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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Egypt

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

My heart is with me, it shall not be carried off.
I am the ruler of my heart.
I live in maat.
I am Horus, pure of heart.
My heart, my mother, my heart, my mother,
. . . my existence on earth.

Ab-a ma-a, an un tjetet-f
Nuk neb abu
Ank-a em maat
Nuk Heru, ami-ab
Ab-a en mut-a sep sen
. . . una tep ta

(adapted from The Papyrus of Ani, trans. Wallis Budge)

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Last night I dreamed that someone handed me a premature baby. The roughly two-pound creature was disturbing to see, though I felt great love for it. I held it against my body to keep it warm. Then it began to speak aloud to me, expressing its concerns about me and encouraging me not to fear death, but to think, rather, about life and eternal things. One time I set it down for a moment, and it told me, I will die if you let me grow cold. When I woke, I could not shake the feeling of the baby’s presence, and then it came to me that the premature infant was my inner self. I don’t know how I know this, but I do.

For the ancient Egyptian, the heart was the center of life in the body, intrinsic to personal identity, essential to ankh, or eternal life. The writer of The Papyrus of Ani calls out to his heart to stand in witness to his integrity and worth. The heart knows its own better than any other entity, be it ba, ka or neter (deity).

Ab-a en mut-a! My heart, my mother! When all other layers of defense and separation to protect us from the world fall away, there is only our heart, the mother of our existence. Stripped of all else, we cry out to our heart as to a mother to shield us, to assure we are able to walk safely through the world.

b2ap3_thumbnail_red-tailed-hawk-i.jpgWhen we learn to let our heart lead, then we are strong like the shining golden hawk-god who soars above the earth on wings of maat, with the vision of Ra’s burning eye. Then we may say, Nuk Heru, ami-ab, I am Horus, pure of heart.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

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Most of us who find spiritual roots and sources in ancient Egypt are sorely aggrieved by the damage being done to ancient sites, relics and museums during this time of political turmoil.  Osireion joined groups around the country (world?) a few weeks ago to magically cool the region down.  We drew a map of Egypt on papyrus and embellished it with hieroglyphs for peace and other related ideas.  We poured over it cool rose-scented water and it now resides in a block of ice in my freezer.

But so much damage has already been done.  Recently, I dared to think that perhaps some good did come, after all, out of the 19th and early 20th centuries pillaging of Egyptian artifacts for European and American museums and private collections.  And yet, now those collections may be the safest place for this priceless cultural heritage.  So many people who invested heavily in -name-inscribed sarcophagi, stelae, and tombs, were forgotten for hundreds of years until Egyptology descended in a frenzy of Egyptophilia.  Now every good amateur Egyptologist knows the names of Khaemwaset or Tuya or even Tutankhamen (a king most didn't believe existed until Howard Carter's discovery).  Perhaps this is how their magic is working itself out in our time.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    So Mote It Be.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_unasbc2_20130906-021346_1.pngThe oldest religious texts in the world, the Pyramid Texts, are found in the Old Kingdom Pyramid of Unas; they are dated to perhaps 2400 BCE, though they surely were in use for long before that.  The sophisticated cosmology and deeply-layered poetry must have been in development and then use for many generations before it was recorded in the tomb of the 5th Dynasty king.

Though I have read two different English translations several times, I still feel that I've wandered into a magical cave when I read PT passages.  Ritual voices seem to whisper all around me.  I can almost smell the incense, smell the roasted bull and guttering oil lamps and floral garlands that are being laid on the sarcophagus before it is sealed for eternity. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Many Pagans -- whether we call ourselves Kemetic or not -- have a spiritual and emotional attachment to Egypt.  And we've watched with sorrow the events of the past week, often not even sure which "side" to support. 

I suspect that Ma'at supports the people:  the women, and children, and old people simply trying to live in the midst of violence and chaos.  I suspect that Ma'at supports the fathers, trying to do the best they can for their children, to bring in a crop, to grow old.  I suspect that Ma'at supports the land. 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

All summer long it has rained in South Carolina, a state plagued with drought since I moved here in 1986. When it’s sunny, the humidity is smothering. At the beginning of August, Osireion held a public ceremony to mark Wep Renpet, the opening of the year and flooding of the Nile. 

