The House of the Hidden Places, by W. Marsham Adams, , at sacred-texts.com
OF all the natural images familiar to the mind none is more radiant, and none more tranquil, than that of the rolling year as it circles perpetually about the feet of God. Even in the midst of cloud and fog, the mere striking of a clock, that record of planetary motion, serves to remind us how circumscribed is the surrounding gloom, and how the dull earth beneath our feet is, even as we gaze upon it, shining to its far companions in the fields of light. As that lustrous orbit is woven, revolution after revolution, with never-failing beauty, cycle after cycle of age-long periods, like golden serpents, twine themselves
around it, and span the gulfs of time with the years of the Most High.
Such a system of harmonious periods and of measured intervals, corresponding to universal, not arbitrary, standards, was a natural, and indeed an essential, element in the theosophy of a priesthood whose religious teaching was intentionally veiled under the analogies of astronomy. In examining therefore the astronomical science of the "Mystery-Teachers of the Heavens," * to use the official title employed in the Court of Pharaoh, we may not unreasonably expect to trace the origin and signification of various familiar measures, of which the use is widely diffused, but the fundamental conception unknown. Nor shall we be altogether disappointed in
this respect; while a sudden and vivid interest will be found to attach to the common units of time and space, when we perceive that they are not the fruit of any arbitrary arrangement, however ingenious, but are the products of universal concords, and represent, so to speak, the beats and bars of the music of the spheres.
That the moon was the sacred and, at least in early times, the secret standard of
Balance before Thoth.
[paragraph continues] Egyptian science, there seems little doubt. Thoth, the Great Lord of Wisdom and of Measure, the divine recorder, before whom stood the Balance of Justice, wherein the light and darkness of man's moral life were
weighed, was lord, not of the sun, but of the moon; and to that latter orb we are indebted for our fundamental standards both of space and time, as we may easily see, remembering always that we are dealing with approximate measures, and "mean," or average motions. For the position of a heavenly body is, in general, not the same to an observer on the earth's surface as it would be if he were stationed at its centre, which is the chief point of astronomical reference. This difference, or parallax, must therefore be always taken into consideration; and in the case of the moon, when on the horizon, it is found to be about * the three hundred and sixtieth part of the circle of the heavens—that is, a degree; and conversely therefore the fundamental measure of the circle is given by the difference between the moon's apparent position on rising
at any place as seen by an observer at the earth's surface, and the position in which it would appear at the same moment if viewed by an observer at the centre of the earth. Equally simple is the fundamental measure of time, viz. the hour or period required by the moon in her orbit, relatively to the sun, to traverse a space equal to her own disc; and this measure was peculiarly sacred in Egypt, each hour of the twenty-four which elapse during a single rotation * of the earth being consecrated to its own particular deity, twelve of light and twelve of darkness. "Explain the God in the Hour" is the demand made of the adept in the Hall of Justification. And that God in the Hour, we learn, was Thoth, the Lord of the Moon, and "the Reckoner of the Earth."
A singular relation of a similar kind exists
between the lunar period and the risings of the stars, which was also utilized by the Egyptian astronomers. For whereas in regard to the apparent position of the sun, relatively to the rest of the heavens, the motion of the earth in her orbit has a perceptible effect; in regard to the stars, the distances are so enormous that the orbit of the earth shrinks into insignificance. The time therefore which elapses between any two successive risings of the same star at any given place will, on the average, be a little less than that between any two successive risings of the sun at that place; since in the first case the time depends only upon the complete rotation of the place round the centre of the earth, whereas in the latter, the motion of the earth's centre during the interval must be taken into account. This difference is, on the average, about four minutes in every twenty-four hours, and will, therefore, in fifteen days, amount to an hour. Accordingly, as we learn from a most interesting
paper published by Professor Renouf on a kalendar of the XIXth dynasty, the observations of the stars were taken every fifteenth day, thus correlating the sidereal period with the lunar period of the hour.
