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Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.

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Meeting My Past in Perneb’s Mastaba

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_perneb2.jpgThat’s the tomb of Perneb, just inside the grand hall of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Something happened to me when I stepped through the doorway during my birthday visit in December. What, I cannot say, but grateful tears erupted from me regularly the rest of the day, at the slightest provocation. Like many before me touring the Egyptian galleries, I felt I’d come home, that I was in the embrace of a place which had haunted my dreams for many lifetimes.

A friend suggested I try to learn something about Perneb, see if I could recover any possible connection or past-life memory. A collector purchased this small mastaba in 1912 and donated it to the Met, so there is a fair amount of information available. Perneb lived during the 5th Dynasty (ca. 2381 BCE to 2323 BCE), part of that time under the reign of Unas, whose name jumped out at me immediately.

Anyone who has read the Pyramid Texts will recognize the name Unas as the pharaoh subject of those sacred writings, inscribed on all the walls of his Saqqara b2ap3_thumbnail_unasbc2.pngpyramid. The Pyramid Texts are said to be the oldest-known sacred texts. They have touched me as no other Egyptian texts that I have read. As an official in the royal court who personally attended the pharaoh, Perneb would have lived in the center of the religious culture which produced the Pyramid Texts, perhaps even attended rituals which used the liturgy. For that matter, Perneb may have been present at the interment of Unas in the pyramid, including the accompanying ceremonies.

No, I’m not one to claim that I was Perneb or anyone else in a past life (though I do not discount the possibility). But I have spent many years attempting to fine-tune my inner senses. If I have lived other lives, there are millennia of learning embedded somewhere in the layers of my soul. I can dismiss my experience at the Met as an overactive imagination, or I can thank my ka (some would say higher self) for jogging my memory. There is a lovely continuity to which I am heir. I plan to keep listening.

The fire is laid, the fire shines;
The incense is laid on the fire, the incense shines.
Your perfume comes to me, O Incense;
May my perfume come to you, O Incense.
Your perfume comes to me, you gods;
May my perfume come to you, you gods.
May I be with you, you gods;
May you be with me, you gods.
May I live with you, you gods;
May you live with me, you gods.
I love you, you gods;
May you love me, you gods (Utterance 269)

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Holli Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the premiere educational resource for Pagan and other nature-based religions (, founder of Osireion (, editor/writer for Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape at, and serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Partners of S.C. (  She is co-founder of the original Pagan Round Table,, and author of "Pool of Lotus," available in print, or for Kindle or Nook, at


  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Tuesday, 26 February 2013

    Beautiful. Oddly enough, I had a similar experience at the Parthenon in Tennessee. Evocative is a word with many layers of meaning.

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