Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose, California


The past week, I visited the Bay Area of San Francisco, and one of the places I went to was Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. According to their website, the buildings are all inspired by the Temple of Amon, and that this Museum holds the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in western North America–including items from pre-dynastic to Egypt’s early Islamic era (http://www.egyptianmuseum.org/). And in my opinion, it is one of the best exhibits I have visited so far.

Let’s start with the grounds, which are amazing! I can’t say it’s like stepping back in time like I have with many historical sites I visited in the past, but it’s close. It more brings a sense of Ancient Egypt to modern North America. It’s also very peaceful, especially the several gardens open to the public to walk. There are a few areas open only to members, but you can still admire the architecture and design from a far.

There are several buildings that are a part of this complex, including a planetarium and library. But my interests lied with the Egyptian Museum. I started in the section which basically depicted daily life in Ancient Egypt. Though, there was a small wing in this section which included Sumerian artifacts and depictions.  This display consisted of many trickets from papyrus writings to make-up and mirrors to Senet board games and different playing pieces to  offering alters to home deity statuettes. There is also a reconstructed Birthing Room. But my favorite in this section was a New Kingdom Mummy Box depicting Anubis, which held a small votive offering to the gods.

The next section I visited was on Ancient Egyptian funeral practices. Here, they even recreated the entrance of  a tomb. It’s surrounded by sarcophagi, mummies of animals, and miniature models of burial sites. In addition, there is a small false door on display, which has always been a interesting concept to me. Based on my research, these false doors are the link between this earth and the afterlife. Spirits were believed to walk through, giving them the ability to receive offerings the dead’s family leave and walk among the people.

And finally, at least in terms of Ancient Egypt, there is the Religion section. Here there are several depictions of the gods–mostly in miniature figurines and amulets which would be buried with the mummies of Egypt. There is also several potteries and larger statues. The most notable being a full size Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess of war.

In mythology, Sekhmet was sent by Ra to punish man for their crimes. The goddess slaughtered thousands of ancient Egyptians under his command. And when she could no longer control her blood lust, Ra created a mixture of beer and pomegranate juice (which stained the beer blood red) and poured it in her path. She gorged on the “blood” and became so drunk she slept for three days. When she awoke, her blood lust had dissipated, and humanity was saved.

At the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, fake offering are laid at the goddess’s feet, depicting the traditional bread, fruit, honey cakes, meat, and wine offerings that were often placed in front of an Egyptian deity on a daily basis, along with offerings of natron. Every morning, priests would walk into the house of the god or goddess, preforming a ritual to awaken the god/goddess. They would bath and dress the statue, or proxy, of the god and offer food and drink for the spirit of the god to consume.

All in all, a wonderful exhibit of Ancient Egyptian artifacts! I loved exploring the museum and taking in the peace of the gardens. I would revisit the next time I’m in the Bay Area again.

Announcing the New Adult Scavenger Hunt Teams


NewASH Banner 7

Hello Everyone! Hope you are excited as I am, because we have less than three weeks until the Spring 2017 New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins!

Here are the Spring 2017 #NewASH teams:

TEAM BLUE

Team Blue S2017

TEAM PURPLE

Team Purple S2017

The New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins at Noon Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 26th and runs through Sunday, April 30th. For more information, visit newadultscavengerhunt.com.

Spotlight: Kima by A.H. Amin


32068901Kima
By A.H. Amin
Release Day: December 16, 2016
Summary:

Christmas Eve 1928 gave birth to a yearly phenomenon in South Africa. A herd of false killer whales were found beached upon the shore. It has also given birth to the story of two young children who meet an old woman named Kima. Kima somehow knows why this has happened, but that’s not all she knows. The children, Alex and Alice, realize that there is more to this woman that what meets the eye, and ear. She will reveal to them a tale, a mysterious story she claims was passed on to her by a mythical Black Seagull.

