October 26, 2020
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The Place of Amoun in Egyptian Mythology

Amun (also Amon, Amen, Greek Ἄμμων Ámmōn, Ἅμμων Hámmōn) was a local deity of Thebes. He was attested since the Old Kingdom (c. 2686 BC–c. 2181 BC) together with his spouse Amaunet. Amun and Amaunet are mentioned in the Old Egyptian pyramid texts. [4] Amun and Amaunet formed one quarter of the ancient Ogdoad of Hermopolis, representing the primordial concept or element of air or invisibility (corresponding to Shu in the Ennead), hence Amun’s later function as a wind deity, and the name Amun (written imn, pronounced Amana in ancient Egyptian [5]), meaning “hidden.” [6] It was thought that Amun created himself and then his surroundings. Amun rose to the position of tutelary deity of Thebes after the end of the First Intermediate Period,[7]  under the 11th dynasty. [8] As the patron of Thebes, his spouse was Mut. In Thebes, Amun as father, Mut as mother and the Moon god Khonsu formed a divine family or “Theban Triad”. With the 11th dynasty (c. 21st century BC), he rose to the position of patron deity of Thebes by replacing Monthu.  After the rebellion of Thebes against the Hyksos and with the rule of Ahmose I, Amun acquired national importance, expressed in his fusion with the Sun god, Ra, as Amun-Ra.   Amun-Ra retained chief importance in the Egyptian pantheon throughout the New Kingdom (with the exception of the “Atenist heresy” under Akhenaten). Amun-Ra in this period (16th to 11th centuries BC) held the position of transcendental, self-created [9] creator deity “par excellence”, he was the champion of the poor or troubled and central to personal piety. [10] His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods fbecame manifestations of him. In the New Kingdom, the strength of his position as King of Gods was such that he became successively identified with all other Egyptian deities, to the point of virtual monotheism (which was then attacked by means of the “counter-monotheism” of Atenism). Primarily, the god of wind Amun came to be identified with the solar god Ra and the god of fertility and creation Min, so that Amun-Ra had the main characteristic of a solar god, creator god and fertility god. He also adopted the aspect of the ram from the Nubian solar god, besides numerous other titles and aspects. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods. [11] As the chief deity of the Egyptian Empire, Amun-Ra also came to be worshipped outside of Egypt, in Ancient Libya and Nubia, and as Zeus Ammon came to be identified with Zeus in Ancient Greece. In the 10th century BC, the overwhelming dominance of Amun over all of Egypt gradually began to decline. In Thebes, however, his worship continued unabated, especially under the Nubian Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt, as Amun was by now seen as a national god in Nubia. The Temple of Amun, Jebel Barkal, founded during the New Kingdom, came to be the center of the religious ideology of the Kingdom of Kush. The Victory Stele of Piye at Gebel Barkal (8th century BC) now distinguishes between an “Amun of Napata” and an “Amun of Thebes”. Tantamani (who died in 653 BC), the last pharaoh of the Nubian dynasty, still bore a theophoric name referring to Amun in the Nubian form Amani.  Amun is mentioned as a deity in the Hebrew Bible, and in the Nevi’im (the second main division of the Hebrew Bible ), texts presumably written in the 7th century BC, the name נא אמון No Amown occurs twice in reference to Thebes, by the KJV rendered just as No:

Jeremiah 46:25:25 The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, said: “Behold, I am bringing punishment upon Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh and Egypt and her gods and her kings, upon Pharaoh and those who trust in him.English Standard Version:

Nahum 3:8 “Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?”

