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    Goodness! Did I ever learn a lot from this book! It is not an easy read, but I like challenges such as this (between the easy reads), because even the materials I don't understand completely or immediately will work on me for a long time afterwards. I can't tell you how many times I've thought about a book I had read several years back, and realized how much it broadened my knowledge, even if I didn't know it at the time. This one has already begun to work on me, and I've done some research on some information I didn't understand, or wanted to know more. I will do this review a bit differently than I usually do, and present facts that I discovered in its reading, along with those that confused me.
     J. Norman Lockyer was born in Rugby, Warwickshire, England in 1836 and died in 1920, living a long and extremely productive life. He is best known for his founding of the British periodical, Nature, and, along with French astronomer Pierre Janssen, the discovery of helium. This present book, and I would imagine most of his numerous others, was written for those with a knowledge of the subject—especially those in the profession of astronomy. Though I took my time reading this volume, pondering information I did not understand, there were still certain aspects of the subject that I couldn't wrap my mind around. Other facts I understood in theory, but if I had to verbalize them, I would not be able to do that. Yet. I suspect that it is that body of material that will mature in my mind, and I will find, at some point, that I actually CAN verbalize it.
    There was also a great deal of enjoyable reading here—fascinating in fact, so I do not want anyone to think it was 424 pages of struggle and misery! Far from it. I have an immense interest in Egyptian mythology and history, and over the years have obtained a broad general body of knowledge in that area. That is helpful if you wish to read this book. The area I found truly lacking in my mental library was on the astronomical perspective, which I need to change. The Wikipedia page does not supply a great amount of information on this great man, but does supply a listing of his books. However, the links do not take the reader to another Wikipedia page for further information, but they do link to online versions that anyone can read, or download onto their reading device, and that is good. I would like to read more of his materials. Project Gutenberg also has several of his works available, including this one.
    One comment I must make is that we here in this century perhaps have a bit more knowledge about the level of advancement of the Egyptians, and even more ancient civilizations, so Lockyer may have underestimated them. But he also gave them great credit for their discoveries of astronomical phenomena, though they may not have understood it as we do. Then again, there are many of us who believe these ancient civilizations were, in fact, more advanced than we are, especially when you factor in the possibility (or probability) of alien influence. That was just an observation of mine, but doesn't affect most of what Lockyer has stated. In fact, I am impressed at the immense knowledge he had back in 1894, when the book was written.
    So, what's it all about, anyways? Lockyer's purpose here was to launch an intense and finely detailed investigation of the ancient temples of Egypt to discover their purpose, their connection to the gods and goddesses, and their connection to their observation of the sky and its celestial bodies. Each chapter, it seemed, became more finely focused in details, so in other words, Lockyer took his theme and reworked it through 424 pages. Yes, there was repetition (which I needed to help me sort it all out), but each repetition focused on new facts and discoveries. He obviously was a brilliant man, and it appears that he spoke a number of languages and assumed his readers did also. That would be French, German, Greek, and a bit of Latin. His use of Greek letters was confusing, (mixed with English!) even though I do know Greek letters, and bits and pieces of French, German and Latin. Still, translations would have helped. But that's a minor complaint.
    And, though the book is brimming with illustrations, I do wish he would have included a map of the places he investigated. Most of these cities have been renamed. My old atlas from the 1960s was a bit helpful. Memphis was the ancient name for Cairo. I did not know that. The other point that I did know, but I found so extremely confusing concerns directions, and a labeled map would have made it so much easier, but of course, the people he was writing for would not have been confused. UP the Nile means moving south. Upper Egypt is toward continental Africa—south—while DOWN the Nile moves north, where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea, so LOWER Egypt is above UPPER Egypt on a map. I finally had to draw myself a diagram because it was driving me crazy. DOWN the Mississippi moves south. The Nile is the opposite of what one would expect. And this was a very big deal in this book, because, as Lockyer uncovered more data, it appeared more likely that Egypt was comprised of at least two different races with two different philosophies. I actually did know that, sort of. Thebes, which was that halfway point on the Nile in Egypt was a general cut-off point, associated with southern culture.
    He also makes some brief comments on other ancient people, such as the Asian Indians, Babylonians and Chinese, comparing their temples and philosophies. The very last chapter is about Egyptian influence on Greek architecture.
