egyptian writing

14 year old me writing fanfics: i’m gonna make an original character for this series. she’s gonna be latina like me. because fuck you, that’s why.

15 year old me writing with friends: alright i see your white characters, this is mine. she’s latina and black. and probably gay. 

17 years old me shopping in a bookstore: why are all fantasy books about white medieval europe??? I’m going to write my own fantasy novel and it’ll be set in ancient egypt and everybody will be brown. and gay.

20 year old me, still writing the egyptian novel: fuck every piece of whitewashed egyptian fiction ever. i’m gonna make my characters ever darker and gayer. because fuck heteronormativity.

22 year old me: why CAN’T I make my character gay in this comic. He’s gonna be gay. and my co-author informs me he’s also latino. 

26 year old me talking with my coauthor: alright the heroes for this space adventure are gonna be girls. are they brown. and gay. oh cool, they are. 

30 year old me working at the same bookstore: why are all the books for little girls pink and glittery?? I’m gonna make my own series of books for little girls with no pink and no glitter and no princesses and they’ll also gonna be brown! now i won’t write about any kind of romance, but i still headcanon at least two of them as gay. the latina one is gay.

32 year old me telling my editor about the sequel of the egyptian novel: there’s gonna be even more women in the story. they’re all gonna be brown. and probably all gay, too. 

A Prayer to Bast

Bast, Lady of the East,
I give you praise!

You walk with me in the sunlight,
You guide me through the shadows,
And I am blessed.

Lady of Ointments, Lady of Perfumes, Lady of the Flame,
I make offerings to you!

I light candles in your name,
I offer sweet smelling incense to you,
That you may be pleased with me.

Eye of Ra, Devourer, Avenger, Protector,
Watch over me!

May I be protected from harm,
and may I live in good health,
and may my path provide abundance.

Lady of Cats, Lioness, Invisible Paw,
I delight in your emissaries!

Unseen, they surround me,
They walk beside me and guide my steps,
They share my home and hearth.

You call me to serve you,
and willingly I respond.
My goddess, my patroness - Dua Bast!

Ancient Egyptian works to be published together in English for first time

Ancient Egyptian texts written on rock faces and papyri are being brought together for the general reader for the first time after a Cambridge academic translated the hieroglyphic writings into modern English.

Until now few people beyond specialists have been able to read the texts, many of them inaccessible within tombs. While ancient Greek and Roman texts are widely accessible in modern editions, those from ancient Egypt have been largely overlooked, and the civilisation is most famous for its monuments.

The Great Pyramid and sphinx at Giza, the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel have shaped our image of the monumental pharaonic culture and its mysterious god-kings.

Toby Wilkinson said he had decided to begin work on the anthology because there was a missing dimension in how ancient Egypt was viewed: “The life of the mind, as expressed in the written word.” Read more.

Heaven

When I die, I don’t know what will happen.
Nobody really does, but I don’t especially,
I don’t know whether I shall hear St. Peter’s voice,
or if,
when it ends for me, it really will end,
and everything that was me shall fade.

In my head, I picture
a hodgepodge heaven,
pissed off atheists complaining for being wrong,
unpleasant in their dour tones,
and pleasantly surprised agnostics, like myself,
happy to be wrong, but feeling like those years
of self-doubt were pointless all the same.

At the corners, the Egyptians and nordic tribes
huddle confusedly in clumps, their own gods
sitting at a great table, discussing whether the world
will return to the seas of chaos, or whether the great wolf,
Fenrir, shall break lose his bonds, and a great debate ensues
as to whether the earth shall end in fire and water.

Absent, notably, is the Christian God,
who has taken this time to rest,
as he has, since the seventh day,
he takes some calls from freaked out sects,
who are unhappy about the overpopulation
of their heaven.

Their heaven,
as if they had any right to it,
as if they could decide the borders
of the boundless bountiful land,
as if they could issue visas for entry
with little passports marked with crosses,
and golden gates, and halos.

