No episode tonight – smoke monster theories instead

Getting back to the more occult roots of this blog:

lost smoke monster egyptian

Popular Mechanics has an Egyptologist weigh in on the hieroglyphics from “Dead is Dead

Allen agrees that the animal-headed human in the hieroglyphic Ben is fixated on is probably based on Anubis, though he says in actuality, no Egyptian scene looks like what’s shown on Lost. “I suspect that the colossus is also meant to be Anubis, too,” he says. But he points out, it’s actually more of a hybrid of Anubis and Taweret, the demon-wife of the Apep, the Egyptian’s original god of evil. (It’s said that Apep was only present at night, and therefore any evil happenings during the daytime were attributed to Taweret). “The thing on the head definitely looks like Taweret’s, but she never wears a kilt, which is clearly there in the back shot of the colossus. The colossus is probably holding two ankh-signs, like the one Anubis holds in this image, but he’s holding them like Taweret holds the two signs she holds, which are ‘protection’ signs, not ankhs.” Allen also notes that “the four toes on the statue fragment are more Taweret than Anubis, who has a human body and therefore five toes.”

Popular Mechanics: Lost Channels Ancient Egyptian Legend to Explain Smoke Monster (via Electric Children)

Pretty interesting, no? Danny Chaoflux was actually the first person who suggested to me that the Monster might be Apep:

apep

So perhaps the Others are a Taweret & Apep
cult. This is supported by the possibility that the four toed statue is Taweret:

Taweret lost four toed statue

(Image from Lostpedia)

From the Monster theories page of Lostpedia comes an alternate theory:

In Egyptian mythology, Ammit was the personification of divine retribution for all the wrongs one had committed in life. She dwelt in the Hall of Ma’at, who was the personification of the concept of truth, balance, and order.The hearts of the dead were weighed by Anubis against a feather from Ma’at’s headdress. The hearts of those who were heavy with wrongdoing failed the test were given to Ammit for her to devour. Those whose souls were devoured were not permitted to enter Aaru, having to be restless forever—effectively dying a second time. If the heart was lighter than a feather then the soul was judged by the god of the underworld, Osiris. With the strong Egyptian undertones, especially this season, the monster could be a personification of Ammit. When the monster poses as Yemi, it asks Eko if he is sorry for the wrongdoings in his life. When Eko says no, the monster kills him. We saw in “This Place is Death” that the monster lives in the Temple with the hieroglyphics on it. This temple, which goes underground, could represent the Hall of Ma’at where souls are judged.

I have another idea: the creators of LOST might be creating its own set of Egyptian deities.

Until “Dead is Dead” I was thinking that the Dharma Initiative might have been using Egyptian hieroglyphs as a code (the way the Others use Latin). But the hieroglyphs in the temple in “Dead is Dead” seem to rule that out.

It might also be worth noting that in “Some Like it Hoth,” the lesson Jack erases from the chalk board is on Egyptian hieroglyphs.

15 Comments

  1. AWESOME. Thanks for this.

  2. The entire main plot line has already been given away. If you really still care dont read this. The four toed statue is of Isis, the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus(the Egyptian Jesus). When Horus was a baby his mother took him to a magical hidden island to protect him from his uncle seth, who had murdered his father. The island is protected by Anubis, the Egyptian god of judgment and the underworld(his hieroglyph was on the wall, calling the monster, when Ben was judged). And the cherry on top. Horus was crippled as a boy then miraculously healed, died and rose again after 3 days, and had a line/scar under his right eye(image search the eye of Horus and you will see). Last week when Jack was cleaning the class room there was a time line of ancient Egypt. Long story short, John is Horus reincarnated and is here to save everyone. I think Richard might be an ancient Egyptian left to protect the island. There it is. Hope I didn’t burst your bubble!

