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Each issue of the Rosicrucian Digest provides members and

all interested readers with a compendium of materials

regarding the ongoing flow of the Rosicrucian Timeline.
The articles, historical excerpts, art, and literature included
in this Digest span the ages, and are not only interesting in
themselves, but also seek to provide a lasting reference shelf
to stimulate continuing study of all of those factors which
make up Rosicrucian history and thought. Therefore, we
present classical background, historical development, and
modern reflections on each of our subjects, using the many

forms of primary sources, reflective commentaries, the arts,
creative fiction, and poetry.

This magazine is dedicated to all the women and men

throughout the ages who have contributed to and

perpetuated the wisdom of the Rosicrucian,
western esoteric, tradition.

May we ever be worthy of the light with which
we have been entrusted.

In this issue we explore the initiatic and mystical character

of ancient Egypt, one of the most significant sources of
the esoteric heritage of the Western World, and of
the Rosicrucian tradition.
No. 1 - 2007 Vol. 85 - No. 1

Egypt and the Primordial Tradition 2

Official Magazine of the
Christian Rebisse, F.R.C.
Rosicrucian Order The 42 Negative Confessions 12
E.A. Wallis Budge
Established in 1915 by the Supreme
Grand Lodge of the English Language Ancient Texts on the Egyptian Mysteries 14
Jurisdiction, AMORC, Rosicrucian
Park, San Jose, CA 95191.
Copyright 2007 by the Supreme Grand The Initiatory Process in Ancient Egypt 16
Lodge of AMORC, Inc. All rights Max Guilmot, Ph.D., F.R.C.
reserved. Republication of any portion
of Rosicrucian Digest is prohibited
without prior written permission of the Ancient Egypt and Modern Esotericism 28
publisher. Jeremy Naydler, Ph.D.
#0035–8339) is published bi–annually
for $12.00 per year, single copies $6.00, Egypt: Temple of All the World 38
by the Grand Lodge of the English Book reviews by the staff of the Rosicrucian Digest
Language Jurisdiction, AMORC, Inc.,
at 1342 Naglee Ave., San Jose, CA
95191. POSTMASTER: Send address
changes to ROSICRUCIAN DIGEST The Rosicrucian Egyptian Tarot 44
at 1342 Naglee Ave., San Jose, CA
Hidden Harmonies: Rediscovering the Egyptian 47
Foundations of the Rosicrucian Path
Steven Armstrong, F.R.C.

Mystical Initiation 51
Christian Bernard, F.R.C.

Rosicrucian Impressions of Egypt 56

Christian Rebisse, F.R.C.
From Rosicrucian History and Mysteries

uestions have often arisen regarding him, this idea of a primordial revelation, of
the origins of Rosicrucianism. which Egypt was the cradle, would have
Although a consensus of researchers considerable repercussions.
places its historical beginnings in the Our intention is not to describe Egyptian
seventeenth century, we are of the opinion esotericism in full, but rather to indicate how
that the genesis of this movement dates from this heritage was transmitted. The route
much farther back. Such was the belief of the connecting Egypt to the West is long and
German alchemist Michael Maier. In his offers a varied landscape. We will not discuss
work Silentium Post Clamores (1617), he all of its details, because this description
described Rosicrucianism as would occupy an entire
having arisen from the volume. However, certain
Egyptians, the Brahmans, the salient points will allow us to
mysteries of Eleusis and understand Rosicrucian origins.
Samothrace, the Magi of While engaging in this
Persia, the Pythagoreans, and undertaking it is necessary to
the Arabs. Several years after follow a trustworthy guide, and
the publication of the Fama Hermes appears to be the
Fraternitatis (1614) and the character most noted in the
Confessio Fraternitatis (1615), ancient writings. Indeed, the
Irenaeus Agnostus, in Clypeum history and myths relating to
veritatis (The Shield of Truth, this individual are particularly
1618), felt no hesitation in rich in information concerning
declaring Adam to be the first our purpose at hand.
representative of the Order.
Michael Maier, Symbola Since antiquity, Egypt’s
The Rosicrucian manifestos a u re a e m e n s a e d u o d e c i m
civilization has been much
likewise made reference to the nationum, 1617.
admired. Its mystery schools,
same source: “Our philosophy
which acted both as universities and
has nothing new in it; it conforms to what
monasteries, were the guardians of its wisdom.
Adam inherited after the Fall, and what
These schools experienced a distinctive
Moses and Solomon practiced.”1
flowering under the rule of Akhnaton (1353–
The Primordial Tradition 1336 BCE), especially after he introduced the
Adam, Egypt, Persia, the Greek sages, concept of monotheism. The Egyptian
and the Arabs were conjured up for good religion is particularly intriguing because of
reason by Michael Maier. He alluded to a its mysterious cults. Although Hermes had
concept that was very widespread before the some of his origins in Egypt, in the god
coming of Rosicrucianism. This concept— Thoth, he was primarily a Greek god. He was
the Primordial Tradition—first appeared in the son of Zeus and of the nymph Maia. The
the Renaissance,2 especially after the Greeks considered him the god of shepherds,
Rosicrucian rediscovery of the Corpus Hermeticum, a thieves, merchants, and travelers. He was also
No. 1
group of mysterious texts attributed to an the inventor of astronomy, weights and
2007 Egyptian priest, Hermes Trismegistus. From measures, the musical scale, the art of
Page 2
gymnastics, and the cultivation of olive trees. In the New Kingdom (1540–1075 BCE),
Most of all he was the messenger of Zeus and Akhnaton (1353–1336 BCE) abolished the
the shepherd who guided the dead toward the ancient pantheon when instituting the
world of Hades. His attributes were a cult of Aton. Even so, Thoth preserved
caduceus and winged sandals. certain prerogatives during the pharaoh’s
In the Egyptian pantheon, Thoth enjoyed reign. After the disappearance of the founder
a special illustriousness. He was shown as an of Egyptian monotheism, Thoth regained
ibis-headed man or as a baboon (cf. the Book his qualities of all-knowing sage and the
of the Dead). Equipped with a palette, reed, teacher of secrets. During this period,
and papyrus, he was always ready to transcribe writings of an occult character became
the words of Re. He was the very epitome of important. This is undoubtedly why H.
a scribe; he was described as the inventor of Spencer Lewis regarded Amosis, the pharaoh
hieroglyphs. Thoth was the protector of who introduced this period, as being the
scribes, the teacher of medicine, astronomy, organizer of the school of initiates that later
and the arts. He knew the secrets of magic; he gave rise to the Rose Cross. Moreover, he
was the initiator. On the statue of Amenhotep, thought Hermes was a sage contemporary
son of Hapu, a high official and favorite of with Akhnaton. The occult knowledge of the
Amenhotep III (ca. 1360 BCE), it is written: Egyptians was considered secret. It was
“. . . but into the divine book, I have been transmitted by “houses of life,” sometimes
initiated. Of Thoth, I have seen glory, and called “mystery schools.”
among mystery, I introduced myself.” The opinions of the specialists are divided
In a period as far distant as the Old regarding the importance of occultism and
Kingdom (2705–2180 BCE), Thoth was magic in the time of the pharaohs. Erik
already described as the messenger of the Hornung, an Egyptologist at the University of
gods, a characteristic he preserved when Basel, feels that too many historians have taken
passing into the Greek world in the guise of an overly positivist approach regarding this
Hermes. In his capacity of judge, he stood matter. He declares that it is “undeniable that
between Seth and Horus. He was the at the beginning of the New Kingdom, at the
protector of the eye of Horus. latest, a spiritual climate propitious to the
emergence of Hermetic wisdom dominated.”
In the Middle Kingdom (1987–1640 Emphasizing the important role of Jan
BCE), he personified wisdom. He was Assmann, who concentrated on this subject
particularly honored in Hermopolis, and the while studying the Rameside period, he added
priests of this city attributed to him the Book of that at present “there prevail conditions much
the Two Ways, a text which described the voyage more favorable to the discovery of
to the afterlife. The inscriptions found in the Hermeticism’s possible Egyptian roots.”3
sarcophagi of this period also mention a “divine
book of Thoth.” At the beginning of this In the Late Kingdom (664–332 BCE),
period, Thoth appeared as the writer of sacred Thoth was considered to be the teacher of
writings, the all-knowing teacher, the one who magic. A stele calls him “twice great,” and he
knew the secret magical rites. It is also reported is presented sometimes as “thrice (very)
that the sacred texts were found at the foot of great,” or even “five times great” (cf. the
his statue. This symbolic theme is found much Story of Setne). In the Ptolemaic period, the
later in the story describing the discovery of the Greeks and Romans were fascinated by
tomb of Hermes Trismegistus by Apollonius of Hermopolis and its cult of Thoth. There
Tyana. In the Book of the Dead, Thoth plays developed at this time an original synthesis
the role of judge when weighing the heart of between the Egyptian civilization and the
the deceased. Hellenistic culture.
Page 3
The Greeks and Egypt Plutarch (ca. 50–ca. 125 CE) later remarked
Considerable evidence relates to the that the Orphic and Bacchic mysteries were
relationships between the sages of Greece and really of Egyptian and Pythagorean origin.
of Egypt. In the fifth century BCE Herodotus Diodorus also reported on the travels of Solon
visited Egypt and conversed with the priests. In and of Thales of Miletus (624–548 BCE),
his history he discusses the Osirian mysteries who visited the priests and measured the
celebrated at Sais. For him, the mysteries of pyramids. Plutarch declared that Thales
Greece owed much to Egypt. Comparing the brought Egyptian geometry back to Greece.
Greek and Egyptian pantheons, he observed Diodorus also claimed that Thales urged
that certain divinities of his country had their Pythagoras to go to Egypt, and it was in this
origins among the pharaohs. country that the latter conceived the concept
There existed a strong tradition which of the migration of souls. Iamblichus later
claimed that the great sages of ancient Greece added that Pythagoras had studied in the
obtained knowledge from their Egyptian Egyptian temples for twenty-two years, and,
teachers. It was claimed that many among after having received this training, he
them were initiated into the mysteries, thus established his own school in Crotona, Italy,
assuring the transmission of Egyptian learning and he taught what he had learned in the
into the Greek world. Among them Herodotus Egyptian mystery schools. Finally, Diodorus
spoke only of Solon (ca. 640–558 BCE). In reported that in the fifth century Democritus
Timaeus and the Critias Plato (427–347 BCE), (ca. 460–370 BCE), discoverer of the atom,
who himself had gone to Egypt and remained was taught by the geometers of the pharaoh,
there three years, spoke of the discussions that and then initiated in the Egyptian temples.
Solon had with the Egyptian priests. In One of Plato’s followers, Eudoxus of
The Republic, he also emphasized the prestige Cnidus (ca. 405–355 BCE), a mathematician
of the Egyptian priests. Furthermore, and geometer, also made the voyage to the
he mentioned Thoth in the Phaedrus. Isocrates, land of the Nile. While there, he was initiated
a contemporary of Plato, made Egypt the source on both the scientific and spiritual levels. Pliny
of philosophy and indicated that Pythagoras specified that he would report in his country
went there to be instructed. Apollonius of some important astronomical knowledge, as
Rhodes (295–ca.230 BCE) claimed that those which related to the exact duration of
Hermes, by way of his son Aithalides, was the the year (3651⁄4 days). His hypothesis of
direct ancestor of Pythagoras. homocentric spheres constituted the point of
Diodorus Siculus (80–20 BCE) provided departure of traditional astronomy. Plutarch, a
the greatest amount of information member of the sacerdotal college of Apollo in
concerning the influence of Egypt upon the Delphi, where he was high priest, also sought
sages of Greece. He based this partly upon knowledge along the banks of the Nile.
what he had gathered in his encounters with While there, he was initiated by Clea, a
the Egyptian priests, and partly upon the priestess of Isis and Osiris. In his book Isis
Aegyptiaca, a work by Hecataeus of Abdera. and Osiris, Plutarch spoke of the “works
called Books of Hermes” and emphasized the
Diodorus stated first of all that Orpheus
importance of Egyptian astrology. He also
traveled to Egypt and was initiated into the
reported that many authorities declared Isis to
Osirian mysteries. After returning to his
be the daughter of Hermes.
homeland around the sixth century BCE, he
instituted new rites that were called the Thoth-Hermes
Orphic mysteries. Diodorus also stated that In drawing a parallel between Zoroaster
Digest rites observed in Eleusis by the Athenians and Moses, Diodorus introduced a concept
No. 1 were similar to those of the Egyptians. that would be in considerable vogue in the
Page 4
Renaissance, where he spoke of a philosophia ancient tradition. However, we should note
perennis transmitted by way of the great sages that alchemy already existed in China and
from the beginnings of time. Beginning in India. Among the Alexandrian alchemists,
the second century BCE, the Greeks claimed Bolos of Mendes (100 BCE) was a notable
that Thoth had for a son Agathodemon, who figure, often being described as the founder of
himself had engendered a son named Hermes. Greco-Egyptian alchemy.
The latter, considered to be the second In 30 BCE, Alexandria became the
Hermes, was called Trismegistus—that is, capital of the Roman province of Egypt. The
“Thrice-greatest.” Thus, in the third century Romans assimilated the Greco-Egyptian
CE the Greeks adopted Thoth, giving him Hermes with Mercury, their god of commerce
the name of Hermes and describing him as and travelers. Mercury-Hermes was the
Trismegistus—“Thrice-greatest.” messenger of the gods, the conductor, or
As Thoth was the teacher of speech and guide of souls. Rome rapidly adopted Egypt
writing, it was natural that the Greeks made and its cults.
him the father of Homer, their greatest poet. The Corpus Hermeticum
In the third century CE, Heliodorus indicated Three centuries before the Christian era,
that Homer was the son of Hermes and an texts that are now called the Hermetica—
Egyptian priest’s daughter. Eventually each because their authorship is attributed to
era added some detail, and little by little was Hermes Trismegistus—began to take shape.
forged the concept which stated that Egypt This literature expanded considerably from
was the source of wisdom and knowledge. the first century BCE, and in the Nile Delta
Alexandria region the composition of the Hermetica
With the conquest of Egypt by Alexander continued until the third century CE.
the Great in 333 BCE, the assimilation of the Written in Greek, an Egyptian form of
Egyptian culture by the Greek world was esotericism is quite apparent. Clement of
accelerated. The focus of this activity occurred Alexandria (ca. 150–ca. 220 CE) spoke of
in the city of Alexandria, founded in 331 BCE, the forty-two books of Hermes which the
where the waters of the Nile mixed with those Egyptians carried about in their ceremonies.
of the Mediterranean. A crossroads of Egyptian, Iamblichus attributed 20,000 books to
Jewish, Greek, and Christian cultures, it acted Hermes, whereas Seleucus and Manetho
over the centuries as the intellectual center of mentioned about 36,525.
the eastern Mediterranean. Therapeutae, The most celebrated, written between the
Gnostics, and various other mystical first and third centuries CE, are the seventeen
movements developed around this city. Its tracts which were gathered together under the
library, enriched by more than 50,000 volumes, title of Corpus Hermeticum.4 They are
gathered together all of the knowledge of the composed primarily of dialogues between
era. Alexandria was also the crucible where Hermes, his son Tat, and Asclepius. The first
Greco-Egyptian alchemy flourished. of these treatises, Poemandres, discusses the
The city gave birth to a new science in creation of the world.
the form of alchemy, a continuation of The Asclepius is also an important text as
ancient Egyptian practices that was it describes the religion of the Egyptians and
transformed and revived by Greek thought. the magical rites they practiced for attracting
Its originality consisted of offering a concrete cosmic powers meant to animate the statues
and universal discipline free from the grasp of of the gods. Finally, the fragments of Stobaeus
religion. Hermes Trismegistus, represented by constitute the third group of the Hermetica.
Alexandrian alchemists as being the founder These are composed of thirty-nine texts and
of this art, became the new transmitter of the consist of dialogues between Isis and Horus

Page 5
regarding the creation of the world and the Ovid (43–17/18 BCE) saw things in a more
origin of souls. These texts, generally flattering light. The cult of Isis was tolerated in
attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, claim to Rome, and Nero (37–66 CE) introduced
be translated from the Egyptian. In truth, some Isiac feast days in the Roman calendar.
they contain few authentic Egyptian elements. Marcus Aurelius (161–180 CE) constructed a
They are essentially characterized by Greek temple for the Egyptian Hermes.
philosophy, but also by Judaism and In the second century CE the Pax
Zoroastrianism. They do not compose a Romana established peace throughout the
coherent whole and present numerous Mediterranean world. In this era, we find a
doctrinal contradictions. veritable passion for past civilizations: the
Pax Romana Hindus, Persians, Chaldeans, and above all
Among the Greeks the influence of Egypt the Egyptians. Fascinated by Egyptian
was felt primarily through its literature, but temples that were still in operation, rich
among the Romans the influence took a Romans flocked to the land of the pharaohs.
different twist. The latter were not content to Apuleius, a Latin writer intrigued by the
travel to the land of the pharaohs. In 30 BCE, mysteries, also went there. In The Golden Ass
after the suicide of Cleopatra and the conquest he described for us the Egyptian mysteries in
of Egypt by Octavian, the country became a his colorful manner.
Roman province. At the beginning of the first Alchemy, Magic, and Astrology
century CE the Romans controlled the Nile Along with alchemy, magic and astrology
valley. They embraced its culture, and the assumed greater importance. Claudius Ptolemy
emperor was compared to a pharaoh. The (ca. 90–ca.168 CE), a Greek living in
conquerors adopted certain rites of the land Alexandria, wrote the Tetrabiblos, a treatise that
they had taken, and the cult of Isis found a codified all the principles of Greek astrology
home in Rome. (with Egyptian and Chaldean influences):
Rome adopted Egyptian architecture. signs, houses, aspects, elements. Ptolemy was
Even now we can admire one of the last not merely an astrologer, he was also an
remnants of this era, the pyramid of Caius astronomer to whom we owe geocentrism and
Cestius. Another, now vanished, was erected the theory of the epicycles which dominated
in the necropolis of the Vatican. The city also science until the seventeenth century CE. It
bristled with numerous obelisks taken from was Ptolemy who transmitted Greek
Karnak, Heliopolis, and Sais. Visitors to astronomical knowledge to the West. Clement
Rome may still admire more than ten of of Alexandria (ca. 150–ca. 213 CE), a Greek
them. The existence of an Isiac college is church father, drew in his Stromateis a portrait
attested around 80 BCE. By 105 BCE a of the Egyptian astrologers of his time who
temple consecrated to the worship of Isis was always had to be ready to recite the four
located in Pompeii. The Iseum in the Campus astrological books of Hermes.
Martius, which included a temple dedicated Olympiodorus (fifth or sixth century CE)
to Isis and Serapis, remained the most presented alchemy as a sacerdotal art practiced
important evidence of the presence of by the Egyptians. The Leiden and Stockholm
Egyptian cults among the Romans. papyri (second century CE) depict the
But the encounter of the two religions did metallurgical procedures as effectively being
not pass smoothly, and Caesar barely favored linked to magical formulas.5 In the third
the gods of Egypt. Virgil (70–19 BCE) and century CE, Zosimos of Panopolis settled
Rosicrucian Horace (65–8 BCE) described the battle of down in Alexandria so as to dedicate himself
Digest monstrous divinities, as Anubis brandished his to alchemy. The first well-known alchemical
No. 1 arms against Neptune, Venus, and Minerva. author, he bestowed upon this science his
Page 6
concepts and symbolism. But his alchemical many controversies that marked the
writings do not simply revolve around beginnings of this religion newly imposed by
laboratory work; they also discuss the Constantine. In the third century CE, the
transformations of the soul and entail a Egyptians abandoned hieroglyphs and
mystical quest. Alchemy expanded so greatly adopted the Coptic script for transcribing
in the third century CE that Emperor their language. The Copts adapted the secret
Diocletian, disturbed by a possible devaluation knowledge of the pharaohs to Christianity.
of precious metals, promulgated an edict Soon afterwards, Emperor Theodosius
prohibiting the practice and condemning promulgated an edict against non-Christian
alchemical texts to the flames. cults, thus marking the end of the Egyptian
Neoplatonism clergy and their ceremonies.
Neoplatonists were considerably The Christians Before Hermes
interested in Egypt. Iamblichus (ca. 240– Christianity, which began to gain in
ca. 325 CE), who was initiated into the influence, was not unaware of Hermes. In the
Chaldean, Egyptian, and Syrian rites, is an middle of the second century CE a kind of
enigmatic individual. Some extraordinary Christian Hermes appeared in the pages of a
powers were attributed to the “divine book entitled The Shepherd, whose author
Iamblichus,” the head of a Neoplatonist was said to be Hermas.7 It is a Roman work
school. While in prayer, his body was said to in which Hermas, the “messenger of penance
rise more than ten cubits from the earth, and and penitent,” took the form of a prophet.
his skin and clothing were bathed in a The Shepherd is an apocalyptic work in which
beautiful golden light. all the conventions of
Egypt held a chosen the genre are found.
spot in his writings. In In the early Church
De Mysteriis (On the Jesus is often presented
Egyptian Mysteries),6 as a shepherd, a role
Iamblichus presented that is also attributed
himself in the guise of to Hermes. Yet in this
Abammon, a master instance it is not
of the Egyptian Jesus that Hermes
sacerdotal hierarchy designates, but the
and an interpreter of “angel of the penance.”
Hermetic teachings. Considered for a long
He also promoted Alembics and vases for digestion, in Synosius, a Greek time to be an integral
theurgy and Egyptian alchemical manuscript (National Library, Paris), taken from part of the canonical
divinatory practices. A Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs. (Collection of Ancient scriptures, The Shepherd
Greek Alchemists), by M. Berthelot.
little later, another passed to the status of
Neoplatonist, Proclus apocryphal scripture at
(412–485 CE), also strongly affected by the beginning of the fourth century.
theurgy, believed himself to be part of the The Church fathers generally loved to
“chain of Hermes.” He had great influence on delve into mythology so as to disclose the
Sufism and on such Christian thinkers as beginnings of the Gospel. Hermes
Johannes Scotus Erigena, Meister Eckhart, Trismegistus continued to garner respect
and many others. among them. Lactantius (250–325 CE), in
Nevertheless, this era saw Egypt fading his Divinarum Institutionum (Divine
away before an ever-expanding Christianity. Institutions), saw Christian truth formulated
Alexandria played an important role in the before the advent of Christianity in the

