It is said that Africa – or rather, Mesopotamia – is the cradle of all civilization, and that ancient Egypt was the gate between the Eastern and Western (Hellenistic) worlds, between old and new knowledge. The ancient Egyptians were among the first peoples (after the Sumerians) to have agriculture, the system of domesticating plants and animals. That system was to then spread throughout the world.
With their Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife and sought for their priest-kings to achieve immortality and freedom from reincarnation. Their divisions of states of consciousness included the Ka (vital essence/life-force/spirit/genetic ancestry/earthly existence), the part that remains on earth or dies; and the Ba (soul/psyche), the immortal part which reincarnates. The intent was to keep the Ka and Ba unbroken at death to remain congealed (Weidner, 2014).
To the ancient Egyptians, man was comprised of five major components (Ha, Khat, the soul proper, Ku or Akh, and Khabs). The soul proper was divided into five additional subcomponents (Ib or Ab, Ren and Sekhem-paired, Khaibit or Sheut, Ba, and Ka). En toto, the nine individual or paired components are:
I) the human body:
Ha – total of all bodily parts
II) the soul, consisting of eight parts:
A) Khat-physical body, and Sah-spirit body (paired)
B) the soul proper which consists of five parts:
1) Ib (also known as Ab) – ego, heart, the cognitive mind,
seat of free will
2) Ren-name, foundation of one’s individuality, and
3) Khaibit (also known as Sheut) – shadow
4) Ba-soul, psyche
5) Ka-vital essence, life-force
C) Khu (also known as Akh) – spirit, personality, made up of
the Ka and Ba
D) Khabs – star-body, consciousness of one’s real
The ancient Egyptians also worshipped the sun-god in various forms as the bringer of life and defeater of death. Ancient peoples feared eclipses and would do rituals to attempt to stop or reverse them.
“In a sense the priest helped to bring about the sunrise by lighting the torch in the temple ritual. He did this in the way prescribed by the old ritual texts, not so much out of fear or out of a conviction that the sun would not rise if he did not make light in the temple as because one has to come to terms with the cosmos. Otherwise, the sun might rise, but its rising would have no meaning for the country’s welfare, for victory over death and enemies, and for everything that the Egyptian worldview associated with sun-rise. The creation theology that was practiced or performed in the cult did not simply commemorate the great mythological deeds of the gods or express the coherence and process of the created world; it was, in effect, creation itself. An Egyptian term for performing ritual is “doing things.” The priest had to “do things” to make sure that the order of the cosmos would be maintained and that the universe, the state, and the individual would continue their ordered existence.”
— Herman Te Velde, “Theology, Priests and Worship in Ancient Egypt”
The Egyptian Stele of Revealing, the version poetically rendered by Crowley in Liber AL vel Legis, it is said in reference to Ra-Hoor-Khuit:
Unity uttermost showed!
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before Thee: —
I, I adore thee!
There is currently a revival of these concepts in the neopagan and occult traditions. In Liber AL vel Legis, for example, there are undeniable references to excerpts from the Book of the Dead and ancient Egyptian and neo-Egyptian deities:
8. The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
9. Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!
(chapter I) Some people would say this means, “The spirit is in the soul, not the soul in the spirit,” and I think in a Gnostic/Christian sense this would deal with the “holy spirit” or “holy ghost.” For the Hebrews this is Ruach ha-kodesh and for the Arabs, al-Ruh al-Qudus. The Ruach or Ruh is the mind, creative force or divine inspiration; “In mankind, ruach further denotes the principle of life that possesses reason, will, and conscience. The ruach imparts divine image to man, and constitutes the animating dynamic which results in man’s nephesch (Arabic nafs; the ego, lower self, and animal nature/soul and matrix informing the body), as the subject of personal life.” (Parsons, 2014) Yet the comments in Liber AL differ from both the ancient Egyptian metaphysical view with their focus on the Khu (Ka and Ba) and not the Khabs (star-body), and the Abrahamic religions; it also makes a radical departure from the Golden Dawn system of magick which holds similar views. In short, it is possible to achieve immortality in this life rather than the old aeonic/Piscean otherworldliness that denies one’s earthly existence and celebrates the Dying Savior-God. Crowley’s commentary clarifies:
The Old Comment
8. Here beings the text.
Khabs is the secret Light or L.V.X.; the Khu is the magical entity of a man.
I find later (Sun in Virgo, An VII) that Khabs means star. In which chase cf. v.5.
The doctrine here taught is that that Light is innermost, essential man. Intra (not Extra) Nobis Regnum Dei.
