The Egyptians conceived their nation as two lands held in balance, one upper, or upstream, and one lower, encompassing the Delta down to the coast. The conception was of great significance throughout Egypt's long history. As we read it in the text of the Shabaka Stone, the balancing took place in the time when the gods walked the Earth, an event of cosmic importance which somehow involved the two lands being weighed in a set of divine scales. In the First Time peace had reigned, before the dispute in which the visionary young Horus was blinded by his uncle Seth, while Horus castrated the worldly, virile older male. For the Egyptians, from at least the time of the Pyramid Texts, this dispute was a mythic equivalent of the opening of Pandora's Box, by which troubles came into the world. Resolution of the dispute therefore remedied these troubles, returning the state of peace and equilibrium that had existed in the First Time. Finding a place on either side of which the Two Lands were somehow equal was therefore of prime importance.
The dispute between Horus and Seth concerned sovereignty of Ancient Egypt. It was Horus' father Osiris, the former king of the Golden Age, who, from the Afterlife, commanded that some resolution be found. And so the great measuring occurred, and a border was established between Upper Egypt, to be ruled by Seth, and Lower Egypt, to be ruled by Horus. We know this boundary was at the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis, since this was called both the Binding of the Two Lands and the Balance of the Two Lands.
This has long been something of a mystery. Was the unification simply an historical event, and if so why was it accorded cosmic significance? And even if it was an historical event, what part did 'measuring' and 'weighing' play in the resolution? Here I shall present a new explanation for the mystery underpinning the Balance of the Two Lands, which seems to provide an exciting insight into the Pharaonic vision of Egypt.
Memphis, whose name is thought to derive from men nefer, "Established and Beautiful", is also on what can reasonably be seen as a kind of central longitude meridian of Ancient Egypt, since the north-south line through the capital divides the delta in half, and runs up to the north point, and is also apparently midway between official eastern and western Egyptian borders.
The question to ask is whether it is possible that we may take the Egyptians at their word, which is that by measuring the Earth they mean measuring the Earth, and that by finding a place of balance between the Two Lands they mean finding a place of balance between the Two Lands. I see absolutely no reason at all to doubt that such a measuring took place. We know for certain that the Egyptians made measurements of the movements of the stars. A very old measuring ceremony used in the setting of the foundations of temples, known as the Stretching of the Cord, makes explicit references to the observation of the stars of Ursa Major and Orion over time and to the accurate measurement of Sun shadows. Then remember that habitable Egypt consists now and consisted then of two strips of land along the course of a much-traveled highway, the Nile, and that this river runs north-south. Traveling considerable distances north and south would have been common for officials employed in such temple-building work, so those surveyors who took these measurements of the stars would have known perfectly well that the altitude of the stars changes as you go north or south. It is impossible that a people who were fascinated by and took measurements of the stars would not have noticed this over the thousands of years of Egyptian history, and once noticed it would certainly have intrigued them greatly. The variance of stellar altitude of, for example, the pole, when traveling north or south directly gives the angle of latitude change. If I then make the suggestion that they took a reading at north point and in the south and then found a site between where the reading measured off some key ratio between these two extremes, this can hardly be called a major leap, hardly a spurious speculation.
And indeed this is all they would have needed to do to locate Memphis at a carefully measured balance point between two known latitude measurements. On the north side of the first pyramid, the Stepped Pyramid of Saqqara, the necropolis site adjacent to Memphis, there is a small kiosk within which a statue of Djoser gazes up at an inclined angle through two peep holes in the wall at the northern sky. Does this hint at precisely the kind of observation that was conducted in order to locate the pyramid at a latitude that was considered to be special, the latitude of the Balance of the Two Lands? We shall see below that it can be shown from the figures that, to a high degree of accuracy, the latitude of Memphis is indeed at such a place of equilibrium between the Two Lands.
What might the special ratio have been? Clearly it was not half way in a simple sense, because Memphis is not half way between Upper and Lower Egypt, but we know from texts like the Rhind Papyrus that the Egyptians knew that calculating the area of objects other than the square or rectangle was not quite so simple a matter as that.