    In order to keep this review from potentially turning into a book itself, I will limit myself. Here are some of the points Lockyer makes and expands upon. Through his investigations of the temples, we learn that they were not just for worship, but to create a calendar. As I did know, many of these ancient myths were based on agriculture (Greek and Roman, too). At least our understanding of them, because, of course, successful agriculture was crucial to the survival of all races. (We've lost touch with that bit, haven't we? We will be forced to remember it soon.) The big deal in Egypt was the flooding of the Nile, and though that sounds catastrophic, it was actually an exhilaration, because the land was parched by the "sand wind of fifty days duration," called the hamseen. The rising of the Nile signaled not only an end, but the guarantee that fertile soil would be deposited on the farmlands. OK, so now we get to some fascinating facts. When the temples were built, they were devised so that for one brief moment, the first ray of sunrise, or last ray of sunset, or, even more common, was starlight—a star which heralded the rising sun, so the priests would know the exact moment to make the sacrifice, came through an immensely accurate path built into the temple in its planning. Wow, that sentence needs to be expanded!
    First, the idea that starlight would impact the earth was incomprehensible to me. Of course, I see stars up in the sky, but I can never, ever remember starlight actually hitting the ground. Moonlight, yes, but of course that is really reflected sunlight. Is it because of all the toxic shit in the skies now? Even as a child, I cannot remember actually seeing a ray of starlight. I have no horizon here, and by the time I see the stars, they're way up in the sky. Plus, I would imagine living near the equator would make a difference. That one really boggled my mind, but nevertheless, starlight did hit the ground bright enough to light up this tiny path in the interior of these temples, built for that one yearly event. I found all this beyond amazing.
    Lockyer spent a great amount of time on the Egyptian calendars, which eventually became the one still in use now, and I have to admit, that was some of the most confusing material. But, depending on the city's location on the Nile, and their needs, which would influence their myths, "New Year's Day" would have begun at the exact moment the first ray of sun was seen above the horizon on the summer solstice, which was the beginning of the flood season. From there, the optimal planting times and harvest times were derived, and these were very exact, because everybody's lives depended on accuracy.
    Lockyer also spends numerous chapters on different stars which became gods because they heralded sunrise. Heliacal stars rose with the sun, so could not be seen. It was those that rose just prior that were useful. Lockyer also goes into great detail about the movement of the celestial bodies, and, again, this is stuff I knew happened, but did not really ever think about how or why. We know planet earth orbits, tilted, around the sun, thus providing the seasons and also spins, providing the days and nights. Again, I knew this but never really thought about the rising and setting stars, and those that never rise or set, such as what we now call the Big Dipper, Ursa Major, or the North Star. But the sun, in fact our entire solar system, orbits around the center of the Milky Way, and that is the roughly 25,000 year cycle in which we travel through all twelve zodiac constellations, thus putting us now into the Age of Aquarius. It is called the "precession of the stars." Yep, stars move and that I didn't know, or think about in any case, but everything in the universe is moving, isn't it? So therefore, I REALLY was not aware that the Big Dipper/North Star was not always at the North Pole. In fact, at one time, it too, was used as a rising star herald. And even more fascinating, is that someday, it will rise and set again. Lockyer goes WAY back in time, and it was 5000 BCE that Ursa Major was a rising, setting star. And incidentally, these temples were used and rebuilt and altered over thousands of years. Of course, they would have had to be because the star to which they were geared would no longer be usable. Thus, the gods had to change a bit, too, but they also changed for political reasons. People have always created their gods to suit their needs, you know, then and now.
    And speaking of politics, this did not surprise me, having read one of my favorite books, The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt a number of years ago. The priests really held the power, to the point of making new kings sign an agreement to not change certain rules. Hmm. Of course, the priests were the most educated, and that was true for thousands of years, into the Christian era. They knew these gods were fake, and so were the sacrificial ceremonies, often elaborated upon by a fraudulent appearance of a, for instance, sun-god, lit up at the special moment and dramatized by hidden priests with mirrors. The whole temple worship thing, perhaps, was more utilitarian than religious. At least for the priests.
    In any case, we become quite familiar with gods and temples and stars throughout the entire book (though still often confused!) because we keep returning to them, over and over and over, each time from a different perspective, or with emphasis put on a new aspect. Therefore, with this review, I will keep it general.
    As would be expected, I took volumes of notes, but amazingly, what I have typed above came quickly and without the use of my notes, so I guess I absorbed quite a bit. At this point, however, I will use my notes in order to find particular points to quote. I will begin with a quote of a quote. One of the problems here is that Lockyer assumes we know who all these people are that he quotes, and, though the book includes an index, it does not include sources. This quote is from a man named Osborn who travelled on the Nile and wrote a book called Monumental Egypt, but I cannot find it in a search. It would be an interesting read. This quote describes the terrible time before the rise/flood of the Nile.

