Sunday, January 13, 2013

Would You Have Dreamed of Being A Priestess of the Nile?

One year ago this month, my first book was published – a novella entitled PRIESTESS OF THE NILE from Carina Press. It was a dream come true for me and Carina has bought my next Ancient Egyptian paranormal romance, WARRIOR OF THE NILE (out in September 2013) and I’ve got the third novel submitted for consideration.  I thought in today’s post here at Paranormal Romantics I’d talk a little about Egyptian temples and share an excerpt from PRIESTESS, in honor of the anniversary.
Here’s the book’s blurb:
Egypt, 1500 BCE
Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile God is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.

Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.

Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. When he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?

In my story Sobek’s temple has been abandoned by the local populace, usurped by the worship of other gods. Merys alone tries to keep the traditions alive, singing the songs and observing the rituals as best she can, in between her daily duties as a member of her father’s household. While a priest or priestess could have served part-time in Egypt, generally the job was a fulltime position with very involved daily duties.

Egyptian temples of the time had a statue of the deity in a sanctuary at the heart of the building. One couldn’t simply walk in and behold the god, but rather would have to pass through a series of ever smaller rooms and courtyards. The innermost sanctuary was typically sealed and dark but three times a day the priests would break the seal, bring candles into the room and go through a complicated series of rituals cleaning the statue, anointing it with precious oils, dressing it in fine garments and adding appropriate jewelry. Offerings of food and drink were also made.

These rituals allowed the priests to communicate with their deity through the senses, especially touch and smell. The incense in particular was felt to reach the god and appeal to him or her in ways that a human couldn’t, since scent is invisible.  Many of the ingredients used in Egyptian incense were believed to have come from the gods in the first place. Chanting and singing accompanied this three-times daily ritual, which is where I made the connection with Merys and her beautiful voice, trying to preserve at least part of the duty she felt was owed to Sobek as the region’s original godly protector.

Here’s an abridged fragment of such a chant:
The incense comes…the scent is over thee…the perfume of the goddess…it cleanses thee, it adorns thee, it makes its place upon thy two hands…

Here’s an excerpt from PRIESTESS OF THE NILE as Merys is explaining to the handsome stranger she’s just met about the abandoned temple. She has no idea the stranger is actually Sobek the Crocodile God.

…Merys gave him a wide smile. “This is my own secret place. Most people don’t want to come anywhere near the abandoned temple. They fear the wrath of the Crocodile God. But the women of my family were priestesses here until the temple closed. I don’t fear him.”

Bek craned his head to study the ruins on the bluff across the beach from where he sat. He was mildly curious now that she’d raised the topic. “What led to the temple’s abandonment?”

“Two generations ago the headman of the village died with no heirs and no clear successor. The nomarch who rules this territory finally sent in his own man.” Merys regarded the temple ruins for a moment, then sighed. “The new official favored the gods of his home city and cut off the tribute and the support to this temple. The new headman’s brother was a priest of
Horus.” She tilted her head and winked broadly at Bek. “The village has an impressive temple to Horus now.”

Bek threw back his head and guffawed. “So the Crocodile has been replaced by the Falcon. As if they were one and the same. Interchangeable. The Falcon wouldn’t enjoy hearing such news.”

Merys moved toward him, still dancing. “But in my maternal line we passed down the songs and the incantations.” She swept a hand to gesture at her feet. “The sacred dances.” She went on tiptoe and executed a series of graceful twirls coming across to him at the end. “I light the lamps in the god’s honor on the altar, every year on his Name Day. I keep the main sanctuary as clean as I can.”

“I’m sure your efforts are appreciated.” He tried to keep the smile off his face, biting his cheek.

The girl frowned at him and shook one finger. “The god protects us even now.” Her tone was cold, her eyes narrowed. “We have had only one ox and two cows seized by crocodiles in the past year, and no small children.” She furrowed her brow as some memory surfaced. “Well, one man was taken, but he was suspected of being a thief so no one mourned him. And the flooding of the Nile has been generous in bringing us fertile fields.”

If you're fond of stories set in a paranormal version of Ancient Egypt, here are the buy links for the book:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Carina Press All Romance

 Whatever your dreams might be, wishing you a very successful 2013!


1 comment:

Jane Kindred said...

Love this, Veronica! I have a soft spot for Egyptian mythology, too. :)