Derived from both historic tales and figures, Kima is a fictional character portrayed in a way that makes her become real.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble


6040327A. H. Amin
was born in Iraq, and he had lived most of his life in Kuwait. He studied dentistry in Emirates in his first years and then he continued in Egypt.

He had first came across to his talent when he had met a group of students in Emirates who were discussing the making of a movie. After seeing how his ideas had impressed them, he started to take a little intrest in literature.
He started finally after he came up with the idea of a new fiction thriller book, Psychs, which was his first published book, after he received good criticism about his new idea.

At present he continues to write the Psychs’ series and planning for the next one.

 

Release Day Buzz: Solomon’s Bell by @miclowery77


SOLOMON’S BELL

solomons-bell-cover

To save her family, Ginn uses her newfound genie powers to transport herself and her friends to 16th century Prague. Only one thing there remains the same as at home:  she can’t let anyone know what she really is.

The Emperor of Prague and those closest to him are obsessed with magic. In pursuit of it, they’ve waged war on the citizens of their city. In the citizens’ defense, someone has brought to life a golem, a dangerous being with connections to an artifact capable of summoning and commanding an entire army of genies. Can Ginn escape the notice of the Emperor as she attempts to discover a way to defeat Prague’s golem in time to save her family from a similar creature?

Solomon’s Bell is the sequel to Heir to the Lamp and the second book of the Genie Chronicles series.

***Praise for the GENIE CHRONICLES series***

“An exciting new spin on a genie tale. Virginia is a feisty main character who I would love to have as a friend. Captivating!” — Melissa Buell, author of the YA fantasy series, The Tales of Gymandrol

“Filled with magic, curses, and mystery … a spellbinding journey I couldn’t put down.” — Kelsey Ketch, author of Daughter of Isis

“Heir to the Lamp is Anne Rice meets Harry Potter: delicious writing, mysterious Southern Gothic, and an inventive, magical world for tweens, teens, and the young at heart.” —Susan Abel Sullivan, author of The Haunted Housewives of Allister, Alabama, Cursed: Wickedly Fun Stories, and The Weredog Whisperer

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | iBookstores

Book 1

heir-to-the-lamp-cover-art

About the Author

michelleMichelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and book blogger living in rural Alabama with her husband, one cat and too many children to count. She spends her spare time commanding armies of basketball and soccer munchkins for the Parks & Recreation departments of two cities. When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens and teens, Michelle can be found neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next best seller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, Jacksonville State University’s Writers’ Club and her local Aspiring Authors group. Check Michelle out at her website MichelleLoweryCombs.com.

Gods of the Dead: A Comparison of Anpu (Anubis) and Ah Puch


Looking at how different cultures perceive death, we can start to understand how they embrace it. Especially when it comes to how they shape their afterlife, the gods who run it, and the roles those gods play in everyday life. From first glance, one can detect several similarities between ancient Egyptian and ancient Mayan perspectives of the afterlife. For instance, the fact that in both cultures one must travel through a hellish netherworld to reach paradise.

The real difference is how they constructed their gods and their role in the underworld. In ancient Egypt and ancient Maya, it is Anpu and Ah Puch.

Anpu (Anubis)

Anpu is his Egyptian name, while Anubis—the name which is most commonly known—is his Greek name. He is the god of the underworld, embalming process, and funeral rites as well as the patron of lost souls and the helpless. He is also one of the oldest gods of Egypt, even before Osiris came into power over the underworld. In appearance, he is depicted as a black canine, usually a jackal, or a muscular man with the head of a jackal. Rarely, he appears as a man. Black symbolizes the fertile soil of the Nile River and rebirth in the afterlife.

Before the rise of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom, Anubis was known as the First of the Westerners, or king of the dead. He watched over proceeding from start to finish, guiding each soul and determining their fate. Even after stepping down so Osiris may rule the afterlife, Anubis still presided over mummification and the Weighing of the Heart. He acts as a guide to the dead and helps them find Osiris, leading the innocent on to a heavenly existence and abandoning the guilty to Ammit.

