Church of the Eternal Source
Church of the Eternal Source
While the primary thrust of the modern Neo-Pagan Movement has been the recovery of European traditions, some attempts have been made to recover the magic and spiritual life of ancient Egypt. Standing at the fountainhead is Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), whose use of Egyptian themes date to the first decade of the twentieth century. When in Cairo, he found several magical items of special interest, including the Stele of Revealing. He received a revelation contained in the small booklet The Book of the Law, the reception of which initiated a new era of Horus (an Egyptian deity), the Crowned and Conquering Child. He then later integrated Egyptian themes into all his magical work. A typical magical ritual with an Egyptian theme was published by David Conway in his book, Magic: An Occult Primer (1972).
Although Crowley utilized Egyptian themes extensively, he never attempted to build a modern Egyptian religion. That task was initiated by the Church of the Eternal Source, founded by Donald D. Harrison and Harold Moss. Both Moss and Harrison were pioneers of modern Paganism. Harrison had first been attracted to Greek and Roman religion, and in 1967 founded the Julian Review. The Review served as the periodical for the Delphic Fellowship, an early Pagan group functioning primarily within the California gay community. Meanwhile, Moss organized a proto-Egyptian religious group after being inspired by the movie "The Egyptian." They held their first Egyptian party as early as 1963. In 1970, Moss and Harrison combined their efforts in the Church of the Eternal Source built upon two emphases, authentic Egyptianism and a belief in the plurality of the gods.
Authentic Egyptianism derives from attention to the earlier layers of the Egyptian religion before its corruption by the en-trance of many non-Egyptian ideas. Henri Franfurt's book, Ancient Egyptian Religion, is cited as a source for gaining an over-view of the church's perspective, and mastery of ancient Egyptian history is an important task for individual church members. In the church's understanding, the gods create reality. In their diversity and their transactions, divine vectors are established. The human task is to achieve balance by relating to the divine vectors.
Worship is both communal and personal. Communal gatherings are held on the full moon in July (at the birthday of the gods) and at the solstices and equinoxes. At the festivals, the myth of a particular deity may be reenacted. Various magical rituals are also used, though no particular rituals have been prescribed. Most worship centers upon personal shrines which members erect in their own dwellings. Members also practice forms of divination.
The Church of the Eternal Source inspired a number of other experiments in Egyptian Paganism through the last generation, most short-lived. It has continued as a small group of fewer than 100 people, most residing on the American West Coast. Their periodical, Kephera, has also had a sporadic life. The church may be contacted at P.O. Box 44146, Tucson, AZ 85733. The church's website may be found at http://members.aol.com/amanitae/ces.
Conway, David. Magic: An Occult Primer. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972.
Frankfurt, Henri. Ancient Egyptian Religion: An Interpretation. New York: Harper & Row, 1961.