Horus and the morning star

As I seek out morning star archetypes from across the world, naturally one area of interest would be Egypt, and that lead me onto another mythological subject I’ve become interested in recently, one that I hadn’t thought of before regarding Egyptian myth: the subject of Horus (or Heru as he was probably known by the Egyptians) and his status as a stellar deity.

Horus is the deity representing the Egyptian royalty, the tutelary deity of the Pharaoh and thus the country of Egypt. He was also widely assumed by Western commentators to be a sky god, sometimes even a sun god (which doesn’t make much sense considering Egyptian mythology already has a sun deity in the form of Ra) by people who desperately want to believe in the Jesus=Horus=Mithras=Krishna=Dionysus=Attis theory propounded by the likes of Peter Joseph and Bill Maher. What is less known is Horus’ connotations as an apparent stellar or astral deity within the Egyptian religion.

In a study entitled Stellar and solar components in ancient Egyptian mythology and royal ideology, the egyptologist Rolf Krauss examines the texts of dynasties I-III wherein Horus is referred to as a star. According to Krauss, in the earliest periods of Egyptian religion Horus was a star deity, as evidenced by the names of the royal domains, such as “Horus, the star has arisen”, “Horus, the star of khet” and “Horus, foremost star of the sky”. While the first two are treated as possibly figurative, the third is seen as likely literal, referring to a star in the sky, in any case Horus is attested to as representing a star. The Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts and other texts apparently identify Horus as the son of Osiris-Orion and Sothis-Isis-Hathor. In Egypt, the constellation of Orion was actually a deity by the name of Sah, who was supposedly the father of the gods, but Sah was also associated with Osiris, as Utterance 442 suggests:

Behold, he is come (again) as Sah; behold, Osiris is come as Sah. Lord of the wine-cellar at the Wag feast.

This possibly means that Osiris appears as the deity Sah for the occasion of the feast of Wag, which might have been an Egyptian festival of the dead dedicated to Osiris. Since Sah and Osiris were not treated as identical, although related, Osiris-Orion might represent a compound deity, a fusion of Osiris and Shah. Sothis refers to a goddess referred to by the Egyptians as Sopdet, the goddess representing the star known as Sirius and the consort of Sah who served as the guide of the deceased king in the afterlife. The morning star was believed to be the child of Sothis. Her son, the deity named Sopdu, was said to be associated with the planet Venus (that part will probably be important later). At some point in Egypt’s history, Sothis and Isis become associated with each other to the point that Sothis becomes subsumed into Isis, and her husband Sah also becomes conflated with Osiris in a similar fashion. In the same way, Sopdu is identified as a related to Horus, is said to be paired with Horus in the Pyramid Texts as Horus-Sopdu, and is eventually treated as simply an avatar of Horus.

The priest Pu-Inpu offering praise to Isis (left), Harendotes (middle) and Osiris (right)

Osiris-Orion is said to have given birth to two deities that bear the name Horus: Mekhenti-irty (“Horus Eyeless”) and Harendotes (“Horus, protector of his father”). Mekhenti-irty is the older Horus and was sired while his father was alive, while Harendotes is the younger Horus and was sired after his father was murdered by Set. For some reason the younger Horus is also referred to as “Horus, son of Isis” because Isis is credited with raising him, but not the older one. The younger Horus is also referred to as “god of the morning”, and an inscription around the zodiac of Dendera apparently cites Horus as a star god associated with morning. This alone might not necessarily mean the morning star, but we’re building to something here.

According to Krauss, Horus is described as a “sehed star” and “a beautiful wa’a-star of gold, which has risen from the akhet” (I have no idea what sehed or wa’a mean) by Coffin Text 722, and is cited as “Horus who ascends as gold from upon the lips of the akhet” (akhet referring to the horizon) by Coffin Text 255, and these citations are supposed to link Horus with the morning star via the younger Horus (Harendotes). Krauss also suggests that if the younger Horus is the morning star, then the older Horus (Mekhenti-irty) must be the evening star. He cites Pyramid Text utterance 303 as the basis for this assumption, wherein Osiris is said to taken the older Horus as his and Hathor’s son, and Coffin Text Spell 106 wherein the older Horus is described as a “sehed star” just like the younger Horus. Krauss describes the sehed stars as possessing freedom of movement, which to me sort of lines up with what I’ve read about Athtar’s power of freedom of movement between Zaphon and the underworld.

There is also the eyes of Horus, which are described as the morning star and evening star respectively. The older Horus is said to have lost one of his eyes in a struggle against Set, but that eye was later healed by Thoth. This eye is attested to as the eye associated with the evening star, and apparently several Coffin Text spells link that injured eye to the night sky, it is described as “found in the retinue of the moon”, “beneficial in the night”, making “fire with its beauty”, and “becoming the fiery eye of Horus”. Such fiery nature enables Horus to roast his enemies, and is said to relate to the brilliance of a specific star. The injury of the evening star eye is said to relate to the invisibility of Venus two months before its reappearance as the evening star, while its recovery is said to reflect the encounter between the evening star and the waxing moon.

