Walking the Temples of Egypt with John Anthony West

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It was another glorious day in sunny Egypt in 1997. The suns rays shone down onto the Temple of Dendera making it look white as we approached. John Anthony West informed us that the site was built to a design that was started in the ancient days when the ‘Congress of Horus’ ruled the land. This reign came after the time when the gods had walked and ruled over the land.

Scattered around Dendera’s forecourt are blocks from it, many damaged, perhaps removed by thieves then discarded for whatever reason. One piece was about a foot high and had a depiction of the god Bes, the dwarf god associated with childbirth, music and the arts. He stood near the entrance, beckoning us in.

Inside, the walls and pylons are covered in pictures and hieroglyphs and one can get a stiff neck from constantly looking up into the high ceilings, but it’s worth it because these high walls and ceilings display the ancient Egyptian creation myth and zodiac. The ceiling represents the heavens, the floor the earth and the world of men and nature.

First, I should mention Hathor, the goddess whom this temple is dedicated too. She is the only Egyptian goddess whose face is seen front on and her face on all four sides of the column, all others are depicted in profile except Bes. This dwarf god is shown front on with his bowed legs and his tongue sticking out of his grinning face. I found it intriguing that both these gods have divine attributes that are to do with childbirth, is there a link here? Why do the two main gods of childbirth face forwards?

Hathor is a goddess with a human body and a cow’s head, the cow head and horns depicting motherhood, childbirth, nourishment and healing. Hathor’s name means The House of Horus, Hat is house, Hor a derivative of Horus, the hawk headed god.

We all stood below the circular depiction of the zodiac. John pointed out to me something intriguing in the zodiac; Nut, the sky goddess, leads the whole sequence of zodiac signs in a spiral circle through the night sky but the chain starts, in the centre, with Cancer, the sign of the crab. Usually in Western astrology, the zodiac starts at Aries and ends with Pisces. So why did this temple emphasise Cancer as being the first? John believed that this was because something special happened back in the age of Cancer which would have been between 10,000-8000 B.C.E., perhaps the beginnings of the Egyptian civilisation?

As I walked round the temple, I could not help wishing that I had the ability to go back in time and witness the rituals and ceremonies that took place in this sacred building. The magic still hovers there, you can sense it in the atmosphere, mysteries are waiting to be revealed again.

My favourite part of Dendera was the sacred lake which was on the south-west side outside the temple. John told me that the mystery plays of Osiris would have been performed on the lake in ancient times. Now the water is gone and instead a small woodland of palm trees grows up in it, which is the only greenery to be seen around.

We stayed a few days in the part of Egypt that had once been known as Thebes, now we were to see the temples of Karnak and Luxor. I spent that time in awe and astonishment. Both sites are immense in length, breadth and height. When visiting Karnak, one wonders just how did the builders raise up the giant obelisks and colonnades and pylons?

Ram headed sphinxes line a pathway to the first part of the temple each with a statue of a pharaoh stood between their front paws, both sphinx and king watching us as we made our way in to the sacredness of the site.

Karnak had been built over many generations with shrines to various gods and goddesses built off the main courts. Obelisks erected by pharaohs from the many dynasties that ruled here stand in significant spots. One was fallen, broken off at the base. John told us all to stand around the broken end and put our ears to the granite. He stood at the top part of it and tapped the obelisk with his hand and we could hear the sound as the whole obelisk resonated at a certain pitch.

We spent the day wandering the site, going up and down ramps, in and out of the ruins, looking up at the obelisks and pylons till we all met up again late in the afternoon in a small shrine dedicated to the lion headed goddess Sekhmet to give prayers and have a meditation in the stillness and coolness of that windowless shrine.

Afterwards John asked us all what we thought of the temples, the obelisks, the colonnades, what we thought they represented and their functions. Discussion ensued amongst us all, ideas bounced around then John explained to us the Sacred Science, or what was known of it.

The obelisks, he pointed out to us, should be in pairs and were sundials. The resonance that we had heard when he had tapped the fallen obelisk was different for each pair and would have been significant to the position it would have had on the site. John told us about Schwaller de Lubicz and his theories; that these temples were designed in such a way as to represent man and that each court and hall was significant to a part of the human body. It was in 1937 that de Lubicz visited Luxor and had seen how the temples were put together and from this he put forward his symbolist theory from his understanding of mathematics and philosophy. He saw that the temples were built to represent harmony and proportion and he realized that the ancient Egyptians understood this and were representing it through their buildings.

Schwaller de Lubicz recognised that the Temple of Luxor was a representation of man and the development of the spirit and soul and John explained to us de Lubicz’s concept as we walked around the Temple of Luxor.

John asked us to take in the temples not just with our eyes, but also with our minds and hearts, to feel its atmosphere, sense its power, attune to it, that way we would truly understand the ancient knowledge these temples had to teach us.

 

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