there be light!
Deep inside the
crypts of the Egyptian temple complex of Denderah is an enigmatic
room, which for some depicts evidence that the ancient Egyptians
knew the secret of electricity. But could it be that the scenes
reveal an even bigger mystery?
temple complex of Denderah has always been controversial as it
contains a zodiac. As the complex was built during Ptolemaic times
(when the Greeks had conquered Egypt), the zodiac is seen as cross
fertilisation from ancient Greece to Egypt, whereby the Greek
pantheon of gods was introduced within the Egyptian religion.
Others argue that the Denderah zodiac is instead evidence of the
Egyptians’ knowledge of the stars, and that their deities
were identical to the Greek. After all, many of the most learned
Greeks had gone to Egypt to study – an education they themselves
never hid from their audience and were proud to mention in their
writings, though since, historians have underplayed this vital
piece of information. Still others have seen in the Denderah zodiac
an attempt to marry the Greek zodiac with the Egyptian division
of the skies, which was not done in 12, but in 36 sections –
the so-called decans.
Whatever theory is the likeliest, let alone the truth, fact is
that far more light needs to be shed on this controversy. Light,
however, is the key ingredient of another controversy in another
part of the complex, specifically “Chamber C of South Crypt
Number One”, which according to some alternative researchers,
shows “clearly” that the ancient Egyptians were fully
aware of electricity and used light bulbs similar to ours.
walls of contention are in a small chamber in the crypt of Denderah.
The chamber is so small that photography is not easy and most
have therefore relied on drawings published in 1947 by the French
researcher Emile Chassinat, in “Le Temple de Dendera”.
The depictions show a religious scene, in which Hathor –
to whom the temple of Denderah is dedicated – features prominently.
Around her, are what indeed appear to be oversized light bulbs,
held by human beings; inside are serpents, suggestive –
in these interpretations – of electrical energy.
If we look at the walls in detail, the north wall depicts a scene
with the god Sokar – lord of the underworld before Osiris
– sitting on a plinth. The goddess Hathor receives an offering
from one of her sons. A man in an underworld boat is sailing past,
holding a lotus flower. The scene depicts one “serpent cell”,
as Robert Temple has called the “light bulb”.
The south wall has two such cells. Hathor is seated at the right,
holding the uas sceptre. Again, an offering is made by one of
her sons and again, Sokar, in his falcon form, is present.
“ancient astronaut authors” Peter Krassa and Reinhard
Habeck have posited that these “serpent cells” are
light bulbs. Firstly, they argue that some form of high-tech lighting
system would have been required to do whatever was done in this
crypt, it being far removed from natural daylight. They further
argue that the snakes represent the electric current; the lotus
flower, from which the snake issues forth, is seen as the socket
of the bulb. Specifically, Geissler and Crookes tubes have been
put forward as the “likeliest” devices that these
light bulbs depict. Their conclusion is that the ancient Egyptians
were, “light bulb wise”, as technically advanced as
we were in the 20th century.
Though naturally sceptical of these interpretations, Egyptologists
are nevertheless quite silent about the depictions in this chamber.
They have explained the scene as lotus flowers spawning a snake,
symbolising creation as a manifestation of consciousness. Some
have interpreted the lotus flower as the blue lotus, whereby the
pharaoh breathing in its scent, was to provide him immortality.
Robert Temple speculates that a ritual was performed inside this
chamber and hints at the presence of the scent of the blue lotus,
and that the chamber might have been filled with the blossoms
at the proper season, or “otherwise some method of capturing
the scent and the alkaloids in concentrated form may have been
used.” The blue lotus was linked with immortality, but also
with ecstasy and access to the otherworld, perhaps through hallucinogenic
means, as some researchers have tried to explore.
creation as a manifestation of consciousness” is an interesting
conclusion for Egyptologists to draw. First of all, it is a conclusion
that is not your standard Egyptological “stuff”. If
anything, it is in correspondence with quantum mechanics, which
postulates that conscious thought creates reality. As such, this
subterranean chamber could be seen as a “thought chamber”,
in which the ancient Egyptians tried to manifest – or at
least depict – how they tried to manifest reality, which
in their realm was all about how order should control chaos, for
the greater good of Man and the Egyptian nation.
Some of the
other aspects of this depiction therefore fall into place. Sometimes,
there is only one serpent cell, depicted with the “avenging
angel”, Uputi, standing before it with raised knives. The
serpent cell is issuing from a lotus, beneath which crouches a
worshipper in prayer. The hands, of the ka, are raised upwards
underneath the “serpent cell”, either as a djed pillar,
or a man with raised hands. Or also, one of the sons of Hathor,
with a solar disk on his head, supports the serpent cell, with
the arms in the ka position, sitting on a plinth. The ka is the
Egyptian equivalent of the soul, the monad, the divine spark resident
in each of us. It is that aspect of us that is divine, and it
is that part of us that is able to create.
rather than a light bulb, i.e. a very technical interpretation,
there is also a completely metaphysical explanation available
as to what is being depicted in these scenes.
Though often seen as a “unique” scene, there are variations
that can be found elsewhere. For example, in the New Kingdom,
steles depict offerings made to Renenutet in the form of a cobra
with a woman’s head. The offered material is a lotus. The
only “missing ingredient” in this depiction is the
“bulb” surrounding the cobra itself.
Renenutet was linked with the harvest festival, which occurred
in March/April and which was celebrated twice. The festival began
with the new moon in the month of Renenutet, the 8th month. It
was at the new moon that the first fruits were offered to the
goddess after which the month was named. But the main celebrations
occurred at the full moon.
