Tag Archives: pagan blog project

D is for Djed

Djed Pillar

Djed Pillar as found in the Tomb of Nefertari, Valley of the Queens

The Djed Pillar or Djed Column is representative of the idea of stability. The Djed pillar comes from as early as Pre-Dynastic times. Some Egyptologists believe it was a pillar that grain was once tied to and this symbol was associated with Ptah and Sokar and then later with Wasir (Osiris). Ptah of the Triad of Mennefer (Memphis) was often referred to as “The Great Djed”. It is because of the association with Sokar and the mummiform figure of Ptah, that the Djed is associated with Wasir. Some illustrations that have been found on papyri and tomb walls show the Djed with arms and a crook and flail – indicated Wasir’s resurrected state in the Duat (Underworld).
Ptah

Ptah

The ceremony of the ‘Raising the Djed Pillar took place in the city of Menefer or Memphis. The King, aided by the priests, would raise the pillar with ropes. A Djed lying on the ground is indicative of death, and the raising of the Djed is symbolic for raising up or bringing new life. Because the Pharaoh was the ruler of the living and Wasir was the king of the dead, the act of raising the Djed was believed to emphasize both the stability of the King and with him, the land, but also tied the king and the land with the rebirth of life in both the world of form and the Duat. Raising the Djed pillar was also done during the Heb-Sed festival which was performed by the Pharaoh to reaffirm his strength and endurance at year 30 and then every three years again after this. It was considered a joyous occassion.

It was a common practice to paint an image of the Djed pillar in the back interior panel of coffin for the obvious reference of the symbol representing the backbone and would be in the precise place where the actual backbone of the deceased would rest. The stabilizing and regenerative meaning of this is obvious. Djed amulets were also commonly included in the wrappings of mummies to insure the renewed life of the deceased in the Duat. On these amulets were sometimes inscriptions of prayers or heka. A portion of the Prt Em Hru or Book of the Dead were engraved on one of two Djed amulets that were found on the mummy of Tutankhamen. The word words to be recited to the god Wasir (Osiris) were:

“Thou hast thy backbone, O weary one of heart; thou shalt place thyself upon thy side so that I may give thee water beneath thee. I have brought thee a djed pillar of gold; mayest thou be pleased with it.”

Nefertari offering to Ptah

Nefertari offering to Ptah

In the tomb of Queen Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens in Egypt, Nefertari is shown offering to Ptah who is standing in a kind of kiosk. Directly in back of him is the Djed pillar and even the staff that the god holds is in the form of the Djed. One of the inscriptions include the Djed, the Ankh and the Was and says:

“All protection, life, stability, dominion and health are behind him.”

In Kemetic belief, the four capitals at the top of the Djed pillar signify stability. Everything, for us, is almost always done in fours – the four corners of a building, the four times that we declare purity, “It is pure, It is pure, it is pure, it is pure,” or the four times we encircle a room with natron and water, light and incense and sound – all lend itself to establishing a foundation of purity, and again, tie back to the Djed and its manifold symbolism. Stability allows firmness of purpose, to know where we stand, or that what has been established can be carried on and continued on that firm foundation of stability.

Resources

Naydler, Jeremy. Temple of the Cosmos: The Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1996. Print.

Naydler, Jeremy. Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2005. Print.

Shaw, Ian, and Paul T. Nicholson. The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995. Print.

Wilkinson, Richard H. Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture., p.176 – 177; London: Thames and Hudson, 1992

PBP2014d

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C is for Celestial Cow

moocowOne of the most enduring symbols of Deity in the Ancient Egyptian cosmogony is that of a Bovine Goddess. From the earliest dynastic period and the Narmer Palette with the figure of the goddess Bat, believed to be a precursor to the popular HetHert – more commonly known as Hathor, the imagery of a celestial or divine cow has endured. Though Aset (Isis) and Hathor both are commonly shown with horns and a solar disk as part of their symbolism, only Hathor has bovine ears.

The Book of the Heavenly Cow, though some believe it originated during the Amarna period under Amunhotep IV (Akhenaten) more likely actually originated around the time of Amunhotep II, Akhenaten’s paternal great grandfather. This is most likely because of an illustration on the walls of his tomb which depicts the pharaoh suckling from the Great Divine Cow. the story is also depicted on the golden shrines that were found within the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Cows appearing in both the sky and in the Duat (Underworld) linked Hathor and Nut as being the one who bore the sun god, Ra, upon Her back. The story of the Celestial Cow appearing in the tomb has less to do with the magical transformation or protection of the King as the tale is probably meant a Creation tale. The Book of the Divine Cow or Celestial Cow ties directly to the mythos surrounding Sekhmet and the Destruction of Mankind.

