Andreas Woods, the mathematics-major Morehouse class of 2000 Valedictorian who would go on to get a Ph.D. in Egyptology, used this moment in the Morehouse spotlight to explain why he rejected the Cecil Rhodes Scholarship for himself. Morehouse is an all-male HBCU. Distancing himself from Rhodes, the notorious racist & agent of colonial chaos in Afrika […‘Set’ of Kemetic mythology], Woods recites a poem by George Tait entitled I Am A Black Man – unambiguously staking his claim to the identity and mission of Afrika-descended manhood [aka ‘Heru / Horus / Hero’ in Kemetic mythology]. Read More
“We came from the beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells, at the foothills of The Mountains of the Moon” ~ is a declaration in The Papyrus of Hunefer, which was a copy of the ancient Book of the Dead. Hunefer, owner of this papyrus, was “Scribe of Divine Offerings,” “Overseer of Royal Cattle,” and steward of Pharaoh Seti 1 during Khemet’s 19th Dynasty period [c. 1300 BCE]
“We…” refers to ancient Egyptians in the Delta region [papyrus symbol]
“…beginning of the Nile…” refers to the River Nile’s Great Lake estuary cradled in its East-Central African source [lotus symbol]. Nile comes from ‘Neilos’ – a Greek corruption of ‘nwy’ meaning ‘water’ in Khemet, though locals referred to it as ‘iterw’ meaning ‘the river.’
“…Mountains of the Moon” refers to the Rwenzori Mountains which border present-day Uganda and DR Congo. Some of the Nile waters flow from the peaks of these mountains.
Hapi [Hep/Hap/Hapy] – was a pre-dynastic name for the Nile deity of fertility who was also known as ‘Lord of the Fishes and Birds of the Marshes’ – provisions along with the annual inundation [known as the ‘Arrival of Hapi’] which have always sustained Nile Valley civilizations. So Hapi was often revered by citizens above other gods with chants, prayers, and sacrifices. Even Akhenaten [the so-called ‘heretic king’] could not banish Hapi as he had other gods during his reign. Instead, he tried to suggest that Hapi was an incarnation of Aten – the controversial solar disk god whom Akh’en’aten promoted himself as being the likeness of:
“I propitiate him who lives by truth,
The Lord of Diadems, Akhenaten,
Great in his lifetime.
O Hapi, by whose command
One is powerful
The food and nourishment of Egypt,
The vital ruler who forms me,
Makes me, fosters me…”
Hapi‘s blue or green skin denotes his status as a deity of fertility. God of both Upper and Lower Khemet, Hapi‘s portrayals included the lotus [symbolizing the life-giving/resurrecting source of the Nile’s Upper region] as well as the papyrus [which symbolized the Lower Nile Delta region where the river’s journey climaxed]. Depictions of twins ‘Hapi-Reset‘ [Upper Nile/lotus] and ‘Hapi-Meht‘ [Lower Nile/papyrus] tying together of these two plant symbols reflect the uniting of the “Two Lands.” Similarly, Hapi’s depiction as a hermaphrodite who was endowed with both feminine and masculine features [breasts and a penis], symbolized this same unity in human form, while the false beard of the pharaoh denotes Hapi‘s authority as Nile Valley god/dess. As a “key of life” principle, the co-creative unity and balance that must exist between divine feminine and masculine is a consistent and sacred African ideal, commonly portrayed as a ‘feminine’ oval surmounting a ‘masculine’ crucifix in the ancient ankh symbol.
To tarot deck readers, Hapi might be compared to the World card [#21 or XXI] – the final Major Arcana card which in some decks is depicted by an androgynous figure suspended between heaven/above and earth/below. The World card represents cosmic consciousness – the completion of a significant S/Hero’s journey cycle and a pause in life before the next big cycle begins once again with the Fool [usually the #0/“zero” card of the Major Arcana]. As such, the World amounts to our perfect union with the One uniting force of the universe [Ntu, in the Bantu world-view] which, seeded within the divine feminine womb, contains all the potentials for the next phase of our ascension journey.
