Monday, April 30, 2012

Z for Zawiyet el-Aryan (A to Z blogging challenge)

Near Cairo about halfway between Giza and Abusir is the village of Zawiyet el-Aryan on the banks of the Nile. Just west of the village is a necropolis on a slightly elevated area just on the edge of the desert. This location is about 7 km (4 miles) north of Saqqara. It is a small, relatively unknown pyramid field containing only two unfinished pyramids and nothing at all else. The most advanced, older of these two pyramids is called the Layer Pyramid by Egyptologists and Haram el-Meduwara, or the "Round Pyramid", by locals. The other pyramid is simply referred to as the "Unfinished Pyramid of Zawiyet el-Aryan". more

This is final post for A to Z challenge. I've made it!!! Thank you to all who took time to drop by my blog, read posts and leave comments. Tune in to see draw results and read my Reflection Post of the Challenge on May 7th.

So long my friends,

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y for Yamm

Yamm, the power of the sea untamed and raging; he is seen as ruling storms and the disasters they wreak. He was a tyrannical god found in a fragmentary papyrus (Astarte Papyrus) which seems to hint that his exorbitant demands for tribute from the other deities were eventually thwarted by the goddess Astarte.

The challenge is almost over, I hope I didn't bore you to death with my "Egyptian stuff". There is only one more letter in an alphabet...

Tomorrow will be my stitching update (smile).

So long my friends,

Friday, April 27, 2012

X for Xerxes I (Blogging from A to Z challenge)

Xerxes I was the third ruler of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty. The revolt that began during the reign of Darius I, who was Xerxes' father, was finally laid to rest during the second year of Xerxes I's reign. It is said that the slaves' lives were much harder during the time of Xerxes. It is not certain whether this is true since Xerxes was much more involved elsewhere and paid little attention to Egypt.

So long my friends,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W - Wadjet, the serpent goddess

When I started looking for information on Wadjet, I ran into the fact that she is not a well-known goddess, and while I could find some information on her, much of it was a repetitive. Digging deeper, I found some fascinating facts and quite a few contradictions.

Some of the problem in finding information about Wadjet lies in the fact that, while she is one goddess, she has many names. Wadjet, Edjo, Udjo, and Buto are only a few of the names by which she was known. The spelling of her name seems to depend upon who was presenting the information about her and which area of Egypt the exploration was taking place.

Most popular information about Wadjet lists her primarily as a snake-headed protector of Lower Egypt, the delta region. However, the ancient people of northern area worshiped Wadjet as a vulture Goddess. Wadjet was revered as the goddess of childbirth, and protector of children, and in later years she became the protector of kings. Wadjet’s role was often seen as a forceful defender, while her sister, Nekhebet, was seen as the motherly defender. This contrast provided the counterpoint seen in many of the Egyptian deities. The symbol of justice, time, heaven and hell, Wadjet is one of the oldest Egyptian goddesses.

Often shown as a cobra, or as the head of the cobra, Wadjet can be seen rearing from the forehead of the rulers. Evidence of her protection is most notable upon the funerary mask of Tutankhamen. Occasionally, she has been shown in the guise of her "eye of divine vengeance" role, as a lioness. In later years, the royal crowns were often decorated with two or more depictions of cobras in deference to her role as protector.

While Wadjet was sometimes depicted as the lioness-headed goddess, she was often seen in the image of a mongoose, represented on the funeral urns of ancient Egypt. The mongoose was revered as her sacred animal. Along with the shrew mouse, they were mummified and entombed in statuettes of the goddess. It is believed that the mongoose, and the shrew mouse were representative of the day and night cycle. The mongoose representing daylight, and the nocturnal shrew mouse representing night.

Many Egyptian deities were associated with specific hours, days, and months, and Wadjet was no different. Her time was considered to be the fifth hour of the fifth day of the month, or lunar cycle. Interestingly enough, December 25th, on the Egyptian calendar, was considered to be the "going forth of the Goddess,” while April 21st was her feast day. The many days when Wadjet is honored culminate during her month, Epipi, the harvest or summer month. This corresponds to mid-May through mid-June on the Gregorian calendar.

Legend has it that Wadjet was the daughter of Atum, the first god of the Universe. He created her as his eye. Her purpose was to search the Universe for his lost sons, Tefnut and Shu. Wadjet did find his sons, and Atum was so happy to see them that he cried. It is said that those tears made humans. As a reward, Atum placed Wadjet upon his head in the form of a cobra. There she would be feared and respected by all the gods and men.
 So long my friends,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V - Valley of the Kings (Blogging from A to Z challenge)

National Geographic published a great article about Valley of the Kings.  I have nothing to add...

Instead today I will stitch my Egyptian Sampler!

So long my friends,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U - Underworld Deities (Blogging A to Z challenge)

The Egyptian imagination evolved a myriad of gods and goddesses dwelling in the Netherworld. These cover the walls of tombs in the Valley of the Kings, or from vignettes in the funerary papyri known as the 'Book of the Dead'. The complexity of names and epithets does not in most cases lead to an understanding of the deities' origins. Consequently, they remain mysterious but can be divided into overall categories - following the Egyptian practice of dividing the royal tombs' walls, decorated with images of the sun-god's journey through the netherworld, into distinct compositions such as 'Am Dwat' (Book of 'that which is in the Underworld'), Litany of Re, and Book of Gates.

