Oracles in Ancient Egypt
What do you know about Egypt? Anubis, Ra, the pyramids, and the pharaohs, are some of the things you would name. Ancient Egypt was among the best ancient civilizations in history. Tarots, personality cards, oracle boards, and psychic networks are not something new in the modern world. Divination sank its roots in civilization many centuries ago. Today, it has only been made easier to communicate with the spiritual world through free readings, guidebooks to tarot, and oracle decks. There are various reasons why people consult psychics and readers of tarot cards, but they all narrow down to finding answers and solutions to problems.
Answers are often yes or no, which is not different from what Ancient Egyptians got when they sought answers to big and small problems. They used a deity of their choice to decide on the election and appointments of kings and nobles respectively, to settle legal disputes, to get confessions from thieves, and even to decide what crops they could plant. The Egyptians believed that the gods offered guidance to them and led the people in all aspects.
Even in Ancient Egypt, people needed to believe in something higher, something divine. Sinuhe, a man in the 12th Dynasty, narrated a tale describing how the spirits guided him as he fled. In his tale, he says that his body quivered, and his feet began to move in quick but short steps hastily. He was guided by his heart and a god.
We know that the tongue is a mighty organ, and even in Ancient Egypt, one’s heart and tongue were pivotal in forming and executing ideas and decisions. It was, therefore, crucial for people to know that they should let the Universal Lord take control of their lives instead of trying to steer their tongues.
Oracles and Prophecies in Ancient Egypt
Do you think there is a difference between prophecies and oracles? Ancient Egypt had oracles and prophecies; although some took them to mean the same thing, these two are different. A prophecy is a foretelling of the future, while an Oracle can be a reading of something that happened in the past. Therefore, an oracle can be a prophecy if the reading refers to something that would happen in the future. As mathematicians would put it, a prophecy is a subset of an oracle. Another difference between an oracle and a prophecy was the limitation and practicality; prophecies were less limited and practical than oracles. So what was an oracle?
How were oracles delivered, and how were they used?
In Ancient Egypt, oracle decrees were delivered to private people on papyrus or engraved on temple walls. When a person requested the public statue of a higher being to answer a practical yes-no question, that was an oracle. To deliver papyrus, the recipient would wear the oracle as a talisman. Oracles were used by people from all standings, kings, and peasants for approval from the deities on several issues like which crop to plant and where, or who to appoint to a religious office, to name a few.
Egyptian Oracular Gods
There were many oracular gods in Egypt, for example, the deified Ahmose at Abydos, Horus of the Camp, Isis at Koptos, Horus-khau at el-Hiba, and Seth at Dakhla. Statues of these oracular gods were either placed in a barque, mounted on poles, made visible to the public, or hidden in shrines. Documents on oracles can only be dated back to the New Kingdom, during which people would come before oracles with their cases. Priests would carry the oracles during festival processions. Rulers like Tuthmosis and Hatshepsut used the oracles to solve social and legal problems and legitimize their sovereignty.
During the Opet festival in the reign of Ramesses II, the procession with the oracles in barques would enter the courtyard by either one or two entrances. The ruler built a triple shrine for the three gods, Amun-Re, Mut, the goddess, and Khonsu, her son, on the station built by his predecessor, where people experienced the oracles and other divine powers.
In the third intermediate period, people in ancient Egypt wore small cylinders around their necks. In those cylinders was a decree passed at an oracle by a deity, written on small papyrus. This decree assured anyone who wore it protection against any and every evil. Other than oracular gods, the Egyptians also had oracular intermediaries who were scribes. Popular kings like Amenhotep I, were worshipped hundreds of years after his death. At some point, his oracle was sought for legal decision-making, especially in the village of Deir el-Medina.
When the statue god appeared in public, carried on priests’ shoulders, then oracle sessions would take place. The session would end when the god was placed in a temple barque shrine, or along the processional way, on their station. In preparation for the session, to ensure the purity of the path, it was always prepared and carefully protected with precautions like; censer and fan bearers surrounding the station; either shrine or barque, to keep off flies, processional avenues were lined with sphinxes between Karnak and Luxor, they also used a “soil of silver” where they wanted to hold the oracles. Among the famous oracle givers in Egypt was the one at Siwa Oasis who gave Alexander the Great the oracle that made his rule of Egypt legitimate upon entering Egypt.
