The Brightest Things.

Before I fall asleep, I tend to take some time to think on my gods. I have always done this as that twilight period before sleep tends to be the quietest moment in my life. Though I can see my gods in my daily life, embodied by actions and words or in the world around me, it is then that I feel closest to them.

When I ponder the Lady of the Red Linen, I can quite often envision her. Sometimes her consort is behind her, stalwart as always, a benben upon which to build, but mostly it is just her and I together in solitude.

Sometimes I use this time to speak on things I am uncomfortable to say aloud and sometimes I use it to merely be in her august presence. Always there is awe and joy, sometimes heartbreak and anger. But I am always amazed by her, no matter how upset I may be.

wheat

It was just the beginning. I think that I was meant to be next to you, to you. On this planet spinning… – Back to Earth by Steve Aoki feat Fall Out Boy

Months ago, I began thinking of her less as a deity and more in her association with various flora and fauna. She is still real to me, as real as her icon and the ba that may inhabit it, but I have begun to see her elsewhere and this changed the nature of our quiet moments before I would fall asleep.

I could see my home and its mountain peaks in the distance, the wild fields where wild turkey and egrets hide. I could see the deer and raccoons, the deciduous trees and blooming bushes. I was home with her and in her while simultaneously being home where I physically live.

When I began seeing her in things around me, I turned to her epithet list in an attempt to rationalize what I was doing or thought I was doing. It seemed… wrong, in a way, to see her around me when she had a home that she truly had helped to make manifest. This is not her home: no sands, no stone built temples, no spine of Osiris to tread upon as the very foundation of the nation.

There were beings here long before my gods came. We would be impudent to ignore them, to forget about them. The Natives who once made my area their home were pushed out and mostly moved west from what I have learned, but this was their place first. And this place embodied their spirits, their gods; never mine.

I was worried that by seeing her here with me (and my other gods) that I was muscling out those who were here first. I was concerned that I was moving into an appropriative no-man’s land where everyone loses. There are no tribes near to me to ask these questions of and I haven’t really figured out who to turn to for help. I mean, shouldn’t someone who has learned extensively about cultural appropriation know the answer to this already?

(The answer is no. If I don’t ask then I don’t know. And if there is a Native American who may read this post and be able to comment in some form or another, I would appreciate it.)

She always understood the fear and anxiety. Maybe that’s because the Lady of the Flame who appears at night before sleep is nothing more than a mental construct. Or maybe it really is because she just gets it. I don’t know and it probably doesn’t really matter.

She told me to look to the stars because no one owns them.

She said to look to the horizon and find her there.

Of course, I found her.

Over the Horizon

This is a crooked path. I think that I was meant to be next to you, to you. We can never come back. – Back to Earth by Steve Aoki feat Fall Out Boy

Beyond terrorizing the populace with her very existence, there were aspects of Sekhmet that were far more affable when compared to the destroyer deity wielding chaotic spirits for later. Some of those aspects hint to a deity who seemed to love just as deeply as human beings. And other aspects seem more remote, as distant as the goddess once was after Ra intervened on humanity’s behalf. But each different area seems to, as always, offer tantalizing hints of the multifaceted goddess that Sekhmet can be and is to this day.

When she told me to look to the stars for her, it was easy to see her in the constellations. While the stories of the constellations we all know today stem from the Greeks, I could still feel her in them to some degree.

The constellation Leo has always been a favorite of mine for many years. My zodiac is a Leo so of course it is special to me. And it was never a surprise to see my Leonine goddess there. Based on my research, it does appear that the ancient Egyptians were aware of this constellation and ascribed some significance to it. While I haven’t been able to delve too deeply in what I’ve found, it would appear that the Leo constellation held some importance to the ancient Egyptians.

And of course, we can’t forget the meteor shower associated with the constellation Leo.

While the Leo constellation makes sense, I admit that I could see her in the constellation of Orion too. Though this constellation is associated with Osiris and known by the name Sah in the realm of ancient Egypt, I could see her in the stars both as the protective womb who aids in the rebirth of Pharaoh as well as in the fierce warrior pose often associated with Orion.

I looked beyond constellations and outward further, searching planets and moons, asteroids and other celestial objects. I could see her, in a way, associated with comets and, of course, meteor showers.

As I looked into deepest space, I kept finding her here and there.

It was like she was speaking, but on a cosmic level.

I looked closer to home, at the horizon, where the earth meets the sky and found her. It felt a little like she was hiding, shy and stand-offish until I narrowed in on her like a lioness on the hunt. Sekhmet doesn’t appear to have much in the way of liminal associations and the horizon – that in between space signifying where Nut and Geb seem to merge – is nothing if not liminal. However, even without an apparent association, I was able to find it.

In the PT, as I stated above, it is the womb of Sekhmet that grants the pharaoh the ability to be reborn into a star upon its passing. This was my primary focus, of course, as I found liminal hints and teasers in my continued relationship building with her. It is this threshold of creation that she is best known for and would appear to be some of the oldest, written commentary on her.

Perhaps it was her association with the sun and its being reborn every morning, just as the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom were, that caused her intermingling with the horizon and the doorway found there. Or perhaps there are other items that I have yet to discover.

It doesn’t matter.

I found her there anyway.

Path to the stars

And you know I’ve found the dust to be resilient. And we’re the dirtiest of the dirt. Every time we fall to pieces, we build something new out of the hurt. – Back to Earth by Steve Aoki feat Fall Out Boy

As I listened to her, I reviewed her epithet lists in an effort to find some correlation that worked, that helped me to see what I was finding. I knew that there was some association with both the night sky and horizons, but I couldn’t remember quite clearly everything that I had found in my random forays across epithet lists.

I found an abundance of epithets that fit in nicely with what I was finding. As a small example:

The Horizon of Ra
She Who is in The Sky
Lady of the Horizon
Lady of Heaven
The Eastern Sky
The Southern Pillar of the Sky
She Who Opens the Doors of Heaven

It was an incredible relief, truly, to find that what I had seen and found wasn’t something entirely made up. This only seemed to reinforce my ongoing belief that nature, as a whole, was far more important than many modern-day Kemetics may give it credit. (Though, to be fair, I can understand the unease that such discussions can cause since, as I stated above, it sometimes feels incredibly wrong or weird to see my gods here in a land that was never theirs.) And gave further credence to my push to include local cultus, in some aspect, in our practices.

We’ve all seen snippets here and there that would suggest that nature was a matter of import, but the more and more that I delve into epithet lists coupled with quotes here and there, it seemed as though the gods did more than simply exist: they were one with nature in a way that I would not be able to adequately express. Again, it makes me wonder just how much local cultus, as it would have been understood in an ancient Egyptian context, was a part of the overall religion and the personal relationships that people crafted with the netjeru.

There was also a certain level of comfort in the knowledge that I had found my goddess where she told me to seek her. As any devotee of the gods can attest, there is always a certain level of doubt when it comes to communication. The idea that, even before I had found substantive proof of her associations within both the realm of the sky and the realm of horizons, she had given me concrete instructions is, of course, seductive.

Maybe this is what “winning” feels like.

All in all, in my fear to muscle out spirits and gods who had come long before, my goddess assured me that I could find her elsewhere if I only looked.

To be clear, I still see her in the area around me. I don’t think I will ever be able to look at the fiery leaves of a maple tree and not see her. Or drive by the reeds and cat tails that seem to proliferate along the sides of the highway without seeing her there.

But I can look up and see her in the night sky or at the thick, dark edge between sky and earth and know that she is there too.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2016: Mourning. 

Are you with me after all
Why can’t I hear you
Are you with me through it all
Then why can’t I feel you

Sometimes I think that writing about grief will somehow lessen the pain. I am pretty sure this is a concept that crystallized for me in high school and just never went away.

But other times, I find the mere idea of sharing the pain to be so odious, so incomprehensible that I can only believe that by sharing the pain, I’m in fact trivializing it. As though the act of publicizing my own emotions creates a sort of side show event where people will laugh at the freak before them.

When I have those moments, I find poems that encapsulate the feelings. There are many beautiful poems out there written on the coattails of one’s inner pain and, occasionally, in the reading, I can feel a hint of the release I’m aiming for. But that feeling never lasts. Sometimes the poems just don’t even help at all.

When that doesn’t work for me, I find songs that speak to me. Intense, beautiful lyrical pieces that make my whole body and soul zing with the emotion better denoted as grief with its stops at suffering and sorrow. When I hit those songs and really listen, I can feel the pain of my grief slipping away if only for a little while. This is a last ditch effort really, but it usually works.

The basis of my problem is that I am just no good with sadness on the whole, even as a person who has been living with depression for a little more than half her life. I never really learned, I guess, how to appropriately cope with it. Maybe I just feel too much as one therapist once told me. Suffice to say that I am so very bad at handling it. Typically, because it’s easier than the whole feeling thing, I just go numb.

I can handle going numb.

But something I have come to realize during this holiday is that, I can’t outrun those emotions or hide behind a shield of numbness. I desperately want to, but I have learned the hard lesson here [again]. As much as I may run and hide and refuse to acknowledge my own feelings on the matter, they’re going to catch up with me anyway.

