Monday, January 02, 2017


It's probably an understatement when I say that Kyphi, the process of building Kyphi, waiting on Kyphi’s resurrection, and burning Kyphi has cracked something open in me and allowed me to see that aromatics in their rawest form have a spiritual face, one that vastly contributes to the creation of the objects, and go far beyond the beautiful scents they impart. This is why I was inspired to write the Kyphi booklet (Kyphi: Magic & Art, Creating the Breath of the Gods), as a means of expressing (perhaps poorly) the importance of the spiritual parts of Kyphi making as opposed to simply concocting a materials' authentic re-creation of Kyphi (not that using authentic materials isn't important).

Some of you may be wondering why I capitalize the word 'Kyphi'. The short answer is that to me Kyphi is an entity, a being, which makes it a proper noun, thus the capitalization. The connection for me was made early on in my research, and evolved between the act of my building Kyphi and the historical and mythological act of a goddess (Isis) re-building and re-animating her king (Osiris), therefore, creating Kyphi is a rite of resurrection.

Kyphi is a being resurrected

I think if approached this way, all manner of art is elevated and becomes more than its individual parts. All incense, then, can be made with the same reverence, and perhaps more.

"I am all that hath been, and is, and shall be; and my veil no mortal has hitherto raised." Shrine of Minerva (Isis), Plutarch's Morals: Theosophical Essays on Osiris and Isis

Religious and Spiritual Applications

'I am not simply a human being,
I am a human becoming.' Samuel Avital

As we know, according to the inscriptions on the walls of the Edfu Temple, Kyphi was the final temple offering of the day (every day), burnt at dusk and into the night. Burning in the evening, as people (priests/priestesses/seers/oracles/royals) were going to bed, may have been the catalyst for achieving transcendence or visions or prophecy -- through dreams. Kyphi was known to have narcotizing abilities, and the ability to help manifest prophecy, and was perhaps used as a bridge (through dreams) to 'speak' to the gods.

These narcotizing effects were probably a result of the ingredients used in Kyphi (some speculate cannabis was a component) in much the same way as aromatherapy can be used to calm and relieve agitation and nervousness through scent. But there is a belief, too, that the reverence applied to the creation of Kyphi is of equal or greater importance than what the raw materials alone provide to create scent and smoke.

According to the Osiris and Isis mythology as it relates to Kyphi, the act of making Kyphi is a re-creation of Isis' resurrection of Osiris. Some accounts claim Osiris was cut into 16 pieces, other accounts claim 14; then 12 days for Isis to locate and resurrect him. Since nearly all accounting of Kyphi (writings, etc.) are from Greek era texts and not first-hand accounts, this is entirely 'informed' speculation as to what the ancient Egyptian priests did do when making Kyphi.

However, one cannot entirely discount the act of sacrament that is the creation of Kyphi. In much the same way as water is blessed by priests, Kyphi can be blessed by the hand of its maker(s) to become the most worthy offering.

Singing ~ Prayers ~ Music

Vibration has been used for years in all areas of life to raise the energy of an object, or the general atmosphere around us. Monks use humming tones to raise the spiritual vibration of their temples, some employing 'singing bowls', another source of vibration. Aboriginal tribes the world over have used bullroarers, a piece of wood attached to a leather strap that is then swung in a circle over the callers head (like a lasso), whose vibration in the air creates a low (or sometimes high) groaning hum that is meant to call the gods. People are aware on a spiritual level that these vibrational tones somehow reach the gods.

Sing to Kyphi. Pray aloud while creating Kyphi. Chant mantras as Kyphi's raw materials are ground to dust -- use vibrational tones to heighten the spiritual aspects of the Kyphi being created.

Egyptian Book of the Dead

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a compilation of texts written by priests over a span of about one-thousand years, beginning about 4500 years ago. The prayers, incantations, spells, and songs within the texts are meant to be read (or sung) in an attempt to bear the Pharoah safely into the afterlife. A word here about that 'afterlife'. Though the Egyptian Book of the Dead seems like some macabre text specifically for funerary rites, what must be understood is that the direct translation of the title 'Book of the Dead' actually reads 'Book of Coming Forth by Day' or into the light. It's really about safe transcendence from the world of the living into the world of spirit.

One of the better transliterations of the Egyptian Book of the Dead is Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead by Normandi Ellis (2009). 

From Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead

Greeting Ra, Ra's words enter the world (creation of the world):

'Creation. Destruction. Power invisible. Glory. The house of heaven is the house of man. No walls stand between heaven and earth. You are no farther from me (god) than from your own hot breath.'

Greeting Osiris:

'Come. I come in the power of Light
I come in the light of Wisdom
I come in the mercy of the Light
The Light has healing in its wings.'

'May I walk on earth radiant, everywhere, complete.

'I remember the names of my ancestors
I speak the names of those I love
I speak their names and they live again
May I be so well-loved and remembered.'

