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.

The Day of the Executioners of Sekhmet 2015.

May 3, 2015.

One of the things that we need to take into consideration when we start celebrating holidays, besides what in the world the holiday is about, is also how much energy and intent you can put into the holiday. I have many holidays that pop up little notifications on my Google calendar, but I only celebrate about 10% of those holidays. I have more willingness and gusto to celebrate holidays associated with Sekhmet, of course, because that is part of our pact regarding our relationship. But there are often many celebrations that I would like to take part in or at least attempt to figure out what they could be about but due to spoon shortages, I end up watching them float by.

As anyone knows after reading my last post, I am currently going through a serious dearth of spoons. I am very lucky if I can get up the energy to get up in the morning and even more lucky if I do not fall asleep before 8PM. It has been a constant struggle for months to keep myself awake long enough to eat dinner, never mind the idea of researching and/or celebrating holidays. Weekend holidays are easier, of course, because I have less stress and more time. However less stress and more time doesn’t necessarily equate to more spoons – it just means that I can think longer and harder about whether or not I have the wherewithal to celebrate something.

I will be honest – I have had a severe push to observe (for the first time) the Feast of the Beautiful Reunion. Since that is going to be a two week long production (maybe), I have been saving my spoons. But I saw this holiday pop up on my calendar a few days ago and realized that I should probably do the thing. If nothing else, I could at least ponder what it could possibly mean to me.

The issue with this holiday is that, like Sekhmet’s Procession with her Executioners, I didn’t know who the executioners were supposed to symbolize. As with that holiday which I first celebrated last year, I had to think long and hard regarding who was going to do some processing. Last year, I thought about it from a number of different angles and ended up just assuming that it was a catch-all term that could represent followers of hers, the netjeri that do her bidding, the Seven Arrows, and possibly priests from antiquity.

I decided that, this time around, I was going to make it about me. As I said in my 2014 post about that holiday:

I tend to think of myself, and the other Sekhmet devotees, as executioners. In many instances, we turn to her out of a deep-seated need for removing harmful influences in our lives. … And what I’ve come back to is that she has always, always helped me out with “executing” the more negative aspects of myself, my practice, and my past. In every instance, whether she has been publicly and obviously assisting me with it or she has been maneuvering in the background, she has assisted me with this in one way or another.

Not to mention that self-care is important. I don’t make it a top tier priority, though I recognize that I should. The thing that caught up to me though was that there are plenty of national and secular holidays that are celebrated and there are numerous people throughout the country who use those holidays with the idea that they were going to relax. Well… why not this particular holiday for me, as a child of Sekhmet, as an executioner of Sekhmet?

I took it in turns.

I smited some isfet by putting all of the paperwork away. One may not think that official paperwork should or could be equated with isfet but it is in my household. I let the paperwork sit for a good few weeks on the table before I have the stamina to go through it. If I go through it too quickly, I have a panic attack and my anxiety starts acting up. So by putting that paperwork away, I was concluding that the important bits had been addressed and that everything else could be filed away for burningfuture reference.

I then sat for a very long time engrossed in my recent binge watching of Lost.

I execrated the hell out of the dust in the living room, the crumbs on my son’s floor, the weekly detritus on the kitchen table. The SO helped out by smiting the fuck out of the dirty dishes and then execrating the grocery shopping list. I finished it all with a rousing bitch slap to the dirty laundry, putting a sizable dent in the pile.

When you couch your usual weekly chores in terms like that, it almost sounds like you’re really making a difference, you know? I mean, I don’t know if equating the dust and laundry to something execratable would really work for someone else, but by putting myself in that mindset, I was more likely to want to find the spoons in order to achieve the goal. It was like by telling myself that this was for the good of the totality of all of creation, then it meant more than just me being a lazy sack of spoonless shit who couldn’t get up long enough to put a dirty bowl in the sink. (For reference, I do actually put the dirty bowls in the sink. In fact, there are many days where I’m almost positive that I am the only one in this house who can do that, but you get the point.)

We bleed stars onto the world And weep flames upon the universe

We bleed stars onto the world
And weep flames upon the universe

After yet more binge watching, I ended up cleaning of Sekhmet’s altar. This was about her executioner (me) so I might as well celebrate myself and her at the same time by cleaning everything up. I re-arranged the plate-bowlplace of truth, made sure that the stuffed animal representative of Maurice was in snuggling distance on the couch (one day, I may talk about this in depth but today is not that day), and then went about rearranging everything to my satisfaction. Sekhmet and I shared a nice little cup of vanilla Svedka mixed in with life blooddiet Coke and a huge fucking roll… that I used to make a ham sandwich on after. I kept the star confetti because it still has a large importance personally with regard to the things I have been going through as well as my personal practice as a whole. (No, this is not me finally admitting that Nut is around for keeps.)

I spent the few days leading up to this holiday wondering what I was going to do in order to celebrate it. I spend a lot of days, actually, when it comes to my holidays attempting to determine what the best course of action will be. I will admit that I never actually know until the day is upon me, though I do tend to have some ideas.

