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Author Topic: THE GREAT ATEN  (Read 10231 times)
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« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2008, 06:32:47 pm »

During the many centuries of Egyptian history many teachers must have come from time
to time, their presentations of the Wisdom-Religion differing according to the period, the
need and the nature of the Egos whom they taught.

That the Heliopolitan system was distinct from that of Amen at Thebes, that the priests
of Hermopolis held to their particular form of doctrine, and those of Osiris to theirs, and
that all as cults differed from one another and from Atenism is evident; nevertheless Ptah
of Memphis, Ra of Heliopolis, Amen of Thebes, and Osiris of Abydos, in certain of their
aspects -- and in all when considered as septenary, and esoterically understood -- are
one and the same.

Consequently wherever their fusion occurs it apparently was an attempt at unity of systems
tending toward unity of thought and understanding among a cosmopolitan people rather
than an effort to establish monotheism, as many Christian scholars would fein prove. 
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« Reply #31 on: February 17, 2008, 06:34:33 pm »

Maspero says that the sun appearing before the world was called Tumu (Tem) or Atum,
while our earthly sun was Khepera.

The similarity between the word "Atum" and "Atma," the Spirit, is too striking to require

Atum, according to this author, was also the prototype of man, (Coptic TME, man) becom-
ing a perfect "Tum" after his resurrection; that is, Perfected Man.

There were several traditions as to how Atum became Ra, but according to the most generally
accepted, Atum had suddenly cried across the water,

"Come unto me"!

and immediately the mysterious lotus had unfolded its petals, and Ra appeared at the edge
of its open cup as a disk, a new-born child, or a disk-crowned sparrow-hawk.

The Egyptians called the first day of the year, Come-unto-me.
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« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2008, 06:36:56 pm »

In Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead, the opening passage reads:

"I am Tem in rising. I am the only One. I came into being in Nu. I am Ra who rose in the
beginning... The pillars of Shu were not as yet created. It is Ra, the creator of the names
of his limbs, which came into being in the form of the gods, who are in the train of Ra"

(i.e., the gods who personify his phases) -- fourteen Spirits, seven dark and seven light...

"I am the Bennu bird (the Phoenix, type of resurrection) which is in Anu, and I am the
keeper of the volume of the book of things which are and of things which shall be."

In the eternity of his being occur vast cycles of activity followed by equal periods of rest:
"Millions of years" is the name of the one, "Great Green Lake" is the name of the other,
the "Lake" representing the cycle in which are swallowed up all things produced by
"The Begetter of millions of years."

In Chapter XLII he "who dwelleth in his eye" is beaming in "the solar egg, the egg to which
is given life among the gods." In Chapter XV he is "Yesterday," "Today," and "Tomorrow,"
the one "who reposeth upon law which changeth not nor can it be altered."

In Chapter LXXV he is the self-created god:

"I gave birth unto myself together with Nu in my name of Khepera, in whom I come into
being day by day. I am the creator of the darkness who maketh his habitation in the
uttermost parts of the sky ... and I arrive at the confines thereof. I sail over the sky
which formeth the division betwixt heaven and earth... None sees my nest, none can
break my egg."

In these extracts are all the fundamental teachings of Theosophy: Space, the One Life,
the Self-existing Deity, Law, Cycles, Reincarnation, Being, and a hint of the septenary
nature of cosmos. 
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« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2008, 06:38:22 pm »

In a Hymn to the Setting Sun, the deceased says:

"Praise be unto thee, O Ra, praise be unto thee, O Tem."

Chapter LXXIX reads:

"I am the god Tem, the maker of heaven, the creator of things which are, who cometh
forth from the earth, who maketh to come into being the seed which shall be, who gave
birth to the gods; [I am] the great god who made himself, the lord of life, who maketh
to flourish the company of the gods."

Tem, as already said, is Fohat, whose influence on the Cosmic plane

"is present in the constructive power that carries out, in the formation of things -- from
the planetary system down to the glowworm and simple daisy -- the plan in the mind of
nature, or in the Divine Thought, with regard to the development and growth of that
special thing."

(S.D., I, 111). He is "the north wind and the spirit of the west;" as "the setting sun of life",
he is the vital electric force that leaves the body at death, wherefore the defunct begs
that Toum should give him the breath from his right nostril (positive electricity) that he
might live in his second form.

