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
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,