Excerpted from Gerald Massey’s Ancient Egypt:
In Egyptian mythology compared with the Babylonian the same types that represent evil in the one had represented good in the other. The old Great Mother of Evil, called the Dragon-horse in the Assyrian version, was neither the source nor the product of evil in the original. The serpent-goddess Rannut [or Renenūtet], as renewer of the fruits of earth in the soil or on the tree, is not a representative of evil … The Kamite [i.e. Kemetic] beginning with the Great Mother and the elemental powers which are definite and identifiable enough in the Egyptian wisdom became confused and chimerical in Babylonian and Hebrew versions of the same Sign-language; the dark of a benighted heaven followed day. Elemental evils were converted into moral evil. The types of good and ill were indiscriminately mixed, pre-eminently so in the reproduction of the old Great Mother as Tiamat. Originally she was a form of the Mother-earth, the womb of life, the suckler, the universal mother in an elemental phase. But the types of good and evil were confounded in the later rendering. The creation of evil as a mis-creation of theology is plainly traceable in the Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Hebrew remains. The Great Mother, variously named Tiamat, Zikum, Nin-Ki-Gal, or Nana, was not originally evil. She represented source in perfect correspondence to Apt [or Ipet, Ipy], Ta-Urt [or Taweret], or Rennut [or Renenūtet] in the Egyptian representation of the Great Mother, who, howsoever hideous, was not bad or inimical to man; the “mother and nurse of all”, the “mother of gods and men”, who was the renewer and bringer forth of life in earth and water. Nor were the elemental offspring evil, although imaged in the shape of monsters or of zoötypes. As Egyptian, the seven Anunaki were spirits of earth, born of the Earth-mother in the earth, but they were not wicked spirits. The elements are not immoral. These are a primitive form of the seven great gods who sit on golden thrones in Hades as lords of life and masters of the under-world.
In the Cuthean legend of creation we are told that the great gods created “warriors with the body of a bird” and “men with the faces of ravens”. “Tiamat gave them suck”. “Their progeny the mistress of the gods created”. “In the midst of the (celestial) mountains they grew up and became heroes” and increased in number. “Seven kings, brethren, appeared as begetters”—who are given names as signs of personality (Babylonian Story of Creation: Records of the Past, N.S., vol. i. p. 149). Now the seven children of the great Mother as Egyptian were produced as two plus five. The Set and Horus twins were born warriors or fighters. They are portrayed as two birds, the black vulture or raven of Set and the gold hawk [or falcon] of Horus … The Set and Horus twins were succeeded by five other powers, so that there were seven altogether, all brothers, all males or begetters—the seven which constituted a primary order of gods … But the seven nature powers evolved in the Egyptian mythos were the offspring of the great Earth-mother, not the progeny of Apep [Greco-Egyptian “Apophis”]. They were native to the nether earth, but were not wicked spirits. They are spoken of in the Ritual (ch. 83) as “those seven Uraeus-deities who are born in Amenta [the Nether World].” The serpent type is employed to denote the power, but it is the good serpent, the Uraeus serpent of life and of renewal, not the evil reptile Apep. These the Euphrateans changed into the seven evil spirits or devils of their theology. The spawn of Apep in Egypt are the Sebau [or Sebiu], which were numberless in physical phenomena and never were portrayed as seven in number.
The Euphrateans turned the evil serpent Apep into Tiamat, the old Great Mother in the abyss of birth, where she has been supposed to have brought forth the seven powers of evil and to have been herself the old serpent with seven heads. In Egypt, happily, we get beyond the rootage of mythology in Babylonia and Akkad. The goddess Rannut was a form of the Earth-goddess as the serpent-mother. The serpent brood or dragon progeny of Rannut are mentioned in the Ritual [Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, a.k.a. The Book of Coming Forth by Day], where they have become a subject of ancient knowledge in the mysteries (ch. 125). Elsewhere they are called the seven divine Uraei or serpents of life. There are no seven serpents of death, no seven evil serpents, in the Kamite representation. The seven Uraei, though elemental, born of matter, and of the earth earthy, like their mother, are not evil powers; neither are they in the same category with the Sebau of Apep or the Sami-fiends of Set; whereas in the Euphratean version these have become seven wicked spirits as the evil brood of the Great Mother Tiamat. They are also portrayed as the seven heads or potencies of an infernal snake, which had been Egyptian, but without the seven heads, the types of good and evil being mixed up together as Euphratean. The Kamite elemental powers were just the powers of the elements represented by zoötypes. They might be sometimes fearsome, but they were not baneful. The inimical forces of external nature, the evil spawn of drought, plagues, dearth, and darkness, called the Sebau or the Sami, had preceded these, whereas in Babylonia the two categories are confused and the seven have been reproduced as altogether evil. They are seven-fold in all things evil: seven evil demons, seven serpents of death, seven evil winds, seven wicked spirits; seven in the hollows of the earth, seven evil monsters in the watery abyss; seven evil incubi, seven plagues. But even these seven baleful and injurious spirits of Babylonia originated as powers of the elements, no matter where. Hence the first is a scorpion of rain (cf. the curse of rain); the second is a monster with unbridled mouth (thunder); the third is the lightning-flash; the fourth is a serpent; the fifth is a raging dog; the sixth is a tempest; the seventh is the evil wind. Here the whole scheme of evil is meteorological, and is based upon bad northern weather (Sayce, Magical Texts, H. L., p. 463). The theological perversion and the degradation of the type are traceable in Babylonia. The seven serpent powers were originally the same. In Egypt they are the seven spirits of the earth. And of the seven in Babylonia it is said in the magical text from Eridu: “those seven in the earth were born. Those seven in the earth grew up. Those seven from the earth have issued forth” (Sayce, H. L., pages 463 to 469).