Page 7
Corpus Hermeticum. He placed Hermes disappearing by the sixth century CE, and the
Trismegistus in the first rank of Gentile Arabs now took up the torch.
prophets who foresaw the coming of Christ. The Sabaeans
St. Augustine (354–430 CE), the Father Alexandria was seized by the Arabs in 642
of the Church, in his City of God, a CE, a date which marks an end to this city’s
fundamental treatise of Christian theology, days of glory. However, the conquest of this
made Hermes a descendent of God. He had city was not the Arabs’ first encounter with
read the Asclepius in the translation by esotericism. Rather, they had been aware of
Apuleius of Madaura, but even though he Hermes long before this time. For example,
admired Hermes Trismegistus, he rejected the they had learned from the Sabaeans,
magic revealed in this work. Clement of inhabitants of the mythical kingdom of
Alexandria liked to compare Hermes-Logos Sheba, which was supposed to be a place of
to the Christ-Logos. earthly paradise. In ancient times it was also
Emperor Julian the Apostate (361–363 called Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia) and was
CE), the nephew of Constantine, attempted said to be the land of the phoenix. Centuries
a brief return to the worship of the mysteries. later Christian Rosenkreuz was supposed to
He enacted measures against Christians have visited the area so as to gather together
and restored paganism. Influenced by the marvelous knowledge deposited there.
Neoplatonism, he extolled ancient theurgy. The Bible states that the queen of this land,
This return was brief, however, and by 387 CE the queen of Sheba, visited King Solomon.
the Christian patriarch Theophilus undertook Although the location of her land was not
the destruction of the Egyptian temples with specified in the Old Testament, the Koran
the idea of transforming them into places of indicates that it was in southern Arabia
Christian worship. Nonetheless, on the island (modern-day Yemen).
of Philae an Egyptian temple continued to
The Sabaeans were notable astrologers,
function. It was not closed until 551 CE, by
and Maimonides indicated that this
order of Emperor Justinian.
knowledge assumed a predominant role
It will be noted that the Egyptian temples among them. Tradition claims that the magi
remained active between the first and sixth who greeted Christ came from this legendary
centuries CE—that is, during the period land. The Sabaeans possessed both the
which covers the composition of the Hermetic alchemical writings and the Corpus
Hermetica. It is often remarked that these Hermeticum. Being knowledgeable in such
texts are pessimistic regarding the future of subjects, it is they who introduced science
the Egyptian religion, which leads us to think into Islam, although they themselves evolved
that they were written in an Egyptian setting on the fringes of this religion.
by a priestly class. Fragments from the
Egyptian wisdom may repose in the The Sabaeans claimed to have originated
Hermetica, but they are expressed in an with Hermes to whom they dedicated a special
indirect fashion, having been submitted to cult. They produced some books whose contents,
the process of Hellenization. they claimed, had been revealed by Hermes,
such as the Risalat fi’n-nafs (Letter about the
Alexandria had been the starting point Soul) and the Liturgical Institutions of Hermes by
where Egyptian teachings entered the Greek Thabit ibn Qurrah, an eminent figure of
and Roman worlds. It was where the ancient Sabaeanism in Baghdad (ca. 836–901 CE).
tradition was reformulated by way of alchemy,
astrology, and magic. This point of departure, Idris-Hermes
Digest after having scattered such wisdom into a The seventh century CE signaled the
No. 1 greater portion of the East, was already beginnings of Islam. Although the Koran did
Page 8
not make any reference to Hermes, the are born from this one thing by
hagiographers of Islam’s early centuries dispensation and union. Its father is the
identified the prophet Idris, mentioned in the sun, its mother is the moon, the wind
Koran, with Hermes and Enoch. This carries it in its belly, its nurse is the
assimilation helped to link Islam with Greco- earth. This is the father of all perfection
Egyptian traditions. In Islam, Idris-Hermes is in this whole world. Its power is perfect
described as both a prophet and a timeless when it is changed into earth; so you
personage. He is sometimes compared to al- should separate the earth from the fire,
Khadir,8 the mysterious intermediary and and the subtle from the thick or gross
sage who initiated Moses and who plays a but lovingly with great understanding
fundamental role in Sufism as a manifestation and discretion. It ascends from earth to
of the personal guide. heaven and from heaven again to earth
Abu-Ma’shar, an eighth century CE and receives again the power of the
Persian astrologer who became celebrated in Above and the Below. Thus you will
Europe by the name of Albumazar, drew up have the splendor of the whole world.
an account tracing the genealogy of Hermes. All lack of understanding and lack of
This text, which had immense influence in ability will leave you. This is of all
the Islamic world, distinguished three power the most powerful power, for it
successive Hermes. The first, Hermes Major, can overcome all subtlety and can
lived before the Flood. Identified with Thoth, penetrate all that is solid. Thus was the
he is described as the civilizer of humanity, as world created. Thus many rare
he had the pyramids constructed and engraved combinations originated, and wonders
the sacred hieroglyphs for future generations. are wrought, of which this is the way to
The second Hermes lived in Babylonia after work. And thus I am called
the Flood; he was a master of medicine, Trismegistus, having the three parts of
philosophy, and mathematics. He was also the the wisdom of the whole world. All
initiator of Pythagoras. Finally, the third that I have said concerning the work of
Hermes is described as having continued his the sun is fulfilled.9
predecessors’ work of civilizing society. As a This work is attributed to Apollonius
master of occult knowledge, he transmitted of Tyana, a philosopher and thaumaturgist
alchemy to humanity. of the first century CE. As Julius Ruska has
The Emerald Tablet shown, the text comes to us through the
In the same era there appeared the Emerald translation composed by Sagiyus, a
Tablet, a text which assumed an important Christian priest of Nablus. It appears in
place in the tradition. The oldest known Kitab Sirr Al-Haliqa (The Secret Book of
version, in Arabic, dates from the sixth century Creation) by Balinus (the Arabic translation
CE. Many are those who cite this text without of the name Apollonius).10
really knowing it; therefore, we feel that it In this book, Apollonius relates how he
would be useful to present it in its entirety. discovered the tomb of Hermes. He claims to
True, without falsehood, certain and have found in this sepulcher an old man,
most true, that which is below is like seated on a throne, holding an emerald-
that which is above, and that which is colored tablet upon which appeared the text
above is like that which is below for of the famed Emerald Tablet. Before him was
accomplishing the wonder of the one a book explaining the secrets of the creation of
thing. As all things are created from beings and the knowledge of the causes for all
one, by the will and command of the things. This narrative would recur much later
one United who created it, so all things in the Fama Fraternitatis.

Page 9
Arab Alchemy through Spain and profoundly affected
The role of the Arabs as transmitters of the Latin West.
alchemy to the West in the Middle Ages is Magic and Astrology
generally well known. They also left us with a Magic also occupied a central position in
vocabulary distinctive to this art (al kemia, Arab spirituality. Islam made use of magical
chemistry; al tanur, athanor; etc.). Yet Islam’s letters, much like the Hebrew Qabalah, for
role is not simply limited to that of penetrating the Koran’s secrets. Moreover, Arab
transmission, as the Arabs conceptualized it magic, which Christian Rosenkreuz informed
in a form which, afterwards, was to assert us much later was none too pure, encompassed
itself everywhere.11 Their alchemy was not a wide range: astrology, medicine, talismans,
only an art of the laboratory, it was also meant etc. Astrology was ever-present in the Islamic
to unveil the hidden laws of Creation, and it world. Although suspect due to its pagan
comprised a mystic and philosophical origins, it developed significantly from the
dimension. Although Arab alchemy claimed eighth century, when the Tetrabiblos of Ptolemy
to be of Egyptian origin, its practice occurred was translated into Arabic.
after the Arab conquest of Egypt in 639 CE. Astrology, in the era of al-Mansur, the
They received Greek alchemy through the second Abbassid caliph (754–775 CE), was
Syrians, but their first masters in this art were not only indebted to the Greeks, but also
the Persians, who had inherited the came under the influence of the Hindus,
Mesopotamian esoteric traditions. Syrian Christians, Judeo-Arameans, and
The first known Arab alchemist, the undoubtedly the Essenes. In general, the
Ummayad prince Khalid ibn Yazid (?– various esoteric teachings played a
704 CE), was initiated by Morienus, a fundamental role in Islam, particularly
Christian of Alexandria. Within a short in the Shi’ite environment, as shown by
time alchemy spread throughout the Henry Corbin.12 It is easy to understand why
Islamic world and the Greek treatises Christian Rosenkreuz came to the Arab lands
were quickly translated. The most to gather the essential elements from which
illustrious figure of Arab alchemy was he was to construct the Rosicrucian Order.
Jabir ibn Hayyan (died ca. 815 CE), Eastern Theosophy
known in the Western world as Geber. Around the ninth century ibn-Wahshiya,
He advanced the fundamental concepts in a treatise entitled The Knowledge of the
of the great work, and his reflections led Occult Unveiled,13 presented many occult
to a spiritual alchemy on a grand scale. alphabets attributed to Hermes. He also
He is also credited with numerous made reference to the four classes of
discoveries in alchemy. Egyptian priests descended from Hermes.
The Jabirian Corpus is said to contain Those who belonged to the third class—that
more than 3,000 treatises, most of which is, the children of Hermes Trismegistus’
are apocryphal. They were probably the sister—he called Ishraqiyun (“of the East”).
work of a school which formed around his Some years later, Sohravardi (?–1191), one of
teachings. Arab alchemy had many the greatest Islamic mystics of Persia, revived
masters, of whom we will mention only a the expression Ishraqiyun (signifying “Eastern
few: abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn-Zakariya’, theosophists”) to describe the masters who
called al-Razi or Rhazes (850–923 CE); had experienced Illumination. Philosophy
Muhammad ibn-Umail al-Tamimi, called and the mystical experience were inseparable
Rosicrucian Zadith the Elder (tenth century); abd in his mind, and in his Book of Oriental
Digest Allah al-Jaldaki (fourteenth century). Wisdom14 he described the chain of past
No. 1 Before long their texts penetrated Europe initiates, the Eastern theosophists.
Page 10
For him this experience was tied to and astrology) constitute essential elements
Hermes, whom he made the ancestor, the of traditional esotericism and have traversed
father of the sages. These ecstatic philosophers, many civilizations. Nonetheless, the latter
described as the “Pillars of Wisdom,” were have always considered Egypt to be the
Plato, Empedocles, Pythagoras, Zoroaster, Mother of all traditions. In the Middle Ages,
and Mohammed. What makes Sohravardi this ancient heritage penetrated the West,
particularly interesting is that, in contrast to and by the time of the Renaissance it took
the authors we have discussed until now, he on a new aspect in constituting what is
did not seek to establish a historical human generally called “Western esotericism.” It
filiation between Hermes and the sages of the then developed in a special way so as to
different traditions, but a celestial initiatory reach a critical threshold on the brink of the
filiation based on inner experiences. publication of the Rosicrucian manifestos.
The heritage left by Hermes Trismegistus
is manifold. Its treasures (alchemy, magic,

1 Bernard Gorceix, La Bible des Rose-Croix, traduction et Ralph Manheim (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969); and
commentaire des trois premiers écrits rosicruciens (1614-1615-1616) Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn
(Paris: PUF, 1970), 17. ‘Arabi, with a new Preface by Harold Bloom (Princeton, NJ:
2 Antoine Faivre, Accès de l’ésotérisme occidental (Paris: Gallimard, Princeton University Press, 1998).
1986), 33. English edition: Access to Western Esotericism, vol. 1 9 Translation from the Latin Vulgate of the 14th century. Variants
(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994); and Theosophy, of this text (in Arab, Latin, and French) may be found, along with
Imagination, Tradition: Studies in Western Esotericism, vol. 2 Hortulanus’ Commentary (Hortulanus, 14th century) and a
(Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000). translation of Apollonius of Tyana’s Book of the Secret of Creation
3 Erik Hornung. L’Égypte ésotérisme, le savoir occulte des Égyptiens et (Pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana, Kitab Sirr al-khaliqah), in Hermes
son influence en Occident (Monaco: Éditions du Rocher, 2001), 27. Trismegistus, La Table d’Émeraude et sa tradition alchimique, with
English edition: The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West Preface by Didier Kahn (Paris: Les Belles Lettes, 1994). English
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002). edition of Hortulanus: The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus,
4 Hermes Trismegistus, trans. André-Jean Festugière, vols. 1-4 including the Commentary of Hortulanus, trans. Patrick J. Smith,
(Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1946-1954). See also A.-J. Festugière, La Alchemical Studies Series 5 (Edmonds, WA: The Alchemical Press
Révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste, vol. 1, “L’astrologie et les sciences - Holmes Publishing, 1997).
10 Julius Ruska, Tabula Smaragdina, Ein Beitrag zur Geschiche der
occultes;” vol. 2, “Le Dieu cosmique;” vol. 3, “Les doctrines de
l’âme, le Dieu inconnu de la gnose” (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, hermetischen Literatur (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1926). Concerning
1950). English editions of the Hermetica include: Hermetica: the this text see also Françoise Hudry, “De Secretis Naturae du PS. –
Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a new English Apollonius de Tyane, traduction latine par Hugues de Santala du
Translation, trans. Brian P. Copenhaver (Cambridge: Cambridge Kitab Sirr Al-Haliqa,” Chrysopoeia of the Société d’étude de l’histoire
University Press, 1995); The Way of Hermes, trans. Clement de l’alchimie: Cinq traités alchimiques médiévaux: Ps.-Apollonius de
Salaman et al. (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2000); and Tyane (Balinus): De secretis naturae (Kitab sirr al-haliqa); Ps.-Arnaud
Hermetica, ed. and trans. Walter Scott, 4 vols. (New York: de Villeneuve: De secretis naturae; Flos florum (Le livre de Roussinus);
Shambala, 1985). Valerand du Bois-Robert: Epître à Madame de Bourgogne; Epître à
5 Regarding the Greek alchemists, see Marcellin Berthelot, Maître Abraham (Paris: S.E.H.A.; Milan: Archè, 2000); Chrysopoeia
Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs (Paris: G. Steinheil, 1887– Tome 6, 1997-1999, with Notes and Introduction by Sylvain
1888). Regarding the history of alchemy, see Robert Halleux, Les Matton, 1-20; and Hermes Trismegistus, La Table d’Émeraude, with
Textes alchimiques (Turhout, Belgium: Brépols, 1979). Preface by Didier Kahn (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1994).
6 11 Pierre Lory, Alchimie et mystique en terre d’Islam (Lagrasse:
Iamblichus, Les Mystères d’Egypte, ed. and trans. Édouard des
Places, S.J., Correspondant de l’Institut (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, Verdier, 1989). Concerning this subject also see Georges C.
1966). English edition: Iamblichus, On The Mysteries, trans. Emma Anawati, “L’alchimie arabe,” and Robert Halleux, “La reception de
C. Clarke et al. (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.) l’alchimie arabe en Occident,” in Historie des sciences arabes, t. III,
7 Technologie, alchimie et sciences de la vie, under the direction of
Hermas, Le Pasteur, with Introduction and Notes by Robert Joly
Rashed Roshdi, Paris, Le Seuil, (1997): 111-141 and 143-154.
(Paris: Éditions du Cerf, coll. “Sources chrétiennes,” no. 53 bis,
12 Henry Corbin, En Islam iranien (Paris: Gallimard, 1971).
1997). English edition: Carolyn Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas: A
Commentary (Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on 13 La Magie arabe traditionnelle, with Preface by Sylvain Matton
the Bible), ed. Helmut Koester (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999). (Paris: Retz, coll. “Bibliotheca Hermetica,” 1977).
8 Corbin, Henry, L’Imagination créatrice dans le soufisme d’Ibn 14 Sohravardi (Suhrawardi, Yahyá ibn Habash), Le Livre de la
Arabî (Paris: Aubier, 1993), 32, 49-59, 73, and 77. English Sagesse orientale, ed. Christian Jamet, trans. Henry Corbin
editions: Creative imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi, trans. (Lagrasse: Verdier, 1986).

Page 11
E. A. Wallis Budge

ne of the best-known sections of the (Herakleopolis), I have not snatched
Book of the Coming Forth by Day away food.”
(The Book of the Dead) in the 10. “Hail, thou who shootest forth the
Papyrus of Ani is the Negative Confession. The Flame (Utu-nesert), who comest forth
forty-two Gods and Goddesses of the Nomes of from Het-Ptah-ka (Memphis), I have not
Egypt conduct this initiatory test of the soul caused pain.”
before the scale of Ma’at. In this translation by
11. “Hail, Qerer, who comest forth
pioneering Egyptologist E. A. Wallis Budge, we
from Amentet, I have not committed
hear the initiate’s assertion of blamelessness before
the Court of Osiris. For clarity, divine names
and city names in parentheses have been added 12. “Hail, thou whose face is turned back (Her-
to the 1895 text of Chapter 125 from Budge’s f-ha-f), who comest forth from thy hiding
1913 edition. place, I have not caused shedding of tears.”
13. “Hail, Bast, who comest forth from
1. Ani saith: “Hail, thou whose strides the secret place (Bubastis), I have not
are long (Usekh-nemmt), who comest dealt deceitfully.”
forth from Annu (Heliopolis), I have 14. “Hail, thou whose legs are of fire
not done iniquity.” (Ta-retiu), who comest forth out of the
2. “Hail, thou who art embraced by darkness, I have not transgressed.”
flame (Hept-khet), who comest forth 15. “Hail, Devourer of Blood (Unem-
from Kheraba, I have not robbed snef), who comest forth from the block
with violence.” of slaughter, I have not acted guilefully.”
3. “Hail, Fentiu, who comest forth
from Khemennu (Hermopolis), I have 16. “Hail, Devourer of the inward parts
not stolen.” (Unem-besek), who comest forth from
Mabet, I have not laid waste the
4. “Hail, Devourer of the Shade (Am- ploughed land.”
khaibit), who comest forth from
17. “Hail, Lord of Right and Truth (Neb-
Qernet, I have done no murder; I have
Ma’at), who comest forth from the city of
done no harm.”
Right and Truth (Ma’ati), I have not been
5. “Hail, Nehau, who comest forth from an eavesdropper.”
Re-stau, I have not defrauded offerings.”
18. “Hail, thou who dost stride backwards
6. “Hail, god in the form of two lions (Tenemiu), who comest forth from the
(Ruruti), who comest forth from heaven, city of Bast, I have not set my lips in
I have not minished oblations.” motion against any one.”
7. “Hail, thou whose eyes are of fire (Arfi- 19. “Hail, Sertiu, who comest forth from
em-khet), who comest forth from Saut Annu (Heliopolis), I have not been angry
(Asyut), I have not plundered the god.” and wrathful except for a just cause.”
8. “Hail, thou Flame (Neba), which 20. “Hail, thou being of two-fold
comest and goest, I have spoken no lies.” wickedness (Tutu), who comest forth
Rosicrucian 9. “Hail, Crusher of bones (Set-qesu), from Ati (the Busirite Nome), I have not
Digest who comest forth from Suten-henen defiled the wife of any man.”
No. 1
Page 12
21. “Hail, thou two-headed serpent 35. “Hail, thou who workest with
(Uamemti), who comest forth from the thy will (Ari-em-ab-f ), who comest
torture-chamber, I have not defiled the forth from Tebu, I have never fouled
wife of any man.” the water.”
22. “Hail, thou who dost regard what is 36. “Hail, thou bearer of the sistrum
brought unto thee (Maa-antuf), who (Ahi), who comest forth from Nu, I have
comest forth from Pa-Amsu (Panopolis), not spoken scornfully.”
I have not defiled myself.” 37. “Hail, thou who makest humanity to
23. “Hail, thou Chief of the mighty (Her- flourish (Uatch-rekhit), who comest forth
uru) who comest forth from Amentet from Saïs, I have never cursed God.”
(Nehatu), I have not caused terror.” 38. “Hail, Neheb-ka, who comest forth
24. “Hail, thou Destroyer (Khemiu), from thy hiding place, I have not stolen.”
who comest forth from Kesiu, I have not 39. “Hail, Neheb-nefert, who comest
transgressed (the law).” forth from thy hiding place, I have not
25. “Hail, thou who orderest speech defrauded the offerings of the gods.”
(Shet-kheru), who comest forth from 40. “Hail, thou who dost set in order the
Urit, I have not burned with rage.” head (Tcheser-tep), who comest forth
26. “Hail, thou Babe (Nekhenu), who from thy shrine, I have not plundered the
comest forth from Uab (Heqat), I have offerings to the blessed dead.”
not stopped my ears against the words of 41. “Hail, thou who bringest thy arm
Right and Truth.” (An-af), who comest forth from the city
27. “Hail, Kenemti, who comest forth of Ma’ati, I have not filched the food of
from Kenemet, I have not worked grief.” the infant, neither have I sinned against
28. “Hail, thou who bringest thy the god of my native town.”
offering (An-hetep-f), I have not acted 42. “Hail, thou whose teeth are white
with insolence.” (Hetch-abhu), who comest forth from
29. “Hail, thou who orderest speech Ta-she (the Fayyum), I have not
(Sera-kheru), who comest forth from slaughtered with evil intent the cattle of
Unaset, I have not stirred up strife.” the god.”
30. “Hail, Lord of faces (Neb-heru), who “. . . I have tried thee. . . Advance thou,
comest forth from Netchfet, I have not in very truth thou hast been tested.”
judged hastily.”
31. “Hail, Sekheriu, who comest forth from
Utten, I have not been an eavesdropper.”
32. “Hail, Lord of the two horns
(Neb-abui), who comest forth
from Saïs, I have not multiplied
words exceedingly.”
33. “Hail, Nefer-Tmu, who comest forth
from Het-Ptah-ka (Memphis), I have
done neither harm nor ill.”
34. “Hail, Tmu in thine hour, who Detail of a Coffin. The god Thoth, or Djehuti in ancient Egyptian, was
comest forth from Tattu (Busiris), I have the Scribe of Judgment. When the deceased made the Negative
Declaration asserting a life well-lived, Djehuti took notes. From the
never cursed the king.” collection of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.

