Discussion in 'African Traditional Religion Study Group' started by Omowale Jabali, Nov 26, 2011.
The Dogon, the Nommos and Sirius B
Artist's conception of the Dogon's legendary Nommos. (Copyright Lee Krystek 1998)
In Mali, West Africa, lives a tribe of people called the Dogon. The Dogon are believed to be of Egyptian decent and their astronomical lore goes back thousands of years to 3200 BC. According to their traditions, the star Sirius has a companion star which is invisible to the human eye. This companion star has a 50 year elliptical orbit around the visible Sirius and is extremely heavy. It also rotates on its axis.
This legend might be of little interest to anybody but the two French anthropologists, Marcel Griaule and Germain Dieterlen, who recorded it from four Dogon priests in the 1930's. Of little interest except that it is exactly true. How did a people who lacked any kind of astronomical devices know so much about an invisible star? The star, which scientists call Sirius B, wasn't even photographed until it was done by a large telescope in 1970.
The Dogon stories explain that also. According to their oral traditions, a race people from the Sirius system called the Nommos visited Earth thousands of years ago. The Nommos were ugly, amphibious beings that resembled mermen and mermaids. They also appear in Babylonian, Accadian, and Sumerian myths. The Egyptian Goddess Isis, who is sometimes depicted as a mermaid, is also linked with the star Sirius.
The Nommos, according to the Dogon legend, lived on a planet that orbits another star in the Sirius system. They landed on Earth in an "ark" that made a spinning decent to the ground with great noise and wind. It was the Nommos that gave the Dogon the knowledge about Sirius B.
The legend goes on to say the Nommos also furnished the Dogon's with some interesting information about our own solar system: That the planet Jupiter has four major moons, that Saturn has rings and that the planets orbit the sun. These were all facts discovered by Westerners only after Galileo invented the telescope.
The story of the Dogon and their legend was first brought to popular attention by Robert K.G. Temple in a book published in 1977 called The Sirius Mystery. Science writer Ian Ridpath and astronomer Carl Saganmade a reply to Temple's book, suggesting that this modern knowledge about Sirius must have come from Westerners who discussed astronomy with the Dogon priests. The priests then included this new information into the older traditions. This, in turn, mislead the anthropologists.
This is a possibility considering Sirius B's existence was suspected as early as 1844 and seen was through a telescope in 1862. It doesn't seem to explain a 400-year old Dogon artifact that apparently depicts the Sirius configuration nor the ceremonies held by the Dogon since the 13th century to celebrate the cycle of Sirius A and B. It also doesn't explain how the Dogons knew about the super-density of Sirius B, a fact only discovered a few years before the anthropologists recorded the Dogon stories.
It is also important to remember that although many parts of the Dogon legends seem to ring true, other portions are clearly mistaken. One of the Dogon's beliefs is that Sirius B occupied the place where our Sun is now. Physics clearly prohibits this. Also, if the Dogon believe that Sirius B orbits Sirius A every 50 years, why do they hold their celebrations every 60 years?
Sirius A is the brightest star in our sky and can easily be seen in the winter months in the northern hemisphere. Look for the constellation Orion. Orion's belt are the three bright stars in a row. Follow an imaginary line through the three stars to Sirius which is just above the horizon. It is bluish in color.
Sirius is only 8.6 light years from Earth. Astronomer W.Bessel was the first to suspect that Sirius had an invisible companion when he observed that the path of the star wobbled. In the 1920's it was determined that Sirius B, the companion of Sirius, was a "white dwarf" star. The pull of its gravity caused Sirius's wavy movement.
Search the threads for 'Dogon'. There are hundreds of posts. Here is another one i will drop some science in the future.
They are still sending those scientist off and I don't blame them. What is interesting to me is thier choice to continue to live life simply and in harmony .. the knowledge of the body and circulartory system is astounding.. It is my only life Passion to sit amongst them..
Pa neteru tah depicted as a man with scales A nommos or reptilian if u like. The creator god of medicine astronomy the the fish man from which all creation stories hale. My question is why have they only choose to communicate with us at that time and have for all purposes cut us off. The only time we here about them now is via caucasian encounters..
Is it that They have not chosen to communicate with Us, or have We chosen not to communicate with THEM?
Do We still Honor the 'Old Theology'?
The Memphite Theology
illustration from Egyptian Mysteries; p.10 (Thames & Hudson, Art and Imagination Series)
The Memphis theology is based around Ptah (equivalent to the Greek Hephaistos, the divine blacksmith), (shown above on the left), who himself becomes the primordial fire and gives it substance. This cosmological system was developed at Memphis, when it became the capital city of the kings of Egypt. Ptah is the creator-god of Memphis, and during the long period the city served as the capital of Egypt it was known as Het-ka-Ptah or "House of the Soul of Ptah". Ptah is one of several Egyptian deities attributed with a myth about fashioning creation. Ptah, as the god Ta-tenen (the primordial mound), creates in the so-called "Memphite Theology" the world, its inhabitants, and the kas of the other gods. Reference is again made to the Ennead, this time with Ptah at its head.
The whole Memphite theology is preserved on a slab of basalt now exhibited in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery. It was composed at a very early date, and committed to stone during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty by the order of the Nubian king Shabaka. The Shabaka Text (c. 710 BC) which was intended to preserve "a work of the ancestors," this text is alternatively known as The Memphite Theology, and based upon the generative power of God's thought and speech. The Shabaka Text is perhaps the earliest record of theistic creation in existence.
Unfortunately, this Shabaka Stone was subsequently used as a nether mill-stone and much of the text has been lost. The document known as the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus includes, among other religious texts, two monologues of the sun-god describing how he created all things.
As with all the Egyptian theologies, the Memphite religion was also political, justifying the primary status of the new capital. Ptah, the principal god of Memphis, had to be shown to be the great creator-god, and a new legend about creation was coined. But it was also important to organize the new cosmogony so that a direct breach with the priests of Heliopolis might be avoided. Ptah was the great creator-god, but eight other gods were held to be contained within him, including some of the Heliopolitan Ennead and the Hermopolitan Ogdoad. The Heliopolitan Atum held a central position, and the Hermopolitan Nun and Naunet were also included.