What ratio might they have been referring to as a 'balance', and why was it said that "the portion of Horus was like that of Seth"? A clue comes from their greatest construction and most impressive physical testament to their surveying skills, the Great Pyramid. The King's Chamber is located in the Great Pyramid on such a level that the surface area of the pyramid above this level is equal to that below. Since the pyramid is based on triangular shapes, this half-way level is not half way up the pyramid, but is at a particular ratio of the full height which works in the same way for all isosceles triangles (i.e. where two or more sides are of the same length), dividing their area in half. The King's Chamber represents in death what Memphis was in life, the resting place of the king, and it is located at the level of balance or equal area of the Upper and Lower parts of the pyramid, just as Memphis was said to be at the balance point between Upper and Lower Egypt.
Before we get back to the Earth Measuring, I think we must consider that this balance of that which is above and that which is below may have been a key consideration for the builders of the pyramid. I am well aware that new theories about the Great Pyramid come and go in considerable profusion; that some of them are wild, and that many simply do not square up to the facts that Egyptologists have painstakingly uncovered over the years. I have no axe to grind against Egyptology, and the theories here are based upon facts and kept within the context of the Egypt of the Egyptologists, even if the latter as a whole are currently dragging their feet somewhat on the question of latitude measurement. At the same time, and in a way that does not conflict with the last sentence, I am a closet follower of a Platonic-Hermetic type philosophy, namely of the type that believes that, feels how geometric forms can activate a kind of transcendental harmonious resonance in our minds, so I do actually see these matters on a level beyond the mundane, just as the Egyptians themselves did.
The ratio in question is derived from a process of halving the area of the square using diagonals and a circle, as shown here above. The inner square is half the area of the outer, so that this diagram shows the Great Pyramid from above, where the inner square represents the level on which the King's Chamber is placed but shown on the outer surface of the pyramid.
The ratio of the diagonal of the smaller to that of the larger is, by maths, is 2.41 : 3.41. This makes the ratio of the distance from the centre straight to one of the sides of the smaller square compared to the extra distance from here to the side of the larger square, 3.41 : 1. And, sure enough, this is the ratio formed by the distance from the Memphis down to the Upper Egyptian capital, the second Egyptian centre at Thebes compared to the distance from the north point of the meridian on the coast down to Memphis. This 1 : 3.41 ratio can truly be called a sacred geometric constant because, for example, it is the relative height of the horizontal that divides the areas of all isosceles triangles in half.
The Egyptians themselves said that the Two Lands had been first unified by, and that the location of Memphis had been established by the proto-dynastic king known variously as Men, Min, Menes and so on. The name may well come from the Egyptian for "to establish".
Memphis, (the first part of which name derives from this same root) the Old Kingdom (Pyramid Age) capital continued to be of primary sacred and administrative importance right through Pharaonic Egypt. Another name for Memphis, incidentally, was njwt heh – that word heh meaning infinity – so that that Memphis is The Eternal City. Next the capital, royal household and court, and the Unification of the Two Lands symbolism, were all transferred to Thebes, in Upper Egypt, but Memphis retained capital status over Lower Egypt, and now we see that the twin capitals of the Two Lands of Lower and Upper Egypt, Memphis and Thebes, are latitudinally located within a scheme based on this ratio that can be found from the geometry of the "halving of the square" using the circle and diagonals method.
A look at part of the Egyptian text from the Shabaka Stone, which claims itself to have been copied from an Old Kingdom text, is extremely relevant at this point. It's pure poetry to me because it expresses such resonant ideas:
He judged between Horus and Seth; he ended their quarrel. He made Seth the king of Upper Egypt in the land of Upper Egypt, up to the place in which he was born, which is Su. And Geb made Horus King of Lower Egypt in the land of Lower Egypt, up to the place in which his father was drowned which is "Division-of-the-Two-Lands." Thus Horus stood over one region, and Seth stood over one region. They made peace over the Two Lands at Ayan [location immediately to the north of Memphis]. That was the division of the Two Lands….Then Horus stood over the land. He is the unifier of this land, proclaimed in the great name: Ta-tenen, South-of-his-Wall, Lord of Eternity. Then sprouted the two Great Magicians upon his head. He is Horus who arose as king of Upper and Lower Egypt, who united the Two Lands in the Nome of the Wall, the place in which the Two Lands were united.
