Author of the Month

Megaliths, Shamen & the City Builders – the hidden connections (cont.)
By Lucy Wyatt

Shamanic Ritual & Role of the Pharaoh

In essence, a shamen is someone who has an out-of-body experience in which they undergo a journey as a spirit on behalf of a person or a community in order to find answers to particular questions. The kind of shamanism that is practised these days is more usually on behalf of a sick person or child so as to identify remedies will cure the patient. It is important to understand that the information thus obtained is not discoverable through experimentation as it often involves the use of poisons that have to be treated in a particular way first otherwise they would be fatal.

These shamanic journeys are trancelike dangerous, frightening, near-death experiences that can result in the actual death of the shaman. They are therefore to be avoided by anyone who is not properly trained or prepared [one of the problems with modern drug taking that it can result in mental damage from ignorant use]. The initiation or training of the shaman is thus critical from an early age. In addition, the preparation of the substance that brings on the trance is also key to the whole process.

How this applies to the original archetype of civilisation is that the king had the responsibility of undertaking the special journey on behalf of his people. In the case of Egypt that person was the pharaoh; a title interestingly enough which could well be a Greek corruption of the words Per Ur, the name of the place where the pharaoh’s initation took place – Per Ur meaning ‘house of foundation’ - which might have been at Nekhen (or Hierakonopolis, its Greek name), possibly in its mysterious ‘fort’ which had no defensive purpose.

What the pharaoh prepared here for was a highly important festival which only happened every 40 years, and is also referred to as the pharaoh’s jubilee, which the Egyptians called the Heb Sed festival and which incorporated the Osirian rites – a renactment of the death of the god Osiris and his revival at the hands of Isis his wife. This festival took place in a purpose-built courtyard adjacent to a specially constructed pyramid. There were public aspects and secret aspects. Citizens from all over Egypt came to the festival and the purpose of it was to re-dedicate the country to civilisation.

In the public aspects the pharaoh wore a special bull kilt and had to run around the courtyard. He also participated at a ritual meal called the Hetep. After this meal the pharaoh disappeared into the secret part of the festival which took place inside the pyramid where he entered the realm of the deity Sokar.

Figure: The Realm of Sokar

Sokar is interesting because of what he represents. Sokar had a more complicated association with death than just being dead. He was part of a triple manifestation of the gods Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. These gods represented ‘the triple powers of animation, incarnation and restoration’ and thus were essential to the Egyptian ideas of cycles of life and death, in terms of the soul being immortal and reincarnated in a living body.

Writer Rosemary Clark describes Sokar as representing ‘the latent spiritual principle within all living things, the spirit embedded in the deepest regions of matter that await arousal’, a description which implies the beginning of life rather than the end of it.

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