Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Enigmatic Symbols of Ancient Egypt - Part I - The All-Seeing Eye

3-D book of Treasure of Egypt with golden treasure map
The All Seeing-Eye

The All Seeing-Eye is one of the most recognizable symbols of ancient Egypt. It is known by many other names as well: The Eye of Horus, the Left Eye of Ra, Wadjet, and the Lady of Flame to name just a few.
How can this one symbol stand for so many different things, you ask? What could Horus, the golden falcon, have in common with Wadjet, the cobra goddess of Lower Egypt? And what does a cobra have to do with the All Seeing-Eye?
To start, Wadjet is also known as Udjat, Uadjet, Wedjoyet, Edjo, and Uto. But that’s not all, there’s more. . . . Wadji means the green one, and this has some correlation with Osiris, the god of the underworld. But wait . . . it gets better! To add to the confusion, this cobra goddess is also associated with Bastet, the cat goddess; Sekhmet, the lioness (Hathor’s alter ego when she’s not the cow); Tefnut, the goddess of moisture; and Mut, the mother goddess of the sky.

How can all of these different gods relate to the All Seeing-Eye? 
Our first step to understanding this symbol is to start with the language. Let’s start with Wadjet, the Egyptian “iaret,” means “risen one.” The cobra goddess was also called the Opener of the Way, and her enigmatic symbol, the All Seeing-Eye, was always painted on the part of the sarcophagus facing east.

All-Seeing Eye

        Taking a deeper look at this goddess, we also find that Wadjet is one of the earlier goddesses of ancient Egypt, a primordial goddess, meaning she existed from the beginning. In fact, this goddess was so important to the ancient Egyptians that her image of a cobra wrapped around the sun disk is known as the Uraeus
Golden Uraeus made by Barbara Ivie Green
and holds a significant place in the symbols of ancient Egypt. Even the Pharaoh, seen as a living god himself and son of the sun god, Ra, was recognized only by wearing the cobra which adorned the crown as a sign of legitimacy.

Taking a look at the times that the festivals regarding the Lady of Flame were celebrated is also most illuminating. The Going Forth of Wadjet, an ancient festival, was practiced on December 25th.. The annual celebration for Wadjet was also held on April 21st, and yet again during the Summer Solstice. She was also assigned the fifth hour of the fifth day of the moon. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to see a strong association with the goddess Wadjet and the ancient Egyptian’s understanding of the Heavens.
In order to shed further light we must look at the other gods and goddesses that are linked to this symbol. The tale of Horus being attacked and his eyes torn out by his uncle, Seth, the god of war, although gruesome, gets us even closer to the true meaning of the symbol. You see Seth had already killed his brother, Osiris, Horus’s father, because Seth coveted the throne. When Horus sought revenge, he, too, found himself at death’s door. He was nursed back to health by his mother, Isis, and his sister/wife, Hathor. His sight wasn’t restored, however, until Ra gifted him with his own left eye, the Eye of Ra.
Ah-ha! Ra’s right eye was known as the sun itself and his left eye the moon. And that is why the All Seeing-Eye, the Eye of Horus, is also called the Eye of the Moon.

     We can see now how the All Seeing-Eye could also be called the Lady of the Flame because it lights up the night sky, but what does this have to do with a cobra goddess?

Before I answer that, let me connect a few more dots. As it is, the moon lights the darkness of night, and as such it holds much power in the Duat, the Egyptian underworld. This is also its connection to green. Osiris is the God of the Underworld, and his resurrection was seen in correlation with the Nile and its effect on the land. He was depicted with green skin, not for death as one might assume, but for the fertile, lush, green growth that comes from the inundation of the Nile and the subsequent resurrection of the land.
The greenish-blue color may also be a clue. The lapis lazuli that the Egyptians so revered was a symbol of water and the heavens. This is an association to Tefnut, the goddess of moisture, and Mut, the mother goddess and goddess of the sky. We all know it is the moon that creates the tides, but this still doesn’t answer how a snake could be equated with the moon.

     In order to answer this, I shall share with you one of the secrets that is within my book, Treasure of Egypt. Wadjet was considered a primordial being from the beginning of time because her image was etched onto one of the greatest symbols of mankind, one that has been here from the beginning, the face of the moon itself.

