The result of an innovative project to translate one of the most famous Egyptian Steles in existence has just been published by ThothWeb.
The 2,700 year old Stele of Ankh-af-na-Khonsu, also known as The Stele of Revealing is currently housed in the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo and has been the source of immense public interest for the past 100 years after occultist Aleister Crowley brought this unique funerary object to the attention of the world.
Little is known about Ankh-af-na-Khonsu except that he was a Theban priest who lived and worshipped in one of the cult centres of the God Mentu, a falcon headed solar deity, sometimes considered god of war and regarded as a special protector of Egypt and of the monarchs. Ankh-af-na-Khonsu was obviously of sufficiently high rank to have warranted an expensive funeral and with it a certain guarantee of his place in the afterlife. As a high-ranking priest, he would have been regarded as an intermediate link between the sacred world of the temple and the outside world and would have been as skilled in the magickal arts as he was in the everyday ritual worship of the deity.
The stele is thought to have been one of many artefacts dedicated to the deceased priests of Mentu discovered inside Hatshepsut's temple in Deir el Bahari, in the necropolis west of modern day Luxor in around 1858.
The stele itself is a wooden tablet, measuring 31 x 51.5 cm (approx. 12" x 20"), overlaid with stucco and decorated on both sides with hieroglyphic inscriptions and pictorial representations of Egyptian Gods and Egyptian cosmology. It is thought to date back to 725 BC, when the once great Egyptian dynasty entered a period of rapid decline. As such it offers a final glimpse of the religious culture of ‘old’ Egypt before its heritage was changed forever by conquering invaders.
The stele attracts an enormous amount of interest from Egyptologists and Occultists alike.
Aleister Crowley came upon the stele when visiting the Boulaq Museum in Cairo with his wife, Rose, on March 18, 1904. Rose had informed him that an entity named Aiwass, said to be a messenger of the god Horus (pictured on the stele) wanted him to go to the museum where she led him to the steel.
Crowley is of course most famous for adopting its exhibit number – 666 (a number he already identified himself with), as his own personal number and in doing so, he catapulted himself to timeless infamy.
Over the ensuing days he incorporated his own translation of this rare object along with the received (or channelled) wisdom of Aiwass into writing what would eventually become Liber Al vel Legis. It was through this remarkable stele that the occult philosophy and new religion Crowley called Thelema was born.
Despite the Stele’s importance to both Egyptologists and occultists, until now few definitive translations have been made public. Experts working on the Stele have been able to not only provide an excellent translation, but have been able to offer additional insight into what this fascinating object represents in terms of developing our own understanding of ancient Egypt.
The full text relating to The Stele of Revealing can he read here:
We are most likely standing before a funerary Stele that belongs to a deceased of the latest period probably from 1000 to 500 B.C. judging by the colour used to paint the skin of the god – black or dark blue – that suggests Nubian influences, as well as the simplified writing system showing the frequent use of the Hieratic Script.
The deceased stands before the God Horus with is traditional hawk head, holding the “Was” sceptre in his left hand as a symbol of power and dominion often carried by deities as a sign of their power, and painted wearing the traditional “Uraeus” snake used as a protective symbol, believed to spit fire at any approaching enemies. The man honouring the god is most likely a priest considering the typical garment covered with animal skin as well as the traditional hair cut – this figure also represents the deceased and tells us that he belonged to high social rank considering the representations and the kind of funerary stele we are looking at.
The goddess Nut is framing the scene, curved with her belly down, they way she usually appears, representing the essence of the night. Under Nut we can see “Hadit” - the Winged Solar Disk which is a form that the god Horus Behudety (Horus of Edfu) takes in his battles with Seth after the god Thoth used his magic to turn Horus into a sun-disk with splendid outstretched wings. The inscription surrounded by the solar disk says: “The great God Master of the Sky”. The inscription above Horus simply tells us his title: “Ra-hoor-khuit/ leader of the gods” On the right side, above the picture of the deceased, the text tells us who he is: “The deceased prophet of Mentu/ lord of Thebes/ the one for whom the doors of the sky are opened in Thebes/ Ankh-f-n-khonsu”
Under the altar there are some symbols, although they look like hieroglyphs, they simply represent offerings to the God, and those would be: bread, some drink (beer most likely), cattle and fowl. Under the images there is a prayer to Horus, asking for his help to guide the priest through the underworld so that he can reach eternal life.
“The true voice of the priest of Monthu / Lord of Thebes, the one who opens the gates of the sky in Karnak/ the deceased speaks: Oh Supreme one! I adore the majesty of your spirit/ the sublime soul of the One that inspires great reverence of him among the gods. On his great throne he shines/ opening the path for my soul/ spirit/ and shadow/ I am equipped with the light that I received so that I can shine through my path towards the place in which Ra, Tum, Khephra, and Hathor are/ I, the deceased priest of Mentu/ lord of Thebes/ Ankh-f-n-khonsu/ son of a father with whom I share the same titles, Bes-n-Mut/ and of the priestess of Amon-Ra, the mistress of the house Ta-Nesh."
The reverse side of the Stele is purely the expression of the wishes of the deceased considering the journey and judgement that will stand before him after the ascension, so that he can go forward by day:
The true voice of the prophet of Mentu, lord of Thebes/ Ankh-f-n-khonsu/ the deceased speaks:
“Oh my heart/ heart of my mother/ Oh heart of mine while I was on earth, don’t rise up as a witness against me/ don’t oppose me in judgement/ do not be a punisher in the presence of the great God/ lord of the West/ For now I have joined the land/ in the great Sky of the West so that I may proceed my live on earth”. The true voice of Ankh-f-n-khonsu, priest of Thebes/ the deceased speaks:
"O Splendorous one, who shines like the moon/ the deceased Ankh-f-n-khonsu has passed beyond the multitudes to join those who are in the light/ open to him the gates of the dwelling-place of the stars/ so that now, the deceased Ankh-f-n-khonsu shall go forth by day to keep fulfilling all things that pleased him while upon earth and among the living." (Or the multitudes)
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