One of the most mystical places on Earth is the land of the Nile and Ancient Egypt is particularly irresistible to us, with its exotic gods and goddesses, pharaohs and queens, pyramids and temples, mummies and treasure. Like many another author, I’ve chosen to spin tales there, with my Priestess of the Nile. But the Egyptians got there first over 3000 years ago with their own stories.
The plentiful myths about the Egyptian gods can be conflicting at times but a key element seemed to be to make the deities more relatable and by extension, to make the world less intimidating. On a grand scale the gods faced many problems that the everyday human grappled with (and a few he or she didn’t). They had rivalries, love affairs, problems with their children, brother versus brother struggles and challenges with nature. A high percentage of the stories about the gods had them involved with the mortal world, available to help or hinder humans through sacred sites, items, animals, or even chosen people.
The Egyptians believed the earth was a flat expanse of land, personified by the god Geb, over which arched the sky goddess Nut. The two were separated by Shu, the god of air. Beneath the earth lay a parallel underworld and undersky, while the chaos that had existed before creation was beyond the sky. Each day, the Sun God Ra traveled over the earth across the underside of the sky, and at night he passed through a portion of the underworld to be reborn at dawn. Three types of beings inhabited the universe - the gods; the spirits of deceased humans (existing in the Afterlife) and of course the living. The most important living person was always the pharaoh, considered both human and divine by his subjects and able to serve as an intermediary between humans and gods.
The Nile was an important part of ancient Egyptian spiritual life and was viewed as a causeway from life to death and the afterlife. The east was the place of birth and growth, and the west was considered the place of death, as Ra underwent birth, death, and resurrection each day as he crossed the sky. All tombs were located west of the Nile, because the Egyptians believed that in order to enter the afterlife, they had to be buried on the side that symbolized death.
Even in the afterlife, known by various names (everything in Ancient Egypt seemed to have more than one name) but most commonly as the Field of Reeds, there was a celestial version of the Nile. If you passed successfully through the Hall of Judgment and the weighing of your heart by Anubis, Thoth and Ma’at, then you spent eternity in the land beside this heavenly river.
Take all these elements and you have a magical place indeed!
What magical place, real or fictional, have you always wanted to travel to?