Schwaller de Lubicz and Egypt

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014


It might be said that Schwaller de Lubicz's preparation for Egypt was that of a philosopher, in the sense that his entire life constituted an intense philosophical   inquiry.   
His unique and intuitive way of seeing, in combination with a technical and scientific education, gave him his extraordinary insight into the values and objectives motivating ancient science and theology.

Luxor Temple
In Schwaller de Lubicz's scrupulous
examination of the art and architecture of the Temple of Luxor,  at  least  two  concurrent levels are  being  developed  at  any  given point.
One is the study of Egypt as a civilization that existed in a factual geographic place and time (including its people, mythology, social forms, its chronological unfolding, its monuments and artifacts), but this level is only a backdrop, or support, for another Egypt which might be defined as a "quality of intelligence."
This is Egypt as an evocation of a particular utilization and expression of a universal power of higher intellection.
This Egypt is outside of chronological considerations; it is, rather, both an ever present and a recurring possibility of consciousness.
In his approach to Egypt, Schwaller de Lubicz stresses the view that in order to comprehend the significance of a heightened phase among man's varied historical expressions, we need to impose on ourselves the discipline of attempting to enter into the mentality of the people and the spirit of the time.

Schwaller de Lubicz
To do so would mean more than just learning the language and symbols of the period under study; we must also awaken in ourselves a living inner rapport with the material being researched and identify with it in a potentially self-transforming manner.
Of course, this ideal can never be fully attained, as our present consciousness is inevitably with us, but, on the other hand, by continuing to sift all of history through our present rationalized, individualized psychological mentality, we distort beyond recognition the content and meaning of the past.
This distortion often occurs when we try to interpret the great mythological cultures of Egypt or Vedic India in particular; we tend to lose sight of the fact that these cultures were expressing a different mentality, and values, from ours and that they had a completely different understanding of the goal and purpose of life.
As a result, in all of their science, art, and knowledge these cultures used distinct modes and methods of symbolization.

 'Propos sur Esoterisme el Symbole'
Schwaller de Lubicz
Pyramid of Unas
Schwaller de Lubicz found it necessary to inquire into the nature of symbolization itself in order even to arrive at an understanding of what a heiroglyph is.
This he carried out in two small books, 'Propos sur Esoterisme el Symbole' (Esotericism and Symbol) and 'Symbole et Symbolique' (The Symbol and the Symbolic), English translations of which are forthcoming from Autumn Press.
That these ancient peoples thought differently than we do, and that we must understand this difference if we are to study them properly seems obvious, but an example will show how difficult it is to put this idea into practice.

'Le Temple de l'Homme'
Schwaller de Lubicz
Schwaller de Lubicz explains in 'Le Temple de l'Homme' (Caracteres, 1957) that in the ancient temple civilization of Egypt, numbers, our most ancient form of symbol, did not simply designate quantities but instead were considered to be concrete definitions of energetic formative principles of nature.
The Egyptians called these energetic principles Neters, a word which is conventionally though incorrectly rendered as "gods."

"In considering the esoteric meaning of Number, we must avoid the following mistake: Two is not One and One; it is not a composite. It is the multiplying Work; it is the notion of the plus in relation to the minus; it is a new Unity; it is sexuality; it is the origin of Nature. Physis, the Neter Two. It is the Culmination (the separating moment of the full moon, for example); it is the line, the stick, movement, the way, Wotan, Odin, the Meter Thoth, Mercury, Spirit."

Also, when the ancients considered the process of mathematical multiplication, their mode of calculation had a direct relationship with natural life processes as well as metaphysical ones. 
Schwaller de Lubicz called this mode the "principle of the crossing" (interestingly, we today continue to symbolize multiplication with the sign of a cross: X).
This crossing was not a sterile, mental, numerical manipulation, but a symbol for the process by which things enter into corporeal existence.
All birth into nature requires a crossing of opposites.
It can be the crossing of vertical and horizontal lines, which give birth to the square, the first measurable surface; or male and female, giving birth to a new individual; or warp and weft, creating a fabric; or light, and darkness, giving birth to tangible forms; or matter and spirit, giving birth to life itself.
Thus the vital linking up of the mental abstraction of calculation with its counterpart in natural phenomena gave the ancient mathematician a living and philosophic basis for his science. 
Similarly, these ancient peoples did not use words as we do, that is, as symbols or sounds linked together, which have fixed, memorized associations and which we compose in sequential patterns within the mind.
For them words were of a musical nature; or, more precisely, speaking was a process of generating sonar fields establishing an immediate vibratory identity with the essential principle that underlies any object or form.
The Pharaonic intelligence that Schwaller de Lubicz reveals to us was not the visualizing, analytical mentality we know but a sonar-intuitional mode.

