Djeser Djeseru (Revised)

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This piece is a kind of poetic experiment. It is two independent texts (one composed by me in English, one transcribed from Egyptian) constructed and interleaved in a way that allows them to be read as one continuous poem, individually, or in a combination of languages.  So at least three readings are possible (more if there are two or three readers and/or the texts are read in A, B, and A+B sequence in both languages). The inspiration comes from a moment just at dawn in January 2016, when hundreds of birds appeared seemingly from nowhere above the great Deir el Bahari Temple of Hatshepsut. The Temple’s proper name is Djeser Djeseru, which forms the title.

 

Djeser Djeseru

Djeser Djeseru Title Glyphs

(ḏá:sir ḏasú:ru)

Dawn light and cliff glow

Bathe stone walls and altar –

White, orpiment, and umber

Blend to gold. There are birds, birds –

Djeser Djeseru Line 1 Glyphs

(wannaná nan apúdyu ḥarúsin ma rámaṯ ḳádsin ma apúdyu)#

(How these birds exist is with their faces as people and their nature as birds,)*

 

Banking and turning above, like waves against the cliffs, not touching, not crashing,

In conscious flow they call through the rock cove – Living, living.

Djeser Djeseru Line 2 Glyphs

(wúꜤꜤu amá madwáf ḫíft sanúwif ma mádu ramí:wat)

(One of them speaking to the other with the speech of crying.)

 

Crying like the Ba of Shu, a wind of souls,

They greet the shining sun who woke them

From dark caves beyond the mountain.

From lament to joy, their songs cheer – healing, healing,

Djeser Djeseru Line 3 Glyphs

(ará ma-ḫít iwásin ar wanmá sí:mu ar saḏfá’ ma kú:mat)

(After they come to eat plants and get nourished in the Black Land,)

 

As their waves subside. Dry rock silence replaces echoes of voices

And they descend to lush fields of birsim and sesame, cabbage and cane. Flying, flying,

Djeser Djeseru Line 4 Glyphs

(ḫanyásin ẖur ḥíḏwat nit pú’at)

(alighting under the brightness of the sky,)

 

They move to broader day. New light subsumes old thoughts.

Across flat rich land and canals,

The spectrum widens in greens and metal-shine,

Yet with old rhythms still sounding, sounding –

Djeser Djeseru Line 5 Glyphs

(ḫaparḫarásin ma ḳádsin (ni) apúdyu)

(then they change into their nature of birds.)

 

In their separated hearts, now just people, now just birds,

Echoes linger of Gods they praised in Most Sacred of Sacred Places:

Blessing, blessing.

Matt Whealton, May 2016, May 2017, January 2018

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Notes:

Djeser Djeseru is the Egyptian name of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri. The Name is often translated as ‘Holy of Holies’. Here I translate as “Most Sacred of Sacred Places”, since Holy of Holies carries some confusing connotations from usage in other religious traditions. Djeser Djseru is the proper name of the Temple here. The central, most sacred shrine in a temple is usually called Per-Wer (pr-wr) ‘Great House’, or sometimes Set-Weret (s.t-wr.t) ‘Great Seat/Throne’.

#Burgundy italic reconstructed vocalizations are my own work.

*Black italic text in parentheses are from an inscription in the Cenotaph of Seti I at Abydos. Translation by James P. Allen. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale Egyptological Studies 2, 1988: 1. Hieroglyphic text was transcribed from von Lieven, Alexandra. Grundriss des Laufes der Sterne: das sogenannte Nutbuch. Vol. 31. Museum Tusculanum Press, 2007, 408-409.

 

© Matthew J. Whealton, May 2016, 2017, 2018

Pantheacon 2016 Presentations

Pantheacon 2016 Presentations

[Update 4/6/2016: I have added the short descriptions of the talks, as well as a couple of notes about them]

Here are two presentations delivered at Pantheacon 2016:

Waking up Gods, Waking up Creation: The Egyptian Morning Hymn

Descriptive blurb submitted for the Pantheacon Program: “We will explore the Morning Hymn used to waken the Gods and Goddesses in Egyptian Temples – covering the hymn’s history, meaning, parts, and performance. We will end by learning to pronounce and sing choral portions of the hymn and then perform a complete hymn together for a God or Goddess”.

Presentation – PDF rendering of PowerPoint slides and a PDF handout distributed at the talk.

