Temple of Set Reading List: Category 2
Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
Reprinted from: "The Crystal Tablet of Set" (c) Temple of Set 1989 CE Weirdbase file version
by TS permission by Michael A. Aquino, Ipsissimus VI* Temple of Set
In a relatively short span of time, the Egyptian culture went from barbarism to an advanced and intricate cosmological philosophy. After the fall of Egypt's initiatory priesthoods - and the extinction of hieroglyphic literacy - this philosophy survived only in crude and superficial approximations, often so ludicrous out-of-context that Egypt became a prime target for romantic fantasy. Not for another two thousand years would its true tenets begin to be rediscovered, and popular understanding of them is still minimal - due, in no small part, to the significant dissimilarity between them and mainstream Western philosophy and mysticism, which proceed largely from Judaic/Christian assumptions.
For the Setian to understand the Temple of Set, it is first necessary to understand and experience life as the initiated Egyptians perceived it, then to temper that impression with modern scientific knowledge. 2A. "Egyptian Mythology" by Veronica Ions. NY: Hamlyn Publishing Group, 1973 [series updated & reissued 1986 by Peter Bedrick Books]. (TS-2)
MA: "Detailed analyses of the many divinities, religions, and religious centers of Egypt, this book differs from others on the same subject by not over- emphasizing the Osirian religion (about which the most information survived, accounting for the emphasis accorded it by most Egyptologists and archaeologists). Contains much post-Budge data. Part of an excellent world mythology/religion series by the same publisher.
Other volumes in the series include: Chinese, African, Persian, Scandinavian, Greek, Celtic, Roman, Christian, Indian, Near Eastern, North American Indian, Oceanic, South American, and Mexican & Central American." 2B. "Before Philosophy" by Henri Frankfort (author of #2Q) et al. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1946. (TS-3)
MA: "A survey of higher cosmological, political, and moral thought prior to Hellenic Greece. The section on Egypt, written by John A. Wilson, summarizes Egyptian cosmology, the concept and functioning of the state, and various values of life. This material is particularly helpful in understanding the integration of Egyptian cosmology into the entire political and social attitude and derivative structures & institutions of the nation. This book is generally considered the classic work on its subject." 2C. "From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt" by E.A. Wallis Budge. London: Oxford University Press, 1934. (TS-4)
MA: "This is the last major Egyptological text written by Budge, and it incorporates many new archaeological discoveries that had not been made when he authored his earlier works. 545 pages long and extensively documented, it may be considered his magnum opus. It covers the entire range of Egyptian religion, with abundant quotes from actual texts and inscriptions. The Osirian cult is still disproportionately emphasized, however, and the political and social applications of the religious philosophy covered are not treated in detail." 2D. "The Egyptian Heaven and Hell" by E.A. Wallis Budge. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1974. (TS-3)
MA: "In this book Budge describes major Egyptian texts dealing with the Tuat (the 'afterworld') - specifically the "Book of Gates", "Book of Am-Tuat", and other accounts of a non-Osirian orientation.
This material is valuable as a contrast to the more extensive and better- known "Book of Coming Forth by Day" ('Book of the Dead'), which treats the same subjects from an Osirian perspective." 2E. "The Conflict of Horus and Seth" by J. Gwyn Griffiths. Chicago: Argonaut Publishers, 1969. (TS-4)
MA: "This book contains both extensive quotes from Egyptian texts and analyses of later treatments of the legend by Herodotus, Diodorus, Plutarch, and subsequent scholars. It remains the definitive work on the subject, with a 23-page bibliography. It is out of print, and few copies exist, so significant material from it will be introduced from it as pertinent in Temple of Set papers. #2E may be considered a companion volume to #2G." 2F. "The Dawn of Astronomy" by J. Norman Lockyer. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1964. (TS-3)
MA: "Lockyer, an eminent British astronomer of the 19th century, developed a theory that the Egyptian gods - and the temples and artifacts dedicated to them - were closely integrated with astronomical phenomena.
