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The Ritual Hymns of Philae


A Ritual Recreation of The Eternal Return

  On the walls of the great Temple of Isis at the Island of Philae there are inscriptions describing the King´s ritual procession through the temple.

The purpose of this wandering, which was performed when a new King ascended the throne was to symbolically enact the Eternal Journey from birth through life to death and resurrection.

These hymns celebrate the cosmic circle; the rise and fall of the Nile, the journey of the sun across the heaven and through the Underworld.

When the King proceeds through the temple the cosmic circles are repeated on earth. Without this celebration Life would not be maintained. Everything in existence is returning back to the source from where it came, back to she who gives birth to the God, to Aset, the Giver of Life, Lady of Philae



Hymns of Philae I

The Beginning - The Conception



In the innermost room in the birth house the conception is thought to take place,
in the darkness, shielded from human eyes.
The next hymn; The Birth, is also performed in the birth house,
and at the same time as Horus is born, the whole land and even cosmos is reborn.




The Conception

The Sun God Re Brings His Son

close to Thee Isis

Giver of all Life

Queen of the pure island

the mistress

Queen of Philae

all protection, life and power be with him

as with Re in eternity

- - -

I bring you the inundation of the Nile

When that which is in Him goes forth

divine nurturess of all lands

so that the people of the temple

may be in all this goodness




The Birth

He comes into being

the god is born

the King of Upper and Lower Egypt

Horus, son of Isis

Through his existence

everything has begun




When Horus is born, the sun begins to rise,
for he is not only king of Egypt but he is also the manifestation of the sun on earth.


The Light of Dawn

The shadow of Re

rises like the lotus bud

The creator of the skies

is created down on the earth

The sky and the earth

are filled with his beauty

Every face is alivened

by the ascendance of the god

The lord of the stars

is created at the horizon





Re is standing next to Isis, carrying the newborn Horus and is speaking to him,
identifying his son with himself and giving him the power over all cosmos.


The Sun-god speaks

Horus-Re speaks:

I am the great god

lord of the sky

I am the one who radiates

across the sky of the stars

from the seat for the sunrise

So that the two lands lightens up

I see my son in her sanctuary




The Great Speech of the Sungod

The sungod Re speaks:

The King of the Hours falcons

the great god

the honoured and foremost

to his beloved son

the great Horus

the son of Osiris

I am the god

the young soul of Osiris

who fills the whole land

with the good power of the gods mother

I am Horus

who shows himself in glory

on the throne of his father

I am the lord

over the nine gods

- - -

You receive the throne

you are the lord of the two lands

You unite that which was shattered

You receive the united kingdom

to bring down the power of Seth

In your light

You tke hold of Egypt

you rule the desert

all the way to the strange lands

The strange peoples

are taxed through their work

The South lies beneath your terror

The North lies beneath your fear

The West and the East honour you

Kamutef is honoured

as the one who unites

who carries the flail of power under his arm

His altar of offering are greater

than all gods

- - -

You rejoice like the lotus flower

the gods protect you

The high and the lowly

rejoice before you

The people of Nubia

submit to your power

- - -





Isis identifies herself with the spouse of the king

The Mother

I am the great mother

queen of the sky

mistress of the gods

- - -

Hail thee venerable one

who was born of his sister´s womb

The white crown on his head is stable

like his eartly possessions

He radiates from his mother´s lap

on the day of his birth

On the sky the moon grows

like the flower of the sky of stars

on the day of the birth of Horus

- - -

The sun mistress

the daughter of the lord of gods

Spouse of the king

who was pregnant

and carried the good god

who gave birth to the son

Horus, the lord

Isis, the great mother of gods

queen of the mammissi




The king has now been ritually born again and is leaving the birth house,the uterus of the goddess,
and will proceed through the pylon portal to meet his people who waits for him at the outer court.

Hymns of Philae II

The King is Reborn

The king has been born anew, at the same time as the sun rises above the horizon,
the doors are opened, he leaves the birth house and proceeds
through the pylon portal out into the outer courtyard,
where his people greets him by prostrating themselves full on the ground.




The King Appears

The Living Horus

wonderful child

joy of love

The primeval god Tatenen

lets the two women of the people be born

through the ka-womb

Praise be to Khnum

at the king´s appearance in glory

as the living god of the bull in the crown of Upper Egypt

Many celebrations are created

to the honour of the primeval god Ptah-Tatenen

father of the stars

- - -

The two women are the great power

of the source of the eternal river

He establishes laws

like the great Thoth

The Lord, master of the ancestors

exists like Re in eternal joy

The lord in the temple, king of Lower Egypt

is made living and ruling by Osiris

- - -

The pylon was built for the sungoddess the mistress

the lifegiving Isis

queen of the pure island

Queen of Philae and Abaton

From glowing sandstone it is built

Its height is wonderful

its width marvellous

Everything is used as it should

It gives life and domination

to the lord of the sun

the lord of the two lands

the hereditary god and lotus bud

Ptah´s chosen one

Son of Re, the master

appears in glory

Ptolemaios, beloved of Isis

the eternal life

The gods love what has been brought forth

Through the work of hands

the bread of eternal life is prepared



"Two women" is one of Pharao´s titles, alluding to Nekhbet and Ouadjet.
Abaton is the tomb of Osiris. Tatenen is the Primeval Mound.


