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The Eucharist of Horus

Horus wafers

Fig. 1

In the previous series of posts here at Mythicism, I covered how the ancient Egyptian god Osiris was one of the lunar gods of Egypt, and that by extension of this aspect-

-all of which are recorded in sources predating the Common Era. Elsewhere, I have thoroughly covered the ancient Egyptian concept of “ka,” which they often used to explain similar phenomena perceived to be “fate” or “destiny” shared between offspring and their ancestors.[1]

As a type of “ka” (or “spitting image” as we might say today) of his father Osiris, the god Horus has many motifs in his own mythos that parallel those of his father. Among these includes how Horus had a bodily resurrection from the dead, much like his father before him. Another example is how, due to solar-lunar conjunction, Horus too was considered both a sun god[2] and a moon god, same as Osiris. In particular, one of Horus’ eyes correlated with the sun and his other eye correlated with the moon.

The two large celestial orbs represented Horus’s eyes. The sun was brilliant and sharp, the moon less so. Thus the myth “The Contendings of Horus and Seth” evolved to explain the “damaged” eye which became part of the widely dispersed myth of Osiris and the divine kingship.

Dr. Barbara S. Lesko, The Great Goddesses of Egypt [3]

In Horus’s sky falcon form, his eyes could be regarded as the sun and the moon or as the morning and evening stars. References in the Pyramid Texts to the eye of Horus being made small by the finger of Seth may relate to lunar phenomena.

Dr. Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt [4]

There was a myth told of a battle between Horus and Seth, in which the eye of Horus was stolen and damaged, but eventually returned as the Moon.

Dr. John North, Cosmos: An Illustrated History of Astronomy and Cosmology [5]

Understanding of the essential being of the moon is founded upon the dramatic story of the eye of Horus and the gods Horus and Seth. Then the moon is no longer a strange phenomenon of nature, but a religious symbol.

Dr. Herman te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion: A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion [6]

Lunar eye of Horus from pectoral of Tutankhamun

Fig. 2: The eye of Horus as the moon; from the pectoral of Tutankhamun, 14th century BCE.

As the story goes, his treacherous uncle Seth who killed his father and stole his throne, gouged out Horus’ lunar eye. As a symbol of the waning & waxing moon, this eye was torn to pieces by Seth, just as was the body of Osiris.

Take the Eye of Horus which Seth has trampled … take the Eye of Horus which he has pulled out.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 111-12 § 73 (27th-22nd century BCE) [7].

I filled out the eye after its impairment on that day when the Two Comrades fought. What is that? It is the day wherein Horus fought with Seth, when he injured the Horus’ face.

Book of the Dead, Spell 17 S 11 (16th-11th century BCE) [8]

Temple of Khnum at Esna

Fig. 3: The waning moon is divided into 14 pieces, with 14 gods presiding over each portion; from the Temple of Khnum at Esna.

Denderah moon

Fig. 4: Fourteen gods bring the 14 pieces of the waxing moon to Thoth, who reassembles them back into the eye of Horus; from the Temple of Dendera.

Hence it may equally be said of Horus that part of his body was broken.

As a lunar god like his father, Horus too was associated with the rebirth cycles of vegetation, including grain. In particular, the pieces of the torn eye of Horus became symbols for various quantities of grain.

From at least as early as the Middle Kingdom, the death and regeneration of Osiris had been specifically linked to the annual cycle of the sowing and harvesting of food crops. Barley was said to spring from the ribs of his body, and the donkeys who threshed corn with their hooves and carried grain on their backs were reviled as creatures of Seth. The use of the wedjat eye measurement for grain ties in with the idea that crops came from the body of Osiris after it was regenerated through the presentation of the eye of Horus.

Dr. Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Myth: A Very Short Introduction [9]

The Egyptians beheld the eye not only in a phenomenon of nature such as the moon, but also in cultural phenomena: the grain measure, the crown, the uraeus.

Te Velde, op. cit.

Hieratic systems also employed a special set of signs to indicate fractions. These were based on the “Sound Eye” of Horus (sometimes called the “Udjat Eye”). According to mythology, Horus’s eye had been torn out by Seth, but was put back together by Thoth. The pieces of this Eye are used for the following fractions of grain measures: 1/2, 1/8, 1/32, 1/4, 1/16, 1/64.

