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It is quite possible, and even apparent, that the first form of the mystical SEVEN was seen to be figured in heaven by the seven large stars of the Great Bear, the constellation assigned by the Egyptians to the Mother of Time, and of the seven Elemental Powers. And once a type like this has been founded it becomes a mould for future use–one that cannot be got rid of or out of.
The Egyptians divided the face of the sky by night into seven parts. The primary Heaven was sevenfold. The earliest forces recognised in Nature were reckoned as seven in number. These became Seven Elementals, devils, or later divinities. Seven properties were assigned to nature–as matter, cohesion, fluxion, coagulation, accumulation, station, and division–and seven elements or souls to man.
The genitrix as Ta-Urt (Typhon) is designated the “Mother of the Beginnings,” “Mother of the Revolutions” (time-cycles), “Mother of the Fields of Heaven,” and the “Mother of Gods and Men.” The earliest recorded beginnings of time then are with the Bull and Seven Cows, or Seven Hathors, Seven Bears, Seven Maidens, Seven Rishis, Seven Princes, or other types of the Seven Stars or constellations of Ashtoreth-Elohim, Jehovah-Elohim, or Ta-Urt-Typhon, whom we can recognise and identify. In the Bijek it is said, “from one mother is the universe born.” This beginning is universal in mythology. The Great Mother in her primordial phase was the Abyss in Space, and the goddess of the Seven Stars in time.
Seshat, under various spellings, was the ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing. She was seen as a scribe and record keeper, and her name means she who scrivens (i.e. she who is the scribe), and is credited with inventing writing. She also became identified as the goddess of accounting, architecture, astronomy, astrology, building, mathematics, and surveying.
In art, she was depicted as a woman with a seven-pointed emblem above her head. It is unclear what this emblem represents. This emblem is the origin of an alternate name for Seshat, Sefkhet-Abwy, which means “seven-horned”.
Mistress of the House of Books is another title for Seshat, being the deity whose priests oversaw the library in which scrolls of the most important knowledge were assembled and spells were preserved. One prince of the Fourth Dynasty, Wep-em-nefret, is noted as the Overseer of the Royal Scribes, Priest of Seshat on a slab stela. Heliopolis was the location of her principal sanctuary.
Usually, she is shown holding a palm stem, bearing notches to denote the recording of the passage of time, especially for keeping track of the allotment of time for the life of the pharaoh. She was also depicted holding other tools and, often, holding the knotted cords that were stretched to survey land and structures. She is frequently shown dressed in a cheetah– or leopard–hide, a symbol of funerary priests. If not shown with the hide over a dress, the pattern of the dress is that of the spotted feline. The pattern on the natural hide was thought to represent the stars, being a symbol of eternity, and to be associated with the night sky.
As the divine measurer and scribe, Seshat was believed to appear to assist the pharaoh in both of these practises. It was she who recorded, by notching her palm, the time allotted to the pharaoh for his stay on earth. Seshat assisted the pharaoh in the “stretching the cord” ritual. This ritual is related to laying out the foundations of temples and other important structures in order to determine and assure the sacred alignments and the precision of the dimensions. Her skills were necessary for surveying the land, to re-establish boundary-lines after the annual floods. The priestess who officiated at these functions in her name also oversaw the staff of others who performed similar duties and were trained in mathematics and the related store of knowledge.
She also was responsible for recording the speeches the pharaoh made during the crowning-ceremony and approving the inventory of foreign captives and goods gained in military campaigns. During the New Kingdom, she was involved in the Sed festival held by the pharaohs, who could celebrate thirty years of reign.
Thoth (Djehuty in ancient Egyptian), the reckoner of time and god of writing who was also venerated as a god of wisdom, was closely identified with Seshat, with whom he shared some overlapping functions. At times she was identified as his daughter, and at other times as his companion.