The Dual Stargates of Egyptian Cosmology

Originally published in Duat CD ROM magazine, Issue One, Sept. 2002

by Gary A. David

Copyright 2001-2002 by Gary A. David.
Contact: e-mail islandhills@cybertrails.com

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In the current development of Western civilization, the popular imagination has seized with a
peculiar ferocity upon the notion of the stargate as a sort of cosmic corridor leading to a whole
new world or a dimension radically different from ours. The cult classics Stargate and Contact as
well as astrophysicists’ theories about wormholes --a household word in the wake of Star Trek
and its ilk-- invest such ideas with an almost mythical potency. This phenomenon is not new but
may instead have accompanied human beings’ first realization of their own individual mortality.
Even if Near Death Experiences may not have been common in our evolutionary history, they
were certainly not unknown either. NDEs could have correlated the long tunnel which takes us to
brilliant white light of the afterlife and the birth canal which brings us into this life. Both may be
considered as forms of stargates-- the soul’s passageway to and from the celestial realm.

The Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian manual of resurrection technology, identifies
both the falcon and the heron/phoenix as key icons, each of which is apparently associated with aspecific directional portal or doorway in the sky. In Spell 13, the Spell for going in and out of the West (symbolic of the Underworld), the afterlife journeyer states: “I have gone in as a falcon, I have come out as a phoenix...”1 The former bird corresponds to the southern stargate of what may
be termed “ex-carnation,” (“..gone in...” to the Underworld), providing a conduit for the soul to
leave the body after death. The latter bird corresponds to the northern stargate of incarnation
(“...come out...” to the Earth), allowing the soul to return to a new body. The northern stargate is now located between the constellations Gemini and Taurus. Due to precessional shifting, this
region of the sky was formerly known as the Gate of Cancer. The southern stargate located at the opposite end of the Milky Way between the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpio was likewise known as the Gate of Capricorn.2 We currently know that this latter region of the sky points to the center of our galaxy, where scientists believe a mysterious black hole lies hidden.

In the Spell for being transformed into a divine falcon, the Messenger addresses Osiris:
“O Lord of the Soul, greatly majestic, see, I have come, the Netherworld has been opened for me,
the roads in the sky and on earth have been opened for me, and there was none who thwarted
me.”3 In the same manner the Spell for being transformed into a heron states: “I am vindicated
on earth, and the terror of me is in the sky -- and vice versa; it is my strength which makes me
victorious to the height of the sky, I am held in respect to the breadth of the sky, my strides are
towards the towns of the Silent Land [the realm of the dead].”4 Spell 17 proclaims: “I am that
great phoenix which is in Heliopolis [in Lower Egypt to the north], the supervisor of what
exists... I go on the road which I know in front of the Island of the Just. What is it? It is Rosetjau
[or Rostau, the Netherworld]. The southern gate is in Naref [the necropolis at Heracleopolis, near
the Faiyum, or the lake and marshy area west of the Nile in Middle Egypt], the northern gate is in
the Mound of Osiris [Heliopolis]; as for the Island of the Just, it is Abydos [Upper Egypt far to
the south].”5

The oasis of the Faiyum was probably the naturalistic origin of the concept of the Field of
Rushes, or Field of Reeds, a sort of Egyptian Elysian Fields. Some of the vignettes for this region
in The Book of the Dead depict the Heron of Plenty perched upon a small pyramid. It is
interesting to note that the hieroglyph of a heron upon a pyramid corresponds to the word bah,
meaning “to flood, to inundate.”6 Also shown is a celestial bark containing a staircase (rather like
half of a stepped pyramid cut vertically), which connotes transcendence. Commenting on
Egyptian funerary literature, the renowned scholar Zecharia Sitchin writes: “The pictorial
depictions which accompanied the hieroglyphic texts surprisingly showed the Stream of Osiris as
meandering its way from an agricultural area, though a chain of mountains, to where the stream
divides into tributaries. There, watched over by the legendary Phoenix birds, the Stairway to
was situated; there, the Celestial Boat of Ra was depicted as sitting atop a mountain, or
rising heavenward upon streams of fire.”7 In papyrus illustrations of The Field of Rushes we also
find either the falcon or a small, human-headed bird representing the ba (homonym of bah), or
soul, perched atop a pylon, which is a massive rectangular gateway to a temple or hypostyle hall.8
Thus, the pylon is a perfect symbol for the stargate. In addition, the walls of the Field of Rushes
are made of iron, presumably meteoric iron, which further stresses its supernal connotation.9












