For example, because every morning, specific mental processes (through ritual recitation or prayer) were
executed, Re was unharmed by Apophis (the place where this could happen was called the "island of
flames"). By speaking the Great Word, the bolts were unlocked and creation was recreated. As long as the
rituals brought the ritualists (as deities around Pharaoh) back to the first time (potential full-emptiness of the
eternal now), Re dawned and separated the celestial from the terrestial.

Let us first consider Sia, the deity of the sense of touch or feeling, considered to be the foundation of the
empirical mind (for the Egyptians touch & hearing were primordial and not, as would say the Greeks, sight).

"I have come to my throne which is over the ka's, I unite hearts, O you who are in charge of wisdom, being
great. I become Sia who bears the book of god, who is at the right hand of Re. (...) I, even I, am Sia who is
at the right hand of Re, the proud heart, who presides over the Cavern of Nun."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 250 (§ 268).

"The Great One indeed will rise within his shrine and lay his insignia on the ground for me, for I have
assumed authority (Hu) and have power through understanding (Sia)."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 255 (§ 300).

"Make salutations, you gods, to the King, who is older than the Great One, to whom belongs power on his
throne ; the King assumes authority (Hu), eternity brought to him and understanding (Sia) is established at
his feet for him. Rejoice at the King, for he has taken possession of the horizon."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 257 (§ 307).

"This King is a master of wisdom (sab-bwt) whose mother knows not his name."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 273 (§ 394).

With Sia we touch upon the whole sphere of knowledge, both cognitive (understanding) and intuitional
(wisdom). In the cognitive domain, Sia represented the perceptive mind with its empirical ego. Sia carried
the sacred papyrus, whose contents embodied the areas of mental activity in which understanding had been
achieved. Sia was also insightful planning and insofar as the inventive side of the latter was considered,
intuitional elements join the connotative field of the semantics of Sia. Hence, Sia was also wisdom and the
sacredness of perfected understanding. Page 18 of 27
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That Sia was important is testified by the fact that in the company of the gods, Pharaoh was Thoth, the god
of knowledge, (U611, 665c - §§ 1725, 1914), who spoke "this great and mighty word" (U577, § 1523)
contenting all the gods, for in Thoth was "the peace of the gods" (U570, § 1465). Furthermore, Thoth
protected, was the wing-feathers of Pharaoh and "the mightiest of the gods" (U524, §§ 1233, 1237) .
Knowing was in "front of the Temple" and behind Pharaoh (U554, § 1371), who unites the minds (hearts -
ab's) and the vital forces (ka's). In the Book of the Dead, Sia appeared in the Judgment Scene among the
gods who watched the weighing of the heart (i.e. the mind) in the Great Balance, indicative of the
relationship with the mental. This cogitation (by the mental energies of the "heart") was intimately related
with sensoric perception and with intent. The presence of Sia near Re indicated that Re had an extraordinary
"power of mind".

Sia stood not alone, for Re had also creative speech at his side. Hu, the deity of the sense of taste,
personified this verbal authority associated with the Great Word of creative command . Like Sia, Hu came
into being from a drop of blood from the phallus of Re. Hu was the companion of Pharaoh, son of Re, when
he had become a lone star in the sky.

"O King, they {the gods} make you live and resemble the seasons of Harakhti when they made his name.
Do not be far removed from the gods, so that they may make for you this utterance which they made for
Re-Atum who shines every day. They will install you upon their thrones at the head of all the Ennead(s) as
Re' and as his representative."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 606 (§§ 1693-1694), my italics.

"My tongue is the pilot in charge of the Bark of Righteousness. I will ascend and rise up to the sky."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 539 (§ 1306).

"It is said : 'Say that which is, do not say that which is not, for the god detests falsity of words.'"
Pyramid Texts, utterance 511 (§§ 1160-1161).

"My lips are the Two Enneads. I am the Great Word. I am one who is loosed. I am one who ought to be
loosed, and I am loosed from all things evil."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 506 (§ 1100).

"Hear it, O Re, this word which I say to you ; your nature is in me, O Re, and your nature is nourished in
me, O Re."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 570 (§ 1461).

"There is no word against me on earth among men, there is no accusation in the sky among the gods, for I
have annulled the word against me, which I destroyed in order to mount up to the sky."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 302 (§ 462).

