[Inner Traditions, October 2015]

[Inner Traditions, October 2015]

Books by Robert Bauval & Ahmed Osman

The Soul of Ancient Egypt: Restoring the Spiritual Engine of the World

Overview of the book’s main points:

An examination of the cultural occupations of Egypt over the past two millennia and how we can return to the sacred harmony of ancient Egypt. Explores the golden civilization of ancient Egypt and its system of natural magic that birthed the Western Mystery tradition. Examines each phase of Egyptian history from the Pharaonic period, through the Roman conquest, to the ongoing Islamization. Provides a revised portrait of the life of Muhammad, revealing his connections to the Jewish and Christian traditions.

Below is the opening of Chapter One, which gives a taste of the style and the manner of presentation of important historical events.

Let us state from the outset that our book is not just a compendium on the history of Egypt, although we have covered those important historical parts that are relevant to our mission. Our book is about finding Egypt’s soul. And although this search took us wandering through the nooks and dark alleys of Egypt’s immense past, we allowed ourselves maximum free rein to flash backwards and forwards, and stray here and there whenever it best served the purpose of our goal. In places we moved fast, hopping on the historical landscape to avoid getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. In other places we slowed down the pace, sometimes almost to standstill, to allow ourselves to look more deeply into the events that took place in Egypt and how these may explain the spiritual quagmire in which she lost her soul. We readily acknowledge that it is not the way an academic historian will normally reviews history. But we did not want our book to be that way. What we wanted was to understand Egypt’s history not only with our intellect but also with our hearts. And so whenever and wherever the intellect or the heart wanted us to go, there we went. It will be seen, therefore, that as we put down our words, the hand was guided at times with our intellects and at other times with our hearts. We have found it necessary, however, to review in greater depth the modern history of Egypt, especially her conversion to Islam and the turmoil that ensued and plagued her to the present day. This was necessary not only for our Western readers to understand what is happening to Egypt, but also because in the vortex of the ongoing turmoil is imprisoned her ancient soul. In there, we are convinced, that we will find her soul and, hopefully, restore it to its rightful place.

For Ancient Egypt had indeed a soul, gifted to her by the gods. And her soul became the soul of the world. It was said that Thoth, ancient Egypt’s most revered sage and the wisest of all men, had called Egypt the ‘mirror of heaven’ and ‘the temple of the world’. Yet it was also said that in his ability to see into the future he predicted that Egypt will eventually fall into the wrong hands, and so prophesied that on that day the gods will abandon her, and with them will also go her soul. Yet in this same prophecy Thoth left a tantalizing glimmer of hope that when the time is right the gods will return to Egypt and restore her soul. We firmly belief the right time for this restoration is now, and our book is our testimony to this belief.

We start, however, by clearing a moot point regarding Egypt’s name.

What’s in a Name?

When Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, he pondered on the violent feud between the noble families of the Capulets and Montagues and their obsession with their name. This prompted the English bard to ask the rhetorical question: “what’s in a name?” He then gave his reply by saying “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”1 To an ancient Egyptian, however, such a concept would have been completely alien. Things had to be called by their correct allocated name and no other. For it was only the correct name and its proper utterance that made vocal the soul of the object or person so named. Names became talismans, magical devices imbued with an invisible, immaterial, and immeasurable energy that, when correctly dispatched, would force the mind to unleash the most potent of emotions and the deepest of thoughts. An Egyptian would not, therefore, hesitated to reply to Shakespeare question with those words: “to lose my name is to lose my soul.”

Unlike modern society, the ancient Egyptians recognized the true importance of the name (Egyptian ren). Giving a name to a newborn was therefore a sacred act for any Egyptian parent. Speaking or writing his/her ren gave ‘existence’ to a person, both in life but also for eternity—so long as that name was perpetuated in eternal stone—to be read and uttered by devout descendants or a mere passersby. To chisel out or erase a name was to kill a person in the afterlife. To forget a name was to make it ‘non-existent’ . . . to the Egyptian mind, the ren was as important as the soul because, through the continuing memory of that name, the being—or on a grander scale the civilization bearing that name—continued to exist beyond time.”