Here is a link to the podcast with a great introduction to 'Am Dwat', and another to a very powerful meditation. Personally I was very impressed with both.

So long my friends,

Monday, April 23, 2012

T for Tayet (blogging A to Z challenge)

Tayet was the goddess of weaving and the most crucial of her roles was providing woven cloth for embalming. In the letter which the pharaoh Senusret I sends to Sinuhe, an ex-harem official, inviting him back to Egypt after a long sojourn abroad, there is a fine passage evoking the rituals of the funerary cult. It provides that after Sinuhe's death there will be a night of unguents and "wrappings from the hand of Tayer. This refers to the mummy bandages of the embalmers that keep the corpse intact. In the Old Kingdom a prayer was addressed to the goddess to guard the king's head and gather his bones. Tayet also weaves the curtain (embroidered by the god Ptah) which hangs in the tent of purification where the ritual of embalmment is carried out.

In daily life, linen bandages were used sparingly for medical purposes. One spell that has come down to us had to be recited over threads of fabric. It was meant to prevent hemorrhage and the resulting defilement of the purity of the "land of Tayer", meaning the bandages.

So long my friends,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blogging from A to Z - S for Seshat

In this message I will tell you about goddess that I admire a lot.  Now, when I think about it - I should have her statue in my office... Can you guess why? If you guess correctly you will have a chance to win a prize! I will draw the name after the challenge.

Seshat, meaning 'female scribe', was seen as the goddess of writing, historical records, accounting and mathematics, measurement and architecture to the ancient Egyptians. She was depicted as a woman wearing a panther-skin dress (the garb of the funerary stm priests) and a headdress that was also her hieroglyph which may represent either a stylized flower or seven pointed star on a standard that is beneath a set of down-turned horns. (The horns may have originally been a crescent, linking Seshat to the moon and hence to her spouse, the moon god of writing and knowledge, Thoth.)

She was believed to appear to assist the pharaoh at various times, and who kept a record of his life:

     It was she who recorded the time allotted to him by the gods for his stay on earth.

She was associated with the pharaoh at the 'stretching the cord' foundation ritual, where she assisted the pharaoh with the measuring process. During New Kingdom times, she was shown to have been involved in the sed (jubilee) festival of the pharaohs, holding a palm rib to show the passage of time. She kept track of each pharaoh and the period for which he ruled and the speeches made during the crowning rituals. She was also shown writing down the inventory of foreign captives and captured goods from campaigns.

One of the most important ceremonies in the foundation of Egyptian temples was known as Pedjeshes (Pedj--"to stretch," Shes--"a cord") and it forms the subject of one of the chief monumental ornaments in the temples of Abydos, Heliopolis, Denderah, and Edfu. The reigning pharaoh and a priestess personifying Seshat, the goddess of writing, proceeded to the site, each armed with a golden mallet and a PEG connected by a cord to another PEG. Seshat having driven her peg home at the previously prepared spot, the king directed his gaze to the constellation of the Bull's Foreleg (this constellation is identical with Ursa Major, "Great Bear," and the "hoof" star is Benetnasch, Eta Ursae majoris). Having aligned the cord to the "hoof" and Spica as seen through the visor formed by Seshat's curious headdress, he raised his mallet and drove the peg home, thus marking the position of the axis of the future temple.

- Cyril Fagan, Zodiacs Old and New (1951)

Seshat has no temples that have been found, though she did have a priesthood in early times. Along with her priestess', there were a few priests in the order - the Slab Stela of Prince Wep-em-nefret, from the Fourth Dynasty, gives him the title of Overseer of the Royal Scribes, Priest of Seshat. It was at a later time that the priests of Thoth took over the priesthood of Seshat.

Seti I, at Abydos, dedicated part of his temple to the goddess:

The staircase of the temple ... bears an address in 43 columns of the goddess Seshat to the king (KRI I, 186-188). The text displays a rigid scheme which deals with the temple itself and its two groups of occupants (the king and the gods) and in which pseudo-verbal/ temporal aspects and non-verbal sentences/ a-temporal aspects alternate. The author demonstrates that the three main elements, temple, gods and king, have each their proper place in the sophisticated and complicated structure of the text. The address consists of three parts. The first concerns the temple, its conception and its realization. The second presents the gods who live there and guarantee its sacral nature. The third part is devoted to the king, the celebrant par excellence, who certifies its functioning. This last part has a very intricate structure, with reference to the Horus and solar aspect of the king, the Osirian aspect, and the relationship between the two. At the conclusion of the address Seshat speaks, in order to fulfill her usual task of registering the divine kingship of the pharaoh as living Horus, according to the orders of Ra and the decree of Atum. - Dominique Bastin, De la fondation d'un temple: "Paroles dites par Seshat au Roi Sethi Ier,"

Thoth was thought to be her male counterpart and father, and she was often depicted as his wife by the Egyptians. Some believe her to be an example of Egyptian duality, as she bears many of the traits of Thoth. She was thought to be linked with the goddess Nephthys who was given the title 'Seshat, Foremost of Builders' in the Pyramid texts. She was also identified with Isis. Safekh-Aubi (Sefekh-Aubi) is a title that came from Seshat's headdress, that may have become an aspect of Seshat or an actual goddess. Safekh-Aubi means 'She Who Wears the Two Horns' and relates to the horns that appear above Seshat's standard.