The authority of Pharaoh was this Great Word which he commanded. This creative, authoritative speech can
also be found in the archaizing Memphis Theology (written in the New Kingdom).

For example, column 55 of the Shabaka Stone reads : Page 19 of 27
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heart / lips

Hu / lips

teeth / lips

semen / hands


"His Ennead (Ptah's) is before him as heart, authoritative utterance, teeth and lips.
They are the semen and hands of Atum."
Memphis Theology, line 55, my italics.

Note that this powerful, omnipotent utterance is linked with righteousness and truth , the two characteristics
of Maat, the goddess who personified the great ideal of the Old Kingdom, reflected in the rule of law initiated
& maintained by Pharaoh (with the plume of Maat above his head) and in the didactical literature (for
example the wisdom-teachings of Ptahhotep). Pharaoh uttered a truth which silences the deities and
commands authority. The power of the spoken word of Pharaoh could not be countered, not even by the
gods. All words directed against Pharaoh were automatically annulled. He was the only living man in Egypt
able to communicate with the pantheon. He was the top of the pyramidal structure of the theocracy and its
institutions & administration ...

The third element was Heka, used in the Coptic New Testament to translate "mageia", the knowledge and
art of a hereditary priestly class among the ancient Medes and Persians (exercising supernatural powers over
natural forces). In those days they were associated with the wise men from the East guided by a star (cf.
astrology) paying homage to Jesus.

In Ancient Egypt, Heka was the goddess personifying extraordinary, supernatural powers or magic. She
appears a a child of Re, sometimes as his personification. The regard Egyptians had for magic is self- Page 20 of 27
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"'How lovely to see ! How pleasing to behold !' say they, namely the gods, when this god ascends to the
sky, when you ascend to the sky with your power upon you, your terror about you, and your magic at your
Pyramid Texts, utterance 306 (§ 477).

"How lovely to see, how uplifting to behold, when this god ascends to the sky just like Atum, father of the
King, ascends to the sky ! His ba is upon him, his magic is about him, the dread of him is at his feet."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 480 (§ 993).

"I will ascend and rise up to the sky. The magic which appertains to me is that which is in my belly. (...) It is
not I who says this to you, you gods, it is magic (Heka) who says this to you, you gods. I am bound for the
Lower Point of Magic."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 539 (§ 1318 - 1324).

"The sky quivers, the earth quakes before me, for I am a magician, I possess magic."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 472 (§ 924).

Heka was associated with tremendous and terrible powers mastered by Re and Pharaoh. However, although
magic could express in many things and different kinds of magicians existed (cf. infra), Egyptian magic was
closely related with the expression of an idea (Sia) through creative speech (Hu). In this process of creation
through the Great Word, Heka does not represent the power of conception (taking place in the mind), nor its
utterance (taking place on the tongue). Heka was the "protection" of this intelligent creative speech against
anything or anybody trying to counter it. So Heka was there to break resistances.

This distinction provides us with a key to distinguish religion from magic in Egypt. The former is the general
cult of the deities, the latter the inherent power of a concept expressed with authority, eliminating that which
is able to counter its realization . However, both overlap, for during the rituals the deities spoke and hence
made use of Heka, whereas magical acts (like making an amulet or talisman) involved the help of the deities
who (through the priests) uttered their "words of power" to initiate the magical effect of the operation ...

" ... anthropologists and scholars of world religions struggled for a long time in the hope of finding more
objective criteria for distinguishing between magic and religion. The results of decades of discussion have
not been satisfying, particularly with respect to Egyptian religion."
Goelet, 1998, p.145.

In Ancient Egypt, the common ground between religion and magic is intelligent (Sia) creative speech (Hu).
This sheds a completely different light on the spirituality of the Egyptians, far more concerned with mental
factors than recent egyptology has put into evidence.

! Maat : the righteousness and truth of protected, intelligent creative speech

The importance of Maat in Egypt's didactical literature has been studied elsewhere. In the Pyramid Texts we
read :

"The sky is at peace, the earth is in joy, for they have heard that the King will set rectitude (Maat) in the
place of wrong (isfet). The King is vindicated in his tribunal {the court of justice over which Re presides} on
account of the just sentence which issued from his mouth ..."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 627 (§ 1775).