Today the world refers to the long and narrow fertile strip running from the border of Sudan in the south to the shores of the Mediterranean in the north, as “Egypt.” This name is universally accepted as being true and correct for this country. As for the people who inhabit it today, they are called not only “Egyptians” but also “Arabs.” It thus often comes as a surprise when one is told that these names are not original or even native to this country. The name “Egypt” was coined by Greeks colons in the 4th century CE, and it is a corruption from the name Koptos, itself a corruption of Gebtu, the name of an ancient area in the south of the country, probably as ancient as 3000 BCE.” The name of the country that was most commonly used by the ancient Egyptians themselves was Kemet. According to Egyptologists, this name means “The Black Land”, and derives from the black alluvial soil which was deposited by the annual flooding of the river Nile.” But others contest this explanation, and propose that the name Kemet stems from the inhabitants themselves or, to be more precise, the color of their skin. It is highly likely that the original inhabitants of Egypt were dark or black-skinned Africans; a fact that can be ascertained even today by the dark-skinned Nubian people who live in the southern part of the country. That Kemet may indeed mean ‘The Land of the Blacks’ is also supported by discoveries made recently in the Egyptian Sahara on rock art left by prehistoric black-skinned populace, found in caves in the remote mountain regions of Gilf Kebir and Jebel Uwainat. The name, therefore, would then read “Land of the Black-skinned” or simple “Black Country”. These names tally with the notion that the earliest settlers of the Nile Valley were Negroid Africans who came from the Sahara around 5000 BCE. We are not suggesting, of course, that Egypt should now be called Kemet (although there are some who advocate that it should). What we do think, however, is that it important to highlight this original name so that modern Egyptians be reminded of their true ancestral origins and, more importantly, how perhaps its soul came to be.

Returning to the term “Arab”, this has vague origins. Strictly speaking, though, it should only denote the people who inhabit the Arabia Peninsula. Today the term is used to encompass most of the Middle East and the Levant. The Arab League, the Middle East’s equivalent of The United Nations, officially defines an Arab as being “a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic-speaking country, and who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic-speaking peoples.” Since modern Egypt has an Arabic-speaking population of eighty-six million people, making it by far the most legitimate candidate, if one goes by The Arab League’s definition, to be regarded as the quintessential “Arab State”. This is in any case reflected by official name it has given itself: The Arab Republic of Egypt (A.R.E). Strictly speaking, however, defining Egyptians as “Arabs” and Egypt an “Arab State” can only be historically correct after 642 CE i.e. after the Arab/Moslem invasion. Let us note that it is after 642 CE that the name of the country was changed to Misr. The terms Misr and Misrayin come from the Hebraic name “Mizraim” found in the Bible and used for “Egypt” by people of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. Foreign early civilizations and nations in the Middle East referred to the land of the pharaohs as Musri, Musur, or Misri. Even the biblical text personifies this name by associating the Egyptian civilization with a legendary eponymous founder named “Mizraim”—the son of Ham and grandson of Noah—(the Hebrew -im being a plural ending used to indicate “tribe of” or “descendants of”). So the Semitic-speaking peoples and even some of the Indo-European nations further north (such as the Hittites) knew Egypt as Musri, Misri, or Mizra. And from this come the classical Arabic (West-Semitic) name Misr (Egypt) and the more colloquial Arabic Masri (an Egyptian). The name Misr or Masr is used both for the country itself and, confusingly, also for the modern city of Cairo even though its official modern Arabic name is Al Kahira. Thus an Egyptian living in Cairo may claim to live at Misr, meaning the city of Cairo and not the country itself. Let us try, however, to now imagine “Egypt” before it became a state, before humans even settled there. Let us begin the search for its soul on a clean slate.

The Gift of the Nile

Imagine a world,” wrote anthropologist D. J. Cohen, ‘in which humans have lived for the overwhelming majority of our existence, a world without cities, settled villages, or even permanent residences, a world without farmed fields or crops . . .”8 Imagine now Egypt untouched by human hands. Imagine a lush and fertile green valley with a broad river gently flowing through it. Imagine it teaming with life, insanely beautiful and wild. Now imagine a tribe of black-skinned people entering this place, bringing with them domesticated cattle and goats. Exhausted, worn out from the long trek through the hot and arid desert, they gazed at it first with incredulity, then with untold elation. Here, in this earthly paradise, armed with the knowledge they acquired from their forefathers during the thousands of years in the open savannah, they will settle. Here would begin the “Egyptian” civilization.

