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Theft of the 7 Ankhs
By Judith Page
From my childhood I was fascinated by Ancient Egypt, the mystery of the pyramids, the lone Sphinx and the never-ending ever-changing colour of the river Nile. It is said that if you fall into the Nile you will always return to Egypt. In my youth when I was sailing on a felucca between Luxor and the West Bank, I didn’t hear the boatman’s order to duck my head as he moved the sail from side to side to catch small gust of wind. The wooden boom hit me in the head sending me plunging into the Nile waters.
Return I did, but have lost count of the times I’ve been to this land – beginning as a tourist in my early teens in the company of my grandmother, and later eventually working as part of a team in Abydos on the creation of a meditation centre.
Always the magic was there from the phantoms that appear in the desert region of Abydos to the mirages in the Sahara.
Mystery and magic go hand in hand when I think of Egypt and so many books on the subject have been written for adults; romance, adventure, tourism, history, archaeological – the list is endless. But what is available for children? Plenty of interactive games, marvellous historical tomes produced by the many museums of the world– but few are about adventure and Egyptian magic with children in mind!
So, I decided to remedy this and began in the year 2000 to write Theft of the 7 Ankhs. It is based on my childhood with my grandmother, a cousin who I adored, various characters I got to know when visiting Egypt, some famous and some infamous! My late friend Billie Walker-John I would say took the lead role as Meri-Khem; this being her magical name. Even my partner Alain is featured in the story and performs beautifully as Al-nia the shape-shifting Ushabti.
But what’s so special about Theft of the 7 Ankhs? And how can it compete with other books on magic written over the past ten years; what springs to mind is of course the famous Harry Potter series all steeped in magic. I am in no way competing with these stories as they all have their place in the scheme of things. What I have written is a different kind of magic, a magic that is not concocted, this magic is real; it was practised for thousands of years in ancient Khemit we know as Egypt. The magic exists still, if you want to tap into it.
Please bear with me, I’ll explain more - Although I use the word ‘magic’ which to many people tend to think that religion and magic of ancient Egypt are two separate practises, they are not – to these ancient folk, religion and magic was one and the same. It was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals that played an essential part of ancient Khemit culture. It focussed on the Egyptian’s communication with a multitude of deities whom they believed to be present in, and indeed in control of the very forces and elements of nature.
The legends about these deities were meant to explain the origins and behavior of the forces they represented, and the practices of Egyptian belief were efforts to provide for the deities in order to gain their favour.
Ceremonial religious practice revolved around the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Even though he was human, the Pharaoh was believed to be descended from the gods. He acted as the mediator between his subjects and the gods, and was duty-bound to nourish the gods through ritualistic rites and offerings so that the gods could preserve order in the universe.
The state of Khemit gave enormous funds to the performance of these rituals and also to the construction of temples where these practises were carried out.
Individuals could also interact with deity for their own ends, asking for their help through offerings and prayers, or compelling the gods to act through magic.
Another very important aspect in the lives of the ancient Egyptians was the belief in the afterlife and the great importance they placed on funerary practices. They went to great efforts to ensure the survival of their souls after death, providing tombs, donating and giving grave goods, and offerings to protect the bodies and spirits of the dead.
But what has all this got to do with Theft of the 7 Ankhs? The very essence of this ancient belief system is imbedded in the story and as the child reads, they effortlessly absorb knowledge and the magical practices of the main character Prince Setne Khaemwaset who at an early age becomes Sem priest to his father King Rameses the second. He was also Khemit’s greatest magician!
The story begins in ancient Egypt when the prince discovers a precious papyrus that reveals the hiding place of a legendary scroll and uses its secrets to create the magical collar of the seven ankhs. The ankhs are stolen, and a riddle is set that will disclose their locations. Ramose, a Time Lord, travels to the twentieth century to locate the riddle.
One piece is in the Cairo Museum, and the other belongs to Vida Richardson Hardy in England. Her Granddaughter Meri copies this fragment, and discovers a recipe for a magic mirror. Kenneth, Vida's Grandson, identifies the second half of the riddle in Cairo. On a visit to London, he and Meri de-code the riddle, and venture back in time to Ancient Egypt to search for the seven ankhs.
But Kenneth realizes that Meri's in danger - with the aid of the magic mirror, he goes to the rescue - but will he be able to save her?
I wrote Theft of the 7 Ankhs for children 9 to 12 – but hey, is there not a child in all of us?
Without warning, Meri made a sudden dash between the paws of Shu and began pounding on a limestone slab. The ground rumbled beneath her feet as the slab slowly dropped down into the rock.
‘Quickly, Khaem, let’s go,’ Meri said, signalling to him. ‘We need light.’ She touched the crystal in her circlet, emitting a beam of light. ‘I’ll go first.’
Down several steps and along a narrow passageway, they ran.
‘There’re no markings of any kind on these walls,’ Khaem observed, disappointed.
‘Here’re some small caverns,’ Meri said breathlessly.
‘Let me see.’ Khaem pushed past her and peered inside.
‘There are incised marks on this wall but nothing I recognize. Perhaps it’s the language of the gods.’
