Welcome to this Exhibit!
I am so excited to offer this exhibit. It is a tribute to the goddess Seshat and to her important role as a goddess of writing, wisdom, scribes, books, libraries, books, letters, numbers, architecture, and the stars.
As a student of Public History, I find that there are striking similarities between this ancient goddess and the diverse roles of the modern public historian. Thus, I set out to create an exhibit that explored this concept, which is why the exhibit is called Goddess Seshat and Ancient Public History. But this exhibit is meant to also report on ANY history I could find on Seshat. I wanted a sacred container to share everything I know and understand about her because when I set out on researching her I felt like an archeologist digging for information. Unlike the more famous goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon -- Auset, Maat, Hathor, Sekhmet, and Bast -- Seshat seemed hidden.
She did not have her own temples, and she did not have a particular creation story or mythology. I knew Seshat was a writing deity, but I did not know much else about her history and place in the Egyptian pantheon. I felt called to research her and find out all I could. One of the first things I learned was that one of her monikers is she who scrivens, which translates to she who writes. As an author of many books, and as someone who is always writing, I so related to that! Then I discovered her name literally meant "female scribe." I related to that!
But where had she been hiding all these years that I have been writing about the Divine Feminine? Somehow, it seems that at this point in time, she wants to be more widely known. She seemed to be calling on me to help make that so.
I scoured Egyptian online collections around the world in search of artifacts and images of her on temple walls. I looked for any research articles that included Seshat and scribes. Slowly I began to find more images and historical references. I watched videos on Egyptian history and guided tours and registered for classes about Egyptian temples.
I came to see that she was a powerful goddess of writing, words, wisdom, and scribes and that she was affiliated with books, libraries, and librarians. I also came to know she was a deity of record-keeping, accounting, census-taking, measurements, and sacred architecture.
I called in her sacred presence as part of my writing process, and a new creativity and calm came over me. My productivity heightened, but so did my peace of mind. I felt a deeper connection to sacred books, scrolls, scribes, scribal tools, symbols of writing, and the concept of recording history. Ultimately, this immersion in the ancient world led me to enter graduate school as a student of public history. I felt this was a way to study the origins of writing and the worship and importance of ancient goddesses. I saw it as a way to have a deeper understanding of how history is uncovered, preserved, and interpreted. So many of the clues lie in the realm of the public historian - in museums, libraries, archives, history books, historical places, and site visits.
Although I could not get to Egypt, I wanted to connect with her "in person" in ancient form and searched for her in a museum I could visit. I discovered she lived in New York City at The Brooklyn Museum, so I went on a pilgrimage to see a unique antiquity of Seshat—her image was all that survived on this partial relief from an ancient temple. And there, I saw scribal tools of ancient times on display. I also found her at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, painted on a beautifully preserved mummy mask, and I felt her presence represented by the goddess and scribe statues in their Egyptian Art collection. I discovered she did not have a temple of her own but that she was honored on temple reliefs that can still be found all over Egypt.
Seshat hails from a huge and powerful pantheon of gods and goddesses and has deep roots in ancient Egypt as a guide to scribes, a blessed divine presence to royalty, and even as a friend to the dead. But she is not as famous as other members of her divine tribe, and she seemed, at first, to be a little hidden. I found Seshat in a few of the books in my fairly large collection of Egyptian and goddess books but had to add fifty more books to my home library just to find little bits of information on her. I share many of the insights gleaned from these books in this exhibit, to create a central online archive of her recorded history, but I also want to clarify that this exhibit represents my interpretation of Seshat and her history.
I have been a professional writer since the Stone Age (that time when we had that ancient instrument known as a typewriter). I am blessed to be able to blend my academic studies and subject matter expertise, with my practical experiences with writing, spiritual insights, and ancient wisdom. Writing books is a huge part of my spiritual path and it helps to have an ally like Seshat to get them completed and published. She is the only female in the Egyptian pantheon to be seen and is known for her position as a scribal goddess and writer. But in my research for this exhibit, I have discovered that writing is just one of her divine skills.
I want to especially thank my professor and supervisor on this project, Anastasia Pratt, Ph.D., of SUNY Empire State University. She has given me so much encouragement and support and has guided me through the process of creating this exhibit - and several other exhibits. I have been given an opportunity to explore the crossroads of goddess history and public history in a very in-depth and meaningful way. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I hope all who visit this exhibit enjoy learning about Seshat and getting to know her.
Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
M.A. in Public History student
SUNY Empire State University, Graduate Center