From the Book of the Dead to Gnosticism
The mystical Spell 17, from the Papyrus of Ani. The vignette at the top illustrates, from left to right, the god Heh as a representation of the Sea; a gateway to the realm of Osiris; the Eye of Horus; the celestial cow Mehet-Weret; and a human head rising from a coffin, guarded by the four Sons of Horus.
12. Taylor 2010, p.51
How does the faith of Cleopatra VII - the ultimate expression of Ptolemaic syncretisms with pharaonic Egypt - lead to those of later Egypt, when it was a province of the Roman Empire? In particular, does it lead to the gnostic faiths of Hermeticism and Gnosticism (and in the East, Manichaeism)? That is what I am now trying to learn.
If I can learn those answers, I hope to better understand Chrestianity, as it also emerged from the same, Ptolemaic syncretisms, in the same time and place.
This will also help to better define the chronology, the gap between Cleopatra VII and when Christianity first appears. Gnosticism appears long before Christianity, but is contemporary with many faiths, including Chrestianity.
In Late Antiquity, Hermetism emerged in parallel with early Christianity, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, the Chaldaean Oracles, and late Orphic and Pythagorean literature. These doctrines were "characterized by a resistance to the dominance of either pure rationality or doctrinal faith."Well, in the above quotation, I would change 'Christianity' to read 'Chrestianity'. Syncretism makes these faiths - a whole lot of them - virtually indistinguishable.
- 19. van den Broek and Hanegraaff (1997) distinguish Hermetism in late antiquity from Hermeticism in the Renaissance revival.
- van den Broek and Hanegraaff (1997), p. vii.
The Hermetic literature added to the Egyptian concerns with conjuring spirits and animating statues that inform the oldest texts, Hellenistic writings of Greco-Babylonian astrology and the newly developed practice of alchemy (Fowden 1993: pp65–68). In a parallel tradition, Hermetic philosophy rationalized and systematized religious cult practices and offered the adept a method of personal ascension from the constraints of physical being, which has led to confusion of Hermeticism with Gnosticism, which was developing contemporaneously.
- Dan Merkur, Stages of Ascension in Hermetic Rebirth.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes_TrismegistusOne of the characteristics of Gnosticism is the plethora of gods, divinities, both as part of its theology and to be called upon to perform magic. Are these drawn upon the gods of the Book of the Dead?
The path to the afterlife as laid out in the Book of the Dead was a difficult one. The deceased was required to pass a series of gates, caverns and mounds guarded by supernatural creatures. These terrifying entities were armed with enormous knives and are illustrated in grotesque forms, typically as human figures with the heads of animals or combinations of different ferocious beasts. Their names—for instance, "He who lives on snakes" or "He who dances in blood"—are equally grotesque. These creatures had to be pacified by reciting the appropriate spells included in the Book of the Dead; once pacified they posed no further threat, and could even extend their protection to the dead person. Another breed of supernatural creatures was 'slaughterers' who killed the unrighteous on behalf of Osiris; the Book of the Dead equipped its owner to escape their attentions. As well as these supernatural entities, there were also threats from natural or supernatural animals, including crocodiles, snakes, and beetles.Then there is this term, Ennead:
The Book of the Dead: Afterlife
The deceased person is shown encountering the Great Ennead, a group of gods, as well as his or her own parents. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_the_Dead
The Ennead (Ancient Greek: ἐννεάς, meaning a collection of nine things) was a group of nine deities in Egyptian mythology. The Ennead were worshipped at Heliopolis and consisted of the god Atum, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut and their children Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ennead
The Six Enneads, sometimes abbreviated to The Enneads or Enneads (Greek: Ἐννεάδες), is the collection of writings of Plotinus, edited and compiled by his student Porphyry (c. 270 AD). Plotinus was a student of Ammonius Saccas and they were founders of Neoplatonism.I am reasonably sure that this all relates to Chrestianity. The Six Enneads, for example, contain much about The Good, which perhaps is associated with Chrest, if we understand this term to mean Good: The Good; a state of Good; the Good of Life; the Supreme Good; The nature of Good; the Authentic Good; the Supreme, which within Itself is the Good but manifests Itself within the human being after this other mode; and more.
I know next to nothing of these things, so unless an expert appears from somewhere to help, I have some work to do.