Page 13
he initiatic and mystical character of
ancient Egypt is attested from the time
of the Pyramid Texts (Old Kingdom –
ca. 2350 BCE) through the Greco-Roman era.
Ancient authors consistently considered Egypt the
font of ancient wisdom, and described the
mysteries and initiatic character of the Egyptians.
Here are selected passages from ancient Egypt
and the classical world on the Egyptian mysteries,
adapted for modern readers.
Entrance to Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt. Painted by H. Spencer
Lewis during Egyptian trip of 1929.
“O King, thou didst not depart dead; thou
didst depart living, so thou sittest upon the
throne of Osiris, thy sceptre in thy hand, thou “The hidden Circle of Amentet,
commandest the living; Thy sceptres are in thy through which this great god travelleth and
hand, commanding those of secret places.” taketh up his place in the Tuat. If these
– Pyramid Texts (OldKingdom–ca.2600–2400BCE)1 things be made with their names after the
manner of this figure which is depicted at
“A stairway to heaven shall be laid down for the east of the hidden house of the Tuat,
him, that he may ascend to heaven thereon; he and if a man knoweth their names whilst
ascends on the smoke (incense) of the great censing; he is upon earth, and knoweth their places
… he flies as a goose; he alights as a scarab, upon in Amenti, he shall attain to his own place
the empty throne which is in thy boat, O Rē.” in the Tuat, and he shall stand up in all
– Pyramid Texts (Old Kingdom)2 places which belong to the gods whose
voices are maat, even as the divine sovereign
“When they have addressed this God chiefs of Ra, and the mighty ones of the
whilst rowing along his boat, they cry out, palace, and this knowledge shall be of
and they bring him to rest in the Field of the benefit to him upon earth.”
Nepertiu Gods who are in the following of – Amduat, Ninth Hour (New Kingdom)5
Osiris. If these scenes be done in writing “Here is the opening of the book of the
according to the similitudes which are in the worship of Rē in the [Fullness of Being], of the
hidden places of the palace, and if a person worship of Temt in the [All-that-is]. The person
hath knowledge of these words … they shall who understands this work founded upon the
act as magical protectors … upon earth, Earth, like a porcelain figure at sunset, which is
regularly, unfailingly and eternally.” Rē’s triumph… Anyone who has knowledge
– Amduat, Second Hour
on Earth, has knowledge after death.”
(New Kingdom ca. 1560–1060 BCE)3
– The Litany of the Sun (New Kingdom)6
“Whosoever knoweth these things, being “I was introduced into the Divine Book, I
attached to his place, shall have his bread with beheld the excellent things of Thoth; I was
Ra. Whosoever knoweth these things, being a equipped with their secrets; I opened all the passages;
Rosicrucian soul and a spirit … shall never enter the place one took counsel with me on all their matters.”
No. 1 of destruction.” – Inscription on a statue of Amenhotep,
2007 – Amduat, Third Hour (New Kingdom)4 son of Hapi (19th Dynasty–New Kingdom)7
Page 14
“If this Chapter be known by the occult exercise of manners worthy of antiquity.”
deceased he shall become a perfect Spirit-soul – Chaeremon the Stoic (1st century CE)11
in Khert-Neter, and he shall not die a second
time, and he shall eat his food side by side “For the illumination, which is present
with Osiris. If this Chapter be known by the through the invocations, is self-appearing and
deceased upon earth, he shall become like self-subsisting;…and goes forth into
unto Thoth, and he shall be adored by those manifestation through the divine energy and
who live. He shall not fall headlong at the perfection….By such a purpose, therefore,
moment of the intensity of the royal flame of the gods being gracious and propitious, give
the goddess Bast, and the Great Prince shall forth light abundantly to the Theurgists,
make him to advance happily.” both calling their souls upward into
themselves, providing for them union to
– Book of the Dead
themselves in the Chorus, and accustoming
(Saite Period Version, 600–500 BCE)8
them, while they are still in the body, to hold
“On this lake they perform by night the themselves aloof from corporeal things, and
show of his [the unnamed] sufferings, and likewise to be led up to their own eternal
this the Egyptians call Mysteries….” and noetic First Cause…
– Heroditus (5th century BCE)9 “For when we become entirely soul, and
“The ceremonies and rites of Osiris agree in are outside of the body and soaring on high
everything with those of Dionysus, and that with all the gods of the nonmaterial realm,
those of Isis and Demeter are one and the same, we occupy ourselves with sublime visions.
differing in nothing but the name. . . . The
feigning of Hermes to be the conductor of souls “The [Egyptian priests] do not, by any
was derived from the old Egyptian custom that means, contemplate these [sacred] things with
he who brought back the dead body of Apis the reasoning faculty alone, but they also
(when he came to the place), delivered it to him teach that, by means of the sacerdotal theurgy,
who represented Cerberus. . . .” the aspirant may mount up to the higher and
– Diodorus Siculus (ca. 90–30 BCE)10 more universal, and those conditions
established superior to Fate and to God the
“These philosophic priests . . . gave up the Creator (Demiurgos), neither becoming
whole of their life to the contemplation and attached to the realm of matter, nor taking
worship of divine natures and to divine hold of anything else besides only the
inspiration; . . . through contemplation, science; observing of a proper time.”
and through both, [they procured] a certain – Iamblichus of Chalcis (ca. 245–325 CE)12

1 Pyramid Texts, Utterance 213, section 134-135. Adapted from 8 Book of the Dead, Chapter 135 (Saite Period Version)
Samuel A.B. Mercer. The Pyramid Texts. New York, Longmans, Translation in E.A. Wallis Budge, Book of the Dead. www.lysator.
Green, 1952, 58. In public domain.
2 The Pyramid Texts, Utterance 267, Section 365-366. Adapted 9Herodotus, The Histories Book 2:65, 170-171, trans. G. C.
from Mercer, 89. Macaulay (1890; New York: Macmillan and Co., 1914).
3Adapted from E.A.Wallis Budge. The Book of Am-Tuat. (London:
10 Adapted from Diodorus Siculus, “On Egypt” Book 1:7.The
Kegan, Paul, Trench, Truebner and Co., 1905), 43.
Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian, trans. G. Booth (London:
Translated by E.A.Wallis Budge. The Gods of the Egyptians
Printed by W. McDowall for J. Davis, 1814), 1:58, 95.
(Chicago: Open Court, 1904), Vol 1: 214.
5 11 Chaeremon, cited in Porphyry, “On the Abstention from
Adapted from E.A.Wallis Budge. The Book of Am-Tuat, 187-188.
6 Animal Food,” Chap, 4 in The Select Works of Porphyry, trans.
Edouard Naville, La Litanie du Soleil: Inscriptions Recueillies dans
Thomas Taylor (London: T. Rodd, 1823).
les Tombeaux des Rois à Thèbes (Leipzig: Engelmann, 1875).
Translation adapted for modern readers. 12 Iamblichus, Theurgia or the Egyptian Mysteries, trans. Alexander
7 Translation in James H. Breasted. Ancient Records of Egypt. Vol 2: Wilder (New York: The Metaphysical Publishing Co., 1911), chap.
374 section 915. 4, 55 and 58-59; chap. 12, 204-205; and chap. 16, 257.

Page 15
Max Guilmot, Ph.D., F.R.C.

r. Max Guilmot, F.R.C. was a Belgian and philosophical nature, incorporates those

