Originally written in 2003. Updated, 2007 and 2012

Copyright © Gary Osborn 2003. All Rights Reserved.

The word djed means “stable” and so Egyptologists have established that the Djed Column or Djed Pillar, is a symbol of stability and strength.

According to Egyptologist Sir Alfred Ernest Wallis Budge, the Djed, tet, tat, didu, ta-wer (where we possibly derive the word ‘Tower’), symbolised the body of Osiris and more specifically his backbone or spine.

See Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, Vol 1, by Sir Alfred Ernest Thompson Wallis Budge.
(Dover Books, 1973; originally published in 1911 by The Medici Society Ltd).

The ancient Egyptian ceremony known as the “Raising of the Djed Pillar”, in which the reigning Pharaoh took part during the Heb Sed Festival, which was held around the time of the Autumn Equinox - Choiak - the fourth month of the innundation season of the Nile known as Akhet - has long been considered a ritual associated with fertility, rebirth, resurrection and renewal.

There is no doubt that the Djed pillar itself was a symbol of strength, stability and power, but there has been much debate about what it truly symbolised as well as its symbolic or practical function.

In the ancient Egyptian myths, the god Osiris was murdered by his evil brother Set (or Seth) and made “god of the Underworld”.

Osiris was also the god of vegetation, grain and wheat, for it was believed that the winter season, when everything died and stopped growing, was associated with the death of Osiris.

So to bring balance and stability to the Earth and ensure the harvest, it was believed that Osiris be brought back to life; resurrected, and this was ritualised by the Djed pillar being raised up straight – his backbone represented by the Djed.

The phallic connotations associated with fertility and the creation and abundance of life are also obvious here, but there is more to the Djed than the mere display of male potency and power.

In the presentation, Axis of God, I conclude that the Djed pillar, symbolised not only the human (backbone) axis, but also the shamanic axis mundi (World Tree or Cosmic Axis), as reflected in the natural meridian of the River Nile to which the Giza Meridian is aligned and which passes through the Great Pyramid of Giza.

It is believed by many researchers, that the Giza Meridian was the world's first Zero Prime Meridian in ancient times.

The Zero Prime Meridian could be considered an abstract projection of the central Earth's axis onto the surface of the Earth with both being tilted at 23.5 degrees in respect of the Ecliptic Plane of the Sun.

In the Temple of Abydos, there are reliefs dating from 1300 BCE, of the Djed being raised up straight from a tilted position.

In the first relief (figure 1, below left) we see Pharoah Seti I raising the Djed Column (symbolic of the backbone or spine of the god Osiris) assisted by the sister and consort of Osiris, the goddess Isis.

What is interesting, is that the tilt angle of the Djed is very close to 23º – close enough to the earth's axis obliquity angle of of 23.5º – and so appears to be a very early reference to the tilt angle of the Earth and the obliquity of its celestial pole or axis.

There are also numerous Djed images at the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, south of Abydos, many of which are leaning at the angle of 23 degrees.

In the next image in the Abydos relief sequence, we see the same Djed standing up straight . . . erect.

Website Figure 1
Website Figure 1 Djed straight.

Figure 1: Ancient Egyptian wall relief from the Temple at Abydos. c. 1300 BC.
Left: Here we see Pharoah Seti I raising the Djed Column (symbolic of the backbone or spine of the god Osiris) assisted by the sister and consort of Osiris, the goddess Isis. The angle of the Djed is very close to 23º.
(Photo by artist Joel Clark, who has kindly granted me permission to present it here.)
(The 23º line overlaid in this image is exactly at the angles referenced and I found that this is the most direct and simple way to show that an object or feature is at that angle.)
Right: In the next image in the sequence, the Djed is standing up straight, erect.

“The Nile river, as we know, is serpentine in that it winds back and forth like a snake. The sacred mounds and temples which were built along the river would also correspond to the chakras which align the spinal column. If so, the the Nile Delta would be the crown chakra. It is curious that Behdet, the Delta city that was a regional capital of Egypt in predynastic times and is located on the meridian of the Nile, means 'Crown'.”
The Shining Ones, (Watkins Books, 2006).
(The source for the information about Behdet is
The Pyramid of Egypt by Prof. Livio C. Stecchini).

Once these connections have been acknowledged by someone with some pattern-recognition ability - especially someone who has some understanding of the Kundalini phenomenon and the Hindu physio-kundalini-chakra system - the correspondences then come quick and fast . . .

Having the insight or idea is one thing and one only needs to use imagination to see these things initially, but then trying to find evidence and even proof that the ancients also saw these things that way, and even utilised them symbolically is another thing.