Egypt is known as the Two Lands: Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt. Following the
Hermetic maxim “As above, so below,” these correspond to the northern and southern stargates
respectively, located along the celestial Nile River, i.e., the Milky Way. “The Milky Way will not
reject me, the rebels will not have power over me, I shall not be turned away from your portals,
the doors shall not be closed against me...”10 In addition, Spell 109 asserts: “I know the northern
gate of the sky; its south is in the Lake of Waterfowl, its north in is the Waters of Geese...”11 In
other words, the northern gate’s southern limit is where the heron’s domain begins, which is
probably a reference to the Faiyum, while the northern gate’s northern limit is symbolically
inhabited by geese. The goose is frequently equated with Geb (sometimes written Seb or Keb),
the god of Earth and husband of Nut, who is the personification of the sky. Geb’s chief seat is in
Heliopolis to the north where with his wife he produced the great Egg whence sprang the sun god
in the form of the phoenix.12 “The doors of the sky are opened for me, the doors of the earth are
opened for me, the door-bolts of Geb are opened for me, the shutters of the sky windows are
thrown open for me. It is he who guarded me who releases me, who binds his hand on me and
thrusts his hand on to me on earth, the mouth of the Pelican is thrown open for me, the mouth of
the Pelican is given to me, and I go out into the day to the place where I desire to be.”13
Significantly, the pelican is related to the phoenix in alchemical literature, and both are
associated with the color red. Perhaps it is not coincidence, then, that the Red Crown (Deshret)
comes from Lower Egypt, whereas the White Crown (Hedjet) is from Upper Egypt. The two
lands (i.e., Crowns) were united when King Menes of Hierakonpolis (about forty-five miles
south of Thebes) conquered the Delta circa 3100 B.C.14

As an anthropomorphism of the sky, Geb’s wife Nut is conceptualized as arching face
down over her supine husband, who is sometimes portrayed in an ithyphallic manner. Her fingers
and toes form the horizon, while stars glisten like semen on her dusky belly. Both figures are
positioned in the same direction, though some confusion exists about exactly which direction
they are oriented. Although the couple is sometimes seen with their heads pointing toward the
west, it makes more sense that the torso of Nut would represent the north-south orientation of the
Milky Way/Nile as seen during the pre-dawn and post-dusk periods of the vernal and autumnal
equinoxes. If we accept this positioning, her four outstretched limbs could represent the sunrise
and sunset solstice points on the horizon, while her vagina could signify the northern stargate and
her mouth the southern stargate. In this case, her head would be pointed south (similar to the
Orion Correlation at Giza). Egyptian lore recounts that when the Milky Way hugs the northern
horizon, arching from east to west during the pre-dawn winter solstice, Nut comes down to Earth
to lie with her husband Geb.

In his provocative book Signs In the Sky Adrian Gilbert compares the constellation Orion
with the biblical Jacob and the Milky Way with his ladder (Genesis 28:12).15 Indeed, the Egyptian
“bible” contains similar passages. The psychologist C.G. Jung observes:

“In one of the Pyramid Texts he [viz., Set, brother of Osiris] and Heru-ur (the
‘older Horus’) help Osiris [Orion] to climb up to heaven. The floor of heaven
consists of an iron plate, which in places is so close to the tops of the mountains
that one can climb up to heaven with the help of a ladder. The four corners of the
iron plate rest upon four pillars, corresponding to the four cardinal points. In the
Pyramid Texts of Pepi I, a song of praise is addressed to the ‘ladder of the twin
gods,’ and the Unas text says: ‘Unas cometh forth upon the Ladder which his
father Ra hath made for him, and Horus and Set take the hand of Unas, and they
lead him into the Tuat [or Duat, the Underworld].’”

