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Book Review: Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt

Today I’m reviewing Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt by R.T. Rundle Clark. This book was suggested to me by this guy right here, and it doesn’t disappoint. You’ll see that there are tons of quotes in this review because there was just that much stuff in the book. There are lots of small, obscure bits of information you don’t see presented anywhere else, and at the very least, there are lots of topics for you to sit and wrap your brain around- it’s like a gift that keeps on giving!

Some examples of more obscure information would be:

  • Set killing Osiris in the form of a flea.
  • The myth about Osiris asking Ra if he can have Set’s lands and people that he oversees, Ra saying yes, Set’s nosebleed creating agriculture, and then when Osiris puts on Ra’s Atef crown, getting all sorts of head injury (yes, I’m serious).
  • Discussions about Osiris in his inert state- being protected by Nehaher, who eventually turns into apep when he won’t let Osiris go and move forward.

The little tidbits are very interesting, and part of why I like this book so much. I enjoy obscure information, or things that you don’t readily find in every book on ancient Egypt. Especially because it allows you to really contemplate how these lesser known concepts could affect your practice (such as Nehaher being a/pep- it really challenges you to reconsider what you know about a/pep).

I also like that the myths that he does recount within the book have explanations behind them. The author isn’t just telling you the stories and myths- he’s attempting to explain them, draw parallels between them and other aspects of AE culture, and provide context and meaning to them. It’s not something that a lot of authors do.

Despite the name, this book focuses almost solely on Osiris. I think a lot of people would benefit from reading this book for no other reason than  you can see just how many different myths, angles, and changes have occurred in the Osirian mythos. We always hear the clean cut, simplified version of Osiris and Set, about Aset and Nebhet’s search for him.. etc. But when you start to examine all of the variances in the myth that occurred in different nomes or eras- it becomes really apparent that nothing is very clear cut. So for anyone who wants a good primer into learning about Osiris or his mythos- this book is highly beneficial, and I recommend you pick it up.

If Osiris isn’t your cup of tea, this book may not serve you much. I mean, there is other information within the book, but a large portion of it (like.. 2/3s of the book) talks about Osiris.

Here are some interesting quotes I pulled from the book:

“Atum was unhappy in the Primeval Waters because he was, in the words of this text, ‘in a relaxed state, very weary and inert.’ This existence in the waters was painful; Atum was in travail until he could settle his limbs in a definite place. From the emerging deity’s point of view the waters are bad, they represent the conditions of helplessness and chaos which have to be transcended. On the other hand, they can be regarded as ‘pure’ and as ‘the waters of life’ for the soul who wishes to return to their state of negation. Immersion in them means going back to primeval innocence.”

“The pyramid texts have echoes of lost tales about teh gestation of Nut and how she freed herself violently from her mother’s womb. But the essential event connected with Geb and Nut is their separation.”

“The symbolism is based on a legend that originally earth and sky were together in total and sexual union. So, when the sky descends ritually upon the earth, Nut is impregnated by Geb. We are then told why the sky was lifted away from the earth. Shu, Nut’s father ‘so loved her’ that he separated her from her mate Geb and, as the air, held her aloft with his arms. Nut was then able to give birth to the stars and to ‘taken them up’- allow them to sail across her belly, the sky.”

“Osiris is immanent. He is the sufferer with all mortality but at hte same time he is all the power of revival and fertility in the world. He is the power of growth in plants and of reproduction in animals and human beings. He is both dead and the source of all living. Hence to become Osiris is to become on with the cosmic cycles of death and rebirth… In Egypt, Osiris absorbed the nature or attributes of many cyclic or fertility figures such as Anedjety of the Eastern Delta (whose insignia he borrowed), Sokar of Giza, the “Lord of the Westerners” at Abydos and others now forgotten.”