Again, the interval which on the average elapses between the moments in which the moon successively comes to the full (always in relation to a given place such as Memphis), that is to say a lunar month or "lunation" is about 29½ solar days. Suppose now we take as an unit of time thirty such solar days; then each lunar month would fall short of that period by half a day or one-sixtieth part, and the lunar year, consisting of twelve such periods, would fall short by six days, so that all the measures would be proportionate. Here, then, we possess the key to a most singular correlation between the lunar motions and the solar months (consisting always of thirty solar days), which Dr. Brugsch has pointed out in the Table of Edfu; which was published in the
days of the Ptolemies, but never, apparently, while a native monarch reigned. On the first day was celebrated the "conception of the moon," when that orb was on the meridian at noon (while still invisible to the observer)—a refinement unknown to our kalendar; on the second day its birth, or first appearance, and so on throughout the month of thirty days. During the first month, therefore, the lunar intervals would of course correspond more or less precisely with the solar days. But whereas the two sets would grow progressively asunder, the lunar names remained affixed to the same solar days. Thus the first day of each solar month was called the conception of the moon, and the second new moon, although neither phenomenon might have taken place anywhere near the time—a method of expression necessitating, it would seem, a double form of register, and simple enough to those who held the clue, but to a stranger hopelessly misleading.
Turning now to the motions of our own planet we find, as Dr. Brugsch has shown, that the Egyptian division of the solar, or to speak more correctly, of the terrestrial year, depended upon a knowledge of the 365¼ rotations performed by the earth while completing (approximately) one revolution, around the sun—an extra day being intercalated every fourth or "grand" year. But this method of regarding the matter arises out of our own slovenly method of expressing astronomical ideas, and our habitual employment of language embodying the confused and confusing conceptions of the Greeks; and it by no means does justice to the Egyptian exactness. The truth is that a single year or revolution of the earth is marked by no cosmic or universal correspondence. Only in the fourth or "grand" year, as it was termed, is a harmony established by the simultaneous (or nearly simultaneous) completion of the rotary and revolutionary motions; while at the same time
the sun himself, drawing with him the whole planetary system, completes an arc of his own mighty orbit, about equal to the whole circuit of the course of the earth. Accordingly, every year appears to have included (as it does in reality) the three hundred and sixty-sixth day. But adhering strictly to the fact, the last solar day of the old year was identical with the first of the new, the day of "completion-beginning;" except in every fourth or grand year, when the earth's revolution being completed simultaneously, or very nearly simultaneously, with a rotation, the two festivals became distinct. Moreover, since four minutes (of time) a day, amounts in the course of a year to the time occupied by a complete rotation of the earth, it follows that the number of such rotations or sidereal days in each year exceeds by one the solar days; the difference being due to the fact that the change in the earth's position every twenty-four hours, owing to its orbital motion, must be taken into consideration
in regard to the sun, but is imperceptible when compared with the distance of the stars. By the method of reckoning therefore, above described, the solar or apparent days are harmonized with the number of earth's true rotations. This being the principle, every year admitted of division into two portions, one consisting of an orbit of three hundred and sixty days, of which the lunar year fell short by the same number of days as the solar year exceeded it; the other, that of the sacred interval or "panegyric," as Dr. Brugsch applies the term, consisting of six days, each being a festival of special sanctity.
That orbit again of three hundred and sixty days, was itself divided not only into twelve equal solar months, but also into three equal seasons (each of one hundred and twenty days), corresponding, as Dr. Brugsch has shown, to the three great physical divisions of the Egyptian year—the season of the inundation ("Se"), commencing with the rise of the Nile, about
the time of the new moon nearest the summer solstice; the season of winter ("Pir"), and the season of heat ("Semou") answering more or less to our spring. Hence in every year the period of three hundred and sixty days was divided either into three equal seasons, each containing twelve decades of days, or into twelve equal months, each containing three decades of days; while the sacred interval bore the same ratio to that whole period (one-sixtieth) as a minute (of circular arc) bears to a degree; and the excess quarter of a day upon which the whole arrangement depended bore the same ratio to the sacred interval (one twenty-fourth) as the solar hour to the complete day. It is not unworthy of remark also, that whereas in the order of the seasons, as corrected by Dr. Brugsch, their hieroglyphs have no correspondence with the physical year (as Champollion believed to be the case), and appear therefore to be arbitrary and unmeaning; yet
when we refer to the course of the soul in the Ritual, we find them to symbolize three successive stages of its progress; the fields, of Aahlu, into which it comes forth from the Chamber of New Birth; the Enclosure, of the Hidden Lintel of Justice, the beginning of Justification; and the source of the Celestial Nile, , where it receives the crown of Illumination.
