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Confessions of an Egyptologist, by Erich von Daniken

Confessions of an Egyptologist: Lost Libraries, Vanished Labyrinths & the Astonishing Truth Under the Saqqara Pyramids, by Erich von Daniken
New Page Books, 1632651912, 208 pages, September 2021

Doesn’t it sometimes seem like Egypt holds all the secrets to the Universe? It’s easy to get lost in the ancient history of such a vast, expansive empire. I had previously read Erich von Daniken’s book Chariots of the Gods, and was curious what other hidden history might be revealed in Confessions of an Egyptologist: Lost Libraries, Vanished Labyrinths, & the Astonishing Truth Under the Saqqara Pyramids.

The book starts off with a very violent act of terrorism, but this sets the stage for the story of Adel H. to unfold, who was tragically murdered in the rampage. When the company Adel was working for needed a guide for von Daniken’s group, Adel volunteered, despite von Daniken’s notoriety for asserting his own information. Adel had read von Daniken’s work and was eager to have the opportunity to speak with him, sparking a decade-long friendship.

Throughout their relationship, Adel shares tons of insider information, having come from a family of grave robbers, with von Daniken. Confession of an Egyptologist‘s  primary focus is on one particular experience that Adel had in the Saqqara Pyramids, which changed his life forever and reveals fascinating information about what might still be hidden beneath the pyramids.

Adel had claimed that his family knew of underground structures that dated back even further than we could comprehend – tens of thousands of years at least. This sparked von Daniken’s interest, as he had written about books written longer than 2,000 years ago hidden in underground labyrinths. His own knowledge, plus what Adel shared sparked von Daniken’s curiosity.

“And I could help but wonder under which deserts, settlements, or sanctuaries these labyrinths must be hidden. Where were these lost, underground worlds from distant times? Had they been excavated and then covered up again? If so, by whom? Had these long-forgotten structures become inaccessible due to natural disasters?

And where are the millions of books that were written in the distant past? Were they burned? Damaged? Deliberately destroyed? And if so, again, why? Is the little that we see today all that there is? Or do secret libraries exist, accessible only to hooded guards or members of obscured orders? Who actually had an interest in writing, hoarding, and then hiding books for millenia? Who wanted to make these books disappear again?”1

Suddenly, I became curious about these questions, right along with von Daniken, and this made me eager to continue reading. It is of von Daniken’s opinion that the Egyptians hid these books because they feared a flood. However, humanity has also proven to be just as destructive of knowledge, from Caesar trying to burn down the Great Library of Alexandria to Pope Gregory IX burning Jewish books in the Talmud burning. (For more on the topic of book burning, I highly recommend Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge by Richard Ovenden, which I’ve been reading this week too.)

As the different theories of why books would be hidden and where they might be, different theories come up between Adel and von Daniken based on their cumulative knowledge. One that was especially interesting was the concept of books being inscribed in precious stones hidden in the artwork on the underground walls. Von Daniken brought up the ancient text The Life of Adam and Eve, which describes how Adam learned how to communicate with a sapphire stone and learned all about astronomy and the earthly calendar.2 Adel had his own experience related to this:

“I saw a sculpture of the goddess Hathor carved into the wall in addition to the strange, tubular objects I described before. Between her eyes, in the middle of her forehead, was something like a precious stone. I clearly remember the indescribable awe I felt that prevented me from prying out the stone.”3

Is it possible that precious stones can communicate knowledge spanning millennia? If so, this would point to an advanced technology of the Egyptians, which might be hard to explain for some, but not for von Daniken. He asserts time is relative, and in both the past and present Earth has had visitors from the skies. Citing multiple witnesses of UFOs, von Dankien ultimately concludes the extraterrestrial intelligence that has come before is now present again on earth. 

To be honest, this felt like a stretch to me, but it was an intriguing concept nevertheless. I just wish it had been substantiated a little better than the assortment of testimonies von Daniken put together, leading to a kind of smorgasbord of ideas trying to pass as a credible theory. So while I wasn’t sold on the ultimately conclusion about alien life present on Earth, I did enjoy another focus of the book: the search for historical labyrinths and the experience Adel confided in von Daniken.

Before proceeding to discuss my thoughts on that content, it’s worth noting that the greatest flaw in the book is the lack of organization and skipping from one subject to the next without any clarity about how they are related. It feels like there could be some loose, easily broken thread connecting the different topics covered, but the book lacked a strong thesis, which made it hard for me to follow along with how one part of the book led to another. It felt like a mis-mash of information, which is often what makes me dubious of the veracity of the content.

