The House of the Net
by Giles Holcroft, for SOL, July 2002
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In the S.O.L. we are asked to do the House of the Net linkup at
every new moon but what exactly is the House of the Net?
The net itself is a very complex
image with many levels and grades of meaning. What follows is
by way of suggestion only. I followed a thread, as it were, and
went where it led me. This is not meant to be a definitive account
in any way but really just a description of my own journeying
into the symbolism of the House of the Net.
There are 2 'magical' references
to it both in the writings of Col. Seymour:
The first is from a magical diary
from a Friday in March 1938 recorded on p147 of 'Dancers to the
Gods' (Alan Richardson)
"Then I knew we were in
for an initiation of some sort for I saw the symbol of a great
veil or net, and I knew it to be that of the 'House of the Net"
The second is to be found on
p122 of The Forgotten Mage
"The Great Temple of Thoth,
the Lord of Khemmennu (Hermopolis) one of the great centres
of Egyptian priestly learning, was called Het Abtit, 'The House
of the Net' or veil. The net in the temple of Thoth, the peplum,
the veil, web, robe, mantle of the goddess, are mystery symbols
which have many grades of meaning. There are deeps beyond deeps…"
Formerly in the same book (p88)
he is quoted as saying,
"The college of Hermopolis
Magna trained those priestly initiates who stood behind the
Greater and Lesser Mysteries as the members of an unnamed Order
which governed and guided the former."
So much for magical sources but
I am really rather sceptical about such things. It is all very
well saying something has been 'channelled from the Pleiades'
or whatever but can we find a 'real' historical reference? As
it turns out we can. It is recorded on a rock-cut stela on the
Island of Sahel that when famine struck the land under one of
the Ptolemaic pharaohs, a priest was sent to Hermopolis to consult
the records. The pharaoh is quoted as follows:
' I directed my heart to turn
to the past,
I consulted one of the staff of the Ibis,
The chief Lector Priest of Imhotep:
"In which place is Hapy born?
Which is the town of the Sinuous One?
Which god dwells there?
That he might join with me."
He stood: "I shall go to the Mansion of the Net.
I shall enter the House of Life,
Unroll the scrolls of Re,
I shall be guided by them." '
One of the characteristics of
a net is that it gathers together fish of many different kinds
and binds them into a sort of loose collective. This talk will
follow the same pattern because in researching the House of the
Net I was lead into many strange avenues and ideas that at first
sight seemed unconnected tended to weave themselves together until,
looking at the finished whole, one perceived the pattern.
Let's start with what we know.
We have established that The Mansion of the Net is the temple
of Thoth at Hermopolis, a college of priest magicians and an archive
library. This is to be expected since Thoth is the god of writing
and the keeper of records but there is a deeper significance.
One of Thoth's symbols is the
sacred ibis which stands on one leg fishing the muddy swamps of
the Nile Delta. The way it feeds is that it sifts the mud searching
for food. This might remind us of two things:
Jesus, the fisher of men (for
all the Christians amongst us).
The Hebrew letter Tzaddi - the fish hook, which draws the fish
(Nun) out of the waters (Mem). The waters are of course the unconscious
mind (whether of a person or of the race to which he belongs).
According to Case, the fish symbolises transforming power. It
has connotations of 'feeling one's way' and following a 'more
or less faint trail to the solution of a mystery. It refers to
the budding or germination of ideas'.
Thoth crops up in all sorts of
places throughout Egyptian mythology. One legend makes him the
son of Horus, and that he emerged from the forehead of Set whom
Horus had impregnated. He was the scribe and messenger of the
gods and was said to be the inventor of hieroglyphs, which were
called mdw-ntr, 'The words of god'. He was the guardian of the
42 books of magic, history and law, and recorder of the judgement
of the dead.
He plays an important part in
the mythology of several other gods. He was said to be the tongue
of Ptah; the mind and tongue of Ra. He was the messenger sent
to bring back the goddess Sekhmet from the land of Punt after
she had almost destroyed mankind. It was Thoth who played dice
with the Moon and won a part of her light with which to create
five days on which the goddess Nuit could bear her five children.
Thoth taught Isis the spell to enable her to conceive the child
Horus after Osiris' death, it was he who helped her reassemble
Osiris' body and he who expelled poison from Horus in the Delta.
