Living Ma'at Picture

This image was specifically created as a cover illustration for the Samhain 2004 issue of PagaNet News. The theme of this issue is "Living Paganism" and "Living Your Beliefs" - a theme which is of special importance and interest to me. I found it difficult to express this theme visually in a literal sense, and so symbolism and metaphor became the preferred route with this piece.

Symbolically speaking, this image represents the ancient Egyptian Goddess/concept of Ma'at dwelling within the heart of an individual. In the mythology of ancient Egypt, Ma'at is both a revered idea as well as a personified Goddess. In both manifestations, She is typically regarded as the daughter of or creation of the God Re/Ra, in some cases, She is even believed to be His very first emanation. In both aspects Ma'at is seen as the cosmic sense of Truth, Divine Order, Justice, and Moral Integrity. As a Goddess, She is depicted as a female, often with outstretched wings, and with a solitary ostrich feather in Her headdress. Many times, this single ostrich feather serves as the prevailing symbol of Ma'at in Egyptian art as well as being an important hieroglyph in contructing the word "Ma'at" in the ancient Egyptian written language. The concept of ib, the ancient Egyptian word for "heart," not only referred to the physical organ which they did greatly seek to preserve in mummification, but also to the human conscience. The heart rather than the brain was believed to be the originator of thought and feeling. In addition, the heart glows a rich gold, a color which indicated light and divinity in acient Egypt. The skin of the Gods was said to be of gleaming gold. The overall idea I attempted to convey with my illustration is that if one lives in accordance with their chosen beliefs, if they "walk their talk" so to speak, then they are, in terms familiar to ancient Egyptians, living Ma'at.

Since this image was created primarily to be viewed by a Pagan audience, I did not think the mythological reference was too obscure to be appreciated especially since there are many, many pracitioners who incorperate elements of Egyptian thought in their lives. Obviously there are Kemetic Pagans who focus on recontructing ancient Egyptian religion, but there are also those on other Pagan paths who revere Egyptian Deities, etc. However, even if the idea of Ma'at and the identity of the particular Goddess are not immediately recognized, I think this image still carries a similar message: a Goddess is enshrined in a person's heart.

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Living Ma'at