We are, of course, navigating in the realm of our imagination. But this is imagination based on prevalent research showing that the first settlers in Egypt were most likely black African coming from the Sahara, the latter once a fertile savannah with plenty of hunting game and grazing land for cattle, but then a drastic climate change around 5000 BCE began to alter the Sahara into a desert, finally reducing it into a super-arid, uninhabitable desolation. The same climatic change, however, had the opposite effect on the Nile Valley, changing the torrent of the river into a gentle flow, and its fetid marches and swamps into fertile land ideal for cattle-grazing and growing crops. Anthropologists have called these early settlers from the Sahara the “Cattle People” or the “Megalithic People”, on account of the fact that they are regarded the first to have domestication wild bovines, and also because of the megalithic structures they raised in the desert.* We, however, call them the “Star People”, a name befitting the ceremonial sites they left in the Sahara –stone circles, tombs and megalithic structures having astronomical alignments to the sun and stars— which attest to their fascination and great reverence for the cosmos and the hope of an afterlife in it. It is they, the “Star People” with this cosmology, who almost certainly brought to “Egypt” its soul. Since the 1960s various anthropological expeditions, principally the Combined Prehistoric Expedition (CPE, a joint-venture between the Polish Academy of Science and The Methodist University of Texas), have collate evidence that strongly supports this hypothesis, not least the discovery of the world oldest astronomical ceremonial site at a place called Nabta Playa located some 100 kilometers due west of Abu Simbel.

Thanks to the precious cargo of knowledge these Saharan settlers had brought into the Nile Valley with them —astronomy, time-keeping, husbandry, and perhaps even stone-building– within a few centuries of their arrival into the Nile Valley, the place began to developed and flourish to eventually become the country of the most enlightened and creative civilization the world has known. The country we now call “Egypt”.

7 thoughts on “The Soul of Ancient Egypt”

  1. David E says:

    Interestingly enough…

    The Sumerians referred to themselves as ùĝ saĝ gíg-ga, phonetically uŋ saŋ giga, literally meaning “the black-headed people”.

  2. Space age before my eyes Opening up the skies And death awaits with pearly gates. For those who have been mezmorized,Space age before my eyes Opening up disguise And guess I’ll wait whisper early dates. With those who is been mesmerized, Many a year has come and gone but progress much is slowly on And nature’s pain she hides to stain cuz everybody is going insane The only the only thing that will remain are the roll right stones…
    Traffic lyrics circa1970

  3. Constantin says:


  4. A Peabody says:

    As I remember, doshret means red land (desert) and khemet means black land (Nile valley and delta) suggesting the words refer to geographic areas and not people. The Greek name Osiris was originally Asar. If the “m” was a prefix meaning “of” or “from” or “belonging to”, then Masr could mean “of Osiris”. That may be stretching things.

  5. Charles Spencer Jr. says:

    “An examination of the cultural occupations of Egypt over the past two millennia and how we can return to the sacred harmony of ancient Egypt. Explores the golden civilization of ancient Egypt and its system of natural magic that birthed the Western Mystery tradition.”

    In my humble opinion in order to return to sacred harmony we must first deal with the problem within the egyptian reality that created the present imbalances. It appears that the use of the perfect truth that can be gleaned from the sun the moon and the stars is a all Powerful piece of Perfect Truth but humans used it in a way that created an incorrect thought of what it means to reflect a Perfect Personification of Truth. They used it in a way that created a system of judgment with a Perfect Flaw in it. So the Reality they created that appeared at the time to be sacred and in harmony fell into disorder and chaos. But a Higher Truth came with a way to correct the problem. It is only through understanding the correction that those that created and those failed to balance the scales of Maat can in the west return to sacred harmony. The thought is Mercy (which is a accurate reflection of a Perfect Personification of Consciousness than the truth that can be taken from the perfection in the universe) is a way to heal the disharmony and return the sacred Truth to our conscious reality….C…

  6. pov says:

    The obsession with skin color is almost certainly something started and perpetuated by Europeans. And even then it began only after they encountered people with radical different complexions to their own. To posit that the ancient Egyptians named their land in reference to skin tone is another example of the all too common trap of viewing others through one’s own frame of reference. It’s as if for many the perspectives generated by current worldviews are so integrated that they have a very difficult time of shifting from it enough to assess clearly.

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