May, 2007

 

Mythic Prelude:

 

The Beautiful Meeting

 

Greetings and blessings, and welcome to the lusty, juicy, merry month of May. The top of this month has always been charged with festivity, as you know, as it comes right on the ancient mid-spring feast of Beltaine, when people in the northern hemisphere, especially in Eurasia, celebrate the resurgence of sap, sperm, milk and every other happy liquid there is at the time when meadows and people who like to roll in the wild thyme are bouncing back to life. We are now in the most sensuous middle decan (10-day slot) of the month that was sacred to Aphrodite and to Het-Hor, or Hathor, the netert of birth and beauty, music and love, long before western astronomers at the end of the Age of Aries began to devalue the month's true identity in the fertility of the Cow, and chose to emphasize instead the muscle and stamina of Taurus the Bull. But Venus will not be resisted, and that is why her dignity as ruler of this month comes back into our active memory now. And the more ancient and profound ancestor of the Venus myth, the sacred marriage of the couple best known to us as Hathor and Horus, begins to reclaim its potency.
It has to, if we are to solve and move through the real reason why most love relationships don't work. They fail because human beings lack the self-esteem, or the courage, or the will to balance each other positively. What typically happens is that the lovers' initial surge of joy and passion starts to empower both, and then . . . the fear sets in. The bliss all seems much too good to last, and soon one of the lovers begins to reverse course. As one continues to get more empowered, the other tries to balance him or her negatively in games of control, possessiveness, neediness and the other poses and games that come on the way to the intolerable, suffocating vacuum of victimhood. It's a mysterious business. Naturally, we wonder why more couples don't work at empowering each other, and stepping into their power together. We can guess why. One doesn't have to be Gurdjieff to imagine that if one human being will do almost anything to avoid committing himself to his best possibilities and making the effort to realize them, then two human beings may work half as hard, and sleep twice as deep.
So one of the less explored veins in our universal mythic mine is not notably popular because it's about how we work for what we want, rather than try to get it for free from a nutcracker prince, a magic fish or a genie in a lamp. If stories of patient individual effort are less than compelling to many of us, then the stories about how couples can empower and renew one another may be the rarest of all. They may be among the most sobering signs that in the millennia since we created our first civilizations in the matriarchies of the Taurean Age, we have forgotten, compromised and shrunk from claiming our capacities even more sadly than most of us know, so that in the last 6,000 years we have contracted from singing about How We Will to talking about Why We Can't.
It is obvious to you and me that the changes we seek to bring about on our planet through concerted intention and loving proaction will require that we become bigger, or at least that we shed fear and excuses, and see ourselves -- all of us, each one of us -- as far more capable and medicinal than we'd dared to suppose. "Genius," Henri Bergson wrote about a century ago, "is that which forces the inertia of humanity to learn." He also said, "The universe is a machine for making gods." We are not only about to discover what he meant -- but we will also soon be learning how the gears and switches work, as we're responsible for using the Age of Aquarius for everyone's best advantage. "It's our role," as the late hero comedian Bill Hicks put it.
So our purpose on this page is to look at a mythic model from ancient Khemt that was even more immediate and compelling, and more joyous too, than the legend of Aset and Ausar -- aka Isis and Osiris -- as told on this site in the holistic theatre play When It Rained in Egypt. From here on we'll use the better-known Greek names of these neters, for simplicity's sake. For more on the neters, and other special suf vocabulary from the indigenous Nile culture of Khemt that preceded and still resonates under the European invention of "Egypt," see The Scarab Appears.
Isis, Osiris and their son Horus were Khemt's great national mythic cycle, celebrated every year in ritual plays all long the Nile valley. Their story may be the seminal myth in all of Western literature, echoing throughout the Judeo-Christian Bible and ever since. It celebrated the crucial event that kept the country alive, in the miracle of the Nile flood that deposited every year a new layer of rich black land that made Khemt famous everywhere as the very symbol of fertility and abundance. But as famed and compelling as the Isis-Osiris story was and still is, the annual marriage rites in which Hathor and Horus renewed their vitality and reconsecrated their love were Khemt's biggest, most-awaited, happiest festivals. They spoke, after all, to questions that are far closer to most of us right now than the timing or force of the Nile flood, or whether Osiris will accept me into eternal life when I die. What all the people really want to know is: How will I find someone to love, or get along better with the one I have? The women ask, Will Hathor help me have a smooth, happy birth? The men wonder, How can I soar and swoop like Horus, at least in the eyes of the one I love?
