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Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt Paperback – December 9, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Erudite, rigorously developed, impeccably supported, observing all scholarly ground rules, yet revolutionary in its implications. This book should engage serious readers the world over.” (John Anthony West, author of The Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt)

“A splendid melding of fine scholarship and passionate engagement with themes that are vitally important to us today. It is must reading not only for lovers of Egypt, students of shamanism and religion, and modern practitioners of soul travel, but for all of us who hunger for the real history of humanity’s encounters with the more-than-human.” (Robert Moss, author of Dreamgates: An Explorer’s Guide to the Worlds of Soul, Imagination, and)

“A fabulously convincing piece of work.” (Normandi Ellis, author of Awakening Osiris)

“This is an important book for it places our focus for understanding these ancient texts where it should be, upon profound human experience.” (Michael Baigent, Caduceus, Issue #66)

". . . the Pyramid texts are revealed as initiatory texts that give voice to a potent shamanic wisdom, which provides the key to understanding both the true nature of these experiences and the basis of ancient Egyptan mysticism." (The Journal of Esoterica, July 2006)

“A model of how to engage with religious literature and, still more widely, with the sacred dimension of life. . . . Serves as a mirror to our own consciousness, reflecting back to us objective spiritual realities which have fallen out of contemporary discourse, and waking us up to deeper layers of our own humanity. . . . An essential book for all of us who long to experience the greater possibilities of the human psyche.” (Jules Cashford, Temenos Academy Review)

“An invaluable contribution to the dialogue about the mysteries of ancient Egypt.” (Rosicrucian Digest)

From the Back Cover

EGYPT / MYSTICISM

“Erudite, rigorously developed, impeccably supported, observing all scholarly ground rules, yet revolutionary in its implications. This book should engage serious readers the world over.”
--John Anthony West, author of The Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt

“A splendid melding of fine scholarship and passionate engagement with themes that are vitally important to us today. It is must reading not only for lovers of Egypt, students of shamanism and religion, and modern practitioners of soul travel, but for all of us who hunger for the real history of humanity’s encounters with the more-than-human.”
--Robert Moss, author of Dreamgates: An Explorer’s Guide to the Worlds of Soul, Imagination, and Life Beyond Death

“A fabulously convincing piece of work.”
--Normandi Ellis, author of Awakening Osiris

To the Greek philosophers and other peoples of the ancient world, Egypt was regarded as the home of a profound mystical wisdom. While there are many today who still share that view, the consensus of most Egyptologists is that there is no evidence that a mystical tradition existed in ancient Egypt. This book presents the evidence by radically reinterpreting the Pyramid Texts--the earliest body of religious literature that has survived from ancient Egypt--and the ritual context to which these texts belonged.

Until now, the Pyramid Texts have been viewed primarily as royal funerary texts that were used in the liturgy of the dead pharaoh or to aid him in his afterlife journey. Jeremy Naydler argues that they are mystical texts that speak of the experiences not of the dead but of the living king. Thrust into extreme psychological and existential predicaments, and undergoing perilous encounters with alternate realities, the experiences of the king are remarkably similar to those described in the literature of shamanism. Far from expressing ancient Egyptian funerary beliefs, the Pyramid Texts are revealed as initiatory texts that give voice to a potent shamanic wisdom, which provides the key to understanding both the true nature of these experiences and the basis of ancient Egyptian mysticism.

JEREMY NAYDLER, Ph.D., is a philosopher who has for many years been interested in the religious life of ancient cultures, receiving his doctorate in religious studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury. He is the author of Temple of the Cosmos: The Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred and Goethe on Science. He lives in Oxford, England.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; Trade Paperback Edition edition (December 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892817550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892817559
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Moss on January 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jeremy Naydler has rescued the deep wisdom of Egypt - experiential insight into the deeper reality and how we can travel there for initiation and empowerment - from the Egyptologists. For all of us who have long suspected, or remembered, that the palace tombs and pyramid texts of Egypt are about much, much more than funerary arrangements, here is ringing confirmation that the Egyptians traveled beyond the gates of death while very much alive, not only to bring back first-hand knowledge of the afterlife, but to enter into sacred union with the gods and enthrone their power in the body, and so acquire the spiritual and sexual potency to marry the worlds. Shamanic Wisdom of the Pyramid Texts is a splendid melding of fine scholarship and passionate engagement with themes that are vitally important to us today. It is must reading not only for lovers of Egypt, students of shamanism and religion, and modern practitioners of soul travel, but for all of us who hunger for the real history of humanity's encounters with the more-than-human
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Format: Paperback
First of all, Naydler's book is an outstandingly thorough and convincing argument that the Ancient Egyptian religion was a shamanic practice designed to bring on mystical experiences.

