The Origins of Medicine reach back to a period beyond the limits of recorded time. Hieratic texts outlining the medicine of Ancient Egypt are some of the oldest surviving records.
Papyri written over 4000 years ago describe a complex, fully developed pharmacology, with prescriptions for herbal remedies, the ailments they were intended to cure, and the preparation of their ingredients. Many of these documents state humbly that they are mere copies of text that were ancient even in their time.
Hippocrates, long considered the father of medicine, spent many years studying in Egypt, and included in his writings the prescriptions he had taken from Egyptian Medical texts. Our debt to the Greeks for providing the foundation of medicine is more correctly an appreciation of their work as faithful scribes recording the pharmacology of Egypt than as the originators of the science of medicine.
Thoth, called Hermes by the Greeks, is the father of Egyptian Medicine. Clement of Alexandria (AD150-220) states that Thoth came to Egypt from a land before the flood bringing with him 42 books of a medical nature that contained the entire pharmacology of a sophisticated culture.
One of the major expenditures of the early pharaohs were vast expeditions into the"Divine Lands", the region between the Nile and the Red sea, in search of plants described in these texts. They were particularly interested in a "Star Medicine", called "Hu" or "Tchefit", for the preparation of an elixir that assisted in human transformation.
Hieroglyphic inscriptions in the Great Temple of Karnak describe a medical botanical garden of Thutmosis III which contained "the plants his majesty found in the land of Rethnu,(Syria) as well as the plants and flowers from the "land of the Gods",(Arabia)and all those plants his majesty discovered in the lands he conquered under the commandments of his divine father Amun".
The practice of Ancient Egyptian Medicine consisted of three paths of distinct character symbolized by the tradition of the threefold choice of "Osirian Couch". Preserved in Tutankhamen's tomb are paintings showing the candidate for eternal life (Osiris) with a choice of three couches, or paths to follow.Each path had it's own fate and pharmacopoeia(remedies).
First, and most common, were the medicines of ordinary bodily therapy relating to birth, growth, and maintenance of the physical molecular body. These were generally foods of a nutritious nature. Should the "Osiris" choose this path, his life and essence would remain in the cycle of birth and death and repeated reincarnation. This path was called "The Hippo Path".
Second was the path for the period between physical bodies, in a trans-temporal realm called the Duat. This path had it's own pharmacopoeia of medicines which allowed the Osiris to experience the realms outside the 3 Dimensional world, where all the records and history of life were found. By becoming familiar with this realm the candidate could gain knowledge of the true nature of life and no longer suffer it's illusions. To follow this path after knowledge of the Duat was gained however, was seen as a distraction and would not, in the end, elevate the candidate into the realm of eternal life. This path was called the "Cow Path".
Third, and most exalted of the paths, was "The Lion Path". This path, again with it's own pharmacopoeia, focused on special disciplines and elixirs that activated normally latent programs within the cells of the candidate to allow growth beyond the molecular body. Plants that initiated this metamorphic process were the true "food of the Gods" and if used following the prescribed discipline, would allow the candidate to develop an immortal, non-molecular "body of light", with which to return to the Land of the Gods.
It was believed that these plants contained substances that resonated with the energy of the stars and it was from them that the mysterious power of transformation originated.
In "The Book of Coming Forth into Day", the bible of the Egyptians, and a book so old that even the Egyptologist Wallis Budge believed it to be in existence thousands of years before the First Dynasty, we find this most ancient poem:
"I am yesterday and tomorrow, and have the power to regenerate myself... the hitherto closed door is thrust open and the radiance in my heart hath made it enduring. I can walk in my new immortal body... and go to the domain of the starry Gods. Now I can speak in accents to which they listen and my language is that of the star Sirius".
Garth, The Egyptian Hermes, Princeton
Univ. Press, 1993 Hope, Murry, Practical
Egyptian Magic, St. Martins Press 1984
Hope,Murry, The Sirian Connection, Element,
copyright Jay Morningstar 1997