Dr. James P. Allen, Middle Egyptian [10]

Some peculiar symbols were used by ancient Egyptians for fractions of hekat, the measure of capacity for grain. They are called Horus-eye fractions because of their connection with the famous myth of the eye of the god Horus. The legend relates how the god Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, had a fight with Seth to avenge the murder of his father Osiris and to obtain power over the Earth. During the struggle Seth tore away Horus’s eye and broke it into pieces, which he dispersed everywhere. The broken parts of the eye were later found and restored by Thoth, the god of rules and calculations.

Dr. Clara S. Roero, in Companion Encyclopedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences: Volume One [11]

Horus-Eye fractions were used primarily for amounts of grain less than the usual measure of grain called the hekat. Such use is testimony itself to the importance of grain and the reverence for Horus in the lives of the ancient Egyptians.

Dr. Richey L. Waugh, The Eye and Man in Ancient Egypt [12]

And as grain was the source of bread, the broken flesh of Horus (his lunar eye) was symbolized with bread, which was ritualistically eaten for the purpose of imbuing new life. I shall come back to this a little later. More importantly, this part of Horus’ flesh & blood was actually consumed by Osiris himself (just as he did with his own flesh & blood) as part of the process for completing his resurrection. Consuming Horus’ eye was believed to reverse any decomposition a corpse might undergo prior to resurrecting.

Remove the efflux which exuded(?) from your flesh, you being filled and provided with the eye of Horus.

Coffin Texts, Spell 785 VI, 414 (21st-18th century BCE) [13]

Take the Eye of Horus which combines your flesh and pulls together your members.

Coffin Texts, Spell 862 VII, 65 [14]

Take the Eye of Horus which combines your flesh and pulls together your members … take is in the Mansion of Ptah, for it will join you together; may your limbs not be weak, may the languor of faintness not be in you.

Coffin Texts, Spell 862 VII, 65-66[15]

A special group of examples concern the notion of eating an eye, especially that of Horus. The clearest container structure is found in offering texts, when the officiant puts the eye of Horus in the mouth of the recipient.

Dr. Rune Nyord, Breathing Flesh: Conceptions of the Body in the Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts [16]

What you have eaten is an Eye, and your belly is rounded out with it; your son Horus has released it for you that you may live by means of it.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 219 § 192 [17]

dendera osiris eye of horus

Fig. 5: Thoth presents the reassembled eye of Horus to the risen Osiris; from the Temple of Dendera.

By extension of this, those Egyptians who emulated Osiris in their last rites likewise ritualistically consumed the eye Horus, just as Osiris did.

Take to yourselves the eye of Horus. May its fragrance come to your mouths, the fragrance of the eye of Horus to your mouths, as what has been given you by Osiris N.-

Book of the Dead, Spell 142 S var. 5 T [18]

Now as stated earlier, Horus’ lunar eye was represented by grain, grain which in turn was used to make bread. Hence the eye of Horus was consumed in the form of bread in these religious rituals. Not only that, but his eye was also consumed in the form of wine, both grape wine and red barley wine (a.k.a. red beer).

What came out from the eye is the divine blood of Horus. … The rejuvenating and creative power that wine symbolizes, moreover, is reflected in the designation of wine as “Green Horus Eye.” The term Green Horus Eye, which combines “the Eye of Horus” (or “the deed of Horus”) with the green papyrus plant, implies a rejuvenating power that creates prosperity. All these symbolic associations, therefore, point to a basic fact concerning the significance of wine in the offering ritual, namely that wine was a creative and rejuvenating power. This is further confirmed in the mythological roles—wine’s association with the inundation and the blood, both different manifestations of the creative and life-giving power.

Dr. Mu-Chou Poo, Wine and Wine Offering in the Religion of Ancient Egypt [19]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which was wrested from Seth and which you shall take to your mouth, with which you shall split open your mouth–wine, a hATs-jar of white mnw-stone.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 47 § 36 [20]

Young Horus with grapes

Fig. 6: The infant Horus bears a cluster of grapes.

Horus wine

Fig. 7: Wine of Horus, in ancient times it was drank as a symbol of the shed blood of his eye.

Eye-of-Horus-cake

Fig. 8: The eye of Horus as a cake of bread.

