Scarabs

scarabSix legs, a shovel like head and lives in dung.  What else could it be but a Scarab, a dung beetle that was venerated, embalmed and sculpted by the ancient Egyptians.

Dung beetles live on animal dung, feeding on it in both the adult and larval stage. Some dung beetles simply live and breed in the dung heaps left by animals, but others bury the dung in some way or other before eating it or laying their eggs.

The particular species of beetle represented in the numerous ancient Egyptian amulets and works of art was the large sacred scarab.  This beetle was famous for his habit of rolling balls of dung along the ground and depositing them in its burrows.  The female laid her eggs in the ball of dung.  When they hatched, the larvae used the ball for food and when the dung was consumed, the young beetles emerged from the hole.

This particular behavior is very significant in Egyptian cosmology. the sacred beetle was believed to be a reincarnation of Khepri, the sun-god, being reborn each morning as the young sun, newly emerged out of the earth.  Khepri, with the great sun disk before him, rolled the solar ball onto the horizon at sunrise and across the sky, just as the beetle rolled its dung ball over the horizon on the earth and buried it in the sands.  As the earthly symbol of an aspect of the great life-giving sun, the dung beetle became an important symbol of creation, resurrection and everlasting life in the religious mythology of ancient Egypt.

According to their ancient texts, the Egyptians believed the scarab beetle came into being spontaneously from balls of dung.   They associated this act with their religious ideology of self-creation and resurrection.  Thus, the scarab beetle was worshipped as an aspect of “Khepri” meaning he who came forth from the earth and was viewed as a sign of eternal renewal and reemergence of life, a reminder of the life to come.  It signified to the Egyptians the descent under the earth, in the tomb, which was only a prologue to rebirth and the endlessness of life.  Life and death were in a continual cycle.

The sacred sun scarab, giving light and warmth, became a popular symbol.  Small amulets in the form of scarab beetles often decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions on the underbelly, were strung on a cord to be worn as “good luck” tokens.   The small magical object was believed imbued with particular protective powers that warded off evil and provided good things for the owner  not only for this life, but also for the next.

Whereas most scarabs were made for the living, the dung beetle symbol was of prime significance in the funerary cult of ancient Egypt.  “Heart Scarabs” were generally cut from green stone and placed on the chest of the deceased.  Green was used because it symbolized resurrection and health (green is the color of the heart chakra).  Most of the scarabs were inscribed with chapter 30B from the Book of the Dead.  In this chapter, the dead person asks his heart not to testify against him (whether he has committed a sin or not) during the Weighing of the Heart Ceremony in the Afterlife.

As the scarab traveled throughout Europe and Asia by trade, war and politics, its purpose changed.  Originally used as a symbol for birth and rebirth, it quickly evolved to becoming an amulet for protective purposes and later only for decorative purposes.  Whatever the scarab has become, that a beetle which lives, thrives and reproduces in excrement and is known all over the world as an object to be revered, rather than reviled, is more than happenstance.  It is magic!


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Center for the New Age
341 State Route 179
across from Tlaquepaque
Sedona, AZ 86336-6111

888-881-6651 Free
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