Although he accompanied his argument with extensive documentation, the theory was initially considered too radical to have substance. Recent archaeological discoveries have prompted the reprinting and reconsideration of this book." 2G. "Seth, God of Confusion" by H. Te Velde. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1977. (TS-4)
MA: "This is the definitive analysis of Set in ancient Egyptian religion and philosophy. Essentially an archaeological reference work, it includes 150 pages of text, 6 pages of bibliographic entries, and a section cross-referencing Set to major Egyptian texts. Reprinted [quality paperback] and revised from the original 1968 edition.
Brill has no U.S. office, so you would have to special-order this work through a bookstore. Before doing so, write for Brill's current catalogue [and prices in US$], which also includes many other works of possible interest. Ask for the English language catalogue. Address: E.J. Brill, Postbus 9000, 2300 PA Leiden, The Netherlands. #2G may be considered a companion volume to #2E." 2H. "Cleopatra" by H. Rider Haggard. NY: Harper & Brothers, 1888. (TS-5)
MA: "Haggard, better known as the author of "She" and "King Solomon's Mines", also produced this extraordinary account of Egyptian initiatory priesthoods and their relationship to the national government. The plot revolves around the hypothetical survival of a native line of succession, protected by the Priesthood of Isis, during the Ptolemaic era. Harmachis, last of this line is charged by the Priesthood to overthrow Cleopatra and reestablish the Egyptian dynasties. What transpires involves many lessons concerning initiation, honor, and the responsibilities of a true priesthood and priest- kingship.
Aspirants to the Priesthood of Set should accordingly take seriously to heart the central theme of this story." 2I. "Ancient Egypt" by Maurice Maeterlinck. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1925. (TS-4)
MA: "This essay succeeds in capturing the atmosphere of Khem to a degree unmatched by other published works. Chapters on life, the wisdom of the priesthoods, the secret religion, and the spiritual atmosphere of the land. [Maeterlinck is also the author of #18D.]" 2J. "Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt" by James H. Breasted. NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1912. (TS-4)
MA: "Breasted was Professor of Egyptology and Oriental History at the University of Chicago, and this book is composed of a series of lectures given at a theological seminary. Although some of the source material is dated, this book covers the same ground as #2B with greater sophistication and detail. Egyptian texts are quoted and documented with precision, and appropriate attention is given to non-Osirian aspects of the national philosophy and to the integration of the religion with the entire state of being of Egypt." 2K. "The Mythical Origin of the Egyptian Temple" by E.A.E. Reymond. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1969. (TS-4)
MA: "Primarily an archaeological text, this book treats the actual construction of Egyptian temples from the myths surrounding them.
Major sections cover actual use of the temples - something rarely to be found in other works on Egyptian religion - as well as the legends concerning the conception and construction of specific edifices. Reymond is precise with his facts; the book is dry but thoroughly scholarly. Useful as a 'hard archaeological' contrast to #2P." 2L. "Her-Bak" (two volumes) by Isha Schwaller De Lubicz. NY: Inner Traditions, 1954. (TS-1)
MA: "Although speculative and intuitive rather than strictly historical, "Her-Bak" describes the experience of Egyptian priestly initiation clearly, coherently, and consecutively. The two volumes are in the form of a narrative story whereby a young Egyptian, Her-Bak, undergoes both exoteric and esoteric selection and schooling. Included throughout the narrative are many digressions into the social, political, and cultural life of ancient Egypt.
