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on February 23, 2003
Rosemary Clark has written a stunning work which not only addresses the elements of the ancient Egyptian religion on an intellectual level, but shows how it holistically integrated with their culture and way of life. The chronological development of the different Egyptian schools of thought is covered, as well as a thorough understanding of the "symbolist" approach to interpreting these different schools of thought. Rather than having conflicting world views, Ms. Clark explains that the Egyptians were simply using different symbols to explain spiritual truths.
As I am interested in comparing the religion of ancient Egypt with that of Sumer and Babylon, this book was incredibly useful for its explanation of the various creation myths and its intelligibility to those who have a "Western" mindset. I've read a number of books on the Egyptian religion that use so much New Age lingo that they are practically useless, and fortunately Ms. Clark does not do so.
For anyone who wants to move beyond a simplistic, intellectual understanding of Egyptian kings and monuments, this book is a must-read.
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on September 13, 2000
Two hundred years ago, Egypt seized our interest in its great mysteries and the unbelievably long civilization they created when Champollion, the young French genius, discovered the key to translating the Rosetta Stone bearing inscriptions in Egyptian hieroglyphics, demotic characters (a simplified form of ancient Egyptian writing), and ancient Greek.
Egyptian texts present the translator with greater technical problems than most ancient tongues. The Egyptians left behind none of the usual and invaluable aids to translation. Like modern Hebrew and Arabic, Egyptian was written without vowels, so that only the consonantal structure is left. Its vital organs are gone, leaving behind dry bones. Much of the poetry and word play is lost forever. Much eludes us.
Merely translating the hieroglyphics was truly not enough, however, since the hieroglyphs are not only pictures (such as an owl), but also picture-signs used to convey the sound and meaning just as our alphabet does for us. An owl, for example, also stands for the letter "m," just in case you're curious. It does not end there, because there is also an inner meaning to the pictures, so that it was not so much the cat, dog, or snake that was worshipped, but the principle it represented; and that principle was, in turn, as aspect of the greater creation or ultimate spirit. Our modern quest for the wisdom of ancient Egypt centers on the true meaning of the symbolism, temples, tombs, and pyramids of this enigmatic motherland. We know many Egyptian words that express some degree of fear or happiness, but which one of these expresses dread, anxiety or worry? How do we distinguish between ecstasy, delight, joy, and jubilation?
Egyptologist Rosemary Clark, who reads Egyptian hieroglyphics firsthand, examines the esoteric tradition of Egypt in remarkable detail. She explores dimensions of the language, cosmology, and temple life to show that a sacred mandate--the transformation of the human condition into its original cosmic substance--formed the foundation of Egypt's endeavors and still has relevance today.
As founder of the Temple Harakhite, a group devoted to the experiential religious practices of Egypt's Old Kingdom. She is well versed in hieroglyphic script, its transliteration, and the translation of ancient texts, and in the subtleties of Hermetic philosophy and Sacred Science. I especially enjoyed the history of the initiatory schools and the Mystery Tradition recorded in ancient times and their methods of clairvoyance, prophecy and healing.
Clark quotes R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz from "Esotericism & Symbol." He said, "Initiation does not reside in any text whatsoever, but in the cultivation of intelligence of the heart. Then there is no longer anything occult or secret, because the intention of the enlightened, the prophets, and the "messengers from above" is never to conceal--quite the contrary."
This is the time of revelation of all occult secrets.
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on August 10, 2009
With 'The Sacred Tradition in Ancient Egypt: The Esoteric Wisdom Revealed', Rosemary Clark presents an overview over the spiritual life of ancient Egypt. The book covers a wide range of subjects - creation myths and the pantheon of gods, Egyptian ideas of the relation between heaven and earth and the geometry of temples and their alignment to celestial bodies, the organization and structure of Egyptian temples, funeral rites and the ideas of the afterlife and finally Egyptian initiation paths. In dealing with these various topics, Clark tries to illustrate the common underlying themes and to show that the tradition of ancient Egypt forms a meaningful whole rather than disparate fragments.

The approach she has chosen for the book is not scientific - Clark correctly realizes that science, confining itself to what can be objectively proven and deduced with rational methods, gets one only so far in trying to understand religion. Instead, she follows what she refers to as the 'symbolist' approach. It is never really defined what the basis of this approach is, but judging from the book, she seems to mean that one lets the symbols speak to one's intuition which is trained by dealing with other systems of symbols, and let the intuition then fill the gaps between what can be known with certainty.

