Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dancers kicking up their heels. . .

Saqqara: On the seventh day (out of seventeen) of our 2007 Egypt tour, we were impressed with the sublime grandeur of the bas-relief at the mastaba (rectangular tomb) of Mereruka [son-in-law of King Titi dating back to the Old Kingdom (approx. 2340 BCE*)]. I especially loved seeing depictions of clappers marking time for the dancers kicking up their heels.
Yours truly kicking up her heels Hathor Chapel, Isis Temple Complex

Aswan and the Temple of Isis:
 On Day 8 our group headed toward Jordan while my friends, Lana, Melissa, Gloriel and I flew to Aswan in order to visit the Temple of Isis with its supremely high and sweet energy.In fact, during my very last few hours in Luxor at the end of our tour I was reminded of these images when I enjoyed a celebration on the West Bank in honor of the first day of Spring (the Monday following Easter Sunday). A troupe of Nubian drummers and dancers were entertaining tourists at a local restaurant and their performance consisted of three men drumming and eight men chanting while clapping. They moved in two lines facing one another, coming together and then backing up. They then progressed to circle dances with their hands either palm to palm or embracing one another with their arms draped around the shoulders and one extremely agile young man dancing in the center. He deftly descended to his knees while shimmering his shoulders and softly bending backwards. 
Isis, the Great Mother Goddess, is greatly revered throughout ancient Egyptian culture and to this day she is a symbol of loving protection among other things. Her temple on the island of Philae was the last to close. Due to invading religious dominance, it did not cease operation until approx. 550 CE* when during the reign of the Emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D), the main temple was converted to a church. After this the temples of the island were neglected but they remained practically intact since the ancient days. After the dam was built in Aswan, with each inundation the situation worsened and in the sixties the island was sadly submerged up to a third of the buildings all year round.

Melissa on the ferry to the Temple of Isis
NOTE: In 1960 UNESCO started a project in order to try and save the buildings on the island frothe destructive effect of the ever-increasing waters of the Nile and so the complex was transported from the Island of Philae to the nearby island of Agilkia, situated on higher ground.

Similar to my feelings in the Bahariya Oasis I could have lingered much, much longer in Aswan; however, only one day was allotted in Aswan so that we could join a convoy to Luxor in order to be able to stop at Edfu, home of the Temple of Horus, son of Isis and avenger for his father Osiris, Egyptian god of life, death, and fertility.


Ancient Egyptian Diety: Horus
Edfu: Temple of Horus
Horus is a deity of the Ancient Egyptian religion, whose cult survived so long that he evolved dramatically over time and gained many names. The most well known name is the Greek Horus, representing the Egyptian Heru/Har, which is the basic element in most of the other names of Horus. 


Horus was so important that the Eye of Horus became an important Egyptian symbol of power and protection. He had a man's body and a falcon's head. He only had one eye because after Osiris was murdered by his brother Set, Horus fought with Set for the throne of Egypt. In this battle Horus lost one of his eyes and later this became a sign of protection in Egypt. Horus united Egypt and bestowed divinity upon the pharaoh. The temple complex dedicated to Horus at Edfu impressed me and I had a wonderful realization as I viewed the falcon statues depicting this revered Ancient Egyptian deity.