As a teenager, I would spend hours on our DSL connection surfing the web in the pre-Wikipedia days of Wiki-clicking. I found so many ridiculous websites made in garish tones about all manner of things that grabbed my attention. One such black background with red font monstrosity was about the different vampire legends from all across the globe and ancient world. They had a four line paragraph dedicated to Sekhmet.
I loved her immediately and could get behind a god made of rage and wroth because I, too, was made of rage and wroth. Sure, I could be nice and kind when I wanted to be but at the end of the day, I was a tiny ball of red-hot fury. That four-sentence paragraph spoke to me on a level that I never fully understood until many years later. From that page, a terrible idea for a horror novel evolved but it wasn’t until a good ten years later that I realized that, as gods went, Sekhmet seemed right up my alley.
It’s weird how shit works out like that.
Through the Fire
As my Kemetic New Year began in the summer of 2018, I was left to ask myself the hard questions about where I was supposed to go from here. I had spent the last few years feeling very lost and adrift, a consequence of actions that began in 2015 although the core problems date back further than that. I knew in a general way that Kemeticism was where I needed to be; I just didn’t know what it was supposed to look like for me. I had been pulled in so many directions and was wrung out from it all.
I pulled into myself, trying to get to the bottom of it. I knew that the heart of the matter was my relationship with Sekhmet. It had broken down so much by 2018 to almost be nonexistent. I never reached out to her, I never spoke to her, and she returned the favor. We ignored each other as completely and stubbornly as we both possibly could. But as much as we may have wanted to part ways by then, we couldn’t. We had forged together something bigger than ourselves that required some form of working partnership to continue.
When the idea that a new rebirth cycle was what we both needed, I balked before I agreed. I knew fairly early into my Kemetic New Year that that was the best way forward, but it wasn’t until October that I finally agreed to it. It’s a lot to ask of someone no matter what outsiders looking in may think. Reinventing the wheel may not be necessary but reinventing the self, over and over again, is and it is always difficult, painful, and exhausting. Doubly so when you are reinventing more than just yourself.
I went back to the drawing board on the rebirth cycle and found a few things to help me move it along. As the time drew ever closer, Sekhmet reminded me more and more of the Inert Ones and as I thought about it, so too did I. Maybe that quiet time, the feeling that we were like the Inert Ones, was a building up of energy that was required for the rebirth cycle. And as I looked ahead, it felt like the whole world had quieted down too as if we were all in this together.
Rebirth hurts only because some of the pieces of yourself that you thought were so integral to who you are as a person may no longer serve the purpose they once did. And those pieces need to die, to be ripped out of yourself. It hurts because other portions of yourself that you never wanted to acknowledge or think about ever again come to the fore to be reintegrated with the whole because now they serve a purpose.
The first few months were about pain, shoring up the holes left by the pieces that die completely with other bits of yourself. The wounds can’t heal without the pain. The next few months were about growth. There was pain then, too, but more like the feeling your legs get when you might be growing again. It hurts, but not so completely as the pain of tearing yourself apart to rebuild who you are. And the last few months were quiet as we shored up the energy stored from the time of growth to be reborn again. It hurts then too because the person you used to be is dead and gone and you aren’t sure who looks back at you from the mirror.
As Sekhmet and I neared the moment when the rebirth cycle would end, we distanced ourselves from one another. It wasn’t quite like how it had been before. The distance was necessary now; not forced. We needed time to figure out who we were.
To the Ends of the Earth
Over the years, Sekhmet and I had created a single line between ourselves that kept us connected. Stretched between us were a million memories and experiences that had forged us and our relationship. When Ptah began to appear to me, he quickly assumed a place within this line, turning what had merely been two people into an equilateral triangle. The connections between the three of us deepened still further with his inclusion and now, none of us can truly remember a time where he was not there.
His time spent with me as always has been couched in the imagery of the garden. No matter how many times I have spoken with him, I am always reminded of the butterfly and the bush within the garden that I dreamed of the first time he came to me. Even with his Tatenen associations in our three-person world, he will eternally be the essential spark of life.
Ptah had no stake in the Year of Rebirth project. My death benefited him in all the right ways, but he had no horse in the race. His words to me, leading up to the event were never about what needed to be done but always about how I would benefit from it in the long run. All the other gods whispered words of encouragement and sang the song of how important this was for everyone. Ptah didn’t care about that; he only cared about me and how all of this would impact me.