D Egyptologist on the staff of the

Fondation Egyptologique Reine
Elisabeth, Brussels. He was also a Corresponding
fundamentals of initiation, which can be
traced to initiations conducted in ancient
Egypt, Rome, Greece, and certain sects in the
Member of the Revue de l’Histoire des Middle Ages.
Religions, Paris, and member of the Société Induction into the ancient mystery schools
des Gens de Lettres de France. For many years was always in a form of initiation. The gnosis,
he was also a consultant to the Rosicrucian the special knowledge that was to be imparted
Egyptian Museum in San Jose. The Preface to the candidate, was considered to be of a
below was written by Ralph. M. Lewis, F.R.C., sacred nature. It was thought that the
former Imperator of the Rosicrucian Order, knowledge was of divine origin revealed
AMORC and Director of the Rosicrucian through oracles and priests or priestesses. Thus
Egyptian Museum. initiation in its ancient character was a
synchronism of religion, metaphysics, and
what we may term moral philosophy.
Just what is initiation? A distinction must
The subject matter of the initiation
be made between its procedure, that is, its
revolved about mysteries common to the
functional operation, and its purpose. This
average person of that time—mysteries,
purpose is a state or condition of preparation.
however, that still challenge the reason,
The preparation consists of a series of tests and
intelligence, and the imagination of
trials of the initiate to determine worthiness of
modern persons. These were the origin of
elevation to a higher religious or social status.
the universe; of humanity; of the nature of
This preparation is likewise a form of
birth and death; of the manifestations of
instruction—a teaching, usually in symbolic
natural phenomena; and life after this one.
form—of a specialized knowledge.
The knowledge imparted to the initiate
The functional aspect of initiation is its verbally and by symbolism, and also by
ritualistic structure. The importance of the the enactment of ritualistic roles, was
testing of the initiate is impressed upon the meant to enlighten the initiate with regard
individual in a dramatic form. In other words, to these mysteries.
the purpose and what is expected of the Since the knowledge was sacrosanct, it
initiate are enacted. This form of initiation was not to be defiled by revealing it to the
has an emotional impact upon the individual, uninitiated, unprepared, and unqualified
which a dialectical or rhetorical discourse individual. Consequently, solemn oaths were
alone would not have. exacted from the candidates to never divulge
The dramatic incidents of the initiation what was experienced during the initiation.
are intended to play upon the whole emotional Much is heard of the fact that such
gamut of the individual. They may arouse, for initiations were performed thousands of years
example, fear, anxiety, momentary depression, ago in Egypt. However, because of their
Rosicrucian and ultimately, pleasure to the extent of ecstasy. sacred vows, substantially little has descended
Digest True esoteric initiation, as performed to us today as authentic material indicative of
No. 1
today by orders of a mystical, metaphysical, the true rites of such initiations. The
Page 16
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, under the As for the slow process of aging, this also
direction of the Supreme Grand Lodge of presents new problems. Faculties become
AMORC, a worldwide cultural, educational, impaired. From then on life demands less
and initiatic organization, is proud to present room. In order for it to subsist without a
this translation from hieroglyphic texts feeling of despair, it must have wisdom.
relating such a traditional initiation. Finally death comes. We must face it without
This presentation has been made fear and, without regret, give life up.
possible through the excellent research and Thus birth, puberty, marriage, aging, and
ardent labors of the noted Egyptologist, Dr. death depict unavoidable trials. Whether we
Max Guilmot, to whom we extend our face them happily or despairingly, whether we
profound thanks. celebrate them or let them go unnoticed, they
—Ralph M. Lewis map the path of human life. With each test
overcome, a new phase of existence begins. At
Part 1: Phases Of Existence the end of each season of life, the outline of a
Verily, I am the one who dwells in the Light; new being emerges.
(Yes), I am a Soul that came into being It is true that today humanity has too
Born from the body of the god! much of a tendency to not celebrate the various
(Yes), I am a falcon that dwells in the Light, stages of life we must go through. We no longer
That finds its power through its (own) light feel with the same acuity how much we change
And through its (own) radiance! with each trial we overcome. Little by little, we
(O Osiris!) become unconscious of our metamorphoses.
Lord of Manifestations, By smoothing out the path of our lives, by
Great and Majestic, removing all obstacles from our itineraries, we
Here I have come! deny truth; we lie to ourselves. Lost in a
fallacious fog of the soul, we fall out of step
(Coffin Texts)
with the indispensable vital cadence. Today, the
It is not sufficient to let ourselves be swept distressing questions concerning the meaning
away by the tides of existence. The stream of of life stem mostly from the loss of this
life is often fraught with danger that we must existential rhythm.
successfully overcome. To fail means that we Quite the contrary, ancient peoples and
are condemned to be just caricatures of civilizations felt strongly how important it
human beings. was to celebrate each phase of life. However,
The human journey begins as soon as the their “transitional rites” were not only “feasts”
child receives a name at birth. The bestowing to commemorate the accession to a new stage
of the name marks the advent of a new of existence. By performing them, the whole
existence. Ancient people believed that the community induced a victorious entry into a
one who had no name was not truly born. new phase of life through a series of power-
The first main obstacle—the advent of generating acts. To enter (Latin: in + ire) a
puberty—is accompanied by physical as well new stage of life, with the help of the
as psychological metamorphoses of such a community and through the power of ritual,
nature that a new being seems to emerge from meant to become initiated.
the protective shell of childhood. There exist—a most important fact—
Marriage also heralds a new phase of initiations into death. Death, the great
existence. Does not the life of the couple transition, is the ultimate initiation. All peoples
require the creating of a subtle and in the world demand that the neophyte
permanent harmony between bodies and undergo the trial of death and experience its
souls—a mutual metamorphosis? pangs in order to be reborn.
Page 17
The Mysteries lay in this holy place of Egypt, sheltered in a
Such is the purpose of these secret shrine surmounted by two feathers. The Holy
doctrines and practices called Mysteries, which Sepulcher was built at the south of the city, in
were common to the Mediterranean world, a place called Peker. At the north stood the
especially ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. great sanctuary of Osiris, erected at the dawn
of history—beginning with the First
Ritual was introduced to change the
Dynasty—remodeled, destroyed, and rebuilt
quality of the novice’s soul, to raise one’s
several times; all that is left of it today is an
consciousness to a superhuman level, and to
outline, hardly visible, on the site of its
make an eternal being out of each soul
successive ages.
personality. Thus the rituals of Adonis or
Tammuz in the Near East, of Osiris in Egypt, And yet, together with the Holy
of Orpheus in the Greek Islands, of Dionysus Sepulcher, this temple was the crucible of the
in Hellas—all depict death and resurrection Osirian faith. The inestimable relic—the head
so that one may symbolically experience a of Osiris—conferred upon it an unequalled
superhuman state and eternal life. aura of holy power.
Has the mind of the masses changed so
Psychologically, these practices resulted in
much? Paris has protected its unknown hero
a true victory over our human fear of death.
in its triumphal arch. Moscow has preserved
Through initiatory death, they were absolutely
the remains of Lenin. It seems that each city
convinced that we would be spared the pangs
draws its strength from the legacies of its great
of death, which is our common human
dead. Was not Osiris, whose resurrection
experience. In fact, they had been saved
promised eternal life to every pious human,
because they had been initiated.
the greatest of them all?
The Site of Abydos So Egypt wished to die in Abydos. To die
We must first go to Abydos in order to near the god, to rest in the peace emanating from
meet the initiates of ancient Egypt. A most the Holy Sepulcher, to experience the miracle of
holy city, Abydos, situated between Asyut and resurrection in its shadow was the dream of an
Thebes, sheltered one of the oldest necropolises entire people, from century to century.
in history. There lay the first kings (starting Alas, there is nothing left of Abydos today
3200 BCE). A constant religious piety added except ruins and a single bastion: the sanctuary
to it cemeteries of every period, along the of Seti I and the strange edifice adjacent to it
Libyan cliff, despite the fall of empires. It is no called the Osireion.
wonder, then, that nine-tenths of the funerary
steles of the Middle Kingdom (2052 BCE– Part 2: The Osireion Of Abydos
1778 BCE) exhibited in the museums of This structure is undoubtedly the most
Europe come from Abydos! mysterious in the Valley of the Nile. Its
How can we explain this three- construction began during the reign of Seti I
millennium entanglement of necropolises (Nineteenth Dynasty, 1300 BCE) and was
and this prodigious depository of documents? entirely underground when originally built. It
The fact is that the city was twice venerable. comprises a long dark corridor leading into a
Originally the last resting place of the early hall filled with water. From the center of this
pharaohs, it became, at the beginning of the basin rises a rectangular esplanade, a kind of
second millennium, the guardian of the island surrounded by heavy pillars of pink
head of Osiris the Savior, who led human granite, to which two staircases lead.
beings to immortality. What can be the purpose of this
Digest The most precious part of the divine extraordinary architectural complex? Would it
No. 1 body dismembered by Seth, the God of Evil, be a cenotaph of Seti I, whose name is inscribed
Page 18
in the entrance corridor and in the central hall? to perpetuate the worship of the great god.
It is possible, as the walls of the corridor are Therefore, the royal cenotaph was an Osirian
covered with funerary inscriptions, such as in tomb as well.
the tombs of the Valley of the Kings; in
addition, a spacious empty room, reminiscent The Osireion: A Replica of the Sanctuary
of the ones in the pyramids of Sakkara and laid of Osiris in Abydos
out on the east side of the Osireion, conjures We must not confuse this sanctuary with
up images of a huge sarcophagus. the main sanctuary north of Abydos, whose
Nevertheless, three or four centuries after ruins are still scattered in the place known as
its construction, this edifice was looked upon Kom el Sultan.
as a place dedicated to the Rare are the documents that
worship of Osiris. Many are the mention this illustrious site.
archeological clues that seem to However, the few descriptions of it,
support this hypothesis. First, the which they provide, shall soon reveal
esplanade rising out of the water- a surprising fact. There is, in the
filled central hall and provided Museum of Archeology in Marseille,
with two staircases was a sarcophagus that has depicted
undoubtedly thought to be the upon it a rounded knoll crowned
primordial mount itself where with four trees guarded by two ram-
death was vanquished at the headed gods.
dawn of time. There, according Without any doubt, Osiris
to tradition, Osiris lay in his lies under this knoll. His name is
sepulcher. Second, the two Sarcophagus No. 67, Saite
Pe r i o d . Un p u b l i s h e d . inscribed there, and the beginning
cavities hewn in the pavement of Archeological Museum, of the inscription above the
the esplanade undoubtedly had Marseille. picture reads clearly:
the purpose of housing the
sarcophagus of the god and the holy shrine This is the knoll that hides
containing his viscera—perhaps his head. Within (the Body) decayed;
Finally, circular pits, unearthed around the It is the holy Place
central hall and still filled with fertile soil, Of Osiris who dwells in the West.
used to shelter verdant trees, symbols of the
The knoll and the four trees therefore
eternity of Osiris resuscitated.
allude to the famous sepulcher of Osiris. But
We can now see the purpose of the right away, the esplanade of the Osireion
Osireion: Seti I wanted sacred rites to be comes to mind—symbolizing also the
performed in Abydos in order to ensure his primordial mound and lifting above the
immortality near Osiris and, at the same time, waters the sarcophagus of the god—as well as
the trees of eternal regeneration which framed
the central hall.
Would the Osireion of Seti I be an
imitation of the large ruined temple of Abydos?
If ever confirmed, such a fact would be of
decisive importance, because all initiatory
progression in the famous lost sanctuary
could, in such a case, be conceived as well in
the architectural complex of the still-standing
Osireion. Thus the latter would preserve
Central Hall, Osireion of Abydos intact the exact reproduction of the decor
Page 19
to this temple can be transferred, without
risking too much error, to the architectural
complex of the still-standing Osireion of Seti.
Part 3: Initiations In Abydos
First of all, we must know whether or not
secret initiations were conducted in Egypt,
especially in Abydos. In this regard, an ancient
text dating back to ca. 2000 BCE, quite
Details of Sarcophagus No. 67, Marseille. Unpublished.
unknown up to now, seems to give an
where the most secret practices of the affirmative answer:
pharaonic era took place—making it unique To follow the god to his abode,
in ancient Egypt and even in the history of In his tomb . . . .
ancient civilizations. Anubis sanctifies the hidden mystery of Osiris
We can now conclude that: (In) the sacredValley of the “Master of Life” (Osiris).
(It is) the mysterious initiation
1. On the sacred domain of Abydos, the
Of the Master of Abydos!
great temple of Osiris is completely
destroyed. However, several documents (for What could be plainer? The god Anubis,
instance, the Papyrus of Ani, plate 10, or the the jackal of the necropolises, participated in
Papyrus Greenfield, plate 108, in the British the unfolding of a “mysterious initiation,”
Museum) preserve its main characteristics: conducted by Osiris, the master of Abydos.
Under a mound surrounded by trees was a Therefore, it is toward this holy place that one
basin filled with water where pillars must walk in order to conceive—with the
supporting the roof of the sanctuary stood; help of Egyptian texts of various dates and
and from the center of this basin emerged a sources—how the initiatory process unfolded
terrace with two staircases on which lay the at the time of the pharaohs.
mummy of Osiris. The Great Journey—Anubis, the Conductor
2. This description, no matter how brief Anubis welcomes the postulant at the
it may be, immediately arouses a comparison threshold of the sacred domain. He is a
with the Osireion built by Seti I—which “dreadful-looking god,” relates the Roman
seems to be an exact replica of the lost temple. author Apuleius after the initiation he went
We can still find today the basin, the pillars, through in the second century CE, “a god that
the esplanade with its double staircase, the serves as a messenger between the world above
two cavities arranged to house the sarcophagus and the infernal world below, with a face half
and the shrine containing the viscera, and, black and half gold, his head held high, and
finally, the pits where verdant trees used to proudly stretching his dog’s neck.”
frame the whole sanctuary buried He is above all the Mystery. A
underneath the sand. All these hieroglyphic sign shows him lying
archeological data point to the on a large chest. This chest conceals
fact that Seti I intended to the viscera of Osiris. The texts refer
reproduce the architectural to it as “the mysterious coffin,” for
complex of the great temple of behind its walls, at the dawn of
Osiris in Abydos. history, a prodigious event
3. Hence the conclusion that occurred: the rebirth of Osiris—
Rosicrucian since the Osireion seems to be a and eventually of all the
Digest copy of the destroyed temple, all dead—owing to the power of the
No. 1 the details of the texts pertaining Mask of Anubis used for rituals rites that Anubis created.
Page 20
If, from the tomb of Tutankhamen, a Guardian:
striking black jackal has emerged—lying Who is the one who enters
on a chest containing the viscera of the Inside the sanctuary
king—it is assuredly to immortalize the Of Osiris in Djedu? . . .
vigil of the god who discovered rebirth and Who approaches this Soul? . . .
to drive away those who have no knowledge
Whence does he come, the one
of these secrets:
Who ascends toward this Soul
Secret, secret chest; hidden, hidden (chest), That a high knoll conceals?
That one does not know, that one does —Secret thing
not know,
That we know not!
Never, never!
Therefore, it is not death that this coffin Postulant:
conceals. In fact, Anubis depicts resurrection. Open to me!
This jackal whose head (according to Verily, I am someone worthy of esteem,
Apuleius) appears half black and half gold I am someone who (knows) how to keep
(the colors of death and rebirth) is, to the a secret,
initiate, the god of hope. I am a servant in the temple of Osiris! . . .
It is with hope that we must see him Open to me!
come to the threshold of the necropolises. To I am a (human) who knows
all the dead and to all candidates for initiatory Its magical formula,
death, Anubis bestows the very breath of life I was initiated into these (secret things),
which the Hereafter exhales: And did not repeat (them)
I am the Jackal of Jackals, To the uninitiated.
At the door of the temple, the candidate
so Anubis proclaims in the Book of the Dead,
is addressed and the intention is unveiled:
I am the luminous Air this mortal being wants to “ascend” toward
Which carries away the breaths the Holy of Holies, center of spirituality
Before the Venerable Ones, where the Osirian Soul radiates; the
Up to the confines of the Heavens, candidate wants to approach the sacred knoll
Up to the ends of the Earth! under which the God Savior lies. And here
comes the answer of the traveler, voiced in a
At this moment, Anubis assumes his full
peremptory tone:
role: He becomes “Conductor”—such as
Hermes in Greece—and “Opener of paths.” Let the doors be opened to me!
I have not repeated what cannot be known.
Darkness and Doors
I am someone who (knows) how to keep
To every initiate, the progression toward a secret.
illumination has the same prelude: the long
Then the doors open. However, the
crossing, under the guidance of Anubis, of
initiatory itinerary shall adapt itself to the plan of
the sacred domain. Then the solemn entrance
each sanctuary. For example, in Busiris the
into the sanctuary, which in this case has
candidate crosses the entire temple before
become the temple of initiation, follows:
reaching the Holy of Holies; in Abydos, one
Entrance into the temple goes directly underground toward the aquatic
Of Osiris in Djedu (=Busiris), hall where the tomb is immersed.
can be read in the Coffin Texts, which Important variations in the texts result
afterward maintain an animated dialogue, an from this, and the Book of the Dead tries to
excerpt of which follows: reconcile them:
Page 21
For me, the gates of the Heavens to drink; to love and to breathe. Fools! In the
(= the door of the sanctuary) Hereafter—or during the initiatory process,
Have opened wide; which reflects its essence—we shall not receive
For me, the gates of the Earth our ration of beer nor our love desires.
Have opened wide; Nevertheless, we shall be given a matchless
For me, the bolts of the (god) Geb treasure: peace of Heart and the almighty
power of Mind.
Have been unlocked.
The dramatic entrance of Humanity into
How can one not remember the Osireion the Mystery is considered, in the Book of the
of Abydos? In Abydos, a subterranean passage Dead, as one of the most striking documents
of approximately 100 meters in length was of universal literature. To the Creator of the
conceived by a people careful, in its architecture, World, Atum, the trembling creature says the
to accustom the soul to forget the illusions of following words:
the world. To forget one’s temptations, to go
down into this Earth, meant the same as to The Initiate:
regain the energy that life had used up. O Atum, (tell me)
Why (then) have I traveled to the desert?
Is Earth not the welcoming matrix where
The fact is that there is no water, there is no breeze.
the tree takes root to prepare its fruit? Is she
(This land) is deep, deep,
not the mysterious Mother who wears on her
Dark, dark,
body rocks and plants, beasts and humans?
Without limits nor frontiers!
Every living thing draws life from her, and
every thing returns to her at the time of death. The God:
In the maternal entrails, all being lies There, thou shalt live with thy heart at peace.
dormant, waiting to be reborn. When people The Initiate:
die, they also return to this matrix, similar to
But one cannot, over there, Satisfy love!
the embryo, and there prepare for rebirth.
The God:
All humanity has felt—and still
experiences—the creative power, the (It is there that) I have placed
inexpressible mystery of Earth, our Mother. The powers of Mind
First the initiates know that to go down inside Instead of water, breeze,
her body, to lose oneself in her darkness, is to And pleasure of love;
regain life. The long psychic night of the And peace (of) mind
initiatory process is a return to the sources. It Instead of bread and beer . . . .
is there that humans shall bathe themselves The Initiate:
and emerge, “awakened,” in illumination!
And what will be (my) lifespan?
The Book of the Dead proclaims the
The God:
miracle thus: “Thy face is open in the abode
of Darkness!” Thou shalt live for millions and millions
(of years);
Nevertheless, before opening one’s eyes (Thy life) shall last for millions (of years)!
to the Great Light, one must travel a dark So much bliss after the solitary journey!
land where nothing alludes to earthly To successfully complete this passage, especially
existence. Before we may acquire higher for the initiate, was the main thing; for at
knowledge, humans—whether dead or alive, the end of the road—in the Hereafter or in
during the initiation or after death—must the initiatory temple—God shall await
first forget Earth and its illusions. his creature:
Digest But here we ask for that which we wished Thou standest at the portals
No. 1 for while we were alive: We want to eat and That keep the crowd away;
Page 22
The one in charge of the threshold end of thy life, down to thy last breath, is
Comes out (and walks) toward thee. pledged to me.”
He grabs thy hand; Consequently, a promise was exacted. The
He takes thee toward Heaven obligation was probably taken inside the
Close to Geb, the Father! sanctuary, perhaps in the hypostyle. In its austere
(This God) exults shadows and with no one within hearing, the
When thou approachest; candidate thus prepared the inner Self for the
His hand, he gives (it) to thee; great “Mysteries of the Holy Night.”
He gives thee a kiss, Here the candidate, taken by the hand of
He takes thee in his arms. a guide, is led into the last room, to the very
At the head of the Souls end of the night. Let us imagine at that time
He assigns a place to thee. the sacred emotion of the candidate! The
famous Hall of Judgment—which the
In this excerpt from the Pyramid Texts, funerary papyri locate in the Hereafter—had
the deceased king, resuscitated in Heaven, its replica on Earth: the place of initiatory
obtains from the god the sublime rendezvous. trial. It is the mysterious Holy of Holies. There
However, in initiatory rituals, it will be on the weighing of the souls shall take place.
Earth, in the darkness of the Holy of Holies, There, a balance, the Scale of Justice, stands.
that the human, “justified,” during a theatrical
appearance, shall see God face to face. On this day when the mistakes are counted
In front of the universal Master.
Part 4: Justification or Preparation for
Does not Paheri, one initiate among
the Holy Night
so many others, recall the prestigious event in
What did all the details of this his biography:
extraordinary holy game consist of exactly?
Before entering the Hall of Judgment, the I was called, placed on the Scale;
candidate undergoes a “preparation.” I left (the Room),
Apuleius again expresses his thoughts freely Weighed, faultless, and saved.
on the subject.
Next to the implacable flail of Justice,
A master of “inspired mien . . . with a venerable masters are waiting. These persons,
truly superhuman expression,” first reads masked in this case, have become the gods of
sacred writings which are pulled out from a Judgment. Here are Thoth, the ibis; Anubis,
hiding-place, at the end of the sanctuary. the jackal; Horus, the falcon. The light of the
The reader “instructs the initiate in the torches carves fierce features on their faces;
preparation necessary for the like fleeting images of a
initiation.” Was the future fantastic dream, their profiles
initiate required to keep secret move on the walls, animated
what is about to be learned? by the fire flickering in cups.
To accept henceforth to live The candidate remains
according to Ma’at (Truth- motionless on the threshold.
Justice)? To engage the Self at “In the middle of the
once, without remission, in night,” Apuleius says
the eternal life? mysteriously, “I have seen the
“Remember,” Isis says, Sun shine with sparkling
“and keep forever engraved radiance. I have approached
Priest reading before a candidate; tomb
deep in thy heart the fact of Kom-el-Choufaga (Alexandria) the gods . . . . and I have seen
that thy whole career, till the them face to face!”
Page 23
These gods are demanding. Each one of the moving flashes in the Hall of Ma’at.
them is now going to ask questions. Chapter Before the throne of Light, the candidate
125 of the Book of the Dead seems to have proclaims complete innocence:
kept a dramatic memory from the Greetings to thee, great god,
examination. First, the gods speak to the
Who is master of Ma’at! . . .
Guardian of the Threshold:
I know thee,
“Have him come!” they command. (Yes), I know thy name,
Then, speaking to the candidate: And I know the name(s)
Who art thou? Of the forty-two gods
What is thy name? Who are (there), with thee . . .
Which way didst thou go? I did no wrong
And over there, what didst thou see? Toward humanity . . .
The visitor gives his name. He states what I did no evil . . .
he has seen. Then the gods speak in chorus: I am pure, I am pure,
Do come and cross this threshold for I am pure, I am pure!
the Hall of Ma’at! Paheri, Prince of El Kab
The candidate moves in the Eighteenth Dynasty,
forward. However, one’s eyes in his biography states
remain fascinated by a holy that he was “examined”
and white form. and found “faultless” and
finally “saved.”
What are those faces
covered with ibis or jackal Sacred Lake, Karnak. The scale carries, on one
masks, compared to the of its dishes, a symbol of the
radiant human face of the messenger of hope? Soul—the soul of the
Behind the scale, here he is, Osiris—wrapped candidate laden with all its actions—and on
tightly in his immaculate shroud, holding the the other, a feather, the counterweight of
scepter and the flail. Justice, the majestic symbol of Ma’at!
The candidate bows. He salutes the Savior: Then the god Thoth records the
weighing. It is in consonance with Ma’at; in
Osiris! I have come here to see thy perfection,
truth, this soul is all filled with Ma’at!
And my two hands (are raised),
The scale has spoken, and Osiris proclaims:
Glorifying thy true name!
Thoth, the omniscient ibis, then invites I grant thee (the title of) “Just,” “Triumphant.”
him to proceed: In Ma’at (the Truth), thou art initiated!
Come nearer . . . .To whom shall I announce thee? (Papyrus T32, Leiden)
The visitor, in mighty voice: It is the decisive moment when the
human blends with Ma’at. Here the initiate
Announce (my coming)
becomes the incarnation of Ma’at.
To the (god whose dwelling
If Egypt was great—and still remains
Has a) roof of flames,
so—it is because it guided the first steps of
Walls of live serpents, Humanity toward a greater light. Everyone
And a floor (like) a river! can, through appropriate behavior, identify
This god is Osiris! He bows his head with Ma’at, the harmony of the world.
as a sign of acquiescence. Led by Horus, Everyone can become a part of Ma’at and
No. 1 the falcon, the candidate advances amid attain glorification in its eternity.
Page 24
step down into the holy water in order for
sins to be washed away. No other site still
standing in ancient Egypt seems better
arranged for initiations.
Now let us imagine the splendor of this
hall when the roof was still on, as the heavy
architraves testify. The water in the basin
Osiris being resuscitated under the Holy glistens under the fleeting glimmers of the
Tree; Dendera. lamps and torches. Masked officiating
I have entered into Ma’at ecclesiasts surround the initiate. Clothes are
(The Harmony of the World), relinquished—the impure clothes that
(Yes), I carry Ma’at, cloaked the old person. The initiate slowly
steps down into the original sea and is
I am master of Ma’at!
enveloped in holy water. As a mother, she
(Coffin Texts, 4, 330)
welcomes him. Like a setting Sun, the
Regeneration candidate goes down into the abyss and then
After the candidate had proved worthy, a emerges from it as a Sun, resuscitated.
bath washed away all memory of human status. Having become Osiris—through
A spiritualization through rituals followed justification—and likened to Ra (the Sun)—
spiritual promotion. By entering the holy water through regeneration—the initiate climbs the
of the original sea and then coming out of it, just twelve steps of the Osireion leading to the
as a new Sun on the first day of creation, the august esplanade. Among the heavy pillars
human being was reborn without past, without protecting the dead God, the candidate
sin, with the eternity of a star: receives new clothes: white linen veils.
Here we are ready to live again, . . . Part 5: The Illumination
we read in a solar hymn, The initiate awaits the manifestation
. . . we have entered from the Holy One, submitting the Self, and
The primordial Sea. waits. This waiting period is very important,
It has restored vigor for the longer and the more submissive it is,
To the one who begins (his) youth anew. the more striking the revelation of the Holy
(Let the old man) take off his clothes. Thing will appear when the time comes. In the
initiatory process, the epiphany is an
(Then) another one puts them on!
apotheosis, a godlike state. It is through it that
Numerous are the basins in the heavy door of the
Egypt which adjoin the temples. It subconscious opens up:
is there that the rites of lustration
were conferred upon the masters, The brightness of the Light
and initiations were probably Has fallen upon my steps!
performed there also. Such is the cry of
The necropolis of Abydos still deliverance which the Coffin
shelters such a basin concealed in Texts conceal.
the strange construction of the Upon the dark esplanade,
Osireion. But here is the the gold catafalques of Osiris
important thing: To reach the the Savior sparkle with tawny
Deceased wearing the crown in
tomb of Osiris on the aquatic his left hand, and led by
reflections that become alive
esplanade, the visitor first had to Anubis; Louvre, Paris. under the torches. Just

Page 25
remember the cry of holy sepulcher. Their names
admiration that was uttered cast a magic spell; a few are
when those of Tutankhamen known, such as Guardian of
were discovered! the Gates, Pure Archivist,
The doors of the sepulcher Master of the Throne
will soon open up; then, the (Papyrus T32, Leiden).
divine sarcophagus and its The ritual of the
holy relics will appear. apparition of Osiris, the
Robed in white linen, the Savior, was undoubtedly
candidate still awaits. All that quite long. Did it include
has been learned about dialogues similar to those
Osiris—his suffering, his that were exchanged in front
Stela of the priest Oun-Neferi; British of the Scale of Ma’at?
death, and the resurrection he Mu s e u m , No. 8 0 8 , l i m e s t o n e .
has promised to humanity— Unpublished. The priest, having reached A few invocations, scattered
the top of the stairs, opens the naos
all that the mind has piously housing the Osirian shrine. throughout the texts, lead us
conceived, shall suddenly be to believe so:
revealed in the Light. Then a shock will result Osiris!
from the confrontation, a blow to the soul Hail to thee!
that will seal the pact between human and (thou who are lying) under (thy)
god. A new being shall enlighten the world. secret shelter,
Thou whose heart has stopped!
Thick bushes surround the Osirian tomb.
They stand as verdant witnesses to the god’s (Coffin Texts, 7, 111)
resurrection. They embrace the body. They These appeals—and many others—
give their strength: remind one of bits of lost scenarios.
The living plant grows green! And then the solemn voice of the god
an inscription proclaims; resounds in the temple:
When it becomes green the earth becomes Let him advance toward me . . .
green also! Let him see my wounds!
See, Osiris repeats his youth! (Coffin Texts, 1, 142)
In this high place of worship, on this To see the wounds of the Savior, the
island of Ma’at (Cosmic Order and Truth), wounds of Osiris through whom humanity is
the god asserts his youth; he resuscitates. saved! To the religious soul, no other apparition
The foliage bears witness to his resurrection. can equal that of the great god, resuscitated!
Around the candidate, the priestly officers The heavy bolts of the catafalques burst
move about, preparing the opening of the forth from their ties. The golden doors
half-open amidst the green foliage:
For thee the doors of the Horizon
Of the Next World open up!
(Papyrus T32, Leiden)
Behold the god! Behold, at the bottom of
the sacred coffin, Osiris being reborn through
the power of the ritual! His head is crowned, his
Rosicrucian Incense Offering Burner. From the collection of the
body is peaceful, and his shroud immaculate.
Digest Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. His whole countenance is majestic.
No. 1
Page 26
The postulant whispers: death and resurrection. The initiate’s eyes are
Great God, already being filled with divine light—the
I am thine offspring eternal Light of the Savior. The initiate is also
Contemplating thy Mystery. a Luminous One; the initiate is Illuminated:
(Book of the Dead, 44) Verily, I am the one who dwells in the Light.
“To contemplate the ‘Mystery’” is to (Yes), I am a Soul that came into being
participate in it, and it is also to resuscitate as Born from the body of the god!
Osiris. It is to become an Osiris. It is a crucial I am one of these gods and one of these souls
moment and the flashing zenith of a human That dwell in the Light . . .
life! An initiate is born. Holiness infuses the (Yes), I am a falcon that dwells in the Light,
person. To Holiness, the human is bound. That finds its power through its (own) light
And through its (own) radiance!
To the far ends of Heaven I travel back
and forth,
And there is no one to oppose me . . .
(O Osiris!)
Lord of Manifestations,
Great and majestic,
Here I have come!
And the Hereafter for me has opened up;
Replica of the Osirian Sepulcher. Isis (the bird) is being The paths in Heaven, (the paths) on Earth,
fecundated by Osiris. (Cairo) For me have been opened,
And there is no one to oppose me!
Thou seest the funerary chamber,
The great Falcon takes wing. Its dark
(The god) in his pristine form,
silhouette nobly delineates itself before the
(Yes), Osiris in his shroud,
solar disc. The initiate must not linger in an
In the place of embalming. illusory world. It is mandatory to tear oneself
Thou seest the glorified Body, away from its forms. Toward the Light, the
Lying on its funerary bed, candidate ascends to become real. No one
(Yes), the noble Mummy will stop the flight of the great Falcon. The
On its couch exposed! human being has given up an old cloak by
(Papyrus T32 Leiden) crossing the Threshold of Illumination.
An officiating master, no doubt, has just One day, all of humanity, following the
chanted in a sing-song voice the sacred words initiatory path, shall imitate the flight of the
above. Through sublime vision, human and Bird of Light. At this final stage, Humanity
God are henceforth united. There now shall be “realized.” Thus, according to the
the mutation of humanity—real and Divine Will, the mysterious goal of the
inexpressible—is realized. It is the mystical human adventure shall be attained. All shall
union that, after Egypt, so many centuries be fulfilled.
shall attempt to describe without ever being (O Osiris)
able to give to the language the incomparable Lord of Manifestations,
radiance of a soul’s dawning. Great and majestic,
The initiate, following the tracks of Here I have come!”
Osiris, is bound to the god Osiris. Through
initiation, the initiate has already experienced