This narrative occurred before the two brothers became fierce enemies. Set’s abode was
traditionally in the north 17, so in the context of these “twin gods” we may assume that Horus
belongs to the opposite direction. Continuing the ladder imagery, the Spell for fetching a
ferry-boat in the sky
reads in part:

“Hail to you, you plateau which is in the sky north of the Great Waterway
[the Milky Way], for whoever sees it will not die. I stand upon you, I appear as a
god, I have seen you and I will not die. I stand upon you, I appear as a god, I
cackle as a goose [of the north], I fly up as a falcon [of the south] upon the

“O Dew of the Great One, I cross the earth towards the sky, I stand up as
Shu [god of air, one of the Heliopolitan Ennead], I make sunshine to flourish on
the sides of the ladder which is made to mount up to the Unwearying Stars, far
from decapitation.”

The heart-rending tone of this pilgrim’s words echoing through the realms of the dead is
readily evident as he/she expresses an ultimate desire for eternal wholeness in bodily form and life everlasting in spirit. Moreover, many passages from The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead emphasize the paramount role of Orion and his northern stargate in achieving this spiritual goal.
In the Spell for opening the mouth, a ceremony in which Horus uses an adze of meteoric iron to
pry open the deceased mouth, thereby allowing the latter to regain his/her faculties in the Nether
World, we find the following proclamation: “...I am Orion the Great who dwells with the Souls
of Heliopolis.”19 Another spell avers: “I am Orion who treads the land, who precedes the stars of
the sky which are on the body of my mother Nut, who conceived me at her desire and bore me at
her will.”20

Still another spell speaks in the voice of the guardian of the northern stargate: “I am the
guardian, I am his [Osiris’s] heir on earth. Prepare a path for me, O you who are at peace; see, I
enter into the Netherworld, I open up the beautiful West, I make firm the staff of Orion...”21 In the
reproductive sense this staff is the phallus of Orion, whose star-seed is packed with nebulae such
as M-42 and M-43. In a more war-like aspect Orion holds this staff in his right hand and points to
locus where the ecliptic crosses the galactic plane of the Milky Way, the location of the
previously mentioned northern stargate.

Orion’s warrior image is artfully conveyed on the reverse side of a shield-shaped palette
depicting King Narmer (or Menes, as previously mentioned) of the south vanquishing his
northern foes. Wearing the White Crown and holding upraised staff in his right hand ready to
strike, he holds his kneeling enemy with his left hand. Behind him is what has been deemed the
“sandal-bearer,” with a star blazing above her in the exact relationship that Sirius is to Orion. In
front of Narmer is a falcon perched on a fan of six papyrus stalks symbolic of Lower Egypt. This
image indicates that the bird of the southern stargate has conquered the quintessential plant of the
north. The bird also holds a rope in his claws that apparently binds the head of another bearded
captive seen in profile (perhaps Phoenician?). At the bottom of the palette is a pair of figures that
on the celestial plane possibly represents Gemini, although the constellation in the sky is seen
above rather than below Orion.22

The spell of the northern gate’s guardian continues: “...I am the mysterious phoenix, I am
one who goes in that I may rest in the Netherworld, and who ascends peacefully to the sky. I am
the Lord of Celestial Expanses, I travel through the lower sky [i.e., over Lower Egypt] in the train
of Re 23; my offerings in the sky are in the Field of Re; my gifts on earth are in the Field of
Rushes.” 24 In this incantatory longing for peace in the afterlife, the earth-sky duality is
obviously a sine qua non of the Egyptian spiritual cosmology.

As sundry passages from ancient Egyptian texts have shown, the heron/phoenix complex
and its associated deities Osiris and Set are associated with the northern stargate of incarnation,
whereas the falcon and Horus are connected with the southern stargate of ex-carnation. Two
contrasting terms clearly illustrate this dichotomy: chronology and horology. Chronos is the lord
of time in its linear procession-- of time tables and stone tablets; i.e., the Masonic square. More
than one source has identified Chronos (the Greek Kronos or the Roman Saturnus) with the
constellation Orion.25 On the other hand, horology is the measuring of time in its cyclical sense--
the passing of the “hours,” from which both the word “horology” and “Horus” derive; i.e., the
Masonic compass. A “horo-scope” allows one to view the wheel of the zodiac, the group of
twelve archetypal constellations spinning through the solar year, as it affects the individual. On a
much larger scale it permits us to see the influence of the precessional year (equaling 25,920
solar years) as it impacts the rise and fall of civilizations. (e.g., the Age of Taurus, the Age of
Aries, the Age of Pisces, the Age of Aquarius, etc.) Horology has a deeper meaning, however.
According to Jung, “Horos (boundary) is a ‘power’ or numen identical with Christ, or at least
proceeding from him.” Its synonyms are “he who leads across,” “emancipator,” and “redeemer.”26

