Amun was the Aurora (gks 14)

The Aurora

The auroras are the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights).

Auroras are striking displays of coloured lights that are often seen over the Earth’s magnetic poles. They occur when the solar wind particles are trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field so they collide with molecules of air in the upper atmosphere (ionosphere). They are a spectacular sight and take the form of rapidly shifting patches of colour and dancing columns of light of various hues. The colours observed depend on several factors such as atmospheric conditions, intensity of the solar wind, temperature and location. The Aurora is always present in almost every area of the sky, but it is usually too faint to be seen except near the North and South Poles. The main colours of the Aurora are blue, yellow, red and green, the very same colours attributed to Amun.

The intensity of the Aurora is dictated by the solar wind, a stream of electrically charged particles from the Sun. When the solar wind blows exceptionally strong, the Aurora increases. The periods of maximum and minimum intensity of the Aurora coincide almost exactly with those of the sunspot cycle, which is an 11-year cycle. When the Sun is in the active phase it can unleash powerful magnetic storms that disable satellites, threaten astronaut safety, and even disrupt communication systems on Earth.

In March 1989, the Sun unleashed a tempest that knocked out power to all of Quebec, Canada, leaving six million people without electricity. Such intense magnetic storms cause spectacular, widespread auroras, even at latitudes as low as Mexico, which is 23 degrees north (similar latitude to Egypt).

As mentioned above 3,000 years ago, at the height of planetary chaos solar activity was far more intense than anything experienced today. Cosmic catastrophe gave way to intense geomagnetic storms and global auroras – seen at all latitudes day and night. They were observed during the day courtesy of the red Sun which gave rise to a twilight world. These shimmering magical lights were personified in the great god Amun.

Solar Wind Egypt

The solar wind bombarding Earth’s magnetic field causing the Aurora (below). Note the Sun’s cobra ‘lashing out.’ Such phenomenon was clearly observed 4,000 years ago as dust and debris hazed the Sun red from perspective of earth.

Aurora Ancient Times Aurora Amum Amon

These beautiful photographs above are of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. Image 1 shows the distinctive plumed-shaped aurora coloured red and green with a hint of yellow. Image 2 shows a distinctive plumed-shaped aurora with blue as the main colour supported by green, red and a hint of yellow. Similar plumed aurora are seen below next to Amun on the right.

Auroral Lights Amun Aurora Borealis Egyptian Amun Amen Light

There are thousands of similar aurora photographs on the web and I have provided many links below. These include homogenous arcs, bands, active arcs, rays, pillars, plumes, draperies (or curtains) and coronas. The key point is that they all display the same basic colours attributed to Amun – blue, red, green and yellow.

We will now examine Amun and his distinctive plumes.

Amun King GodsThe image on the left (larger one above) depicts Amun in typical form and colours of blue skin, yellow kilt, and red flat-topped crown with tall plumes segmented into sections of green, blue and red. A thin yellow frame separates these colours. Similar images of Amun can be found above and below.

If we compare the photos of the aurora with Amun’s tall plumes, the resemblance is striking – the ancient world was dominated by geomagnetic storms and this was encapsulated in the ‘king of the gods’ Amun.

Sky watching in ancient times would have revealed Hathor (earths rings, celestial cow) arching across the heavens in all her glory. Re, the red Sun, Ptah/Jupiter, Sokar/Saturn and Isis as the main guardians of the ecliptic. While the planets Mars, Venus, Mercury and the Moon took on the role of exhalted god kings – named and renamed many times over, generation after generation as they lived and died to earth battling to maintain ‘divine order’(maat) in the process. However, outranking all of above and more, was the omnipresent Aurora as Amun. Magical, shimmering curtains of coloured neon lights danced across the celestial sphere in the guise of Amun, the ‘king of the gods’. To support this groundbreaking identification, we will examine Amun’s attributes, epithets and his close relationship with the astral monarchy.

Ancient Egypt AmunAmun’s colours were at times interchangeable. Although his flesh was predominantly blue (his sacred colour), some images reveal a red coloured flesh. His segmented plumes were sometimes coloured yellow or white, as too was his crown. The plumes were often depicted devoid of segments, as in the photograph below, and were painted just one colour, normally yellow or white. Why was this?

There is nothing complicated here. Any variants in colour reflected the colours seen at the time which could change on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Sometimes red covered the entire sky, other times blue, green, yellow or a combination of all colours.

The colour of an aurora depends on the type of atom or molecule, according to Hal Kibbey of Indiana University.