Ruling from her mighty perch in the heavens above us is Wadjet, the All Seeing-Eye and the Opener of the Way, leading us into the night as she rises up in the east to guide us through the Amduat.
Wadjet the cobra goddess in the Moon - Barbara Ivie Green

. . . But she is not alone.

All Seeing-Eye and the ancient gods of Egypt in my book, Treasure of Egypt, the first book in the Treasure of the Ancients series. Discover for yourself the origins of the Sphinx itself and several unknown or misidentified hieroglyphs while reading a tale sure to bring out a smile. :O)
- Author Barbara Ivie Green 

Thank you for your readership.
To read the first chapter click here: Treasure of Egypt Sneak Peek

To view Treasure of Egypt's Amazon book page and start reading today!
For click here
For click here 
The adventure awaits!

To read the other articles on The Enigmatic Symbols of Egypt, click below:

Part II - The Origins of the Sphinx

Part III - The Misidentified Symbols of Ancient Egypt

Part IV - The Lost Symbol of the Sun and The Wings of Isis

Part V - The Unknown Symbol of Ancient Egypt

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Formula and the Art of Writing Comedy

I don’t know if there is one really. I just thought that would be a cool title and fit in with the others I’ve recently written. :O)

The Formula

So if there is one what could it be? I did have my sister generously offer me her formula about how to write a compelling romance. Furious, fast action, get the hero and heroine together in the first few pages, and make it HOT. This advice, forged over a brilliant career of many bestselling novels, was apparently too hot for me to handle. This explosive piece of advice blew up in my face . . . several times. I needed something less volatile to work with—I needed my own formula and I needed it quick!  

I did devise a formula of sorts. It may not be brilliant, but it is more pliable for this girl to work with. Like Play Dough vs. plastic explosives. I love placing a character in an awkward situation and letting them react to it. I am not sure why I find this so amusing, but I do. In fact, I will spend most of my time on the antics and nonsense and completely forget that I have a budding romance to foster. It was because of this that my romantic couple didn’t even meet until the fourth chapter and he didn’t see her until the end of the sixth. Now there’s a humdinger of a tale about hot sizzling romance if there ever was one!

I obviously had my TNT rating set on low – maybe too low. My Gone with the Wind had blown away it seemed.  I needed something to keep the flow, boost interest, and keep them reading. Creating a certain amount of nonsense is a crucial part of my writing style, and highly addictive to write I might add. If I wasn’t pulling a punchline I was setting up the gag, but the romance and relationships had to mingle in with the history and madcap adventure schemes like a fine elixir.

So of course I almost forget the romance and have to go back and insert a little moment here and there because my husband, who was reading it was saying, “If this were me, I’d have stolen a kiss here.”

So it came to pass that my serious love story turned into a hilarious journey where my heroine became a woman of mystery and my side-kick stole the show. What had been a momentous story describing one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world, complete with unknown and misidentified hieroglyphic symbols, became a madcap adventure. I remember when I first published it, I waited and waited for the accolades of my brilliance, my genius, to roll in. After all, I had just discovered the origins of the Sphinx for crying out loud and painted the picture! What would they say about my years of research . . . the result of my years of toil?

Well . . . I did get, “Funny beyond belief.” Hahahaha!

I’ll take it! In fact, I'm delighted by it. The whole idea that I can bring a smile to someone's face and brighten their day has actually given my writing a deeper meaning for me.

So there you have it. How my formula came to be. Take a historical mystery, add a dash of romance, along with a heaping dose of nonsense, and a quick stir with the chaos spoon and voila you have a madcap adventure.

The Art of Writing Comedy

So now I write comedies. Who knew, right? If someone had suggested that I would be doing this years ago I would have fallen over laughing and the real surprise is that this all came about through the most unlikely scenarios. You see, I used to bore people to tears. Not just mild disinterest either this was full out zombie like trances. My love of history was so great that I could send people running with my coma inducing fountain of knowledge. Hahahaha! I get this from my father I think.

My dad knew everything about the history of where I grew up in Utah, actually the whole United States, so you weren’t safe no matter where you went. You’d ask an innocent question regarding a dirt road and he’d tell you about the pass cut into the mountain, when it was built, who did it, where it went, and why–with the additional information about other mountain passes that were first used because they were at a lower altitude. See, exciting stuff, your eyes are already glazed over and you’ve forgotten to breathe as you looked for some type of escape from this paragraph. . . . I thought this was about being funny. . . ? I hear you thinking it!