Gaston Camille Charles Maspero
In 'The Egyptian Temple', Gaston Camille Charles Maspero wrote, 'the human voice is the instrument par excellence of the priest and the enchanter.
It is the voice which seeks afar the Invisibles summoned and makes the necessary objects into a reality. . . . But as every one (of the tones) has its particular force, great care must be taken not to change their order or to substitute one for the other.'

Gaston Camille Charles Maspero (June 23, 1846 – June 30, 1916) was a French Egyptologist. He created the term "Sea Peoples" in an 1881 paper. Among his best-known publications are the large 'Histoire ancienne des peuples de l'Orient classique' (1895-1897), displaying the history of the whole of the nearer East from the beginnings to the conquest by Alexander; a smaller 'Histoire des peuples de l'Orient', of the same scope, which passed through six editions from 1875 to 1904; 'Etudes de mythologie et d'archéologie égyptiennes' (Paris, 1893, etc.), a collection of reviews and essays originally published in various journals, and especially important as contributions to the study of Ancient Egyptian religion; 'L'Archéologie égyptienne' (1907), of which several editions have been published in English. He also established the journal 'Recueil de travaux relatifs à la philologie et à l'archéologie égyptiennes et assyriennes; the Bibliothèque égyptologique', in which the scattered essays of the French Egyptologists are collected, with biographies, etc.; and the 'Annales du service des antiquités de l'Egypte', a repository for reports on official excavations, etc.

Clearly, this approach to Egyptology demands a qualitative change on our part if we are to enter into the Pharaonic spirit.
And this change in our thinking may offer us perspective not only on the vastly different intelligence of the past but on the limitations and excesses of our present intellect as well.

Luxor Temple Colonade
This meticulous meditation on the stones and statuary of Luxor also raises far-reaching questions on the function and nature of history itself.
In particular we begin to see that Egypt may have left us some essential keys to help us find our way toward an integration of things metaphysical (spirit), mathematical (mental, scientific), musical (vibrational, living) and physiological (physical or material).
As a civilization, Egypt certainly holds up to us a model of this reintegrated expression of the various planes and parts of our individual natures, and of the cosmic life of our universe, and thus may prove of greater value in the spiritual crisis now confronting us than the religions of transcendence adapted from various ancient Eastern cultures.
Egypt was not of the lineage that advocates transcendence and denial of material existence; it taught, rather, transformation.
The ancient name for Egypt was "Kemi," meaning "Black Earth," the field of vital transformation; the Arabs, Schwaller de Lubicz points out, called Egypt "Al-Kemi."
Thus we find in its very name that age-old, universal doctrine so often disguised in symbols and parables.
This doctrine encompasses a vision of the principle of matter as a field of existence responsive to and capable of being transformed by spiritual influences brought about through the evolution of embodied and individualized consciousness.
The West today could benefit from a philosophy of spiritual depth that does not suppress, diminish, or deny our intellectual and material nature, but rather fulfils our commitment, to the meaningfulness of human life and this material expression of the universe.
This lost alchemy, the pursuit, of which extends back to its flowering in ancient Egypt, can be seen as the hidden esoteric roots of both civilization and individuals throughout recorded time. 
It is this same alchemy which is at the core of the vision of the anthropocosm - of Man as being and containing within himself the entire universe.
This vision, which is expanded and brought to life in his major work, 'The Temple of Man, leaves us with a single, enduring message: the inevitable resurrection of the spiritual essence which has involved itself in matter in the form of organic creative energy.

Egyptian Pharaoh
This resurrection depends upon the transformation of the material universe -or to express the idea more as Egypt left it imprinted in the stones of Luxor: the birth of divine man (symbolized by the Pharaoh) depends upon the transformation of the universal mother (materia prima).
This transformation was considered the sole cosmic goal.
Every human birth participates in this alchemy, either in an awakened manner through the intentional perfecting and expression of one's higher nature, or un-awakened, through the tumult and suffering of karmic experience leading eventually to a spiritual self-awareness, the temple in man.

The Temple in Man.
The intensification and heightening of human consciousness was believed to cause biological and even cellular changes in the physical body of the initiate.
This divinization of the individual body, on the microcosmic level, comprised the goal and purpose of the evolution of human consciousness in general.

Within the Temple of Egypt, psycho-spiritual growth was wedded to precise intellectual and physiological disciplines which acted to accelerate the influence and transformative effects of spirit over matter.
With Egyptian alchemy we are considering, then, a science in the highest sense of the word, - and one very different from our own.
It was science directed toward the embodiment of spiritual knowledge, toward the internalization and corporeal expression of intellectual and spiritual powers, rather than the mechanistic utilization of knowledge-power for the exploitation, and manipulation of the earthly environment.
The Temple was the pinnacle of the collective life, ever guiding the energy of the long-lived civilization of the Nile Valley toward the gestation of a divine humanity out of the transitory human form.

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