A wealth of appendices provide more detailed discussions of some of the key concepts and points addressed in the story proper. The reading of "Her-Bak" is a pleasant, reflective, and meditative experience - so much so that one is occasionally relaxed to the point of head-nodding! Her-Bak's Egypt seems to be suspiciously free of the interpersonal strife that characterizes so much of human society. If there is a shortcoming to this work, then, it is that it doesn't come to grips with 'low' human nature in the way that #2H, #2M, or Waltari's "The Egyptian" can do. When all of life begins to seem like a Booth cartoon, read some "Her-Bak". [For a more archaeological treatment of the Egyptian priesthood institution, see #2AA.]" 2M. "Wisdom's Daughter" by H. Rider Haggard. NY: Del Rey #345-27428-8-195, 1922. (TS-3)
MA: "Another approach to the subject of #2L in the form of a novel concerning the Egyptian initiation of Ayesha, central figure of Haggard's "She" and its sequels. The novel's orientation is first Osirian [Ayesha's initiation is as a Priestess of Isis] and ultimately theistic, but her use of her priesthood is quite Setian - thus leading her to the experiences recounted in "She" and "Ayesha: The Return of She". "Her-Bak" this is not!" 2N. "Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs" by Richard J. Gillings. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1972. (TS-4)
MA: "This is a scientific textbook; its chapters are filled with mathematical formulae and calculations as the Egyptians employed them. Apart from the purely technical evidence it offers concerning the high level of Egyptian civilization, it may be considered an interesting cross- reference with #12E and #12F." 2O. "Star Maps" by Wm. R. Fix. London: Octopus Books, 1979. (TS-3)
MA: "In this book Fix, the author of #1L, undertakes the somewhat more ambitious task of making sense out of Egyptian 'out of the body' writings, specifically with regard to extra-terrestrial life sources and life-after- death modes of existence. This book has strong points [interesting analyses of various inscriptions, correlations to the work of Lockyer (#2F) and Lilly (#19N)] and weak points [accounts of 'astral' experiences of dubious authenticity and relevance, i.e. Stanford Research Institute (see #19W)].
Yet Fix brings to this study the same sincerity and tenacity evident in his earlier work; he is trying to make sense of some admittedly perplexing data. His conclusion is that man is primarily a metaphysical and only degeneratively a physical entity, and that his eventual triumph over the physical orientation will enable the initiated intelligence to return to a universal/ stellar mode of unrestricted existence and consciousness. In this theme Fix has much in common with most of the initiatory texts and stories in this reading list category. This book could also be classified in categories #18 or #19, but is placed here because of Fix' many references to ancient Egyptian texts and philosophies. A well-researched and argued hypothesis, not a definitive statement." 2P. "The Temple in Man by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz". Brookline, Massachusetts: Autumn Press, 1949. (TS-4)
MA: "De Lubicz, an alchemist [in the philosophical sense] became an amateur Egyptologist, residing near Luxor for 15 years. In this book he presents the thesis that Egyptian temple construction has certain geometric and architectural relationships to the human body. Further - and perhaps more central to his Egyptological contributions - he proposes that any study of ancient Egypt prenecessitates one's personally assuming the Egyptians' philosophical outlook. Otherwise the monuments and writings convey distorted meanings. The clarity, logic, and coherence of #2L (written by his wife) are the best possible testimony to this approach." 2Q. "Kingship and the Gods" by Henri Frankfort (Editor of #2B). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948. (TS-3)
MA: "A comparative study of the institutions of Egyptian and Mesopotamian kingship and their relationship to the respective religious and magical codes of the lands in question. Relevant to the Temple of Set not only because of the historical material contained, but also because of its indication that Platonic concepts of the role of the philosopher-king originated in Egyptian governmental tradition." 2R. "Principles of Egyptian Art" by Heinrich Schaefer (Emma Brunner-Traut, Ed.) (John Baines, Trans. Ed.) Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974. (TS-4)
MA: "From E.H. Gombrich's foreword: 'This book is more than a classic of Egyptology.
Its results must be of interest to art historians, psychologists, and philosophers who concern themselves with systems of signs and their role in communication. It constitutes indeed the only attempt ever made of analyzing an artistic style as a mapping procedure. Schaefer has successfully reconstructed the key we have to consult if we want to interpret an Egyptian image in terms of what it is intended to represent. Put in another way, he teaches us the rules of transformation we must apply if we want to translate an Egyptian representation into the corresponding verbal description of a real or imaginary situation.'" 2S. "The Opening of the Way" by Isha Schwaller de Lubicz. NY: Inner Traditions, 1979. (TS-3)
MA: "A non-fictional treatment of some of the main themes of #2L by the same author. As is the case with some of the philosophical dialogues in #2L, the writing style is a bit on the dry side.