The Egyptians believed that Seshat invented writing, while Thoth taught writing to mankind. She was known as 'Mistress of the House of Books', indicating that she also took care of Thoth's library of spells and scrolls. It was as 'Mistress of the House of Architects' that she helped the pharaoh set the foundations of temples with indication that she set the axis by the aid of the stars.

Pharaoh Hatshepsut depicted both Seshat and Thoth as those who made the inventory of treasures brought back from Punt:

     Thoth made a note of the quantity and Seshat verified the figures.

Seshat was the only female that has been found (so far) actually writing. Other women have been found holding a scribe's writing brush and palette - showing that they could read and write - but these women were never shown in the act of writing itself.

She was a rather important goddess, even from earlier times in the Pyramid texts. She was the first and foremost female scribe - accountant, historian and architect to both the pharaoh and the gods. She was the female goddess of positions belonging mostly to men. Yet she did not have a personal name, only a title - Seshat, the Female Scribe.

So long my friends,

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blogging from A to Z - R for Renenutet

Renenutet, "She Who Rears", was a cobra goddess of nursing or rearing children, fertility and protector of the pharaoh. Known as the "Nourishing Snake", she not only was a goddess who was sometimes shown nursing a child, but she offered her protection to the pharaoh in the land of the dead. In later times she was thought to be the goddess who presided over the eighth month of the Egyptian calendar, known by Greek times as Parmutit.

In the afterlife, Renenutet was seen as a fire-breathing cobra who was liked to Uatchet (Uatch-Ura, Wadjet). The was also seen by the Egyptians as the protector of the clothing worn by the pharaoh in the underworld, and thus thought to instill fear in his enemies. Because of this, she was also linked to mummy bandages, offering them to the dead. In Ptolemaic times, she was called "Lady of the Robes" due to her association with clothing.

O Osiris-Pepi, I bring you the Eye of Horus which is in Tait, this Renenutet-garment of which the gods respect, so that the gods may respect you like they respect Horus.
    -- Utterance 635, Pyramid of Pepi II
 In her role of fertility goddess, Renenutet was known as the "Lady of Fertile Fields" and "Lady of Granaries". She was thought to be responsible for looking after the harvest (this was probably because the Egyptians saw snakes hiding in the fields at harvest time), especially in the city of Dja (Modern Medinet Madi, Greek Narmouthis) where an annual festival was dedicated to her where she was offered the best yields of the crops. There was also often a shrine dedicated to her near a wine press or vat, so she could receive the offerings of the wine makers. She was both linked to Sobek and Osiris, and thought to be linked with Isis in her role as mother of Horus. She was believed to be the mother of Nepri, god of grain. She was also linked to the coming of the inundation and to Hapi, the god of the Nile:

I will make the Nile swell for you, without there being a year of lack and exhaustion in the whole land, so the plants will flourish, bending under their fruit. Renenutet is in all things - everything will be brought forth by the million and everybody ...... in whose granary there had been dearth. The land of Egypt is beginning to stir again, the shores are shining wonderfully, and wealth and well-being dwell with them, as it had been before.
    -- Famine Stele on the Island of Sehel
    She was depicted either as a woman, a cobra or a woman with the head of a cobra (and sometimes the head of a lioness), wearing a double plumed headdress or the solar disk. Her cult centre was located at Kom Abu Billo (Terenuthis, Tarrana) in Greco-Roman times. Amenemhet III and Amenemhet IV founded the temple of Renenutet at Medinet Maadi - this temple is one of the only temples left at Medinet Maadi, and was dedicated to the triad of Renenutet, Sobek and Horus. Later, the Ptolemaic rulers added to and expanded the temple. Inside was a large statue of the goddess with both Amenemhet III and IV standing on either side of her. She was the protector of the Egyptian people, the nurse of pharaohs and goddess of the secret name of each Egyptian.

    So long my friends,

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Q for Qadesh

    Qadesh was Middle-Eastern goddess of sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure, adopted in the New Kingdom by the Egyptians into a triad with the gods Min and Reshep. Her name, probably meaning the "holy", gives no clue to her origins but she seems to be a manifestation of the sensuousness inherent in the goddesses Astarte and Anat.

    Qadesh rides naked on the back of a lion and holds out symbols of eroticism and fertility to her companions; lotuses for Min and snakes or papyrus plants for Reshep. In the Levant the cult of Qadesh, like that of Astarte, involved her acolytes simulating the sacred marriage of the goddess with Reshep. This sexuality displayed by Qadesh naturally led to an identification between her and Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of love.