It is established from there that Horus represents the planet Venus, and its morning star and evening star aspects, and that the ideology of Egyptian royalty rested upon a stellar, not necessarily solar basis, at least for a time. This ideology is also said accommodate for Set, who in the early Egyptian religion was a storm deity identified with the planet Mercury. Strangely enough, it’s suggested that at some points Set was the friend of Horus, not just his rival, with the appearances and disappearances of Venus and Mercury indicative of fighting, injury, but also reconciliation and joint action, between Horus and Set. Of course, this must have been before the invasion and expulsion of the Hyksos (referring to a Canaanite dynasty who briefly ruled Egypt), after which Set was vilified as the patron of hostile foreigners and eventually effectively demoted to evil demon status because the Hyksos favored him due to his apparent similarity to one of their gods – namely Ba’al. Interestingly enough, it is suggested further that the stellar cult, that is the basis of pharaonic rule on the lord of the planet Venus, may have been one of the earlier royal cults, while the solar cult, based on Ra, was introduced later by the pharaoh Khasekhemuy, who ruled towards the end of the Second Dynasty. This would mean Horus becoming subordinate to Ra, now the king of the gods, which may have been achieved by having Horus become a child of Ra rather than of Osiris-Orion, which seems strange considering the continuity of the myth of Osiris’ murder wherein Horus is very definitely Osiris’ son and seeking vengeance against Set for murdering him.

Horus and Set stood around the sign of the union

Krauss is not the only one who identifies Horus as the morning star. In a section of Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century: Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists, Cairo, 2000, Katja Goebs discusses the relation between the morning star (which curiously enough is treated as a solar entity) and certain deities, particularly in the context of spells for the deceased. Goebs describes the deceased beginning his sequence of divine association with Osiris, then needing to be transfigured into a certain kind of star for his ascent into the heavens, and then references a text where it is stated that at a certain point Re (clearly Ra) summons the deceased as Horus so that he may place him as the morning star into the Field of Rushes. The star the deceased becomes is a star that crosses Nut, goddess of the sky. The deceased is identified by Goebs as progressing from an underworldly, nightly, invisible force as Osiris or Orion into a solar entity likened to the divinity of the deities Thoth and Anubis, and is finally embodied as the morning star and attaining royal status as a result in the afterlife.  The sun deity Ra appears in two guises: Atum, identified as the evening sun, and the lord of the “wrrt”. But it is through his day form that he summons the deceased as the morning star, and though he grants the deceased royal status by this summoning and transfiguration, he remains the ultimate sovereign in the Egyptian cosmos.

The transfiguration from Osiris to ultimately Horus is also treated as symbolic of a mythological takeover of the rule of Osiris by Horus (or Ra) in the kingdom of the gods, and in a broader sense a cosmic transition from night (represented by the powers of Osiris) to day (represented by the powers of Horus or Ra). It is also said that Horus in this way actually bridges the rule of night and day, being the successor of the rule of Osiris and the predecessor of the rule of Ra. The cycle apparently is supposed to go as Ra-Osiris-Horus.

Finally, Ev Cochrane has his own interpretation of Horus as the morning star. In Starf*cker: The Catastrophic Conjunction of Venus and Mars, he points out a passage attributed to the Pyramid Texts which reads:

O Morning Star, Horus of the Netherworld, divine Falcon, wådåd‑bird whom the sky bore

Surely this refers to Horus as the ruler of the underworld like Athtar, right? Well, according to Cochrane, Duat was originally more of a celestial abode, which he backs up with verse that reads:

Make the sky clear and shine on them as a god; may you be enduring at the head of the
sky as Horus of the Netherworld.

This appears to suggest Horus as possibly being the leading star in the sky as the ruler of Duat. Does it answer the question of Duat being a celestial place? I have my doubts. Duat, if you remember, is neither heaven nor strictly hell. In Egyptian religion, it is the liminal plane between death and paradise in the afterlife, home to many demons who challenge the soul of the dead on behalf of the gods. Deities said to reside in Duat include Horus, Anubis, Thoth, Osiris, Ma’at and Hathor, all of whom are supposed to appear to the soul of the deceased at various stages. To that extent, Horus is probably *a* lord of Duat within the Egyptian canon.

