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 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…

Click to hear “Be My Mirror” by Prince [unreleased track]

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…?

May this Year of Return  reawaken humanity to its best reflection and most magnificent Heaven-on-Earth manifestations…

Ascension ~ “Black Orchid”

“…She has touched the farthest star
Her beauty speaks of what we are
And her freedom makes us free
Her now is in eternity, infinite to all that see
And her dreams have been achieved
Now there is a sound of laughter
Nature sings out her name
For the world to know her fame… 
~ Black Orchid ~” [Stevie Wonder – from ‘Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants’]

During the months of July and August, 2018 Mother Earth is responding to an amazing shift in the Harmonics of the Spheres. The Sun’s gravitational pull has aligned to one side of itself all of the planets in the solar system, each with their own unique frequencies. Read More

Mazisi Kunene ~ Creative Power

Mazisi Kunene – freedom fighter, literary icon, Africa’s poet laureate, and South Africa’s first poet laureate – was born in Durban, in the modern-day province of KwaZulu-Natal on May 12th, 1930. Kunene championed African oral traditions, conveying their inherent value in his writings which were originally in Zulu before being translated into other languages. Read More

Auset ~ Divine Seeker

Born in 1803 and orphaned at age 5, Maria W. Stewart was an American domestic servant who became a teacher, journalist, abolitionist, lecturer and women’s rights activist. She urged “daughters of Africa” to reject the negative images of Black womanhood that were/are so pervasive, but to instead possess the power of self-definition – in effect to seek, find, and anchor their Divinity as Goddess Auset. In an 1833 speech, Stewart said: “Like King Solomon, who put neither nail nor hammer to the temple, yet received the praise; so also have the white Americans gained themselves a name, like the names of the great men that are in the earth, whilst in reality we have been their principle foundation and support. We have pursued the shadow, they have obtained the substance; we have performed the labor, they have received the profits; we have planted the vines, they have eaten the fruits of them.”
The power of images [for good or ill] has been well-known since ancient times in Africa, as evident in the following proverb from the Luxor Temple of Amun-Mut-Montu/Khonsu: “People need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source.” The Gods of Khemet created a number of art-for-life’s-sake images that would, when properly looked upon, indeed lead the divine seeker to the source. Knowing the little strength of the angel of the church in Philadelphia, the God of Revelation encodes one of these key images in His instructions: “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it… hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown…” [Rev 3: 7-12 KJV]

The Divine Seeker or ‘true seeker’ – from a ‘daughters of Africa’ perspective – is represented in the archetype of Auset, Queen and wife of Khemet’s beloved King Ausar. According to their mythology, the respect Ausar was able to command on earth and in the nether-world as the bringer of civilization made his ‘younger brother’ – a god with pedophilic issues named Seth [Gr.] – so jealous that, in his bloody coup for the throne, Set[h] murdered and cut the king into 14 pieces which he scattered throughout the wilderness to prevent Ausar’s resurrection. In modern terms, Set [god of the wilderness, chaos, violence, foreign oppressors…] is understood to be the adversary who enslaved Africans and stole land and other treasures via colonialism. Thus the ‘wilderness’ is the diaspora where his predatory neo-colonial rule and campaign of chaos and extermination expanded. Auset must search this wilderness for the pieces of her beloved while holding fast to her crown of life which, imaged as the royal throne, represents her shero’s journey and consciousness of who she is.

Auset ~ Divine Seeker – shows up as the Shulamite in the Song of Songs, the biblical book attributed to King Solomon who, though featured in the song, is not the true ‘Majesty’ Auset seeks. Famed for wisdom, wealth, and possessing  700 wives and 300 concubines, Solomon represents the unease of one who is trapped in an excess of creature comforts, including his gross objectification of the divine feminine. It’s very clear that the Shulamite [Auset] is critical of the modalities of capitalist exploitation, including occupation and sharecropping which have created Solomon’s trappings of power and, in turn, required military guardians. She says: “Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it… They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.” [SoS 3:7-8 KJV] “Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.” [SoS 8:11-12 KJV]

