An essential skill for would-be deities
Judgement before Osiris
From the Egyptian Book of the dead, 1250 B.C.
Osiris died, came back to life and lives in the Egyptian Heaven
Religions like to think of themselves as completely separate from other religions. The reality is that religions exchange ideas and customs just as languages do: English is “separate” from, say, Latin, Greek, French and German but it contains words and phrases borrowed from each, either as they stand or in a modified form. It is said that there has been so much interaction between French and English that if you simply guess a word you have a fifty per cent chance of getting it right.
In the same way, religions exchange ideas and customs through social interaction and demographic movement.
One such idea is the “dying and rising God” familiar to Christians in the resurrection. However, it has its origins in Heliocentric (“Sun-centred”) ancient religions. The sun “dies” every day at sunset., travels through the underworld during the night and “rises” again the next morning. The dying and rising God can be traced through the religions of antiquity to the present day. One example is the Phoenix, rising again from its own ashes.
The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, seen in this picture in human form, also appeared as a serpent eternally swallowing his own tail:
In Africa, various Yoruba towns celebrate an annual festival in honour of Obatala. However, nowhere does this festival so distinctly resemble a resurrection festival as in the festival of Ife. Obatala figures in the complex Ife mythology of the Yoruba involving a remote High God, Olodumare, and his sons Oduduwa and Obatala. All three deities were involved in the process of creating the world which is supposed to have taken place in Ife.
The goddess Oya
The Pharaohs maintained their rule largely through convincing the people of their divinity. One way of doing this was their now-lost knowledge of a potion which could induce a catatonic state. This enabled them to apparently die and rise again.
On the death of the old pharaoh, his successor went through a series of rituals which included “dying”, visiting the underworld and eventually “coming back to life” to rule as the new pharaoh. This was actually achieved by a potion which induced catatonia so that no stimulus, even pain, could rouse him. Hours later the effect would wear off and the pharaoh would “come back to life”.
This worked fine throughout the old kingdom but then a problem arose.
Between the old and the new kingdoms in ancient Egypt, there was an interregnum period of about a hundred years, when Egypt was effectively governed by the Hyksos.
People tend to imagine that Egypt was overrun by hordes of sabre-wielding Hyksos but it really wasn’t like that; in fact there was no war at all. Egypt simply didn’t have an immigration policy so that gradually the Hyksos swamped the Egyptian population and eventually commanded all the key positions in government.
The Hyksos began to question why they occupied all the other key positions in government but couldn’t become pharaoh. However, one stumbling block was the fact that they didn’t have the secret of the dying and rising god and so could not convince anyone that they were divine. They determined to obtain it.
Sequenre Tao, last pharaoh of the ancient kingdom, held the secret along with only one other, the Grand Visier, who was roughly the equivalent of a president or prime minister today. Sequenre was in the habit of taking a stroll on his own around the roof terrace of his palace in the evening.
The Hyksos despatched the three Jewes, Jubile, Jubilo and Jubilum, to waylay him and obtain the secret using whatever force was necessary. There were three gates to the terrace and one of the three waited at each of the gates. Sequenre was approached by the first, Jubile, at the first gate and he demanded to know the secret. The pharaoh refused to answer and was injured badly but escaped. The same happened at the second gate when he was accosted by Jubilo, while at the third gate Jubilum, unable to obtain the secret, killed the pharaoh.
The hall of Judgement, from the Book of the Dead
The three Jewes were now in a lot of trouble. Not only were they fugitives from the Egyptians over the death of their pharaoh but they were also being pursued by the Hyksos who were pretty annoyed about the fact that they had now lost the secret forever.
Eventually they were caught. In an interesting sequel to this story, the sarcophagus of Sequenre has been discovered, with a further, unnamed cadaver of an individual who had been castrated before being killed and wrapped after death in an unmarked sheet. He was then buried unceremoniously next to the pharaoh. It is widely believed by archaeologists that the other cadaver is that of Jubilum.
The Interregnum of the Hyksos eventually gave way to the second kingdom. Because the secret of dying and rising had been lost it was necessary to convince the people that the new pharaohs had some other arcane knowledge which became known as the “substituted secrets”. Interestingly, the Masonic rituals still contain reference to the “substituted secrets”.
The Temple of Solomon
Ezekiel discovered the Egyptian rituals being practised in the Temple of Solomon. His comment to the three individuals practising the rituals was interesting: Essentially it was that “You know what you know and nothing can change that but you can’t let the secret out”. Instead it was decided to present the story of Sequenre’s murder as something that occurred in what was then, modern times. The death of Solomon could not be re-written in terms of Sequenre’s death because the death of Solomon was common knowledge. Instead, it was presented as the death of Hiram Abiff, the master mason responsible for the building of Solomon’s temple. This tradition is carried into the modern rituals of the Freemasons.
Finally, I’ll mention in passing the enigmatic graffiti found on a wall during the ripper murders at the beginning of the twentieth century, close to the site of the murder of Elizabeth Stride: “The Jewes are the boys who will not be blamed for nothing”.
© Ken James 2008