Once upon a time strange things started happening around BunniHoTep’s Temple. It started when all these multi-coloured threads started appearing up and down Temple row. BunniHotep hated to see such beautiful thread just laying around and she thought they were really pretty. One of her priestesses did finger weaving so she taught some of the other priestesses how to do it too. The priestesses had been sitting in the cool shade of the porch busily weaving belts for each other’s robes.
It made BunniHoTep feel happy to see her priestesses so engaged and busy. It felt her free to try and find out where all this thread was coming from. She walked slowly picking threads off the flowers and plants in the garden. Where was it all coming from? It wasn’t floating down from anywhere that she could see. It was just sort of appearing. She hopped down past the sphinxes on Temple Row filling her basket as she went. Down all the way to Neith’s weaving workshop picking up threads.
Neith was standing at the door of her workshop with a puzzled look on her face as she observed the threads. BunniHoTep hopped up to her holding a now heavily weighted basket.
“Are these all yours,” BunniHoTep asked holding out the basket.
“I was thinking Bast’s kittens had really been making a mess.”
Neith shook her head with a bemused look on her face. “They aren’t mine. They’ve been appearing for the last day and I never let my weaver’s waste thread like that. See!”
She moved aside to show BunniHoTep.
“All my leftover bits are used for embroidering or to make other household objects like potholders. And since it’s not my workshop where could they be coming from?”
“I don’t know. They just seem to be appearing. They were all over my cabbages and carrots when I left the Temple. I’ve been picking them up as I came. My priestesses are doing finger weaving with them because they so loved the colours.”
As she spoke she thought she saw someone transparent walk by. “Who was that?”
BunniHoTep pointed to the shade as it walked around the corner.
“I have no idea but it sure looks like the shade or ghost of someone who has passed but they’re dressed in Greek clothing. Who dresses in Greek clothing in our Temple Row? The Greeks rarely leave the Delta except for that pest Herodotus. He’s always around asking stupid questions.”
BunniHoTep was now very curious.”I think I’m going to have to find out what’s going on.”
She hopped back down Temple Row. There weren’t any ghosts heading in or out of Ma’s and Anubis’s Temple. It seemed to be a quiet day but there was more thread on the ground and on the sphinxes. This was very weird but BunniHoTep loved a mystery. She hopped some more down the Temple Row picking up thread as she went.
A very angry woman dressed all in white was standing at the end of Temple Row surrounded by the shades of many people, old, middle-aged and very young. They were milling about in a very confused fashion. As BunniHotep got closer she could hear the woman speaking.
“It isn’t my fault!”
The woman stomped her foot.
“I know you’re supposed to be on your way to Hades. I did not put you here!”
The woman was radiating her anger in every direction and BunniHoTep could see Ammit hiding from it under BunniHoTep’s Temple steps with a worried look on her face.
“Can I help you?” BunniHoTep asked the woman carefully. She didn’t want to make her any madder than she already was.
“I hope so!” the woman said angrily. “These people are all supposed to be going to Hades but due to a very bad pair of babies they aren’t. All my threads ended up in Egypt and from the feel of things they’ve been used to weave something else!”
BunniHoTep thought about all her happily occupied priestesses. Whoops!
“Who are you and can I do something for you?” She offered the basket with the threads she had been collecting toward the old woman.
The woman snatched away from her. “When I catch Eros and Discord I’m going make those two clean Zeus’ toilet for a hundred years. I’m Atropos and I cut the thread of life so people can go on to Hades or drink from the River Lethe and come back and now I have ghosts of people wandering all over. Because some of the threads have been rewoven into things some of them aren’t really sure they’re dead.”
BunniHoTep noticed she had a big pair of scissors hanging from the sash around her chiton.
BunniHotep was pondering what she should do when she saw two other women coming down the way each with a squalling baby tucked under their arm and a determined look on their face. The babies were wriggling and trying to get away. Both of them were flapping their small wings and stirring the goddesses’ hair. It was very clear those babies were not going anywhere very soon.