There is also a very interesting
connection between Thoth and the weaver goddess Neith. In the
contendings of Horus and Set, Thoth is asked to write a letter
to Neith, the Oldest One, Mother of the gods, as follows:
"To Neith, the eldest,
the mother of the gods, who shone in the primeval time - your
servant passes the night worrying about Osiris, and the day
concerned with the business of the Two Lands, while Sobek endures
Suggestive as this is of such
a relationship, the phrase, 'your servant' is merely polite Egyptian
for 'I'. However, the Coffin Texts are more instructive. Examples
"Do I forget the outer
chamber of Thoth? Neith rears as a cobra in front of him."
"To me belongs
writing…so says Neith"
"I am the primeval
one of the Earth, I have come into being, whom no vulva made,
whom no womb bore. Thoth is in charge of what is carried out
Neith herself is veiled. Plutarch,
looking upon her statue at Sais says:
"Engraved upon the base
of the statue of Athene at Sais, whom they identify with Isis,
"I am everything that has been, that is and that shall
be: and my veil no man has raised."
Mallet in his 'Culte de Neith
"Thy garment has not been
The net, then, can be seen as
the veil of the goddess Neith. Neith herself is mistress of Hwt-bit,
'The house of the bee', an insect said to have been formed from
the teardrops of Ra. Ra is the Sun so the bee is the solar teardrop
of initiation which links with Tiphareth and the veil of the temple
Parokheth. In this connection it is probably worth mentioning
that the bee is also traditionally one of the 3 gifts given to
mankind by Melchisedek (the others being wheat and the asbestos
One of the titles of the pharaoh
was nsw-bit, 'he of the sedge and the bee.' The sedge here represents,
temporal Egypt, the Nile, and the bee is seen as spiritual Egypt,
the Delta. Alan Richardson suggested that the Nile and Delta together
could be viewed as the spine and brain stem so an initiation into
the house of the bee represents an initiation into a higher state
of consciousness, into the consciousness of Da'ath, the Star Chamber,
the Moon Cave of Thoth.
When he undergoes such an initiation,
the initiate is dismembered, torn apart and his body is used to
feed the multitude. We are familiar with the story of Osiris whose
body is cut into 14 pieces and scattered around Egypt. Orpheus
also, was torn apart by the Maenads. I imagine Hecate sitting
in her cave, a rough blanket fixed over the entrance. When the
Muses gather together the pieces of Orpheus' body, it is perhaps
this rough blanket, the veil of the goddess in which he is buried.
Osiris too is shrouded in the mantle of the goddess Neith. We
know it is hers because her representative, Thoth, is present
at the embalming and also because tradition avers that the shroud
is Neith's gift to the newly deceased..
So the net is the veil of the
goddess, it is also the shroud of the sacrificed god. Furthermore
it is a symbol of gathering together. In this connection we see
Joseph and his coat of many colours. He is wearing a coat weaved
from the colours of many different traditions, just as Orpheus'
lyre was strung with seven strings representing the seven rays.
Everybody who has seen 'Joseph'
the musical will know that he is given the coat by his father
but in fact 'everybody' is wrong. Joseph already wears the mantle
of the goddess when the story begins. His coat of many colours
is ripped apart as he undergoes a symbolic death. He is to be
thrown into a pit but instead is sold into slavery. The pit is
symbolic of the underworld goddess and prefigures the entombment
of Christ whose body symbolically was broken and shared as bread
when He said, 'Take, eat, this is My body'
The journey into bondage might
represent the descent into matter or the Underworld but often
in the Bible a 'journey into Egypt' was used to denote a change
of consciousness (in this case into the consciousness of the Babe
of the Abyss).
Now, it was Joseph's task to
gather wheat for seven years against seven years of famine. Spiritually,
he is gathering wisdom against a time when the wisdom of Egypt
will go down into the dust, and it is here that we see the second
of Melchisedek' gifts to humanity, wheat.
The Egyptian god of wheat is
our old friend Osiris, whose worship lasted throughout Egyptian
history and underwent a final transformation (in fusion with the
bull Apis) into Osar-Apis or Serapis.
Joseph, we should note, dreamt
of both wheat and cattle.
Serapis, the Lord of the Universe
is depicted with a high crown and a plaited beard. Sometimes he
has a corn measure on his head, and sometimes he has a dog at
his feet. He was famed as a healer. It is perhaps the depiction
of the dog that led the Greeks to identify him with Hades (with
Cerberus at his feet). Perhaps though, the dog signifies the Jackal.
Serapis is also the lord of the Underworld and so therefore the
identification with Hades is a natural one.
