Tag Archives: Egypt

Seeing a Large Cat

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Seeing a Large Cat [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Elizabeth Peters, book 9 of the Amelia Peabody series.

Peters Seeing a Large Cat

This ninth Amelia Peabody mystery is the first that I have shared from cover to cover with my Other Reader. We both enjoyed it quite well. It continues the formula established by Peters in the earlier books, this time covering (to my irrelevant excitement) the 1903-1904 excavation season in Egypt. 

The “large cat” of the title is perhaps Ramses Emerson, who sports whiskers as a surprise at the outset of the novel, and whose relations with the feline members of the household constitute an ongoing subplot. This volume of the series is one in which the younger generation of Emersons gain a significant degree of independence. Their separate perspective is supplied through the device of excerpts from a “Manuscript H,” supposedly written by Ramses and containing events he would best know, although referring to him in the third person.

On the other hand, the Cat could equally be Katherine Jones, a new character who seems likely to recur in future stories, and whose cat-like qualities are emphasized in descriptions. The gerundial phrasing of the title alludes to the ancient Egyptian dream-interpretation papyrus that is Peabody’s translation project for the season. What indeed is the significance of “seeing a large cat” in one’s dream? This book combines entertaining adventure with ominous portents for its protagonists.

The Neteru of Kemet

The Neteru of Kemet: An Introduction by Tamara Siuda-Legan, from Eschaton, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. There is a newer reprint edition, than the one in the collection, available.

Tamara Siuda-Legan The Neteru of Kemet from Eschaton

“Three thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ and perhaps even before, a civilization thrived on the banks of the Nile River in northern Africa that was called by its inhabitants Kemet (‘Black Land’). This land is known today by the Greek name Egypt. By virtue of extensive archaeological study, we know a great deal about this ancient culture which in some ways was more advanced than our own; a culture that embraced multiple expressions of Deity, provided fro social equality across race and gender, boasted a government and civil service to rival that of ancient China; and had remarkably practical religious philosophy.”

“Though there were more than 200 different rulers (both male and female), at least three major foreign occupations and many rewriting of ‘official’ history, philosophy and religious dogma, the faith of both the people and the priest(ess)hood of Kemet was highly celebratory and life-affirming. Though different Neteru were worshipped under different rulers and from place to place, They all has something in common: They were accessible to all and to each other, and Their worship covered every facet of life, from conception to death to rebirth and everything in between.”

“This workbook is intended as an adjunct to personal study and meditation on the Neteru, not as a total overview of the Kemetic religion. It is best used by someone who is either already familiar with the history and philosophy of Kemet or who is interested in learning of the Neteru and Their expression.”

“Meditative work with these Neteru can provide a sound introduction to the religion of Kemet, as all of Them are readily accessible to the sincere seeker. (An important note: ‘sincere’ in the Kemetic philosophy does not mean addressing Neter as an archetype or focus point of the Higher Self, known as the ka or ‘double.’ As in other indigenous African religions, Neteru are actual spiritual beings and do not respond favorably to New Age philosophy’s ‘I am God/ess’ arrogance.)” — from the Introduction

Ancient Egyptian Magic

Ancient Egyptian Magic: Spells, Incantations, Potions, Stories, and Rituals by Bob Brier, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Bob Brier Ancient Egyptian Magic from Quill

Ancient Egyptian Magic is the first authoritative modern work on the occult practices that pervaded all aspects of life in ancient Egypt. Based on fascinating archaeological discoveries, it includes everything from how to write your name in hieroglyphs to the proper way to bury a king, as well as:

· Tools and training of magicians
· Interpreting dreams
· Ancient remedies for headaches, cataracts, and indigestion
· Wrapping a mummy
· Recipes for magic potions and beauty creams
· Explanations of amulets and pyramid power
· A spell to entice a lover
· A fortune-telling calendar

These subjects and many more will appeal to everyone interested in Egyptology, magic, parapsychology, and the occult; or ancient religions and mythology.” — back cover

Egyptian Religion

Egyptian Religion by Siegried Morenz, translated by Ann E Keep, from Cornell University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Siegfried Morenz Ann E Keep Egyptian Religion from Cornell University Press

“During the present century Egypt has become a centre of attraction for ever-growing numbers of people. The Nile valley and its monuments are visited by tens of thousands of tourists each year. The political and economic life of the Arab peoples evoke equal interest of a different kind. The country’s development is taking place in a rich historical context, which reaches back beyond classical antiquity and ancient Israel to the earliest advanced civilizations of the Orient. This growth of interest in Egypt has long since ceased to be the preserve of a few specialists, but finds expression in school curricula and influences the outlook of ordinary men and women. All this creates a need for books which can enable lovers of ancient Egypt to enter into the spirit of its great civilization.”

“Yet behind all aspects of life of those who dwelt on the Nile in ancient times—behind their art, political structure and cultural achievements— one may sense forces at work which are religious in origin. To penetrate into this alien but fascinating field of inquiry is the desire of many and a necessity for all who seek a clearer understanding of ancient Egypt.”