Stay with me, don’t let me go
Because there’s nothing left at all
Stay with me, don’t let me go
Until the Ashes of Eden fall
– Ashes of Eden
by Breaking Benjamin

Last year, I went through this alone. To be honest, it was literally hell. I waffled heavily back and forth between “I’m totally fine really” and “my entire world is falling apart but I have to pretend that I’m fine what the fuck.” It often felt as though the phrase tap dancing on razor blades was wholly appropriate and perfectly summed up everything in between. I felt like I was going crazy half the time.

I tried to talk about it with the people I knew in real life, but it seemed like nothing I had to say on the subject was adequate. I knew how to use my words effectively after a year or more of working steadily towards that goal and yet, when it came to this, I couldn’t use them properly. I got angry and frustrated when people tried to tell me that they understood. How could they understand when I didn’t fucking understand?

I could have turned to Heru Wer or Hetheru, I suppose. But even entrusting them with the depth of my pain was taboo to me. Maybe that’s the wrong word. It was like I couldn’t share it. It was my pain; it was my grief; it was my sorrow. I couldn’t give it up to another god. Maybe that was a directive somewhere that I didn’t consciously know at the time or maybe I really am just no damn good with expressing this shit.

I sat alone for the most part, frustrated and angry and filled to the brim with an unending sorrow. It was like a tsunami with no end in sight even though I knew it was going to end. That’s the kicker to the whole fucking thing; I knew that she would return. The Distant Goddess always returns, but it was like I was never going to see her again, as though my entire world was falling apart. There’s just no logic to this shit.

In a not very surprising plot twist, things are different this year because of course they are.

This year, I haven’t had to suffer alone. I have been suffering right along with Ptah, who was not around last year to hold my hand. He is here this year and together, in a not wholly unexpected way, we have been bolstering one another up as we suffer with our loss. Whenever I feel like I’m dying inside, I can feel his steadying presence. I don’t know if he feels quite the same way, but I just know when I need to be there for him.

It’s an oddity to me to have someone much less to rely on someone. It’s even stranger to know that we are going through the exact same thing though in our own individual ways. His smiles are pain-filled, his silence is pointed and encrusted with razor sharp edges. I assume I am much the same, although probably with a little more petulance and a lot more whining. Still, even though we could just as easily lash out at each other for this, this… this fucked up horror show of our lives, we are there for each other.

Maybe I do know how to cope with this shit; I just didn’t have the right person before. Or maybe it’s just simply because we both feel the loss so intimately that we can understand why the other is acting the way that they are.

I can hear the voices haunting
There is nothing left to fear
And I am still calling
I am still calling to you – Ashes of Eden
by Breaking Benjamin

It was Ptah, really, who told me that we had entered a period of mourning.

The course of this holiday isn’t so bing-bang-boom. It’s a little of this and a little of that. At first, I was just a little sad and a little depressed that she was gone, but I could handle it. And then, he turns to me and just says out of the blue, “We’ve entered the period of mourning,” as if the whole time period before then was a fucking practice run for what we would inevitably and truly feel.

And I could feel my own mourning returned to me. It was all deep blacks and veils and quietly spoken words and anger, pain, sadness meshed into one. And there was Ptah with his quiet attitude morphed into a caricature. He was hard lines and anger; tear tracks from weeping and a shell of who he has always been to me. We made a pair.

I was so angry that he would remind me that the period of mourning was coming up, that it was bound to happen and really, there was fuck-all to be done about it, but I knew he was right.

We had entered the period of mourning and really, there was fuck-all we could do about it.

I was reminded of the Victorian form of mourning as I realized that he was right. It was a pretty huge process back then and there was this whole huge etiquette for guests and clothes and calling cards and letters. The house was draped in black along with everything else.

It felt a little like Ptah and I had entered into a similar state, though we have had no need to write letters and no visitors. It’s just us barely keeping it going.

I dreamed that I had draped my altar space in black. There was black crape across the table and covering the double doors. A black lace scarf hung down over the front corners of the shrine cabinet and everything was shades of deepest black, deepest mourning. The phrase, pall of mourning, kept flitting through my head though I couldn’t say why. I haven’t found that phrase anywhere when I’ve tried.

Ptah and I knelt before the altar together. We were silent with the pain that we’ve been going through but the close proximity of one another was enough to keep us both alive for the next second and the one after that. They don’t tell you, but grief can kill just as easily as anything else. We kept breathing instead. I held my arm up above my head with my hand covering my upturned face (much like the women in this image) and sometimes, I would scream out with my own pain. But mostly we were silent, just breathing, just trying to stay alive.

I emulated the image of that dream to the best of my ability and each night, I kneel before it. Sometimes I let the sorrow come and I am unable to hold back the tears. Mostly I kneel there and try to remember that she is definitely coming back. I look at the icon of Ptah as it stands before the double doors, guarding it from anything untoward, and I try to remind myself that the Distant Goddess always returns.

But somewhere in my heart, I know fear. I know what it’s like to never really know the truth. Maybe she won’t come back this time and maybe, just maybe, I’ll truly be lost for eternity.

And I think, I think Ptah knows that fear too.

Are you with me after all
Why can’t I hear you
Are you with me through it all
Then why can’t I feel you

Stay with me, don’t let me go
Because there’s nothing left at all
Stay with me, don’t let me go
Until the Ashes of Eden fall

-Ashes of Eden by Breaking Benjamin

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2016.

July 24, 2016 – August 19, 2016

No matter how many times I may celebrate a particular holiday, I often sit back and muse on the differences between each celebration. I have always worried about the drab gray that I associate with sameness, especially occurring within my religious practice. I don’t want to go into something time and time again, never to be surprised, never to know something new.

That shit gets boring.

God once spoke to people by name. The sun once imparted its flame. One impulse persists as our breath; The other persists as our faith. - Sitting By a Bush in Broad Daylight by Robert Frost

God once spoke to people by name. The sun once imparted its flame. One impulse persists as our breath; the other persists as our faith.
– Sitting By a Bush in Broad Daylight by Robert Frost

Every year, the time leading up to the Propitiation seems to both last twice as long as it should and to also speed up until, before I know it, there are only a few days between me and the holiday. It’s a strange mixture, just as strange as the various emotions the holiday has a habit of causing me to feel.

Two years ago, I went into the holiday with joy and excitement, pleased at the time away. Last year, I went into the holiday with confusion and worry, not sure what to expect. This year, I had a better handle on how things should look and what I could expect while she is gone. Having the last two years at my back has been helpful in many ways, though of course, nothing is the same. I also have Ptah with me this year who was not around last year; he has promised to lend a helping hand while we both mourn the loss of our lady. Having Ptah there to hold my hand when shit gets real, well that’s really kind of a bonus.

For once, I had the time I needed to prepare. Usually, my holidays take place during the work week leaving me with little time to ensure that everything is situated before the day arrives. This year, by the power of the calendar, I had an entire weekend to prepare as the Propitiation didn’t begin until Sunday.

I spent all day Saturday either sitting in the sunlight with my gods, being lazy and relaxed, or headed out to get some last minute items that Sekhmet had indicated I should get. Sekhmet and Ptah both seemed to stress the need that I couldn’t go into this harried or harassed; I needed to have enough strength and energy as Sekhmet always seems to have in spades. With the way things have been lately, I thought it was a pretty tall order to fill but maybe it was the sunlight or the fact that I had a whole day to do anything or nothing because I somehow managed.

Sunday morning dawned even earlier than Saturday’s and we all sat up watching the local birds do local bird things. In the window that I had placed them, chickadees and finches could be seen. They were all very happy and cheerful birds; they made me laugh. One bold little finch finally showed up to eat whatever bugs or spiders were encased around my window, peering in at us with the same sort of curiosity as we were peering at it. It was really nice and made me feel, well, maybe not magical but like everything was going all right.

At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe! Now let the night be dark for all of me. Let the night bee too dark for me to see Into the future. Let what will be, be.' - Acceptance by Robert Frost

At most he thinks or twitters softly, ‘Safe! Now let the night be dark for all of me. Let the night be too dark for me to see into the future. Let what will be, be.’
– Acceptance by Robert Frost

Though the holiday, according to my calendar, starts the morning of the 24th, I don’t typically get into anything until much later towards sunset. We spent our day basking in the rays of Ra’s rejuvenation for the duration, needing the added boost that only the sun god can provide before we meet together and have our farewell meal.

I honestly can’t fathom what it must have been like for the priests of ancient Egypt undertaking some holiday or festival. Their days, like mine, had probably started very early but I often think that they were constantly on the go to ensure that everything took off properly. Almost by design, during the holidays where I have the ability to give it a slow burn, I am relaxing and taking my time. Nothing to rush; nothing too big to see to. If it can’t be done simply, according to my gods, then it shouldn’t be done.

