It’s not so much what’s happening in Egypt this week that has me slightly freaked out as where it’s happening. And I’m not talking about geopolitics or Israeli-Palestinian relations, or the price of oil being affected by access to the Suez Canal. I’m talking about the fact that this is happening in Egypt. Egypt! Stop just a moment, and think of everything the idea of Egypt means to you and everything it has ever meant to you.

Egypt.

I’ll bet if I told you there’ve been some contentious and tense political protests in Albania recently, you’d feign interest (“Oh, really?”), but wouldn’t think about it for too long. (I mean no disrespect toward Albanians. Your political struggles for liberty, dignity, and fair distribution of resources is legitimate and important. But, even you have to confess that you aren’t Egypt.)

Bombs go off every day in various places around the world, but when two airplanes hit the biggest buildings in New York City, the whole world sits up and takes notice.

When the Berlin Wall went from being an an instrument of oppression and an object of fear to a wild party venue inside of 24 hours, the world watched in amazement, because this was happening in Berlin, for God’s sake! Berlin!

And yet: as much cachet as New York and Berlin have in the race’s collective visceral responses, they’re not Egypt either.

If you consider yourself a magician, and especially if you identify with the Rosicrucian or Hermetic traditions — or even if you’re a freemason, or a member of one of dozens of other traditional orders — Egypt is the source. Egypt is where you end up when you follow all the lines of the Western Tradition to their origins.

OK, I know I’ve lost a goodly percentage of my readers by this point in the essay. This kind of “mainstream” narrative of the origins of esoteric knowledge is considered “uncool” if not downright politically incorrect by some, the same way that young British archaeologists in the sixties and seventies avoided Roman sites (Romans were squares, and they were the dominant oppressor society) and preferred Celtic digs.

Title plate of Uncle Al’s 777

Well, I’ll confess: in my youth and early adulthood, I used to find the whole Egypt fetish among mystics and occultists really irritating. Why, I asked myself, did organizations and traditions try to legitimize themselves by claiming roots in Egypt, and how far-fetched was the claim that the Egyptian tradition had been passed on to Greece? AMORC lodges and teaching materials are covered in Egyptian symbols and themes. And let’s not forget the Egyptian god forms used in the Golden Dawn, or the Egyptian-themed title pages of Aleister Crowley’s books, or the Egyptian connections with his Book of the Law. It just seemed like high-faluting bullshit to me. I only cared that the teachings and knowledge worked. I didn’t care where it came from.

AMORC’s Rosicrucian Park in San Jose CA

But slowly, over many years of reading and experience, the clues kept accumulating, and slowly I became convinced that Egypt was indeed the mother of all Western Mystery traditions. The final piece of the puzzle that gave me a complete picture came while listening to an audio recording of Manly P. Hall lecturing on the subject of the Hermetic Tradition. After using the works of Clement of Alexandria and linguistic evidence to prove that the works of Hermes Trismegistus were actually written in Egypt several centuries before the Christian era, he goes on to talk about the fact that a number of Greek philosophers are known to have gone to Egypt to study in the mystery schools. Now the question is, he proposes: when these men came back from Egypt, why is it that they didn’t start teaching things we typically associate with Egyptian culture? Why isn’t there even a whiff of Egyptian mythology or religion in the teachings of these famous Greek philosophers? The answer is: because the mystery schools taught things that had nothing to do with the exoteric Egyptian religion and culture. The mystery schools were more ancient than Egypt itself. What they taught are the sorts of things you come across in the writings of Plato, Solon, and Anaximander.

So there you have it. The Egyptian connection. Greek philosophy was a new expression of the Egyptian mystery teachings.

If you look at a View Larger Map“>map of Cairo, you’ll see that the epicenter of the protest movement — the now famous Tahrir Square — sits right on the East bank of the Nile in the downtown area. The Pyramids of Giza are approximately ten kilometers west-by-southwest from there. That means that on a normal day you could hop in a car at Tahrir square and be at the pyramids within twenty minutes. You could walk there within a few hours. The pyramids are part of the vibratory nature of that city.

Here’s something else that has slowly developed in my life. Not only have I become convinced that the pyramids were an initiatory complex, rather than a funerary site, I am also becoming convinced that the pyramids are far older than Egypt itself. And if you’ve been following the reports of finds and analyses archaeologists and paleontologists have been making in recent years, you will have noticed that they keep pushing back the date at which something recognizably “human” appeared on the earth. And the beginning of civilization keeps getting pushed back farther, too.

At any rate, those pyramids are part of our heritage, as magicians, as members of the human race.

Egypt. Taste the flavor of that word on your tongue. Feel everything you have ever felt about Egypt. It’s not just another country.

A struggle is going on there that concerns us all.

The other day I heard an interview with the Secretary General of Egyptian Antiquities, Zahi Hawass. He spoke about the threats the uprising has posed to the Egyptian Museum; there have been several unsuccessful attempts to loot the museum, but they have always been thwarted by volunteer guards. Hawass made a remark that I have pondered now and again in the days since. He said, “If the Egyptian anitiquities are safe, then Egypt is safe.

Make of that what you will

 

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