Friday, February 21, 2020

Week 6 Story: The Name Game

Depiction of Egyptian god Ra as a man

The sun beat down on the ancient kingdom that Ra had watched over since the creation of this planet. Ra could feel the age in his bones with every step he took in this human form he had taken on so long ago to live among his creations and rule. Ra knew this form was weak but it held too deep of an emotional connection after the years that he had grown fond of it. Isis, a fellow god and creation of Ra, took the form of a powerful sorceress when joining the humans, but became annoyed with them rather quickly. Ra's love for the humans as well as his superior power, drove Isis to begin planning a sinister plot against him. Isis had heard that apparently Ra had been given a secret name from the ancient god Nu that granted him such tremendous power. Isis began trailing Ra to try and obtain something from him until finally Ra's humanly form's age began to show by drooling in his sleep. Isis, filled with malicious delight, hurried back to her lair and prepared a spell from this and created a viper that was to strike Ra while being invisible to humans and the gods alike. Isis quickly sent the viper out to attack Ra, who was walking alone in a quiet garden. Ra cried out after being bitten and injected with the viper's deadly venom. Ra cried out to his children, the gods, and pleaded for help as he could feel his strength fading quickly. Isis stepped forward among the gods and asked Ra to tell him his ancient name so that she could save him. Ra held out for as long as he could before he could feel the venom reaching further through his body that he caved to Isis' demands. Ra leaned in to Isis as he uttered,


Author's Notes:
Tweaked the ending of the original legend between Ra and Isis as Isis is victorious in getting Ra's secret name which didn't make sense as it seems like her plot is obvious once she asks for Ra's name. Ra being the creator (or father) of the world and gods I thought it would be funny to give him a dash of "dad," by taking Isis' inquiry literally.

Ancient Egyptian Myths and Stories Unit from the UN-Textbook

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Reading Notes: Ancient Egyptian Myths and Stories, Part B

Ancient Egyptian Myths and Stories Unit from the UN-Textbook

The legend begins with the creation, when the world was only water and known as "Nu," that a shining egg came upon the waters and thus came Ra the strongest of all the gods. Within Ra was "Khepra" at dawn and "Tum at eventide" when Ra commanded the lands to rise above the waters and they obeyed. After creating several gods, with Shu and Nut being the most prevalent, Ra then created all living beings including man and went in their form to live among them for many years. Ra was given a powerful name at the beginning of the creation by Nu as it blessed Ra with his power and if any other being were to know it they would be able to become as powerful as Ra himself. This name went unknown for many, many years as the gods lived both in their heavenly domain and among the humans. One of the gods living among the humans was the god Isis, who disguised herself as an enchantress to disguise herself to fit in with the humans. Meanwhile, Ra still led over the kingdom of Egypt as he had created all of the land and its many bounties, especially the mighty Nile River. While Ra was seen as the absolute king, Isis was envious of Ra and his superior power. Isis wanted to learn of Ra's secret name as she knew it would be an instant way to become as powerful as the great god Ra himself. She concocted a plan and managed to capture a sample of Ra's saliva as in his old age he began to not use the best manners. After obtaining the sample of saliva, Isis created a magical serpent that was invisible to man and gods alike as it was made from the strongest of gods own saliva. Isis sent the serpent after Ra and it struck him with a menacing blow instantly. Ra went down in shock as the venom began to run its course. Ra began to cry out at what could have attacked him so lethally and calls for his children (the gods that is) to gather to witness and potentially aid him. After arriving, most of the gods grieved as they knew their creator was in grave danger, but Isis stayed composed and began to ask Ra if she could know of his ancient name so that she could "become as powerful as you to heal you." This was all part of Isis' plan as she watched Ra struggle and make more decrees about how much he did for the world. Isis inquires again and Ra is finally desperate enough to make the deal and tells Isis his ancient name. Isis becomes extremely more powerful and feels it, then returns the venom from Ra and cheers at the crowd of her devious plan to become the equally-most powerful god.
The Egyptian goddess Isis 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Week 5 Story: Beginner's Guide to: Becoming "The Buddha"

Step 1: To begin your journey towards becoming the ultimate form of enlightenment you must begin as a high class citizen with a father in a position of religious power. This will act as a way for you to gain knowledge of the ancient religious ceremonies and you will then grow to find them outdated and restrictive. 

Step 2: Turn your attention to the local group of monks (known in the original story as the Samana) and eventually beg your aforementioned, strict father to join them on a quest for spiritual enlightenment.

Step 3: Upon joining this group you now must wear rags and only eat the bare minimum to stay alive as is custom in this group as it is a way to rid oneself of their own ego and physical form. 

Step 4: Begin learning from this insightful group of spiritual individuals about their many different teachings about the individual outside of their physical form for a number of years (preferably with a childhood friend that you convinced to come along to also become enlightened) until you eventually hear news of a Buddha arise somewhere. 

Step 5: Go seek out this "Buddha," and join his following to learn of his advanced spiritual enlightenment and with this completing your studies of the spirit. (But somethings wrong!)

