Cleopatra’s Needle (Thursday Doors)

O Ra
show us the sun–
open the cloud cover,
awaken each new day
with harmony
with light

It wasn’t difficult to find the path to Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park, although one of the websites I visited noted that the location was chosen not only for its bedrock and elevation, but for its isolation. The top photo shows the obelisk reflection from my original post, but taken from the vantage point of the Needle. And above is the stairway up from the path.

An obelisk had four sides, matching the four cardinal directions, and I photographed it from each one. As you can see, the one day last week of blue skies alternated between cloud cover and clarity. It was quite windy.

This obelisk is one of a pair (the other is in London) made of red granite originally erected in Heliopolis in 1475BC, moved to Alexandra by the Romans in 12BC, and toppled during the reign of Augustus.

It was gifted to the US by the Egyptian government in 1877 for some political purpose–different sources gave different reasons. The transport, by steamship, was paid for by William Henry Vanderbilt, and it took 112 days, a team of 32 horses, and the temporary alteration of the landscape, to move it from the ship to the park.

Obelisks were originally associated with the Benu bird, the Egyptian predecessor of the Phoenix, and the Sun God Ra, representing life, resurrection, and light. They were embellished with hieroglyphics–dedications to Ra and tributes to Pharaohs and their military victories.

Interestingly, they were also used as sundials to tell time.

Here’s a view looking past the obelisk to the museum in the back ground.

The obelisk has been symbolically adopted by Freemasons–in fact the Grand Master of the New York State Masons, Jesse B Anthony, laid the cornerstone in 188l, accompanied by 9000 Masons who marched with him up Fifth Avenue to the park.

And because this is Thursday doors, and Cleopatra’s Needle does not contain a door, here’s one from the Temple of Dendur, inside the Metropolitan Museum. But that requires a whole other post.

Wikipedia has an extensive entry detailing the obelisk’s history.

And you can always find a wide variety of doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.

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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel methodtwomadness is a blog of two friends, Nina and Kerfe kblog is Kerfe's solo branch on the tree

33 responses to “Cleopatra’s Needle (Thursday Doors)”

  1. Suzette Benjamin says :

    Wonderful history to the obelisk and very well presented. Love your poem its call to the past and welcome of the present, perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz Gauffreau says :

    Thank you for the background on Cleopatra’s Needle. I found it fascinating!


  3. Dan Antion says :

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos and the very interesting history.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. merrildsmith says :

    Fascinating, Kerfe. I didn’t know about this or its history. And what history it has witnessed! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. robertawrites235681907 says :

    A fabulous poem, Kerfe, and I love Cleopatra’s Needle. There is a rock formation with the same name in the Cango Caves in the Western Cape of South Africa.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sincerely.Tasha says :

    Thanks for sharing. I learnt something new because I never knew of the Cleopatra’s Needle. Should I ever be in NYC again, I’ll be sure to go by.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. sustainabilitea says :

    I saw the one in London many, many years ago. Thanks for the closeup photos as well. I’ve always been interested in Egyptian history.


    Liked by 1 person

  8. msjadeli says :

    Kerfe so glad you decided to explore and examine the obelisk much closer. Beautiful pics of something out of usual. Did you feel any energy when you got close to it?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. melaniereynolds says :

    Love your poem!

    In your description of its transfer here I couldn’t help but think of the amount of arrogance that goes into moving a carved stone obelisk such a great distance. I know the same could be said for the Statue of Liberty or any other monument, but we are no better than ants who must be really proud of themselves for carrying things way bigger than they are. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      Much arrogance involved from beginning to end. Monuments are strange things if you take the time to think about them. So much energy that could have been put to better use. But it is certainly beautiful. And perhaps that is enough sometimes, at least for the original impulse.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Rajani Radhakrishnan says :

    I’ve seen the one in London. This looks quiety majestic in that setting.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. sunhesper says :

    I was hoping you’d make a pilgrimage and share it with us, but the prayer is a bonus. Ra certainly blessed you with the weather! My mind is well boggled with the age of the obelisk and the effort it took to place it in its strange, snowy new home.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Bela Johnson says :

    Magic in our midst! Thanks for enlightening me on this one. No idea! 🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. jazzytower says :

    Love the poem! This has such interesting history, Cleopatra’s Needle. Thank for sharing.


    Liked by 1 person

  14. Suzanne says :

    I really enjoyed reading the history of how Cleopatra’s Needle came to New York. I didn’t know any of that information.

    Liked by 1 person

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