Truth About Egypt's Star Religion
The Canopus Revelation
Delivered at the
Questing Conference, London, November 5 2005
Alford in The Phoenix Solution stated: “The identification of
Osiris with the star constellation of Orion is well-established, and
requires no justification in these pages.”
The constellation of Orion has indeed been identified with the Egyptian
“Sahu”, which is the stellar visualisation of Osiris. The
academic identification was largely the work of Otto Neugebauer; it
was made popular by Robert Bauval, who argued that Orion represented
the basic layout of the Giza monuments. Bauval thus made the straightforward
identification: Orion = Sahu = Osiris.
Orion has since the days of Neugebauer been seen as the god Osiris,
Lord of death and resurrection in the underworld, just as Sirius, the
brightest star in the night sky, reflected the light of his sister-wife
Isis. Osiris’ role in ancient Egypt has inspired a generation
of writers and researchers to investigate mythologies worldwide looking
for and finding “Orion correlations” with respect to ceremonial
landscapes and archaic star lore, elevating this asterism to that of
the highest importance among our earliest ancestors.
central question which needs to be asked is: does this identification
indeed require no justification?
Plutarch, in De Iside and Osiride, writes: “Further [the Egyptians]
call Osiris a general and Canobus a steersman, after whom they say the
star was named. They add that the vessel which the Greeks call the Argo
is the image of the vessel of Osiris and that, adorned with stars, it
voyages not far from Orion and the Dog star; the former of these the
Egyptians hold sacred to Horus, the latter to Isis.” Isis is therefore
Sirius; Horus is Orion; Argo is the vessel of Osiris; Canopus is the
leader of Argo, hence Osiris.
It shows that in Antiquity, Orion was not identified with Osiris, but
instead with his divine offspring and successor, Horus. It undermines
the present position of Egyptology, which is largely due to the influence
that Neugebauer had on the community – and from which Egyptology
still has not recovered.
One lone voice in the wilderness was Henry Lutz, who in the 1940 argued
that “there were certain rites connected with the couch of Osiris,
rites which, it must be assumed, were executed in each and every Osiris
temple, including in a special way the sanctuary of Canopus.”
Lutz was referring to the Canopus sanctuary that existed in the vicinity
of Alexandria, at the site where the river Nile meets the Mediterranean
Sea. He thus followed in the footsteps of Plutarch and placed emphasis
on a relationship between Osiris and Canopus, not with Orion.
Orion and Sirius are now far more famous than Canopus, the second brightest
star in the sky is not an unknown.
Robert Temple in The Sirius Mystery insisted that the town of Canopus
inherited the fame of Behdet, a pre-dynastic capital of Egypt: “In
earlier times the fame of Canopus was held by a city called Behdet,
which was a pre-dynastic capital of Egypt […] just as Canopus
became superseded by Alexandria, Canopus itself had superseded the extremely
ancient Behdet which existed before 3200 BC as the most important city
on the Egyptian coast.”
Temple’s reference to Behdet/Canopus was the prime driver in my
research into the mystery of this town, and its possible connection
to the star.
with Sirius, Canopus was said to action as the “Plumb Line”,
measuring the depths of the Abyss. One of the reasons why Sirius and
Canopus are deemed to measure the Abyss is because Canopus is situated
virtually directly south from Sirius. Visually, a line connecting Sirius
and Canopus would thus be considered a “plumb line”, with
Canopus the weight at the bottom of it. Robert Temple knew this, as
he had stated that Canopus, when connected to Sirius, was called “Ponderosus”,
meaning “the Weight”. Hamlet’s Mill links the Arabic
name for Canopus, Suhail el-wezn, meaning “heavy-weighing”,
with the weight at the end of a plumb-line.
We should note that one of Osiris’ names translates as “plumb
line”. This was mentioned by Jane Sellers, where Sellers herself
links this epithet with Canopus. The same applies to Utterance 518 of
the Pyramid Texts, where there is a reference to a plumb-line. “I
am the herald of the year, O Osiris.” This is very precise, for
not only do we have Osiris here, but also an indicator of a new era.
