Friday, 9 June 2017

Ancient Wisdom

Every Springtime, Egypt has an the 'inundation', as the great Nile River floods across the land from the South and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Rich soil is deposited and this provides for the crops that have sustained the people for millennia. All kinds of fruit and vegetables grew to feed people and animals. This excellent pasture supported healthy people who could fish and hunt water birds, make music and dance, tell stories and create art, sculpture, architecture and paintings. If a society had the means to write, they had the very rare and valuable ability to record their life. The Egyptian priests learnt to read and write and perform mathematics (especially astrology, geometry and algebra) and were very intelligent and knowledgeable and their glory and fame spread throughout the known world.

The pharaohs grew rich and great temples were built to honour the gods and goddesses who provided such amazing sustenance in the dangerous desert landscape that surrounded the Nile Valley. Everything about life was sacred and appreciated. Each morning the sun rose and honour would be paid to Ra, the sun god. The god of wisdom, Thoth, drew his pen from the pure white feathers of the ibis bird, and Ma'at, Goddess of Truth and Justice used this white feather to weigh the soul of the deceased against the purity and weight of this feather. Visitors to Egypt today can see this beautiful bird perched atop the water buffalo as they cruise along the banks of the Nile. Isis, her name means 'throne' was the principle goddess, supporter of the downtrodden and the rich alike, she was the centre of the cult of healing. When her husband was murdered and his body cut into pieces and cast to the four corners, she found all the pieces and reformed him (I am reminded here of shamanic traditions of disintegration and re-structuring) and had a son, Horus as a result. (She is often depicted, like Mary with Jesus, with the child on her lap.) The hieroglyphic alphabet has no vowels so we are unclear how her name and others were pronounced. Isis is first mentioned more than 4,000 years ago so she is a very ancient goddess indeed. Hathor, with the crown of cow horns and the solar symbol personifies joy, motherhood and love. Many of these aspects of deity are inter-related and have a shared symbolism. They were all a close family, to keep the genetic energy free from contamination. The deities were mirrored by the dynasties of pharaohs that kept this pattern and way of relating, learning and living for thousands of years.  

All the gods and goddesses are aspects of the one, a sole godhead that is neither male nor female, and these ancient deities represented energies and values which can be today meditated and accessed (called by the psychologist Carl Jung 'archetypes'), just as many pray to God under various names. A painter for instance, requiring inspiration, would pay homage to Ptah, the deity which specialises in this energy. In order to be whole and complete and have balance, meaning and purpose in our life, we need an understanding of all aspects of deity, including justice, wisdom, compassion, peace, caring, creativity, beauty, healing and joy and the ancients knew this. This is the reason why there are so many deities. We know many things about life in ancient Egypt as it is recorded on stone and walls and on papyrus but there is much that we do not know. However, we can channel information that can suggest what might have been or what might be so for us in today’s world. These values and energies, like the deities themselves, are eternal. Learning how to utilise them and apply the guidance and power is valuable because most aspects of life that were important to people thousands of years ago are also important to us. 

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