Llewellyn Publications, 2003
H.H. Rev. Ptahmassu K.M. Nofra-Uaa
Nuhati Temple Fellowship
San Diego, California
Once in a great while a new volume on the Temple Tradition of Ancient Egypt is released that not only sparks our interest, but demands our attention and holds onto it with tenacity. Rosemary Clark's book The Sacred Magic of Ancient Egypt: The Spiritual Practice Restored (Llewellyn Publications, 2003) is one such work- a work that should be considered mandatory reading for anyone who attempts to find meaning and a path of faith in the Wisdom Traditions of the Ancient Egyptians.
This is a large companion volume to the sizeable The Sacred Tradition in Ancient Egypt: The Esoteric Wisdom Revealed (Llewellyn Publications, 2000), a book that is highly recommended to readers before they attempt to apply what is presented in its sequel. For students of the works of renowned metaphysician-philosopher R.A. Schwaller De Lubicz (not forgetting those of his wife Isha Schwaller De Lubicz), Rosemary Clark's volumes will become indispensable research and study guides for the high science through which the Temples, monuments and theological works of the Ancient Egyptians were composed. Whereas the strictly scholarly works of R.A. Schwaller De Lubicz serve as a tool for mapping out what Egypt's Temples and tombs say to us on an intellectual (and some would say anthropological and / or philosophical) level, Rosemary Clark has given us a far less clinical, and much more practical method for approaching the beauty of the Egyptian Mystery Traditions preserved in the monolithic religious remains of Ancient Egypt.
From its beginnings, Sacred Magic asks us to open up the heart of devotion for the Force that truly made Kemet (Ancient Egypt) the forerunner of human civilizations. A Hymn to Harakhte immediately identifies for readers a book that strives to celebrate the Faith of Ancient Egypt, not merely dissect it through boring scholarship. Rosemary Clark, though bearing a gifted scholarly mind grounded in the "discoveries" of Egyptology, is clearly separated from academic Egyptology in her writings because she is not an outsider to the mystical tradition(s) she is trying to explain. It is apparent in the pages of this volume that Rosemary Clark is on the inside of the Ancient Egyptian Tradition, looking out through the eyes of a devoted scholar and teacher of the Sacred Science she helps us to investigate.
The first two chapters of Sacred Magic, "The Legacy of Ancient Egypt" and "Esoteric Architecture", dissect the crux of the ancient Temple and its environment, together with the ancient world view that gave birth to a highly complex system of cosmic investigation spanning more than 3,000 years of human history. Like the De Lubicz's before her, Rosemary Clark unfolds the Temple of Egypt as an Earthly replica of the Heavens and its solar, stellar and lunar harmonies. The Temple in Ancient Egypt was far from being a "church" or place of adoration for the masses. It was a machine in stone, whose minutest details in relief, writing and statuary functioned as a lens through which the Divine rhythms of Heaven were brought sharply into focus. In sections such as "The Worlds of Creation" and "The Powers of Creation", Mrs. Clark convinces us that such was the case throughout all of Pharaonic history, providing the reader with clear tables and diagrams mapping out the ancient realms of Creation as defined through Egypt's principal theological schools, and in the family systems of the Neteru- the "Gods and Goddesses" recognized by the Ancient Egyptians that truly embodied (and embody) the Cosmic Functions of Creation, the Universe and Nature combined.
What is at once so rewarding in Sacred Magic is its definition of the Neteru as more than just the focus of "cults" and "mythology", as is the rule of thumb in the sterile writings of Egyptology. In her significant contribution to the decipherment of the Ancient Egyptian Faith, Mrs. Clark brings out for us the true relationship of Egypt's Gods to Her people, and expresses to readers the Divine Science that eternally linked Kemet to its multitudes of Divinities. Throughout Sacred Magic, we have the opportunity to investigate the forms, functions and Rites (Khesu) of the Neteru as personal Gods and Goddesses, that is to say, as Saviors and Protectors that have tremendous power to transform devotees both psychologically and spiritually. This is accomplished with abundant responsibility as the author maps out for students and devotees a logical program for study, worship and ritual that includes complete liturgies in both Medu (hieroglyphics) and English.