    So long my friends,

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Blogging A to Z - P for Panebtawy

    Panebtawy was a youthful god who is the divine child of Haroeris and Tasenetnofret in the western sanctuary of Kom-Ombo temple. As "the lord of the Two Lands" he represents the idea of the pharaoh as son of the god Haroeris, hence the legitimate ruler of Egypt.

    So long my friends,

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - O for Osiris

    Throughout the height of Egyptian civilization, Osiris was the primary deity. In power, he was second after his father, Ra, and was the leader of the gods on earth. He was the husband of Isis and the father of Horus (and a number of other gods in some stories). Osiris resided in the underworld as the lord of the dead, as after being killed by Set, even though he was a god, he could no longer dwell in the land of the living.

    After Osiris was killed, Isis resurrected him with the Ritual of Life, which was later given to the Egyptians so that they could give eternal life to all their dead. The spells and rituals cast by Isis, plus many others given to the people by the gods over the centuries, were collected into The Book of Going Forth by Day, colloquially known as The Book of the Dead.

    In the underworld, Osiris sits on a great throne, where he is praised by the souls of the just. All those who pass the tests of the underworld become worthy to enter The Blessed Land, that part of the underworld that is like the land of the living, but without sorrow or pain. In some texts, in addition to the Judging of the Heart, Osiris passes final judgment over the dead, acting in this capacity as an Egyptian version of Radamanthus.

    There is an interesting parallel between Osiris, a fertility/agriculture god, and the Greek Persephone, an agriculture goddess. Both end up in the underworld through treachery and both are kept there by "legal loopholes" in the laws of the gods. Persephone remains in the underworld for half a year because she tasted the food of the dead. Osiris remains in the underworld because Ma'at dictates that the dead, even dead gods, may not return to the land of the living.

     So long my friends,

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Blogging A to Z - Day 14 - N for Nut

    Nut, Sky Goddess, Mother of the Gods

     Nut, goddess of sky supported by Shu the god of air, and the ram-headed Heh deities, while the earth god Geb reclines beneath

    To the ancient Egyptians Nut (Nuit) was the personification of the sky (originally she was a goddess of just the sky at day, where the clouds formed) and the heavens. She was believed to be the daughter of the gods Shu and Tefnut, the granddaughter of the sun god Ra. Her husband was also her brother, Geb. She was thought to be the mother of five children on the five extra days of the Egyptian calendar, won by Thoth - Osiris who was born on the first day, Horus the Elder on the second, Set on the third, Isis on the fourth, and Nephthys the last born on the fifth day. The days on which these deities were born were known as the 'five epagomenal days of the year', and they were celebrated all over Egypt:

    Osiris - an unlucky day
    Horus the Elder - neither lucky nor unlucky
    Seth - an unlucky day
    Isis - a lucky day, "A Beautiful Festival of Heaven and Earth."
    Nephthys - an unlucky day

    She was shown in Egyptian artwork as a dark, star-covered naked woman, holding her body up in an arch, facing downwards. Her arms and legs were imagined to be the pillars of the sky, and hands and feet were thought to touch the four cardinal points at the horizon. Far underneath her lay the earth god, Geb, sometimes ithphallyic, looking up at his sister-wife. She was also described as a cow goddess, taking on some of the attributes of Hathor. Geb was described as the "Bull of Nut" in the Pyramid Texts. As a great, solar cow, she was thought to have carried Ra up into the heavens on her back, after he retired from his rule on the earth. At other times, she was just portrait as a woman wearing her sign - the particular design of an Egyptian pot on her head.

    In one myth Nut gives birth to the Sun-god daily and he passes over her body until he reaches her mouth at sunset. He then passed into her mouth and through her body and is reborn the next morning. Another myth described the sun as sailing up her legs and back in the Atet (Matet) boat until noon, when he entered the Sektet boat and continued his travels until sunset.

    As a goddess who gave birth to the son each day, she became connected with the underworld, resurrection and the tomb. She was seen as a friend to the dead, as a mother-like protector to those who journeyed through the land of the dead. She was often painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, protecting the dead until he or she, like Ra, could be reborn in their new life.

    In the Book of the Dead, Nut was seen as a mother-figure to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of a scarab beetle (at noon he was Ra at his full strength, and at sunset he was known as Tem (Temu, Atem) who was old and weakening):

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Day 13 - M for Ma'at

    Today's post I'm dedicating to Ma'at - goddess of cosmic harmony, truth, justice and moral integrity.

    Ma'at seemed to be more of a concept than an actual goddess. Her name, literally, meant 'truth' in Egyptian. She was truth, order, balance and justice personified. She was harmony, she was what was right, she was what things should be. It was thought that if Ma'at didn't exist, the universe would become chaos, once again!

    Egyptians believed that the universe was above everything else an ordered and rational place. It functioned with predictability and regularity; the cycles of the universe always remained constant; in the moral sphere, purity was rewarded and sin was punished. Both morally and physically, the universe was in perfect balance.

