Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well what does one blog about as one turns 50? From what I am hearing this is when the fun begins and I must agree. I was surprised by my husband, family and friends this weekend with a surprise 50th birthday party. I wanted to share here the funniest gift I received from my friend Lisa who also lives here in Watertown. She created the “Julie nativity scene”. It made me laugh so hard I nearly lost bladder control. You will note the tiny photo of grown up Julie pasted over the baby face and all the wise men and and other figures have witch hats, (not 3 dimensional witch hats but flat cut out witch hats)LOL! The gifts from the "magi" are labradorite and kianite also notable is my actual birth chart being held by a wise man with the most hilarious look on his face. There is a Bast among the wise men and golden goddesses and stone cats arranged around the manger, in the ivy surrounding the display you see hidden MAAT Tarot and Ancestral Path boxes. There is also various MAAT cards spread under foot if anyone wants to take a stab at reading the cards for me. I just wanted to share this so everyone could laugh along. Anyone interested in giving the gift of nativity can write to me and I will forward your interest to Lisa who may have just started something.
Be sure to click on the picture for a closer look!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Egypt November 2007-what I learned

As Mercury goes direct today I woke up with a “download” of memories and the ability to finally put my Egypt experience into words. As I close in on the year anniversary of my first trip to Egypt I am finally able to synthesis and realize what I got from this trip.

The Tigris and Euphrates may be considered the cradle of civilization but I feel the Nile Valley is truly the source of all Western Cultures’ religions. This was never so apparent to me as it was in Egypt.

The first thing a person notices in Egypt is the sun. Even in November the sun is high and prominent, you can feel its heat and it is bright and golden. There is a sense of geometry and perfect direction in Egypt. The great river is a huge feature through out Egypt running predominantly south to north dividing the land into eastern and western parts. The great sun’s path runs east to west and crosses the great river at midday. Giving greater practical meaning to the symbolism inherent in the structure of the Great Pyramids at Giza. This element is punctuated by the Moslem call to prayers at dawn, noon and sunset. This practice gave me a sense of the unity of their community but also hinted at some other more ancient time when the stations of the sun god were venerated. Suddenly I was struck with the importance of the conjunction of the path of the sun in the sky with the intersecting river on earth. This relationship between sun and river was just like the action of warp and weft offering clues inherent the ancient shuttle of the goddess Neith and Egypt’s connection to the use of “as above and so below”. It was the sun and the river that brought life and abundance to Egypt.

One of the earliest known religious practices of Egypt involved the rising of the star Sirius. On my trip we visited the Temple of Isis at Philae the southern most temple in Egypt, here you can see a large viewing plaza were the rising of the star could have been viewed. It was at Philae where the highest points of the annual flood were measured by the elite priesthood to help pharaoh predict what the annual harvest would be. Because Egypt only gets about one half inch of rain each year it is dependant on the Nile for all of its water drinking as well as agricultural. Without water from the annual flood of the Nile Egypt would be a desert. The annual flooding occurred every year when the star Sirius merged with the sun. Coincidently this all happens during the month when the full moon is in Aquarius. The hieroglyph for the Nile and the symbol used in the sign of Aquarius is so similar. Even today we still talk about the “Dog days of Summer”. In ancient times it was thought that the sun grew hotter when the large star merged with the sun. Sirius or Sothis “dogs” the constellation of Orion. Orion is a prominent constellation known for his belt of three stars. (These three stars have been linked to the three pyramids at Giza. Again there is a sense of “as above so below” here.)

Orion also disappears during the summer months this is the time of the year when he is thought to be murdered by his brother similar to the Cain and Able story in Christianity and Judaism. After his death Osiris is then personified by the grain as it rises out of the mud left as the floodwater recedes, thought as being resurrected by the magic of Isis. The star Sirius was sometimes thought of as the tear of Isis and when her tear disappeared from the sky it flooded the Nile. Orion was associated with Osiris god of the grain, the sun at midnight and the judge of the dead. Osiris was died annually killed by his jealous brother the personification of the desert. These Osirian Mysteries were similar to the Dionysian Mysteries in which the gods were dismembered, symbolism of bread (Osiris) and wine (Dionysis) rites have their origins in these very similar rituals. I knew about the similarities between these two gods before my trip to Egypt. It was the connection to Sekhmet that I saw that was new to me.

