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Ptah: The Divine Architect
by V.H. Frater D.M.A.

     Ptah or Ptah-Neb-Ankh (Ptah, Lord of Life) is considered to be the greatest of all of the Old Gods of Memphis. His worship goes back to the earliest parts of the dynastic period of Ancient Egypt. He is a form of the Sun God and is the personification of the Rising Sun. His name has bee explained to mean "Opener" as in opening the day, just as Tem was the "Closer" of the day. It has been said, however, that the name Ptah would more accurately be translated as "Engraver, sculpture" and is comparable to the Hebrew PThVCh (Peh Tav Vav Cheth). This attribution would be much closer to his significance as the patron God of smiths, handicraftsmen, masons, potters and the like. Ptah worked with Khnemu in carrying out the creation of the universe as commanded by Thoth. While Khnemu created humanity and the animal kingdom, Ptah constructed the Heavens and the Earth.

     If we look at Ptah through the idea of the goal of the hermetic, we find a very interesting symbol of balance. Ptah is often depicted as standing on a small platform, wrapped as a mummy with only his head and hands protruding. On his head there is a skull cap in his hands are the Ankh, the Phoenix Wand, and the Tet Wand. In this depiction we have Ptah representing creative Fire for in the Coffin Texts, spell 1130, Ptah says, "I am the Lord of Fire who lives on Truth." This creative fire is then tempered by the bandages holding him in which are representative of Set and thus restriction or constriction or alchemically speaking possibly inhibition. Then we have the platform on which he stands which is a symbol of Ma'at or truth, balance, or law. Thus far we have an extreme creative fire which is naturally tempered by his wrappings in restriction standing on a symbol of balance. Then we have his implements, the Ankh, the Phoenix Wand, and the Tet Wand. The Ankh is a symbol of life itself, in all of its forms. The Tet is the backbone of Osiris; it is an ancient form of the Tree of Life for the word is also a type of fruit tree. Then there is the Phoenix Wand. The Phoenix has been considered a symbol of the cycle of life, death, and a glorified rebirth by numerous cultures including, of course, the Egyptians.

     The God Ptah has also been integrated with many other gods and in many different configurations. Some examples of this include Ptah-Seker, Ptah-Seker-Asar (or Ptah-Sekri-Asar), and Ptah-Tanan (or Ptah-Tatanen) just to name a few. Ptah-Seker is the personification of the harmonious union of Ptah's primal creative fire with the inert powers of darkness within Seker the God of Death. Ptah-Seker is a form of Osiris as he is the night sun, or the hidden light. Ptah-Seker-Asar, like Osiris, is a symbol of resurrection and has been fittingly described as the triune god of the resurrection (Ptah being the God of birth/creation, Seker being the God of Death/Decay, and Asar being the God of the Resurrection/Glorification. This form of Ptah is similar in many respects to the formula of IAO.) Lastly, Ptah-Tatanen, who's name most likely comes from Ptah as described above connected to the words Ta meaning Earth and Enen which means inertness, inactivity, rest, or motionless. With this Ta-Tanen would be the god of the inert but living matter of the Earth (according to Budge). This would then combine the active and creative aspects of Ptah with the inert/restful nature of Ta-Tanen, creating a beautiful stretch from pure creation (Kether) to living manifestation (Malkuth) thus making the entire Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life.