This link with the Plumb Line is due to the location of Canopus, forming
the southern polar stars, around which the other stars evolve. Together
with Sirius, it is therefore said to pierce into the “Underworld”,
the “Abyss”, which is “below” the Southern Polar
star – invisible in the sky, and perhaps to be interpreted as
residing within another dimension, in which Canopus would act as a type
of star gate.
importance of Canopus in the Middle East is further underlined by John
North, who argues that the axis of the temple housing the Ka’ba,
the black stone of meteoric origin that is at the centre of Muslim religion,
was aligned to the rising of Canopus. That Canopus was therefore of
major significance to the builders of that temple cannot be disputed.
On a lighter note, there are also references to Canopus in science fiction
literature. In Frank Herbert’s Dune, the “actual”
name for the planet is Arrakis, which had been positioned as the third
planet of Canopus. As Canopus was called the “ship of the desert”,
Dune was a desert-like planet. Nothing grew there, except a spice, which
“bent time and space”. It is an intriguing reference, for
the Argo, of which Canopus stands at its helm, is indeed the “ship”
– which Herbert transformed into spaceships and their pilots.
to Lutz, he argued that the name of Canopus had been deliberately misinterpreted
in ancient times, to fit a religious interpretation that connected it
to the words “basket”, “couch” and “chest”.
All three were linked to the cult of Osiris.
“The couch on which Osiris rests is mentioned in reference to
the hour gods who functioned in the service of the dead god. Thus in
the second hour of the day the serving deities are gathered about his
couch. At the eighth hour of the day Nepthys arrives for the protection
of the couch of Osiris; and the tenth hour of the day is the time of
prayer by the gods at the funerary couch. Thus it is seen that there
were certain rites connected with the couch of Osiris, rites which,
it must be assumed, were executed in each and every Osiris temple, including
in a special way the sanctuary of Canopus.”
famous dean of Egyptology Budge points towards a drawing in the temple
of Denderah, wherein the resurrection of Osiris is detailed. Osiris
is often seen rising from his funeral bier, or couch, but there is one
depiction of Osiris “rising up out of a basket, which rests upon
a pedestal; behind him stands Isis with her wings stretched out on both
sides of him.” On the right hand side of the image, Osiris is
seen kneeling within a boat, Osiris having the title of “Osiris
Seker, lord of the funeral chest [at] Abydos”. Seker is better
known as Sokar, an ancient deity ruling Abydos.
Lutz then points out that this couch could be the constellation Argo,
with the dead Osiris being Canopus. Isis is of course Sirius.
also plays an intriguing role in the mystery of Rennes-le-Château.
Another person to talk about Canopus was the infamous Pierre Plantard,
who was said to be the helmsman of the Priory of Sion, made famous in
The Da Vinci Code. This is largely a modern fabrication, but in my opinion,
Plantard used key alchemical imagery that we know existed in France
in the earliest half of the 20th century – and which could thus
easily have been adapted by Plantard.
The role of Canopus is specifically related to “the encoffined
Osiris” – Man in his tomb, unsure of whether there is anything
beyond death. The role of the tomb is therefore very important. In the
story of Rennes-le-Château, we know of the so-called Poussin Tomb,
which sits in nearby Arques, along the side of the road. It is named
after Nicolas Poussin, who is supposed to have painted the imaginary
tomb in the 17th century, as the central focus of his painting The Shepherds
Nearby is the enigmatic “Sacred Tomb of Arles sur Tech”,
which is a most enigmatic feature; water flows from the tomb, undisturbed
by meteorological conditions.
The author Gerard Lacoste has linked it with Canopus, specifically because
its key aspects, tomb and water, are also prevalent in Canopus. To briefly
highlight the role of Canopus and water, we need to refer to Osiris
in his form of Hapi, the Nile God, whereby we note the important positions
of Canopus at the terminal of the Nile, both in Upper and Lower Egypt.
Dieterlen and von Dechend in Hamlet’s Mill link Canopus with being
the cover stone that holds back the Waters of the Abyss, which caused
the Deluge at the end of the previous world age.
a tomb in the South of France, we need to return to Egypt, to the pyramids.
The author Michael Rice pointed out that the Zoser complex was unique.
