To Rise, To Shine

Egyptain Bennu


The Bennu, the sacred bird, is the quintessence of rebirth...
by Athon Veggi and Alison Davidson


Bennu... To Rise, To Shine

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 is effected.

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 was reborn.

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


The Ascending One


In ancient Egyptian mythology she is associated with the sun god. She is called Benu.

Its Egyptian name is "Benu" means as much as "the Ascending One".

The Bennu bird was an imaginary bird resembling a heron. It had a two long feathers on the crest of it's head and was often crowned with the Atef crown of Osiris (the White Crown with two ostrich plumes on either side) or with the disk of the sun.

This name apparently was being associated during the earlier periods of Egyptian history with various birds: the crane, the heron, the stork or the flamingo. Later it was more clearly identified with the heron.

She was a kind of primordial god, which built its nest on the willow which is on the top of the primordial hill.

The deities Re (Ra) - and Atum were akin to the symbolic meaning of the phoenix.

Because of its birdlike nature, the phoenix was called "ba of Re" - the soul of Re.

The soul was believed to be a birdlike spiritual being.

As a deity of creation and life it was also associated with Osiris.

The phoenix was called "the famous ba, which came out of the heart of Osiris".

There was a connection to the deity Kepera (the scarab-god), the Lord of Life and Death.

The phoenix supposedly burns itself in his nest on the hill (sunset) and is being reborn the next morning. The hill is being located on the Flaming Isle of Re in the East, where the sun rises.

At Koptos in Egypt, the Bennu bird is depicted with two human arms stretched upwards and outwards toward the star Sothis - Sirius , which appears in the early sky before the sun rises.

The Phoenix/Bennu bird is said to arise 'at dawn from the waters of the Nile'.
It is linked with summer.

The Bennu was the sacred bird of Heliopolis. Bennu probably derives from the word weben, meaning "rise" or "shine." The Bennu was associated with the sun and represented the ba or soul of the sun god, Re. In the Late Period, the hieroglyph of the bird was used to represent this deity directly. As a symbol of the rising and setting sun, the Bennu was also the lord of the royal jubilee.

The Bennu was also associated with the inundation of the Nile and of the creation. Standing alone on isolated rocks of islands of high ground during the floods the heron represented the first life to appear on the primeval mound which rose from the watery chaos at the first creation. This mound was called the ben-ben.

The Bennu was also considered a manifestation of the resurrected Osiris and the bird was often shown perched in his sacred willow tree.


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