Blood Taboos: Sekhmet and Blood Offerings.

This is a subject that I have been purposely putting off. I don’t feel quite comfortable discussing it, to be honest, but Sekhmet has made it quite clear that putting things off is only fine for so long. She’s at the point where she knows if I don’t get it out then I’m probably going to rant about, which won’t end well. I’ve also felt as though I need to put this off because I don’t know if I can explain myself properly without sounding like an asshole who is the be-all, end-all in Sekhmet UPG and patronage. I am neither of these things: I am merely a follower of a grand dame who has made it clear to me that some of the things going around the Internet in regards to her as a patron, or for people who are her followers, is something that appears to have been put out there for negative reason, whatsoever. So, I’m hoping that I can get this out without ranting and I’m hoping that I can get this out without sounding like some condescending asshole that you should ignore.

I’ve read in various places that giving Sekhmet blood as an offering is “wrong.” The reason behind this seems to stem from the Destruction of Mankind myth. In effect, Re grew tired of the world and humanity. Angry with their plotting against his rule, he sent out the Eye of Re in the form of Sekhmet to bring death and destruction to all of mankind. Growing remorseful with this decision, he tried to talk his daughter out of slaughtering mankind, but she refused having been drunk on the blood of man. So, he conned her into drunkenness (by dying beer with mandrake roots), which led her rage to dissipate while she slept off the effects of the beer and mandrakes. (I will be writing my version of this myth for an M entry in the PBP.) With this myth as a guide, people are out there and telling others that giving Sekhmet a blood offering is wrong and will incite her to riot.

I can understand the reasoning behind the fact that people would be led to believe that giving her blood would lead her into a rage again. The precedence is there, however, it seems to me that after thousands of years of not destroying mankind that we can safely say that her rage is over. It seems that people are only looking at the precedent of Sekhmet as a destroyer deity, a destruction that was (A) brought about at her father’s orders and (B) was ended with a joy-filled revelry of drunkenness. As I did say, since then, Sekhmet has not gone about slaughtering humanity. If nothing else, wouldn’t the destruction of the old ways and the monopolization of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have set her into a further rage? Think about it: an all-powerful pantheon goes from its status of omnipotent to minor in a few hundred years. Call me silly, but I think that would have brought about some rage from a deity that is a so-called destroyer.

And yet, the world is still here.

I think the issue here is that people are only looking at this deity on a single level. We all have these problems, whether it be with gods or human beings. Let me paraphrase Shrek here when I say that we’re all “like onions. Onions have layers.” So, too, can we say this of every living thing. There are layers to tree, grass, and flowers. There are layers to dogs, cats, and birds. There are layers to children, women, and men. There are layers to deities. As I’ve said repeatedly and in various posts on this blog, gods are multifaceted. In seeing them as a single aspect (as even I have been wont to do on occasion) tends to lead the relationship we have with them in a circular holding pattern, just like planes that haven’t been given leave to land. Learning becomes that much more difficult because we are constantly re-learning the same layers, of ourselves and our gods, over and over again. Only so much can be gained if your running around in circles, re-learning the same damn shit over and over again.

The end result is the same, however, and the relationship stagnates because new layers are not discovered.

The goddess, Sekhmet, is not just a destroyer deity who is excited by the merest hint of blood lust. She is a goddess of justice for it was Re’s justice that she was, ultimately, seeking but it was justice against evil humans who were plotting against her father, as Photobucket well. In this capacity, she would be the deity to pray to if/when you were having legal troubles. It is also because of this that vengeance would be her realm, as well, but vengeance isn’t just about destroying everything. Vengeance is as varied as the causes behind the need for it. She is, also, a deity to look to when ailing or when you wish to prevent yourself from growing ill. It was during the New Year of ancient Egyptian calendar that the people of ancient Egypt would give one another pendants or talismans in her image to ward off illness. For many New Year’s past, I have posted this image of her pendant on my blog to aid in the healing of myself as well as in others. But, this is neither here nor there. What I’m trying to convey here is that Sekhmet is more than just a bloodthirsty deity who revels in the fact that mankind will one day die and likely at her hands. Blood is important to her, as a goddess, and not just because she wants to see us all dead.