    There is a small temple dedicated to Ma'at (in ruins) at Karnak. The temple is inside Precinct of Montu, the smallest of three enclosures at Karnak. The temple seems to have been built by Hatshepsut, then reconstructed by Thuthmose III.

    Ma'at did not exist until Ra rose from the waters of Nun (various gods and goddesses of Chaos). She was known as a Neter goddess, and as such, was described as a daughter of Ra. But without Ma'at, Egyptians believed that Nun would reclaim the universe. She was also thought to be the wife of Thoth, moon god and god of the wisdom.

    She was, really, the most important deity of them all.

    So long my friends,

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Day 12 - L for Lotus

    Called a 'lotus', the depictions of the floral symbol of Upper Egypt is actually known as a Nymphaea caerulea which is  known today to be a water lily. This flower, along with the papyrus flower, was shown throughout Egypt in tombs and temples to symbolize the union of Upper and Lower Egypt, but the blue water lily had a much deeper significance to the Egyptian people.

    In the beginning were the waters of chaos ... Darkness covered the waters until ... the Primeval Water Lily rose from the abyss. Slowly the blue water lily opened its petals to reveal a young god sitting in its golden heart. A sweet perfume drifted across the waters and light streamed from the body of this Divine Child to banish universal darkness. This child was the Creator, the Sun God, the source of all life.

    So the Primeval Water Lily closed its petals at the end of each day... Chaos reigned through the night until the god within the water lily returned.... ... the Creator ... knew that he was alone. This solitude became unbearable and he longed for other beings to share the new world with him. The thoughts of the Creator became the gods and everything else which exists. When his thoughts had shaped them, his tongue gave them life by naming them. Thoughts and words were the power behind creation. -- The Waters of Chaos, Ancient Society

    The Egyptians saw that the blue water lily opened up each morning, seeing the intense golden center set against the blue petals, seemingly an imitation of the sky that would greet the sun, releasing sweet perfume. Each afternoon, they would close again only to open again each day. The flower was therefor firmly linked with the rising and the setting of the sun, and thus to the sun god and the story of creation. The religious significance of the flower was great - many columns of the Egyptian temples had water lily capitals crowning them.

    I am he who rises and lights up wall after wall, each thing in succession. There will not be a day that lacks its owed illumination. Pass on, O creatures, pass on, O world! Listen! I have ordered you to! I am the cosmic water lily that rose shining from Nun's black primordial waters, and my mother is Nut, the night sky. O you who made me, I have arrived, I am the great ruler of Yesterday, the power of command is in my hand. -- Spell 42, The Book of the Dead

    The god of the blue water lily was Nefertem, a god not just linked to the sun but to beautification and healing.

    So long my friends,

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Day 11 - K for Khnum

    Khnum was an ancient deity of fertility, water and the great potter who created children and their ka (soul) at their conception. He was mentioned in the pyramid texts and the pyramid builder Khufu's name was actually 'Khnum-Khufu' meaning 'Khnum is his Protector'. His cult was popular before the cult of Re eclipsed it. The next pyramid builders were his son and grandson who added 'Re' to their names - Khafra and Menkaura. Khnum was possibly even a predynastic god. The Egyptians believed that he was the guardian of the source of the Nile who was originally a Nile god, but who became a helper of Hapi. His role changed from river god to the one who made sure that the right amount of silt was released into the water during the inundation. In working with the silt, the very soil that the ancient Egyptian potters used, he became the great potter who not only molded men and women, but who molded the gods themselves and the world.

    He was depicted as a ram, ram-headed man or as a full male with the horns of a ram who wears a plumed white crown of Upper Egypt. In early times he was shown as the first domesticated ram, the Ovis longipes palaeoaegyptiacus, with long corkscrew horns growing horizontally outwards from his head. This species died out, though even so he was still depicted as that breed of sheep until much later in Egyptian history. Eventually he was shown as the Ovis platyra (the type of ram associated with Amun) with horns curving inward towards his face. Sometimes he was shown with four ram heads, aligning him with the sun god Re, the air god Shu, the earth god Geb and Osiris, lord of the dead. In his four headed form,  he was known as Sheft-hat. The Egyptians believed that the ram was a very potent animal, and thus Khnum was linked to fertility.

    Considered to be the ba (another name for soul) of Re - this might be an Egyptian pun on the fact that the ram was also called ba - he helped Re travel through the underworld each night on the Solar Barque. In the pyramid texts (Utterance 300), the barque was referred to as the "Ikhet Barque which Khnum made", so not only did he defend the barque, but Khnum was thought to have created it as well. In this form he was often called Khnum-Ra and wears the sun disk of Re.

    Originally a water god, Khnum was often pictured by the Egyptians as the source of the Nile. On temple walls, he was sometimes shown as holding a jar, with the precious water flowing out of it. He was also believed to be a guardian of the waters in the underworld. He is mentioned as a protective deity of the dead. Many heart scarabs have a similar versions of one of the spells from The Book of the Dead to protect the deceased against a negative judgement in the Halls of Ma'ati:

    O my heart ...
    Do not stand up against me as a witness!
    Do not create opposition against me among the assessors!
    Do not tip the scales against me in the presence of the Keeper of the Balance!
    You are my soul which is in my body,
    The god Khnum who makes my limbs sound.
    When you go forth to the Hereafter,
    My name shall not stink to the courtiers who create people on his behalf.
    Do not tell lies about me in the presence of the Great God!