The Shabaka Text enumerates Ptah's eight hypostases or qualities as "the Neterw who have come into existence in Ptah". Ptah himself incarnates the primordial Eight, and then becomes Tatenenn, 'the earth which rises up', an evocation of the primordial hill. "He who manifested himself as heart, he who manifested himself as tongue, in the likeness of Atum, is Ptah, the very ancient, who gave life to all the Neterw." Tongue means speech, or in later philosophical idiom the logos. Ptah conceived the world intellectually before creating it 'by his own word'. The heart and the tongue 'have power over' all the other members, since the tongue describes what the heart conceives. Thus Ptah re-creates the Great Ennead, and gives rise to all the qualities of things, through the Desire of his heart and the Word of his tongue.
Ptah's name means "Creator". He is depicted as a mummified man with only his hands free to grasp a sceptre composed of the symbols of life (ankh), power (was), and stability (djed). He is also typically shown wearing a skullcap and standing on the plinth-shaped hieroglyph that is part of the name for Ma'at, the goddess of fundamental truth.
The Memphite theology, like the Theban religion, is based on a primordial triad of deities. In this case we have Ptah who is accompanied by Sekhmet, the great lioness whose name means 'the powerful', and Nefertum, 'the accomplishment of Atum', thus making up the first causal triad.
There are also interesting parallels here with the Hindu trinity, viz.
Ptah - creator (Brahman)
Sehkmet - destroyer (Shiva)
Nefertum - preserver (Vishnu)
In another, although related context, Sehkmet has always seemed to me quite a bit like Kali. Ptah therefore would have a connection with Shiva (as the spouse of Kali).
The monotheistic element is interesting here as well. In the Memphite Theology it is said of Ptah:
'He who made all and created the gods.' And he is Ta-tenen, who gave birth to the gods, and from whom every thing came forth, foods, provisions, divine offerings, all good things. Thus it is recognized and understood that he is the mightiest of the gods. Thus Ptah was satisfied after he had made all things and all divine words.(Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdom translated by Miriam Lichtheim)
We have here a strongly developed theism, which gives the lie to the oft-asserted statement that Akhenaten was the first monotheist. Ptah constitutes a creator figure, in contrast to Atum is more of an Emanator. Yet this was still within the same overall tradition (albeit with a different deity). There was no cultural break such as Akhenaten attempted. An analogy could be made between, say Kashmir Shaivism (emanationist) and the Vaishvanite (which is more dualistic and devotional). Or like the difference between the God of Mystical vs Legalistic Judaism. Emanationism is more prone to a philosophical based mysticism in which human growth is the key issue, while creation based is more on a creator who gives laws that you must follow. The Hermopolic creation story (in which everything emerges from the primordial Eight or the Nun) is more prone to left-hand path belief systems since there is no pre-existent God, and the Theban seems like it would be purely mystical, with it's abstract symbolism.
Ptah as the divine craftsman also recalls Judaeo-Christian themes of God fashioning the world, making Adam out of clay, etc. I leave it to the reader to decide whether this similarity is due to diffusion (the Memphite ideas filtering through to the rest of the Mediterranean world) or archetypal convergence (the same symbol or motif reappearing)
The Theology of Memphis
fugal monotheism, creative speech
& pan-en-theism in Ancient Egyptian thought
by Wim van den Dungen
1 the Shabaka Stone
2 the inscription on the stone
3 how old are the levels ?
4 the 3 layers of Egyptian thought
5 elements of Egyptian theology
•the theologies of Re, Thoth & Ptah
• the time before creation
•the first time
6 fugal monotheism
7 the Solar Bark & the Gates
8 Ptah and the theology of creative speech
9 the eternal work of Ptah : pan-en-theism ?
the text of the Memphis Theology
associated papers :
The Shabaka Stone
The Creative Verb in Kemet
Maxims of Ptahhotep
Shabaka Stone : LINE 48
"the gods who manifest in Ptah"
"Lo, every word of the god came into being
through the thoughts of the heart & the command by the tongue."
Memphis Theology, lines 56-57
1 The Shabaka Stone : a few historical parameters.
"The living Horus : excellent Two Lands ; the Two Ladies : excellent Two Lands ; the Golden Horus : excellent Two Lands ; King of Upper and Lower Egypt : Neferkare, the son of Re, [Shabaka], beloved of Ptah-South-of-his-Wall, who lives like Re forever.
This writing was copied out anew by his Majesty in the House of his father Ptah-South-of-his-Wall, for his Majesty found it to be a work of the ancestors which was worm-eaten, so that it could not be understood from the beginning to the end. His Majesty copied it anew so that it became better than it had been before, in order that his name might endure and his monument last in the House of his father Ptah-South-of-his-Wall throughout eternity, as a work done by the son of Re [Shabaka] for his father Ptah-Tatenen, so that he might live forever."
Shabaka Stone, lines 1 - 2 (horizontal).
The Shabaka Stone (BM n° 498), is a heavy, near black block or slab of "Green breccia" from Wadi Hammamat named after Pharaoh Shabaka (ca. 712 - 698 BCE), who ruled in the XXVth Dynasty (ca. 716 - 702 BCE) and who is mentioned in LINE 1 of the inscription (the titulary). It was given by the First Lord of the Admiralty George John 2nd Earl Spencer (1758 - 1834) to the British Museum in 1805. It was registered in the inventory of the Museum on the 13th of July of that year. Up to now, its povenance is still unknown.1
For a more detailed discussion of the Shabaka Stone : click here.
To contextualize Pharaoh Shabaka's "rescue", one has to realize he was the first king able to (shortly) reunite Egypt and take Residence at Memphis at the end of the Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1075 - 664 BCE) following the New Kingdom (ca.1539 - 1075 BCE). This Intermediate Period had been one of civil strife, and (as the two others before) confused and characterized by the split of the land in Upper (South) and Lower (North, Delta) Egypt.
"Following the death of Rameses XI, ca. 1069 BC, the 20th Dynasty -and with it the Renaissance era- came to an end, but the foundations of a new power structure were already in place, and transition to a new regime occured smoothly. Under the 21th Dynasty Egypt was -to outward appearances- politically united, but in reality control was divided between a line of kings in the North and a sequence of army commanders, who also held the post of high priest of Amun, at Thebes."