For ordinary purposes and comparatively short periods the reckoning of the Grand Cycle suffices; but for long intervals the correspondence is not sufficiently exact; the real difference each year falling short of a quarter of a day by nearly twelve minutes, or the fifth part of an hour (less a certain number of seconds). But the fifth part of an hour will, it is obvious, in thirty years, itself amount to six hours, that is, to a quarter of a day; and accordingly, every thirty years we find a special festival or Jubilee celebrated in the Kalendar of Egypt: thus commemorating
the period said to have been occupied in building the Pyramid of Light. And in five hundred years, or the Egyptian Cycle of the Phoenix, the same difference will amount to between four and five days, that is, very nearly to the sacred interval; so that if that interval be omitted, the orbit of the coming year joins the orbit of the departing, and every five hundred years the Phoenix renews itself. All these cycles therefore centre round the adjustment of the quarter of a day; and so essential an element was that quarter in all calculations relating to the kalendar, that every fourth year, if we may trust Horapollo, the festival was celebrated by the addition of a quarter of an acre to the land belonging to the temples.
Of the three seasons, that of the inundation was the first and principal; and the flood of the Nile ran like a sparkling current through the religion of the country. "I am the Inundation," says the Creator in the sixty-fourth
chapter, said to be the oldest of the Ritual, "the Light of the Second Birth." Every stage in the annual flood of the life-giving river was the subject of a special festival. Some little time before the summer solstice, the first symptom of the coming rise was given by the waters in Upper Egypt becoming suffused with a crimson colour. Of this singular phenomenon, which goes by the name of "Red Nile," Herodotus has left a very fine account; and it is curious to note, as an instance of strong accord between ancient and modern travellers, that his description is quoted at great length by the eminent living Egyptologist, Professor Maspéro. The Red Nile is remarkable in every way; but in none perhaps more than in the fact that the waters are at that time peculiarly sweet, while at "Green Nile," as another period is called, the reverse is the case. To the former condition, in connection with the midsummer sun, allusion seems to be made in the "Eye filled with blood," mentioned in the Ritual; and to the
latter in the "intolerable stench" made by Osiris in the river. About the period corresponding to our month of July, the waters begin to rise; and the "Sailing of the Bark of Ra" was celebrated, together with the birthday of Osiris. A few days later was held the great Assembly at the Nilometer, or sacred "Tat," the most venerated symbol known to their worship; and the first proclamation of the rise was made. Towards the middle of August took place the cutting of the Grand Dyke, whereby the risen stream was permitted to overflow into private channels; a ceremony celebrated in more modern times as the "Marriage of the Nile," but known to the ancient world as the festival of the "Digging of the Earth." No less a sanctity, in short, attached to every phase of that stream of life than to the "Celestial Nile" itself, of which the earthly river was the image and counterpart.
It may now be not uninteresting or uninstructive to compare for a moment the system
of Egypt with our own Leap Year, for which we are, in fact, indebted to that country, through the astronomer Sosigenes, who was imported by Julius Cæsar from Alexandria, to remedy in some degree the confusion of the Roman Kalendar. That famous Greek appears to have performed his task very much after a fashion not unknown to adapters. He cared—perhaps he knew—very little about the astronomical principle involved in the Egyptian reckoning, and nothing at all about the niceties of further adjustment which it demanded; indeed, before half a century was passed, his own corrections required to be corrected. He took no heed of standard or of measure, of orbit or of sacred interval. But first he cut up the year into twelve unequal and unmeaning bits—to say he divided it into portions is far too scientific an expression—which rags bore indeed the name of the insulted moon, but of which that mighty measurer condescended to make no sort of recognition. And
then he threw the "odd day" in along with the "odd month"; much as a child, who has broken his toy-horse, glues a bit of tail to the shortest of the legs, and calls aloud on creation to admire his handiwork.