    -- Heart scarab spell, translation by Thomas J. Logan
    The ram-headed god was 'Lord of the Cataract' a god of the yearly inundation and the fertile black soil that came with the flood. Khnum was also seen as a fertility god because of his association with the fertile silt. Pottery was created out of the soil of the Nile, and it was believed that he created the first humans - and the gods - on his potter's wheel with this silt. In Iunyt (Esna) it was believed that it was he who molded the First Egg from which the sun hatched, and thus was a creator god who was 'Father of the Fathers of the Gods and Goddesses, Lord of Created Things from Himself, Maker of Heaven and Earth and the Duat and Water and the Mountains'.

    The vast majority of the pottery was manufactured from either Nile silts or marl clays, the two primary raw materials used in Egyptian pottery making ... Marl clays and Nile silts were usually not used for the same pot types. For example, cooking pots, cups, platter bowls, ring stands, Tell el-Yehudiyah ware juglets, black and red polished juglets, beakers, and certain groups of jars were produced mostly from Nile silts ... platter bowls formed of marl clay were usually slipped red to provide the desired exterior look of a Nile silt; a carinated bowl manufactured from silt might be slipped white to resemble a marl clay. 

    The Famine Stele at Sehel island tells of a dream that Djoser supposedly had. Egypt had been going through a seven year drought and a temple had been built to Khnum in the hopes that the famine would end:

    When I was asleep, my heart was in life and happiness. I found the god standing. I caused him pleasure by worshiping and adoring him. He made himself known to me and said: "I am Khnum, your creator, my arms are around you, to steady your body, to safeguard your limbs. I bestow on you ores with precious stones existing since antiquity that were not worked before to build temples, rebuild ruins, sculpt chapels for his master. I am master of creation. I have created myself, the great ocean which came into being in past times, according to whose pleasure the Nile rises. For I am the master who makes, I am he who makes himself exalted in Nun, who first came forth, Hapi who hurries at will; fashioner of everybody, guide of each man to their hour. I am Tatenen, father of Gods, the great Shu living on the shore. The two caves are in a trench below me. It is up to me to let loose the well. I know the Nile, urge him to the field, I urge him, life appears in every nose. As one urges to the field .......... I will make the Nile swell for you, without there being a year of lack and exhaustion in the whole land, so the plants will flourish, bending under their fruit. Renenutet is in all things everything will be brought forth by the million and everybody ...... in whose granary there had been dearth. The land of Egypt is beginning to stir again, the shores are shining wonderfully, and wealth and well-being dwell with them, as it had been before.

    Then I awoke happy, my heart was decided and at ease. I decreed this order to the temple of my father Khnum. Royal sacrifice for Khnum-Re, lord of the cataract, first of Nubia, as reward for what you favour me with. I make you a gift of your western shore by the mountain of the dusk and your eastern shore by the mountain of dawn, from Elephantine to ...... with twelve auroras on the eastern and western shores, with the plants, with the harbors with the river and with every settlement on these auroras.

    -- Famine Stele at Sehel

    As potter, he was thought to mold the body of a child, and it's ka before birth. He was called the 'Father of Fathers and the Mother of Mothers'. He was also the one who gave health to the child after it was born. In the story of Raddjedet's triplets, the birth related goddesses Isis, Nephthys, Meskhenet and Heqet disguised themselves as female musicians with Khnum as their porter. After each child was "rushed forth", the umbilical cord had been cut and the destiny had been pronounced, Khnum was the one who "gave health" to each child. So not only did Khnum create the child and its double, but he was thought to also give it health at birth.

    Hatshepsut was one pharaoh who encouraged the belief that Khnum, at Amen's request, created her and her ka:

    ...Amen-Ra called for Khnum, the creator, the fashioner of the bodies of men.

    "Fashion for me the body of my daughter and the body of her ka," said Amen-Ra, "A great queen shall I make of her, and honor and power shall be worthy of her dignity and glory."

    "O Amen-Ra," answered Khnum, "It shall be done as you have said. The beauty of your daughter shall surpass that of the gods and shall be worthy of her dignity and glory."

    So Khnum fashioned the body of Amen-Ra's daughter and the body of her ka, the two forms exactly alike and more beautiful than the daughters of men. He fashioned them of clay with the air of his potter's wheel and Heqet, goddess of birth, knelt by his side holding the sign of life towards the clay that the bodies of Hatshepsut and her ka might be filled with the breath of life.

     Khnum was a ram god of the Nile, a god of silt, fertility and a potter god of creation. He was a god of the sun, a protector of the dead and protector of Re on the solar barque. This god was an ancient god, popular from early times through to the Greco-Roman period who was thought to have created the pharaoh's form and soul on his potters wheel. From a local god of the Nile to a deity connected with childbirth, Khnum was the 'Father of Fathers and the Mother of Mothers' of the pharaoh.