The Song of Songs represents Auset’s mourning as she communicates with and searches for the pieces of her Twin Flame in a ‘wilderness’ [diaspora] caused by the misdeeds of Set, including murder, mutilation, scattering, plunder and rape. Auset’s crown of life, denoting her consciousness, purpose and allegiance, is significantly different from those which are worn in the capitals of Europe – their opulent design and materials conspicuously symbolizing conquest of peoples and control of resources. Without this Africa-centered understanding which would acknowledge Auset’s presiding role in Ausar’s resurrection and return, biblical scholars and translators promote other interpretations even while struggling to explain her divinity and/or justify her existence in ‘their’ holy book. Introducing herself to an audience of the “daughters of Jerusalem,” the Shulamite [Auset] makes clear: I am black… My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. [SoS 2:16 KJV] Local to Upper Khemet – southern source of the Nile River – the lily is also the symbol of resurrection in Khemetic imagery. I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me. [SoS 7:10 KJV]

Euro-patriarchal translations and commentaries surrounding the Shulamite’s introduction of herself have varied from I am black and beautiful…[New Revised Standard Version Catholic Ed] to more sinister/racist ethnic notions – specifically, as Maria W. Stewart pointed out, against Black womanhood:

  • “I am black but beautiful…” [Douay-Rheims Bible]
  • “I am black but lovely…” [New American Standard Bible 1977]
  • “I am black, but comely…” [American KJV; American Std. V; Webster’s Bible Trans; JPS Tanakh 1917; Darby Bible Trans; English Rev. V]
  • I am very dark, but lovely…” [English Standard Version]
  • I am dark but beautiful…” [New Living Translation]
  • I am dark, but lovely…” [New KJV 2000; World English Bible; NET Bible; New Heart English Bible]
  • Dark am I, and comely…” [Young’s Literal Translation]
  • “Daughters of Jerusalem, I am dark like the tents of Kedar, yet lovely like the curtains of Solomon… [Holman Christian Standard Bible]
  • I am dark, O ye daughters of Jerusalem… desirable as the booths of Kedar, as the tents of Solomon… [Jubilee Bible 2000]
  • The word “black” does not necessarily mean that the skin is black, but rather sunburnt, dark brown… the livid or swarthy appearance of one who has suffered long from famine and wretchedness. There is certainly no reason to take the word as an argument for the bride being Pharaoh’s daughter… She has been living in the fields, and is browned with the ruddy health of a country life… The country maiden feels the greatness of the honor, that she is chosen of the king… [Pulpit Commentary]
  • …she was “black” in herself through original sin and actual transgression; in her own eyes, through indwelling sin, and many infirmities, spots, and blemishes in life; and in the eyes of the world, through afflictions, persecutions, and reproaches…: “but comely” in the eyes of Christ, called by him his “fair one”, the “fairest among women”, and even “all fair” through his comeliness put upon her, the imputation of his righteousness to her; through the beauties of his holiness upon her; through the sanctifying influences of his Spirit being in a church state, walking in Gospel order… “desirable”(y) to Christ, and to his people. [Gill’s Exposition of the Bible]

Certainly, if such white male interpretations of the black female principal in the Song of Songs prevail, then they should at the very least co-exist with culturally-centered interpretations of the African Queen. One version of the Song of Songs’ backstory – which has received extensive Jewish, Islamic, and Ethiopian elaborations – describes King Solomon being tested with hard questions during his visit from the “Queen of the South” AKA the Queen of Sheba. The Kebra Nagast [“Glory of the Kings”] tells the national saga of Ethiopian Emperors being descendants of King David as a direct outcome of their Queen’s visit with his son Solomon. Followers of the Rastafari movement believe Emperor Haile Selassie I – the last descendant of the Solomonic line to rule Ethiopia [from 1930 to 1974] – to be the Messiah and Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The African Queen’s storied visit is acknowledged in the bible thus: The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” [Matthew 12:42 & Luke 11:31 KJV]

