The Propitiation of Sekhmet: The Return Ritual Rubric

This particular portion of the festival begins on I Akhet 18 and finishes on I Akhet 22.

Daily Morning Ritual

After completing your daily rite to wake the gods and/or greeting the morning sun, open the window so that the sunlight can peer through the room. Approach your icon of Sekhmet and say:

Hail to you, O Sekhmet.
I call to you: heed my voice.
Using your arms, beckon the goddess in your direction.
The sun has risen and the world has awoken with its touch.
May you rise and be awoken by the sun’s warming rays.
Awake from your slumber; awake from your darkness.
Hear these words:
Return to me, O Distant Goddess.
Return to us.

Evening Ritual: Fifth Day Only

O you NTRW of this temple, who sanctify the god in his shrine:
I come to you, your servant, your son, I come to you.
Your beautiful scent, it calls me forward.
I have made my way and I enter into your presence.
I am one of you.
I am one of you.
Do not repulse me on the god’s path.
My feet are not impeded.
I am not turned back from this place.
I have entered this place with ma’at in my heart.
I am pure.
I am purified.

Step Forward & Call Out to the Goddess

O, Sekhmet; O Distant Godess: I call to you.
Hear these words and come to me.
I call to you, my lady, to return to us.
We call out to you to return to this your haven, your home.
Do not hide your beautiful face from us.
Come forth and look down upon us.
Grant us your love and trust as you return to this, your temple.

Awake in peace, Sekhmet, The Great Returning Lioness, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, A’apekhty, Great of Strength, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Kheneb-ib, He Who Robs the Heart and Cuts the Thighs of Enemies, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Neb-kennu, Lord of the Uprising, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Herf-em-Sedjet, Whose Face is Flame, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Imwy-Ity-Hapy, Who is in the Middle of Flood Waters, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Shed-kheru-em-kenu-tjemsuf, Creator of Unrest, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Ka-Desher, the Red Bull, awake in peace.

Step Forward & Open Shrine

I open your temple, I come to you.
Your warmth and beauty surrounds me as I enter.
I am not repulsed.
The doors of the sky are open.
The doors of the earth are unlocked.
This house is open for its Master.
Let me come forth as she shall come forth.
Let me enter as she shall enter.
Behold, I have come to you to offer ma’at to make sound the Eye for its lord.

Light Incense in Censor

The incense is placed on the arms of the gods.
It transforms your heart through its perfection.
I bring the incense to make your temple festive; I appease your body.
*censing the four directions*
The temple is filled with the scent of incense.
Incense spreads throughout your sanctuary.
It sanctifies your throne, it purifies your ka from evil.
Your body is purified.
Your temple is purified.

Light the Candles

The purifying flame is placed in the hands of the gods.
It transforms your heart through its pacifying heat.
I bring the purifying flame to sanctify your temple; I appease your body.
*lift a candle and hold it in the four directions*
The temple is filled with the light of the gods.
The temple has been purified by the flame of ma’at.
It sanctifies your throne, it purifies your ka from evil.
Your body is purified.
Your temple is purified.

Take up the Water

The essential water is placed in the mouths of the gods.
It transforms your heart through its cleansing coolness.
I bring the Great Flood to sanctify your temple; I appease your body.
*flick the water in four directions on the Altar/Shrine*
Your altar is purified by the Flood of Nun.
You are cleansed by Horus.
You are purified by Thoth.
Water invigorates your body.
It is I, your servant, who comes to you in the place where you reside.

Presentation of Libation to the Gods

Greetings to you, primordial water.
Greetings to you, flood waters of Nun.
Greetings to you, o great flood.
You, the father of the gods.
*pour the water into offering cup*
I present to you, o you who are green of face, the cup filled with primordial water, which has come from the Two Caverns.
I pour the libation to water your face.
May your thirst be quenched.