Page 27
Jeremy Naydler, Ph.D.

hat is it about ancient Egypt that Certainly the Egyptians produced some
people today find so fascinating? monumental buildings and stunning works
Jeremy Naydler suggests that what of art, the grandeur of which makes the
really draws people to Egypt is less the great achievements of contemporary civilization
monuments and works of art than the religious seem paltry by comparison. Were we to
consciousness that produced them. This religious attempt to build a replica of the Great
consciousness of the ancient Egyptians exposes a Pyramid, I doubt that we would succeed.
tension in our own culture between the world We are good at mobile phones, washing
view of modern scientific materialism on the one machines, freeways and airplanes, but I don’t
hand and a worldview that would connect us think we could manage to construct the Great
once again with the reality of the spiritual Pyramid, nor for that matter the temple at
dimension. Looking back to the ancient Karnak, nor the tombs of the Valley of the
Egyptians, we find that their awareness of the Kings. It somehow isn’t in us to do the sorts
interior realms of gods, spirits, and archetypal of things the Egyptians did. We aren’t
images strikes a surprising chord with our own motivated that way and have neither the
deepest longings. This essay is based on a talk patience nor the skill.
given at the Theosophical Society, London
Could it therefore be due as much to our
November 27, 2003.
own deficiencies as to their genius that we feel
Jeremy Naydler is the author of two full- attracted to the Egyptians? They did things
length studies of ancient Egyptian religious that are to us extraordinary, almost
consciousness: Temple of the Cosmos: The Ancient superhumanly extravagant and at the same
Egyptian Experience of the Sacred (1996) and time deeply mysterious. While there are of
Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: the course many things about the Egyptians that
Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt (2005). we can relate to, fundamentally they were not
The Fascination With Ancient Egypt like us.
Today there seems to be an unprecedented It seems to me, therefore, that in order to
fascination with ancient Egypt. We see answer the question as to what lies behind
evidence of this in the unceasing flow of books our fascination with Egypt, we need to go
on ancient Egyptian history, culture, and art; beyond our feelings of awe and wonder at the
in the seemingly inexhaustible TV coverage great monuments and works of art, to the less
that ancient Egypt attracts; in the amount of comfortable feeling of ancient Egypt’s utter
journals and magazines, both scholarly and strangeness, its otherness. There is something about
popular, dedicated to widening our Egypt that can strike us as positively uncanny.
understanding of the civilization; in the This is especially the case when we
plethora of societies devoted to studying and encounter the religious world of the
celebrating it; in the numerous lecture courses Egyptians, populated as it was by a multitude
being given in the adult education departments of gods and spirits. Despite the reassuring
of our universities; and, not least, in the huge images of “daily-life” Egypt which are
amount of tourists visiting Egypt each year. We presented to us in the media and in popular
Digest might well ask: What lies behind this modern books by Egyptologists, we can often feel that
No. 1 fascination with ancient Egypt? the ancient Egyptians inhabited a world that
Page 28
was disturbingly different from our own. In cultures in which they lived. In ancient Egypt
order to understand that world, and to the kingship was not simply a political office,
understand the consciousness of the people but was also religious. Even for a warrior king
whose world it was, we need to stretch our such as Thutmose III, the relationship to the
imaginations away from everything that is invisible world of gods and spirits was
familiar to us today. fundamental not only to his power and
Thutmose III’s Coronation and Career success, but also to what it meant to be the
Examined king of Egypt.
There was recently (in the autumn of There is an interesting document that has
2003) a particularly lavish drama-documentary come down to us that gives us some insight
series on ancient Egypt on TV. It reconstructed into what the kingship of Egypt actually
famous episodes from ancient Egyptian history entailed. It is a coronation text of Thutmose
with the aid of large casts, including actors who III in which he claims to have had a mystical
were supposedly speaking ancient Egyptian encounter with the sungod Amun-Ra that
(made to seem all the more authentic by was, as it were, woven into the coronation
adding English subtitles). ceremonies. The key features of this
One of the programs in the series was on experience were that the king transformed
Thutmose III’s campaigns against the Syrians, himself into a falcon, flew up to heaven and
his capture of the cities of Megiddo and there had a vision of Amun-Ra, was infused
Kadesh, and other spectacular military with the god’s spiritual power and assimilated
triumphs. It included an authoritative voice- into himself “the wisdom of the gods.” This is
over assuring us that the reconstructions were how the text reads:
based on hieroglyphic inscriptions at Karnak. “He [Amun-Ra] opened for me the doors
Needless to say it was all absolutely riveting, of heaven and unfolded the gates of the Akhet
and the thousands (or hundreds of [a place of spiritual transformation]. I rose to
thousands?) of viewers must have felt heaven as a divine falcon and saw his secret
themselves to be witnessing virtually the real image in heaven. I worshipped his majesty. . . .
thing—Egypt as it truly was. I was infused with all his akh-power [luminous
The approach that was taken followed spiritual power] and instructed in the wisdom
that which has been taken time and again by of the gods.”2
Egyptologists, in which Thutmose is This text confronts us with a rather
presented as a great warrior and empire different image of Thutmose III from the
builder, somewhat akin to Napoleon, favored Napoleonic stereotype. The text
conceiving of bold and daring plans, and itself could go back to 1504 BCE, but it is
leading his armies from one victory to similar to much older Egyptian texts (the so-
another.1 The “Napoleonic” image of the called Pyramid Texts) found on the inside of
Egyptian king is given credence by the fact certain Fifth and Sixth Dynasty pyramids,
that Thutmose III was indeed a daring and some 800 years earlier. There we find the
shrewd military commander, who same themes of the king of Egypt
significantly extended the overseas territories transforming into a falcon and flying up to
of Egypt and added vastly to the wealth and the sky, where he has a vision of Ra, and
power of his country. becomes inwardly infused with the solar
But if Thutmose III was a figure who we light and the wisdom of the gods.
feel inclined to compare with Napoleon, then Shamanism and Ancient Egypt
we must also take care to remember that there Anyone familiar with the literature of
were important differences, not just between shamanism will recognize a shamanic
the two personalities, but between the two undercurrent to this type of mystical

Page 29
experience. One might say that it has a from the confines of this worldview and
shamanic “prototype,” for in this literature we reconnect with spiritual realities once again.
read of initiations in which the shaman Put in more general historical terms, this
transforms into a bird (often an eagle), flies tension could be seen as living between our
up to the sky and becomes inwardly illumined habitual deference to the worldview
after encountering the Great God, and then inaugurated by the religion of Judaism and the
returns to his tribe with a newly acquired philosophy and scientific rationalism of the
spiritual knowledge.3 Greeks on the one side, and an underlying
Seen in this light, it would appear that sense of dissatisfaction with the Judeo-Christian
during the coronation rites of the king, and Greco-Roman foundations of Western
Thutmose III had an experience similar to a culture on the other.
shamanic initiation, and was thus in touch Undoubtedly the latter have determined
with a dimension of reality that was beyond the way in which the consciousness of the West
anything Napoleon knew. Because it does not has developed over the last 2,500 years. But if
fit our preconceptions of how we would like we look back to Egypt with a sensitivity towards
to see the great warrior Thutmose, it has been the spiritual matrix within which the Egyptians
“screened out” of the mainstream portrayal of lived, then we may find that the pre-Judaic and
the king. It has indeed been screened out of pre-Greek consciousness of the Egyptians was a
the mainstream portrayal of Egyptian culture consciousness that strikes a surprising chord
as such. Within Egyptology, there is still a with our own deepest longings.
great reluctance to accept that either The Imaginary Versus the Imaginal
mysticism or shamanism existed in ancient
The tension that I have referred to in our
Egypt: this is the line taken by most
own culture and sensibility has been noted by
Egyptologists today, with just one or two
Erik Hornung, one of the most eminent
exceptions. So it is hardly surprising that the
contemporary Egyptologists who has
media follow suit.4
specialized in the study of ancient Egyptian
Nevertheless, behind the fascination with religious literature. He is also one of the
ancient Egypt today I would suggest that there foremost apologists for the non-mystical
is a deep longing to reconnect with precisely interpretation of ancient Egyptian religion. In
the aspect of ancient Egyptian culture that is his book, The Secret Lore of Egypt, he takes
oriented towards spiritual realities. This longing on the question of the relationship between
may be more or less conscious in those people ancient Egyptian religious life and those
who feel drawn to ancient Egypt, and many Western esoteric traditions that see Egypt as
may wish to deny any such longing. But as the source of an initiatory wisdom.
time goes on and it becomes increasingly To this end, Hornung makes a distinction
difficult to ignore the spiritual foundations of between “Egyptosophy” and Egyptology proper.5
ancient Egyptian culture, so it may also become For Hornung, “Egyptosophy” involves projecting
harder to ignore what it is in the culture that onto ancient Egypt an ill-founded wish to see it as
works so mysteriously to draw people to it. a repository of spiritual knowledge.
It is as if ancient Egypt has a certain Egyptology, by contrast, shows us that
karmic role to play in our times, and that there were no mysteries, no esoteric or
this role is to expose the tension in our initiatory teachings or practices in ancient
own culture between, on the one hand, Egypt. Western esoteric streams like Alchemy,
our allegiance to the worldview of modern Gnosticism, the Hermetic Tradition,
Rosicrucian science, that seeks to account for everything Rosicrucianism, which in their different ways
Digest in the world, past and present, in materialistic see their roots as going back to ancient Egypt,
No. 1
2007 terms, and, on the other, a longing to escape are all dealt with by Hornung in a summary
Page 30
and deadpan manner. Chapter by chapter he it would have seemed to them most unwise
sets out to demonstrate that their to ignore their objective existence.
understanding of Egyptian religion has been Whereas the “Egyptosophist” would
tainted by illusory fantasies and fails to concur with the Egyptians in seeing the gods
correspond with the facts as revealed to us by as real entities, most Egyptologists would be
modern scholarship. far less willing to do so. As one specialist put
Hornung’s stance is that Egyptology it, they are to be regarded rather as the
studies real Egypt, whereas “Egyptosophy” product of “vivid speculation” that is likely to
constructs an “imaginary Egypt” which bears “disappoint the modern enquiring mind”
only a rather “loose relationship to historical than as pointing to any objective reality.8
reality.”6 Hornung’s approach is very much We are therefore entitled to ask where the
that of the modem rationalist for whom what problem of interpreting ancient Egyptian
is real and what is imaginary form two sides religion really lies. Is it with the so-called
of an irreconcilable opposition. It is scarcely “Egyptosophists” projecting an imaginary
surprising to find that, as a modem rationalist, Egypt onto real Egypt, or with the
Hornung fails to refer to—let alone utilize— Egyptologists who are unable to recognize
an important distinction that many modern that, for the Egyptians, literal and historical
esotericists, as well as depth psychologists, reality was not the only reality: “imaginal”
make. It is the distinction between what is reality was just as real as hard-and-fast
merely “imaginary” and what is “imaginal.” historical “facts.”
The Imaginal Realm Reality is both Visible and Invisible
Whereas, what is imaginary is the product So let us once more return to Thutmose
of personal fantasy and may therefore be III and his campaign against the Syrians.
regarded as subjective, what is imaginal gives Undoubtedly, Thutmose III was a great
access to a transpersonal content that has an warrior. But when we ask, “How did he learn
objective reality, even though it may not to become such a great warrior?” the
correspond to any historical fact or physical Egyptian answer would be that he was taught
event.7 The imaginal realm, or mundus by the god Seth and encouraged by the
imaginalis, as it is often termed, has an goddess Neith.
existence that is independent of those Figure 1 shows the two deities instructing
individuals who become aware of it. It thus the young king. Both were renowned for their
possesses an ontological status that has a violent disposition—they were both warrior
universal validity that the products of a deities. If Thutmose III was a great warrior,
person’s private fantasies do not achieve. then it was not, according to the Egyptians,
Even people with the most slender by virtue of his human qualities as much as
knowledge of ancient Egypt will be aware by virtue of his having been infused with
that their world was populated by a very large the energy of these two deities.
number of gods and goddesses. These were F o r t h e Egyptians, there was a world
essentially invisible beings who were given of archetypal energies or powers that had to
imaginative forms which were then be called upon in order for the king to be a
represented in sculpture and painting. great warrior. Reality was for them twofold in
If the question arises as to whether the this sense: it was both visible and invisible.
Egyptians would have regarded these beings What we see portrayed in Figure 1 is
as imaginary or imaginal, we hardly need Thutmose III with two invisible beings. We
pause for an answer. It is quite obvious that could of course dismiss these beings as
these deities were regarded as both real and imaginary, but if we were to do so then we
powerful agencies by the Egyptians, and that would no longer be seeing the world of the
Page 31
Egyptians as the Egyptians themselves saw magically evoke an imaginal archetype. While
it. For them, these invisible beings were the image may have been engraved upon
imaginal in precisely the sense that they were stone after the event, it was—precisely in so
objectively real. far as it served a religious function—present
Let us stay with Thutmose III. A very at the imaginal level and was utilized at that
different situation is portrayed in Figure 2. level to determine the outcome of the
Here there are no invisible deities represented. pharaoh’s campaign.9
We see a relief of Thutmose in the midst of The magical efficacy of these images (for
battle with the Syrians. The king is depicted as this is just one of a large number, from the
a veritable giant, grabbing the hair of forty-two very earliest dynasties, in the same genre) is
paltry Syrians who are shown in three ranks of due to the fact that they align the pharaoh
fourteen, with their arms outstretched, begging with greater than human cosmic forces. What
for mercy. In his right hand, the king holds a the pharaoh is shown as enacting is a cosmic
mace, with which he is about to dispatch them battle between Ma’at (cosmic order, truth,
with one blow. They are all on their knees, and justice) and Isfet (cosmic disorder,
helpless before the superhuman power of untruth, and injustice). It is this archetypal
the king. reality that was made to supervene and, as it
One might were, impress itself upon the historical events
be tempted to in order to make the pharaoh’s power truly
say that this godlike and to assure him of victory.
hardly represents Figure 3 shows a relief carving in the
a realistic picture same genre, made about three hundred years
of the pharaoh after the reign of Thutmose. It portrays the
doing battle with pharaoh Merenptah almost single-handedly
the Syrians, for, defeating the invading Sea Peoples.
Figure 1. Thutmose III, instructed by
Seth and Neith. Neith is represented as we all know, Surrounding the king is an aura of calm, quiet
abstractly in front of the king, it would be confidence, while the invading Sea Peoples
holding a was sceptre.
impossible for are in total chaos.
one man to grab Once again, what is portrayed here is
hold of the hair of forty-two warriors and slay the archetypal reality that each successive
them all with one blow. The image, however, pharaoh actualizes. And in so doing, he
is evoking an imaginal reality that every manifests a spiritual energy-field on the
pharaoh embodied, or sought to embody. physical plane. The kings of Egypt may have
This imaginal reality was portrayed from the been great warriors, but their prowess did
very earliest dynastic period, and was not rely solely on physical might. They also
represented consistently throughout operated with magic, and it was as much
Egyptian history as through magic as through
something far more than military skill that they
simply a picture celebrating a defeated their enemies.10
pharaoh’s military victory.
The mythological source
Evocation of Imaginal of these images of the king
Archetypes single-handedly defeating the
To understand such an enemies of Egypt is the defeat
image we have to see its of the cosmic python,
Rosicrucian primary purpose as religious: Apophis, every day at midday
Figure 2. Thutmose III about to slay
Digest it was not so much meant to forty-two Syrians. From a relief at the
and every night in the middle
No. 1 record a historical event as to temple of Karnak. of the night.11 Apophis is the
Page 32
form taken by the cosmic forces of chaos,
darkness, and disorder that would swallow up
the light- and life-giving sungod Ra on the
god’s journey across the skies.
Sometimes Apophis is attacked and
defeated by Ra’s son Horus, sometimes by
Seth. In Figure 4, it is Seth who stands on the Figure 4. Seth, on the prow of the sunboat, defeats Apophis.
prow of the sunboat and strikes the opposing
serpent. Seth is here the protector of the representation of the Sed festival of king
principle of light, personified in the falcon- Amenhotep III, the king is clearly fused with the
headed sungod, just as he was the instructor sungod in a ceremony that involved his sailing in
of Thutmose in the arts of war. Thutmose III a replica of the sunboat with his wife, who is
was both the defender of Amun-Ra and his probably in the role of the goddess Hathor
protégé and representative in his campaigns (Figure 5).
against the enemies of Egypt in the east. The Hidden Realm
On an inner level, this ritual sailing of the
king occurs in the heavens. Just as in the
coronation text of Thutmose III, the king flies
up to the sky in order to worship Ra and be
filled with his akh-power, so the context of
the ritual sailing is cosmic. The ancient
Egyptians understood that to become
enlightened one must become aware of that
which is cosmic in one’s own nature. One
Figure 3. King Merenptah defeats the Sea Peoples. © 1968
Oxford University Press. must realize that there is something deep
within human nature that is essentially not of
The association of the king of Egypt with this earth, but is a cosmic principle.
the sungod Ra has a further significance. In The cosmic being who presided over Ra’s
the coronation text of Thutmose III, to which diurnal voyage across the sky was the
we have already referred, the king was infused heavenly goddess Nut. It was she who gave
with the luminous spiritual power (the akh- birth to Ra each morning, and who received
power) of the sungod in a mystical experience him into herself again in the evening. Each
of union with the mysterious essence of the evening, when Ra entered her interior realm,
lord of light and life. he entered the secret and wholly invisible
This “solarization” of the king was an world that the Egyptians called the Dwat.
important initiatory event that was undergone The Dwat was conceived as being on the
not only at his initial coronation but in subsequent other side of the stars that we see when we
coronation ceremonies, particularly those of the look up at the night sky. The stars were
Sed festival. The king was imagined as being on the
therefore more than just Ra’s flesh of the goddess Nut,
representative on earth, for and the Dwat was in some
he also mystically embodied sense behind or within
the solar principle. One of the world of which the
the purposes of the Sed stars demarcated the
festival was to renew the outermost boundary.13
inner union of the king with Figure 5. Amenhotep III is in the role of Ra as he It was not just the
the solar principle. In a sails with his wife in a ritual during his Sed festival. sungod, however, that
Page 33
entered the Dwat at the end of the day. All of the Western esoteric traditions—the
creatures were believed to return to the Dwat Hermetic Tradition—derives its name.
at the end of their lives, pass into its dark The Three Tasks
interior, and were born from it again, just as
the sungod was born from the Dwat each I have tried to show that the Egyptians
morning. There was thus a very important lived with an awareness of a dimension of
mystical threshold between the outwardly reality that is best described by the term
visible cosmos—the stars on Nut’s body— “imaginal”—a non-physical yet objective
and what exists invisibly in her interior. It is a reality that we become aware of through the
threshold we all come to when we die, when human faculty of imagination. For the
everything becomes concentrated in a single Egyptians, the agencies and powers that can
point, and then disappears from view. be reached through contact with the imaginal
world are far more potent than anything
Figure 6 shows the stages of the sungod’s
merely physical, because through them
night-journey through Nut’s body, as he
physical reality can be transformed.
travels from death to rebirth. Knowledge
of this interior world of the Dwat was Thus we have seen how Thutmose III
considered by the Egyptians to be the most called upon Seth and Neith to infuse him
important, most profound knowledge, with a superhuman martial energy that
for people enabled him to
living on earth go to war with
to acquire. an irresistible
The Dwat was ferocity. In
not only the battle after
realm of the battle, he
dead, but also and his
the realm of accompanying
the gods and Figure 6. The sky-goddess Nut conceals within her body the mysterious inner region priests could
spirits and, known by the Egyptians as the Dwat. also magically
furthermore, invoke the
the realm from which all living things imaginal reality of the defeat of the powers
emerge. All life issues from the Dwat. To opposed to the sungod and Ma’at, both of
know this mysterious interior world was to whom the pharaoh represented, indeed
become truly wise, because then one knew embodied, on earth. It was this according to
both sides of existence—the invisible along his own account that brought Thutmose
with the visible. his victories.15
It is interesting that Thutmose III had the I have also tried to show that the
complete text and illustrations of the most Egyptians lived with an understanding that
comprehensive guide to the Dwat (The Book we are not just terrestrial beings; we are also
of What is in the Underworld) painted on the cosmic. As such, our spiritual fulfillment is
inner walls of his tomb in the Valley of the only possible in a cosmic setting. This
Kings. As his coronation text reminds us, this understanding is to be found from the earliest
was a king who was “instructed in the wisdom sacred literature (the Pyramid Texts), to the
of the gods.” Unlike Napoleon, Thutmose III coronation text of Thutmose III and the Book
was initiated into a deep spiritual knowledge. of the Dead, where, for example, such
It is not without significance that the name mystical episodes as flying up to the sky,
Rosicrucian Thutmose means “born of Thoth,” the god seeing the image of the sungod, boarding the
Digest whom the Greeks identified with Hermes, sun-boat and/or becoming inwardly “solarized,”
No. 1
2007 and from whom one of the most important are all recorded.16
Page 34
Finally, I have suggested that the At the same time there emerged an
Egyptians had an orientation towards increasing sense that human beings were
the world of the dead (the Dwat) that simply terrestrial beings, and, consequently,
saw it as being the source of the most our happiness was conceived less in cosmic
profound wisdom concerning the terms and more in terms of satisfying our
nature of reality. There is a remarkably physical needs, desires, and comforts. The
rich metaphysical literature concerning material world had to be mastered to this
the Dwat, knowledge of which was end, and this, in time, became the great
evidently regarded as relevant not only project of science and technology, which
to the dead but also to the living.17 All involved an almost complete forgetfulness of
of this was “mainstream” ancient our cosmic origins.
Egyptian religious consciousness. It also involved a forgetfulness of that part
The Egyptian Consciousness goes of human existence that belongs between
Underground death and rebirth. There was a growing
identification of the human being solely with
At the end of the Egyptian era it went the life that we lead between birth and death.
“underground,” moving from the temple to Already, both the Greek and Judaic
the private household, and then to the small conceptions of life after death expressed the
group meeting in secret, from whence it conviction that the soul survived as a pale and
would pass into various esoteric traditions.18 ghostly reflection of its former self. As the
Thus in the Alchemical tradition, there is a ghost of Achilles says in Homer’s Odyssey, “the
particular focus on the imaginal realm of senseless dead” are “mere shadows of men
archetypes and the path of inner outworn.”20 This view, so very different from
transformation; in the Hermetic tradition that of the Egyptians, culminated in the
there is a concentration on the realization of modern idea that there simply is no existence
our cosmic nature; while in Gnosticism we at all after death. Modern scientific
find a particular emphasis on the invisible materialism is founded upon a total ignorance
hierarchies of the spirit world. These three of the spirit world.
Western esoteric streams could be understood
as each preserving in their different ways the At the beginning of this essay, I proposed
ancient Egyptian wisdom into the next that ancient Egypt exposes a tension in our
cultural era. own culture, and that in so doing we can
see its karmic role today. The reason why it
Meanwhile the emerging mainstream may be helpful to see Egypt in these terms
culture with its Judeo-Christian and Greco- is because we are now coming to the end of
Roman basis increasingly rejected the old the Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian era. It
consciousness. The world became more and has achieved its purpose, which was to
more impermeable to the divine, archetypal, make us more individuated, more self-
and imaginal presences. In Judaism the rather than god-centered in our soul-life,
notion of idolatry—which would have been and thus more free.
incomprehensible to the ancient Egyptians—
came to dominate the religious consciousness, Becoming Aware again of Inner,
while the Greeks and Romans saw the gods Spiritual Realities
slowly fade away and become less and less But now there is a need to become aware
easy to communicate with.19 The new again of inner, spiritual realities—but to
consciousness meant that people experienced become aware of them grounded in our own
the world going through a kind of sense of self and with a clear and
solidification, so that it was no longer able to discriminating intelligence with which we can
transmit the radiant energies of the divine. once more turn toward them. So I would
Page 35
suggest that it is here that the profound once more into a living relationship with the
karmic relationship is working between imaginal dimensions of the world.
ancient Egypt and the new era that is Along with this comes the second task,
beginning to unfold before us. which is to expand our conception of
While our relationship to ancient Egypt ourselves beyond the confines of the earth by
is certainly based upon our acquiring a deeper developing a sense that the cosmos that
and more accurate knowledge of its culture surrounds us is not just dead matter, but full
and religion, the relationship is by no means of soul. To do this, we need not so much to
simply in the direction of the present to the work against as to work through the
past. It is also about how the past can support materialistic conceptions that permeate
us in forging our own future by helping us to modern cosmological thinking. We can
reengage with the spiritual dimensions which develop once again a feeling for the soul-
were so intrinsic to people’s experience in qualities of the planets and constellations, for
times of old.21 the whole world of the stars. And the more
we are able to do this—the more we are able
What ancient Egypt can do today is to to connect with the “world soul” or anima
provide both the impetus and the anchorage mundi as it used to be called—the more will
for a modern esotericism. By esotericism I we be able to reconnect again with our own
mean knowledge of inner realities. There is cosmic nature.
no question of “going back” to ancient Egypt.
I see the third task as being once more to
It is rather the case that by wrestling with
become aware of the realm of death as the
ancient Egyptian sacred texts, we are drawn
other half of life, as much a part of our existence
down to a deeper level of awareness that we
as sleep is a part of our life between birth and
need to make more conscious. And feeling
death. It requires that we see this realm of death
this need, we are driven to find our own new
not so much as a place that we go to after we
relationship to the spiritual dimension.
die, as a realm that we inhabit—or one might
As I see it, there are three tasks ahead for say inhabits us—alongside the world of the
contemporary esotericism. The first is to grow living. The world of death can be understood
into a fully felt and participative relationship as a completely interior world, and yet despite
with the imaginal worlds that stand behind the fact that it has no dimensions, it is not
the physical. We need constantly to work at necessarily inaccessible to consciousness. For its
dissolving the density of the physical and interiority ultimately coincides with our own.
literal world. We need to loosen its solidity in The more we become aware of the source of
order to see through to the luminous world what arises in our own consciousness, the more
of spirits, gods, and archetypes that are its do we extend our consciousness towards this
invisible matrix. They are, in a sense, the deeply interior realm of death. And in
“dream” of the world that our modern, all too extending our consciousness towards it, we
wide-awake consciousness has destroyed. extend our consciousness towards that other
There is a need today to return our waking half of existence without which we cannot fully
consciousness to this dream, by bringing it participate in life.22