Ideally, this approach would let the symbols speak for themselves, and out of this, a coherent picture of what the whole means would emerge. However, the danger of this approach is that one distorts the meaning of a symbol in order to fit it into one's ideas of how the whole should look like. Untimately, the symbolist approach must be judged by the outcome - do the different symbolic themes fit together in a natural way, or are connections forced? Clark's book contains some of the former, and some of the latter. I will give three examples of what I consider forced correspondences in the following.

An important theme thoughout the book are the three initiation paths which Clark denotes as lunar, solar and stellar. She argues that the predominance of a path in Egypt corresponds to the astrological ages of Taurus (steller path), Aries (solar path) and Pisces (lunar path). However there is first the small matter that even according to her own timeline, astrology with 12 signs was not developed till hellenistic times, so the Egyptian priests in the Old Kingdom could not possible have known an age of Taurus, as Taurus wasn't known as a symbol. One might argue that it doesn't matter what name one gives to an archetypical theme, and they called it differently. But the more serious objection is that in astrological symbolism, Taurus is an earth sign, emphasizing roots, possessions and keeping together what one owns - it does not fit at all with the theme of the stellar initiation path of a destiny among the stars, which is the theme of transcendence expressed in astrology by the sign Pisces. Associating he solar initiation path under the protection of Heru (Horus) with Aries is a better match - but Clark otherwise associates Asar (Osiris) who is the protector of the lunar initiation path with Aries rather than Heru - so the symbolic correspondences here are quite a muddle.

A different example is found in Clarks treatment of Egyptian words. For example, in explaining 'sa' as a divine influence, she makes the connection with 'sa(t)' as 'son/daughter' and argues that therefore it also denotes a creative force. But these are two different words, written in a different way, just their transcription is the same (I consulted my Egyptian dictionary if there are overlapping writing variants, but it did not list any). This is as if someone would claim that 'carat' and 'carrot' are the same word because the pronounciation is the same (in fact, the two Egyptian words may even be pronounced in a different way, the vocalization is not known). More similar examples are found in the book.

Finally, sometimes symbolic correspondences are just unclear. In the context of the Sacred Anatomy, a table lists the lungs associated with the sense of hearing. I am rather sure that the non-sacred Egyptian anatomy was aware that hearing is connected with the ears (the hieroglyph writing of the verb 'sedjem' 'to hear' employs the sign of an ear), so I am possibly not the only reader who finds this association with the lungs puzzling. Even consulting other references, I could not find out where it comes from, and Clark doesn't explain. All in all, there remain several symbolic correspondences which are very puzzling in the book.

