Netjer is the word for a god, pronounced like nature, a modern concept with similar nuance, as in "Mother Nature." The icon for a god is a flag on a pole, spread out by the breeze. A flag is the inanimate animated by invisible force; in other words, the wind uses flags to dance just as Osiris uses flesh to dance. The Horus falcon perched on a flagpole is also an icon for a god, a sacred presence descended from the sky at the call of a human voice.

The earliest known Egyptian temples had flag poles standing in front, and flags were a welcome sight in that world, visible from a distance as signal of human activity in a dying landscape. The first flags were the skulls and skins of animal totems mounted atop trees, and the flag pole itself goes back to the days of living beneath an open sky, when you used a tree or pole as the center of the family dwelling. This grew into the story of the Pole Star upon which the tent of the sky was hung and around which the world turned. Icons on the pole identified the family within, and upon that identification, the names of the gods were made.

Every god is within me and I say the name.

The nature of Duat and its presence, forces and influences in spacetime comprise the value of the Egyptian term netjer in all its grammatical forms, which is why demons, devils and ghosts were also identified as netjer; Egyptians understood the source of these beings, and they knew how to use a metaphor.

The gods reflect the personalities of the specific groups they served, thus each town and province had their own variations. Just as the pharaoh had five names, each one an aspect of his multi-faceted and time-factored identity, the gods had many names, each an aspect of their functions and powers. These names or aspects sometimes evolved into separate entities, but the people understood the variations as metaphors for the nature of Duat, thus they were able to evolve and adapt the attributes. Over time, these groups merged with the national identity and were more formally acknowledged as analogs to the national gods.

By whatever names, however, from predynastic times until Roman emperors decreed their final end, Re, Horus, Osiris and Isis were the supreme gods of the Nile, and their stories reigned in the hearts of every citizen. The calendar by which Egypt organized everything was patterned around the life and death of Osiris, in other words, around your life story, magnified into a national celebration of the comforts of their civilized world, sharing the abundance of the Nile in regular festivals with food, beer, song, dance and all the wonderful human intrigue involved in such relaxed and happily anticipated public events.

The gods and goddesses of the Nile are among the oldest and best documented of the ancient world. Their ancientness has made them attractive in modern times; we feel their compelling humanity even as we are amazed by their strangeness. Their art, icons and poetry radiate an emotional magic that activates our deepest potentials and focuses our intentions. Surely the people’s personal superstitions were no different from our own; they feared what we fear: loneliness, boredom, pain, depression, despair, grief, rage, delusion, madness. They wanted what we want: love, family, friends, pleasure, entertainment, position, respect, peace of mind.

In their own metaphors, they tell us what their gods meant to them and that they are archetypes of maaty personified. For example, Osiris is the nature of the soul’s mysterious substance; Re is the mysterious nature of consciousness; Isis is the nature of love, the soul’s bonding integrity; Horus is the nature of the ego, and Suty is the nature of the unconscious, and so forth. These images spring out of universal human nature and, at the same time, they show the personal natures of the people and are vibrant with the living energy of their times. Egypt’s art has the breath of naturalism, yet shows clearly the nature of their fascination with abstract expression.

In the ancient view, humankind was born as a function of the universe itself. We sculpted the land to our bidding, chiseled deep into bedrock for hidden tombs and reached up to the sky with solid stone. Even the muddy deluge of the Nile was shaped by human hands into the fertile lands and bounty of an empire.

The "religion" of Egypt revolves around the love of man and woman for each other, their devotion to their children, their families, their life under the Sun. There is strife, betrayal, even murder in these stories, but they are still human stories, imbued with the magic of eternity. These are the gods of Egypt.

What’s in the Box?

Whether hieroglyphics or cuneiform is the original form of our earliest writing is a matter of serious debate, and new data is found regularly that tilts the answer to one side, then to the other. There is no debate, however, that the earliest known illustrated writing is from ancient Egypt, in The Pyramid Texts. From their earliest days, they used literary and visual imagery woven together to illuminate and to define deeply abstract concepts; as a result, much of their art was diagrammatic, not just artistic. Egyptian mysticism is grounded in a system for defining categories of being and inner experience and, even though their terms translate into modern languages only with lengthy explanations, the many faces of their gods and goddesses resolve into your human face: Face and Head of My Heart.

