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Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.

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Unity, Not Uniformity

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_horussetf.jpgTaui is the Egyptian word for the unified “Two Lands” of Egypt. From the time of the Scorpion King forward more than three thousand years, the Egyptians tightly held to their identity as taui and the responsibility of rulers to maintain a unified state. Did this indicate a homogenous culture or religion? Hardly, as Kemet was a coalition of tribes and former city-states. Even the cult of the pharaoh as embodiment of Ra did not emerge until the fourth dynasty (2613 to 2494 BCE). Apparently, creating an Egyptian identity did not threaten the myriad local cults and cultures.

The Two Lands were Upper Egypt in the south and Lower Egypt in the north. Upper Egypt was mostly rocky desert, while over the north spread the lush Nile delta. The union of north and south was forever fixed in the Egyptian imagination as a mythical time in which their society became stable, safe and prosperous. Although this unity would be disrupted from time to time (the “intermediate” periods and the Amarna heresy), its primacy was never forgotten. Egyptians mythologized the struggle for unification as a deadly battle between Horus and Set, with Set representing brute force, Horus enlightened power. To lose unity was to return to a dangerous chaos.

Too often in our modern world people who consider themselves spiritual or religious become confused over what is meant by “unity.” They fear to release themselves into a world of cultures where they risk being blended with others and losing their unique identity. It’s an understandable fear; we are surrounded by eclecticism - the best, the worst and, worse still, the mediocre. We are uneasy about misrepresentation by others, even a sort of guilt-by-association. How do we know what we may have in common, after all?

True enough, any kind of unity is a risk. But isn’t there also a risk when our communities are fractured? Must we be so sure of every detail about others before we can stand with them in the most basic ways? Unity is not the same as uniformity.

Ironically, while Horus won his battle, Set remained a member of the Ennead, the Heliopolitan pantheon. His cult was especially popular among members of the military, who saw in him a source of the strength they needed to protect and defend Kemet. Both Horus and Set sit on the boat of the sun each night as it navigates the shadows of the duat until dawn. Each has a role very different from the other, yet they collaborate in maintaining the universe, joining forces to ensure the sun rises each morning.

Before we lose more time in this intermediate period of our modern spiritual culture, may our tribes find their voice of unity, bringing in a dynasty of fresh creative fulfillment.

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Holli Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the premiere educational resource for Pagan and other nature-based religions (, founder of Osireion (, editor/writer for Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape at, and serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Partners of S.C. (  She is co-founder of the original Pagan Round Table,, and author of "Pool of Lotus," available in print, or for Kindle or Nook, at


  • Penny Lloyd
    Penny Lloyd Thursday, 07 February 2013

    I love this Holli! I tried to rate it 5 stars but my tablet isnt cooperating!
    Just wonderful!

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