Nor is the difference between the Egyptian and the alien treatment of the kalendar accidental or unimportant. On the contrary, it suggests the key to its use in the ancient country, as the great politico-religious instrument whereby the social economy of the nation was co-ordinated with theosophy of the priesthood. Among modern nations monotony of recurrence seems to be the single object desired, so as to offer every facility for the arrangements of business or pleasure, and to confine within the strictest limits the diminutive period allotted to the life to come. Any system therefore which breaks the regular routine, more particularly if it be connected, as in ancient Egypt, with the commemoration of sacred events, provokes impatience much
more than admiration. And the various adjustments of the kalendar appear to be regarded as if they were odds and ends of time left littering about the heavens by the sun and moon, and requiring an ingenious astronomer—like Sosigenes—to fold together and put away tidily.
Very different from this narrow and ungracious spirit was the joyous temper wherewith the Egyptian "Mystery-Teachers of the Heavens" regarded those sacred intervals. Throughout the symbology of that country, life was the centre, the circumference, the totality of good. Life was the sceptre in the hand of Amen; life was the richest "gift of Osiris." "Be not ungrateful to thy Creator," says the sage Ptah-Hotep, in what is perhaps the oldest document in existence;" for he has given thee life." "I am the Fount of Light," says the Creator in the Ritual. "I pierce the darkness. I make clear the path for all; the Lord of Joy." By them
therefore the intervals were gratefully accepted as a kind of breathing-space, wherein time, like the sun at the solstice, appears for a while to rest, and man, like the immortals, might enjoy, without impairing, the treasure of life. Accordingly the panegyric, or time of praise, separating, or rather uniting year with year, took place not in the gloom of winter as with us, but in the full height and glow of summer; at the period at once of accomplishment and renovation, when the sun was in his fullest strength, and the rising of the waters of the Nile began to renew their life-giving floods. On the first day of the sacred interval of continuous praise was celebrated the birth of Osiris, the Lord of Light, Prime Mover of Creation. On the second, Horus; God, of God; Light, of Light; the eldest of creation, to use the expression of the Egyptian Ritual. On the third, Seb, Creator-Spirit of earth. On the fourth, Isis, with her double relation of human and divine
motherhood. On the fifth, Neith, from whose divine personality gushed the stream of life eternal, who "gave to every mummy the draught for which he thirsted, that his soul might be separated from him no more for ever." And on the sixth day was celebrated the feast of "Hep-Tep," the crowning festival of Completion-Beginning.
Such was the symphony of light and joy which, for the Egyptian, preluded the glowing year; and such also was its masonic expression, wherein was struck the full diapason of lunar and solar, of terrestrial and celestial, of temporal and of spiritual harmony. As the lunar Chamber of New Birth, the Habitation of Isis, "the Mother of God" and the "Queen of the Pyramid," was originally closed up, thus forming the trebly veiled and most secret portion of the Hidden Places, so in the eastern staircase of that chamber we seem to discover the most secret masonic key, both to the astronomical form and the spiritual
signification—the exterior and the interior light. For in its fivefold gradation we have the correlation of the lunar motion with the sun, in the five degrees of the moon's ascent and descent each month from the ecliptic. Again, since the sacred quarter of a day whereby the earth's rotation was harmonized with its revolution exceeds the true period by (very nearly) twelve minutes; so in five years does that annual excess make up (5 × 12 =) 60 minutes, the lunar measure of the hour. And thus we read in the Ritual of the "Chamber of the Hour in Rusta," the territory both
Thrones of Isis and Osiris.
of death and birth. In the same staircase, around the niche or "type," wherein the regenerate soul is formed—the image of the Queen of the Pyramid—we have the fivefold regeneration of the senses; and in it too we may recognize, in such a form
as to preserve but not to betray this trebly hidden masonic key, the double throne of Isis and Osiris, pointing not improbably to a yet more secret staircase within.