The next hymn is written on the walls in the pylon portal
between the birth house and the outer court.

At the same moment as the sun rises, the king steps through the doorway,
again manifesting the sun on earth.





The Sunrise

The great god Edfu

The lord of Mesen

stands before the temple of Egypt

The great sun disc

rises in the sky


He sees the Horus falcons

which give life in all eternity


Horus protects the gods

in their sanctuaries

The winged sun-disc

shines over the two lands


The goddesses comes to life

at the sight of his radiance

Horus of the abodes of the gods

The gread god Edfu

the lord of the sky

the colourful feather

steps forth in the temple court

the place where the sun rises

before the temple of Upper Egypt

The Horus falcon that travels across the sky

is the life of Ma´at

All faces receives life

in all eternity

in his shapes the sun and the moon

Horus-Re´s mighty shape

makes his children flourishing in their temple

The winged sundisc

shines upon the heavenly abodes

The great and powerful one

in town and countryside



Edfu is one of Pharao´s titles.
Mesen was a city in Lower Egypt.


Falcons were kept at Philae.
They were manifestations of the absolute power of the king and of Horus as the falcon god.

Between the great pylons there is a balcony
where a living falcon was shown for the visitors.
In the coming hymn Pharao is still walking around among his people.


The Horus Falcon

The great Horus

stands on the temple facade

The living ba of Re

comes from the land of Punt

He is the ruler

until eternity

The place where he appears

is the window of the sunrise

His ka is created

a carrier of feathers with shifting colours

so that the many are given

life, health, prosperity



While the king is appearing for the people on the outer court,
we´ll move to the outside walls of the birth house...


Hymns of Philae III




A resumé of the celebrations of the King´s birthday can be read on the outside walls of the birth house:

The Celebration of the King´s Birthday

The Horus-Re of the river is praised

on the second day of the inundation

the great feast of the whole land

This day the temple presents

a true representation

- - -

Isis, the great mother of the god

Queen of the birth house

The venerable and powerful

queen of Philae

The hereditary mistress

on the peak of the pure island

The great sun goddess

on the four parts of the sky

Wife of kings

The first one of the majesty Osiris

Horus mother of kings

the strong bull

- - -

The heaven is feasting

the earth is created in turquoise

the temple is like fayence

The Horusfalcons pay tribute

the goddesses are jubilant

The humans rejoice at the lotus flower

when they see this beautiful image

- - -

She who made Re

the lord of the Two Lands, son of Re

She finds the temple

that includes the male

Blessed by the one it carries

that which is the pure image

Her majesty accepts

to become pregnant there on the day of celebration

She gives the son

to the land in its middle

- - -

He is rewarded

with innumerable feasts

on the throne of Horus

the edge of the eternal lives





There is a brilliant hymn to the god´s mother on the outside walls of the birth house.
At Philae Isis and Hathor has merged together and are two aspects of the same goddess.



Hymn to the God Mother

We play tambourine for thee

Queen of Abaton

Isis giver of life

queen of the land

We praise your majesty

rejoicing with life

- - -

You great Hathor

queen of the land

We play harp before your countenance

mistress of the land

Queen of the cities

reigns over the land

- - -

We adore to the heights of heaven

rejoice to the edge of the land

Your hearts rejoice

yourpower is gerat

We whish persistency for life

through the king´s sceptre




After having moved among his people the king now goes back to his mother.
Like the sun sets in the West, the king returns to the womb
from where he came and to where all life must return.

These words are written on the portal between the pylons:


The King´s Death

He walks around the fields four times

He pours out the lifegiving waters of his father

He plays his mother´s sistrum

The king of Upper Egypt

who has appeared in glory

from the palace hall

He goes to rest

in the temple of the dying sun



Hymns of Philae IV

The Temple - Tomb and Body of Isis




These words are inscribed on Nectanebo´s portal that is leading
from the outer court into the inner court of the Isis temple.
The temple is at the same time the body of Isis and the grave.
The king is born out of that symbolical body and returns to it when he dies,
to regain life for himself and for Egypt.


