The Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt
Jane B. Sellers
As mentioned, the period of totality varies, and so does what one sees. If one is fortunate, angry looking reddish prominences appear on the edges of the black sun, visible to the naked eye, and always, there is the magnificent, fiery corona.
Then comes the second Diamond Ring at the instant totality ends. This second or more correctly, the "Third Contact Diamond Ring Effect" is on the opposite side of the solar disk than the first and although I have no picture showing the flash on the bottom, I offer a second eclipse picture.
"Look with your faces, O Primeval Ancestors, upon this spirit who comes today, taking the form of a burst of light, coming from the Isle of Fire...Behold, the Eye will be stronger than all the gods!"
One of the many texts that I have used in the book is the preceding one from the Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts.
Or going much further back in time to the Pyramid Texts we can read:
"The Eye has issued from your head as the Upper Egyptian crown Great- of- Magic: the Eye has issued from your head as the Lower Egyptian crown Great-of-Magic.
Or this more obvious eclipse description from the Egyptian Book of the Dead:
'On The Crest Of That Mountain Is A Snake, 'He Whose Consuming Fire Is Within Him' Is His Name. Then After Mid-Day He Will Turn His Eyes Against Re, Then A Stoppage Will Take Place In The Bark And Great Amazement Among The Sailors . . . Then Suty Will Hurl A Spear Of Metal Against Him And Cause Him To Disgorge All That He Has Swallowed'.
When I experienced the Diamond Ring Effect that had lasted ten seconds, it was a Third Contact Diamond Ring, which means that we had been looking at the eclipsed sun with no eye protection during the minutes of totality. The sky seemed darker than at other eclipses that I had experienced, and the black sun, surrounded by its corona, appeared as a hyper-dimensional object, suspended in a night sky. And then...it was as if the hand of god reached up and pulled a light cord. It was as though a high intensity bulb at the bottom of the sun disk had been suddenly switched on. In my memory I see a narrow beacon of bright light emanating from the Diamond Ring down to the water and I can hear the click of a switch...but of course that memory must be in error. Most stared in wonder. A nearby viewer sobbed audibly.
It was the beginning of a very long journey, one in which I consulted with many experts, including the late Richard Parker. I started out with the simple task of accumulating many of the various texts that seemingly described the Diamond Ring Effect in various and greatly differing ways. As the perceptive reader of the ancient writings soon realizes, it would seem that the ancient Egyptians described and explained "unexplainable" things in as many ways as possible. It should be remembered however, that the texts come from different times, separated by many centuries and even millennia. If certain passages and myths originate in eclipse phenomena, total eclipses were not a one time event: others would be seen in the long period of Egypt's ancient history -- and other stories and explanations put forward.
The writings that I examined ranged from the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts (c. 2300 BC) to the The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys from the Ptolemaic Period, (304-30 BC) The Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts were reread and New Kingdom (c. 1552-1069 BC) texts, such as The Book of the Dead, The Litany of Re, The Book of the Caverns, The Book of the Gates, The Book of the Amduat, The Chester Beatty Papyrus, and the Papyrus Sallier IV were all included on my list. Artwork from each period was thoroughly scrutinized, and my trips to Egypt increased. But now, a few words about the other half of the story. It was in the late 70's that an editor/friend said to me, 'before you write your book you should read Hamlet's Mill.' I was a bit surprised, because the book was outside of the prescribed scholarly orbit, despite the fact that the respected physicist, Philip Morrison, in a 1969 review for Scientific American, had written, "It... has the ring of noble metal, although it is only a bent key to the first of many gates."
After a concerted struggle to understand precession and its observed change in the heavens, and after numerous consultations with astronomers and planetarium directors (I was unaware at that time of any computer programs that would show me this) I understood that this was a necessary addition to my theory of the origins of Egypt's basic myths.