We visited two of my favorite sites on the twelfth day in Egypt. One was Tuna al-Gebel and Ashmunein and the other was a wonderful place called the New Hermopolis. This entire area was all part of or close to the original city of Hermopolis, which was associated with the Egyptian God Thoth, who the Greeks later identified as Hermes. In Koine Greek, the name of the city actually means. "The City of Hermes."
Tuna al-Gebel was one of those places where they were very adamant about not allowing pictures, so I have next to none to share, but I can at least talk about it a bit because it really was such a special place. The Tomb of Petosiris, who was a High Priest of Thoth is still there and in good condition, but one of my favorite things was a little chapel that was off to the side. It was dedicated to a young woman named Isadora. Her mummified remains are still kept there under glass in the tiny structure. There is a very sad but sweet love story associated with her. She fell in love with a soldier, but her father refused to allow the marriage. She and her lover decided to elope, but she drowned while trying to cross the Nile river with him. Her father then built this tomb in her honor. Because of her sad ending she is also known as the Martyr of Love. There is a very quiet and undisturbed energy in this little structure, even with people coming and going to view it. As soon as you walk in you just become silent out of an innate need to show respect to her and for her passing. Although it made me uncomfortable to actually see her there, you can’t help but feel that she is at peace and on the other side spending time with her lover. (I am also a sucker for a good love story.)
The other thing that I LOVED about this location was the network of catacombs that were built under the necropolis and still exist which you can walk through and see for yourself. They were used to store thousands of sacred mummies of falcons, baboons and ibises, and it was incredible to wander through all of these corridors with so many numerous little rooms leading off. In many of them you can still see the remains of the sweet little mummies or the receptacles that they were kept in. In one area there was even a mummified baboon wrapped in a robe that reminded me of Yoda. He was kept behind glass and sat there looking very ancient and very wise. The God Thoth was believed to also take the form of the baboon or the Ibis bird and since this location was dedicated to him, these animals were mummified and kept out of respect for the God. I was told by one of our tour group's fabulous leaders that as part of their training, the Priests of Thoth even carried around a baboon on their shoulders. They also said that these catacombs and the practice of mummifying animals sacred to their Deity was very similar to what was once done in the ancient city of Bubastis, where they worshiped the cat Goddess Bast. This city is known as Tell-Basta now, and I am told that little of the original Bubastis or any of the mummified remains of cats are there anymore, but one day I am going to go back so I can see for myself. Egypt holds so many secrets and considering the rate at which they continue to discover new tombs and artifacts, I am quite sure that there is more under the sands of Tell-Basta than we are currently aware of.
Once we left Tuna al-Gebel, we went on to visit a location called the New Hermopolis. Along the way we did stop to see a giant statue of a baboon and I just want to share a few pictures of it because he was so magnificent and so much fun! Isn’t he grand?
The New Hermopolis is a special place run by a very special woman whose intentions are to carry on the tradition of writing, healing and wisdom that the original city of Hermopolis once did. It is explained better on their website which can be found at https://www.newhermopolis.org/ and from which I quote now…
“New Hermopolis is an individual non-profit social enterprise founded by Dr Mervat Abdel-Nasser with the mission of capitalizing on Middle Egypt’s heritage for the cultural and economic development of this region. Our founding is connected to the thought and philosophy of Ancient Hermopolis with its belief in the possibility of harmonious living and the power of art to transform society. It is an Ecological complex built in a unique architectural style in Tune El Gebel village, Minia ( 20 KM from the main city of Mallawi/320KM from Cairo), and consists of a hospitality centre ( visitors' retreat) that is accessible to all the region’s rich antiquity sites including ancient Hermopolis (Tuna El-Gebel & Ashmunin), Akhenaten city (Amarna) and the tombs of Bani Hassan as well as ‘Cultural Space’ that holds events workshops and performances for the benefit of the local community and international visitors, We also have an Organic Farm with ‘olive groves’ and a ‘vineyard’. We had our first production of extra-virgin olive oil in 2017.”
This wonderful retreat center was so very beautiful. It had a number of quaint and unusual structures, buildings dripping in flowers with stained glass windows and ponds full of blue lotus flowers. It was truly a picturesque place. We had the pleasure of meetings it’s founder and we were even treated to a delicious meal which she helped to make herself. If you have time, I do hope you will visit the New Hermopolis website and consider giving some support. Dr Mervat Abdel-Nasser is trying to do good work there but apparently has been met with some resistance from the surrounding communities, due to what they consider to be unorthodox views. Fortunately, it was said that they seem to have become more accepting over time. I was never any good at history and I am no fan of politics, so to me, the New Hermopolis just seemed like a precious little jewel in the middle of an area that has experienced a great deal of tension and conflict over the ages. May the peace and love of that tiny oasis spread to everyone around it.
I am dedicating The Empress Tarot card to this day in honor of The Martyr of Love, Isadora, and Dr Mervat Abdel-Nasser, the brave developer of the New Hermopolis. The Empress is the idyllic female archetype. She is the Queen of Queens, the Goddess Isis, Venus, Astarte and Aphrodite. She is Mother Nature and the representation of fruitfulness and the bounty of life’s harvest. The Empress is the reflection of all of your positive feelings about yourself as a woman or the experiences that you have had with them. As I am writing this post on International Women’s Day, this is the perfect card to remind us of the Goddess within every woman. Have a very fruitful and blessed day!
Rev. Kennedy Turner is the owner of The Cat's Meow, Tarot and Talismans, LLC in Louisville, Ky. She is a Psychic Medium, Professional Intuitive Tarot Card Reader, and Certified Healing Reiki Practitioner. She also designs and blesses jewelry for use as protective personal talismans and charms, tailored to meet your individual needs.