No. 1
Page 36
1 Comparison between Thutmose III and Napoleon was first fusion of king and sungod is even more explicit in the so-called
made by J. H. Breasted, in A History of Egypt from the Earliest Times “poetical stela” of Thutmose III found at Karnak. Both texts are
to the Persian Conquest (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1912), translated in Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of
chap. 16. Since then, it has been reiterated many times. See, for Readings, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), 2:30-39.
example, Leonard Cottrell, “The Napoleon of Ancient Egypt,” in 16 The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, trans. R. O. Faulkner
The Warrior Pharaohs (London: Evans Brothers Ltd, 1968), chap. (London: British Museum Publications, 1972), chap. 130.
6; and Peter A. Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs (London: 17
Thames and Hudson, 1994), 109-110. Alison Roberts, My Heart, My Mother (Rottingdean: Northgate,
2000), 174-178. It is explicitly stated in The Book of What is in
2 Quoted in Jan Assmann, “‘Death and Initiation in the Funerary the Underworld (Amdwat), div.1, that the text is “useful for those
Religion of Ancient Egypt,” in Religion and Philosophy in Ancient who are on earth” and similar indications can be found in The
Egypt, ed. W. K. Simpson (New Haven: Yale University Press, Book of the Dead, which has been compared by Terence
1989), 142n41. DuQuesne, A Coptic Initiatory Invocation (Thame: Darengo,
3Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (London: 1991), 52n112, with the Tibetan Bardo Thodol—a text clearly
Arkana, 1989), chap. 4. intended for spiritual practice.
4 For Egyptology’s denial of shamanism in ancient Egypt, see 18 Garth Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes (Princeton: Princeton
Jeremy Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The University Press, 1986), chap.7; and David Frankfurter, Religion in
Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, Roman Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), chaps.
2005), 15-17. 5 and 6.
5 Erik Hornung, The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West, 19 See, for example, Plutarch’s essay, “‘The Decline of the Oracles,”
trans. David Lorton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), 3. in Plutarch, Moral Essays, trans. Rex Warner (Harmondsworth:
6 Ibid. Penguin Books, 1971), 31-96.
7 20Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Ennis Rees (Indianapolis: Bobbs-
Henry Corbin, “Mundus Imaginalis, or the Imaginary and the
Imaginal,” in Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam, trans. Leonard Fox Merrill, 1977), 188.
(West Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 1995), 1-33. 21 In a series of lectures on the relationship of Egyptian mythology
8 George Hart, A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses to modern civilization, Rudolf Steiner, Universe, Earth and Man,
(London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986), x. trans. Harry Collison (London: Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co.,
1941), 250ff., makes the following statement: “What we call
See Jeremy Naydler, Temple of the Cosmos: the Ancient Egyptian
‘future’ must always be rooted in the past; knowledge has no value
Experience of the Sacred (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1996),
if not changed into motive power for the future. The purpose for
the future must be in accordance with the knowledge of the past,
10 As Christian Jacq, Egyptian Magic, trans. Janet M. Davis but this knowledge is of little value unless changed into propelling
(Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1985), 99, explains: “On the field force for the future.”
of battle, the pharaoh’s enemies are not merely human. They are 22 This text, “Ancient Egypt and Modern Esotericism” © Jeremy
possessed by a hostile force against which the pharaoh must use
Naydler, 2006 is reprinted with permission of the author. All
magical weapons. Before any battle, one must proceed to put a
Rights Reserved.
spell on one’s enemies, part of the official techniques of war
practiced by the State. The sacred model for this is supplied by the
rituals which the priests celebrate in the temples for the purpose of Illustration Sources
fighting the enemies of the Light.” 1. Thutmose III, instructed by Seth and Neith. Drawing from a
11 Ibid., 95-99. For the double defeat of Apophis, see The Book of relief carving at the temple of Amun, Karnak (18th Dynasty) from
the Day and The Book of the Night, in A. Piankoff, The Tomb of Adolf Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt (New York: Dover, 1971), 282.
Ramesses VI, Bollingen Series 40/1 (New York: Pantheon Books, 2. Thutmose III about to slay forty-two Syrians. From the rear of
1954), 389-407. the seventh pylon, Temple of Arnun, Karnak.
12 For a discussion of the solarization of Amenhotep III at his Sed 3. King Merenptah defeats the Sea Peoples. Drawing from a relief
festival, see W. Raymond Johnson, “Amenhotep III and Amarna: carving from A. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (Oxford: Oxford
Some New Considerations,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 82 University Press, 1966), 286, fig. 11. Reprinted with permission.
(1996), 67ff. See also Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, 87ff. 4. Seth, on the prow of the sunboat, defeats Apophis. From the
13 Naydler, Temple of the Cosmos, 26 and 215-217. Papyrus of Her Uben (B). A. Piankoff, Mythological Papyri (New York:
14 W. Brede Kristensen, Life Out of Death: Studies in the Religions Pantheon Books, 1957), 75, fig. 54. Reprinted with permission.
of Egypt and of Ancient Greece, trans. H. J. Franken and G. R. H. 5. Amenhotep III is in the role of Ra. From the Tomb of Kheruef
Wright (Louvain: Peeters Press, 1992), 28, comments: “The world reproduced in J. Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts
of death secreted greater powers and contained richer possibilities (Rochester Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2005), 206. Reprinted with permission.
than the world of finite experience. It was the basis for the whole 6. The sky-goddess Nut conceals within her body the mysterious
existence which we are apt to call worldly life.” inner region. From the abbreviated version of the Book of Night
15 The “Annals” at Karnak, recording Thutmose III’s campaigns, are on the ceiling of the sarcophagus chamber of the tomb of Ramesses
couched in mythical and theistic language. The king is described as IX, Valley of the Kings, from Erik Hornung, The Valley of the
acting in consort with Amun-Ra against the “wretched enemy”— Kings, trans. David Warburton (New York: Timken, 1990), 79.
implicitly identified with the forces of cosmic chaos. The mystical Every effort has been made to find the copyright owner.

Page 37
The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West. Erik Hornung, translated by David Lorton.
Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2001, 229 pages. (ISBN: 0-8014-3847-0)
Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt. Jeremy
Naydler. Rochester VT: Inner Traditions, 2005, 466 pages. (ISBN : 0-89281-755-0)
The Egyptian Mysteries. Arthur Versluis. London and New York: Arkana (Routledge -
Penguin), 1988, 169 pages. (ISBN: 1-85063-087-9)
Reviewed by the staff of the Rosicrucian Digest

“ ost Thou not know, Asclepius, that
Egypt is the Image of Heaven; or
what is truer still, the transference,
or the descent of all that rule or act in Heaven?
And if more truly still it must be said, —this
land of ours is a Temple of all the World.”1
It was a commonplace among virtually all
ancient commentators in the Greco-Roman
world that Egypt was “the fountainhead of
esoteric knowledge and wisdom.”2 Herodotus
(484–ca. 425 BCE), Plutarch (46–127 CE),
Chaeremon of Alexandria (1st century CE),
and Iamblichus (ca. 245–ca. 325 CE) all
testify to this. Pythagoras (582–ca. 507 BCE)
Egyptian Mystery School, by H. Spencer Lewis.
studied in Memphis and may well have been
initiated into the Mysteries himself. Early modern Egyptologists continued to
Those closest to ancient Egypt in time hold traditional viewpoints of the ancient
spoke of its deep mystical and esoteric wisdom, sources; however, by the end of the nineteenth
coupled with efficacious and profound initiatory century this had changed radically. Standard
practices, a source of true power: “For that its academic Egyptology now viewed the
very quality of sound, the true power of the Egyptians as practical and materialistic,
Egyptian names have in themselves the bringing uninterested in theory or transcendence, and
into reality that which is said.”3 utterly devoid of mysticism, initiations, or
This view persisted during the next any deep spirituality: “a pleasure-loving
millennium in the literature of the Roman people, gay, artistic, and sharp-witted, but
Empire in the East and in the Islamic world. lacking in depth of feeling and idealism.”5
When this legacy was rediscovered in the While scholars agree that major rituals and
West during the fifteenth century Italian public festivals (participated in by all) took
Renaissance, Western scholars accepted the place throughout the history of Pharaonic
classical commentators at their word. Egypt, the approach denying genuine
Renaissance thinkers saw in the Greco- Egyptian mysticism or esoteric initiations
Roman mysteries and in their Egyptian sources, a prior to Alexander’s conquest in 332 BCE is
connection to the Prisca Theologia (the underlying still the mainstream view among academic
original world spirituality). For ensuing centuries, Egyptologists today.
Rosicrucian scholars, such as the esotericist and polymath The three books reviewed here represent
Digest Athanasius Kircher, S.J. (1602–1680), continued to three aspects of the reevaluation of the
No. 1 pour over Egyptian materials seeking this wisdom.4 mystical, esoteric, and initiatic character of
Page 38
ancient Egypt in the academic world. Regardless of one’s position on the
Rosicrucians and others on the Hermetic definition of the origins of Egyptian wisdom,
path have never had any doubts as to the Hornung’s The Secret Lore remains a valuable
initiatic and mystical aspects of Pharaonic resource for the Egyptian mystical ideal
heritage. Indeed, the pioneering works of throughout Western history.
Frater Max Guilmot, Ph.D. demonstrate Hornung Provides a Summary of the
this admirably.6 Impact of the Idea of Egypt on the West
Egyptology Distinguished from Written in condensed fashion, the
Egyptosophy book systematically presents movements,
individuals, and ideas that have followed the
Erik Hornung’s The Secret Lore of Egypt wisdom of Egypt. Hornung gives the reader
is not a revisionist work on ancient Egyptian much substantive material to stimulate
mysticism. Hornung, Professor Emeritus of further research and reading, and each chapter
Egyptology at the University of Basel, and provides an effective overview of a particular
Jan Assmann, a German Egyptologist and phase of the evolution of Egypt’s impact on
Archaeologist, are arguably the two leading the Western world.
mainstream academic scholars of Pharaonic
Moving from Pharaonic times, Hornung
Egyptian religion today. Both continue to
reviews the Egyptian wisdom tradition in the
hold the view that “Egyptian religion then
classical world and its influence on astrology,
appears to be a matter of faith, the product of
alchemy, Gnosticism, Hermetism, magic, and
imaginative reconstruction rather than that of
the Isis Mysteries. He then traces this through
mystical practice.”7
succeeding eras. The book also discusses the
Hornung’s work is a fascinating impact of this tradition on Rosicrucians,
exploration of the field he terms Freemasons, and many other groups,
“Egyptosophy,” (the wisdom of Egypt), that is, continuing to the present day.
the opinion that “the land of the Nile was the While maintaining his belief in the
fount of all wisdom, and the stronghold of distinction between these two approaches
hermetic lore.”8 He carefully contrasts to Egypt, Hornung is remarkable among
Egyptosophy with Egyptology (the study of Egyptologists for according a valuable role
Egypt)—which in his view studies the to Egyptosophy. His final words ring more
historical record of Egypt. Egyptosophy for true today than when Hornung first
Hornung is still “the study of an imaginary penned them:
Egypt viewed as the profound source of all “The impending turn of the millennium
esoteric lore. This Egypt is a timeless idea nourished hopes of new spiritual light for
bearing only a loose relationship to the humankind in the aspirations of many. Egypt
historical reality.”9 will surely play a role in such developments in
Hornung is the first major Egyptologist to many forms: Pharaonic Egypt and the
take the wisdom tradition connected with Egypt esoteric-Hermetic Egypt. There has been
seriously as a pervasive phenomenon in the increasing talk of the relevance of the
West, even if continuing to deny the reality of its Hermetic Weltanschauung [worldview] as a
historical source. His work complements the point of view that can contribute to making
emerging studies in Western Esotericism by sense of our modern world by seeking a direct
Antoine Faivre and others. However, as Dr. connection with the original wisdom of the
Jeremy Naydler points out, even these scholars oldest cultures and with the core idea of all
of esotericism limit themselves by relying too esoteric thought, according to which the
heavily on the academic establishment’s rejection ancient wisdom continues to be valid even in
of actual mysticism in pre-Hellenistic Egypt.10 a world that has been transformed.

