Back in Rome


Well, it’s been awhile. Dame Eleanor Marmot, Yeti, Wombat and I are back in Rome. Our trip to Egypt gave me so much to think about. We went to so many temples. We climbed through pyramids. We visited Abu Simbel.

You might remember that I was feeling close to Anubis, the Egyptian god who looks like a jackel. Then I got the feeling I was in over my head. The pantheon of Egyptian gods are represented sometimes as animals and sometimes as animal/human. I find that, being an animal myself, but also interested in things human, I find myself in a unique relationship with these human/animal gods. When I meditate on them, I see them and I feel like they are speaking to me. So the following reflections come from one of my visions.

The Egyptian gods, or neteru, of Egypt reach far, far back into the past that animals and humans share. Animals used to be revered for their special qualities. Anubis wanted me to get to know Sobek, the neter who is either a crocodile or half crocodile/ half human. Anubis and Sobek work together doing Judgments.

The ancient Egyptians believed that when a person dies, they come before a tribunal of the gods and are judged. Anubis is the master of ceremonies at these Judgments. He leads the recently deceased person to the Balance of Justice where his heart will be weighed. If the person feels a lot of guilt inside, the ancient Egyptians concluded that he must have done bad things and feel guilty for them. On one side of the scale is a feather. The person’s heart is weighed against the feather. If the heart is heavier than the feather that is where Sobek comes in. Sobek eats the heart and the person goes to eternal damnation.

That is really worrying, don’t you think? I mean, what if you are a pretty good person but you feel guilty all the time? Does that count?

I think perhaps it does. So if you are like me, and tend to feel guilty just out of a bad habit, I think the neteru are right, one really has to try to understand what it might be to have a lighter, freer heart. A heart that is light as a feather.

This model of harsh judgment seems very old-fashioned these days, but I think maybe the concepts can be updated for creatures like us who carry around a combination of necessary and unnecessary guilt. Maybe the ancient Egyptians were more psychologically healthy. Maybe we can work on seeing our guilt and accepting our guilty feelings, and maybe somehow, through that process, our hearts will become lighter.

I really hope so.

Here is a picture of me and Sobek. I had a vision that he went with me to a movie recently and shared his ankh with me.

Thanks, Sobek!

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I am an artist and psychotherapist living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

2 thoughts on “Back in Rome”

  1. I wouldn’t say that failing the test of the heart vs feather results in damnation. I describe that sentence as “oblivion” which is far worse. You are exiled to nothingness and it is as if you never existed and that is far worse than eternal punishment.

    1. Alasdair Oblivion does sound far worse than damnation. I think it is so difficult for us to have any understanding of why we are in this big and mysterious universe. No one has ever figured it out. You can’t ask anyone. The ancient Egyptians seemed to be able to hold a sense that whatever it is that we are a part of–it is somehow meaningful. That sense is where I am placing my trust and hope and I feel it is up to each of us to develop that sense in ourselves in whatever way we can. Warm wishes

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