Tag Archives: ancient egyptian religion

The Great Cackler

The Ancient Egyptians welcomed and honored all sorts of creatures in their art,  in hieroglyphics, as well as in the depiction of the goddesses and gods. Egyptian artwork includes more than seventy species of birds and they can be seen in dozens of hieroglyphs. The wide range of birds in Egyptian art, mummified remains of birds, and textual references clearly indicate that birds played an important role in ancient Egyptian society and religion.

Waterfowl, including wild and domestic species of ducks and geese, were treasured offering (and eating) birds. There is evidence that the Ancient Egyptians actively bred geese and ducks as an environmental conservation measure. To go by the numbers recorded as part of temple offerings, Ramesses III, for example, donated over 430,000 individual waterfowl to temples during his thirty-one year reign. Obviously breeding and preserving the ducks and geese would have been of prime importance.

A Roman historian, circa 60 BCE wrote that the Egyptians, ‘raise them by their own hands, by virtue of a skill peculiar to them, in numbers beyond telling…..’ (Diodorus Siculus, Book I, 74).

 

Sanctuary ducks
Contented ducks at our Sanctuary (we do not eat our ducks!)

One of the oldest Gods, being part of the Ennead (the Creators), is Geb the God of the Earth,  whose wife is Nut, the sky Goddess. Geb is often represented as a man with a goose on his head, or simply a goose and he is known as the Great Cackler. He was believed to have fathered the primordial egg from which the sun hatched.
For Geb, it is written:

Behold, I rejoice on my standard, on my seat.
I am the Creator of Darkness, making my place in the limits of the Sky,
The Ruler of Infinity.
I am the Son of the Earth,
Sprung from the Egg of the World.
I rejoice in the Lord of the Palace.
My Nest is unseen; I have broken the Egg.
I am the Lord of Millions of Years.
I have made my Nest in the limits of the sky,
And descended to the earth as the goose who drives out all sins.
~The Leyden Papyrus

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Geb – the Great Cackler

A firm heart on the right path

Gracious is the face of the well-doer.
Let the beneficent one find great company too.
To seek without finding equals waste of time.
A firm heart on the right path can work
like gold and jewels.
~Papyrus of Ani

A pathway

Horus hears your words…

According to the Ancient Egyptian horoscope calendar known as the Cairo Calendar*, today is a very favorable day. Horus hears your words in the presence of the gods and goddesses. Everything you say and see shall be in goodness.

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Horus speaks:

“I am life rushing on, born from the egg of the world, born from the belly of a magic woman, born of my father’s dreams. I am the screech of wind, the rush of falcon wings, talons sharp as knives. I came after you. I stand before you. I am with you always. I am the power that dispels darkness. The seed laid into the void must grow. The candle’s only purpose is to shine in the darkness. Bread is meant to be ground to pulp in the teeth. The function of life is to have something to offer death. A man forgets, but his heart remembers – the love and the terror, the weeping, the beating of wings.’”

Normandi Ellis. Awakening Osiris: A New Translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (xxx-xxxi)

What words would you like to share with Horus?

Ancient Egyptian Eyes

 

* The actual title of the calendar is “An Introduction to the start of Everlastingness and the end of Eternity”

A tiny protector for the full moon

What is it about bats? They have been portrayed as the alter-ego of Vampires due to the blood-sucking nature of three breeds of bats; however these are only found in South America and rarely go after humans. People are often terrified of these small animals yet most bats are harmless creatures who have unique eyesight, enjoy the dark, and have the ability to navigate with great precision in the darkness. Some are actually cute small mammals as can be seen by the featured images. Furthermore, bats are the only mammals that can truly fly and sustain flight.

Egyptian Fruit BAt

We have a small bat I’ve named Belfry who loves to fly laps around visitors to the basement of one of our Sanctuary homes; it is a charmingly Victorian Gothic experience. Belfry begged exploration of the nature of Bats in Ancient Egypt.

tinybat

The Ancient Egyptians believed that Bats could prevent or cure poor eyesight, toothache, fever, and baldness, and a Bat hung over the doorway of a home was thought to prevent the entry of demons that carried such illnesses. So rather than being blood-sucking demons, Bats were looked upon as tiny protectors.

