Friday, September 12, 2014

The shamanic journey described in the Pyramid Texts

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post, entitled "The Cobra Kai sucker-punch (and why we keep falling for it, over and over and over)," presented the argument that the ancient wisdom encoded in all the world's sacred mythologies taught that this universe contains both the apparently material and ordinary reality with which we are all familiar, and an unseen realm which is actually the "seed realm" from which the apparently material and ordinary reality is projected, much like a hologram is projected from the holographic film.

Using an analogy from the original Karate Kid film (1984), that post argued that the ability to tap into that unseen realm, and even to journey there in order to bring back information or to effect changes which impact the ordinary realm, is analogous to a form of "karate" or "kung fu" that was secretly taught within the esoteric myths of the world's sacred traditions (just like the karate that Daniel-San learns in the movie was "hidden" inside of ordinary-looking motions such as "wax the car" or "paint the fence"). 

The post then argued that this ancient knowledge of travel to the other realm was deliberately stamped out in "the West" by a group that wanted to keep the system of "karate" to themselves (although it did survive in other parts of the world for many centuries, including in the shamanic cultures found in parts of the globe that the Roman Empire and the later Western European nations descended from the Western Empire did not conquer).

One extremely important body of evidence which supports the above interpretation of world history can be found in the Pyramid Texts of ancient Egypt. The Pyramid Texts are found inscribed within pyramids left by the kings and queens at the end of the Fifth Dynasty and into the Sixth Dynasty (in the pyramid of the final Fifth Dynasty King, Unas, who reigned from 2375 BC to 2345 BC) and those of his successors in the Sixth Dynasty (Teti, Pepi I, Merenre, and Pepi II and Pepi II's wives Neith, Ipwet, and Oudjebten), probably ending in 2184 BC.

These texts are in fact the oldest known examples of extended writing (longer than brief prayers or simple tomb inscriptions) from the human race.

As discussed in previous posts (including this one and this one) and at length in The Undying Stars book, Egyptian scholar Dr. Jeremy Naydler has presented thorough arguments which demonstrate that these pyramids -- and the texts that they contain -- were not primarily funerary structures (as they are almost universally taught to be) but rather sacred enclosures in which the king as part of his Sed Festival rites would lie inside a stone sarcophagus and undergo a shamanic out-of-body journey to the other realm on behalf of the entire kingdom. His book is entitled Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt.

Below is an image from within the sarcophagus chamber of the Pyramid of Unas:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

This thesis, if correct, has profound significance for humanity. First, it would demonstrate that the very oldest extended scriptures that we currently possess are shamanic in nature. Second, it would demonstrate that "Western civilization" possesses a shamanic heritage, despite later efforts to suppress the shamanic worldview in "the West." And third, it raises the possibility that the incredible accomplishments of ancient Egypt were aided in some way by deliberate, regularly-scheduled trips to the unseen realm. There are many other implications as well, of course, but these three are some very significant ramifications of the assertion that the Pyramid Texts contain clear evidence of shamanic travel.

The Pyramid Texts as they are arranged in the Unas Pyramid can be viewed in their entirety online at this excellent website, The Pyramid Texts Online. They can be quite daunting at first, but if examined in conjunction with the helpful "guide" of Jeremy Naydler's book (linked above), the process of becoming more familiar with their contents can be greatly facilitated.

Below are just a few selected "utterances" from the Pyramid Texts which provide very clear support to the assertion that these texts were used in conjunction with deliberate shamanic travel by the king. All selections can be found in the Pyramid Texts Online site. At the end I will provide a brief commentary, but really these texts speak for themselves.


Utterance 253
275: To say the words:
"He is purified, who has purified himself in the Fields of Rushes.
Re has purified himself in the Fields of Rushes.
He is purified, who has purified himself in the Fields of Rushes.
This Unas has purified himself in the Fields of Rushes.
The hand of Unas is in the hand of Re.
Nut, take his hand!
Shu, lift him up! Shu, lift him up!"

Utterance 302
458: To say the words:
"Serene is the sky, Soped lives, for it is Unas indeed who is the living [star], the son of Sothis.
The Two Enneads have purified [themselves] for him as Meskhetiu [Great Bear], the Imperishable Stars.
The House of Unas which is in the sky will not perish,
the throne of Unas which is on earth will not be destroyed.

459: The humans hide themselves, the gods fly up,
Sothis has let Unas fly towards Heaven amongst his brothers the gods.
Nut the Great has uncovered her arms for Unas.

[. . .]
461: He [Unas] ascends towards heaven near you, Re,
while his face [is like that of] hawks, his wings [are like those] of apd-geese,
his talons the fangs of He-of-the-Dju-ef-nome.

463: Upuaut has let Unas fly to heaven amongst his brothers, the gods.
Unas has moved his arms like a smn-goose, he has beaten his wings like a kite.
He flies up, he who flies up, O men!
Unas flies up away from you!"

Utterance 304
468: To say the words:
"Hail to you, daughter of Anubis, she who stands at the windows of the sky,
you friend of Thoth, she who stands at the two side rails of the ladder!
Open the way for Unas that he may pass!

Utterance 305
472: To say the words:
"The ladder is tied together by Re before Osiris.
The ladder is tied together by Horus before his father Osiris, when he goes to his soul.
One of them is on this side,
one of them is on that side,
while Unas is between them.

473: Are you then a god whose places are pure?
[I] come from a pure place!
Stand [here] Unas, says Horus.
Sit [here] Unas, says Seth.
Take this arm, says Re.

474: The spirit belongs to heaven, the body to earth.
[. . .]

