Religion is filled with a number of dogmatic concepts yet there are gems that lie underneath the doctrinaires of how to conduct one’s spiritual life. Setting aside religion’s literal depictions of creation and conduct on this earthly plane, one can learn to appreciate the core lessons and values embedded in each belief system without needing a devout subscription to many of religion’s divisive ideologies.
What matters are the core messages of how to live a happy and peaceful life, while getting more of what you want and helping others do the same through proper moral conduct and harmony with divinity.
The questions that truly concern humanity since its conception are:
- Who are we?
- What is the purpose of our lives? What is our role in the cosmos?
- How and why do we act the way we do toward ourselves and others?
- What is happening in the world today and why?
Throughout this series we will explore shamanic, polytheist, and monotheistic myths and theologies to uncover and reveal that which is hidden below the exoteric presentation of spirituality in its organized forms. The immediate focus at the beginning of this series will be the ancient traditions, as much of their wisdom serves as the foundation of the modern religions that influence our culture.
This is aimed toward giving you an understanding of how various societies have described the basic laws of moral action, consciousness, and manifestation that pertain to the human condition, while grasping the unique cultural, geographical, and chronological understandings that all point to reasonably similar and useful understandings of governing yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. The applicable wisdom that lies underneath the dogma of modern theologies may provide clarity and guidance toward your journey of ascension.
The stories and figures are not to be taken literally as they are archetypes, allegories, emblems, parables, and metaphors used to depict an understanding of how reality works in relation to the ethereal which is our microcosm deep and within, our grounded reality, which is our immediate environment, and the divine, which is the macrocosm far and beyond — all of which harmoniously work in accordance with each other.
Back then, without the tools and precision of modern science and mathematics accessible to the masses, as well as the useful level of technological development during those eras, an understanding of reality had to be depicted visually through symbology while engaging the imagination’s ability to add meaning and context to the quality of their stories of creation and conduct. The problem that spurred from this was that people demanded, coerced, and enforced that their word is the Truth. This right brain perspective can run wild, as those who subscribe to the strict ideologies of their faith take every word and depiction of their sacred understandings literally, with no room for practical analysis. This leads to division among people as well as unquestioned obedience to theologies that are tainted with man’s manipulation to control the will of the people.
“We live in a world of numerous ideologies and belief systems, all competing for the same real estate, your mind.”
– David Snyder
Separate yourself from the superficial and dive deep into the esoteric meanings behind these stories and figureheads, as seeing past those illusions will enable you to reveal a common understanding of divinity and knowledge of self.
Did an enlightened figurehead such as Jesus really exist? It’s quite possible. If he did, was he really able to walk on water and turn it into wine? We can’t prove that. Instead of getting lost in those details, it is more important to understand the core applicable messages of his teachings as well as the other prophetic leaders, and stories told in religious traditions that share a core commonality with many other belief systems.
Our society focuses on the things that divide and separate our religions, which in turn separate us. Perhaps we can benefit from understanding instead what connects us, in relation to our needs and values. So in an attempt to break down the formality of these religions, I’m going to present the core knowledge that leads to a higher understanding of self and environment, as it will translate to better ways of governing oneself from within and navigating one’s journey without.
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The word Religion comes from the Latin word “Religare,” meaning to tie back, hold back, or to bind fast. To bind is to thwart or hold back the progress of an opposing force or practitioner. A religion is a fixed point of view of understanding divinity, while holding back perspectives and levels of understanding the fall outside of the established religion. All religions share a core truth that the exoteric elements are holding back and because of this, the grounded esoteric alternatives of many modern religions are more interconnected with the commonalities of all cultures. Religion is a box for consciousness because you’re not seeing the whole picture.
Esoteric traditions were more grounded in the here and now while instilling the divine Will in one’s current plane of existence rather than seeking it only in the next life. The divine Will was to maintain balance and order so that everything that works within the system of creation continued to function. This form of order was not coercive authoritarian driven, it was an order that lent itself to responsibly maintaining the harmony and balance through systems and cycles that prevented chaos. Likewise hell on earth can exist within and without if proper balance and order are not maintained, as well as failing to resolve one’s karmic challenges in the present.
In marvel of the heavens, many belief systems are intimately connected with some form of astrotheology, which was the worship of astronomical bodies as Deities. To this day, very high levels of the Catholic church own some of the most expensive and powerful telescopes in the world, yet to the masses below those power structures of Catholicism, studying the night sky or even dabbling in one’s Horoscope is forbidden, as it is considered to be blasphemous. The study of the planets, stars, sun, and moon, as well as their relation to the cycles that repeat, such as their orbits and sequential seasons, intervolving solstices and equinoxes, are incorporated into the esoteric laws of analogy.