Reed and papyrus were placed on the double door of the House of Ptah. That means Horus and Seth, pacified and united. They fraternized so as to cease quarreling in whatever place they might be, being united in the House of Ptah, the "Balance of the Two Lands" in which Upper and Lower Egypt had been weighed.
Notice that the above does not refer only to a political unification, but also to a measuring, a weighing in a balance to find the location of Memphis. "The Balance of the Two Lands" (Mekhat Tawi), was in fact an epithet for the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis (where 'balance' is a set of scales). The Nome of the Wall was a name for the Memphite region of the pyramid builders. Memphis was the home of the god Ptah, and Ta-Tenen or 'Risen Land' is here the Memphite Primordial Mound of Ptah the Creator, which the Saqqara pyramid may well in some sense represent. (The other chief Primordial Mound was the sacred mountain of Thebes.) Horus is equated with this mound, and on the mound in the creation myth the first plants sprouted. In the quote there is a sprouting from this mound, in the form of the two magicians, a reference to a crown, but one which in this context seems therefore to be refer also to the lotus (a symbol of Upper Egypt) and papyrus (a symbol of Lower Egypt), which are placed in the door of the house (Memphite temple) of Ptah, presumably as its two pillars. (We find such a combination of a pairing of lotiform and papyriform pillars extant at Thebes.) Memphis was famous down through the ages for being the location of the Temple of Ptah.
What is clear is that the establishment of Memphis as the Old Kingdom capital is central to this notion of the Balance of the Two Lands, and it makes sense in terms of the geodesy.
To recapitulate this scheme then, a 'meridian' line extends due south from the north point of the Delta. Memphis is upon this central axis line, and also adjacent to the Nile, as all the sites in question are, rather as a matter of necessity in Egypt. Thebes is at the latitude (not longitude) of the centre of the scheme, and the ratio of the latitude difference between Thebes and North Point to the difference between Thebes and Memphis is given by the geometry of halving the area of a square, and also of equivalence of "upper" and "lower" parts of an isosceles triangle, such as is marked in the cross section of the Great Pyramid by the level of the King's Chamber.
But we needn't rely on a diagram alone for confirmation of the accuracy of this, for a simple calculation from latitude figures can be performed. Measuring due north from Memphis we come to the coast at 31'33''N. The latitude line running through the Temple of Amun in Karnak, Thebes, is 25'43''. The 'balance point' between these, using the triangular equilibrium ratio of 1:2.41, is precisely at the latitude of Memphis, at 29'51''. (Convert to decimal for ease of calculation, subtract 25.71 from 31.57= 5.86. Multiply by 1/3.41=1.72. Subtract 1.72 from 31.57 = 29.85, convert back to degrees and minutes = 29'51''.) I find myself extremely convinced by this theory – the Balance of the Two Lands was a profoundly geometric concept, in accordance with Ma'at. This "Balance of the Lands" was something they measured very accurately, from close observations of stellar (or solar) altitude. The word for 'balance' in the Egyptian phrase "Balance-of-the-Two Lands" is even pretty much the same word as the name of the instrument used, along with the palm rib, to measure stellar angles, which by extension can also be a measurement of relative latitude position. As far as I know merkhet andmekhat may indeed be two transliterations of the same Egyptian word, and although I would say don't quote me on that, I do note that in an appendix entitled The Scales of the World in their book Keeper of Genesis Bauval and Hancock tell us that that the hieroglyphic determinative sign for 'to weigh' shows a triangle, or builders' 'square', with a plumb bob suspended from the apex, 'a sign which can also mean to 'balance the Earth'.' The plumb bob was also the chief component of the merkhet, of course, used to measure stellar inclination. They give the name for the great scales of Thoth in the place of Ma'at as Mekhaat, and, citing Wallis Budge's dictionary of hieroglyphs, they say that this name 'means in other contexts 'the balance of the Earth'.'
Bauval and Hancock's appendix also tells us that 'the triangle [of the determinative for 'to weigh'] distinctly recalls the profile or cross-section of a pyramid', having already pointed out that 'while Ayan is envisaged as the pivot or 'balance point' of the Two Lands, the actual process of 'weighing' is described as taking place…[in the land of the]…burial of Osiris in the House of Sokar.' This 'Land of Sokar' is generally taken to be the Memphis necropolis, most notably Saqqara, which, it is thought, may even derive its current name from Sokar. Bearing in mind that pyramids cover a burial of kings identified with Osiris, one cannot escape the suspicion that the Stepped Pyramid of Saqqara, the first of pyramids and for the Ancient Egyptians the most sacred, was seen as the fulcrum of the Balance of the Two Lands.