Both the hieroglyphic(2) and the text of Chapter LXII show the identity of Toum with Fohat.
The former represents a man standing erect with the hieroglyph of the breaths in his hands.
The latter says:

"I open to the chief of An... I am Toum. I cross the water spilt by Thot-Hapi, the lord of the
horizon, and am the divider of the earth."

(Fohat divides Space and, with his Sons, the earth into seven zones) ...

"I cross the heavens, and am the two Lions. I am Ra, I am Aam, I ate my heir.... I am Toum,
to whom eternity is accorded...." (S.D., I, 674).
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« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2008, 06:39:35 pm »

The above metaphor expresses the succession of divine functions, the substitution from one
form into another, or the correlation of forces.

Aam is the electro-positive force, devouring all others, as Saturn devoured his progeny.

The Egyptians used the forcible expression to eat where we would use the word absorb, or

The Rev. James Baikie, writing for the National Geographic, Sept., 1913, quotes one of the
Pyramid Texts which to him reveals an "almost savage set of religious conceptions," con-
trasting strangely with their high civilization.

The deceased is ascending to heaven as a fierce huntsman who lassoes the stars and devours
the gods.

"The great ones among them are his morning meal, the middle ones are his evening meal, and
the small ones his night meal.... Their magic is in his body; he swallows the understanding of
every god."

The last sentence contains the explanation of the Text. It is difficult to understand why a
Christian who eats the body of Christ and drinks his blood, should consider the ancient
Egyptians as more "cannibalistic" than himself! 
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« Reply #35 on: February 17, 2008, 06:40:44 pm »

Amen, whose name means "concealed," was regarded as an ancient nature-god in the
Vth dynasty, says Budge.

Esoterically, he is All-Nature, therefore the universe, and the "Lord of Eternity." Later his
worship was established at Thebes, where his sanctuary seems to have absorbed the
shrine of the ancient goddess Apit, from whom T-Ape (Coptic) the city derived its name.

It was far later that Thebes was known as the City of Amen -- Nut Amen, the No Amon of
the Bible (Nahum iii, . The worship of Amen was carried into Nubia and the Soudan by the
Pharaohs of the XIIth dynasty; in the name of Amen the Hyksos had been expelled from the
country so that, in the course of time, Amen became known as the god of successful warriors.

The booty obtained from many campaigns was shared with the priests of Amen who became
exceedingly rich and powerful and, little by little, Amen absorbed the titles and attributes of
the other gods.

While the priests of Amen worshipped Amen, or Amen-Ra, as the Spiritual Sun, the masses of
people adored Ra, the visible luminary of the heavens. 
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« Reply #36 on: February 17, 2008, 06:42:20 pm »

An interesting passage from the Papyrus of Nesi-Khonsu, a Priestess of Amen-Ra, written
about 1000 B.C., proves that this order considered the visible sun, the Disk, merely as a
focus or "substitute" for the Central Sun, as Theosophy teaches.

The apostrophe to Amen-Ra reads:

"This holy god, the lord of all the gods, Amen-Ra....

the holy soul who came into being in the beginning; the great god who liveth by Maat (order
and regularity); the first divine matter which gave birth unto subsequent matter! the being
through whom every other god hath existence; the One One ...; the being whose births are
hidden, whose evolutions are manifold, and whose growths are unknown;... the divine form
who dwelleth in the forms of all the gods, the Lion-god with awesome eye;... the god Nu,
the prince who advanceth at his hour to vivify that which cometh forth upon his potter's
wheel;... the traverser of eternity ... with myriads of pairs of eyes and numberless pairs of
ears, whose light is the guide of the god of millions of years;...

whose substitute is the divine Disk."
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« Reply #37 on: February 17, 2008, 06:44:33 pm »

Connected with this very distinction is an important epoch in Egyptian history.

Amenhotep IV, according to Pro. Breasted, believing in only one god, whom he called


the Disk, attempted to destroy the old gods of Egypt, and introduce monotheism.

He particularly hated Amen, closed the temples, cast out the priests, had the names
of the gods cut out of the inscriptions, and changed his own name containing Amen
to Akhen-aten, meaning "Aten is satisfied."

He abandoned Thebes and built a new capital at Amarna where he devoted himself to art
and religion. He is represented as receiving the light and heat of Aten through the Heavenly
Father's Hands -- the sun's rays terminating in hands.

A few years ago hundreds of clay tablets in the Babylonian cuneiform were dug up at Amarna,
which reveal that the dependencies of Egypt were gradually throwing off her yoke, dissa-
tisfaction among both priests and soldiers was fomenting trouble, all of which led to Egypt's
loss of prestige and power.

