Monday, August 25, 2014

The name of the Ankh

image: Ankhs carried by (left to right) Set, Isis, and Horus. Wikimedia commons (links here, here, and here).

The previous post explored some of the profound significance of the Ankh and its relation to the symbols of the Djed and the Scarab -- and to the message that we as individual men and women have an unending, spiritual component in addition to the horizontal, animal, and material aspect of our being to which we are currently joined.

That post also touched very briefly upon the amazing linguistic analysis Alvin Boyd Kuhn has provided regarding the word Ankh itself, and his assertion that the "N-K" sound seen in  the word Ankh finds its way into an astonishing array of words still in use today, including Yoga -- a practice whose central purpose clearly involves the "raising of the Djed-column," so to speak.

Alvin Boyd Kuhn lays out this analysis of the name of the Ankh primarily in his short treatise entitled The Esoteric Structure of the Alphabet and its Hidden Mystical Language, a delightful and insightful text which can be read in its entirety online here (among other places), and which can of course also still be obtained in print versions from a variety of sources (click here to go to the Project Gutenberg page for that text, which provides some other digital formats, including pdf).

Kuhn really warms to his theme beginning on page 12 of 88 in that online version linked above (and on page 8 of the facsimile print edition that I use at home, which can be purchased online here or perhaps ordered from your favorite local bookstore), saying:
Nothing has been more revealing than the list of words, in English, Greek, German, Hebrew, which can be traced to the old Egyptian name of this mighty symbol ["this mighty symbol" meaning the Ankh, that is]. Its central idea, it was noted, is the production of life through the tieing or union of spirit and matter. The central clue to the meaning of all these derivatives is the idea of tieing two things together. [He then goes on to explain that the root-sound found in the word Ankh, the "N-K" sound, sometimes found its way into words in the order "K-N," and sometimes the "N-K" is replaced by "N-G" (note that a "G" is linguistically nearly identical to a "K" except that the "G" is voiced where the "K" is not), and hence it is also indicated by "G-N" as well as by "N-G"]. With these specifications it is possible now to discern a whole new world of meaning in many common words never deemed to have come down from so divine a lineage.
It is seen first in such words as anchor, that which ties a boat to a fixed place; knit, knot, link, gnarled, gnaw, gnash (accounting for the odd spelling); ankelosis, a growing together of two bones; anger, anguish, anxiety, a tightening up of feelings. But most interestingly it seems to have given name to at least four joints or hinge-points (hinge itself seems to be another) in the human body: ankle, knee, neck and knuckles. Lung, as being the place where outside air unites with the inner blood, could perhaps be added. Far away as our English join appears to be from a source in A N K H, (N being the only letter common to both), it is certainly directly from it after all. For A N K H was the root of the Latin jungo, to join, N K becoming N G through the Greek. From this we get junction, adjunct, juncture, conjunction, from the Latin past participle of jungo, -- junctus. But in coming into English through the French, all these words were smoothed down to join, joint, and thus carried so far into English as to give us union, which is really junction in its primal form. With even the N dropping out we have yoke, that which ties two oxen together. And in Sanskrit it comes out as yoga, which in reality stands for yonga, meaning union
He then goes on to argue that the very common prefix con- (which means "with" or "together" and which by itself means both of those things in Spanish) comes from the K-N sound and is thus linked to the Ankh. By the same argument, he argues that the extremely versatile English ending -ing derives from the same ancient symbol (this time in the form of N-G). From there, he even argues that the word thing can trace its lineage to the same source.

But is that all? Far from it -- in fact, he's just getting warmed up!
Next comes one that carries an impressive significance in the study, the common verb to know, in Greek gnosco, German kennen, English ken. What constitutes the knowing act? The joining together of two things, consciousness and an object of consciousness, for there must be something apart from consciousness to be known.
Further arguments bring him to can, king, angel (the name for the messengers between the heavenly realms and the earthly), angle, nook, and of course Gnosis. We could perhaps argue that along with king could be the corresponding word queen, which also contains the K-N sound. As Kuhn explores briefly when discussing the connection between Ankh and king (and we could add, queen), each individual is in some ways a king or queen, "the one who both thinks and knows" as he says: the ruler and sovereign (a word which itself contains the N-G sound, as does reign) of his or her own universe, since each individual is a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm.

