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"The Book of Doors
An Oracle from Ancient Egypt"

By Athon Veggi and Alison Davidson

The wonderful Bennu, with its brilliant plumage, was the sacred bird of Heliopolis. Identified as a heron with its long straight back and head adorned at the back with two erect feathers, the Bennu was later called Phoenix by the Greeks and fabulous stories were told about it.

In Heliopolis, the Bennu bird played a major role in Egyptian mythology, dwelling on the ben-ben stone or obelisk within its sanctuary and revered alongside Ra and Ausar (Osiris). For it was in the City of the Sun where the work of creation began.

The Bennu bird was said to create itself from the fire that burned on the top of the sacred Persea tree in Heliopolis, and in the Metternich Stele, Auset (Isis) says to her son Heru: 'Thou art the Great Bennu who was born on the Incense Trees in the House of the Great Prince in Heliopolis.' (Budge, 1969, vol. 2209)

As the 'soul of Ra,' the sun rose in the form of the Bennu to shine out across the world renewed each morning. But the Bennu was also a manifestation of Ausar (Osiris) and was said to spring from his heart as a living symbol of the god. In the 'Book of the Dead,' there are formulae to transform the deceased into the Great Bennu. Here, the deceased says, 'I am the Bennu, the soul of Ra, and the guide of the gods in the Duat.' In another verse, he says, 'I am pure. My purity is the purity of the Great Bennu which is in the city of Suten-henen.'

For the Bennu is the quintessence of rebirth, it rises from its ashes as the spiritual body rises from the dead physical form, as the new sun rises from the old. It is the new condition reached when the return to life is accomplished, namely the resurrection of Ausar (Osiris).

Herodotus records the Bennu bird -- making its appearance only once in 500 years -- as coming from Arabia, carrying in its beak an egg of myrrh that contained its father's body. This egg is similar to Geb's egg that was laid on the primordial hill and gave birth to the sun, the egg within which the whole alchemical process of transformation is effected.

When the Bennu became old, he built a nest of incense twigs in the sacred tree, and lay down and died. In Pliny's account, a small worm appeared from his body that metamorphosed into a bird, and thus the Bennu was reborn.

The planet Venus was called the 'star of the ship of the Bennu-Ausar' (Osiris), mentioned as the Morning Star in this invocation to the sacred sun bird.

I am the Bennu, the soul of Ra, and the guide of the gods in the Tuat; let it be so done unto me that I may enter in like a hawk, and that I may come forth like Bennu, the Morning Star.

Athon Veggi and Alison Davidson
"The Book of Doors: An Oracle from Ancient Egypt"

 

 

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