Friday, April 16, 2010

Book of Abraham Facsimile 2: The Lotus Lion Ram Cryptogram

The lower, upside-down, panel of Book of Abraham Facsimile 2 gives us three hieroglyphic signs Lotus Lion Ram. (The three signs appear just to the left of the four sons of Horus.) Here is the solar prime number found in Egyptian writings (3+4=7) that completes by sevens the generative workings of the lower panel, at whose center we find the Hathor cow, mother of the sun, and thus mother of all. The three signs stand by the four mummies to trick them back to life: it's the renewal of the whole earth, just as the Prophet Joseph says.

So what does Lotus Lion Ram signify?

Marie-Louise Ryhiner, "A propos les trigrammes pantheistes," Revue d'Egyptologie 29 (1977), reads these signs as the solar phases of Morning, Noon, Setting (see also One Eternal Round, 227 n.176), and as a cryptogram with acrophonic reading: s-m-s, which, when read against the lexicon, yields two words reflecting the creative forces of the sun--and of Hathor, as female sun: Eldest and the One who continually gives birth, or who continually brings forth creation. To the point is the following statement found on another hypocephalus: jh.t wr.t ms(j) r' (the great cow gives birth to the sun), see John Gee, "Toward an Interpretation of Hypocephali," in Le Lotus qui sort de terre, 2001.

Hugh Nibley uniquely reads Lotus Lion Ram as descriptive of the food chain and, moving from that point, of the eternal workings of organic life (sometimes replaced on hypocephali with a simple Khepri-beetle). His reading has always puzzled me, but the keen observation shows Nibley at his intellectual (read: intuitive) best, as we shall see (see One Eternal Round, 302-4).

Professor Ryhiner decodes the cryptogram by reading it first as a logogram: Lotus Leaf-Lion-Ram. To Ryhiner's reading, I would also add the variant for "Ram" written in Greek letters: "Ram, son of the Ewe", or Eg. zr z3 zr.t = s-s-s, another palindrome with hints of Hathor and birth, as also suggestive of the shaking of the sistrum to stir life into being. Again, consider the palindrome that takes center place in the triad Horus-smsw-Re, found in the Coffin Texts. Ryhiner also reads the cryptogram as an acrophon: s-m-s (with the corresponding lexical meanings); and as theme: The Sun has three phases: Chepre-Re-Atum = Dawn-Noon-Setting). Here we might also recall the three levels, three degrees, or even the three figures (Kolob--Oliblish--Enish-go-on-dosh), which Hugh Nibley remarks in the make-up of the hypocephalus--and indeed of the universe itself!

To these Logogrammatic, Acrophonic, and Thematic Readings, I add two more: Homonymic Word-play and Graphemic Substitution. The Egyptian word for lion, by homonymic substitution, can be read renew and beloved, and the Egyptians played on the word in just this manner (for one example: Lion-Ram: Ram-Beloved = m3j b3 sr But it is renewal (m3wj and causative sm3wj) that lion (m3j) most often spells. Thus: The Lotus renews the Ram, and vice-versa (ts-phr--so the tag that often accompanies the cryptogram). And by homonymic substitution, Ram (sr) also stands for Osiris (wsjr), and, just maybe, Lotus Leaf, srp.t, for sr p.t, Lord of Heaven = Re. Here stands revealed the Re/Osiris theme of renewal (One Eternal Round, 39ff.).

Egyptian ritual seems so mechanical when contrasted with the utter joie de vivre that meets us everywhere in the paintings and writings. The whole thing, it turns out, for these ancient but lively gens d'esprit, is based on love.

Finally, Graphemic Substitution comes into play with the writing of the trigram in the Demotic Magical Papyrus, which substitutes a knife sign for the lion, a hide for the ram. Here is a hint at renewal through sacrifice and at the subsequent(?) draping of the image of Osiris in the ram's skin, symbolic of the union of Re and Osiris, as earnest of resurrection in the Ritual of the House of Life, a top-secret book with stern prohibitions--if you talk, you die (pSalt 825).

Curiously enough, the same papyrus shows the trigram Lotus Lion Ram written as one "animal" or "process": the curved stem of the lotus leaf appears as the tail of the lion, and the animal itself sports two heads, lion and ram (with curved horns), the bifrons, Kolob aspect. In the Netherworld Books the wavy ram's horns can also write the word of transformation and coming into being: xpr.w (the Khepri-beetle again). The curving of the lotus stem, lion's tail, and ram's horns all speak to the unquenchable and exponential patterns of growth--tendrils busting out all over. And here we must mention the breathtaking phi spiral that stamps Abraham's Facsimile 2, among Nibley's most stunning discoveries (ps. 611ff.). The cryptogram Lotus Lion Ram runs as palindrome both linguistically and pictorially.

Brother Nibley was right on the money with the deepest reading of all: here is the food chain, both life and death; here, the organic cycle of life. One Eternal Round.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.