Told in highly symbolic language, the Song of Songs is itself a riddle worthy of the Queen of Sheba who purportedly used riddles to test Solomon’s wisdom, and to apparently expose the limitations of Euro-patriarchal translations and analyses [above]. Who knows what manner of ‘darkness’ lies in the tents of Kedar or curtains of Solomon to which the Shulamite is being compared by such biblical professionals?! She is not “original sin” in need of white male prescriptions for “salvation.” Nor does she seem particularly desirous of the kind of ‘majesty’ Solomon represents – at least not in my reading of the Song of Songs in which the Shulamite’s mission is that of the African Goddess Auset. As divine seeker who wears a distinct crown of life, it’s critical that Auset be able to distinguish between chaos/shadow/idol versus truth/substance/source as the above-mentioned proverb from the Luxor Temple states. Only in this way does she prove herself worthy of the crown and title bestowed on all true African Queens: “She Who Sees Set and Heru.”

Goddess Auset is…

Panther ~ Black Rite-of-Passage

“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

Tears of the Big Waters [a story]

The California sycamore in the meadow of the Topanga canyon hilltop rustled as if it had just spoken. Nya Okatsa’s back remained molded against the wizened tree trunk as the sudden jerk from Malik’s head in the cradle of her crossed legs belied the nonchalant sprawl of the rest of his six-foot frame on their picnic blanket. He squinted upwards, his eyes sorting through the noonday sun and shadow as the overhead canopy settled from the agitated mid-July gust that had just blown. Seeing the coy arch of Nya’s brows within her silhouette, Malik broke into a broad grin – unfazed by her confession that she’d been a tree-whisperer from birth. Read More

KuNtu: A Well-Painted Home

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

HaNtu: Afrofuturism “In the Stone”

~ 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

PTAH ~ Hollywood Re-members…

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

Heru ~ Djedi Sky Walker

horus2“Sky God… God of Hunting… Warrior God… Lord of the Horizon… Divine Falcon… He who came forth from Hapi [Africa’s Nile God]… Dweller in Sopdet [Star of Auset]… God of Kingship… Heir of his Father…” are some of the epithets ascribed to Heru, one of Africa’s most storied gods of salvation. Heru‘s hunting prowess is represented in the falcon or hawk whose right and left eyes respectively denote the sun and moonheru-eye-primary-colors1; and who is said to hold the stars in his speckled feathers as his wings create the wind. The circumstances of Heru’s placement in the Holy Trinity which includes Ausar (his father) and Auset (his mother), and his triumphant role in the battle against evil [Set]
Read More

Pyramid Wisdom & Story

pyramid green“Pyramids are universal symbols of the human Self.” This statement caught my attention in the book entitled King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore (Jungian psychologist) and mythologist Douglas Gillette [NY: Harper Collins, 1990]. As I searched for how that was meant (“pyramid” as abstract geometric template, or as African architectural wonder and cultural treasure?) I got caught up instead in the discussion of masculine archetypes, one for each face of the pyramid. King, Warrior, Magician, Lover – the “mature” (men) archetypes – make up their own pyramid, but each has its “immature” (boy) correlates which make up a smaller pyramid within. Unfortunately for society, according to the scholars, “the devastating fact is that most men are fixated at an immature level of development.” Read More

Purple Reign ~ Royal African Symbols

A color with mystical and noble qualities, purple/violet is associated with royalty, spirituality, creativity, and magic. Representing the upper end of the visible color spectrum of Light, purple/violet is both a completion (spiritual mastery) as well as a beginning of the energy vibration beyond the physical. prince on guitarThis is the energy field in which one realizes the eternal union that exists between one’s self and the All (one’s infinite/higher/pure consciousness) – which is the goal of the soul’s journey in this life and beyond. Purple/violet governs love and the crown chakra, at the top of the head…

This post offers a brief look at the symbolism and meaning in the crowns worn by some of Africa’s royalty – gods and goddesses from Kemet (ancient Egypt) – along with some of the fundamental cultural wisdom that governs their being and evolution. It’s posted during  African American Music Appreciation Month (June), in remembrance of the late Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016 … “Sometimes It Snows In April”) – Purple Rain composer, performer and interpreter [*] of African symbols of love and royalty. This post honors the god(dess) who meets, supports and delivers us with such gifts of genius in our epic life quest for truth/consciousness/light, repair, and harmony. Read More