Waking The Gods Presentation

Waking The Gods Handout

 

Weaving the Cloth of Reality: Word and Sound in Egyptian Ritual

Descriptive blurb submitted for the Pantheacon Program: “Egyptian rituals use the sounds of words, along with their meanings, to connect to mythic themes and tie the ritual utterances together into effective tools. The goal is to please the Gods, re-energize Them, and sustain creation itself each day. We will explore sound and how it can deepen our modern understanding and practice of Egyptian ritual by looking at current progress in reconstructing the pronunciation of Egyptian, analyze the layers of meaning in some simple ritual texts, and then pronounce them”.

Presentation – PDF rendering of PowerPoint slides

Weaving The Cloth Of Reality Presentation

Notes:

These slides are clearly not the complete content of the talks and unfortunately the talks were not recorded. Nevertheless, I will leave these here in the interest of documentation and as a reference point for some later posts, so I may refer back to them.

You will notice that some of the material from The Morning Hymn for Seven Goddesses is included in the Pantheacon slides. We sang about half of that Hymn as part of the presentation, diverging a little bit from the plan in the blurb text.

The ‘Waking the Gods Handout’ provides a short form Morning Hymn vocalization for both a God and a Goddess and a pronunciation key. If you feel so moved, use them in your own devotions. By all means experiment – sing them in English or Egyptian, for any God or Goddess, using whichever way of saying Their names that is meaningful to you, or chant them, or say them out loud. They are meant as tools and (hopefully) take off points for your own practice. No need to obsess over doing them one right way. The Egyptians had multiple versions, and we can too. Make them live!

There are more examples of the Morning Hymn text than are covered in ‘Waking the Gods’. One of those, Utterance 6 of the Temple Statue Ritual (Berlin Papyrus 3055), titled simply ky r(A) “Another Utterance”, contains a quite interesting version. It will receive its own treatment in a subsequent post.

The photograph is one I took at Deir el Bahri Temple in January 2016. It shows the rising sun shining directly into the sanctuary of Amun, albeit somewhat misaligned. The alignment would be very near perfect at the Winter Solstice, to which the temple is aligned. We were there a couple of weeks later.

A Single Conversation of Consequence : The Morning Hymn for Seven Goddesses

Sometimes a simple chance conversation can have powerful consequences. This past October, I attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions, a very large international interfaith event. The event is amazing, with people from all over the planet and from every kind of religion/faith/tradition you can think of participating. All kinds of things happen when so many people get together who are open to sharing their insights into common problems from their individually diverse spiritual and religious perspectives.

The last formal event I attended was the “Solidarity with Indigenous Communities Plenary” on the very last day. There were many speakers from many different indigenous peoples from around the world, with one person on stage being Jean Fleury, Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Peace Ambassador and a key organizer of the Healing Hearts at Wounded Knee Global Ceremony. (Please go take a look at their mission statements and invitation to participate in healing the wounds from all Massacres and help to end them in the future). At any rate, the Plenary Session lasted longer than scheduled, and by the time it was finished the carpets were literally being rolled up in the Salt Lake City Convention Center. Luckily, the food court was still open so I rushed over for a quick lunch. Or so I thought. While getting napkins and whatnot, Jean asked if she could join me for lunch. So we sat down and started talking and sharing our paths, as people often do at the Parliament. I described my particular Kemetic path briefly and talked about my passion for speaking and singing the rituals in Egyptian, and that I was starting out with the Morning Hymn found in a number of temples and texts. She said “Well you know you have to sing it for me now!” and so I did – haltingly and only partially since it wasn’t finished by any means at that point.

And then she asked “You do know you are singing for the Ancestors from Egypt, don’t you?”. I was slightly stunned for a moment at that question. It was both a recognition and a challenge, completely serious and completely attuned to the deeper goals of what I had described, though I hadn’t actually said anything about deeper goals. She saw past the surface description and pulled out the source of those passions. My answer was and is “Yes”. Humbly, “Yes”. A yes that carries responsibilities I know I do not yet fully understand.
Then came another question that was both an invitation and a challenge – “I would love to have your song on the HHWK web site. Could you record it and allow us to post it there?” Again, after a gulp, the answer was Yes.

So here is the Morning Hymn For Seven Goddesses, as recorded in honor of and for the Healing Hearts Global Ceremony 2015 and stored on their site.

Note: Since making the recording last December (2015) I have changed the voweling in one place (many times repeated). In a subsequent post, I’ll be giving some more information on the Morning Hymn and the reconstructed forms used in it.

The Temple of Ra in San Francisco did perform a ritual on December 29th, 2015 as part of the Global Ceremony. In that ritual we sang the hymn together. The ritual itself was an Interfaith event in a way, in that we had non-members present representing non-Kemetic Polytheist, Wiccan, and Orthodox Christian traditions. That I feel was a great way to honor both the memory of Wounded Knee and the joyfully interconnected phenomenon that is the Parliament of the World’s Religions.