Blessings on the Full Jasmine Moon!

The Falcon Speaks

Living within our Sanctuary are birds of all kinds. The calls and cries of the birds are constant and welcome. We hear our silky chickens at daybreak; the Barn Owls and Great Horned Owls at sunset; the cries of the Falcon and the sounds of the Ravens in the morning and throughout the day.

The Falcon follows and circles while I walk through the Sanctuary. He is Horus and passage 148 of the Coffin texts describes Horus in his own words:

I am Horus, the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name. My flight has reached the horizon. I have passed by the gods of Nut. I have gone further than the gods of old. Even the most ancient bird could not equal my very first flight. I have removed my place beyond the powers of Set, the foe of my father Osiris. No other god could do what I have done.I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning. I am unique in my flight. My wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father Osiris and I will put him beneath my feet in my name of ‘Red Cloak’.

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Horus – Edfu Temple

Horus also speaks in the Book of the Dead:

I come to the room where the sun rose. A falcon flies in and settles on my wrist. In his mouth hangs the skin of a snake. ‘I am Horus,’ he cries. ‘From the land of kings I come, riding through the hot winds on the back of a jackal. Where priests murmured in crumbling temples, I flew through their sacred fires dropping feathers. I come to shout the wisdom of air. I’ve come with a sycamore seed in my beak. By the river we’ll sow it and watch it grow through the years. You will die there, Osiris; and I will sit nine thousand years in the tree’s white branches, one eye on each horizon, waiting for your return.

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Horus – Temple of Seti I

Serket the Scorpion Queen

Serket (also known as Selkis or Serqet) is an Egyptian goddess of fertility, nature, animals, medicine, magic, and, above all; healing venomous stings and bites. Her name means “she who causes the throat to breathe,” and as well as “she who causes the throat to tighten. In addition to stinging the unrighteous, Serket could cure scorpion stings and the effects of other venoms such as snakebite.

One of the most dangerous species of scorpion, the Deathstalker, resides in North Africa, so Serket was considered a highly important goddess, and sometimes she was the patron deity of  pharaohs. She had a close association with the early rulers as their protector, most notably the rulers Scorpion I and Scorpion II.

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Our Sanctuary has many scorpions, most of which do not sting.

As the protector against venom and snakebite, Serket was said to protect the other deities from Apep, the snake-demon. Also, since the bite from many of the venomous creatures of Egypt could prove fatal, Serket was considered a protector of the dead, particularly being associated with venoms and fluids causing stiffening. She was the protector of the tents of embalmers and of the canopic jar associated with venom. Serket gained a strong association with Neith, Isis, and Nephthys, who also guarded the canopic jars. Eventually, as the Egyptian pantheon evolved, Serket began to be identified with Isis, sharing imagery and parentage.

Serket was shown as a scorpion or as a woman with a scorpion on her head. It is unknown if she had her own temple, however she had a good number of priests in many communities.

Nefertari’s tomb has the following utterance to Serket:

Serket, mistress of heaven and lady of all the gods. I have come before you [oh] king’s great wife, mistress of the two lands, lady of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified Before Osiris who resides in Abydos, and I have accorded you a place in the sacred land, so that you may appear gloriously in heaven like Ra.

— McDonald, J.K. 1996, House of Eternity: The Tomb of Nefertari, p. 69

 

 

The Nature of Amun (as Kek)

Among the great gods, Amun was probably the most popular in the New Kingdom and onward. He was the champion of the needy and the vizier of the humble. His decisions were merciful, disposed to forgive past sins. He was associated with the Sun, and the Ram, and the humble frog (the God Kek). Frogs and amphibians are somewhat miraculous in their ability to hibernate in the mud and then arise with the warmth and sunlight in the Spring…

You are Amun, the Lord of the silent,
Who comes at the voice of the poor;
When I call to you in my distress,
You come to rescue me,
To give breath to him who is wretched,
To rescue me from bondage.
You are Amen-Re, Lord of Thebes,
Who rescues him who is in
duat;
For you are he who is merciful,
When one appeals to you,
You are he who comes from afar.

