Before we go too far, it is important that we take this opportunity to discuss several issues critical for gaining a proper understanding of the mystery schools and sacred knowledge.
Firstly, it is important to appreciate that the understanding of historical processes differs greatly between ancient and modern mankind. The modern concept of historical process, at least since the arising of Greek philosophy and the Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), sees history as an unending, temporal process of growth, maturation and decay of sequential cultures competing for land and resources. From a modern academic perspective, historical events arise solely out of the worldly interactions of tribes, cultures and nations without the necessity of invoking unseen gods and hidden forces. Each historical moment is unique, existing solely within a specific portion of evolving space-time, arising fully dependent upon the occurrence of events happening in a prior slice of directly-linked space-time (e.g., without the intervention of non-local physicality). Modern history unfolds within boundaries and directions determined solely by the operation of universal and predictable natural, physical laws. Physical laws operating outside the influence of either man or god. Physical laws underlying the myriad exchanges occurring between matter and energy. Exchanges beginning with the birth and cooling of the physical universe and continuing unchanged into any imaginable future. Laws pertaining to living systems, laws describing fundamental and universal evolutionary processes (physical and cultural) occurring for the past 3.6 billion years upon and within the surface of the earth.
Prior to philosophical changes introduced by the Greeks concerning the nature of temporalities and continued by later schools of science and philosophy, ancient man perceived the historical process as cyclic; a process initiated by a preexisting power or god, an entity who created, consciously and intentionally, the totality of our universe from some undifferentiated, eternally existing source (the primeval waters or Nun of the Egyptian pantheon). Moreover, ancient man felt that the original godhead created an onomasticon of subsidiary gods for the purpose of maintaining, administrating and serving the needs of the creation. Mankind, as the ward of the gods, was a necessary part for assuring that the system would continue onto the end of time. For ancient man, history was concerned with determining how the “spiritual forces of creation” arose, function and maintain the life of the earth, heavens, underworld and the gods. Issues important for insuring that their culture maintains itself against the disorder which surrounds it. Ancient man was concerned with eschatological issues, issues which are absent in nonreligious modern thought.
This difference needs to be kept in mind as we explore the formation of the ancient mystery schools of Egypt.
Secondly, we must make a distinction between the notions of traditional and recorded history. Traditional history differs from recorded history in that its statements cannot be verified by archaeological evidence. For example, whereas the discovery of an ancient city in the vicinity of the legendary Troy during archaeological digs establishes a modern ‘historical record’ for a city dating back to the time period included in Homer’s epic tale, THE ILIAD, it cannot verify the poetic and human details of the epic. So historically, a confrontation may have Occurred between certain kingdoms of Greece and Troy in early preHellenic history; it is unlikely that details included in the oral history of Homer are literally accurate. Hence, the story line will forever remain within the boundaries of traditional history since such detail is unlikely to be verified via future archaeological discoveries.
Another example concerns archaeological record of Egypt. It is a historical fact that certain temples of Northern Egypt contain hieroglyphic descriptions of the external war exploits of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, Thutmose III. While many of the details of these exploits are consistent with records obtained from non-Egyptian sources; and hence, are ‘historical records’ in the modern sense, the pictorial format utilized so to depict real events bears a striking similarity to mythological conflicts between Ra (as the power of order) and the serpent, Apophis (as the power of chaos). Consequently, the Egyptian priests created a traditional history to accompany the actual history.