Part of taking my time with the holiday also includes whatever holiday meal I may decide to make. I try to be as basic and simple as possible. Some of this has to do with the fact that I am not much of a cook. I can bake very well, if I do say so myself, but when it comes to actual meals, I find myself often making what I feel are ridiculous mistakes.

It’s kind of funny, though. Something I’ve noticed is that when I am cooking dinner for a particular holiday, things tend to go well even when I go into the cooking prep with the usual anxiety of just how terrible all of this is going to actually come out. Maybe the gods guide my hand when I cook for them; I don’t know. If Sekhmet aided me in making some of the best steak I’ve ever cooked, then I’ll be grateful for it.

Maybe it’s just my own insecurities in reality, but the gods make sure that if I’m going to cook, it’s got to be simple and easy.

As much as I love to bake, I’ve found that my ability to do so lately has been completely undermined. It doesn’t take long to throw the ingredients together (usually) for a batch of brownies or some cake or another. Maybe the act of baking, to me, is a pain reliever and I’ve been too overwhelmed with that pain in recent months to actually bake something in depth. Sekhmet said I could at least buy her something dessert like instead of baking. Maybe she really just wanted me to focus on getting her altar and cabinet up to snuff before I locked her away.

And on the worn book of old-golden song I brought not here to read, it seems, but hold And freshen in this air of withering sweetness; But on the memory of one absent most, For whom these lines when they shall greet her eye. - Waiting -- Afield at Dusk by Robert Frost

And on the worn book of old-golden song, I brought not here to read, it seems, but hold and freshen in this air of withering sweetness; but on the memory of one absent most, for whom these lines when they shall greet her eye.
– Waiting — Afield at Dusk by Robert Frost

It may not come as a surprise, but Sekhmet is very demanding about how certain things should look and feel. She wants certain things fulfilled for her holidays that are, as she would say, “mandatory”. When I went grocery shopping for the Propitiation, she was there with me to help me pick out everything that I needed. She was also with me when I had to fetch a few added supplies to spruce up the shrine cabinet she was to be locked into for the duration.

It’s funny, though. As much as she wants this, this, and this in just such a way, she mostly leaves the artistic representation up to me. She knew that I would look to the symbolism I associate with her, with our relationship, and with ancient Egypt as a whole to set things to rights. This is where the partnership of our relationship, in my opinion, becomes more and more pronounced especially as the years go by. She wants things to be just so, but I have free reign to recreate the image so that it’s pleasing for both of us.

It may not be obvious to most people, but symbolism is very important to me. I often look into the how, what, where, and when long before I actually begin to decorate for a holiday. While I will have a certain image in my head, either from my own experience, from what others have done under similar circumstances, or because of dreams I have had, I am always searching for various symbols that need to be recreated in a way that will do justice to the overall image. If I can’t find the symbolism that I require or that I know should be there, then it doesn’t get added.

One of the things that has always pleased me is the fact that green is such an important color in ancient Egypt. Green is my very favorite color so the fact that it ties back, not just to ancient Egypt but specifically to my goddess has always been a sort of additional connection that binds us together. It was with the symbolism of that color in mind that I chose a gentle green overlay for various items on the altar space.

You see, I wanted to keep her fed and life-affirmed as we prepared for the holiday and to continue that theme as we wait for her to return. I removed most of the reds that usually adorn her altar for the same reason: while red is a powerful color and we will need power to keep her in check until her return, we don’t want to give her too much power. There is, of course, always the fear that she may become wrothful once more.

That is also why, most of the time, I will also pick flowers to stay upon the altar for one reason or another. The flowers serve a dual purpose, of course. I love bunches of flowers, set up to look as beautiful as possible. But it’s also a reminder about life-affirming and ma’at affirming behavior.

By which we see and understand That that was the place to carry a heart At loyalty and love's command, And that was the case to carry it in. - In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

By which we see and understand that that was the place to carry a heart at loyalty and love’s command, and that was the case to carry it in.
– In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

It is with an eye to symbolism that I’ve come to perfect the implements of this ritual and the pieces I shut away with her. One of the most important pieces is the black scarf I use to carefully wrap her away. Black is the color of the life giving silt that was left behind after the Nile overflowed its banks. In a way, it hearkens back to the color of green and it’s life-affirming and ma’at-affirming connotations.

Black is also a color that I personally associate with the Nun. And it is more on that end, than anything else, that led me to choosing a black scarf (and later, a black shrine cabinet). Nun is a god of potential: from his waters, the potential of both life and death await. It is potential that I aim for here: the potential of keeping Sekhmet calm, the potential of luring her back to me, the potential of keeping her propitiated until her return.

The other most important part of the symbolism are the hearts that I have, every year, left with her as she becomes distant from me.

Most people who have read this blog, or its Tumblr companion, for any length of time should be aware that hearts are a central part of my religious relationship with Sekhmet. I won’t get into the details, since many of them are private, but the point of the matter is that the ib and everything it symbolizes between us must be represented in some form or another when I shut her away.

As found here, the epithet, “she who grasps hearts for herself,” is particularly appropriate.

It is with the representative hearts that we are finally able to bid goodbye. I give her my hearts, literally and figuratively, as a signpost, a reminder of what we are to one another and to give her a way to come back to me. So far, thankfully, each year she’s followed the path of my bloody remains right on back to me. Here’s to another year of anticipation, waiting for the day of her return.

The heart he wore in a golden chain
He swung and flung forth into the plain,
And followed it crying ‘Heart or death!’
And fighting over it perished fain.
So may another do of right,
Give a heart to the hopeless fight,
The more of right the more he loves;
So may another redouble might
For a few swift gleams of the angry brand,
Scorning greatly not to demand
In equal sacrifice with his
The heart he bore to the Holy Land.
– In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

The Burning One.

I often wonder if my default setting is, “angry.” I know it’s not true; I can list half a dozen instances where I wasn’t actually angry in the last week. But sometimes I think about that trope of a short, angry, petty girl and I think, “wow, that really is me.”

I can remember a friend of mine telling me that the anger was killing me slowly, years before the shadow work and the release. They told me that it lived within me and had molded itself to my soul so much that it would be a long time before I carefully removed it all. I can remember the reaction I had to what they were saying – LIAR! – and I can remember wanting to prove them wrong.

I was protective of my anger. I wanted to keep it. I had lied to myself or it had lied to me, whichever. It gave me a purpose, it fulfilled me, it kept me going when all I wanted to do was keel over. I thought that being angry all the time was an asset, not a setback. I always thought that friend didn’t know anything if they could say that about my anger, which was definitely and obviously integral to my very existence. They wanted me to die because, of course, I would cease to exist if that anger was gone.

Though I didn’t realize it until much later, my precious anger was not a parasite that would kill me upon removal. I wasn’t like the hapless colonists in Aliens whose facehuggers killed them when removed. I thought it was though. I truly believed that if I started getting rid of it, I would be nothing. I wouldn’t be me.

Sometimes I look back and find myself wondering if the anger lied to me or if I was merely inventing out of fear. It doesn’t matter; it’s idle curiosity. I have often come to the conclusion that it was one and the same; the end result was anyway. I sat around and let it grow, feeding it the choicest bits like it was royalty or as hallowed as the gods themselves.

I figured it was best not to look too closely in how I reacted to things or in the knife sharp words I used on stranger and friend alike. None of it was real, none of it was a problem, if I didn’t go looking. I could live in blissful ignorance if I forgot that conversation entirely. The anger continued to grow and the person I was becoming was someone who child-me would have been embarrassed to know.

I can remember the poisonous fury I had when I got fired for no reason. I can remember how I waffled between white-hot heat and inappropriate amusement while I fought for months for unemployment benefits. It fed into the anger just like everything else. But that was the turning point because I began to identify more with my destructive goddess as those months passed. And hadn’t that been why I had been warned away from her in the first place?

I couldn’t see the rest of her through the blinding ball of rage destroying my insides. I’ve gone back to posts written during that time and older ones, and noted how big the blinders I was wearing were where she was concerned. And as the months of my unemployment stretched into a year, the identification with her began to worry me. She had been created from rage and anger and knew not reason. I didn’t want to destroy everything around me, wooed only by strong drink after everything lay in ruins at my feet.

My fear of blowing up my life, as piteous as that life seemed back then, overpowered my fear of not being me if I chipped away at it.

I discovered a lot about myself, mused on that friend and their words, and delved into shadow work. Maybe the Lady of Slaughter recognized herself in me and that’s why she set me onto this task, laying the path open for me to follow straight into the arms of pain-filled healing. Maybe she didn’t want to see me turn out like her either.

It seems like the anger had been an underlying pathology of mine for years. I never really saw it like that before then. I knew I was wrathful, but it had never occurred to me that anger was a default setting for me for years. As I parsed through various shadow work escapades over the years, I’ve determined the cause for it: the starter pack and the subsequent additions over the years. And as each escapade nears an end, I’ve felt a little bit more of it release. I’ve felt more and more calm in my life at least.

It’s been almost peaceful.