Taylor, J. in Shaw, 2000, p.331.
Whenever they were split, the Egyptians looked back to the Old Kingdom as the proto-type of a divine, stable, reliable and comprehensive (pyramidal) unity, with as foci Ptah of Memphis and Atum-Re of Heliopolis, superceded in the Middle & the Late New Kingdom by Amun-Re of Thebes.
The Old Kingdom conception of Egypt as the cosmos and uprisen land ("ta-Tenen") in the midst of chaos ("Nun"), had been replaced in the New Kingdom by the naturalism of the Sun ("Re") and its course (prototype of the Divine "creatio continua"). The New Solar Theology explained this in terms which rejected :
"the entire mythic, pictoral world of polytheistic thought"
Assmann, 2001, p.201.
Politically, the New Kingdom brought internationalization, which defied the particularism of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. From Myceanae, Knossos, Mitanni, Babylon, and from the Hittites, Assyrians, Libyans & Nubians gifts & trade goods were flowing in. The XVIIIth & XIXth Dynasties produced a formidable theological synthesis (cf. The Great Hymn to the Aten, Ramesside Amun-Re theology and great monuments of theocratic statesmanship). This political system collapsed under the last kings of the Late Ramesside period, the XXth Dynasty (ca. 1188 - 1075 BCE).
After Pharaoh Ramesses III, the last great king able to repell invasions by the sea peoples (Philistines, Libyans), internal order rapidly decayed, leading to famine & the pilage of royal sepultures. The XXth Dynasty ends (ca. 1075 BCE) with civil strife and the split of Egypt. With it, the New Kingdom ended and the Third Intermediate Period began. The chief warrior-priests of Thebes (in charge of the rocking barks & statues of the divine oracles of Amun-Re and hence omnipotent) become the hereditary monarchs (in Upper Egypt) while the kings of Tanis held power in the Delta (Lower Egypt).
At the end of the Third Intermediate Period (the latter half of the eighth century BCE), Egyptian sovereignty broke down (again) and the Nubian kings moved North.2 They first advanced to Thebes to control Upper Egypt. The brother of Pharaoh Shabaka, Piye, exercized only limited authority in Lower Egypt and returned to Napata (Upper Nubia). The art of this Kushite period of which he is the second Pharaoh, looks back to the Old Kingdom for inspiration, using models and styles from earlier periods (archaisms). 3
The black African Nubian Shabaka was the first king of the "Ethiopian" Dynasty to reunite Egypt by defeating the monarchy of Sais while settling in Memphis. He needed "propaganda" to ideologically establish himself.4 Pharaoh Shabaka had indeed marched North to Memphis, making this Dynastic capital of old (cf. Pharao Menes, founder of Memphis) his new seat of government (cf. Frankfort on the importance of Memphis).5 The Shabaka Stone was originally set up in the temple of Ptah at Memphis. It is clear that this stone had to prove the legitimacy of the power of the Nubio-Kushite "Ethiopian" Dynasty (Egypt and Nubia unified). The stela affirmed that Pharoah, son of Ptah, was again the sole ruler uniting the "Two Lands" ...
The story of how he found the worm-eaten work of "his ancestors" and its subsequent rescue may also be understood in the context of this search for political justification. Being "backed" by the god of Memphis had always been a sound mythico-political strategy and rhetorical device. His "rescue" is the making of a more permanent copy of the core of an ancient tradition, rooted in Memphis and the unification of the "Two Lands". Was this not suggestive of the fact that his reign would be a copy of tradition too ?
To save a genuine tradition from being lost, had always remained a strong image in the minds of the Ancient Egyptians since the beginning of the Dynasties and probably even before. It was also potent in the minds of those around Pharaoh Shabaka, for the period of strife, attempts of reunification, new decline and civil war had lasted for more than four centuries !
The "Ethiopians" did not stop the further decay of Egyptian autonomy and unity. Thebes was sacked under the Assyrian occupation (671 - 664 BCE) and although Psammetikus I (Wahibre) expels the Assyrians, Psammetikus III (Ankhkaenre) was kept in power by the Persians but committed suicide. Persian rule initiated the Late Period (664 - 332 BCE). The restoration of the old unity of the "Two Lands" had failed. The days of an independent Ancient Egypt were irreversibly over.
2 The inscription on the stone : hermeneutical levels.
The inscription on the Shabaka Stone claims to be a copy of an ancient worm-eaten document which Pharaoh ordered to be transcribed for posterity (colophon). The egyptologists of the British Museum have good reasons to assume the compiler of the inscription on the stone reproduced the layout of early documents and introduced a number of genuine Egyptian archaisms (older spellings & grammatical usages) to lend the piece an air of antiquity.6 The story of the rescue of an old original is considered by scholars as an example of a rhetorical device well known in Egyptian royal inscriptions. So in this hypothesis, Shabaka's scribe invented the whole composition (an amalgam of layouts) on the basis of existing documents. This begs the question of the age of the latter.
Regarding the inscription three hermeneutical levels emerge :
the inscription on the Shabaka Stone itself = extant text :
This text is a composition of the XXVth Dynasty, and is probably an adapted and transformed version (hence a more advanced configuration) of an older "worm-eaten document" ;
the worm-eaten document found by Pharaoh Shabaka = proposed original text(s) :
The document is very probably a Late New Kingdom set of texts which contained the teachings of the priests of Memphis concerning the Lord of the Walls, Ptah. These texts contained more ancient thoughts but also bear the influence of the New Solar Theology and its all-comprehensive conception of divinity, i.e. the Great One in All forms (Re-Harakhty, Aten, Amun-Re) ;
the moment the ideas contained in the original text(s) emerged = lost original idea :
This is more difficult to establish. Comparative themes as well as rudiments of the proposed "divine" creative speech can be found in earlier Middle & Old Kingdom sources. The archaic form of the "logos"-philosophy could be associated with the importance of Pharaoh's Great Word (cf. Pyramid Texts), the crucial role of speech in the earliest manifestations of sapiental literature (cf. the VIth Dynasty Maxims of Ptahhotep) and the vocal-auditive and magical characteristics of Egyptian wisdom in general.