I don’t know if I did this recreated holiday any justice, but I can say that it was relaxing.

Sekhmet-Min.

Typically, when it comes to Sekhmet, there isn’t too much discussion going on. It’s not that people don’t want to discuss her, but I think that since there doesn’t seem to be much mythology outside of the Destruction of Mankind myth, people don’t seem interested in engaging. This upsets me a bit because I have a lot of thoughts regarding Sekhmet (of course) and I want to talk about it. I have a project planned for this year about her various aspects that I’ve come into contact with, but before I get started on that, I think I need to talk about the syncretism of Sekhmet-Min.

Now, anyone who hasn’t been following me on Tumblr or seen my comments about it on my personal Facebook may not be aware of this. And that actually makes sense because it doesn’t seem as though this particular syncretism bares more than a footnote or three in the books. Another reason it’s not so common knowledge is because there appears to be a large debate within the Egyptological community with regard to whether a Sekhmet and Min syncretism even existed.

Let me give you some background before I start talking about how I see and feel regarding this.

This all started, actually, when I found this post and was like, “what the hell is this?” The Tumblr user, intaier, posted another version of this image and tagged me in it so I could see the image more clearly as the original post had cropped out something important: the phallus. I took to Google, of course, to try and figure out what was happening because I couldn’t understand the lack of second arm and I had never seen Sekhmet with a phallus before. It was through Devo and another Tumblr user that I was made aware that imagery depicted thus is usually related to Min in some way. And of course, I found multiple images on Flickr which named this image as “Sekhmet-Min.”

I was completely floored. I had never heard of this syncretism before and I wanted to know more. Google searches for “Sekhmet-Min” came up with nothing besides those Flickr accounts, though. In my off time, I began looking for “ithyphallic Sekhmet.” I found two blog posts on LJ (here and here), which seemed to indicate the images were Mut. However, I found a few books through Google that mention ithyphallic Sekhmet. I decided to leave it alone for a while so I could mull this all over.

I also looked briefly into Min and found this quote: “While earlier generations of scholars inferred from Min’s erect penis that his principal function was fertility, it has recently been argued that Min’s upraised arm and erect penis are, in fact, both manifestations of his protective function, a form of display known as ‘phallic intimidation’ (Ogdon 1985).” All very interesting but I didn’t have anything definitive. While I mulled on it, I began to recognize that it would make a certain kind of sense for Sekhmet to have been syncretized with Min. But I left it at that because I didn’t really understand why it seemed “right” to me to have this syncretism.

A few days later, intaier posted this image where she clearly designates it as Mut. I came back and was like, “No, no. This was the Sekhmet-Min we talked about a few days ago.” And since then, things have rather degenerated. I wouldn’t call it a debate or anything because it’s not actually a debate.

However, people have weighed in with their opinions that the Egyptologists know what they’re talking about so if they call the image Mut, then so be it. I came back with evidence of Egyptologists who had named the syncretism as Sekhmet-Min. Based on my brief Twitter back and forth with Tamara (of KO fame), it would seem that there is no popular consensus within the Egyptological community on the status of these ithyphallic leonine deities. I left it alone until I was tagged again in another picture of the ithyphallic leonine deity, which seemed to indicate (again) that this was a “unique” representation of Mut (based on a quote from Te Velde in Mut and Other Ancient Egyptian Goddesses that intaier provided).

By this time, I was kind of tired of the conversation. I will admit that I am still very tired of the conversation, but I feel the need to put everything in a single place.

And Egyptologists like Budge used to think this way… and look where they’ve ended up.

It feels to me that we’re getting stuck on the prospect that this ithyphallic image is Mut because a bunch of people who may be wrong (because let’s face it, there’s always the possibility of discovering something new that will force Egyptologists to reevaluate their knowledge) said so. And while I definitely tell people that those sources are pretty fucking good to have, I also don’t want us to get stuck in a particular mindset when there is still, clearly, a lot of things that we simply don’t know.

To be perfectly frank, I honestly feel like my thoughts on the subject are being completely ignored in the face of statements made by Egyptologists. I think we’re falling into some mistaken belief that what the Egyptologists say on any given matter is holy writ and that’s something that we definitely need to steer clear from, especially as it pertains to our personal relationships with the gods. “But, Sat,” someone will say, “that’s blasphemy to the historically informed!”

But is it?

How many times have either I or TTR gone off about how Budge should not be used or cited as a resource? His translations have been proved to be inaccurate; he wrote entirely through the lens of a conservative Protestantism in order to garner more funds; he ignored his German contemporaries’ advances in the field; etc. As a resource, he is persona non grata.

Egyptology has come a long way, but there are still issues within the Egyptological community. While reading the problematically titled book, Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts, Jeremy Naydler highlights many of these issues. For the most part, the author goes on and on for many, many pages about how the Egyptological community seems hell-bent on maintaining the belief that the ancient Egyptians were a “practical” people, denying any possibility of mysticism within their religious realm, in a seeming need to distance themselves as much as humanly possible from the poor pseudoscience that infiltrated Egyptological circles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

All well and good – let’s absolutely distance ourselves from malarkey. But from a Kemetic standpoint, this leaves the resources we value so highly devoid of feeling and devoid of what I would like to see: a representation of my religion as it was when it was lived and breathed in its heyday.