The boat journeys that Hathor and Horus took to see and embrace one another were not to be missed, and drew a huge, eager crowd of everyone within the 160 km between Iunet (better known as Dendera) and Djeba (Edfu). This piece of a map created by Egypt My Way is of special interest, as all the place names are in the indigenous suf language rather than Greek or Arabic. As we can see, the cult centers of Hathor to the north in Iunet/Dendera and Horus to the south at Djeba/Edfu are about the same distance from Waset, now called Luxor, where the great bend in the river
makes it more navigable as it curves and slows before it accelerates again toward Abedju, the great Osiris center that is far more famous under its Greek name of Abydos.
When it was time for one of the lovers to visit the other, the priests moved the neter's statue from the shrine at the the innermost wall of the sanctuary (at rear in this picture) to a small boat-shaped portable shrine like this one at Edfu, with Horus' image on the prow. Then they carried it, in the year's biggest procession, through a throng of devotees and a near-riot of song, color and lotus petals to a larger, river-worthy boat. They extended ropes fore and aft, and the journey began. The boat did not sail out in the deep stream, but was pulled by people walking on
the river bank and wading through shallow water, so that the boat moved as close to the shore as it could go without running aground. At the end of the ride, the visiting neter would be borne to the shrine of his or her beloved. The room would be ritually sealed like a bridal chamber, and the Beautiful Meeting would begin as the lovers spent their first night doing what comes neterly. It was understood by all the people who had sung and praised the pilgrim lover on his or her way that even though this marriage had been consummated countless times before, and had thereby blessed the Black Land and its people with new life, the lovers always had, as few mortal couples do, the creativity and playfulness to see and feel each Beautiful Meeting as their first.
The next day, the visiting lover's statue would be taken back to the river boat for the journey home. Thus each Beautiful Meeting was a three-act festival of arrival, wedding night and departure. The round trip of some 320 km through crowds in and near the water took weeks, if not a month or more, especially on the return leg, when everyone -- young people seeking a mate, couples praying for a child and for the neters' help in growing their children healthy and strong -- would want to touch the boat and take their turn on the ropes. The main draw was always the spectacular part of the rite when the boats of both lovers sailed together -- note the miniature boat inside its enclosure on each boat -- as shown below in this worn wall relief from Edfu. While the prow figureheads in both boats are marred by seams between the stone blocks, the images on the stern (Horus in the left boat, just left of the picture's center, and Hathor with cow's horns at the right edge) are easy to make out.
No one thought for a moment, while they were all watching these boat journeys and helping them along, that for weeks on end, not much "useful" work was getting done. The people of Khemt had nothing but time when the river was in flood, and no one could work the soil until the waters began to recede. Besides, the Beautiful Meeting was the main job at hand, as couples intended and planted their new offspring. That's why the birth rate was so always so high in the following mid-spring, after the last harvest was brought in before the start of the dry season. To a visitor from some colder, more sober country -- we can imagine how darkly Spartans would have glared at all this merriment -- the weeks leading to and back from the Beautiful Meeting might have looked as wild and silly as college spring break in Florida does today. But to the Khemitians, there was method and the motion of life itself in this time when it only seemed that there was little to do but drink beer, make music, flirt, fondle and dream of the one who is Horus or Hathor to me.
And no wonder they had such vivid imaginations. Hathor, holding here the sistrum whose enchanting bell-like tone induced deep meditative states, is as beautiful and irresistible as the river. And Horus, even if he rarely appears in human form, is sure to be a man as majestic as he is when we usually see him as a falcon-headed man, or in the animal forms shown here: as the Bull of His Mother, the powerful male
counterpart to Hathor as Cow netert, and the solar falcon -- the Greeks identified him with Apollo -- whose power to soar upward and strike down as fast as thought itself embodies the strategic vision and instant decisiveness that the ideal warrior is supposed to have.