“Once again, it is totally without precedent, not merely in Egypt
but in the entire world.” The building of pyramids seems to have
been a particular enterprise of the priests of Heliopolis – those
linked with the sun god, Ra, with whom Sirius rose heliacally. Imhotep
was the chief priest at Heliopolis. There is also a connection with
the most impressive pyramids of all: those on the Gizeh plateau. A sacred
road connected the Gizeh pyramids to Heliopolis – and all pyramids
lie in the general vicinity of Heliopolis; none were built in Upper
Egypt. Dr. Gerhard Haeny of the Swiss Institute of Archaeology in Cairo
stated that the pyramids of Gizeh align to the obelisk of Heliopolis,
which replaced the Temple of the Phoenix, where the benben stone had
previously been kept. Mark Lehner also pointed out that the pyramids
of the 5th Dynasty, at Abusir, were aligned to Heliopolis. The link
between the pyramids and Heliopolis therefore seems quite solid –
as solid as hewn stone pyramids.
Pyramids are also notorious for containing copies of the Book of the
Dead. The Book of the Dead was the manual for the deceased to find his
way in “death”. It is a subject that few Egyptologists have
analysed, as the discussion of religion is normally considered to be
outside of the bailiwick of archaeologists. It has resulted in little
understanding of what ancient Egypt was all about.
So what did the ancient Egyptians think happened to the soul after death?
It is clear that they had a vastly defined concept of “the afterlife”.
They believed that the knowledge of certain formulae would allow them
access to a divine realm, where they would be met by the ancestors,
deities, and remain there forever.
Further debates on the contents of the ancient Egyptian religion are
– to say the least – scant. It is largely discussed by “New
Age” authors, whose thinking often does not make it into print,
but is “published” on the Internet. One exception of a careful
thinker who went a long way, was Charles Muses (1919-2000), who was,
however, also inclined towards New Age thinking. Muses based his interpretation
on a coffin that was in the museum of Torino, Italy. The coffin came
from the Egyptian village of “Two Hills” (Gebelein), which
depicted the plan of the Duat, as written down in the Coffin Texts,
visualises the three paths the soul can take when it enters “death”
– the Egyptian Duat. These options are: floating about in the
Duat, return to our physical world or a spiritual voyage. It is depicted
as a fork in which the central path leads to regeneration (the voyage)
and the other two diverge from it, postponing the regeneration. Muses
further identified each path with the types of couch, or bier –
or coffin – on which the deceased, and Osiris laid. The central
path was identified with the lion couch, the hippopotamus couch with
return to the shore and the cow couch with the floating about in the
There are various depictions of the “lion couch”, as this
was the path obviously favoured by all those who were buried –
it was no doubt obligatory that the pharaoh showed his nation the proper
path forward. Examples of a hippopotamus and cow bier were found in
the tomb of Tutankhamun, and his tomb shows that each couch was furnished,
as to a large extent, what would happen after death could only be confirmed
once the deceased Pharaoh was dead – it was then that the choice
had to be made.
state of the Duat – what others have called the bardo –
is therefore identical to the encoffined Osiris: though dead, he is
not “dead dead”: there is still potential, not for a continuation
of his present earthly life, but for a life “elsewhere”.
The “soul” is in a “land of nothingness”, at
a crossroads, where the soul is also in need of a guide. In the sky,
this gateway was identified with Canopus – it lead to the Duat,
a metaphysical state of the soul following death.
us go through each option one by one. At death, the easiest path was
the path of reincarnation: one body was exchanged for another and the
cycle of life continued. In nature, this cycle was visible in the snake
shedding its skin, the sun rising and setting, the seasons, the deer
renewing its antlers – symbols and “physical evidence”
that has been found at many sacred sites. It was the path chosen by
most souls, apparently for a variety of reasons: the sahu might have
too much fear to go on a voyage or even dwell in the Duat for too long;
the life review might have been specifically negative: life was not
led properly, and hence a successive incarnation is required for the
soul to grow before it might be ready to return to the Source –
in ancient Egypt identified as Atum, the supreme deity of Heliopolis.
The path of the Cow was to sail about in the Sacred Boat in the Duat.
