Per Bastemhet

Posts Tagged ‘Ptahhotep

Purification 15

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For an explanation of this series, read the introduction here.

Hail Swallower of Blood, coming forth from the chopping-block, I do not commit usury with grain.

Rev. Siuda said it’s tempting to translate “Swallower of Blood” as an epithet to Sekhmet, but it’s not certain.  Besides Sekhmet, it might be possible that this be one of the epithets for some netjeru in the Duat.

Mentioning grain here is relevant because it was one of the items used as payment in the barter system, along with bread, beer, meat, and cloth rations. *  The modern day equivalent would then be paper/coin money.

Usury is lending money at an exorbitant interest rate.  This would entail that those who lend are greedy and only do it for self gain.  The people who are willing to get a loan are people who do not have the means to make sufficient money for something that is important for them, and are willing to bet on their future in order to take care of necessities right now.  Usury is taking advantage of these people.  Ptahhotep also warns us against the evil of greed:

If you wish your conduct to be good
and to save yourself from all evil,
resist the opportunity of greed.
It is a sore disease of the worm,
no advance can come of it.
It embroils fathers and mothers,
with mother’s brothers.
It entangles the wife and the man,
it is a levy of all evils,
a bundle of all hatefulness.
The man endures whose guideline is Right,
who proceeds according to his paces.
He can draw up a will by it.
There is no tomb for the greedy hearted.

Take note of the last line.  To not have a tomb is to be denied an afterlife which is very serious indeed.  Not only will we not continue to live on, but we will be denied being in the presence of the netjeru, and in the presence of our ancestors.  We would also be denied the opportunity to help our own that come after us.

With this purification I will guard against greed, and be mindful of my own generosity.


Written by Bastemhet

September 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Purification 13

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For an explanation of this series, read the introduction here.

Hail Bast, coming forth from the shrine, I do not eat my heart.

This purification invokes Bast in her epithet of Devouring Lady. 

This reminds me of an expression I heard from either a Korean or Japanese movie.  The phrase was to “eat bitter tears.”  When someone is having an extremely hard time, the only thing they can satisfy themselves on is their own bitterness.  This purification has a similar sentiment.  Traditionally the belly is associated with heated emotions that blind us from thinking reasonably.  Here are a few quotes from the instructions of Ptahhotep that illustrate the connections the ancient Kemetics have to the belly:


The trusted man who does not vent his belly’s speech,

He will himself become a leader.

He whose heart obeys his belly

Puts contempt of himself in place of love


The next time you’re angry at someone and are about to tell them the first thing that comes to your mouth, I recommend you pause just for a moment and ask yourself, “Is this what I really think, or are these the heated words coming from my belly?”  The ancient Kemetics valued the person who did not boast nor make arrogant displays, but rather listened thoughtfully to others and showed humility.


Do not boast at your neighbors’ side,

One has great respect for the silent man:

A man of character is man of wealth.


If [a friend] does a thing that annoys you,

Be yet friendly with him, don’t attack;

Be restrained, don’t let fly,

Don’t answer with hostility,

Neither part from him nor attack him;

His time does not fail to come,

One does not escape what is fated.


This is probably my favorite passage from Ptahhotep’s instructions:


If you are mighty, gain respect through knowledge

And through gentleness of speech.

Don’t command except as is fitting,

He who provokes gets into trouble.

Don’t be haughty, lest you be humbled,

Don’t be mute, lest you be chided.

When you answer one who is fuming,

Avert your face, control yourself.

The flame of the hot-heart sweeps across,

He who steps gently, his path is paved.

He who frets all day has no happy moment,

He who’s gay all day can’t keep house.


As you can see, the ancient Kemetics valued moderation.  There is a time for everything, and they certainly had no aversion to emotions, since this was one of the ways that the netjeru let us know of their presence and their wishes.  But as a general guide to how we should approach everyday life, moderation and balance are key.

With this purification, I seek to find balance in my words, to not speak from my belly but from humility. 

Written by Bastemhet

September 5, 2010 at 10:20 am