Presentation of Offerings to the Gods

I come near you, o venerable gods.
I bring the food and provisions for you subsistence.
Your altars are piled high with offerings of all sorts and forms.
Every follower, every servant, every devotee has come to bring you the bounty of their hearts.
*pour the offerings into bowl and place on altar*
I am Hathor, Lady of Nourishment, who multiplies the cakes and gives life to the one who is faithful to her.
I have brought you nourishment so that you may thrive.
For as you live, I live.

Behold, I have come from the land of the living to be with you in this sacred place.
I am one of you.
My hatred is evil.
I have come on the good path of the upright in order to make whole all of our limbs.
So that we may live Glorious and Complete as the Eye.
For as you live, I live.
As I live, you live.

Unwrap the Icon

O Returning Lioness, we have come to you to grant you life anew.
We have freed your limbs from their imprisonment.
The wrappings of the goddess have been torn asunder.
We have give your eyes the ability to see.
Your eyes are the whole and complete Eyes of Horus.
We have given your lips the ability to speak.
Your mouth is filled with ma’at and you bestow your ma’at upon us.
We have freed the goddess from her slumber.
You have been rejuvenated, permeated with the will of ma’at.
You have returned to us, green-of-face.

Ma’at comes to you in all of her radiance.
Your heart is glad when she appears before you.
Ma’at has come so that she may be with you.
Ma’at
is in every place that is yours so that you may rest upon her.
So that you may rest upon her.
She comes to you.
You live off of her.
You renew your youth when you see her.
Ma’at rests upon your head.
She is seated on your brow.
Your right eye is ma’at.
Your left eye is ma’at.
Your mouth speaks ma’at.
Your hands are filled with ma’at.
Your limbs do ma’at.
She takes her seat within your ib.
You are rejuvenated at her sight.
Ma’at has taken her position within your hearts and within your shrine.
For as you live through ma’at, your people live through ma’at.
For ever and ever, a million times effective.

May your heart rejoice, O Lady of Contentment of the Two Hearts.
May your hearts rejoice, O Executioners of Sekhmet.
Glorious and excellent, NTRW.
You are green of face.
You are pacified.
Your bellies are full.
Your thirst is quenched.
Your hands are filled with vigor.

O, Sekhmet, Lady of Joy: you are green of face.
O A’apekhty, Great of Strength: you are green of face.
O Kheneb-ib, He Who Robs the Heart and Cuts the Thighs of Enemies: you are green of face.
O Neb-kennu, Lord of the Uprising: you are green of face.
O Herf-em-Sedjet, Whose Face is Flame: you are green of face.
O Imwy-Ity-Hapy, Who is in the Middle of Flood Waters: you are green of face.
O Shed-kheru-em-kenu-tjemsuf, Creator of Unrest: you are green of face.
O Ka-Desher, the Red Bull: you are green of face.

Revert Your Offerings

O Great NTRW, your enemies withdraw from you.
Heru has turned himself to his Eye in its name of Reversion-of-Offerings.
These your divine offerings revert.
They revert to your servant for life, stability, health, and joy.
So that you may flourish for eternity.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet Ritual Rubric.

This particular festival begins on IV Shomu 30 continues through the Epagomenal Days and finishes on I Akhet 22.

Daily Morning Ritual

After completing your daily rite to wake the gods and/or greeting the morning sun, open the window so that the sunlight can peer through the room. Approach your icon of Sekhmet and say:

May you awake in beauty!
Hail to you, O Sekhmet.
Bring forth your icon of the goddess and place it within the sunlight.
The sun has risen and the world has awoken with its touch.
Ra endures another day and gives you life-giving sustenance.
Feel the rays of his beautiful light upon your face.
Feel the touch of the rays of his warmth upon your body.
Ra shines down upon you, his adoration filling you with good cheer.
O Lady of Joy, may you awake beautifully at the top of the morning.
Live, O Sekhmet, O Irt-Ra, live for all time and for eternity.
Leave the icon in the sunlight to rejuvenate.

