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Part One

Coming of Age > Chapter Eleven

Djehouty’s Eight-Notched Scepter


Huy walked around the Hall of Columns with Horemheb while he reviewed the previous day’s lesson and questioned Horemheb about the night sky. Then he walked through the great Pylon into the corridor of the Sanctuary, turned right and entered the first room. Horemheb followed. There the Tutor continued with new material for Horemheb:

“Eight notches on Djehouty’s staff
Represent eight powers.
The lowest of these are Geb and Nout,
Everything you have ever experienced
And ever will of the earth and the sky.
When you came out of your mother’s womb,
Like a heifer who licks its calf,
Your mother kissed and caressed you,
She awakened you into this life
To feel and experience everything
Both with your body and your heart.

Huy sat on the cold flagstone, tucked his feet under himself and waited. Horemheb thought about Geb and Nout and wondered how Geb felt about people walking over him daily. He shrugged his shoulders. His Tutor took that as a sign to continue. Huy stood and walked out into the corridor and walked into the second room. He looked at the carved inscriptions on the wall and began to speak:

“The second notch belongs to Min,
The God of sexual prowess
And Hathor, the Goddess of love.
These Gods come from the desert, the Red Land
Where their appetites have been parched.
When they found the Black Land
With its Gods and peoples,
They taught them unbridled lust.
Seshat civilized them
And taught them to use their bodies
And emotions with discernment.
Their counterpart is Sekhmet,
The lion-headed Goddess of power.
When a man overpowers a woman sexually
Instead of working in balance,
When an overseer overpowers his workmen with his stick
Instead of treating them with respect,
Sekhem is used destructively.
When a magistrate listens to the complaints of a peasant
Instead of dismissing him with disdain,
When the Lord of the Manor
Treats his Mistress of the House
As his fertile field instead of a barren desert,
Then sekhem becomes the power of healing.

Huy stopped again and waited before moving on to the next room along the corridor:

“The third notch is the realm of Montu and Neith.
The God of war and the Goddess of the hunt,
The true and swift flight of the arrow,
Stand on the brink of war or peace within one’s self.
When self-promotion and self-aggrandizement
At the expense of others control one’s action;
When unbridled will and ambition rule,
A person projects aggression and
Spreads fear among his family and friends.
Moot, the mother Goddess, takes those
Slain by this forceful triumph of power.
But when Montu and Neith
Rest in self-confidence and internal balance,
Moot nurtures her children.

“These three notches are your feet,
Your groin and your stomach.
They are subject to Seshat,
The Goddess of linear measurement,
The measurement of the outside world.
These three lowest notches
Represent what every child learns from
His parents, friends, priests and teachers,
What every child learns about the word
That is outside, the world
That can be experienced by the body.”

Amenhotep, Son of Hapu stopped. They walked around the room. Horemheb looked at the vignettes, read the inscriptions and considered their symbolic meaning. His Tutor waited patiently for a sign that his pupil had completed his thoughts before leading him into the next room:

“The fourth notch stands for the heart.
Here Ast and Aseer serve and mediate,
A sacred couple who know the rules.
They help you understand everything
You experienced below and above.
The lower three notches
Interact with the outside world, or,
As the human being perceives
The world outside of the physical self.
The three notches above the heart
Deal with inner sentience, or,
How the human being
Senses the world from within,
From behind the eyes.

“The fourth notch is the most important.
Although Ast and Aseer are asleep,
They do not know how to mediate
Before a certain age, your age, now.
Today your heart will wake up to them,
Today your mind will awaken them.
You will now see them outside of you,
As law-givers who brought to Egypt
Agriculture, worship of the Gods
And Government, the basic tools of
Collective survival and Security.

“But within you, the are Intelligence.
Ast and Aseer, awake in your heart
Form the Intelligence of the Heart,
Secret sanctuary of Djehouty.
Pharaohs and mortals have sought its key,
Most in vain, mostly without success.
Without this key that opens the heart
Individuals cannot connect
The upper notches to the lower,
Cannot tie together what happens
In the outside world, beyond the eyes,
To that which happens inside oneself. “

“Now sit down,” Huy ordered the boy, “and listen to your heart beat inside your chest as you think upon my words.” Time passed. Horemheb looked up from his meditations and Huy led him into the next room:

“The fifth notch is home to Khonsu and Bast,
The God and Goddess of the moon.
As the moon waxes and wanes,
You will understand who you are,
Then begin to doubt it,
Sometimes you will be full of yourself
Just as the moon is full,
Other times you will feel lost,
Empty, just as the moon hides
And withdraw from the visible world.
This fifth notch is how you see yourself,
It represents who you are, no matter
What anyone else thinks or says about you.

“When the secret chamber
Wherein Djehouty dwells is open,
The fifth notch will open
Your understanding as to
Why Nature and the Noble Cattle
Act and behave the way they do.
You will be able to respond with Wisdom
Instead of reacting with fear and anger.

“When the fourth notch is active
Khonsu and Bast bless the individual
With immense intuitive powers.
When the heart beats, unappreciated,
Cut off from its sisters and brothers,
Khonsu and Bast rage
With madness and lunacy.

Horemheb heard stories about people going mad when the moon was full, mostly women. At the height of the Inundation he even saw a curious event. One of the men at Hanis was ill. He had green strings of worm excrement hanging out of his nose and he was unable to clean himself. He could not talk properly, nor hear another person, although his eyes told him exactly where he was and where he wanted to go. The townspeople loved him nevertheless and cleaned his clothes daily. This sick man knew which household to go to in order to have a good meal. Then, on the Second Full Moon of the Inundation, he was just dressed in a clean kilt, and, because it was a day of Festival, a family put a white apron around his waist. The man had never before appeared to the townspeople with a white apron. He walked around the town in his halting gait, stopping in front of everyone, barring their way until he saw in their face the awe and wonder of seeing him with a white apron. When the sun set and everyone had returned to their houses in order to prepare for the Festival, the sick man looked down upon his new apron. It was streaked with green worm excrement from inside his nose and mouth. He began to howl so loudly that people came to their household doors and looked. Heroo was on a visit to the Mayor’s household and Horemheb was at his side. They saw the sick man earlier in the day. He had stopped them and the townspeople ran up to the man to restrain him and pulled him away from the Lord of Hanis, but Heroo had acknowledged his new apron. When they heard him howling, the moon was already above the desert mountains and had lit the main road of the town. The sick man began to walk through the town in his lame fashion, then began to run. He ran towards the quay and did not stop at the land’s edge. He ran right into the river in sight of everyone, but no one ran to save him. Horemheb heard someone whisper that Khonsu took him.

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