Mar 28, 2017

Was Ancient Egyptian Culture Influenced By Shamans & Shamanism In Its Early Development Stages?

1. Tracing The Sources Of Our Culture To The Paleolithic Age... With Art & Music Being Well Over 40,000 Years Old!
2. Tracing Lost Megalithic Cultures From 9500 BC To The Present
3. Cultural Diffusion: Tracing Water Travel By Canoes To AT LEAST 8000 BC & Extensive Ocean Travel By Ships To 1600 BC!

In the drawings left by ancient cultures there is this strange yet blatantly obvious connection deep into the paleolithic age to shamans, for anyone familiar with mythology and its art. Same for ancient Egypt. In other words, it looks like the ancient Egyptian culture, in the first time or even earlier, was founded/created-over-time by a bunch of shamans.  The following outlines the connection with the art left behind with extracts from Joseph Campbell's Primitive Mythology (Book 1 of the Masks of God) for context.

The Shaman With the Bird Head Among The Cave Paintings Of Lascaux (15000 BC);

“... in the great paleolithic cavern of Lascaux, in southern France, there is the picture of a shaman dressed in a bird costume, lying prostrate in a trance and with the figure of a bird perched on his shaman staff beside him. The shamans of Siberia wear bird costumes to this day, and many are believed to have been conceived by their mothers from the descent of a bird. In India, a term of honor addressed to the master yogi is Paramahamsa: paramount or supreme (parama) wild gander (hamsa). In China the so-called “mountain men” or “immortals” (hsien) are pictured as feathered, like birds, or as floating through the air on soaring beasts. The German legend of Lohengrin, the swan knight, and the tales, told wherever shamanism has flourished, of the swan maiden, are like-wise evidence of the force of the image of the bird as an adequate sign of spiritual power. And shall we not think, also, of the dove that descended upon Mary, and the swan that begot Helen of Troy? In many lands the soul has been pictured as a bird, and birds commonly are spiritual messengers. Angels are but modified birds. But the bird of the shaman is one of particular character and power, endowing him with an ability to fly in trance beyond the bounds of life, and yet return.” - Joseph Campbell , Primitive Mythology, page 258

Joseph Campbell explains further;

Down there a large bison bull, eviscerated by a spear that transfixed its anus and emerged through its sexual organ stands before a prostrate man. the latter, (the only crudely drawn figure, and the only human figure in the cave) is rapt in a shamanistic trance. He wears a bird mask; his phallus erect, is pointing at the pierced bull; a throwing-stick lies on the ground at his feet; and beside him stands a wand or staff, bearing on its tip the image of a bird. And then, behind this prostrate shaman, is a large rhinoceros, apparently defecating as it walks away.

There has been a good deal of discussion of this painting among the scholar, and the usual suggestion is that it may represent the scene of a hunting accident. No less an authority than Abbe Breuil himself has supported this opinion, suggesting that the rhino may have been the cause of the disaster. It seems to me certain, however, that, in a cave where pictures are magical and consequently were expected to bring to pass such situations as they represent, a scene of disaster would not have been placed in the crypt, the holy of holies. The man wears a bird mask and has birdlike instead of human hands. He is certainly a shaman, the bird costume and bird transformation being characteristic, as we have already seen, of the lore of shamanism to this day throughout Siberia and North America.

Here is a drawing of a shaman wearing a deer skin and head from 1692 (showing how shamsn have been a mainstay of hunting cultures tracing back to the paleolithic age showing, yet again, how mytholgy tends to stay uniform/simlar in some way or another over long periods of time);

The earliest known depiction of a Siberian shaman, drawn by the Dutch explorer Nicolaes Witsen, who wrote an account of his travels among Samoyedic- and Tungusic-speaking peoples in 1692. Witsen labelled the illustration as a "Priest of the Devil," giving this figure clawed feet to express what he thought were demonic qualities. - Wikipedia

Paleolithic cave painting in France of a half man half bull, which was also probably a shaman and represents another form the religious symbolism was taking in pre-historic times

Another cave...