The New Comment
We are not to regard ourselves as base beings, without whose sphere is Light or “God”. Our minds and bodies are veils of the Light within. The uninitiate is a “Dark Star”, and the Great Work for him is to make his veils transparent by ‘purifying’ them. This ‘purification’ is really ‘simplification’; it is not that the veil is dirty, but that the complexity of its folds makes it opaque. The Great Work therefore consists principally in the solution of complexes. Everything in itself is perfect, but when things are muddled, they become ‘evil’. (This will be understood better in the Light of “The Hermit of Esopus Island”, q.v.) The Doctrine is evidently of supreme importance, from its position as the first ‘revelation’ of Aiwass.
This ‘star’ or ‘Inmost Light’ is the original, individual, eternal essence. The Khu is the magical garment which it weaves for itself, a ‘form’ for its Being Beyond Form, by use of which it can gain experience through self-consciousness, as explained in the note to verses 2 and 3. This Khu is the first veil, far subtler than mind or body, and truer; for its symbolic shape depends on the nature of its Star.
Why are we told that the Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs? Did we then suppose the converse? I think that we are warned against the idea of a Pleroma, a flame of which we are Sparks, and to which we return when we ‘attain’. That would indeed be to make the whole curse of separate existence ridiculous, a senseless and inexcusable folly. It would throw us back on the dilemma of Manichaeism. The idea of incarnations “perfecting” a thing originally perfect by definition is imbecile. The only sane solution is as given previously, to suppose that the Perfect enjoys experience of (apparent) Imperfection. (There are deeper resolutions of this problem appropriate to the highest grades of initiation; but the above should suffice the average intelligence.)
AL I,9: “Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!”
The Old Comment
9. That Khabs is declared to be the light of Nu. It being worshipped in the centre, the light also fills the circumference, so that all is light.
The New Comment
We are to pay attention to this Inmost Light; then comes the answering Light of Infinite Space. Note that the Light of Space is what men call Darkness; its nature is utterly incomprehensible to our uninitiated minds. It is the ‘veils’ mentioned previously in this comment that obstruct the relation between Nuit and Hadit.
We are not to worship the Khu, to fall in love with our Magical Image. To do this — we have all done it — is to forget our Truth. If we adore Form, it becomes opaque to Being, and may soon prove false to itself. The Khu in each of us includes the Cosmos as he knows it. To me, even another Khabs is only part of my Khu. Our own Khabs is our one sole Truth.
Thus we become responsible for our actions and at fault when we infringe upon the freedom of another.
Hadit, being that “secret light” within us, relates directly to Resh and to the dictum, “Temet nosce” (know thyself). Liber Resh vel Helios is aptly named because it is both about the Sun and the personification of the Sun. The Sun is a Star at the center of our solar system. Helium is the element named after Helios, the Greek god of the Sun, and is 24% of the total elemental mass (24 hours in a day); it is used in cryogenics and growing crystals. Being made from star-stuff which informs us down to the DNA level, we are then each a personification of the divine, and it’s been said that “Man created God.”
Additionally, Resh means head (Crowley, 2000). The sun on the Tree of Life is attributed to the sephira Tiphareth. This is man as the complete microcosm and attributed to the upright pentagram. One common number associated with the Sun is 6, the number of points on a hexagram; the hexagram being used for planetary invocation, while the spirit of the sun is 666 (the number of the Beast) and the intelligence of the Sun is 111 (The Fool Atu). The pentagram, on the other hand, is Spirit/Mind over Matter, but also a striving towards ascension and rising above petty concerns. One astronomical unit = 93 Million Miles = the distance between the earth and the sun. And 93 is the gematria for THELEMA (Will) and AGAPE (Love).
“Helios” in the title again refers again to the Sun. The heliocentric view originated with the Hellenistic Greeks. This meant that not only was the Earth realized to not be the center of the Universe, but humans themselves are no longer focused on the Earth and are instead preoccupied with themselves as the center of the Universe. Another difference is that with the ancient Egyptians they saw the heart as the center of the soul, whereas the Greeks and their philosophers were concerned with the mind and reason. What has happened as a result is colonialism and ecocide, and a denial of atrocities committed by incarnate individuals as a collective rather than abstract forces. Note the fascination with aliens by conspiracy theorists and a similar insistence that there must be a God (Deistic or Theistic) watching over the Earth, human destiny, and guiding our affairs. We have forgotten the life-death cycle, the law of causality (cause-and-effect) and the ability to live sustainably from nature in which energy recycles and nothing is wasted; as a relic of the attempt to preserve bodies and aid the deceased in the afterlife, dead bodies are embalmed to delay decay rather than nourishing the earth which depends on blood and bones. Our modern culture is counter-intuitive eating, living, and dying. Per Liber AL chII:
6. I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of Life, yet therefore is theknowledge of me the knowledge of death.