Accepting Shabaka's original existed, is it then not likely it contained a canonical discourse, i.e. a set of thoughts defining an already well-defined cultural identity, in this case a religious form, namely the theology of Memphis ?7 I think it did. This proposed original would itself be a summary or canon of an older tradition, with an even more remote historical origin, going back to the moment of the actual emergence of the original ideas, probably articulated in a less complex and sophisticated format (like in the spells of the Pyramid Texts which contain references to Sia & Hu, themselves originating centuries before the extant record, namely Pharaoh Unis' tomb).
A first hand investigation of the Shabaka Stone revealed the following table of contents. It has 6 sections :
LINES 1 - 2 : heading (titulary, colophon) : general information about the stela & editorial remarks concerning its composition ;
LINES 3 - 6 : prefaces : LINES 3 - 4 : general declaration of Ptah's supremacy as proclaimer of the great name of "Tenen" and as Pharaoh and LINE 6 : introduction of the mystery-drama of the deities created by Atum who is begat by Ptah ;
LINES 7 - 35b : the mystery-drama : here the division (decided by Geb) of the rule of Egypt between Horus and Seth is narrated and enacted. This settlement is replaced by the union of the Two Lands under the sole rule of Horus, who is a manifestation of Ptah ;
LINES 48 - 52 : new heading & Ptah's epiphanies : reaffirmation all deities are manifestations in Ptah, to whom Ptah gave birth ;
LINES 53 - 61 : the theology of Memphis ;
LINES 61 - 64 : the royal residence : Memphis is the city of Ptah-Tenen.
Shabaka Stone : section V :
the theology of Memphis (right hand side)
Section V, the Mempis Theology has three subdivisions :
► LINES 53 - 57 : logoism :
the description of the logoic process with which Ptah created everything, including all possible deities. The reason why this Memphite process supercedes the Heliopolitan one of Atum is associated with the power of creative speech. Rudiments of an epistemology (the senses bring all to the mind) are also given ;
► LINES 57 - 58 : natural philosophy : a holistic philosophy of nature (Ptah is behind all actions) ;
► LINES 58 - 61 : pan-en-theism : poetical affirmation of Ptah being everywhere & everything, all being in Ptah. Ptah is above (celestial) as well as below (terrestial). With Ptah we touch upon the third major cosmogony of Ancient Egypt.
The success of this cosmogony puts into evidence the importance of "words of power".
3 How old are the levels ?
Breasted8 concluded the original text used to compose the Shabaka inscription was probably written in the XVIIIth Dynasty (ca.1539 - 1292 BCE), i.e. at the beginning of the New Kingdom.9 The work of later investigators (Erman10, Sethe11, Junker12, Frankfort13) abandoned Breasted's justified caution and dated the original text between the Ith and the Vth Dynasty !15
Frankfort claimed :
"The Memphite Theology presents the religious teaching for Menes' new capital. It combines views which we can recognize as new, since they concern the new foundation ; others which we suspect to be new because they run counter to common Egyptian beliefs and could hardly have gained acceptance it they had not been part of the great movement at the dawn of history. Other doctrines again seem to be rooted in Egyptian, or even African, traditions of the greatest antiquity."
Frankfort, 1978, p.24.
Friedrich Junge (1973)16 convincingly demonstrated there are no philological grounds to ascribe the text to the Old Kingdom. He too thinks in terms of an original compendium of New Kingdom texts used in a free and adaptive way in the Late Period. The original compendium might date back as far as the Ramesside period, the Late New Kingdom, a period of extensive religious speculation. After Amarna, Ptah & Memphis had become more important again. Other leading egyptologists, like Hornung (1989),17 also reject an early dating of the original text.
A Late New Kingdom date proves Egyptian archaism (i.e. the Old Egyptian of the Pyramid Texts) was perfectly mastered by Shabaka's scribe (and hence available in the many Houses of Life of major temples throughout Egypt). In this context, the Frenchman Grimal18 is apparently the only scholar who still fancies Old Kingdom dates when considering the text. Late Period scribes must have been great linguists.
I accept the philological arguments of Junge and the insights given by the critical study of the political, opportunistic & propagandistic motivations of Pharaoh Shabaka. Hence, the original text was probably composed in the Ramesside period of the New Kingdom (XIXth or XXth Dynasty). Extant text, original text and the original ideas of the inscription on the Shabaka Stone each have a different age :
extant text : ca. 700 BCE (XXVth Dynasty) - Third Intermediate Period
original text : ca. 1292 - 1075 BCE (XIXth - XXth Dynasty) - Ramesside New Kingdom
... lost texts ... other texts ? ... this is very likely !
lost original : ca. 2400 BCE (Vth Dynasty ??) - Late Old Kingdom
So if the original worm-eaten document found by Pharaoh Shabaka was written in the New Kingdom and the hermeneutical form of this New Kingdom original was canonical (implying it or they were the culmination of the evolutionary process of the form of the thoughts in question and not just the invention of the Memphite theologians of the New Kingdom),19 then clearly the origin of these ideas (perhaps not documented) could bring us back to the Middle Kingdom or perhaps to the Old Kingdom, to Grimal's Vth Dynasty dating, when the Heliopolitan view predominated. Can the age of the hermeneutical levels be established on the basis of Old, Middle & New Kingdom texts with reliable comparative elements, themes & contents ?
The Science of the Dogon by Laird Scranton
We have reproduced below the Conclusion of this superb scholarly book, which gives overwhelming support to the O'Brien thesis of a single benevolent advanced source for civilization.The information presented in the preceding chapters demonstrates a direct relationship between the symbols and themes of the Dogon creation story and known scientific facts relating to the formation of the universe, matter, and biological reproduction. This relationship is a broad and specific one that is couched in clear definitions and supported by priestly interpretations and cosmological drawings. The parallels between Dogon myth and science run deep.The Dogon concepts touch on virtually every salient point of the related science and do so in organized and sensible ways. Moreover, the extended parallels between myth and science sustain themselves through complex discussions of the formative processes of the universe and the conception of life.
