Paradise Found, by William F. Warren, , at sacred-texts.com
According to the Kamite legend related by Diodorus, Osiris and Isis lived together in Nysa, or Paradise. Here there was a garden wherein the deathless dwelt. Here they lived in perfect happiness until Osiris was seized with the desire to drink the water of immortality. Then he went forth in search of it, and fell. . . . But an earlier couple than Osiris and Isis was Sevekh and Ta-urt, who as the two constellations of the seven stars revolving round the Tree, or Pole, were the primeval pair in Paradise.The Natural Genesis.
The mythical geography of the ancient Egyptians is as yet too little known to allow us to hope for much light from this quarter on the question of the site of Eden. Even their cosmology is little understood, and their scientific attainments are by many inexcusably underestimated. So good a scholar as Mr. Villiers Stuart could recently write, "The Egyptians had not attained to a sufficiently advanced point in science to solve the problem of how the sun in his daily course, having sunk behind the western horizon, returned to rise at the opposite quarter of the heavens." 1 Nevertheless, as we desire to test our hypothesis as far as possible by all most ancient traditions and myths, whether favorable or unfavorable, we must inquire whether anything can be ascertained as to the ideas of the ancient Egyptians touching
the form of the earth and the theatre of man's first history.
The leading features of Egyptian cosmology, as interpreted by the present writer, are in perfect accord with the cosmological ideas of other ancient nations as described in chapter first of the present division. They may be briefly expressed in the six following theses:
1. That in ancient Egyptian thought the earth was conceived of as a sphere, with its axis perpendicular and its North Pole at the top.
2. That in the earliest time Amenti was conceived of neither as a cavern in the bowels of the earth, nor as a region of the earth to the West, on the same general plane as the land of Egypt, but was simply the under or southern hemisphere of the earth, conceived of as just described.
3. That the Tat pillar symbolized the axis of the world (heaven and earth) upright in space.
4. That Ta nuter, whatever its later applications, originally signified the extreme northern or topmost point of the globe, where earth and heaven were fabled to meet.
5. That Cher-nuter was the inferior celestial hemisphere underarching Amenti.
6. That Hes and Nebt-ha (Isis and Nephthys) were respectively goddesses of the North and South poles, or of the northern and southern heavens. 1
Assuming now, with Chabas, Lieblein, Lefèvre, and Ebers, that the earth of the ancient Egyptians,
like that of the ancient Asiatic nations, was spherical, what was their conception of its northern terminus? In chapter first of this Part, some indication has been already given. But our present investigation demands a fuller answer to this question. Turning to the great work of Brugsch on the "Geographical Inscriptions of the Old-Egyptian Monuments," we find that the Egyptians considered the farthest limit in the North to be "the four pillars or supports of heaven." 1 The fact that these four supports of heaven, instead of being situated in four opposite directions from Egypt, are all in the farthest North, is very significant. It shows that though the people might speak of heaven as supported on four pillars, it is not to be inferred therefrom that they conceived of the earth as flat, and of the sky as a flat Oriental roof one story above it. 2 Brugsch himself, though writing upon the supposition that the Egyptians earth was flat, avoids this mistake. His inference, coming from one who had a traditional wrong theory to support, is most interesting and valuable. He says, "Inasmuch as these 'four supports of heaven,' the northern limit of the earth as known to the Egyptians, nowhere else occur as name of people, land, or river, it seems to me most probable that we have herein the designation of a high mountain which was perhaps characterized by four peaks, or
which consisted of four ranges, from which peculiarity it received its name. Like all peoples of antiquity,at least all those whose literature has come down to us,the Egyptians conceived of the earth as rising toward the North, so that at last at its northernmost point it joined the sky and supported it." 1
In the Buddhist conception of Meru, as given in chapter first of this Part, we have precisely the four-peaked, heaven-supporting mountain which Brugsch here describes: "Each of the four corners of the mountain-top has a peak seven hundred yôjanas high." It is not impossible that in the four dwarfs which support the dome of the modern Buddhist temple we have a far-off survival of ancient Egypt's "four supports of heaven." Certainly the Buddhist temple-roofs symbolize the circumpolar heaven, 2 and a recent author, touching upon the latter's mythological support, writes as follows: "This prop passing through the earth and the heavens at the pole, indicated as we have seen by the Alpha of Draco, became the 'nail' of the old astronomers, the point round which all nature revolved. Between earth and the celestial pole the prop idea was again brought forward as the central column of a huge conical mountain, Mount Meru, guarded at each cardinal point by a mighty king. The four dwarfs propping up some of the columns in the old Buddhist temples are evidently these four kings. . . . When the prop pierced the highest heaven it was a spire called the 'tee,' and in Nepal it is confessedly
in all the temples the symbol of Adi Buddha, the supreme, in his heavenly garden, Nandana grove." 1
But returning from this merely curious question, we remind ourselves that we have seen reason to believe that the ancient Egyptians conceived of the earth as a sphere, with a heaven-supporting mountain in the extreme North. In the extreme South was another mountain, "The Horn of the World," represented as of incredible height (eight atur or stadia). 2 This corresponds so perfectly with the earth of the Puranas, with its Su-Meru and Ku-Meru, that we are irresistibly impelled to inquire whether the parallelism extends any farther.