Ah Puch

Ah Puch is the Mayan god of death, darkness, disaster, childbirth, and beginnings. In Quiche Maya, he is the ruler of Mitnal, the underworld. In Yucatec Maya, he was just one of the lords of Xibaba, their term for underworld. In either case, it is a place of fear. Ah Puch is depicted as a skeletal figure with protruding ribs and a skull head, or a bloated figure that suggests decomposition. He often wears bells tied in his hair—a sound one never wanted to hear. He is associated with owls and dogs, and even today, the legend persists that when an owl screeches, someone nearby will die.

Ah Puch likes to surface at night and skulk around. A haunting figure that stalks the houses of the sick or injured. The only way to escape his attention is to howl, shriek, moan, and scream. At which point, he will assume the person is already being dealt with by some of his lesser demons. Only then will one prevent Ah Puch from taking someone down to Mitnal, the lowest level of the Mayan underworld.

Conclusions

From one god who protects the dead to one god who preys on the living. These gods’ depictions in each society reveal how the ancient Egyptians cherished death as they did life and how the ancient Mayans feared it. Unfortunately, unlike the many texts written about Anpu, there are hardly any in depth references to Ah Puch and how he played in everyday life of the Mayans. What was his roles as the god of childbirth and beginnings? Were sacrifices made to him? Were depictions placed on scared grounds? Or was he really just a menacing demon that hungered for death? Compared to Anpu, Ah Puch is an ancient mystery. A dark presence—or fate—no one wishes to think about. In either case, the gods of these two cultures reveal one truth: how we perceive death determines how we live our lives.

Sources

Allen, P. and Saunders, C. (2013). Ah Puch. http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/mayan-mythology.php?deity=AH-PUCH
Cline, A. (2016). The Mythology of Ah Puch, God of Death in Mayan Religion. http://atheism.about.com/od/mayangodsgoddesses/p/AhPuchMayan.htm
Hill, J. (2010). Ancient Egypt Online. http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk
Oakes, L., and Gahlin, L. (2003). Ancient Egypt: An illustrated reference to the myths, religions, pyramids and temples of the land of the pharaohs. New York, New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Mark, J. (2012). The Mayan Pantheon: The Many Gods of the Maya. http://www.ancient.eu/article/415/
Mark, J (2016). Anubis. http://www.ancient.eu/Anubis/
Miller, M. and Tube, K. (1993). An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. New York, New York: Thames & Hudson

{Guest Post} Michelle Lowery Combs (@miclowery77): Magic & Miracles: Genies vs. Golems


Lovers of fantasy may be familiar with the mythic golem of Jewish folklore. Examples of the clay figure, brought to life by Kabbalistic magic, have appeared in recent years as a Marvel Comics character, on television’s X-Files and Sleepy Hollow, and in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartemeaus children’s book series. When I began exploring the idea of a golem as antagonist for the second installment of my Genie Chronicles, Solomon’s Bell, I was captivated by the opposite yet compatible qualities of the folk figure in comparison to the series’ djinn, supernatural Arabian and later Islamic creatures of mythology and theology anglicized as genies.

According to the Quran, genies are born of a smokeless but scorching fire. They exist in their own realm, but can be called forth to interact with us. Like humans, they can be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent. In Western lore, they are shape-shifters, jokesters, and tricksters who will exploit any mistake made by a master if it means a chance at winning freedom. The genies I encountered in my earliest research resented their captivity and felt no love for their masters. There was nothing they wouldn’t do to be rid of them. Their tenacity at freeing themselves by any means necessary, I decided for my work, is what led to the “three wish” myth, and Genie Chronicles main character Virginia “Ginn” Lawson deduces that by the time a master has made three wishes, a genie has found a way to win his or her freedom to the detriment of the master. Ginn eagerly throws herself into the “be careful what you wish for” trope. Wish for a “ton of money” and boy are you gonna get it…right on top of your head!