The picture in the huge paleolithic temple-cave known as Trois Freres, In southern France, of a buffalo-dancer wearing precisely the ceremonial garb established in this legend, and functioning apparently, in the way of the brave shaman whose power it was to lure the animals to their fall, gives us a clue - or more than a clue, I should say, a very strong suggestion - to the antiquity of the legend just told; or, at least, of it's theme. Further more, in the neighboring cave, known as Tuc d'Audoubert, there is a chamber in which two bison are represented in bas-relief on a raised prominence, around which the footsteps of a dancer have been found. The bison represent a cow being mounted by a bull; and the dance was performed not on the soles of the feet, but on the heels, in imitation of the hoofs of a beast. We have already said that Persephone and Demeter in thier animal aspects were to be seen as pigs, and that Persephone as the bride of the monster serpent was a serpent. Here, comparably, as the bull's wife, the mainden was, surely, a buffalo cow - so that this may well be an early representation of that same divine connubium by which the buffalo dance was given to mankind.- Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology page 286

(Notice the the intricacy of the clay bull sculpture of 13000 BC)

Joseph Campbell believes that the most likely interpretation of this drawing is "that the so-called Sorcerer of Trois Freres is actually a god, the manifestation of a god - who, indeed, may also have been embodied in some of the shamans themselves, during the course of the rites, but here is embodied for us, forever, in this wonderful icon." - 311

Now take a look at a Native American mythological tradition where people emulate the Buffalo gods by wearing their hides and dedicating a dance to them (so the buffalo herd keeps growing despite their hunting and possibly to avert "blood revenge");

Certainly seems like an old tradition of shamans and shamans wearing skins to emulate gods going back millennia.

Now here are some of the ancient Egyptian gods taken directly from Wikipedia, look like anything?

Ra - The Sun God

“Among the Buriat, the animal or bird that protect the shaman is called khubilgan, meaning “metamorphosis,” from the verb khubilku, “to change onesself, to take another form.” - Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, page 257

Ra (in the center) travels through the underworld

Looks like a drawing of a typical shamanic experience to me... 

"The magic of his drum carries him away on the wings of its rhythm, the wings of spiritual transport. The drum and dance simultaneously elevate his spirit and conjure to him his familiar - the beasts and birds, invisible to others, that have supplied him with his power and assist him in his flight. And it is while in his trance of rapture that he performs his miraculous deeds. While in this trance he is flying as a bird to the upper world, or descending as a reindeer, bull, or bear to the world beneath." Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, Page 257

Other Egyptian gods who sound like shamans...

Anubis, God of Cemeteries (preparing the dead for the afterlife, an important aspect in shamnic cultures)

Horus, God of hunting and war

Set, God of deserts, evil, storms, war (bad stuff - not all shamans were good)

From Left to right: Osiris, Anubis & Horus

Could Osiris (the dead and resurrected God - later "Dionysus" and even later "Jesus"- in a more ascetic form) & ISIS (his wife), been the Egyptian cultures move AWAY from the paleolithic age where, basically, shamans were in charge to a great degree, to an age where regular people became the kings? (This was when the hunters society of the paleolithic age began to transform into the agricultural style of modern civilization... and society rejected it's earlier leaders in favor of a larger more orderly system). 

The Apache have a creation legend which can be dated to the Neolithic age. In it you can see that the powerful figures of the Paleolithic age (such as shamans) are being humiliated (even the animals are more useful in food they contributed to the community) and put to service of the community as dancers and clowns. Here is an excerpt to provide context;

One said, "I made the sun"; another: "No,I did." They began quarreling, and the Hactin (Gods) ordered them not to talk like that. But they kept making claims and fighting. One said, "I think I'll make the sun stop overhead, so that there will no no night. But no, I said, "Perhaps I'll get rid of the moon. We really don't require any light at night." But the sun rose the next day and the birds and animals were happy. The next day it was the same. When noon of the fourth day came, however, and the shamans, in spite of what the Hactcin had told them, continued to talk, there was an eclipse. The sun went right up through a hole overhead and the moon followed, and that is hwy we have eclipses today.

One of the Hactcin siad to the boastful shamans, "All right, you people say you have power. Now bring back the sun."

So they all lined up. In one line were the shamans, and in another all the birds and animals. The shamans began to perform, singing songs and making ceremonies. They showed eveyrthing they knew. Some would sit singing and then dis spear into the earth, leaving only thier eyes sticking out, then return. But this did not bring back the sun. It was only to show that they had power. Some swalloed arrows, which would come out of thier flesh at thier stomachs. Some swallowed feathers; some swallowed whole spruce trees and spat them up again. But they were still without the sun and the moon.

Thereupon, the Hactin themselves began to do something. They sent for thunder of four colors, from the four directions, and these thunders brought clouds of the four colos, from which rain fell. Then, sending for Rainbow to make it beautiful while the seeds that the people had produced were planted, the Hactcin made a sand-painting with four little colored mounds in a row, into which they put the seeds. The bird and animals sang, and presently the little mounds began to grow, the seeds began to sprout, and the four mounds of colored earth merged and became one mountain, which continued to rise.