We take the question of the direction of the abode of the dead. All agree that in Indian thought the abode of the dead is in the South. So was it in the thought of the ancient Egyptian. The recently discovered epitaph of Queen Isis-em-Kheb, mother-in-law of Shishak, king of Assyria (circa 1000 B.C.), thus reads: "She is seated all beautiful in her place enthroned, among the gods of the South she is crowned with flowers. She is seated in her beauty in the arms of Khonsou, her father, fulfilling his desires. He is in Amenti, the place of departed spirits." 3
Again, in the mythological earth of India, the abode of the dead, being the southern or under hemisphere, is looked upon as inverted. Viewed from the standpoint of gods and men, it is bottom upward, and its inhabitants move about head
downward. 1 The same is true of Amenti, the Egyptian underworld, and of its inhabitants. 2
Again, in Hindu thought all deadly influences proceed from the South, the abode of death; all beneficent and life-giving influences from the North. The same is true in ancient Egyptian thought. "It is curious," says the English editor of Lenormant's "Chaldæan Magic," 3"it is curious that in Egypt all good and healing and life proceeded from the West, the land of the setting sun, and all evil from the East the land of its rising." The statement is "curiously" incorrect. The North is the sacred quarter, and from the North come life and blessing. The North wind is the very breath of God. It "proceeds from the nostrils of Knum and enlivens all creatures." 4 It is one of the high prerogatives of the blessed dead to "breathe the delicious air of the North wind." 5 That they may breathe it is
the prayer of bereaved affection. 1 The "Fields of Peace" are at the North of the fields of Sanehem-u. 2 There is the proper home of the great god of whom the Nile poet sang:
Of the same god it is said:
As yet no texts have been discovered which represent the earliest Egyptian ideas of the origin of man and the location of his birth-place. One proof, however, that man was conceived of as having proceeded from the "Land of the Gods" in the North appears in connection with the myth of the reign of Râ. In Egyptian mythology, the reign of Râ was like the primeval reign of Kronos; the myth of it was a reminiscence of the sinless Golden Age. 4 But
in those primeval and perfect days men still dwelt in the country of the gods, which country, as we have seen, was in the highest North. And because they still occupied the heaven-touching mountain, the rebellion by which they forfeited their estate of blessedness is expressly described as "on the mountain," 1an object not easily found in Egypt.
The same teaching is further supported by the language of certain scholars, who, without any particular theory as to the location of Eden, have held that the hieroglyph used in Egyptian texts as the determinative prefix to names designating civilized lands, , is simply a pictorial symbol of primitive Eden divided by its fourfold river. 2 A writer in the Edinburgh Review, said to be Mr. Walter Wilkins, remarks: "The Buddhists and Brahmans, who together constitute nearly half the population of the world, tell us that the decussated figure of the cross, whether in a simple or complex form, symbolizes the traditional happy abode of their primeval ancestors,the Paradise of Eden toward the East, as we find it expressed in the Hebrew. And, let us ask, what better picture or more significant characters,
in the complicated alphabet of symbolism, could have been selected for the purpose than a circle and a cross?the one to denote a region of absolute purity and perpetual felicity, the other those four perennial streams that divided and watered the several quarters of it." 1 Mr. Wilkins claims that in the Egyptian hieroglyph above given we have the same symbol as in the Indian Swastika. It was therefore primeval Paradise which was commemorated by "the sacred circular cakes of the Egyptians, composed of the richest materials,of flour, of honey, of milk,and with which the serpent and bull, as well as the other reptiles and beasts consecrated to the service of Isis and their higher divinities, were daily fed, and which upon certain festivals were eaten with extraordinary ceremony by the people and their priests." He continues, "'The cross-cake,' says Sir Gardiner Wilkinson, 'was their hieroglyph for civilized land,'obviously a land superior to their own, as it was, indeed, to all mundane territories; for it was that distant, traditional country of sempiternal contentment and repose, of exquisite delight and serenity, where Nature, unassisted by man, produces all that is necessary for his sustentation."
"This," says Donnelly, though arguing in favor of a mid-Atlantic island-Eden,"this was the Garden of Eden of our race. . . . In the midst of it was a sacred and glorious eminence,the umbilicus orbis terrarum,' toward which the heathen in all parts
of the world, and in all ages, turned a wistful gaze in every act of devotion, and to which they hoped to be admitted, or rather to be restored, at the close of this transitory scene.'" 1
In Part fifth, chapter fourth, it will be shown that the umbilicus orbis terrarum is indisputably the terrestrial pole.
Finally, if, as Plato represents, the story of lost Atlantis was received from Egypt, and constituted a part of the priestly teaching of the dwellers upon the Nile, our next chapter will present us further evidence that the Eden and the antediluvian world of ancient Egyptian tradition were precisely where the tradition of other ancient peoples placed them, to wit, in the land of sacred memories in the far-off, faerie North.