“Above all I have tried to see Egyptian religion as the faith of the Egyptian people. Political, economic and social events are, so dar as I am concerned, only ‘the conditions in which phenomena appear’, to use Goethe’s words. The focal point for these phenomena, in my opinion, is man’s relationship to God.”

“While engaged upon this work I realized that one has to have experienced oneself the meaning of religion and of God if one is to interpret from the sources the relationship between God and man in an age remote from our own. But one also realizes that the great, simple concerns of mankind are the same through all eternity, whatever variations are introduced by physical circumstances and differences of mental outlook. One further perceives that preoccupation with a particular religious creed may open up avenues for an understanding of religion as such, just as the student of a foreign language or culture will often thereby obtain profounder insight into his own language and culture. I have come to be convinced that Egyptian religion can fulfil the same purpose for those who immerse themselves in it.” — from the Foreword

The Egyptian Heaven and Hell

The Egyptian Heaven and Hell by E A Wallis Budge, three volumes bound as one, from Dover, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

E A Wallis Budge The Egyptian Heaven and Hell from Dover

“Like the Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptian document that contained specific instructions and guides for the behavior of the disembodied spirit in the Land of the Gods, the present work is crucial for understanding hieroglyphic Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife. It comprises complete hieroglyphic renderings of the texts of two ‘books of the underworld’—the Book Ȧm-Ṭuat and the Book of Gates—which provided the dead with a guide their souls would need to make the journey from this world to the abode of the blessed.

In these books both the living and the dead could learn not only the names, but also the forms, of every god, spirit, soul, specter, demon and monster they were likely to meet along the way. For modern readers, these ancient texts throw considerable light on the development of material and spiritual elements in Egyptian religion and on numerous primitive gods unknown outside these books.

Originally published in three volumes, the books are reprinted here as one work and include English translations and descriptions of all the hieroglyphic texts. Of particular interest to students of Egyptology, these extraordinary documents will also be of value to archeologists and anyone interested in the religions of ancient civilizations.” — back cover

The Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods

Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks, translated by G M Goshgarian, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Dimitri Meeks Christine Favard-Meeks The Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods from Pimlico

“A unique and fascinating book that recreates the characters of the Egyptian gods, their habits and desires, relationships and conflicts.

This is the first translation of an extraordinary new study that has caused considerable stir among Egyptologists in France. Accessible but scholarly, and filled with a sense of wonderment at divine doings, it treats the gods as a tribe or community that has caught the interest of anthropologists. The authors describe the structure of this community and some of the conflicts that frequently upset it as individual gods act to protect their own positions in the hierarchy or struggle to gain power over their fellows. The nature of their immortal but not invulnerable bodies, their pleasures and their needs are considered. What did they eat, the authors ask, and did they feel pain?

The second part of the book cites familiar traditions and little-known texts to explain the relationship of the gods to the pharaoh, who was believed to represent them on earth. By performing appropriate rites, the pharaoh maintained a delicate equilibrium, balancing the sky and home of the sun-god, the underworld of Osiris, and the dead, and the earth itself. While each world was autonomous and had its own mythological context, the separate spheres were also interdependent, requiring the sun’s daily course and the pharaoh’s ritual actions to ensure the cohesion of the universe.

No one, expert or layman, who read this book will look on the strange figures of the Egyptian gods in quite the same light again.” — back cover

Selections from the Husia

Selections from the Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt by Maulana Karenga, from University of Sankore Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Maulana Karenga Selections from the Husia from University of Sankore Press

“The primary aim of this volume is to provide a brief representative selection of ancient Egyptian sacred literature which can serve as a readable and enjoyable reference for those interested specifically in ancient Egyptian and African sacred literature in general whether sacred or secular. In this brief selection we read the earliest written record of the dawning of humanity’s structured consciousness concerning spirituality and ethics. And we find for the first time in human history the concepts of:

· Maat (truth, justice and rightness)
· Humans in the image of God
· Human Dignity
· Judgement after death
· Immortality of the soul
· Free will
· Human equality
· Social justice” — back cover

Kemet and the African Worldview

Kemet and the African Worldview: Research, Rescue and Restoration, edited by Maulana Karenga and Jacob H Cattuthers, from University of Sankore Press, selected papers of the proceedings of the first and second conferences of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations 1984–1985, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Maulana Karenga Jacob H Camuthers Kemet and the African Worldview from University of Sankore Press

“Only the determined intellectual resistance waged by the 19th century Black Nationalists in the western hemisphere prevented the complete take over of the Nile Valley by the intellectual pirates who accompanied the Napoleonic invasion of Kemet (Egypt) in 1789. Those old African scrappers never left the high ground of the Nile Valley heritage and now their spirit like the Pharaoh Senwosret I of the 12th Dynasty (who lived about 4,000 years ago or 20th century B.C.E.) beckons us to come back to the Black land. This, is was in obedience to the summons of the most ancient and recent ancestors that Dr Maulana Karenga and I convened the First Annual Ancient Egyptian Studies Conference in February, 1984 at Los Angeles.

The Conference was designed to go beyond the establishment of an annual intellectual homecoming celebration and the founding of another Black professional scholarly association. What was and is not needed is the organization of African heritage and the restoration of African civilization. Such was the major objective of the Conference: the fruition of the dreams and visions of African people during the two thousand seasons of our distress.