Egyptians used the idiom ki jed to acknowledge metaphorical language, a phrase which translates directly as other word. This idiom, as well as the phrases Who then is this? What then is this? were poetic devices, organizing and enlivening their writing. Ki jed is translated here using our own, similar idiom, in other words. Egyptians met their gods in their dreams and used dreamlike metaphor in every aspect of their writing and art. This is both the heart of their allure and the mystery that informs their intention. Their sophisticated and evolving system of mythological metaphors were vital to the maintenance of their unique cultural identity, despite changes of politics, madness and war.

A singularly important visual metaphor is one met with often and dismissed as merely artistic style: "This is the box; this is what is inside the box." This visual template guided them from first to last; shrines, tables, boxes, altars and especially gods and humans are shown in side view with the contents displayed above. This simple convention illuminates a mystery: the solar orb atop the head is not the Sun up in the day sky, but Re inside the head.

Who then is this?
It is Re, the designer of the name of his flesh.
Existence is evolved by the gods in the Company of Re.
I am without denial among the gods.

The issue of how much actual neurobiology the ancient Egyptians knew is not applicable to this system of metaphor; they studied the experience of being human and the universals of that individual experience. Their view was largely subjective, which our modern world considers invalid, and our objective, scientific view of the human brain and human behavior is quite valid, with one singular exception—consciousness. Our most powerful imaging machines have neither located consciousness nor defined its absolute source. We can alter consciousness and even shut it down, but we can neither create it nor transfer it. We can only experience it, and modern studies in brain biology will never change the need for metaphorical imagery to explain and define the nature of that experience.

This is the territory of the ancient Egyptians and their astonishing creativity with metaphor, in images and words, for the experience of being alive. They thought and wrote about these mysteries as much as we do, they just used imagery from a different template.

Re: Inside the Box

The solar orb of Re was added to the crowns of other gods and goddesses as the concept of consciousness grew in the national society and aspects of each god entered into the realm of conscious control and awareness. Lady Maat, Sobak and Suty, however, are among the few who do not wear the solar crown, indicating that these were aspects of reality which remained independent functions and beyond conscious control.

Re is self-defined. Re is the designer of his name. The hieroglyphs for his name are a mouth, (R,) plus a hand with forearm, (a/e), in other words, speech and the human hand, prime symbols of the spacetime manifestation of human consciousness. The determinative is a circle with a dot at the center and a line beneath. The circle and dot are symbols of the range of perception, like a globe of lamplight in the darkness, or you at the center of your horizon of perception. The line is the sign for a thing, in this case, a thing of light. This circle-and-dot determinative is also used as for words related to time, such as day and hour; in other words, Re-consciousness is also the perceiver of time.

I am he who made the hours, thus the days were born.

The figure of Re sits unmoving within the golden globe at the center of his starship, because you experience time only in the moment Now. Your past is accessible only through memory or record-keeping and your future is experienced only by anticipation, arriving via the Now. These experiences, memory and anticipation, are unique functions of individual experience. Consciousness is a bubble of timelessness sailing through time. "Now" is the eternal, timeless moment in which consciousness exists, in which you exist.

Who then is this?
It is Atum inside his globe.
Khopry in the morning,
Re at noon,
Atum in the evening.

Khopry is the scarab beetle god, and his name comes from kheper, to create, form, progress, evolve, awake. The green-winged beetle pushes around a ball of the black mud of Osiris’s essence, and a green-winged beetle emerges from it, like consciousness waking from the darkness of the soul, and green shoots emerging from the essence of Osiris.

Khopry was the Sun of dawn on the horizon and Re in the moment of waking; in other words, the miracle of consciousness waking from the darkness of flesh, of sleep and of death, the lightning flash of inner illumination, that light bulb that switches on over the head in cartoon art. Khopry is a class of experiences woven together by light.

