Temple of Osiris - Abydos and Temple of Hathor - Dendera
The Art of Beauty and Grace
Unlike other temples of Egypt, the Temple of Hathor at Dendera presents an open face, with a clear view of the hypostyle hall to the viewer. No great pylons shield the entry, no scene of battle splash across its walls. Instead, a small mammisi, or birthing chamber, sits at the entrance, and a sanatorium is located beyond the mammisi. As pilgrims approach the temple, they arrive in a hypostyle hall of massive columns with the face of the goddess Hathor at the top of each column. Long ago the gold face masks were taken down, but the beauty of the Lady of Turquoise is being reborn as the archaeological restorations carefully remove centuries of dirt and smoke to reveal the original colors.
On the ceiling the much celebrated zodiac of Dendera appears; a replica of the original, which is now located at the Louvre in France. Built upon earlier structures, Dendera as the pilgrim sees it now is almost entirely constructed after the Greeks had assumed rule of Egypt. On the walls, portraits of Cleopatra, Ceasarion, and other Roman rulers abound.
This temple was the home of Hathor, where the statue of the goddess lived most of the year. She traveled annually to Edfu to meet with her consort, Horus. Her name is derived from this connection, meaning “the house of Horus.”
By night the temple takes on a magical air, and the roof leads to the stars.
A Thousand Beautiful Things
For years I have kept a gratitude journal, and it reminds me of all the power of the universe to create synchronicities, and beauty, and mistakes that eventually create lessons and meaning. I am grateful even when some days one of the things I had to be grateful for was the ability to simply get out of bed. And when I did, there was the cardinal at the window.
From the first time Gloria and I set foot in Egypt we felt in awe at the color, at the miracles of its architecture, at its sounds, its food, and the everyday around-the-corner amazements. There is much to love: the granite boulders hump-backed like elephants, the sunlight slanting over the cane fields and illuminating the cliffs of Qena at dawn. Inside the cacophony of car horns, Cairo traffic flows around donkey carts, pedestrians and camels while pyramids loom out of the desert surrounded by infinitude of stars.
Our lady of Dendera, Hathor, holds a beatific smile while she seems to balance upon her head the weight of the temple and the zodiac of the entire sky. In just that way Egyptian women walk gracefully through town dodging goats and children, carrying baskets of food on their heads. Hathor’s grace and love kept this band of travelers focused on the beauty around us. Overheated from walking through two temples in the blazing sun and overtired from having risen before dawn to catch our bus, still we found a thousand things for which to be grateful.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Keeping a gratitude journal helps us to stay aware of the beauty that surrounds us daily. It behooves us to stop in the middle of a day and record what we see that strikes us as a blessing, a stunning visual, a strain of music, a helpful gesture. At the end of the day, record five things. If you recorded 5 gratitudes for 365 days you would have written 1,825 beautiful things.
Our lives are filled with lists--shopping lists, to-do lists, roll calls, appointments, etc. The list of beautiful things tell us about the spiritual things that matter, what feeds our souls, what is not ours to do but simply ours to accept.
The trick is to stay awake. Try not to repeat the same line. Find more than five beautiful things every day. Try to find beauty in the things that did not seem beautiful at the time. Like the policeman who stopped you on the highway because your tags were expired. Be grateful that Divine Spirit watches over us, teaching us patience, keeping us out of harm’s way, reminding us that the little things matter and we need to slow down and pay attention to details.
In finding abundant blessings in the life we are living, abundant blessings continue to follow us. With an attitude of gratitude, we create more abundance and our lives seem continually blessed by the love that surrounds us. Begin your list now.
This Is Mine to Remember
Stab of sunlight on a hieroglyph in the hypostyle hall, calling my name, remembering me. I give thanks for magic--the lifting of the veil to glimpse ancient secrets and commune with gods in the temples.
This is mine to remember.
My greatest burden lifted in a surprise, tear-filled moment of ma’at in the Holy of Holies at Edfu.
This is mine to remember. My daughter’s face glowing with life and love, filling the world with laughter that shook her free of cancer.
My husband’s eyes seen in a vision, months before we met.
A child headed for surgery struck by a lightning bolt from Thoth, healed to become a healer.
The magic, moonless night in the garden, overwhelmed by the fragrance of blossoms crowning stalks that shimmered in the starlit breeze above my head.
These are mine to remember.
My firstborn’s eyes wide open to the world while her body was still in my womb
Sea turtles copulating in the frothy swells open to gift me with their fertile consummation, the conception of a life’s work.
Glistening fractal spirals carrying me into the wondrous beauty of rebirth--again and again.
I am a daughter of Hathor. Grateful is my name. This is mine to remember.