But having said this, there is a great deal of evidence which tells us that people throughout history have indeed been aware of these connections and also utilised them graphically in their constructions - much like the Freemasons who planned and designed the geometric features, avenues and landmarks of Washington D.C. (See here) - using the same symbolic archetypes mentioned - i.e., the pyramid (world mountain), the meridian (world tree), and/or tree of life with its seven chakra levels.

One will find the same chakra-system-related symbolism in the mythical descriptions of Atlantis and also the legends surrounding Glastonbury Tor, which tells us that man has always seen these things reflected in the natural features around him and had also enhanced what he saw by literally carving these symbolic features into the landscape.

Interesting is the fact that the Hebrew and Aramaic word, Ah-TsH, is the word for both “tree” and “spine”.

It is said that if the shaman – while in trance – reaches the trunk of the ‘World Tree’ and/or the central axis of this ‘World Mountain’ and climbs it then he will reach the higher planes where a powerful mystical experience will result.

Some research into our esoteric traditions tells us that this “climbing of the trunk of a tree” – also described by the shaman as a “sky ladder”, “rope ladder”, “vine” or even a “spiral staircase” as well as “Jacob’s Ladder” (the latter two also featuring in Freemasonry symbolism), is a metaphor which reflects an internal process associated with the spinal column and skull of the shaman himself – again, an experience also described in many people’s accounts of a “Kundalini Awakening”.

Both the tree and the mountain are climbed, and through the imagery of both an analogy was made with one’s own ‘inner ascension’ through the chakra energy levels of the human body that the mystical traditions tell us begins at the base of the spine and end just above the head.

There are 33 skeletal vertebrae within the human spinal column, and the 33rd Degree is the highest level reached in Freemasonry.

We are told that the ancient Egyptians believed that salvation or enlightenment was again attained through ascending the spine – the vertebrae being used as the “rungs of a ladder”.

For example, in the ancient Egyptian texts, Osiris ascends to heaven on a ladder (maqet) over the spinal column of his mother, the sky goddess Nut.*
*Thespis: Ritual, Myth and Drama in the Ancient Near East by Theodor Gaster,
(New York: Harper & Row, Harper Torchbooks, 1950), 396.

Again these beliefs are clearly shamanic in origin.

In ascending the chakra levels along the human spinal axis to the highest chakra, it was believed that one was also ascending the Earth's axis towards heaven – the light of the Polestar representing the abode of the gods and the point of enlightenment.

These human axis/Earth axis connections clearly fall into place in the following taken from The Book of the Hopi by Frank Waters:

Pestch2

Figure 3: The pestch hieroglyphs from An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary by A. E. Wallis Budge. p. 250.

Note the Cobra, known as the “serpent at rest” hieroglyph (Gardiner No. I10). Phonetic: dj (djet).

When used in various hieroglyphic, composition blocks for relief scenes, the djet gives the Pharaoh life, power, dominion, making him “forever Ra-like”, and means “eternal continuity”.”

Again, both the djet serpent and the djed pillar or column were associated with the 'resurrection god’ Osiris, who ruled the Underworld.

The fact that the djet serpent is present in these pestch hieroglyphs along with the backbone – also known as the djed – the backbone of Osiris (pest-t) – associated with "magical powers" and with the meanings “to shine” and “to illumine” - can again only mean one thing . . . the enlightenment experience known by the Hindus as kundalinī.

‘The name, “backbone of Osiris,” is written as a djed pillar with a sperm-like tear drop shape moving upward toward an hemi-sphere. We can see this as emblematic of the sexual force, the sperm, moving upward to the dome of the cranium – the rise of the force of kundalini’.

The Path of Ausar and the Mysteries of Resurrection, by Vincent Bridges, 1995.

What we see in this simple Djed hieroglyph reflects the same “serpent-spine-marrow-seed-soul” beliefs expressed in the ancient Greek writings; evidence that the ancient Egyptians had knowledge of the same internal processes we find described in the Hindu Tantric tradition, in which the ascending serpent prana (sekhem) energy of the Kundalini has always been compared to semen or sperm rising up through the central sushumna nerve channel within the spinal cord, just like the semen rising up through the phallus so as to seed one’s consciousness with new and profound knowledge and wisdom – creating a rebirth in the individual.

“There would seem to be some connection between the Indian and the Greek doctrines of the identity of spinal fluid, brain fluid, and sperm, the spinal channel connecting the brain and the penis, the surrounding channels that cross one another, the cakras where they cross, the value judgement that prefers the highest cakra as the location of the sperm-marrow-soul, the association of the marrow with a serpent, and so on”.
The Spinal Serpent by Thomas McEvilly, Chapter 6 from The Roots of Tantra.
(Suny Series in Tantric Studies) by Katherine Anne Harper (Editor),
Robert L. Brown (Editor), State University of New York Press, 2002. p. 95.

