Laird Scranton’s contribution to our understanding of the advanced scientific knowledge of the Ancient Egyptians is, in my opinion, as significant as Champollion’s decipherment of the phonetic values of Egyptian hieroglyphs via the Rosetta Stone, or Schwaller de Lubicz’s masterful rediscovery of Egyptian spiritual philosophy in the architecture of the Temple of Luxor. As well as revealing linguistic and symbolic correlations between Ancient Egypt and cultures as far afield as the Dogon of West Africa and the Na-khi of Tibet, the revelatory nature of Scranton’s work not only has profound implications for our view of the evolution of science and the nature of spirituality, it proposes nothing less than a radical reevaluation of human history.
In his book ‘The Science of the Dogon’, Scranton describes how scientific principles were deified and mythologized by the Egyptians. Neith, goddess of creation was conceived as weaving matter on a loom with a shuttle. She is expressed hieroglyphically in various ways. The glyphs which make up her name denote the weaving of matter by the function in which strings come together. This is expressed in the glyph below, referenced from page cxl of Wallis Budge’s An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary.
In Brian Greene’s ‘The Elegant Universe’ (1999), string theory is eloquently elucidated for a mass readership. A bestseller, it narrowly denied him a Pulitzer Prize in 2000. In 2003 a documentary based on the book was awarded an Emmy. On page 292 of the book one finds this expression of the same function.
Here are some other Egyptian names of Neith (‘The Science of the Dogon’, 2006):
Scranton shows how examples of string intersections (see below) also appear in the Egyptian names of Neith (shown above).
Scranton argues that linguistically the correspondences between these diagrams of string intersections and Egyptian hieroglyphs can not be dismissed as coincidences because the symbols coincide with the same explicit meanings in a logically developed sequence. The hieroglyphs are single words of a language that defines the stages in the creation of matter, the coalescence of basic principles, spirit’s descent into form, from Zero Point Field and string theory through quantum particles, atoms, elements and beyond to humanity’s place in creation relative to the Earth, solar system, galaxy and greater consciousness of the universe.
The symbol associated with the goddess of creation is also represented by the Vesica Piscis. Like a fish out of primordial water, hands placed together in prayer, or the opening of the birth canal, it is the feminine creative aspect that is being expressed, but the symbol is pre-Christian and so ancient that when it appears in a book on string theory it is presented as if newly discovered, like a symbol of human amnesia.
As microcosms of spiritual consciousness, symbols are powerful and enduring. According to Dr. Carmen Boulter, autostereograms, those 2-d computer-generated patterns popular in the 1990s that reveal a 3-d picture when viewed in a certain way, are illustrative of the revelatory power of Egyptian hieroglyphs, guiding the open-hearted initiate into the macrocosm, towards the transcendent other and to dimensions outside of physical reality. The Egyptians had no word for God, not because they considered the utterance to be blasphemous but because it is simply impossible to articulate the indefinable, abstract nature of the infinite. It is only when the infinite, represented by the number one, bifurcates, becomes dual and the abstract condenses into form that we have the possibility for language. One meaning behind the saturated symbolism of the cross is the intersection of spirit with matter and the dual nature of man. Christ thus represents archetypal man and like Pharaoh is a manifestation of cosmic order. The Egyptian concept of cosmos in man was passed via the Hermetica into the philosophy of early Christianity. The Hermetic tradition provided Christianity with its founding principles. Yet when the Council of Nicaea laid down the dogma in the 4th century this philosophy was rejected, divine light strictly limited to shining on a select few and everyone else condemned to centuries of guilt, separation and torment. However the idea of human and universal mind as microcosm and macrocosm is very ancient indeed and represents a unified view of the universe that today’s scientists are only just beginning to understand. When Erwin Schrodinger said, “…in truth there is only one mind,” or when Fred Allan Wolf said, “Universe is mind”, I would venture that neither of these physicists were engaging in idle chit-chat.
Scientifically, the dual nature of man can be understood from a quantum perspective, where the holy trinity of matter, space and time begin to…well…sort of smudge apart. At the quantum level matter appears either as a particle or wave, its state dependent on consciousness itself. We normally only perceive particles while the non-physical aspect of reality, which we know to exist thanks to Schrödinger et al, is filtered out. Dennis McKenna said that consciousness is a function of order just as gravity is a function of mass. The human brain is the most ordered thing in the known universe. Each neuron consists of microtubules 25 nanometers across. Where the brain functions at the quantum level the usual laws of physics do not apply. This should provoke a discussion – an open discussion that is – about the quantum non-locality potential of mind, which would not only throw light on out-of-body and mystical experiences, but on our cultural legacy from antiquity. Eliade refers to this as the ‘ecstatic experience’ which was, “…a ‘primary phenomenon’ because [there is] no reason whatever for regarding it as the result of a particular historical moment, that is, as produced by a certain form of civilization. Rather we would consider it fundamental in the human condition, and hence known to the whole of archaic humanity; what changed and was modified with the different forms of culture and religion was the interpretation and evaluation of the ecstatic experience.” (1972, p.504)
What was once held in common by cultures of archaic humanity should be considered part of our heritage and I would argue our birthright. Yet it has been suppressed, eradicated, forgotten, distorted, or otherwise preserved by Eastern traditions, or kept alive in the West like a secret, eternal flame by obscure occult organizations like the Order of the Golden Dawn.
