The Cult of Aten

                                       "The Escape"

The Picnic

 

   

 

 

 

Authors note....

             “Tonight there is a celebration in the town.” Mannat said to Teritti and Sherrit after she came down and heard of their plans to visit the town.  “It is in honor of one of the gods that we do not follow, and you should not go there.  You are children of the Aten now girls.” 

          “You are right sister Mannat,” Teritti answered.  “We will leave the town before the parade starts, sister Mannat.” 

          “How do you know there is a parade?”  Mannat asked. 

          “The Innkeepers wife told us.  She told us that if you go there with a boy and one of the dancers tosses a flower to you, he must kiss you and then he will have to marry you.”  Sherrit said as she giggled. 

          “That is so silly.”  Mannat replied.

 

  1320BC The Aten Cult is escaping from Egypt, embarking on a journey to find a new Amarna and a place to worship their god without persecution.

Teritti, a 12 year old medical student and Manataten a 40 year old and one of the remaining "Daughters of Aten,"  Nefertiti's personal servants, have taken a group of followers on a cattle boat and have landed in Rhakotis (Modern day Alexandria)

Waiting for a ship to take them on their worldwide search, they have a day off to relax and enjoy a picnic.

           Hothan returned to inform the girls that the boys had agreed to go on the picnic with them, and that they would leave at noon. 

“So, the young people are going on a picnic?”  Mannat asked Hothan seeing the same sparkle in his eyes that had been there last night on the cattle boat. 

          “Yes, some of the boys will be going with the girls.”  Hothan said....

 

   

~

“The weather should be good for the next few days!”  Hothan said to Mannat as they walked outside the Inn.

“What are you going to do today?”  Mannat interrupted Hothan. 

“I am not so old my friend, perhaps I will go on the picnic myself.”  Hothan answered and then asked cautiously…. “Would it, uh… would it be improper for me to invite you to go on the picnic with us, Sister Mannataten?” 

“That would all depend on what your intentions were ‘Brother’ Hothan.”  Mannat replied quite properly. 

“My intentions are just to go on a picnic and eat some good food.”  Hothan answered. 

“In that case Hothan my good friend,” Mannat said, “Then I accept your invitation.”

 

   

The boys arrived at the Inn at the proper time where Sherrit, Teritti and two of the other girls were already preparing the food with the help of the Innkeepers wife.  “Teritti, did you prepare the dates already.” Manna asked as she entering the kitchen. 

“Yes sister, they are all ready in that basket there on the table.”  She answered pointing to the basket. 

 “And the Vegetables?”  She asked Sherrit. 

“I have mixed the peas and palm sprouts with some oil in the bowl that the Innkeepers wife lent to me, sister. 

“Thank you dear,” Manna said politely to Sherrit.

 

   

“Oh. Teritti, did you remember to put some cane in with the dates?” She asked. 

“Yes, sister, it is all done.  We are all ready to go.” 

“But, we have forgotten something, I know it.” Manna said out loud to herself.  “Oh yes, the fish!  Did anyone get the fish from the market place?” 

“No my sister, we didn’t need to go to the market place, the Innkeepers wife has given us fish and bread for the picnic.”  Sherrit said. 

“Thank you so much Yatel.” Manna said to their hostess. 

“It is my pleasure.” Yatel answered. “You are guests at our Inn, if you were here, I would have fed you anyway.  They are just the same fish you would have eaten if you ate here.”

 

   

            “It’s too bad that you and your husband cannot come with us on the picnic, Yatel.”  Mannat said. 

            "You will be going with the girls on their adventure?” Yatel asked, surprised. 

            “Sister Mannat, you are going with us?”  Sherrit added, also surprised. 

            “And your father as well.” Mannat answered.  “Your father has invited me to go with you!” 

            “That is wonderful news.” Teritti added.  

            “We shall have so much fun and you shall be on a date with father.”  Sherrit said. 

            “Don’t get any ideas,” Mannat said, “we are just going along to enjoy the food and to see the landscape.”

~

   

“What do you think will happen to us?” Manna asked Hothan as they sat together looking out over the sea from the bluffs.  The picnic was over and all eight of the young people were down on the beach exploring. 

“This is a hard thing to tell.” Hothan said.  “What you have done to preserve your master’s religion for these many years since he has been gone is truly great.  Another might have said that it is futile to continue, but, I believe that you have been blessed by this god of yours to do this thing.” He continued adding “And I don’t even believe in your god.”

