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Part Two

Coming of Age > Chapter Eight



Amenhotep, Son of Hapu smiled, nodded, rose to his feet and began to walk among the columns. I followed him. After a few minutes the Great Royal Scribe began to speak:
“Initiation is a beginning. It is a natural consequence of having finished or accomplished something. You have finished seven years of scribal instruction and, as far as I am concerned, you could go and find a Patron, even Pharaoh himself, and start your duties as a scribe somewhere. But that is not what you will do! Three forces have converged around you which guide you to do otherwise. One is your own will: you wish to be a soldier against all the advice and teachings of the scribes. The second force comes from me: Pharaoh, LPH, needs a group of new soldiers as his strong arm. I believe that you and your brothers can form part of that group. The third force has been with you since birth: the Seven Hathors have declared that you will travel upon the body of our Father Geb from the farthest gold mine in Nubia in the south to the highest peak of Hatti-land in the north, from the end of Mittani, which lies in the great valley between the two rivers of Asia in the east, to the desert wastelands of the Libu in the west. Scribes don’t travel that far, but merchants and soldiers do. We even had a Pharaoh who traveled to the ends of his domains, Djehouty-Moses Men-Kheper-Ra, grandfather of Djehouty-Moses Men-Kheperu-Ra.
“Scribal instruction, which you have completed, and a soldier’s training, which you will begin in due time, define what you do. However, before you begin to work for others, you have to learn who you are within yourself: your body, health, life force, character, Ka and Ba. Unless you know who you are within, your life and your work will be like a ship without a sail on the windswept seas, or a riverboat without a steering oar.”

Amenhotep, Son of Hapu, the Great Royal Scribe, leaned forward and stood up. He towered over me in the east-west corridor of the Hall of Columns and spoke solemnly:
“Horemheb, son of Heroo, Lord of Hanis, High Priest of the Temple of Heroo at Hanis, and Mereeyet, his Mistress of the House, High Priestess of this Temple of Djehouty, you are standing in this Temple for the last time as a child. When you leave here in three days, you will leave as an adult, a fully formed man both within and without. I will give you the key of Djehouty, that is my task for these three days. How you use that key, however, is a matter between you and the God!
“Initiation is a beginning. It is a consequence of having completed something and the need to keep going. Look back on your life: you have completed seven years after your birth, during which your body participated in the existence of the world around you; you have also completed seven more years during which your heart, your thoughts within you, participated in the meaning of the world around you. Both your body and your heart are now fully formed, although both will continue to grow until you are ready to unite with the land and join Aseer with a pure heart. Since your body and your heart have participated in separate aspects of this world, today you will begin the more difficult task of reconciling those two vastly different experiences. You will also begin the task of living with yourself. You will learn how to speak with the Gods within yourself. Are you ready Horemheb?”

I was caught off guard. My imagination flew with the possibilities my Tutor opened up. When I realized that Amenhotep, Son of Hapu was waiting for an answer, I had to repeat his words to find the question. There were so many things to do! But his question kept echoing in my head: “Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready?’
“Yes, I am ready,” I finally blurted out with a hurried enthusiasm.
“I am going to tell you,” Amenhotep, Son of Hapu continued, “the story of how Djehouty came into being. But first, let’s look at how some of the other Gods came into being. When Atum said ‘before Newn, I am’, he confirmed that he already existed before Chaos. But he also claimed that he came into being on the First Mound, which rose out of Newn. Who made the First Mound come out of Newn? Furthermore, Atum and Ra are said to be one and the same. Are they? Did Ra come out of Newn to join Atum or has the Sun always shone on the Primordial Chaos? Atum has confusing credentials.”

I sensed that the Sage did not expect me to answer. I imagined a sunny day when the Two Lands were not yet formed and the chaotic, churning waters of Newn even covered the stars. Then a small mound emerged from the waters and Ra looked upon it and, under the heat of his rays, it became dry land. Ra called that mound Youn. He stood upon the mound in his form of Atum, took his phallus in his hand and stimulated himself until his body shook and his seed spurted out. From that ecstatic shaking Atum turned the first spurt into the Sky Goddess Nout and the Earth God, Geb. From the fine spray that followed, Atum created Tefnut, Moisture and Shu, Air. With the second spurt of seed Atum brought forth another four Gods, and as the shaking wound down, the remaining minor spurts fell onto the mound and into the waters and turned into animals and fish. As children, we heard the story many times. There was nothing confusing about it. But Amenhotep, Son of Hapu put questions into my head, which I couldn’t answer. ‘Who brought forth the First Mound?’ and ‘How did Ra happen to be there when the First Mound rose from Newn?’
I began to think this question through:
‘If there were only two beings before the First Time, Newn and Atum, who created them? Although Atum claimed to be there before Newn, Atum did not claim to have created Newn. Therefore, they both came into being on their own. If Newn was below and Atum was above, which one of them created the First Mound? Atum was male, since he claimed to have a phallus. Newn, therefore, must have been female. But Newn is said to have a consort, Newnette. The two of them have been forever intertwined in an eternal churning. They must have produced the First Mound because Newn was not known for having a vagina, and Atum did not use his phallus to impregnate Newn’