Atum is Egypt’s Father Time, the objective motion of time in spacetime. He was known as Finisher, because time ends everything. "This, too, shall pass." In other words, that good times must end is the guarantee that bad times must also end. Atum is the security that time passes in spacetime even when you are immersed in the timelessness of Duat while asleep; even nightmares must end.

Atum is uncreated, created himself, present before creation and one of its activators. In his form as Re Atum, he is Lord to the Limits, in other words, time passes everywhere, and consciousness used time to create the universe and the life it holds. You perceive spacetime and Duat as Re. Khopry wakes Re from the timelessness of Duat into spacetime. Re Atum is the Re the Creator. Consciousness rules.

Re, Lord To The Limits spoke these words after his waking
I am what woke in waking.
I woke the waking of becoming awake, woke the waking of everything.

Following my waking, multitudes woke as they emerged from my mouth.
No heaven awake, no Earth awake,
no sons of the earth created nor creeping things in that place.
I raised them up in Nu, in their inertness.

I did not find a place where I could stand.
I had my soul centered in my heart.
I laid a foundation in reality.
I made all the visible forms.

A Pot of Bread

The division of inside of you and outside of you continues with the Paut of Gods, which is organized into two groups, the Great Paut and the Lesser or Small Paut, each comprised of nine gods. The Great Paut and Small Paut were not the only families or hosts of gods, and various other combinations are encountered.

The Great Paut were Osiris, Horus-Ur and Suty, Isis and Nephthys, Shu and Tafnut, Nut and Geb. Re Atum is the chief, and these are the essentials of Duat, the primal stuff inside you. This is the Inner Paut.

The Small Paut were variable, depending on individual need and preference, but most often they were Thoth, Amun, Ptah and Khnoumos, Bastet, Hathor and Sakhmet, Neith and Mut. Amun Re is chief of the Small Paut, and over the centuries he became Nesu Netjeru, King of the Gods.

Also appearing in the Small Paut are Apophis and Sobak, Min, Sashet, Sorqet, Bes and Taueris. The Small Paut are the essentials of human activity and interaction in spacetime, the foundations of human society and architects of their civilization. This is the Outer Paut.

The Great Paut, the collected forces of the Duat inside your skin, is the greater because it is entirely your responsibility and a heavy burden to carry; consciousness is pain, compassion hurts and enlightenment puts much of life’s pleasure into shadow. The Small Paut, the collected forces of spacetime outside of your skin, is the lesser burden because it is a shared burden, all of us carrying this together, and spacetime carries the rest.

The Pauts were not the only gods in their pantheon, which by some counts number up to 1,500, (a name for every need,) but the Paired Pauts were central to daily life, as well as the ones most often represented in surviving materials, which are, by the nature of things, predominantly funeral related. The groups of gods who ruled in your home, every day and all night long, were father-mother-child groups. The members of these family trinities varied among households, villages, cities and temples, according to the needs of the people, time and place. They had many names, but the conceptual metaphor behind them was the same.

To Divine or Not Too Divine

The value of our Latin-based word divine, in all its variations and nuance, has changed in a deep and powerful way since the days of the Great Pyramids; at its root is the concept of foretelling events and reading portents, oracles and auguries, in other words, to read and understand the patterns of nature and recognize the warnings. These were vital skills in the animal world; your environment was changing by the second, and a keen awareness of its intentions and potentials was a skill you could perfect far beyond that of your animal brothers. In many ways, these "divining" skills kept us alive long enough to evolve as a species, and the traditions are very, very ancient myths, as well as the infrastructure of many other myths.

Millennia later, these same skills, passed down from generations beyond time, became the basis for prophecy, fortune-telling and augury in a world increasingly crowded and uncertain; invaders were breaking through the shield of the desert in waves, and the attention of the gods had begun to drift away from human concerns.

