Apophis: Snakes in Your Brain

Ramona Louise Wheeler

Apophis is the Great Serpent, lord of all snakes and father of dragons. He is both the adversary of Rae and the towrope which keeps the Sunship moving. A safe voyage is possible only when Apophis is under control. In other words, you need your brain.

Distractions are everywhere. Snakes, sand pits, fires, sharp blades, wild wind, flash floods and darkness threaten each move. The Egyptians used these images as metaphors for emotional pain — fear, grief, anger, depression, indecision, dread, anxiety, remorse, guilt, lack of will, loss of confidence, even nightmares. These are the same dangers you face, no matter how modern or educated you are.

The Objective View

The issue of how much actual neurobiology the ancient Egyptians knew is not applicable to this metaphor. The ancients studied the experience of being human, the universals of life. Their view was subjective, a view which the modern world considers invalid. Only our objective, scientific view of the human brain and human behavior has validity, with one exception: consciousness. Our most powerful imaging machines have not yet located consciousness nor defined its source. We can shut consciousness down, or alter it. We can trace the electrical path of Rae’s movement through the brain. We cannot create consciousness. We can only experience it.

The Subjective View

Modern studies in brain biology do not remove the need for metaphorical imagery to explain and define the individual experience of consciousness. This is the territory of the ancient Egyptians and their astonishing creativity with metaphor, in images and words, for the experience of being alive and awake.

These metaphors were based on the shared experiences of their daily lives, which explains the plethora of animal imagery woven in among the Naytures and demons. In our modern times, scientists are using the metaphor of the computer — your body is the hardware and the activity of your brain runs on its software. There is a third portion of this whole, however — the user. That is a modern trinity  hardware, software and user. User, that’s you. The computer is a properly modern metaphor of humankind’s understanding of itself. Each of us is born the way a computer comes into the world — you have the same basic hardware as everyone else, variations provided by brand and model. Once born/manufactured, you acquire your software and “bells and whistles” from your parents/end users, your environment, education and society. You “upgrade” yourself through education and experiences throughout your life.

That metaphor can be carried out into considerable detail. Computers are, after all, wholly of human creation. We made them in our own image. It’s all part of learning to be human. How well you interface with a computer for your own use can also be a metaphor for your conscious interaction with your brain.

Today’s computer programmers are the direct descendants of shaman, magicians, witches, wizards and epic heroes of every era and nation. Magic must be studied and learned, taught by masters, memorizing the jargon of the spirits and elements. The education takes years. Magic is accomplished by precise recitations of words in a precise setting, with the mage’s tools and equipment precisely in place.

The computer programmer must study and learn from masters, memorizing the jargon of machine code and algorithm. The education takes years. The wonders which the computer have brought us, from weather tracking to Super Mario, are accomplished by the use of precise recitations of codes applied to the appropriate equipment.