I thought I had worked it out smoothly when something else occurred to me. I had heard that women, during sexual play, call their little mound, which is just above the vagina and is covered with thick, black hair, their First Mound. Several girls had asked me to scratch and caress their mounds these past few years. When I did as they asked, one told me that it must feel similar to when she caresses my phallus. ‘That may be,’ I thought to myself with a tinge of pleasure going up my spine, ‘but if the First Mound belonged to Newnette, who was female, then she always had a First Mound! Moreover, when Atum spilled his seed all over Newnette’s First Mound, I wouldn’t be surprised if she became pregnant and gave birth to the first eight Gods and Goddesses. When I first poked my phallus towards a girl’s vagina and made contact with her, I remember being so excited that I spilled my seed all over her mound and belly. And Atum had never used his phallus before either! That’s it!’

“If Newn was male and he had a female consort, Newnette, My Father,” I said aloud, “then she always had a First Mound. Newn and Newnette churned the Primeval Chaos in an eternal embrace that produced nothing. But Newnette sensed Atum’s creativity and in her unfulfilled fertility she broke the eternal embrace with Newn. For the first time, she turned around. Her mound came out of the waters for Atum to caress and to stick his phallus under it. But Atum had never seen a female mound before. He didn’t stand on that mound, like he said he did. Instead, he poked it with his phallus. He did not masturbate like he claimed to have done. Rather, in his excitement, he shook and his seed flowed all over Newnette. It is most likely she who gave birth to the first eight Gods and Goddesses! Her mound became known as the First Mound and their creative conjunction became known as the First Time.”

Huy stared at me without expression. I thought I said something wrong. Eventually he said:, “Your imagination is also very creative. Djehouty has a strong grip on you. Others have offered some clever possibilities. One of these is that Newn could have given birth to Atum. These solutions are only speculations. There may be many other ways Atum could have come into being. Very few people ever seek Atum’s origin. The Noble Cattle are usually satisfied with the first story they hear.”

We remained quiet and I became lost in thought. I don’t remember where I went or what I thoughts about. Finally, the Sage continued:
“Ptah thought himself into being. But have you ever thought about why Ptah is wrapped from head to toe with only his two hands sticking out?”
“He was a metal worker…,” I said what I knew and instantly saw the problem: “…before he thought himself into being.”
We grinned at each other.
“He must have had an accident,” I continued.
“And reinvented himself within the realm of Djehouty, into an existence of thought and word,” the Sage added. “Ptah realized that when he no longer had the use of his legs and arms, he had to excel at thinking. You will have a chance to think this development through as well. You will be serving with Prince Djehouty-Moses in Men Nefer, the Royal Residence. You will be a Follower of Heroo. When the Prince, the Young Heroo, performs the ceremonies of Ptah as High Priest, you will be able to think about that God and how he changed from being a metal worker to a creator with thought and speech like Djehouty. Many who know the God Djehouty believe that Ptah usurped Djehouty’s functions.”

I imagined a metal forge. A long trench, like a riverbed, channeled the north wind into a narrow funnel that made the forge fire burn with white heat. I could see the four assistants lift the earthenware melting-bowl with cold metal rods forked like the branch of a tree. Ptah looked into the bowl at the liquid gold, nodded and ordered his assistants to pour it. Without thinking, they tilted the melting bowl too soon and the liquid gold poured over their Master, burning his skin before it solidified. There he stood, the Master Metal Forger, like a statue of solid gold with a normal head. Because he was a God, he could not die. Because he acted like a human being, he could not reverse the accident. His new skin of gold was too hot under the full gaze of the sun, too cold in the darkness of the night. Ptah had to be bandaged like a mummy with royal linen because he was still alive. He could no longer create the potent scepters and spears for the Pharaohs, nor the beautiful charms and amulets for the Queens.

Amenhotep, Son of Hapu, interrupted my thoughts:
“Another God, Amun, was hiding from the rays of Ra in the western mountains. He was a God of the dead, living in the darkness of tombs, hidden from sight. When a family, who, for generations have done nothing but bury the dead, crossed Hapy, the great river, to the east side and brought Amun with them, everyone laughed at them. “Where is your God?” they asked. “Did you leave him behind in the tombs, as dead as the corpses over which he stands guard?” But as the years passed this family became the rulers of Ipet Sout. The local God, Min of the Great Phallus, merged with Amun and became Amun-Min of the Great Phallus. But even as Amun-Min, his identity, except for his phallus, remained obscure. Many generations later this family became the rulers of the Two Lands and Amun merged with Ra. His identity was complete. He came from total obscurity, having been hidden among the dead, into the light. When he merged with Ra, however, the truth is that Amun became even more hidden behind the Sun God’s brilliance. Note, Horemheb, something even more strange about Amun: his path was the reverse of the path of Aseer, who was born into life through his mother Nout, was murdered twice and became the God of the living essence of the Noble Cattle after death.”

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