It is believed that this was literally “biding time”: the
soul was undecided what to do. But at some point, the soul could either
reincarnate, or the boat could set course towards the “Lion Path’s
It is now clear what is meant when the Book of Am Duat (Book of That
Which Is In the Duat), describes the twelve divisions (or hours of the
night) in the Duat, the dark tunnel through which the deceased or initiate
travelled before entering the heavenly realms. It is similar to the
near death experiences (NDEs) that many people have experienced and
we can only wonder whether NDEs were at the origin of the ancient Egyptian
authors, in particular Andrew Collins, have argued that the Duat was
physically represented underneath the Gizeh complex. Although at present
still undiscovered – if indeed ever present there – the
idea does not seem farfetched. But if the Duat was represented on the
Gizeh plateau, I do not think it is hidden underneath its sandy surface.
Could it be in front of our very eyes? Could anyone who has visited
the Great Pyramid have walked in it?
to the imagery of the Duat is a central path, a tunnel, from the world
of the living, into the darkness of the Duat. In that tunnel, the soul
is given three paths, each leading to a specific destiny, and identified,
at least at the times of Tuthankhamun, with three different couches:
a cow, a hippopotamus and a lion.
This imagery translates straightforwardly to the Great Pyramid: the
entrance leads down into a dark, low tunnel. By default, the path descends
to the Lower Chamber. However, there is an entrance towards another
tunnel, leading to the “Queen’s Chamber” or the “King’s
Chamber”. A lot of ink has been written as to how this stone blocking
this tunnel was put in place, and whether it could pivot or not. That
is less important than the observation that there was a “guarded”
entrance in this fork in the road. Once in the ascending passage –
an apt description for those trying to attain heaven – a further
fork occurred, one leading to the Queen’s Chamber, another that
continued to climb, towards the King’s Chamber.
Did each of the tombs symbolise a path? The path of reincarnation, of
the Hippopotamus, would be the Underground Chamber: easiest to reach,
but very “basic”: earth to earth. The path of the Cow would
be the Queen’s Chamber: in between both, specifically there for
a soul stalling to make the final ascent to the King’s Chamber.
The Lion’s path would be the continued ascent towards the King’s
Chamber, where the “tomb of God”, the coffin, was the symbol
of resurrection – initiation in the Divine Abode.
interpretation of the Great Pyramid as the three-dimensional visualisation
of the Duat would explain many anomalies, too many to list here. But
one intriguing anomaly is the “Well shaft”, a roughly hewn
path that connects the Lower Chamber with the fork in the tunnel towards
respectively the Queen’s and King’s Chambers. This path
was the “loop” from the second path, that of the Cow, either
to reincarnation or regeneration. It would, by default, have to bypass
the original “choice” (the original fork in the road), but
would have to lead to both other chambers. For the architect, this presented
a problem, but I believe the shaft and its execution display exactly
the nature of the path: it was rough, “unhewn”. To some
extent, the architect had made the passage from the Queen’s Chamber
to the Lower Chamber more difficult than the passage towards the King’s
Chamber: It was a reminder that the seeker “had come so far, why
not go all the way” – towards ascension?
The Well Shaft is not open to the public and few people officially enter
it, though it seems that the guards on the Plateau must occasionally
practice climbing it, as they normally act as decent guides for those
who do enter it, such as Mark Lehner. Its purpose is unknown and whatever
scenario has been proposed for its function, it has always failed. I
believe that the theory that the Great Pyramid was the three-dimensional
representations of the Duat and the paths within, not only makes sense
of the number of chambers, but specifically of the reason behind the
presence of the “Well Shaft”. It would also firmly set into
place the presence of the Sphinx, the guardian of the Duat – and
above all, why the Sphinx was in the form of a lion with a human head.
Was it because those who entered were humans on the Lion’s Path,
towards the Abode of Osiris?