When I talk about giving blood as an offering, I suppose the same image comes to mind of most people. That would be the image of slitting a vein open upon her altar space or perhaps, digging a pin into a soft point on your hand/arm and letting blood droplets drip upon her statue. The images that I see in this seem to stem from movies, for the most part, or the morose poetry of depressed teenagers. To be completely frank, I do not understand where imagery like this comes from. I do not advocate cutting oneself open just to satisfy the desires of a goddess or the thought-of desires of a goddess. I don’t think there is any goddess, whether she be of destruction or hatred or love or grace, that would require a follower to do such to their bodies. In my personal practice, doing thus to someone’s body is not living in ma’at, which is the primary focus of the Kemetic path in paganism.

Now, I do give blood offerings to Sekhmet, but I don’t go about it the way I have described above.

I donate blood in her name.

This was an offering that I thought of on my own. It was after a particular grueling learning-spree that I remembered that my goddess is a goddess of blood, but also of healing. In these two aspects, I set about and started to donate blood to the American Red Cross on a regular basis. I am honoring her in numerous aspects just by doing this and I feel good about it after the fact. If you think about it, the whole process is good. You are giving of yourself, you are donating for a goddess, and you are helping others to heal when it is needed. How can you not feel awesome after the fact?

So, while I am not advocating the act of slitting wrists or pricking your thumbs, I am saying that telling others that a particular goddess cannot have blood as an offering is not fully accurate. It seems to be a trend that began in fear and uncertainty. And while I can understand these reasons and I can understand the aspects behind it, I cannot quietly sit by and merely say, “Well, I don’t agree but to each their own opinion,” any longer. My goddess is a goddess of the blood, but she is also a kind, loving, serene, calm, and wonderful patroness. It is in this that I give of myself on her behalf. And I think, if others begin to explore outside of the box, then they too will see the same things that I do.

(The image above is taken from the Wyrd Shop. This is a pendant that I actually own and fucking adore. Just saying. Anyway, for whatever reason, my HTML and captioning isn’t functioning properly, so I wasn’t able to caption the image.)

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31 thoughts on “Blood Taboos: Sekhmet and Blood Offerings.

  1. I love that you covered this! I told someone once that I gave blood offerings in the name of Sekhmet and there were like “Oh no, you can’t do that, she doesn’t like that. She ordered everyone not to”. I asked them if they even followed Sekhmet and when they said no, I said “I figured about as much. Sekh normally doesn’t have a hard and fast rule for everyone. And she told me herself to give such offerings.” :) I will definitely be posting a link on my blog unless you would disapprove. I think all of my followers should read this!

    • I really hate how completely one-sided everyone view’s my goddess. I love her beyond all measure; she is my first and primary. But, the fact that there are people who are so obsessed with the fact that she destroyed humanity (or tried to) once… it just makes my mind explode! Also, I’d like to know when the heck she “ordered everyone not to” give blood in her name. I apparently missed the memo!

      Post a link away!

      • I’m sorry, I mean this quite light-heartedly, but I found this comment very amusing, and I half think you’re being sarcastic… I’m just researching Sekhmet because I’m feeling a strong pull towards her, and I absolutely would not have any problems giving her my blood. I love rituals involving blood, they’re very effective, and Sekhmet feels quite right for it. However:

        “But, the fact that there are people who are so obsessed with the fact that she destroyed humanity (or tried to) once… it just makes my mind explode!”

        I chuckled a little. I imagined Hitler being worshipped as a deity in a few thousand years and people going: “Come ooon you guys. So he tried to mass murder whole races once. Don’t get stuck on one minor detail, it’s so damn long ago! Just offer the guy some blood already so he can inspire us with his awesome leadership skills.”

        I know, I know. Sekhmet is a deity, Hitler was a real human being, a very disturbed one at that, two very different things. I wasn’t serious. Still, you don’t think that the myth of Sekhmet having the potential to get into bloodlust and destroying the whole of humanity is a ‘tiny bit’ of a big deal? That is, if you’re not careful with her, and respectful to her, she could cause your life to go very bad?

        I don’t imagine her to be all that sweet. She’s a lioness, and a predator.