Osiris is nature itself or, to speak more accurately, nature as experienced by the farmers and stock-breeders of the Ancient Near East. During the summer heat the desolate condition of the world can be expressed as if either the spirit of life had departed, or was listless and asleep, or that life itself was dead. Any single metaphor would be insufficient to describe the dire calamity of the world. Similarly, the fate of Seth, the enemy, can be death, bonds or ignominious submissions he cannot be altogether annihilated, for he is a power that can be restrained or canalized, but not absolutely destroyed. Take away the pathos of the Osirian cycle, and the metaphors fall apart so that each can generate its own myth in narrative form. This is what happens in the myth of the contendings of Horus and Seth, int eh saga of the Two Brothers and the other popular tales, which deal with mythical motives as connected stories. They arose on the periphery of Osiris worship, far away from the deep emotions displayed in the genuine cult. Even the simple statement that sorrow is at an end in the Twin Sanctuaries declares that the joy at the salvation of Osiris is universal.

“Hence to become Osiris X is not to be identified with Osiris as he is usually represented, but to share in the god’s salvation and transformation into a ‘soul’. Death and the indignities of embalmment represented, for earthly bodies, the passion of the god. Seth is the death that strikes on down; his confederates are the demons of decay and dissolution. The completion of the rites and the establishment of the ordered ritual at the tomb are the ‘rescuing of the god’. The interim period btwn death and revival was one of great danger. Just as the pieces of Osiris’ body had been put together, and his corpse watched all through the night of his passion by his sisters Isis and Nephthys, so priestesses  personifying them play the role of mourners and protectors of his body from spirit enemies during the funerary rituals. They, in fact, are responsible for the safety of Osiris between his death and the coming of Horus. First they find the gods and then they put his body together and mourn him.”

The waters of the annual inundation came from the thigh of the god (Osiris). This.. is the reason why the thigh of Osiris was kept as a relic in several temples and why modern scholars have been so mystified by references to being ‘born upon the thigh’.

Now to the downsides of the book. I think it needs to be stated that this book was written in the 50’s, so you have to keep an open mind with some of the information he presents. He seems to have an undercurrent of monotheism that I didn’t care for, and he likes to talk about the “Mother Goddess”- as though there is some supreme mother goddess of AE that oversees things. It’s a bit clunky in those regards, but I was able to look past that for the information he presents.

I think my biggest beef with this book is his writing style. Sometimes, he would go on about a topic- and then jump to an entirely different topic without so much as a transition. In some cases, this isn’t such a big deal- but in other cases, it almost feels like he was in the middle of a large point when he decides to switch tracks. This can become confusing or frustrating when you’re trying to piece together larger concepts and ideas. I also don’t entirely understand his names for his chapters. They make no sense to me, nor do they seem to have much correlation to the text within the chapters. Most of the areas where he discusses Osiris, I think the information could have been categorized into something more linear and easier to follow, and that most of those chapters could have been mashed into one large chapter that dealt with nothing more than Osiris’ mythos.

However, if you can move beyond the writing style, the information in the book is totally worth it. I plan on reading this again in the future, so I can soak up more details about Osiris, as there isn’t a whole lot written about him in-depth elsewhere. If you’re looking to learn about O, I totally recommend picking this book up.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: Reflections of Osiris


I’ve just finished reading Reflections of Osiris: Lives from Ancient Egypt by John Ray. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book originally. I thought it could be dull or completely unhelpful to hear stories of people who had lived in AE. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the book. Ray writes a lot like Barbara Mertz and that makes the book more enjoyable for me- as the text isn’t so academic and dry.

The book opens with a general intro discussing how the book is to be laid out, chronology, names and all that. And by this point, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The book covers people throughout various periods of history in Egypt including:

  • Imhotep
  • Hekanakhte
  • Hapshepsut
  • Horemheb
  • Khaemwise
  • Petiese
  • Nectanebo II
  • Hor of Sebennytos and his friends (all in the Serapeum)

Now most of these stories I had already heard. We all know about Imhotep, the angry mummy who wants his woman back awesome guy who helped build the pyramids. And you can’t read anything without hearing about the ‘female king’ Hapshepsut. And I had even heard of Hekanakhte through Mertz and Petiese from Sauneron. And the people at the Serapeum are very well known (this relates to two twins who were slighted by their mother. In order to save themselves from starvation, they become part of the cult of Apis at the Serapeum).