Dark side of the Force
story of the encoffined Osiris forms the spine of the myth of Osiris
and Isis, no doubt the most potent legend that has influenced Mankind
over the past millennia – including the stories of Jesus and Mary
Magdalene. The story is about balacing good and evil – order vs.
chaos – in which the role of the bad guy is played by Seth. René
Guenon remarked that Seth, as the rebel, was the deity that created
For the ancient Egyptians, Seth was not evil. He is the expression of
the love of the material world, which should not be defined as materialism
as we know it today, but also of the fact that many of us appreciate
a beautiful landscape. Seth is the human attraction to the “good
things” in life, which in Catharism became defined as the evil
Plutarch asked in De Iside and Osiride what would become of the world
if the element that incarnated Seth would no longer work? He went on
to say that the soul of Seth was visualised as the Great Bear, one of
the most important constellations in the Northern skies.
kingdom of Set was supposed to be placed in the northern sky, and his
abode was one of the stars which formed the constellation of Khepesh,
or the “Thigh,” which has been identified with the Great
Bear, and it was from this region that he made use of his baleful influence
to thwart the beneficent designs of Osiris, whose abode was Sah and
of Isis, whose home was Sept, or Sothis.
It thus becomes clear why the ancient Egyptians had Horus and Seth fight
each other as bears. It also seems to indicate that the Northern sky
was identified with chaos, and the stars of the Southern sky with order.
We may note in passing that the Hebrews called the region of darkness,
Sephon, a name which is connected with Saphon, “North.”
thus see that the constellation of the Northern pole is linked with
Seth, and the Southern constellation of Argo and Canopus, the South
Pole, with Osiris. The meridian that connects them can therefore be
seen as the “spine”.
above, so below
lot has been said about sacred geometry in relation to Egypt. I want
to repeat the basic premises on which this is founded. A key aspect
can be found in the Leyden Papyrus: “When a message comes from
heaven, it is heard at Heliopolis, it is repeated at Memphis to Ptah
and it is made into a letter written in the letters of Thoth [at Hermopolis]
for the City of Amun [Thebes].”
This passage from the Leyden Papyrus gives us the initiatory version
of creation, as exemplified by the four ‘centres of instruction’
of ancient Egypt: Heliopolis, Memphis, Hermopolis and Thebes.
Egypt, the river Nile runs from North to South and could therefore be
considered to be a depiction of a “meridian” – a natural
one. The Nile had its root in Canopus of the South, grew and than diversified,
like a tree, around the Nile Delta, with a further Canopus in the North.
a meridian for ancient Egypt has been a favourite pass-time for many
Egypt-enthusiasts. The best-known example is the meridian defined by
the Great Pyramid by Livio Stecchini, which he identified as the “the
central meridian of ancient Egypt”.
The establishment of this meridian bisected the Nile Delta (at 31 degrees
14 minutes East), allegedly predated the building of the Great Pyramid.
Stecchini built upon observations from Napoleon’s savants who
observed, when they arrived in Egypt in 1798, that the Great Pyramid
is situated at the exact apex of the Nile Delta such that an arc centred
on the Great Pyramid defined the extent of the Delta, perfectly enclosing
its outer perimeter. The northern promontory of the Delta is due North
of the pyramid.
In 1882, Robert T. Ballard pointed out that this placement of the Great
Pyramid would have allowed the residents of the Nile Delta to easily
resurvey their fields every year after the annual flood using only a
plumb line, by sighting on the apex of the Great Pyramid. He further
demonstrated that the combination of the three Gizeh pyramids would
have improved this operation and provided more information than a single
pyramid by itself could have.
Stecchini pointed out that the original name that was used by the ancient
Egyptians for their country was To-Mera, “The Land that was Measured”.
The hieroglyph for the mer phonetic used in this name is the picture
of the hoe, or tilling instrument, supporting the intended reading of
“measured”. Mer, of course, is also the name for a pyramid.
Egyptians were extremely concerned with determining exact boundaries
and areas of land surface. The annual inundation of the Nile erased
all boundary lines between fields. Herodotus, Plato, Diodorus, Strabo,
Clemens of Alexandria, Iamblichus and others, ascribe the origin of
geometry to changes which annually took place from the inundation, and
to the consequent necessity of adjusting the claims of each person respecting
the limits of the lands.
