The Ancient Egyptians were excellent astronomers and had an interesting concept of the heavens. I have been asked to present a brief summary of the cosmological views.
The above shows that the pyramids of Giza are laid out in the same formation as the three stars that make up Orion's belt. Orion is associated with Osiris and is the target for sending the righteous dead. The pyramids were aligned as launch pads. The key star Sirius was associated with Isis and was their monitor for the annual flooding of the Nile.
The creator god Atum became Atum-Ra, the sun of the midday. Later this position was taken over by Horus who was depicted as a falcon and became Ra-Horakhty. The sun was represented by three gods. Ra was the god of midday but the rising sun was Khepri, depicted with the head of a dung beetle that seemed to appear magically out of the banks of the Nile. The setting sun was Khnum with the head of a ram.
In order to become a sun god Horus had an encounter with his uncle Seth who took out one of his eyes. This became the All Seeing Eye of the sun god and is represented by the following symbol:
The strong eye of Horus is the sun in some mythologies. The all seeing eye would be carried around to others so that the visions would be carried back to the sun god.
Three sun gods. (Horus replaced Atum)
The three gods that made up the sun were three in one, a patterned established in the Egyptian religion long before the concept was adopted by Christians.
P. Leiden hymn (Allen p. 54-55)
All gods are three; Amen, Re and Ptah,
without their seconds.
Nut as the sky has her head in the west and her pelvis in the east to swallow the sun in the evening and give birth to the new sun in the morning. Her arms and legs are at the four cardinal points. She is like a canopy covering all of the hemisphere. She is supported by 8 infinite ones (not Ogadoad but closely associated. Above her is uniform darkness and Nun.
The Duat is every place that is neither earth nor sky, but still within the cosmos. The Duat is not the Nun. The Duat exists inside the body of the sky goddess, Nut and is "womb of the sun god" which nurtures the new sun born every morning.
Osiris is the reigns over the the Duat with the dead who also dwell there. There is no concept of Hell. The evil or unjust will have their hearts eaten and they will not have life after death. See the brief discussion of the Judgment of the Dead on the Resurrection Page of this site.
The Egyptians gave us the 24 hour day with a solar circuit of 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. The western horizon is the land of the dead. The pink sunset is the blood of death. The dead rest and recharge in the Duat. It is a gestation period and they embrace Osiris. There is birth in the east. The pink dawn is the bloody afterbirth.
There are ancient texts which describe what must be done at each of the 12 hours during the nights.
The Egyptian Calendars.
The Egyptians had a solar calendar, stellar calendar, and lunar calendar. They invented the concept of a fixed calendar. Their stellar calendar was right on accurate and is used to correct their solar calendar today. In ancient times they let their solar calendar creep.
The Egyptian calendars were much different from those used by the nomadic sheep herding Hebrews. They were far more accurate and much easier to follow. The Jewish calendar was based on the lunar cycle and has elaborate adjustments to get it back on track. Click on this link for a discussion of how the Jewish calendar works. Had Abraham of the Bible ever met with the Egyptian astronomers it appears he would have had more to learn from them than visa versa. It is interesting that Moses, who was supposedly educated in Egypt would not have brought the superior Egyptian astronomy to the Israelites.
The solar calendar has 12 months of 30 days made up of 3 weeks of 10 days. There were 36 weeks of 10 days in a year to made up 360 days. Then there were 5 Epagomenal days representing a magical time outside of the normal year. Each day was related to one of the following five gods: Osiris, Isis, Seth, Nephthys and Horus.
The year is divided up into 3 seasons. Akhet, the season of Emergence. Peret, the Season of Growing. Shomu, the Season of Harvest. Each Season had 4 months of 30 days each. The following example dates are for the years 2001-2002.
The calendar begins on the first day that Sirius is visible just before sunrise at the main temple after its 70th day of invisibility. This marks the Traditional Kemetic (KTR) New Year and starts the first month of the civil year.
The seasons in Egypt were tied to the flooding of the Nile and other Nile related events.
Season of Emergence - Akhet I (August 2 to August 31 - new moon August 8) started the new year, Akhet II (September 1 to September 30 - new moon September 7), Akhet III (October 1 to October 30 - new moon October 6), and, Akhet IV (October 31 to November 29 - new moon November 5).
Season of Growing - Peret I (November 30 to December 29 - new moon December 4), Peret II (December 30 to January 26 - new moon January 2), Peret III (January 27 to February 27 - new moon February 2), Peret IV (February 28 to March 29 - new moon March 3).
Season of Harvest - Shomu I (March 30 to April 28 - new moon April 1), Shomu II (April 29 to May 28 - new moon May 1), Shomu III (May 29 to June 27 - new moon May 31), Shomu IV (June 28 to July 27 - new moon June 29).
Epagomenal Days: One (July 28th) - Birth of Wesir (Osiris), Two (July 29th) - Birth of Heru-Wer (Horus), Three (July 30th) - Birth of Set (Seth), Four (July 31) - Birth of Aset (Isis), Five (August 1) - Birth of NebtHet (Nephthys).
Opening of the next year is WEP RENPET (New Year's Festival -August 2, 2003).
The Egyptians knew their calendar was off one day every four years because of their stellar calendar based on the rising of Sirius. However, they also knew that the difference would come to a full year every 1,460 years. In astronomy this is the Sothic cycle. Sothis was the Greek name for Sirius. This calendar with its fixed number of days became very popular and is the one we use today. We, of course, use leap years to reset the calendar.
Other calendars based on lunar cycles, such as the Hebrew calendar, have complex methods for correction. The number of days in a year vary as well as the number of days in some of the months. Likewise, calendars based on the solar Zodiac have complex correction formulas.
The stellar calendar or Canicular Year (canis is dog and Sirius is the dog star) based on the early morning rising of the start Sirius had 365-1/4 days. There were 36 star groups or decans (decades) which would rise and set every 10 days. They would then remain invisible for 70 days and then rise again. Once these constellations were chosen the Egyptian astronomers were mathematically bound to use a 12 part division of the night sky leading to the 24-hour day.
Venus was linked to Re or Osiris, depending on morning or evening rising. Orion was linked to Osiris. Sirius was linked to Isis. Mercury was linked to Seth. The early morning rising of Sirius would mark the start of the flooding season for the Nile.
The lunar calendar was used in the temple for liturgical purposes. It was more consistent and was used for religious festivals. Thoth was the moon god and the reckoner of reign, life, lengths and important events.
The pyramids were aligned with the sun and stars.
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