Page 39
“All Hermetism is by its very nature Two, “The Recovery of Ancient Egyptian
tolerant. Hermes Trismegistus is a god of Mysticism,” constitute an excellent
harmony, of reconciliation, and transformation, introduction to the evolution of viewpoints
and he preaches no rigid dogma. He is thus an on Egyptian mysticism from ancient times to
antidote to the fundamentalism that must be the present. Naydler introduces the reader to
overcome if we desire to live in peace.”11 the ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and
The Secret Lore is a valuable source book for modern sources on all sides of the issue.
the Western tradition of Egyptian Wisdom and Taking a transdiciplinary approach, he argues
is useful for casual readers and researchers alike. that the sources supporting ancient Egyptian
mysticism have a foundation in fact, using
Restoring an Acceptance of Ancient the tools of historical, cultural, literary,
Egyptian Mysticism religious, and phenomenological analysis.
Dr. Jeremy Naydler’s reworking and Naydler traces the origins and reasons for
publication of his doctoral thesis is the best academic Egyptology’s rejection of the idea
example to date of why it is no longer tenable that there was mysticism in ancient Egypt.
to hold the older academic viewpoint that One is the Western assumption that “the way
mysticism and initiations did not exist prior to attain reliable knowledge is through science
to Hellenistic Egypt. In Shamanic Wisdom in rather than through religious or mystical
the Pyramid Texts, he presents a magisterial experience, and that science was a product of
study of both the history of viewpoints on Greek, not Egyptian civilization.”13
Egyptian mystical practice and a case study in
a shamanic interpretation of the texts found In parallel studies, it is interesting to note
in the Pyramid of Unas. that the work on the pre-Socratic philosophers
being done by Peter Kingsley also undercuts
A philosopher, cultural historian, and the roots of this assumption, demonstrating
scholar of religious studies, Naydler earlier that these Greek “founders of logic, math,
published a very valuable study of the and science,” were themselves initiates, and
Egyptian experience of the Sacred in Temple that their knowledge and wisdom were
of the Cosmos,12 which is accessible to both derived from their mysticism.14
specialist and general reader. In Shamanic
Wisdom, he succeeds in the same way, A second example is the Western myth of
negotiating the difficult task of producing a progress in which it is vital for “our”
work that is, at one and the same time, a approaches to be superior to those of the
serious scholarly statement and an engaging peoples of distant antiquity. Swayed by this
and enjoyable read. presupposition, Egyptology and other
disciplines today are guided by this mythos:
Shamanic Wisdom has several goals. The
first is to refute the academic Egyptological “The assumption that modern materialistic
presupposition that Pharaonic Egypt had no science provides the only sure path to acquiring
tradition of mystical practice. A second is to knowledge, and that true knowledge began
give a case study of just how such texts can with the Greeks, not the Egyptians, to a large
reveal their mysticism. Naydler also seeks to extent rests on a second deeply rooted
awaken the spiritual dimension within us and assumption: that human history constitutes a
with which the Egyptians were so familiar. steady progress not only of knowledge, but
also of social organization and psychological
How Egyptology Came to Reject and spiritual maturity. . . . Thus the idea of
Ancient Eg yptian Mysticism progress not only works to our advantage, but
and Initiations it also disadvantages the past, for the earlier
Digest The five chapters of Part One, “Mysticism the culture, the more primitive it must have
No. 1 in Ancient Egypt,” and the last chapter of Part been. This contrasts with the way ancient
Page 40
cultures tended to view the past, which was interested in Pharaonic spirituality would be
that history involves a gradual decline from h a rd p re s s e d t o f i n d a b e t t e r
an original golden age in which human beings introduction to the history of the
lived in harmony with the gods.”15 Western view of Egypt’s mysticism, and
Dissenting Scholars Study the to a modern transdiciplinary approach
Initiatic and Mystical Character validating the age-old view of ancient
of Ancient Egyptian Texts Egypt as a repository of primordial
mysticism and wisdom.
Naydler skillfully narrates this portion of
his study as a detective story of how the This insight is not purely of academic
academic rejection of the initiatic character of interest. While not advocating a literal revival
Pharaonic Egypt came to be. He also traces of Pharaonic religion, he suggests, in much the
the exceptions to this trend, including the same way that the Rosicrucian Order adapts
pioneering work of Réné Schwaller de Lubicz, the ancient tradition to our own day, that:
demonstrating the vital symbolic character of “. . . the study of ancient Egyptian
Egyptian civilization,16 and the Egyptological religion may lead us to conceive of a task
work of Alexandre Moret during the 1920s, that we have to fulfill in the present day.
which interpreted several Egyptian rituals as This task is to
initiatory experiences.17 open ourselves
Although mainstream academics have once more to
not yet been swayed, Shamanic Wisdom those realms of
chronicles lonely voices among modern spirit that we are
scholars who acknowledge the place of presented with
initiations and mysticism within Egyptian life in the mystical
and religion, including Sotirios Mayassis18 literature of
(1950s); Walter Federn19 (1960s); Edward F. Egypt. This
Wente,20 Arthur Versluis,21 and François could lead to
Daumas22 (1970s–1980s); and W. Brede the possibility Akhenaten, by Margaret Mary
Kristensen23 and Alison Roberts24 (1990s- o f a n e w Ducharme, S.R.C.; in the Johannes
2000s). Readers could hardly find a better Egyptian-inspired Kelpius Lodge, Allston, MA.
introduction, summary, and guidebook Renaissance, in which Western spiritual
through this vital field. culture is given fresh vigor by connecting to
The Pyramid Texts of Unas are Examples its Egyptian roots. . . . The study of ancient
of Shamanic Mysticism Egyptian religion paradoxically points us
toward our own future, which is surely to
The second task of Shamanic Wisdom is
develop new capacities of consciousness that
equally well laid out. Dr. Naydler analyzes the
would awaken us once more to the spiritual
Pyramid Texts from the Pyramid of Unas
realities of which the mystical literature of
(Fifth Dynasty, some 4,350 years ago).25
ancient Egypt speaks.”26
Through transdisciplinary analysis, four
chapters demonstrate the uses of these texts The Initiatic Message of the
(over and above their funerary uses) in an Eg yptian Mysteries
initiatic, mystical, and shamanic context, Just what the spiritual and mystical
revealing them to be a means to “die before import of such attention to the Egyptian
you die,” a pivotal purpose in shamanism. model would be, is the subject of Arthur
Thoroughly referenced and illustrated, Versluis’s 1988 volume, The Egyptian
this work provides an invaluable contribution Mysteries. A Professor of American Studies at
to the dialogue about the mysteries of ancient Michigan State University, he is a leading
Egypt. Scholars, seekers, and all those voice in academic esoteric studies in North
Page 41
America, and has compiled an impressive That is one of the secrets of this little
bibliography on esotericism and mystical book. While it is scholarly and connects
spirituality.27 Currently the editor of the Egyptian themes to world spiritualities, it is
online journal, Esoterica,28 he is also the also very personal and individual. In the
founding president of the Association for the chapter on the Great Restoration which must
Study of Esotericism which brings together follow the Kali Yuga (the end of all things),
scholars and students from across North Versluis reminds us:
America and promotes dialogue with “And indeed, if we succeed, if we tread
European esoteric scholars and institutions. that ancient path primordial, regardless of the
Versluis does not care to debate the blindness of our time, regardless of our
question of the Egyptian source of wisdom distance from ancient Egypt, our lives can still
and spirituality; rather, he chooses to begin reflect the Divine Sun, our world can still be
this volume with a clear assertion of the translucent and alive —for that ancient path
ancient viewpoint: can never vanish, though it can for us be
“There can be little doubt that whatever obscured. Yet if we enter upon it, it shall ever
traditional symbology and metaphysics be the same, as it was and is, and ever shall be.
remain in the West today can be traced back And when it is so for us, each as individuals:
to ancient Egypt, that land whose people, said that, that is the true Restoration, the true
Herodotus, were ‘scrupulous beyond all Apocatastasis. All else is anticlimactic.”32
measure in matters of religion.’”30 The Initiatic Character of Ancient Egypt
Seeking what might remain of the Prisca In addition to the Mysteries of Egypt and
Theologia for us today, Versluis analyzes the its initiations, Versluis reveals an Egypt much
major characteristics of the Egyptian spiritual nearer the Zep Tepi (First Times). As did
viewpoint. In Part One, he looks in turn at the Schwaller de Lubicz, he conceives of Egypt as an
concepts and practices represented by: Ma’at, initiatic culture in its totality, manifested most
the Primal Ennead, Isis, Osiris, the Second clearly in its spirituality. His sections on initiation
Death (when one becomes an Akh, an Effective discuss what can be salvaged from the ancient
of Voice), Typhon, Hermanubis, Ra–the Sun, world, moving from the nature of initiation and
the Two Lands, Sacred Language and symbolism in Egypt and throughout the world,
Hieroglyphs, the Mysteries, and Apocatastasis to the work necessary for initiation, and finally
(the restoration of all things). Part Two then to initiatory possibilities in our current age.
delves into Initiation—its nature and practice Writing from the point of view of one at
in ancient Egypt and today. the end of an age, Versluis masterfully guides
The Eg yptian Mysteries in a readers as candidates through this initiatic
Wo r l d C o n t e x t volume. It is the type of book that
The prose is spare and telegraphic. accomplishes what it is about. It is a kind of
Versluis writes as an initiate, sometimes initiation into the Egyptian Mysteries it
ending with the phrase, “More than this we discusses. This will take place, as do all
cannot say.”31 As he ranges through the topics initiations, according to the mode of the
of Egyptian mystical spirituality, his discussion readers and their times.
is informed by his own considerable erudition The Egyptian Mysteries offers in true
of world esoteric and exoteric traditions, mystical fashion, only what is necessary for
including Sufi, Hindu, Buddhist, and Judeo- others to follow the path by one who has
Christian mysticism. Each chapter says just “done the work.” It is very unusual to
Rosicrucian enough to give sufficient information and, experience such writing, at one time scholarly
Digest more importantly, to inspire readers to go and mystical; however, in company with Peter
No. 1 within for their own reflections. Kingsley and a few others, Dr. Versluis has
Page 42
produced a living text to introduce the This is the purpose of the Mysteries for all
Egyptian Mysteries, much as his later who participate in their work and worship:
Theosophia does for the Judeo-Christian-
Islamic path of the heart.33 “All initiation transmutes as one passes
through its transmission; tradition is a
It seems fitting to conclude our mediatrix. Initiate and symbol converge to
consideration of these three works on the reveal the immutable Origin, and every
Initiatic and Mystical tradition of ancient moment is initiatory, for those with eyes to see.
Egypt, with Versluis’s final invitation to his
readers at the end of The Egyptian Mysteries. “Let us begin.”34

1 “Asclepius (The Perfect Sermon),” in Corpus Hermeticum, 24.1, 14 Peter Kingsley, Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic:
translation adapted from G. R. S. Mead, Thrice Greatest Hermes, Empedocles and Pythagorean tradition (Oxford; New York: Oxford
vol. 2 (1906; repr., York Beach, ME: Weiser Books, 1992), 221. University Press, 1995); In the Dark Places of Wisdom (Inverness,
2 Jeremy Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The CA: Golden Sufi Center, 1999); and Reality (Inverness, CA:
Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt (Rochester VT: Inner Traditions, Golden Sufi Center, 2003).
2005), 22. 15 Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, 32-33.
3 16 Rene Schwaller de Lubicz, The Temple of Man: Apet of the South
“The Definitions of Asclepius unto King Ammon,” in Corpus
Hermeticum, 16.2, translation adapted from Mead, Thrice Greatest at Luxor, trans. Deborah Lawlor and Robert Lawlor, 2 vols.
Hermes, vol. 2, 170. See note 1. (Rochester VT: Inner Traditions, 1998). An introduction to
4 For an excellent discussion of ancient and Renaissance attitudes Schwaller’s work may be found in John Anthony West, The Serpent
toward Egypt, see Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, 20-23, and in the Sky (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1992).
17 Alexandre Moret, Mystères égyptiens (Paris: Armand Colin,
accompanying bibliographical notes on 348-352. For classical
sources, see also Erik Hornung, The Secret Lore of Egypt: its Impact 1922).
on the West, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 18 Sotirios Mayassis, Le Livre des Morts de l’Égypte Ancienne est un
2001), 19-25, and for Renaissance views, 83-91. Livre d’Initiation (Athens: Bibliothèque d’Archéologie Orientale
5 Alan Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed. (London: Oxford d’Athènes, 1955); and Mystères et initiations de l’Égypte ancienne.
University Press, 1973), 24c; cited in Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, (Athens: Bibliothèque d’Archéologie Orientale d’Athènes, 1957).
36. For a survey of modern academic Egyptology’s views on this 19 Walter Federn, “The ‘Transformation’ in the Coffin Texts: A
subject, see Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, 23-44, and accompanying New Approach,” in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 19 (1960):
bibliographical notes on 352-356. 241-57
6 Max Guilmot, “The Initiatory Process in Ancient Egypt,” trans. 20 Edward F. Wente, “Mysticism in Pharaonic Egypt?” Journal of
Michelle Ziebel (1978; San Jose: Supreme Grand Lodge of the Near Eastern Studies 41 (1982): 161-79
Ancient & Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, 1997). Dr. Guilmot also 21Arthur Versluis, The Egyptian Mysteries (London and New York:
published articles on similar subjects in the Rosicrucian Digest, ARKANA, 1988).
including “Ancient Egypt’s Concept of Immortality,” (March
22 François Daumas, “Le fonds égyptiens de l’hermétisme,” in
1965), and “An Initiatory Drama in Ancient Egypt,” (December
1971); and in French, Connaissance et intuition: réponses de l’Egypte Gnosticisme et monde hellenistique: Actes du Colloque de Louvain-la-
ancienne: énergie invisible, guérison spirituelle, dédoublement, Neuve (11-14 March 1980), ed. J. Ries, 3-25. Louvain-la-Neuve,
précognition (Bruxelles: Servranx, 1991); Les initiés et les rites France, 1982; “Y eut-il des mystères en Égypte?” in Le Bulletin
initiatiques en Égypte ancienne (Paris: R. Laffont, 1977); and Le Annuel de “L’Atelier d’Alexandrie” 1 (1972): 37-52.
message spirituel de l’Égypte ancienne (Paris: Hachette, 1970). 23 W. Brede Kristensen, Life out of Death: Studies in the Religion of
7 Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, 50. The best known works of these Egypt and of Ancient Greece (Louvain: Peeters Press, 1992).
authors on ancient Egyptian religion are: Jan Assmann, The Search 24 Alison Roberts, My Heart, My Mother: Death and Rebirth in
for God in Ancient Egypt, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca: Cornell Ancient Egypt (Totnes: Northgate Publishers, 1995).
University Press, 2001); Erik Hornung, Conceptions of God in Ancient 25 “The Pyramid of Unas,” Wikipedia,
Egypt: the One and the Many, trans. John Baines (Ithaca: Cornell wiki/Pyramid_of_Unas.
University Press, 1982); Erik Hornung, Akhenaten and the Religion 26 Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, 329.
of Light, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
27 See
1999); and Erik Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife,
trans. David Lorton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999). 28
8 Erik Hornung, Secret Lore, 1. 29
9 Ibid., 3. 30 Arthur Versluis, Egyptian Mysteries, 3. See note 21.
10 Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, 326. 31 Ibid., 93.
11 Hornung, Secret Lore, 201. 32 Ibid., 97-98.
12 Jeremy Naydler, Temple of the Cosmos: The Ancient Egyptian 33Arthur Versluis, Theosophia: Hidden Dimensions of Christianity
Experience of the Sacred (Rochester VT: Inner Traditions, 1996). (Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1994).
13 Naydler, Shamanic Wisdom, 29. 34 Versluis, Egyptian Mysteries, 148. See note 21.

Page 43
In 1933, H. Spencer Lewis, Imperator of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, from 1915 - 1939,
published these twenty-two cards of the Tarot’s Major Arcana as part of the Kabbalah Unveiled
series by “Frater Aquarius, Scribe.” Long unavailable, they provide a blending of the traditional
Tarot themes with Egyptian symbolism.

 1.The Magus   2.The Gate of the Sanctuary   3.Iris-Urania 

 4.The Cubic Stone   5.The Master of the Arcanes   6.The Two Ways 

No. 1
Page 44
 7.The Chariot of Osiris   8.The Balance and the Sword   9.The Veiled Lamp 

 10.The Sphinx   11.The Tamed Lion   12.The Sacrifice 

 13.The Reaping Skeleton   14.The Two Urns  Page 45

 15.Typhon   16.The Thunder-Struck Tower   17.The Star of the Magi 

 18.The Twilight   19.The Dazzling Light   20.The Rising of the Dead 

No. 1
 21.The Crown of the Magi   22.The Crocodile 
Page 46
Steven Armstrong, F.R.C.

raditional histories of the Rosicrucian this collection of documents, there is mention
Order, AMORC usually begin with the of a historical appointment of an individual
description of the creation of a unified to be the head of the united priesthoods of
mystical body by the Egyptian Pharaoh Egypt during that time. That much is not
Thutmose III during the Eighteeneth Dynasty surprising. However, the details reveal
of New Kingdom Egypt. As H. Spencer Lewis something unexpected.
put it in 1929, it “was Thutmose III who Houses of Life Carried on the
organized the present physical form followed by Mystical Work of the Temples
the present secret Brotherhood and outlined
As we know, the priesthoods of Egypt
many of its rules and regulations.”1 The text goes
were not only concerned with external
on to caution that it “must not be construed
Temple duties. Attached to most of the
that the word Rosicrucian, or any variation of it,
Temples was a “House of Life” (Per Ankh)
was used by, or applied to this ancient
where documents were kept, and seekers were
brotherhood, . . . rather that the modern
trained in the Mysteries, including medicine,
manifestation of this ancient tradition is found
dreams, and other practices.3 Hermetic
in the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, which
historian Garth Fowden points out that the
derives its principles and objectives from it.”2
“sacred books of the ancient Egyptian priests
were copied out in the ‘Houses of Life,’ which
served, subordinate to their primary cultic
purposes, as temple scriptoria or libraries. . . .” 4
In many cases, among these volumes were
the forty-two volumes attributed to Thoth
(later known as Hermes Trismegistus). The
Christian Gnostic and teacher Clement of
Alexandria testifies to having seen a procession
carrying books from such a collection (around
200 CE) containing works on the gods,
The Enchanted Garden, by William Thornton, F.R.C. astrology, hieroglyphs, hymns, prayers,
Recent research has rediscovered another spiritual training, and medicine: “then forty-
aspect of this foundational event which has two books of Hermes indispensably necessary;
gone, if not completely unknown, then of which the six-and-thirty containing the
unremarked upon for a very long time, and whole philosophy of the Egyptians . . . and the
which sheds new light on a significant feature other six, which are medical. . . .”5
of the Rosicrucian tradition. Much of the literature and teachings
from the Houses of Life are probably those
In the archives of the Rosicrucian we have received today in Hellenized form as
Research Library in San José, the Order has a the practical (or technical) and philosophical
copy of the venerable records of ancient Egypt Hermetica, including the Corpus Hermeticum.6
as compiled by James H. Breasted in 1906. In The Houses of Life were much more than a

Page 47
priestly apprenticeship. They were the true was made during the joint reign, and we can
mystical heart of each priesthood. assume that it was with the full consent of
The Unified Priesthood Included both rulers. The alternation of masculine
both Exoteric and Esoteric Work and feminine may result from later
alterations in the text, or it may indicate
The appointment of an individual to be
both rulers’ actions: “Lo, his majesty was in
the head of all of the Egyptian priesthoods
his palace [. . .] of the king’s house,
unified not only the priestly orders in their
Hapuseneb, whom her majesty [. . .] before
external manifestation, but also brought into
millions; whom she magnified among the
harmony and union the mystical component
people because of the greatness of the
as well—the esoteric work which centered
excellence of. . . .”9 (italics added)
around the Per Ankhu. In this way, the
traditional Rosicrucian statement of the Breasted himself, perhaps due to the
unifying of these into one Mystical Order is presuppositions of his times, seems to have
consistent with external historical facts as well resisted or vacillated about the idea that
as inner spiritual truths. Hatshepsut was involved with the
appointment, later arguing against the evidence
New Facts Uncovered about the
of the inscriptions: “Hapuseneb, the first High
Unification of the Mystical Orders
Priest of Amon who occupied the position at
What is fascinating, and apparently the head of the new sacerdotal organization,
unremarked upon at least in recent times in was grand vizier under queen Hatshepsut, but
connection with Rosicrucian history, is that it is more likely that her husband, Thutmose
this historic appointment and III, effected this organization than
unification was not the sole that she should have done it.”10
work of Thutmose III. The
unification appears to have This opinion may well have
taken place during the joint influenced others in the early
reign of the co-Pharaohs twentieth century.
Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, The viewpoint excluding
roughly 1479–1458 BCE. Hatshepsut from significant
Further, it was Hatshepsut’s religious activity connected with
own trusted vizier and Amun did not survive the twentieth
supporter, Hapuseneb, century. By 1984, German
the most important man Hatshepsut Bead. This small
Egyptian Blue bead bears the Egyptologist Jan Assmann wrote of
in Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s cartouche of the controversial the joint religious work of the two
entourage, who was appointed rDynasty,
u l e r o f t h e Ei g h t e e n t h
Hatshepsut. From the Pharaohs: “Hatshepsut and
as “Chief of the Prophets of collection of the Rosicrucian Tuthmosis III founded and
North and South,” which title Egyptian Museum. propagated not a new religion, but
is found on his statue in the Louvre.7 a new form of Amun religion that was
As Breasted explains, “The formation of enhanced by the fourth dimension”11 [of
the priesthood of the whole land into a Divine spontaneity and action in the world
coherent organization, with a single individual and in devotees.—Ed.] He then goes on to
at its head, appears here for the first time. connect this evolution with the Atenism of
This new and great organization was thus, Akhenaten and Nefertiti, seeing more
through Hapuseneb, enlisted on the side continuity than is often supposed.
of Hatshepsut.”8 In this, as in many other areas, Pharaoh
Rosicrucian Breasted gives further translations of Hatshepsut was prescient when she said,
No. 1
Hapuseneb’s appointment from the inscription “Now my heart turns to and fro, in thinking
2007 found on the Louvre statue. This appointment what the people say, those who shall see my
Page 48
monument in after years, and shall speak of this Path, have been manifested time and
what I have done. . . .”12 We continue today time again, and most notably at the beginning
to recover the full significance of her reign. of the current cycle of
Balance of Energies Revealed at the Rosicrucian work.
Heart of the Rosicrucian Tradition Christian Rebisse
reminds us that H.
H. Spencer Lewis’s description of the
Spencer Lewis
Order’s foundation was focused on other
considered Mrs.
issues, and this joint aspect was not noted at
May Banks-Stacey
that time; however, with this rediscovery, we
“cofounder of the
have a notable confirmation of Rosicrucian
Ancient and Mystical
history; further, this striking rediscovery of
Order Rosae-Crucis.”14
Hatshepsut’s role at the beginning of the May Banks-Stacey
Rosicrucian Path reveals a pattern in During 1907–
Rosicrucian history that may have gone 1908, when Lewis confided in her about
previously unnoticed. The necessary balance some of his mystical experiences, she told him
of the feminine and masculine energies are that “he had probably rediscovered the
present at the very creation of the mystical knowledge acquired in his past lives . . . ” and
lineage we hold dear. The genesis of the “ . . . that he had surely belonged to a mystical
united spiritual tradition that manifests fraternity like the ‘Rosicrucians of Egypt,’”15
today in the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC (one of the factors which led Lewis to his
was a cooperation of the most powerful “Journey to the East” in Toulouse in 1909).
woman and man of the Two Lands, for the Mrs. Banks-Stacey was a mystic and
common good. an initiate of India and Egypt.16 During her
Once this pattern is recognized at the journey to Egypt she was told that she would
beginning of the unification of the ancient be instrumental in bringing the tradition
Egyptian Houses of Life, it can be seen to be back to North America. On November 25,
replicated throughout Rosicrucian history. 1914, she presented Lewis with a birthday
Within just about a century, Akhenaten and present: “a magnificent red rose, a little chest,
Nefertiti are represented over and over as and some documents on which he recognized
jointly offering their work and worship to the the same Rosicrucian symbols that he had seen
Aten. The harmonious balance of the feminine in Toulouse in 1909.”17
and the masculine is a feature of the Amarna They then “decided to pool their efforts,
period, and may account for and so on December 20, 1914,
many of the changes in artistic they published an
style during the period. The announcement in the New York
tradition that Akhenaten had Sunday Herald inviting people
learned in the House of Life at interested in Rosicrucianism to
the Temple of the Sun in join them.” Mrs. Banks-Stacey,
Heliopolis (On or Annu) bore H. Spencer Lewis, and several
fruit in the Aten spirituality he others then formally inaugurated
shared with Nefertiti.13 the Rosicrucian Order,
The Origins of AMORC AMORC on February 9, 1915,
are also a Joint Work of in Manhattan.
May Banks-Stacey and Akhenaten, by Danny Pyle, F.R.C. The Rosicrucian Masters
H. S. Lewis were clearly insistent that the
The same balance and harmony, which same balance from the time of Hatshepsut
we have rediscovered at the foundations of and Thutmose III be present at the founding
Page 49
of AMORC. Mrs. Banks-Stacey had been told exist and for the Rosicrucian work to prosper.
when she was initiated into Rosicrucianism in For thousands of years this has manifested in
India that, although she was named legate for examples of cooperation such as: Stepmother
America, the organization would not be and Son—Hatshepsut and Thutmose III—
founded until 1915, with a French lineage.18 who established this form of the Tradition;
In similar fashion, H. Spencer Lewis had through the loving work and worship of
held an introductory meeting in December husband and wife—Akhenaten and Nefertiti;
1913. Although twelve people attended, all and in the cofounding of AMORC (1915) by
declined to sign the charter that Lewis had spiritual friends and coworkers—May Banks-
created.19 With the information we have Stacey and H. Spencer Lewis; and in countless
rediscovered about Hapuseneb and the first other examples.
united mystical bodies, we can see that the With this rediscovered insight into our
Rosicrucian Masters were insistent: it was to be ancient cofounders, Pharaohs Hatshepsut and
the joint mission of May Banks-Stacey and H. Thutmose III, we truly have the tools to
Spencer Lewis, fulfilling the ancient mandate manifest the goals enunciated in the Fourth
from the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty—a Manifesto, the Positio Fraternitatis:
dynamic and unmistakable symbol of
“Such openness encourages the coming of
Rosicrucian principles.
a Culture of Peace, founded upon integration
Balance of Feminine and Masculine and cooperation, to which the Rosicrucians
Energies Necessary for Rosicrucian Work have always devoted themselves. As humanity
The fullness of humanity, that is, the is one in essence, its happiness is only possible
complementary balance of feminine and by promoting the welfare of all human beings
masculine energies, is necessary for harmony to without exception.”20