Such was its reputation among the Classical Greeks that Alexander the Great journeyed there after the battle of Issus and during his occupation of Egypt, where he was declared “the son of Amun” by the oracle. Alexander thereafter considered himself divine. Even during this occupation, Amun, identified by these Greeks as a form of Zeus, [12] continued to be the principal local deity of Thebes.  Several words derive from Amun via the Greek form, Ammon, such as ammonia and ammonite. The Romans called the ammonium chloride they collected from deposits near the Temple of Jupiter Amun in ancient Libya sal ammoniacus (salt of Amun) because of proximity to the nearby temple. Ammonia, as well as being the chemical, is a genus name in the foraminifera. Both these foraminiferans (shelled Protozoa) and ammonites (extinct shelled cephalopods) bear spiral shells resembling a ram’s, and Ammon’s, horns. The regions of the hippocampus in the brain are called the cornu ammonis – literally “Amun’s Horns”, due to the horned appearance of the dark and light bands of cellular layers.  In Paradise Lost, Milton identifies Ammon with the biblical Ham (Cham) and states that the gentiles called him the Libyan Jove.

The Cult of Amoun

The history of Amun as the patron god of Thebes begins in the 20th century BC, with the construction of the Precinct of Amun-Re at Karnak under Senusret I. The city of Thebes does not appear to have been of great significance before the 11th dynasty.  Major construction work in the Precinct of Amun-Re took place during the 18th dynasty when Thebes became the capital of the unified Ancient Egypt. Construction of the Hypostyle Hall may have also began during the 18th dynasty, though most building was undertaken under Seti I and Ramesses II. Merenptah commemorated his victories over the Sea Peoples on the walls of the Cachette Court, the start of the processional route to the Luxor Temple. This Great Inscription (which has now lost about a third of its content) shows the king’s campaigns and eventual return with booty and prisoners. Next to this inscription is the Victory Stela, which is largely a copy of the more famous Israel Stela found in the West Bank funerary complex of Merenptah.  Merenptah’s son Seti II added 2 small obelisks in front of the Second Pylon, and a triple bark-shrine to the north of the processional avenue in the same area. This was constructed of sandstone, with a chapel to Amun flanked by those of Mut and Khonsu. The last major change to the Precinct of Amun-Re’s layout was the addition of the first pylon and the massive enclosure walls that surrounded the whole Precinct, both constructed by Nectanebo I.   In areas outside of Egypt where the Egyptians had previously brought the cult of Amun his worship continued into Classical Antiquity. In Nubia, where his name was pronounced Amane or Amani, he remained a national deity, with his priests, at Meroe and Nobatia, [13] regulating the whole government of the country via an oracle, choosing the ruler, and directing military expeditions. According to Diodorus Siculus, these religious leaders even were able to compel kings to commit suicide, although this tradition stopped when Arkamane, in the 3rd century BC, slew them.   In Libya there remained a solitary oracle of Amun in the Libyan Desert at the oasis of Siwa. [14] The worship of Ammon was introduced into Greece at an early period, probably through the medium of the Greek colony in Cyrene, which must have formed a connection with the great oracle of Ammon in the Oasis soon after its establishment. Iarbas, a mythological king of Libya, was also considered a son of Hammon.   Ammon had a temple and a statue, the gift of Pindar (d. 443 BC), at Thebes, [15] and another at Sparta, the inhabitants of which, as Pausanias says, [16] consulted the oracle of Ammon in Libya from early times more than the other Greeks. At Aphytis, Chalcidice, Ammon was worshipped, from the time of Lysander (d. 395 BC), as zealously as in Ammonium. Pindar the poet honoured the god with a hymn. At Megalopolis the god was represented with the head of a ram, [17] and the Greeks of Cyrenaica dedicated at Delphi a chariot with a statue of Ammon.

 The Priesthood of Amoun

The High Priest of Amun or First Prophet of Amun (hem netjer en tepy) was the highest-ranking priest in the priesthood of the Ancient Egyptian god Amun. [18] The first high priests of Amun appear in the New Kingdom (1550 BC – c. 1077), at the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty (1543–1292 BC).  The priesthood of Amun rose in power during the early Eighteenth dynasty through significant tributes to the god Amun by ruler such as Hatshepsut and more importantly Thutmose III. [19] The Amun priesthood in Thebes had four high-ranking priests: [20]

  1. The high priest of Amun at Karnak (hm netjer tepy en Amun), also referred to as the first prophet of Amun.
  2. The second priest of Amun at Karnak (hm netjer sen-nu en Amun), also referred to as the second prophet of Amun.
  3. The third priest of Amun at Karnak (hm netjer khemet-nu en Amun), also referred to as the third prophet of Amun.
  4. The fourth priest of Amun at Karnak (hm netjer fed-nu en Amun), also referred to as the fourth prophet of Amun.