Step 6: Confront the "Buddha," and challenge the idea of not incorporating the physical world while also preaching the idea of being "in unison with the physical world and the world around you." (This leads to an inevitable falling out with you and fake "Buddha")

Step 7: Leave the camp in search for enlightenment on the physical world (Yes this includes leaving the optional childhood friend behind) and become charmed by a local courtesan.

Step 8: Learn about the physical world for many years after spending countless hours with this courtesan you become fascinated by while also becoming involved in local business in the city to help provide.

Step 9: Realize after all those years that true enlightenment comes from the harmony of the spiritual and the physical, thus making you the ultimate form of enlightenment, "The Buddha"
Depiction of the Buddha 
Author's Notes: 
Kept tru to most of the story arc of the original telling of this legend, but made it more fun by turning it into a "How To" sort of list or guide. The ending also ends at Part Two of the book instead becoming the Buddha right after spending the long stretch of years with the courtesan (Kamala in the original story) in the city. 

"Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse (Part Two)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Reading Notes: The Life of Buddha, Part B

"Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse (Part Two)

The next part of this legend picks up with Siddhartha still in the woods after his confrontation with Gotama the supposed "Buddha," and subsequent deep thought about the spiritual world as a whole. Siddhartha is feeling like a new man after his "Awakening," finding joy all around him as he walked through the woods. It wasn't until Siddhartha found a nearby hut that things began to go awry, when Siddhartha began to have strange dreams about his old, hometown friend Govinda as Siddhartha likely felt guilty for leaving behind his friend. The next day, Siddhartha made it to a city close to his hut and met a wealthy, beautiful "courtesan" named Kamala. Siddhartha became interested by her instantly as she could be almost a sort of learning experience for him as he had spent so much time focusing on his internal being. After getting cleaned up after being a Samana for years, Siddhartha goes back to Kamala asking to be taught her physical world way of love. She agrees and also sends Siddhartha to join a man named Kamaswami, a local businessman who was to teach Siddhartha more about the material world. Siddhartha quickly found the world of business to be trivial and found himself learning more and more from Kamala as she understood the spiritual world like Siddhartha did. Siddhartha and Kamala grew close and knew so much about one another, but it was always apparent that they were never actually in love with one another as that was Kamala's job to love, while Siddhartha was merely trying to "test the waters," so to speak of love in the real world. Years go by and Siddhartha finds himself sucked into this life of business through Kamaswami and companionship through Kamala, when he finally has a moment where he thinks of all of the time he had wasted delaying his search for enlightenment. Siddhartha begins having nightmares and seeing imperfections in the world that once kept him occupied all those years such as his graying hair or Kamala beginning to age. The part ends with Siddhartha leaving without telling anyone to find this enlightenment and Kamala eventually finding out only to be carrying Siddhartha's child.

Siddhartha and Kamala

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Reading Notes: The Life of Buddha, Part A

"Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse (First Part)

This legend begins with a wealthy Brahman named Siddhartha, who lived in ancient Indian village. Siddhartha had many things going for him as he was wealthy, educated, and  handsome, but his father who is a religious leader in the village does not want him to go and learn new things as Siddhartha wanted to join with a traveling group of clerics in town. His father kept refusing and ignoring Siddhartha, but he stayed in his place even as his father slept until he was finally given permission. Siddhartha begins his journey with the Samana, the name for this priest group, and takes up there way of life by starving almost and wearing only rags to destroy all ego within himself. Siddhartha does this to escape the rigid, forced nature of his religious father and village, and after some time he hears of someone known as "Gotama the Buddha," to have appeared as they had overcame their own ego. Siddhartha, with this hometown friend Govinda who had joined him on his Samana journey, went to seek out this person as they wanted to learn from his newly enlightened teachings. Once they had arrived they were welcomed in instantly among Gotama's followers and began to take part in his teachings, until Siddhartha once again began to doubt the message despite Gotama's deity-like aura. Siddhartha questions Gotama only to be told that Gotama was far superior at this sort of religious knowledge, and following this Siddhartha leaves the camp and his hometown friend behind. The first part of this legend then comes to a close with Siddhartha exiting the camp and in the nearby woods contemplating all of the different teachings he has studied until he realizes that the enlightenment he is searching for cannot be taught, but instead must come from within.

Siddhartha book cover (by Hermann Hesse)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Storybook Plan

The main theme I have for my story is retelling the legend of Dante's Inferno, but setting it some time in the 1980's with a character (for now known as Michael) who is the distant descendant of Dante Alighieri from the original tale. This will go through the same nine circles of hell once Michael goes over to his ancestor's country of Italy and will feature instead celebrities and figures from the era to represent each ring instead. If this idea seems to narrow, I can be convinced to setting it in other era.

For the episodes of this storybook I was planning on doing nine or ten, which sounds like a rather large undertaking, but it would be shorter sections that each cover one of the circles.

Some resources that will potentially be useful:

Comment Wall

Read the story here

1935 "Dante's Inferno," movie poster (