The proposal put forward on this page is a reconstruction of the Stellar beliefs of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, in particular the identification of the star Deity Sah through seals dating to the 2nd Dynasty of Egypt, which have been sourced from here, and will be shown to be what the Pyramid texts of the VIth Dynasty are describing, this in association with the interlinked concerns of Sopdet and Sopdu. The texts regarding Sah have been sourced from here.
This proposal rejects the conventional considerations that Sah should be associated with the constellation Orion, i see that as a mis-representation from the Late Period of Egyptian history, were whilst the constellation Orion could be considered as being related to the timing of the Sokar Festival of Khoiak, the mergeance of Osiris-Sokar, and the increasing rise in status of the former and demise of the latter, saw association of Orion solely with Osiris, with writers of the Classical period such as Plutarch making a facile identification of Horus or Osiris with Orion, and Sopdet-Isis, being the natural consort, seen placed alongside in the unfortunate role of Dog-Star/Sirius, this in former times more probably relevent to the cult of Anubis. It should also be considered that the Constellation Bootes was understood as Orion to some Greek authors, from here;
Arkturos is mentioned twice, W. 566 and 610. By Arkturos Hesiod means the same as Homer by Bootes; in later Greek he is also called Arktophylax, and Aratus seems to use Arktophylax for the Constellation, and Arkturos, just as we do, for its brightest star; Arat. Phen. 91 seqq., ‘Behind Helike moves, like to one driving, Arktophylax, whom men also call Bootes, since he appears to lay his hands on the wain-like Bear; all of him is very conspicuous, but under his belt rolls brightly the star Arkturos himself.’ The Schol. on this passage says that Arktophylax was an Arkadian, son of Zeus and Kallisto, and that he was brought up by a goatherd on Mount Lykaion, and being with his mother in danger of his life, Zeus in pity turned him into a star. He adds, ‘This is said to be Arktophylax, Bootes, Orion, . . . and also he is called Trugetes (Vintager). Theon and Hesychios also call Bootes Orion, and it has been suggested that there were two Orions, Bootes being one.
It is undisputed that the sequential relationship between 'The Big Dipper', and the stellar Deities Sah and Sopdet is critical to any undertanding of what progression through the afterlife entailed, and the terminology of the Pyramid texts expresses this linkage in the sense of the joining of hands of the various parties involved, suggesting practical proximity is neccesary.
The seals proposed as the primary evidence are cartouches bearing the name of 2nd Dynasty Kings from their tombs, with the focus being on the raised and fallen figure located within these,shown above a 'ladder'. This figure in some of the seal impressions has an arc tracery of small circles above his outstretched arms, which also appear in Later astronomical ceilings denoting stars, and also bear comparison to the circular hieroglyph for a grain of sand or metallic particle, thus essentialy a poetic allusion to an arc tracery of stars above the figure, clearly identifying it as a Stellar Deity.
Moreover, as this Stellar Deity appears within the cartouche of the Kings, then there is a direct association between this Deity and the King himself, being placed in the context between the Horus identification hieroglyphic and the scepter of power. Currently in Egyptology the figure is seen as a Lord/Official (Nb) representing an unkown institutional practise, the 'ladder' is thought to go on to become the hieroglyph representative of the word 'Mer' associate with canals, waterways, also seen in terms of the place of ascension of the Ba, and indeed the word for Pyramid in Egyptian.
sealings refer to an unknown institution (nb) and to the official in charge
of its direction (there is sometimes an Adj-Mer official of the Nb).
For the King is a great Power who has great Power over the Powers
The King is a sacred image the most sacred of the sacred images of the Great One
And whomsoever he finds in his way him he devours piecemeal(?).
The King's place is at the head of all the august ones who are in the horizon,
for the King is a god, older than the oldest.
Thousands serve him hundreds offer to him,
there is given to him a warrant as Great Power by Sah, father of the Gods.
The King has appeared again in the sky. He is crowned as Lord of the horizon;
He has broken the back-bones
taken the hearts of the gods
The fallen figure is realised in quite natural artistic terms, and the stars that will most readily lend theselves to incorporating this image are those in the vicinity of the Constellation Bootes, which has a striking three star asterism paronatella to the horizon when rising in the East, which translates to the vertical when setting in the West, this being the proposed striking visual premise for the development of this Cult.