Stela of Nebre
M. Lichtheim Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol. II, p.105f

As I listen this evening, between the downpour of rain and silence, I hear the Frogs calling. The Ancient Egyptians associated the Frog with fertility and resurrection. Amun is the Frog is in his aspect of invisibility, between hibernation in the mud to emergence in the Sun; the unending Frogs along the Nile.

Arise my friend!

Amulet_Possibly_Depicting_a_Tree_Frog_MET_26.7.1028_rp

“Who is this Cat?”

The Egyptian Tree of Life, the Persea Tree, was guarded and protected by the Mau, the Great Cat. The sacred Persea Tree emerged when Ra (Re) as Atum the Sun-god first appeared at Heliopolis. The Tree played a part in the Creation Myth that explained how the nine gods who made up the Ennead of Heliopolis were created. The fruit of the Tree of Life gave eternal life and knowledge of the divine plan.

Apep was the Egyptian god of evil, chaos and destruction; depicted as a giant snake. He threatened divine order and attempted to prevent Re from bringing the sun into the sky each day. According to ancient Egyptian literature Re as the Great Cat Mau battled against Apep to prevent him from taking control of the Persea Tree of Life and the world. After many battles Mau defeated Apep and cut off the head of the serpent.

On the Book of the Dead written in the Papyrus of Ani there is this statement:

“I am the Cat which fought near the Persea tree in Anu on the night when the foes of Neb-er-Tcher (God of Creation) were destroyed.

Who is this Cat?

This male Cat is Re himself, and he was called ‘Mau’ because of the speech of the god Sa, who said concerning him: ‘He is like (Mau) unto that which he hath made; therefore, did the name of Re become ‘Mau.’ ” (Budge, 1895, p.287)

This papyrus shows Mau killing the snake with the ancient Egyptian knife, Khop.

Apep

“In the Beginning”

“In the beginning there was Isis (Aset): Oldest of the Old, She was the Goddess from whom all beginning Arose. She was the Great Lady, Mistress of the two Lands of Egypt, Mistress of Shelter, Mistress of Heaven, Mistress of the House of Life, Mistress of the word of God. She was the unique. In all Her great and wonderful works She was a wiser magician and more excellent than any other god.” ~ Ancient Egyptian texts

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Egyptian Woman holding sitrum

“Come to me. Come to me, for my speech hath in it the power to protect, and it possesseth life. I am Isis the goddess, and I am the lady of words of power.

Isis, the goddess and great enchantress at the head of the gods. Heaven was satisfied with the words of the goddess Isis. The great lady, the God-mother, giver of life. The divine one, the only one, the greatest of the gods and goddesses, the queen of all gods, the female Ra, the female Horus, the eye of Ra, Lady of the New Year, maker of the sunrise, Lady of heaven, the light-giver of heaven.

Queen of the earth, most mighty one, lady of warmth and fire, the God-mother. The lady of life, lady of green crops, lady of bread, lady of abundance, lady of joy and gladness, lady of love, the maker of kings, the beautiful goddess, the lady of words of power. Wife of the lord of the abyss.

Let the blood of Isis, and the magical spirits of Isis and the words of power of Isis, be mighty to protect us all and keep safely…”

~ From the Book of the Dead, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge

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Temple of Isis at Philae

 

Sanctuary

“Every good and pure thing that the sky gives, the earth creates, the inundation brings, on which the god/desses live.”

The sanctuary was the most special and important part of the temple. It was a very dark and mysterious place. Only the high priest/ess and the pharaoh could ever enter the sanctuary.

In the middle of the sanctuary stood the shrine where the statue of the god or goddess was kept. The ancient Egyptians believed that during rituals the god or goddess would enter the statue.

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Abu Simble Temple – the Divinities

Guidance: We shall gather in a sacred space to discover what the lunar and solar energies will be for the coming year. Through the process of meditation, and offerings, we will seek clarity and guidance as well as give thanks to the gifts and insights provided during the previous year. We shall create and manifest sanctuary this year. It is time to co-create a true home.