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The Akh


The above figure and the following text is from Lucy Lamy, Amazon com Egyptian Mysteries; p.26 (Thames & Hudson, Art and Imagination Series).  I have added my comments.

The word akh, first of all, is written with a glyph showing a crested ibis, Ibis comata. This bird - the name of which was also "akh - lived in the southern part of the Arabian side of the Red Sea and migrated to Abyssinia during winter. Both these places are near the regions from which sacred incense came, and were called the 'Divine Land'. The bird's crest, together with its dark green plumage shot with glittering metallic specks, justifies the meanings 'to shine', 'to be resplendent', 'to irradiate', of the root akh in the hieroglyphic writing."

Consider also the late Hellenistic and Neoplatonic term Augeoides, which likewise means to shine or to be radiant.  This was associated by the later Neoplatonists with what Theosophists would call the "causal body", the immortal vehicle of the Divine Soul.  There is a connection also with the concept of the Higher Self or "Man of Light"; and in Tantric thought also the Jivatman or Soul is said to dwell in the Anahata (Heart) Chakra in the form of a flame.

"Akh indeed expresses all notions of light, both literally and figuratively, from the Light which comes forth from Darkness to the transcendental light of transfiguration. It is also used to designate the 'third eye', the uraeus, related in the old tradition to the pineal body and to the spirit."

A quote attributed to Jesus goes something like this "if your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light."  Theosophists and other esoteric writers generally see this as a reference to the third eye or ajna chakra.

"In the cosmogonic myths, akh appears as the aspect of spirit which conceives in advance what the object of the creation will be, a notion comparable to Plato's Ideas.

Akh pre-exists the Creation, and it is also its final goal.  When, in a Funerary text, the king is addressed in the other world with the words "You are more akh than the akhw" ["w" is plural in Egyptian], we should understand that pure spirit, after it has descended and incarnated in matter in order to become conscious in that condition, returns to the "pre-existent akhw" enriched, with knowledge of itself and of all manifestation. Light is thus transfigured. Thus it is written that "the king returns to the right hand of his father" (Pyramid Texts, 267-268)."

(which would seem to be where the Christians got their idea of Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father...)

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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 21 January 2000, last modified 10 October 2005