Definitions

Djed

Djed

The Djed symbol is a pillar-like ancient Egyptian symbol representing stability. It has been interpreted as the backbone of the Egyptian god Osiris, especially in the form Banebdjedet (the ba of the lord of the Djedet). Djedu is the Egyptian name for Busiris, a centre of the cult of Osiris. During the Renewal Festival, the djed would be ceremonially raised as a phallic symbol symbolising the "potency and duration of the pharaoh's rule". It has been compared to the Sumerian concept of temen. The hieroglyph for "djed" may have given rise to the letter Samekh.

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Gordon-Schwabe theory

In their 2004 book The Quick and the Dead, Andrew H. Gordon and Calvin W. Schwabe speculated that the Ankh, Djed and Was symbols have a biological basis derived from ancient cattle culture, thus:

  • the Ankh - symbol of life - thoracic vertebrae of a bull (seen in cross section)
  • the Djed - symbol of stability - base or sacrum of a bull's spine
  • the Was - symbol of power and dominion - a staff made from a dried bull's penis

Gordon and Schwabe's speculation is based on the Egyptian belief that semen (or more generally spoken - the source of life) was formed from spinal fluid. Applying the above correspondences, according to Gordon and Schwabe, the essence of life starts here in the Ankh - it flows down through the vertebral canal, past the strong base of the spine (the Djed), and out through the penis, the Was - symbol of power.

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