Q: How long will death prevail?
A: As long as women bear children.
Q: Is it wrong to bear children then?
A: Eat every plant, but avoid bitter ones.
Q: When will I know the mysteries?
A: After you have trampled on the garment of shame, when two become one, and the male and female become neither male nor female.
—Gospel of the Egyptians
Three hundred years before Zoroaster drank Haoma for the first time and had his vision of the Great One, the father of King Tutankhamun had a similar realization in Egypt. His name was King Akhenaten, but he was completely lost to history until 1907, when Edward Ayrton unearthed his tomb and discovered he was husband to Nefertiti, who was already well-known as the mother of the famous King Tut.
Akhenaten abolished the imperial religion and installed monotheism. The Great One was called Aten, and the sun may have been his eye, and he was sometimes represented as a falcon head, although there was no idol to worship. For 17 years Akhenaten reigned, but he was soon overthrown by fundamentalists in his own court, who sought to restore the ancient pagan pantheon. Sigmund Freud was the first to theorize Akhenaten and Moses were one-and-the-same, and the dates certainly line-up on that theory. And don’t forget, according to the Old Testament, Moses was raised inside the imperial court of Egypt.
How strange that Zoroaster came to similar epiphanies in Persia a few centuries later, and the prophet Mani would many centuries after that update Zoroaster’s monotheism by sprinkling in bits of Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, while also employing the sun as eye of the One, just like Akhenaten but a couple hundred years after Jesus walked the earth.
The Sakas of the Caucasus Mountains were responsible for introducing cannabis and creating fire temples from Iran to India. We know Zoroaster had a huge influence on the development of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and he’s certainly the head wise man attending Christianity’s birth in Bethlehem, but I have to wonder if the other two might have been Buddha and a good friend of Zoroaster named Pythagoras, who was the Albert Einstein of ancient wise men.
In 1945, a writer in Finland named Mika Waltari discovered the untold story of Akhenaten and wrote a book titled The Egyptian and the novel was adapted into a Hollywood movie of the same name in 1954, and inspired David McDermott to produce a tribute to the film in a spectacle called New Wave Vaudeville, directed by Ann Magnuson and staged at Irving Plaza in 1978, a show that launched Klaus Nomi, among many others.
The ancient Egyptians had an enormous influence on religion, and Alexandria became the center for Christian theology for centuries until Rome seized it. The myth of a virgin mother may have originated with Neith, the ancient Egyptian goddess of war, who carried an ankh, the symbol of life. She is thought to have been the first goddess created by the Egyptians, although she was greatly eclipsed by Isis.
Neith’s sigil was a bow, shield and two crossed arrows, while her consort became known as Set, god of the darkness. Even so, Neith had power to birth offspring without involvement of any male energy. Strange that Neith’s ankh resembles many early Christian crosses from Alexandria and the goddess of war has a reverse doppleganger in Gnostic Christianity named Sophia, the first thought of the One, who is also a virgin mother but referred to as “wisdom” and ‘love.”