So the "monotheism" which Akhen-aten tried to introduce died with him.

That his reform was aimed in part at a corrupt priesthood is undoubtedly true, but to suppose

"In all the progress of men which we have followed through thousands of years, no one had
ever before caught such a vision of the Great Father of all"

is a gross misconception. Budge states that the old Heliopolitan system made Tem or Tem-Ra
the creator of Aten, the Disk.

But this view Amenhotep IV rejected, asserting that the Disk was self-created and self-existent.
Since from the esoteric and philosophical point of view, this was the substitution of a material
and personal god for the ever-concealed Deity, or Amen, Akhenaten could not have received
the backing of the Hierophants, and being himself a pacifist, Egypt suffered greatly as a result
of his reign.

In the conflict waged around this Pharaoh some Egyptologists have attempted to prove that his
monotheism was not new.

But no amount of mere scholarship can adequately deal with the situation; nor until authors rid
themselves of the idea of the superiority of monotheism, with its Christian implication of a
personal God, over all other forms of belief, will they ever judge aright. 
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« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2008, 06:47:39 pm »

Tutankhamen, whose tomb was discovered in 1922 by the late Lord Carnarvon, married
Akhenaten's daughter.

When he came to the throne he professed the same religion as his father-in-law; but
soon realizing the failure of Atenism, substituted the name of Amen in his wife's and in
his own name, which had originally been Tutankhaten.

The honor accorded to this now famous Pharaoh by the Egyptians rests upon the fact
that he restored the national worship of Amen, rehabilitated the decaying temples and
reestablished the priesthood of Amen-Ra.

The priests of Amen gradually lost this temporarily restored power, as they had already
lost their spiritual power, and the people brought their rule to an end about 700 B.C.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here: 


According to the tenets of Eastern Occultism, DARKNESS is the one true actuality, the basis and the root of light, without which the latter could never manifest itself, nor even exist. Light is matter, and DARKNESS pure Spirit. Darkness, in its radical, metaphysical basis, is subjective and absolute light; while the latter in all its seeming effulgence and glory, is merely a mass of shadows, as it can never be eternal, and is simply an illusion, or Maya.--S.D. I, p. 70.

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« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2008, 10:14:16 am »

                                              Akhenaten and Monotheism

The concept of monotheism has deep roots in Western Civilization, reaching as far back in
time as the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt, well before the formation of the ancient state
of Israel or the advent of Christianity.

There, an odd-looking, untraditional and ultimately unfathomable pharaoh named Akhenaten
imposed on his people a belief-system centering around a single deity, the Aten or sun-disk.

Famous also for his capital city Akhetaten (modern el-Amarna) and his strikingly beautiful wife
Nefertiti, Akhenaten's revolution in religion was short-lived, and the extent of its influence even
within Egypt is hard to gauge, though it seems slight. Nevertheless, it's possible that Aten wor-
ship inspired or, in some way, sparked the development of monotheism later among the ancient

People, Places, Events and Terms To Know:



Amunhotep (IV)

Amarna Period



Ramses II


Amarna Culture


Amunhotep III





Amun Priesthood


Valley of the Kings



Howard Carter

Hebrew Monotheism

Egyptian Captivity

Goshen (Pi-Ramesse)

Psalm 104

Hymn to the Aten
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« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2008, 10:20:06 am »

                                      The History of Monotheism in Antiquity

We in the western world today tend to associate monotheism with our own traditions, as if it
were originally the invention of our European ancestors.

It wasn't.

Ancient Semitic cultures rooted in the Near East and its environs not only explored monotheistic
thinking earlier and more fully but also today embrace the strictest form of monotheism to date,
Islam. Historical data are clear that the conception of a universe created and guided by one
deity alone is the product of Eastern ideologies exported to, not from, the West.

It's like pants, something we in the West rarely think about as essentially foreign, even though
they are.

Indeed, a mere glance at costume history shows that very few people in early Western Civili-
zation—Greeks, Romans, Franks—regularly wore tight-fitting garments, especially below the

In fact, it wasn't until well after antiquity, when trade and war had opened the way for cultural
exchange between East and West, that large numbers of men who lived in Europe began wear-
ing pants and other clothing styles suited to horseback riding. So, if not for contact with the
East, we might all still be wearing tunics and worshiping a pantheon of gods.