     So long my friends,

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Day 10 - J for jewelery

    Jewelry has played various roles in ancient Egypt. In addition to man's natural attraction to beautiful items, jewelry had a religious and magical significance in the Egyptian ancient world by protecting the wearer from evil.

    Ancient Egyptians began making their jewelry during the Badari and Naqada eras from simple natural materials; for example, plant branches, shells, beads, solid stones or bones. These were arranged in threads of flax or cow hair. To give these stones some brilliance, Egyptians began painting them with glass substances. Since the era of the First Dynasty, ancient Egyptians were skilled in making handmade silver and gold jewelry featuring solid semiprecious stones. The art of goldsmithing reached its peak in the Middle Kingdom, when Egyptians mastered the technical methods and accuracy in making pieces of jewelry. During the New Kingdom, goldsmithing flourished in an unprecedented way because of regular missions to the Eastern Desert and Nubia to extract metals. These substances were processed and inlaid with all sorts of semiprecious stones found in Egypt; for example, gold, turquoise, agate, and silver.

    So long my friends,

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Day 9 - I for Iusaas

    Iusaas was a goddess of Heliopolis whose name means, "she comes who is great". Wearing a scarab beetle on her head she can easily be seen as a counterpart to the sun god Atum, and like Nebethetepet plays a crucial role as the feminine principle in the creation of the world. Late text equates her with the hand of Atum with which he masturbated to begin his creative act.

    Iusaas, along with Nebethetepet, actually enjoyed a rather widespread importance in many of the temples in Egypt, particularly considering that she seems to have a strong local character.

    So long my friends,

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Day 8 - H

    H is for Hu - the god who personifies the authority of a word of command.

    Hu came into being from a drop of blood from the phallus of the sun-god Re.
    When, according to the theology of the Pyramid Age, the king becomes a lone star, his companion is Hu. The royal authority is maintained in the Afterlife by Hu acknowledging the king's supremacy and allowing the monarch to cross the waters of his canal.

    It is tempting to correlate Hu with the power of the tongue of Ptah in the Memphite creation legend, commanding the universe into existence at the instigation of Ptah's heart.

    The Ancient Egyptians recognized the Sphinx at the Giza Plateau as an image of Hu. The lion was a symbol of power and strength. Used as the body of the Sphinx, this was perfectly acceptable to the Ancient Egyptians. The face of the Sphinx wore the distinctive Red Crown of the Creator and the Osiris Beard. These were hallmarks of the time.

    It’s been suggested that Ancient Egyptians would use the Sphinx in a ritual that reenacted the creation of the Universe. It was performed at dusk, as night was falling upon Egypt. This was considered the time before creation begun, when Hu (the Sphinx) sat silent.

    When the signal was given, the sound of the first word of creation filled the air, as people made the sound they recognized as that breath, “Hhhhoooooooo.”

    This “word,” the Word of God, would be chanted all through the night symbolizing the night of progressive creating. The final act of the ritual came at sunrise. As the sun rose out of the East, the last breath of Hu was recognized.

    Sri Harold Klemp, Spiritual Leader of Eckankar, notes, “Hu is the ancient name of God, a love song to God. When Soul has heard this sound, Soul yearns to go home.”

    Eckankar uses the singing of Hu’s name as a spiritual connection to the Heart of God. They sing the name Hu to draw closer to the Divine Being. For the people who follow this faith, the desires are reported to be love, freedom, wisdom, and truth.

    Eckankar teaches, “A spiritual essence, the Light and Sound, connects everyone with the Heart of God. This Light and Sound is the ECK, or Holy Spirit. Direct Aspects of God opens the deep spiritual potential within each of us. The Light and Sound purify, uplift, and direct us on our journey to home.”

    The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Papyrus of Ani, mentions the ceremonies of Hu and Sa. One can only speculate as to the nature of such rituals and ceremonies. Could they be talking about the ancient ritual involving the Sphinx?

    Hu may be considered a minor god in some ways, but it’s obvious that Hu was a not-so-minor god to most Ancient Egyptians.

    So long my friends,

    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    Happy Easter!

    Happy Easter to everyone!

    During my A to Z challenge I'm stitching Egyptian Sampler by Teresa Wentzler. 

    It is a slow going process as there are tons of partial stitches, confetti, one over one (I'm stitching it on 32 ct Irish linen). I started this project on April 1 an so far I have done only Osiris from the very center of the chart. 

    So long my friends,

    Saturday, April 7, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Day 7 - G

    I was going to write today about Geb, but since he is a well known and well documented god I decided to tell you little bit about Gengen Wer.

    So, here we have it - day 7 of the challenge and G is for Gengen Wer a primeval goose whose onomatopoeic name means Great Honker.

    The imagery is that of the goose carrying the egg from which life emerges. In order to be part of this creation, a continuing cycle in the Egyptian mind, a person in the Underworld might be described as closely guarding or actually being an egg within the Great Honker.

    This goose, also colled the cackler ('Negeg' in Egyptian), is a form under which Amun can appear as a creator-god.

