Friday, April 10, 2009
Further Explorations of the Word MA
Prior post on the topic: "Ma." Hola darlings! On this Good Friday, I'm going to write what Barbara Walker had to say about Maat in "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends": Maat Egyptian Goddess as personification of "Truth" or "Justice"; the original name based on the universal Indo-European mother-syllable meant simply "Mother." Maat's symbol was the feather against which she weighed each man's heart-soul (ab) in her underground Hall of Judgment. Thus the Plume of Maat itself became a hieroglyph for "truth."(1) The same feathers of Truth were worn by other aspects of the Goddess, such as Isis, who was the same lawgiving Mother. The gods themselves were constrained to "live by Maat." Her law governed all three worlds ruled by her trinity as "Lady of heaven, queen of the earth, and mistress of the underworld."(2) As the lawgiver of archaic Egypt, Maat was comparable to Babylonian Tiamat who gave the sacred tablets to the first king of gods. Maat's laws were notably benevolent, compared to the harsh commands of later patriarchal gods, backed up by savage threats like those of Deuteronomy 28:15-68. An Egyptian was expected to recite the famous Negative Confession in the presence of Maat and Thoth (or Anubis) to show he had obeyed Maat's rules of behavior: I have not been a man of anger. I have done no evil to mankind. I have not inflicted pain. I have made none to weep. I have done violence to no man. I have not done harm unto animals. I have not robbed the poor. I have not fouled water. I have not trampled fields. I have not behaved with insolence. I have not judged hastily. I have not stirred up strife. I have not made any man to commit murder for me. I have not insisted that excessive work be done for me daily. I have not borne false witness. I have not stolen land. I have not cheated in measuring the bushel. I have allowed no man to suffer hunger. I have not increased my wealth except with such things as are my own possessions. I have not seized wrongfully the property of others. I have not taken milk from the mouths of babes.(3) Those who lived by the laws of Maat took a sacramental drink, comparable to the Hindus' Soma or its Persian counterpart Haoma, which conferred ritual purity in the same sense as the Christian "washing in the blood of the Lamb." Egyptian scribes of the 3rd millenium B.C. wrote: "My inward parts have been washed in the liquor of Maat." Like baptismal water of life, Maat's potion brought life after-death to the peaceful, but death overtook violent persons.(4) Egyptian moral precepts were of a high order, many of them turning up centuries later in the Bible: Take heed not to rob the poor, and be not cruel to the destitute.... If thou canst answer the man who attacks thee, do him no injury. Let the evildoer alone; he will destroy himself. We must help the sinner, for may we not become like him?...Crusts of bread and a loving heart are better than rich food and contention.... Learn to be content with what thou hast. Treasure obtained by fraud will not stay with thee; thou hast it today, tomorrow it has departed.... The approval of man is better than riches.(5) Under the feudal disorders of the 12th dynasty [c. 1991 - 1783 BCE], old rules began to break down along with the matrilineal clan system that supported them, and educated Egyptians deplored the disruptions of society. A Heliopolitan priest wrote: "Maat is cast out, iniquity is in the midst of the council hall.... [T]he poor man has no strength to save hmself from him that is stronger than he."(6) Sometimes kinsman murdered kinsman, in violation of the clan's most sacred rule. One writer unfavorably compared his countrymen to the Maat-worshipping tribes of Nubia: "The Matoi, who are friendly towards Egypt, say: 'How could there be a man that would slay his brother?'"(7) Maat was more than a judge of the dead. She was a stand-in for all Egyptian Goddesses, including Hathor, Mut, Isis, Neith, Nekhbet, etc. The sun god was told: "The goddess Maat embraceth thee both at morn and at eve." As a birth-giver, she was sometimes Metet, the Morning Boat of the Sun, translated "becoming strong" and corresponding to the Greco-Roman mother of the dawn, Mater Matuta.(8) She was worshipped in lands other than Egypt. Northern Syria was called by the Hittites, Mat Hatti: that is, Mother of Hatti.(9) Egyptian priests drew the Feather of Maat on their tongues in green dye, to give their words a Logos-like power of Truth so their verbal magic could create reality.(1) Similarly in northern Europe the divine bard Bragi had this power because of the runes engraved on his tongue by the Goddess Idun. African Pygmies still know Maat by the name she bore in Sumeria as "womb" and "underworld": Matu. She was the first woman, and the mother of God. Like her Egyptian counterpart she was sometimes cat-headed.(11) Notes: (1) Budge, E.L., 68. (2) Budge, G.E 1, 418. (3) Budge, D.N., 254; Hallet, 411. (4) H. Smith, 49-51. (5) Budge, D.N., 258-60. (6) H. Smith, 50. (7) Erman, 43, 107. (8) Budge, G.E. 1, 323, 417. (9) Mendenhall, 157. (10) Seligmann, 39. (11) Hallet, 95. **************************************************************************** Wow! Where do I even start to comment? How about this: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, the movie which I remember from earliest times watching every Easter Sunday, will be on commercial television TOMORROW NIGHT, instead of Sunday Night! Darlings, this is absolutely, positively the END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT. Watching THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, with Charleton Heston as Moses, Anne Baxter as the best Neferteri I ever saw, and that incredibly sexy, magnetic Yul Brynner as Rameses, is a must see for everyone. Indeed, there's something in this movie for everyone, which is why so many people continue to watch it year after year. Anyway, tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. will find me comfortably ensconced in my recliner (yes, I have one - go suck Easter Eggs if you're laughing) with a large supply of Wine and Fritos close to hand, to once again watch the Grand Epic and laugh at Charleton Heston's really bad acting. But I have to give it to the man, he was a hunk back in his day. Whoa! From THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, we now turn to THE TEN COMMANDMENTS - the real ones (allegedly), which were passed to Moses by Yahweh himself. While I certainly believe that anyone and everyone can experience supernatural events/happenings/revelations, or whatever one wishes to call such an event, I do not believe how THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (I think they were originally referred to as THE TEN WORDS) mysteriously multipled whilst residing in the Ark of the Covenant and turned into several thousand burdensome and petty rules, governing the minutest part of life. As a consequence, the followers of Yahweh became a people of rules rather than what Yahweh intended them to be, a people guided by a short list of principles to live by. Rules come and go, but principles are forever. Perhaps this is a lesson we need to revisit these days in the USA. I am pretty sure that if we had been a people of principles rather than legalistic rules, the CRASH OF 2008 would not have happened. Well, be that as it may, anyone who reads Abovethelaw.com these days and who absolutely HATES lawyers or wannabe lawyers is laughing their butts off! If you thought Wall Street types were totally self-absorbed, you haven't yet been introduced to the world of the 3L. Goddess, to think that I was once in that world - but thank Goddess, I wasn't like that - Maat, I've got a positive negative confession to make! That's why I got the hell out of the profession after five years. Overall, I haven't regretted it, but I sure wish I could figure out a way to make a lot of money without selling my soul to SATAN. Ha! That's not gonna happen, darlings. And just as well. I think I have a Napoleonic Complex... So glad the Goddess thumped me on the head one day and said - ENOUGH! And, cutting things short here because I've been at work all day and it's nearly 8 PM and I'm hungry and I want to make a casserole and TOP MODEL is coming on, I am SO glad I finally know where that famous saying came from - about taking the milk out of the mouth of babes. We STILL use it today. WOW! Ancient Egypt - the Negative Confessions - the Goddess Maat! ROCK ON MAAT!