Healing Practices in Ancient Egypt
Undeniably, Ancient Egypt was one of the greatest civilizations in history. Their healing practices and medicine were also top tiers in the ancient world, not to mention that these practices were well documented. Their healing practices included herbal medicines, prayers, spells, reflexology, incarnations, massages, magic, and even surgery! In Ancient Egypt, there was a correlation between magic, medicine, and religion; ancient healers believed that diseases were a sign of inner trouble and punishment by gods or evil spirits.
Ba and Ka; Ancient Egypt’s Yin and Yang
Like the traditional Chinese medicine concept, yin, and yang, ancient Egyptians also had two energy forces flowing through the human system; Ba and Ka. This made up for the energetic healing that healers used in ancient Egypt. They believed that for organs to attain optimal functionality, these two forces had to flow correctly through the body; otherwise, one would suffer from illnesses; ergo, the need to harmonize and balance this flow was vital for good health. The first step towards healing a physical disease was to look and address what could cause the blockage in energy flow within the person; they believed this could result from spiritual, mental, or emotional issues or demons, spirits, and gods.
Wands of Horus or Egyptian Rods of Ra were metallic cylinders that could be seen held in the hands of statues of the Pharaohs. These cylinders had materials that contained quartz and helped balance the Ka and Ba energies, which resulted in healing the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems and improving physical conditions. The ancient Egyptians also used these materials to increase meditation skills and psychic abilities. According to some historians, furthering psychic energy and abilities prepared priests and pharaohs for the “Intercourse with the gods.”
The Medical Philosophy
Another healing practice in Ancient Egypt was the medical philosophy, where one needed the wisdom of sound, universe, energy, astronomy, or number to be in a position to heal people. So one had to understand spiritual and physical illnesses and cures. There were different stages to being a priest in ancient Egypt; the final stage was learning how to heal. First, the priests themselves had to undergo a healing process where the healers would clear the priests’ pains, blocks, and issues to provide complete healing to others. Having blocks while trying to remove them from other people seemed to not sit right with the ancient preachers; they had to practice what they preached. The philosophy was that one had to be pure enough to connect with the spirits, and purity could be attained by balancing and harmonizing the energy forces. It was interesting because, at times to learn life lessons, the spirits would make one still have these illnesses. Only when they had learned, transformed their souls, and were ready to let go would they be healed and afterward supported with surgery or medicine.
Healing of the Heart
What is the most crucial organ in our body? If I pose this question, I am confident that answers would differ because some will argue that it is the brain while some will say the heart. However, ancient Egyptians believed that it was the heart because from it stems emotions and intelligence, and therefore, it was crucial to healing the heart. Many medical papyrus texts featured the importance of healing the heart.
There was an extraordinary event called the Weighing the Heart ceremony, where one’s heart was judged in a process supervised by the lord of the underworld, Osiris. In this judgment process, a feather represented Ma’at, the goddess of truth; a person’s heart was weighed against this feather, and if it were heavy with sin and wrongdoing, then the demon Ammut, who was waiting below the scales, would eat the heart. The heart owner would not get it back if it weighed more than the feather, which would bar them from entering the afterlife; this was symbolic of the law of Karma.
Being a physician in ancient Egypt was a highly revered position. There was an organized hierarchy in the field of medicine with different specializations and ranks. Priest physicians were the highest and most trained in that hierarchy and mainly served royalties. There were also lay physicians who served the rest of the population of ancient Egypt. The people could access the libraries and temples of these lay physicians for advice.
There were teaching institutions for training doctors; the Houses of Life; these institutions were associated with the ibis-headed god, Thoth, and the goddess Sekhmet and were situated within very majestic temples. The training involved connecting with a patient’s higher self and using prayers, meditations, and incarnations. There were priest doctors like the priest physicians who took long, hard years of studies to attain that status, and very few made it through.
Sekhem Healing System
Sekhem was taught as a healing system and part of spiritual practices in the high temple. It bears some similarities to Reiki. However, it has powerful transformational energy and higher vibrational frequency. It is associated with the guardian and protector of healing energy, Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess, who was the patroness of healers and physicians, and war and had the most skilled priest doctors. This goddess was linked strongly to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. Her purpose was to help you build an authentic and divine self by removing what no longer served you. Sekhem healing is the precursor of spiritual hands-on healing systems. It is energy channeled from the universal source of energy. It works to balance one’s mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional bodies, giving strength and support to the natural healing capabilities of the body.
Priests in Ancient Egypt
What roles does your priest play in your church? What the modern world would define as organized religion is not what ancient Egyptians practiced. The roles of the ancient Egyptian priests are also different from those of modern society priests. They were not messengers of some truth revealed divinely; they did not have a Holy Book that formed the basis of the religious system. Additionally, they did not preach to congregations like the modern society priest.