But let’s look at this argument as logically as possible.

Let’s start off with the two images’ locations (I’m sorry, but I cannot find the image from the Hibis Temple so I cannot, in all honesty say, how closely related the images are).

Ramsses III censing before a form of Sekhmet-Min

“Image by Hannah Pethen, via Flickr”

The first image we have is the unnamed deity in the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak. Based on my research, this image appears to have been commissioned for Ramesses IV during the New Kingdom. (Based off of this website; translation will be needed.) This would lead me to suspect that the imagery used is Mut, who rose to prominence as the consort of Amun-Re at the spiritual capital of the country, Thebes, during this time period. The fact that the image is found in a temple dedicated to Khonsu, the son of Mut and her consort, Amun-Re, would also lead anyone worth their weight to believe that this is Mut.

However, it is during this period that we see Mut absorbing and usurping aspects of well-known and well-established leonine deities, specifically in this case, Sekhmet. The syncretism makes a lot of sense from various different points of view, but to look at it based on these quotes I think will better assist us here.

The first quote discusses how it was the first name in the syncretism that provided the deity with a physical form to inhabit but it was the secondary name that indicates who the deity actually is supposed to be. The second quote discusses how the gods had limitations and, in order to breach those limitations, syncretism was necessary. Looking at these statements together with regarding to the syncretism of Sekhmet-Mut, we see that the bodily form is that of Sekhmet, I.E. a lioness, where it is the motherly aspect of Mut that provides the power.

The reason I mention this is because prior to Mut’s syncretism of Sekhmet, her bodily form was that of a human woman wearing the double crown and/or the vulture headdress. We see many images of Mut in this way, but it is only when she comes into contact with Sekhmet (and Bast, evidently, according to my research) that we see her as a lioness. This particularly syncretism seems to have been of particular importance during the time that the Khonsu temple image was commissioned…

And that leads me to suspect that it may not specifically be Sekhmet who is syncretized with Min here, but it is a sort of conglomerate Sekhmet-Mut mixed with Min. Taking the leonine features of the face mixed with the bodily form of Min, we have two deities known for protective functions (“…it has recently been argued that Min’s upraised arm and erect penis are, in fact, both manifestations of his protective function…” as quoted fully above) merged into a unified composite. If we add Mut into the mix here, it’s only to denote that she has protective features and as the mother of Khonsu… who has every right to be in a temple dedicated to her son.

But again, in looking at the image, I don’t see anything that would herald that this is Mut in any way. Just because the two had a syncretism doesn’t necessarily negate the fact that Sekhmet may have become of import within the temple precincts in her own right. Based on my understanding of syncretism as indicated by the two quotes linked to above, I have to wonder if we’re missing integral information (clearly, we are) regarding this syncretism and how Sekhmet came to play a role within the cult worship of Mut.

Now let’s look at the Hibis Temple. This temple was built in the Late Period by the Persian pharaohs. By this time, the flower of the religious institutions that we see so well in the earlier periods had reached heyday status. Based on my brief look into this temple, it was built for the purpose of honoring the Theban Triad. This would explain why the ithyphallic leonine deity is clearly designated as Mut-A’at or Mut the Great.

However, this doesn’t actually negate the possibility that this image is, as with my thoughts on the Karnak temple above, Sekhmet. As Pinch states in Egyptian Mythology: “From the New Kingdom onward, Sekhmet was mainly thought of as the aggressive aspect of greater goddesses: first of Hathor, then of Mut, and finally of Isis.” (Bolding mine.) My point being that Sekhmet had stopped, in a manner of speaking, being a goddess in her own right and was seen as merely a part of –insert goddess here–. (What a terrible idea!)

While I don’t know what functions she may have served in her own right by that point, this only seems to indicate that the leonine deities seen at both the Khonsu Temple and the Hibis Temple are, in fact, linked (heavily) to Sekhmet. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any images available online of the ithyphallic deity known as Mut-A’at, but if it bears any resemblance to the image at Karnak, then I have to assert that – as based on my arguments above regarding syncretism and how I see it – that, named otherwise or not at all, this is Sekhmet-Min.

Seeing that my opinion on the subject has been ignored and any points I may have made also have been ignored, I’m going to finish this off with a few further thoughts.

My issue with the ongoing “debate” is that it takes away from the point behind the images. Syncretism is all about inferring powers from one deity to another, a deity who does not have the abilities they require in order to complete a function. Sekhmet is a powerful and protective deity, but Min’s associations seem primarily with regard to fertility… or at least, some of his functions are about that. If we are basing this syncretism on the idea of fertility and creation, then I think it means that Sekhmet, and therefore Mut, had self-creation aspects that we need to look into.