Even this does not exhaust the fulness of this prolific symbol; but it gives a clue beyond its own immediate recess, and connects the Chamber of New Birth with the luni-solar Chamber of the Orbit, just as the New Birth itself connects Rusta with Aahlu; the place of Initiation with that of Illumination. For in the same ascent in the Chamber of Divine Birth, we have the five divine birthdays, which make up the sacred interval of the solar year. Immediately above is the great throne, crowning the lunar chamber, and masonically expressing the Egyptian "Hep-Tep," or crowning festival of completion-beginning; as the chamber which it surmounts represents the territory of both Death and Birth—the "Completion-Beginning" of mortal Immortality. By the over-lappings
of the roof are formed thirty-six rays or indentations, marking the thirty-six decades of the luni-solar orbit. The Southern wall, impending about one degree North, points to the Northern boundary of the zodiacal belt; the lower line of overlapping wall to its Southern boundary, and between are the seven planetary spaces, with the groove of the luni-solar orbit running down the space corresponding to that of the earth.
Still further illustrations of the relations between our planet and her luminous assistant, as together they describe the doubly-ruled Orbit of Light, are to be found in this extraordinary Chamber of the Splendour. As the wall points secretly to the Northern, and the inclined floor to the Southern boundary of the Burning Circle of the Zodiac (about 89° and 152° of North Polar Distance) respectively; so does the inclination of the roof to the level passage (about 28° 30´) secretly define the limiting inclination of the
lunar orbit (about 28° 30´) to the sacred plane of equinox. And the fifty-six ramp-stones, twenty-eight on either side of the gallery, give masonic expression to the fifty-six alternations of light and darkness which take place approximately in the period of the moon's rotation, twenty-eight of the ascent and twenty-eight of descent; the double position of the stones, partly horizontal, partly sloping, corresponding with the double attraction of the moon to the earth and the sun; and the holes in their centres, with the crosses marked above them, indicating the lunar transits over the Grand Meridian of the House of Osiris.
Recurring once more to the Kalendar, it is evident that a system combining so wonderful a harmony with such perfect simplicity could never have been constructed without some definite starting-point in time, a Grand Epoch absolutely defined by some singular conjunction
of the heavenly bodies, and occurring only after long and clearly measured intervals. Such an interval is afforded by the famous Cycle of Sothis, of high antiquity in Egypt, and peculiar to that country, the principle of which, being dependent upon the relative rates of the earth's rotation and revolution respectively, has by no means been always thoroughly understood. *
Since the average interval between two successive risings of a given star at a particular place is determined only by the period of the earth's rotation, whereas in the case of the sun a period of about four minutes must be added, on account of the motion of revolution in her orbit during that period, it follows, as we have seen, that the star will on the average rise at that place about four minutes earlier every day, making the round of the twenty-four
hours every year. Consequently there will be in each year one day when that star will rise at that place "heliacally," that is to say, just so long before the dawn as to be visible for a few moments on the horizon before vanishing in the increasing splendour. The position of the star relatively to the earth and sun at the moment of heliacal rising we may call its orient; and when the position is such as to coincide with the summer solstice, we may express that position as the Grand Orient of the star. Now the number of degrees by which the sun is below the horizon when the heliacal rising of a star takes place, is not fully determined, and varies to some extent with the locality; but ten degrees below is usually taken as the sun's position when the star is lost in dawn, so that the time would be about forty minutes before full sunrise. Let us consider now the interval between two such risings of some particular star; and for that purpose let us choose, like the
[paragraph continues] Egyptians, Sirius or Sothis, the most brilliant of the distant suns, the flaming sentinel to us of the fiery hosts of space. Suppose, then, that on some particular day (such as that of summer solstice) Sothis is on the horizon of Memphis when the sun is eleven degrees below it, that is, one degree below the point of dawn. On that day Sothis will rise heliacally, and will remain visible on the horizon for about four minutes (while the earth rotates through one degree), after which it will be lost in the break of dawn. On the anniversary of that day it will again be on the horizon, when the earth completes her 365th rotation; that is, when our planet is a quarter of a degree less advanced in the orbit, since the full revolution takes 365¼ rotations. Hence, since the earth rotates through a quarter of a degree in a minute (of time), there will be the difference of a minute in the corresponding rising each year, and therefore of four minutes each grand cycle. But since
four minutes makes the difference of a day in the star's first appearance, there will for every grand cycle be a difference of a day in the heliacal rising of the star: and consequently in 4 × 365¼ (or 1461) years the whole orbit will be traversed. That lovely cycle, with its tetrachord of starry light just gleaming on the horizon and then vanishing, lost in the growing splendour, appears from the allusions to the dawn to have had its spiritual analogue in the festival of the "Shapes," or divine forms of beauty; when the departed re-created in the divine image rose gloriously from the grave, and shone for a while amid the company of starry spirits, before merging his lustre, though not his existence, in the splendour of the manifested Godhead.