The ancient Egyptians had different and contradicting cosmogonies; for example, in the myths and legends on how the sun traveled across the sky, there are different versions, with one describing that the sky goddess Nut bore the sun every morning on the eastern horizon, the sun then traveled across the vault of heaven which was the goddess’s body and at sunset on the western horizon, she would swallow the sun. Another myth described that Ra was ferried in the Solar barque, his sacred board, and he hoped to join his divine crew when he resurrects. Yet another legend says that the work of the god Khepri, a giant scarab beetle, pushed the sun at dawn through the horizon and rolled it across the sky. These legends and myths were incompatible and could not form one belief system.
Roles Played by Ancient Egyptian Priests
There was no need to preach because every Egyptian accepted that the goods were ordered, created the world, and used the King as the intermediary and the only actual priest to govern Egypt. Ancient Egyptian priests played an essential role in the ritual of religion in the festival and daily lives of the people. They performed rituals and material magic services to the god of their temples. The traditional name of the priests was hem-netjer. The various temples in Egypt served as sites of First Occasion, meaning every temple in Egypt served as the place where there was an occurrence of the first moment of creation.
In ancient Egypt’s religious practices, the people respected the gods by having presentations at shrines and temples; this practice is represented in stone artifacts, remains of shrines and settlement areas, the Painted Tomb of Hierakonpolis, and votive figurines. Additionally, in the temples where the gods resided, there were estates, libraries, and workshops of record-keepers and administrators of the priests. These are some of the shreds of evidence of what the ancient Egyptian religion entailed.
In every cult of Egypt, the King was the high priest but delegated his authority to those he appointed. Each temple had a career priest appointed to it, and the number of priests in the temple depended on the temple’s wealth and the importance of the temple’s god. Over the years, the priests played an essential role in the government and the economy, their stature improved, and at the end of the 20th Dynasty, the High Priests of Amun attained the power of the King.
Types of Priests in Ancient Egypt
There were several temples for the gods. Each temple had career priests, their numbers depending on the importance of the deity and the wealth of the temple. The King was the chief priest of every cult of Egypt, though to be practical, he delegated his authority to his appointees. The lector priest, kher heb, performed or read the sacred texts, which were often surrounded by an aura of mystery. To avoid offending the gods, these priests recited these texts not from memory but from the book. They had to recite how the texts were written in the rituals carried out before the god’s cult status. Egyptian deities resided in cult temples and were clothed, fed, and provided for. In the mortuary temples, kings who had been deified had their memories perpetuated to ensure that they would eternally exist in the company of the gods.
Priests had to purify themselves before entering the sanctuary where the gods resided. They had to shave their whole bodies and cleanse with natron. They did not wear leather or wool, only white papyrus sandals and linen garments. They also did not eat certain foods. The priests abstained from sexual contact before entering the temple. Administrative or commercial, then came into the temple. Before entering a temple for their service, they did abstain from sexual contact. They rinsed their mouth with a mixture of natron water and washed in a stone pool when they were ready to enter the temple.
The priests performed daily temple rituals as a form of respect and honor to the gods. The priests would start the morning by intoning the dawn hymn; the senior priest would approach the sanctuary which housed the god, break the door seal and open the door, and speak a ritual prayer four times over the god’s image to give the god his soul back for him to take up his earthly shape. The image was cleaned, purified, and rubbed with oil, the old garments were removed, and incense burned. The image is re-dressed in new linen or red, green, white, and blue, adorned with jewels, have perfumes and cosmetics applied on the face. Then breakfast was laid, and the food was removed once the god was full. The sanctuary and the image were sprinkled with water; on the floor, the priests placed five grains of natron and resin and wafted more incense. Then they closed the sanctuary doors and resealed them. This was done three times a day, and in the evening, after the meal, the priests returned to the cult statue in the sanctuary after removing the linen garments and reciting the Evening hymn.
The people of ancient Egypt revered the gods, and they believed that the spiritual world had a lot to do with their well-being, governance, administration, and health. The ancient Egyptian way of life reveals that religion and medicine overlapped; priests were also healers. Religion, medicine, and administration were all united by their belief and reverence for the gods; they were like the wheels of a car; the car cannot move if one tire had a puncture; similarly, it would be difficult for medicine to function correctly if religion was not.
The Shankara Experience and Shri Krishna
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