The Forest Fire

Behold, my word is spoken: so says the god who was angry with me. Wrong is wash away, and it falls immediately. O Lords of Justice, put an end to the evil harm which is in me. – excerpt from Spell 14, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

The Destruction of Mankind myth has always been a myth cycle that I could relate to. I can’t recall which translated version I read first since it was so long ago, but over the years I’ve found different versions each with their own interpretation. Most of the versions I found identified Hetheru as the avenging goddess in some way, which made sense of course but never quite worked for me.

When Ed Butler wrote this piece about interpreting the myth cycle, I was pretty much sold for a variety of reasons really. But I have to admit that there was something that I could connect with even more when he stated that the creation of Sekhmet took place during a conversation between Hetheru and Ra. It made more sense to me that it was the heka laced within the conversation itself that caused my beloved goddess to be.

As the article indicates, it was the repetition of power that brought Sekhmet into being. Maybe this particular creation circles back to the magical words we find in fairy tales and folk stories. There is a key phrase or a specific word that one must say in order to bring something or someone into creation. As a more modern example, it is the word shazam that allows Billy to become Captain Marvel. There are other key phrases throughout various tales and historical anecdotes that foster the creation of something though.

In this particular case, it was sekhem and the repetition of it that caused Sekhmet to come to life. And frankly, it seems more in keeping with Ra that he would simply create another being to do his dirty work for him since he seemed rather fond of sending various gods out to destroy his enemies. The only thing here is that, maybe, with the depth of his anger at the human populace, he didn’t take the possibility of limitations into account. He seemed to be solely focused on making them pay and thus, the goddess who elicits fear in the hearts of humankind even to this day was born.

It was actually this particular interpretation that felt, in a way, as though it represented me and by extension, the anger that had made itself comfortable within. While the cause of my own rage were actions, so too was Sekhmet’s even if she was created from words. It was the humans plotting against Ra, by their deeds and words, that caused him to bring her into existence. My particular creation was a lot less grandiose, but the end result was the same: a being soaked with layer upon layer of anger.

I saw myself in her actions, too. Upon being unleashed into the world, Sekhmet slaughters the enemies of Ra. I could carefully pinpoint where I had created a facsimile thereof in my own life with my personal experiences. That point right there, I could say, was my version of hunting down and killing the bastards who dared to speak out against the rule of Ra. There was no blood soaking the ground in my particular instance, it was all metaphorical after all, but I could see the wounds I had created in those around me.

And like a shark scenting blood upon the waves, just as Sekhmet turned her unquenchable rage upon the good followers of Ra, I continued to slaughter those around me. I can see my past self, with glee and joy and laughter, bringing destruction upon those who did not deserve it. There’s a phrase about burning bridges; I didn’t just burn them, I nuked the site from orbit every time.

Sometimes I think Sekhmet had it easy. She had Ra to help bring her down from the high of her rampage. While the conversation with my friend could be viewed as such, she wasn’t around when I realized I had to do something. I had no one to do likewise with me. I wound up seeing what I was doing and was appalled by what was happening, thanks to that long ago conversation of course. I internalized my rage instead of drinking myself to sleep. Although perhaps, in a way, internalizing the anger is just the same.

Instead of lashing out, I drank of my rage deeply and let it pass over me. I let it lap at my feet and take root in other ways. But the senseless slaughter that I had been used to doing stopped. I was cognizant of my actions and my words. I patted down my rage and worked on it a little bit at a time. Just as Sekhmet had calmed, I had the semblance of calm.

I had years to go before all that rage wouldn’t impact me as much. I often wonder if it was the same for Sekhmet.

sekhmet

O Egg, O Egg, I am Horus who presides over myriads, my fiery breath is in the faces of those whose hearts would move against me. I rule from my throne, I pass time on the road which I have opened up. I am released from all evil… – excerpt from Spell 42, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

In the myth cycle I discussed above, we are told that after Ra has tricked Sekhmet with the laced beer, her anger recedes and seems to disappear. After this episode, Ra eventually leaves humanity behind.

While I couldn’t be sure, I have often wondered if the rage really did dissipate from her simply because she fell in a drunken stupor. From my own experiences with anger and fury, I have to wonder if that’s even possible. I suppose it could be, of course, as she is a deity who is probably better at controlling this stuff than I, but I somehow doubt it.

The sources are clear: the ancients appeased Sekhmet often so as to prevent the destruction from occurring again. They gave amulets to one another, laced their workings with heka, and provided extravagant offerings to her, ever fearful that a repeat of the myth cycle would take place. This doesn’t say to me that her rage was gone; it was just under leash for a while.

On the other side of this, I could see her priesthood promoting the belief she would rise wrathful again as a form of scare tactic. “Give us all the good treats, or else the Lady of the Slaughter could destroy everyone again.” Maybe parents used the lie to keep their children in line, just like the priests. A cosmic knife held to the throat of a fearful populace.

But no. I think she truly had to keep a lid on all that anger, no matter how much of herself it may have eaten up.

One thing I’ve always wondered was if they had a way to teach her to deal with all that bottled up rage. Did they push her towards shadow work and say “heal thyself” and then wipe their hands of it? Or did they ignore the volcano living beside them, ready to erupt at the slightest provocation, and merely tiptoed around her to prevent the inevitable? I always figured it was the latter, not the former. It makes more sense to keep the indomitable on a leash for possible future use than to fix the underlying pathology.

I know; people used me like that too.

Being angry all the time is simply exhausting. There is always that possibility that you will blow your top like Mount Vesuvius or Mount St Helens and the ensuing destruction will sweep up the innocent and the guilty in one fell swoop. I have often wondered if, after years of rumblings from the volcano she had become, if Sekhmet went on walkabout in an effort to work on her inner demons and found out who she truly was at the end of it all.

Maybe that’s why she tends to push many of us in the direction of shadow work, saying, “heal thyself.” She sees herself in many of us and knows the consequences of living like that.

I have to admit that, years later, I feel less like I’m a pending volcanic explosion puffing ash into the atmosphere and more like a dormant volcano. All the fixings for an explosion are there, but not right now. I couldn’t say if I will ever be able to fully hollow out the magma chamber my friend said is beneath my shoulder blade. Maybe Sekhmet didn’t either; maybe we’re not meant to go into this with the idea that one day we’ll be normal.

Just calm. Just dormant. Just mostly whole.

Excerpt from Spell 83 – For Being Transformed into a Phoenix

As for him who knows this pure spell, it means going out into the day after death and being transformed at will, being in the suite of Wennefer, being content with the food of Osiris, having invocation-offerings, seeing the sun; it means being hale on earth with Re and being vindicated with Osiris, and nothing evil shall have power over him. A matter a million times true.

The Day of Answering All of Sekhmet’s Words 2015.

Alternate Title: Look at Your Life; Look at Your Choices.

I’m honestly beginning to dread this shit heap of a holiday.

Considering the fact that last year’s “festivities” ended about a month after the date in question and with the ache from an arm recently released from a fiber glass prison, no one can really blame me for not looking forward to this day. I should also not be particularly blamed for the fact that when the morning of the ninth dawned, the first thing I did was look outside to assure myself that there was not a thick coating of ice on the ground.

By the time I left for work, I kind of felt like I was doing well. I mean, I didn’t know really what was going to happen or what sort of wayward lesson was going to get tossed my way. But you know, I had managed to leave the house without fracturing any bones. That seemed practically like a double win in my book. Just fix my gold star on my chest because I was totally winning. Twice.

It was about halfway through the day before the Lesson presented itself. I was rather expecting something of course but not what showed up. I can’t even really say that the lesson came out of left field. It was so unexpected that it was more like a meteorite landing at my feet from the asteroid belt.

If I had stopped to think about it all, I never would have even considered the lesson that presented itself to me.

When I got home and had some time to myself, calming down after the Lesson appeared, I just looked down at the icon I have of Sekhmet. I stared deeply into the little icon’s eyes and asked her, how is this what I need to pay attention to? What sort of Words are these? It’s only an icon I spoke to, but I could feel the intensity of her presence as though she was standing behind me.

That night, I turned to her in my dreams and she whispered not unkindly, “This is the lesson.” There was no argument to brook. I wouldn’t have truly tried; I’ve learned that there are things that require my attention whether I want to give it or not. This was definitely one of those moments where whatever arguments I may have formulated would have been ignored.

This was the Lesson I needed to pay attention.

The Lesson was family.

A happy family

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.Manual of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

I work a lot, even though my hours would show that I am barely full time. When I’m at lunch, if I don’t walk away from my desk, I’m working. When I get home, I’m getting calls from people who are on call with questions. When I’m getting ready for sleep, I’m thinking about what the next day will be like. When I’m sleeping, I’m dreaming about the place. I work a lot.

The S.O. works just as much as I do. His jobs are all over our area, some as far or further than my own. He has to deal with the logistics of making sure the job is done within a timely manner, keeping the ownership entity happy while his boss screws up something, as well as ensuring the proper materials are available.When he’s not working his day job, he’s tending bar at night. He works a lot, too.

While his reasons are financial, mine are stress induced and caused by idiot coworkers. We’re both in the same boat, but at least he likes his second job.