    Tomorrow is a "day off" in the challenge but I will stay with my Egyptian theme and I will share with you progress on my Egyptian Sampler by Teresa Wentzler.

    So long my friends,

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - Day 6 - F

    F is for Fetket - an ancient bartender! He provided drink supply to the sun-god Re. And I have no idea how he looked...

    Can you guess who will get my attention tomorrow?

    So long friends,

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - day 5 - E

    E for an ancient city Edfu!

    Today I'm taking you to Edfu - an Egyptian city with the second largest temple (the largest is Karnak). Temple in Edfu is dedicated to Horus, the falcon headed god. It was believed that the temple was built on the site of the great battle between Horus and Seth. Hence, the current temple was but the last in a long series of temples build on this location.

     Is not in English but the photography is great!

    So long my friends,

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - day 4 - D

    D is for Dedwen! Anthropomorphic (having characteristics of human being) god presiding over Nubia. At a very early date Dedwen had come to present not only Nubia but also its resources, and especially incense - which was imported into Egypt from the south. He identified as the supplier of incense for the gods and was also said to burn incense at royal births. Temples in Nubia were built for Dedwen by Tuthmosis III at el-Lessiya and Uronarti but there is no evidence for a cult centre of this god north of Aswan.

    Dedwen embracing Tuthmosis III
    So long my friends,

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - day 3 - C

    Today I want to tell you about the Crook and the flail.

    The Crook and the Flail are symbolic – they signified pharaonic dominion over the land of Egypt. Both of farming origin, the crook symbolized that the pharaoh is the shepherd or the carer of the people and flail is the scourge of necessary punishment to maintain order in society. Together, usually held in both hands crossed on the chest, they are the most prominent insignia of the royal regalia of ancient Egypt that symbolizes divine authority.

    The crook and the flail were associated with several deities. It started as symbol of Geb as the original ruler of Egypt. It was inherited by Osiris when he took over the position as king. During this time, he acquired the epithet, “The Good Shepherd”, presumably because these instruments were used by farmers. Other deities associated with these symbols included Andjety known as the foremost of the eastern nome and eventual aspect of Osiris, Horus as Osiris’ heir, and Khonsu, a known aspect of Horus. However, some gods may be seen bearing only the flail including Min and Anubis (especially in his jackal form) who were both associated with Osiris.

    During the Third Intermediate Period, Ushabtis or commoners use them in order to enhance their chances of afterlife because of the crook and flail’s connection with Osiris who rose from the dead.

    So long my friends,

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - day 2 - B

    Here we go, second day of the challenge and already I had to make tough choices. Who should get my attention today: Bastet (I love cats!) or Baal - god of the thunder? After all I decided to dedicate this post to Bat.
    Bat is the ancient celestial cow goddess of the Egyptians especially revered in Upper Egypt. She was initially the deification of the cosmos, especially the Milky Way. Ancient Egyptian cattle herders (as far back as 8000 BC) believed that the Milky Way resembled a pool of cow milk.

    She is depicted as a woman with bovine ears and curled horns that grow from her temples and had a body in the shape of a necklace counterpoise. Stars most often surround her celestial bovine head. Her followers believe that she carries a sistrum (see the picture on the right)  all the time to drive away evil. When in human form, her sistrum is found in her head.

    She comes by many different titles. She is known as “Ba of Two Faces” because of her uncanny ability to see the past and the future, and possibly because of her representation of the two banks of the Nile River. Because of Her bovine features, she acquired the titles “She Who Lows” and the “Great Wild Cow”.

    Bat is seldom seen in paintings, sculptures and other art forms yet she is a permanent figure in amulets and jewelry.

    In the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Pyramid Texts, a familiar text is dedicated to her and it goes:

    “I am Praise; I am Majesty; I am Bata with Her Two Faces; I am the One Who Is Saved, and I have saved myself from all things evil.”
    So long my friends,

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    Blogging from A to Z - day 1 - A

    Let's start our journey! A stands for Aah.  

    Aah is the ancient Egyptian god of the moon and he remains to be a fixture in Egyptian amulets and hieroglyphs.

    His existence was proven when he was mentioned in the Book of the Dead saying, “I am the moon-god Aah, the dweller among the gods”.

    Aah is credited for having created the original Egyptian calendar. Calendar is divided into 12 months with 30 days every month. In one of the myths, Nut (the sky) and Geb (the earth) were siblings, who were locked in what seemed like an eternal embrace. Their almost unbreakable bond irked their father, the sun god Ra, who abhorred their incestuous relationship. He cursed them that they will never bear children on any day of the year. Despite fathers disapproval Nut and Geb continued their relationship and sought refuge in Thoth, the god of wisdom and knowledge. Thoth devised a plan to gamble with the creator of the calendar, Aah. The wager was that Aah would give Thoth five days of his moonlight if he won. Thoth won and the five days became the extra five days of the year. Nut was able to bear children on each day because it was not covered by the curse of Ra. She gave birth to Osiris, Isis, Set, Nephthys and Horus the elder on each day. These days were believed to be inserted in the month of July making all of them July babies.

    So long my friends,