It was this aspect that Ramesses IV was incensing and libating on the Karnak wall. It wasn’t Sekhmet by herself. It wasn’t Mut by herself. It was an ithyphallic representation of Sekhmet (and therefore, Mut, as based on the wonkiness of syncretism especially from that time period) that he was standing before. It was something about this syncretism that he felt the need to honor. Why? What is it about this particular syncretism that required that it be placed on the temple wall? Was it because he wanted to be able to self-create and was hoping that they would give him this ability? Was it just to make people, down the road, question what the fuck is happening in this scene? Was it some ancient scribe’s joke to the modern world, “haha, fuckers; good luck figuring out what this is about” and we’re all taken in by it?

These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves as devotees of Sekhmet. Why in the fuck did this representation end up on the wall? But more importantly, how does it impact us? We should stop worrying in some respects about what the scholars say and worry more about what our religion tells us. I fully plan on exploring how this impacts me and my relationship with Sekhmet (if at all) in the future and I invited everyone who has a relationship with her to do the same.

Sekhmet: So Much More Than Meets the Eye.

Sekhmet! More than meets the eye!
She wages her battles to destroy the evil forces of isfet!
Sekhmet! Lioness in disguise!
Sekhmet! More than meets the eye!
Sekhmet!

– A modern day hymn as ripped off from based off of the Transformers theme song

When I look back on my early days with Sekhmet, those days when I was very frightened and I had people telling me to stay away from her, I look back now rather fondly. Even though I understand the reason behind why people told me to stay away from her and even though those first few steps towards Sekhmet were some of the biggest and most frightening steps I had ever taken up to that point, I have to admit that I made the right choice.

Sometimes, I sit around and try to see what my life would be like without her… if I had ignored that call all those years ago, and I have to admit that what I think my life would be like is paltry at best and a fog of unending torment at worse. With my entering into this realm with Sekhmet’s open arms ahead of me, I’ve become maybe not the best person I could but I’ve become a pretty damn awesome human being.

As is the case with probably a lot of the netjeru, I’ve noticed this sort of trend that comes and goes in spurts. People seem to get stuck in this particular mindset about Sekhmet and I’ve realized how much it frustrates me, especially now that I’ve begun to actively explore her other aspects and facets. It’s almost as if people can’t even begin to fathom that Sekhmet is an individual with individual wants and desires, hopes and dreams, feelings and regrets. I don’t know if that’s always true of course, but as someone who has begun exploring all the various realms that Sekhmet ends up, I have to say that it appears that way.

Lately, I’ve seen people say things like, “it’s such a hard time working with Sekhmet because she makes me want to kill people” or “I’m such a destroying motherfucker that my spirit guide must be Sekhmet” or “I’m going to burn down everything around me just like Sekhmet did, LOL.”

This mindset really frustrates me as a devotee of Sekhmet and as someone who actively seeks out those other parts of Sekhmet’s soul, those parts that hardly ever get talked about in public. I also think this mindset is incredibly problematic. Let’s talk about that, shall we? (As if you had a choice.)

  1. Tell Me Things Because I Don’t Know How To Research.

I think a lot of people want to be spoon fed and to an extent that’s actually not much of a problem (thus why resource lists are so great). I fully remember how daunting this whole historically informed path was all those years ago and I often felt like I was completely out of my depth when discussing anything with people who had been doing this a while. I often found myself freaking out because they had access to things that I did not or because they seemed to understand the texts that we all had read far better than I. They were able to discern the information out there on the Internet – separate the wheat from the chaff – and that made me feel very insecure and very, very incapable in my devotion to Sekhmet.

I know I spent a lot of my first few years doing this reading and re-reading the same type of things over and over again with regard to Sekhmet. I wanted to understand what it was that I was seeing from those who had been doing this a while and because I wanted them to tell me what I needed to know. I felt disparaged at the thought of all of the resources that I couldn’t fully understand (because let’s face it, a lot of the academic resources out there are not written for the layperson) and all of the resources I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on because they were in other languages. I wanted someone to take me by the hand and explain it to me.

Now that I’ve been at this a while, I’ve found a groove with resources. I’ve been able to better to toss aside the chaff and focus on the wheat. And while I will admit to still feeling upset that there are places I will not be able to go unless someone translates French and/or German texts for me, I would like to think that I’ve finally gotten a good foothold on what I’ve read. And I try very hard, remembering the fear and worry and anger and hopelessness, to explain to people who are new and who may not be aware that Sekhmet is more than a deity of destruction.

However, you can only say the same things so many times before you finally get to the point where frustration takes over. As someone who only minutely associates with the boat paddling phenomena, I probably get far more easily frustrated than those who have been doing the community building longer and more thoroughly than I have.

And that frustration leads me on to point number 2…

  1. Pigeonholing Makes Things Easier for Me

Quite often, I remind people that Sekhmet is more than just a destructive deity. That little check box next to the word destruction? It isn’t the only one that’s been checked, but it seems to be the most often cited. I truly believe that a large part of this, beyond newbie ignorance, is because human beings tend to pigeonhole. It’s almost as if we must always attempt to qualify something within a very strict rubric, which oft-times doesn’t do anyone or anything a damn bit of good.