All this is unfortunate, since Clark in general shows interesting and meaningful connections between symbolic themes, and there is much thought-provoking material found in the book. One can get many interesting ideas and observations out of it, but one should not take every statement on faith value, but rather have other references ready to check if Clark's ideas really hold up in a particular case or not.
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on October 18, 2000
"Do you not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven, or, to speak more exactly, in Egypt all the operations of the powers which rule and work in heaven have been transferred to earth below? Nay, it should rather be said that the whole Kosmos dwells in this our land as in its sanctuary." Hermetica: Asclepius III,24b
Reading Rosemary Clark's wonderful new book is like being Shelley's "traveller in an ancient land" and being greeted by a temple priest (or, in this instance, a priestess), prepared to take one on a guided tour of the Mysteries of Egypt.
Seemingly, there is nothing Ms. Clark does not know about the religion of the realm of the Pharaohs, its centers of worship and the deities to which they were dedicated. Indeed, her book might have been written thousands of years ago by an astrologer/priest ("Sacred-Scribe, as they were called)who knew how to communicate his wisdom in the most elegant yet lucid terms.
"The Sacred Tradition" is a "must have" for every Egyptological library, being essentially the only volume one would ever require on all aspects of the theology and metaphysics. Although scholars would appreciate this work, it is perfectly accessible, in its format and style, to amateur enthusiasts of ancient Egypt and observers of the heavens which it was said to have mirrored.
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on April 26, 2005
Ancient Egypt - what a remarkable place it must have been! The boundary between the dimensions of spirit and physical form practically ceased to exist, so comprehensive was their view of the cosmos and their place in it. The vast majority of modern men and women think we live in a far better world, but we do not because most of us feel disconnected from the spiritual world. Religious fundamentalists claim and likely feel connected to something that they call the spiritual world, but whatever they are dialed into seems more like the devil to me than anything else. If you are a seeker, please read this book and incorporate its insights and wisdom into your dreams. Dare to believe and you may, for the first time in your life, feel the rays of the Sun warm your shivering soul. Mine sure warmed up. I've read it 5 times now, and each time I discover something new. Still, ancient Egypt lost its vision and its way over the millenia. One must, after all, water a plant to see it flower. Is it possible that we can find our way, if we can decipher, recover, and practice their comprehensive vision? Modern religions seem like a vast desert to me without a drop of water in sight and there is nothing new to discover in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim tradition that was not already incorporated in ancient egyptian spiritualism and religious practices, except the extent to which modern men and women misunderstood or deliberately misinterpreted it to further their own ends. Ms. Clark peels the onion for you and in the end you will behold a whole far greater than the sum of its parts.
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on January 15, 2002
I have her book and have been impressed by her seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of voluminous details of ancient Egyptian religious life and her special gift to organize her ideas in an extremely orderly and accessible manner. She speaks with ease of the pantheon of gods; and her various listings and tables of gods (and her other lists establish everything in their place) fills in what from many other sources are missing details. In her book, one gets the feeling that they are seeing the whole picture whereas in other books in the genre, I feel just some pieces of the jig saw puzzle are there and in (comparatively speaking) a disjointed manner. I'm unread, but of all the books I've encountered on ancient Egyptian life, religious practices, and beliefs, her's is in the top three and in other instances the best there is.
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on September 11, 2012
I'm a newly found Kemeticist that has been trying my best to find my way. Other books have been a wiccan approach to Ancient Egyptian religion, which is fine. However, this is not what I am trying to achieve. I was surfing Amazon when these books came up, and I decided from the reviews that I had to have them. Thank the Neteru I found them because they have revolutionized my thinking and understanding of the wisdom of the ancients.

I have been in love with Ancient and modern Egypt since I was a little girl, and am glad that someone is finally breaking down their rationale and mindset, rather than just approaching it from the Western point of view that many do. My thought process has been slowly changing to accommodate my beliefs, and I'm beginning to see life in a way that matches how I've always been but been unable to truly live for lack of guidance. Thank you, Mrs. Clark, for these books and your citing for helping me find other works to deepen my understanding.

Just a fair warning, however, if you don't have a background in metaphysics/religious studies outside of Western religions, this book will be very difficult to get through. It is more geared toward the reader that has experience with a broad background in religion. It is definitely worth the fight if you do not have these backgrounds. If you seek answers to how the Ancient Egyptians thought and lived their beliefs, I assure you this book will set you on the right path.
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on February 8, 2012
This book's title is misleading. Half of it is factual information which you can find elsewhere and the other half is, is one person's take on Ancient Egyptian religion. A sort of Egyptian 'Ride a Silver Broomstick' imitating a sourcebook.

I've bookmarked a few useful places. Steer clear of the rituals which seem plucked from Herodotus. Some of the Tables try to bridge to the Western mystery tradition (a big nono). I've studied Ancient Egyptian Religion for decades and seen some shockingly attrocius books- this is not one of them and has some good factual information, but the ritual content is of no value at all.

An expensive bookshelf filler that will be set aside by the student very quickly.
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on June 18, 2015
it is a mater reconstruction of the sacred tradition. It's considered to be not an academic work, since it mingles with many non aademic resources and ideas. But if you want to know how the solar tradition, lunar tradition and stellar tradition of initiation is related to the transformation of the soul, and how it relates to the book of the dead and the initiatic tradition, this is a must have.
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on August 16, 2002
It's separated out for each subject, for example "Orsiris" is a sub-section under "O", and "Afterlife" is a sub-section is under "A", this makes it very easy to use as a reference tool. The "Further Reading" section impressed me as well, and is a great tool within the book I plan to take advantage of. Again, as with most books I have read on Egyptian Mythology there is a lack of stories or "legends" within the book, containing more oppinions on the subjects rather than the "whole" stories themselves. I'd rather read the COMPLETE STORIES of myths and legends of the gods and obtain my own oppinion from it with a summary or hypothetical explaination at the end, yes I know this is never gonna happen but a girl can dream now can't she!! ;) Don't get me wrong I'm not dawging the book, it's wonderful in educating what type of artifacts egyptians used in thier religion, and summaries of why they use them. But my preference is to have the FULL story of the legend that goes with the use of the artifacts.
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