Seshat Symbols, Tools, and Talismans A-Z
These items can be used in building a writing altar to Seshat, in rituals, and as part of your spiritual work with Seshat.
The Ankh is an ancient Egyptian symbol that is often carried by gods and goddesses or is seen in the background of their images and reliefs. Seshat is often pictured with her "tools of the trade," but she sometimes is seen holding an ankh. It is sometimes called the key of life. It is an important hieroglyphic symbol that is also associated with the word life in Egyptian writing and the concept of eternal life. The Ankh represents her culture and religion, as well as being a symbol that the divine offers to humans. To some, it means strength and health, and others see it as a combination of feminine and masculine principles. It is also the gender symbol for the feminine and was adapted as a symbol of feminism.
Lotus abounded in ancient Egypt and it is the national flower of that country. The image of the lotus is part of so much ancient Egyptian art. You can also find dried blue lotus to leave as an offering to Seshat to honor her culture and the color blue to bless your communication.
Lighting a flame to honor the goddess of writing can help ignite your passion for the written word and will enable you to connect with different aspects of her support. There are many colors that can honor and invite Seshat and you can choose colors that represent where you are in your writing adventure. Use the colors of the chakras. Red represents the passion for writing. Orange reflects the power of the second chakra and stimulates creativity, and it is also a color seen in paintings of Seshat. Yellow is for bringing in the powerful Egyptian sun and calming energy. Green is for opening your heart to writing and honoring the green star she wears upon her head. Blue is for your throat chakra and opening your voice. Indigo is for opening your third eye to guidance and deeper intuition. Purple is for your crown chakra and opening to divine guidance.
The calculator can represent an aspect of her role as goddess of measures and accounting, in which she reports on, and adds up, numbers. Historically, she listed the "booty" brought in by the pharaoh and commemorated his successes by counting years, accomplishments, and triumphs. Her role in the stretching of the cord also has to do with measurement. If you are a writer that likes to measure words by numbers and pages, this will help you meet your word count. For example, if you want to write a 50,000-word book, within a year, you might calculate that you could write a certain amount of words each month, week, or day, to achieve your goal.
An image of the divine is a powerful way to connect to the energy and presence of a deity and it is part of many ancient cultures. Seshat's culture is rich with art meant to honor deities and illustrate history. The images are also utilized to help call in the divine. While it is true that Seshat images are not as widely available as that of her divine relatives, you can find her in an internet search and there are some artists who have created modern renderings. There is an image of Seshat on papyrus that is a replica of a temple relief called, "Atmoo, Thoth, and the goddess of letters, Seshat, writing the name of Ramesses on the fruit of the Persea." I was actually able to purchase that image Papyrus from a stock photo service to include in this book. But I also found it on a shower curtain! Of course, my favorite image is the one channeled for me (and all of us) by Nic Phillips. It blesses my home and book covers. You can easily get yours from Nic on Etsy.
Having something that represents hieroglyphics near your desk or on your altar is a way to call her in because this was her form of writing. It is easy to find a papyrus chart, a poster, or even a coffee mug that carries these Egyptian symbols. There are also articles and books that can help you read them easily. The Egyptians often wrote words based on their sound, which is why there is no 100 percent correct way to pronounce Seshat's name, but we can also work with words letter by letter. Why not practice spelling your book title and byline in hieroglyphics? You can cut the letters from an existing chart or use stencils.
Stencils with hieroglyphics or symbols of Seshat's culture are also widely available and you can use them in creating art or for some organized doodling in your journal. You can probably have one specially made.
The feather quill takes us back to the times when some of the most important ancient and historical spiritual works were documented in written form. It is a symbol of writing and also a symbol of magical writing. The feather quill can conjure an image of the early scribes. When you dip it in your chosen ink, and write, it takes you back in time.
Ink in a bottle
Inscribing prayers or magical information was often done using black or red ink and those are still popular colors for modern scribes who would like to set their intentions or offer prayer to Seshat. I think the most powerful way to imbue the ink with her energy is to buy it from somewhere sacred to her, such as a library or museum. The New York Public Library sells ink and feather quills that represent their great, modern House of Life. Also, the Getty Museum has writing implements reminiscent of ancient times.
Knotted cord was used in ancient societies by surveyors making measurements. This was before we had modern and more accurate methods in place for measuring and surveying. Seshat used this ancient method in her role of working with the Pharaohs on the Stretching of the Cord, and laying the foundation for temples in just the right way. She, of course, has divine cosmic tools but in ancient Egypt this was a physical symbol of Seshat. In Ropes and Knots in Ancient Egypt, Willeke Wendrich wrote that, "From securing a ship, to tying cattle to a post, building shelters and curing headaches, rope and string were a multipurpose commodity in ancient Egypt."