The imagery of the ancient Egyptians measuring their land after the
annual deluge, from the primeval hill of Gizeh, using the plumb-line
was a practical necessity that at the same time contained all the required
symbolic ingredients, including the “plumb line” of Sirius
and Canopus to measure the depths of the Abyss – the annual inundation.
did not stop there. He claimed that a number of locations throughout
the ancient world were located in exact geodetic relation to the longitude
meridian of the Great Pyramid. Among the other ancient sites exhibiting
similar geodetic precision were: Nimrod, Sardi, Susa, Mycenae, Dodona
and Delphi, as well as the Ka’aba at Mecca, and Mt. Gerizim, the
original Jewish holy centre, before it was moved to Jerusalem in 980
BC. Another centre was the Persian capital Persepolis, which was located
at 30º 00’ north latitude, and three units of exactly 7º
12’ east of the meridian of the Great Pyramid.
According to Stecchini, the reason for this 7º 12’ unit was
that the Persian Empire of King Darius the Great was idealised as three
geodetic squares of six degrees of latitude, stretching from thirty
to 36 degrees North. We need to underline here that that latitude was
the northern limit of the visibility of Canopus, with 30 degrees North
not only the latitude of Persepolis, but also of the Great Pyramid.
At 33º north, the midpoint of this distance, six degrees of latitude
is equal to 7º 12’ of longitude, thus making these regions
graphic courtesy of Simon Miles
is perilous to continue on this path, which might lead to insanity.
Nevertheless, Stecchini’s observations are factual, and we can
only wonder whether they are accidental or not. If not, it is intriguing
that an entire network of “centres of centres” existed,
between the latitudes of thirty and 36 degrees – the northern
limit of visibility of Canopus. Coincidence, or incredible design? If
Stecchini had known the importance of Canopus to the ancient Egyptians,
he would have been able to argue his case with such fervour that potentially
his findings would be taught in schoolbooks. Not only are there six
degrees of latitude between Rhodes, the northern limit of Canopus and
the Gizeh Plateau, there are a further – precise – six degrees
between the Great Pyramid and the Southern boundary of Egypt, Elephantine,
the First Cataract – Canopus of the South. I would suggest this
“coincidence” is no coincidence at all, but reveals the
detailed planning, based on the visibility of the star Canopus, of ancient
It would also address the oddity of why Upper Egypt had six degrees
of latitude, and Lower Egypt only one – from Gizeh to the Mediterranean
Sea. In Stecchini’s model, the area between 30 and 36 degrees
would be seen as “Lower Egypt” – though more symbolically
is more: the Tropic of Cancer was considered to be located in the times
of the earliest dynasties at the latitude 23º51’ North –
i.e. virtually identical to Elephantine, with the knowledge that in
pre-Dynastic times, the Tropic of Cancer must have coincided at one
point with Elephantine – that time might offer us the clue to
the true start of ancient Egypt.
means that the centre of the sun disc appeared overhead at this latitude
at midday on the summer solstice. Looking towards the South, instead
of directly up – to heaven –, Canopus would mark the South
Pole star. Twelve degrees of latitude were then drawn to the North,
with Gizeh as the “prime primeval hill” of Egypt; Rhodes
in the extreme North of Canopus’ visibility on the 36th parallel.
Gizeh and its primeval hill were therefore the centre, and from there,
the North-South division was made, along the 30th parallel. However,
as the Nile did not run until 36 degrees North, the Northern limit of
the Nile had to be defined and marked also – the town of Canopus
“of the North”, i.e. near Alexandria.
we look at Stecchini’s plan, we also note that the Paris Meridian
“coincidentally” fits within this Egyptian grid. This is
a remarkable coincidence, to say the least. It is of specific interest
as it is Poussin’s Tomb which sits virtually on top of the Paris
Meridian, of which a lot has been written in the literature on the mystery
It would take me too far off subject, but recent research, carried out
by members of the Société Perillos, has made it clear
that the main characters of the “Rennes-le-Château mystery”
were equally intrigued by the mysteries of the death. This should not
at all come as a surprise, as the mystery of death forms the core of
most religions and intrigues is us all, whether young or old.
What is remarkable about ancient Egypt, specifically in the discoveries
related to Canopus, is that this culture which continues to intrigue
may have captured material that is key to an understanding of the Afterlife.
The final analysis could be based on what they observed in “experiments”
or “experiences” such as hallucinogenic séances,
or near death experiences.
the final analysis, Canopus – the South Pole star –
is merely a guide, a helmsman, guiding us on the boat that is
our life, on the voyage that is our life, from birth to death,