        • I think too many people get too focused on her destructive side and forget that she is a healer and an enforcer of justice. While enforcing justice can be synonymous with using violence, it’s not always the case. I think, too, that her healing side is completed downgraded in the face of her destructive side. This bothers me as it feels like pigeonholing. It also irks me because she’s so much more than just a goddess out for blood.

          From my work with her, she’s mellow and down-to-earth. She can be intense at times. However, I have never had a feeling that I should be scared or worried or even awed (as I assume I would with a lioness). Of course, this is all UPG so take it with a grain of salt.

  2. You said…”As I’ve said repeatedly and in various posts on this blog, gods are multifaceted. In seeing them as a single aspect (as even I have been wont to do on occasion) tends to lead the relationship we have with them in a circular holding pattern, just like planes that haven’t been given leave to land. Learning becomes that much more difficult because we are constantly re-learning the same layers, of ourselves and our gods, over and over again. Only so much can be gained if your running around in circles, re-learning the same damn shit over and over again.”

    I say…*applause* Huzzah! So completely and utterly true…

    No one person has all the pieces…knows all the layers of the onion. Not yet, at least. Maybe never. We just keep learning, keep growing, keep struggling on…

  3. I very much enjoyed reading this. I must say it’s the first time I hear people say giving Sekhmet blood as offering is wrong (maybe I just didn’t come across it on my cyber travels).
    However I can say (just like you pointed out) the Gods are indeed multifaceted and furthermore, what is required from one follower is not necessarily required of another.
    And Sekhmet can be as distructive as it gets or the gentlest healer or teacher of all.
    My own pet peeve is when it comes to people focusing on the destructive nature of Seth and completely forget his place in upholding Ma’at and slaying Apep. I blame the New Kingdom’s literature and socio-political aspects of it for that one but eh… that’s another discussion altogether :)
    Thank you so much for this post, I loved it!

    • I know a lot of Sutekh followers. I think they have similar issues!

      I wouldn’t look for the misinformation about Sekhmet. Heh. There’s a lot. I recently found a website that went on about how she was the “ultimate mother goddess.” I had the distinct impression that they were confusing her with her Hetharu-self.

      • I’ve come across a lot of bogus stuff regarding many of the Netjer. And it’s not from people who have different views on Them or rather said having different experiences of personal gnosis about Them (which can also lead to the discussion of ‘why all the argument? what’s shown/required of one follower is not necessarily shown/required of another’ The relationship we all have to our Gods is extremely personal and intimate, I do not expect experiences to be identical – I’ve actually had people tell me I’m making a mistake using Their more well known Greek names such as Thoth instead of Djehuty but let’s face it, not everyone out there knows the Egyptian names, most are accustomed to the Greek ones. And I’ve had no objection from any of the Gods so far so until that happens I’m sticking to those! Furthermore, using the Greek names on my blog or in my writings tells nothing of how I name Them when I speak to Them or worship Them.).

        I could totally understand personal experiences with the Netjer but not claims such as ‘Isis is a Wiccan (????) Triple Goddess’ and especially NOT when claimed as fact rather than opinion. It rather makes my blood boil!

        • I tend to use their real names because I don’t like the Greeks. I’ve always had issues with their gods and their need to hopelessly take over things whenever they enter a new realm. I mean, I know it’s pretty much how it was done in ancient times—how else did the Egyptian pantheon end up with Astarte or Baal? But, it just aggravates me to no end. I’d much rather inform people as to the ancient Egyptian titles, personally. Still, I can definitely understand the need to use more common names when you’re teaching others about things. Not everyone would know a Djehuti from a Thoth. (By the way, thanks for taking the time to teach us. I love your posts.)

          I’ve forgotten about the Wiccan relation to Aset. That would get me, too. I have no relation with her, but I just can’t see her in the triple goddess aspect, at all.