7. I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. “Come unto me” is a foolish word: for it is I that go.
Note also the reference to go-ing, which is the Fifth Power of the Sphinx attributed to the Spirit and the Sun. It is the Spirit in motion, as a verb rather than a noun. It is the aspirant as a wanderer, nomadic, between the planes. Rituals afford a liminal (threshold) state of be-ing with the circle being a liminal space; “is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.” (Turner, 2008)
This is important to human understanding since in our move from a nomadic hunter-gatherer to an agricultural and finally, an industrial/technological civilization, came the belief in human exceptionalism and a relationship with the earth that was no longer symbiotic but parasitic and monopolizing. So too was the relationship with women anthropocentric; or rather, androcentric – both women and earth were created for men’s consumption and use. The Nile River, by all accounts, was incredibly fertile and contributed to the “fertile crescent” of the Middle East. And in matriarchal/egalitarian societies, the moon was respected as much as the sun. The Egyptian pantheon is not only accurate in depicting the animal and divine natures of human-gods, but is very egalitarian and not gender essentialist. In spite of its contrasting agricultural society, ancient Egyptian culture retained knowledge from Mesopotamia and the Sumerians and other prehistorical peoples.
Once the tribes of the desert religions, with the patriarchal, male, phallocentric, solar God and agricultural societies came about, they conquered the hunter-gatherer/moon-worshipping societies and assimilated the gods of the conquered into their own pantheon as demons, including goddesses (Motta, 1986). The people were “hot-blooded” and used to the temperament of a harsh, unforgiving Sun. They “domesticated” females with the intention of keeping them at home and in the bedroom; “patriarch” meaning the male head of the family, and made marriage of female slaves, or at the very least with the intention that the wife be submissive to her husband. They believed in might makes right, human exceptionalism and free will (Tremblay, 2013) . In the Abrahamic religions, God gives all the animals and a woman to Adam for his gain.
“Since humanity began to organize into tribes, two different types of cultures have existed: the farmers, adorants of the Sun; and the hunters, adorants of the Moon. The farmers plant, or raise cattle; the hunters live inside the natural ecological process, limiting themselves to altering it only to feed or dress themselves.
Many anthropologists are of the opinion that the hunter tribes represent the oldest form of human civilization, and that agriculture is a relatively modern invention of our species. Be what it may, the history of Europe is tied to the conquest of the hunter and nomadic tribes by the agricultural tribes that emigrated from Asia to the West; or, in other words, the triumph of the adorants of the Sun over the adorants of the Moon.
The European tribes and the British islands that adored the Moon had used lunar horns as symbols of leadership or of nobility; by valuing animal skins, they were lesser in stature than the adorants of the Sun and were unaware of iron. They lived in the forests or in the mountains. The Greeks called them fauns, the Romans satyrs, the Anglo-Saxons, they called them “dwarfs (imps, goblins)” or “people of the fairies.”
The religion of those people consisted of the adoration of the Moon in its three aspects: Maiden (or Virgin), Mother, and Crone (Hag). Their form of government was matriarchal, and priestesses presided over their religion. They did not practice human sacrifice, but practiced sexual liberty, even inviting strangers to share a common bed as a gesture of homage or courtesy. They celebrated orgiastic rituals during the equinoxes and the solstices. Homosexuality (feminine as well as masculine) was part of their rites. The partner of the Supreme (High) Priestess also used lunar horns on the forehead as a diadem, and because of this it was popularly called “The Cuckolded One” or “The Horned One.” (Pan)
With the arrival of the agricultural tribes, those which started to invade Europe in great waves three thousand years ago, the conflict between the culture of the adorants of the Moon and the adorants of the Sun became inevitable. The agriculturists destroyed the forests in order to plant; they were patriarchal, and considered women as the property of men; they sacrificed human representatives of the tribal god during the Spring Rites, to assure abundant harvests or offspring; a successor was immediately named, and because of this it was said that the God incarnate, or vicar died and rescuscitated every year, exactly as the Sun “did” everyday.
The contact between the two cultures, as hostile as it was, necessarily caused an assimilation of mutual customs. Patriarchy began to be practiced among the hunters, and matriarchy between the agriculturists; readings explaining the conflict between the two types of societies were incorporated in their religious rites. Eventually, a certain level of coexistence was reached. The multiplicity of gods between the European tribes during the historical period of the Greeks and Romans simply indicated the tolerance mutually practiced between those diverse cultures. The interchange between the priestly classes brought the formation of a pantheon of gods, those which were associated with one of the “seven sacred planets”: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. It didn’t matter which god or goddess was adored locally; if the divinity could be attributed to one of the “seven planets,” their followers mutually recongnized each other, and were assimilated, in spite of the apparent differences between their respective cults.
