The initial question which spawned the debate came from Robin Walker as he asked:
ROBIN: Can anyone identify the original Egyptian source for the Diagram of the Law of Opposites? Is it on a temple wall? Is it from a papyrus? Where? I have been trying to track this down for a while.
This was in response to me posting the following image among an array of images showing iconographic and philosophical connections between West and Central African cultures and that of the Ancient Egyptians.
I replied as follows (in part):
ASAR: I don’t think you’re going to find it on any papyrus. It is something you just have to “see” in the images. Most, if not all of the signs I posted are images written in the sand. They still do this in divinations in Egypt to this day. I think that particular image simply comes from Aristotle who was initiated in Egypt. The sign can be seen easily in Egypt if you have the eyes. That’s why I posted the image of the four moments of the sun during the Ptolemaic period superimposed with the circle and its four demarcations.
Because Mr. Walker could not see the “diagram” in the image, we have had a long drawn out debate to only come back to the same image as we will see further below. What seems to be what Robin is looking for is a papyrus written by an Egyptian explicitly stating that “this symbol exists and this is what it means.” It would be nice if the Egyptians did that for us, but African people, especially ones governed by priesthoods, do not make it obvious for the uninitiated.
Get “initiated” into the beginnings of African symbology. The first lesson one must learn is that everything is hidden in plain site. The objective of initiation is to help the person learn how to “see” the hidden realities or layers of the manifest world. Those who belong to Masonic (“like”) organizations will understand fully what has just been conveyed.
The first thing one must know is that Egyptian art is ALWAYS designed on a grid system. I won’t go into much discussion on this because historians have already discussed this canon in depth. I recommend Chiekh Anta Diop Civilization or Barbarism, Schwaller De Lubicz Temple of Man, and Moustafa Gadalla’s Sacred Geometry. All discuss in depth the grid and proportion system of ancient Egyptian art.
This is important to know for our discussion because everything in Egyptian art is encompassed within a square, circle or triangle. Even if you don’t “see” these shapes, they are there. Anyone who reads Mdw Ntr script knows first hand that this writing is grid/square based. I don’t think I need to argue this fact any further.
From this point on it is mainly going to be pictures. I am going to take baby steps so no one misses what is being articulated here. After this presentation, if someone is still denying the “diagram” does not exist in Egyptian iconography, I can not do anything to help them as their cognitive dissonance prevents their edification. So let’s begin.
The following is an original image from the Ptolemaic period of Ra (light), symbolized by the sun, going on its journey of life, maturity, death, conception and rebirth: in other words death and resurrection (reincarnation). This concept is the core to all African teachings and is what connects Egypt with the rest of Black Africa.
It must be said that in African theosophy, ontology, philosophy and myth, the characters and symbols within the teachings are ALWAYS representations of YOU reading/hearing the story. There is no God Ra, there is YOU. There is no God Shu. Shu is an aspect of YOU. There is no Obatala, Heru, Shango, Asar, Anansi, Oshun, Odu, Amarava, Neo, Morpheus, etc.; there is only aspects of YOU.
So the image above is a teaching of man’s major stages of life. Some of you may be familiar with the “Riddle of the Sphinx.” If you are not, here it is: What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening? The solution: A man, who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two legs as an adult, and walks with a cane in old age. This question is a question that is credited to the Greeks. Given what we know about early Greek education, where did they get this philosophy from?
This understanding by the Greeks comes directly out of the Nile Valley among the Egyptians. In the myth where Heru is poisoned by the scorpion and is near death, Isis calls out to Ra who states, “I am Khepera in the morning, Ra at noontime, and Tem in the evening.” In Chapter 17 of the Book of Coming Forth By Day it states, “Visualize this: This is the god Tem, who dwells in his divine solar disk. Sometimes it is said that it is Ra when he shines from the horizon on the western side of Heaven.” This let’s us know that the symbol of the Sun in its three positions in the various diagrams are referring to the same “entity.” That entity again is YOU.
The opposing position claims that the Egyptians did not have a “diagram of opposites” and that the Ptolemaic image above does not represent the “diagram” that is accredited to Plato and Aristotle. My position is that that is a false assumption and is grounded in an ignorance of Egyptian mythology and philosophy.