These, at least, are the basic elements that we shall focus on here, for spiritual and practical purposes in May of 2007. Both of these ancient lovers, adored for over 3,000 years in their main centers of worship, and adopted into the panthea of countless places in and beyond Khemt before the Greeks started to call it Egypt, appeared in many forms and relationships. The Horus we look at here is more properly called Horwer, that is, "Horus the Elder," as different from the younger Horus who was born from the union of Isis and Osiris, grew up to avenge his father's murder and restore his realm to harmony and abundance, and, in his "double crown" -- for more on this see the link between the pictures above -- was the model and protector of each living ruler of the country. The original Horwer, revered long before Khemt united and expanded into an empire in the "New Kingdom," is one of the five who are often called "epagonal" neters -- Isis, Osiris, Set, "Old" Horus and Nephthys -- because their birthdays were celebrated in the days just before the Nile flood was expected to begin. Together, they were thus the fulcrum of each new year, renewing and releasing its rhythm of birth and westing --not "death" -- creation and destruction, order and chaos.
As we see in her name Het-hor, the "House of Hor" Hathor can't really be said to have been more primordial than her consort, Horwer. Yet her worship was far more widespread in ancient times. This image, captured by Kauakea Winston at Dendera, hints why. Her cow's ears, like the cow's horns in her best-known image, mark her as a netert from early in the matriarchal era, before the Age of the Cow got flexed
into the Age of the Bull. Her core role, among many others, is as the netert of birth, whose images appear in mammisi, or birth chapels, all over the country. Not that the actual births were done in these places -- see Water Birth for more on this -- but mothers did come to these sanctuaries of the sacred feminine to pray for a safe, easy birth under the protection of what the Greeks later called the Hept Hetheru -- the Seven Hathors. Their number expressed the seven phases of the gestation process, as the Khemitians saw it, the seven tones of the musical scale based on the octave, the seven doors of perception in the human head, and much else. This is why it may be more useful to think of Hathor as someone very much like the Maha Devi as the Hindus know her. As Isis, she is the infinitely fertile, nurturing mother. As the leonine Sekhmet, she is a terrifying killer, much like Kali, whose special role is to protect women from sexual violence, and punish the men who perpetrate it. As Ma'at, she serenely maintains universal balance and order. As Seshat, she numbers history and harvests in the notches of her palm stalk. As Merit, she conducts the sounds of the whole cosmos. And so on. And on. The role that concerns us most here is the one that led the Greeks and Romans to identify her as Aphrodite/Venus, the icon of ideal, youthful beauty activated in erotic as well as spiritual love, and expressing itself in both music and theatre, which were performed on floating platforms within the enclosure of the sacred lake at Dendera.
Both the per-ba, or "temples" that we explore here, in Dendera and Edfu, were reportedly built, or largely reconstructed, late in the very long run of the ancient Khemitian culture. All of the extant buildings at Dendera date from the reign of Nectanebo II in the middle of the 4th century BC through the time of the Roman emperor Tiberius (14 - 37 AD). But both per-ba are far more ancient. There is evidence that Pepi I built at Dendera in about 2250 BC; and Ptolemy III, from the last "Macedonian" dynasty to rule Egypt after Alexander, claimed that the design he aimed to realize at Edfu had been created by none other than the great Imhotep, who is said to have created the magnificent healing complex at Saqqara in the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.