Evening Ritual: First Day Only
Approaching the Shrine

Awake in peace, Sekhmet, Lady of Jubilation, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, A’apekhty, Great of Strength, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Kheneb-ib, He Who Robs the Heart and Cuts the Thighs of Enemies, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Neb-kennu, Lord of the Uprising, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Herf-em-Sedjet, Whose Face is Flame, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Imwy-Ity-Hapy, Who is in the Middle of Flood Waters, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Shed-kheru-em-kenu-tjemsuf, Creator of Unrest, awake in peace.
Awake in peace, Ka-Desher, the Red Bull, awake in peace.

I come to you, your servant, your son, I come to you.
Your beautiful scent, it calls me forward.
I have made my way and I enter into your presence.
I am one of you.
Do not repulse me on the god’s path.
My feet are not impeded; I am not turned back from the god’s place.
I have entered this place with ma’at in my heart in order that you may create peace with beautiful ma’at upon this day.

Step Forward & Open Shrine

I open your temple, I come to you.
Your warmth and beauty surrounds me as I enter.
I am not repulsed.
The doors of the sky are open.
The doors of the earth are unlocked.
This house is open for its Master.
Let me come forth as she shall come forth.
Let me enter as she shall enter.
Behold, I have come to you to offer ma’at to make sound the Eye for its lord.

Light Incense in Censor

The incense is placed on the arms of the gods.
It transforms your heart through its perfection.
I bring the incense to make your temple festive; I appease your body.
*censing the four directions*
The temple is filled with the scent of incense.
Incense spreads throughout your sanctuary.
It sanctifies your throne, it purifies your ka from evil.
Your body is purified.
Your temple is purified.

Light the Candles

The purifying flame is placed in the hands of the gods.
It transforms your heart through its pacifying heat.
I bring the purifying flame to sanctify your temple; I appease your body.
*lift a candle and hold it in the four directions*
The temple is filled with the light of the gods.
The temple has been purified by the flame of ma’at.
It sanctifies your throne, it purifies your ka from evil.
Your body is purified.
Your temple is purified.

Take up the Water

The essential water is placed in the mouths of the gods.
It transforms your heart through its cleansing coolness.
I bring the Great Flood to sanctify your temple; I appease your body.
*flick the water in four directions on the Altar/Shrine*
Your altar is purified by the Flood of Nun.
You are cleansed by Horus.
You are purified by Thoth.
Water invigorates your body.
It is I, your servant, who comes to you in the place where you reside.

Presentation of Libation to the Gods

Greetings to you, primordial water.
Greetings to you, flood waters of Nun.
Greetings to you, o great flood.
You, the father of the gods.
*pour the water into offering cup*
I present to you, o you who are green of face, the cup filled with primordial water, which has come from the Two Caverns.
I pour the libation to water your face.
May your thirst be quenched.

Presentation of Offerings to the Gods

I come near you, o venerable gods.
I bring the food and provisions for you subsistence.
Your altars are piled high with offerings of all sorts and forms.
Every follower, every servant, every devotee has come to bring you the bounty of their hearts.
*pour the offerings into bowl and place on altar*
I am Hathor, Lady of Nourishment, who multiplies the cakes and gives life to the one who is faithful to her.
I have brought you nourishment so that you may thrive.
For as you live, I live.

Behold, I have come from the land of the living to be with you in this sacred place.
I am one of you.
My hatred is evil.
I have come on the good path of the upright in order to make whole all of our limbs.
So that we may live Glorious and Complete as the Eye.
For as you live, I live.
As I live, you live.

