Sunday, February 16, 2014

Khonsu the Chronographer, god of Time Cycles and the Lunar Calendar, Connected to the Alphabet

The proposed hypothesis is that there was some purpose as to why the characters in the Hor Papyrus were employed as something like an Abecedarium (alphabetic sign list).  In derived works, the characters were used in a special way like an acrostic or other constrained, derivative composition.  The god Khonsu figures so prominently in it.  Hor the priest that was the owner of the papyrus, was a priest of Khonsu.  Why was the Sensen Papyrus associated with the idea of an alphabet, or a sign list that could be employed in creative ways, entirely separate from what the text "says."  Just like our alphabet can be used in letter and word puzzles, the characters in the Sensen papyrus were used in creative ways in derivative works.  So, let's explore how Khonsu may be associated with Alphabets.  Khonsu is closely associated with Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing, which is also an Egyptian moon god in some contexts.

Hugh Nibley writes the following about Khonsu:

It is entirely fitting and proper that the Breathings text should conduct on the pool of Knosu . . . Khonsu brings life-restoring breath . . . Paul Barguet designates Khonsu as “the moon god, who dies and is reborn periodically; he is a nocturnal sun, an inanimate form, not manifest, a potential force”—in which sense he is exactly like Sokar, “the dormant power of nature.”  His crown, combining new moon and full moon, shows that he is the lunar “point-mort,” as Sokar is the solar solstice; Khonsu, says Gertrud Thausing, is “Beginning and Ending!” . . . Finally, the pool of Khonsu, if it is to be a water of rebirth, is also a water of purification . . . Taking Khonsu's many functions and offices altogether, he may perhaps be best characterized as the great go-between, the intermediary, the officiant in the mysteries, sharing that essential character with Thoth as the moon-god.  (Hugh Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, Second Edition, pp. 422-423)
Egypt, of course, did not start out with an alphabet, but hieroglyphics, but over time, the Egyptians, in the era of the Greco-Roman period, adopted the Greek alphabet, and used it (as well as some modified demotic characters) as an alphabet that was specifically modified for use with the late Egyptian language dialects known as Coptic.  And in the Greek Magical Papyri, Egyptians used the Greek language and Greek alphabet.  The Egyptians idolized hieroglyphics as if they were containers for magical power.  And later, they came to believe the same thing about Greek vowels.  This syncretism or hybridization between Egyptian and Greek ideas probably centered in Alexandria.  It flourished among the Egyptian magical and gnostic sects, such as for example, the Basilideans.  They were a Gnostic sect that worshipped Abraxas or Abrasax (both versions of the same name for the god).

These types of ideas even found their way into Christianity, where certain Christians were representing the god Yahweh with the vowel representation of his name (Iaoue).  Some gnostic sects shortened this as Iao.  Remember, Christ is the God of the Alphabet, as it were (a term that I am coining), the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending.  Alpha and Omega are letters of the Greek Alphabet, and Christ is using them a symbols of himself, and this why I coin this term.  To quote Richard Flavin:
Dr. Moran writes in The Alphabet and The Ancient Calendar Signs "It would seem to be of some significance and worthy of further investigation, therefore, that the first letter of the alphabet is the Greek alpha, the Hebrew aleph, a bull, not the ordinary word for bull, but a special ancient word used for sacred cattle, corresponding to the Assyrian word alpu, a bull.  Scanning down through the other letters of the Hebrew alphabet having names with recognized meanings in the Hebrew, we find that they also deal with ideas in current astrology: a house, a hand, an eye, a fish, a serpent; while strangely enough the last of all in the Hebrew is taw, a mark, a sacred symbol; the Aramaic tor, oryx or ox; the Arabic thaur; the Greek tauros; the Latin taurus; and the Germanic thor, the thunderer.  Two bulls?  The first and last letter of the alphabet a bull?  One is reminded of Alam and Alad, the two bulls of the Sumerians, one on the right hand and the other on the left of the gate of the temple; of alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, which is repeated with such impressive resonance in the Book of Revelation."  (http://www.flavinscorner.com/abc.htm)
The "two bulls" seem to have been a signature or symbol of the calendrical sign lists in general.  There is some evidence and some theories that have been put forth (including one on this blog) that the alphabet started out as a zodiac.  The word khenes in Egypt, as we shall see, was associated with this symbol and these concepts, as well as the God Khons or Khonsu.  We read this about the word khenes, associated with Khonsu:

However, in the MacGregor list the double lion is portrayed and named hns (khenes).  Yet this is a word meaning 'traverse' or 'travel across' which appears in much earlier hieroglyphic texts determined by a sign in the shape of two bull's foreparts back to back.  In fact glazed-composition double bull amulets in exactly this form are found in the Twenty-sixth Dynasty and later.  To prove the connection between the two types there are even contemporary glazed-composition amulets in which one forepart is a bull's and the other a lion's.  Yet double bull amulets are also known which have a full and crescent moon nestling over their backs.  Moreover, a third form, which first appears in the Third Intermediate Period, represents double rams, and in the Late Dynastic examples suspension is by a loop behind so that a full moon with a crescent can lie over the animal's backs. (Carol Andrews, Amulets of ancient Egypt, p. 90)
Khenes seems to be related to the Proto-Indo-European root mhnes from whence our words moon, month, and the Spanish mes (month) is derived (see http://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Proto-Indo-European/m%E1%B8%97h%E2%82%81n%CC%A5s).  It is believed that this root derives from the root meh, that means "to measure."  It is very easy to see from the consonants that mhns and hns are related.

Khonsu is the God in the Egyptian mythology of the Beginning and the End, or in other words, the Lunar god associated to the alphabet traditions and similar astronomical or calendrical sign-list traditions like the lunar zodiac.  I don't mean to say that to the Egyptians, that Khonsu was the god of the Alphabet (because he didn't start out that way, and the Egyptians didn't have a true phonetic alphabet at first).  I mean to say that Khonsu became associated with these types of ideas over time, especially in the Greco-Roman  era.  He is directly connected with the cyclic traditions that have significance to the calendar, and to New Year rites and so forth.  That is the context of Beginning and the End, and so forth, and Calendrical traditions that were eventually also associated to the Alphabet.