In "Theurgy" and "Liturgy" this volume attains its chief objectives, which is to reestablish the great Temple Tradition(s) of Kemet in a contemporary environment, utilizing the Ancient Scriptures and ritual structures through programs that can be easily achieved in a group devotional setting today. Without lending herself to the New Age hokiness that most often accompanies the recreation of Ancient Egyptian ritual, the author gives us beautiful and traditional Rites paired with descriptive yet succinct instructions for carrying out the adoration of the Neteru. What becomes unarguably clear in reading these particular sections of Sacred Magic is that the Temple System(s) of Ancient Egypt is not only relevant to today's spiritual / religious practitioners, but essential to those of us who desire union with the Mystery Paths of the Neteru. Such a system as that promoted in Sacred Magic- that is, a system using Sacred Astrology, Theurgy and Liturgy as its basis for contacting and comprehending the Divine- forms the foundation for the reestablishment of the Ancient Temple of the Neteru today in a way that remains true to both individual and group dynamics. Although Mrs. Clark bestows the Temple setting with various ranks of Priests and Priestesses, she makes it painfully clear that there is no hierarchy necessary for the accomplishment of the Ancient Egyptian Temple Tradition in the present time. Each function of the Hem(t) Neter or Patron of the Divine House is regarded as essential to the overall function of the Temple, and each is a personal pathway leading ultimately to higher realization of the Temple goal, which is personal union with the Divine, Neter.
For those with a keen interest in the study of Sacred astronomy and astrology as it was perfected by the Ancient Egyptian Temple Tradition, the author's in depth treatment in "Cosmic Resonance" (Chapter Three) is a significant read. This is no light treatment of the subject of solar, stellar and lunar correlations and relationships, but a vast reservoir of dedicated research that deserves special attention for those who wish to pattern their Temple after the precise observations of the Ancient star-watchers and chroniclers. The solar and lunar calendars observed by the Ancients are fully detailed and brilliantly investigated, offering us important tables for carrying out lunar observances and / or Sacred Rites according to the phases of the moon and the Neteru Who manifest through each phase. Such a treatment can hardly disappoint, especially when the author has gone so far in her investigations as to explain the entire zodiac in its correlations with the various Families or Pantheons of the Neteru. Each sign and month in the zodiac is detailed with careful references to their corresponding Neteru, including scents, metals and other natural compliments. This insightful section leaves us with astrological "profiles" of sorts of the Neteru Whom Mrs. Clark asserts can be matched to each of the zodiacal signs. The result is a treatment of Temple Astrology and Astronomy that provokes greater awareness, and satisfies the student of the Heavens graciously.
"Ceremony" and "Transformation" (Chapters Six and Seven) offer one of the most significant contributions to the Temple Tradition(s) of Ancient Egypt I have read in recent years. This is where the author's narrative skill and meticulous research shine through with precise clarity and sensitivity, offering Temple practitioners today an illumination of the function of Rites to the Neteru and the Heka or "Power", "Magic" They embody as manifestations of Heaven on Earth. Rosemary Clark presents her readers with observations grounded in several Ancient Texts and observances, including the Hebu, the Book of Breathings, the Festival of the Joyous Union, the Invocation of Khons, the Book of Hours, and the Lamentations. Each Sacred Observance is carefully illuminated by Ancient inscriptions and thorough tables of comparative information, making an inexhaustible reference for any Servant of the Neteru, Whose aim is to consecrate a proper Temple to Neter that can function according to the multidimensional goals of several participants. Each prayer is accompanied by the appropriate Medu, with English to clarify, and translated from the original texts with obvious dexterity. In reading these sections of Sacred Magic it is more than obvious that Mrs. Clark is herself a dedicated Master and practitioner of the Ancient Egyptian Temple Tradition, and a devoted scholar of the Neteru who wishes to grant others the transformative experiences that such a great tradition has to offer the world of spiritual aspirants.
Much more could be said about Sacred Magic's contents, however, I sincerely feel that the volume speaks for itself, and beautifully so, from the first page to the last. A review of any length could hardly hope to capture the scope and depth of Rosemary Clark's intensely dedicated scholarship and research, so I will simply conclude by asking my readers to investigate this book, and diligently apply it to the uses for which it was intended. Mrs. Clark has effectively summed up the contents of both her tremendous volumes in a single, simple sentence: "...a sacred tradition must be lived to realize the benefit and vital power it possesses". I couldn't have said it better myself.