Let’s be real here: in this day and age, pigeonholing should be jettisoned into space and burned upon reentry into some planets atmosphere. In a day and age where we’re beginning to realize that being uptight about everything and the requirement to shove everything into an “it is this” or “it is that” bullshit dynamic is a complete delusion, I think it’s safe to say that we can do the same with the gods.

Look, I get the whole thing when it comes to Sekhmet. We know she was sent to destroy humanity. Anything that has ever been created about Sekhmet (unless people are just blind and unable to properly read Wiki, which is where 95% of their ignorant information is going to come from) talks about how she destroys some shit. That’s all there is. Like if I had to make an art picture of every damn webpage that pops up when you type in Sekhmet’s picture, it would look like this:

The orange are all the flames she has and the red is the rivers of blood and of course, on her back, she carries DEATH.

The orange are all the flames she has and the red is the rivers of blood and of course, on her back, she carries DEATH.

(Photo credit, bee tee dubs.)

I rather feel as if the reason behind this is because people are too worried and scared at the prospect of looking outside of preconceived notions.

We have the mindset of the early Egyptologists who were really fond of pigeonholing the netjeru into predefined [usually Christian] terms that have no bearing on ancient Egyptian religion whatsoever. We have the mindset of people who cannot or are unwilling to do the research. We have the mindset of people who are too stuck on archetypes that they don’t bother to look into the minutiae. And of course, we have people who just want to blame the gods for all of their issues so they hyper-focus on a single detail of the painting instead of looking at the whole damn scene.

If we have any or all of the above possibilities, it makes it that much easier to not have to think critically about the gods, about their roles in our lives, and how their relationships with us impact us on a grander scale.

We can state, emphatically, that because Sekhmet is a destructive force that is why we, as devotees of hers, behave as such. We can state, emphatically, that because Sekhmet raged at people, then that explains why we feel the need to rage utterly at others. We are stating with these types of reasons for our actions, our thoughts, our feelings in regard to various things is only because we decided to develop a relationship with her… When in fact, it may simply be that the relationship with her is helping us to delve deeper into our own psyche, our own souls to figure out who we are as people, how we actually feel (as opposed to the feelings we couch in terms that polite society can/will handle), and find better ways to handle those things.

  1. I Don’t Need to Explore Our Relationship Further

Above all, I think this one is my biggest pet peeve about the whole thing. By refusing to look beyond that destructive aspect that we all see next to Sekhmet’s name, there are so many rich and rewarding aspects to her that people are missing out on. Yes, that’s right. My biggest problem with all of this is that by doing this, there are so many different parts of Sekhmet that people are not able or not willing to discover because they are too busy thinking of her as C instead of the whole damn alphabet that she entails.

I will admit to a little bit of selfishness with the above, too. It can be really difficult to find people willing to explore their relationships, like me, with Sekhmet. And because there are seeming so few of us out there, it becomes difficult to be open about the changes, the new things I’ve discovered, and all of the UPG that it corresponds with.

I know that sounds weird, right? Since I don’t see people out there who are explorers, so to speak, with Sekhmet, then I don’t want to talk about it. That’s right. I want to be able to express myself in more than simple key smashing (which, I will admit, is how I’ve felt a lot lately regarding her) and I feel that if I could just talk to someone who has experienced even a little inkling of what I’ve found lately then it would help me to crystallize and define things that I’ve discovered.

And it’s exciting.

And it’s neat.

And it’s interesting.

And it’s scary as shit.

Do the thing, you guys, so I can figure shit out.

Let's get some learning on!

Let’s get some learning on!

As bitter as I have been with regard to my relationship with Sekhmet in recent months, looking back, I can see just how much she has truly enriched me as a person and me as a devotee. I want this for everyone who looks in her direction and I definitely think it’s a good course of action to stop thinking of her as belonging in this one box because the myth we have that seems specifically about her discusses her function as an irt-re. Not only is it detrimental to us as people but it is detrimental to her as our goddess. Sure, the ancient Egyptians were scared of her and the netjeru, too, but there is so much more out there. And we, as devotees whether they be long term devotees or passerby devotees, have an obligation to her, to the new people who discover her, and everyone out there who fail to look deeper, to fill in the blanks.

Place of Truth.

You ever have one of those moments where you just have this fucking thing stuck in your head? It can be a song lyric, a picture, a turn of phrase – but it’s just sitting there in your brain pan and periodically, it shoots back out at you and reminds you that it exists in there and that you should think about it. That’s what this post is about.

For weeks on end, whenever I would walk over to my altar for Sekhmet, I would hear this phrase just echoing through my meat space. Hell, let’s be honest here, this has been going on for longer than all of that – months, more like. Whenever I would go over there or pass by, which is done on a daily basis, I would just hear this fucking phrase echoing in my head and I was so very puzzled by it. It was like a little zing at first, you know? It was just there. “Boop! Hey, I’m here.” And then with each passing day that the phrase would hit me, it became more and more like an electrical shock to the system: place of truth.