Balance of the Lands Geometry at Saqqara : The Upper and Lower Sky
One of the most interesting Memphite uses of the "Balance of Upper and Lower" geometric pattern under discussion in this piece is to be found in the Multiple Djed wall panels made from many blue-green glazed tiles inset with a shallow arch pattern, the arch being held up by the djeds. The Djed Pillar, which here in this early version seems to take the form of a tied bundle of reeds, had a long history in Egypt as an amuletic and hieroglyphic symbol of stability, and later at least as the backbone of Osiris, as well as having some connection with Ptah, the god of Memphis. Three of these faience panels were used to decorate chambers in the underground maze of tunnels beneath the Stepped Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara. Saqqara is the necropolis site near Memphis, the site which we have seen is at the Balance of the Lands. I have superimposed the geometry and it cannot be denied that the correspondence is good enough to show that the Egyptians were interested in this particular geometrically constructed pattern at the beginning of the Pyramid Age.
Triangular Equilibrium / Balance of the Lands geometry superimposed over a Saqqara Step Pyramid Multi-Djed Tiled Panel
The panels' only motif is a circle segment-shaped vault held up by djed pillars made from papyrus reed bundles. The rest of the panel is made from blue green tiles representing reed mats and also the sky, i.e. the sky mythologized as a reed mat like the ones the early Egyptians placed over their reed-bundle structures.
The djeds therefore appear to be mythological pillars holding up the arch of the sky. This in turn implies that the same geometric pattern we have looked at here – the one that was applied by the Ancient Egyptians to the Two Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt – was also applied by them to the sky, resulting again in a conception of Upper and Lower. In The Egypt Code Robert Bauval quotes Egyptologist Samual Mercer as saying that "the Duat was a kind of duplicate Egypt. There was an Upper and Lower Duat, and it had a great river running through it."
Ankh Tawi : The Binding of the Two Dominions
There is more iconography that has an intriguing bearing on this mystery. An ankh symbol is repeatedly shown in Egyptian inscriptions flanked by two was scepters, often with the neb sign underneath. A simple interpretation, no doubt intentional, reads this as an invocation of long life and power. However the ankh symbol means not only 'life' but also 'to bind' and some examples of this grouping show the ankh animated, with arms grasping the was scepters and with weights hanging from the elbows of these arms. An example is in the Denderah Hathor temple. This leads more readily to an interpretation related to the Balance of the Lands, since this and the Binding of the Two Lands seem to have been interchangeable, and with ankh having e a meaning of "to bind". So for example Memphis could be called Ankh Tawi, the Binding of the Two Lands, as well as the Balance of the Two Lands, Mekhat Tawi. The was scepter is read as 'dominion', and 'power', and so the symbol grouping can be read as relating to Horus being granted sovereignty over the Two Lands, as in the Shabaka Stone text, or perhaps it could be read along the lines of a similar interpretation, the Balance of the Two Dominions, or indeed the Two Powers – Horus and Set.
Weights Neb (Basket) Was – "Dominion/
– "Many/Much/ Ankh – Wealth/Power"
All" "Life/To Bind"
Two staffs do have precedent in Egypt as symbols of the Two Lands. For example in Abydos we see Thoth, Aesclepius-like, before Seti I holding two Caduceus-like scepters entwined with cobras, one staff topped with papyrus of the North with its cobra wearing the crown of the North and the other topped with the papyrus of the South the corresponding Southern Crown. There are also the later Horus cippus images where the young god stands flanked similarly by the lotus and papyrus staffs of South and North. (Again there are serpents in each hand and the image seems to be the Serpent Bearer trampling on Scorpio, one of magical protection intimately connected with the resurrection of Osiris as Orion.)
