The Secret Lore of Egypt
Its Impact on the West
Translated by David Lorton
Alchemy, astrology, and other secret sciences have Egyptian roots, and films, popular fiction, and comic books frequently draw upon Egyptian themes. Rosicrucianism, Mormonism, and Afrocentrism all share Egyptian-derived elements. Modern-day esoteric endeavors find an endlessly renewable intellectual reservoir in ancient Egyptian culture, Erik Hornung believes, and are almost inconceivable without Egypt. Although such persistence assures Egyptosophical ideas an extraordinarily widespread impact, the field of Egyptology has largely overlooked this phenomenon.
In The Secret Lore of Egypt, Hornung traces the influence of the esoteric image of Egypt, especially as it is manifested by the god Thoth, on European intellectual history since antiquity and finds it reasserted even today in the United States. From Gnostic writings and Romantic poetry to Freemasonry and the Theosophist movement, Egyptian deities re-emerge in ever-surprising guises. Since ancient times, Egypt has been associated with esoteric practices and beliefs and regarded as the source of all secret knowledge—an association that, Hornung says, is only loosely connected with historical reality.