One of the aspects of writing paranormal romances about ancient Egypt that I enjoy most is being able to include the gods and goddesses in the action. Isis, queen of the gods, and Horus the Falcon appear in pretty much every book of mine but then I search for a way to feature a lesser-known (to us) deity as well. For my latest book, Dancer of the Nile, I started with the idea that Nima, the title character, was the daughter of a disgraced priestess, who had been granted one final wish by the snake goddess Renenutet. The wish wasn't for the priestess, but for her child, to be redeemed in the future, at some time of dire need.
As she grew up, Nima wore her amulet with the sacred bead faithfully, but she wasn't sure the wish would be granted. and when the enemy kidnaps her, she begs the goddess Renenutet to help her, with no result. The ancient Egyptians relied a great deal on amulet beads, wearing them in life and placing them inside tombs to help the spirit of the deceased win safe passage to the Afterlife. King Tut, for example, had 143 small amulets made of gold, carnelian, faience and , turquoise placed inside the wrappings of his mummy, including one that was serpent-headed. Here's the description of Nima's amulet from the novel, as Kamin, the hero examines the bead:
Holding her hand carefully in his much bigger one, Kamin examined the single glazed oval bead, about two inches long, threaded on a simple black leather thong, knotted loosely to circle her wrist. Pale aqua green in color, the flat bead under the glaze had a partial hieroglyphic on one side and a raised, snakelike design on the other, with two tiny enameled flowers flanking the reptile’s head.
During the course of the novel, Nima encounters her patron goddess (not going to give any spoilers here). I described one such encounter last year in this column, when the novel was still in the Work In Process stage. You can read that post here. For today, here's another short snippet of an exchange between Nima and the somewhat testy Great One Renenutet:
“Foolish girl, you squander the weapons I gave you.”
Renenutet—for it was the snake goddess herself, in human form—reached past Nima’s shoulder, holding out one hand. The remaining three snakes flew through the air to her like tiny arrows, wrapping themselves around her wrist to create a fabulous bracelet.
Heart pounding, Nima sank down on the bed.
Stroking the living bracelet as if to calm the snakes while frowning at Nima, the goddess said, “You can’t call the snakes of Nebu merely to amuse yourself, girl.”
You didn’t exactly provide me a scroll of instructions with the gift. Nima bit her tongue as she left the bed to go to her knees before the Great One. “I’m grateful for your continued assistance, my lady.”