However, despite knowing most of these stories and people- this book really does cast them in a different light. Most times, the history around these people is presented in a very cut and dry method. So and so did this, this, that, and that. And that’s it. However, Ray does a great job at making the stories more engaging, and bringing the characters to life. He also discusses these people in a more indirect way. He doesn’t just talk about the people- he discusses what is going on at the time in Egypt. He shows how the political events of the era could influence the people we are reading about. He puts the people in their time and place- and paints a much broader picture than most historians. And for me, these stories seemed more real; they had more depth to them. And in some ways, I understood a bit more about how things can be effected by the surrounding areas.

Here are a few interesting quotes I saw:

“This predecessor was Osiris, a god who can be thought of as the photographic negative of the sun god: a being who had ruled on earth, been put to death by the machinations of evil and disruptive forces, and who passed into a new life as the light below the earth, ruler and judge of the dead who are in the Underworld”

“On his death, the kind was known officially as Osiris the nesu, followed by the throne-name (given at coronation). The second name, the one written with the bee-hieroglyph (given at birth), ceases to exist. On earth, the king had a dual nature, corresponding to the emanation of the divine which was present within his temporal, human, dimension. The latter would grow old, infirm, and die. The former was immortal. Pharaoh was, literally, a god-king.”

“Amun, in upwardly mobile style, got rid of his first wife, a goddess named Wosret, who was the theological equivalent of the girl next door. Instead, he contracted an alliance with one of the most distinguished ladies in the land, the goddess Mut, the embodiment of motherhood. Like her husband, this goddess was somewhat bland in essence, and this made the pair ideal for usurping the roles of more defined, and therefore more limited, rivals. A less cynical school of thought holds that there was no divorce, and that Wosret and Mut are the same goddess going under different names, but if so, we are still dealing with an attempt to upgrade the original product.”

As you can tell by the quotes above, the writing style is approachable and easy to read. And in many cases, you feel like the author is being straight with you. He doesn’t have an agenda to push, or any theories he’s trying to prove. He’s just telling you how it is. I particularly liked the mention at the end of Nectanebo’s chapter- where he relays that the reason we don’t have the end of the story is because the young boy who was translating the story got bored, and decided to draw some weird doodle face instead.

If I had to give any critique to the book, it would be that I wanted to hear more about Osiris. I understand why the author chose the name that he did. And I know the book is more about the people than the god- but there was a chapter at the end about Asar, and it was severely lacking. I would really really really like to find a book that actually goes into the deity himself. The other thing that might be an issue for some is that the stories/people covered in this book are pretty well known. I have no clue if we have records of people who are more obscure- but it would be cool to see stories that are less well known.

However, I feel that the book is worth reading, and it offers a slightly different perspective than most. The book is more useful for historical references and ideas than for religious ones, but I still think there is interesting information in it.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: The Priests of Ancient Egypt


I managed to get a copy of The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron, and I finally got around to reading it. This book is considered a staple for Kemetics in many circles, and it doesn’t disappoint. This book goes far more in-depth into the priesthood of AE than almost any other book that I have read so far.

The book starts off discussing the generalized idea about what priests are and do. Sauneron shows us that while many people have an ideal about what priests were like (morally speaking) there were examples of priests who were less than savoury in their dealings. I would guess he does this to break any romanticism we have with the notion of being a priest. Priests were people just like us- and they were fallible as we are now.

Sauneron also discusses the basics of temple ritual, what a priest’s day might entail while in the temple. Most of this was not entirely new to me, but it was still interesting to read another perspective on it. After reading this, it really does validate a lot of what I’ve read in Reidy’s book. One confirms, in many ways, the other. He also goes into detail about different areas priests would have studied. He made a point to mention that each priest within the temple would have had a specialty. There was rarely a priest who knew EVERYTHING. Usually, you had someone who read stuff. Someone who oversaw just the offerings. Someone who spent their day making the linen and clothes for the icon. Someone who was there to deem if an animal was pure enough to be sacrificed to the god. Someone who knew the music that the god liked… etc. I think this is an important concept for modern Kemetics to consider, since it seems like we all have to know everything about everything in order to get somewhere. He also gave a generalized history of AE and how the priesthood could have played a role in it. It was interesting to see his ideas about how the Ramessides were trying to placate the priests of Amun while trying to promote their own god- Set. I’ve never seen anyone really discuss whether the 19th dynasty had problems with the temple of Amun or not. So the concept was interesting to consider.

