Ancient Egypt's Sacred XXX

Jan van der Crabben, Ancient Egyptian Music and Dancing (15 Sep 2014). CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. 

Jan van der Crabben, Ancient Egyptian Music and Dancing (15 Sep 2014). CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. 

If you have followed us from our previous blog post , you will now see how the ancient Egyptians' religious beliefs also had a great influence in the matter of sexuality and its practices.

Sex has always been of significant importance in our lives, and this was no different in ancient Egypt. It played a crucial role in every aspect, starting from birth to death, and even in the afterlife; it was key to the creation of life. Yet, even though it was the females who bore children, the males were seen as the symbol of fertility.

Sexuality was a sacred activity that privileged the male role because it was based on their religious beliefs of creation and fertility. In our video, you will find out more how sexuality in ancient Egypt was male-oriented through the re-telling of various ancient Egyptian myths.

Video

NOTE: Some parts are a bit explicit! (NSFW)

Script

1

  1. This is the script that we had used for the video! In-text citations in APA are also included to show the research done.

Part 1

According to ancient Egyptian myths, the people believed that the world was created by the sun god, Atum. The way that it was done was rather interesting as it was said that Atum masturbated to produce his children, Shu and Tefnut (Shokeir & Hussein, 2004).

Thus, the ancient Egyptians believed that the male sperm was key to procreation, with the men taking the more active role, whereas the women played as helpers in the procreation process (Graves-Brown, 2010).

In fact, contrary to current terms such as ‘Mother Earth’ and Mother Nature,’ (Graves-Brown, 2010), the ancient Egyptians regarded the earth as male (Sullivan, 2014), because it represented the earth god, Geb. Geb was often depicted as being separated from his sister-wife, Nut because it was believed that Geb and Nut were highly sexually active so they had to be separated (Seawright, 2013). 1

  1. It was told that the sun god (their grandfather) was just mad at them for always having sex, and hence, they had to be separated.

Similar to most ancient cultures, the ancient Egyptians considered the earth to be a symbol of fertility (Sullivan, 2014), and even the annual flooding of the Nile was known to be male (Graves-Brown, 2010). The reason why this was so, goes back again to the ancient Egyptian gods.

The union between Geb and Nut gave birth to four other gods and goddesses—Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. Even though Osiris was married to Isis, and Set to Nephthys, things got complicated among them.

You see, Nephthys was barren, so she decided to pretend to be Isis and seduce Osiris by getting him drunk. In the midst of their drunken act, Osiris left behind a garland of flowers which Set found. Out of envy, Set killed Osiris and dismembered his body and dispersed his body parts all over Egypt, and in the process, he accidentally dropped Osiris’ penis into the Nile, and so making it fertile (Seawright, 2013).

The fertility of the earth was also commemorated in their yearly Festival of Drunkenness, when not only did people 1 drink lots of beer, they also had sex as a part of this tradition to bring back the flooding of the Nile so that the land would continue to be fertile (Healy, 2013).

  1. "People" here refers to people of all statuses. Even though this festival was usually held in the temples, it was also celebrated by both the elites and the commmoners in their homes as well.

Part 2

In fact, sexual practices in ancient Egypt for the purpose of procreation was also a symbol of fertility of the males. Because of their religious beliefs regarding the importance of the male seed, it was the males’ responsibility to ensure that his wife conceived his child.

In a letter from the town of Deir el-Medina to a scribe named Nekhemmut, he was criticized for failing to get his wife pregnant: “You are not a man since you are unable to make your wives pregnant like your fellow men” (Graves-Brown, 2010, p. 102).

So, what could men like Nekhemmut do during a time when Viagra wasn’t available yet? A cure found in the Ramesside papyrus recommended grinding together the leaves of acacia and honey, and applying it as a bandage (Sullivan, 2014).

Apart from such cures, it was also a practice among the ancient Egyptians to consume certain foods as aphrodisiacs, which would help one to be sexually aroused. Lettuce was one of them, and it was very much loved by Min, the god of fertility. You must be wondering, why a lettuce? Well, it was said that for this particular breed of lettuce, not only did it look like an erect penis, it also secreted a white liquid that looked pretty much like semen (Smith, 2013).

Part 3 + Conclusion

Although sexuality in ancient Egypt was predominantly male-oriented, female sexuality was equally important because it was inevitably necessary for creation. Earlier, in the story of creation via masturbation, the hand that Atum used actually acted as a female vessel (Booth, 2015). Also, it was Isis who used her magic to bring Osiris’ penis back to life again so that they could have sex once more (Seawright, 2013).

So, you could say that the female sexuality was a stimulus to the male sexuality. In the account of the goddess Hathor, she exposed her genitals before her father, the sun-god, to restore his strength again because he was tired from judging who would ascend to the throne (Graves-Brown, 2010). 

Similarly, in the practice of the cult of Apis, the sacred bull deity, women would also expose their genitals before it to increase its virility (Sullivan, 2014). This was nothing unusual for the ancient Egyptians because even Herodotus, our beloved Greek historian, wrote that women flashing in public at other festivals was quite a thing (Graves-Brown, 2010).

Thus, based on the ancient Egyptians’ religious beliefs of creation and fertility, sexuality played a sacred role in their lives. Even though sexuality in ancient Egypt placed a greater emphasis on the male, the female role was equally essential so that creation was possible.
 

References

Content Sources:

Booth, Charlotte. In Bed with the Ancient Egyptians. (2015). Google Books. 

Graves-Brown, Carolyn. Dancing for Hathor: Women in Ancient Egypt(2010). Google Books.

Healy, Melissa. Uncovered: Ritual public drunkenness and sex in ancient Egypt. (2013) From Los Angeles Times. Accessed 25 March 2017. 

Seawright, Caroline. Ancient Egyptian sexuality: Life in ancient Egypt. (2013). Accessed 25 March 2017.

Shokeir, A. A., & Hussein, M. I. Sexual life in Pharaonic Egypt: towards a urological view. (2004) International Journal of Impotence Research, 16, 385-388.

Smith, K. Annabelle. When lettuce was a sacred sex symbol. (2013) From Smithsonian. Accessed 26 March 2017. 

Sullivan, Richard. Love like an Egyptian: Sex & sexuality in ancient Egypt. (2014). Accessed 25 March 2017.

Media Sources:

Images

A8takashi. Tefnut (8 August 2016). CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Amun-Min-Kamutef. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dahl, Jeff. Ancient Egypt main map (19 September 2007). CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dahl, Jeff. Atum (30 December 2007). CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dahl, Jeff. Egyptian Isis (20 December 2007). CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dahl, Jeff. Hathor (28 December 2007). CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dahl, Jeff. Nephthys (27 December 2007). CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dahl, Jeff. Ra (22 December 2007). CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dahl, Jeff. Set (30 December 2007). CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Parrot, A. Nut (4 February 2013). CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Toye, Daniel. Geb (3 March 2013). CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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