ROSTAU: The "Jewel in the Crown"

This ascended seed within the highest Crown Chakra is also known as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’, being the dewdrop essence of the Rose – also the ‘Ros’ or ‘moon dew’ of the alchemists.

According to the Hindu tradition, the Ros or dew of the rose is also the Om Mani Padme Hum, which translates as ‘Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus’.

Again, flowers – and in particular the Rose, the Lily, and the Lotus – are not only symbolic of the female yoni-vagina, but are also symbolic of the Hindu chakra vortices, each depicted as lotus flowers with petals. And since the flower is located at the top of the stem, the blooming flower represents the radiations of light from the bindu centre above the head, at the top of the spine (stem).

This is basically the secret behind the Secret of the Golden Flower – a Chinese Taoist book based on meditation and breathing techniques. See here:

This ancient book is really about controlling the qi or C’hi energy, which is the Chinese name for the Hindu prana energy, and arousing the “spirit fire”, “serpent fire”, “liquid fire” – again, the Kundalini energy that ascends through each of the chakra levels from the coccyx at the base of the spine.

The “Golden Flower” then is a metaphor for the spinal cord, and the “opening of the flower”, is one's enlightened consciousness.

“The Golden Flower” method is said to be the safest way to arouse the Kundalini.
See My Kundalini Experience by J. J. Semple.
See also: Carl Jung and the Kundalini by John Henshaw. Knowledge of Reality Magazine, Issue 12.

In any case, from what we can gather based on the symbolic imagery that surrounds the Djed, it appears that what is really inferred in the Djed symbolism, is that both the Meridian/Nile of Egypt, which is the axis mundi that reflects the Earth's axis as well as the human spinal axis, should have a direct vertical connection – a vertical line or path of energy that connects us and the Earth with the spiritual Source-Centre, represented by the still point (ecliptic centre) in heaven, around which the stars in the Northern sky were seen to move and revolve as a result of the Earth's tilted axis.

This is possibly why we have the ritual of the tilted Djed being pushed, pulled or lifted to a vertical position as this vertical placement symbolised the ideal upright connection that each of us has with the Source of Creation – a connection that seems to have been severed in the past – again, as reflected in the Earth's tilted axis of 23.5 degrees.

The Ros known as the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus, and the Jewel in the Crown, appears to have some connection with Giza, and possibly the Great Pyramid.

The ancient name for Giza was ROSTAU (R’-sTA.w), which the Rosicrucian Order adopted as their name the Order of the Rose Cross - ROS being the Rose, and TAU being the Cross.

Other versions of the ancient name for Giza are Rustau and Rasetjau.

Some researchers or scholars have even spelled it as ‘Rosetau’ – not realising, or for some reason not expressing or publishing, the obvious connection this name has with the Rose Croix (Rose Cross) of the Rosicrucians.

The Tau is a very ancient 'T'-shaped cross, evident in the ancient Egyptian Ankh symbol.

The Ankh, the Crux Ansata was also known as the "key of life", and the "Key of the Nile".

The oval at the top of the Ankh is basically the Ru hieroglyph - associated with the Ros of ROS-TAU.

In effect, the Ankh symbol is a symbolic image of the human body or spine (Tau) with the head (Ros or Ru).

However, the Ru, does not directly relate to the head, but instead it relates directly to something inside the head.

In fact according to the most reliable and respected esoteric sources, the Ru symbolises the Thalamus at the centre of the brain - the real 'Third Eye', and in the Ankh this would be the centre of the Ru oval, as we will see later.

The Ru is shaped like an eye, but because it is up-ended (vertically placed) it also represents the female vagina - again symbolised by the Rose, Lilly and Lotus flowers.

The point where the Tau meets the Ru, is where we find the the cross bar of the Tau - as if marking the fine demarcation line between the obvious binary male and female opposites of I and O . . . being the fusion point between the two and where both are united.

We see this same feature in the ancient Egyptian Shen Ring as also carried by Mesopotamian deities - again, the point where the I (male part) is bound or knotted to the O (female part).

Now if the River Nile like the Tau of the Ankh ("Key of Life" and "Key of the Nile") also represents the spine of the body, with the Nile Delta representing the brain, then the point where the River Nile meets the Nile Delta represents the fusion of male and female principles - and therefore it is the "gateway" into the spiritual realm, the Underworld or Otherworld - represented by the Ru of the Ankh which symbolises the Thalamic 'Third Eye' at the centre of the brain - the brain represented by the Nile Delta.

Rose cross

Figure 5: The Rose Croix symbol of the Rosicrucian Order.
Illustration from The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall. (1928).

Ankh

Figure 6: The ancient Egyptian Ankh - with the RU (oval) and TAU Cross combined.

Shen ring

Figure 7: The ancient Egyptian Shen Ring - with the I (male) and O (female) combined.

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