Now, what does “wådåd‑bird” mean? In Phaethon: The Star That Fell From Heaven, Cochrane claims that wådåd translates literally into “great green”, and suggests . The word wådåd might be related to the word wꜢḏ, which does indeed seem to mean green, and it does dovetail with the symbolism of the Wadjet. Wadjet, or Wedjet, is the Egyptian name for the symbol famously known as the Eye of Horus, and is also personified as a snake goddess.  Wadjet amulets often came in a green or greenish blue colour, and green in Egyptian culture represented life, fertility, the growth of vegetation and death and resurrection (due its association with Osiris as the colour of his skin). Not to mention, in utterance 301 of the Pyramid Texts, Horus is referred to as the Lord of the Green Stone.

Purify for you Unas, make Unas bright in this your Jackal-lake, o Jackal (zAb), in which you purify the gods.
You are powerful,
you are sharp (spd) as Horus,
the Lord of the Green Stone.
To say four times:
“like the two green hawks.”

It is said that, because of this, Wadjet or Eye of Horus amulets, which represented the uninjured morning star eye of Horus, came to be associated with healing and protection from curses. It’s just a hunch and I can’t find anything supporting this concretely, but I kind of suspect that the word wådåd may have been related to the word wadjet, possibly even a dodgy translation of wadjet (perhaps wådåd-bird actually means wadjet-bird, which would make sense given Wadjet is literally the Eye of Horus).

Wadjet in snake form (pictured to the right) next to the goddess Nekhbet

Cochrone believes the significance of the colour green for Horus pertains to the “greening” of the cosmos through the appearance of the morning star, which is much less supported by Egyptian mythology (he even cites a passage of the Book of the Dead which depicts Horus rising in turquoise, not green), but he goes on to link this with different myths from different locations that supposedly reflect a real astronomical event. At this point that I think full disclosure is necessary regarding Ev Cochrane.

While I do think he gives us some factual insight into mythology, the conclusions he draws from the mythological sources are rather dubious. He is of the school of thought that mythology is a broad reflection by cultures across the globe of interstellar catastrophes that allegedly happened within the solar system. In this way he seems to be a disciple of Immaneul Velikovsky, whose ideas are spread in a journal writes for named Aeon (not to be confused with Aeon magazine) and another journal named Kronos. Velikovsky is most famous for claiming that Earth suffered close contacts with other planets and was witness other interstellar catastrophes, which in turn were recorded as mythological phenomenon. His ideas are pretty much universally rejected by the scientific community and are even treated as being on par with creationism. Know that I write this post from the perspective of mythology, and really nothing else, so we won’t explore Cochrane’s claims about astronomy any further, but if you encounter his ideas, bring a fresh jar of skepticism with you.

And now we arrive at the burning question with this inquiry: what does Horus have to do with Lucifer, given Horus’ evident association with the morning star? To be honest, I have my doubts. While Horus definitely seems to be the deity attached to the morning star in Egyptian lore, his mythology doesn’t have any correspondence or correlation with the Lucifer we know, or the Canaanite mythology of Athtar that preceded him. Whereas Lucifer as we know him defies God’s will and Athtar snubs the gods, all of Horus’ functions are ordained by Ra, the divine sovereign of the cosmos, and it is not despite but through the will of the Godhead (or the closest thing to it within a polytheistic religion) that deceased souls may acquire royal or divine status in the afterlife. In the Levant the morning star was either a mysterious deity who resided in the underworld, travels between realms and stands almost toe-to-toe with Ba’al Hadad (as per Canaanite mythology) or a rebellious and prideful entity who seeks the place of the Godhead (as per Jewish/Old Testament mythology). In Egypt, the morning star probably was just the foremost of all stars whose brilliance was second only to the sun. Horus does indeed traverse the underworld, accompanying Ra in his solar barge to fight Apep, and he resides in Duat, but that he doesn’t rule over Duat, though apparently he and over deities control some demons there in order to test the souls of the deceased. Horus in general doesn’t really exhibit any traits that a lot of Luciferians would probably identify as Luciferian, nor does he fulfill any Luciferian functions, let alone those of any deities that could be similar to Lucifer like Prometheus (though Prometheus is not a morning star, he forms part of the basis for the modern idea of Lucifer).

