Ancient Inspirations: Reverence for Nature II

The ntr Hapy symmetrically depicted, and holding the sema- tawy symbol of the unity of the Two Lands between.

The ntr (power, god) Hapy symmetrically depicted and holding the sema- tawy symbol of the unity of the Two Lands between.

Far from being irrelevant to today’s concerns, ancient holistic philosophy offers beautiful, timeless insights to remind modern humankind of the interrelation of all things in the kosmosPart and parcel of a holistic worldview is recognizing the bountiful gifts provided freely by nature, upon which all life is dependent. The contemporary movement of going ‘green’ is a but a necessary return to ancient roots of holism and practicing such understanding today.

After the positive response to the first post Ancient Inspirations: Reverence for Nature, I’m continuing this series as a way of promoting greater awareness and engagement with ancient holistic thinking. 

Although many moderns may deem themselves too “sophisticated” to thank nature in a very personal way with open demonstrations or statements of praise, not so the ancient Egyptians. Below is another beautiful example of ancient Egyptian holism expressed through reverence for nature.  In this case, the verses about Hapy (or Hapi) the ntr (power, god) of the Nile  (Fig. 1) are extracted from the writings of two separate tombs from the New Kingdom:

Hapy (Nile river) who flows every day…

To nourish the people, and all lands’ creatures that walk on legs,

A Hapy from heaven [nourishing rain] for foreign peoples,

For Egypt the Hapy who comes from the duat [netherworld].”

– from Lichtheim’s text Ancient Egyptian Literature: The New Kingdombrackets mine.

Limestone Fragment painted with pigment.  From Luxor, Tomb of Mentuemhet, Third Intermediate Period to Late Period,  Dynasties 25-26, ca. 690-660 BCE


Fig 2. Gifts of Nile on Limestone Fragment painted with pigment.
From Luxor, Tomb of Mentuemhet, Third Intermediate Period to Late Period, Dynasties 25-26, ca. 690-660 BCE

How will you appreciate the life-sustaining nature of water today? By expressing gratitude for quenching your thirst, purifying your system, or providing for the very food we eat which we would not have without water? One abbreviated way the people of ancient Egypt or Kemet represented the fertility and abundance provided by the Nile (and more specifically the inundation/flood period) is illustrated by Hapy’s rolls of fat and drooping pectorals as shown above 🙂 

The abundant gifts of water are innumerable, but here are a few more: Rejuvenating your limbs and skin, refreshing your spirit which dwells in the temple of your body, and cleansing our environments. Even the very presence of water invigorates and vivifies, so perhaps a walk by the local seaside, lake or river? Finally, since ancient times large bodies of water have continued to be a source of transportation (Fig. 3).

Thoughts, comments, input?  What are some of your favorite ways of enjoying water or other gifts of the natural world?

If you like the idea of receiving regular ancient inspirations, please let me know by a like, share or even posting a  comment.  I’m extremely new to social media, and still trying to figure out the best way(s) to share ancient holistic thinking with people.  For those interested in doing an in-depth study, the upcoming book on the roots of holism in ancient Egyptian philosophy and its parallels with ancient Greek thought will be available later this fall, and the classes thereafter.  Best wishes to all!

Lone on Nile.

Ancient transportation, harnessing the power of nature. Felucca on blue Nile at Aswan.
Photo credit: http://www.thisfabtrek.com/journey/africa/egypt/20100110-luxor.php

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