"I seat myself upon the throne of 'She who preserves Justice (Maat)'."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 503 (§ 1079).

"I come forth, the guardian of justice (Maat), that I may bring it, it being with me." Page 21 of 27
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Pyramid Texts, utterance 260 (§ 319).

"My tongue is the pilot in charge of the Bark of Righteousness (Maat). (...) The soles of my feet are the two
Barks of Righteousness."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 539 (§§ 1306 & 1315).

"You will cause me to sit because of my righteousness (Maat) and I will stand up because of my blessedness
in your presence, just as Horus took possession of his father's house from his father's brother Seth in the
presence of Gêb."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 519 (§ 1219).

"If you wish to live, O Horus in charge of your staff of justice (Maat), then you shall not close the doors of
the sky, you shall not slam shut its door-leaves before you have taken the King's double to the sky, to the
nobles of the god, to those whom the god loves, who lean on their staffs, the guardians of Upper Egypt,
clad in red linen, who live on figs, who drink wine, who are anointed with unguent. He shall speak on the
King's behalf to the great god, he shall conduct the King to the great god."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 440 (§§ 815 - 816).

"O King, I have wept for you, I have mourned you, and I will not forget you, I will not be inert until the
voice comes forth for you every day, in the monthly festival, in the half-monthly festival, at the Setting down
of the Brazier, at the Festival of Thoth, at the -festival, and at the Festival of Carving as your yearly
sustenance which you fashioned for your monthly festivals, that you may live as a god."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 690 (§§ 2117 - 2118).

The Coffin Texts superseded the Pyramid Texts as early as the VIIIth Dynasty (First Intermediary Period,
ca.2198 - 1938), but their principal sources are the later cemeteries of the nomarchs of Middle Egypt in the
XIIth Dynasty (i.e. Middle Kingdom - ca.1938 - 1759).

Here we find :

"O you who are content with what you have done -four times- and who send Maat to Re daily, the liver of
Re is flourishing daily because of Maat, and he partakes of the meal of the Great Goddess."
Coffin Texts, spell 165, III 6.

Pharaoh sat on his throne to do justice. Daily he uttered the Great Word and therewith he recreated the just
order of things and made iniquity and chaos vanish. By doing so he fed Re who partook of the meal of Maat.
He returned the essence of his light-being ("khu") to its origin (the stars) by saying (truth) and doing the
right thing (righteousness). Pharaoh sustained the order of the world through justice & truth. Maat was also
the guarantee of the sacredness of royal insight, command and protection. By sending justice to Re, the last
and the first connected to form the infinite cycle of unending existence and harmony.

! the Heliopolitan "logos"

In Heliopolitan theology, Re and Pharaoh were the two proto-types used to describe the order of creation.
Re encompassed all cosmic functions, Pharaoh all terrestial. The Osirian cycle explained the mythogenesis of
divine kingship, leaving room for the figure of the sacred primeval mother goddess (cf. the importance of Isis
in the cycle, able to outwit Re & restore Osiris, assisted by Thoth). Solar theology was a cosmogeny, a
model of creation and salvation through rejuvenation and eternal life. The harmony (unity) between both
aspects of order was justified by the generative relationship between Re and Osiris-Pharaoh, the son of Re,
doing justice and feeding his father with truth in order to return to him.

In both cycles (the macrocosmic and the microcosmic), the mental played a considerable part. In fact, take
away the Great Word spoken by Re and his son and there is no creation and no Egyptian state. It is strange
that this omnipresence of the power of the Word has not aroused more scholarly interest. Both in the
Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, as well as in the Memphis Theology, we find the rudiments of the notion of the Page 22 of 27
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"logos" as a creative agent :

the senses report to the mind, able to synthesis a (proto) concept allowing for thoughtful planning,
understanding, wisdom (Sia). This is the making of the Word in the mind ;

on the basis of this, authoritative commands are uttered by the tongue. This is the objective expression
of the Word (Hu), an object among objects ;

the execution of this command is guaranteed by the power of the words spoken. This is the
supernatural power to break resistances part of the "meaning" (name) of the Word (Heka) ;

the whole purpose of speech is the offering of truth and justice to the source of the Word. This is the
aim of all communication : to establish truth and expell falsehood (Maat).