Ma’at comes to you in all of her radiance.
Your heart is glad when she appears before you.
Ma’at has come so that she may be with you.
Ma’at
is in every place that is yours so that you may rest upon her.
So that you may rest upon her.
She comes to you.
You live off of her.
You renew your youth when you see her.
Ma’at rests upon your head.
She is seated on your brow.
Your right eye is ma’at.
Your left eye is ma’at.
Your mouth speaks ma’at.
Your hands are filled with ma’at.
Your limbs do ma’at.
She takes her seat within your ib.
You are rejuvenated at her sight.
Ma’at has taken her position within your hearts and within your shrine.
For as you live through ma’at, your people live through ma’at.
For ever and ever, a million times effective.

May your heart rejoice, O Lady of the Flame.
May your hearts rejoice, O Executioners of Sekhmet.
Glorious and excellent, NTRW.
You are green of face.
You are pacified.
Your bellies are full.
Your thirst is quenched.
Your hands are filled with vigor.
O, Sekhmet, Lady of Joy: you are green of face.
O A’apekhty, Great of Strength: you are green of face.
O Kheneb-ib, He Who Robs the Heart and Cuts the Thighs of Enemies: you are green of face.
O Neb-kennu, Lord of the Uprising: you are green of face.
O Herf-em-Sedjet, Whose Face is Flame: you are green of face.
O Imwy-Ity-Hapy, Who is in the Middle of Flood Waters: you are green of face.
O Shed-kheru-em-kenu-tjemsuf, Creator of Unrest: you are green of face.
O Ka-Desher, the Red Bull: you are green of face.
Revert Your Offerings

O Great NTRW, your enemies withdraw from you.
Heru has turned himself to his Eye in its name of Reversion-of-Offerings.
These your divine offerings revert.
They revert to your servant for life, stability, health, and joy.
So that you may flourish for eternity.

 

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2019.

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Passing Time

July 30 – August 26

Five years ago, I had an idea that wouldn’t leave me. No matter how many times I tried to turn away from it, it would come back like some insidious bug hellbent on getting into my house. No matter what I tried, the thought would not pass me by and so thus, the Propitiation of Sekhmet was eventually born.

When I began pawing through my archives to see how long this idea has held sway in my life, I was truly astonished to see that it has been five years. I feel like it was only a year or two ago that I was sitting at my kitchen table trying to figure out what exactly this Propitiation business was to be about, experimenting with what did and did not work, or jettisoning what I felt was asking too much of me.

It took me a few months before I finally decided to make a stab at it, not quite encompassing what this would eventually entail. I was looking more for self-gratification at the time I wrote my first post on this mysterious and previously unknown thing. I had been working, so to speak, in the mines and I needed to come up for air. I viewed my first foray into this as more of a vacation, or stay-cation as it were, from my relationship with Sekhmet. It gave me time to think, to plan, to gain perspective.

But it was the second year that I truly began to contemplate more than just the trappings. I had written an outline of sorts in 2014 and I needed to flesh it out more before I could celebrate in 2015. I needed to give form and reason to the vague afterimage I had seen the year prior.

expiation by fire

To create a mythos from scratch could be seen as hubris, but I was only ensuring that my leonine goddess could celebrate the Kemetic New Year, while simultaneously paying homage to the fear of her chaos infesting and infecting the year to come. I had chosen the idea to closet her away to, originally, build a physical barrier between us. But in the second year, I looked to the myths for help on the flesh that was needed for the modern myth.

It was easy for me to view Sekhmet as the Distant Goddess because I had always seen her as such. Not simply because of the myth in the Book of the Celestial Cow, though that was part of it.

It was because she always seemed, well, distant to me. Or more like, a being of such higher magnitude than myself that I could only see her as if from a distance. Sometimes it felt like I was seeing her walking miles off and if I could only just get closer, I could truly see her for all that she truly was, but no matter how hard I tried, I could never get closer. Sometimes it felt like a game and sometimes it felt like a trial.

It was the Distant Goddess myth that eventually broke me. I had not considered the ramifications of how her disappearance from my life would impact me during all that time. I had been paying attention more to the trappings, the words, the gestures, and the heka than I was to myself. There was no warning either. One minute I was be-bopping on my way and the next, I knew an unending grief that stayed with me until the end of the Propitiation that year.