The generally given translation of the word 'Sah' itself is that of 'Toe-Star', identified here with Alpha-Bootes/Arcturus
The figure is shown above a ladder which is, relative to the horizon, on a South-North axis, and this was a fetish of the cult of the figure arising,whilst also given the outstretched arms the figure could be seen to arise as a Heron. In the seals the figures are depicted differing in height above the horizontal and also when seen thus their angle has shifted correspondingly as is the natural progression of the stars high into the sky to circle around the Pole.
I have gone up among the great ones, I have descended among the sheswe;
I have gone up upon the ladder
with my foot on sah and my arm uplifted.
May I soar cloudwards to the sky like a heron,
may I surpass
the side-locked ones of the sky,
It's interesting to note that the Greeks had myths relating to the Constellation of Bootes which show very strong correspondance to the mythic elements of falling asleep comparable to death, and arising from such, this was related to the Constellation having seasonal risings relevent to viticulture, which is also the most ancient aspect of the cult of Osiris, and the underlying theme of his Feast of Wagy, notable also in the Grrek myth is the role of Virgo ;
It was said that the Herdsman was the national sign of ancient Egypt, the myth of the dismemberment of Osiris originating in the successive settings of its stars; and that there it was called Bacchus, or Sabazius, the ancient name for Bacchus and Noah; and that Kircher's planisphere showed a Vine instead of the customary figure. Its risings and settings were frequently observed and made much of in all classical days, Hesiod says: "When in the rosy morn Arcturus shines, Then pluck the cluster's from the parent vines" and again, but for a different season of the year: "When from the Tropic, or the winter's 'Sun, Thrice twenty days and night's their course have run; And when Arcturus leave's the main, to rise; a star bright shining in the evening 'skies; Then prune the vine". Roman writers and others have similar references to Bootes, or to Arcturus, as indicating the proper seasons for various farm work, as in the 1st Georgic:"Setting Bootes will afford the signs not obscure".
In another story, Bootes is seen as Icarius, a grape grower in Attica. Icarius was a very friendly man and unwittingly gave Bacchus (Roman Bacchus - Greek Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy, he had a cult followings throughout much of the ancient world), who happened to be incognito, the freedom to inspect his vineyards. Bacchus was so impressed with these vineyards that he decided to tell Icarius how to make wine from grapes. Icarius did so, and was delighted with the results. Icarius invited all the other shepherds and friends of the neighborhood to a festival to taste the heavenly liquor for themselves. The party was a great success but they all drank too much and, under the influence of the wine, fell asleep. When they awakened the next morning with terrible hangovers and headaches, they discussed what had happened and decided that Icarius must have planned to poison them all. They agreed that Icarius should pay for this with his life. They overpowered the innocent man in his sleep, killed him, and threw his body in a ditch. The Dogs, Asterion and Chara (of the constellation Canes Venatici), missed Icarius, their master, and began to whine. Erigone, Icarius' daughter (associated with the constellation Virgo), heard the dogs and let them off their leashes. Immediately, the dogs started to sniff and search for Icarius until they found his dead body in the ditch. In despair, Erigone committed suicide and the dogs leapt in the deep ditch to die with their master. [NPS p152]. (See Virgo in the Myths of the Zodiac by Kalev Pehme for a more complete account of this story).
"The whole tragic story of Icarius, Erigone, and the Dogs can be seen unfolding in the sky. When Bootes (Icarius) culminates high in the south, Taurus, the Bull, the sacred animal of Bacchus, has just set, which means that Bacchus has left Icarius after his visit, leaving the wine recipe with Icarius. At the same time Orion also sets which means that the shepherds fall asleep under the influence of the wine. Next morning when Orion comes up he appears as an enormous giant, just awakening from his sleep and brandishing his club, the signal that the shepherds have decided to kill Icarius. This can be seen in the west where Bootes sinks below the horizon. Then, as the shepherds sneak off, notice how Orion sinks down to the west. In the east rises the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin, who represents Erigone. The Hunting Dogs also rise and the search begins. When Bootes culminates again it means that the dogs have found Icarius. Next we see the trio sink towards the west which indicates the end of the story when they all die".