The Hactcin then selected twleve shamans who had been particularly spectacular in thir magical performances, and painitng six of them blue all over, to represent the summer season, and six white to represent winter, called them Tsanati; and that was the origin of the Tsanato dance of the Jicarilla Apache. After that the Hactcin made six clowns, painting them white with four black horizontal bands, one across the face, one across the chest, one across the upper leg and one across the lower. The TSanati and clowns then joined the people in thier dance, to make the mountain grow.

It would be difficult to find a clearer statement of the process by which the individualistic shamans, in thier paleolithic style of magical practice, were discredited by the guardians of the group-oriented, comparatively complex organization of a seed-planting, food-growing community. Lined up, fitted into uniform, they were given a place in the liturgical structure of the larger whole. The episode thus represents the victory of a socially annointed preisthood over the highly dangerous and unpredictable force of the individual endowment. And the teller of the Jicarilla Apache story himself explained the necessity for incorporating the shamans in the ceremonial syste,. "These people," he said, " had ceremonies of thier own which they derived from various sources, from animals, from fire, from the turkey, from frogs, and from other things. They could not be left out. They had power, and they had to help too."

I do not know of any myth that represents more clearly than this the crisis that must have faced the societies of the Old World when the neolithic order of the earth-bound villages began to make it's power felt in a gruadual conquest of the most habitable portions of the earth. The situation in Arizona and Mexico at the period of the discovery of America was, culturally, much like that which must have prevailed in the Near and Middle Eat and in Europe from the fourth to second milleniums B.C, when the rigid patterns proper to an orderly sttlement were being imposed on peoples used to the freedom and vicissitudes of the hunt. And if we turn our eyes to the mythologies of the Hindus, Persians, Greeks, Celts , and Germans, we immediately recognize, in the well-known, oft-recited tales of the conquest of the titans by the gods, analogies to this legend pf the subjugation of the shamans by the Hactcin. The titans, dwarfs, and giants are represented as the powers of an earlier mythologial age - crude and loutish, egoistic and lawless, in contrast to the comely gods, whose reign of heavenly order harmoniusly governs the worlds of nature and man. The giants were overthown, pinned beneath mountains, exiled to th eurgged regions at teh bounds of the earth, and as long as the power of the gods can keep them there the people, the animals, the birds, and all living things will know th eblessings of a world rulled by law.

In the Hundu sacred books there is a myth that appears frequently, of the gods and titans cooperting under the supervision of the two supreme deities, Vishnu and Shiva, to churn the Milky Ocean for its butter. They took the World Mountain as a churning stick and the World Serpent as a twirling rope, and wrapped the serpent around the mountain. Then, the gods taking hold of the head end of the snake and the demons of the tail, while Visnu supported the World Mountain, they churned for a thousand years and produced in the end the Butter of Immortality

It is almost impossible not to think of this myth when reading of the efforsts of the quarrelsome shamans and the orderly people, under the supervision of the Apanche Hactcin, to make the World Mountain grown and carry them to the world of light. The Tsanati and clowns, we are told, joined the people in thier dance, and the mountain grew, until it's top nearly reached the hole through which the sun and moon had dissapeared; and it remained, then, only to contruct four ladders of light of the four colors, up which the people could ascend to the surface of our present earth. The six clowns went ahead with magical whips to chase disease away and were followed by the Hactcinl and then the Tsanati came; after them, the people and animal. "And when they came up onto the earth," said the teller of the story, "it was just a child being born from it's mother. The place of emergence is the wonb of the earth."

The highest concern of all mythologies, ceremonials, ehtical systems, and social organizatoins of the agriculturally based societies has been that of supressing the manifestation of individualism; and this has been generally achieved by compelling or persuading people to identify themselves not with thier own interests, intuitions, or modes of experience, but with the archetyoes of behaviour and sytems of sentiment developed and maintained in the public domain. A world vision derived from the lesson of the plants, representing the individual as a mere cell or moment in a larger process - that of teh sib, the race, or, in larger terms, the specias - so devaluates even the first signs of personal spontaneity that every impulse to self-discovery is purged away. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it ramains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit," This noble maxim represents the binding sentiment of the holy society - that is to say, the church militant, suffering, and triumphant - of those who do not wish to remain alone.