Thoth holds serpent-entwined lotus and papyrus wands and gives life to pharaoh Seti I in Osiris pose, from Abydos, Upper Egypt
Horus as Serpent Bearer with lotus and papyrus staffs and scorpion
So the resurrection of Osiris-Orion is somehow connected to the Balance of the Two Lands, and their unification – a point we shall return to in a moment. But first the point to note is that the ankh between two was scepters may indeed represent the Binding of the Two Lands, since twin staffs could indeed refer to these regions. Confirmation that the was-ankh-was symbol is indeed connected with the binding of the Two Lands is to be found in an exquisite artefact from Tutankhamun's tomb treasures. This is a long necked alabaster amphora made in the form of the sema symbol. Sema means "unite", and two fronds, one the papyrus of Lower Egypt, and the other lotus of Upper Egypt, are shown literally bound together about the neck or windpipe of this sema vase. In the lower register, where zig-zig patterns represent marshes – perhaps those of the Delta of Lower Egypt – we find examples of the animated was-ankh-was symbols. With the added support of the meaning of this piece as a whole, the interpretation where the central ankh is read as "to bind" and the grouping represents the same binding as represented in the upper register is strongly supported.
Why was this symbol chosen to represent the Balance of the Lands? This was a mystery which sat on the back burner of my investigations for a good long period, until finally the satori moment came, the shivers up the spine, the eureka. As described by Vitruvius and depicted by Da Vinci, a man's arm span, from finger tip to finger tip with the arms raised to the horizontal, is equal to his height. As shown by Da Vinci in his Vitruvian Man drawing, this results in the concept of a square enclosing the figure of the man with his arms outstretched. The diagonals and the enclosed circle are natural, symmetrical, mathematical derivations of the square, and we have already seen that it is from these that the 'Balance of Upper and Lower" ratio is produced by geometry. If this geometry is added to the square enclosing the man, the 'Balance' height is found to be at the height of the arms raised horizontally to about shoulder height. This, of course, is exactly what is depicted in the elaborated Egyptian was-ankh-was images, some of which even emphasize the 'balance' aspect with the weights hanging from the elbows. Here we have a lasting, and hence truly Hermetic-Platonic universal human association with the geometry.
In fact, closer examination reveals that in the Egyptian canon – as in the one Da Vinci used – the ratio gives the relative height of a man's head, and, by extension, perhaps also the capital of pillars.
Osiris-Orion at the Balance of Upper and Lower Skies
Scorpio sets as Orion rises, so in Greek myth Aesclepios, the Caduceus-bearing Serpent Bearer heals the hunter who was stung, for the Serpent Bearer constellation tramples on the head of Scorpio. Hence, it seems to me, "Osiris is come as Orion" follows on not long after "Scorpion, turn over and glide into the ground" in the pyramid texts. But why did the king's apotheosis as Orion in the night sky have something to do with the Balance of the Two Lands? How does this geodesy, this measurement of Egypt based on a geometric ratio, relate to the "Orion Mystery"? In Bauval's Orion Correlation Theory the celestial Nile was none other than the Milky Way, and the stars along its banks were seen as being pyramids in the sky; in the case of three of these stars in a notable asterism – "Orion's Belt" – this was mapped onto the Earthly equivalent, namely the land bordering the terrestrial Nile, in the form of the three pyramids of Giza. Part of the contextual appropriateness of this is that pyramids were seen as ladders into the sky by which the Pharaoh ascended to become one with Osiris in the form of the Orion constellation, as we know from the Pyramid Texts. We see various versions of this, such as Osiris escaping from the flood by ascending into the sky, or Osiris dying by drowning and then ascending as a spirit with, or one with, Orion. It is clear that this happened in the region of the Memphite necropolis, the pyramid fields region, which includes Giza. The Shabaka Stone text tells us that the 'Balance of the Two Lands' is 'the land of the burial of Osiris', and that the place where Osiris drowned was 'Division of the Two Lands.' Bauval writes that "The land of the 'burial of Osiris' which is the Memphite region is almost certainly also the Duat, the starry underworld containing Orion." It was surely this Duat region also which the chambers under the Saqqara Stepped Pyramid of Djoser represent, including the faience arch described above. In addition, Oakes and Gahlin in Ancient Egypt (published by Hermes House) write that Memphis is 'where Osiris entered the Underworld to become judge of the dead. The divine court, which finally decided that Horus should inherit the throne of Egypt from his father Osiris, was said to have sat at Memphis.'
