The Egyptian Sky God Horus. Part 1 of 3. (gks 20)

Harsiese ‘Horus Son of Isis’

For conceptual purposes, not as an historical matter, the two primary aspects of Horus from which the majority can be derived (including the above Harpocrates) are Harsiese and Haroeris. We will discuss Harsiese or ‘Horus son of Isis’ first.

There exists many references to this aspect of Horus, although it has to be noted my research reveals Harsiese primary role seems to be more in connection with the Hereafter. This is supported by numerous funerary references and the imagery where Harsiese features predominantly (in respect to other forms of Horus) on many tomb walls and papyri. Given that Harsiese was also the son of the quintessential god of the afterlife Osiris (star form), this is no surprise. This would be in contrast to the more familiar Haroeris (next), who in his many aspects dominates the ‘outside world’ – he is carved on temple walls, in statues, carved on obelisks and features strongly in Egyptian art in general. I will explain why this was shortly.

Horus Nefertari Afterlife

Harsiese was commonly represented as an anthropomorphic falcon-headed man wearing the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt (image above). Sometimes it is difficult to tell which Horus is being represented as many can look identical. We have to consult the text (where possible) to be sure of correct identification. The above afterlife scene depicts ‘Horus, son of Isis’ (Harsiese) leading queen Nefertari (a guise of comet Venus, as per the headgear) on her first stage to a life of immortality in the next world above.

I would like to make clear that although it was the astral kings (via location ‘zones’ and attributes) who gave rise to the many forms of Horus, whenever a Horus form is depicted or cited, this doesn’t signify a kingly planet. On the contrary, as above Horus was an omnipresent sky god of many forms who presided over many locations and could be invoked at any time.

It really depended on the dynamic events of above and how the Egyptians perceived them. A simplistic interpretation of the above scene would be as follows; Venus/Nefertari was observed to slowly migrate across the sky and away and from earth (towards the west?), and given that everything came under the will of the gods, it was believed that in this case, Horus son of Isis presided over such movements.

With this in mind, I would tentatively suggest that Harsiese also be associated with the main east-west band (ecliptic) of the sky along with his mother Isis, but not I might add, the horizons. Other forms of Horus were invented as guardians of the horizons (on which see below).

Harsiese dividing the firmament.

I have taken possession of the sky, I have divided the firmament, I will show the paths of Khepri [Electrical manifestation], and the dwellers in the netherworld will follow me.

Coffin Texts 326

Harsiese perhaps should be seen as a more mature version of Harpocrates. As the son of Isis (ecliptic) and Osiris (star form) this would make good sense. May I remind the reader; without the pharaonic planets, there would be no Horus or his innumerable forms. A good example of this would be Hatshepsut/Venus who called herself the female falcon.

On Osiris

And his son Horus arose as king of Upper Egypt, arose as king of Lower Egypt, in the embrace of his father Osiris and of the gods in front of him and behind him.

From the Shabaka Stone.

A passage from the Coffin Texts (passage 148) sums up Horus in his own words:

I am Horus, the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name. My flight has reached the horizon. I have passed by the gods of Nut. I have gone further than the gods of old. Even the most ancient bird could not equal my very first flight. I have removed my place beyond the powers of Set, the foe of my father Osiris. No other god could do what I have done. I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning. I am unique in my flight. My wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father Osiris and I will put him beneath my feet in my name of ‘Red Cloak’.”

Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt, Rundle Clark, p 216.

This aspect of Horus features prominently in the Osirian mythos; Harsiese as ‘Horus-saviour-of-his-father’ is awarded the cosmic sovereignty after a lengthy conflict with his uncle Seth (god of evil). This conflict, in which Horus receives constant assistance from his mother Isis, is fought on many levels – magical, juridical, cosmic, medical – and is the principal symbol of conflict as such in Egyptian religious thought. When Egypt’s pharaoh strives against enemies foreign or domestic, it is as Horus against Seth.

Such myths originate from the ‘face of heaven’ i.e., the good and just god Horus, fighting to maintain ‘divine order’ (ma’at) through kingly bodies. This is subject for another time.

Harsiese Horus Anubis

Harsiese (Horus son of Isis) and Anubis (god of blackness of space) escorting the king (centre) towards the very real Egypt above.

Hathor (hat-hor = House of Horus)

The very same dust and debris that littered the solar system also congregated around earth’s celestial equator (a natural sequence of events) to form a dynamic gigantic hazy ring system (a good analogy would be Saturn’s Rings only not so defined). As I have proposed, the Egyptians deified this ‘secondary’ more prominent east-west hazy band of debris as the bovine goddess Hathor.

Isis (ecliptic) and Hathor (earths rings) shared similar traits and were at times interchangeable because their paths would cross throughout the day and year (the ecliptic moving in relation to the more fixed equatorial Hathor). This due to earth’s daily spin and its annual trip around the Sun.

Looking up, on countless occasions ‘Hathor’s haze’ took precedent over the ecliptic (Isis) which was physically behind earth’s rings. What this means is, the Horus kings were also repeatedly seen to be born in, reigned and perceived to die amidst Hathor. Hence the name Hathor which literally means ‘House of Horus.’

Haroeris (Horus the Elder or Horus the Great) consort of Hathor

The other prominent form of Horus from which many other forms derived was Har-wer, ‘Horus the Elder’ or ‘Horus the Great’ (Greek form Haroeris). This was the form of Horus worshiped from the earliest periods, especially at the city of Nekhen, which the Greeks called Hierakonpolis, ‘the city of the hawk.’

As mentioned above this form of Horus is ubiquitous throughout dynasty Egypt. He is carved on numerous temple walls and monuments and was associated with kingship from proto-dynastic times. This is the Horus that stands on top of the rectangular enclosure (serekh) containing the holy Horus name of the kings as in the image above. The very same Horus stands on the back of the famous statue of Khafre (also above) with his wings outstretched to protect the king. Excluding Egypt’s tombs and funerary text you wouldn’t be far out by adopting the notion that most depictions of Horus represent Har-wer, Horus the Great and his many derivative forms (Behdety, Horakhty, Re-Harakhty, etc., continued on next page).