Papyri Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Term Paper

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When one compares it to more technical translations, such as those of Budge, there are some obvious differences which in the former translation served to obscure the actual mystical meanings of the text. Taking the book of "Becoming the Heron" as an example, one can see drastic linguistic differences with much the same sentiment. Budge gives merely the most obvious, literal translations, as when in the end of this book he reports "The truth is hidden on the eyebrows. [By] night [I] sail up the river to keep the feast of him that is dead, to embrace the Aged God, and to guard the earth..." (Budge) Normandi takes the same symbols and describes them more deeply, bringing in not only the alphabetic meaning on the hieroglyphs but also their physical appearance and the associations which those symbols have, tying both the visual and the literal together: "The god you seek is within. The truth you chase lies between your eyebrows. Look again with a different eye. I am a blue heron, the messenger, a reborn and dying god. I celebrate neither birth nor death. Whatever is given me, I take like a fish from the water. By day I exist because I exist. By night I sail above the river, a single star wise in the darkness." (Normandi, 171) Ellis' translation method highlights the actual method of the ancient text, which was designed to give to the practitioner (to say "reader" would imply too much passivity) the understanding to proceed after death from being a mere corpse to ascending among the gods and literally becoming one of them.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Papyri Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Assignment

This praise is not to say that at some points her organization of the translation does not obscure the original intent. In the original, as Normandi points out at the beginning with her translator's note, the pieces were traditionally arranged in a slightly different order than presented here. Because she is combining a couple different versions of the book of the dead (the Papyrus of Ani and the papyri of Nekhet and of Nebseni, s well as a few reconstructions of missing chapters referenced in other literature), she cannot keep all the elements in the precise order they appeared in the originals. Thus, at times the detailed progression from death to resurrection which is detailed in the Papyrus of Ani may be slightly obscured. However, this is generally overcome by a greater completeness in every section which ties the whole together more strongly than in any prior translation.

It is somewhat difficult to simply pinpoint a precise "argument" of the book without taking --and subsequently needing to defend-- a very particular position on Egyptology and mythology which is outside the scope of this review. Suffice to say that the theme of the work, at least, is relatively clear. It is a theme of honor for the gods and nature, and of conscious and healthy/moral living which prepares one for a death in which the true work of existence (that of ascending to join the gods) has just begun as one maintains one's integrity among the universal experience. This theme was apparently very well developed in the original, as is evidenced by its power over the imaginations and lives of a civilization that lasted more than a thousand years! In Normandi Ellis' translation, at least, it is likewise well developed and supported. The importance of pure living and self-awareness is supported strongly by first person mystical experiential knowledge and by appeal to the power and purity of the natural world. The ultimate authority, in this work, is the gods --which is to say, nature itself. When confronted with an idea which may seem contrary to mere reason, the author appeals to the obvious and overwhelming truth of external nature as the final arbiter of existence. For example, when arguing that life is far more than can be seen and that existence far transcends the mere physical, and the way in which the many come together to make one the author argues from the evidence of a lotus flower: "If you stood on a summer's morning on the bank under a brilliant sky, you would see the thousand petals and say that together they make the lotus. But if you lived in its heart, invisible from without, you might see how the ecstasy at its fragrant core gives rise to its thousand petals. What is beautiful is always that which is itself in essence, a certainty of being... Not part of the world, the world is all the parts of me."

This sort of evidence is very strong and convincing on the level of the human soul which is inspired by imagery and by poetry, and it is likewise powerful to the part of the soul which is experiential and sensual. There is some degree to which it may fail in the face of "scientific" or "logical" analysis, which would fail to see in a lotus a microcosm of the universe or anything more than a specimen of Nymphaea Caerulea. However, this was not the mindset of the original audience of these scriptures. Sophia, the Society for Philosophy, describes the way in which Egyptian thought was essentially ante-rational, in that it predated the Greek obsession with rationality and was able to have a more mutable approach to the universe. One sees some return to this mode of thought in what conservatives consider the "decay" of rationality in the post-modern world, and the return of a fascination with ancient paganism and spirituality.

Someone who seeks out Ellis' book is unlikely to be approaching it so skeptically as the imaginary scientist who might mock the idea of Ra being born as a calf which itself would grow old and die and yet simultaneously being the god of Sun traversing the sky. This book has an advantage compared to many sacred texts in that few modern people will be looking at it with a skeptical eye waiting to pounce on any inconsistency or pick apart any weakness in the text which might indicate that their own faith was more accurate or that there was, after all, no God. Those who come to it looking for faith are likely to be accepting of the world-view it requires of its audience, while those who approach it otherwise are likely to be touched by the classic power of its words and its ability to serve as a window into a far distant culture which still affects us today, without trying too hard to comprehend of critique it. Conversely, however, the vast difference in the mytheopoetical mind-set which exists in this story and that rational approach which is common in academic thought makes it difficult to approach this book critically and try to say that here or there it fails to makes its argument or falls into inconsistency -- it is more likely that it is merely at this spot or another that the readers themselves are failing to understand the mode of being which created it..

There is some degree, of course, to which the mindset of this book, with its strong life-affirming polytheistic pantheism and its focus on the integration of self and nature is inherently alienated from the modern, primarily urban and certainly technologically advanced era. In this work, the body of the gods and the body of man are essentially indistinguishable from the body of Egypt. Thus the man may speak of "Becoming" all the different animals which populate his world, or even of "Becoming" the wind, sand, sun and rain. There is a certain degree to which the description of what happens after death -- the stripping away of earthly vices until one stands among the neter and becomes one of them capable once more of life and movement and universal power is merely scientifically accurate. As the energy of life (both that of the soul and that of the body as it decays) passes from an individual it returns to nature and one's essence is literally joined with that of the universe, the heron, crocodile and sand included. As the text says: "A thousand forms have I, wholly mine -- man and hawk, sycamore, lotus, and fig. I please myself to be born and to die over again. I walk a flowered path bordered by a million years." (p. 183)

Yet the focus on the one-ness of man and nature is inherently made positive and powerful by a view of nature as healthy, inviolate, and sacred. Through-out the pages of this text are great paeans to the beauty of Egypt and of nature. "Do not let me become stupid and forget the first time I saw a white ram by the river, drinking. He was the substance of my own thirsty soul," (p. 127) reads the invocation of "Not Losing His Mind." Yet for the modern reader, most of us have never seen a white ram drinking water by the river and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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