National Insect Week – The Symbolism of Flies

This week is National Insect Week, and to celebrate our buggy friends I’ve decided to muse about flies… partly because of the links to Loki, and also because of their sacred symbolism in Ancient Egypt.

Many people have seen pictures of golden fly amulets and necklaces and wondered, “Why?” From a human perspective flies can seem annoying, they spread germs and diseases, and they multiply quickly. Let’s now turn this around and try to see it from a mindset the Ancient Egyptians were familiar with: symbolism and sympathetic magic.

If viewed from this perspective the fly becomes persistent and tenacious rather than annoying. As anyone who has ever dealt with them knows, flies don’t give up! They keep trying, going for what they’ve set their tiny fly-hearts on, no matter what obstacles (or fly swatters) they come up against. They are tenacious little creatures, and sometimes we too need that kind of attitude.

Flies also breed in large numbers, so from a sympathetic magic viewpoint the fly could be a very useful motif to draw upon. Fertility, in various aspects, was something the Ancient Egyptians valued so emulating the abundant fertility of the fly by wearing a fly amulet isn’t too far a leap of the imagination.

Flies also spread disease and perhaps, as with Sekhmet, their amulets were worn to try to curry favour, stave off illness, and act as a protective symbol. Flies also swarm on the dead, and it is not unreasonable to reason that they may well have a ‘death’ element to their symbolism. They are drawn to rotting substances and ‘feed’ on death in that manner too.

On a more modern level of symbolism flies as scavengers can also represent those who seek relentlessly to make what they can of the opportunities that present themselves. Flies are the ultimate opportunists. No matter how many times they’re wafted off (or chased away) they keep trying to get to what they want. Sometimes this is perfectly good stuff, but other times they’re literally feeding off poo. And this teaches us something: sometimes even the messy, s*** stuff in our lives can become fuel for our future Self.

If we tie in their fertility as well then we gain a picture of a creature relentless in the pursuit of its goals, able to turn even the rubbish times into future nourishment, and able to keep producing and creating ‘life’. We could learn a thing or two from Fly, if we’re willing to look from a more symbolic, sympathetic magic, Ancient Egyptian type of perspective.

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See also: Flies, Cats and Rat Traps: The Ordinary Animals of Ancient Egypt by Anna Garnett, Curator of the Petrie Museum –http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/2017/11/15/flies-cats-and-rat-traps-the-ordinary-animals-of-ancient-egypt/

(c) Michelle G, Northern Tamarisk, 2018

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Shared: Tattooing in Ancient Nubia by Nile Scribes

This is an interesting read for anyone interested in Ancient Egyptian and Nubian history, as well as those interested in tattoos in general. The article is short but talks about different styles, symbolism, tools and pigments used.

Egyptologists previously believed that tattoos carried a fertility or erotic significance and applied only to women in ancient Egypt — a belief that is now challenged by these new findings. Friedman points out that the wild bull was a symbol of male potency in ancient Egypt… They suggest that ‘Gebelein Woman’s’ tattoos, on the other hand, may indicate “ceremonial or ritual” involvement based on their similarities to motifs on Predynastic ceramics, figurines, and a tattoo from the late New Kingdom (1,539-1,077 BC).

You can read the full article here:
http://nilescribes.org/2018/03/10/scribal-spotlight-tattooing-in-ancient-nubia/

Shared article: Statues of ancient Egyptian lioness deity Sekhmet uncovered in Luxor

Shared from Ahram Online. Article written by  Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 3 Dec 2017

A collection of 27 fragmented statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet has been uncovered during excavation work at the King Amenhotep III funerary temple at the Kom El-Hettan area on Luxor’s west bank.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the black-granite statues have a maximum height of about two metres. Some statues depict Sekhmet sitting on a throne, holding the symbol of life in her left hand, while others show her standing and holding a papyrus sceptre before her chest. The head of Sekhmet is crowned with a sun-disk, while a uraeus adorns her forehead.

The mission began excavation work in 1998, and about 287 statues of Sekhmet have been unearthed since then.

You can read the full article here: http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/282656.aspx

Traditional Crafts at Local Village Fair

Last Summer my parents and I visited a neighbouring village for their annual village fair. It’s been going for hundreds of years, and there are no signs of it stopping any time soon. What was lovely to see, amongst the craft stalls, were two areas showcasing traditional crafts.

Rob lives in our village and makes traditional wooden frame buildings. He also does thatched roofs. He had a display of some of the techniques used, and was even giving a demonstration of how he cuts beams into shape by hand.


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Stonehenge Christmas/Yule card

How can you not love this? I wish I had known about them sooner. Perfect for the Pagan or ancient history aficionado in your life… or as a treat for yourself.
They can be bought from the English Heritage website: http://www.english-heritageshop.org.uk/stationery/stonehenge-3d-pop-up-christmas-card

Link: Temple Ritual at Abydos by Rosalie David

From the Egypt Exploration Society ‘s Twitter feed:

New volume now available! Rosalie David’s ‘Temple Ritual at Abydos’, packed full of archive photos and watercolours: https://t.co/Ae2bQ8zK6U https://t.co/YjPsy91fiP

From the website:

…Prof David added the complete translations and transliterations to the ritual inscriptions and revised the text; we selected images from the EES archives and especially from the 1930-50s Calverley & Broome folios with their magnificent watercolours…

The result is one the most ambitious volumes the EES has realised in some time and one of the most visually appealing too. On 392 pages you’ll find numerous line drawings, many full-colour reproductions of the scenes of ritual and sacrifice from the temple walls, and photographs from our archives.

Link: The Egyptian Bead Project

Finally a project that combines two of my loves: Egypt and beading.

the Egyptian Bead Project is a collaborative and multidisciplinary research program for all scholars interested in beads and beadwork. It aims to use archaeological artifact studies to increase our understanding of the role of beads and beadwork, and also trade and technologies related to beads in ancient Egypt.

You can read more on the website:
http://www.egyptianbeadproject.com

5,600-year-old religious centre discovered near Stonehenge

Another causewayed enclosure has been discovered near Stonehenge. It is located in Larkhill, Wiltshire, and is thought to date from around 3,650 BC.  Once again a new discovery is leading to a review of exactly how the sacred landscape around the site was used.

Their precise original function remains a mystery, but the scant available evidence suggests that they were used for a mixture of ceremonial, religious, political and mortuary roles.

You can read the full article on the Independent’s website:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/stonehenge-prehistoric-religious-ceremonial-centre-discovered-archaeologists-a7425346.html