ERIGONE, in Greek mythology, daughter of Icarius, the hero of the Attic deme Icaria. Her father, who had been taught by Dionysus to make wine, gave some to some shepherds, who became intoxicated. Their companions, thinking they had been poisoned, killed Icarius and buried him under a tree on Mount Hymettus (or threw his body into a well). Erigone, guided by her faithful dog Maera, found his grave, and hanged herself on the tree. Dionysus sent a plague on the land, and all the maidens of Athens, in a fit of madness, hanged themselves like Erigone. Icarius, Erigone and Maera were set among the stars as Boetes (or Arcturus), Virgo and Procyon. The festival called Aeora (the "swing") was subsequently instituted to propitiate Icarius and Erigone. Various small images (in Lat. oscilla) were suspended on trees and swung backwards and forwards, and offerings of fruit were made (Hyginus, Fab. 130, Poet. astron. ii. 4; Apollodorus iii. 14). The story was probably intended to explain the origin of these oscilla, by which Dionysus, as god of trees (Dendrites), was propitiated, and the baneful influence of the dog-star averted (see also Oscilla)
He initially seems to be a fierce underworld deity, but Shezmu was quite helpful to the dead. Although he was a harsh executioner of the wicked, he was also a great protector of the virtuous. Shezmu offered red wine to those who had passed on. Other than wine, he was in charge of earthly objects such as embalming oils, and perfumes.
Among the gods, his job was to use the bodies and blood of the dead to create sustenance for Unas. Osiris was the one who ordered the use of the wicked one’s blood to be turned to wine.
On a darker note, Shezmu’s affinity with the color red linked him to evil. Crimson was a feared and hated color among the Egyptians. Not only is it the universal color of blood, and therefore death, but it was the color of the god of chaos, Seth. Since it was also the color of the setting sun, red was associated with the coming darkness and the reign of Apophis the serpent demon.
would suggest that from the Pre-Dynastic Period up until the beginings
of the First Dynasty that ritual killing and usage of blood sacrifice
was an aspect of the Afterlife Cults of the Period, the sign involved
in both killings from the labels of Aha and Djer is the 'ladder' sign,
associate with the Sah figure above it, from the Second Dynasty seals.
The seal of Djer appears to show the transition of a bound corpse carried
in funerary procession, to being shown held upright, in association with
upright 'ladder' fetish., note also the triangular fetish carried aloft.
Raise yourself because of your strength, may you ascend to the sky,
may the sky give birth to you like sah, may you have power in your body,
and may you protect yourself from your foe.
The upright figure relative to the setting position of Sah in the West, we can assume has been well fed upon the flesh of the condemned, and nourished by their blood, to stand triumphant. The position of the figure bears comparison to the early Dynastic representations of the King about to smite the head of his enemy held in his left hand, with the mace held in his right. The arc tracery of stars above the head of Sah appear to have beeen seen as comparative to a crown, though in the Middle Kingdom it is a stylized glyph possiblyy representative of the three stars paranotella upon the horizon, that constitutes the crown of Sah..
furthur comparison is made between the crown of Sah, and the sun's crown
when emerging from the Akhet, the ecliptic path of the sun, to be greeted
by Horus within the same path, which will be shown to be associate with
the star Regulus, that was alongside the ecliptic path of the sun, and
would rise with it at the time of the mid-summer innundation of the Nile.
Around 2500BC, the summer solstice was located near Regulus, meaning that
around that period, the Sun was located near Regulus at the start of summer,
and the combined heat of the Sun and Regulus was believed to produce the
excessive heat of that season.
"The elder one fell on his side but stood up as a god, his control with him and his crown atop him. This Pepi Neferkare has fallen on his side and Pepi Neferkare will stand up as a god, his control with him and his crown atop him like the Sun's crown when he emerges from the Akhet and is greeted by Horus in the Akhet "
The reed-floats of the sky are set in place for Re, the reed-floats of the sky are set in place for Re, that he may be on high from the east to the west in company with his brethren the gods. His brother is sah, his sister is sepdet, and he sits between [them] in this land for ever. The reed-floats of the sky are set in place for this King, the reed-floats of the sky are set in place for this King, that he may be on high from the east to the west in company with his brethren the gods. His brother is sah, his sister is sepdet, and he sits between them in this land for ever.
The sky is pregnant of
There are two triangles that need to be considered with regards to the Sah/Sopdet/Sopdu relationships, the first is the commonly observed Arcturus/Spica/Denebola instance known as 'The Spring Triangle', which is roughly equilateral in form. The arms of the fallen figure and risen, from the 2nd Dynasty seals would project toward Denebola, as seen in the diagram above, suggesting that this star was possibly also relevent to the cult of Sopdu, in the sense of a greater Regulus based constellation located amongst the stars of the constellation Leo. This first triangle also bears comparison with the triangular aprons worn in Egypt.