To be honest, if there’s any Egyptian deity who bears some similarities to Lucifer, at least in the Luciferian sense, it might be Thoth. Though he has none of the rebellious connotations of Lucifer or Prometheus (being effectively the scribe of the gods subservient to Ra and all), Thoth was something of a bringer of knowledge within Egyptian myth. He is credited as being the divine inventor of mathematics, science, magic, hieroglyphics, and many other things, and is credited with a library of magic books capable of subduing the gods themselves. He also serves as a bridge between opposites where he serves a mediator between order and chaos, so as to maintain the balance of the cosmos, and he also has some connection to the underworld, where he apparently has power unrivaled even by Ra or Osiris (who is pretty much dependent on his good offices). Like a certain Irish deity I covered in my last post, he was frequently equated with Mercury. In fact he was equated by the Greeks with their deity Hermes, to the point that they named his patron city Hermopolis (as in city of Hermes). The Greeks even credited him with inventing every branch of knowledge. They were even responsible for the identification of Thoth as Hermes Trismegistus, who would become a very important character for the occult philosophy of Hermeticism. Of course, being a scribe of the gods, Thoth was just responsible for recording knowledge, though there is some possible evidence of Egyptian lore wherein Thoth transmits knowledge to a human. Or there’s also Hermanubis, a syncretic fusion of Hermes and Anubis worshipped in the Greco-Roman mysteries, said to be a not only a psychopomp who also embodies the exploration of the truth, and like Hermes is said to travel in and out of the underworld, and some believe him to be the deity who reveals the mysteries of the lower world.

A statue of Hermanubis

The main point you can take from that is that the myths and gods of the world’s cultures, while often similar to one another, ultimately tend to possess their own character, having developed out of different conditions, different locations, different social relations and different understandings of the world. This is why deities from different cultures that seem similar really don’t have meaningful correspondence or correlation with each other. The Lucifer we know is the product of a figure from Canaanite mythology being interpreted through the lens of Jewish and then Christian mythology, followed by longstanding Romantic literal tradition and the influence of Western occult belief systems. This background is not shared by other mythological morning star deities, in whose cultures the morning star was simply a positive and often creative force in its own right. All cultures function as dialectical continuums unto themselves, starting from different origin points, building on top of them, evolving over time. There is no single myth or mode of belief from which all religions and belief systems stem.

This is where I’d end things, but I want to address where Thelema might fit into the whole Horus morning star thing, considering Horus becomes something of an important figure in that belief system. Thelema holds Horus as representative of the current Aeon, the Aeon of Horus, which represents a time where people begin to pursue realization of the sovereign individual and uphold the principle of “do what thou wilt” (as in, follow the True Will as per Thelemic doctrine rather than just do what you want according to the base senses). He manifests particularly within Thelema as Ra-Hoor-Khuit (or Heru-ra-ha), a compound deity consisting of Ra and Horus , as well as Hoor-paar-khrat (or Harpocrates), who is Horus the Child and described in Thelemic doctrine as the deity of the Holy Guardian Angel or the Higher Self. Aleister Crowley was said to have successfully invoked Horus in 1904, which was the same year he held marked the beginning of the Aeon of Horus.

Lucifer doesn’t really enter into Thelema, except through Aiwass in a way. Aiwass the name of a voice or spirit that Crowley claimed to have heard or encountered in 1904, and who Crowley would go on to identify as the minister of Hoor-paar-khrat. He also explicitly identifies Aiwass with Lucifer in Magick in Theory and Practice.

“’The Devil’ is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes. This has led to so much confusion of thought that THE BEAST 666 has preferred to let names stand as they are, and to proclaim simply that AIWAZ, the solar-phallic-hermetic ‘Lucifer,’ is His own Holy Guardian Angel, and ‘The Devil’ SATAN or HADIT, the Supreme Soul behind RA-HOOR-KHUIT the Sun, the Lord of our particular unit of the Starry Universe. This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade ‘Know Thyself!’ and taught Initiation. He is ‘the Devil’ of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection. The number of His Atu is XV, which is Yod He, the Monogram of the Eternal, the Father one with the Mother, the Virgin Seed one with all-containing Space. He is therefore Life, and Love. But moreover his letter is Ayin, the Eye; he is Light, and his Zodiacal image is Capricornus, that leaping goat whose attribute is Liberty.”

Beyond this reference, however, Lucifer doesn’t really feature in Thelema. Lucifer seems to have been either an alternative name or simply the descriptive quality of Aiwass.

Here I think the function of Horus, or at least the entity that pretty much approximates Horus, could be interpreted by some Luciferians as representing something similar to their own values, perhaps, in the sense that there tends to be some overlap between Luciferianism, Satanism and Thelema though the doctrines are ultimately different. It still doesn’t line up with Lucifer exactly, but like there’s some small similarities at work. What’s interesting is that I haven’t seen the morning star used in reference to any entity within Thelema, not even Hoor-paar-khrat/Harpocrates who would definitely serve as the younger Horus within Thelema, and unlike in Luciferianism the morning star doesn’t really form the main basis of the spiritual philosophy. In Thelema, therefore, an aspect of Horus is linked with Lucifer in a vague sense, through the description of “the solar-phallic-hermetic Lucifer”, and not much else. Horus is still his own being within Thelema.

So, to make a very long story short, Horus, despite being the Egyptian morning star deity, is not related to Lucifer, and I think you would have make quite a stretch to suggest Horus as a Luciferian archetype.

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