Having found lists of obscure/obsolete color names and rounded out the alphabet with a few simply-charming-to-me colors, each day, I’ll introduce a color and a swatch I’ve painted and then write about whatever comes to mind as I muse about the day’s color. Fair warning, my mind is a non-linear traveler, so who knows where my contemplations will take us.
I is for… Ibis – pale apricot
Other than being noted as an obsolete, archaic color name for a pale apricot, finding much additional information has proven challenging. And I have to confess I’m baffled by the association of a pinkish color with the bird Ibis. There are, of course, Scarlet Ibises, but they are bright and colored equivalently to flamingos. It’s true immature White Ibis can have pinkish bills and legs and that many birds undergo color changes of their bare unfeathered parts during the breeding season, apparently as a signal of mating eligibility. So perhaps that’s where the connection is. But it does perplex me.
The etymology of the word ibis: Middle English ibin, from Latin ībis, from Greek, from Egyptian hbj.]
The ancient Egyptian root doesn’t surprise me, and I know it because of my strong interest and devotion to the ancient Egyptian god, Thoth – one of the oldest worshiped Egyptian deities, often depicted as a man with an ibis-head.
One of his Egyptian names was Djehuty, which means “He who is like the Ibis.” According to one origin story, Thoth was born from the lips of Ra at the beginning of creation and was known as the “god without a mother.” In another story, Thoth is self-created at the beginning of time and, as an ibis, lays the cosmic egg that holds all of creation.
The sheer number of powers attributed to Thoth is extraordinary. He is said to be the inventor of writing, the creator of languages, scribe, creator of the calendar, god of wisdom, keeper of the Akashic Records, and interpreter, adviser, and messenger of the gods. He is also known as architect, and inventor of mathematics and sacred geometry.. Since he was the god of the moon, he had celestial functions and replaced the sun god, Ra, in the sky at night. He was a powerful magician and healer.
He is considered the author of spells in the Book of the Dead and assisted the funerary deities as a messenger and bookkeeper for them. He was responsible for recording the verdict of the heart-weighing ceremony that determined if the person was able to continue on to the Afterlife. If the person’s heart (spirit) balanced with Ma’at’s Feather of Truth, they passed. However, if the heart was heavier than the feather, then the person did not pass. Thoth always provided guidance for the deities and regulated common everyday complaints, and created new laws. Thoth suggested that if a problem couldn’t be solved, then a group should get together as an assembly and discuss it.
He was an interpreter, adviser, and messenger of the gods as well, and it is in this guise the Greeks worshiped Hermes, and the Romans worshipped Mercury.
I have a lovely bracelet depicting Thoth as an ibis, created by artist and sacred jewelry maker David Weitzman.
Shifting gears, another book on my reading list this year is Hiroshi Yamamoto’s The Stories of Ibis. Here’s a blurb about it: “In a world where humans are a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity’s fall.” It was recommended to me because I’m such a fan of A Psalm for the Wild Built (book one of the Monk and the Robot series). And frankly, it sounds like the perfect read as we begin wading into the waters of A.I.
So what are your thoughts? If the ibis isn’t your favorite bird, what is? Are you a devotee of Thoth, Hermes, or Mercury? Ever feel like you’re a messenger? Imagining an improved reality with A.I. or entertaining darker thoughts, or are you holding at a neutral point? Do tell – you know I’d love to hear.