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Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts

Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts

The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt

A radical reinterpretation of the Pyramid Texts as shamanic mystical wisdom rather than funerary rituals

• Reveals the mystical nature of Egyptian civilization denied by orthodox Egyptologists

• Examines the similarity between the pharaoh’s afterlife voyage and shamanic journeying

• Shows shamanism to be the foundation of the Egyptian mystical tradition

To the Greek philosophers and other peoples of the ancient world, Egypt was regarded as the home of a profound mystical wisdom. While there are many today who still share that view, the consensus of most Egyptologists is that no evidence exists that Egypt possessed any mystical tradition whatsoever. Jeremy Naydler’s radical reinterpretation of the Pyramid Texts--the earliest body of religious literature to have survived from ancient Egypt--places these documents into the ritual context in which they belong.

Until now, the Pyramid Texts have been viewed primarily as royal funerary texts that were used in the liturgy of the dead pharaoh or to aid him in his afterlife journey. This emphasis on funerary interpretation has served only to externalize what were actually experiences of the living, not the dead, king. In order to understand the character and significance of the extreme psychological states the pharaoh experienced--states often involving perilous encounters with alternate realities--we need to approach them as spiritual and religious phenomena that reveal the extraordinary possibilities of human consciousness. It is the shamanic spiritual tradition, argues Naydler, that is the undercurrent of the Pyramid Texts and that holds the key to understanding both the true nature of these experiences and the basis of ancient Egyptian mysticism.
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  • Inner Traditions | 
  • 480 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780892817559 | 
  • December 2004
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About the Author

Jeremy Naydler

Jeremy Naydler, Ph.D., is a philosopher who specializes in the religious life of ancient cultures. He is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy and author of Temple of the Cosmos, Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts, The Future of the Ancient World, and Goethe on Science. He lives in Oxford, England.

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