Here Kuhn (whose very surname can itself be seen to contain the K-N combination) leaves off the pursuit in this particular text, but he takes it right up again with even more profound effect in Lost Light (published in 1940 and available online here). There, on page 186 of the version linked in the foregoing sentence, Kuhn provides arguments that the Egyptian tradition of the anointing of Osiris (closely connected to the raising of the Djed-column), and of anointing of the mummy with unguents prior to burial, connects to the A N K H origin as well:
An item of great importance in this ritual was its performance always previous to the burial. It was a rite preparatory to the interment. Said Jesus himself of Mary: "In that she poured this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for my burial" (Matt. 26:12). She was symbolically enacting the Mystery rite of the chrism, and her performance quite definitely matched the previous practices of the Egyptians, from whom it was doubtless derived. But what does such an act denote in the larger interpretation here formulated? If the burial was the descent of the gods into bodily forms, then the anointing must have been enacted immediately antecedent to it or in direct conjunction of it. The etymology of the word sheds much light upon this whole confused matter. The "oint" portion of it is of course the French softening of the Latin "unct" stem; and this, whether philologists have yet discovered the connection or not, is derived from that mighty symbol of mingled divinity and humanity of ancient Egypt -- the A N K H cross. The word Ankh, meaning love, life and tie, or life as the result of tying together by attraction or love the two nodes of life's polarity, spirit and matter, suggests always and fundamentally the incarnation. For this is the "ankh-ing" of the two poles of being everywhere basic to life. The "unction" of the sacrament is really just the "junction" of the two life energies, with the "j" left off the word. Therefore the "anointing" is the pouring of the "oil of gladness," the spiritual nature, upon the mortal nature of living man. The "unguents" of the mummification were the types of the shining higher infusion, and they prepared the soul for, or were integrally a part of, its burial in the grave of mortality. And the Messiah was then crucified in the flesh.
In other words, Kuhn is here arguing that the scriptures are really teaching that the incarnation of every man and every woman is a form of "crucifixion in the flesh" (that is, the pinning down into a body of a spirit), the joining or ankh-ing or yoking of spirit and matter (or spirit upon a cross of matter). This teaching is depicted in the very form of the Ankh, and in words derived from the N-K sound. The act of anointing for burial was a depiction of the teaching that each human life consists of a divine element (represented by the anointing, the unguent, the "oil of gladness" which Kuhn comes right out and defines as "the spiritual nature") poured down upon (and in fact buried within) the body (the mortal, material, and animal part of our earthly existence). 

This explanation is central to his argument that the interpretation of the story of the Christ is that it is always meant to teach of and point to the "Christ in you" (that is to say, in each and every individual) and not to a literal figure (an argument he makes throughout Lost Light, as well as its companion volume Who is this King of Glory?). If this argument is correct, then we can see that the "raising of the Djed column," could be seen (according to such a teaching) as central to our human existence in this incarnation: the process of remembering our status as king (or queen); of knowing and achieving Gnosis; or even of anointing our physical, horizontal, and animal nature with the "vertical component" of the Ankh-cross -- that is to say, our spiritual or even divine aspect -- and in doing so to raise it up.

Whether or not one accepts that this teaching is in fact an accurate depiction of our human condition, the linguistic connections that Kuhn finds between words such as Yoga, unction, angel and Gnosis to the Ankh itself -- and the conceptual connections between these words and the others to the message conveyed by the symbology of the Ankh -- are quite compelling.

To add even more strength to his arguments, we can in fact suggest even more words which appear to have strong linguistic connection to the word Ankh, and which are in fact words which connect to the idea of the joining of the material and the physical natures, or to the "raising" of the spiritual consciousness within our human nature that we have seen is central to the "message of the Ankh."