The advent of Christianity changed all of this. The Christians inherited from the Jews the vices of Israelite dogma with none of the virtues. The Christians were patriarchal, “monotheists” and intolerant of other faiths, except for the Jews, but had not assimilated the Hebrew Cabala, nor the highly refined concept that the Jews had of Jehova and his relation with his prophets, or seers. As a result, the history of the “catechization” of the European tribes by Christians (though it has been edited, censured and even forged by the Roman-Alexandrian patriarchs) is a bloody shame and a bunch of lies.”
– Astral Attack and Defense by Marcelo Ramos Motta
“In the earliest form of the patriarchal family, as we have seen, the patriarch was answerable to no one for the rule he exercised over the members of his family. He was the incarnation, perhaps the historical source, of arbitrary power, of domination that could be sanctioned by no principle, moral or ethical, other than tradition and the ideological tricks provided by the shaman. Like Yahweh, he was the primal “I” in a community based on the “we”. To a certain extent, this implosion of individuation into a single being, almost archetypal in nature, is a portent of widespread individuality and egotism, but in a form so warped that it was to become the quasi-magical personification of Will before a multitude of individual wills were to appear.”— Bookchin
Present among all of these ideas are the beliefs that humans are special and unique among animals, the earth and nature exist for our domination, heterosexual coitus (PIV) and reproduction is our God-given and inalienable right (biology as destiny), that man is the default human, women are property and vessels (per the sexual contracts of marriage and prostitution), we can take actions that have nothing to do with conditioning from the environment or socialization, that every action is equal, and finally, the Puritan Manifest Destiny and work ethic in America, treating corporations as people or better (i.e. with rights such as free speech, bank bailouts) and the capitalist so-called “free market.” And in this insistence on “owning” land, continuing to reproduce, controlling earth’s limited resources, exploiting other countries, and Othering women and minorities, we have rendered fertile areas into desert and maintained slavery in various forms (labor, sexual, domestic).
Small wonder, then, that the patriarchal Abrahamic/monotheistic religions are also called “desert” religions; in origin and character, they are based in unnecessary suffering, bloodshed, selfishness, projection, and greed. It is also no accident that these monotheistic religions resulted in a monocrop agricultural system and slash-and-burn system rather than natural plant and animal diversity, self-sufficiency and communal cooperation. There is no balance, justice, or love, but the forceful hatred, prejudice, authoritarianism, and severe punishment – even so-called ‘divine retribution’ – of Geburah.
“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world. Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world, they will act like lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will be bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.”— Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
Civilization as we know it is currently powered by fossil fuels which are composed of decaying animals and matter, and which we obtain by drilling; it is not a renewable resource. Since the belief in human exceptionalism and might makes right enforces a “scarcity of natural resources” view and the goal of objectification and commodification of people (treating them as resources in turn), spiritual work is thus discouraged whether people are truly low in resources or not, and treats such states as inherent or natural (cf. evopsych, scientific racism and sexism), or inevitably adhering to forces (including “God’s will”) beyond our control. Science has become one more Authority, not a tool, but used to rationalize bigotry and render life meaningless and without substance. Hence, neither scientific materialism nor religious colonialism are compatible with spirituality.
“The Copernican revolution has yet to have its final effects in the male imaginary. And by centring man outside himself, it has occasioned above all man’s ex-stasis within the transcendental (subject). Rising to a perspective that would dominate the totality, to the vantage point of greatest power, he thus cuts himself off from the bedrock, from his empirical relationship with the matrix he claims to survey. To specularise and speculate. Exiling himself ever further (toward) where the greatest power lies, he thus becomes the ‘sun’ if it is around him that things turn, a pole of attraction stronger than the ‘earth’.”
— Luce Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman (1974)
Rather than continuing in such traditions for tradition’s sake, the ritual of Resh draws the aspirant away from the monotony of everyday life to be aware of time and space, and an encouragement of objectivity and deconditioning. It is a call back to nature and away from sociopathy and the self-absorption of narcissism, from colonialism of bodies and ecocide. In sense deprivation- without sunlight and that synchronization with the environment – not only will our circadian rhythms shift to a 25-hour schedule, but body temperature, pain sensitivity, mental alertness, physical strength and the senses would be affected. Psychologically, we would become depressed, and in turn our ability to think and remember would decrease. And all life is ultimately dependent on the Sun. For us, the Sun’s light is photosynthesized by the plants which feed us, and which also feed the ruminant animals which we in turn feed upon (Keith, 2009). Solar energy is an alternative to fossil fuels and electricity. But without care for the Earth and its topsoil, all the warmth and light from the Sun won’t be able to sustain us. And in our hierarchy of needs, sustenance and survival comes before spiritual work. Resh, then, as a call to nature, is both a focus on the inner light and the outer, animal (including human) nature and starry nature.
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith
Astral Attack and Defense by Marcelo Ramos Motta
The limits of the scientific worldview
“Liminality and Communitas”, in “The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure” (New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction Press, 2008).
The problem of increasing human energy, by Nikola Tesla