Just a quick note

I’ve updated my bio page with a link to Les Cabinets Des Polytheistes, where my story “Spine of the World” is published (and in which people can play Spot The Netjer if they are so inclined), and my less-specific webspace Suns in Her Branches, which is broader than this space (which is specifically for reconstructionist-derived Kemetic theory and practice). Suns also has static page resources for … stuff. Though that’s nowhere near complete. I should consolidate my research notes over there at some point, waugh….

Death On Trial

Every death is to be traced back to the influence of something evil. This evil is personified by Seth, who is held accountable. The Egyptian myth, however, goes one step further. It not only portrays the violent character of death but also its injustice. It constructs its image of death on the basis of the distinction between right and wrong, thus providing an opening for ritual action. Every death is an offense against what is right, the truth/justice/order that the Egyptians called maat. It was thus possible for them to call it to account, to denounce it, to bring it to justice. They could do something about it and restore the order that had been destroyed. Because death was not natural, because it did not lie in the nature of things, they could not accept it, they could and had to do something to counter it. And so they initiated a legal proceeding against death, with Seth as the accused and Osiris as the complainant.

Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, Jan Assmann

I am being topical. I do not have functional words beyond these borrowed ones.

Loops and Transitions

During the first six days of the lunar month, the six parts of Horus’ injured eye were collected. The sixth day was a festival day. Since the wall on which the Horus cycle is inscribed has six panels, this numbering may be significant. However, there does not appear to be any more compelling reason to relate this particular cycle with a sequence of lunar festival days. Symbolism relating to natural cycles–the daily solar cycle, the monthly lunar cycle, the yearly seasonal cycle, etc.–often appears in rituals celebrating one of the others. When one natural cycle was at an important transition point (eg. the moon was blacked out), references to natural cycles not currently in a critical transition (eg. the sun shining in the sky) could lend stability to the transition. Thus, the presence of a focus on lunar symbolism does not indicate that a cycle was for a lunar festival.

Katherine Eaton, Ancient Egyptian Temple Ritual.

This strikes me as relating to both last week’s quote of the week and my post about the underlying logic of the Great Festival of Djehwty.

A publication announcement…

My latest publication is out: a story in Les Cabinets des Polytheists, a book from the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, edited by Rebecca Buchanan. The book is a collection of polytheistic fairy tales of various sorts.

So, a summary of the setup for my contribution, “Spine of the World”:

Three brothers, out on the sacred hunt according to the customs of their land, manage to offend an apparent witch in the vicinity of a mighty tree, who lays a curse upon them. When the oldest brother dies and the middle brother goes mad, it is upon the shoulders of the youngest to venture forth in search of a cure for the affliction… or perhaps he is simply caught in the throes of his own form of the doom.

His quest will take him through the halls of several Powers, and he will get guidance along the way from a number of interesting beings, such as a blue-skinned androgyne named Flood, a mysterious black dog with a golden collar and a tendency to stare, and a giant snake….

(My first readers had fun playing Guess Which God That Is.)

Human Responsibility

Assmann argues that the ancient Egyptian gods were thought to be absent from everyday life (as opposed to the Greek gods, for example), creating a particular human responsibility that was required to draw them into the earthly realm. Whether we accept Assmann’s bold statement that the Egyptians doubted the “real” existence of their gods in their temple space, it does seem to be the case that the state, the community, and the household took on the responsibility of pulling divinity into their lives through means of complex and symbolic rituals, all of them charged with magical power.

– “The Daily Offering Meal in the Ritual of Amenhotep I: An Instance of the Local Adaptation of Cult Liturgy”, Kathlyn M. Cooney and J. Brett McClain

Curiosities

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