I have talked a little about this in other blog posts. This story has direct correlations also, with the Flood of Noah in the Christian bible where Mankind, in its rebelliousness has turned their faces from Divine authority. In the Egyptian version, Mankind not only turned away, but in some versions, plotted to overthrow and kill the Netjeru (Gods). Ra asked the others what to do, and they asked Ra, Who was their King, to send His ‘Eye’. The Eye, in this tale, is HetHert (Hathor) and in Her rage, She transforms from Her more benign form of a beautiful woman with bovine ears into the lioness, Sekhmet.

Before all of this had transpired, there had been a golden age upon the earth where Mankind and the Netjeru had lived side by side under the rulership of Ra. In that golden age, there was no death, there was no real delineation between day and night where Ra traversed across the sky and then into the Underworld at night. He was always visible at all times. All of this was before the accidental creation of the Uncreated One [Apep ] or any knowledge or concept of isfet.

When Ra sought the counsel of the other deities, He asked them to tell him what to do, that he did not want to wipe humanity out, but rather to punish them. He asked Nu, who said, “Send forth Thine Eye (HetHert) to strike those who blaspheme you, for none may resist the Eye when it shines in the form of HetHert.”

When HetHert was summoned, She became very angry at those who would raise their hand against Ra, Her father. She transformed into Sekhmet and for a period of three days and three nights, she indiscriminately slew every human that she came upon; men, women and even children where She found them. Her slaughter began at Hensu (Herakleopolis Magna) and continued throughout the land. Ra was alarmed at the bloodshed and He implored Sekhmet / HetHert to stop her killing. She looked upon Her Father and flatly refused. By this time, the anger that She was feasting on had become a heady draught of its own. “As sure as You live for Me (By all that is holy),” She said, “so it is pleasing (a balm upon My heart) to have triumphed over them (Mankind).”

Ra was concerned that Sekhmet would slay all of humanity until there were none left. He needed a plan to stop Sekhmet / HetHert from destroying humans entirely. It was Djehuty (Thoth) who came up with the idea of taking red beer, spiking it with mandrake and colouring it with red ochre or hematite in order that it should resemble blood. He did this with the assistance of slave girls or priestesses of the Goddess. Vats and vats of this soporific liquid was poured out onto the land until it resembled a vast lake of blood placed directly in the path of the raging Goddess. Sekhmet came upon this lake of red beer and began to drink. She drank and drank until She became happy and forgot about why She was angry in the first place and was at last quelled, turning once again back into the beautiful (if not happily drunken) Hethert. From time immemorial during the feast that commemorated the pacifying of Sekhmet / Hathor, making the beer was entrusted to the priestesses or slave girls to make the intoxicating drink that was consumed.

Celestial Cow Inscription Ra and the rest of the Gods were overjoyed that Sekhmet’s carnage had at last stopped. Ra cried out in joy at seeing HetHert again, “Welcome, welcome in peace, O’ Beautiful One!”

But at this point, Ra withdraws from the Earth, from Mankind, not as a form of punishment but rather because He realized that unleashing His rage, in the form of Sekhmet, He introduced to the world, the reality of death and destruction for the very first time. The Golden Age that knew Mankind and Gods to live as One in the same place upon the Earth is now over. Ra knows deep down that in order save humanity from the potential of His wrath, there needed to be distance between Hims and the creation (Humanity) that He loves.

The Eye of Ra, Who was a lioness, now being pacified has transformed back into a cow. This cow is called mehet-weret ‘Great Flood’ or “Great of Flood”, which is also equated with Nut, the starry sky at night as well as with HetHert. The ‘Great Flood’ was made of beer, rather than of water. The “flood” within Egyptian mythology ends up being Mankind’s salvation when it came, rather than that which was sent to cleanse the earth of humanity. Mehet Weret / Nut allows Her Father, Ra, to ride upon Her back into the sky and the Two begin to ascend.

In the myths that make up the Book of the Divine Cow, several times She (HetHert / Nut) becomes fearful of the heights to which She and Her Father, Ra, have risen. Her Father urges Her to continue to climb, encouraging Her along the way as They keep rising up higher and higher into the sky. At one point, She becomes so frightened that She cannot stand on Her own. Ra summons the sons of Shu, who are referred to as “the pillars that hold up the sky” and the four winds so that They can steady Nut by holding onto Her legs so that She will, shoring Her up so that She will not fall.

At last Ra and Nut and Their entire accompaniment reach Their lofty destination. The Cow, for Herself, becomes quite lonely for all that She and Ra have left behind Them. Ra reassures her by reminding Her that all over Her body are the stars that make up the nighttime sky. Her starry raiment serves as a sentimental glimpse and a memory of all of those good people and things that are now removed from the world by death that may seem now to be gone. They are, in fact, not gone at all, but are always there. Today, like many cultures, Kemetics look up at the starry night sky and see the millions upon millions of akhu or ancestors who are there. Like Ra, they are removed from us but not truly gone. There is a comfort to know that our akhu are never far away and they are between us and the Divine. They keep the Gods company and the serve as a go between to intercede on our behalf and vice versa.