Remember that all of Egyptian art is based on a grid system that has squares within squares, triangles within squares, circles encompassing squares and triangles within squares. In the following image is a clear “axis” that sets the stage.
I inserted the “suns” at their demarcation points so it is clear what is being conveyed in the image.
Again, this is to show that everything is encompassed within a square.
This is to demonstrate that the “square” can also be diamond shaped and still convey the same message.
As mentioned before, circles are always present as well. Here we see the demarcations angled differently to show the degree of change within a quadrant. This is standard all across Africa.
Here is where you can’t get any more basic. This image is to demonstrate the OPPOSITE nature of the themes of the “diagram.”
Let’s explain this image in full. The top half of the image is the physical world. The bottom half is the spiritual world. The suns with the snakes (light rays) are traveling in a counter clockwise motion. Each primary position of the sun creates a line that becomes “diamond” in shape when seen them all at once. Since the sun in real life “apparently” circles around our earth, the “circle” is also present to demonstrate the CONTINUOUS radial motion of the sun.
This is an ancient motif of death and resurrection; better known as reincarnation. The bottom center represents the point of CONCEPTION. The top point at “noon-day” represents MATURITY. These two “extremes” are OPPOSITES. Conception implies the beginnings of one’s development. It is the planning stage: the blue print of once’s existence has been given a spark of life in the womb. In African spiritual communities, this bottom half of the diagram represents the spirit world and is called “The Forest.”
On the right side of the image is the BIRTH stage. On the left side of the “diagram” is DEATH. Birth and Death by ANY standard are OPPOSITES. Birth is the beginning of physical life. Death is the end of physical life and the beginning of spiritual life. That is what is being conveyed in the image.
This image BY ANY STANDARD KNOWN TO MAN IS A “DIAGRAM OF OPPOSITES.” The Egyptians didn’t call it the “diagram of opposites.” That is a modern name and interpretation. This is why I have consistently discussed this image in its correct context being the life stages of man and all endeavors commonly known as “The Four Moments of the Sun.” The Greeks decided not to use “deities” to convey this teaching, as they are known for dropping the ‘gods’ and replacing them with their elemental properties. They instead voiced for water, air, fire and earth. The other Africans include that teaching as well.
Now let’s compare our diagram, with all of its shapes included, with those of other African systems.
Aristotle’s Four Humor’s
Aristotle’s Four Humors
Kongo “four moments of the sun”
Yoruba path of Odu and “four moments of the sun”
I don’t think I have to argue this anymore. Any denial at this point is non-nonsensical. As I have pointed out in previous emails, each culture that adopts the symbol and its internal philosophy adds what’s relevant to their teachings. If Aristotle wanted to add “dry, wet, cold, hot” to their diagram, that’s his business. This aspect of the teaching more than likely came out of Egypt as well and was part of their oral teachings not written plainly on paper.
The “diagram of opposites” takes shape in many forms. You’ve already seen two. A third is the Swastika. This is another symbol for LIFE because it is a sign of the FOUR MOMENTS OF THE SUN. This symbol is one of the oldest religious symbols known to man and this too comes out of Africa among the Batwa. See Albert Churchward’s book Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man.
You will understand why this X and Circle symbol is used as a sign for life and a community, village, town, city or country; all locations that houses HUMAN LIFE. Thus the Egyptian NIW-T symbol which Egyptologists translate as “town” is actually the Bantu UANIEWE-T: The people themselves, the owners, the inhabitants of a town, occupants, householders, citizens of a village. In other words, HUMAN BEINGS, MAN.
UANIEWEAncient Egyptian niw-t = city, town, village, country
The swastika, an African symbol for life and its stages, is also present in the following Greek image:
To wrap up, the Egyptians had the “diagram of opposites” that wasn’t called a “diagram of opposites.” Here is another version you may have all seen before. It is the same concept, different images used to convey the science. Hopefully we have increased our African symbolic literacy.
Recommended reading, African Cosmology of the Bantu Kongo by Dr. K. Bunseki Fu-Kiau