The laws of analogy are very present in our understanding of the physical word, meaning, at different levels of reality, the same patterns and cycles repeat themselves; as above, so below; so within, so without. In light of astronomy and horoscopes, the word horoscope, which pertains to one’s life path in relation to the cycles around the sun, is derived from the name Horus, an ancient Egyptian sun God and later adapted into Greek language as Horos.
The ancient Egyptian culture and mythology, which has influence other religions, fundamentally subscribed to a sun worshiping religion. In many cultures the sun was their first astrological body, or higher power to be depicted as a deity. It was bright and luminous, it allowed one to see, and it gave life. One could feel the sun’s warmth and was starkly aware of its power to incinerate. It is tangible enough to be seen and felt, yet it was impossibly out of reach, as its presence and power were above those who marveled at it, making one an insignificant spec in comparison to it. Association with the Sun has laid the basic premise for the duality of many belief systems that integrate the polarities of light and darkness, a concept that will repeat itself much throughout this series as we explore other belief systems and ideologies.
Horus was the sun God, depicted as the golden falcon who rises in the east, flies across the sky in a solar ark until he reaches the west and Sets. He makes his trek across the sky daily across the horizon. The word Horizon means “the zone of Horus.” Hori is the generative word for Horus, Zon refers to the zone of Horus, thus it is the horizon of Horus, which is where Horus appears on the horizon. It is his arc, his flight path across the sky.
Horus is also named Amen-Ra. Amen is the name ancient Egyptians said after a prayer to evoke the sun God Amen-Ra. Amen-Ra represents the sun (Horus) at its zenith, which is the sun at its highest point. The zenith is the highest point in its arc across the sky. The highest point of Horus’s flight path, at 12 noon, is called Amen-Ra.
Horus is depicted as the savior who is anointed with the light, vision, and wisdom. He is the son of the creator God who brings wisdom by knowing what is seen with the light.
Horus has 3 main family members — a mother, father, and brother. His mother Isis is the moon Goddess of the night sky. At night she is the queen of the heavens who rules the night sky, while her husband Osiris is the creator God and ruler of the heavens. In ancient Egyptian mythology, Isis gives birth to the rising sun each day, which is the solar God Horus, who is given divine right by Osiris to rule and give light to the earth during his horizon.
After his trek across the horizon, his brother Set conquers Horus as his fall from the sky Sets into the underworld of darkness. (In other Egyptian stories Set is also depicted as his uncle, but either role has little consequence over the major role he plays as the dark pillar of duality.) Set is considered the dark figure, who is in a state of ignorance because he does not posses the light to see. He lives entirely in the shadows of darkness and ignorance, yet he is the conqueror of the light at night. Set represents chaos, death, and sin, and is somewhat of a devilish figure among the mythology of ancient Egypt. However, he is not entirely depicted as evil because the ancient Egyptians understood that his darkness was necessary for Horus’s light to exist. His bad qualities were more understood as an accepted duality between light and dark, good and evil, positive and negative.
Horus and Set were originally expressions of innate duality, the two aspects of creation playing a role throughout the cycles of the day-sky and night-sky.
In the picture below, Horus is touching the pharaoh on the right temple, and his dark brother set is touching the left temple. This represents the duality of consciousness. Horus is the right mind, wisdom, moral action, order, and peace.
The left side is the God of darkness, deception, storms, chaos, anger, domination, control, and war.
Eventually Horus and Set reconciled and negotiated their conduct so that one wasn’t selfishly looking out for himself or having to defend against the other’s transgression. A trusting relationship was formed in which both sides began to understand the importance of their complimentary existence. Without this balance of opposites, Horus would not be able to uphold the balance of Ma’at. This balance gave Horus the ability to fight chaos, which was represented as well by the God Apep, who was even more of a personification of evil left unchecked prior to Horus becoming Ra. Set manifested chaos within, while Apep manifested chaos in the external environment. Since Horus, who was the light, represented the peace while being the God of war who instills Ma’at’s order over the chaos, one could speculate that the tactics of combat were consulted with Set since he had lived much of his life in affliction. It was during this time of balance with Set that Horus was able to reach his highest point, becoming Ra to fight Apep and instill the will of Ma’at on earth as it is in heaven.
Fighting the chaos of Apep was inspired by the will of Ma’at. Ma’at is the Goddess or conception of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. She carried out order in the heavens and on earth by regulating the stars, seasons, and regulating moral action of Gods and Pharoahs. Carrying out the karmic order and natural laws of the heavens was done on the earthly plane by fighting the external physical chaos of those who had abandoned truth, justice, and equality. Just as people who deal with the devil become ego-absorbed demon archetypes, people who were imbalanced in the ways of Set became Apeps. Foreign invaders who threatened the balance were also considered Apeps. Other forms of chaos beyond human acts on the earth plane were also considered to be influenced by the spirit of Apep. The union of Horus and Set is a lesson to Egypt’s citizens to reconcile the internal chaos within by accepting the parts of themselves that need the light’s guidance. As long as there was chaos within, the threat of chaos (Apep) existing in the external environment was imminent. Apep’s external chaos threatened to provoke the actions of Set within, making it more difficult to restore order and balance throughout the land and the people.
