My fascination with ancient Egypt goes back as far as I can remember. Sculpture, temple ruins, pyramids, animal headed gods, and walls filled with hieroglyphs have always remained a fascination. But it’s been my experience that most books on ancient Egypt scratch only a little below the surface of its cultural remains or long-held conventional conclusions.
The Kemetic Tree of Life is for the serious seeker after the symbolism and mysticism of ancient Egypt. It is an exploration of the oldest of the several major religious systems to come out of ancient Egyptian culture. These several systems were in no way opposed to each other. Rather, each one focused on a different aspect of the Egyptians’ concept of Immanent Reality. The Kemetic Tree discusses the tradition that arose in the city of Anu, or the “Anunian Theurgy.”
“Kemetic” is an anglicized form of the ancient Egyptians’ term for their own country, the land of Khem.
Popular nonfiction works on ancient Egypt tend to be academically guarded and unwilling to offer conclusive specifics concerning Egypt’s spiritual systems, or they talk about Egyptian spirituality with constant reminders – subtle or otherwise – about its superstitious and primitive nature. The latter is simply modern arrogance. Dr. Ashby’s depth is refreshingly different. He doesn’t approach the remnants of ancient Egypt as an academic, but as a practitioner of its spiritual science. He appears to have a command of hieroglyphic symbol and the ancient Egyptian language. His text incorporates approximations of the Egyptian vocabulary – key words and phrases relevant to an understanding of the Anunian Theurgy specifically and Egyptian spirituality generally. I had to start a file to keep them straight. In this way, his book parallels many Western works on Eastern philosophy and religion, e.g. Hinduism, where ancient Sanskrit terms are incorporated throughout. He also does not use the classic Hellenized names for Egypt’s gods – Osiris, Isis, Horus, Anubis, etc., but instead retains the Egyptian approximations – Asar, Aset, Heru, Anpu, etc. The Kemetic Tree also includes many figures of hieroglyphic images and mythological scenes. Essentially, the book is intended to initiate the reader into living this spiritual science. Its chapters include lectures, questions and answers, and sections to promote meditative journaling.
A drawback to the text is that it’s poorly proofread, if at all. The author writes in a very conversational style which often sets an enjoyable pace for reading. But it lends itself to run-on sentences, strange phrasings, and numerous grammatical errors that can grind that enjoyable pace to a halt. Since Dr. Ashby is in something of a class by himself in presenting such profound and sophisticated teachings in an easily readable and digestible way, I wish the text’s final grammatical form were in pristine condition. It would make The Kemetic Tree even more enjoyable.
Even though the style of writing is non-academic, as a seeker I enjoy seeing sources for the information presented, especially when an author makes claims and presents information very few others have offered. The information Ashby presents is in no way outlandish, although it may certainly seem so to someone reading him without the proper background in ancient religious systems and symbols – the very different mentality of antiquity relative to the present day. But nonetheless, the boldness and intricacy of Ashby’s statements seems to demand numerous and varied sources for credibility. Unfortunately, he does not offer many sources outside his own writings. He’s written prolifically; and The Kemetic Tree is not the first book he’s written. Perhaps sources outside his own research and intuitive recognition are given in some of his other works.