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‘Cursed be he who moves my bones’

20th November, 2017 Members Community
Shakespeare’s gravestone (Image c. Staffordshire University blogs)

Shakespeare’s gravestone (Image c. Staffordshire University blogs)

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

                   William Shakespeare’s grave epitaph.

It seems that Shakespeare wasn’t the only person to warn against moving his bones. It was an ancient Egyptian practice. Tombs were sacred space, homes for the still-alive-but-not-of-this-world-dead. Places that should not to be violated. If they were, the consequences could be dire. The soul was set free to roam.

Writing a dream

It began with a dream. A young woman scurrying through the rain with something secreted under a rather decrepit mac. She looked like a little brown mouse wrapped in its folds. Over the next few weeks, more dreams followed. I simply had to get up in the middle of the night to record them. Eventually I had the whole story. Time slid and slithered around the central characters, twisting and turning in and around on itself. Eventually they joined into one long narrative that wove through several time frames. Since then, I’ve been working on the novel, which will be published sometime in 2018. It’s a timeslip, of course, like Torn Clouds, but different. More graphic. It includes an ancient Egyptian mystic marriage tantric sexual practice and a modern day ‘haunting’. As I was writing, the strapline in my mind became ’Gothic horror meets Fifty Shades of Grey and slips into ancient Egypt.’ My agent thought I should publish it under another name! It’s been through several incarnations, rewrites that deadened and then re-enlivened it. It had a life of its own. It feels ready to go out into the world now and has been sent to the publisher.

Heralds of Eternity

So why this blog? Well, I wanted to share with you, in my writer’s backroom, some of the synchronicities that occurred both during and after the writing to support the ‘far memory’ aspect of the book. When I published Torn Clouds, a reviewer commented on the amount of research that must have accompanied it. Not so. No research. Just an ancient familiarity with Egypt in all its guises and an active imagination – or was that far memory? So much of it felt familiar to me. The Alchemy of Night has been the same.

I do enjoy research though, burrowing deep into the past to confirm what I ‘know’, or to find something new. It sometimes surprises even me what I can put together. But I wasn’t surprised when I searched for ‘ancient Egyptian ghosts’ just before the mss went off the publisher to find that my story, which hinges around the ‘curse’ that accompanies removing a binding tablet from a tomb, had a basis in fact (see http://blog.nms.ac.uk/2017/06/23/ancient-egyptian-tomb-warnings-curses-and-ghosts/) . Unfortunately I found the blog just too late to travel to Scotland to see the exhibition in question. But the quotation made a brilliant epigraph for the book.

Tomb warning, Museum of Scotland.

Tomb warning, Museum of Scotland.

Translation: “It is to you that I speak; all people who will find this tomb passage Watch out not to take (even) a pebble from within it outside. If you find this stone you shall not transgress against it. Indeed, the gods [deceased] since (the time of) Pre, those who rest in [the midst] of the mountains gain strength every day (even though) their pebbles are dragged away. As for he who will be sound, beware of forcefully removing this stone from its place. As for he who covers it in its place, great lords of the west will reproach him very very very very very very very very much.” Trans. Dr Dan Parsons, Museum of Scotland.

I also found a poem by Lord Byron that summed up my protagonists’ experiences.

Our life is twofold: Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of Joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off our waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,

And look like heralds of Eternity;

‘The Dream’  Lord Byron

skeletonIn the book Phillippa, my ‘heroine’, is haunted by the shade of an ancient Pharaoh. Something that later research revealed was not uncommon either in ancient Egypt or, much more recently, right up to contemporary times. Even the august personage of Sir E.A. Wallis Budge, curator at the British Museum, experienced such an event. It’s well documented. He, along with the writer Rider Haggard, makes a brief appearance in this present book but they will have a novel to themselves shortly as part of a trilogy. Characters in Haggard’s novels include the ancient queen ‘She’ who travels through time, much as the Prince does in my story. You will no doubt be surprised by the esoteric Edwardian world. And the sexual predations of the Victorian era that preceded it, which will feature in the third novel in the series, along with a real-life and rather interesting ‘black magician’ of a very different kind (‘black’ referring to his skin colour not his magical practices), who also popped up in my dreams and dictated his interpretation of an ancient Pharaoh’s book to me. He founded a real-life movement, but whether it was actually based on ‘my’ book remains to be seen.

How would you like to wake up and find this looming over you? No, not an ancient Pharaoh. It’s actually St Valantinus in the catacombs of Rome. But you’ll get the idea.

Serendipitous synchronicities

Donkey tomb at Abydos

Donkey tomb at Abydos

So much detail was in those dreams. Much that could be verified later. I was writing about an unknown Pharaoh, given a spurious funeral at Abydos, while his remains were annihilated elsewhere – remember those warnings about disturbing bones? Archaeologists are still working in the cemetery at Abydos. After I’d written the book, an academic dig report stated that an empty House of Eternity had been found with only mummified donkeys buried around it and an encased heart in the centre. I’d already taken the liberty of encasing the Pharoah’s heart in a bag of sand and unmummifying the donkeys – although this would have happened naturally in the hot sands. Abydos was where the earliest Egyptian burials took place. Only much later would ancient Thebes become the centre of the flamboyant burial cult that brought us the contents of King Tut’s tomb. In the earliest pre-dynastic times, minimal grave goods were interred and sacrifice of retainers was practised. A fate one of my protagonists had to evade. Hence the donkeys.

Having written a nightmarish account of High Priestess Yagut d’Eski as a shaman in all her awful (or should that be awe-ful?) nakedness, I then discovered a statue wearing only a Bez mask and carrying a snake encrusted staff, along with a leather mask from the tomb in which it was found. It takes only a small leap of the imagination to envisage a priestess of My Lady Sekhmet, a shaman in her own right, wearing lion garb and brandishing such a uas staff. Or, indeed, wearing only the mask. The ancient Egyptians were proud of their bodies and not in the least prudish as statues and pictures on tombs and temples amply demonstrate.

(Image: Pinterest) The painter is unknown but there are some wonderful images of My Lady in all her incarnations on pinterest. The other one? A statue of a naked woman wearing a lion mask.  I couldn’t find a picture of the bronze statue that so excited me, but, again, you’ll get the picture.

There’s so much more, but you’ll have to read the book to discover the convoluted relationships that entwine down the centuries – and their outcome.

The Alchemy of Night Enchiridion

The ancient Prince’s book The Alchemy of Night: The trantric sexual practises of Ancient Egypt, dictated to me by the ‘black magician’, will be published separately. Either by the lovely publisher who publishes the Crystal Prescriptions series and who had enough faith in me to publishTorn Clouds and this present trilogy, or it will be self published. Julie Ratcliffe and I are going into partnership to publish my more specialist non-fiction offerings. So I’ll be able to go much deeper into areas of crystal and past life work that interest me – and, hopefully, you. Through a Glass Darkly, a scrying manual, will be available shortly. Fortunately Julie already has ‘High Sails Publications’ through which she makes her young person’s novels available. I have to write a commentary on the Prince’s book first because the language is obscure, arcane and in dire need of interpretation. But when I do, you too will be able to practice the spiritual transformation that is The Alchemy of Night.

While you are waiting for The Alchemy of Night, why not read my first Egyptian time-slip novel:

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