(Egypt - 69-30 BC)

Caught in a Net

The last of the great Queens of Egypt, Cleopatra nearly altered the face of the world by seeking to unite her realm with that of the Roman Empire.

Born in Alexandria, Cleopatra received an extensive education preparing her to govern Egypt wisely. She was able to secure the throne from her brother Ptolemy through an alliance with Julius Caesar, with whom she bore a son, Caesarian. Rome divided after Caesar's death and Cleopatra formed another alliance, this time with Mark Anthony. Their nine year love affair ended tragically when their campaigns against Parthia and Actium were unsuccessful. Believing Cleopatra committed suicide, Mark Anthony took his own life. Cleopatra rushed to his side where he died in her arms. Soon after, she took her own life to prevent capture by Octavian.


1. Swallows* - In Egypt the deceased wished to be transformed into a swallow so he might go forth by day unrestrained by any gate in God's domain. Here, they are a symbol of one's inability to soar which was Cleopatra's situation as she took her own life. Also, swallows are sacred to Isis as the Great Mother, "The imperishable northern stars, flying above the tree of life."
*The background is reminiscent of an Egyptian wall painting entitled, Pigeons Caught in a Net.

2. Cat - Sacred to the Egyptian Goddess Bastet who, in myth was the eye of the moon, thus the domestic cat attained special significance.

3. Fish - The phallus of Osiris; sacred to Hathor, Isis and Hatmekit; said to have warned of the approach of the hostile. Here, they form a quiet funeral procession for Cleopatra, submitting to her request.

4. Lotus - "It is the flower that was in the Beginning, the glorious lily of the Great Waters and the Great Mother wherein all existence comes to be and passes away." The Lotus closes its petals at night and retreats to the deep -- rising with its blossoms open to the sun.

5. Moon - Regarded as the sun shining at night, the crescent moon is an attribute of Isisas Queen of the Nile and Queen of Heaven.

6. Brown - Uraeus band - "She who rears up," represented as a rearing cobra with inflated hood -- symbol of Goddess Buto and Hawthor. Represents Lower Egypt.

7. Vulture - National Goddess of Upper Egypt, Nehhbet. Royal symbolism. Sacred animal of Goddesses Mut and Neith. A symbol of the female principle.

8. Ladder - Ladder of Heaven which the deceased used to climb to heaven.

9. Bracelets - Wedjet-eye - Left eye of Horus -- symbol of protection.

10. Isis assuming form of vulture - Purification and good works; maternity and love.

11. Ear - Very sacred; readiness of the mind to be receptive to knowledge and prayers.

12. Earring - The dead live on in the stars -- a small lamp among the constellations.

13. Perfumed incense cone - Worn to sweeten and purify the body -- especially at death.

14. Knot of Isis - Symbol of the hidden force of germination which grows anew motivated by its divine power of the beginning. Knot holds magic power fast.


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