Statue of Thoth, ancient Egyptian deity of writing and knowledge, in the form of a baboon, holding an udjat-eye (aka the Eye of Horus).  Made of faience with a light green glaze.  Artist unknown; Late Period (664-332 BCE).  Now in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.  Photo credit: Walters Art Museum.

Of all the Olympian gods, Hermes had the most interesting post-Hellenic career. While other immortals were slowly relegated to the worlds of art, literature, and civic sculpture, Hermes was reinvented, given an expanded persona with its own genealogy, accomplishments, and historical reality.  All this happened because in the fifth century BCE Herodotus identified Hermes, the Greek messenger of the gods, with Thoth, the Egyptian scribe god of writing. Gradually the two gods adhered to each other. The identification became official in 196 BCE when the priests of Rosetta decreed that Thoth and Hermes were one and the same. After that, distinctions between Thoth, Hermes, and Mercury (the Roman version of Hermes) blurred, and the names Hermes and Thoth melded together to produce a new and amazing figure: Hermes Trismegistus whose literary output was to figure not only in Hellenistic philosophy and religion but also in medieval alchemy, magic, and astrology.
—  Nancy Hathaway, The Friendly Guide to Mythology
The Names of Thoth

When written in hieroglyphs, Thoth’s name is the figure of an ibis. The direct translation of this seems to be Dhwtj, or Dhwty. The Egyptians did not write vowels so translators have to guess. Inserting the conventionally accepted vowels gives Djehuti. A few explanations for this name have been made but none are entirely satisfactory. It could mean ‘he from Dhwt’, or Djehut, but there is no reference to a place of this name.
Another suggestion is that dhw is the oldest name of the ibis and Dhwtj means ‘he who has the name of an ibis’. Given the Egyptians fondness for puns and word play it may have derived from hwwtj, meaning ‘messenger’, from his role as the messenger of Ra.
Cryptic names were also used by the Egyptians. These relied on puns and allusions rather than a direct reference to the one being named. One suggestion is that the name Djehuti may derive from ‘the crusher’ referring to his role in defeating the enemies of Ra. The fact is we can never know. Thoth’s name might be so old that even the priests of the Old Kingdom would not have known its true origin.
The use of Tehuti, or Tahuti, rather than Djehuti appears to be solely the result of varying styles of translation at different time periods.
[…]

Greek Interpretations

The Greeks frequently took an arrogant and condescending attitude to foreign names and on many occasions their interpretations bear little resemblance to the original name.
This seems to be true for the name Djehuti, which they translated as Thoth. The Romans also adopted this style and variations used are Theuth, Thoyt, Thot and Thaut. We can only assume that this came about through a mishearing, misinterpretation or contraction of the name Djehuti. Boylan suggests that the name was pronounced De-howti or Te-howti.
If the ‘t’ or ‘d’ was pronounced as ‘th’ it is possible to see Thoth as a contraction of the name. Such speculation is of limited use as we will never know how the Egyptians pronounced this or any other word. We tend to follow the Greek and Roman authors and so most of the Egyptian deities are known to us by their classical names. Over time academic interpretations change and the spelling of the Egyptian names can vary depending on the period that the translated source document is from, such as the use of Re rather than Ra.  Some are consistent in their spelling and Thoth is one.
The Greeks associated Thoth with their god Hermes and often called him Hermes Trismegistus, three times great, taking one of Thoth’s epithets. The Romans equated him with Mercury and also gave him the epithet Ter Maximus.
[…]
Despite all that is said about the importance of names and ensuring the correct pronunciation, it probably doesn’t matter what name we use. Mispronouncing or using the incorrect name of your deity is not viewed as a sin. They always know who calls them.
—  Quoted from: Thoth: The history of the Ancient-Egyptian God of Wisdom, by Lesley Jackson (2011)

– posted especially for @skadisman & @volvano