This work situation, of course, impacts my child. When he was younger, we were there but now that he is older, we have less time at home with him doing the quality time thing that he still needs. This is both of our faults though necessary in certain instances (like the S.O.’s second job or when I’m on call) and the results are beginning to manifest.

When the lesson showed up, I had to walk away. I was angry because of the situation, but mostly I was very angry with myself. I wasn’t focusing on what was important and what was right in front of me as much as I should have been. I know that I need to work in order to survive, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of my family.

I took stock that night and realized that while the issues seemed insurmountable, it was just a perception. I could overcome them through hard work and sheer determination. I had spent too many nights wrung out from sheer exhaustion because of my job and I needed to figure a way to allow the exhaustion to hit while simultaneously repairing things while I have time to do so.

Seemed a bit like a tough pill to swallow, but not everything is impossible.

After calming down, I had to look deep inside. I realized that the issues had been A Thing for a while and I had known that. I just hadn’t done anything to ameliorate the problems. This seems to be an ongoing theme lately. I know something is happening – I just don’t do anything to fix it until I have to.

My relationship with my wild river...!!!

It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be. – Manual of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

I knew there would be more to the Lesson. Nothing is as simple as it looks.

Slowly, I began delving a little deeper each night into this. It became difficult to look at the big picture. I had become narrowly focused. It was like looking at an Impressionist painting too closely; there is a whole image to look at, but you can only see the brush strokes in front of your nose. The haystack or starry night you could be looking at is lost in the shuffle.

In one of those timely things that seem to happen when you’re head isn’t in the game, someone I follow on Tumblr posted about how they consider themselves as a part of a divine family unit with their gods. I read through the post a few times, digesting the message. It kind of clicked that while my meat space family unit was important, for obvious reason, so too is the divine family unit(s).

It may not be what others could expect to find with divine siblings, cousins, and the like but it is a family unit. There is the main grouping of Ptah and Sekhmet with me in the tertiary, child role. And then there is the sub grouping of Hetheru and Heru-Wer with me as a tertiary, fulfilling multiple designations at once.

It occurred to me that I’ve been neglecting them, too. I wish I could lay the blame for my neglect with something that isn’t me. But the only person to blame is myself, just as with my relationship with my son and my significant other.

I am the one constant in these situations.

As important as my gods have been in my life, I have found myself doubting and feeling unable to buoy myself beyond it. The stagnation isn’t really helping either, of course, but the dragging my feet thing that I’ve been doing is only causing damage to all parties involved..

I know what I must do in order to fix the damage here. I can see the path quite clearly. It’s just a matter of kicking my ass into gear and getting it done.

Repair

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. – The Sayings of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

The lesson I learned last year was about my own impatience. I’ve given up on arbitrary dates to get things done and slowed down enough to take a look at the scenery. That’s part of the reason why this post, as with last year’s, is coming around a month after the holiday in question.

This year, I had to slow down again, only this time to a snail pace. It was the slow but steady movement that aided me in bringing the lesson into sharp focus. I had to stop long enough while I went through this lesson in depth. I had to look at myself in the mirror and reassess what “important” really means.

Money and survival are a top priority. I like having a roof over my head and being able to put gas in my car. I like being able to buy offerings for my gods and providing for them. But so too is a good and solid foundation for all of my family units. It’s a balancing act and I haven’t been balancing very well. I have to learn to do that better.

It’s a slow process. Bouncing back isn’t an immediate thing. Even knowing that, it’s still a tall order to fill some days. But I know that there is a bright light ahead. It won’t be perfect when I get there, but it will be a vast improvement from the way things are now… hopefully.

This year, just like last year, I looked at my life.

This year, just like last year, I looked at my choices.

I found things that I wasn’t pleased with and I began the learning curve on how to cut that shit out.

Relevant Posts

  1. The Day of Answering All of Sekhmet’s Words 2014
  2. Divine Family Unit by Seek

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Festival of Drunkenness.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

Sometimes, you go through life without realizing how important certain things are in it until they’ve disappeared. I guess you could say that I’ve been living with my head in the sand for nearly two years. I didn’t realize what the loss of Sekhmet would feel like to me until it occurred. I didn’t realize what her return would feel like to me until it finally occurred.

This whole propitiation has been one giant learning curve and I wasn’t expecting to learn a damn thing.

Come back to me, o Distant One Reinvigorate me Touch me like the morning sun And give me life

Come back to me, o Distant One
Reinvigorate me
Touch me like the morning sun
And give me life

I was going through my archives while I sat vigil, awaiting for her to return. I was trying to remember when the relationship changed into the mass of emotional overload that it had become. While going through those old entries, I discovered an age old lesson that I have constantly needed to relearn: I didn’t know a fucking thing about what was happening.

For the last two years, things have been hard and painful between us. It could have been done differently – I know that – but it was done the way that it was and there’s nothing else I can do about it. I thought I knew that I was ready for the outcome, but I wonder if I was ever ready before the 2015 propitiation began. I don’t think I was. I just thought I was. And the last year was a constant upheaval in growth and change between the two of us.

Maybe I’m still wrong. Maybe I’m not ready for anything. Maybe I only think I am because she told me to take the wheel, to do a little driving, and tell me how it all turned out. Maybe I’m simply assuming that that conversation meant I was ready. Maybe this is all just another lesson in I don’t know a fucking thing.

The day before her return, I sat at the foot of her altar with candles lit in my hope that she would see the light and know the way to come home. I sat at her altar and I wrote out how I felt about this year’s propitiation. I told her what it felt to realize she was gone, what it felt to grieve, and how I didn’t know how to process it properly. I told her that I hoped she was pleased with the vigils I had undertaken to lure her home.

And then I told her how much I missed her, how much I needed her. Maybe it was a written whine, begging her to come home. But I would like to think that I was at least semi-elegant. But I’ll be honest with myself and I’ll be honest with anyone who bothers to read this: I was in tears as I wrote it and maybe there was a little sniveling in the mix.

It was the words, honestly, that was causing me the most trouble. I didn’t know how to verbalize, much less write out, how I felt. I had to spend the weeks leading up to her return just to figure out what it was I needed to say. It’s possible I didn’t actually need to say anything – the myth cycle is clear: she returns – but I couldn’t take the chance. I had to get it out there and into the world, into the universe just in case. It’s always better to be safe than sorry where Sekhmet is concerned…

The relief when I woke up on the 19th and knew that I would know, now and forever, if I had done what was expected, what was needed, and that she would return was palpable. It wasn’t just the prospective joy at her return that I was looking forward to. It was the end of the not-knowing that had plagued me for weeks. I had spent much of my personal time in a high level of anxiety and irrationality, always worried that I had fucked everything up and that she would not want to come back to me.

There is something that not a lot of people may realize, but I often worry that I am doing something wrong. Not just in my relationships with the other netjeru that both plague and populate my life, but with Sekhmet in its entirety. As I stumble over words/phrases that are unfamiliar to me, as I research into her as heavily as my English-only speech allows, as I wander aimlessly on this no-name bewildering turnpike, I am always so very anxious that she will realize she made a mistake, that I am not what she actually needs, and that she will leave me forever.

The pain at those thoughts can be overwhelming.

I spent much of the weeks preceding her return in a maudlin state between breaking down and screaming in rage at the mere idea that she may not come back. Couple all of that with the hell weeks I’ve been having since the year reset during the Epagomenal Days and it’s been… well, it’s been pretty heavy over here lately. The simple idea that I would finally know something definitive in one form or another was enough to get me through yet another rough day at work.

I came home and I just… felt her. She was everywhere. It’s kind of like when someone walks through a room and they leave the aura of their perfume or cologne behind. It lingers there until it finally dissipates from the air. Only instead of someone’s perfume or cologne, it was the distinctive feeling that let’s me know that this is Sekhmet. It is indescribable in all honesty, but I knew she was there. She was here. She was home. Maybe I wasn’t such a terrible devotee after all.

I took extra care with my appearance.

I put on my whites.

I lit every candle possible.

I brought the other icons of my netjeru over to watch.

I listened to music on my favorite Pandora channel and marveled at the shuffle.

I didn’t feel anxious. I didn’t feel like I had messed up. I didn’t feel grief. I didn’t feel worried. I knew I would wait until the perfect song had come on and I would simply know it was time. I knew that I would go over and I would unwrap her carefully. I knew I would joke and laugh and banter. I knew I would feel her in every pore of my skin, every cell of my body, every patter of my heart, every breath I took.

They say we are what we are
But we don’t have to be.
I’m bad behavior but I do it in the best way.
I’ll be the watcher (watcher) of the eternal flame.
I’ll be the guard dog of all your fever dreams.
Oooooooh
I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass (glass, glass)
Oooooooh,
I try to picture me without you but I can’t

Immortals by Fall Out Boy

I can feel you in my sleep In your arms I feel you breathe into me Forever hold this heart that I will give to you Forever I will live for you

I can feel you in my sleep
In your arms I feel you breathe into me
Forever hold this heart that I will give to you
Forever I will live for you

I was already more than a little drunk when I went over and began singing to her. I was more than a little drunk on alcohol and more than a little high on life. I felt her hands on my hands as I sang the song to her, giggling as I slid her wrapped icon into my open palm. The icons of my netjeru watched in their own breathless anticipation as I crooned to her unwrapped statue, telling her that we were immortals.

