# 296: BOOK OF THE WEEK — “The Land of Osiris”
Story behind the Book Choice
In case you wonder where the heck “The Land of Osiris” is, if you can book a last-minute trip there, and if you need to go into quarantine after your return — let me explain. Osiris was the God of the Dead in Ancient Egypt. And that already explains the title, i.e., it is Egypt that we are talking about. It is also referred to as “Khemet,” meaning the “black/dark land,” which refers to the fertile land around the Nile. So, what would make me write about this?
First and foremost, I am not an Egyptologist or Archeologist. I love learning about the roots of cultures though. Still, any definite statements or hypotheses about state-of-the art research about Ancient Egypt and the mysteries which the pyramids are still hiding from us are not up to me to uncover. I simply read the book in the context of a current project and I very much enjoyed learning about the alternative approaches and possible answers that exist when it comes to studying Egypt.
For me personally, Egypt has always been fascinating but not necessarily because of the ancient roots only. Yes, it is fascinating to visit the sites and temples, knowing that the very stones you are touching are four thousand years old or even older. These dimensions of the archetecture supersede all human understanding and I think, this is the reason why archaeological expeditions are still so adventurous — at least for me. As a kid, I would have loved to become an explorer like Humboldt or Indiana Jones. As you know, I would have loved to take on all of these “professions” and even more... But only retrospectively does it dawn on me now, how crucial these explorers, the non-fictional ones, were and still are for our understanding of the world and of ourselves.
1. Paradigm Shifts
To also make this clear at the outset: Everything I write here about Mehler’s theses is not a statement in support or neglect of his research. As it states on his website, he has been an independent researcher for several decades and has no doubt made great contributions to the study of the pyramids and ancient Khemet at large. Still, he is not a university scientist and officially publishing his research in academic journals, as far as I can see. This might be a reason because of his non-mainstream approaches and his longing to blend ancient spiritual wisdom with science. It can also be because the findings he shares do not hold up against scientific inquiry. It is not for me to judge any of this. What I see is a book by someone who is really passionate about his subject and has spent most of his lifetime deepening and sharing this knowledge with the public in his writings and lectures.
The passage about radical shifts in academic knowledge indirectly hints at this topic which runs like a red thread through the book, i.e., paradigm shifts as explored in detail by Thomas Kuhn. I did not know about the exact circumstances in which Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity. And a quick research online does not tell me more. So, even if we assume that Einstein did develop it while working outside academia, what is significant is that the publication of this thoughts, i.e., the written manifestation of his findings, meant the real turning point. Hence, what Mehler is writing about impact from outside a field is certainly true at times. Still, Einstein made an impact on Physics based on his existing knowledge of Physics. So, even though the impact of outside/interdisciplinary impulses to question old theories in general is valid at times, it does not necessarily hold true for Einstein.
For me, of course, the important thing behind this aspect is the one of publishing— writing. There is a lot to think about when learning about Ancient Egypt. We all know about the hieroglyphs and the papyrus rolls, right? But I, at least, never really thought about all this in depth in connection with my current concerns about how our culture loses its ability to write and hence document cultural life and also new findings. Hence, I might have to rethink the value of academic publishing. If all other social groups are losing the ability to write, academics might in the end really be the last ones holding up the cultural achievement of writing as a cultural technique and prerequisite for human development.
If you have never seen it with your own eyes: go there. I can just recommend it. Yes, it is nice to be watching documentaries about the pyramids and the pharaos. But it has a life-changing effect if you really see it, experience the energy around the place, and feel how humbled it makes you to look at the relicts of thousands of years of human history. The thought that then usually crosses people’s mind is: “How was this possible?” How could the ancient Egyptians build huge pyramids like this? Every piece of rock weighs hundreds, some even thousands, of kilograms. The speculation that it only lasted 20 years to build the pyramids sounds absurd, especially given the fact that the Egyptians back then had no advcanced machinery.
Again, Mehler uses this example to show that mainstream scholarship misses the point when denying that advanced machinery and technology was already being used by the builders of the pyramids. Again, it is not up to me to make any definite judgement about these theories. Still, I would suggest a less binary theoretical approach. It of course depends on how you define “advanced machining techniques.” There is no doubt that the Egyptians used hoists and cutting technology to do the job. To me, it makes no sense to claim that these advancements are downplayed by Western scholars for the sake of defending the ingenuity of the Western civilizations and their inventions which only developed these tools much later. I do think that no one, no matter how big the ego, who sincerely works on the pyramids, does not deeply appreciate the genius and partly the wonder of this magical place. In other words: It is certainly relevant to learn more about the exact technological means they used back then. But is it really that important to always make the comparisons to historical successors?
3. Oral teachings
As much as I neglect the bitterness that is related to Mehler’s neglect of academia, as much do I underline the message which he truly stands for: He fights for the oral tradition of ‘non-academic’ knowledge to be acknowledged and seriously studied. Hence, we again end up with the question of what academia actually is nowadays. If it is what it studies, then we might be on a good path. My feeling is that academics in the “West” are increasingly discovering their blind spots and their biases. Hence, they start including once forgotten or even neglected topics. With the diversity the researchers themselves bring to the academy, the knowledge created and spread by academics also changes to the better, if we stay within the value system of Mehler.
But this very passage and even the entire book did much more for me. It opened up a revelation because of the connection to Native Americans. It is so true that we find much of what he describes about the ancient Egyptians in Native American culture. But the point is: There is still so much that we need to learn from the period before the settlement of the New World. And this knowledge also holds the key to linking spiritual wisdom with modern science. Both are not opposites, as many people know. Still, the two have not really found their way to co-exist peacefully and with equal social recognition — at least in our contemporary world. It was different back then. Maybe, just like the explorers of the pyramids always found new pathways and entries into the tunnels, reading this and the entire project related to it has opened up new pathway for me. That is also because Mehler is sort of a negative example that motivates one to walk a different path: Yes, I share his longing to speak up for indingenous wisdom. Still, we have to also take a fresh, less cynicalm and to an extent more objective approach to the scientific facts. This is what scholarship is all about — the middle path.
1) What do you know about the pyramids in Egypt?
2) How do you think about the supposed opposites of science and indigenous knowledge?
3) If you were an archaeologist, where would you like to do excavations?