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In the beautiful woodland park beside the river where we hold such occasions, a local news station joined us as part of a story about minority religions (at the anniversary of the Sikh gurdwara shootings in 2012). A number of non-Osireion friends joined us, despite the heat and humidity; we sang, danced (not too much in the heat) and visited an altar with a large bowl filled with rosewater. Someone had the inspiration this year to add some ice to the water, making it a delicious sensual experience. 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The warm scent of sandalwood has filled this room and is working its way out through the rest of my house, dispersed from essential I have warming on an electric incense burner. After working in the yard for a while, amidst the tang of cut grass and a brewing summer storm, I walk back into a dreamy sandalwood sanctuary. The very smell turns my thoughts to the sacredness of life, the peacefulness of meditation.

b2ap3_thumbnail_offerings_20130627-001859_1.jpgOur ancient Egyptian friends put a great deal of their effort and money into perfumed oils and incenses. In the temple, the image of a god was wakened, washed, dressed and anointed with fragrant oil or ointment each morning. Ointments and oils were regular offering items, scented with selections from the profusion of flowers and plants that grew along the Nile, or valuable imports like frankincense and sandalwood. 

And speaking of flowers, it was customary to greet guests for dinner at your house by placing around their neck a garland of fresh flowers. A touching element of undisturbed tombs found in modern times is the now-dried fresh flowers which were the last thing left on the casket, much like our custom today at a cemetery burial ceremony.

Cinnamon, cassia, myrtle, balsam, myrrh, honey, sweet flag, juniper, sage, cypress, iris, rose and, of course, lotus were all ingredients prized for their scent. Still more natural ingredients were used medicinally, including acacia, camomile, basil, dill, celery, cumin, fenugreek, lily, mandrake, pine and rue. Servants circulated at dinner parties with cones of goosefat mixed with perfume for guests to put on their heads. During the course of the evening the fat melted down through those heavy wigs, releasing the scent into the banquet hall.

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The psychological effects of association with a particular smell are by now well known. Take advantage of that powerful tool by using your favorite scent whenever you meditate or do other work at your altar. True essential oils are a nice break from the smoke of burned incense, particularly if you are allergy-prone or have a respiratory illness like asthma. Just a drop in a much larger quantity of almond oil will allow you to breathe in the benefits of that plant.

And if you really want to treat yourself, Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy & Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt, by Lise Manniche, is a deliciously aromatic read, plus a gorgeous coffee-table book.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I am the incomprehensible silence
and the idea often brought to mind.
I am the voice sounding throughout the world
and the word appearing everywhere.
I am the sounding of my name,
For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and bravery.
I am without shame; I am full of shame.
I am power and I am trepidation.
I am conflict and peace.
Listen to me,
For I am the scandalous and magnificent one.

Excerpted from Thunder, Perfect Mind, trans. by George W. MacRae

b2ap3_thumbnail_isnefertari.jpgIn the silence of the night the waters were troubled.  We did not know that far to the south, in the headwaters of the great river, rains swelled the flow, sending the fertile black earth our way.  What we did know was that the star of Sopdet, whom we know as Aset (Isis), had disappeared from the sky for weeks now.  Each evening the priests watched for it to reappear at the horizon, the signal that Aset was weeping, mourning the loss of her husband Asar (Osiris).  After dark there is no way to see if a crocodile lies in wait or a hyena quietly stalks you coming home late.  Except in the cities, the silence here is vast, incomprehensible.  Against that quiet, the change in the water showed itself in little lappings higher up the bank, a swath of new green advancing up the shores on both sides.

The priests told us that Aset’s tears were flowing, rousing Hapy from his sleep among the rocks of the headwaters.  I do not understand these things.  Like the Lady, I had suffered loss, the death of my husband at the hands of an evildoer.  My grief was unabatable; like hers, my tears seemed a limitless flood.  Then I found myself carrying my own Heru, pregnant with my own shining Horus boy, and hope soothed my tears.  By the time of planting, I could hardly stoop to the water’s edge with my jar, and as the first harvest came in, my son saw the light of Ra.

The mother is so many things – fearful, yet brave, cunning, but also confused, wandering in search of Asar’s body.  I am not pharaoh in his House of a Million Years, nor am I a priest who can explain these things.  But I see that she is like me, or maybe I am like her.  Maybe we are the same, though she is eternal.  When I am cowed by shame or ignorance, I remember that she found her power, found a way to her heart’s desire.  When the waters rise each season of Akhet, I remember that even while she wept, Aset brought new life to the world.  I smile when I walk back to refill my jar, knowing it is her lovely tears, her life I’m bringing back home with me.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Very nice.

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