As mentioned, the highlight of the book was Adel’s personal story of being stuck in the underground labyrinth of the Saqqara pyramids. While accompanying his father and uncle in a grave robbing expedition, he ended up getting stuck in the pyramid when a rock blocked his path back out.

Noticing a stairway that led downward led to mystical experience for him, filled with intimate relationships with a beautiful young woman and discovery of a mechanical throne, possibly linked to King Solomon’s. He was able to survive and escape with the help of a falcon that guided him to an exit. This is a quick summary, and his experience is recounted in much more detail by von Daniken, but it sounds incredible. It makes one wonder about what’s hidden in the unexplored tunnels underneath the pyramids.

Overall, I got some entertainment from reading Confessions of an Egyptologist. It was interesting to imagine the scenery and experiences of Adel, and I did learn some new information about Egypt from von Daniken. Just like many “conspiracy theory”-esque or outlandish ideas, the book has enough factual information to make it seem plausible, but it is simultaneously riddled with loopholes of confusion and inconsistency. So while I am not full subscribing to the tenets of the book, I am at least glad that I read it for consideration.

Egyptian Magick, by Mogg Morgan

Egyptian Magick: A Spirited Guide, by Mogg Morgan
Mandrake of Oxford, 1906958992, 432 pages, November 2020

The influence of ancient Egypt has remained strong in the imagination of Western magic through the Hebrew and Greek traditions and was popularized again in its revival during the Enlightenment. While this energy is still potent centuries later, it is often molded into the one-size-fits-all, easy-to-digest books that make this type of magickal practice easily accessible to the reader. This is wonderful for those who do not intend to delve into a full practice, but it often leaves those who seek to deepen their magick wanting. Cue Egyptian Magick: A Spirited Guide by Mogg Morgan, which is just the book for those who truly wish to expand their practice into a working system.

Morgan is both a practitioner and scholar of the occult. The level of detail described in Egyptian Magick duly reflects this combination, which clearly showcases the relationship between scholarship to inform practice and practice contextualizing scholarship. He has authored quite a few other titles, the most notable being Isis: Goddess of Egypt & India, Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt: Seth, Renpet & Moon Magick, The Ritual Year in Ancient Egypt: Lunar and Solar Calendars and Liturgy, and Seth & The Two Ways: Ways of Seeing the Demon God of Egypt. His area of focus is “the connections between the popular magick of ancient Egypt and its continuation/crossover with the living magical traditions of the middle East, and the Kaula/witchcraft of south Asia and beyond.”1

Egyptian Magick is Morgan’s compilation of the core ideas from his previous books all brought together to create one authoritative guide. And let me tell you, it is PACKED with information. I will admit, I was a bit intimidated when I began reading this book. With only a novice level of knowledge about Egyptian Magick, I instantly felt like I was in over my head. At first I did my best to find my footing in the book by dutifully going through it page by page, but quickly I realized I could jump around a bit within each chapter and slowly weave together the tapestry of information. This method helped me to not feel overwhelmed and discover my own method of working with the book rather than becoming inundated (and stuck!).

There are eight chapters in the book that are all filled with sub-sections and even more small headers with information. At times this can feel a bit choppy, but I also believe this style offers as much information as possible within the framework of the book. The book begins with an invocation and then delves into Heka & Hekau. This section really stands out because it describes all types of Egyptian magick: sleep magick, image magick, human sacrifice, funeral rites, and more! So often, scholarship wants to overlook these gruesome details within occult practices, but Morgan does not shy away from topics such as decapitation and reversals or cannibalism. It’s a bit gruesome, but at the same time enlightening, and almost liberating, to be able to delve into such taboo topics.

Reading on, Morgan expands on his reasoning for the basis for this work with contextual references to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Aliester Crowley. He writes, “I have come to believe that the real ‘Golden Dawn’ is an experience rather than an organization.”2. He then encourages the reader to “try to put aside what you know and approach the surviving records of ancient Egyptian magick with a fresh mind.”3 This sentiment really stuck with me, as many of the techniques and practices I’ve learned thus far have stemmed from the Golden Dawn. Some of the fascinating topics that resonated with me most were the correspondences of Greek vowels with elements, secret languages of magicians, the relationship between sigils and hieroglyphs, Egyptian numerology, and an impressive array of seals.