I liked learning little facts that I’ve seen asked around the forums, yet never knew answers to. For example, Sauneron does mention that there was likely some type of initiation ritual for new priests. He says not a lot of information is known, but that something happened to transition them from outside to inside. In the case of higher priests appointed by the King, they would receive a ring and ceremonial staff, which I thought was interesting to know.

I also found out that there was mandatory ‘rules’ for animals that were butchered for the temple. Usually, related to markings (or lack thereof) – the beast had to be deemed pure in order for it to be served to the gods. I wonder how the Netjer feel about the types of meat we are serving them now 😛

Apparently each nome of Egypt kept some sort of master list relating to what grew there, the mythologies of the area, common offerings, and a whole slew of other things. I would love to get my hand of a whole lot of these. Imagine the things we could learn.

I also found out that in the typical inner sanctuary of the temple, there would be a kar shrine, the boat, and usually a table- and that offerings were left outside of the kar shrine, on the table. I had thought that perhaps the offerings went in the shrine itself, so it’s good to have this cleared up. I guess for most temples, the shrine was sealed up after the morning ritual, and wasn’t opened the rest of the day. Which I was unaware of as well. I also found out that for some temples, there were lesser and greater morning rituals. Every 5 days or so, there would be a more involved morning rite that involved the changing of the clothes for the god, etc. But that on the lesser days, just the four strips of linen were swapped out.

He also confirmed that Open statues had their joo-joo renewed once per year. I would guess through another Opening of the Mouth rite.

Overall, the book had some interesting stuff to it. I learned a few new things and it reinforced a lot of what I have already read. Here are a few excerpts from the book I placed in my FB feed:

A priest is any man who, through bodily purification, puts himself in the state of physical purity necessary to approach the holy place, or to touch any objects or dishes of food consecrated to the god.

Maat is the aspect of the world that the gods have chosen, it is the universal order as they established it from its basic constituent elements, such as the course of the starts and the succession of days, down to the humblest of its manifestations” the harmony of the living, their religious piety; it is the cosmic balance, and the regular recurrence of the seasonal phenomena; it is also the respect for the earthly order set up by the gods – truth, and justice.

The Egyptians distinguished in the sky, beyond the sun and the moon, the stars which never rest- our planets: Mercury, Venus (the star of the evening and the morning), Mars (the red Horus), Jupiter (the glittering star), and Saturn (Horus the bull).

I think the biggest complaint I have about this book is that he cites late sources a lot. It seems like the majority of his information comes from Greek writers. While I know that it’s possible that this was his only major resource to pull from, I would certainly enjoy to hear more about priests from the Egyptians themselves- not outsiders who came to Egypt at the very end of her life.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the priesthood of Egypt, and whoever might be interested in creating a priestly role for themselves (or taking on such a role) in the modern era. I think by looking back at how the ancients did it, it can create a lot of ideas about how we can approach the concept today, and translate it into something that works in this time and place. I also feel this book does a good job at clearing up some of the misconceptions one might have about what bring a priest in AE was about.

See this book review over on Pagan Book Review!

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Creating with Words

I had another therapy session this past weekend. I feel like things are finally coming into place.

We discussed the source of my anger in this session, along with how my anger influences my speech, which in turn will influence my life. I talked to her about when my anger really started and in some ways how I have yet to completely come to terms with it (though it has gotten better). The lay offs of my past, the money that was lost, the foundations that slipped and the eventual move in to my parents all laid the ground work for my situation now. Of course, what really was the problem was my attitude towards things. As I told her about the trials of this era in my life, she noted that I used a lot of negative words. Words like hate, frustrating, irritating, crap, etc. She told me that these words, and my constant use of these words, creates a never ending problem for me.