“These are my sisters Clotho and Lachesis and it seems they have Eros and Discord with them. I’m really tempted to tie these two up by their heels and leave them dangling over your god Sobek. Do you think he’d like a nice fat baby?”
She had a very thoughtful look on her face and BunniHoTep was afraid she was serious by the look on her face.
“Don’t you think Aphrodite should take care of that?” BunniHoTep asked quickly. Eros was squirming out the back because Clotho was distracted by the amount of thread in the basket.
“All of that was scattered here?” Clotho asked.
“And I’m afraid a lot more.” said BunniHoTep. “I have some in the Temple. And I think Neith has collected some at her workshop. Wait here and I’ll see about it.”
BunniHoTep hopped quickly to her Temple and up to her priestesses.
“Quick! Unweave all that thread. It belongs to the Fates and those are the threads of people whose life thread has been cut.”
The priestesses hurriedly started to pull the belts apart very carefully. BunniHoTep hopped around collecting the threads and gathering the threads they hadn’t been used yet.
“Quickly! Those Fates are very upset and we have ghosts wandering everywhere.’
BunniHoTep grabbed the last of the threads and raced back to the avenue.
“Here is all we have in the Temple.”
She hoped they wouldn’t notice that the threads had waves in them from being woven together.
Neith is bringing hers now.
BunniHotep pointed to the goddess that was coming down the way with a large basket.
“I think we got all of them.”
BunniHoTep looked at Eros and Discord to see if they agreed with her. The babies both nodded at her from behind Clotho and Lachesis. They looked very relieved. Atropos grabbed the three baskets and BunniHoTep put her paw out and stopped her.
“What do you do with the threads when you cut them?”asked BunniHotep.
“We burn them at the shrine in Delos, why?” said Atropos as she raised an eyebrow, “What else should we do with them?”
BunniHotep was thinking, was there something better to do with all these threads that wouldn’t leave ghosts wandering around? She just hated the idea of wasting all these pretty threads. She had an idea.
“How about we weave them like this?”
She grabbed a handful of red threads and started to weave them loosely in a square and then when she finished her small square, she grabbed a handful of blue threads and wove a blue square. The shades had gathered around again and the three Fates were watching what she was doing closely. Lachesis, the weaver was intrigued and so was Neith. Lachesis grabbed a handful of green threads and Neith a handful of yellow. BunniHoTep pulled a piece of twine out of pouch at her waist and tied her red square and then the blue and yellow square with the green square she had finished with the white that Neith was finishing. She now had what looked like a clothes line with small flags on it.
“It’s pretty but what is it?” asked the Fates and Neith nodded.
“Well, if the shades agree, these are prayer flags. We can have people who have prayers put them up and when they fray apart and birds take them for nests or they just fade and go back to nature they can carry the prayers of those people back to the gods.”
BunniHoTep turned to the ghosts.
“Wouldn’t you like to be useful a bit more?”
Most of the shades nodded.
“When your thread disintegrates due to wind and sun you will continue on to Hades carrying the prayer with you. Does that sound like a task you would like to do?”
The shades nodded again.
“We’ll have my priestesses and Neith’s priestesses weave them and give them to people to put on trees and over wells to carry their prayers.”
The three Fates thought about this. They had always been troubled by the disposal of all their beautiful threads. This would be a big help.
Lachesis turned the babe trapped under her arm and glared at him.
“I have a chore for you and Discord from now on you are to bring the baskets of thread to BunniHoTep and Neith. You obviously need a bigger job to keep you out of trouble.”
The two babies looked at each other and agreed. This was better than having to clean Zeus’s toilets for a hundred years. That was just gross. One never knew who had been using them in and in what form, it could be anything from a swan to a horse. Ick!
And that is why all over the world people have tied strips of cloth and colourful string to trees to carry their prayers to heaven. You can go to India and find a tree with string or up to Tibet to see the prayer flags on Mount Everest or to Ireland or Scotland and find them tied to willows above the wells. You can travel the earth and find them and know that they have an important job, taking a prayer to heaven.