The Horus metaphor began in pre-pharaonic Egypt and held center stage to the last breath of Cleopatra. Horus is the “Face Of Heaven,” the mysterious paradox of unique identity expressed in universal terms. Horus is that set which contains all sets that can have one and only one member.

Biology regularly produces the soundest proof of the paradox of identity: identical twins are genetically identical, yet grow up as separate, unique individuals. This is still true when their bodies grow stuck together as Siamese Twins. Twins not stuck together have a hierarchy of “oldest and youngest,” even when the difference between their births is only a matter of moments. Their bodies are identical, but they are each uniquely placed in time.

This metaphor of unique identity reaches larger proportions when you realize that, however vast the universe, it required an entire universe to create the single, unique “you” who is each one of us. No matter who or what you believe started the universe, it has led to you, to each of us in our billions—and maybe even untold numbers of unique identities throughout the galaxies. No matter how many we are, however, each of us is unique.

Pharaoh identified himself with Horus because pharaoh was, within his being, the living identity of the land and people. The people in turn were unified by their identity with pharaoh. Egyptian funeral texts make frequent reference to ruling in the next life as pharaoh. In other words, you rule in eternity. You rule in your inner world.

 Horus Two-Faced

A second paradox of the Horus-metaphor:

Horus has two births, which is confusing only if you concretize the metaphor. In the Egyptian creation myth Osiris, The Original Horus (or Horus The Elder), Sutekh, Isis and Nephthys, (“Lady Of The House”) are born from the love of the Earth and the Sky for each other. Horus is conceived by Isis from the dead body of Osiris; the Golden Horus is then born to represent his father Osiris in heaven.

As a metaphor, the birth of Osiris, Original Horus, Sutekh, Isis and Lady Of The House represent the Egyptian perception of the birth of human beings as a race and human beings as individuals. We each bring the gods with us when first born. Original Horus is unique identity as an archetype; uniqueness as a universal element. Horus born of Osiris and Isis is the individual ego, the self-identity which each one of us feels ourselves to be. That is also why pharaoh is Horus—your self-identity rules your ego-function and is the center of your self-awareness immersed in reality.

 A third paradox of the Horus-metaphor:

Egypt acknowledged that Horus and his nemesis, Sutekh, were one and the same. Images show Horus with his head and the black head of the Sutekh Animal on one body. Ego has a dark side.

Sutekh’s place in the Egyptian pantheon is interpreted as “the Lord Of Chaos,” representative of the hard desert land beyond the reaches of the Nile, but Sutekh is also Protector Of The Sunship. He keeps it on course and wakes the Sun to make him rise in time for dawn. In other words, Sutekh is as two-faced as his other self, Horus.

Sutekh is a metaphor for the power of discipline within the human psyche, the “mind/body” connection. He is associated with the desert and with the mighty and dangerous hippopotamus because these dangers are best overcome by discipline, training, habits, courage and quick reflexes.

Horus is the counterpart of Sutekh because discipline and self-control are functions of conscious will-power. Horus and Sutekh are rivals because instinct can overcome awareness, making decisions outside the realm of self-control—sometimes spontaneous but just as easily dangerous, harmful or destructive. You have to guard the guard. As Captain Kirk found out, you cannot command as captain without a firm grip on your shadow. Your instincts and training can save your life; they are there to keep you and your life on course, just don’t forget who’s pilot of this starship.