Initiation ~ The Lions
The next day is a great festival.
As usual Menu dresses me, puts on my gilt sandals, and then I go over into my reception room where the ladies of the court and Roo-Kha, the Chancellor, are waiting with two jewelled bearers. Very ceremoniously, Roo-Kha steps over to the jewel bearers and opens the coffer. Then the senior lady of the court, my former chief governess, takes out the magnificient golden collar, comes over to me with much pomp and ceremony, and places the golden collar on my shoulders. Then, just as ceremoniously, she fastens on my head an ornament with the goldent serpent, and finally my bracelets and anklets. I stand like a statue, motionless and dignified. Although I behave myself with all befitting decorum, I’d really like to give Roo-Kha’s beard a healthy yank because he’s looking at me in such a saucy, impertinent way again.
Roo-Kha isn’t really bad, and he too has some of the blood of the Sons of God in his veins. He is very intelligent and crafty, and although he too can see into people’s hearts and minds, he doesn’t exploit this ability to an excessive extent. When he bows before me, it’s not the bowing of a Chancellor before his Queen. On the contrary, he is bowing as a ‘man’ before my feminine beauty and looking at me with a covetous eye. Impudent fellow! He knows all the while that I can read his thoughts and all his feelings.
But then I think of Ptahhotep’s words:
‘In every living creature there is the striving towartds divine unity. The male seeks the female, and the female seeks the male. That is the attraction between the two forms of manifestation of creative forces . . . ‘
In this light I can understand Roo-Ka too. This power is working within him, and it’s not his fault that he finds me pleasing. That’s the reason for his impertinence. If it weren’t for this force working within him, he wouldn’t bother about me. And in my secret heart of hearts I’m really not angry at all that he admires my beauty . . .
After the dressing ceremonies, the ladies of the court and Roo-Kha accompany me to the Pharaoh. How beautiful ~ how very beautiful my father is in his festive robe! Just like a god incarnate! Then we all leave the palace, going out to the waiting chariots. Some building or other is going to be dedicated today with an inaugural ceremony.
Father and I step into the golden chariot ~ the chariot with the lions! ~ and father takes the reins from the attendant’s hands.
When I was still quite a little girl, father was already taking me for rides in his chariot. I had to stand behind him and he explained to me how to keep my balance by elastic body movements during the joggling, bumpy ride. I had to learn to keep my entire body quite relaxed in order to be able to intantly follow the movements of the chariot. When the floor beneath me was rocking to and fro and bouncing up and down, I had to be able to stand on my toes, keeping my feet, my knees and the rest of my body flexible and quickly able to make the necessary counter-moves.
These chariot rides were always very funny, and at first we had plenty of occasions to laugh at my awkwardness. At the start, father let the lions walk slowly, gradually quickening their pace to a trot, but the moment they began to run, the chariot threw me back and forth and I was naturally afraid. Instead of keeping myelf relaxed, I grabbed frantically at father’s hands, robe and belt. Father laughed heartily, and with unending patience he showed me again and again how to stand upright. Finally I learnt how to make the right corrective movements and was able to stand upright without hanging on to father or the edge of the chariot.
It was wonderful to be able to stand as securely and as apparently motionless as father while the chariot raced over the ground! Often our rides were quite long. It was a thrilling feeling to be speeding along behind the galloping lions. The lions also enjoyed being able to get in a good run, and not only we ~ father and I ~ but the lions too would laugh with joy. Through these chariot rides my body became muscular, powerful and as resilient as if I had practised wrestling every day. Every single muscle was used, forced to co-ordinate and react instantly with every movement of the chariot. It was a constant dance, although invisible, as it was the floor underneath, not we ourselves that was really dancing on and on.