Correlations between the Dogon myths and science begin with explicit statements by the Dogon priests, which establish that the esoteric tradition of the Dogon is specifically understood to describe the underlying processes by which matter and life were formed. Details of these processes then play out in parallel with modern scientific theory, matching the components and component processes of myth with those of science. This kind of direct correlation with known facts taken in any context other than that of ancient myth would surely be accepted as a positive statement of real knowledge. It should be emphasized that the scientific interpretations we place on various Dogon cosmological symbols are not arbitrary ones. Rather, they are driven by and are consistent with the ways in which the Dogon elders understand and define their own symbols. These interpretations are aided by the definition of cosmological keywords such as po, sene, bummo, yala, tonu, and toymu - and by symbolic keywords such as "Water," "Fire," "Wind," and "Earth." Such words seem to transcend boundaries of culture, and their likely counterparts in the Egyptian hieroglyphic language often confirm the scientific sense of meaning assigned to the words by the Dogon. In the purest cases, these relationships between words are supported by common multiple meanings or by common related symbols-often by the Egyptian glyphs used to write the words, whose shapes match related Dogon cosmological drawings. The coherence of Dogon cosmology is upheld by a sensible, well-defined system of symbolic storylines whose themes directly mirror the best modern scientific theories of how the universe and matter might have actually come to exist.The myths express themselves clearly and succinctly, so much so that the statements of the Dogon priests, are often most easily understood in direct comparison with comparable statements from popular modern interpreters of science - authors of the caliber of Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, and Richard Feynman. Our understanding of these statements by Dogon priests is guided and supported by important cosmological drawings that often appear in a similar context and take the same form as related scientific diagrams. The Dogon symbols and concepts relating to atomic structure so thoroughly mimic their scientific counterparts that, if our purpose was to refute their basis in science, we would first need to explain in some believable way the following extraordinary similarities: • The po, which is defined in terms similar to those that describe the atom • Sene seeds, which are described in form and behavior as being similar to protons, neutrons, and electrons and whose "nesting" is recognizable as an electron orbit • The germination of the sene, whose drawn images are a match for the four types of quantum spin particles • The spider of the sene whose threads weave the 266 seeds of Amma, much as string theory tells us all matter is woven from strings • The basic creative impulse of the gods, from whom all of these particles emerged, which is stated in terms that run parallel to the concept of the four basic quantum forces In many previous examples, this study has demonstrated a consistent relationship between symbols and concepts of the Dogon people and modern science. These examples show, among other things, that the Dogon myths clearly describe: • The correct attributes of the unformed universe • That all matter was created by the opening of the universe • That spiraling galaxies of stars were formed when the universe opened • That this same event was responsible for the creation of light and time • The complex relationship between light and time • That matter can behave like a particle or as a wave • That sound travels in waves • That matter is composed of fundamental components • The correct counts of the elements within each component category of matter• That the most basic component of matter is a thread • That this fundamental thread vibrates • That under some conditions threads can form membranes • That threads give rise to the four fundamental quantum forces • The correct attributes of these quantum forces • The correct attributes of the four types of quantum spin particles • The concept of the uncertainty principle • That atoms are formed from smaller particles • That electrons orbit atoms • That component particles other than electrons make up the nucleus of an atom • The correct shape of an electron orbit • That electrons of one atom can be "stolen" by other atoms to form molecular bond • That light is emitted by changes in the energy level of an electron • The correct electron structures of water and of copper • That hydrogen atoms form pairs • That sunlight is the result of the fusion of hydrogen atoms • That water goes through phase transitions • That the emergence of matter in the universe is related to phase transitions • The correct steps in the natural water cycle • That the first single cell emerged spontaneously from water • That cells reproduce by mitosis to form two twin cells • The correct sequence of events during sexual reproduction and growth of an embryo • That female and male contributions are required for sexual reproduction • That children inherit genetic characteristics from each parent • That there are 22 chromosome pairs • That sex is determined by the X and Y chromosomes • That chromosomes move apart and spindles form during mitosis • The correct shapes and attributes of chromosomes and spindles • That sexual reproduction starts with the formation of germ cells • That germ cells reproduce by a process unique to themselves • That eggs live longer than other cells • The correct configuration and attributes of DNA Given the tribal nature of Dogon society, we might be inclined-as was Carl Sagan-to ascribe any apparent Dogon scientific knowledge to recent contacts with modern cultures. However, upon closer examination, we see that this point of view simply does not hold water. The Dogon cosmological system conveys scientific meaning through a complex system of mythological themes, symbols, storylines, and words.Time and again, we have shown that these same symbolic elements existed in similar form among the 5,000-year-old mythologies of early cultures from widely separated regions of the earth. The suggestion that this science was conveyed to the Dogon through modern contacts does not adequately explain the presence of these same well-known symbols in ancient myths. The Dogon also profess knowledge of a number of scientific facts that were not known, and others that were not even proposed, by modern science when they were documented by Griaule and Dieterlen in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. These statements of apparent fact also serve to undermine any suggestion that the Dogon could have derived their knowledge from contact with modern sources. It is important to note that Dogon society carries with it ample signs of an ancient lineage. This can be readily seen in the cultural and linguistic similarities between the Dogon and the people of ancient Egypt, which would be expected of two closely related cultures. The concurrence of these same cultural features among the Amazigh, whose culture is known to date from the earliest days of ancient Egypt, argues in favor of a long history for the Dogon. The Dogon people also observe more than a fair share of rituals and traditions typically associated with ancient Egypt and other elder societies, such as the cultural imperative to build aligned structures, the use of a 360-day calendar, and so on. Other likely relationships to ancient Egypt can be seen in Dogon agricultural practices, in their societal reverence for ancestors, in their peculiarly Egyptian-like civic organization, and in details of their astronomical knowledge. Other aspects of Dogon cosmology argue for an early relationship between the Dogon and ancient Egyptian mythological systems. For instance, the Dogon tradition of eight ancestors seems to bear a relationship to the Egyptian Ogdoad, and yet the Dogon do not assign actual god or goddess names to these ancestors.Likewise, there seems to be a relationship between Dogon cosmological drawings and the shapes of various Egyptian glyphs, yet among the Dogon, these drawings have never taken on the status of an actual written language. Dada, the Dogon spider who weaves matter and whose name means "mother" in the Dogon language, exhibits many of the classical attributes of the Egyptian (and Amazigh) goddess Neith.In fact, other ancient goddesses, like Athena, who are traditionally associated with Neith also are associated with spider symbolism similar to that found in Degon cosmology. Such consistencies suggest that the Dogon system of myth could represent an early incarnation of the Egyptian myths. The clear implication of the Dogon myths and their apparent relationship to science is that, at some point prior to 3400 BC, mankind was the beneficiary of deliberate civilizing instruction presented (if the Dogon account is to be believed) by careful, well-meaning, knowledge-able teachers. Such instruction could account for the apparently sudden rise of Egyptian civilization from the backdrop of earlier hunter tribes. It could also account for the numerous cultural histories of ancestor-teacher-gods found around the world. The myths, symbols, traditions, symbolic languages, and shrines of ancient cultures-the mnemonic devices by which this instruction was seemingly transmitted and sustained-are the apparent evidence of this instruction, and the serpent - an Egyptian symbol for "the Word"- is the teacher's signature icon.
