I’ve had an ongoing dance routine with Ptah. He’s always been a deity that I’ve had some minor interest in, but usually in how he relates back to Sekhmet. It was last summer that I began to really pay any attention to him whatsoever. We still danced though; he would appear as though at random and I would dance away with a laugh.
I don’t know if the routine has gone sour, but he’s been appearing more often recently.
It started off with just little snippets of dreams: he was just there. I would wake up from the dream where I was in a garden of his, staring at the purple flower that always holds my attention in those dreams. Sometimes there would be butterflies around the purple flower bush but always the purple flowers were the center of it all. I would wake and wonder what it was about him that seemed to bring him back into my life.
Finally, I figured it was a sort of escapism. Whenever I would wake from those dreams of the garden I’ve since begun calling the Purple Flower Place, I felt better and refreshed. I began to associate him with a sort of relaxation and peace that I couldn’t find anywhere else in my dreams.
Around Wep-Ronpet, the dreams changed. It was small things at first; nothing overt. He was just there. We weren’t in the Purple Flower Place anymore. He was wherever I happened to be. His presence reminds me a bit of the presence of Osiris, which isn’t surprising, but there’s an energetic component that Osiris lacks. In my dreams, Big O was more like a vacuum of energy. Ptah seemed to be overwhelming with it at times.
He never speaks to me in these dreams. He is always simply there. And I know that it is him either from the energy signature or because my dreaming mind fits in static iconography of his. He is unchanging: his combination djed, was, ankh scepter held in his hands, his blue cap on his head, a slight beatific smile upon his lips.
Shortly after Wep-Ronpet, I asked him to explain to me why he was around. It seemed strange that we had been doing this sort of tango together wherein I laughed and moved away and he appeared some time later. Why now? What was so important about right this moment that he needed to be everywhere? And why is it impossible for him to not say anything?
I started getting angry about all of this. I have rules you know. I have standards you know. I have a whole host of things that I put new netjeru through, rigorous things that not only include ignoring the hell out of them but also include getting pissy and miserable. I was getting upset because I couldn’t follow my usual routine: he was just there and he was just not saying anything.
I told him that if he wanted something, he needed to be clear because I can’t speak staring and silence. In a fit of pique, I looked through the entry on him on Henadology.
I got a hit when I was reading this bit on Henadology, “Hence in the ‘Memphite Theology’ itself, the ‘tongue’ (i.e., creative utterance) of Ptah is that through which “Horus had taken shape as Ptah, in which Thoth had taken shape as Ptah” (ibid., 54). That is, to the degree that Ptah’s creative utterance is prior to all the other Gods, it also renders Ptah’s identity relative, for it becomes the instrument by means of which Gods such as Horus and Thoth create themselves. The purpose of the ‘Memphite Theology’ therefore is not solely the glorification of Ptah, but rather the glorification of the all-pervading power of mind itself, through identification with which Ptah is perceived as supreme: “Thus heart and tongue rule over all the limbs in accordance with the teaching that it is in every body and it is in every mouth of all Gods, all men, all cattle, all creeping things, whatever lives, thinking whatever it wishes and commanding whatever it wishes,” (54).”
It felt to me like the important bits were about heka. And as someone who has semi-delved into the realm of becoming a hekau for Sekhmet, it made even more sense that he would be around. I felt like I could be comfortable with this, though perhaps with more direction and less staring from He of Beautiful Face. I was okay for a while.
But he kept appearing as though by random design in my dreams. I would sleep at night and he would be there. I would take a nap on the weekends and he would be there. He seemed to come up in conversation more. I would see images of him in my mind; think on things that had nothing to do with him and end up pondering the story of Ptah.
I was beginning to feel like I was being hunted.
I sit there numbly, trying to figure out what new hell my life has become. I turn to Heru-Wer and whisper, “But why Ptah?”
He sighs at me, as though I am very dense. Perhaps I am very dense. “He gets shit done, miw.”
I shelved the bit about heka. I couldn’t figure out why it would be at this moment that it would become an important part. I have been doing rites and services for Sekhmet for two years this November. My heka has undergone numerous changes during these and while I know that there is much more that I can learn, I feel like I am doing okay with it all. So why now?