She was a goddess of the people and was worshipped in village
shrines, rather than temples, which is why we are not too aware
of her, and why a depiction in a temple is quite rare. During
the gathering of the corn and pressing of the grapes, offerings
were made at her shrines.
With such attributes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to
learn that she became assimilated to Isis in later times, and
from there, a depiction in the temple of Denderah, linked with
Hathor, is not a far or difficult leap of faith – it is,
rather, an obvious next step.
controversial the “light bulb” theory is, electricity
is a raw power of the universe, and hence quite similar to the
“raw power of magic”. The djed pillar is indeed an
expression of power; the snake is indeed a current, of life. And
the baboon-like demon holding two knives, which are interpreted
as a protective and defensive power, is not so much electricity,
but magical protection. When von Däniken wrote that “the
monkey with the sharpened knives symbolizes the danger that awaits
those who do not understand the device”, he is absolutely
correct – for those who tangle with magic and do not understand,
are indeed as dead as being hit by an electric discharge.
Mistakes, whether by von Däniken or scientists, are often
made when we look at items in isolation. It happens with the Great
Pyramid, about which intricate theories have been built, but which
are in essence worthless unless one incorporates the equally grand
Second Pyramid, standing right next to it, into the theory. In
the case of this chamber, note that it is one of five subterranean
crypts, that are aligned along a straight hallway. Each of the
crypts housed precious temple statues and objects, including two
gilt statues of Hathor decorated with precious stones. In short,
these were the relic vaults. Though now long vanished, it is known
that one of the statues was that of the ba of Hathor, a golden
statuette representing a bird with a human head capped with a
So, rather than look at this chamber in isolation, let us look
at it in context. But first of all a technical detail: the entire
temple was constructed of sandstone, but to create these depictions,
a block of limestone was inserted into this crypt. The crypt itself
would have contained other statues, of Hathor, and would have
been used for the New Year celebration and the festival of Harsamtawy,
which is the name of the deity that appears out of the lotus flower
– the conscious creation. On New Year’s day, the objects
inside the crypt were transported to the vault, which sat above
Harsamtawy, a son of Hathor, was, according to Wallis-Budge, Horus,
who “was believed to have sprung into existence out of a
lotus flower which blossomed in the heavenly abyss of Nu at dawn
at the beginning of the year.” Hence, this scene depicts
the birth of the divine Horus, on New Year. And with this detail,
as placed within the proper context, do we begin to realise that
was is depicted in this scene, is the hieros gamos, the sacred
Daumas, who did the most extensive of research into this temple
complex, stated that it was from this easternmost of the southern
crypts that the sacred procession began on the eve of the first
day of the new year, bearing the image of the goddess from the
subterranean room just as the created world rose from the abyss
on the First Day.
Such an explanation might seem – at first – to be
far less interesting than light bulbs, but in truth, it is not.
If anything, it is far more interesting. For Horus was the divine
child. He was the one who would revenge his father, Osiris, killed
by Seth, yet partially restored by Isis, so that Horus could be
born. Again, Horus was the divine child, a soul born out of pure
love, through magical means. He was the result of a hieros gamos,
a conscious union of souls. It is a theme that one can find in
all magical teachings, whereby the powers of the hereafter and
the here and now co-operate, in order to bring forth a special
human being, with a special purpose. And in certain cases, they
even tried to make sure that the birth of this divine child occurred
at New Year, to completely fulfil the message of Horus. And in
later times, the room in which the two lovers were meant to procreate,
was filled with the scent of flowers – lilies – whereby
the “scent of heaven” in Egyptian times seems to have
been the lotus scent.
is within this context that we should read the following inscription
in the Denderah temple, in which the king is shown to offer the
lotus to Horus: “I offer thee the flower, which was in the
beginning, the glorious lotus of the great water. Thou camest
forth from the midst of its petals... and did lighten the Earth,
which was still wrapped in darkness.” Horus was meant to
be the dawn of a new world, a new age, a child that would incarnate
with his “ka” completely intact. No wonder therefore
that the likes of Rundle Clark have said how “what rises
from the opening flower is the world soul which is the light,
[and] life ...of the sun.” From the lotus womb of light,
the divine child is therefore birthed into matter, heralding in
a new age. It is indeed light, but of a far more interesting kind
than a traditional light bulb. And it is a myth of far greater
portent than any… and it is a myth that has been frequently
encountered in esoteric tradition, and which was known –
of course? – to the ancient Egyptians, but which in our
technically materialistic modern days has become – sadly
– lost and forgotten.
As to why the lotus? Apart from its scent, the lotus is a flower
that opens itself up towards the light at dawn, and that opening,
this coming forth, is precisely what was vital to be symbolised:
it was the Coming Forth into the day… into the light.
what better text sums up the hieros gamos than the following inscription,
written down in this crypt: “I came to you, to your place
(destroyed section). Beautiful one, whose looks are perfect. I
have the Amulet of gold (destroyed section) attached with live
on the day of the celebration (destroyed section) of your body.”
Hence, somewhere deep inside the crypt of Denderah do we find
the room in which a sacred statue – or statues – were
once held that symbolised the truest expression of love ever on
earth; an even that was celebrated at Denderah in Greek times,
but which no doubt stretches back further back in time, perhaps
all the way to the mythical times, when Isis and Osiris created
Horus. The divine child.