I puzzled about it, you know? I thought I was making up things out of the reactionary word vomit that can occasionally inhabit one’s mind space. How often had I had moments where something would come through like this and it ended up being nothing? (Or quite possibly, it actually was something that was never solved because, let’s be real here, that’s always a possibility.) But it began to happen on such a regular basis and the zings were becoming more painful. It was like eating too much sugar after a filling falls out – a zap of pain to the teeth. Or more like a momentary brain freeze that would shoot not just into my brain, making me want to cut off the entire apparatus housing it, but throughout my whole body.

I started looking things up because, you know, I may as well give in to the reactionary odd shit my mind makes up.

I was really just expecting like a book title to pop up or have an image come up on the screen: a single pointed finger surrounded by bubbled text spelling out “ha ha ha.” That’s not what happened. The not-oracle that is Google came up with something interesting: set maat was what the ancient Egyptians referred to the Theban necropolis as. Oh, well, that was very helpful… so helpful that I looked up the bits about how the workers at Deir el-Medina were referred to as “servant of the place of truth.” And all of that was just so very helpful but not in any way, shape, or form that could possibly explain to me why the fuck I was having this damn fucking phrase puncture my brain pan every fucking morning.

I mean, honestly? What in the world did my relationship with Sekhmet and/or my altar space have to do with the Theban necropolis? I couldn’t make a connection. Sure, I had dealings with Sekhmet in the Duat, but that didn’t really relate as far as I could see to the necropolis. And I don’t really consider my altar space as sacred as, maybe someone somewhere thought the necropolis was. So, how the fuck and why the fuck and what the fuck?

I left it alone. That’s a thing, right? When things really start to aggravate you, sometimes if you just leave them alone, they percolate in the background and something might come of it.

I left it alone for so long that I told Sekhmet’s altar that it could shut the fuck up. I got more zings. I started avoiding going near her altar except for the most necessary things – offerings, dropping off jewelry, picking up jewelry, etc. I got more zings. I refused to make fucking eye contact with my fucking altar whenever I would do these in the hopes that it would help. I got more zings. I left it alone for so fucking long that I began to actually tune it out. Evidently, this was just too much to handle because things came to a head the second week of January.

The second week of the month is when I do the rites and services Sekhmet and I agreed upon (over a fucking year ago now – time flies). I usually make up the altar pretty much the same, maybe with minor changes. I clean the place up and out and spritz it down and make it damn fine. I have ritual plates that I use for the heka feast offering and ones specific for the actual food offerings I give as well. No big deal, I pulled everything down and placed the heka in the proper plate-bowl-thing and looked at it and had the volume turned up: PLACE OF TRUTH.

I stared at the space I had lovingly tended with revulsion and irritation. We were back to this stupid fucking thing again. I had finally managed to get out of that fucking gutter and I was getting sucked back in when I had things to do. So, I looked around for something while I began to get a massive fucking headache as PLACE OF TRUTH pounded through my brain pan. I found a candle and laid it over the heka meal. I stared at the plate some more and then pulled down the feather of ma’at amulet, wrapping it gently around the candle holder.

The volume dial was turned down and I was able to walk away, pleased with it.

Well.

Shit.

What the fuck.

A while later, I began moving things away and looked down at the altar space. I was pretty angry and irritated. I went to move the heka feast bowl-plate-thing with its candle and ma’at, but my hand stayed right where it was at my side. I looked at my hand. I looked at the bowl thing. I looked at Sekhmet. I looked at the feather of ma’at amulet.

PLACE OF TRUTH.

I decided to just remove the heka feast and clean the plate thing, but placed the candle and the amulet back where it had been previously. The volume dial was turned down again. I was beginning to get a very serious feeling that the bowl-plate-thing and the amulet needed to stay put. I wasn’t really sure if the candle needed to stay put, but since it’s a good focal point, I figured it could stay. Besides, if nothing else, doesn’t the place of truth deserve a little way to make some flame especially since it seems, somehow, to be related to the Lady of the Flame?

I’ve been growing more and more desperate. I can’t tune it out as clearly as I had been. I can continue to walk by; I can continue to ignore the space; I can even just go “lalalala, I can’t hear you,” with my fingers in my ears. None of it really works. I don’t know what the hell this means. Why the hell this is even supposed to be a thing?

In desperation, I went to the not-oracle that is Google and found a whole lot of the same shit I found the first time around. In desperation, I reached out to two groups for help, but have received no responses from anyone about the phrase “place of truth.” I’m clearly at the end of my tether because I can’t fucking sit around and listen to the stupid bullshit anymore. I don’t know what this means or why this means. I don’t understand the zings I’m getting or the constant feeling that there is something missing, perhaps that I, myself, am missing (clearly) or that is missing from the fucking space in general. I just don’t know.

So, because I was finally at the end of my fucking rope and demanding answers, I pulled out the Book of Doors deck.

WHAT DOES THIS FUCKING THING MEAN.