Only in Babylonia the Great Mother as the crocodile type of water has been confounded with the Apep-reptile of evil, and made to spawn the evil powers in the darkness of later ignorance. We can watch the change in a Babylonian version of the mythos. The seven nature forces here originated as seven evil powers; they were “rebellious spirits” and “workers of calamity” that were “born in the lower part of heaven”, or the firmamental deep. (War of the Seven Evil Spirits: Records, vol. v.; also vol. ix, 143.) They are called “the forces of the deep”, for ever rising in rebellion. In short, they are one with the Sebau of the Ritual, who were the progeny of Apep, which have been confounded with the “seven” elemental spirits who were not originally evil. The beneficent great Mother-earth who had been imaged by the sloughing serpent as a type of renewal and re-juvenescence was transmogrified into the serpent of theology, the very devil in a female guise, the author of evil that was ultimately represented as a woman who became the mother of the human race, and who doomed her offspring to eternal torment ere she gave them birth in time. The Hebrews follow the Babylonians in confusing the Uraeus-serpent of life with the serpent of death. The primal curse was brought into the world by Apep the reptile of drought, dearth, and darkness, plague and disease, but the evil serpent began and ended in physical phenomena. Apep never was a spiritual type, and was never divinized, not even as a devil. The beneficent serpent Rennut represents the mother of life, the giver of food in fruits of the earth or the tree. She is portrayed as the mother both in the form of a serpent and also as the human mother. But good and evil have been badly mixed together in the Hebrew version of the Babylonian perversion of the Egyptian wisdom.
The way in which the Kamite mythos was converted into Semitic legendary lore and finally into Biblical history is palpably apparent in the story of the fall. The woman offering fruit as temptress in the tree was previously represented in Sign-language as the serpent which was the symbol of renewal in the tree, as is shown when the reptile offers the fruit to the man. Thence came the serpent-woman, who was a compound of the zoötype and the anthrotype, and who was damned as Mother Eve, and deified as Rennut, the giver of the fruits of earth. Conclusive evidence of the way that changes were made in the appropriation of the prototypes and their re-adaptation to the change of fauna and likewise of later theology, can be shown in relation to the primordial great mother who is Tiamat in Babylonia. One of her typical titles is the “dragon-horse”, and as the Egyptians had no horse, it might be fancied at first sight that such a compound type as the dragon-horse, which also figures in Chinese mythology, was not Egyptian. The ancient Egyptians had no horse, and their dragon was a crocodile. The hippopotamus [Greek hippopotamos ‘river horse’, earlier ho hippos potamios ‘the horse of the river’, etymologically deriving from hippos ‘horse’ + potamos ‘river’] was their first water-horse as male—that is, the water-bull. As female it was the water-cow. Now, the old first genetrix Apt (Khept, or Ta-Urt), when represented as a compound figure is a hippopotamus, that is the water-horse, in front, and a crocodile, that is the dragon, behind [see image at the beginning of this post]. The dual type of Tiamat the dragon-horse is based on the crocodile and hippopotamus, which are to be seen combined in the two-fold character of the great Mother Apt, and these two animals were unknown to the fauna of Akkad and Babylonia. Thus as Babylonian they are not derived directly from nature, but from the mythology and the zoötypes that were already extant in Egypt as African.
