Walk Like an Egyptian

January 4, 2009

Queen Nefertari and The Goddess Isis

A souvenir Egyptian papyrus depicts a scene from the entrance hall of the tomb on Nefertari, queen of Ramses II (1290-1224 BC); Isis leads the queen forward with the words “Come, great king’s wife Nefertari…that I may give you a place in the Sacred Land.”

 

Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867 – 1957

I spent my afternoon with this exhibit in the Portland Art Museum, holding my breath in wonder and pressing my face close to gorgeous albumen prints by Carleton Watkins.

Time. The passage of it. The loss of ritual. The ritual of process.

Like salmon fishing with nets or wet plate collodion photography.

On a shiny flat-screen monitor, I watched old footage of Oregon Indians tied to platforms hauling salmon from the churning waters at the now-buried Celilo Falls. On another monitor, I watched a contemporary photographer wearing latex gloves demonstrate of the pain-staking process of applying chemicals to a glass plate.

I hadn’t been to the museum in nearly two years when The Quest of Immortality – Treasures of Ancient Egypt had called me up the I-5 corridor.

I have had a love affair with Ancient Egypt and its art and history since childhood. In my teenager’s room, posters replicating Egyptian tomb paintings hung next to those of Led Zeppelin in concert.

To me, Isis represents a powerful feminine force and a symbol of creativity, healing and rebirth. In one myth, Isis scours the desert, recovering the scattered body parts of her murdered husband, Osiris. She makes him whole again and breathes new life into him. 

 
“Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.”  –Khalil GIBRAN, The Prophet
 

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