The Nile chakras
Egypt is not a country you live in—it lives within you.
Art thou aware that Egypt is the image of heaven, or rather, that it is the projection below of the order of things above? If the truth must be told, this land is indeed the temple of the world.
This quote from Hermes Trismegistus reveals what the ancients knew for thousands of years—that the Nile was not just a reflection of the Milky Way, but also a manifestation of the human chakra system. The neophyte then, started in the south and worked their way downstream as they became an initiate, an adept and eventually a magus in the temples of the north.
This process might take years and only when the priests were satisfied could a mystic progress. Some temples were pleasurable where sexuality were explored, while others were terrifying and required true feats of strength, courage and endurance to prevail.
The Nile temple network then, is a direct manifestation of the energy system of the human body. The lower energy centres of survival, sex and power were balanced by the higher centres of communication, intuition and connection. The most important chakra was therefore the heart where these forces were harmonised.
Chakras are the energy centers of the body. They are located along the spine, starting at the base and running upwards towards the crown. The chakras coincide with a gland in the physical body and each radiates a unique colour. Since the chakras relate to specific spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of our being, their inhibition can lead to corresponding disorders. The conscious balancing of these energy centres on the other hand, can lead to profound states of awareness.
The process of enlightenment then, involved the neophyte starting at the root chakra at Philae and working their way north to the crown chakra at Per-Wadjet. This journey may have taken years as specific lessons were mastered. Temples were seen as houses for the gods to whom they were dedicated. Indeed, the services and rituals were seen as necessary for the gods to uphold Ma’at—the divine order of the universe.
Besides the temples themselves, the Egyptians created neters or animal gods whose traits embodied the personalities of the chakra system. For neophytes struggling to master the world within themselves, then a stroll beside the river may have inspired fresh insights. Here we are reminded of an Egyptian proverb:
Know the world in yourself.
Never look for yourself in the world,
For this would be to project your illusion.
So the most profound difference between ancient and modern man was that our ancestors considered themselves part of the animal kingdom—not separate from it. The true process of enlightenment then, meant recognising the animal spirits (Neters) of the world around us as a reflection of our inner natures.
Above: the river tree within animalistic man
The most important part of the temple was the sanctuary, which contained the Atet. Otherwise known a solar barque, this was a mythological representation of the Sun riding in a boat. In this way, Ra was said to travel through the sky in his barge, providing light to the world. Reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant, this wooden boat was usually gold plated.
The nautical reference reminds us that fresh water actually carries consciousness—in the truest sense water is actually alive. Just as The Nile carries water so the body carries blood. In fact, blood itself is only 51 percent cellular components—the rest is water. So the Nile within us must be rejuvenated with breathing and mantras while we reflect on the significance of Philae and the pyramids.
THE CROWN OF CONNECTION: the serpent chakra is manifested by Wadjet who connects with divinity and generates a sense of oneness. Because snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation and immortality. The form of the serpent on a crown is termed the uraeus. Per-Wadjet showcased the rearing cobra as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty and authority.
THE THIRD EYE OF TRUTH: Ma’at refers to the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, balance and harmony. The significance of Ma’at developed to the point where she embraced all aspects of existence—including the basic equilibrium of the universe, the relationship between constituent parts, the cycle of the seasons, heavenly movements, religious observations, good faith and truthfulness in social interactions. Consciousness itself (the mind) requires balance. Ma’at sacred animal was the vulture.
THE THROAT OF COMMUNICATION: the trachea opens the portal of communication, freedom of expression and higher truths. The Greeks called Hermopolis “The City of Hermes” since they identified him with the divine herald, Thoth. The portico of the temple existed until 1825 and was drawn by early European explorers and published on prints. In art, Thoth was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat.
THE HEART OF LOVE: the middle chakra is the wisdom of the heart and when this is opened our spiritual selves blossom. The hippopotamus (a descendent of whales) is a symbol of the heart because this nocturnal mammal is extremely loving. Yet despite being doting mothers, hippos can be aggressive, ruthless and unpredictable. Denderah is the temple site dedicated to Hathor the goddess of music, love and merriment. The heart rules compassion and empathy.
THE SOLAR PLEXUS OF POWER: the third chakra is devoted to awakened ability and manifested potential. The primal god at Thebes was Ra, usually depicted wearing the double crown of Egypt—representing power over all the land. Often associated with strength, courage and justice, Ra was sometimes portrayed as one of the big cats. Thebes was the capital of Egypt during the Middle and New Kingdoms—symbolised by the Was sceptre.
THE SACRAL OF SEXUALITY: the crocodile chakra is dedicated to Sobek at Kom Ombo. Crocodile courting goes on for hours and involves all the senses—they are passionate lovers. Unlike many other reptiles and mammals, alligators sport permanently erect penises that hide inside their bodies and only emerge during coitus. The origin of his name, Sbk in Egyptian is derived from a causative of the verb “to impregnate”. As a fertility god, Sobek was often shown with a nilometer above his head.
THE ROOT OF SURVIVAL: the ram chakra is dedicated to Khnum. The god of creation sits on the potter’s wheel and forms people out of clay. Rams were considered a symbol of virility due to their rutting behaviour. The violent rut is characterised by increased testosterone, exaggerated dimorphisms and aggressive posturing. Elephantine and Philae were dedicated to Khnum and Isis—the ancient gods of creation.
Above: Khnum, flanked by Isis and Nephthys
The ancient Egyptians believed that the Nile flooded every year from of the tears of Isis over the death of her husband, Osiris. On a practical level, this flooding of the Nile was actually the result of the yearly monsoon between May and August causing enormous precipitation in the Ethiopian Highlands. Most of this rainwater was carried downstream by the Blue Nile and the Atbarah River.