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Tales From Australia and Egypt
by Michael J. Hallowell


In the interests of international relations, I thought it would be nice to relate a tale from "down under" in Australia for a change. Make of it what you will, but I find it absolutely fascinating:

Cryptozoology

John Hoad, a resident of Adelaide, Australia, stumbled across the body of a bizarre creature during the summer of 1883. It was, he said, "like a large pig, but headless". Unfortunately, the report does not make it clear whether the head had been severed or, alternatively, whether the animal did not actually possess a visible head as an appendage. This might sound strange, but several mysterious creatures from around the globe are reported as being headless, including Britain’s own ghostly "Black Shuck" – a large, fearsome black dog – and the infamous Minnesota Mothman.

The creature Hoad stumbled upon also sported a strange tail "akin to that of a lobster". Sadly, its corpse was not preserved for scientific analysis, and no one today knows what became of it.

Intriguingly, for several nights before and after Hoad’s discovery of his "pigster", locals reported the presence of a large, ape-like creature which seemed to be spying on houses in the area. No detailed description of the beast exists, but it was reported to have made loud, screeching noises "like a frightened woman".

Interestingly, high-pitched screeching, screaming and "warbling" noises are a common feature of American Bigfoot or Sasquatch reports, but what connection if any the ape-like creature had with the Pigster – also dubbed by some "The Adelaide Screamer" – is unknown.

*****

Now for something a bit more philosophical:

The Nature of Time

Some years ago, I had a long discussion with an Egyptologist about the nature of time. Was time really a succession of events strung out in a long line, the past present and future being dictated by where you may metaphorically stand on that line at any given time? Or was time far more complex? Did the past, present and future all co-exist together? Was it possible to visit the past, or even jump forward into the future? These are questions that have puzzled mankind for centuries.

I suggested to the Egyptologist that the importance of time depended on one’s circumstances, and he agreed. If we live in a city, we often need to time things to the minute, or even the second. Remembering and understanding calendar dates is crucial in western society. Without an ability to measure centuries, years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds, our civilisation would collapse like the proverbial pack of cards. The ancient Egyptians understood this principle, and thus took the measuring of time very seriously.

One method of measuring time was by employing the use of a water clock. The water clock was a simple container with a small hole in the bottom. On the inner wall of the container was a series of markers or divisions, each one representing an hour. The clock was filled with water, and the passing hours could be measured by observing which marker the waterline approximated. As the water dripped from the hole, the water level lowered.

Such clocks were employed throughout ancient Egypt, and they had particular importance in the numerous temples dedicated to the myriad deities worshipped along the Nile Delta. Priests staffed the temples constantly, and a careful eye was kept on the water clock so that temple rituals could be performed at exactly the right time. Performing rituals at the wrong time would have severely offended the deities, you see.

Ancient Egyptians were fascinated by the passage of time. The idea of building monuments that would endure for thousands of years inspired them. By touching something ancient, it was as if you could touch the past. Even better, if you were wealthy enough to build a monument or edifice for yourself, then your presence would be immortalised for future generations. Time, they seemed to believe, could be conquered by building things that the actual passage of time itself could not destroy. It was such thinking that inspired the construction of the pyramids.

In ancient times, the Arabs knew of the Egyptian obsession with immortalising themselves through the construction of almost indestructible edifices.

"Man fears time, but time fears the Pyramids", they said.

But it would be wrong to think that the pyramids were merely grandiose mausoleums. In fact, there is precious little evidence to suggest that they were ever meant to be burial places for the dead at all.

The pyramids were not so much resting places as they were devices. One writer has described the pyramids as "enormous machines" designed to help the recently - deceased king break through the veil between this world and the next and join the gods. Numerous shafts can be found in the pyramids. Some pointed north to the constellation of Orion. At death, it was believed that the soul could travel up such a shaft and journey to Orion, and – of course – immortality. For the correct rituals to be enacted, an understanding of time on both a local and a cosmic level was crucial.

Some temple priests bore the name, "Wenuty' or "Watcher of the Hours". Their role was to make sure that all temple rituals were performed at the correct time on the correct date.

The Benu bird – more commonly known to us as the Phoenix – was closely associated with the marking of time by the ancient Egyptians. Precisely every five hundred years, the Benu would rise and journey to Heliopolis, the centre of solar worship in Egypt. Heliopolis (also known as Pe-Re by the Egyptians and On by the Israelites) was situated right at the apex of the Nile Delta, just a few miles to the north of where Cairo stands today. In this city the god Tehm was worshipped. Later he would be gently superseded by another solar deity, Ra or Re.

The Phoenix – and the temple dedicated to it – became the epicentre of timekeeping and calendrical observation in ancient Egypt. Indeed, the calendar of years was believed to be set by the Phoenix, who eventually came to be seen as the symbol of Ra.

From a spiritual perspective, it may seem as if the world of ancient Egypt is light-years away from our modern society. However, consider the following scenario: Imagine that you are an explorer, and that one day, in Egypt, you stumble across a passage that leads to an underground chamber. The chamber has never been opened since it was sealed in, say, the year 2000 BC. As you begin to walk down the passage, the air you breathe will largely be that of 2008. Perhaps we can call this "modern air". However, the further you walk, an increasing percentage of the air you breathe will be from the year 2000 BC.

Inside the chamber it is pitch black. You switch on your torch, but the battery starts to fail. You notice a small lamp sitting on a table. Quickly, you light it with a match before your torch goes out completely. As you look around you, your eyes alight upon dozens of artefacts and items placed in their relative positions over 4000 years ago.

Now, think about your circumstances. You are in a chamber constructed in 2000 BC. The artefacts in it are from the year 2000 BC. The air you breathe is from 2000 BC, and the light you see by is generated by a lamp from 2000 BC. In fact, everything around you shouts out, "2000 BC!" If someone was to ask you at that point, "What year is it?" your instinct may be to say, "Why, its 2008!". However, in what meaningful sense can we say that it is 2008 when all our senses are being stimulated by the year 2000 BC?

The point of this scenario is to illustrate just how fickle our understanding of time can be. Fixing a date or time on something only makes sense if we can "lock in" to that time, and relate it to the world around us. If we find ourselves in the middle of New York City, then the date and time become crucial elements. However, if we are in the middle of a rain forest then minutes, days, years, decades and even centuries become irrelevant, for nothing has changed for millennia.

My guess is that the ancient Egyptians knew far more about the nature of time than we give them credit for. Ghosts, perhaps, are people from a bygone age whom we are allowed to glimpse occasionally. Somewhere – or perhaps sometime - Julius Caesar is still landing on the southern coast of Britain, John F. Kennedy is still giving his famous Berlin speech and John Lennon is still writing the lyrics to Imagine.

The past is only just a whisper away. The more we study ancient Egyptian culture and religion, the louder the whisper gets. One day, we may discover an ancient Egyptian secret that may allow us to break down the barrier between ourselves and the past completely. Now there’s a thought.

© Mike Hallowell, 2008


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