  3. Some Like I Thot(h)

    April 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    sorry, but you’re way off, steve. i dont see how its possible to get Isis from the statue as shown. Isis is always–always–depicted with a fish-scale dress, which the statue on the island didnt have. she also has either a feather in a headband or a sun-disk surrounded by bull horns. also, resurrection in Egyptology is more commonly associated with Osiris, not Horus (who represents the Hero/Avenger). but looking for exact references is pointless, since Lost is deliberately presenting a mishmash of Kemetic myth/religion.still, the parallels are interesting: the DI leader’s name is Horus; the ageless richard alpert’s initials are RA –the egyptian sun god; the smoke monster has been referred to as Cerebus–actually a name whose etymology is Egyptian, not Greek (Kerebus would have been the original rendering, like Herakles, not Hercules), who’s identified with another aspect of Isis, the goddess Sothis; the hieroglyphs in the orchid and swan station; the statue–which appears to be Anubis with an extra Ankh in the wrong hand–; the temple (apparently a temple of Anubis, which explains how Smokey can guard it, Smokey being a manifestation of Amemit, the devourer, and servant of Anubis). The scene with Ben and Smokey/alex is basically a judgment scene, and he had to give a confession (thereby lightening his heart and escaping the death of the nonrepentant which killed Eko). even more interesting, the material on the DI blackboard establishes a definite connection, though indirect, between DI and the Hostiles. the Hostiles use the temple religiously, while the DI are presumably studying the alphanumeric properties of hieroglyphics–whose meanings sometimes changed, depending on which Egyptian historical period one is talking about. or maybe they just needed more cool emblems for their jumpsuits.

  4. Klintron

    April 23, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve actually been planning a post about John as Horus and how that might relate to Gnosticism for a while.

    It still leaves us with plenty of questions. Who is Set in this story? Ben? Sawyer? Widmore? Christian? Richard?

    I’m also not sure the storyline is going to fit a single established mythological narrative though (Christian, Egyptian, Mithraic, etc), as opposed to take on a life of its own.

    The smoke monster as an extension of Anubis, and the statue as Isis, is probably a less convoluted theory though.

  5. Some Like I Thot(h)

    April 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    correction: the screenshot above does show fishscales, but it still can’t be Isis, who is never shown naked from the waist up, unlike Sekhmet, who typically was the guardian placed at a temple’s entrance. also Isis doesn’t wear the same headdress as Taweret–she has either a sun-disk or a headband, not a kufi. have to debunk the Apep idea too. apep is a fairly specific monster who guards the underworld and who RA, manifested as Osiris, must make it past each night for the sun to shine each day. John Locke could indeed have Horus-like qualities, but him resurrecting is an Osiran concept (which isnt disingenuous, since Egyptian deities could not only take on aspects of other Egyptian deities, but every single deity, with the notable exception of Thoth, scribe of the Gods, is a manifestation of Ra.) the resurrection theme is also inherent (obviously) in Christianity.

  6. Some Like I Thot(h)

    April 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    “I’ve actually been planning a post about John as Horus and how that might relate to Gnosticism for a while.”

    do it. would love to read it.

    “It still leaves us with plenty of questions. Who is Set in this story? Ben? Sawyer? Widmore? Christian? Richard?”
    it’s doubtful richard would be RA and Set simultaneously. He doesnt seem interested in taking life, and his agelessness (and Cleopatra-style guyliner) are a manifestation of the Ankh, or eternal life. Widmore seems more like an arrogant, exiled Pharaoh than a deity; Ben’s actions have been the most Set-like, since he killed John only to have him resurrected and (presumably) take his rightful place as leader. Sawyer’s character doesn’t really evoke any Egyptian parallels, and Christian is just a figment of Jacob’s imagination.

    “I’m also not sure the storyline is going to fit a single established mythological narrative though (Christian, Egyptian, Mithraic, etc), as opposed to take on a life of its own.”

    i’d agree with this. Lost reruns air on the Sci-Fi channel, not the History channel.

    “The smoke monster as an extension of Anubis, and the statue as Isis, is probably a less convoluted theory though.”

    except the statue can’t possibly be Isis–she’s got the wrong hat–and the smoke monster can’t possibly be Anubis, since they are depicted as separate beings in the temple hieroglyph. it’s more accurate to imagine the smoke monster as Amemit, who’s identified with and possibly controlled by Anubis. in a temple dedicated to Anubis, smokey as Amemit would make the most sense.

  7. Klintron

    April 23, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Some Like I Thot(h) – thanks for the info and ideas. The biggest problem with the Apep idea, for me, was the fact that he only came out at night =/

    I didn’t say the smoke monster was Anubis, but an extension of him. Ammit makes sense too.

    Figuring who is Set isn’t an easy task since Set’s role in Egyptian mythology changed over time, and we might not ever find direct parallels in the characters.

    Here are the reasons I mentioned those specific characters:

    Sawyer – Killed Locke’s dad. Is a protector to the people of the Island (one version of Set is Ra’s champion and slayer of Apep).

    Richard – I agree with you, hadn’t thought of the RA thing. But is, or was, the leader of the Island’s people (just as Set was for a time the ruler of Egypt)

    Widmore – Banished from the Island, just as Set was banished from Upper Egypt, after competition with Horus.