While sitting at Philae author Normandi Ellis told the story of Sekhmet. This was the story about when Sekhmet was sent out by her father Ra to avenge his honor. Her killing spree was so intense that all the gods thought she would wipe mankind off the face of the earth so Thoth was sent out in the form of a baboon to try to stop her. His trick was to replace the blood she was devouring with wine (or in some versions of the story ochre colored beer) She drank the alcohol went to sleep and became dossal. I think what I was struck with was the whole blood changing into wine (beer) verses the modern wine turning to blood of modern Christianity. I always felt there was a female connection to the idea of the “body and blood” being connected to woman’s menstrual cycles some how. Here we also see that the domesticated Sekhmet turns into Hathor and becomes the wife of Horus savior god and son of Isis and Osiris. So to sum it up the revelries and drunken parties would serve to subdue the angry vengeful blood soaked Sekhmet into the lactating, gestating dossal Cow goddess Hathor. Symbolically and in the progression of general life cycle of the female I can see how this connection could be made by male observers. I still hold to the personal idea that women once ran these blood rites and rituals for themselves in secret without the judgment of men. The ancient Moon Lodge of western culture that has no written record but can only be mythologized and speculated about.

At Elephantine my roommate Gina and I opted not to visit the temple of the Ram headed Khnum. The idea of a male moon god insulted our sensibilities. The agenda for the group was to participate in a ritual where Khnum would remake us on his potter’s wheel. We found this out when people came back and decided Gina had given me a “makeover” on the train the night before and that seemed to cover it. (Gina being a makeup artist for Chanel by trade.) Fellow traveler Tammy got a lot from her experience at Elephantine felt a big connection with Moses in the rushes and the stories of Isis and Horus.

Upon returning to the US and connecting with the book “ The Jesus Papers” by Michael Baigent who spoke about the Hebrew settlement that had once been there. Baigent writes that Mary and Joseph may have settled there to raise the young Jesus. On Elephantine the synagogue and the Temple of Khnum are right next to each other. Stories and cultures commingle like kids at summer camp.

I could see this settlement has Old Testament connections to the making of Adam from clay or dust. This island of Elephantine seems to hold a key to the male creation mythos. And it just happens to be not too far down stream from the Isis temple. It is not too hard to see how male creation stories evolved. Rejected from the blood mysteries…and somewhere not too far away. Khnum like Khepera begins his creation story; Khnum is lonely and masturbates into the dust from there a great mound of land appears creates all the gods on his potters wheel and there you have it. It is interesting because the consequence of no rain in Egypt makes it a very dusty place, piles of fine dirt or dust piles up on street corners and cars like a Midwest snowfall. Making it abundant for all kinds of creative uses.

My biggest personal connection was with Luxor ancient Thebes. This is the part of Egypt where the river changes course and creates a bow in the river returning to its northward course at Dendera. At the beginning of the bow is Luxor on the east bank is Karnak and Luxor temples they are connected by an avenue of sphinxes.

During the inundation those avenues would fill with water and the barque or barge or sacred ark of Min would go down this avenue. The statue would go from one temple to the next and during Hatshepsut’s time revelries would be held all night at the her mortuary temple the statue of the god Min would be allowed to visit with the statue of Hathor the revelers would drink until dawn and when the sun would rise their torches would be dowsed in buckets of milk. Then the god would be returned to his own temple. I was also amazed to find that there is a storyboard panel that lights up at winter solstice sunrise and that the ramp at Hatshepsut’s temple aligns not only with this sunrise but also with the farthest southern wall of Karnak temple. If a tunnel existed thru the cliff wall behind this temple it would have shown light through to Hatshepsut’s tomb on the other side of the cliff in the Valley of the Kings.

When traveling through the Valley of the Kings which is only about 4.5 miles from Karnak running a straight line through the mountain cliff. My first impression was “I thought this was Jerusalem but it’s the Valley of the Kings…and then the middle stanza of the 23rd psalm rang through my head… The 23rd Psalm -

“ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.”

As the river curves around and creates a loop its farthest northern point on the west side of the river we find the temple at Dendera the temple consists of a Temple to Hathor and various birthing temples, it is where queens gave birth and seems to be the doorway to rebirth. As the River finishes its big curve and aligns with Luxor again we find Nag Hammadi the place where jars containing the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed in 1945.
Not far from Nag Hammadi is the Temple of Abydos built by Seti but now some geologist think it was much older at least the part called the Osiris Temple in the back which is much lower than Seti's structure. In abydos there is a grouping of hieroglyphs with clear carvings of a helicopter, jet and submarine? The carvings can be found on a lintel close to the ceiling some 20 feet off the floor. Seeing this left us all stunned and with tour guides began bickering over whether they are or not modern vehicles. They are, I know because I traveled to ancient Thebes in my dreams and if I can go there they could have certainly come here. They had to be doing something with those big obelisks that rang like giant tuning forks…

My interest and relationship to the culture of ancient Egypt seems to be an ever-unfolding onionskin. I thought I would find closure there I thought I would see it and be sad that it is gone and over. I have to say to my surprise Egypt is not dead not gone the doorway to the other world is still there and open. Beckoning us on to common ground.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah who???