I couldn’t get it out of my head though. It makes too much sense that Ptah would show up on so many levels though. I can admit that there is a certain sense here, even if I am at a loss for it.
I have long cultivated this relationship with Sekhmet. I have had moments where I have spoken with Ptah, about my relationship with Sekhmet and how it has made me feel. (He never has said anything then either.) I have had moments where I have felt very close to him because I was creating something with my two hands. And of course, I have an intense interest in how he relates back to Sekhmet in any way.
But I was comfortable with how things were. It was just this little dance. It was just me laughing and whirling away. And it was just him smiling in the background, watching as I moved away. This constant push of him in my dreams is enough to drive anyone up the wall. Or at least into a rage.
He stands there with his face made up. He is like the statuettes we see, the iconography distinctive and obvious. His shroud is tight, his hands clasping his scepter. His blue skullcap glitters in the rays of Ra’s early light.
“Why are you doing this to me? What is it about me, about now, that brings you here? I can’t handle all of this! I don’t have the spoons for anyone else. Please stop this. I am begging you to either name your costs or tell me why you are here.”
He smiles at me. It’s the smile of a teacher, amused by the student. It’s the soft lipped grin of a parent, indulging a child. It only ignites the fury in me anew and I scream, loud and piercing. I turn and the mirrors around me break into a thousand pieces, shards raining into the room. “Fuck this!”
I was very angry the other night.
I still am, in a way.
Being dream-stalked by deities is nothing new to me. It seems like every week there is a deity of some sort, or something deity related, that has come to me. During Wep-Ronpet, it was both Tutu and Ptah. Last year, it was Heru-Wer everywhere. This past January, it was Osiris who was followed by Nut. This isn’t anything new, but at least with the other deities, I had clues to jump off from.
I have no clues here.
I have nothing but his silence.
I think what makes this more frustrating is that it was his silence that I enjoyed the most. I could blather on for hours or minutes. His silence was like stepping into a cool well of water after a warm day. After the demands of my relationship with Sekhmet and the intensity of my relationships with both Heru-Wer and Hetheru, his silence was a reprieve. Now I find myself wishing he would say a single word.
In an attempt to stop worrying about it, I went through the entries of Ptah’s in The Complete Gods and Goddesses and Egyptian Mythology. I was hoping for something. A ping. A hint. A whisper. I found myself holding my breath as I went through each.
Pinch’s book was all but useless to me; a regurgitation of things I already knew. As I was going through Wilkinson though, I was reminded of the ear stela that are so often associated with Ptah. They aren’t just for Ptah, but he is always associated them in his aspect as mesedjer-sedjem. I, myself, have reached out to this particular function of Ptah, looking for assistance in the past.
As Wilkinson states, “On the perimeters of temples we also find shrines or chapels of the hearing ear which likewise served the purpose of transmitting the individual’s prayers to the deity within the temple. The god Ptah often figures in these shrines, as in the one constructed at the entrance to the great mortuary temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu.” I got a zing on this one, put the book down, and walked over to Sekhmet’s altar.
During last month’s services, I had an unbelievable need to attempt to recreate an offering table. It was very frustrating to me because I am not very good at recreating things. I finally managed something passable and while I was looking at the empty edging around the center piece, I decided to add bits that relate back to the ear stela. (My artistic skills are lacking clearly.)
When I was finished, I felt incredibly foolish about it all, but also simultaneously proud. It seemed to me that Sekhmet was more dismissive of the artistic representation. Someone mentioned that Ptah probably would have appreciated the hard work (literally hours because I am not very artistic) better. Funny; things just keep relating back to him.
This makes me wonder, based on what I read in Wilkinson, if perhaps he is around more and more because, unofficially, I invited him in. Ptah tended to relate back to these ear stela in many instances and perhaps simply by using the phrase “Hearer of Prayers” which I know I saw on a stela specific to Ptah in the past, I somehow managed to say, “hey, come on down, big boy.”
The thing is that I just don’t know. I feel like the more I delve into all of this, the more questions I come up with.
There are also his craftsman associations – I haven’t mentioned it but Khnum has been coming up more and more. And he also has craftsman associations. But this, in a way, relates back to the hit I received regarding heka and Ptah’s magnificence when it comes to creating what the hell he speaks.
I feel like I’m running around in circles.
Maybe one day I will understand it all.