In my own scientific research using this informational overload I conducted a few studies on innocent bystanders and other trapped guests. You know the ones who are politely listening until they have the ability to flee. It wasn’t done intentionally at first. I truly was trying to carry on an interesting conversation which I have discovered is all in the eye of the beholder, but this led me to experiment on just how much information could be given before their interest waned. How much can you impart, say on mummification, while eating birthday cake? Do people really want to know the sacred math used to make a key hole arched window while doing the dishes? No, I found, not really.

What is the fine art of creating interest? I tried other lures in the great game of, “Do I have your attention now?”  I overdid it at first. I always gave way too much information watching them sweat it out and squirm in their seats. I finally pared it down, delivering just a few key phrases to see if they had any interest whatsoever in my blathering. If they looked instantly bored or worse panicked – their eyes would dart around the room in search of someone to rescue them. I call this the life-line, the help, throw me the doughnut, look.

“She’s recounting early Mesopotamian history and if I have to hear about someone else’s Balls again I’m going to scream,” they silently plead.

“No, Baal is the god of . . . never mind.” I inwardly sigh, chalking up another experiment gone awry mark on my invisible historical facts sheet of how much they can bear it.

Even if you do have someone hooked on the end of the historical fishing line – which is rare – you must reel them in slowly or they too will balk, break the fragile thread and pick up their iphone in desperation. Like a call from your wing man if the date is going badly. “I must get this,” they apologize as they cling to the phone. “I understand.” I smile. And I do understand. . . . Remember my dad?

What I learned is this: What most people find interesting is themselves, their lives, not you. Asking questions and listening is probably the best way to keep a conversation going and if you’re lucky you may find something that interests you both or you’ll be the one looking across the room for your husband with that expression of, 'It’s time to go . . . I need a doughnut!'

So how, you ask, do you carry on a conversation in a book written long ago with someone who is just now reading it? How is that even possible? The true art to anything written, said, or drawn for that matter, is to engage the reader in such a way that they are able to participate. Have them visually become part of the action, see the comedy and don’t grind them down with too much information even if it is your idea of birthday cake. It is one of my favorite compliments when a reader says that they felt like they were there. I feel like I have accomplished my goal when that happens.

I must thank these poor unsuspecting people, most of them family members, who I may or may not be married to. They have helped me devise my brilliant comedic formula. To figure out how to tell a tale of history and yet keep it interesting even years later and after the twentieth telling. Okay – so that doesn’t happen, but my husband did teach me something so amazing, that I could see how, throughout the course of history, it has come into play again and again and it all centered around the kiss - that universal symbol of love. Talk about too hot to handle.  Yep, you got it – KISS . . . Keep It Simple Stupid . . . and be brief.

Being a comedian on paper is not for the faint-hearted, however, it may very well be the toughest things to write. Think about it. You will never hear the laughter after one of your punchlines. Talk about a tough room!  Did that work well? Did they laugh?  I know I’m laughing until I cried writing it, but I hear voices in my head and they sometimes argue so what does that mean? It happens when you have half-a-dozen characters in a room and they all want to talk at once. LOL! 
So this is for you my fellow authors of the humorous tale. Keep smiling and laughing at your own jokes – because you may very well be the only one, but don’t let that stop you . . . and to my dad who instilled in me the love of history and the ability to grin and bear it! :O)

To read a sneak peek of Treasure of Egypt click here: Treasure of Egypt Sneak Peek.

To read some of the historical discoveries mentioned click over to the Histories Mysteries part of my blog: Histories Mysteries with Barbara Ivie Green 

For those of you who love your comedy where anything of myths and legend can and probably will come true you can read the first chapters of my Paranormally Yours series by clicking here. Book 1 The Ghost Pirate's Treasure and Book 2 Cupid's Love Potion 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Art of Realism

Serene Splendor is now available in print! Click here to view

oil painting of bobcat and the original photo used to paint it by Barbara Ivie Green

     As an artist I have always been drawn to realism. Being able to portray something that looks as real on canvas as it does in reality has been a life-long dream of mine. I am still working on that ability and probably will be for the rest of my life. That being said – I want to say that I love and enjoy all forms and styles of art. I have always believed that it’s not about what style or medium you used or even how good you are as an artist, but how well you communicated. If a picture truly is worth a thousand words then I ask what are those words? Some of the greatest pieces of art have been done by children. You can feel the exuberance and delight in the piece. So it is prudent to ask I think as an artist, what did you feel and did I invoke within you a sense of the wonder I was feeling? To accomplish that is the act of the true master.