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus, your pAt-cake, that you may eat–a pAt-cake of the offering.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 46 § 35 [21]

O King, take the Eye of Horus which you shall taste–a dpt-cake.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 51 § 38 [22]

O King, take the Eye of Horus, which was wrested from Seth and saved for you; your mouth is split open with it—wine,[23] a Hnt-bowl of white mnw-stone.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 54 § 39 [24]

O King, take the Eye of Horus, rescued for you; it will never escape from you–beer, an iron hnt-bowl.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 56 § 40

O King, take the Eye of Horus, provide yourself with it–beer, a Hnt-bowl of Htm-material.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 57 § 40 [25]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus and absorb it into your mouth–the morning meal.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 87 § 60, 110 § 72 [26]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus, prevent him from trampling it–a tw-loaf.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 88 § 60 [27]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which he has pulled out–a itH-loaf.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 89 § 60 [28]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus, for little is that which Seth has eaten of it–a jar of strong ale.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 90 § 61 [29]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which they have reft from him–a jar of xnms-drink.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 91 § 61 [30]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus, I lift it to your face for you–the lifting up of a Hnt-bowl of bread.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 92 § 61 [31]

O King, take this bread of yours which is the Eye of Horus.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 93 § 63 [32]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus with which you have refreshed yourself–a Sns-loaf.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 94 § 64 [33]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which Seth has trampled–a tw-loaf.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 111 § 73 [34]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which he has pulled out–a itH-loaf.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 112 § 73 [35]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus and prevent him from suffering because of it–4 pzn-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 116 § 74 [36]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which he has baked(?)–4 Xnfw-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 119 § 76 [37]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus, do not let it spring up(?)–4 Hbnnt-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 120 § 76 [38]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which he has pulled out–4 qmH-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 121 § 77 [39]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which I put in your mouth for you–your 4 idtt-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 122 § 77 [40]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus, your pAt-cake, that you may eat–4 pAt-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 123 § 78 [41]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which he has pulled out–a zif-loaf.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 141 § 86 [42]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus, for it will not be sundered from you–2 Sat-cakes.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 142 § 87 [43]

O Osiris the King, the Eye of Horus is alloted to you–2 npAt-cakes.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 143 § 87 [44]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus, the water which he has squeezed out–2 mzt-cakes.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 144 § 88 [45]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus for little is that which Seth has eaten of it–2 bowls of strong ale.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 145 § 88 [46]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which they have reft(?) from him–2 bowls of xnms-drink.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 147 § 89 [47]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which they have spat out; prevent him from swallowing it–2 jars of abS-wine.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 154 § 92 [48]

O Osiris the king, take the pupil which is in the Eye of Horus, for your mouth is split open by means of it–2 bowls of imt-wine.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 155 § 93 [49]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which he has fished up, for your mouth is split open by means of it–2 bowls of HAmw-wine.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 156 § 93 [50]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus; it will not be loosed from you–2 bowls of snw-wine.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 157 § 94 [51]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus when it springs up(?)–2 bowls of Hbnnt-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 158 § 94 [52]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus which he has baked(?)–2 bowls of xnfw-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 159 § 95 [53]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus and prevent him from tearing it out–2 bowls of bruised(?) wheat.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 163 § 97 [54]

O Osiris the King, take the Eye of Horus and prevent him from tearing it out–2 bowls of bruised(?) barley.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 164 § 97 [55]

Take the Eye of Horus and split open your mouth with it–[2(?)] bowls of Lower Egyptian wine.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 185 § 106 [56]

O Osiris the King, take the green Eye of Horus of which he has taken possession–I give Horus to you–[2(?)] bowls of new bread.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 186 § 107 [57]

Take the Eye of Horus when it springs up(?)–I give Horus to you–2 bowls of Hbn(n)t-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 187 § 107 [58]

Take the Eye of Horus which he has baked(?)–I give Horus to you–2 bowls of xnfw-loaves.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 188 § 108 [59]

Take the Eye of Horus which was allotted to him–I give Horus to you–[2 bowls of] npAt-cakes.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 191 § 109 [60]

O Osiris the King, turn yourself on account of this bread of yours, accept it from me. Recite four times: May the Eye of Horus belong(?) to you–the reversion of the god’s offering.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 199 § 115 [61]

O my father the King, take the Eye of Horus, the pAt-cake of the gods, for they feed thereon.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 201 § 117 [62]

I give you the Eye of Horus, I have allotted it to you; may it belong(?) to you. O King, arise, receive this your bread from my hand.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 223 § 216-17 [63]

