Invigorated and exciting by the effectiveness of Thutmose’s initiation ritual I was keen for more. However the next time I logged in to the world there was grave news. Paiankh had been banned! This began as a role play with Meresankh, the vizier, and a prince who was next in line to the throne. Meresankh had summoned Paiankh to see the prince, who was ill. She insisted he heal the prince there and then, but his reply was that the energy of the place was not good for healing so he preferred to move the sick man to his quarters where a more suitable energetic atmosphere prevailed. The move accomplished, the prince was healed.
Paiankh had presumed all was well, but Meresankh had seemingly taken offence OOC at his not obeying her exactly in role play. She had decided to enact this in role play by cutting off all funds and food to the temple and accusing Paiankh of high treason. The prince whose life Paiankh had saved tried to intercede on his behalf, but Meresankh insisted Paiankh was a traitor and must stand trial. Paiankh was confident that all would be well as the prince would mediate for him in thanks for his life saving healing. Paiankh was brought before the vizier, who promptly banished him. The Pharaoh, Horemheb, apparently had nothing to say. In conversation Paiankh confided that this was all a very interesting twist in the role play devised by Meresankh, with whom he was, he said, OOC friends. It would be a fun jaunt, he would stay out of the sim for a few days to show he was banished, but before we knew it he would be back as high priest.
Days went by. A week, and Paiankh had not returned. In Second Life the sim owner can set a list of avatars who are banned from their sim. Until one is removed from this list there is no entry to the sim. Horemheb put out a proclamation that Paiankh had been banned permanently for “preaching the teachings of the Hebrew god”. Although Paiankh couldn’t come into the Ptolemaic Egypt sims he could still be in the world. He messaged to say that we should all be patient, that Horemheb had explained to him that it would all be resolved in role play real soon now. It wasn’t. Paiankh was never seen again in Ptolemaic Egypt. Soon Meresankh was bragging to anyone who would listen that if anyone should fail to obey the Vizier in even the smallest way they would be banned, forever. I tried to speak to Horemheb to ask him about it but he declined to even answer. This was the first time I was to see this mix of OOC and role play disputes. It would not be the last.
Although in this case it seems that Paiankh never came back to Ptolemaic Egypt, it is in fact impossible to know for sure. He could have simply made another account and returned. In practice, when banned, people tend to either leave for good or make a new account and an alternative avatar, known as an alt, and return and try to cause as much trouble as they can before the alt is identified and banned. Alts are usually easy to spot as they don’t have much in the way of attire as, despite the very low meatspace dollar value of avatar clothing, many people are loath to have to pay again for outfits for an alt which they have already paid for once for their main avatar.
Once it was obvious Paiankh wouldn’t be coming back, Amon was appointed high priest by the Pharaoh. He filled this role for two weeks until he too had a clash with the vizier. His response was to resign. He assured me that Horemheb would be asking him to return as soon as he realised the nature of the dispute with Meresankh. Instead Horemheb appointed Seti to be high priest. Amon was deeply hurt and felt he had been seriously wronged by Horemheb. He wasn’t in the world for a few days. But then he returned and said he supported Seti as high priest.
Being the author of books about Egyptian religion Seti was very keen to develop the priesthood. He gave me a great deal of encouragement to participate and he had a sincere desire to try to raise the standard of knowledge within the priesthood, which he did by providing good quality information about priestly activities.
Notecard – What Priests Do
What priests do For most of us, priestly duties are not all that we do – we must combine them with our main mundane occupation. We have very few full time priests. To make things easier, most of the instructions for a particular office are written down in manuscripts or carved in hieroglyphs on the walls of the shrines. In the previous notecard, I described the form of the basic Egyptian hut-shrine that has remained largely unchanged since our ancestors first carried it across the western desert to the banks of the Nile. Whereas the first shrines faced north, it is more common these days for them to be orientated to the east, so that the rising sun falls up the face of the divine image inside the shrine. At the western end of the shrine, is a false door, through which the spirit (Ba) of the god may make an appearance. The priest(s) enter via the eastern door. Three times every day, (dawn, midday and dusk) the priest approaches the shrine carrying the necessary supplies and equipment. There are special utterances, spells and ritual actions to accompany each of the seven steps of the daily rite. 1. Entry 2. Opening the double doors of the shrine 3. First sight of, and adoration of the god. 4. Purification of the sanctuary 5. Preparation of the god – cleansing the statue, 6. Provisioning and robing of the god and their shrine. Crowning and sceptering (it is as this stage that the spirit of the god may appear through the “false” western door and on some occasions give a message or oracle) 7. Exit This is the basic daily pattern that would be embellished for other cults and on other ritual occasions. For example the cult of Osiris has some extra components, offerings of incense, etc. I suggest that the shrine might be left open for a set period to allow the god to “enjoy” the moment and to be “seen”. Clothing and food offerings from the previous event are taken as offering (reversions) to the shrines of the ancestors. A similar daily rite is done in their shrines. The offerings from these are consumed by the priests (reversion) or given to visitors and pilgrims to the temple. A great deal of other religious activity, festivals, etc - are contingent on the performance of these daily rites. Any viable priesthood needs to be performing these activities, if not three times a day at least periodically. The King is the chief servant of the gods and as such always takes seriously his duty to sustain the above temple service. [I will be around in about 12 hours time at zero hour SLT if anyone want to talk about some of these ideas - probably on the roof of the temple of Amun is available) Seti
Seti instituted regular temple rituals, which he would dutifully perform, even if no others were present. The timing of these rituals was problematic. In ancient Egypt they were performed in the morning, midday and in the evening1. But these terms are problematic when you have a globally dispersed community. Seti encouraged others to attend these rituals, but was seriously handicapped by the fact that he was in Europe and most members of the sim were in the USA. It meant he wasn’t often able to be in the sim at the peak times for Americans. His solution to this problem was to appoint a high priest from each of three disparate time zones, himself, one American and one Australian. That way, for most hours of the day at least, one priest would be in the temple. Seti set the times of the rituals so that one would occur during each of the three high priests’ times online. This was important, as if one wanted to attract members to one’s sim one had to be there whenever newcomers first arrived, and one had to have interesting events happening when they were there.
- Lorton, D., (1999), “The Theology of Cult Statues in Ancient Egypt”, in Dick, M. B. (ed), Born in Heaven, Made on Earth: The Making of the Cult Image in the Ancient Near East, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Ind., pp. 123-210. ↩︎