It is the second Arcturus/Spica/Regulus triangle which i would suggest was seen as the primary, as this is equivalent to the triangle of the Sopdet hieroglyph, also seen in the name of Sopdu, were also a lion can be seen illustrated, suggesting that he was at some point associate with the constellation Leo in one form or another as a Lion.
The most critical fact is that during the Old Kingdom the heliacal rising/mergance of Regulus with the Sun took place at the time of the Summer Solstice, at the postion of 62*., correspondant with the Nile Innundation, and marking the New Year. For example on July 12/13th according to the Julian Calendar, in 2,570 Bc at 4.45 am the Summer Solstice would occour and Regulus and the Sun would be merged.
The rising point of Spica for this date and location (Giza) on the horizon would be at 76*, which would be the Solstice~Equinox midpoint occuring in Mid May, and this would be seen as giving birth to the Summer Solstice, relative to Sopdet/Isis. The correspondant Autumnal quarter point of the year would occour in Mid November at 104*, and be related to the cult of Sokar and the Feast of Khoiak, whilst the Winter Solstice took place at 118*, correspondant to the rising place of Anubis/Canis Major, essentialy then the seasonal progression of the Sun along the horizon was from the rising point of Sirius, at the Mid-Winter Solstice, to the rising point of Regulus at the Summer Solstice (62*), covering 56* in total. There was also the noted heliacal rising/return of Sirius at around the time of the Summer Solstice, this in a sense the culmination of events inaugerated at the Winter-Solstice rising point of Sirius, this star going on to become very closely associated with Spica/Erigone/Isis.
canes: custodiet hortum
(Sleep dogs in safety: Sirius will watch over the garden with his beloved Erigone...Priapus)
Perhaps the most critical comparative of Spica/Sopdet and the Star Sirius (Anubis) in Egyptian thought can be found in the 'Dramatic Text' refering to Sirius and its noted seventy day period of invisibility, related to the period of embalming and purification through water;
"The one (star) which goes to earth dies and enters the Duat .. It stops in the House of Geb seven decans.It looses its impurity to the earth in seven decans .It sheds its impurity to the earth. It is pure and it comes into existence in the horizon like Sopdet
Thus Sirius comes into the existance upon the horizon, purified, as the case would be with water, comparative to the association of Sopdet coming into the horizon, also notably purified, however the purification of Sopdet would be seen as purification through the air, the association of the wind with winged Isis, and the oscillation rituals through the air as seen in Greek rituals regarding Erigone. Thus essentialy the concern was with Solar seasonal positions along the horizon, in conjunction with the rising points of key Stars, and the sense that this can be seen in relationship to an arc extending down from Ursa Major, through Bootes and Virgo as far as Canis Major.
These occurances transformed in ritual and percieved as magic, thus so Sirius/Anubis associated with purification through water, Spica/Sopdet purification through air, whilst Regulus would be purification through fire, given the solstice mergance with the Sun. The point equidistant between the Winter solstice and equinoctal point, at 104* would see Orion/Sokar associated with Earth, a chothonic Deity, celebrated at the Festival of Khoiak, and associated with Sirius/Anubis in terms of the underground preperation of the deceased to beging the journey into the afterlife.
These four rising points of the Sun throughout the year, and their association with the stars that arose at the same point upon the horizon, in terms of four elements of nature would suggest the basic premise for what developed into the Alchemical tradition developed by the later Greek philosophical schools, with the basic premise of purification of the four elementals then their unification, given that the Winter Solstice/118* was correspondant with water, the midpoint between winter solstice/equinox at 104* Earth, the midpoint between summer solstice/equinox at 76* wind, and the summer solstice 62* fire, then the equinoctal point of 90* would see the balancing of the elementals. The sequance would be Water~Earth~Wind~Fire for the four elements, the fifth principle would see the four elements in balance, and this would be overall represented by the principle of Ma'at. During the Old Kingdom, and before, the Scales of Libra rose due East shortly before the Autumnal Equinox, whilst at the Vernal Equinox they would set due West after sunset, it is most likely the Scales of Libra developed from the Egyptian model of the Scales of Ma'at, and that the rising/setting point due East/West represented the concept of balance between hemispheres and elements.