Origins of the Dogon
We shall now return to Hercules and the number fifty. A connection between them arises in Pausanius, Book IX (27, 5), when Pausanius is discussing a city in Boeotia, which is the region where Orchomenos is. The city is called Thespiai 'below Mount Helikon', as he says. He continues:
They have a sanctuary of Herakles [Hercules] where a virgin priestess serves until she dies. They say this is because Herakles slept with all the fifty daughters of Thestios in the same night, except for one. She alone refused to mate with him. Thinking she was insulting him he sentenced her to be his virgin priestess all her life. I have also heard another legend about it: that Herakles went through all Thestios's virgin daughters on the same night and they all bore him male children, but the youngest and the eldest bore him twins.
But I am quite unable to believe that other story, that Herakles could behave so arrogantly to the daughter of a friend. Besides, even when he was on earth he used to punish arrogant outrages, particularly if they were against religion: so? he would hardly have founded his own temple and set it up with a priestess like a god.
But in fact this sanctuary seemed to me older than the days of Herakles son of Amphitryon, and to belong to the Idaian Daktylos called Herakles, whose sanctuaries I also discovered at Erythrai in Ionia and at Tyre. Actually even the Boiotians knew the name, since they say themselves that the sanctuary of Mykalessian Demeter has Idaian Herakles as patron.
Levi adds in a footnote that the sanctuary at Tyre is mentioned by Herodotus (2, 45), and gives other references as well.1
To return to the amorous labour of Hercules: I hope it will be noted that Pausanius had here elucidated a Middle-Eastern connection for this tale with the important city of Tyre, the site of which is off the coast of present-day Lebanon. Here, at least, we have a bit of evidence from ancient times bearing direct witness to the connections between these endless curious traditions in Greece about the fifty and their Middle-Eastern counterparts, or at least Middle-Eastern locale.
It would now be worth while for us to see what Robert Graves has to say about this tale. Graves calls Thestios by the name of Thespius and spends some time pondering the meaning.2 He says it means 'divinely sounding', but wishes he could find another meaning. I am inclined to be happy with 'divinely sounding' because of what I believe to be the heavy emphasis on music, sound and harmony among the ancients.
The Greeks were reputed, for instance, to have considered music the highest art; and the Pythagoreans made harmony and number into an actual religion. We have already come across the use of the octave as a relevant theme in our considerations and we have seen the possible connection of omphalos and om - the latter being the Indo-Aryan sacred syllable chanted for its 'divinely sounding' qualities and surviving in Christianity and Islam as 'Amen'.
Since if we were to look for a Greek word to describe the sacred syllable om we could choose the appropriate name meaning 'divinely sounding', it seems that this meaning is by no means unsatisfactory. Graves tells us the following:3
King Thespius had fifty daughters by his wife Megamede [mega-medea?] daughter of Arneus, as gay as any in Thespiae. Fearing that they might make unsuitable matches, he determined that every one of them should have a child by Heracles [Hercules], who was now engaged all day in hunting the lion; for Heracles lodged at Thespiae for fifty nights running.
[Notice fifty applied here as a succession of days: days, months, years. They can become blurred as long as fifty remains.]
'You may have my eldest daughter Procris as your bedfellow,' Thespius told him hospitably. But each night another of his daughters visited Heracles, until he had lain with every one. Some say, however, that he enjoyed them all in a single night.
It is interesting to note that the name Procris of the eldest daughter means 'chosen first'. Prokrossoi, which is a closely related form of the same stem means, 'ranged at regular intervals like steps'. Now, what could be a more obvious name for the eldest daughter than one with such overtones and signification if it were clearly intended, as it obviously was, to emphasize that the daughters were not meant to be thought of as individuals but as successive expressions of fifty successive periods of time - in this case, twenty-four-hour periods, or days ?
But the intention obviously was to highlight the sequence of fifty time periods, personified as 'daughters' enjoyed by our ubiquitous Hercules who is connected in so many ways with the Sirius complex.
'Thespius's fifty daughters - like the fifty Danaids, Pallantids, and Nereids, or the fifty maidens with whom the Celtic god Bran (Phoroneus) lay in a single night - must have been a college of priestesses serving the Moon- goddess, to whom the lion-pelted sacred king had access once a year during their erotic orgies around the stone phallus called Eros ('erotic desire'). Their number corresponded with the lunations which fell between one Olympic Festival and the next.' Here is Graves's irrepressible moon-goddess and here are her lunations! She carries them about with her wherever she goes. But unfortunately, Graves's brave attempt to find a lunar rationale for the fifty is not sufficient.
The Olympic Games were, as they are now, held every four years, and the Olympiads or four-year periods were understood to have commenced in 776 B.C., which is an extremely recent date compared with the extreme antiquity of 'the fifty' in all its myriad occurrences.
For instance, there were no Olympiads in Homer's day when 'the tale of the Argo was on everybody's lips', and the fifty Minyae were on their way into literary immortality in what was to become the Western world. Much more likely that a period of fifty lunations was modeled after a long-established tradition - the esoteric fifty-year period. Thus the fifty- month and fifty-day sequences were probably derived in emulation.
I assume that the cycle of fifty lunations which Graves mentions here is identical to his fifty-month period of the reign of a sacred king, which is supposed to be 'half of a Great Year of a hundred months'. Can it be that fifty, as half of one hundred, is meant to represent by its reduplication the two-to-one ratio as a means of signifying the concept of the musical octave with its two- to-one ratio? *
* The frequency of a note is doubled when it is raised an octave — hence a ratio of 2 to I. This may be demonstrated visually on a single string and does not require the modern measurements of frequency.