The adinkra symbol of conjoined halves of a heart represents Sankofa – an African term that reminds us: “In order to move forward, you must reach back to reclaim that which may have been lost, forgotten, or stolen.” The process of truth-seeking in our respective journeys as divine feminine and masculine which provides the elixir that leads to our collective re-pair and ascension – is one of traversing the arcanum from “the fool” to “the world.” The elixir that is discovered in this process is ideally what ushers in humanity’s next-level, soul-restoring unity-consciousness which is referred to in Africa as Ubuntu, meaning “I am, because we are.”
The testimonial of the Papyrus of Hunefer thus presents a dilemma by drawing attention to the waters at the “…beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells” – a spiritual resource which was stolen through the violence of colonial assaults, nonsensical geographic constructs, and subsequently-falsified texts [biblical… historical… philosophical… geographical…]. In Kiswahili, these waters at the source of the Nile are referred to as ‘Maziwa Mkuu,’ meaning ‘great milk’ – a tacit African recognition of the Milky Way flowing as the nurturing heavenly river on earth which blossomed in ancient times as Khemet. “Victoria” – the river’s yet-to-be-reclaimed source – has, by her blatant presence, poisoned sacred waters, created a false matrix, and maintained a state of arrested development [the Fool] over a consequently colonized human consciousness [the World]… even as we stand today at the cusp of the emancipatory Age of Aquaria [card of the Star/Water Bearer].
Nut – Goddess of the Sky whose arms and legs create the four pillars between heaven and earth – is the primordial water-bearer, as depicted in her crown. (She is often synthesized with goddess Hathor – prototype of the Madonna-Child as Divine Womb and Celestial Nurse [milk-provider].) As I’ve posted previously, the water-bearer is epitomized by the African woman whose water vessel symbolizes humanity’s womb and portal into life. Culturally she is regarded as maternal in her element as the ocean, seas, and lakes – such as the veneration given to the Yoruba orisha [deity] Yemaya. On the other hand, as the river orisha Oshun, she is associated with sensuality, playfulness, fertility, love and beauty. Both are aspects of the same goddess archetype which, according to followers throughout the African world, unite in the figure of Mami Wata – a figure who is commonly depicted as a mermaid holding a mirror and/or a fan. All three orishas prefer the color gold, interchangeably with yellow.
For me, the confluence in Hapi’s S/Hero’s Journey through this Nile Valley Mystery becomes a ground-breaking revelation when the right pieces are understood within a non-linear [read: “non-Eurocentric”] playing field. The proposition: “We came from the beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells, at the foothills of The Mountains of the Moon” [from the Papyrus of Hunefer] signals the divinely-sanctioned return and reunion of the African God/dess. The unbreakable bonds of their sacred union [“Upper/Lower… North/South… above/below… within/without…”] are represented through Hapi‘s imagery and symbology, including the significance of the papyrus and the lily respectively, as well as within their sacred tethering. This revelation-through-symbol to me also connects with Tut’ankh’amun [pictured right. See posts here & here]. Corresponding biblical references abound, e.g.: “The queen of the south shall rise… behold, a greater than Solomon is here” [Matthew 12: 42]; “Make haste my beloved…” [SoS 8: 14]; “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” [Rev 3: 11]…
In Khemet, crowns represent an evolution of consciousness resulting from the respective journeys of the divine feminine in concert with her divine masculine who, as Tut’ankh’amun, travels through the after-world on his necessary mission. Their successful outcome and bond becomes the nucleus of a collective/communal levelling-up… Hotep ❤ M
The “KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” tour ends its world premiere today [January 13th, 2019] before moving on to Europe and eventually back to Africa where the exhibition will remain permanently at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Since March 24th, 2018, the California Science Center has been hosting the only scheduled US exhibition of over 150 personal belongings from 18th Dynasty King Tutankhamun’s 3,300 year-old burial site that were among those removed after the 1922 European discovery and raid of his tomb in Africa’s Valley of the Kings, west of the Nile River. Each of King Tutankhamun’s burial artifacts are presented in the exhibition as narrative pieces of the pharaoh’s quest for immortality as he journeyed through the underworld after his death at the young age of 19 to find his place in the afterlife.