In these pages, (and only here, I point out) the form of netjer translated elsewhere as divine appears as either holy or sacred/blessed; holy if the context is spacetime; the root of holy is Middle English, related to "healthy, whole, hale and the Holy Grail," concepts closer to the original use of netjer in the waking world. I use sacred or blessed when the context is Duat, because Sakh was the constellation Orion, the stellar body of Osiris. The root of the word sacred is Latin, a cultural sphere subliminally influenced by the world of the Nile.

When Ramses the Great declared himself to be netjer, it meant something quite different from Augustus or Caligula declaring themselves as deus; Egypt’s gods walked the Earth on human feet. Once Egypt had been slain and erased, we learned that our feet were of clay, Duat lost its reality and the gods withdrew to an unreachable dimension. The sky was just air, the afterlife promise developed financial complications and the kingdom of heaven was no longer spread upon the earth. We were only human.

The Set of All Sets Which Can Contain
One and Only One Member

It is the image of the Eye of Re together with the image of the Eye of Horus.

The Horus metaphor began in Neolithic Egypt and held center stage until the last breath of Cleopatra. Horus is one of the oldest god of the Nile, and his name is a deliberate pun: hor is a word for face In other words, as the Eye of the Sun and Eye of the Moon, Horus is the Face of the Sky. He is your face, and the human face is the quintessential metaphor for unique identity. Wild-animal faces tend to sameness, the better to recognize potential mates among the bewildering variety of animal faces out in the wild. You, however, have an entire, large section of brain tissue dedicated to the human face; you see faces everywhere, in everything, (whether you want to or not.) In this sense, Horus is a genetically inherited skill. Egypt put a face on the abstraction of a powerful and very human instinct.

When migrations into the Nile valley and Delta regions began, you were for the first time exposed to many more new faces than ever before; knowing friend from foe and accepting new members into your group was a crucial skill. The Horus icon on its standard, with a flag, showed that here was a known human group; as a result, the falcon became an early god at many different locations. From our point of view, this multitude creates a "Horus paradox," that was, nonetheless, central to the ancient philosophy, that unique identity can be expressed in universal terms; in other words, being human is universal; being you is unique.

Horus is the essence of integrity. Egyptian symbols for fractions are segments of the Horus Eye, read as 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64. When these fractions are added up they equal 63/64. In other words, Horus is greater than the sum of his parts. These fractions of Horus are the voices and energies that function on your behalf within the Suty AI structure in Duat, but the final contribution is from you.

The Paut of the Gods are in adoration
when they see the Eye of the First Horus in its place.
It is perfect in all its parts,
1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 in the counting for its master.

Winged Thought

Falconry is an ancient hunting technique that has remained popular to this day; it was widely practiced in the Nile valley and Delta regions, and the regional predator-birds were used for the Horus-icon; their soaring height takes them up to the sky and they can dive out of sight beyond the horizon of human sight and return, thus they are denizens of both Duat and spacetime, yet they answer to the call of a human voice. As the falconer controls the natural energies of the wild bird, Horus controls the natural energies of your body.

In representations, Re is actually just the solar crown itself; the figure of the god is shown as the falcon bearing the sun of Re on his head, sometimes as a bird, sometimes as a falcon-headed human or mummiform god; in other words, Horus is the primary carrier of consciousness and Re cannot be recorded because consciousness is light.

Horus is you, the captain of the starship, piloting the journey of your life just as the pharaoh piloted the journey of Egypt through time."I am the captain of my soul." The reality of self-identity is a subject of much scholarly and medical debate in the 21st century, but in ancient Egypt, identity was king, quite literally, because Horus was the guardian and patron of the pharaoh. He appears on wall paintings and pottery at archaeological sites going back 6,000 years, where the Horus bird stands on a classic reed-boat image, a papyrus starship. Horus also perches on the serekh, the palace-façade emblem of the pharaoh. Egypt created the identity of the pharaoh; the pharaoh, in turn, maintained the identity of Egypt.

Ramona Louise Wheeler

Flagging Down a God