8 Comments

  1. I like the idea of ankh representing a knot, as in tieing or binding through covenant…that’s what leads to eternal life.

    Also, the image of the circle being the sun, or heaven/the eternities/etc., the horizontal line being the horizon, or the veil/death/etc., and the straight line being the straight and narrow path/iron rod/etc. that leads to the veil/death and our eternal heavenly home.

    Good stuff.

  2. Reed Russell

    Bryce,

    Very interesting post. I have an acquaintance who has long taught this idea that the ankh is the knot in the sash of the Egyptian ritual clothing.

    He references a vignette suggesting that the Egyptians moved the knot in the sash from the left to the right as part of their ritual doings (by the fact that Isis holds the knot in her left hand while Nephthys holds the knot in her right hand in the drawing.)

    A faint remembrance of the Egyptian ritual is preserved in the ritual of the academic trade guild (the graduation ceremony) wherein the mortarboard tassel (a relic of asian kingship) is shifted from the left to the right.

    From his notes: as part of their ritual, the Egyptians swore an oath or a covenant as in Psalms 24.
    The sash of their ritual clothing represents the string that binds the umbilical cord at birth–representing life. Bergman suggests that ankh also means “oath” – that one swears by one’s life so that if the oath is broken, so likewise ‘the cord of life,’ i.e. the umbilical cord is broken.
    (Ich bin Isis, p. 196, n. 3) (quoted by H. Nibley in MJSP p. 252)

  3. Thanks for the comments. Regarding the graduation ceremony, Wikipedia interestingly notes that the moving of the tassel might be a modern derivation of a more ancient tradition of a complete change of dress during the ceremony:

    There is in some colleges and universities a practice of moving the tassel from one side to the other on graduating, but this is a modern innovation which would be impractical out of doors due to the vagaries of the wind. However, this mark of transition to graduate status has the benefit of taking less time than more traditional indicators such as the individual conferring of the hood, or a complete change of dress part-way through the ceremony (as at Oxford in the United Kingdom).

    Apparently, such a change of dress still occurs in the graduation exercises of Oxford, one of the oldest universities in the world.

  4. A really interesting article! I spent time in Egypt in the late 80’s and have a great fascination with the myriad of practices, symbols and beliefs. There seems to always be something new to learn. You have given me several more things to ponder.

  5. Bryce:

    A most outstanding series of posts! The competition is getting a bit tough in this corner of the Bloggernacle 😎

    A couple points. From the Book of Abraham we can see that when Abraham went into Egypt it operated an apostate priesthood. But I am not sure that was always the case. The people of Abraham and Joseph had a big influence, at times, on the Egyptians. Then there is the Hyksos who ruled Egypt, they were children of Shem.

    This idea of a rope and a knot is very interesting. I have contended that the knot corresponds to the altar in each glory, and is tied there in that glory by a nail, or a “vav” and that the vav is a symbol of the covenant and atonement. You can read my comments on that topic HERE.

    -David

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