Of the several culturally-significant pieces in the exhibition, two are particularly striking:
1. King Tutankhamun’s gilded ankh-shaped mirror case ~ One of the best-known ancient symbols that is often depicted in the firm grip of a Khemetic deity’s hand is the ankh. With its feminine oval and masculine crucifix, the ankh represents what the ancients regarded as the key of life. When used in hieroglyphic writing, the ankh may mean “mirror,” “floral bouquet,” and/or “life.” Several ankh-shaped mirrors were created in ancient times and, like the one now missing from King Tut’s belongings, were thought by many to reflect eternity. Mirrors/looking glasses were believed to possess magical properties which would respond to the user’s intent, ranging from superficial vanity [Old-School ‘selfies’?] to revelations of the light/shadow afterlife from the reflected physical prism…The Khemetic mirror thus potentially became an imaginative portal to the multi-dimensional realms expressed in the words “as above, so below… as within, so without” – words which are also reflected in proverbs from Amun~Mut’s temple: “All is within yourself. Know your most inward self and look for what corresponds with it in nature… Men need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source… The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness… The Kingdom of Heaven is within you…” The Festival of Lanterns honoring Goddess Neith involved the burning of oil lamps through the night to create a reflection of heaven on earth… a scene depicting a feminine portal opening, or a parting of the veil between mirrored worlds. Similarly, Goddess Seshat – dressed in her signature panther-skin dress – is known in her own right as the “opener of Heaven’s door.” Thus the key of life [‘ankh’] in essence infers the creative interplay between multidimensional and complementary creative forces – within/without… above/below – which in turn confer special standing upon rulers in the earthly realm such as King Tutankhamun.
Tut’ankh’amun was originally named Tut’ankh’aten [“living image of Aten”] after his father Akhenaten, the controversial King who upended Khemet’s centuries-old religious system in Uaset [Gr. ‘Thebes’], to the worship of the singular sun disc Aten from a new religious center in Amarna. Following Akhenaten’s death and a brief intervening period of rule by two pharaohs, aided by powerful advisers, the 9-year-old prince ascended the throne his father had held. During his own 10-year reign, the young pharaoh reversed his father King Akhenaten’s legacy by restoring Khemet’s long-standing god Amun to supremacy and its religious capital to Uaset. He then reaffirmed this allegiance by formally renaming himself Tut’ankh’amun – the name we’re most accustomed to, meaning “living image of Amun.” Thus, the king chose the image ‘above’ and ‘within’ that he wanted to mirror and/or to become as…
2. The King’s mode of underworld/afterlife transportation ~ The black panther depicted in this artifact from Tutankhamun’s tomb acts as a fascinating spiritual and cultural “mirror” between past and present. The biggest movie of 2018, Black Panther, was released in the month just prior to the “KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” exhibition opening at the California Science Center. As I wrote in a previous post, the scene in the movie in which a presumed-dead King T’Challa journeys through the plane of his Wakanda ancestors… mirrors this specific rendering of King Tutankhamun whose other, signature golden image is itself a “death mask” – perhaps implying that his physical death was an illusion.
The fictional name ‘Wakanda’ in turn reflects the names of real-life kingdoms such as Buganda through which the source of the great Nile River flows, and from where powerful panther kings – entitled Kabaka – still hold sway. As the earthly mirror of the Milky Way in heaven [called Maziwa Mkuu in Kiswahili, meaning ‘great milk’] this sacred River is the true, nature-based Ma’atrix that gave rise to the spiritual-consciousness of ancient Nile Valley civilizations such as Khemet and Buganda. Black panthers are a melanistic variant of the African leopard whose skin features significantly in the regalia of Kabakas and royalty of surrounding kingdoms in present-day Uganda, as well as in the dress of Khemetic deity Seshat – the above-mentioned “opener of Heaven’s door.” Conferring high status on the wearer, this skin [which may also lie beneath a royal leader’s feet] represents the musambwa or territorial spirit in the Uganda region who appears in the form of a panther/leopard and acts as a supernatural guide and protector of the kingdom…
The Baganda have a saying about their royals: “A Kabaka does not die, but gets lost in the forest.” It alludes to their immortality and the possibility of return for those chosen ones who are able to find their way through the forest. Depending on how one examines the mirror/ankh, this ‘forest’ could metaphorically reflect the prophesied 400-year wilderness period [Genesis 15: 13-14] since enslaved Africans first set foot in America. The timing of Black Panther‘s release, T’Challa’s mirrored visual of King Tutankhamun’s crossed crook and flail which are symbols of the biblically-mirrored Great Shepherd – reflects this larger, multi-layered Savior narrative… A true visionary, Ryan Coogler re-links the cultural elements while critiquing the European world’s appropriations, e.g. through Eric Killmonger’s retort to the British Museum director: “How do you think your ancestors got these? Do you think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it… like they took everything else?”