She explained it to me that the universe gives us what we think about most. It doesn’t know whether we love or hate these things. It merely gives us more of what we focus on. I consider this to be like poles on a magnet. I don’t know which pole is which, I just know that the magnets attract together. So every time I use words like hate, dislike, frustrating- I bring more hatred, more dislike and more frustration into my life. Of course, I don’t have to verbally say these words to enact that- merely thinking this way causes the attraction. And thus the cycle repeats.

My phrase for this week is:

I am careful with my choice in words because it creates my reality.

This whole concept should really be a no brainer for me. Kemeticism and Shintoism both promote words and the pronunciation of words as being divine. Words are not to be taken lightly, and the words that we use can manifest into our lives (aka heka). So why I haven’t tried to nip this in the bud earlier is beyond me. When I was telling her about how Kemeticism and Shinto both state that words are divine and magical, she looked me in the eye and told me that words have souls. Recently, I remember seeing a question for Tamara on HoN, asking if words or glyphs had netjeri in them. I believe her answer was more or less a ‘yes’. So once again, more reasons to watch my words. Plus, the things that we say on the internet are ever more important- because this is all people have to judge us on. You can’t see me, read my face or my body language. All you have are my words. And my words need to be clear if you are to understand what I’m trying to get across. Words are more important than we give them credit for.

In order to fix this, she asked me to do two things:

  1. Any time that I have a negative feeling or thought about anyone or anything, I am to write it down into a journal.
  2. I am to write 10 things every day that I am grateful for.

In order to help repattern my brain, I need to look at all of the negativity I bring to myself daily. I need to examine it and see why I’m thinking this way, and then learn to accept the things I can’t change, or work towards solutions to things that I can. The 10 items of gratefulness are to help bring more positive into my life.

I am also to start looking into how gratefulness plays into Shinto and Kemetic practice. I will evaluate it and see how I can apply it to my life. Much like how I did with unconditional love.

The hypnosis for this week involved looking into my past lives to help figure out why I’m here. She told me that some part of me can’t understand why I’m here. That things are different, or aren’t quite the same as in the past, and I’m having difficulties grasping what it is I am here to do, etc. In the meditation, she had me go into a hall of records. Mine was a round room. Almost like a tall dome. Around the outer walls were tons of files. There were files up to the ceiling. In the center of the room, there was a big round pillar. There is also a circular countertop or table top that runs through the pillar. This table had even more files and books on it. The hypnosis had me go and gather files that I might need. I ran around and grabbed a whole bunch of them from various areas. I then held these to my chest, and a light came forth. I more or less stood there in the light until my brain told me to get up and return to being awake.

I seem to like to spew light from my chest.

I guess these things are supposed to help calm me down on a subconscious level. To help me figure out the missing pieces. I have no clue if it’s done much for me yet. I think she wants me to go back in there to dig for a specific book, though I don’t know that doing so does much. She told me the book that comes to mind for her. I can picture it, but I can’t really open it, or read it’s contents. The room I visited in the hypnosis I have seen and visited before.

So that was my session. I went and bought two books to write my stuff down in. A larger grey book for my anger, and a small little yellow book for my gratefulness. The anger book I may eventually destroy once it is full thereby releasing the anger. Almost like an execration rite. The yellow book I’ll keep, more than likely.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Astral, Crack, Hypnosis & Inner Work

 

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Book Review: Abydos

Today I will be reviewing the book “Abydos: Egypt’s First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris” written by David O’Connor which can be found here.

If you have any interest in Abydos or early Egyptian tombs/structures, this would be a good book for you. The information is well written and seems to be pretty bias free. The author is very good at stating what we know, what we don’t know, and his thoughts on what might have happened. He doesn’t present his theories as truths- which is something a lot of authors have a problem with. For this reason alone, I would recommend this book. However, there is a lot of useful information in general. I learned quite a bit about Abydos- it’s structures, it’s history. The only thing I would have liked to have learned more about is Osiris- his cult and how his cult interacted with Khentiamentiu. However, there is still a fair amount of information regarding Osiris’ cult and his temple (I just want to know MOAR).