The King Enters the Temple Tomb

He hands out to his father

the bread of light

He lights incense

and pours out the lifegiving water

Before his father Osiris

He hands out wine

to his father

He hands out Ma´at to his father

who makes him lifegiving

Performs the Royal Offering

of food and drink





The King Meets the Mother

Son of Re, the lord

appears in glory

Comes with gifts to thee, Isis

giver of life, queen of the birth house

He brings you the members

from the Holy Land

He walks forth like the river from Bigge

that hides the body well

And the fields are fertilized


The Holy Land is the Land of the Dead. Bigeh is an island close to Philae,
where it was thought that Osiris was buried, thus the source of the Nile was believed to come from there.
The members are the torn pieces of Osiris´body, which are now presented to Isis as an offering





For each of the 24 hours of the day and night there is a god keping vigil,
and now is the hour of Horus. It is being held in the Inner Courtyard in the temple.

The Vigil

This hour

the way to the grave is opened

The sun shines on the grave of light

Horus of the gods keeps vigil

He of action watches

over Osiris in this hour

The watching god rises up

the eldes son of the heavenly portal

He goes forth in joy

in the beginning of your way of prosperity

Through you the sealed vessel of the mother

be revealed to the gods and to the humans





The king now enters the inner sanctuary, where he meets the mother.

Hymns of Philae V



Inside the Tomb

The lord of the Two Lands

the powerful ka of Re, Amun the beloved

The lord appears in glory

the giver of life, the joy of everything

and gives holy gifts

to his mother Isis





The Mother of God Answers Her Son

I give you all life

and all power

Isis giver of life, all life

that exists in the middle of Abaton

I give you all life

and all power

All health

and all joy

All lands

and all foreign countries

that lies beneath your feet forever





The king now brings the water of life from the tomb of Osiris which is located on the island of Bigeh close by Philae.
By this water Isis is fertilzied so that she once again can give birth to the king.
The sun can begin its journey once again across the sky.


The Water of Life

The good god

lord of the Two Lands

Son of Re, the lord

who appeared in glory

The giver of all life

in eternity

- - -

The son of Re is coming

he who belongs to Isis

He brings this water to Isis

which comes from the source of the Nile

She who gives life in eternity

Isis giver of life

who exists in the middle of Abaton

She the pure god of the Nile

who makes all people alive at the creation

of the power of life of the green

which gives divine bread of offering to the gods

Queen of the heaven

who exists in the offering room of the sunborn

She makes love with the lord of the Underworld

her son who is the lord of the land

She is fertilized with the pure water of the Nile

and conceives at the source of the Nile

When the time is right she carries

the living image of the heavenly land of dawn

Through her we are created

the creation of her heart

which her hands have brought forth

at this the place of beginnings

Through her together

with her son Horus

and her brother Osiris





Isis´ Gift to the King

I give you the power of heaven and creation

I give you all of the land and all lands

I give you power from the father of the land

Isis the Great Mother of God

Queen of Philae

Queen of heaven

mistress of all gods





The King is now turning towards his father Osiris:

Hymns of Philae VI

Awakening Osiris







The Deceased Osiris Receives
the Tomb, the Ointment and the Linen bandaging



The Son of Re comes

close to thee his father Osiris

he who is wonderful

He brings you

this holy room

as his protection in eternity

The King of Upper and Lower Egypt is coming

The powerful ka of Re, Amun the beloved

close to thee Osiris

He brings you the oil

that comes from Punt

his joy is your eternal scent

The lord is coming

Appeared in glory

close to thee Osiris

You carry your enemies

which you have slayed

The pure Horus

who is the foremost in eternity





Osiris is then given new life from his son under the protection of Isis:

The Giving of Life

I give you the lifetime

the sun of the heaven

Osiris the good god

the great god

Lord of Abaton

the water of Philae







Hymns of Philae VII




After having been given the power of giving life from his mother Isis,
the Giver of Life herself, the King restores life to his dead father Osiris.
Thus is Horus and Osiris, the Father and the Son of the same being.
The Eternal Return has once again been manifested and Existence can continue.





The Father-Son

The living god

The wonderful

and the healing

Appears in glory in the temple

Plenty of bread

is raised for the coming into being

The lord who appeared in glory

King Ptolemaios

Osiris the wonderful

and the loved





The king now proceeds once more to the Outer Court
where the people has been waiting while the rituals have been performed.
Surrounded by high members of the court and the priesthood he receives the grateful worship of all.

To them he is the Living God, without whom their existence was unthinkable.
To them it was neccessary that these rites be performed, otherwize Ma´at would collapse
and all life including the Two Lands would be destroyed.

Equally, a life without continuous devotion to the gods was unthinkable.
They did not call it religion, for they did not separate
religious thinking or activites from their daily chores.
The gods were ever present, in any human activity, and in any facet of Nature.



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