Chapter four, “The Temple of Imaginarium,” was probably my favorite in the entire book. Ever since I learned about this mind-mapping technique in Masonic Magician by Philipa Faulks and Robert L.D. Cooper, I’ve been fascinated but haven’t been able to learn more. Morgan explains it well in writing:

“What else is a temple but a representation, in material, of the cosmology of the people who built it? The temple represents the archeology of gnosis, the sequences of a journal through the temple represent the initiatory journey to the ‘holy mountain’.4 It can be an imaginarium or House of all Possibilities, a theatre in which to locate one’s magick.”5

Morgan offers a guided visualization to move through this temple to discover your own magical potency. You gain the ability to move through and access the energy of Egyptian deities, performing the role of a priest. I’ve only tried this once, but found it quite impactful. I plan on familiarizing myself with this exercise when I have time to truly dedicate to experimenting with the technique.

The following chapters detail the rites of initiation, lead the reader through the underworld, and then go into the longest chapter about the ritual year of the Egyptians. These chapters are the real key to opening oneself into this working system of Egyptian Magick. The rituals can be performed at the start of each month and help to orient the practitioner to the time of year and energy available. Since I prefer attuning to the spirit of the place where I physically am, I haven’t tried any of the rituals. However, for a reader who wishes to fully work this system, everything that is needed is within this chapter.

What strikes me the most about Egyptian Magick is the level of insight that Morgan has accumulated. I would guess this isn’t his last book, but in many ways it feels like a magnum opus. Without hesitancy, Morgan clearly elucidated occult practices with objectivity, reverence, and awe. The book is clearly shaped by Morgan’s unique perception, but in no way does it feel contrived to push a practice. Rather, it clearly lays it all out for the reader, from the taboo to the mundane aspects of this work, and offers an all-encompassing guide to Egyptian magick.

Overall, Egyptian Magick is a trustworthy source for expanding one’s knowledge of the Egyptian occult and how this magick can be practiced today. It beautifully blends scholarship with experience to offer a compendium of information. I hesitate to recommend it to a novice practitioner, but I do believe that is a must-have for anyone working with Egyptian deities or is interested in learning more about Egyptian practices. Within these pages is a year-round system of Egyptian magick that utilizes techniques that have amply survived the test of time.

As Morgan writes, “Ideally this becomes part of a practical theology by which the practitioner becomes, through ‘dynamic resonance’ the image of the gods or divine forces he or she emulates.”6 I feel putting this book into effect could absolutely achieve these results. It certainly is not for everyone, but Egyptian Magick is a reliable resource for those who are ready to take their practices to the next level.

Ancient Egyptian Magic for Modern Witches, by Ellen Canon Reed

Ancient Egyptian Magic for Modern Witches: Rituals, Meditations & Magical Tools, by Ellen Canon Reed
Weiser Books, 1578637379, 288 pages, February 2021

..In Wicca, our approach to magic is usually through the Gods. Having done all we are capable of doing on this plane, we turn to magic, and will often ask for the help, guidance, and blessing of specific deities….Egyptian legend says that Ra invented magic. The Gods were too busy to do everything, so Ra gave humankind magical powers, heka, so that we would be able to handle the unseen world ourselves.1

The writings of author, Ellen Canon Reed (1943-2003), have been widely accepted and long used as foundational points of reference within the Craft and practice of Wicca. Her teachings have been noted as holding true to the philosophical approach of the Witch as well as serving as a foundational path towards increasing one’s knowledge beyond the basics of witchcraft, including the Qabalah, Egyptian Magic and more. During her lifetime she was considered to be one of prominent resources regarding the Craft and even after her death her books are used widely within the pagan community.  

Her book Ancient Egyptian Magic for Modern Witches: Rituals, Meditations & Magical Tools fills all of the check boxes in creating a read that is both informative and able to be used in practical application. Although it is not as robust as some of the many titles we are finding in more abundance about the spiritual practices and religious philosophies of ancient Egypt, it is true to and in keeping with informing a Wiccan practice. This is one of the things that set this book apart from the others in offering a “way” to the Egyptian deities that is compatible with any system you are already employing, especially that of the  witch.

Something the reader will encounter throughout is the use of the term “Tamerans” in place of Ancient Egyptian. This serves both a pragmatic approach for the author and offers an alternative to the readily used term of Khemtic that we often encounter around writings of Ancient Egyptian magic. And, I believe the statement below illustrates Reed’s very simple and authentic approach in a desire to share the knowledge and offer a point of path for any who seek the wisdom…

…I discovered very early in writing this book that typing “ancient Egyptians” became tedious. If it’s tedious to write, it might well be tedious to read. Here’s how I solved the problem. An ancient name for Egypt was Tamera, which means “Beloved Land”… I will refer to ancient Egypt as Tamera and to its inhabitants as Tameran.2