   "The Nile has shrunk within its banks until its stream is contracted to half its ordinary dimensions, and its turbid, slimy, stagnant waters scarcely seem to flow in any direction. Broad flats or steep banks of black, sun-baked Nile mud, form both the shores of the river. All beyond them is sand and sterility; for the hamseen, or sand-wind of fifty days' duration, has scarcely yet ceased to blow. The trunks and branches of trees may be seen here and there through the dusty, hazy, burning atmosphere, but so entirely are their leaves coated with dust that at a distance they are not distinguishable from the desert sand that surrounds them. It is only by the most painful and laborious operation of watering that any tint approximating to greenness can be preserved at this season even in the pleasure-gardens of the Pacha. The first symptom of the termination of this most terrible season is the rising of the north wind (the Etesian wind of the Greeks), blowing briskly, often fiercely, during the whole of the day. The foliage of the groves that cover Lower Egypt is soon disencumbered by it of the dust, and resumes its verdure. The fierce fervours of the sun, then at its highest ascension, are also most seasonably mitigated by the same powerful agency, which prevails for this and the three following months throughout the entire land of Egypt."

    Lockyer spent a great deal of time on the different calendars in use as the Egyptians, mostly the priests were attempting to establish one that worked. Of course we know that the years is not a set number of days, which is why we have a "leap year" every four years. I have to admit that this section truly went over my head, though I got the gist of what he was saying. But the interesting thing here is how much power these priests had, and I will say more about that in a bit. Here is another quote.

   The variations between the fixed and the vague years were known perhaps for many centuries to the priests alone. They would not allow the established year of 365 days, since called the vague year, to be altered, and so strongly did they feel on this point that, as already stated, every king had to swear when he was crowned that he would not alter the year. We can surmise why this was. It gave great power to the priests; they alone could tell on what particular day of what particular month the Nile would rise in each year, because they alone knew in what part of the cycle they were; and, in order to get that knowledge, they had simply to continue going every year into their Holy of Holies one day in the year, as the priests did afterwards in Jerusalem, and watch the little patch of bright sunlight coming into the sanctuary. That would tell them exactly the relation of the true solar solstice to their year; and the exact date of the inundation of the Nile could be predicted by those who could determine observationally the solstice, but by no others.

    Lockyer also mentions the discrepancies between different countries and the methods they used to determine time. Some used a lunar calendar. Their unit of time was a month, rather than a year. I am wondering if that's why people in the Bible were said to live hundreds of years.

   An interesting point connected with this is that, among these ancient peoples, the celestial bodies which gave them the unit period of time by which they reckoned were practically looked upon in the same category. Thus, for instance, in Egypt the sun being used, the unit of time was a year; but in Babylonia the unit of time was a month, for the reason that the standard of time was the moon. Hence, when periods of time were in question, it was quite easy for one nation to conceive that the period of time used in another was a year when really it was a month, and vice versa. It has been suggested that the years of Methuselah and other persons who are stated to have lived a considerable number of years were not solar years but lunar years—that is, properly, lunar months. This is reasonable, since, if we divide the numbers by twelve, we find that they come out very much the same length as lives are in the present day, and there is no reason why this should not be so.

    Now let us return to those priests, because I noticed a similarity between them and the Controllers of this planet. Keep 'em in the dark. Figuratively and literally. And I'm not going to get into the beliefs many of us have now, concerning aliens and ancient Egypt being an extremely advanced civilization, but, just like we have here on this planet during this plandemic, people who blindly believe and do what they are told, so did the people of ancient Egypt. Of course, the regular people of Egypt were not in on the "secrets" as we also are not in on them today. To them, when the sun went down, they lived in fear that it wouldn't come back again and their lives were truly in the dark. Therefore, one could understand why they worshipped the sun. It was the whole basis of their lives.
    But most likely the priests knew better, and what better way to control not only the population, but even the kings, as we read above. Here is another quote concerning ceremonies in the temples which were completely dark and closed off, and in fact only entered once a year in many cases. This next one also contains a quote within a quote.