Both Horus and Set whisper in the ears of the pharaoh while the pharaoh has free will to decide who he listens to and what action to take. It was intended that he carry out the will of Ma’at upon his kingdom by creating balance within his inner kingdom. Pharoahs are frequently depicted with the emblems of Ma’at to emphasize their role of upholding divine order. Through the ruling of the Pharaoh, Egyptian citizens were expected to follow this legitimate form of order that is aligned with the principles of moral action, growth, and sustainability.
This was important to uphold because a disturbance in the force of cosmic harmony could have a significant impact on the individual and the state. A Pharoah self absorbed in ego could bring about disaster and chaos. In addition, the actions and judgments of the Pharoah were meant to guide the citizens through the ambiguous moments of reality, simplifying the principles of Ma’at so that choices of the citizens are made with the highest integrity and care. Obeying the order was not servitude to selfish authority figures, it was doing your part to integrate into the wholeness of an ordered, balanced, natural divinity, which is why authority and compassion were integrated into the foundation of ancient Egyptians.
The degree to which one obeys Ma’at will determine the karmic consequences weighing on the heart of the individual. The heart could only be rewarded for its devotion to Ma’at if it embodied the light, not only in its weightlessness but also in its luminosity to see the truth of proper action.
The ancient Egyptians used these myths and analogies to depict that each of these archetypes exist within us and the symbology of them is meant to remind us of their presence in our daily lives. They are moral, orderly, and divine symbolic analogies, an expression of consciousness, not to be taken as physical Gods.
They represent the pillars of duality: the light and darkness within ourselves that we must reconcile in order to make proper actions. The dark elements help us understand our fears and desires, and with this understanding we cycle back into the light of wisdom. They are Gods within us that influence our actions. Without balance the light and darkness are continually at war, battling for dominance over our behavior. To try and extinguish the darkness would only cause Set to resist with war. Negotiation was the only way because complete annihilation of the darker elements within was beyond our mortal capabilities.
Beyond our inner universe and the grounded earth, Isfet was the chaos of the heavens that threatened the stability of the heavens, which is the absence of light and order, injustice, chaos, violence, and evil, all of which threatened to trickle down into the earthly plane of form which interacts with the inner world of the Pharoah and his people.
On all levels of reality, this balancing cycle of order and harmony must be upheld to maintain the structure above and below. If the balance of Ma’at was not maintained, the ignorance of order would manifest as Isfet, which is chaos in the heavens, chaos in Apep who will disrupt the earthly realm, and chaos within Set, who will affect the Pharoahs and citizens from within. Isfet is more of an abstract concept with no known God attached to it to give its understanding a more relatable nature. It is seen more as the absence of structure and balance, which means that there is more responsibility on the part of Ma’at to maintain structure, rather than to blame external circumstances. It was pretty much all on Ma’at to balance the heavens.
Set’s chaotic and warlike qualities were reconciled to fight chaos outside of his temple. The Pharoah would fight manifestations of Apep through the actions of Horus, the emotions of Set, and the Instruction of Ma’at. As long as he was balanced with Horus, Isfet would not destroy their temple. The destructive force of Set was still useful when fighting an enemy of Ma’at. In the heavens, on the other hand, Ma’at was threatened by the absence of responsibility if she did not maintain order, not by an opposing deity who continually aspired to disrupt her. Lack of order in the heavens would cause a lack of order on the earth plane, causing irritability within Apep and Set.
Polarity and balance are the main concepts to understand in the Egyptian myths shared in this article. The Creator God Osiris gives man free choice to govern his actions, as both light and dark are his children, Horus and Set. In religion, dualism means the belief in two supreme opposed powers — Gods or sets of divine or demonic beings — that influence the world, which has had an important presence in the history of thought and religion.
Dualism can also denote a co-eternal binary opposition to indicate a system which contains two essential parts. Moral dualism is the belief of the great complement or conflict between the benevolent and the malevolent. It simply implies that there are two moral opposites at work. Some of these dualities imply harmony in which one balances the other, such as yin and yang, while other forms of duality imply rivalry and opposition, such as good and evil.
The process of reconciling between these two opposites will resurface throughout this series. It is important to have a foundational understanding and acceptance of the duality that exists within and outside of man in order to grasp the more detailed concepts of future teachings. In this case we talked about light and darkness as it relates to Horus and Set, brothers of the same father, one representing good, the other representing bad. It is only when we balance these two that we can become stable from within. This is not to say that darkness can have equal control over us. To balance the dark is to bring it into the light of consciousness so that it no longer controls you. The sight and understanding of that darkness will reduce its influence that threatens Ma’at’s inner and environmental stability. As we build our temple from within we must be aware of Horus and Set on either sides of our temple.
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