So having established the geometric reason for the Memphis region being the Balance of the Two Lands, we might wonder what this has to do with the constellation of Orion. The mixture of geometric and astral aspects of the geodesy may at first glance appear rather puzzling, until we recall a fact which is made clear by the internal geometry of the Great Pyramid. From the "King's Chamber" an "airshaft" proceeds due south towards the exterior at an inclined angle of 45 degrees, which targeted the culmination of Orion's Belt in the Pyramid Age. Considering this in diagrammatical form makes it perfectly plain that seen from Giza, a site within the Nome of the Wall, Orion's Belt at culmination was located at the Balance of the Upper and Lower Duats, the Balance of the Sky.
The mixture of geometric and astral reasoning can now be seen as a most elegant whole. Memphis is at the Balance of the Two Lands, and, seen from a little further north, (but still in the Memphite region), Orion's Belt was seen to be at an equivalent place of balance in the sky, as well as being located next to the Great River of the Sky, the Milky Way. At some period close in time to the construction of the Giza Pyramids the 45-degree altitude of Orion's Belt will have been true for the exact Memphis latitude, a little south of Giza. Altitudes are higher when seen from latitudes further south, so at Saqqara the altitude of stars is a little higher than at Giza. Also, Orion was lower in the sky at earlier times, and has been getting progressively higher. Therefore, the Belt of Orion will have been exactly at the Balance of the Sky seen from the Memphis latitude some time a little earlier than the period about 2,500 years BC when the Giza Pyramids were built. It is entirely conceivable then that the establishment of the Balance of the Lands by Menes at the beginning of the Dynastic Period dates from that somewhat earlier period.
The Full Hermetic Scheme
But have we come yet to the original governing foundation of this scheme? The real southern limits of Egypt in the terms of the Pyramid Age pharaohs were the cataracts further up the Nile where rapids made the river un-navigable. It is when we expand the map to include the second and third cataracts, namely the borders between, respectively, Egypt and Lower Nubia and Lower Nubia and Upper Nubia, that the scheme, based on the halving of the square, makes much more sense, showing as it does a genuine geometric balance between four separate geographical borders – these two cataracts, the place where the Nile fans out into a Delta at Memphis, and the coast. The second cataract is at the sight of Semna, a name recalling the Egyptian word sema, 'unite', used to refer to the binding of the two lands, and elegantly enough this cataract is on the central meridian that runs through Memphis, although we are not here considering whether longitudes are part of the scheme once such great distances across the desert come into play. We are discussing only the relative latitudes, so easily measured from changing star and Sun altitudes at different places along the river.
You'll notice that I have also marked on the map the relative distances from the Sun of the Inner Planets: Earth, Venus and Mercury, and linked them to the sites in question, for not only does the same geometrically-derived ratio happen to apply, but we also find astonishingly relevant associations at these sites. So Thebes, the centre, corresponding to the Sun, was sacred to the solar figure of Amun-Ra; Hermopolis at the Mercury distance north from Thebes having been formerly sacred to Thoth was to become in due course sacred to Hermes-Mercury, and Memphis, corresponding to the Venus orbit, was the site of a famous temple of Hathor-Mistress-of-Foreign-Lands who Herodotus calls Aphrodite the Foreigner, as well as being the site sacred to Hathor in her name of Lady of the Sycamore.
I will be honest and say that I do not fully understand how it came to be the case by Graeco-Roman times that the sites all had temples to the gods representing the planets with which the same sites are associated by the equivalent geometry. Surely they hadn't measured the relative distances of the planets from the Sun, or is this an easier calculation than I realize? Or was this elegant ordering of cult sites due to some plan in unseen realms manifested through oracular influence? However it came to be, the scene was set for this scheme to click into place upon Alexander's triumphant arrival and expulsion of the Persian overlords in Egypt. If that sounds biased against the Persians, bear in mind that it was the earlier Persian ruler Cyrus the Great who had inspired Alexander with the idea of an empire that honored the diversity of local cults. The movements of Alexander and his army also echo the mythical conquest of Egypt and the East by Dionysos the wine god and his band of revelers, and a story is told of how Alexander's men, arriving at a place in India, wreathed themselves in ivy and vine and went cavorting over the hillsides in celebration of the god. The Egyptians welcomed Alexander's arrival and the oracle of Amun pronounced him the legitimate new pharaoh. So it was that Egypt knelt "before the vine-leaf crown," to quote Keats.