I love the way that Rev. Tamara Siuda explained it that, “In creating the Celestial Cow, Ra has both made sure that She will never be lonely – and righted the wrong of killing people in the first place, by making sure that they can have another life after the lives they lost, and another chance at redemption.”

The takeaway from the lesson of the Celestial Cow is that no matter how bad things may seem, no matter how far from redemption things may appear, we are never alone. Even though it may feel as if we are facing a crisis or the world at large completely with no one to hear or to help, we have many things around us in terms of people, nature, the celestial sky and even our memories to keep us company. They are there to bolster us and back us up whenever the needs arise. The blinking stars in the sky at night are that reassurance that someone, in fact several someones are up there and are indeed listening.

Resources

Piankoff, Alexandre, and N. Rambova. The Shrines of Tut-ankh-amon. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Print.

Roberts, Alison. Hathor Rising: The Power of the Goddess in Ancient Egypt. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1997

Roberts, Alison. Golden Shrine, Goddess Queen: Egypt’s Anointing Mysteries. Rottingdean, East Sussex: NorthGate, 2008.

Roberts, Alison. My Heart My Mother: Death and Rebirth in Ancient Egypt. Rottingdean, East Sussex: NorthGate, 2000.

Shaw, Ian, and Paul T. Nicholson.The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995.

Siuda, Tamara L. The Neteru of Kemet: An Introduction. New York: : Eschaton Productions, 1997.

Siuda, Tamara L. The Ancient Egyptian Prayer Book. Chicago, IL: Star Gazer Design, 2009.

Siuda, Tamara L. “Kemet Today: And There Were Stars: How a time out turned into a nighttime sky”

PBP2014d

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Filed under kemetic, pagan, Pagan Blog Project 2014, sekhmet

Update

First of all, a New Year’s wish for everyone:

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” – Neil Gaiman

The above quote was from a LJ friend, and I thought it was one of the finest I had ever seen. I think I am starting in that direction in a big way. Yesterday I started applying gesso to an Egyptian winged disk plaque that is about 24″ wide by 8″ high. I want to paint it according to the ancient canon as far as colours go. The illustration shown here is not quite right.

The parts that are white should also be yellow or gold. I am seriously thinking of going with gold leafing on this one just because I can. I will need some crown moulding to make it perfect, and those have an artistic canon as well. That project, since there are two of them, should keep me busy off and on. There is no push on it. But it is nice, relaxing, busy work when I need a break from writing.

Speaking of..

Everyone does their new year’s resolutions, and of course, I am no different. I resolve that I will write daily, at least the three page per day minimum via the “Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I have been encouraged with some recent comments that it might well work and I can get my work out there, uploaded to Kindle Digital Platform.

So what is the hold-up?

I am scared to death of the damned thing because after having uploaded the Rune book to KDP, and immediately having to take it down because the illustrations didn’t get uploaded really made me nervous. I need to check and see if there are online tutorials on YouTube or something just for me to get over my primary fear. No doubt I can generate content. I just have to edit it and make it make sense to a readership that would be willing to follow what I write. One of my friends who writes mystery novels said that a book that was previously rejected by the six big publishing houses netted him over $7K in a single day this holiday season. In three weeks from Christmas onward he made $100K No. That is not a misprint on my part. JA Konrath really did make that much, and the Amazon sales figures bear out he has been in the top 100 Kindle downloads for a number of months. Tenacity pays off – as does good cover art, free downloads from time to time and value-added content. Self publishing is for me, as it is for so many others these days. Writers, artists and musicians now have control over their own content in a way like never before. I say it’s about damned time!

As for the rest, I am going to be finishing up my final semester this spring and then transferring to the University of Iowa. I want to finish out my degree in Communications / Media, specializing, particularly in cinematic arts, because I truly love it. Gimme a camera, let me paint with light and a non-linear editor. In the midst of all that, I still continue to write. I have to. It’s like breathing, really.

My problem is, I have far too many blogs on far too many platforms. I have a blog here on WordPress and blogs on Dreamwidth, Blogger, Livejournal and Pan Historia. I need to be better about crossposting between them. Then again, I have my preferences for each for various reasons.

With the start of the semester tomorrow, I am going to have more than enough to keep me busy both in assignments and also my own personal writing goals each week. Two friends on my Dreamwidth reading list mentioned the below blog project and I have to say I was intrigued.

Things have changed for me spiritually, professionally and academically. I can’t really go into it right now because I have had a good long think about it but haven’t reached any conclusions. I am still devoted to film and media as I ever was. It is just focusing on my own projects as never before. But this Pagan Blog Project seems as if it would be right along the lines of helping me get back into writing in a magical sense. Those who know me know how much a part all of that is to me and to my life. Fictionalising it is not a stretch and if anyone fears that I would give away any “oathbound” material, suffice it to say, I know what to do and what not to do – and the Mysteries DO protect themselves.

Anyway, here is the link for any who would like to join up themselves.

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