And can this be why the Argo is supposed to be 'whole in the sky' (Aratos) and yet the constellation also supposed to represent only the latter half of a ship ? Can this apparent double-talk be yet another way of signifying the two-tone ratio ?
It also seems significant that each fifty-month period is carefully specified to constitute 'one reign', even though it is only half of 'the Great Year'. Can 'one reign' be analogous to 'one orbit' and the 'Great Year' of two orbits be contrived to communicate the two-to-one harmonic ratio of the octave ?
Another occurrence of fifty and a hundred together is with the three monsters born to Uranus the sky and Gaia the earth. Their names were Gottus, Briareus, and Gyges. ' "From their shoulders sprang a hundred invincible arms and above these powerful limbs rose fifty heads attached to their backs." For this reason they were called the Hecatoncheires or the Centimanes,' as we are reliably told.5
These monsters resemble the monster Cerberus, the hound of Hades who originally had fifty heads, but later became simplified and had only three heads -presumably for the same reason that these monsters are three in number, and also the reason that Hecate (whose pet Cerberus was, and who was a form of Isis-Sirius and whose name literally means 'one hundred') had three heads or forms, and that the boat of Sirius in ancient Egypt had three goddesses together in it. In other words, probably the same reason that the Dogon insist that there are three stars in the Sirius system.
(Despite the fact that the astronomical evidence has recently gone against the existence of a third star, the case is by no means closed. If there is a third star, it does not produce the perturbation which had been claimed for it before the seven years' observations recently concluded by astronomer Irving Lindenblad.6)
We will recall that originally Hercules is supposed to have led the expedition of the Argo. In the version of Apollonius Rhodios he accompanies the expedition. Well, in Graves we may read of another traditional exploit of Hercules in the Black Sea.7 He went 'in search of Hippolyte's girdle in the Black Sea' and 'the girdle belonged to a daughter of Briareus ("strong"), one of the Hundred- handed Ones . . . ,' who was of course a fifty-headed one as well. And note his name: Strong!
The word (briaros) means 'strong', and another form is (briarotes) which means 'strength, might', and a related form (brithos) means 'weight', and (brithosyne) means 'weight, heaviness'. Where have we encountered this idea before?
We should note that Hippolyte means simply 'letting horses loose'. And it was from Colchis that the horses of the sun were let loose every morning, for it was there that they were stabled, according to Greek tradition. There is also a really peculiar use of the word hippopede, which has the normal mundane meaning of 'a horse fetter', in a cosmic sense.
It appears from Liddell and Scott that this word was used by the astronomer Eudoxus (the one who went to Egypt and who was mentioned earlier) as the word for the curve described by a planet. We know this from Simplicius on Aristotle's De Caelo and Proclus on Euclid.* Two sources are better than one.
* Simplicius and Proclus arc despised by the orthodox mentalities because they were neoplatonists. See Appendix One.8
There is probably more to this than we can ever discover, for the necessary texts are lost.
If we examine the name Gyges, who was one of the other three monsters which included Briareus, we find its meaning has the same origins as gygantelos, which in English became 'gigantic', but the meaning of this word was not by any means simply 'giant'. Graves gives Gyges the meaning of 'earthborn', another concept we have come to expect in connection with our Sirius- complex of myths.
Just as the stones Deukalion and his wife Pyrrha threw over their shoulders had been torn from their mother earth, Gaia, and were her bones turning into men to repopulate the earth after the flood and the voyage of the Greek ark, and just as Jason and also Cadmus sowed the teeth and they sprang up as 'earth-born men', so we find that Gyges is also 'earth-born'.
And just as Gilgamesh sought strength from the earth when 'his teeth shook' in the earth, so we discover that gygas means 'mighty' or 'strong', and is also used in Hesiod to refer to 'the sons of Gaia (Earth)', which is as specific as we could wish, for it gives an undeniable and conscious connection between 'the children of Gaia' of Deukalion, 'the offspring of Gaia' of the Colchian teeth, and 'the sons of Gaia' who were a race of giants, and Gyges, whose mother was Gaia.
And we are not to forget that Gyges, like Briareus, can mean 'strength' and 'might', though with the particular shade of meaning added that it is strength and might drawn from the earth, which could be one way of describing a super-dense body of degenerate matter. After all, super-dense matter is 'strong earth'. We must also remember that Gyges has fifty heads.
As for the name Cottus, the third of the three monsters, Graves tells us that it is not Greek. Graves says (3, 1):
'Cottus was the eponymous [name-giving] ancestor of the Cottians who worshipped the orgiastic Cotytto, and spread her worship from Thrace throughout North-western Europe. These tribes are described as "hundred-handed", perhaps because their priestesses were organized in colleges of fifty, like the Danaids and Nereids; perhaps because the men were organized in war-bands of one hundred, like the early Romans.' The Cottians might possibly derive their name from an Egyptian word.
Perhaps it was which means 'oarsmen' and has been applied to 'divine oarsmen'. With a different determinative and when not applied to a man, the word means 'orbit', 'revolution', 'to go around'. And the word in Egyptian was also applied to a group of specific people in a specific region.
The Qetu were the natives of Qeti, which Wallis Budge says was,
'The Circle', that is, 'the North Syrian coast about the Gulf of Issus and the deserts between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean'. There was also an Egyptian precedent for applying the same name to a god. Qeti is 'a god of the abyss', and a reduplicated version of the name which repeats the 'T' as Cotytto does is Qetqet, who is significantly one of the thirty- six decans. In addition, Qetshu. refers specifically to 'the ''nude" or Syrian goddess',* which seems clearly to be an orgiastic element, for Graves says that Cotytto was an orgiastic goddess.
* The great goddess of Hierapolis (one of the oracle centers) must be intended by this 'Syrian goddess'. See note 34 to Chapter 5, reference to Lucian's De Dea Syria, and Garstang; also see Bibliography.
