Nut Cycle: Fifth Hour, the Heart

When we left our intrepid night travellers we were struggling through the fourth hour, the place of implied strife transitioning between the outer regions of Nut’s embrace and head and into her body. Now we approach the goddess’s heart, the fifth hour.

(And for the gods’ sakes, my brain is puttering along singing Survivor’s “The Moment of Truth” at me. Make of that what you will.)

Here we enter the darkest hours of the night, the ones in the Amduat in which the Mysteries of the Midnight Sun occur, the night union of the sun with Sokar-Wesir in the hidden cavern of Rosetjau. Here in the heart of the mother, the gate becomes a benevolent royal lady: “Lady of the sky, Mistress of the Two Lands, the Relishing One, Lady of the Entire Land, Great of Awesomeness.” Much as the Contendings give way to the Mysteries of Wesir and the crowning of Heru, we see here the strife (and implied relationship with the Contendings) starting to give way to the kingdom, and that kingdom is the kingdom of life. (While there are still “followers of Seth” found headless here in the lower registers, there is little sign of active strife.)

This is the nefer-region – “nefer” that familiar symbol of goodness, beauty, or, as Roberts puts it, “vitality”. This hieroglyph is the trachea and heart – from the throat into the breast. (In the sixth hour, we will reach the zema-region, the trachea-and-lungs glyph meaning “unite” and seen commonly in such phrases as “Union of the Two Lands”.) We are guided here by “True of Face” (or “True of Heart”), and this is a region of space intimately entwined with Ma’at herself, who is worn by Ra like an amulet about the neck, resting upon his breast. Nefer, nefer, nefer (and now the internal jukebox is trying to set that to the Christian hymn that goes “Holy, Holy, Holy”, but not getting anywhere ‘cos I remember neither tune nor words beyond that bit).

Here the traveller starts to rise up again, sprouting like a plant from the dead “seed” bequeathed by the harsh and scorching opening hours of the night. Power starts to flow once more, feeding the soul on this path, and restoring the heart to its central place. The heart, of course, is the unifying power of the body: the pulse which can be felt in all members is proof of its work to make the disparate organs and parts into a unified and functioning whole. The heart awakens in the heart regions, sensically enough. As Heru comes into possession of the heart-power of his father (in the Ancestor Ritual Roberts links to the Book of Night) with his coronation, creating a continuity across generations, now that governing and generative organ is restored to the traveller.

In the Amduat, the process is approaching Zep Tepi, the first time; the totality of creation implicit in that first moment is delicate and restorative. This is the singularity from which all things come, the first moment, the heart of the mother; it holds the mysteries of creation, rebirth, and union, as if these were separate processes. This is the Underworld of the Underworld, the most secret and precious space in the land of spirit, and yet – when framed as the body of Nut – open and expansive to encompass all things.

Yet, this is only the beginning of the transformation of the process. Simple resurrection and awakening to life is insufficient. Life and power are what must be brought forward, not the endpoint and goal of this process.


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