One thing we can suppose, as none of the other per-ba in Egypt have it, is that the unusual design feature these two per-ba share was meant to affirm their special linkage and the eternal love bond between the lady of Dendera and the lord of Edfu. As we see in this detail of a Dendera plan from the website of the Osiris Programme, the central passage, which leads from north to south through the hypostyle hall (top) to the central shrine, is flanked by two stairways. At left, to the west, the square "ascending" stairs turn at right angles, to the left. At right, to the east, the long "descending" staircase leads from the southeast corner of the upper storey back down to the main floor. While the reliefs in both stairways hold lyrics and perhaps even the actual music of Hathor hymns, so that they would have been visited and studied through the year by her devotees, the rite that was enacted each year along the
circuit of the stairways was central to the ceremonial cycles honoring Hathor and Horus, and, in the hearts of the people, was as necessary as breath to the health of the entire Nile valley. At dawn each New Year's day -- that is, on the day when Sopdet (Sirius) rose just before the Sun on the eastern horizon, and thereby heralded the next revitalizing inundation
of her majesty the river, the image of the neter or netert (adding a t to the end of a suf noun makes it female) would be carried up the west stairs, as shown here at Edfu. Hathor, playing sistra in both her hands, marks the rhythm and tone for all the neters who precede and follow her. All are looking backward at Horus, who walks in the place of honor to the rear. It is essential that the beat and the key of each step be marked by the only one who can be entrusted with it, for she is not only his true beloved, but also the one who feels and knows most deeply the pulse and tuning of the whole world. When the Divine One reaches the roof, he or she will spend the day communing with the New Year Sun, getting filled and charged again with its power, then come back down the east stairs after sunset to bless the life of all beings on Earth, and get ready for the next Beautiful Meeting that will come in a few weeks.
All exciting enough, and even logical, for those who want things to make sense. But we still don't know how to answer the intriguing questions that remain. Why didn't the Khemitians just build two long stairways on either side of the per-ba, since they seemed to like symmetry in all things, and it would have been much easier for them to carry a neter's image up a long, straight staircase than around the corners of the west staircase? Why the square spiral? And why did it turn to the left? Once answer that immediately occurs to the last question, though there is no way to prove yet any conscious connection, is that Sufi dervishes turn to the left because the heart is to the left of the body's central chakra axis, so that when we spin to the left, we are turning on the heart, and it is much easier to surrender all thoughts of technique or control, much less any fear that one will fall over.
There may be a clue in the way the falcon soars and strikes without ever seeming to spend any effort on the way up or down. The falcon finds thermals, if there are any, and uses them to fly in an ever-widening spiral as he searches for prey. He can even fly out so far from his starting point that he may not be able to find it easily again. This is why falconers, as we read in Yeats' The Second Coming and Rumi's The King's Falcon, trained the bird to come home to a drum or some other sound. The sight of a falcon hitting its prey can be terrifying the first time one sees it. The predator does not work his wings to gain speed, but falls from above his target, using gravity and the sleek contours of his body to drop straight down to an impact so violent that it's hard to imagine that any solid flesh or sinew can be left inside the cloud of feathers where the victim used to be. Anyone who tells you he has never found the sight unnerving is not someone you want as a mate or business partner.
So the falcon's upward "widening gyre" and shockingly direct line of downward attack may have some relevance to the stairway design in Horus' per-ba at Edfu. But how does it apply to Hathor and Dendera? The general ideas always present themselves at once. As everyone knows, we tend to think that feminine thought and action are indirect and circular, while males are more linear and direct. And our legends are full of divine and angelic beings who come straight down to touch the Earth and her people, then curve back up to the sky. One intriguing model of how the spiral-and-straight line pattern could relate to Hathor too is shown here from The Hathor Material, which Tom Kenyon first channeled ten years ago, and communicated with the help of Virginia Essene.
Whoa. Does it seem to you, as we've been talking about circular flights, that we're now about to lose all contact with the physical and cultural evidence, and the ground itself, as we wing our way toward a neter ex machina finish? I sympathize -- but I'm probably more skeptical about these things than you are, having heard by now, especially in Hawaii, my share of people who say they're voicing Metatron, but can't tell a tetrahedron from a croissant, or claim to be channeling a Scottish sea captain, but would likely have trouble navigating the way to the new releases aisle at Blockbuster video. We consider these things case-by-case, depending on how authentic they sound and feel to us, and how relevant to our situation.