‘Let me see. I don’t know other languages, but it looks like Greek. The Ptolemies were Græco-regals for a time.’ Meri looked at the text. ‘It’s very strange,’ she continued, turning her head on the side. ‘If this is the Sphinx of Tomorrow, he represents the future. Maybe the ancients couldn’t read the future, and they just left a load of graffiti.’
‘Meri, look, it’s here in a niche. I’ve got the fifth ankh.’ Khaem seized it and held it briefly to his chest and sighed. ‘The ankh of truth. I don’t deserve it.’
‘Listen,’ said Meri, putting her hand up to silence Khaem.
‘I can’t hear anything.’
‘Ssh. Come on, run!’ she said and grabbed him by the hand. As they reached the outside of the Sphinx, the limestone slab slammed shut behind them.
‘Look, Khaem the sun’s setting, taking Tefnut with it. She’s disappearing again,’ Meri screamed. ‘We’ve got to get inside her to get the other ankh.’
Together they broadsided in the sand and slid towards the lion’s chest through an opening, landing with a thud on a stone floor.
‘Oh my gosh, Khaem. Look around you,’ Meri gasped as the beam from her circlet lit up a huge chamber. ‘One of the walls is made of crystal. There’s a picture of a boat, a bit like the Boat of Ra, and there are two figures on it. One looks like Horus. The other is a man kneeling down being welcomed by another. Look at the symbols, Khaem. Can you read them?’
‘Meri, this is incredible.’ Khaem was beside himself with excitement. ‘I can make out a few.’
As he ran his fingers over the signs, they emitted sounds. He suddenly cried out: ‘The stones in the ankhs are vibrating. I can’t move my fingers from the wall.’
Meri ran over, trying to pull him away. ‘The sounds are swirling round in my head,’ she cried, letting go of him and cupping her hands over her ears. ‘Aaaagh,’ she cried in pain, uanable to help him.
Khaem screamed: ‘Mmmerrrrihelllllpmeeeeeeee.’ His body shuddered, and his face contorted.
Suddenly, the symbols left the wall and travelled in sequence along the crystal beam of light, disappearing into the crystal circlet on her head.
Khaem fell away from the wall and collapsed on the floor.
Meri’s eyes glowed like orbs. She opened her mouth, uttering sounds that ricocheted around the chamber. A voice from within her spoke, forming multidimensional pictures around the words:
‘At the dawn of our beginning the heavens were much closer to earth, and we, the Neters, were more familiar with man. In those days, we could walk the land between heaven and earth. We were able to cross the abyss to create reality. We created this room and hid these secrets beneath Tefnut, our Guardian of the West. Within her is the entire history of Zep Tepi. But man changed and was not ready for this knowledge, so we took Tefnut away from view. Within her are the keys.’
Meri blinked and looked at Khaem, who stared wide-eyed at her.
‘Have you keys that hold the secret?’ pressed Khaem.
‘Yes,’ the voice answered. ‘But they’re not keys: one has to utter sacred sounds. They’re multilayered sound forms that will pass you through to another dimension onto other planes, onto other spheres of being, to the greater and the higher—to the place of the Neters, the Home of Gods, to us.’
Meri didn’t have a clue what the voice was talking about, but Khaem stood tall and spoke to the being that had taken over the girl’s body.
‘Ra appeared before me in all his godlike forms. I saw him, and felt his essence. As his golden light surrounded me, he touched these keys.’ Khaem touched his collar with deep emotion, and uttered:
May these keys, these ankhs of life represent trust, blessing, courage, rebirth, truth, wisdom, and mystery. Each time you speak to the ankhs, the gemstones will resonate to your voice.’
‘If you have the seven ankhs, why are you here?’ the voice questioned.
‘We seek the ankh of wisdom, which was stolen from me and is hidden in this chamber,’ answered Khaem.
Meri closed her eyes and threw back her head. Her mouth twisted and contorted. Khaem recoiled in shock. She emitted a note so pure it rang round the chamber, ripping through the air and shattering the wall. Shards of crystal wafted around them like feathers, each the colour of a rainbow.
Khaem and Meri were bathed in wondrous light.
‘Khaem, look on your collar,’ she cried with joy. ‘It’s the sixth ankh.’
He touched his chest and bowed his head, ‘I thank thee, Meri-Khem.’
‘Ah… it was nothing really,’ she said, rubbing her neck. ‘My throat hurts a bit though.’
‘I’m not surprised. Where did you learn to utter such sounds?’
Meri shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. ‘The only sound I was taught to make was with a triangle.’
‘A triangle.’ This time Khaem shook his head.
‘We have to get out of here. Our Lady Tefnut has sealed the entrance from the outside and my incantation won’t work in here,’ he said, feeling the wall.
‘No problem. Look the crystal flakes are clearing, and there’s our way out,’ Meri ran towards a doorway that led into a tunnel.
Theft of the 7 Ankhs available in hardback and Kindle E-book
Song of Set (hard copy – Aeon Publications and E-book – Kindle)
Song of Meri-Khem (hard copy – Mandrake Publishers and E-book – Kindle)
Song of Bast (E-book – Kindle)
Pathworking with the Egyptian Gods (hard copy)
Invoking the Egyptian Gods (hard copy) available in December 2011
About the Author