You may have thought of some of these yourself already, as you have been reading along. How about the word Annunaki, the beings from the celestial realm who apparently joined themselves to the daughters of men?  At this time, I personally believe that this episode was intended to teach the same esoteric concept that has been outlined above (the teaching that we are a mixture of divine spirit and material flesh), and not intended to be understood literally (see previous posts here and here on that subject), although some believe that it refers to a literal event. Either way, the name of these beings, Annunaki, can most certainly be argued to be connected to the word Ankh.

Another one which is almost certainly linguistically related is the name of the amazing complex of Angkor Wat, which Graham Hancock has demonstrated to be precisely 72 degrees of longitude east of the Giza pyramids in Egypt, and hence deliberately connected to Egypt (72, of course, being one of the most important precessional numbers). Would it not be too far a stretch to suggest that, given this clear longitudinal connection between the sites, and given the fact that the word Angkor begins with an "Ankh," that Angkor Wat was intended to be (like the sacred sites of Egypt) a "place where men and women became gods"?

While we are on the subject of precessional numbers, I have pointed out before (in my first book and in previous blog posts such as this one, this one, and this one) that the martial arts of China are replete with precessional numbers. Given the fact just discussed, that Giza in Egypt (source of our knowledge of the Ankh) and Angkor Wat are separated by a significant precessional number, is it not possible that the name by which the Chinese martial arts are widely known, that is to say Kung Fu or Gung Fu, contains the K-N (and the N-G) sound which Alvin Boyd Kuhn believed to be connected to the Ankh? 

Critics may argue that there cannot possibly be any linguistic connection between China and ancient Egypt, and that the name Kung Fu is a Cantonese name (Guangdongwa) and that in Mandarin or Poutongwa the art is typically called WuShu. However, if we accept the possibility that the word Yoga itself is connected to the concept of the Ankh (and the practice of Yoga can certainly be argued to be related to the concept of "raising the spiritual" in conjunction with the physical), then it certainly seems to be a strong possibility that the practice of Kung Fu is also related to the same concept. And, in fact, there are very strong traditions in China itself that Kung Fu anciently came from India and is indeed related in some ways to the practice of Yoga. It should also be pointed out that technically, the terms Kung Fu (and Yoga) refer to a far broader set of practices and disciplines than they are popularly understood to mean (those terms are traditionally applied to a whole set of other forms of "work" or "discipline" than just to fighting movements or yoga asanas, in other words).

Other names which fit Alvin Boyd Kuhn's thesis include Angola in Africa, the name of which country is apparently derived from the title given to the kings who ruled in that land, the ngola. Along the same lines, it might even be argued that there could be a connection to the name of the Hmong people, among whom the surname Nguyen is very common. 

Another, much more amazing connection might be suggested with the civilization of the Inca, whose name can most certainly be argued to have linguistic similarity to the name of the Ankh. Most revealing is the fact that the Inca themselves did not refer to their empire or their people as "the Inca," but that this name is derived (as with the land of Angola) from the name of the kings of that civilization, who were called in their language the Inka. This fact fits the arguments of Alvin Boyd Kuhn perfectly, although to my knowledge he never mentioned it. It would seem to provide strong linguistic support to the enormous piles of other evidence pointing to ancient contact across the oceans (as well as the possibility of an ancient common predecessor civilization predating both -- the two possibilities are not mutually exclusive in this case).

There are no doubt many others which I have not thought of yet, but which you have been yelling at the screen as completely obvious: feel free to share them with me and with others through the medium of Facebook or Twitter (or through your own publication and discussion of this subject, if you have your own blog or other outlet).

And, while remaining alert to the manifestations of the incredibly important Ankh around the world, perhaps it is even more important to consider the message that this ancient sign was intended to convey, and to work to raise and anoint our individual consciousness and individual sovereignty, perhaps through Yoga, or Kung Fu, or some other path . . .

image: Wikimedia commons (link).