Seshat loved to dress in leopard skins and she embodied their power. They also protected her and they can protect your writing, your writing time, your boundaries for writing, and your intellectual property. I keep two leopard books ends on my Seshat altar, guarding her from either side. If you prefer, get a stuffed leopard to sit by or on your desk, or a tiny leopard statue to represent protection as well as her wild side.
You can find many ways to humanely adhere to her fashion choices by seeking clothing made with the leopard look. She is usually seen as tall, trim, and in a tight-fitting leopard dress. If you can find one and love that look, you can have fun dressing up as she who writes in leopard skins. If you are not a fashion plate, try a pair of warm slippers or a scarf in that print.
Any book that is sacred to you, and that supports your spiritual writing journey, can be your magical book. Select a book that carries spiritual principles you would like to include in your writing and that has wisdom you would like to embrace on your journey and keep it near your desk or on your altar. Maybe there is a writing book that offers a plan you would like to master or a spectacularly written book that inspires you to be a great writer. You can keep a book that is magic to you in a place of honor as a tribute and to serve as a talisman to elevate your inspiration.
Papyrus was abundant in ancient Egypt and it was customary to use it for writing and to inscribe prayers on it. The famous Egyptian Book of the Dead was inscribed on a long papyrus scroll. Images of gods, goddesses, royalties, scribes, and others were also emblazoned in various forms of papyrus. It is still customary to find replicas of temple images and scenes recreated on papyrus. You can also purchase plain papyrus paper and write your own prayers and intentions on it.
Seshat helps you tap into your power as a writer. She also blesses and helps you release your writing woes. Some people have fire pits or ways to release pain to nature but writers have paper shredders (or use one at the library or at the office). This is a very modern way to magically release writing frustrations. You can shred your list of upsets, or feed the shredder a copy of what you perceive to be your worst writing. If you do so in the spirit of clearing your path to great writing, it will be a sacred act of letting go to let in the new.
Keep Seshat close to you by wearing her as a pendant, close to your neck and your heart. Ancient Egyptians wore goddess pendants as amulets. Wearing the goddess against your skin is a way to bring her closer to your body, mind, and spirit. Feeling her there, and catching glimpses in the mirror, can be very inspiring. Wearing her on your body in jewelry form is also a tribute to Seshat and it is a symbol of owning your power as a writer and modern scribe.
You can buy or make prayer beads that carry a pendant of Seshat, or an emblem of her work as a goddess of writing. Hearthfire Handworks is one company I know of that makes Seshat prayer beads and pocket beads and they are beautiful and sacred. Prayer beads can be made following the familiar Mary rosary of 54 beads or the Lakshmi rosary of 108 beads, or by using multiples of 7. Use charms that represent Seshat, such as books, inkwells, pens, feather pens, typewriters, and anything else that reminds you of her scribal energy. I first learned sacred bracelet making from Marion van Eupen, a priestess and teacher of Priestess of Brighde-Brigantia. You can wear these, make bracelets, or hold them in your hand as you pray to her for support. You can also rest them on her altar.
As the goddess of writing and measurement and the ruler of books, keeping an actual ruler on hand can help connect with her skill of measuring through practical and divine means. If you like to write in quantifiable measurements―such as word or page counts―the ruler can represent a sense of exact measurement. A ruler represents a reliable, sure thing that you can trust. Many people like to sit down to write with that same kind of surety―as sure as this ruler has twelve inches, I will write twelve pages, twelve hundred words, or twelve paragraphs today.
Scribal apparatus and palettes
The scribal equipment that may have been used by scribes of Seshat who walked the earth in ancient Egypt have a few different looks. A scribal palette, which may have been made of wood or another material, looked a bit like a long pencil holder. It had a place to keep reed sticks for writing and small indentations for mixing colors. Another version is a big tube for longer reeds, with a leather bag for holding ink mixtures, and a palette, with two circular bowls for holding ink. This allowed the scribe to dip into the colors with the reed. It is difficult to come by an actual scribal palette and ancient writing tools for your altar or modern use. From time to time, there is a clever reproduction available, but for the real thing you may have to find an image. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has such images that can be legally downloaded. You can use museum images to draw or outline your own scribal palette and you can place your name on it.