   In the quotation the apparatus of doors is referred to, and it is not difficult to understand that by a particular arrangement of them it would be easily possible to allow the hash which lighted up the image of the god to be of very brief duration. Remember that the sanctuary was dark, that the king stood with his back to the pylon (and therefore to the sun). Under these circumstances, to an excited imagination it would be the god himself and not his image which appeared. Maspero adduces much evidence to show that the priests were not above pious frauds even in the worship connected with the Holy of Holies:—

     The shrines [in the sanctuary] are little chapels of wood or stone, in which the spirit of the deity was supposed at all times to dwell, and which on ceremonial occasions contained his image. The sacred barks were built after the model of the Bari, or boat in which the sun performed his daily course. The shrine was placed amidships of the boat and covered with a veil or curtain, to conceal its contents from all spectators . . . . We have not as yet discovered any of the statues employed in the ceremonial, but we know what they were like, what part they played, and of what materials they were made. They were animated . . . . They spoke, moved, acted—not metaphorically, but actually . . . . Interminable avenues of sphinxes, gigantic obelisks, massive pylons, halls of a hundred columns, mysterious chambers of perpetual night—in a word, the whole Egyptian Temple and its dependencies were built by way of a hiding-place for a performing puppet, of which the wires were worked by a priest."

    Even we today, well, some of us, have very strong feelings concerning Light and Darkness, and this discomfort with the dark went way back to ancient times. And darkness often IS the work of an enemy. Here's Lockyer's explanation.

   There was to all early peoples all the difference in the world, of course, between day and night, while we, with our firm knowledge, closely associate them. There was no artificial illumination such as we have, and the dark night did not so much typify rest as death; so that the coming of the glorious morning of tropical or sub-tropical climates seemed to be a re-awakening to all the joys and delights and activities of life; thus the difference between night and day was to the ancient Egyptians almost the difference between death and life. We can imagine that darkness thus considered by a mythologically-thinking people was regarded as the work of an enemy, and hence, in time, their natural enemies were represented as being the friends of darkness.

    Lockyer sticks with science throughout the whole book, so he really minimizes any type of spirituality, chalking it all up to ignorance of the cosmic phenomena that is the basis for these things they feared. We see that today, do we not? The use of science to explain away all the horrors now taking place. But perhaps even Lockyer had hint that the Egyptians knew way more than we can imagine. Here is one last quote:

   In this respect, then, it is truly a temple of Horus, in relation to the southern stars—the southern eyes of Horus. But it was not a sun-temple in the sense that Karnak was one; and if ceremonies were performed for which light was required, perhaps the apparatus referred to by the writer Dupuis was utilised. He mentions that in a temple at Heliopolis—whether a solar temple or not is not stated—the temple was flooded all day long with sunlight by means of a mirror. I do not know the authorities on which Dupuis founds his statement, but I have no doubt that it is amply justified, for the reason that doubtless all the inscriptions in the deepest tombs were made by means of reflected sunlight, for in all freshly-opened tombs there are no traces whatever of any kind of combustion having taken place, even in the inner-most recesses. So strikingly evident is this that my friend M. Bouriant, while we were discussing this matter at Thebes, laughingly suggested the possibility that the electric light was known to the ancient Egyptians.

    I think many people today do believe the Egyptians were way more advanced than we previously imagined, especially back in 1894 when this book was published. I am so very glad I chose it to read. I not only learned a great deal from it, but it has opened up a whole realm of questions, concerning us, now, and our past. It is not an easy read, but anyone who wants to tackle it will find themselves rewarded. And it is filled with wonderful illustrations, even the eBook version. Here's the direct link to it at Project Gutenberg. And here is my Index Page with all the reviews I've written so far concerning Egypt.
    Below: The Temple of Isis at Philae, with pylons and an enclosed court on the left and the inner building at right. Fourth to first century BCE.

The Temple of Isis at Philae

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