The Memphite theology (developed at the end of the New Kingdom) probably used the Heliopolitan theology
to develop its own interpretation of the "logos". In this view, Ptah encompassed both the pre-creational,
creative and created phases of cosmogony (He is both Nun, Atum as Re) and created everything with his

Heliopolitan schema Memphite schema

Sia : thought thought in the heart

Hu : speech becomes Hu : word on the tongue

Heka : protection inherent in Hu

Maat : truth inherent in Hu

Sia & Heka were not mentioned, for the Memphites reduced the whole Heliopolitan scheme to the formation
of thoughts in Ptah's mind and the creative speech on his tongue (Hu). This creative command is able to
realize itself automatically and establish the peace needed by the Two Lands. Hence, in Memphite theology
Heka is inherent in the Great Word. When spoken, "justice is done to him who does what is loved". The
Memphis Theology attempts to supersede the Heliopolitan doctrine on three accounts :

Ptah is all-encompassing : he is the Great One of pre-creation, first time & creation ;

The Great Word spoken by Ptah creates the Ennead, whereas in the Heliopolitan view, Atum creates
the deities through onanism ;

mind and creative speech on the tongue are like the semen and the hands of Atum, i.e. the Great
Word spoken is the first cause and not Atum's mythological initiatoric act of taking semen in the hand
and in the mouth.

2.3 The mummification of divine words.

! the predynastic origin of the Egyptian language

"Archaic" Egyptian is generally not included as an actual stage of growth of the language, for too little texts
survive to allow for a fruitful study of the underlying language. Did the Egyptians invent their own writing
system or did they borrow it ?

The earliest Sumerian writing ante-dates the first hieroglyphs by a century and more. During the late
predynastic period, there were contacts between Egypt and Mesopotamia. A pictographic system, similar in Page 23 of 27
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appearance and structure to the hieroglyphic script, was used to write the earliest Sumerian and proto-
Elamite languages (cf. Proto-Elamite Tablet, Louvre), although the Egyptian signary was from indigenous
sources. The form of various artistic designs and motifs (for example the felines on the reverse of the Palette
of Narmer) indeed evidence the cultural transmissions between both cultures.

Unmistaken differences refute the thesis of a direct borrowing of this early Sumerian :

in the earliest Sumerian, logography (a word is directly represented by its picture) predominates and
phonography (a word is represented by a series of signs for the spoken sounds) is limited. The latter
took several centuries to fully develop ;

in the earliest Egyptian, a substantial (if not complete) phonography is present ;

the earliest Sumerian is syllabic and defines the vowel (each sign is a syllable consisting of either a
vowel or a consonant + a vowel) ;

the earliest Egyptian is consonantal with unstable vowels which are not recorded ;

Sumerian has no determinatives and no developed pictoral ideography (a variety of signs representing
idea, context, category, modality or nuance) ;

the earliest Sumerian quickly became cuneiform, whereas Egyptian hieroglyphs remained pictoral until
the last inscription (Temple of Philæ - 394 CE).

Indirect borrowing of the Sumerian is likely (cf. "stimulus diffusion"). But the differences show the Sumerian
example was adapted to the culture of Predynastic Egypt, its iconography and the grammar of its artistic
styles. It is possible that in Predynastic times, the population of the Delta was in contact with south-western
Asia, and settlers may have entered the region and mingled with the local population, but this was (against
Derry and the "Dynastic Race" theory) incidental to the cultural development of Egypt.

In historical times, borrowings from some Semitic languages are well attested. But there is no evidence for
an "African substratum" in Ancient Egyptian (an indentifiable, specifically African language). In fact, scholars
conjecture many of these similarities are not borrowings at all, but prove both the Egyptian and the Semitic
languages are derived from a common ancestor, the Afroasiatic or Hamito-Semitic language family ...

! the sacred power of the Great Word

The "Great Word", creating celestial & terrestial order, was, in predynastic times, foremost a spoken word .
The many references to "lips", "mouth", "teeth" confirm this. This spoken command is fluent, direct,
immediate and auditorial (with reference to actual listeners).