    Ben – makes the most sense (constantly competing for leadership of the Island, a protector of sorts, not above sneaky deeds to get his way).

    Christian – Just threw that idea out there because I don’t really have any idea what the deal is with him or how he’d fit into a Horus myth.

    Come to think of it, I don’t know exactly where Jacob would fit either.

  8. I think expecting these people to play fair with Egyptian mythology is roughly on par with expecting the time travel stuff to be straight out of Hawking and Kaku.

    They’re playing with archetype, and that’s why the show has been so much fun.

  9. Remembering that the current season being shown is the penaltimate, meaning last but one, what is the score with the so called “war” and why was Miles jumped by a bunch of heavies? Also The exit point of the island, Wasnt that Eygpt? or was it africa?

  10. Thanks for the linkage, and good post overall.

    I agree that they are likely to do their own thing with the mythology, as its basically one part influnce, one part window dressing.

    If they were strict about this stuff the heiroglyphs would be legit rather than made up cool looking scribbles.

    The fact that the island moves does kinda put the idea of the barge of ra to mind, but its a stretch.

  11. Some Like I Thot(h)

    April 25, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    “I didn’t say the smoke monster was Anubis, but an extension of him. Ammit makes sense too.”

    bingo. Amemit IS an extention/manifestation of Anubis. put it this way: whenever he’s depicted in the EBotD, Anubis is nearby.

    “Sawyer – Killed Locke’s dad. Is a protector to the people of the Island (one version of Set is Ra’s champion and slayer of Apep).”

    interesting, but i just don’t see it. Sawyer’s more of a Horus figure. His killing of Locke’s dad avenges Locke, who was unable to commit patricide himself (Horus is the Avenger). Locke’s dad was a snake, just like Apep, and slaying him is a heroic act. This act also changes Sawyer–it marks the beginning of his transformation. LeFleur is more like Horus the Crowned King–no longer a boy, but a man, with dominion (over DI security) and a hot lil’ wifey.

    “Richard – I agree with you, hadn’t thought of the RA thing. But is, or was, the leader of the Island’s people (just as Set was for a time the ruler of Egypt)”

    Set only gained rulership by murdering his own brother, Osiris. Alpert’s initials say RA, but he’s a bit closer to Thoth, in that the scribe of the gods is “self-created, slef-produced” and apparently ageless. Some say Thoth is an Atlantean who taught the Egyptians natural sciences like electromagnetics, in addition to inventing writing and mathematics. Thoth also lead the cult who would become the gnostics/hermits–Richard’s role on the island with the Others/Hostiles is a bit similar. Also, he’s not really RA since he allows others to rule–widmore, ben, and locke.

    “Widmore – Banished from the Island, just as Set was banished from Upper Egypt, after competition with Horus.”

    the thing about Egyptian deities, and really all deities who arent completely omnipotent, is that they embody somewhat human characteristics (or vice-versa). There’s a little bit of Set in Widmore, but we don’t know that he’s completely evil–just stingy with his scotch. So far the only person he’s really gone after is Ben, when you really think about it. OTOH, Ben is a complete pathological liar. He imagines himself as a protector, but he’s somewhat misguided, and is capable of horrible actions, like mass murder. That’s fairly Set-like IMO.

    “Christian – Just threw that idea out there because I don’t really have any idea what the deal is with him or how he’d fit into a Horus myth.”

    Christian doesn’t fit whatsoever into an Egyptian religion-myth analogy, except that his shoes were a piece needed to resurrect Locke. All we know about him is that he’s Jack’s dad, he’s dead, and he shows up from time to time, just to be spooky. He appears to be a manifestation of the island itself and/or a servant (minion) of Jacob, but he hasn’t really done anything evil, except be a bad father and a womanizer. Before it’s all over, i think we’ll see some more backstory and he’ll definitely show up whenever there’s some strangeness afoot, but that’s about all that can be said about him.

    “They’re playing with archetype, and that’s why the show has been so much fun.”

    double bingo. it’s perhaps worth noting that the deeper one delves into mythical archetypes, the more similar themes emerge between different civilizations.

    “The exit point of the island, Wasnt that Eygpt? or was it africa?”

    Egypt IS in Africa. but the exit point was Tunisia,in the Sahara, which Egyptian descendents crossed to get to west Africa. not that that matters in terms of the show’s purposes.

    “The fact that the island moves does kinda put the idea of the barge of ra to mind, but its a stretch.”

    i like this train of thought. it’s far-fetched only if you’re thinking literally. from a symbolic point of view, an archetype is an archetype because it has many parallels. the sub could also be a barge, traveling through the deep ocean (night) to reach the island (day).