Really? Is McCain kidding us? Is she supposed to serve as a Hilary substitute?
This could be laughable if it wasn’t so frightening. Talk about having inexperience
a heart beat away from the presidency and little too close to the button. I admit to having a hard time choosing between Hilary and Barack in the primaries. But only because they were both such good choices. My choice never had anything to do with race or gender though seeing something other than a white male on the ballot was refreshing. I find McCain’s choice to be really irresponsible. How stupid does he think the American woman voters are? We may want to see a woman in the white house but not just any random woman. What a strategy! This election is not about the package its about the product. I am not going sit by and be politically correct here.We have lived with "stupid" for 8 long years and if Diebold steals another election and we could get an aging John McCain and this “inexperienced, gun toting, ex beauty queen”. This will really be ridiculous. There I said it, somebody had to.

Monday, April 21, 2008

If you haven't seen this video Watch it

What it's like to have a stroke
Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke.

As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

More about this from another angle:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Orion/Osiris the Fool and Egypt

Good morning,
In the months since my return from Egypt I have been haunted by my trip.
There is not a day that goes by that I don't find my mind drifting back to Luxor, the Isis Temple and Hatshepsut's Morturary Temple.
I knew that in ancient times Philae(original spot for the Isis temple) was thought to be the source of the flood as it was the southern most border of Egypt and I think I must have known that water levels were recorded into the rocks there, though during our visit we did not see that. What I did NOT know was that the carving of the hieroglyph for of the Nile was there. The one that clued me into the connection between the Star card/ and the sign of Aquarius being connected to the Full moon in Aquarius which occurs in July during the flooding of the Nile. The carving is there on the western wall which we never got to see.
Anyway the other morning I am reminded that we were told that the original island just south of the temple island is where the thigh of Osiris was hidden.That morning finally I start to think about how this might be related to the old positioning of the temple. Seeing as the entire temple of Isis was moved stone by stone from the island of Philae in 1970 due to the flooding caused by the building of the Aswan dam. The original placement of the Temple would have been due east of the much higher rocky island(Biga Island) where Osiris's thigh was hidden. Which got me thinking about the constellation of Orion and its connection to Osiris and its disappearance just before the annual flood which begins around July 18. Now I needed to find a star finder to see if and when the last part of the Orion/Osiris constellation to disappear at the horizon at sunset would be his leg what date that would happen and if
so I am thinking there may have been a major ritual there to find the thigh of Osiris journey to the duat overnight watch the sunrise with Sirius in conjunction and Pharaoh or perhaps "the god's wife" would pour water from vessels as the flood waters would rise. The annual flood and the rising of the dog Star Sirius was so predictable that it was more accurate than counting the 365 days in the year. I am thinking now the alignment of the sunrise
on these dates would have shot down through the doorways in that side temple where we all danced and would have intersected right in front of the courtyard where the pharaoh would have stood to address the masses.

Intersections of east and west and north and south were sacred. As I was waking that day I realized why the Egyptian day began at noon. It was the time when the sun would come in conjunction with the Nile and the crossing would have been deemed as sacred the meeting of the ad blending of the opposites. Picture the perfect south to north flow of the Nile and the perfect east to west journey of the Sun/Ra. at noon these two paths cross as they would again when the sun reached midnight. This "sun at midnight" is referred to in what little is written about initiation of the priests of Egypt.
Again this is referred to in the journey to the duat as warp and weft. Nearly where ever you are in Egypt there is a distinct sense of direction, the Nile running south to north and the sun going east to west some with exceptions of course like the area of Abydos and Denderah.

In my quest to find the perfect starfinder I came across Google Earth I was able to see in great detail the area of Biga Island and even the submerged island of Philae perfectly due east of Biga. When I looked at Google Earths'
detail of Orion there was a big surprise waiting there for me, not only would it appear from the original Philae that Orion would go leg first into Biga island but the word for Rigel (Orions' left foot)in Arabic is FOOT.

I am thinking there is a painting in all of this stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Journey to the Far World

February 10th I held my "Egypt Day" intensive study for some MAAT Tarot students in the Chicago area. The group got to see a movie I created from a blending of collected Egypt pictures and images of paintings. Then we delved into the idea that the Egyptian Funerary texts were not just for the dead pharaoh but were also useful to the living. The funerary texts may well have been used by the living pharaoh as well as the priesthoods to journey to the "far world" This premise is the feature of a fairly new book by Jeremy Nadler called Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts. This is the book Michael Baigent quoted in the Jesus Papers. Here is what was in my handout for my class. I was up till midnight the night before I left for the weekend it all came out at the very last minute.
Understanding the Egyptian concept of Time.