The Great Word was spoken by Re to create the world and by Pharaoh to fashion the terrestial order. Before
the advent of writing, some kingdoms had reached a considerable level of organization and culture. But only
final unification would bring lasting peace and justice. Around 3000 BCE, nomads, cattle breeders, farmers,
Africans, Aziatics, Semites and Hamites united to form a single state, with each new Pharaoh uniting the
disparate elements of his kingdom by delegating portions of his authority to his elect. The advent of Pharaoh
established a vertical order (risen land, obelisk, pyramid) making the horizontal plane of the "Two Lands" to
be just & true (overseeable). Simultaneously, written records appeared. The making of the pharaonic state,
the justification of divine kingship, also implied the confirmation of masculine presence by stabilizing the
fluidity of the sacred spoken sound through the confines of glyphs representing these sounds only partly in
divine word-images. The feminine sacrality of the Great (spoken) Word was assimilated by the enduring
divine power of word-images in stone.

! unification, the advent of writing and double script Page 24 of 27
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The earliest inscriptions emerged at the end of the final predynastic period (ca. 3000 BCE) and in the archaic
period (the first two Dynasties), i.e. during the period of the final unification of the "Two Lands" and the
coronation of Pharoah at Memphis. Inscriptions became necessary in order to date and name important
events. The historical age of Egypt started with this unification of the Two Lands. With Pharaoh, the ancestor
worship of each "Follower of Horus" had been initiated. To identify their shrines, inscriptions became

The assimilation by Pharaoh of the sacred power of the predynastic goddess, implied the creation of a
permanent higher focus beyond all divisions, a divine authority uniting (political and theological) dualities.
Upon the ongoing, horizontal processess of nature (birth, life, healing, death, resurrection) and their chaotic
origin (cf. the predynastic wars and petty conflicts), Pharaoh superimposed the vertical, sole presence of the
divine on earth (whereas all other deities abided in the sky).

The feminine, receptive (auditive) process of the use of the spoken word was assimilated by the masculine,
radiating, dazzling, living written reality of the divine name of the Lord of the Two Lands, the sole landmark
of presence : Pharaoh's titulary, monumentally eternalized in word-images in stone, was a landmark which
faced "milions of years" .

spoken word written word

predynastic - prehistorical dynastic - historical

realm of sacred myth realm of divine rule

primeval mother goddess Pharoah

Great Sorceress Great Magician

mind (Sia), speech (Hu) image-words as

and effect (Heka) offerings to Maat

Also note the distinction between hieroglyphic script and hieratic script, both attested in the predynastic
period. Hieroglyphs were first used to write different kinds of texts, in a variety of media, but as hieratic
developed, the former became increasingly confined to religious and monumental works, in carved relief in
stone (cf. the Greek "ta hieroglyphica" : "the sacred carved letters"). Hieratic was an early adaptation of the
hieroglyphic script, the glyphs being simplified and easier to outline. It became Egypt's business and
administrative script. Also employed to record literary, scientific & theological works, it can be found on all
sorts of media, especially on rolls or sheets of papyrus or on pieces of stone and pottery (ostraca). This
"day-to-day" script, which had been used for 2500 years, was ousted by another script, demotic, at the
beginning of the Late Period (ca. 600 BCE) and thereafter confined to religious documents (cf. the Greeks
calling it "hieratika" or "priestly"). The latest demotic inscription is a grafitto in the Temple of Philæ dated
450 CE

! the oldest examples of Egyptian writing

The first hieroglyphs appear in the late predynastic period, in the form of label-texts on stone and pottery
objects from various sites (ca. 3100 - 3000 BCE). Writing (in both scripts) is used to record short information,
like names of persons, places and products.

Palette of King Namer

Late predynastic Period (ca.3050 BCE) - Cairo Museum - JE 32169 - H. 63 cm Page 25 of 27
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Obverse Reverse

The name "Narmer" is written with the Narmer is shown engaged in a ritual
phonograms of a cat-fish "nar" and a chisel procession, with his name occuring twice,
""mr" and written above him, enclosed in a written with the same signs as on the
rectangular called a "serekh" (between the obverse. Other identifyable hieroglyphs are
Hathor-heads). present.

The Palette of Narmer commemorates a victory, probably the final one, ending the struggle
for the unification of the entire Nile Valley (or Delta of Lower Egypt). By this time
Hierakonpolis was a powerful political and religious center in Upper Egypt. Narmer or Menes
was the legendary or historical Pharaoh who united the Two Lands, initiating the end of the
predynastic era. The "heraldic" value of this palette is unmistaken (cf. ivory tablet of Den,
relief of Semerketh).