Horus, as Sebek, was the great fish of the inundation, typical of food and water. This great fish is the crocodile, which was applied to Horus as a figure of force in his capacity of solar god, the crocodile in Egypt being a prototype of the mythical dragon—not the evil dragon, but the solar dragon, which was known in relation to Sebek and to Saturn as the dragon of life. In one of the Greco-Egyptian planispheres this dragon keeps its original form and remains a crocodile. It is portrayed as a constellation of enormous magnitude, and is truly the great fish of Horus-Sebek that was first of all a figure of the inundation constellated in the stellar mythos and reapplied to the power that crossed the waters as the solar Horus of the double horizon (Drummond, Oed. Jud. PI. 2). The only form of evil to be found in the abyss was the dark and deadly power of drought, that, as feared, might drink or dry up all the water. This was figured as the Apep-reptile or some other form of the monster Hydra, the prototypical serpent of the sea. The mother of life in the abyss was the giver of water as the wet nurse of the world, not the destroyer of the water.
In Babylonia the tree of life was changed into a tree of death. The serpent in the tree that offers fruit for food, as Rannut, the giver of food and representative of Mother-earth, was transformed into the evil serpent that “brought death into the world and all our woe”, but which had originated as a beneficent figure in the Kamite representation of external nature. The transmogrifying of Tiamat, the mother of all and suckler of the seven elemental powers, into the dragon of evil might be followed on other lines of descent, as in the conflict of Bel-Merodach and the dragon. In the Egyptian representation Apep the dragon of drought is drowned in the water by Horus of the inundation, whose weapon therefore is the water flood. Now in warring with Tiamat the deluge is the “mighty weapon” wielded by Bel. “Bel (launched) the deluge, his mighty weapon, against Tiamat, inundating her covering”, or drowning the dragon of drought. Thus Tiamat is destroyed by Bel with the deluge, where Apep was drowned by Horus in the inundation. This again shows that the great Mother Tiamat, the suckler, as the giver of water, had been converted into the evil dragon of drought. The good crocodile has also been transmuted into the evil dragon and portrayed as falling down head foremost from the starry summit of heaven to be trodden under foot and crushed beneath the heel of Horus, who is Herakles in Greece, Krishna in India, Merodach in Assyria. It was the same with other fauna. The pregnant hippopotamus was changed for the always female bear or the pregnant woman. The two dogs have been substituted for the two jackals of the south and north, the first two openers of the roads in heaven. The eagle of Zeus takes the place of the hawk or falcon of Ra, and the raven, the black Neh of Set; the legend follows, and the conflict betwixt the eagle and the serpent is substituted for that of the warring hawk and serpent in the Egyptian mythos. The huge Apep-reptile of drought and darkness has been supplanted by the chimerical monster that is slain by Gilgamesh the solar god [. . .]
The foundations of mythology and other forms of the ancient wisdom were laid in this pre-anthropomorphic mode of primitive representation. Thus, to summarise a few of the illustrations; the typical giant Apep was an enormous water-reptile. The typical genetrix and mother of life was a water-cow [female hippopotamus] that represented the Earth. The typical twin-brothers were two birds or two beasts. The typical twin-brother and -sister were a lion and a lioness. The typical virgin was a heifer, or a vulture. The typical messiah was a calf, a lamb or unbu the branch. The typical provider was a goose. The typical chief or leader is a lion. The typical artisan is a beetle. The typical physician is an ibis… The typical judge is a jackal or a cynocephalus [‘dog-headed’ baboon, and possibly the Hamadryas baboon of the Ethiopian Highlands], whose wig and collar are amusingly suggestive of the English law-courts. Each and all of these and hundreds more preceded personification in the human image. The mighty Infant who slew the Dragon or strangled serpents while in his cradle [compare the infant Hercules] was a later substitute for such a zoötype as the little Ichneumon [mongoose], a figure of Horus. The Ichneumon was seen to attack the cobra di capella [a species of cobra] and make the mortal enemy hide its head and shield its most vital parts within the protecting coils of its own body. For this reason the lively, daring little animal was adopted as a zoötype of Horus the young Solar God, who in his attack upon the Apep-Serpent made the huge and deadly reptile hide its head in its own enveloping darkness. But, when the figure is made anthropomorphic and the tiny Conqueror is introduced as the little Hero in human form, the beginning of the Mythos and its meaning are obscured. The Ichneumon, the Hawk, the Ibis [and the secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)] might attack the Cobra, but it was well enough known that a [human] Child would not, consequently the original hero was not a Child, although spoken of as a child in the literalised marvels, miracles, and fables of the Infancy [. . .]