The t3 rht (ta rekhet, ‘the woman who knows’) is mentioned in several ostraca from the village of Deir el-Medina, and seems to have been able to identify the gods which brought misfortune, look into the future, and diagnose illness. Such women were consulted by both men and women, with there being only one ta rekhet at any one time. Such women had a deep knowledge of the realms between the living, the gods and the deceased and in one text the wise woman is consulted concerning the cause of death of a child.

– Carolyn Graves-Brown, Dancing for Hathor: Women in Ancient Egypt

Continuing in “grab a handy book”

For if the universe is animated, it is best understood in terms of human life. We have seen that the Egyptians explained the daily appearance of the sun as its birth; the moon waned because it was the ailing eye of Horus. When barley was made into beer and bread, it was Osiris – manifest in any grain – who died. We shall meet with such images at every turn, and we must not interpret them as allegories, for we cannot abstract a meaning form them without falsifying the beliefs which they express. Images are not ornaments or adjuncts of ancient thought. They are inseparable from it because the ancients reached their insight in a manner which was intuitive and imaginative as much as intellectual.

– Henri Frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion

Next in a series of bits of “I grab whatever book seems handy and flip around to find something interesting because my actual reading at the moment is a new translation of the Pyramid Texts and things with that many lacunae are not good for quotes for thought”. ;)

It’s not all democratization

Up to the Middle Kingdom, many priests, especially those in the lowest category, were the sons of non-priestly parents. But by the Twentieth Dynasty, and in some cases as early as Dynasty XII, priestly status seems to have become hereditary, with purely priestly families coming into being. Later on, perhaps as early as the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, and certainly by the Ptolemaic period, admittance to the priesthood was restricted to persons of priestly descent.

– Barbara Watterson, The House of Horus at Edfu: Ritual in an Ancient Egyptian Temple


Seven was also a number of great potency in Egyptian magic, and spells such as those for the seven magical knots to be tied to relieve headaches and other health problems or the seven sacred oils used in enbalming are frequently found. Mythologically too, seven is important for the same reason. In one myth of Isis, seven scorpions escort the goddess in order to provide her with maximum magical protection. Neith is said to have carried out her work of creation through seven statements, and the sevenfold laugh of the creator is mentioned in late magical texts.

Symbol & Magic in Egyptian Art, Richard H. Wilkinson

I swear one of these days I’ll actually manage to find someone who talk about Nit’s creation myth rather than makes these sidelong references, damnit.