From my point of view, golems, molded from cold clay and being—at least initially—devoid of emotion or motive, save fulfilling their masters’ commands, posed a sharp contrast. A golem was created to serve and did so blindly. Forget about free will: many of the golems in the oldest source materials I found weren’t thought to possess a soul and couldn’t even speak. (My thirteen year-old girl genie was going to have a field day!) It was the golem’s absolute devotion to fulfilling the will of its master that ultimately led to the golem’s destruction in many of the stories I explored while researching for Solomon’s Bell.

Perhaps the most famous of golem stories is the story of the Golem of Prague. Created from clay from the Vltava River by rituals and incantations performed by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, Prague’s golem was brought to life to defend the Jewish ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks. Versions of the story of the Golem of Prague end differently, but all of them badly with one event or another leading to the utter destruction of the golem, almost always because the golem is unable to exert even the smallest amount of free will or self-control.

As with genies, I discovered golem folklore crosses cultural lines. There are examples of djinn in many cultures; whether Anglo-Saxon fairies, sprites, and leprechauns, or Hebrew angels, each of these creatures share an origin story with genie mythology. Likewise with golems, the Gingerbread Boy and Frankenstein’s Monster are each a kind of “improvised” golem and share similar mythos. I had a lot of fun playing with the older versions of golems, weaving them into the backstory of my narrative’s Order of the Grimoire, and contrasting them to an evolved specimen: one Malory Clay, practically perfect in every way, a new girl in Virginia’s life who she refers to, when she’s feeling most generous, as Malibu Malory. In Malory Clay I found my antagonist and a catalyst for propelling Ginn into 16th Century Prague, where she hopes to discover, by learning the secrets of Prague’s golem, a way of defeating Malory and rescuing her unsuspecting family from the clutches of the Grimms.

The shared magic and miracles of genies and golems—creatures whose souls burn for freedom pitted against others formed from inanimate matter with souls in question—have made for fascinating research and have been a joy to write for Solomon’s Bell. I hope readers will find they make for a captivating story.

SOLOMON’S BELL

solomons-bell-cover
To save her family, Ginn uses her newfound genie powers to transport herself and her friends to 16th century Prague. Only one thing there remains the same as at home:  she can’t let anyone know what she really is.

The Emperor of Prague and those closest to him are obsessed with magic. In pursuit of it, they’ve waged war on the citizens of their city. In the citizens’ defense, someone has brought to life a golem, a dangerous being with connections to an artifact capable of summoning and commanding an entire army of genies. Can Ginn escape the notice of the Emperor as she attempts to discover a way to defeat Prague’s golem in time to save her family from a similar creature?

Solomon’s Bell is the sequel to Heir to the Lamp and the second book of the Genie Chronicles series.

***Praise for the GENIE CHRONICLES series***

“An exciting new spin on a genie tale. Virginia is a feisty main character who I would love to have as a friend. Captivating!” — Melissa Buell, author of the YA fantasy series, The Tales of Gymandrol

“Filled with magic, curses, and mystery … a spellbinding journey I couldn’t put down.” — Kelsey Ketch, author of Daughter of Isis

“Heir to the Lamp is Anne Rice meets Harry Potter: delicious writing, mysterious Southern Gothic, and an inventive, magical world for tweens, teens, and the young at heart.” —Susan Abel Sullivan, author of The Haunted Housewives of Allister, Alabama, Cursed: Wickedly Fun Stories, and The Weredog Whisperer

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | iBookstores

Book 1

heir-to-the-lamp-cover-art

About the Author

michelleMichelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and book blogger living in rural Alabama with her husband, one cat and too many children to count. She spends her spare time commanding armies of basketball and soccer munchkins for the Parks & Recreation departments of two cities. When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens and teens, Michelle can be found neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next best seller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, Jacksonville State University’s Writers’ Club and her local Aspiring Authors group. Check Michelle out at her website MichelleLoweryCombs.com.