The Bennu, the sacred
bird, is the quintessence of rebirth...
by Athon Veggi and Alison Davidson
Bennu... To Rise, To
The wonderful Bennu, with
its brilliant red and golden plumage, was the sacred bird of
Heliopolis. Identified as a heron with its long straight back
and head adorned at the back with two erect feathers, the Bennu
was later called Phoenix by the Greeks and fabulous stories
were told about it.
In Heliopolis, the Bennu
bird played a major role in Egyptian mythology, dwelling on
the ben-ben stone or obelisk within its sanctuary and revered
alongside Ra and Ausar (Osiris). For it was in the City of the
Sun where the work of creation began.
The Bennu bird was said
to create itself from the fire that burned on the top of the
sacred Persea tree in Heliopolis, and in the Metternich Stele,
Auset (Isis) says to her son Heru: 'Thou art the Great Bennu
who was born on the Incense Trees in the House of the Great
Prince in Heliopoli.'
(Budge, 1969, vol. 2209)
As the 'soul of Ra,'
the sun rose in the form of the Bennu to shine out across the
world renewed each morning. But the Bennu was also a manifestation
of Ausar (Osiris) and was said to spring from his heart as a
living symbol of the god. In the 'Book of the Dead,' there are
formulae to transform the deceased into the Great Bennu. Here,
the deceased says, 'I am the Bennu, the soul of Ra, and the
guide of the gods in the Duat.' In another verse, he says, 'I
am pure. My purity is the purity of the Great Bennu which is
in the city of Suten-henen.'
For the Bennu is the
quintessence of rebirth, it rises from its ashes as the spiritual
body rises from the dead physical form, as the new sun rises
from the old. It is the new condition reached when the return
to life is accomplished, namely the resurrection of Ausar (Osiris).
Herodotus records the
Bennu bird -- making its appearance only once in 500 years --
as coming from Arabia, carrying in its beak an egg of myrrh
that contained its father's body. This egg is similar to Geb's
egg that was laid on the primordial hill and gave birth to the
sun, the egg within which the whole alchemical process of transformation
When the Bennu became
old, he built a nest of incense twigs in the sacred tree, and
lay down and died. In Pliny's account, a small worm appeared
from his body that metamorphosed into a bird, and thus the Bennu
The planet Venus was called
the 'star of the ship of the Bennu-Ausar' (Osiris), mentioned
as the Morning Star in this invocation to the sacred sun bird.
I am the Bennu, the
soul of Ra,
and the guide of the gods in the Tuat;
let it be so done unto me that
I may enter in like a hawk,
and that I may come forth like Bennu,
the Morning Star.
"The Book of Doors:
An Alchemical Oracle from Ancient Egypt."
From: Veggi, Athon and Davidson, Alison