 

   

Manna stood up and walked to the edge of the limestone bluff.  The cool breeze coming from the water carried the scent of adventure to her nostrils.  The wind whistled in her ears as if it was singing just to her.  She was not afraid at all of the future, knowing that the Aten would always guide her steps.  Thirty-eight years ago, when she was four, she had been brought to the temple by her father.  Her suitability as a potential priestess of Amon was immediately noticed by the priests and she entered the school.  At eleven, while still in training at the temple, she had become a ‘Daughter of Aten’ and moved to Amarna in the service of Queen Nefertiti adopting the religion of Aten.

 

   

Since the city of Amarna had been destroyed twelve years earlier, Manna had lived in Memphis preaching quietly about the Aten.  It is quite possible that without her, the worship of Aten might have been forgotten entirely.  Memphis itself was undergoing change now that much of the religious and political life of Egypt was centered back near the Temples of Karnak and Luxor in the city of Thebes.  The Temples that Akhenaton’s father Amenhotep III had made great were now becoming important once again just as Akhenaton’s were starting to be forgotten.

 

   

“But, I do believe in you my dear.” Hothan said as he stood up and stepped behind Manna, removing his garment and placing it on her shoulders as he had done the night before on the cattle boat.  “I believe that you are destined to lead these people out of Egypt.”  He said.

 

   

“I almost gave up Hothan.  When I met Teritti and your daughter a couple of years ago, I was ready to give it all up. But now it is the glow that I see in the faces of these young people that keeps me going.”  Manna said.  “This cult will be preserved for all time.  A thousand years from today, the Aten will be worshipped all over the world.”

 

   

“I almost gave up too, my dear.”  Hothan said.  “I was ready to retire as a merchant forgetting the dreams of my youth, and then I met you.  I think that anyone, myself included would follow you Manna, ‘Beautiful Daughter of Aten’.  We would follow you to wherever you would lead.”  As Hothan placed his hands on her shoulders, Manna felt assured and thought back to the day when she had met young Teritti in the marketplace….

~

   

A year and a half earlier, Manna had been deeply depressed and had lost all hope of continuing the cult of Aten.  She had taken and hidden the canopic jars of Akhenaton behind the stone in the temple and had decided that she would leave Memphis and go on a pilgrimage back to Amarna where she would either simply wait to die or be arrested.  She had even been having the horrible thoughts that if she didn’t die or get arrested, that she would perhaps take her own life as a sacrifice for having failed her Lord Akhenaton and her god Aten.

 

   

For several months, Teritti had observed Manna preaching in the marketplace in the mornings as she walked to school.  They made eye contact with each other often, and had occasionally said ‘hello’ as they passed on the street.  “Can you help me?”  Teritti had asked as she stopped to speak at length to Manna for the first time since they had first seen each other months before.  Teritti expected that a religious woman would have some sort of mystical power and be able to answer her question.

 

   

Manna paused, annoyed that her thoughts planning her retreat back to Amarna and the end of the cult and her life had been so interrupted.  “Hello young lady.” she had said, allowing her mind to focus on Teritti for the moment.  “You’re one of the students at the medical school aren’t you?”  Manna asked

“What do you think it is that you can see inside this stone?”  Teritti asked boldly handing the stone to Manna. 

 

   

As she took the stone from Teritti and held it up to the sun, the sunlight filled the stone causing an inclusion to ignite colorfully.  “I see inside this stone all the glory of the Aten.”  Manna had said to Teritti as her mood immediately became more positive. 

“What is an Aten?” Teritti had asked. 

At that moment, Manna decided to cancel the pilgrimage and stayed in Memphis with a renewed vigor.  “Meet me here after school and I will tell you all about it my dear.”  Manna had said as Teritti went on her way.

 

   

            That chance encounter and the sudden realization that for a year and a half, she had seen this student almost every day and had never even told her of her faith in the Aten, had begun Mannat’s second effort to preserve the cult.  Over the next two years, Teritti, Sherrit and dozens of other young people from all over Memphis had come to know of the Aten and Mannat’s hope had become even stronger than before.  Now, however the renewed effort of the priests to squash the revived group had made it necessary for them to move away from Egypt entirely....

 

   

Continues....

   

 

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The Cult of Aten

Copyright 2003 by D. McDaniel Hayden

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means, including information and retrieval systems, without written permission of the author.

Except that the chapter included herein, from The Cult of Aten entitled "The Escape" may be freely copied electronically or mechanically  and distributed, so long as this copyright page, and the Web address www.LightoftheMorning.com is included along with said copy.

The names Qxiote, Huxel, Manna, Teritti, Manatoya, Teqoias, and others used in this book are fictitious and created by the author.  The names of Aten, Akhenaton, Nefertiti and Amarna are actual people, places and things from ancient Egypt.