From this highly important cycle we may draw some conclusion as to the grand epoch of the Egyptian Kalendar; the date, that is to say, when mere tradition came to an end, and systematic records, organized upon astronomical
principles, began to be preserved. Since in the course of the cycle, the heliacal risings take place on each day of the entire year, they will run during the first half of the cycle in one direction (relatively to the earth's orbit) and in the latter half in the opposite. And since there is also a corresponding series of settings, subject to a similar change of direction, the two series would in each cycle make up a double reversal, interchanging positions not once but twice. When therefore Herodotus tells us in a well-known passage (Euterp. 143), how, according to the Egyptian records, the risings and settings had been out of their orders four times since their reckoning commenced; "the risings twice taking the place of the settings, and the settings twice taking the place of the risings," the meaning becomes perfectly clear if referred (as Rawlinson suggests) to the heliacal risings and settings of Sothis, the determinator of the Kalendar. And the very circumstance
that Herodotus himself in all probability did not understand—and was not intended to understand—the drift of the extract, strongly favours its authenticity; since it is very difficult to conceive that a person, ignorant of astronomy, should so misrepresent a statement made to him by astronomers, as to blunder by accident into the correct exposition of a different astronomical relation. We learn therefore that two Sothiac cycles (four reversals) had been completed since the institution of the scientific Kalendar; so that the cycle then current would be the third. And as there is evidence that that cycle was completed in A.D. 139, and therefore commenced in B.C. 1322, we conclude that the commencement of the first Sothiac cycle and the institution of the scientific Kalendar took place (2 x 1461 years previously, i.e.) at the summer solstice of B.C. 4244; the moment of commencement being marked by the heliacal rising of Sothis. In chapter lxiv., which describes
the new birth of the soul, and thus supplies the key to the whole creed, or in its own words gives "The Entrance on Light in one Chapter," a passage occurs which appears to refer to this dawning of another age. "The twenty-four are passing," it says, "until the sixth. He remains in the Gate." In the sixth hour that is to say, reckoning from midnight (as Professor Renouf has shown to have been the custom), the march of the stars is stayed, and the sun enters the Gate of a new cycle; in the same way as for the regenerate soul the night is past, and he enters the Gate of Everlasting Day.