But, on the other hand, there have always been those who have very much wished to remain alone, and have done so, achieving sometimes, indeed, even that solitude in which the Great Spirit, the Power, the Great Mystery that is hidden from the group in its concerns is intuited with the inner impact of an immediate force. And the endless round of the serpent's way, biting its tail, sloughing its old skin, to come forth renewed and slough again, is then itself cast away - often with scorn - for the supernormal experience of an eternity beyond the beat of time. Like an eagle the spirit then soars on its own wings. The dragon "Thou Shalt," as Nietzshe terms the social fiction of the moral law, has been slain by the lion of self discovery; and the master roars - as Buddhists phrase it - the lion roar; the roar of the great Shaman of the mountain peaks, of the void beyond all horizons, and of the bottomless abyss." Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, Page 237-238

Of course, you can trace Egyptian mythology to the ancient Persians (Zoroastrians) and the Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)...

The scales of Judgement

From Wikipedia: This detail scene, from the Papyrus of Hunefer (c. 1275 BCE), shows the scribe Hunefer's heart being weighed on the scale of Maat against the feather of truth, by the jackal-headed Anubis. The ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart equals exactly the weight of the feather, Hunefer is allowed to pass into the afterlife. If not, he is eaten by the waiting chimeric devouring creature Ammit composed of the deadly crocodile, lion, and hippopotamus. Vignettes such as these were a common illustration in Egyptian books of the dead.

Bible connection

Job 31:6
Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, And let God know my integrity.
Psalm 62:9
Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; In the balances they go up; They are together lighter than breath.
Proverbs 16:2
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.

Quran (Islam): And We will set up a just balance on the day of resurrection, so no soul shall be dealt with unjustly in the least; and though there be the weight of a grain of mustard seed, (yet) will We bring it, and sufficient are We to take account. (21:47)

Note: Another culture of Shamans that developed in it's own rather unique way? ... 

Proto-Shiva from the Indus Valley civilization of, what appears to be, a shaman in a headdress meditating;

"The seated yogi among the beasts wears on his head a curious headdress with a high crown and two immense horns, which, as Heinrich Zimmer has pointed out, resembles to a striking degree on of the so-called "Three Jewels" (symbolizing the Buddha, the doctrine, and the order of the Buddha’s followers), which in the form of a kind of trident. The Hindu god Shiva carries a trident also; and among the Greeks, as we know, this same sign was the attribute of Poseidon (Neptune), the god of the watery deep." Primitive Mythology page 436

Tidbit: Is meditation a technique that originates from the shamans?

"the yogi, as a high transformation of the shamanistic techniques and experiences of ecstasis" Joseph Cambell, Primitive Mythology, Page 437


The following extract is from Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell page 435, put here to show how a culture in wood can disappear from the archaeological record but suddenly appear into view when they start using stone (if they ever use stone, of course);

"The so-called Harappa stage of the great cities of Mohenjo-daro, Chanhu-daro, and Harappa (c. 2500-1200/1000 B.C), which bursts abruptly into view, without preparation, already fully formed and showing many completely obvious signs of inspiration from the earlier high centers of the West (i.e. fertile crescent), yet undeniable signs, also, of a native Indian tradition – this too already well developed. As professor W. Norman Brown has suggested, a native Indian center (i.e., a mythogenetic zone) somewhere either in the south or in the Ganges-Jumna area would seem to be indicated, where the characteristically Indian traits, unknown at this time farther west, must have come into form. For on two of the stamp-seals of the period we find figures seated on low thrones in the meditating yoga posture."

"One of these is flanked by two kneeling worshipers and rearing serpents, while the other, with two gazelles reposing beneath his seat, is surrounded by four wild beasts – a water buffalo, rhinoceros, elephant, and tiger. It is well known that precisely these compositions are associated in later Hindu and Buddhist art both with the god Shiva and with the Buddha. One can only suppose that the practice of yoga must have already been developed and associated with the concept of heightened state of consciousness, not only worthy of worship but also capable of quelling and fascinating the animal world – like the music of Orpheus in the later tradition of the Greeks. The presence of serpents in the attitude of attendant worshipers or protectors, furthermore, indicates that the well-known serpent daemon (naga) motif that plays such a conspicuous role in later Indian religion had already been evolved - no doubt from the primitive theme of the monster-serpent of the abyss. We have referred to the God Vishnu reclining on the Cosmic Serpent, which in turn is floating on the Cosmic Waters. The supporting energy and substance of the universe, and consequently of the individual, imaged in India in the figure of the serpent. And the yogi is the master of this power, both in himself (in his control of his own spiritual and physical states) and in the world (in his magical mastery the phenomenon of nature)."

Is this sort of thing represented by the God Thoth?

Thoth, the God of Knowledge and everything mystical

“Among the Buriat, the animal or bird that protect the shaman is called khubilgan, meaning “metamorphosis,” from the verb khubilku, “to change onesself, to take another form.” - Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, page 257

Tracing The Origins Of Culture & Civilization

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