Ptah has no rebirth or death associations, mummiform imagery notwithstanding. His areas of expertise are many of course but at the end of the day, his primary associations in my world are with speech, craftsmanship, and the vitality or spark of life. While one could argue that any of these areas are integral to a year of death, he assured me that he had no place at my side. The demiurge wished me luck, assured me we would be together again, and bid me pleasant journeys.
Our parting felt a bit like I was tossed off the cliff, not unlike the artwork others have made of Set kicking them off a cliff face. There were no kicks forward; I went because I knew I must and needed no one to push me over. But the loss of his vitality throughout the year could have crushed me far quicker than any of the pain I suffered through during the rebirth process. He had become so essential to me and by extension to my relationship with Sekhmet that to not have him around often felt like something was missing.
I can remember thinking for a time that maybe this was what I needed to truly learn about this year: that he wasn’t as necessary to me and my relationship with Sekhmet. I came away from following that line of thoughts shaken and worried. But I could think back to the moment where he assured me most definitely that he would be back, that I was not going to leave him no matter what I may feel or think, and knew that I was only lying to myself.
The ancient Egyptians were big fans of the number three. My deity relationships also seem to be a huge fan of triads: if one deity appears, inevitably a second one shows up who is as integral as the first. That’s what happened with Sekhmet and Ptah; it reoccurred again with Heru-Wer and Hetheru. And over the Year of Rebirth, it happened a third time with Ra and then Osiris. For some reason, this gave me comfort. Ptah and Sekhmet needed me to complete the triangle.
The Wounded Heart Within
Everyone enters into something with a set of expectations. The event may not live up to them; it may exceed them; or they may be completely wrong in every respect. The Year of Rebirth met some of my expectations because I knew what I needed to do having started this before. But there were unforeseen [to me] circumstances or consequences that have happened because of this. And I am having a difficult time, for the most part, reconciling all of this together.
I knew that both Osiris and Ra would make appearances because of this. Out of every god in our pantheon’s arsenal, these two have gone through the processes of rebirth on a nightly basis. They understand all of this in a way that other gods – no matter their associations with rejuvenation or the life/death/rebirth cycle – cannot even begin to have. So there was never a surprise that they would appear. I always knew to expect them in some form or another.
What was unforeseen was the seeming need or desire to stay. They were never supposed to stay here; they were to move along and leave me to my own devices such as they are. But alas, they have more in the offing and I can admit that I am looking forward to what they have in mind. The teasing glimpses of the future they have envisioned is… something that I can’t pass up.
But they weren’t supposed to crowd out everyone else either.
Ptah and Sekhmet seem disconnected from me. The pull cord I could always follow back to them appears to be missing. I’ve gone through other means in an effort to find them and yet, they are not there. I have looked so much in the last four months that my eyes hurt. Not only because of the search but for the sorrow I can feel building at the back of my throat. I can’t find them and it hurts. It hurts more than I thought it would.
I didn’t expect any of these feelings at all. I had been so fed up with Sekhmet and our relationship, which had tainted to some extent my relationship with Ptah, that the idea of them disappearing from my life could have had me in fits of delight two years ago. Now as I continue to haunt the places where I had once expected them to be, all I can do is call out and cry in the hopes that they will come back to me.
I’m worried that they won’t and that… that is more startling than anything else.
The teasing glimpses of the future Osiris and Ra have given me are seductive. The future encompasses all arenas if I’m reading the room correctly and I am hungry for it. It feels a little bit like when those of us who suffer a cold and snow-filled winter look ahead by late January or early February for the green grass and colorful flowers of spring. It’s almost here but still out of reach and oh, oh are we all ready for it.
But I also recognize that I’m not ready for it. The part about this that I like to ignore is that I have a lot of work to do in the interim. No timelines have been given but based on what I’ve seen, we’re a few years out until we can say this has been a successful adventure. And in all these thoughts and conversations and imagery of the future, the things missing are only conspicuous by their absence.
Sekhmet and Ptah will, probably, be back one day. And when they come back, I will probably be ecstatic for their return. I suppose it’s possible that our relationships may break down again and we’re all back at the start. But I’d like to try to be filled with hope for once. A hope for the future and hope that I can follow the path that has always, always brought me back to Sekhmet and Ptah and find them there.