“High-altitude oxygen, about 200 miles up, is the source of rare, all-red auroras, Kibbey explains. Oxygen at lower altitudes, about 60 miles up, produces a brilliant yellow-green, the brightest and most common auroral color. Ionized nitrogen molecules produce blue light, and neutral nitrogen glows red. The nitrogens create the purplish-red lower borders and rippled edges of an aurora.” (Science Astronomy).

The Egyptians merely reflected what they saw. Please note; all images of Amun were once brightly painted.

Why were there two plumes rather than one or three? The celestial gods and divine kings were, by their very location, associated with Upper and Lower Egypt (heaven and Earth), hence the title ‘lord of the two lands’. Amun’s transitional location was no different, so he too naturally adorned the title ‘lord of the two lands’. There is another possible reason for the wearing of two plumes and this has to do with dust and debris granting visibility to earth’s double plumed magnetotail, this is subject for a later date (it’s in my book though).

Tutankhamun’s (Mars) restoration stela states:

“May he (Tutankhamun) be given Life, like Re forever and ever, Beloved of Amun Lord of the Two Lands…”

What better way to represent such an exalted position than by placing two of Amun’s auroral plumes atop of his crown. Amun’s flat-topped crown is undoubtedly the crown of Lower Egypt and was adorned by the god due to his close proximity to Earth – he was closer to Earth than almost all other deities.

The name Amun means ‘the hidden one’. This ‘hidden’ aspect is further reflected in Amun’s many epithets. He was:

“The great god whose name is unknown’, ‘he, whose name is hidden’, ‘one whose true form could never be known’, ‘He, who hides his name and conceals his image, whose form was not known at the beginning’, and ‘Secret was your body among the elders, and you keep yourself hidden as Amun, at the head of the gods’. (Leiden Papyrus).”

How do we explain such hidden traits? Re was the sun god – an incandescent ball of ‘fire’ (electricity!) which was an easily recognisable divine body. He illuminated the two lands with his light and was revered because of this. But who or what was responsible for the magical lights of the Aurora? What body or being triggered the transparent, ghostly manifestations? There was no heavenly body – there was an ‘effect’ but, from the Egyptian perspective, no ‘cause’. This is why Amun was known as the ‘hidden one’ and ‘one whose true form could never be known’.

This raises the question: ‘Why was Amun predominately depicted in human form if his true form was not known?’ The Greek philosopher Xenophanes stated that if horses could draw a picture of the divine, it would look like a horse. We have a similar situation here – a blank canvass. The Egyptians were able to choose how they wanted to represent the god responsible for the Aurora and they naturally chose the human form. The auroral colours were captured in his flesh, attire and crown while the Auroras main form, that of pillars, were embodied in the tall plumes. If we take a look at a few more of Amun’s epithets, it becomes apparent that they were alluding to the Aurora:

Amen Egyptian God

‘Mysterious of form’

‘Who raised high the sky’

‘The king of the south and of the north’

‘Prince of rays and beams of light’

‘The flame which sendeth forth rays of light with mighty


‘Living flame who came forth from Nun’

‘King of heaven, ruler of the two lands’

‘Who makes light/gives free passage’

One creator who has millions of forms & transformations’

‘Secret of manifestations and sparkling of shape’

‘Marvellous god rich in forms’

‘Light was his coming into existence on the first occasion’

(Source Leiden papyrus)

Hymn to Amun

“Amun, who developed in the beginning, whose origin is unknown.

No god came into being prior to Him.

No other god was with Him who could say what He looked like.

He had no mother who created His name.

He had no father to beget Him or to sa: “This belongs to me.”

Who formed His own egg.

Power of secret birth, who created His (own) beauty.

Most Divine God, who came into being alone.

Every god came into being since He began Himself.

Every being came into being when His being began being.

There is nothing outside Him.”

(Praise of Amun in the Decree for Nesikhonsu)

“None of the gods knows His true form, His image is not unfolded in the papyrus rolls, nothing certain is testified about Him.”

Hymns to Amun, Papyrus Leiden I 350, chapter 200, lines 22- 24. (link with more information on Amun).

In Papyrus Louvre (3292) we also read : “Hail to you, who brought himself forth as one and who created millions in their abundance.” In Papyrus Leiden (I 344), we find : “The one alone, whose body are millions” (ibid).

The Omnipresence of the Aurora.

“He, He is the God too great to have a name ! He is the inapparent and He is the very apparent. He who the intellect contemplates ! He is also the one seen by the eyes. He is the incorporeal, the multiform, better still, the omniform. Nothing exists which He is not, for everything that exist, everything is Him. From that comes that He has all names, for all things come forth from this unique father. From that comes that He has no name at all, for He is the father of all things.” (ibid)