I hadn’t thought that I would be impacted by all of it. I had assumed that I could go on with my life, spiritual or otherwise, without a passing thought. But one of the things I learned in 2015 is that just because you think you understand something doesn’t mean that you really do. Just like ogres and onions, this kind of stuff has layers.

As I looked into the actual meaning behind the word I had chosen for the name of this holiday – eschewing pacification because I wanted to appease the goddess and her fiery wrath, not force her to my desires – I found it within a Judeo-Christian context that I hadn’t expected. While it was interesting to learn about how the suffering and death of Jesus could be viewed as a propitiation, I found myself more interested in the idea of the ordeal of Jesus after his baptism.

I had, of course, heard about ordeals in a roundabout way, but I had never actually given it consideration before. It didn’t seem like anything that I would have a need to learn about and while most of my Google searches tended to lead me down the road of a western culture or Christian reference for what an ordeal was, these weren’t the only places I read up on the subject.

When one thinks about the word, aside from the definition, a number of examples can come to mind: a thirty-six hour car ride to go to your grandmother’s funeral; a particularly long and grueling test that means you pass or fail an important class; a day-long surgery performed by a multitude of surgeons and nurses. All of these examples – and many more – qualify within the dynamic of the definition of an ordeal.

But within a pagan framework, the word tends to coincide within the realm of initiation. This is not the only association within pagan circles, but it’s the most common one.

As I read up on the subject with limited resources available online, I began to consider the Propitiation of Sekhmet less in a framework of how this impacts her and more in the framework of how it impacts me.

On the by and large, though I can’t be certain, she has it easy. She feasts like a glutton the day of the Propitiation before she closets herself away from me for about a month. I, on the other hand, must go through the many emotional upheavals that come about when your god abandons you… even if it is for their and your own good and for a period of time.

It is an ordeal, I have come to realize, that I put myself through each year. There are vigils and threats. There are moments of deepest sorrow and anger. There are times where I want to give up, to beg forgiveness and take it all back. It is a pain that I go through each year, willingly enough, so that my Distant Goddess may return to me.

Horse With No Name

This is something that five, four, three, and even two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to voice aloud. For a long time after I had realized what was going on, I couldn’t bear the thought of being able to put this into written or spoken word. I thought that to do so would somehow cheapen the experience or lessen the depth of my feelings on the subject.

And it isn’t as if I have always felt… positive… about any of this. I have had my good days and my bad days just as everyone does. I have had moments where I have screamed myself hoarse, furious that a simple idea to incorporate my most revered, most beloved goddess in the Kemetic New Year would eventually take on the mantle of an initiatory rite each fucking year. It felt a little too much like the facts had been misrepresented or produced with a smudge on the fine print to keep the secret for a while longer.

I will no doubt have those feelings again in future.

But as I sit here, writing new rituals for this upcoming ordeal, I can admit that the Distant Goddess myth and its connotations had always formed a fundamental aspect to my practice. And maybe I was always headed in this direction, whether she nudged me or I nudged myself. And while I would not have wanted to formulate all of this into an ordeal, it may be that things were always headed this way.

I will no doubt never truly know the answer. There are moments in time where the gods are opaque to even the most ardent or most obnoxious queries. Sekhmet is no different than any other god in this. Sometimes she willingly answers the questions and other times she gives a roundabout answer that may or may not eventually be given context.

I have found that I want to know the answer less and less. Perhaps it’s fear that I will grow angry again at the unfairness of it all, of being given a quick nudge in a specific direction, which had me falling over an unseen cliff. Perhaps it’s that I have finally found contentment though in the realization that this is my path and I can be comfortable with it even if I can also be angry or disenfranchised with it.

And so on Tuesday, we begin the fifth year of the Propitiation. And for once, in a very long time, I’m interested to see what will come out of all of this anguish and mourning, appeasement and atonement.

Further Reading