It seems fairly clear, then, that Cottus is of Egyptian origin and originally applies to the orbit of Sirius B, and in the Egyptian era the particular term came to be associated with a people of Syria who moved to Thrace, and even in Egyptian times the name had all its applications to a foreign people, a foreign orgiastic goddess, and Sirius-related concepts including both oarsmen and an orbit, two ideas which I have frequently connected before. Here in Egyptian we find an orbit called by a name which applies equally well to divine oarsmen. And the word survives in the fifty- headed Cottus! Fifty oarsmen, fifty years in the orbit, fifty heads to the Sirius- monster. How simple, how elegant.
I am indebted to my friend Michael Scott, who once rowed at Oxford, for the fine suggestion that there could hardly be a better analogy of any symbol with its intended meaning of 'a specific interval both of space and time' than the oar-stroke.
Rowing is a precisely paced discipline when practiced in earnest, as it would certainly have been in ancient times when it was one of the two principal means of navigation at sea, and the only reliable one if the winds failed, as they so often did. It also represents a self-reliance which illustrates the self-impelled motion of a body in space which is orbiting (or what seems to be self-impelled).
I should point out here that the earliest name for the figure known to us as Hercules was, according to Robert Graves in The Greek Myths (132. h.), none other than Briareus. And we also have learned that the earliest form of Jason was Hercules (whose earliest form was Briareus). We thus find that Briareus, with his fifty heads, was the earliest captain of the fifty-oared Argo. Briareus, whose name means 'weight'. And whose brother's name means both 'oarsman' and 'orbit'.
Apart from the three monsters each with fifty heads, Gaia also gave birth to Garamas, who was not only earth-born, but who 'rose from the plain' like the earth-born men of Colchis. Graves says:9 'The Libyans, however, claim that Garamas was born before the Hundred-handed Ones and that, when he rose from the plain, he offered Mother Earth (Gaia) a sacrifice of the sweet acorn.' The acorn of the oak - the oaks being representative of Dodona, of the piece of the Argo's prow, and of the Colchian grove!
It is in the footnote of Graves10 that we learn something of really immense significance to us:
'Garamas is the eponymous ancestor of the Libyan Garamantians who occupied the Oasis of Djado [sic], south of the Fezzan, and were conquered by the Roman General Balbus in 19 b.c. They are said to have been of Cushite-Berber stock, and in the second century a.d. were subdued by the matrilineal Lemta Berbers. Later they fused with the Negro aboriginals on the south bank of the Upper Niger, and adopted their language. They survive today in a single village under the name of Koromantse.' I need hardly point out to the alert reader that the southern bank of the Upper Niger is the home of the Dogon! What should be investigated on the spot is the relations which subsist between this sad shaggy remnant of the Garamantians and the surrounding Dogon and other tribes. Also, the villagers of Koromantse might be discovered to possess the Sirius lore themselves.
On the most detailed French map of this area there is a village called Korienze only sixty miles from Bandiagara and in the heart of Dogon country. It is on the south bank of the Upper Niger and is presumably the place Graves means.
In line with this important discovery I should point out that Herodotus says in Book Two (103 and 106): 'It is undoubtedly a fact that the Colchians are of Egyptian descent . . . the Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians are the only races which from ancient times have practiced circumcision. The Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine themselves admit that they adopted the practice from Egypt, and the Syrians who live near the rivers Thermodon and Parthenius, as well as their neighbors the Macronians, say that they learnt it only a short time ago from the Golchians. No other nations use circumcision, and all these are without doubt following the Egyptian lead.'
Circumcision is fundamental to Dogon culture and forms the central part of the ritual of the Sigui which the Dogon hold every sixty years - and though I have pointed all this out earlier, it does no harm to repeat it.
We shall recall if we read the Argonautica that the Argonauts were blown off course to Libya, where they were stranded for some time. In his book Herodotean Inquiries?11 Seth Benardete speaks of the Garamantes to whom he gives an alternative name, the Gamphasantes. They are described in Herodotus, Book Four (after 178) as inhabitants of 'Further inland to the southward, in the part of Libya where wild beasts are found'. At 179 Herodotus connects Jason and the Argonauts' visit to Libya with the eventual foundation in Libya 'of a hundred Grecian cities'.
Benardete's comments in his book connect the Argo's visit to Libya and the Libyan city of Cyrene:
Herodotus first indicates how closely Libya, Egypt, Scythia, and Greece are joined.
The ancestors of Cyrene's founders were descendants of Jason's companions, who sailed to Colchis, originally an Egyptian colony on the eastern shore of the Black Sea; and the third generation from these Argonauts were expelled from Lemmos by the very same Pelasgians who later abducted Athenian women from Brauron, where a cult of Artemis- Iphigeneia was practiced, just as among the Taurians in the Crimea; and Jason is said to have been carried off course to Libya. Cyrene is the melting-pot of Egyptian, Libyan, and Scythian things. Its founding suggests the Scythian account of their origins.
They said that golden objects fell from heaven, which flashed fire when the two older brothers of Kolaxais approached them, but Kolaxais himself was able to take them home. To these celestial [sic: poiemata] there here correspond the oracular verses of Delphi which, in both the Theban and Cyrenaic versions, prompted the sending of a colony to Libya. Robert Graves got his information12 on the Garamantians going to the Upper Niger by way of Libya from a series of books by Eva Meyrowitz, an anthropologist who spent many years studying the Akan tribe of Ghana, directly south of the Dogon.13 Graves paraphrases her books:
'The Akan people result from an ancient southward emigration of Libyo-Berbers - cousins to the pre- Hellenic population of Greece - from the Sahara desert oases (see 3, 3) and their intermarriage at Timbuctoo with Niger River Negroes.' Timbuctoo - or Timbuktu - is the nearest big city to the Dogon. Graves continues:
'In the eleventh century a.d. they moved still further south to what is now Ghana.' I might point out that the path of migration from Timbuctoo to Ghana goes straight through the country of the Dogon, whose territory is directly south of Timbuctoo. So it is quite clear by now that peoples intimately connected with the Sirius tradition came from Greece to Libya and thence south to the Libyan oases of the Sahara, thence further south-west past the Sahara to Timbuctoo and the region of the Dogon where they mingled with Negroes of the Dogon region and took their local language for themselves, eventually becoming indistinguishable from the local African population in appearance and speech, but retaining their old traditions as their most secret doctrines.
The migration route is shown in Figure 27. 14
Separate names with a comma.