     It is important, however, to acquire some control over the medium and have the technical skill to create the artwork. I wanted to show something that brings a little more understanding to the art of the realist painter. For many years I think people have assumed that I just copied the images I painted. Transferring the information like a computer. Is it real or photocopied? On one painting I even had someone ask if I had d├ęcoupaged the image of the wolf onto the canvas. Hahahaha!  One man rather snidely asked, why, if I already had the photo, was I painting it to look exactly like it?  So here is the answer to that, I rarely do, in fact, most of the time I change the image to create what I want to portray, although if what I want is the photo I can and have painted the photo – exactly.

Not everyone is a fan, however, one gallery owner groaned upon seeing my work and said, "Augh, photo realism." I looked around to see paintings of neon dogs and cowboys as well as a few images of dissected fruit parts, which I liked, but felt a little downhearted that my art wasn't considered valuable there. The truth is, is that all art is in the eye of the beholder. I have been in some of the most prestigious galleries and sold in shows before some of the biggest names in the business. I tell you this for two reasons. It shows how subjective art and its critiques can be, as well as, how important finding your own validations is. It is the only way to find your truth. The lessons that I was given by these stranger's comments were priceless as they helped me to claim ownership and see the value . . . but how I digress.

     Being "photo real" is not my goal, you see as a realist it is real life that I want to be able to express. The camera is an incredible tool, but it also has it's limitations. For instance we see with two lenses and the camera has only one. The challenge is to use it as a tool and yet see beyond it. In the two images above, you will see my finished oil painting on the left, and the reference photo I painted it from on the right.  This is something you will rarely see an artist share for obvious reasons. LOL! Now you can see for yourself my shortcomings and the place where my thumb wore away some of the photo ink at the bottom from holding it while I painted it.

     I wanted to use these images side by side to show not only the similarities, but to also point out the differences – some obvious and others more subtle. One, I did not copy this work by tracing or using a projector. I can paint exactly what I see before me, but more importantly I can change it. I loved the pose of the bobcat, but wanted it crouching over a creek – as if you had the rare opportunity to come across this scene in nature. (I have been doing this type of thing using the computer recently, drawing a sword – forging it in the computer and placing it in a setting using computer graphics – for instance, but this painting was done long before I had the ability to do that.)

     You will probably notice the difference in the lighting between the two images right away. I changed it to bring more focus onto the bobcats face using the lightest lights and darkest darks to pop it. Also in the reference photo the face of the bobcat is blurry and the back legs are in extreme focus. I switched this around, bringing more clarity to the eye and fur around the face rather than the back legs. The other changes are the extension of the branches and leaves in the background. Some are painted from reference photos I took out in the back yard, but most of the changes you see, including the lower portion, such as the rocks and creek, are from my imagination. Yes, you read right . . . they are from my imagination.  This is the point and reason I decided to post the original reference photo. To all of those who think that what they are seeing is just some enhanced photo or that painting an image to look like the real deal is easy or not a valid form of art - there is actually some skill involved. The other changes you might see are in tone, placement of plants, and lines were created to lead the eye throughout the canvas.

     Someone once explained to me that being able to copy someone else’s version of a photo or scene was the first level of skill. You may be extremely good at that, but when you go up to the next step, interpreting the photo yourself it will be harder to acquire the same level of artistic rendering. The next is painting the scene from life, without the use of a camera, analyzing the information yourself. Obviously, having the same skill level to do this is going to be much harder to accomplish. The next and final phase of course is painting from your imagination with the same amount of skill that you had when you copied another’s interpretation and that takes some mastery over the medium as well as artistic ability - and some might even call it art! Hahahaha!

    So this is for you, my fellow artists of realism, I feel you - keep seeing, keep dreaming . . . we are not just copy machines - and on another rather amusing note, the hardest thing to paint in this painting and make it look real was the dirt. :O)