The Egyptian view of time and eternity was not like the view we have today. They did not view time as people in the 21st century do, the future stretching infinitely in front of us and the past infinitely behind us. They did not have a heaven above and hell below them.

Time was seen as a blending commingled phenomenon. There was neheh cyclical physical time the seasons, the cycle of stars in the sky, which was infinite and there was djet a world where time was suspended a place where there was no time this was an eternal place. The worlds of djet and neheh were commingled though one did not see djet it was always there. I think the best way to think of djet and neheh is to think of neheh as the physical atoms and djet as the space in between the atoms. Djet and neheh were all part of the perfection and state of eternal harmony of the universe known as maat.

Part of the perfect harmony of the universe was the rising and setting of the sun. The place on the horizon where the sun rose in the morning as well as the place where the sun set at night were considered sacred like a doorway to the 'far world' this doorway was called akhet meaning 'horizon'. This doorway led to the place called the Duat the' far world'. Everyone in Egypt was responsible for working toward maintaining maat. However it was the responsibility of the pharaoh to maintain maat. Temples built in Egypt aided the pharaoh in maintaining maat and served as a gateway to the 'far world' as temples served as a link between the earth and the sky.

The Duat or the 'far world' was the place where one went at death it coexisted with the physical world, it was not seen as separate but a world that existed simultaneously with the physical world. In effect the Egyptians had a rather shamanic world view and funerary texts once thought to aid only the dead may have in fact been meant for the living as well. And may have been used in rites by priests and priestesses to journey to the far world.
Then we used a spread I created based on the 12 hours.Doing the spread before we knew what the questions were was fun and surprising.
Journey Through the Dwat- Tarot Spread
12 hours of the Journey of the Sun (pharaoh)
We found the best way to do this is to shuffle and pick 12 cards place the cards in an arch starting from the right side and going left dipping down and around like the bottom half of a circle.

Now here are the spread correspondences to complete your reading:
The actual funerary texts are found in the tomb of Thutmoses III in the valley of the Kings. There is a movie of these funerary texts filmed by Chance Gardener in Magical Egypt a symbolist tour episode 5 navigating the afterlife what to do in the Duat. available on line.

The First Hour Shows a barge with a scarab floating on the water and it is about the preoccupation with separation symbolized by three snakes, the snake as a larval form of life separates the waters. The symbol of the boat on the water represents the consciousness being led through the mysterious interaction with the flow of time. Time is the river. What I need to separate from.

The Second Hour Shows the barge with Amon in his shrine on the bow two cobras Isis and Nepthyus the personification of Magic. She who guides the boat -Magic guides the boat. What magic guides my boat?

The Third Hour Shows Anubis and Osiris. She who cuts up souls the prototype for
The Christian hell-the annihilation of the shadow. Those who obstructed others are
forgotten. In other words the identity of people who stand in the way of other peoples' enlightenment are sentenced to oblivion and lose their identity. What is my shadow?

The Fourth Hour The coffin descends into the earth. How deep can I go?

The Fifth Hour Physical to divine. The Power of the Earth to rebirth. Life bursting through the egg of Saqar. Creates a bridge to heaven. What am I creating?

The Sixth Hour The solar barge rests on the water faced with Set. Apep must be cut into pieces. The enemy is cutup and overcome. Opposition is just as immortal as divinity itself. Who is my immortal opposition?

The Seventh Hour Symbols of transformation. Symbols of weaving and metamorphosis the four states of matter in the form of un-sheared rams. Going from lower to higher consciousness. What is my transformation?

The Eighth Hour Deities seated weft and warp more weaving What must I contemplate?

The Ninth Hour The boat contains the scarab rolling the egg with its own future symbol of the Great Work. Symbols of the rising sun may be the kundolini. What is my Great Work?

The Tenth Hour Harmonious solar and lunar, right and left-brains rising sun is at the third eye. Harmony and balance. What will bring me into harmony?

The Eleventh Hour Process is almost complete solar and lunar fused together. The enveloper riding across time on the serpent. Intellect made divine duality reconciled Mastery over time.
What do I need to know from the timeless place?

The Twelfth Hour Process is complete barge is rolled through the large snake compared to the kundulini energy released. Ba and Ka unite the new sun rises. Who am I?

After doing this spread it dawned on me that the initiates may have been weaving their own white robes of ascension.
Love Julie
©2008 Julie Cuccia-Watts