He goes in depth about the history of Abydos- from dynasty 0 all the way to the Late Period. He discusses various building projects there, talks about the layout and designs of many of the temples, the anomalies of some of the structures and what we can learn from them. Considering that Abydos is usually only mentioned as being “Osiris’ city” or the place where Seti built that big temple with the kings list- it’s nice to see a more in depth approach. Of course, as O’Connor mentions in his book- you find some answers, only to come up with more questions. I, too, have more questions for having read this book, but I have more answers too.

A particular quote that I liked:

 The vast cemetery field comprising the Middle and North cemeteries and Umm el Qa’ab was personified as Hapetnebes, “Shoe who hides her lord”, a term peculiar to Abydos. The endless, open desert plain of Abydos was imagined to be a goddess, generated by & embodied in the landscape itself. “She who hides her lord” was complex in meaning. At one level, this goddess as landscape literally hid and thus protected Osiris himself- buried at Umm el Qa’ab – as well as his countless followers, eash one also an Osiris entombed in the Abydene cemeteries. But Hapetnebes was also a more positive force in that Osiris, buried within her, experienced revitalization or rebirth every year. In this perspective, “She who hides her lord’ is virtually lanscape conceited of as a mother goddess, in whose womb lies the potential for and actualization of life. She thus relates to the subtle interplay of meaning btwn desert and floodplain in the prototypical Egyptian landscape. The desert, seemingly dead, generates life for Osiris and deceased Egyptians; and thus relates to those more obvious manifestations of vitatlity and reproduction, the inundation and consequent vegetation, both seen as manifestations of Osiris’ capacity to regenerate.

He also discussed a bit about what we modernly call the Mysteries of Osiris. As I mentioned in on of my last posts, it was common for the Mysteries to involve a procession that started at Osiris’ temple and worked towards Umm el Qa’ab- what was believed to be Osiris’ tomb. During the procession, agents of Set would try to stop these people by attacking them. Of course, Osiris’ “team” would win, and they’d make their way to the tomb where rituals were more than likely done. This was also an interesting tidbit to learn.

I think for me, besides the two nuggets above, the biggest help this book served for me was to learn about early dynastic pharaohs. Most authors completely skip over early and pre-dynastic Egypt. More or less saying that they were there, stopping to look at Menes, Scorpion King, Narmer Pallete… and then moving on. If you’re lucky, you might see “Naqada” listed. However, O’Connor does go pretty deep into early dynastic goings on in Abydos (at least in regards to the structures there). So I feel like I’ve had a huge history gap somewhat filled. I know that this comes with the territory- Abydos housing tombs for early kings and all, but it was still nice.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It’s well written. Has good info. And if you’re into Osiris or Abydos in general- it helps to give a more complete picture of both. The author is respectful of his subject matter, and I think he approaches the topics that he discusses really really well. So go read it!

See this review on Pagan Book Review!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: Following the Sun

Originally posted on LJ on Jan 10, 2011

Today I’ll be reviewing “Following the Sun: A Practical Guide to Egyptian Religion” by Sharon Laborde. I wanted to start off this review by noting that I have a bit of a bias about this author (not so much the book itself), as I talk with her on various Kemetic forums. Please keep this in mind while reading this review.

This book has received a lot of fire from the Kemetic community. Perhaps I should rephrase that- the author of this book has received a lot of fire. Not in relation to the book, but in relation to her anti-KO stance. So needless to say, I was interested to see what this book was about, and if it would meet my expectations.

In short, the answer is no. This book disappointed me on many levels, though I can’t say that it was unexpected. There were many things that irritated me about this book, though a few things stick out in particular. Those being- the author’s sourcing, the author’s tone/writing style, and the actual content of the book.

My biggest complaint about this book is the sourcing (or lack thereof). For me, if you’re not an actual Egyptologist, you have better have damned good sourcing. Otherwise, your work means nothing. There are many tidbits in this book that I have never seen before. Many little facts that I have never read about before. And while this is normally good- because the author neglects to source much of anything, I can’t trust anything that is written. So to me, the lack of sourcing make the book totally useless. I can’t vouch for the validity of much of anything in this book because the sourcing sucks.

