Educating The Populace

Virtual worlds have enormous potential for educational use. One of the most important activities of the ancient Egyptian priesthood was the training of the priests. It was a goal of the priests in Ptolemaic Egypt to not only educate the priests but to make information and activities available to all citizens and visitors. We wanted to attract more people to the non combat aspects of the role play. We began to build a library, filled with scrolls, that would make information available to both priests and citizens alike. Anyone visiting the library could click on a scroll and the client would present them with a notecard containing the information in the scroll.

Notecard – Egyptian Creation Story

All was darkness, and it contained a primeval ocean called Nun.

Then Atum the Creator arose and spat out the elements of moisture, which became his daughter Tefnut, and air, which became his son Shu.
These twins then gave birth to Geb and Nut - brother and sister were they. Geb lay over the ocean and Nut arched over him; they were Earth and Sky and their children were Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.

These divine children in turn married and bore children, who also became Gods and Goddesses of Egypt.

Osiris, the first child of Geb and Nut, married his sister Isis. Their child was Horus.
The jealous Set was husband to Nepthys, yet she bore a son to Osiris, the God Anubis.

Thus came into being the Ennead of Heliopolis, the original nine gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt:

The God Atum, the Creator, the Sun
The Goddess Tefnut, Rain
The God Shu, Wind
The Goddess Nut, the Sky
The God Geb, the Earth
The God Osiris, Death and rebirth
The Goddess Isis, Love and magic
The God Set, Chaos and storms
The Goddess Nepthys, provider of Divine Assistance

Their children in turn:

The God Horus, sky and sun, reflection of his grandmother and great-grandfather
The God Anubis, God of the Dead, a reflection of his father

And one more great one there was, the God Thoth, holder of Wisdom and Knowledge, he who taught Man to read and write.
Self-created was he, born by the force of his will.


Under Seti’s leadership the priests began to have regular meetings, at which, as well as general discussion about goings on in the sims, one of the priests would make a presentation on a particular relevant subject. The content of these presentations was added to the scrolls in our library. In the beginning these scrolls contained very basic information indeed. Often they would tell the story of a god, or contain information about Egyptian culture. There was a wide range of quality in these presentations, but all were encouraged to participate. As time went by however, people’s knowledge about Egypt increased and the scrolls contained more complex material.

Notecard – The Goddess Ma’at


Maat is the Goddess of Truth, Balance, Justice, which comprise the Sacred Order of life.  She is the daughter of the Sun God, Ra.  Maat is depicted with an ostrich feather in her headband,  wearing  long wing feathers.  The first law of Maat says, "A light heart is a good heart".

Maat's sacred order of life was perpetuated by the goddess,  Isis and her husband, Osiris, who taught Maat's  principles of peace and harmony to the humans when they began congregating into city-states.  Maat is present at the gateway to the afterlife.  According to Egyptian tradition, when someone died  they entered the 'Hall of the Two Truths'.  Only the souls who had lived good lives and had received the proper burial rites could be admitted.  

To judge if a soul was worthy, of entering the afterlife, the deceased's heart was placed on one side of the Scales of Truth and the feather of Maat on the other side.  If the heart, where the Egyptians believed the soul to dwell, was heavy with misdeeds and outweighed Maat's feather, Ammut (also called Ahemait) ate the soul, dooming it to eternal death.  If the heart weighed equal to Maat's feather, the soul earned eternal life in the Duat, the fertile land.

The last role of Ma'at was to help guide Ra as he made his journey across the skies. It was she that determined the course that his boat took across the sky each day. It was sometimes said that she actually traveled in his boat with him, guiding its direction.

Some members of the priesthood were driven by a desire to learn, and to share that knowledge with others. Others were more interested in creating characters and doing role play. There was sometimes tension between these two types of people, as those who engaged in a lot of research put a lot of effort into it and sometimes thought that those who weren’t interested in research were taking a free ride. This was especially true when events were organised as the keen researchers would want to make the event as authentic as possible, while the others wanted to shape the events in the way that was the most fun. It was the job of the high priest to balance the tensions between these two groups and try to keep the priesthood a harmonious whole. They did not always succeed. I recall one occasion where I was speaking with another priest who spent a lot of time asking me about what he should wear or what weapons were appropriate. I suggested some books to him that might help and he replied “I will not devote myself to reading books on Egypt for something that is supposed to be fun”.

Notecard – Egypt And The Natural World

Egypt and the natural world (I)

We Egyptians are keen observers and indeed lovers of nature. Of the 600 ancient pictograms that are the basis of the hieroglyphic language, many are drawn from the animal world.

Birds are one of the most popular sources of hieroglyphs with more than 54 entries in the Egyptian Grammar. You see images of them in every inscription and it's often possible to identify the species from the drawing.  Here are some examples:

The common Sparrow (passer domesticus aegyptiacus) – pronounced Ndjes – is a common element in words meaning “small”. The sparrow’s rounded tail distinguishes it from other small birds, especially the Swallow or Martin (Hirundidae)  “Wer” which signifies something “big” or “great”.  

The Sacred Ibis (Ibis religiosa) is a completely word in itself – and signifies Djhwty/Thoth the god of wisdom, writing and scribes.

However the Crested Ibis (Ibis comata)  actually makes the sound “Akh” which means one of the parts of the human psyche or spirit. The “Akh” is a special part of the soul that comes into being, often at the death of the body (Khet). It is the transfigured spirit that sometimes comes to live with us in our homes and is the reason we have little domestic shrines to our departed ancestors. 

The Jabiru Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) is used to represent the “Ba”, which is the part of our psyche that comes down to us from our ancestors and could be called our “genetic” inheritance.

Incidentally, the other important part of the human psyche is the “Ka” although this is usually represented as two arms extended in an embrace. This part of us is most prominent after the death of our physical bodies. It is also a component of that most important aspect of our belief system  – Magick or “He-Ka”.

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