And I got a hodge-podge mess that actually made me even angrier. I was already pretty pissed to begin with – the fact that I had to turn to cards in the first place really made me snottier than usual – so the responses I got to the question, phrased differently each time, made me very unhappy. It was made worse when I realized that how I typically interpret the deck wasn’t going to work. The answers I was looking for were “woo” related, or in that realm. So, historically, I have bubkes. And technically, woo-wise, I also have bubkes but at least I know it’s related to that in some way.

This was not helping.

I sat in front of the altar and stared at the white plate. It was just a plate. I had purchased it for $1 at the dollar store. There is absolutely nothing special about the plate. It’s flat in the middle and rounds up. It’s probably more like a serving bowl or a salad bowl. There is no design to it – I wanted something nice and plain for the rites and services when I picked it out. It’s a nice enough looking bowl-plate, but it’s usefulness starts and ends at holding offerings once a month.

And yet… adding it to the altar had definitely been a good thing.

Maybe it wasn’t the bowl so much that was a good thing, but the amulet? I thought about that. And it wasn’t until the two were placed together, with the amulet wrapped daintily around the pillar candle holder, when I felt I had done a good thing. But the good thing, that feeling anyway, is still beset on all sides. There’s more here, I can fucking feel it.

I keep looking at the damn space and I keep thinking about how the fuck this can finally shut up in my head. I keep looking at the whole damn space and I keep knowing that I need to add to it. I need more than just the candle and the amulet and the bowl. There’s something here and the answers just aren’t anything more than bleariness at the corner of my eye. I keep rubbing at the bleariness but there’s nothing there but more bleariness.

What the fuck am I even doing.

I wandered back and forth to the altar. I stared at it. I looked down at the floor in frustration and then looked back up, hoping that I had taken enough time to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I walked away in a huff. I walked back with my hands linked at the back of my head, afraid that if I didn’t hold them together tightly that I may just slash my arm across the whole edifice and destroy it all. I lay down and watched Supernatural for a while. I got back up and stared at what I had begun and then moved back to the TV. I paced back and forth while I messaged with a friend, freaking out through my cell phone. It was a good thing really; I was finally able to say something to someone who, though perhaps they wouldn’t understand the entirety of the problem, they could at least be a sounding board since clearly there will be woo and there is already woo.

This is my truth.

This is my truth.

We talked and they made sense. The panic-streaked thoughts from the last few months faded out. They became less shaky and more solid. I could see what I needed to do in my head, but I just had to figure out how to get it there. As carefully as my son has done when building a precarious tower of blocks, I held my breath and placed pieces in the plate-bowl. I held my breath so as not to disturb the precarious balance. I looked down at my handiwork and knew that I needed more. This was insufficient and I looked up at mawat’s face and I thought to myself, what the fuck do you want from me? And then I saw it… the little necklace of the four arrows I had made a few weeks back. I looked down at my not-a-masterpiece and looked back up at her and then knew what I had to do.

They were the final piece to the finished product.

You see, the point was that I had to build myself a place of truth. It makes sense that the bowl was a good thing – a repository for the heka that I have taken on for the last year. It is a part of my truth. Each little piece placed carefully in that bowl-plate is a part of my truth: my path and where it has led me. I knew this year was going to be a bit of a doozy in the way of my religious experiences. I knew that last year when I looked to the future and saw more hardship, many more ordeals, and new adventures coming my way. I was told a little while ago that I would be judged, but you know? I judge myself, too and quite often, very harshly. I built myself a place of truth. These pieces are a part of my truth – my inner truth, the truth of my ib – and while I may, indeed, be judged by outsiders, the foundations remain the same.

Je suis prêt, I remind myself.

Sekhmet’s Procession with Her Executioners 2015.

January 9, 2015.

About six months ago, I started feeling as if I needed to add the Seven Arrows of Sekhmet into my practice somehow. They’re kind of important pieces of her that I’ve only recently paid any great attention to. I figured I would get around to do something altar related to add them in at some point in future.

Queue in to about a week ago when I was like, “I’m going to do it now.” I went out to a local shop and purchased four bronze arrow pendants. I have every intention of going back out for three more when the store restocks. Coincidence abounded when I received the notification that yesterday was the holiday, “Sekhmet’s Procession with Her Executioners.” Coincidence: the landmark of any devotee’s practice.

Last year, I sat around for a while and tried to figure out how I wanted to go about celebrating this particular festival. While last year’s festivities got the job done, I wanted to do something a little different. My holiday celebrations have been rather boring lately: a meal, some words, candle and incense. While this clearly is effective (since I haven’t been told to stop being a lazy bum about this shit), I wanted something more. Perhaps that stems more from three weeks of leading a very sedentary lifestyle while in arm prison or perhaps it was just simply time to hearken back to my “I’m going to have some fucking fun while doing this shit” mentality. In either case, I decided paper and food wasn’t enough this time.

All right. It looks like a collar or something, but it was what I managed.

All right. It looks like a collar or something, but it’s what I managed.

So, I worked for about an hour on how to get the arrow pendants in a sort of circlet that I wanted to fasten around my icon’s neck. Let me tell you that it was a fucking pain in the ass and I really need to come up with a better idea here. I chose silken cord that I had lying around and was unsuccessful in that attempt because the holes on the arrow pendants is really fucking tiny. My cord wouldn’t thread through it. I even had the SO try threading them for me and he handed it back with, “nope, it can’t be done,” after assuring me that he could do it.

