Susanllewellyn's Blog

July 23, 2009

Office Hieroglyphs (2)

Filed under: Office hieroglyphs — Valerie Billingham @ 8:47 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


The offering formula.  Who, what, where, when, why?

 Well.  On the one hand, the ancient Egyptians are famous for thinking you can take it with you.  They made sure (if they were rich enough) that their tombs came with an entire wardrobe, a complete set of furniture, his and hers chariots and the Egyptian equivalent of the food hall at Harrods.  They also made it quite clear that the grieving relatives were supposed to bring top-ups of food and drink to their tomb chapels, just in case they were running short in the world below, and to make double certain, placed a regular takeaway order with the local temple so that the priests would bring them a share of the gods’ dinner. 

 But they weren’t stupid.  They knew that, eventually, the family would decide they’d had enough of grandma’s eternal front room and decide to picnic elsewhere.  They’d lose their place in the temple fast-food queue.  And one day, they’d be bound to have the burglars in while they were asleep.

 Hence the offering formula.  Like most Egyptian funerary texts, it’s a spell, and it was meant to be recited by the empty-handed tourist who stumbles upon your tomb when they’re poking around the necropolis looking at the gravestones.  By reciting the spell, they would magically conjure up for you anything you might need in the afterlife – food, drink, clothing, equipment, the lot.  And they’d get divine brownie points for doing it.

 The offering formula is a useful thing to know if you want to impress colleagues with the fluency of your hieroglyphic hand.  It’s authentic ancient Egyptian.  It’s a blessing, so you can use it to wish good things for someone.  It’s a formula, so it can be learned, understood and reproduced.  It is made up of elements which are logical and which can be varied and customised to suit the person you’re writing it for, the occasion and the things you’re wishing them.

 You can vary:  the name and titles of the god or goddess you’re invoking and the places they rule over; the gifts you want them to give your colleague; the name and titles of your colleague. 

 It will take a little effort to master, but hey, they had eternity – we’ve got the whole of this blog!  I’ll break it down into simple steps.  I promise.

1 Comment »

  1. This is bloody good, Susan. Can’t wait to get started.

    Comment by Dawson — July 24, 2009 @ 9:06 am | Reply

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