Here are some other early examples of Egyptian writing :

from a fragment of a large, globular, green faience vessel or vase inlaid with the name of Pharaoh Aha
in brown-coloured faience (Ith Dynasty, ca. 3000 - 2800 BCE, in British Museum) we learn about the
sophistication of the combination of faience technology and artistic talent in the early dynastic period ;

the tomb stela of Pharaoh Djet (Djer, Wadj, Uenephes, "serpent" - Ith Dynasty, ca. 2920 BCE - Louvre
E 11007) has his Horus name inscribed on it ;

the tomb stela of Pharaoh Reneb (Saqqara, IIth Dynasty, in Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York)
was also the focal point of the royal mortuary cult (it represents the falcon Horus surmounting a
paneled facade, with the hieroglyphs "Ra" and "neb", meaning "Ra is my Lord.") ; Page 26 of 27
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the statuette of Pharaoh Ninetjer in festival Sed-garb (IIth Dynasty, ca. 2760 - 2715, little over 5 inches
in height) has his royal name on it ;

the gods Geb and Seth have been identified on a fragmentary relief of Pharaoh Djoser (IIIth Dynasty,
ca. 2654 - 2635, in Turin Museum) ; the mortuary temples at Maidum & Dahshur of Snofru (IVth
Dynasty, ca. 2600 - 2571) were simple (an altar with two tall stelæ bearing the royal titulary) but the
valley temple of the Bent Pyramid was provided with statues & relief decorations (processions of the
royal estates in the various nomes) and columns (with ceremonies like foundation rituals, scenes of the
Sed festival, scenes of Pharaoh being kissed by the deity) ...

The first major literary application was the so-called Offering List which contained a list of foods, ointments
& fabrics. It probably already existed in the IIIth & IVth Dynasties. It was carved on the walls of the private
tombs of high officials. The written word gave a special identity to the pictoral representations, named the
tomb-owner, his family, his ranks & titles and the offerings the deceased was about to receive. We have to
wait for Pharoah Wenis or Unas (end of the Vth Dynasty, ca. 2378 - 2348) to actually read what had
probably been recited orally for at least since the beginning of the dynastic age (if not earlier), i.e. the spells
of the Pyramid Texts.

! the magico-religious intent of Egyptian writing

Memphis, the city of Ptah (represented in Sed garb), and the pharaonic state have always been intimately
related. Indeed, in the final phases of unification, the Delta had been the most difficult area to unite.
Enthroning Pharaoh at Memphis had therefore a strong symbolical meaning and this remained the case
throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Politically, the "White Walls" of Memphis were suggestive of the
unity of the "Two Lands" guaranteed by Pharaoh. The period of strife and was over and order and justice
could reign. So the king was a living divine reality bringing justice and truth. His divinity was directly linked
with the sacred cycle of birth, life, health, death & resurrection.

This advent of order and truth was eternalized by written hieroglyphic inscriptions on stone, a craft ruled by
Ptah. The act of carving these icons was considered magical, for each hieroglyph was deemed to be a divine
sign, a place for the ka's and ba's of the deities to dwell in, a key inviting the invisible to manifest.

Hieroglyphs were always more than just a writing system. The Egyptians referred to it as "writing the divine
words" or "divine words", whereas the individual icons was termed "image" or "form", the same word for a
representation in Egyptian art, showing its relationship with pictoral art. Indeed, like art, the script works
with pictures and they all have a well-defined form. Governed by strict rules as to content and
representation, it had as its purpose to make the depicted exist eternally. In the Old Kingdom, the
relationship between art and writing is consistent. In fact, it was a system of art endowed with magical

The Great Word was protected by magic to realize itself when uttered. But hieroglyphs were seen as living
beings just in the same way as statues were considered alife after the words of the ritual of "Opening the
Mouth" had been spoken over them while the ritual actions had been performed . As this "life" was also an
offering of justice and truth by Pharaoh to the deities, hieroglyphs participated in the divine life of the
monarch. As such, they became divine image-words depicting and giving fixed meaning to the divine order.
As living icons, they were the loci for the Ka's and Ba's of the beings they represented. Their magic is
precisely this : the divine words mummify the spoken word Page 27 of 27