When she was back in front of me, I unwrapped my ib pendant from its golden wrappings and laid it at her feet. I turned everyone around to look at the glory that was my lady, returned to me finally after weeks of not knowing, of worry and depression, of sorrow and grief. We all rejoiced and I danced around the house, singing and laughing.

I felt like I had achieved a little bit of bliss in that moment, holding her icon in my hand.

As I knelt before her, whispering how I felt and reminding her that I was here, that I would not leave, and that I hoped that if she ever felt the need to leave me, she would at least warn me first, the song Awake and Alive by Skillet came over the radio station. I stopped speaking and listened to it attentively though I know the song by heart. It seemed the most appropriate thing she could fling at me and even if it was just the Pandora shuffle, it felt like she was speaking to me. Or more, that I was speaking to her and she was understanding what I wanted.

That night, I went to bed and I slept peacefully. I dreamed of Sekhmet again.

We were in our solitude. It was not quiet fore there were drums pumping and keeping time. I could feel her beside me as we sat quietly together. There was nothing to say, nothing that needed to be said. We sat in the moment, feeling the drums slowly up their ante to bring the celebrants into the altered state, the moment when she would reveal herself as the happy, joy-filled goddess she was in this moment.

The silence between us was not thick. It was simple.

We were together again.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Vigil.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

Everyone processes grief in their own way. I vary in how I go through the stages. Sometimes, I just sit around and let it eat away at me, picking the gristle off of my bones until I am picked clean. Other times, I put it to use in some way, forcing that feeling into constructive ways until I feel like I can take a few steps forward again instead of being stuck in permanent mourning.

The honest truth is that I am not good with grief. I don’t think I have ever been good at it, at all. Maybe it’s a learned behavior and I missed the classes. How I process the pain of something or someone who I have lost is probably not the healthiest way. I think that’s part of the reason why I sat around, dumbfounded by the depth of my feeling when I realized that I had lost Sekhmet.

I didn’t know how to process it.

I mean, I get that she’ll be back. This isn’t a tragedy; there’s good news on the horizon.

But in the heat of the moment, I could only look around and see the dullness that my life had become without her burning fire to attract either my ire or my joy. It was like I had been living the last seven years of our relationship with rose-tinted glasses (ha) that had suddenly fallen off and I was seeing that the world was actually shades of gray. It was a monotonous nothing stretching out like a chasm before me, looking to devour me whole.

Even the knowledge, the sure-fire bet that she was coming back was not enough.

All I could do was process the fact in automatic fashion that I was full of sorrow. All I could do was process the fact in robotic manner that I was empty inside. All I could do was process the fact with blank eyes and empty heart that I was nothing without her and that this nothingness, emptiness, aching was what I would become without her.

It was a painful lesson.

It was jarring and eye-opening.

It was something that I needed, like a swift kick in the pants.

But oh, how it hurt.

The first real day that I was processing what it was I was going through, I sat down in front of her altar. I sat there feeling dejected and lonely. It felt to me like the world could never understand what it was I was going through.

There were no words to even describe the level of my loss. There weren’t even words to properly categorize the depth of my emotions on the subject. I sat there, alone and lost, feeling like I was on that runaway train that’s seconds from exploding an entire town with no way off and no rescue in sight.

I dreamed that night:

I am sitting on the floor in front of her altar space. I have my knees up, hugged to my chest tightly. If I let go of them, I know that I will be lost forever. Without her, without this stark reminder in the death grip I keep on my knees, I know that I am nothing.

Behind me, there is a sea of light and it grows brighter. Perhaps, this is her returned to me? I turn my head slightly, moving the waterfall of my hair. The lights are soft and gentle lanterns, a sea of them across the space of her altar.

I woke up from it, knowing just what to do.

April 12 - Vigil Candles

Vigil Candles by Tim Wang

I was cruising through a bunch of old poetry the day that I woke up from that dream. I like to re-read classical stuff sometimes. It kind of hits me close to home and it reminds me of the days when I cared about poetry. (I still kind of care, but not as much.)

I wound up finding a poem by Walt Whitman that kind of seemed appropriate given the circumstances behind that dream. The poem is titled, “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night.” While I was reading it, I felt like a certain part of the poem really sort of cemented what it was that I needed to achieve:

Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,
Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade—not a tear, not a word,
Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you…

As I read and re-read that poem, I kind of felt a little bit like I had been granted a reprieve though briefly. It felt to me like that I was finally getting somewhere with all of this grief instead of just drowning in it. I recreated a moment in a time, a single second where I felt like I needed to guide her back to me with gentle light.

I still was drowning in my attempts to know what words to use. I kept getting drawn back into The Distant Goddess myth cycle, hoping for something. But the words were like ash upon my tongue. I stared into my notebook for just such things and found that the blank page seemed more appropriate than anything I could think to say.

I looked at the candles on my altar, the lantern lit with the hope that she would see it and find her way back to me. I was hoping that something would come, but I found myself more frustrated at the attempts to put into words what it was I was feeling, what it was I wanted. I lit the candles and I stared at them thoughtfully, unable to fully grasp that I wasn’t ready to write anything related to the depths of my feelings.

I just had to be.

I had to let the monumental shower of my grief fade itself into the work that I was doing, creating vigils each night to lure her back to me. But it wasn’t even a lure – not really. I wasn’t looking to cajole her back. I wasn’t looking to beg her to come back. I just wanted her to return to me, to take me into her arms and tell me that she was back and we were over this hump.

It felt like loneliness was my lot life – death, destruction, and depression in every aspect. I was embodying it as I sat there, waiting for a hint, a glimmer, a spark of recognition from her in some way. Something, anything, that would signal it was time for her to come home.

tumblr_nsw6ouzOL91rdlelro1_1280

I can’t smile
Now I live alone
And you’re so far away
Fire Maple Song
by Everclear

I feel destitute and bedraggled. This isn’t a new feeling for me by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve lived through grief before this moment, this week, these past few weeks. But with all of the changes I had been going through for the last two years as I morphed into the being that I am today, I will admit that this form of mourning is harder than I had imagined it would ever be.

No matter what lessons I had learned or who had done the teaching, I was not even a little bit prepared.

I was thinking to myself the other day that this is the real moment, the real change to everything. I could almost feel the burn as changes seeped into my pores, into my bones, into my ib, into my soul. Everything before now was just the preparation to go into the big haul. Everything before this moment, this week, these last few weeks was nothing but putting all of the ingredients together in the mixing bowl.

This particular mystery thing has been like turning the mixer on, forcing my bones and skin and internal organs into a puree that will eventually turn me into… something.

Last year, I thought that I had it all figured out. I thought that I was going to do something new and cool and crazy and modern and be innovative. I thought I was going places, doing something with my fucking life. But I had only seen it all as taking time off. I had looked at it only as another attempt to get away from Sekhmet and the constant barrage of changes that I just didn’t feel like I could handle.

Honestly, that wasn’t even a practice run.

It was nothing.

But, she’s coming back soon.

This hell is almost over.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing; I haven’t quite decided yet.

As much as I may hunger for her presence, as much as I may depend on her, I know that this is a fulcrum for the things to come. And as much as I want her, I miss her, I love her, I demand that she fucking return already, I know that things are coming. And I don’t know if I can be all that I’m supposed to be when those things get here.

I have to laugh at myself because if I don’t, I might cry.

I just don’t know if the end to this sorrow, this grief, this hell that I have been going through is a good thing or if it is something that I should dread.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Distant Goddess.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

One of the myths that I’ve only had a passing interest in was The Distant Goddess. I know that I’ve read it once or twice, but it was also a myth that seemed remote from me. Even though I have a relationship with Hetheru – the most often cited (though I have seen Tefnut and Mehit in this role as well) main protagonist of the myth cycle – it never seemed important to me on any level to pay much attention to it. I had the bare bones about it and I felt like that was sufficient.

The other day, I picked up The Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by the Meeks and started going through it again. The last time I read it was close to 6 years ago, maybe more, and I have felt the need to get back to basics again lately. So, I parsed through the first chapter, highlighting sections that I found of interest. The most interesting section was the relation of The Distant Goddess myth with Sekhmet as the main character.

As I re-read the pertinent passage over and over again, I could see in my mind’s eye Sekhmet in an ancient land, licking her metaphorical wounds after having been bested by the other gods. I could see her sitting calmly on a savannah – a generic savannah – and waiting for them to beg her to come back to them. I could see her just doing what it is that a lioness on her own would do and I knew what it was, for just a moment, to truly know the distant goddess.

That night, I had a peculiar dream that left me feeling bereft when I awoke:

I am sitting on the floor with my back pressed against the table that serves as Sekhmet’s altar. I have my knees drawn up towards my chest. My head is down, my hair in my face. My body feels heavy.

