Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ancient Egypt’s Isis, Malawi’s woman of hamerkop (nantchengwa) bird?

Internet photo of ancient Egypt’s Isis (Aset) and Horus (Heru)
“O Isis, O lightning that turns into god, extend your blessing on the people of that time.  You left your will in magical prayer, Lightning: A Perfect Mind, And all your kindness, for your so beneficial gift, for the strength of your light, we praise you, Isis…..
“Daughter of earth and sky, under your form of lightning, you show your dual origin by uniting both your parents in your embrace. You are the true benefactor of mankind, the Divine Mother….
She is a thing. She is lightning. Remember that lightning, or thunder, is a feminine word in Greek as well as in French. Is lightning a thing indeed? In this particular context, lightning is both the flash that provides enlightenment and Isis, Great Goddess of Ancient Egypt.

I am Lightning making the perfect mind.  I send the power to those who come to me.  Do not ignore me, you Greeks, armed with your beliefs.  For I am the first and last, the great goddess and the most humble of your servants.
For I am the one who is honoured in the old religion, the one who is despised in the Greek worship.  
I am the one who is sterile because enlightenment is not transmitted by heredity, and numerous are my sons because I have awakened many,” partly reads online sources about ancient Egyptian goddess Isis.
Internet photo of “Isis Papyrus”
According to an article posted on an Isis website the origins of Isis remain unclear.  

Isis was her Greek name, but she was known to the “ancient Egyptians as Aset (or Ast, Iset, Uset), which is usually translated as “(female) of throne” or “Queen of the throne,” further reads

Now in ancient Malawi, the hamerkop locally known as nantchengwa was the lighting bird of the mythical and powerful first woman who fell from grace and who like many in other parts of the world was similar to Isis.
Her symbols were based on this bird including the positioning of her legs and feet to show the two ways to the mythical underworld of Sapitwa.
This blog is exploring similar beliefs in different cultures and countries as part of amateur research and will attempt to draw ancient Malawi’s first woman whose colour was blue with a full-figure.
Now it is only natural that lightning and thunder should powerfully affect the human imagination all the world over. Even when their causes are more or less understood there are few or none but must feel a peculiar thrill at sight of the flash and sound of the answering roar.

Hamerkop landing photo from the Internet
To the primitive mind lightning is a living thing, instinct with destructive power, thunder the voice of some angry spirit or supra-mundane animal. Lightning is, perhaps, most often conceived of as a bird, and there seems no reason to doubt the good faith of those who declare they have actually seen it.
Various descriptions are given of it: sometimes it becomes identified with an actual bird; thus the Amandebele give the name of isivolovolo both to the ‘bird of heaven’ (inyoni yezulu) and to the white-necked fish-eagle, which flies at a great height and whose droppings possess magical properties.

Dudley Kidd, in Bomvanaland, had a brown bird pointed out to him as the lightning-bird. He was about to shoot it, but was dissuaded, and therefore presumably was unable to determine its species, as he gives no further information. 

The bird known to Afrikanders as ‘hammerkop’ (the tufted umber) seems in some way to be associated with lightning as well as rain; to destroy its nest is to bring down a storm”, partly reads
Internet photo of Hamerkop (Nantchengwa) bird

The mythical lightning-bird of ancient Malawi is also the hamerkop locally known as nantchengwa which has a triangular-shaped head and is known for its shriek cry as if some wicked women laughing or something.

This bird is also used by some local traditional healers (asing’anga anyanga) but since this blog does not have permission to publish how, readers familiar with ancient Malawi myth and tales can figure out how and it has nothing to do with lightning strikes as is the case in other Sadc countries.
Now looking at the image of the ancient Egypt figure of a woman with one leg bent reminds some uneducated Sapitwa healers of a Hamerkop known as Nantchengwa in Malawi.
It’s quite an ugly looking bird with a triangle shaped head and a cry that seems to shriek when flying by.
It also doesn’t fly steadily, kind of staggering then flying straight like the Maat image online gliding high in the sky like an airplane unlike other regular birds like the crow which seem to use more energy.
Some Sapitwa healers claim the Hamerkop known as Nantchengwa in Malawi when flying has one leg which looks lame.  They also claim that it represents the two ways in their so-called underworld with one leg stretched out in one direction and the other bent in another direction.
Hamerkop flying photo from
However the unofficial online Wikipedia says the Hamerkop, also known as Hammerkop, Hammerkopf, Hammerhead, Hammerhead Stork, Umbretter, Umber bird, Tufted Umber or Anvilhead, is a medium-sized wading bird (56 centimetres (22 in) long, weighing 470 grams (17 oz)).

“The shape of its head with a curved bill and crest at the back is reminiscent of a hammer, hence its name. It ranges from AfricaMadagascar to Arabia, in wetlands of a wide variety, including estuaries, lakesides, fish pond, riverbanks and rocky coasts inTanzania.

There are also many legends about the Hamerkop.

It is also known in some cultures as the lightning bird, and the Kalahari Bushmen believe or believed that being hit by lightning resulted from trying to rob a Hamerkop’s nest. They also believe that the inimical god Khauna would not like anyone to kill a Hamerkop.

According to an old Malagasy belief, anyone who destroys its nest will get leprosy, and a Malagasy poem calls it an “evil bird”. Such beliefs have given the bird some protection,” adds the unofficial Wikipedia.

Scopus, a database of abstracts and citations for scholarly journal articles, received its name in honor of this bird, as the Hamerkop is renowned for its superior navigation skills. 
Isis depicted with outstretched wings (wall painting, c. 1360 BCE)

Note:  This blog is still researching ancient Egypt’s Isis among others so those with other information feel free to critique what the Sapitwa healers claim based on photos they’re shown.  Thank-you.

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Took this picture of children in Milange, Mozambique admiring visiting Malawian children

Tracing footsteps to lead me home

Greetings from the Warm Heart Africa, Malawi.

I'm a Malawian journalist who grew up in many countries including South Africa, Belgium, then West Germany, UK, Washington DC and New York in the US and I love New York.

Trying to come up with the production of my life and by compiling some of my 1000 poems into a book called ‘Tracing Footsteps’ to lead me Home with excellent photography.

I also plan to film award winning documentaries based on the history of this ancient land called Malawi and the mysteries of Sapitwa and the Sirius star. this space.