My second issue with this book is the author’s tonation while writing. I assume that she wanted to be considered “jovial” or easy to approach. However, it just makes the author appear dumbed down, or that the author feels that you the reader are dumb. It was so frustrating. Along with her tone, I didn’t like that she made it sound like Kemeticism IS this or IS that. There is no room for grey. No wiggle room. Nothing irritates me more than a black and white book that speaks as though it is god and knows all. Ugh. She is quick to call certain theories “zany” or outlandish. She is very harsh towards ideas that are not of her own. Along the lines of harsh content, both her Intro and Conclusion had “stories” in them that made reference to people who misunderstood Kemeticism. That’s fine, but the way she relates these stories to the reader is more of a “I met this person, and they said something stupid in relation to Kemeticism. And now that you’ve read my book, you won’t be as stupid as they were!” What if the people she referenced happened to read her book and they saw her caustic remarks? I would feel aweful about that on so many levels. It’s really saddening.

And finally, I didn’t like the content of the book. I felt that the content wasn’t well researched at all. And you can definitely see the biases of the author through the content (i.e. a total slap to anything remotely KO in nature, or her constant references to the 18th dynasty- a dynasty that she is totally into). The biases would slowly eat at me, and annoy me. To me, an author should promote an unbiased and well researched book. And this book is neither.

All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this book. To anyone. Especially not to a beginner- which is ironic, because that is who the book is aimed toward. If someone were to read this book, and not know anything about Kemeticism, they would have their asses handed to them online (which I’ve seen happen to a certain user who seems to only know about Kemeticism through this book). Plus, because the sourcing is horrible, I am afraid that some of the facts or scenarios laid out in this book are incorrect, thereby causing problems for the newb who stumbles their way online.

I feel sad that this review is so negative, but I honestly can’t think of anything that I really liked about this book. As I said above, I wouldn’t recommend it.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook

Originally posted on LJ on Jan 3, 2011

Today I’m reviewing “The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook” by Tamara Siuda.

See a revised version of this book review over at Pagan Book Reviews.

So I finally read it- the book to end all books when it comes to KO. I finally read the Prayerbook. And I must say that I don’t see what the big deal is. The book is easy to read (took me less than a day), and covers a decent amount, but I don’t really get what makes it so exciting. Before I get into the bulk of this, I’d like to add that I have a bias- I don’t like reading prayers and hymns. They are alright if you’re using them to learn about a god, or a ritual, but on a whole, I don’t really get a lot out of reading prayers/hymns- esp. when they are translated from another language. I personally feel that if I want something from a god, I’m going to ask in my own words, not take a prayer/hymn written thousands of years ago. So that is my bias. Keep that in mind while reading.

The thing I liked most about the Prayerbook was the listing of gods- and some of their basic attributes. There are some things that she mentions in the Prayerbook that helps me to understand various references while on KO, and there are a couple of interesting facts/tidbits that I was unaware about that were nice to learn. In fact, I wish this section were longer, and more inclusive, so that I could learn more. This was the most helpful section for me.

What I don’t care for in the gods section is the hymns/litanies/etc. that followed each entry. It felt to me that these excerpts were exactly that- excerpts, and that there was a bigger something that was missing. I would have rather read the whole hymn/litany/etc or not at all. Not just three or four lines out of it. So for me, there was a disconnect.

On a whole, the book is okay. I personally don’t care for it, but it is interesting to see what everyone is referencing. I personally don’t like that the book is insufficient as a Kemeticism 101 book, and as a prayerbook. I wanted something closer to Eternal Egypt where things are cited more thoroughly and explained better. I hate that about reading most hymns/inscriptions from AE- no one takes the time to explain the symbolism. And if you don’t understand that, then the whole point gets lost, IMO. Because of a lack of this added information, I really didn’t feel the book was of any use to me personally. And sadly for me, reading this book made me disconnect a bit more from KO, because it shows that at it’s core- me and KO don’t line up. Her view of the gods doesn’t sit well with me. To see this was disappointing, but it was worth reading just to learn how she more or less intended things to be set up- not to hear it five different ways from five different shemsu.

I would recommend reading the book if you want to get a better basis for KO, but otherwise, I don’t feel the book has much to offer a recon/private Kemetic, unless you’re interested in the gods section.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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