It is dark and not just for the curtain of my hair. It is dark everywhere both inside and out. I can feel the darkness pounding through the house as I sit there, unable to move, unable to breath.

I am alone and without succor.

When I woke up from that dream, I felt like I had lost something so precious to me. I felt as if I had been forced to bury my child or my significant other. The depression that has been eating away at me for the last few months seemed to intensify and I felt truly alone.

It was at that moment that I truly realized how much I miss the presence of Sekhmet.

Bereft by William Harris Weatherhead

Bereft by William Harris Weatherhead, dated 1893

When I first decided to add Sekhmet into the Wep Ronpet celebrations, I didn’t really understand what it was I was trying to do. On a conscious level, I understood the framework of what I was building. I understood the bits about Mysteries and I kind of understood what the overall goal I was aiming to achieve was. But as I was re-reading The Distant Goddess in the Meeks book, I recognized that I didn’t know a fucking thing.

As I try to get back to what it was like last year, I realized that I was pounding through the experience as quickly as possible. I was in a rush to get the foundations laid so that she and I could disappear from one another’s lives for 5 weeks. Our relationship wasn’t very good at that point and I was still bucking like a bronco at the feel of her claws around my neck whenever I was able.

I was in too much of a hurry to do any real thinking on what I hoped to achieve as a long term goal. Truth be told, I don’t honestly think I had any long term goals in mind. I think I was just trying to escape from the insanity that had become my everything when it related to Sekhmet. I needed an out. I needed to get away. I just wanted to run away and hide from it all.

She let me go into this with the notion that this was a vacation, knowing full well that I would either grow up or I would fight against whatever she would tell me.

I don’t talk about it much but Sekhmet is willing to give us the rope that we need in order to figure things out on our own. The length varies depending on the circumstances. In my case, I had a very long, long rope and it took me a year to figure out what to do with it.

We may hate this as devotees of hers, wanting her to hold our hands to see us through even when we fight back against the hand holding. (Who said relationship building with the gods made any sense?)  We may not realize that the rope is there, but it always is. No matter how cloying her presence may feel in our lives or how distant she may be from us, the rope is always there. We can either use that rope to pull ourselves out of the pit or we can hang ourselves with it.

I chose a fantastic blend of both and she let me.

Shatter

Shatter by Kyle Thompson

Sekhmet has been gone now for two and a half weeks. I have two and a half more left to go before she returns.

I find myself haunting her altar space, trying to figure out how all of this relates to me, how I can handle the blank space deep within my ib that is empty. She has taken the best parts of me and left the dregs behind. I feel inferior and unable to cope with the blankness deep inside. Everything hurts again, a pain that I am both familiar and not familiar with. It’s almost like she gutted me when she left, working her brand of heka to keep me alive until she returns.

I keep looking around,  hoping that there is some road map that will teach me both how to handle her absence. I keep winding up on support group websites, reading about others’ grief. It’s not the same though. My grief is profound and heavy; it tears apart my bones. I feel it in the marrow, in the blood, in the pieces of me that her disappearance has crafted.

I can feel it like a drum beat just beneath my skin. It’s loudest at the temples of my head, an unending scream that would outlive Edvard Munch’s painting of the same name. The pounding in my head and the sorrow at her absence is enough to drive anyone crazy.

That’s the point, though, isn’t it? She is supposed to be distant from me; she is supposed to leave and to come back in her own time,  and I am supposed to sit here waiting, sitting vigil in her absence with my grief. My vigil is pain filled and harrowing. I feel like the rise of a new day is a miraculous moment that I must share with her, but she is gone. I feel like the simple fact that I breathed through yet another night with her still missing is a miracle, something to share with her, but again she is gone and I am alone.

I keep returning to The Distant Goddess myth, in the hopes that I can learn how to lure her back home. I found the pieces about Djehuty going out to her, tempting her to return, and I read the bits about Shu who did likewise. Neither piece fit into my haphazard diaspora, nothing worked into the puzzle that this self-made mystery is about.

How can I possibly lure her back to me? Do I trick her? Do I tell her the truth? Does the truth outweigh the sorrow infused in seven years of our love-hate relationship?

I need her. I am nothing but an automaton. I am lost without her. I can feel the moment of her leaving, the second that I broke into a thousand pieces, and I know that this isn’t enough to bring her back. I am alone and lost, hoping that one day she returns to me.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

Last year, I created a holiday for myself in an effort to incorporate Sekhmet into the epagomenal days and the New Year. I had a real purpose to this: I wanted to add Sekhmet, who was the main reason I was on the path that I am, with the celebrations that I was undertaking in the name of netjeru that I don’t really have relationships with. It felt wrong to not include her, to be honest, so I made it my mission to do so.

I formed the basis and the actions that went with the celebration last year. I wasn’t thinking beyond the actual creation of this. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like one day since I did, sort of, base it off of the mysteries that TTR celebrates for O every year. But I didn’t stop to think what that would mean in the future. I just needed to create some form of back bone and take it from there… at some point.

With a foundation created, I didn’t do anything further. Aside from wrapping her up in the black scarf I purchased specifically for this, I didn’t do any heka. I didn’t add any further rituals. I just left her closeted away for five weeks (yes, five weeks) and left it at that. At the time, I needed a break from everything and ended up running as far and as fast as I could after the wrapping of her icon was completed.

With all of the other things going on this year, I recognized that what I was aiming for last year wouldn’t be sufficient for me this year. Sekhmet had told me that I had things coming and that I would have rules to follow. I’m still parsing that bit out, but the gist is that I needed to focus more on the duties as her servant that she wants and less on the bare bones that I had crafted last year.

It’s a bit like that section in My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts. She discusses how Osiris is the foundation of all ancient Egypt. During a conversation with TTR on this subject, I mused about how our altars could be viewed as a continuation of this idea, as the backbone of O: each altar being a form of central focus, a foundation, if you will of our practices*. The actions of my ritual for Sekhmet prior to the epagomenal days and Wep Ronpet were another version of this backbone. I just needed to flesh it out.

* I’m not saying that altars are mandatory in order to practice Kemeticism. I was thinking more on the physical reminders of one’s practice, which an altar would be the largest in my opinion. There are many other things that can and do make up the backbone of one’s personal practice.

So, I decided that I needed to do more than just act: I needed to think and say, as well.

Since this was going to be messy, I had a crappy cloth to soak up as much excess oil as I could get. ... I still made a mess though.

Since this was going to be messy, I had a crappy cloth to soak up as much excess oil as I could get. … I still made a mess though.

I chose to use one of the spells I read in Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts by J.F. Borghouts. Much of the spells in here make me go, “what,” most especially since the ancient Egyptians really seemed fond of crocodile poop. But there are a few bits of heka that include items to prevent the netjeri of Sekhmet from inflicting harm on the person who is either performing the spell or the person who the spell is being done for during the End of the Year. There are 12 spells regarding the End of the Year in this book to choose from. I chose to work with spell number 13, which can be found on page 12.

As the book indicated:

“Words to be said over a piece of fine linen. These gods are to be drawn on it, and it is to be fitted with 12 knots. To offer to them bread, beer, and burning incense. To be applied to man’s throat. (A means0 to save a man [from] the plague (i3d.t) of the year; an enemy will have no power over him. A means to placate the gods in the retinue of Sekhmet and Thoth. Words to be said by a man from the last day the opening day of the year, the Wag-festival and at the daybreak of the Ernutet festival.”

I ended up choosing to use a silky nylon cord of which I have a large abundance of. I chose to use cordage in the color red. While the color red is associated with things like destruction and anger, it also has associations with strength, virility, and kingship. Since the color is most often associatied with Sekhmet, and being a devotee of hers, it occurred to me that choosing red cord would be an excellent way to utilize it’s negative aspects as well as its positive aspects against the netjeri that would be unleashed the next day. It would help to protect me when they are unleashed.

Since I didn’t know how much string I would need to include 12 knots, I decided to just try it out and see what happened. I had spare cords that I had cut for another purpose that I no longer recall. They were about 20″ long. I cut a third piece to the same length and tied the beast together.

It was still pretty covered in oil but it was no longer dripping everywhere at least.

It was still pretty covered in oil but it was no longer dripping everywhere at least.

I have three vials of various oils that someone made for me a long time ago. (I can’t even remember who or why, tbh.) One of them is a protective oil to keep evil away. So I figured that since I was using cordage, which doesn’t have space to create depictions of gods on it, I could use this oil as a replacement. I soaked the hell out of those three cords and then let it dry for a while.

I cut up a huge bowl of cucumbers and shared them with Sekhmet while I waited. When I felt like enough time had passed, I braided the three cords and found out that no matter how much time has passed, when it comes to oil being soaked into cordage, you’re still going to make a huge mess. I also discovered that one crappy white rag was insufficient and would up with oil all over my hands (again) and in small drips on the table.