    “If they were strict about this stuff the heiroglyphs would be legit rather than made up cool looking scribbles.”

    i tend to agree here. if the hieroglyphs were legit there would be less room for creative license. still, it’s interesting to speculate, isn’t it?

  12. Some like it –

    There is more than one version of Set – he’s not necessarily evil.

    There’s a version of him where he is the main god and is good.

    There’s a version where he’s Ra’s main champion and slayer of Apep (this is the version I’m thinking Sawyer matches)

    There’s the devious version of him that killed Osiris and competed with Horus for rule of Egypt. He lost and was banished to rule the desert (Widmore was banished from the Island but is a powerful figure in the outside world)

    Set the evil (supplanting the figure of Apep).

  13. Some Like I Thot(h)

    April 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Klintron–props for digging this up. As some may have gleaned, Egypt was big on duality, and from a classical standpoint, Set represents a “necessary evil” in that he represents the opposite of Osiris. for Osiris to be resurrected and thus connected to eternal life–a concept which forms a cornerstone of Egyptian religious thought–someone had to kill him. (I think its safe to say that for the purposes of Lost, this is the myth we’re working from.) Conversely, there are versions of Set where he’s good but the same goes for Lucifer, who was an angel at first, remember? Both certainly have their minions regardless. anyway, your original question was “who is Set in (Lost’s pantheon)?” i’ll agree that multiple characters have some commonalities with parts of this myth. the problem with your analogies, though, is as follows: 1)if Widmore is Set, that makes Ben Osiris. but Ben never dies when he was shot by Sayid, he was healed — so he can’t be resurrected. Locke as Osiris/Christ is a much easier fit. also, Widmore isn’t completely bad, but in your examples, Set is either good or bad, not both at the same time. In S3 it sure looked like Widmore was a baddie, but now i’m not so sure. also he may have been exiled, but not apparently for a just reason. If so, Ben would have been able to kill Penny to avenge his daughter’s death. If Ben tricked Widmore, that makes Ben more set-like, since Set tricked Osiris in order to kill him. (If we’re going to talk about Set, let’s not forget his characteristics: devious, untruthful, cunning, a trickster–all Ben-like qualities.)Also, Widmore let Alex live in the first place, and didnt push it when Rousseau escaped death. He also helps Locke, Faraday, Miles, even Desmond at various points. So far as we know, he hasn’t tricked anyone, nor has he lied. Not exactly Set-like qualities. As i said, i see him more like a pharaoh who ruled for a while, was deposed/exiled, and now plots his glorious return, like Napoleon or MacArthur. 2) Sawyer slays Locke’s snakey dad, but is hardly the “main champion.” for one thing, that would make Locke RA, except RA has no father in Egyptian religion [according to Budge, he’s neter neteri kheperu tchesef, or “the God divine self-produced”] so Locke, who has a father, can’t be RA by definition, which means Sawyer can’t be Set by definition. Also, currently, Locke and Sawyer are in two different timelines, which would make coordinating champion-like activities difficult, since they have no way to communicate, and Sawyer doesnt know Locke is still alive. For another thing, Sawyer often relies on others to do his dirty work, like Juliet and Kate. and for much of seasons 1-3 he played second fiddle to Jack. would a “main champion” shirk parental responsibility or run from commitment? If anyone is a main champion, it’s Sayid, who does indeed handle lots of dirty work himself, but that would make Ben RA, wouldn’t it? To me, Ben is the closest match to the classical definition of Set, and as i said before, Sawyer is more Horus-like: a man who discovers his inner hero in the process of his journey through space and time, but who isn’t heroic to begin with (in fact, he’s more of an anti-hero). not saying that there aren’t some shared characteristics, but this is what makes the most sense to me.

  14. Some Like I Thot(h)

    May 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    “if the heart was lighter than a feather then the soul was judged by the god of the underworld, Osiris.” Actually, that’s not quite correct. According to the EBotD, Anubis and Amemit preside over the judgment. if the heart passes the test, Thoth records the results, then Horus leads the way to a chamber where Osiris, Isis and Nepthys await and, presumably, the reincarnation process which allows the Ka to live eternally in the afterlife, occurs. To make a parallel with Lost, Locke’s resurrection probably could not have happened had he committed suicide, which is a mortal sin.

  15. “then Horus leads the way to a chamber where Osiris, Isis and Nepthys await ”

    So, then Locke leads the way to a chamber where, Jacob awaits…. and Ben is there now too, who else was there again? I forgot.

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