The Left Eye of Horus

by angeliska on August 3, 2011

Horus was the ancient Egyptian sky god who was usually depicted as a falcon.
His right eye was associated with the sun Ra. The eye symbol represents the
marking around a Peregrine Falcon’s eye that includes the “teardrop” marking
sometimes found below the eye. The mirror image, or left eye, sometimes
represented the moon and the god Djehuti (Thoth).

I’m getting excited about the theme for the upcoming Exquisite Corpse – The Left Eye of Horus.
Norah came up with it, and I’m so glad because it’s given me the opportunity to explore an aesthetic
that I’ve always found very alluring: Egyptian Goth. I call it that, but really it’s a mish-mash of traditional
and fantastical styles from a variety of Middle Eastern countries and peoples. The bleak tales of death in
the desert from The Sheltering Sky, and the wraithed, black-clad shapes, of kohl-eyed, tattooed Berber
women shimmering on the horizon planted the seed, which grew into a lush little oasis: a stark vision in
black and white, hung with hammered silver and gold. Heavy clouds of incense, sharply scented with
Sandalwood, papyrus, lotus, and sycamore. These are embalming herbs, for canning hearts in canopic jars.
Bear with me while I wax rhapsodic, won’t you? The mysteries from the fertile crescent continue to inspire, even
as in modern Egypt, at the very moment I write this, Hosni Mubarak is standing (or laying down on a bed in a
cage, actually) trial
for the murders of over 850 peaceful protesters who died fighting for change from the days
of ancient Egypt – when pharoahs could hold a throne hostage for generations while amassing untold riches
If you’re interested in keeping up with what’s happening in Egypt, I can’t recommend a better source than Mona Eltahawy.
I had the pleasure of meeting her last year, and we struck up an immediate connection. We talked about writing, but at
the time, I had no idea that she was an award-winning columnist or a total information powerhouse on Arab and Muslim
issues, until January 25th. I had come across her card, and decided to start following her Twitter feed, which is pretty much
the most up to the minute source for whatever’s going down in Egypt politically at any given moment. She’s truly amazing.

Sapho – Methylene
So, in part this post is dedicated to some strong women – Mona, my friend Zahra-Jane, and also Oum Khalthoum (who I’ll get to later…)
Zahra and I were Livejournal friends from way back, and finally had the pleasure of meeting one another for real recently in Chicago.
She has an incredible aesthetic sense and has turned me on to so much awesome stuff over the years. For this post in particular, I asked
her to recommend any treasures I might be overlooking, and she sent me some wonders, indeed. I also heavily pillaged her kick-ass tumblr
The Signs in the Stars and her beautiful blog, Black Celebration – go check out both and be delighted and inspired! I can’t thank her enough for showing me Sapho, a moroccan singer who hung out with Siouxsie in the 80’s and made awesome egyptian-inspired new wave!

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Arabian Knights
I collect khamsas (or hands of Fatima) – my grandmother always wore a big silver filigree one when she traveled,
and I remember always being fascinated and drawn to it. I wear it when I fly, and treasure it immensely. Sacred hands.

Givenchy Haute Couture Fall Winter 2009/2010 Full Show
I am FEELING this show so deeply. Knockin’ ’em cold in black + gold is my permanent fashion motto,
and this just does it all for me. Now where can I get my hands on piles and piles of gold headdresses,
elaborately wrought paillettes, handfuls of massive knuckledusters, et cetera? I need it all by tomorrow.

I love these headdresses:

Dying for this one, made by my girl Miss Arielle de Pinto – her work is beyond fabulous. I desire silvery mounds of it.

Not sure where this one came from, but I sure do love it.

Sequin masks from the Givenchy show… DIY, y’all!

I love this photo of Inga & Anush Arshakyans. Watch out if you click on this link – the video is whoa.
They’re Armenian, but whatever – they look rad.

Oum, Umm, Oumme, Ümmü, OM!

From Zahra-Jane’s killer post on Oum Kalthoum
“The details of a woman. Oum Kalthoum. b. December 31st, circa 1900-1904, Egypt. the capricorn. Star of Egypt.
Queen of tarab, which is that…”this is MY JAM” feeling you get. Tarab is like a state beyond enjoyment, a state of
almost oneness and total ecstasy with the song.
There is also a level of audience participation, the crowd moves the singer,
who moves the crowd, which allows an especially spiritual element which decades later, you feel listening to these recordings.
Enchantment is a popular translation, but the word seems almost too quaint for what I feel when I hear Oum Kalthoum.
It is no shock that she has inspired some of my favorite artists, from Nico, to Maria Callas.”

1938 Kodachrome film of two Ouled Nail dancers. Silent.
I recommend that you watch it while playing the track below.

Egyptian lover – Egypt Egypt

Pola Negri

From a 1970’s Playboy magazine

Nefertiti by Youssef Nabil

Shirin Neshat by Youssef Nabil

Kate performs “Egypt” on a 1979 Christmas special.
She is so bonkers. God, I love her.
Follow the Nile
Deep to much deeper.
The Pyramids sound lonely tonight.
The sands run red
In lands of the Pharoahs.
Their symmetry gets right inside me.
I cannot stop to comfort them.
I’m busy chasing up my demon.
I cannot stop to comfort them.
I’m busy chasing up my demon.
Oh, I’m in love
With Egypt.
My Pussy Queen
Knows all my secrets.
I’ll never fall in love again.
I drift with dunes.
I whisper of the tombs.
They offer me Egyptian delights.
She’s got me with that feline guise,
Got me in those desert eyes.
She’s got me with that feline guise,
Got me in those desert eyes.
Oh I’m in love
With Egypt.

I had the pleasure of meeting Maria Dahvana Headley, author of Queen of Kings,
(my own copy is tantalizing me at this very moment from my nightstand!)
recently – she is a fiercely joyous hummingbird of a woman, who I immediately adored.
We had discussed creating an event around her book-signing here in Austin to celebrate
her new work, which is all about vampires and monsters in ancient Egypt. It didn’t work
out time-wise, but the inspiration lingered – so I’ll dedicate this Exquisite Corpse to her
as well! I can’t wait to delve into this world she’s created…

Another book that comes to mind when developing this theme is an old favorite – Storm Constatine’s Wraeththu, a trilogy that shaped many of my views about style, gender, magic and provided a beautiful vision of a post-human, post-apocalypse future.

Illan Riviere is a consumate androgynous Wraeththu Har – and one of the most incredible dancers I’ve ever seen.

From ZJ’s post on Propaganda Magazine

The Sisters Of Mercy – Temple Of Love (Featuring Ofra Haza)

This was my number one favorite song throughout much of my childhood. I was (and still am) so, so into it.
During the 2011 Egyptian Revolution the song enjoyed a surge in popularity among the younger population of protesters:

All the old paintings on the tombs
They do the sand dance don’t you know
If they move too quick (oh way oh)
They’re falling down like a domino
All the bazaar men by the Nile
They got the money on a bet
Gold crocodiles (oh way oh)
They snap their teeth on your cigarette
Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Ay oh way oh, ay oh way oh
Walk like an Egyptian

Natacha Atlas – Leysh Natarak

One comment

Amazing awesome post as always! Off to listen to more Ofra…

by Emma on August 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm. Reply #

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