The House of Netjer, a Kemetic Orthodox Temple

[PUBLIC] Kemetic Orthodoxy General Forums => [PUBLIC] All Things Egypt: Ancient & Modern History and Culture => Topic started by: Ewe on May 19, 2021, 09:51:55 am

Title: Discussion on The Shipwrecked Sailor
Post by: Ewe on May 19, 2021, 09:51:55 am
Em hotep, y’all!

I’ve recently read The Shipwrecked Sailor, and I’ve got some thoughts on it I’d like to share. I would love to hear what you think about the text! You can find a copy of the text here: (

Quick summary of the story:
The story opens with the now-rescued sailor recounting his story of the shipwreck to another who appears to have been worn down by the sailor wanting to share this story.
The sailor tells him that he was stranded on an island after a storm which had overturned a boat filled with other strong sailors who claimed to be sure about the future weather. On this island, the stranded sailor comes across a protective and otherworldly snake. This snake allows the sailor to stay in peace for 4 months, after which he will be rescued.
During this time, the snake tells the sailor that the snake had come home one day to find his family destroyed. The snake urges the sailor to return home and embrace his own family after he is rescued.
The sailor promises to bring the snake wonderful treasures for the snake’s help, but the snake tells the sailor that he will be unable to return. Before the sailor leaves, the snake gifts him a trove of treasures to bring back to the Pharaoh. The snake tells the sailor, “Become a wise man, and you shall come to honor.”

So, I find quite a bit that I’m able to take away from this story.

First, the importance of family—particularly since we cannot predict the future.
The shipwrecked sailor is urged to return home and hold his family close, and the snake shares this because the snake has gained this wisdom from his own experience; the snake was unable to predict the destruction of his family and his own loss. The snake knows that one cannot rely on the future to always be good, so we must hold close our family.
However, while the divine snake was able to reassure the sailor that he would be able to return to his loving family and pass away peacefully in his own town, this snake was unable to predict the same for himself. Does this warn that the divine cannot predict their own future? In the text, the snake tells the sailor that Netjer decided to save this sailor for a reason—was the reason so that the snake would be able to pass on the wisdom he has gained to this sailor who could then pass it on back home?

Which leads me to my next point: the importance of sharing our own experiences. We cannot make some one listen, but we can still speak up and share our experiences/wisdom when relevant.
Because the snake sends the sailor off not only with wisdom, but with treasures for the Pharaoh, I think it is fair to make this connection: that wisdom is treasure to be passed on and shared. The snake does not allow the sailor the possibility to return since the island will disappear once the sailor leaves, so the snake’s only reward is to have been listened to and to have been given the opportunity to pass this on to the sailor. It is now up to the sailor to share—which, the story opens with the sailor recounting this story to a tired individual who doesn’t seem to care to listen. This is another reminder that we cannot expect an attentive audience. We may have our own experiences to share, and that is important, but we cannot force others to actually listen.

Wisdom comes from listening to others and learning from their own and our experiences.

Those are some thoughts I had while going over this text. I’d love to read your thoughts!

Health and love,
Title: Re: Discussion on The Shipwrecked Sailor
Post by: Yinepuemsaes on May 19, 2021, 11:13:44 am
I really like your take on that story.
Title: Re: Discussion on The Shipwrecked Sailor
Post by: Ewe on May 19, 2021, 12:30:49 pm
Thank you, Yinepuemsaes <3

I wanna add another resource on The Shipwrecked Sailor really quick:
Dominic Perry did a wonderful episode on this text in his History of Egypt podcast. You can listen to his episode on it here: (

Health and love,
Title: Re: Discussion on The Shipwrecked Sailor
Post by: Kaemwaset on May 23, 2021, 10:23:32 pm
Many excellent authors / Egyptologists have written much re this text. It opens with an account by the man-servant of the sovereign, actually the "faithful servant." Servant, in this case, being the exact root of "follower & followers." So the text, interestingly, is second person.
Not that the above takes away from your interesting perspective. Life is a journey, not a destination, which the story is fairly clear about. There are many "layers of the onion" within this story. Though, as a construct of many religious stories, the "Hero's Journey" aspect (see Joseph Campbell's works), is quite common. I believe the takeaway is right in the forefront.
Title: Re: Discussion on The Shipwrecked Sailor
Post by: Ewe on May 24, 2021, 05:44:29 am
Em hotep, Kaemwaset!

Thank you for sharing. I didn’t know that the text was in 2nd person—that’s very interesting.

I’d like to one day finally read more of Campbell’s work. I enjoy exploring shared human experience across time and culture.

Health and love,
Title: Re: Discussion on The Shipwrecked Sailor
Post by: Kaemwaset on May 29, 2021, 10:41:33 pm
Joseph Campbell's complete series of talks with Bill Moyers is one everyone on this forum should see. Campbell was the premier folklorist on the planet & his passing was saddening. His works are alive & well & can be seen on YouTube. "The Power of Myth & The Hero's Journey" are as fascinating today as when it first came out more than +30-years ago. I highly recommend it to all, though there's a lot of hurdles finding the original video on YouTube. I have the 6-part set on DVD. Fantastic gift.
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