1 H. Spencer Lewis, Rosicrucian Questions and Answers with vizier and the head of the united priesthoods, placing this power
Complete History of the Rosicrucian Order, 1954 ed. (San Jose: on Hatshepsut’s side, seemingly weakening his own argument for
Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC, 1929), 40. sole action by Thutmose III.
2 Ibid., 44n. 11 Ibid., 195-244.
3 University College London, “Ancient Egypt: Knowledge and 12 Hatshepsut, quoted on her obelisk at Karnak, after translation
Production—The House of Life,” Digital Egypt, http://www.
in Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 2 (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1976), 27.
4 Garth Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes (Princeton: Princeton
13 From discussions in the online RCUI Course, “Rediscovering
University Press, 1993), 57.
the Wisdom of the Ancient Mystery Schools,” facilitated by Grand
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata (Miscellanies), bk. 6, chap. 4, 35- Master Julie Scott (San Jose, CA: Supreme Grand Lodge of
37. The Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. AMORC, Inc., Fall 2006) .
325, vol. 2 (Buffalo: The Christian Literature Publishing Company,
14 Christian Rebisse, Rosicrucian History and Mysteries (San Jose,
6 CA: Grand Lodge of the English Language Jurisdiction, AMORC,
For the best study of the probability of this connection, see
Inc., 2005), 161.
Garth Fowden, Egyptian Hermes. See note 4.
15 Ibid., 159.
7 Newberry, Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, 22:31-36.
8 16 For the materials on May Banks-Stacey, see Ibid.,159-163,
James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. 2, The Eighteenth
Dynasty (1906; repr., New York: Russell and Russell, 1962), 160-162. 175-176, 217.
9 Ibid., 161. While part of this gender switching may be later 17 Ibid., 175-176.
interpolated revisions, as the name of Thutmose II was inserted 18 Ibid., 163.
into the text, it may also indicate that this was the action of both
19 Ibid., 175.
Hatshepsut and Thutmose III.
10 James H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in 20 Supreme Grand Lodge of the Ancient & Mystical Order Rosae
Digest Ancient Egypt (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1912), 319n1. In A Crucis, Positio Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis, (San Jose, CA: Grand
History of Egypt (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1909), 272, Lodge of the English Language Jurisdiction, AMORC, Inc., 2005),
No. 1
Breasted mentions the fact that Hapuseneb was both Hatshepsut’s 19,
Page 50
Christian Bernard, F.R.C.

hristian Bernard serves as Imperator of When the term initiation is used in the
the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC Rosicrucian teachings, it designates most
worldwide. In this essay from So Mote often the exceptional experience which every
it Be! he discusses the definition of Mystical mystic hopes to have eventually upon the
Initiation as it manifests today in continuity path of Knowledge. One of the most beautiful
with ancient initiatory practices. definitions of this mystical experience is
Whether people are aware of it or not, expressed as follows on the cover of each
their ultimate purpose is to evolve toward monograph which symbolically marks the
Perfection and to prepare their soul for passage from one degree to another in the
receiving knowledge of the mysteries. studies of the Ancient and Mystical Order
How? By pursuing the path of Initiation, Rosae Crucis:
for this is the only path that leads one to “Initiation brings into the realm of reason
“Know Thyself.” But what is mystical the purpose, and into the realm of emotion the
initiation? Where does it begin? Where spirit of one’s introduction into the mysteries.”
does it end? What is its purpose? And This phrase contains the keywords which
what is its nature? enable us to meditate deeply upon the
First of all, we must understand clearly meaning to be ascribed to the initiatory
that initiation is not something that is exact, process taking place within us. According to
nor is it an event fixed in time. It is a process this definition, the process involves both the
continuing from incarnation to incarnation realm of reason and the realm of emotion.
that must lead us to self-realization, but only This clearly shows that initiation as a whole is
at the end of a very long inward development. not limited to just one aspect of our being.
This means therefore that each of our We often have a tendency to think that
thoughts, words, and deeds is an initiation in mysticism applies solely to that which is
itself, because each contributes to the Great metaphysical—in other words, to that which
Work that has been going on within us since lies beyond the physical. However, it is
the dawn of time. From the moment we important to have a clear understanding that
believe that the soul exists and that it evolves mystical evolution operates within both the
through the medium of the physical body, we material world and the spiritual world.
are obliged to admit that every physical or Moreover, this is the reason why human
mental activity we perform on this earthly beings cannot experience true happiness if
plane is included in this evolution. they orient their life towards one of these two
As I have just mentioned, the evolution worlds to the exclusion of the other. But, first
of consciousness is in itself an initiatory and foremost, Rosicrucian mysticism must
process which continues life after life. lead us to the state of happiness, for this very
Consequently, we initiate ourselves daily into state provides proof that we have understood
the purpose of existence through the medium the profound meaning of life.
of everything we think, say, or do. When the Ancient and Mystical Order
Nonetheless, it is true that when we speak of Rosae Crucis states that our purpose is to
initiation, we generally refer to something become aware of our spirituality gradually
other than the purely objective state of through initiation, it does not mean that we
consciousness that we experience over a must set aside materiality. If we accept the
period of hours. principle that one of our goals is to prove to
Page 51
ourselves that mind has mastery over matter, Although this is a true goal, it takes a long
it stands to reason that this mastery must time for, as I just mentioned, we are still too
apply to the material world. far removed from this state to hope to attain
Since the Cosmic has made earthly it in this incarnation. Consequently, we must
incarnation a condition indispensable to not pretend through our behavior that we are
human evolution, it seems logical to think very near to this state. Also, let us be modest
that the physical and objective aspect of our and set for ourselves an initiatory goal that is
existence is a reality necessary for the truly in keeping with our abilities. It is the
realization of the Divine. Of course, the most most effective way to evolve and avoid the
important thing is to understand clearly that snare of illusion.
the earthly world is only a means and not an Too many disciples of religious,
end, and that it is only the finite material out philosophical, or pseudomystical denominations
of which we build towards the Infinite. have a tendency to pattern their behavior after
At our present level of spiritual evolution, the lives of the great avatars of the past, as
we cannot function effectively on the earthly understood by them. Among other ideas they
plane without feeling and satisfying certain strongly believe that physical or mental
desires based upon the material aspects of crucifixion is a necessity upon the path to
existence. This is the reason why asceticism is mystical regeneration. I am convinced that all
not a valid initiatory path in the realm of those who think this way and try to make
mysticism. Only the great adepts have others believe it also are mistaken. Only the
attained a state of consciousness that enables Great Initiates have been granted the right and
them to transcend effortlessly the dependency the strength to bear the karmic cross of
we all have upon this world. humanity upon their shoulders. At our present
When individuals are nearing the state of level of evolution, the weight of our own cross
Perfection, their conscious activity is directed is ample and it is our duty to lighten the
so much towards the higher planes of burden as much as possible.
Cosmic Consciousness that they actually feel A wrong interpretation of some religious
detached from all earthly desires. But we texts could lead us to suppose that it is only
must fully realize that we have not reached out of suffering that the Light may burst
this point as yet and that such a detachment forth. Nothing seems to me further from the
is the result of a natural evolution of the truth, for then the God of Love spoken of by
soul. As for most human beings, it is the adepts of these texts does not exist. We
absolutely impossible for them, from one know that Universal Love is a reality that
day to another, to live on this material plane many mystics have experienced through the
while denying all legitimate needs that must process of initiation. Therefore, we are
be satisfied. essentially right when we declare that
The Goal Which Initiation Enables suffering, even if it is true that it has an
us to Reach initiatory purpose, has never been and will
never be a cosmic requirement for evolution.
This leads me now to define the goal
In fact, I firmly believe that the day will come
which initiation must enable us to reach, and
when humans, freed from ignorance, will
which is the basic experience that makes the
experience more happiness than unhappiness.
definitive realization of such a goal possible.
Rosicrucian Tradition has always taught that Although suffering is a means of
this goal is to achieve the state of Perfection evolution, it is not compulsory in the process
Rosicrucian which the Christs of the greatest religions of of initiation. It is true that the experiences
Digest the world have achieved upon Earth and that ensue are initiatory in nature, but the
No. 1 which Rosicrucians call the Rose-Croix state. reason they are so is because of the increased
Page 52
awareness they create within us, and not What is emphasized throughout the
because of the fact that we experience them as Rosicrucian teachings is the importance of
suffering. To think otherwise would be practicing exercises geared to developing
tantamount to saying that people must psychic centers. However, this is not done
necessarily experience war so as to learn that strictly with the goal of acquiring certain
they are happiest when they live in peace. mystical powers, even though it is true that
It is easy to understand that if the Cosmic they contribute much to it. First of all, such
had decreed that we should experience every exercises enable each of us to experience our
possible kind of suffering to become initiated own conscious duality and to prove to ourselves
into the great truths of existence, it would that we are definitely body and soul, matter
have thereby decided to make self-destruction and anti-matter, substance and essence.
the fundamental principle of evolution. Such In connection with this, psychic
an idea is absurd, for it is contrary to the projection, as presented by the Ancient and
basically constructive nature of natural and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, is primarily
universal laws. We see, therefore, that those intended to reveal the state of consciousness
who make physical and mental crucifixion which we experience when our psychic body
the basis of initiation are in complete is separated from our physical body. Such a
contradiction with the overall plan of state of consciousness enables the individual
Creation. Their error lies in the fact that they experiencing it to contemplate the realms of
try to apply a mystical state (on an objective the soul without having to endure the
plane) which can only be experienced on the limitations of the body. This does not mean
spiritual plane and solely by those who have that the psychic self and the spiritual self are
attained Christ Consciousness. entirely the same and that when we experience
The State of Consciousness Through one we necessarily experience the other. This
Mystical Initiation means that any projection experiment initiates
us into the existence of the soul, for the psychic
It remains now to define the state of body is an emanation of our soul essence,
consciousness which we must seek to whether it is inside or outside the physical
experience from this moment on, through body. Therefore, it is impossible to experience
mystical initiation. As previously stated, our consciously a separation between the physical
goal is not to achieve the Rose-Croix state, and psychic selves without being initiated
because we are still too far removed from it into the cosmic reality of the spiritual self.
in our present incarnation. Rather, the
desired state consists in having a conscious Ancient Egyptian Initiation Culminates
awareness of our soul— in other words, of in Initiatory Projection
our spiritual identity. The ancient Egyptians understood this,
We all know that a soul essence permeates and that is why the initiations enacted in their
all of our cells and makes us into living and temples included a culminating phase when
conscious entities. Yet simply knowing this is candidates experienced initiatory death—that
not enough for us to reach the heights of is, projection. Such an experience caused
mystical fulfillment. We must experience it and these candidates to experience a conscious
be able to live consciously in this essence, separation between their physical body and
independent of our objective faculties. Therefore, their psychic body, thus enabling them to
I believe that the first mystical initiation acquire the intellectual and emotional
Rosicrucians must prepare themselves to receive certainty that they were truly a spiritual entity
is the one which enables them to see and feel incarnated into a material individuality.
themselves no longer as a body animated with a Everything was planned so that this initiatory
soul, but as a soul animating a body. death and the ensuing symbolical rebirth
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would remain forever engraved in their mind to receive is the one that will enable them to
and emotions. experience their soul, with a clear conscience
Here we see the origin of mystical and full knowledge of the facts, in the silence
initiation, inspired by the Rosicrucian of their sanctum or any other place
definition, as was discussed at the beginning conducive to cosmic attunement.
of this chapter. Once the Initiates had Nevertheless, it is obvious that such an
regained awareness of their mortal body, experience, however significant it may be,
forever marked by what they had seen in the does not constitute the summum bonum of
kingdom of immortality, they felt impelled the initiatory process which we are following
by a desire to objectify to the fullest degree under the auspices of our Order. We must
the state of consciousness they had acquire mastery over it afterwards and be
experienced. From that day forward, their able to repeat it as often as we wish, for it is
initiation became the anchor of their life, and impossible to someday achieve the Rose-
secretly, deep within their soul, they knew Croix state if we have not learned how to act
that mysticism would bring to them the as easily on the spiritual plane as on the
revelation of the mystery of mysteries. material plane. The perfect Initiates I have
just described have attained this mastery and
The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae
thereafter work on the level of cosmic causes,
Crucis is the traditional repository of the
whereas when it comes to us, we only act
Egyptian mysteries and the initiatory path we
upon the earthly effects.
must follow to have access to them. This path
has been set forth by all the Initiates who, Some will say that such beings do not
with the passing of the centuries, have exist, that they have never seen them, that they
bequeathed to the Order the fruit of all the are only the product of an imagination that
efforts they have put forth so as to make draws from the unreal the strength to support
mystical initiation something tangible and an overly weighty reality. To those people, I
transmissible. These Initiates were not all shall simply answer: There are none so blind as
perfect and did not pretend to be so, but those who do not want to see and none so deaf
some among them have become perfect, for as those who do not want to hear.
we cannot spend lifetimes in sowing seeds of
Light for others without one day picking the The Rose-Croix Bequeath Knowledge
rose of our own Illumination. Through Illumination
Those Initiates are similar to the Rose- Rosicrucians are convinced of the existence
Croix and are now an integral part of what of these Rose-Croix, for they have bequeathed
is traditionally called the Great White Lodge. to us all the knowledge they have gained
In addition to the great work they are doing through Illumination. From the intellectual
in serving the collective soul of humanity, standpoint, we rediscover in the teachings of
they are also the custodians of the the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis
Rosicrucian Tradition. This cosmic mission all the knowledge they have accumulated on
was not imposed upon them. They how cosmic and natural laws work within all
voluntarily chose it, for, by having made the of Creation. From an emotional standpoint,
Rosicrucian ideal the foundation of most of they have bequeathed to us the splendor of our
their earthly incarnations, they are the most convocation and initiation rituals. Lastly, they
qualified to ensure that this ideal remains in have bestowed upon us the right, the power,
all its pristine purity and is accessible to all and the duty to attune with the cosmic planes
seekers of goodwill. where they are situated.
Digest As I stated earlier, the first great initiation The preceding remarks now lead me to
No. 1 that Rosicrucians must prepare themselves define what the Supreme Initiation is, towards
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which each Rosicrucian is heading. As adepts who will make us a Rose-Croix, this is none
of the Rose-Croix, we all belong to an Order other than our Inner Master, and the Supreme
that, since the day that our Earth was initiated Officers who will serve this Inner Master will
into the Primordial Tradition, constitutes one wear upon their hearts the symbol of all the
of the visible organizations to which the virtues that we shall have demonstrated in the
Invisible Masters of the Great White Lodge world of humans. However, prior to receiving
constantly lend their support and inspiration. this wondrous Initiation, each of us must
The Supreme Initiation which we can and understand and realize that Rosicrucians,
must receive during one of our incarnations throughout the incarnations they devote to
will elevate us from the status of a Rosicrucian their mystical ideal, are at once the neophyte,
to that of a Master of the Great White Lodge. the initiator, and the initiate within the
Having reached this state of consciousness, triangle of their own birth, life, and death.
we shall understand that all traditional I shall close this chapter with a translation
movements are indeed only different crosses of the inscription on the tomb of Amenhotep,
upon which the same rose must unfold. We High Priest of Amon during the reign of
shall become one with Cosmic Harmony and Thutmose III, a pharaoh who played an
from the plane of consciousness that shall be essential role in our Order’s traditional origins.
ours, we will receive the power to express it I hope with all of my heart and soul that the
upon Earth. The overall plan of Creation will day will come when each of you will rediscover
be revealed to us and we shall know the yourself as you read these words of wisdom:
ecstasy of those who think, speak, and act in
the name of God and for the welfare of “I was named second Prophet and I was
humanity as a whole. able to contemplate the Holiness of the
Master of the Gods; with my initiation, I
The Temple in the Depth of our Being
have known all mysteries because every portal
The Temple in which we shall one day has opened before me. The Guardians have
receive this Supreme Initiation does not guided my steps to allow me to catch a
belong to this world. It lies within the very glimpse of God, for sincere was my mouth
depths of our being, for it is within this and skillful were my fingers until the time
Human Temple that the Ark of the Covenant, came for me to lie down in the tomb.”
which has never ceased to unite humanity
with our Creator, rests forever. As for the one So Mote It Be!

Mural in the Grand Temple, Rosicrucian Park, San Jose, CA.

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osicrucians have always been I resolve, to survive the wilderness
fascinated by Egypt, the font of our And set the captive free
spiritual lineage. Below are some From the fear that binds the self to –
Rosicrucian reminiscences of the Two inconstancy
Lands, from the Nineteenth through the I cast my eyes above
Twentieth centuries. Tomorrows promise, I seize today
A red sky burned over Egypt, —red with For visions fade, and autumn shades
deep intensity of spreading fire. The slow- Those who sleep
creeping waters of the Nile washed patches of On Lotus Land.4
dull crimson against the oozy mud banks, —Mary E. McRae Reed, S.R.C.
tipping palms and swaying reeds with color as
though touched with vermilion, and here and
there long stretches of wet sand gleamed with

As ever, Egypt points past curiosity,
a tawny gold.1
compelling the individual to move from the
—Marie Corelli, S.R.C.
shadow’s reflections to Light. . . . Yearning has

The sacred dung beetle was believed to be
yielded to knowing. Egypt’s melodies and
rhythms now evoke gnosis, allowing Egypt
and the individual to be One, living in
capable of self generation. The self-fertilized eggs stillness beyond words. The journey home
were packed into a ball of manure, rolled across begins and ends in Egypt.
the sand toward the rising sun and in due time a —Kathy Coon, S.R.C.
metamorphosis would occur and new life would
emerge. . . .Thus the scarab became the symbol
for the soul that transformed itself through the

cycle of evolution.2 The day before we returned home
This journey of evolution is the course we…went into the second pyramid,
that every soul must navigate. Hatschepsut, Khafre’s. We went into the burial vault
the fifth king of the 18th dynasty, was the first chamber and there were only a few
to publicly record the scarab on her tomb quiet people there. And I wondered, I
walls in its transformational role in the wondered—who built the Pyramids?
Egyptian book of the afterlife which is called I felt a strong urge to put my hands and
the Am-Duat.3 I encountered this powerful forehead on the chamber wall and so I did.
text in the tomb of her successor, Thutmose And then I said to myself mentally, “Who are
III, and it was through this ancient story that you? Who built this place? And then a voice
the course for my evolution was charted. in my head answered, “Welcome Back.”
—Debby Barrett, S.R.C. —Vic Zeller, F.R.C.

1 Marie Corelli [Mary Mackay], The Secret Power (Garden City, (New York: Abbeville Press, 1996), 116.
NY: Doubleday, 1924). Corelli, a Rosicrucian, was an immensely 3Erik Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, trans.
Rosicrucian popular author at the turn of the last century. David Lorton (New York: Cornell University Press, 1999), 27.
Digest 2 Maria Carmela Betro, Hieroglyphics: The Writings of 4 Mary E. McRae Reed, excerpt from “The Journey,”
No. 1 Ancient Egypt, ed. Leslie J. Bockol, trans. S. Amanda George unpublished poem, 2005.
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Horus Raises a Ladder to Heaven, by Victoria Franck Wetsch, S.R.C.

Ancient Egypt, by James Collins, F.R.C.

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