I know your name, I am not ignorant of your name ;
your name is 'Limitless', your father's name is 'You-are-great', your mother's name is 'Peace',
(even) she who bears you on the path of the dawn(?), the path of the dawn(?).
May sah give me his hand,
for sedpet has taken my hand.
The earth is hacked up for me, offerings are presented to me,
for whom the Two Districts shout.
In Egyptian mythology, Sopdu (also rendered Septu or Sopedu) was originally the scorching heat of the summer sun. Sopdu's name, meaning with Sopd, derives from this heat it was said that Sopdet gave birth to this heat, and so Sopdu was seen as her child.
The effects of the scorching of the sun lead many ancient cultures to see it as war-like, and the Egyptians were no different in this respect, with Sopdu consequently being seen as a war god. Because heliacal rising occurs in the east, and the sun's heat begins there daily, Sopdu was referred to as Lord of the East, and had his greatest cult centre at the easternmost nome of Lower Egypt, which was named Per-Sopdu, meaning place of Sopdu. The combination of being a war-god, and being associated with the easternmost edge, lead to Sopdu being depicted as an Asiatic warrior, with a shemset girdle and long axe, and more generally being said to guard Egypt's borders. When the Egyptians conquered Sinai, he was also thought to guard the turquoise mines, which predominantly lay within Sinai.
name is composed of the hieroglyph for sharp, a pointed triangle, and
the 3rd person plural suffix (a Quail); thus a literal translation of
his name is sharp ones. However, the triangle glyph was really a representation
of a plant thorn, which the Egyptians referred to as a tooth, and so his
name could be seen as the plural of tooth, i.e. teeth. Consequently, war-gods
also being associated with death, he was said, in the Pyramid Texts, to
protect the teeth of the deceased.
There is an interesting comparison that can be made between the 'Sothic triangle' and the cone shaped bread offerings often seen illustrated, as in the example left from Karnak, and right were Sopdu is offered such in a cup.
This will be derivative of the fact the Isis-Sopdet was Goddess of grain/bread, and a great agricultural Deity, with Sah-Osiris being her consort
Even yet at harvest time the people make a dedication of the first heads of the grain to be cut, and standing beside the sheaf beat themselves and call upon Isis, by this act rendering honour to the Goddess for the fruits which she discovered, at the season when she first did this. Moreover in some cities, during the Festival of Isis as well, stalks of wheat and barley are carried among the other objects in the procession, as a memorial of what the Goddess so ingeniously discovered at the beginning."
There were also cone shaped funerary seals which some have seen possibly related to the bread offerings, again this is all suggestive of the importance of the triangular motif/relationship.
cones may have been used for a variety of functions. Egyptologists suggest
that they may have been used to identify the tomb owner (almost like a
modern cemetery marker, as an ornamental memorial, as a boundary marker
or even as a symbolic offering of bread...
The given method for visually navigating around these Northern Constellations, as mentioned in Classical times, is to Follow the arc to Arcturus, then speed (or spiral) to Spica", thus visually follow the arc of the Big Dipper down to Arcturus then continue the progression toward Spica. If one draws up such a curvilinear relationship, then it will be found that the centre of the arc/circle described will be located at Regulus. This arc progression is essentialy what is involved in the Greek myth regarding 'the swing'...The festival called Aeora (the "swing") was subsequently instituted to propitiate Icarius and Erigone. Various small images (in Lat. oscilla) were suspended on trees and swung backwards and forwards
Sah is encircled by the det, pure and living in the horizon.
Sepdet is encircled by the det, pure and living in the horizon.
I am encircled by the det, pure and living in the horizon.
It is well with me and with them, It is pleasant for me and for them,
within the arms of my father, within the arms of Atum.
The siting of the Pyramids at Giza relative to centre takes into account the setting positions of Arcturus and Spica.
Whilst the site divides into ten sectors, each of 36 degrees, the 4 degree zone banding which gives tolerance to the slightly shifting star positions, this is capable of harmoniously incorporating the 32 degree 'Sothic Triangle', indeed Khufu's Pyramid takes up 32 degrees of field of vision when viewed from centre, with a setting point for Arcturus directly through centre.
In symbolic terms
a mirroring transferance of the Heavenly concepts onto the site seems
likely, the transferance of the spiritual forces associate with Regulus
at the Sphinx therefore, born of the essence of Sah and Sopdet, who
thus also translate to centre in the form of the Son, that merges with