Now, as the “KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” exhibition moves on from America for the last time, I can’t help wondering what happened to the King’s priceless mirror/looking glass…?
May this ‘Year of Return’ reawaken humanity to its best reflection and most magnificent Heaven-on-Earth manifestations…
From ancient times to the present day, Africa’s collective imagination has to one degree or another been influenced by the leopard as a symbol of its cultural and spiritual potency. The black panther is the melanistic color variant of leopards in Africa, so perhaps the phenomenal success of the movie of the same name can be used as a current barometer of that potency. North, south, east, west, and diaspora – the leopard is a powerful symbol of African warriors, sages, magicians, priests, gods, goddesses, queens, and kings. In West Africa, sculptures from Ife and Benin portray the leopard as a symbol of wisdom. This statue from ancient North Africa depicting King Tutankhamun riding through the underworld on the back Read More
“Great, another broken white boy for us to fix!” One of several funny lines from Black Panther delivered by Shuri in reference to CIA Agent Everett Ross. “What the hail!” My line when I left the theater on President’s Day with mixed feelings about the movie, but mostly about the droplets of ice which had just begun falling from LA’s South Bay skies onto my African head-wrap. Was this a sign? Movie promos had gone hard with Gil Scott Heron’s classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, I mused while trying to extract pieces of the odd weather from my son’s fro for inspection. But why not build a strategic alliance between African cousins rather than having T’Challa, in true bourgeois liberal fashion, make a Wakanda charity-case out of Killmonger’s Oakland after the fact? Mom, it’s not your story… Huh?! Read More
In African oral tradition we have a communication concept surrounding the power of the word to generate and/or aesthetize life. In BaNtu culture, this is referred to as Nommo. This same concept in Khemet was referred to as Hekau – “words of power” which were key to the alkhemical authority of god-as-magician. Often viewed as the female version of Djehuti (Khemet’s god of magical arts and foremost scribe of the gods) goddess Seshat accompanied Khemet’s widowed Queen Auset in guarding murdered King Ausar‘s reconstituted and mummified corpse to ensure that he would go on to become God of the afterlife. Read More
Ausar, god of the afterlife whom many believe holds the seven heavenly stars in his glorified form in the Hunter constellation, was said to have had a great passion for song and dance during his popular reign in Kemet. So much so that he recruited several African Muses to accompany him on a tour to teach the legendary Nile Valley arts of cultivation throughout Asia and Europe, and always had a troupe of musicians back at his court. These Muses became Goddesses in Kemet, but the later Greek conquest of Ausar’s kingdom led to their colonial conversion and subjugation under Apollo Musagete – “Apollo, Leader of the Muses” – of the Olympian world. Read More
I didn’t grow up a comic-book super-fan (more like occasional reader), nor grew to become enticed by Hollywood’s silver-screen adventures of super-heroes from the big-3 comic-book universes: Marvel, DC, and X-Men. Marvel’s recently-released trailer for the Black Panther movie (set for release on February 16th, 2018) may just have changed all that. Read More
~ Posted in honor of African-American Music Appreciation Month, June 2017 ~
“The artist is meant to put the objects of this world together in such a way that through them you will experience that light, that radiance which is the light of our consciousness and which all things both hide and, when properly looked upon, reveal. The hero journey is one of the universal patterns through which that radiance shows brightly.” [Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss] Read More
The biggest night in show business is the annual Academy Awards show which pulls in a television viewing audience of 40 million (give or take). It’s where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (founded in the 1920s) recognizes the merits of its most talented artists/craftspeople and honors them with a golden idol, a statue whose nick-name Oscar means ‘divine spear.’ The specter of Hollywood as an ideological battlefield where dreams and stories as cultural artifacts fight, bleed and die for acceptance in the dream factory run by mainstream [white] gods is not farfetched from the industry’s competitive, often cut-throat reality. Harsher still are the ironic implications of the Oscar award itself whose form Read More