The Hathors, who described themselves when they first came through Mr. Kenyon as a collective mind linking millions of individuals, have continued to speak through him, most recently in a message from last month announcing a Planetary Creatrix gathering to be held July 6 - 8 in Seattle. They have said repeatedly that they are among many extraterrestrial beings who gather here to observe, now and in the years just ahead, how human beings will use, if we do, this unique moment in cosmic evolution. As the Hathors see it, nothing like this has ever happened. The spiritual opportunity could not be greater -- nor could the difficulty of nailing it. Humanity has it within our reach now not merely to receive greater spiritual capacity like a purse on a plate from some generous deity "above" ourselves, as a reward for having suffered enough to "earn" it. We are now able to move beyond our obsolete, disempowering notions of pain as the price of our "fallen" nature, as we get ready to make the brave, proactive move to climb out of our cave in a collective act of awareness, intention and love.
If the widening audience for Mr. Kenyon's work as both channel and master of sound healing is anything to go by, then the Hathor material is worth another listen now.
The Hathors' Spiral of Ascension is a simplified view of what they actually see as four spirals, all moving up from corners that symbolize our four essential areas of relationship: with our physical bodies, other human beings, our activities of work and service, and the four elements of fire, air, water and earth. The Hathors are emphatic in reminding us that unless we're engaged in all four of these fields, then we can't achieve liftoff, and we stay pinned to the Earth by the area(s) we neglect, or resist. Unlike the falcon's widening upward spiral, the Hathors' four spirals converge at a central point that we can imagine as moving upward toward infinity as we keep ascending into greater clarity and capacity. It's one possible model for the way the universe can create gods, if the Hathors have the same basic idea that Bergson did.
How is this relevant to us? Do we dare imagine that we can ever live beyond the physical law that what goes up must come down? Will the years ahead offer us ways to refine our skills in flying up to get a wider view our terrain, then coming down again to apply our new visions in practical action on the Earth? Very likely, especially in the momentous summer of 2010.
What to do now? Establish links with others, as Venus and Hathor always guide us to do. The first linkages are with like-minded people, who are far more numerous than we know. Paul Hawken has just published in Orion an article about the millions of new environmental, social, and other progressive, activist groups that are now working, growing and connecting, and will transform our planet faster than anyone imagines once they find each other.
Next, we work also, as always, on the linkages between head and heart. As seems to happen uncannily in the daily free bits of spiritual teaching from Prosveta Publishing, Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov's message from April 28 pertains to the journeys by and through water, and to divine marriages between Hathor and Horus, and all couples, and within ourselves:
"It is interesting to study the chemical formula for water (H2O) from a symbolic point of view. Oxygen (O) represents the masculine principle, hydrogen (H2) the feminine principle, and water is their child. Within us, oxygen is the intellect and hydrogen the heart. The intellect, the masculine principle, is one thing; the heart, the feminine principle, is another. They can live separately side by side, but unless they are united they cannot produce water, which is life. Everywhere we see this separation between heart and intellect: in marriages where the husband and wife endlessly argue, in society where people of the intellect battle people of the heart, and especially within human beings themselves, whose thoughts go in one direction and feelings in another. What can you do to unite heart and intellect? You must introduce fire, like the spark which unites oxygen and hydrogen, but true fire, the fire of the spirit. United by this fire, the heart and the intellect give birth to children, in other words, to acts of great wisdom and goodness."
The third linkages, if they're not already cooking and humming, are between our voices and our intentions, as we keep using frequencies of sound to raise frequencies of feeling -- another essential skill on which the Hathors have much to say. Sound ceremonies proliferate, as you know. A good one is coming on May 13: the Global Joyous Ceremony planned by Marisol Mora in Spain, Daniel Brower of Circle of Sound -- he comes to Egypt this month to do a Sacred Sound Circle with me on May 19 -- and a number of others, including the Cosmic Clown Society, all united in the intention of pure joy, with goofy elements in the mix as well. While there is little goofiness in Horus -- at least publicly, outside the Beautiful Meeting -- there is certainly some in Hathor, as was clear to those who built her chapel in the per-ba at Philae.
She will certainly be invited to the party, and will likely be there, as she always is when good will unites people in celebrations of music, beauty and love. The time, the whole month, for tuning to joy is here. Keep Holding That Frequency.

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 Copyright 2007 Dan Furst. All Rights Reserved.