Egypt’s Pharaohs’ Golden Parade
Last night Egypt dazzled the world. A majestic journey that history will forever remember lit the streets of Cairo with a golden glow. The atmosphere fused new and ancient memories, hues, sensations, and a profound feeling of mystery, magic and reverence. Once again, Egypt’s legendary kings and queens took centre stage. They reminded us of an ancient consciousness of time and eternity that we tend to forget in our fast-paced culture and daily life.
Symbols and archetypes manifested in vivid colours and expressed through meaningful gestures and movements. The twenty-two mummies of eighteen kings and four queens were transported on decorated vehicles designed like the ancient boats that carried the Pharaohs across the Nile to their tombs. They were transferred from the Egyptian Museum to their new abode at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
The nocturnal journey corresponded with the ancient Egyptian view of infinite space and time. It conjured goddess Nut, the protector of the deceased souls in the afterlife. Female performers in white dresses and indigo cloaks invoked the protective wings and hues of the goddess Nut. The goddess’ vast body contained the night sky, the stars and deep space. I was reminded of a beautiful passage which is devoted to her (papyrus of Ani, The Egyptian Book of the Dead) :
O my mother Nut, stretch your wings over me;
Let me become like the imperishable stars,
like the indefatigable stars.
O Great Being who is in the world of the Dead,
At whose feet is eternity, in whose hand is the Always,
O Great Divine Beloved Soul who is in the mysterious abyss,
come to me.
The parade, which will never be repeated, was an opportunity to reflect on universal themes and our shared cultural evolution as humanity. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi stated: “I invite all Egyptians and the whole world to follow this unique event, inspired by the spirit of the great ancestors, who preserved the nation and created a civilisation in which all humankind is proud, to continue our path that we started: The path of construction and humanity.”
In Tombs and Reels of Consciousness (paper presented at EVA London: 2019), I ask: Can we reconstruct the memory of a civilisation and people from the distant past? Can we ever know the dreams of an Egyptian tomb’s owner who died 4000 years ago?
Meaningful contact with a different and remote culture occurs when we identify their humanity and creativity through a shared thread of awareness that binds us beyond the ‘abyss of time.’
Despite our different ideologies, we seem to share a perpetual human quest to understand life and overcome death with the ancient Egyptians. Ancient Egyptian tombs were not mere aesthetic designs or visualisations of abstract metaphysical ideas. They were raised as architectonic structures and technologies that served the dead and the living in both pragmatic and ritualistic ways. The ancient Egyptian tomb was regarded as a virtual cosmic birth chamber for eternity. It manifested a multifaceted understanding of time, cyclic and continuum. The tomb housed the spiritual double, the soul, of the deceased and sustained the integrity and continuation of his or her afterlife.
Our tombs are the new homes in which we house, store and explore our consciousness. These include our computers and the various digital technologies through which we virtually record, preserve and extend our existence. Current tombs are also the vessels with which we aspire, perhaps similarly to the ancient Egyptians, to travel and live forever in the Milky Way.
The ancient Egyptians left archetypes represented by vivid images that are still alive in our consciousness and reflect our longings. These archetypal images were created when art, technology, ritual, fate, and language were intertwined. It was a unified universe and perception, unlike our fragmented language that divides the world into separate categories, e.g., art, science, technology, body, mind/brain, spirituality, religion, etc.
Nonetheless, we share with them an evolving mythic narrative about our origins and the future that binds us as we journey in everlasting spacetime.