The power of the Amun priesthood was temporarily curtailed during the Amarna period. A high priest named Maya is recorded in year 4 of Akhenaten. Akhenaten has the name of Amun removed from monuments during his reign (as well as the names of several other deities). When Akhenaten died, the priests of Amun-Ra reasserted themselves. His name was struck from Egyptian records, all of his religious and governmental changes were undone, and the capital was returned to Thebes. The return to the previous capital and its patron deity was accomplished so swiftly that it seemed this almost monotheistic cult and its governmental reforms had never existed. Worship of Aten ceased and the worship of Amun-Ra was restored to his place of prominence among the cults in Egypt. The priests of Amun even persuaded his young son, Tutankhaten, whose name meant “the living image of Aten”—and who later would become a pharaoh—to change his name to Tutankhamun, “the living image of Amun”.

The young pharaoh Tutankhaten changes his name to Tutankhamen to signal the restoration of the old god to his former place of prominence. [21]  The High Priest of Amun in Thebes was appointed by the King. It was not uncommon for the position to be held by dignitaries who held additional posts in the pharaoh’s administration. Several of the high priests from the time of Ramesses II also served as Vizier. [22]

Tree of Life Attribution

Anoun is also an attribution fro Chokmah according to Crowley’s classification. [1]  The aspect of him taht Crowley put emphasis on for this attribution is “Amoun as the Creative Chiah.” [2] The Chiah is our True Will. It is the Creative and Inquisitive Inner Impulse from the Divine which causes us to reach outside and inside of ourselves to become better than we are. It makes us try harder to want to do the best and do better than we have done before. [3]

The Egyptian deity correspondence for Chesed is Amoun (Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 47; Aleister Crowley, 777, p. 6)

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[1] Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of Aleister Crowley, p. 6.
[2] Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writtings of Aleister Crowley, p. 81.
[3] Donald Michael Kraig, Modern Magick, p.?
[4] Die Altaegyptischen Pyramidentexte nach den Papierabdrucken und Photographien des Berliner Museums (1908), no 446.
[5] Douglas J. Brewer, Emily Teeter, Egypt and the Egyptians, Cambridge University Press, p. 123.
[6] Stewert, Desmond and editors of the Newsweek Book Division “The Pyramids and Sphinx” 1971 pp. 60–62.
[7] The First Intermediate Period, often described as a “dark period” in ancient Egyptian history, spanned approximately one hundred years, from ca. 2181–2055 BC, after the end of the Old Kingdom. It included the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and part of the eleventh dynasties.
[8] The Eleventh Dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty XI) is a well attested group of rulers, whose earlier members before Mentuhotep II are grouped with the four preceding dynasties to form the First Intermediate Period, while the later members are considered part of the Middle Kingdom. They all ruled from Thebes.
[9] Michael Brennan Dick, Born in heaven, made on earth: the making of the cult image in the ancient Near East, Eisenbrauns, 1999, p. 184 (fn. 80)
[10] Vincent Arieh Tobin, Oxford Guide: The Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, Edited by Donald B. Redford, p. 20, Berkley books
[11] Vincent Arieh Tobin, Oxford Guide: The Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, Edited by Donald B. Redford, p. 20, Berkley books
[12] Jerem. xlvi.25
[13] Herodotus, The Histories ii.29
[14] Pausanias, Description of Greece x.13 § 3
[15] Pausanias, Description of Greece ix.16 § 1
[16] Pausanias, Description of Greece iii.18 § 2
[17] Pausanias. viii.32 § 1.
[18] See Dodson and Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, London 2004
[19] Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. 2: The Eighteenth Dynasty.
[20] Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. 2: The Eighteenth Dynasty
[21] Aldred, Akhenaten: King of Egypt, Thames & Hudson (1991)
[22] Kitchen, Rammeside Inscriptions, Translated & Annotated, Translations, Volume III, Blackwell Publishers, 199

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