This book lives up to its title in content. Reed provides the reader with enough information to begin the journey of spiritual connection for more than two dozen Egyptian Deities, and in doing so also expands the baseline of the more traditional gods/goddesses that are more prominently served. At 288 pages there is not nearly enough space to even scratch the surface of the cosmic view embedded in all of ancient Egyptian life, but the structure of the book lends itself well to a satisfying sampling of ways to engage in the profound energies of this pantheon, its culture, and its magic

Ancient Egyptian Magic for Modern Witches is separated into three parts, beginning with an introduction to the deities that can be called upon. Part 1: Gods and Goddesses of Egypt begins with one of the most well-known goddesses, Nut…

…The ancients portrayed Her stretched across the heavens with her feet to the East and her head to the West. The stars, they said, were jewels on her body, and the Milky Way was milk from her breasts.3

The hieroglyph representing the deity being discussed graces the top of the page and some basic information about the energy offered by that deity follows. I appreciated the image of the hieroglyph(s) because it lent an additional layer of use for connecting with that deity utilizing the strongly visual nature that humans inherently have.

Reed engages the reader with an easily recognizable portrayal of these larger than life deities through the use of personal examples of interaction or the experience of their calling as part of her coven’s ritual workings. This approach is used throughout the book and is a style common to the writings of Reed. She was able to encourage her readers to approach Wicca and the practice of a Witch without fear and/or the need for distancing oneself from the honoring of the divine beings that are our co-creators of this spiritual path. The final section of Part 1: Gods and Goddesses of Egypt provides the reader with an additional snapshot of forty-plus lesser-known Egyptian deities, their hieroglyphs, and just enough information to prompt further exploration.

I especially enjoyed Part II: Meditations, Rituals, and Developing Relationships with Deities. The primary focus of this section is one of practical experience as a tool towards bringing these deities into your life in a meaningful and deeply connected way. Reed states…

…We’ve used these techniques individually and as a group. Those who were involved-students, friends, other covens-almost invariably gained something more than knowledge of the Gods. They gained a relationship with Them. To us, these Gods are not abstract ideas or energies. They are not distant unreachable energies. To us, They are known, and loved…greatly loved.4

This statement sets the tone for what follows as a gift of meditations, mantras, rituals, recipes for food, incense and oils, and songs with lyrics and musical score. Each of these components has been tested for efficacy by Reed’s coven, Sothistar; and its members crafted many of the recipes for incense, food, and drink. I really enjoyed the ritual “Celebration of the Birthdays of the Gods” shared that Reed’s coven enacted annually….

…. For many years Sothistar held a “Birthday of the God/dess” party , to celebrate the birth of the five Egyptian Deities (Asar, Aset, Heru, Nebet Het, Set). … These celebrations were held on the Saturday or Sunday that fell within the five days preceding July 19th, the date of the rising of Sirius.5

Part III: Magic and Magical Tools wraps everything up nicely with suggestions and instructions for creating amulets, pillows, creating a sistrum (the sacred instrument of Hathor), and more. There is a section with images of various basic hieroglyphs that can be inscribed for magical workings, another dedicated to some unique ways of using Divination with the overlay of Egyptian magic, and one about Reed’s process of trial and error. This seems a fitting way to conclude the journey that began with introduction to the Deities you would be working with, putting into more practical use the relationship that developed.

The Appendices add to the resources provided in Ancient Egyptian Magic for Modern Witches. Appendix A: Tameran Names is a wonderful addition of recommendation for those wishing to take a magical name that is in keeping with the Tameran language and meanings. We are told that Appendix B: The Calendar is a reflection of information found on the Cairo Papyrus regarding the various dates observed by the Egyptians. This resource is not one that is usually included in other books and provided another layer to be used in deepening our connection to the Ancient Egyptians. The calendar spoke to each day of the year and the trials or joys, festivals of the gods and more… 

…The Tamerans had a calendar of twelve 30-day months, with five “extra” days called the epagogemental days occurring right before the New Year.  The year began the first day Sirius (Sothis) rose at dawn after the rising of the Nile. This took place approximately July 19 on our present day calendar.6

The Glossary at the end of the book and the Bibliography provided serve as additional reference tools and opportunities to explore other writings related to the Ancient Egyptians. 

Ancient Egyptian Magic for Modern Witches is definitely a title worth reading whether you are committed to a path aligned with Egyptian magic or another. In fact, this book is a reminder that many of the religious and spiritual practices of the Egyptians are those that were adapted and refined to mold more easily to the cultures in which they were introduced. By gaining an understanding of these older deities and practices of the Ancient Egyptians, we gain a deeper understanding of those that have followed as Celtic, Greek, and others.