Letter 5 - Field of Reeds

Field of Reeds

In the ancient Egyptian belief system, the afterlife held a central place, with elaborate rituals, myths, and concepts that aimed to ensure a prosperous and eternal existence beyond death. The concept of the "Field of Reeds" is a representation of the afterlife, offering a unique insight into the Egyptians' beliefs and aspirations. The "Field of Reeds," known as A'aru or Aaru, was envisioned as a heavenly paradise where the deceased could enjoy a peaceful and idyllic existence with eternal happiness.  It was reserved for those who had led righteous lives and successfully navigated the challenges of the judgment in the Hall of Ma'at.

The "Field of Reeds" has been described in ancient Egyptian texts as a lush and fertile landscape, resembling the idealised Egyptian countryside with vast fields of crops, winding waterways, and abundant wildlife. The fields were said to yield abundant harvests, and the waterways were filled with fish and fowl. In this heavenly realm, the deceased were promised a life free from hardship, and they would engage in activities that they cherished during their earthly existence, such as farming, hunting, and fishing.

To enter the "Field of Reeds," the deceased had to pass through the perilous journey of the afterlife, overcoming challenges and proving their worthiness. The heart of the deceased was weighed against the feather of Ma'at, symbolising truth and justice. If their heart was found to be lighter than the feather, they were deemed righteous and were granted entry into the blissful paradise of the "Field of Reeds."  Hearts that weighed 'heavy with evil' fell into the crocodilian jaws of the goddess Ammit.

Art and inscriptions on tombs and funerary objects often depicted scenes of the "Field of Reeds," showcasing the deceased enjoying the pleasures of this tranquil realm. These depictions served as a source of comfort and inspiration for the living, reassuring them that a rewarding afterlife awaited those who led virtuous lives. The concept of the "Field of Reeds" reflects the ancient Egyptians' profound understanding of life's cycles, the importance of harmony and balance, and their unwavering belief in an everlasting existence.



DH Lawrence, a famous English writer, is known for his deep stories about people and society. His novel, "Kangaroo," was written during his visit with his wife to NSW in 1922. It is considered be a strongly auto-biographical novel that reflects on Lawrence’s own thoughts and impressions while in Australia. Many of the incidents were drawn directly from their own experience  in Australia.  

The novel focuses on the themes of nationalism, identity, and the quest for a new social order.

The story takes place after World War I, and it follows an English man named Richard and his wife Harriet. They journey to the rugged Australian outback and encounter Kangaroo, an enigmatic person who represents Australia's desire to be its own place, separate from England. This book is about how people think about where they belong and how they want to live.

"Kangaroo" is full of contrasts and conflicts. Kangaroo shows how Australia is changing and becoming its own place. The novel presents a clash between the old world and the new, tradition and modernity, and personal ideologies. The characters in the book argue about old ways and new ways, they learn that it's hard to figure out what's right.  Richard is conflicted about following the convictions of a charismatic leader and recognises the problems that result from blind allegiance to a cause.

"Kangaroo" is a book that makes us think about who we are and what we believe. It shows how countries change and how people can be influenced by big ideas. Lawrence's writing makes us look inside ourselves and question what we know. This book is still important today, teaching readers about how people and societies change over time.


May Maxwell

May Maxwell, an Australian freelance journalist, has carved a remarkable path in the world of media, using her words to shed light on important issues and give voice to the marginalised. With a dedication to truth-seeking and storytelling, Maxwell has become a respected figure in the realm of journalism.

Maisie Maxwell, baptised Mary and known to family as Maisie, was born in Bendigo in 1876 and began her career as a stage actress. While touring and performing in 1907, she wrote articles for Perth's Sunday Times, developing a keen interest in current affairs. Her inquisitive nature led her to pursue a career in journalism, where she demonstrated an unwavering commitment to journalistic integrity. Her work spans a wide range of topics, from investigative pieces that expose corruption and injustices to human interest stories that celebrate the triumphs of everyday individuals.

Maxwell's dedication to advocating for social justice remained a cornerstone of her work during the 1920s. At the Herald, she edited Australia's first daily women's page.  Her articles often highlighted the struggles and injustices faced by marginalised communities, contributing to a broader public understanding of the need for change and equality.

Through her well-researched and thought-provoking articles, Maxwell has amplified the voices of those who often go unheard, advocating for positive change and a fairer society.  Her writing style is characterised by its depth, empathy, and ability to connect with readers on a personal level.

Maxwell's dedication to her craft and her commitment to producing high-quality journalism have earned her recognition and respect within the industry.


Table Talk

"Table Talk" was a prominent Australian magazine published in Melbourne from 1885 until 1939. It had a gossip style with articles about literature, arts, fashion, theatre, politics, and even sports. Readers could find reviews of plays, discussions on literary works, and features on prominent personalities of the time.

The magazine often provided readers with insight into the lives and thoughts of notable individuals, featuring interviews, profiles, and articles about prominent Australians and capturing their perspectives on various matters. These glimpses into the lives of politicians, artists, writers, and socialites not only entertained but also contributed to a deeper understanding of the people who shaped the nation.

 Sources for images and further reading