Are we capable of conceiving insights into the nature of reality as accessible not only to cerebral intelligence but to innate, elevated or ecstatic states of consciousness? Such an experience tunes the mind to the deep structure of matter and its spiritual essence, to a cosmic frequency, to a language beyond language, a multi-dimensional fabric, that is resonant, numerical, geometrical, and fractal. Terrence McKenna (Dennis’s Brother) proposed that chemically induced ecstatic experiences early in the development of homo sapiens “acted as catalysts in the development of imagination, fueling the creation of internal stratagems and hopes that may well have synergised the emergence of language and religion.” (1992, p.24) Certainly the dissociative effects of substances like DMT, psilocybin or mescaline seem entirely consistent with the effects of ancient shamanic initiation rites, with what Mercea Eliade referred to as ‘deliverance from the illusions of the flesh’ and ‘the ‘profane’ human condition’. Eliade however rejected the role of entheogens in the ecstatic experience as ‘a vulgar substitute for “pure” trance’. He did however make the link between shamanic trance and the emergence of poetry: “Poetic creation still remains an act of perfect spiritual freedom. Poetry remakes and prolongs language; every poetic language begins by being a secret language, that is, the creation of a personal universe, of a completely closed world. The purest poetic act seems to re-create language from an inner experience that, like the ecstasy or the religious inspiration of “primitives,” reveals the essence of things.” (1972, p.510)
There is no better place to look for expressions of this ‘essence of things’ than the ancient world. The Kabbalah, for example is a mysticism drawn from the numerical value of letters of the alphabet that enlightens with linguistic and numerical conceptual relationships. The Ancient Egyptian language incorporates music, sound, form, volume, and number, building structural correspondences that develop exponentially outwards and inwards like fractals into a sacred vision of unity.
When 20th century physicists immersed themselves in quantum theory they stepped unwittingly into the shoes of the initiates of Ancient Egypt who had walked a similar path many millennia before them.
Bohr: “We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet too is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.”
Heisenberg: “Quantum theory provides us with a striking illustration of the fact that we can fully understand a connection though we can only speak of it in images and parables.”
Bohr: “We are suspended in language in such a way that we cannot say what is up and what is down. The word reality is also a word, a word which we must learn to use correctly.”
Where Bohr and Heisenberg stood and blinked in awe, the Ancient Egyptians immersed themselves in this language. The relationship between ancient spirituality and what has been termed the New Physics have been around for some time. Some of the most famous physicists have looked to the eastern spiritual traditions. Robert Oppenheimer knew the Baghavad Gita, Bohr was interested in Chinese traditions, Schrödinger read the Upanishads and Heisenberg who travelled to India to meet Rabrindranath Tagore also approved the 1975 book by Fritjof Capra, ‘The Tau of Physics’, which explores the connection between Eastern mystical traditions and contemporary views in theoretical physics. Now Laird Scranton has moved New Physics into an exciting new direction by revealing stunning similarities between Eastern and Ancient Egyptian symbolism.
Dead and forgotten Newtons and Einsteins of the ancient world were pioneers into the transcendental potential of mind. Cosmos in man is part of that majestic vision presided over for at least forty-two centuries by the Ancient Egyptians. The idea of mechanism as mysticism, preserved by elites, by mystery schools, secret societies and mystical traditions through the ages might seem to some like so much Dan Brown hokum and conspiracy theory; yet the esoteric is by nature veiled and elusive, a riddle, or as Schwaller de Lubicz simply put it, “Esotericism is the spiritual aspect of the world.” Ultimately we can never know more than we desire to know with our hearts. The lesson can only begin when the student is ready, when the right questions are asked. The mechanism is so vastly complex it poses an immense challenge to language. Mathematicians may exalt over a finely wrought proof, but is it not more elegant, civilizing, and beautiful to convey profound concepts not through mathematical code, or even everyday language, but as the ancients did, across the broad sweep of the sky, by weaving scientific truths with a mnemonic system of symbols into allegorical narratives, myths, epic poetry and incantations of transcendent power?
Our ancestors aspired to, were inspired by, and rose to the challenge of this language with breathtaking genius. Looking through the lens of our materially-bonded society, our perceptions are very different from theirs. It is difficult to appreciate their level of spiritual development or to understand what they are telling us, even when it is staring us in the face. This is why translations of Egyptian poetry so often sound like utter gobbledegook. The level of spiritual development in ancient cultures mostly eludes us.
Reading about mythology, shamanism, the history of religion, folk, oral, mystical traditions, and about the psychedelic experience, the greater sense I have of a spectacular synthesis in these fragments of cultural heritage. Such was the energy, focus, and sustained momentum of ancient cultures towards expressions of the sacred, I am entirely persuaded of their validity, that a connection to the transcendent was a living reality. I do not believe this is something that can be understood in the way we tend to frame human history and culture, as institutional, as resulting from enforced consensus, dominant ideologies or bound by the limitations of dogma. Rather it was something that sought to articulate itself fully and without limitation, to plunge deeply within and without the structural fabric of space-time. Such a concept can only be approached without cultural prejudice and on the understanding that Charles Darwin is not impugned in the slightest by Giorgio de Santillana, who wrote: “Mistaking cultural history for a process of gradual evolution, we have deprived ourselves of every reasonable insight into the nature of culture.” (1969, p.71)
As the repository of vast knowledge, Ancient Egypt would be a good place to start for further understanding. People eminently more qualified than I are already exploring in this area but there are countless other alluring avenues to investigate. Unfortunately this fascinating journey, its course unknown, must wait for the time being as I am compelled to fulfill some life-sustaining commitments. To feel hindered in this study is an inconvenience and a frustration, but things will I hope resume on a more agreeable footing before too long.