A core value of ancient Kemetic civilisation (‘Kemet’ was one of the ancient names given to country that later became known as ‘Egypt’) was the concept of ma’at – harmony and balance in all aspects of life. The entire universe was made up of masculine and feminine elements, maintained in a state of perfect balance by the goddess Ma’at. As a result, Kemetic religion honoured male gods and female goddesses, each with their own areas of expertise.
Rameses III offering Ma’at to Osiris. Scene from tomb of Ramses III. (KV11)
[Image source (http://www.thebanmappingproject.com) via Wikipedia].
There were at least seven female pharaohs, including Merneith (whose reign is dated to around 2970 BC), Khentkawes I, known as the mother of Egypt (who died c 2510–2490 BC), Sobeknefru: the crocodile queen (died c1785 BC). Hatshepsut who (ruled c1479–1458 BC) who is considered to be one of the most powerful women of the ancient world and among the greatest pharaohs of Egypt, Nefertiti, who ruled alongside her husband and may have succeeded him as sole ruler, Tawosret the last known ruler and the final pharaoah of the 19th Dynasty (12th century BC), Arsinoe II who died in 268 BC) and Cleopatra VII (c. 69-30 BCE), the last queen of Egypt before it was annexed by Rome.
Women were free to work, travel and own property. Women did not require the supervision, consultation, or approval of a man in order to pursue any course of action. Marriages were not arranged, so women could marry and divorce as they pleased. Reliefs, paintings, and inscriptions depict husbands and wives eating together, dancing, drinking, and working the fields with one another.
Most significantly, women were important members of the clergy. “Birth control and abortions were available to married and unmarried women”
Now no culture is ever perfect and significant divisions existed in Kemetic society at the time based on class and wealth BUT ….fast-forward to 2016…
[Image Source: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS]
So what happened?
Women’s status began to decline in Egypt with the rise of Christianity in the 4th century CE due to the belief that original sin had entered the world through Eve’s disobedience, thus women were of less value and less trustworthy than men. The Arab Invasion of the 7th century CE brought Islam to the country now known as Egypt. It’s now believed that sometime during this period, the original inhabitants of Kemet migrated south and dispersed across other regions of the African continent.
It seems unbelievable that a woman living 3000 years ago in Kemet could have had more rights than so many women living in the present day.
Yet in 2016:
- the ordination of women is considered a controversial issue.
- women risk being imprisoned for 14 years for buying abortion pills online.
- a woman who spent her life working as a children and families lawyer, as an educator, as a senator and then secretary of state runs for President of the United States and is beaten by a man who boasts about sexually assaulting women and who views pro-choice as a criminal act.
As I will explore in later posts on this blog, I believe that a spiritual interpretation of these problems is that they stem from a lack of ma’at – balance – in society and often at a personal level.
There’s a similar concept to ma’at in traditional Chinese culture – Yin-Yang – where all phenomena is comprised of two opposite yet interdependent energies.
[Image source: Wikipedia].
Yin is associated with the qualities of the sacred feminine (the moon, darkness, cold, damp) and Yang is associated with the qualities of the sacred masculine (the sun, light heat, dryness). Both qualities are equally necessary and important and it’s normal and harmonious for the relative levels of Yin-Yang to fluctuate over time, but when one or the other gets significantly and chronically out of balance sickness and other problems ensue.
What we’re seeing in the world is a reflection of excessive yang energy and David Revoy depicted this brilliantly in the illustration below entitled “The Yin and Yang of world hunger“.
[Image by David Revoy via http://www.davidrevoy.com/article43/yin-and-yang-of-world-hunger]
Encouraging women (and men) to foster more yin energy to get back into balance isn’t about weakness, it’s about recognising and reclaiming a power – subtle power – which is equal to that of the dominant culture.
Women seem to have forgotten the true power of the ‘cunt’, a word that was originally a term of respect and reverence for a powerful, spiritually enlightened woman. Amongst other meanings, ‘cunt’ derives from ‘Kunda’ or ‘Cunti, the Oriental Great Goddess. She was the Great Yoni (Sanskrit = Source of all life) of the Universe, where all life came from and to where all life returned for renewal.
And the final word goes to Betty White:
[Image by T4C via https://www.theburningplatform.com/2014/03/30/things-that-take-balls/]
[Featured image source: @alfarman via Flickr under Creative Commons license]
The role of women in Kemet: representing power and divinity by Dr Sally-Ann Ashton http://kemetexpert.com/the-role-of-women-in-kemet-representing-power-and-divinity/
“Women in Ancient Egypt,” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Joshua J. Mark, http://www.ancient.eu /article/623/
From Warrior Women to Female Pharaohs: Careers for Women in Ancient Egypt by Dr Joann Fletcher http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/women_01.shtml
The female ‘kings’ of ancient Egypt http://www.historyextra.com/article/premium/female-kings-ancient-egypt
Women’s Legal Rights in Ancient Egypt (2002) by Janet H. Johnson http://fathom.lib.uchicago.edu/1/777777190170/
Vonny Moyes: How can I explain the women of 2016 to my daughter http://www.thenational.scot/comment/14974083.Vonny_Moyes__How_can_I_explain_the_women_of_2016_to_my_daughter_/
Yin & Yang in Chinese Medicine https://www.sacredlotus.com/go/foundations-chinese-medicine/get/yin-yang
Origins of the word ‘Cunt’ https://cherishthecunt.com/2013/02/10/origins-of-the-word-cunt/