Many today also assume that the earliest historical evidence for monotheism is to be found among
ancient Hebrew scriptures, the accounts of a people who lived in the Near East during the second
and first millennia BCE.

It isn't.

Not only did the Hebrews develop their monotheistic tenets slowly and over the course of several
centuries—as we'll see in the next section of the class—but long before the Hebrews even existed
as a coherent social group, the ancient Egyptians experimented with a form of single-deity worship.

 The guiding force behind this brief pause in polytheism was a mysterious pharaoh who gave him-
self the name Akhenaten.

Whether or not his theological experiment influenced or in any way stimulated the religion outlined
in the Old Testament is not clear.

What is certain is that the ancient Hebrews were not the only, nor the first, people on record to
adopt the notion of a single, cosmic entity overseeing everything.
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« Reply #41 on: February 26, 2008, 10:29:06 am »


We know both little and much about Akhenaten—that is to say, we know enough to wish
we knew much more—but at least the general contours of his biography are clear. Born Amun-
hotep (IV), Akhenaten ruled Egypt for a mere fourteen years (ca. 1352-1338 BCE), a relati-
vely short reign by the standards of the day. While there is no record of his death nor have
any material remains from his burial as yet come to light, it is safe to assume he died in middle
age. The cause of his death is not known.

The unique and peculiar phase of Egyptian history he represents is known today as the Amarna
Period—the modern Egyptian village of El-Amarna lies near the site that was once Akhenaten's
capital city—although the Amarna Period extends beyond his reign, including not only Akhenaten's
regency but several of his successors':

• Smenkhare (1338-1336 BCE), about whom next to nothing is known;

• Tutankhuaten (later, Tutankhamun, 1336-1327 BCE), whose current notoriety since the
   discovery of his tomb in the 1920's far outstrips the boy-king's fame in antiquity;

• and finally Ay (1327-1323 BCE).

By the time the next series of pharaohs held the throne—Horemheb (1323-1295 BCE) and the
Ramessids, a dynasty which included the famous Ramses II—Amarna had been abandoned and
destroyed, along with the memory of Akhenaten's religion in the general conscience of the an-
cient Egyptian public. This deliberate attempt to eradicate all reference in the Egyptian record
to the Amarna period was nearly successful, but not quite.

We do know about Akhenaten, in fact, probably quite a bit more than the ancient Egyptians
who lived even just a few generations after the monotheist's rule. In spite of the fact that vir-
tually no reference remains in later historical records to Akhenaten's existence, or his immediate
successors'—it's hard to find even hints of his religion in subsequent Egyptian culture—archaeo-
logy has brought Amarna culture back to light with astounding clarity and depth.

As with Pompeii (see above, Section 1), because of its near-total obliteration more is now known
about Akhenaten's regime than almost any other period during the New Kingdom of Egypt, a fact
Ramses would, no doubt, not be very happy to hear.
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« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2008, 10:36:20 am »


                                                   (Akhenaten's capital)

To a large extent, our knowledge of Akhenaten's life and times begins in Akhetaten, the city
he built for himself and his religion, not that the site is particularly well preserved.

In fact, it's not.

Later rulers antagonistic to Amarna culture, the social and religious institutions Akhenaten im-
posed on Egypt, intentionally demolished Akhetaten along with the records of his reign.

Ironically, however, that program of destruction saved the city and its founder's name for pos-
terity and, for the most part, its preservation depends on the fact that the city rose and fell
very quickly.

The reason for that stems from the enormous scope of change which Akhenaten attempted—
a dramatic shift in religious, political and social traditions—and that meant he had to have an
entirely new, fully functioning capital from which he could run the country without the weight
of tradition bearing down on him and holding him back. Revolutions often have to "seize the
day" and proceed quickly or else they do not get off the ground at all.

In order to build Akhenaten's city and shrines at such a breakneck speed, relatively small
blocks were used, stones which are now called 'talatat'—it's easier and faster to raise a struc-
ture by using many small pieces rather than a few large ones—and, to date, more than 45,000
talatat from Akhenaten's buildings have come to light. Indeed, so many have been recovered
that today talatat can be found in museums around the world and are a regular item sold on
the black market. But small-sized blocks are also easy to deconstruct. One of the reasons the
Great Pyramid still stands is the enormous size of the individual stones used to build it, and
for that reason it couldn't be rapidly demolished the way Amarna culture was.

It's often the case that what goes up fast comes down the same way.

