Scarabs, like the one given in marriage and found in the tomb of Egyptian Queen Tiye, wife of Pharaoh Amunhotep III, were beloved amulets in Ancient Egypt. They reflected the sun (Ra) rolling across the sky each day and the transformation of bodies and souls because the scarab, or dung beetle, has an earthly cycle of rolling dung into a ball to lay eggs. Powerful talismans, they promised fertility to women who wore them.

The most glamorous womanimage-6240078-10731666 I never met was a Madrileña who wore a live scarab a loverimage-6240078-10451141 brought from Egypt. She was the girlfriend of my Universidad Complutense classmate from Milan’s father. And having never seen her, her allureimage-6240078-10731106 grew to mythic proportions in my mind; I think of her still. We often played like little girls trying on their mothers’ heels and pearls in the apartment they shared, sifting through her enormous seashell collection, spraying ourselves with her perfume. The emerald green scarab had preciousimage-6240078-10731106 gems affixed to its wings and a 22-kt gold chain to tether it to her lapel, and it accompanied her to work each day at her boutique on Calle Serrano. At night, she gently took him from his sartorial perch and let him sup from twigs and water placed in a bottle cap. When he was sated, she put him on her drapes, where he would ascend to a favorite spot and remain until morning.

One day, the story goes, she entered her shop and the scarab pulled and lurched on his 
chainimage-6240078-10731106, spreading his wings in a very agitated state. She learned that her shop had been robbed during the night…two fine purses were gone. I read somewhere recently that pursesimage-6240078-10731106 symbolize the womb in dreams
image-6240078-10731106. It made me think of that scarab and his sacred duty.

-Maureen Seaberg
Maureen Seaberg is the author of Tasting the Universe: People Who See Colors in Words and Rainbows in Symphonies as well as a synesthete and synesthesia expert for Psychology Today. Her k's are teal and her 8's are aubergine; Paris is the palest blush tone and Istanbul the whitest pearl in her personal palette. Despite getting caught in a sandstorm, she was the first person in the world to take an iPIX 360-degree photo of the Taj Mahal at dawn in 2000. She speaks fluent Spanish, having lived in Madrid, and enough Turkish to bargain at bazaars. 

August 2012