  4. I find it interesting that people actually fear the “wrath” of Sekhmet upon giving Her blood, completely ignoring the lessons of Her role being a destroyer. While I do not excel much in Egyptian mythology (I just know the basics,) I know that each face of a deity has a lesson to share. So, what if She decides to show you that “face” one day? Will Her followers just cower in fear, and let Her run them over, or will they try to understand the lesson She is trying to teach? Sekhmet is much too wise to just go out and be like, “WHEE KILLING SPREE,” in my opinion. Do people not think She has been able to learn Her own lessons about things as well? Deities, as you have said, have Their own layers definitely; and I don’t think They stop developing just because They’re divine.

    Alas, people have their own relation with the divine, and that is fine. I, for one of many, am glad that you covered this topic. :) It’s something that people really need to get out of their perspective boxes for.

    • I think they see the divinity of gods in relation to the divinity of YHWH/God. Since he is supposed to be the penultimate, then that means that all other gods are similar, when in fact that is the complete opposite of the way that they are.

  5. It’s hard to think of *any* of the Netjeru who are one-dimensional.

    Here’s the chain I follow:

    None of the Netjeru who are shown with an animal aspect are actually animals. It’s a depiction that tells us something. Khepre is not actually a beetle, and it’s unlikely he wants dung.

    The Netjeru and humans are related. I think, for the most part, they like what humans like, and they have never wanted ‘yucky stuff.’

    The ‘healing’ offering is a brilliant one. It’s like donating money in someone’s name to a charity they care about.

    • Thanks! I can’t remember when I first started thinking about doing the donation thing, but it’s definitely made me a better person. It’s also made me far more conscious about aiding others.

  6. I find it amazing how many people like to ‘dumb down’ the gods into simple, 2 dimensional characters. I’ve seen them do it with Set, O, and Aset (among others). It’s crazy, it’s sad. But I suppose not everyone has to, or wants to see all of the layers that are there.

  7. You said”…When I talk about giving blood as an offering, I suppose the same image comes to mind of most people. That would be the image of slitting a vein open upon her altar space or perhaps, digging a pin into a soft point on your hand/arm and letting blood droplets drip upon her statue. The images that I see in this seem to stem from movies, for the most part, or the morose poetry of depressed teenagers. To be completely frank, I do not understand where imagery like this comes from. I do not advocate cutting oneself open just to satisfy the desires of a goddess or the thought-of desires of a goddess. I don’t think there is any goddess, whether she be of destruction or hatred or love or grace, that would require a follower to do such to their bodies. In my personal practice, doing thus to someone’s body is not living in ma’at, which is the primary focus of the Kemetic path in paganism…”

    I’d only disagree in this fashion: giving one’s own blood to Deity can be an act of ma’at, as can giving one’s own pain, or suffering, or exhaustion. Taking it from someone else unwillingly as an offering to Deity = not ma’at.

    YMMV, fellow Sekhmet kid. ;)

    • To be honest, I think that the particular offering you speak of doesn’t come to me because of my history as a cutter. Since I’ve been there and done with the pain aspect, I’m far more leery of doing something with blood in relation to prayer or magic. It’s why the idea of donating via the Red Cross was so appealing. I got to help other people (in her territory, so to speak), while also giving blood without cutting myself open (yay for my fragile psyche). But, I can see where you’re coming from. And I appreciate your point-of-view, fellow Sekhmet kid. :)

  8. I just wanted to say this post arrived with impeccable timing. I must be doing good research!

    I requested to work with Sekhmet earlier this year because of the affiliation I formed between her transformative abilities and my desire to work on the warrior qualities within myself, particularly in this turn of the Wheel. I have nearly passed my first quarter turn in my primary work with Her.

    Thank you for writing about the Golden Lion Queen, at this time.

  9. Pingback: reverse psychology 101: “focus on the anti-negative” (the language of taboos) « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  10. Hi there! Found your blog after doing a search for more information on Sekhmet. Some friends and I went to the Goddess Temple, or the Temple dedicated to Sekhmet in Indian Springs, NV yesterday.

    What an awesome experience! I intend to go back, and wanted to bring an appropriate offering. (We brought sage, incense, a red mulled fruit drink (no alcohol allowed at the temple), and a piece of a cinnamon streusel coffee cake I had baked to share with the girls while we were there.)

    I absolutely love the idea of donating blood as an offering. This is an excellent idea!!!

    Thank you for your well written blog!!!

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