Moreover the argument culminates in a somewhat lame proposal for gnostic Christianity, which is presumably the result of the author's feeling she has to end up in some kind of mode acceptable to the mainstream of Western religious tradition [a mistake]. The reader should not be put off by this, but should approach the text for what it does present competently." 2T. "Egyptian Language" by E.A. Wallis Budge. NY: Dover Publications, 1973. (TS-3)
MA: "A small, economical, and relatively easy-to-read introduction to Egyptian hieroglyphics. This book will not teach you to become fluent in ancient Egyptian, however; for that you would have to undertake more extensive and exhaustive studies. [Ten years of training was required of Egyptian scribes.] If you are not deterred, proceed to #2U and #2X." 2U. "An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary" (two volumes) by E.A. Wallis Budge. NY: Dover Publications, 1978. (TS-4)
MA: "A reprint of the original 1920 dictionary, which is virtually unavailable outside of libraries. Though flawed by some later discoveries in hieroglyphic translation techniques, this remains the most available and easy-to-read publication of this type." 2V. "Symbol and the Symbolique" by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz. NY: Inner Traditions. (TS-4)
MA: "An introduction to the vital [as opposed to rational] philosophy espoused by the author in #2P. This book specifically addresses the Egyptians' use of symbol and symbolism in representing such concepts." 2W. "The Gods of the Egyptians" by E.A. Wallis Budge. London: Open Court, 1904 (reprinted in two volumes by NY: Dover, 1969). (TS-3)
MA: "Budge's survey of the principal Egyptian gods and groupings of gods. Extensive and pertinent chapters concerning Set and Nepthys (who are usually treated rather superficially in other books on this subject). A good cross-reference to #2A." 2X. "Egyptian Grammar" by Sir Alan Gardiner. Oxford: University Press, 1927 (Third Edition reprinted through 1979). (TS-4)
MA: "This 646-page hardcover book will teach you how to read and write hieroglyphic text, but it is a difficult and demanding undertaking. There is a dictionary in the latter part of the book; while not as large as that of #2U, it is generally acknowledged to be more accurate since it reflects advances in the field since Budge's time. Currently selling for about L17 in London." 2Y. "Sacred Science" by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz. NY: Inner Traditions, English translation 1982. (TS-4)
MA: "This book - the most extensive work by this author - might perhaps be described as his version of the #2S argument, supported by a non-fictional treatment of the principles espoused [pardon the pun] in #2L.
It is noteworthy for comparisons drawn to Pythagorean and Copernican thought. I would assess it as being somewhat more speculative and subjective than a strictly-archaeological analysis should be, and again the author's inclination towards an Osirian bias and a resultant Gnostic Christianity is - as in #2S - apparent." 2Z. "Egyptian Mysteries" by Lucie Lamy. NY: Crossroad, 1981. (TS-3)
MA: "Lamy was a long-time student of R.A.S. de Lubicz, and her superb Egyptian/hieroglyphic illustrations, both line drawings and color paintings, may be found throughout his works as well as in the Her-Bak volumes. In this slim but elegant treatise on Egyptian religious philosophy - also beautifully photo-accented and illustrated, she displays her considerable skill as an author and philosopher as well.
In keeping with what I am tempted to call the 'de Lubicz style', the discussion is marked by serenity and quiet reverence for the concepts being treated; this is no 'textbook' that treats the ancient Egyptians like so many interesting bugs to be dissected. 96 pages - about the size of one of the Hamlyn books. More diverse than #2A in its treatment of philosophical concepts, and I would say more insightful as well - but not nearly as systematically organized. This is a 'browsing and enjoying' book." 2AA. "The Priests of Ancient Egypt" by Serge Sauneron. NY: Grove Press (Black Cat Edition), 1980. (TS-3)
MA: "Serge Sauneron is a former Director of the French Oriental Archaeological Institute in Cairo, and has participated in excavations in Tanis and Karnak. In this 190-page book he focuses on the concept of the priesthood as it evolved in the ancient Egyptian culture. Whereas #2L is more intuitive than archaeological, #2AA is solidly an archaeological work. Chapters deal with: the priestly function, the world of the temples, the sacred activities, the sacred wisdom, and the fortunes & misfortunes of the priesthoods. The rise and fall of various priesthoods over the dynasties is also discussed in some detail, including the renaissance of the Priesthood of Set during the XIX-XX Dynasties."