When that was completed, I tied knots in the middle as evenly spaced as I could manage it and reformed the knots at the end so that they were evenly spaced as well. I only had enough space for 6 but I’m okay with that. I pulled over the book and whispered spell 13 from beginning to end over the cord. I plan on doing this every day through the epagomenal days and including on Wep Ronpet. I haven’t decided if I will keep this up through to the Wag-festival though.

The next step was to clean up the altar space and get Sekhmet situated.

It was a good afternoon and I felt like I had really accomplished things this time around.

It was a good afternoon and I felt like I had really accomplished things this time around.

I pulled everything off of the altar that I use to associate with her except for the bowlplace of truth, Professor in his aspect as Maurice the Netjeri, and a small bowl of offerings. This bowl of offerings included by ib pendant that I wear daily, the beautiful red bracelet that Stone Spiral made, and my personal devotion. I spoke words over that offering bowl regarding the depth of my devotion to my lady.

We spent a good portion of the rest of the day just resting. I had the blinds open to let in fresh sunlight and I napped as I watched the sun move across the sky. I listened to music that made me think of my relationship with Sekhmet. I also ended up finishing off the cucumbers with her, realizing that no matter how many you cut up, it’s probably never enough to fill you up.

Later that evening, I pulled out my little pile of offerings and set them together so that I could get started. I left them out for her to look over with the feather of ma’at amulet above them. This gesture was to remind myself that what I was always aiming to maintain ma’at and that what I did, by the virtue of all that I have read about the gods and how they were served in antiquity, was an extension of maintaining ma’at.

As I did last year, I bound them in a gold cloth that came with one of the amulets I have (I can’t recall if it was something that came with the feather or the ib pendant). I wrapped them up like a little package with some cord in a nice little bow. While I was doing this, I was doing my best heka on the fly. This may not have been very good because I stumbled a lot over my words, but spoken heka is not my best suit. (You want me to write it? I’m all over that, but if it’s spoken aloud and on the fly… Well.)

I pulled Sekhmet from her representative benben and carefully wrapped her in the black scarf. As I did so, I spoke yet more words discussing that process, the why and the how, and the reason that my power was as strong as any god’s. Once she was wrapped up, I wrapped the package that is Sekhmet in a white cord and murmured spell 13 back over the entire altar space.

As she went on her way with her package of my personalized offerings, I set up Professor in his aspect as Maurice the Netjeri to keep watch over her passage. I lit a cone of incense to bless the path that she walks with the sweet scents of sandalwood. I then placed my red cord of protection on the altar, a not-so-subtle reminder to the other netjeri that I am a hekau of Sekhmet and my demands will be obeyed.

Sekhmet is Pacified!

The French Defense.

When I hit my senior year in high school, I ended up taking a statistics class to fill in a block of time. I thought it wouldn’t be so bad if I tried it out; it wasn’t like I needed the credit or anything. While the class did talk about statistics and the proper methods to getting them and a whole bunch of other things that I’ve since forgotten, I will admit that the class spent a good portion of its time as a free period.

For the first few months, I mostly sat around and took studious notes when it was required, ignoring everyone else when the class went to free period. I spent much of my time either writing in my journal or watching the kids around me do amazing things with a chess board.

I can remember sitting on a desk while the teacher and one of his prized students in chess club did their brand of magic with the plastic pieces on the board. I had never bothered to learn how to play because I had never been introduced to it before then. But as I watched them move pieces, I realized that I wanted to learn.

Before too long, I found myself being taught to play.

It took two students about half of a class period (we had 85 minute class periods) to teach me the basics with the moves and what was allowed, what wasn’t allowed. And then we began to play.

Whenever we had free time, we would play. I’m not sure what it is about the game of chess that I find so mesmerizing or what it was that had me liking it so much. I do know that the first time I beat one of the chess club kids in my class, I felt like I was King Kong: I could take on the world.

Since high school, I have had very few moments to play chess. I did not own a chess board and had no reason to purchase one. My ex-husband thought he was a learned individual and I feel as though he played with some of his friends, but he never thought to ask me if I would like a game or six. It was probably for the best as he would have probably bested me and he was a bit of a sore winner.

My SO spent much time as a kid playing chess and was given a glass and crystal chess set one year. This is currently living in a dusty box on one of our bookcases. Once in a while, my SO, our son, and I will sit down and play rounds of chess. I always win against our son (who still doesn’t quite understand how the pieces move or why) and the SO almost always wins against me.

It’s fun.

I don’t truly know what I’m doing a lot of the time and I am mostly moving pieces based more on intuition than knowing how to beat somebody, but I enjoy myself.

Milner-Barry Gambit - Bletchley Park

The Milner-Barry Gambit (used against the French Defense) by Isofarro

I have often felt that my relationship with Sekhmet is best summed up in one of those complicated chess maneuvers that the big names use.

I was looking through random gambits the other day when I found the “French Defense.” I’ve heard it of it before and have probably employed it without realizing it. (I’m not huge on learning that stuff.) While I was watching videos of the French Defense at work, I couldn’t help but think of this in relation to how things have been with Sekhmet over the years…

The French Defense is employed by the black side of the board. There’s more to it than this, but this sum up is pretty sound, “The French Defense is a sharp counterattacking weapon against white’s first move [front and center]. From black’s first move, he looks to block the a2-g8 diagonal which is usually a big weakness for black and prepares to take control of the light squares in the center…”

The opening salvo is front and center with the white pieces. A single pawn is moved down, which is then answered by a counter pointed black pawn. This is done a second time. After the third move, the black pieces move to crowd the white in a diagonal pattern. Unless the appropriate gambit is employed, it is difficult to do much more than sit back and watch the inevitable check mate occur.

While I was watching videos of this pattern being employed, I couldn’t help but see myself in the white pieces of the chess board. I was young and naive once. I lived my relationship with Sekhmet like it was some grandiose, be-all, end-all to the world. I went blindly forward, right down the middle of the fucking board. Years later, I’ve looked up and I can’t help but notice that I’m surrounded on all sides by the black pieces and I can’t find a way out of the mess…

Obviously, I should have employed the Milner-Barry Gambit to get clear.

Instead, I chose to tread across the diagonal attacking front of black pieces, sneering up at her as she made her moves and then watching meekly as she took piece after piece.

There is little left to protect my king; this either ends in stalemate or in check: my decision either way.

Stars

Stars by M&M Studios

I have known for years what it was that Sekhmet has wanted from me. While I may not have been incredibly open regarding what those desires were, I have always known. I have also always fought against it; I was not pleased to discover that what I wanted and what she wanted were not the same. I did not like the idea that I had entered into a relationship with her under her preconceived notions. Seeming to sense this, she let it go and we danced our dance of not acknowledging the long game.

Last night, I sat down and did a full work up with everyone. I reached out to Heru-Wer; I sat with Hetheru; fuck, I even bothered to reach out to my akhu, which doesn’t occur very often anymore. It was all very informative (or not, as in the case of Heru-Wer who seems to passionately hate the idea of using divination in any context), but the most informative was my chat with Sekhmet. The message was simple, you drive the car now.

My initial response was, “the fuck is this,” followed quickly by maniacal laughter. For years, I’ve been pushing back against her in every possible way imaginable, hating the inevitability I sensed coming. It feels like the end game is finally upon us and in this, finally, she tells me that I can make the decisions. I can veer off the track or keep the race going.

It’s the inevitability I’ve been feeling regarding these changes that I have bucked against the hardest, but also the preconceived notions of others when added into the mix. I will admit that a large part of the reason I’ve been having so much angst regarding this is because of those notions from outsiders – I didn’t want to be what they think and see. I wanted to be me and I wanted my own spin on everything.

Well, I’ve done all of the bits about me.

I’ve put my own spin on everything.

As lazy and impious as things may seem over on this mystically bewildered turnpike, it gets results. It has managed to see me through a long, hard road of nothing but pain, blood, and fear. I’ve managed to come out of it with my sense of humor mostly intact, with my affinity towards the simple things, and I have still managed to formulate something that works. I know that things are changing and I know in what direction they are headed, but I can take a bit of pride in myself and the haul I’ve created in the interim.

The new journey is up to me, of course, because that’s how things are. They can lead you by the nose but when it comes to the big things, consent is more important, I think, than we realize. Sure, I’ve been led around and force-fed the answers up to now but it’s my turn to make an informed decision. The problem is that I’ve been led around so much and force-fed the answers for so long that I have to hesitate on whether or not the final result is based on what I actually want or is based on what she actually wants.

That’s the rub: I don’t know my own mind about it, or at least I didn’t last night.

I’ve slept on it and pondered on it a bit.

Last night, I thought that my instinct to just keep on keepin’ on was merely because I didn’t actually know what I wanted. But that’s not true. I do know what I want: even with that other stuff in the mix, what other people might see when I finally bother to discuss it openly, I can handle all of that. I’m a wiser, older person than I was when my head first got broke the fuck open and the shit began drowning me. I can be content with what she wants.

But that still doesn’t negate the idea that maybe, just maybe, I want to stay up late and eat candy for dinner… for just a little while before I buckle down to the tasks at hand.