To what extent the Macedonian ruling elite of particular periods over ensuing centuries lived up to this promise is another question, but certainly Alexander founded a great city in Egypt, the most brilliant of the Hellenistic period, and it was here that the Greek and Egyptian philosophies and traditions fused. Included in the texts known as the Hermetica written down in Hellenistic Alexandria in Egypt is a statement that reads, in the translation of Freke and Gandy (Piatkus): "Egypt is an image of the Heavens and the whole Cosmos dwells here, in this its sanctuary, but the gods will desert the Earth, and return to heaven," while another statement reads "Unlike Atum, the hidden light, who is only known in thought through attentive contemplation, Ra [the Sun] exists in space and time, and we may see him with our eyes, shining the brightest in the Cosmos. Placed in the centre and wearing the cosmos like a wreath around him, he lights up above and below." Regarding other gods the Hermetica says "the Mind of the Cosmos created from fire and air the seven administrators who regulate Destiny – the five visible planets and the Sun and Moon whose orbits encompass the world of the senses. These celestial powers, [when] known by thought alone, are called the gods." Putting these quotes together we see that the Hermetica was saying that Egypt is made in an image of the Cosmos, while the Cosmos has the Sun in the centre, and it is also pretty clear that the gods were drawn down to 'dwell here [Egypt], in its [the Cosmos's] sanctuary' and that these gods, as explicitly stated, are the planets. So despite a healthy skepticism about the measurement of relative planetary orbit distances in Hellenistic Egypt, it really cannot be denied that the Hermetica's description fits the planetary orbit scheme here outlined perfectly. And why would they have wanted to draw down the 'gods' in this way? This information is also given: "From them [the planets] there flows into matter an uninterrupted stream of Soul." This is an example of an idea that was taken up enthusiastically in Renaissance Italy after the Hermetica were translated – there are influxes through the planets that can be put to beneficial uses. My own take on the philosophy has strong affinities with the Hermetica's assertion that it is when the planets are contemplated by the mind that they become gods – Venus and Mercury and so on as transpersonal Ideas, not quite the same as Jung's archetypes of the collective unconscious, but similar. The contemplation in question is partly that of the mythic characters as they appear in our stories, with their various layers of significance and beauty, and also largely the movements of those planets, their cycles, relative year lengths, retrograde periods, and of course their relative orbit distances. Venus, for example, has a year length that is the Golden Proportion of the Earth's year. Both Plato and the Hermetica make a point of the fact that although the planets move, which might lead to an association between the planets and the world of flux rather than the eternal realm of Forms, at the same time the cycles of movement themselves, when contemplated with the mind of the Philosopher, are eternal Ideas. The same goes for the relative orbit distances, especially where harmonious geometric relationships can be seen, as between the Earth and Venus.
It was actually while eating as Venusian a meal as a plate of scallops in a restaurant bar called the Shore in Shoreham, west along the coast from Brighton&Hove, that I found something deeply beautiful about this geometric scheme. The same geometry that defines this Balance-of-the-Two-Lands also governs the relative distances of Venus and the Earth from the Sun.
It was in John Martineau's A Little Book of Coincidence that I discovered that the relative sizes of the orbits of Venus and the Earth around the Sun can be represented by this diagram.
Generation of Relative Orbit Widths of Venus and Earth around the Sun
Is Martineau correct about this? The ratio in the above geometry of small to large is 2.41 : 3.41.
0.70674 x maximum orbit radius of Earth (152.1 x 106) = 107.49 x 106
While the minimum orbit radius of Venus is 107.48 x 106
This, it must be agreed, is a remarkably precise match up. So the ratio is that which concerns the maximum distance between the orbits of Venus and Earth, i.e. between the minimum Venus orbit (perihelion) and the maximum Earth orbit (aphelion).
This, for me, is the Hermetic Scheme of Egypt, the Two Lands, the word Hermetic being extremely apt both because of the connections to the Hermetic philosophy of As Above, So Below and because Hermes himself, as Mercury, has his site in the scheme. It is a scheme which had its foundation right back in Proto-dynastic Egypt, with Menes, and reached fulfillment during the Graeco-Roman period when Hathor became associated with Venus and Thoth with Mercury, and these in turn with the planets. It's awesome, I feel.