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.

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

Isis (Aset)—Goddess and Queen of Egypt


Now a days, when we hear the name Isis, we automatically think of terrorism and destruction. This is mostly thanks to the media continually using it to refer to a group known for these attributes, which has actually switched between many different acronyms in short periods of time. However, the name Isis once was revered, not feared, and still is by certain people who understand its true origin.

Isis is the ancient Greek name meaning ‘the throne,’ and is commonly used to refer to the Egyptian goddess, Aset, one of the oldest goddesses of ancient Egypt. She was a mother goddess as well as the goddess of magic. Her back story takes on many different twists, but the most widely known as being the oldest daughter of Nut, the sky goddess, and Geb, god of earth.

She and her husband, Osiris, traveled Egypt teaching the people new methods of agriculture, which later earned them their titles of King and Queen of Egypt. Unfortunately, their happiness and bliss didn’t last long. Envious of his brother’s success, Set, the god of chaos, killed Osiris to gain his power. He then took his brother’s body, cut it into fourteen pieces, and scattered the remains across Egypt, which disabled Osiris from entering the afterlife.

In response, Isis and her sister, Nephthys, searched the lands and collected thirteen of the fourteen pieces—Osiris’s penis being lost to the fish of the Nile—and bandaged him in wrappings. Using clay to form the final piece and her magic, she revived her husband, who was able to pass into the afterlife in peace. Meanwhile, now Osiris’s widowed wife, Isis gave birth to their son, Horus, and raised him in the Delta of the Nile, away from his uncle Set’s eyes, until he came of age to take his rightful place on the throne of Egypt.

Her loyalty to her murdered husband and infant child, her courage in defying Set, and her compassion towards all people made Isis one of the most beloved goddesses in Egypt. She was considered the paragon of motherly virtues, and her image with the infant Horus is seen throughout much of Egyptian art and religion—much like Mary and the infant Jesus in Christianity.

Her priestesses were skilled healers, midwives, and sorceresses. It was even rumored they could control the weather by braiding or combing their hair. The Tjet (known as the “Knot of Isis”) amulet her priestesses wore was thought to represent the magical power of a knot or braid. Because of this, it was often used in the funerary rites, potentially linked with the ideas of resurrection and rebirth.

There are many more wonderful myths and knowledge about the goddess Isis, how she obtained her powers, and the sacrifices she had made to mankind. As well as some debate that, though she is mostly known to be a goddess, she was once a mortal woman who ruled over Egypt. Real or not, this is the woman’s name should be honored rather than stained. And it’s her bravery and compassion that sparked my series, the Descendants of Isis, to life.

Sources:

  • Fassone, A. and Ferraris, E. (2008) Dictionaries of Civilization: Egypt. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
  • Faulkner, R.O. (2010) Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. New York, New York: Fall River Press.
  • 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.
  • Strudwick, H. (2013). The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. New York, New York: Metro Books.
  • Wilkinson, P. (2009). Myths & Legends: An illustrated Guide to Their Origins and Meanings. New York, New York: Metro Books

Ancient Egyptian Names


Have you ever considered your name? What does it mean as a whole? What does it represent? In ancient Egypt, names were vital to a person’s life and afterlife. One of the five elements of man. It defined with a single expression their personality, their essence, and in some cases, their power.

Because of this, names of ancient Egypt were chosen carefully. The word(s) themselves often represented an individual’s personality, their devotion to a particular god or location, or reflected the times in which they lived; usually as a simple noun or statement. Some examples include Neferet (beautiful woman), User (strong), and Hatshepsut (foremost of noble ladies). The pharaohs, on the other hand, where given/took on more complex names. Ramesses II (aka Ramesses the Great) was given the name Ra-messes Mery-Amun or “born of Re, beloved of Amun” at birth, and the throne name he took on was User-Maat-Re Setep-en-Re or “the justice/truth of Re is powerful, Chosen by Re.”

But each person carried a second name as well. A secret name that was given at birth by the goddess, Renenutet, a cobra-formed goddess. This name was never disclosed, and for good reason. To know one’s secret name was to have power over the person or thing.

Take the myth of Isis and the Secret Name of Ra for example. Isis crafted a magical serpent out of dust and Ra’s spittle to gain knowledge of his secret name. Her true purpose depends on which myth you read. Personally, I prefer to acknowledge the myth where it was to save Osiris in the afterlife, but others claim it was to save the world from Ra’s wrath. To do this, she placed the serpent in the sun god’s path, which later that day bit him. Though a powerful healer, because the serpent was made from Ra’s spittle, he was unable to cure himself of the poison. Therefore, he called upon Isis, a great healer herself, to withdraw the poison for him. However, this would come at a price. In order to heal Ra, Isis needed to know his secret name. At first, Ra refused, but after the pain became unbearable, he finally entrusted her with the name, granting her the power over the sun god.

This was an important aspect in writing the Descendants of Isis series. Not only was finding Ra’s secret name the core of the novels, much of the first book Seth attempts to draw power from Natti’s name in order to control her. Much like he controlled the majority of Setemple High. Fortunately for Natti, she was blessed with the ability to see through his spells and resist.

Which leads me to the giveaway portion of the post. That’s right, a giveaway! All this talk about secret names, I created a little game. To participate in the giveaway, you must first find your secret name (below) and post it in the comments. *Mine is Akher-Akh (The Fallen Transfigured Spirit)*

what is your secret name.pptx

Once you have posted your secret name in the comments, you can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here. The prize: an Anubis Amulet I brought back from my adventure through the Mummy Returns in Universal (Orlando, Florida). The giveaway is open INT and will close May 15th at 12:00AM.

Sources:

  • Fassone, A. and Ferraris, E. (2008) Dictionaries of Civilization: Egypt. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
  • 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.
  • Strudwick, H. (2013). The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. New York, New York: Metro Books.

Ketch’s Sketches: Bleeding Out (The Broken Heart Series #1)


Bleeding Out

Sometimes you can’t see how much pain somebody feels. This is a first of a series of sketches: the biological, the symbolic, and the mechanical. A heart battered, broken, and bruised by a series of events that occurred last summer. When shedding tears wasn’t enough, I poured everything I was feeling into my novels and sketches while listening to Imagine Dragons, particularly their song Bleeding Out.

Fortunately, my heart has been on the mend as I’ve taken slow steps to rediscovering my path. And though I can still feel the open wounds, I refuse to close my heart. Love is out there, and love will heal my heart.