Serapis seems to have been a
fusion of the Apis bull worshipped at Memphis in the 18th Dynasty
(circa 1500 BC) with Osiris. As Asar-Hapi he was known as 'The
Bull of the West' and shown as a bull with the solar disk and
uraeus between his horns. In this connection it is perhaps worth
a mention that Horus was known as 'The Bull of Two Cows'.
The sign of Taurus is connected
to the Hierophant (Vau). Since Taurus rules the neck this might
tie it in with Da'ath and the god Janus looking both ways; one
face is perhaps a bull and the other an eagle (Scorpio opposite
Taurus). One of the titles of the Hierophant is The Pope. The
Pope is the Pontifex - the Bridge Maker. Perhaps this bridge he
makes spans the abyss at Da'ath or perhaps it is a bridge between
Janus is the god of doorways.
The doorway is associated with Daleth, the Empress, Venus and
Haniel. This ties into Taurus the bull again. The cult of Serapis
is linked to Melchisedek, since Serapis carries the corn measure
on his head. The corn and bee were two of the three gifts of Melchisedek
to mankind. There is a triad of deities here: Neith, Serapis and
It is perhaps worth quoting from
the meditation diary of an SOL student here:
"I asked Serapis to tell
me about himself. He said, "I am the bull of the west and
the serpent of the west. I am the catcher of souls." I
thought about the House of the Net here. The image of a cross-roads
came to me again and I saw Janus. I was reminded of Da'ath and
Kundalini and of the serpent in the garden of Eden which caused
Adam and Eve to go forth on their journey. Next I saw the city
of Nineveh with the winged bull guarding the gates. I heard
a voice saying, "The big secret is that Scorpio is not
the scorpion but the serpent. The hooded cobra, the Uraeus,
is the symbol of power of the kings. The sting is in the teeth,
not in the tail." I wondered if the white crown of Egypt
was then perhaps a corn measure. There is also a link with Moses
through the bull cult of Exodus. Halevi places Moses on the
Tree of Life at Netzach, which ties in with Melchisedek.
Moses called down the wrath of
God upon the Israelites dancing around the effigy of a golden
calf (perhaps the Egyptian Apis). I also read somewhere that when
the Persian Mithras was killed, 'wheat sprang from the bull's
spinal cord and from its blood the vine. Its seed, gathered and
purified by the moon produced the useful animals by which man
is served...and the animals of the goddess - mother of death and
rebirth arrived to perform their several tasks: the scorpion,
dog and serpent.'"
To recap: the net:
Is the veil or mantle of the
goddess. In one context it is the web or veil weaved by Neith.
Her gift to the recently dead was said to be the cloth wrappings
in which they were buried.
Is the veil of the temple, Parokheth,
one of the paths through which is Death, Scorpio, Nun, the fish.
This connects us to the underworld and the dying-resurrected gods
such as Orpheus, Osiris, Joseph and Christ.
Gathers together (Joseph, Melchisedek, Mithras and Serapis are
all gatherers of the wheat which is to be their gift to humanity).
What is inside the net is the sacrificed god.
It is symbolic of an initiation
into a higher state of consciousness, a Da'ath consciousness in
which the initiate is ripped apart by the agent of the goddess
(the Maenads in the case of Orpheus, Set for Osiris) and re-membered
It is also the symbol of the
eggregore of the school. I am reminded of another weaver, Ariadne,
whose thread can lead us through the labyrinth. Those of you who
are supervisors will know just how often one receives signals
from a student before you have any written communication from
them. One often knows what a student is doing from what is going
on in one's own life (and I'm sure the process is a two-way thing).
These days of course we can talk
too about neural nets and the world wide web.
A net binds things together,
both people and traditions, just as at the School at Alexandria,
but the warp and weft of the web is a loose thing. There are gaps
between the strands. It gathers together those who are ready for
such an experience but allows smaller fish to pass through to
grow some more and to be caught later by this or another net.
In case this sounds big-headed, remember also that a net acts
as a filter and keeps fish that are too big out! It is also porous
to ideas. New ideas can come into the net, outworn ideas are allowed
out. In this way it becomes a living tradition. But what is gathered
and held is the sacrifice. The Opener casts the net wide. What
is caught is used to feed humanity.
Yet the mystery of the net goes
deeper. Neith stands in front of Thoth but Thoth is the outer
court to Neith's inner temple. The priesthood of Thoth stands
behind all the others we are told. There is an inside and an outside,
layers upon layers of meaning. As Seymour puts it, "There
are deeps beyond deeps…"