In the struggle to liberate African people throughout the world, it is necessary that we advance the work and ideas of the brave Black people who have given their lives to keep this connection alive. What we are doing is not the result of a sudden flash of brilliance, but the culmination of the hard work of several generations of African Heroes and Heroines.” — from the Preface

“The historical project that Frantz Fanon posed of setting afoot a new man and woman has historically preoccupied Africans, in the diaspora and on the continent. Jacob Carruthers points out in his critical work, Essays in Ancient Egyptian Studies, that as early as the 19th century Black people in this country such as Hosea Easton, Henry Garnet and Martin Delaney had begun to ask themselves, ‘are we not different from the Europeans?’ and what do we have to offer that makes us able to pose a human paradigm, morally richer and more humanly expansive than what the European has to offer? As Fanon observed, ‘we need a model’, but ‘for many of us, the European mode is most inspiring’. However, he continues, ‘when I search for Man in the technique and style of Europe I see only the negation of Man.’ The need, then, he concludes is not to imitate Europe and its negations and become an obscene caricature of Europe but to join together in a new direction in a self-conscious attempt ‘to create a whole Man (and Woman) whom Europe has been incapable of bringing to triumphant birth.’

The logic of the process which begins with rejection of the deformed and deforming paradigm of Europe and leads to bringing into being a new human and humanity, inevitably raises the question of where to begin. Cheikh Anta Diop in his work, Civilization or Barbarism, argues cogently that the unavoidable starting point for Africans to rescue and reconstruct their history and humanity is in Kemet, i.e., ancient Egypt. ‘For us’, he states, ‘the return to Egypt in all fields is a necessary condition to reconcile African civilization with history, to be able to build a body of human sciences and to renew African culture.’ In fact, ‘far from being a diversion in the past, a look toward ancient Egypt is the best way of conceiving and building our culture future.’ It is, indeed, important for us to make a distinction between a diversion in the past and laying the basis for a new body of human sciences. Playing the same role as Greece and Rome in European culture, Diop contends, Kemet will offer fertile ground in the areas of philosophy, culture and science for a new African and a new paradigm for humanity which this implies.

The fundamental historical task becomes, then, one of rescuing and restoring the culture of Kemet and of exploring and expanding the human possibilities inherent in this process.” — from the Introduction

The Message of the Sphinx

The Message of the Sphinx: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, from Three Rivers Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Graham Hancock Robert Bauval The Message of the Sphinx from Three Rivers Press

“Guardian of the ancient mysteries, the keeper of secrets … For thousands of years the Great Sphinx of Egypt has gazed toward the east, its eyes focused on eternity, reading a message in the stars that mankind has long forgotten. And today, our civilization stands poised at the end of a great cycle, it is a message that beckons insistently to be understood.

All the clues are in place. Geology and acheo-astronomy have already indicated that the lion-bodied Sphinx may be vastly older than Egyptologists currently believe, dating not from 2500 B.C., but from 10,500 B.C.—the beginning of the astrological Age of Leo. And we now know that the three pyramids of Giza, standing on high ground half a mile to the west of the Sphinx, are in fact a precise map of the three stars of Orion’s belt, formed in 15 million tons of solid stone.

Are these monuments trying to tell us something? And, if so, what?

In The Message of the Sphinx, Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock present a tour de force of historical and scientific detective work that unravels the millennial code embodied in these structures. Using sophisticated computer simulations of ancient skies, they unravel the riddle of the Sphinx, and they present a startling new theory concerning the enigmatic Pyramid Texts and other archaic Egyptian scriptures.

Their discoveries lead the authors to this question: Does mankind have a rendezvous with destiny—a rendezvous not in the future, but in the distant past, at a precise place and time?

The secrets can be kept no longer. The Message of the Sphinx brings them to light.” — back cover

Middle Egyptian Grammar

Middle Egyptian Grammar by James E Hoch, SSEA Publication XV, from Benben Publications, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

James E Hoch Middle Egyptian Grammar from Benben Publications

This was the required text for the correspondence / distance course offered, though I think they stopped offering it a few years ago, by the Oriental Institute in Chicago, which I signed up for way back in 1999. Though I didn’t manage to stick with it long, and have subsequently forgotten most of what little I learned, I recall the sense of sheer euphoria when I subsequently watched some documentary on Egypt and was able to read a short bit of a random passage from a column as it flashed by on screen …

“Translating Egyptian at the early stages is often more like puzzle solving than learning to speak a new language.”

“There is great for students in translating to ‘guess’ at the general meaning of a sentence. This is the worst possible approach, since Egyptian writers often said things that surprise us.”

“In any case, the student should expect to feel the language rather alien, and for the first few years one must constantly ask mechanical questions […] Often one must hold open two or three possible interpretations. With experience one can eliminate some possibilities, but building experience requires time. A good suggestion is to return to what one thinks is the right answer and then ask if there are any other possibilities. Sometimes one’s first inclination is far from the mark, and a good second consideration can lead to better interpretations.” — from the Preface