Other factors played a role in the ready destruction—and preservation!—of Akhenaten's city.
The demolitionists who sought to obliterate any memory of Akhenaten by eradicating all traces
of Amarna culture used the talatat, the very sinew of Akhetaten, as fill in their own construction

But, by hiding the talatat within the body of other buildings, they inadvertently protected and
preserved them for modern archaeologists to find. Because of that, much of Akhenaten's capital,
its architecture and artwork can be reconstructed. So in this case, what goes down easily comes
back up the same way, too.
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« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2008, 10:37:58 am »

This new nexus of Aten worship was situated along the eastern shore of the Nile in a spot which
had never before been settled.

That was, no doubt, part of its charm to Akhenaten—it lent the site a sense of austerity and
religious purity, the very sort of newness he sought in his own regime—and unlike even the re-
motest Egyptian village, this locale had not as yet been connected with any cult or deity.

Theologically, it was a "clean slate," so to speak. Before Akhenaten's arrival, the place had no
name even, allowing the king to dub it as he liked, and the name he chose was Akhetaten,

"Horizon of the Sun-disk."

And there's a good reason people had never attempted to settle this area before. Its location
is in the desert, a place where it's virtually impossible to feed and house a self-sustaining popu-
lace of any real size—certainly not one large enough to govern a nation like ancient Egypt—so,
maintaining the army of bureaucrats and office-workers needed to run Akhenaten's realm de-
pended on the collection of taxes and importation of food stuffs, an expensive and labor-inten-
sive investment of resources. But Akhenaten did not have to worry about that.

He was the pharaoh, both god and king, and as long as he lived, his will was law.

If he wanted to build a capital in the desert, city hall followed.

Nor is it hard to understand why he should want such a thing, if one looks at things from his
perspective. To start with, desolate locations like el-Amarna have a long history of attract-
ing religious sectarians of Akhenaten's sort—they certainly appealed to the desert fathers of
early Christianity and various groups of American pioneers—all of whom have also felt at home
in places distant from traditional communities and accepted practices of government and worship.

 Furthermore, from Akhenaten's viewpoint, Akhetaten was not without certain charms.

Lodged in a recess in the highlands flanking the Nile, the site provides spectacular dawns and,
indeed, at certain times of year the sun appears to rise from a yoke in the mountains which
embodies beautifully the solar iconography seen in much of the artwork created during the
Amarna period.

All in all, it's not hard to imagine the morning Akhenaten awoke on his royal barge as he was
sailing down the Nile, looking for a place to build a new city, and saw this sight, a site so suit-
ed to his solitary nature and obsession with the sun.
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« Reply #44 on: February 26, 2008, 11:08:51 am »

                                     Akhenaten's Early Reign (1352-1348 BCE)

How that obsession developed and, in general, the path which led to this point in his career are
not difficult to reconstruct, either. Although in the earliest stages of Akhenaten's life few overt
signs of the religious revolution looming on the horizon emerge, there are several significant hints
as to the radical changes about to unfold across Egypt. Even if the clarity of hindsight some-
times makes things look predictable when they're not, these omens are truly telling.

The second son of Amunhotep III, Akhenaten was still called Amunhotep (IV) when he succeed-
ed his father to the throne in 1352 BCE. By all appearances, it was a smooth transition of power
and, even though he had not always been the heir apparent—his older brother had been groom-
ed for the kingship but had died several years earlier—the young Akhenaten was not unprepar-
ed to wield the whip-and-flail because most likely he served as co-regent toward the end of his
father's reign. To judge from his last portraits, Amunhotep III suffered a lingering malady of some
sort which slowly killed him, so it would make sense that, as his health declined, he handed the
reins of government to his chosen successor, even if one chosen largely by default. None of that,
however, would have helped Akhenaten feel part of or indebted to the traditional structures of
Egyptian government and religion in the day.

Almost as soon as Akhenaten became the sole ruler of Egypt, he began to alter the traditional
presentation of the pharaoh and the ways state business was conducted. For instance, he took
on a new title, "Prophet of Ra-Horakhte" ("Ra of the Horizon")—note no Amun, the god of
mysteries and hidden truth whose name appears in so many Egyptian appellations, e.g. Amun-
hotep and Tutankhamun—"Prophet of Ra-Horakhte" hints at a certain degree of dissatisfaction
with conventional religion, especially since by Akhenaten's day Amun had long been seen as the
central deity in the extensive pantheon of Egyptian gods whose center of worship was Thebes,
the capital city of Egypt.

In no time, Akhenaten would change all that.
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