Plutarch's Morals: Theosophical Essays (translated by Charles William King in 1908) Sourced: Sacred Texts . com

XII. The following myth is related in the briefest terms possible, divested of everything unnecessary and superfluous. They tell that the sun having discovered Rhea secretly copulating with Saturn, laid a curse upon her, that she should not bring forth a child in either month or year: that Hermes being in love with the goddess copulated with her; and afterwards playing at counters with the Moon and winning from her the seventieth part of each one of her lights, out of the whole composed five days, the which he added to the three hundred and sixty, which days now the Egyptians call "additional," and keep as the birthdays of the gods; that on the first of these was born Osiris, and that, a voice issued forth with him in the birth, that "the Lord of all is entering into light." But some relate that a certain Pamyle, when drawing water out of the Temple of Jupiter at Thebes, heard a voice ordering her to proclaim with a loud cry, "A great king, beneficent Osiris, is born," and for this cause she nursed Osiris, when Saturn put him into her hands; and also the festival "Pamylia," is celebrated in his honour, resembling in character the phallic processions. On the second was born Aroeris, whom some call Apollo, some the elder Horus. On the third Typhon, neither in due time, nor in the right place, but, breaking through with a blow, he leaped out through his mother's side. On the fourth was Isis born, in very wet places. On the fifth was Nephthys, the same as the "End," and "Venus," whom some call Victory. They say that Osiris was begotten by the Sun, as also Aroeris, by Hermes Isis, by Saturn Typhon and Nephthys; that Osiris and Isis fell in love with each other and copulated under the cloak of darkness in the womb; some say that in this manner was Aroeris begotten, and therefore is called by Egyptians, the elder Horus, by the Greeks, Apollo.

XIII. That when Osiris reigned over the Egyptians he made them reform their destitute and bestial mode of living, showing them the art of cultivation, and giving them laws, and teaching them how to worship the gods. Afterwards he travelled over the whole earth, civilizing it; far from requiring arms, he tamed mankind through persuasion and reasoning joined with song of all kinds and music which he brought over; wherefore he is held by the Greeks to be the same with Bacchus. That Typhon, during his absence, did not rebel, because Isis was on her guard, and able to keep watch upon him vigorously; but after Osiris returned Typhon laid a plot against him, having taken seventy and two men into the conspiracy, and having for helper a queen coming out of Ethiopia, whom they call Asò. That she secretly measured the body of Osiris, and made to the size a handsome and highly ornamented coffer which he carried into the banqueting room. And as they were all delighted with its appearance and admired it; Typhon promised in sport that whoever should lie down within it, and should exactly fit, he would make him a present of the chest; and after the others had tried, one by one, and nobody fitted it; then Osiris got in, and laid himself down, thereupon the conspirators running up shut down the lid, and fastened it with spike-nails from the outside, and poured melted lead over them, and so carried it out to the River, and let it go down down the Tanaite branch into the sea: which branch on that account is hateful, and unlucky for Egyptians to name. These things are said to have been done on the 17th day of the month Athor, when the sun is passing through the Scorpion, Osiris then being in the eight and twentieth year of his reign. Some have it that he had lived, not reigned, such a time.

XIV. The first to discover the mischief were the Pans and Satyrs inhabiting the country round Chemmis and to give intelligence 1 about what had happened, whence the sudden terrors and fears of the multitude are to the present day called "panics." Isis on the news, sheared off one of her tresses, and put on a mourning robe, whence the city, even to the present day has the name of "Copto" (I beat the breast); but others think the name signifies bereavement, from "coptein" "to deprive." As she wandered about everywhere, not knowing what to do, she met no one without speaking to him, nay, even when she fell in with little children, she inquired of them about the coffer; these last chanced to have seen it, and told her the branch of the River through which Typhon's accomplices had let the chest drift into the sea. From this circumstance the Egyptians believe that little children possess the faculty of prophesy, and that especially the future is fore-shown by their cries when they are playing in the temple courts, and calling out whatever it may be. And having discovered that he (Typhon) had fallen in love and copulated with his sister, in ignorance, as Osiris had done with herself, and seeing the proof thereof in the garland of melilote flower which he had left behind him with Nephthys, she sought for the infant (for she had brought it forth at once, through her fear of Typhon), she found it at last with trouble and difficulty, through dogs guiding her to the place. This infant Isis nursed, and he grew up her guard and minister, being denominated Anubis; and said to watch for the gods just as dogs do for men.

XV. Proceeding thence, she learnt by inquiry that the chest had been washed up by the sea at a place called Byblus, and that the surf had gently laid it under an Erica tree. This Erica, a most lovely plant, growing up very large in a very short time had enfolded, embraced, and concealed the coffer within itself. The king of the place being astonished at the size of the plant, and having cut away the clump that concealed the coffer from sight, set the latter up as a pillar to support his roof. They tell how Isis having learnt all this by the divine breath of fame, came to Byblus, and sitting down by the side of a spring all dejected and weeping spoke not a word to any other persons, but saluted and made friends of the maid servants of the queen, by dressing their hair for them, and infusing into their bodies a wonderful perfume out of herself; when the queen saw her maids again, she fell a longing to see the stranger, whose hair and whose body breathed of ambrosial perfume; and so she was sent for, becoming intimate with the queen, was made nurse of her infant. The king's name they say was Malacander, herself some call Astarte, others Sooses, others Neinanoë, who is the same with the Greek Athenais.