That the date in question was the true epoch of the institution of the Kalendar, to which all astronomical allusions are to be primarily referred whether in the Ritual or in the Pyramid of Light, is confirmed by a simple explanation which is thus afforded of a very marked peculiarity (and apparent anomaly) in its use. As is well known, the
[paragraph continues] "node" or point where the earth at Equinox cuts the plane of the Equator, and consequently the point of solstice (which is always 90° from that of Equinox), is not invariable, but year after year falls a little short of (or precedes) its previous position, so as to shift round in a direction opposite to the earth's revolution. And the rate at which that precession takes place (about 50" per annum) is such as to carry the node, or point of crossing, round the entire orbit in about twenty-six thousand years. Now attention has been drawn by Dr. Brugsch, who has so admirably illustrated the ancient kalendar, to the circumstance that during the later dynasties, a double series of months was employed, wherein, for instance, "The First of Thoth," that is, the first day of the first month, is given in the time of Thothmes III. (about B.C. 1600) both on the day corresponding to our 20th of July, and on the 27th of August, and similarly with the rest; but he has not offered any
solution. Suppose now that in addition to the current date of the solstice the archaic date was also preserved—a suggestion entirely in agreement with Egyptian custom and mode of thought—that is to say, that a record was kept of the day of the Grand Epoch on which the earth arrived at the point in her orbit which she had reached when the kalendar was defined, then the peculiarity could be explained. For since the date of Equinox, and therefore of course of solstice, falls a little earlier relatively to the orbit every year, the archaic date will fall a little later. And as in twenty-six thousand years it traverses the circle of the year, and falls again on the anniversary; in two thousand six hundred and fifty years the archaic date would be thirty-seven or thirty-eight days later; so that if the kalendar were founded at the epoch assigned, the difference between the current and the archaic date in the days of Thothmes III. would just correspond to the difference which
we find. Again, at the commencement of the third Sothiac cycle, in B.C. 1322, the archaic date would be later still, on the 29th or 30th of August. And this appears to have been adopted in the later times as the fixed archaic date, without further variation in the Alexandrine Kalendar.
By a similar reference to the archaic date, we may throw some light on the peculiar sanctity attaching to certain days of the month, for which it is otherwise difficult to account. For instance, in the Kalendars of the third Sothiac cycle, the fifteenth and the sixth of the month appear to be particularly sacred; and in the Turin papyrus of the "Book of the Dead" (the allusions in which would probably not go back so far as the first cycle, but might refer either to the second or third), command is given no less than three times that the most important festival of the year, the Birthday of Osiris, should be celebrated on the fifteenth of the month. But the Birthday of
[paragraph continues] Osiris was, as we have seen, the first festival of the New Year, and what connection could such a day have with any particular day of any month whatever? A very close connection if the archaic date is to be taken into consideration. At the commencement of the second Sothiac cycle the archaic date of Osiris's Birthday would fall twenty or twenty-one days later than at the foundation of the kalendar; and, remembering the five days for the sacred interval, we reach the fifteenth day of the first month; while a similar calculation, allowing in all forty-one days, brings us in the third Sothiac cycle to the sixth of the succeeding month. For a similar reason another great festival, that of the Bark of Ra, is ordered to be celebrated on the Birthday of Osiris, since at the foundation of the Kalendar that day coincided with the rising of the sacred Nile, the waters of which represent new life.
Hence, in order to preserve a true record of time, it is necessary to note the motion of the
earth with reference to four, and only four, different standards; that is to say, in regard to the stars, to the moon, to the sun, and to the Equinox, the other relative motions of the earth having no perceptible effect upon our reckoning of time. All these standards, with their respective measures and harmonies, were known, as we have seen, to the Egyptians; and this accounts for the circumstance which Dr. Brugsch has remarked, that at a very early date the Kalendar of Egypt was kept upon four different reckonings. All these standards also, each with its spiritual signification corresponding with the Ritual, we have seen expressed in the masonry of the Grand Pyramid. For to the architect of the Egyptian Light, there was no celestial truth which was not manifested in the motions of the celestial orbs; nor was there any chamber among the Hidden Places of the Great House which did not secretly reflect the path of the just in the mystery of the heavens.
111:* For most of the facts here stated with regard to Egyptian astronomy I am indebted to the invaluable researches of the late lamented Dr. Brugsch upon the kalendar, as I am also to his history for quotations from the papyri, and allusions to the customs of the country.
113:* It falls short by not quite three (circular) minutes, or rather less than a seven-thousandth part of the circumference.
114:* The word "rotation" is always applied in this work to the motion of a body about its own axis; "revolution," to its motion around another body.
135:* As, for instance, by the famous scholar Scaliger, whose misunderstanding was exposed by Professor Greaves, the Oxford astronomer, in A.D. 1640.