That’s quite an exhaustive list of primary sources, far predating the Common Era. The flesh & blood of Horus and his father Osiris were consumed in the form of bread & wine for religious purposes of obtaining eternal life for thousands of years before a certain “Good Shepherd” from the Levant ever instituted such rituals regarding himself. His ancestors were well aware of such Egyptian practices for centuries before he came along. In the scriptures of one of their “major prophets,” the 44th chapter as I recall, they admitted to worshiping an Egyptian “Queen of Heaven.” As per the Egyptian pantheon, this is no doubt Nut, the goddess of Heaven and, wouldn’t you know it, mother of Osiris & grandmother of Horus. These ancestors of the “Good Shepherd” also admitted in that scripture (verse 19 IIRC) that part of this Egyptian religion they were practicing involved offerings of bread & wine, a custom which for millennia had been part of the “Queen of Heaven’s” mythos via her son & grandson. The kind of things that make one wonder, eh? thinking

Now if you’ll excuse me, all this discussion about eating has incited my appetite.

bread-and-wine

Fig. 9

More on eating the broken body of Osiris as broken bread

More on drinking the blood of Osiris as wine

More on Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, whom they equated with Osiris

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Notes

[1] Steven Snape, Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 20.

Rogerio Ferreira de Sousa, “The Notion of the Heart and the Idea of Man: The Effect of Anthropological Notions of Medical Practices,” in Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century, Volume 3: Language, Conversation, Museology, ed. Z. Hawass (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2003), 192.

Andreas Schweizer, The Sungod’s Journey through the Netherworld: Reading the Ancient Egyptian Amduat (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994-2010), 216.

R.T. Rundle Clark, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt (London: Thames and Hudson, 1959), 234.

[2] Coffin Texts, Spell 326 IV, 158.

Porphyry, Concerning Images, in Eusebii Pamphili: Evangelicae Praeparationis, Libri XV, trans. E.H. Gifford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1903), 22.

Glenn S. Holland, Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World (Chantilly: The Teaching Company, 2005), Lecture.

Edmund S. Meltzer, “Horus,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt: Volume 2, ed. D.B. Redford (2001), 119-20.

Rolf Gundlach, “Horus in the Palace: The centre of state and culture in pharaonic Egypt,” in 4th Symposium on Egyptian Royal Ideology: Egyptian Royal Residences, eds. R. Gundlach and J.H. Taylor (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz GmbH & Co. KG, 2009), 46.

James P. Allen, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005), 8-9.

Erik Hornung, Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971-96), 283.

Hans Dieter Betz, The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation including the Demotic Spells, Volume One: Texts, Second Edition, trans. H. Martin, Jr. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986-96), 334.

Laszlo Torok, Hellenistic and Roman Terracottas from Egypt (Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 1995), 70.

[3] Barbara S. Lesko, The Great Goddesses of Egypt (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999), 34.

[4] Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002-04), 82.

[5] John North, Cosmos: An Illustrated History of Astronomy and Cosmology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008), 26

[6] Herman Te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion: A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion, trans. G.E. van Baaren-Pape (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1967-77), 46.

[7] Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), 25.

[8]  Thomas G. Allen, The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 29.

[9] Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Myth: A very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 117. (Emph. added.)

[10] James P. Allen, Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000-10), 106.

[11] Clara Silvia Roero, “Egyptian Mathematics,” in Companion Encyclopedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences: Volume One, ed. Ivor Grattan-Guinness (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1994-2003), 36.

[12] Richey L. Waugh, The Eye and Man in Ancient Egypt (East Dover: Hirschberg, 1995), 78.

[13] Raymond O. Faulkner,  The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts, Vol. II (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, Ltd, (1977), 307.

[14] Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts, Vol. III (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, Ltd, 1978), 41.

[15] Ibid. 41. (Emph. added.)

[16] Rune Nyord, Breathing Flesh: Conceptions of the Body in the Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2009), 183.

[17] Faulkner (1969), 48. (Emph. added.)

[18] Allen (1974), 120.

[19] Poo (1995-2009), 163. (Emph. added.)

[20] Faulkner (1969), 10.

[21] Ibid. 9.

[22] Ibid.0.

[23] Ibid. 11 n.1.

[24] Ibid. 11.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid. 20, 24.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid. 21.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid. 22.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid. 25.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid. 26.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid. 28.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid. 29.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid. 30.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid. 31.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Ibid. 34.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Ibid. 35.

[61] Ibid. 36.

[62] Ibid. 37.

[63] Ibid. 52.

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