172:1 Nile Gleanings. London, 1879: p. 262. This is as bad as the declaration of Lauer: "Und so glaube ich dass auch Homer nie daran gedacht hat, wie die Sonne wieder aus dem Westen in den Osten gelange." Nachlass. Berlin, 1851: vol. i., p. 317.
173:1 In a brief communication published in The Independent, New York, Feb. 8, 1883, the critical attention of Egyptologists was respectfully invited to these theses. Since that time much new evidence of their correctness has come to light. See, for example, the new Thesaurus Inscriptionum of Brugsch, pp. 176, 177, et passim.
174:1 "Die Ansicht von den Enden der Welt ist eine uralte and vielen Völkern gemeinsame. . . . Als die äusserste Grenze im Süden galt den Egyptern das Meer (Sar) and der Berg ap-en-to oder tap-en-to, wörtlich 'das Horn der Welt;' als die äusserste Grenze im Norden dagegen 'die vier Stützen des Himmels.'" Geographische Inschriften, Bd. ii., p. 35. Compare Taylor's Pausanias, vol. iii., 255, bot.
174:2 Maspéro, Les Contes Populaires de lEgypte Ancienne. Paris, 1882: pp. lxi.-lxiii.
175:1 Geographische Inschriften, Bd. ii., p. 37.
175:2 Koeppen, Die Religion des Buddhas, ii. 262.
176:1 Lillie, Buddha and Early Buddhism, p. 50.
176:2 See first quotation from Brugsch above.
176:3 Villiers Stuart, The Funeral Tent of an Egyptian Queen. London, 1882: p. 34. See also "Homer's Abode of the Dead" in the Appendix, Sect. VI.
177:1 "The gods in heaven are beheld by the inhabitants of hell as they move with their heads inverted."Garrett, Classical Dictionary of India: Art. "Naraka."
177:2 See Brugsch, Hieroglyphisches Demotisches Wörterbuch, S. 1331, sub v. "Set," "Set-mati." Also chapter first of the present division.
177:3 Page 51.Undoubtedly there are Egyptian texts in which the sun-god Ra is represented as going into "the land of life" at his setting (see Brugsch, Thesaurus Inscriptionum Ægyptiacarum, 1ste Abth., Leipsic, 1883: p. 29), but this is made quite intelligible by Menzel's "Sonnengarten am Nordpol" in his Vorchristliche Unsterblichkeitslehre.
177:4 Records of the Past, vol. iv., p. 67.
177:5 Ibid., p. 3. Compare the expression, "Give the sweet breath of the North wind to the Osiris," Book of the Dead (Birch), p. 170; also 311, 312. Gerald Massey remarks, "In Egyptian the Meh is the North, the quarter of the waters, and the name of the cool wind that breathed new life." The Natural Genesis, vol. ii., p. 168. The following very curious passage from the apocryphal Book of Adam, translated from the Ethiopic by Dillmann, shows that this ancient Egyptian idea survived to a very late period: "Als der Herr den p. 178 Adam austrieb, wollte er ihn auf der Südgrenze des Gartens nicht wohnen lassen, weil der Nordwind, wann er darin bläset, den süssen Geruch der Bäume des Gartens nach der Südgegend hinführt; und Adam sollte nicht die süssen Gerüche der Bäume riechen, und die Uebertretung vergessen, und sich über das was er gethan trösten, und durch den Geruch der Bäume befriedigt die Busse für die Uebertretung unterlassen. Vielmehr liess der barmherzige Gott den Adam in der Gegend westlich vom Garten wohnen." Dillmann, S. 13.
178:1 "Dans le papyre Boulak No. 3, 4, 16, on souhait à un défunt: 'les agréables vents du Nord dans la ÂMHÎ.'"Brugsch, Dictionnaire Géographique. Leipsic, 1879: p. 37.
178:2 Records of the Past, vol. iv., p. 122.
178:3 Ibid., p. 101.
178:4 Maspéro, Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de lOrient, p. 38.
179:1 "Während er, der Gott der das Sein selber ist, seines Königthums waltete, da waren die Menschen and die Götter zusammen vereint." Brugsch, Die neue Weltordnung nach Vertilgung des sündigen Menschengeschlechts. Berlin, 1881: p. 20. Naville, The Destruction of Mankind by Râ. Records of the Past, vol. vi., pp. 103 seq.
179:2 Sometimes this hieroglyph is accompanied by the character signifying "God" or "divine." In such connection Brugsch renders it "heilige Wohnstätte." On other renderings, however, see the Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache. 1880: p. 25. See also Ceramic Art in Remote Ages; with Essays on the Symbols of the Circle, the Cross and Circle, the Circle and Ray Ornament, the Fylfot, and the Serpent, showing their relation to the primitive forms of Solar and Nature Worship. By John B. Waring. London, 1874: Plates 33-37.
180:1 "The Pre-Christian Cross." Edinburgh Review, January, 1870, p. 254. Zöckler did not think the primitive character of this symbolism well established (The Cross of Christ, p. 35); but the moment Eden is identified with the "middle country" of the Pole the naturalness and primitiveness of the symbol become most easy of belief.
181:1 Donnelly, Atlantis, p. 322.