After several trips to Egypt and many hours spent inside of the ancient culture's temples and tombs, I was overwhelmed with the grandeur, scale, scope, artistry and FEELING of these sacred places. It was obvious to me that these folks were deeply steeped in mystical tradition. So I came back to the States seeking as much information as possible about ancient Egyptian religion. After many months of exploring the continuum of possibilities, I have to confess that I was very disappointed. On one side of the continuum were the extraordinarily dry and uninteresting and disconnected books such as "Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt" by Rosalie David; and on the other end of the continuum were the strange, seemingly unfounded and ungrounded books such as "Initiation in the Great Pyramid" by Earlyne Chaney. I was NOT looking for a book that simply confirmed my assumptions, instead I was looking for a book by a scholarly enthusiast. Naydler has fit the bill. His work uses as its source material the ancient Egyptians' own writings - the Pyramid Texts - so his work is grounded in reality. Yet, Naydler is also clearly a true believer in mystical experience as brought on by shamanic practice. Thus, his work has reinserted some of the passion into the scholarly landscape that clearly drove the Egyptians to erect such magnificent monuments. Bravo Jeremy Naydler.

I must also tell you that I was initially disappointed to discover that this book does not contain a full translation of the Pyramid Texts.
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This book was originally written as a doctoral thesis and it shows. The author says in the introduction that he's shortened and tightened up his writing for a general audience and I think he does a good job of that. Personally I don't mind reading long-winded theses when they are going in an interesting direction and this is definitely the case with this book. He attacks one of the major issues in Egyptology head-on in reinterpreting one of the standard ideas in the field. That is, the idea that virtually every monument and text is funerary. In this particular case he explores the nature and possible non-funerary function of the pyramid texts, especially focusing on those in the pyramid of Unas. He also refers to later versions of the texts from other pyramids and also to the much later literature that derives from them. Being that this is the oldest known religious text in the world and very strange from a modern perspective anything that can shed light on its nature and function is a great leap forward in understanding the ancient Egyptians, their religious and magical practices, and even the nature of kingship.

Contrary to the usual funerary interpretation he demonstrates evidence that the utterances (beginning with Dd mdw, literally 'say words') served functions other than as spells to carry the deceased king on his way to a happy afterlife. His hypothesis is that they served a so-called 'shamanic' function while the king was very much alive. The term shamanism isn't entirely accurate since it really comes from Siberian shamans but fits practices that are referred to as shamanic by anthropologists.
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Format: Paperback
Originally published in 2005, this book is some 480 pages thick. Some 330 pages are filled with regular text (including 131 figures), 85 pages with small print footnotes (including 4 figures). That makes the footnotes equalling more than a fourth of the regular text, part of them may be forgiven...

The author is taking neither the pyramids nor their texts as funerary or funerary only respectively. The focus is on the pyramid of Unas, with many references to other pyramids as well. He is not alone in the knowledge that the pyramids were used primarily/only for spiritual purposes, not tombs or referring solely to the afterlife. Instead as an initiation or renewal of initiation of a pharao for the well being of the entire kingdom. Hence, the hyroglyphs and vignettes are not describing the so-called afterlife of the pharao, but induced "near death" experiences of very much alive pharaos.

For a better overstanding of ancient Egyptian religion, Jeremy Naydler reasons to take the learning on ancient Egypt away from the realm of Egyptologists with their modern scientific attitude of culture references and give it to the mystics. Of any ages, as the Europeans of classic, medievil and later Imes up to the end of the 18th century hadn't been conditioned yet to belittle the ancient Egyptian religion and the knowledge of the latter representing the very roots of all the "world religions". The way of overstanding is the phenomenological approach, already taught by early 19th century Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The (universal) mystical message being: "Unless you make yourself equal to God, you cannot understand Him." Naydler goes further by suggesting the shamanic roots of the ancient Egyptian religion.
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