XVI. Isis is said to have suckled the child by putting, instead of her nipple, her finger into his mouth, and by night she singed away the mortal parts of his body.  She turned herself into a swallow and flew around the pillar until the queen watched her, and cried out when she saw her child all on fire, and so took away the boy's immortality. Then the goddess, manifesting herself, asked, or the pillar of the roof, and having removed it with the greatest ease, she cut away the Erica that surrounded it. This plant she wrapped up in a linen cloth, pouring perfume over it, and gave it in charge to the king; and to this day the people of Byblus venerate the wood, which is preserved in the temple of Isis. The coffin she clasped in her arms, and wailed so loud that the younger of the king's sons died of fright at it, the elder she took with her and putting the coffer on board a ship, put to sea; but when the river Phaedrus sent forth too rough a gale, she grew wrath, and dried up the stream.

XVII. As soon as ever she obtained privacy, and was left by herself, having opened the coffer and laid her face upon the face of the corpse, she wailed and wept; but when the little boy observed this, and came up quietly from behind to spy, she perceived him, and turning round gave him a dreadful look in her rage, the child could not stand the fright, and died. Some say it was not so, but in the manner just stated he tumbled (in his fright) into the sea, but that he receives honours for the sake of the goddess, for the Maneros, whom the Egyptians sing about at their feasts, is this child. Others say that the boy is called Palaestinos, or Pelusios, and that the city was named after him, having been founded by the goddess. The Maneros that is sung about, they relate, first invented music. But some pretend "Maneros" is not the name of a person, but an expression suited to people drinking and keeping holiday and signifying "May things of the sort come with good luck," for that the Egyptians exclaim this, each time, upon the Maneros being uttered; just as, indeed, the exhibition of a dead man in his coffin carried round at feasts is not a reminder of the mourning for Osiris, as some interpret it, but merely intended to warn one to make use of the present and enjoy it, as very soon they themselves shall be as he, which is why they bring it in to the feast.

XVIII. But when Isis had gone to see her son Horus (who was at nurse in the city Butò), and had put the coffer away, Typhon being out a hunting by moonlight came upon it, and recognizing the corpse, tore it into fourteen pieces, and scattered them abroad. Isis having heard of this, sought after the fragments, passing over the swamps in a papyrus boat; for which cause such as sail in papyrus boats are never injured by the crocodiles, because they either fear or respect the goddess, from this circumstance there are many places called "Tombs of Osiris" all over Egypt, because she, whenever she came upon a fragment of the body, there celebrated a funeral. Some deny this, but say that she made images and gave them to the several cities, giving them as the actual body, in order that they may receive honours from those sailing past, and that if Typhon should get the better of Horus, when searching for the real tomb he may be baffled, from many being so called and pointed out. Of the members of Osiris the only one Isis was unable to find was the genital member, for it had been thrown at first into the River, and lepidotus, phagrus, and oxyrynchus had fed upon it, which kinds of fish the natives scruple to eat above all others, and that Isis in its stead made a model and consecrated it, namely the phallus, in honour whereof the Egyptians hold a festival.

XIX: Afterwards Osiris came from the shades to Horus, and trained and exercised him for war, and then asked him "What he thought the finest thing possible?" and when he replied "to avenge one's father and mother when ill-treated;" he asked him secondly "what he considered the most useful animal to people going to battle?" and when Horus answered, "the horse," Osiris wondered at it and was puzzled why he said the horse instead of the lion. But when Horus explained that the lion indeed was serviceable to one standing in need of aid, but the horse can both save him that flees and also destroy the enemy: Osiris on hearing this was rejoiced at the supposition that Horus had provided himself with horses. And as numbers came over from time to time to the side of Horus, Typhon's concubine, Thucris by name, came also, and a serpent pursuing her was cut to pieces by the friends of Horus; and now in memory of this event, they throw down a rope in the midst of all, and chop it to pieces. The battle lasted for many days, and Horus vanquished, but Isis having received from him Typhon in chains, did not destroy, but on the contrary unbound and let him go free. This Horus did not endure with patience, but he laid hands on his mother, and pushed the crown off her head; whereupon Hermes placed a bull's skull upon her instead of helmet. And when Typhon brought a charge of illegitimacy against Horus, Hermes acting as his counsel, Horus was pronounced legitimate by the gods. After this Typhon was beaten in two other battles; and Isis conceived by Osiris copulating with her after death, and brought forth the prematurely born, and weak in his lower limbs, Harpocrates.

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