Utterance 247
259: Unas there! O Unas, see!
Unas there! O Unas, look!
Unas there! O Unas, hear!
Unas there! O Unas, be there!
Unas there! O Unas, arise on your side!
Do as I order, [you] who hate sleep, you who are tired!
Get up, you who are in Nedit!
Your fine bread is made in Buto.
Receive your power in Heliopolis!


The texts were selected to indicate aspects of the shamanic journey -- aspects which are common to the methods of embarking upon shamanic journeying taught today by shamanic teachers and practitioners, many of whom learned their techniques from shamanic teachers from traditional shamanic cultures in places as widely dispersed as Mongolia, Siberia, North America, South America, or Australia.

The selections above begin with Utterance 253, in which an actual spoken formula is recited. One can almost hear the "singsong tone" that might have been used, based upon the repetition of certain phrases, and based upon the common "chant-tone" which has survived in many widely-separated cultures on our planet to this very day, and which was remarked upon and illustrated in videos that can be found within this previous post.

Note that in the final lines of the utterance, the speaker is describing Unas as taking the hand of the god Re (or Ra) and the goddess Nut, and of being "raised up" by the god Shu (whose upraised arms are described in this previous post). It is difficult to deny that this sounds very much like the start of a shamanic journey (those familiar with modern techniques and teachings of shamanic travel may have personal experience to draw upon to support this connection, and Dr. Naydler provides plenty of more academic evidence which also supports the same conclusion about this and other texts).

In the next utterances cited, Unas is described as flying up to the region of the sky in which dwell the Imperishable Stars (also known as the Undying Stars). He is also described as transforming into a bird, or taking on the features of a bird, which is a common shamanic motif (one of the most common and widespread, in fact -- see discussions here, here and here). Elsewhere in the Pyramid Texts, Unas is described on his journey as transforming into a falcon, a hawk, a powerful bull, a crocodile, a serpent, and other animals, and as taking on aspects of various gods and goddesses. These are all elements which can be present in shamanic travel.

In Utterance 304, the Pyramid Texts describe the daughter of Anubis, who stands "at the windows of the sky." Dr. Naydler points out:
In the text, the word for "opening" or "window" is peter, which as a verb means "to see," implying some kind of aperture in the sky that opens onto the spirit realm. Shamanic accounts of passing through such apertures relate that they open for just an instant, and only the initiate is able to go through them into the Otherworld. 272.
Travel through such an "opening" or "window" is a very common feature of shamanic accounts, as well as of the accounts given by those who have undergone Near-Death Experiences (some of which are discussed in previous posts such as this one, this one, and this one). 

It is also intriguing to wonder if the name of the New Testament apostle Peter, who is given the keys to the kingdom of heaven, might not be related to this Egyptian concept of the "window" through which one can see the Otherworld, as Dr. Naydler says. Of course, we are told in the New Testament that the name comes from the word for "rock" (Latin petrus), and this certainly seems likely, but the connection to the Egyptian word, in the name of the apostle who is traditionally described as "guarding the gates," is most remarkable (the celestial or zodiacal reason that Peter is the one who guards the gates to the kingdom of heaven is discussed in this previous post).

In any case, it is difficult to deny that this "window of the sky" has strong analogs in shamanic travel. 

Next comes Utterance 305, in which Unas is described as climbing what Naydler describes as "the celestial ladder," a concept he relates to the Djed pillar -- one of the most important symbols of ancient Egyptian myth, and one that we have seen has undeniable connections to the shamanic worldview (see for instance this previous post). 

Previous posts including that one (and others linked in that post) demonstrate that the Djed symbology embodies both the "earthly" situation of the individual in his or her incarnate state (the "Djed cast down") and also the "heavenly" component in each man or woman, which he or she must remember, recognize, and seek to elevate during this earthly sojourn (the "Djed raised up"). In light of that fact, it is most significant that this same utterance that talks about the "heavenly ladder" also includes the line at 474 which declares "the spirit belongs to heaven, the body to earth." 

Dr. Naydler presents analysis to argue that both Utterance 305 and the following Utterance 306 teach "a linking of heaven and earth" (274), a concept which we recently saw to be embodied in the ancient symbol of the vesica piscis (as well as in the widespread symbol of the Cross).

The final selection cited above is Utterance 247 (note that these numbers are not necessarily in chronological order: the order that the walls of each pyramid should be read is debated among scholars, and the texts themselves do not always appear in the same order in different pyramids or in later writings or inscriptions). There, we see what could be interpreted as a very obvious "call to return" from the shamanic state of ecstasy. 

This is indeed how Dr. Naydler interprets these lines, and the repetition of commands for Unas to come back to his body, to see, to hear, to "be there," to turn onto his side -- all suggest that the priests who have been in attendance, and who probably assisted in the king's achieving the state of shamanic trance (using whichever of the many known techniques for achieving travel to the unseen realm -- or perhaps a technique that is now unknown), are calling Unas back from his voyage.

These descriptions of what appears to be a deliberate journey to the seed realm, the realm of the gods, are incredible, and their importance to our understanding of human history cannot be over-emphasized.

There is abundant evidence from around the world that such journeys to the unseen realm can and do create real impact on the ordinary realm. If so, then we can begin to understand why certain people would want to take away this knowledge from the rest of humanity, and keep it all to themselves.

But the evidence of what was once known cannot be suppressed forever. It is there, in plain sight, in the oldest scriptures left anywhere on the planet. It is also preserved in the other sacred traditions of the world's cultures, including the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the myths of the ancient Greeks and the Norse, and nearly everywhere else around the globe. These texts are waiting there patiently for us to recognize them for what they are.  

If you are in the habit of contacting the other realm, perhaps you will find ways to employ some of these ancient aspects of what may well be the oldest extended description of shamanic travel known to humanity.