Seshat is famous for the star that sits upon her head in a headdress that is unique to her. While some of the Egyptian goddesses share a solar or lunar disk, Seshat is the only one with a seven-pointed star. It is her special emblem. It defines her and helps us find her. There are some occasions when you see her with a five-pointed star. It shows up in headdresses sometimes, such as in an image in the Brooklyn Museum, and you may also see a modern rendition of her in a dress of five-pointed stars. A five-pointed star represents the hieroglyph for the word star and five-pointed stars were more common in Egyptian art and funerary artifacts. The five-pointed star is also affiliated with Sopdet, the Egyptian personification of the star Sirius. (I wonder sometimes if the two have been confused over time because they are both star goddesses.) If you cannot find a proper Seshat star from your altar, a seven-pointed fairy star can fill in, and these can be found in jewelry, images, and altarpieces.
Scroll paper and string ties
You can use papyrus paper to create your own scrolls or choose a paper that has an ancient look and feel to it. You can use this scroll to set your writing intentions, outline your book, petition Seshat for help, or offer her a blessing and offer your gratitude. Once you have written on this paper with your sacred information or offering, roll it up, tie it with a papyrus string or a red string, and place it on your altar to be blessed. You can also hold an activation ceremony to give whatever is on the scroll a spiritual boost.
Seshat statues are relatively rare so when you find one, get it! Etsy is your best bet. The only source I found for a statue was in Egypt and so I imported her to New York. If you are crafty you can make one by getting a devotional image of Seshat, or a postcard with her image, and use a wood block to paste a sacred image of the goddess so it can stand. Or you can place it in a photo frame or small easel stand. It is helpful to have a three-dimensional image of her if you are going to build a writing altar for her. The Egyptians believed that deities were ensouled in their statues. But it is 100 percent fine to improvise with an image or even an image of an icon of her.
This is a scribal tool that Seshat holds in her hand. In images where she is seen writing, she is often using her stylus to make marks on a long reed. Since she was also the great measurer, sometimes she was counting things, such as a Pharaoh's accomplishments. The stylus was a tool in many ancient cultures and comes in different forms and is made of different materials. The stylus of today's world is used for everything from writing on an electronic device to scribing on wax. You can get one as a symbol of Seshat's heavenly stylus and its role in writing history and books.
The tape measure is a device for measuring the length, width, and depth of an item, an area, or a space. You can keep her energy nearby in this modern version of her measuring tools. But you can also use it as a symbolic boundary. Just as Seshat measured the precise space for where to lay the foundation of a temple in ancient Egypt, you can use a cloth tape measure to form a boundary around your altar. You can bless it with the intention of it acting as a protective rim around you and your writing life. You can imagine that on the other side of this corded off area is an energetic mote that no one can get through without your permission. You can intend for it to be a boundary that protects your creativity, energy, and all you create. It can be a sacred temple of creativity that you place yourself in the middle of by adding an image of yourself happily writing.
Every writer needs a notebook or a journal–or multiples! You want to inspire your inner muse to write as much as possible. To begin your writing process with Seshat, designate a goddess journal in her honor. Use your journal for the exercises in this book, and for taking sacred time for writing. Also, keep one in your purse. Establish the tools that will let Seshat's magic flow to you at any time, from anywhere. Definitely keep one by the bed for those days when you awake with glorious ideas and writing solutions.
As scribe and record keeper, Seshat was sometimes seen writing on a tablet. So much of ancient history was preserved for us because it was recorded on tablets that lasted through the ages. It is also called an Ancient Egyptian writing board. Seshat, of course, was a professional, but apprentice scribes had to learn the alphabet and they would practice their penmanship on these boards. Once they were done, they would give it to their teacher, a master scribe, to inspect and correct. Since scribes were trained in the House of Life, these tablets were in Seshat's divine editorial domain. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has one of these in their collections that is about 4,000 years old. On it you can see the red marks where the teacher was correcting the student's spelling. It just goes to show you: We all have to learn somewhere. They refer to is as a "gessoed board" as the boards were continually painted over with white gesso paint. This also describes a modern version of a gesso wood board with canvas that can be used for painting or trying your hand at hieroglyphics.
Your pen and pencil are your magic wands. Buy yourself pens you love writing with and pencils that glide across the page. Try a feather pen and ink. Go into a store if you can and try pens out to make sure they fit perfectly between your fingers, and that they feel good to the touch. Try colors, too! Black ink for prosperity and blue for the flow of communication and finding your voice. Or try red to give you courage and orange to stimulate your creativity center. Use yellow for calming and green for healing and connecting to Seshat's green star emblem. And when you want to connect to the divine, try purple. Create a link to Seshat's power by getting a pen with a leopard design or faux leopard skin that is soft to the touch. You deserve beautiful writing tools and you can find those that can be recycled.
You can try different ways to include some of these sacred items on your altar, in your writing space, or in prayers and rituals with Seshat. In the next chapter we will go through a few different ways to use them to connect with Seshat.