The Egyptians conceptualized the phoenix --a.k.a. the Bennu bird of the northern
stargate-- as “the patron of reckoning time” and “the soul of Osiris.”27 In essence, he was an agent
of purification by fire in the Netherworld, allowing souls to be reborn on the Earth plane.
Conversely, Horus was perceived as the falcon god who ushered them through the southern
stargate, out of this temporal world and into eternity. Hence, the dual stargates of immanence and
transcendence served as ports along the great sidereal river whereon all souls sail.


1. The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, translated by Raymond O. Faulkner (Austin:
University of Texas Press), 1990, 1985, 1972), p. 37.
2. Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Deschend, Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay Investigating the
Origins of Human Knowledge and Its Transmission Through Myth
(Boston: David R. Godine,
Publisher, Inc., 1998, 1969), p. 242.
3. Spell 78, The Book of the Dead, op. cit., pp. 77-78.
4. Spell 84, Ibid., pp. 81-82.
5. Ibid., pp. 44-45.
6. Sir. E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Language: Easy Lessons in Egyptian Hieroglyphics (New
York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1983, 1966, 1910, 1889), p. 66.
7. Zecharia Sitchin, Stairway to Heaven: Book II of the Earth Chronicles (New York: Avon
Books, 1983, 1980), p. 50.
8. Faulkner, The Book of the Dead, op. cit., p. 105, p. 106, p. 110.
9. Ibid., p. 102.
10. Spell 72, Ibid., p. 72.
11. Ibid., p.102.
12. E.A. Wallis Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. II (New York: Dover Publications, Inc.,
1969, 1904), pp. 94-96.
13. Faulkner, Spell 68, The Book of the Dead, op. cit., p. 69.
14. Evelyn Rossiter, The Book of the Dead: Papyri of Ani, Hunefer, Anhaï (London: Miller
Graphics/Crown Publishers, Inc., 1979, 1978), p. 21.
15. Adrian Gilbert, Signs in the Sky (London: Bantam Books, 2000), pp. 202-205.
16. C.G. Jung, Aion: Researches Into the Phenomenology of the Self, translated by R.F.C. Hull
(Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press/Bollingen Series XX, 1979, 1978, 1968,
1959), p. 122.
17. Ibid., p. 124.
18. Faulkner, Spell 98, The Book of the Dead, op. cit., p. 89.
19. Spell 23, Ibid., p. 52-53.
20. Spell 69, Ibid., pp. 70-71.
21. Spell 180, Ibid., p. 177.
22. a. “The Narmer Plate and Osiris, the Lord of Precession,” Ancient Egyptians and the
Constellations: Part 9, Audrey Fletcher, 1999 [web site online]; available from the World Wide
Web, <http://ancientegypt.hypermart.net/osirisprecession/index.htm>; accessed 28 January 2002;
b. “Narmer and the Early Egyptian State,” Per Medjat, Zoe Jackson [web site online]; available
from the World Wide Web,
<http://www.geocities.com/per_medjat/narmer_egyptian_state.html>; accessed 28 January 2002.;
c. “The Narmer Palette: The victorious king of the south,” An introduction to the history and
culture of Pharaonic Egypt [web site online]; available from the World Wide Web,
<http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/narmer/index.html>; accessed 28 January 2002.
23. Re, “form of the sun god at his noon-day strength, often falcon-headed,” Faulkner, The Book
of the Dead, op. cit., p.192.
24. Spell 180, Ibid., p. 180.
25. a. Richard Hinckley Allen, Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning (New York: Dover
Publications, Inc. 1963, reprint 1899) p. 308; b. Francis Huxley, The Way of the Sacred: The
Rites and Symbols, Beliefs and Tabus, That Men Have Held in Awe and Wonder Through the
(New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., Laurel Edition, 1976, reprint 1974), p. 212.
26. Jung, Aion, op. cit., p. 65n.
27. Rossiter, The Book of the Dead, op. cit., p. 21.