Friday, August 19, 2011

The high science of ancient Egypt

In the previous post, we continued the examination of the fact that the planets have been associated since mankind's earliest recorded literature with measurement and time, a subject which we have touched upon in previous posts such as this one. This concept should be fairly intuitive to us, as even those who have not spent much time observing the planets and the stars and their motions are aware that our modern measurement of time is still connected to the rotation of our own planet and its annual journey around the sun, as well as the monthly pattern of the moon (the moon's rhythms are discussed briefly here).

One of the interesting aspects of the ancient myths that is pointed out by the authors of Hamlet's Mill and which is mentioned in yesterday's post is the fact that each of the planets were conceived of as measuring time differently -- Jupiter by "throwing," Saturn by "falling," and Mercury by means of a stylus.

They recount the story told by Jacob Grimm (1785 - 1863), one of the "Brothers Grimm" of Grimm's Fairy Tale fame and a highly accomplished linguist, philologist, and scholar of mythology. The authors of Hamlet's Mill quote one of the medieval Dutch legends recorded by Grimm, and then go on to explain its connection to Mercury:
And there is an even less suitable measure to be had, a veritable stylus. Jacob Grimm gives the story: "The medieval Dutch poem of Brandaen . . . contains a very remarkable feature: Brandaen met on the sea a man of thumb size, floating upon a leaf, holding in his right hand a small bowl, in the left hand a stylus; the stylus he kept dipping into the sea and letting water drip from it into the bowl; when the bowl was full, he emptied it out and began filling it again. It was imposed on him, he said, to measure the sea until Judgment-day." This particular "instrument" seems to reveal the surveyor in charge in this special case. Mercury was the celestial scribe and guardian of the files and records, "and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters," as Plato has it (Phaedrus 274). Hamlet's Mill 271.
Interestingly enough, the Greek god Hermes (who in Latin and Rome would be called Mercury) corresponds to the Egyptian god Thoth, as can be seen in many ancient writings such as the works of Plutarch. Egyptian Thoth was also associated with science, wisdom, draughts, and of course writing, and was often depicted with a stylus and writing tablet, as in the illustration above from the Papyrus of Ani.

The work of R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887 - 1961) formed the jumping-off point for John Anthony West in Serpent in the Sky, which has been mentioned in posts several times previously (see here and here for example). In his book Sacred Science: The King of Pharaonic Theocracy, Schwaller de Lubicz explains the connection between the sciences presided over by Thoth -- the wisdom of ancient Egypt, or the "sacred science" as de Lubicz calls it -- and the origin of the terms for Hermetic knowledge and alchemy:
Yet it was quite natural for any scribe to call himself a "servant of Thoth" -- the "patron of writing." The Greeks, therefore, in their contact with a declining Egypt, were prompted to speak of science in general as belonging to Thoth, or Hermes. The meaning of "sacred science" was thus vulgarized under the term "Hermetism."

In truth, the purpose of this modest offering is to convey a succinct understanding of the important reality of sacred science -- which is not to be confused with the vernacular meaning conveyed by "Hermetism." This undertaking demands a look at the history of thought in the West and at the history of man in the light of that thought.

What is the general attitude in our day toward this Hermetic science usually referred to as alchemy? The word is of Islamic origin and signifies "the science of al-Kemit" encountered by the Arab invaders of Egypt, that ancient Kemit which gave so much light to an Islam setting out to conquer the world. For nearly everyone, alchemy is the science of "making gold" and nothing more. For some, it is a fantasy; for others, a mysterious science of fascinating discovery. There are also the "spiritually minded" who consider alchemy to be a psychospiritual science of transforming consciousness, and the acquisition of psychic if not spiritual powers. 7-8.
The origin of these words for mysterious knowledge in the science of ancient Egypt is significant, as Schwaller de Lubicz clearly explains. But where did the Egyptians acquire this knowledge? Is there evidence that they developed it by slow process of trial and error over the long span of forty centuries of Egyptian civilization? There is not. On the contrary, as John Anthony West points out in his book, the most amazing aspects of Egyptian civilization -- not least including their sophisticated and beautiful system of hieroglyphic writing -- appear from their inception to have been fully developed. He puts forth extensive evidence to support the conclusion that "Egypt did not 'develop' her civilisation, but inherited it" (197):
Egyptologists postulate an indeterminate (and indeterminable) period of 'development' prior to the First Dynasty. This assumption is supported by no evidence; indeed the evidence, such as it is, appears to contradict the assumption. Egyptian civilisation, taken field by field and discipline by discipline (even according to an orthodox understanding of its achievement), renders unsatisfactory the assumption of a brief development period. The much vaunted flowering of Greece two thousand years later pales into insignificance in the face of a civilisation which, supposedly starting from a crude neolithic base, produced in a few centuries a complete system of hieroglyphs, the most sophisticated calendrical system ever developed, an effective mathematics, a refined medicine, a total mastery of the gamut of arts and crafts and the capacity to construct the largest and most accomplished stone buildings ever built by man. The cautiously expressed astonishment of modern Egyptologists hardly matches the real magnitude of the mystery. 196.
Clearly, the confidently repeated timelines of mankind's ancient past which we have all been taught are seriously flawed and need to be critically reexamined.

We have seen that the tectonic theory of geology is also seriously flawed and requires a complete reexamination as well. It is the assertion of the Mathisen Corollary that the replacement of the tectonic theory with a more accurate understanding of the forces that shaped the earth in the distant past will shed new light and allow an important new perspective on the mystery of mankind's ancient timeline as well.