When I was fifteen father taught me how to drive the lions. What a wonderful feeling it was to have these magnificient, gigantic animals in my power! They responded to the slightest impulse of my will, so supremely sensitive that they immediately did everything I wanted them to without my having to move the reigns. But father never let me drive them alone ~ not even my favourite lion, a real personal pet to the point of being jealous ~ because the lions were always highly independent and only initiates could control them. I hope when I’m initiated I’ll be allowed to drive the lions alone!
Now en route to a public festival, father drives his lions with all due dignity, and I stand beside him as his wife. I am proud of father. He is still very young, strong and magnificently beautiful. His body and his handsome face radiate tremendous power and concentration, especially now when he is driving the lions. Standing and balancing on his toes, his body absorbs every movement of the chariot and he seems to stand motionless, as securely as if he were the sun god himself.
ART : (Right) ‘Ra – The Egyptian Sun God’ ~ Ginger Strivelli
We reach our destination and the boring ceremonies begin.
I don’t like these public festivals, They are always the same! Huge crowds, marching soldiers, people of rank! ~ And for a time that seems interminable I have to sit still, practically motionless, watching the ceremonies until everything is over. Then I have to exchange friendly greetings with the people of rank, while reading the many stupid and treacherous thoughts behind all the humility and flattery they wear on their faces. How lucky that among all the many hypocrites in the court, who seek only the satisfaction of their vanity and desire for power, there are a few truly upright and loyal co-workers for father and Ptahhotep. There’s an officer, for example, whose radiance is so bright it seems almost golden. ‘Who is he?’ I ask father in a whisper.
‘His name is Thiss-Tha,’ father whispers back. ‘He was recently made an officer, but he has such splendid qualities ~ as you can see from his radiance ~ that I want to make him a commander’.
The ceremonies are always the same, the only difference being that we sometimes have to sit on the palace terrace, sometimes on a great dias, and at other times on the temple terrace. Sometimes the ceremonies are for the dedication of a new building, sometimes to celebrate an exhibition returning from barter trade with neighbouring countries and bringing back the wares obtained abroad. Then at other times we take part in a harvest festival or various temple festivals, and these I don’t like for the simple reason that the great crowds haven’t the slightest idea of the meaning of the ceremony. Instead of worshipping God in the various forms in which he manifests himself in symbolic pictures, the ignorant masses worship the symbols themselves.
But in time even the most boring ceremony is ended. At last we can go home and be ourselves again.
ART : ‘Human Master’ ~ by Marco Antonio Gomez
No, I wouldn’t like to be the Pharaoh! The affairs of the country don’t interest me at all. Legally I should be the successor to the throne, but father never talks about this and pays very little attention to preparing me for the tasks of a Pharaoh. I know that Ptahhotep and father are able to raise themselves up above the plane of time. They can see and experience the past and the future as present. I, too, am beginning to develop this ability, and often I can see parts of the future, but whenever I’d like to see my own future, only a dense mist appears before my eyes, hiding everything. But father knows my future, and since he is not yet treating me as a co-regent, I imagine I may never become a Pharaoh. I have already had this presentiment on my own. It doesn’t worry me in any way as I would rather be a priestess in the temple. But curiously enough I don’t see any pictures in the future which would show me as a priestess in the temple either. I see only mist . . .
After such celebrations, I am always happy when I can get back to the temple the next day. I always feel comfortable in the pure spiritual atmosphere of the temple.
ART : Pectoral of the Princess Mereret, daughter of King Sesostri III (ca. 1878–1840 BCE), in the form of a shrine with lotus columns (gold, turquoise, carnelian, amethyst, lapis lazuli): a double representation of King sesostri III in the form of Hieraconsphinx (Falcon-headed Lion) trampling over the enemies of Egypt.
At the top is represented the Goddess Nekhbet in Her form of sacred vulture spreading Her wings as a sign of protection and holding two shen-rings (symbol of eternity and eternal protection). In the middle of the pectoral, the cartouche with the royal name of King Sesostris III as “King of Upper and Lower Egypt”:
“the Ka-spirit of Ra has appeared”.