I looked around my crafting stores, trying to figure out what the fuck I wanted to do. I knew I had wanted to purchase wire or something to hold the fucking pendants, but I figured it could wait until I had all seven. I finally found some really thin white ribbon I had lying around… and it took me about 45 minutes to thread the fucking shit through. I actually ended up unraveling one end of the white ribbon at one point. I was getting really fucking frustrated, but I kept on until I had a serviceable end result. I was even able to slide if over the head of my icon without causing any damage to myself, the arrows, or the icon in question.

That’s when I sat around and tried to figure out how I wanted this procession to go about. In 2013, I celebrated this particular festival (without knowing its full name) with a sort of Roaming Gnome impression that I found both fun, funky, and exciting. With this devious plan forming in my mind, I decided to go for broke and process Sekhmet with her SevenFour Arrow necklace around the house. I took photographic evidence to show that I’m not full of shit.

Jealous bitches? Who goes on walkabout? ME.

Jealous bitches? Who goes on walkabout? ME.

There is no TV; there is only ME.

There is no TV; there is only ME.

I have no fucking idea what the hell this is.

I have no fucking idea what the hell this is.

Books. Aw, yiss.

Books. Aw, yiss.

This room is filthy.

This room is filthy.

That looks like some damn fine eats. Let's get on with this, shall we?

That looks like some damn fine eats. Let’s get on with this, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all of the processing was done, I put her with her necklace-of-sorts back to rights at her altar space. I ensured that it was cleaned and looking pretty dapper with all of the damn things she manages to accrue each month. (But no, seriously, I clean that fucker off every damn month and every time I go back over there to do a full on fucking clean, there’s some shit all over the place. Like, I really don’t even know how the hell this happens because I’m pretty sure I have it in my head to not add things to her altar space and yet… every month, I pare the thing down.)

That's what I'm talking about.

That’s what I’m talking about.

I added the four pieces of paper I had created last year in a sort of pattern that came out to look like an “A.” That was not done on purpose, I can assure you, but I giggled like an idiot when I realized what I had done and left it. “A” is not only just for awesome (as in awesome fucking holiday celebration; you go with your bad self) but “A” is also for Aubs, who is awesome. It was a total win-win. You may note that you only see three pieces of paper in the image, but that’s because I don’t feel comfortable announcing the names of the Sekhmet devotees I listed on the fourth piece of paper. That piece is hiding beneath the red arrow paper.

Once I was over my giggle fit, I cut two honking pieces of bread and popped it down in front of her. “Manger,” I said like my mother used to do when I was a kid. I then demanded that the SO make me a diet Coke and vodka, which devolved into a conversation that I feel best describes his stance on my religion and my point-of-view regarding offerings:

Me: Make me a diet Coke and vodka please.
SO: Is this for you or for your Roaming Lion?
Me: Lioness. And it’s for me.
SO: What if she gets thirsty, though?
Me: That shit is mine. She had better zoom in quick for a gulp before I get that shit in my hand.
SO: *shrugs* Whatever you say.

I recognize that how I go about my holiday celebrations isn’t really what others would think when they ponder the “inherent seriousness” within one’s religion. However, I can assure you that I take my love, my job, and my religion very seriously. I just don’t know why we all have to be boring fucks who sit around, thinking about the meaning of life in the cultural and religious contexts of our lives and religions, when we could all be doing Roaming Gnome impressions with our statuary. I mean, shit man. If religion means being a douche and feeling holier-than-thou, I’d rather build with blocks and take pictures of my gods traveling around my house.

I spent the rest of my night watching really awful horror movies, pounding down my straw-laden alcohol, and listening to Timber by Pitbull, feat Kesha. (No, I did not dance but that was because I was drinking my alcohol really fast and didn’t trust my feet. I had a severe case of the giggles, though.) That, to me, is a better ending to any religious holiday I have ever celebrated in my life.

And either that says something about my religious upbringing or says something about how I’m so fucking jettisoning that boring as fuck mentality about being a pious devotee.

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The Day of Answering All of Sekhmet’s Words 2014.

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

As usual, I had no idea what the point in this celebration is supposed to be. What kind of words should I be answering? Are they good words or bad words? Is there are a lot of cursing alongside those words or is this all clean language? Are they words or are they Words? Is there a little of heka threaded through those words? Maybe there’s absolutely no heka involved, though; or maybe even the whole thing is related to heka in some form or another and I have to answer them? That’s really just the age-old problem with recreating a dead religion, though. You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing nine times out of ten, so you slap-dash some shit together, call it a day, and hope for the best.

So, I went into this celebration having no fucking clue what I was supposed to be doing. As the days clicked by one by one on my calendar, I found myself beginning to worry about what the hell I was expected to answer for. I mean, I’m kind of a jerk. And I do whatever the fuck I want to do. And maybe, perhaps, just maybe, I’m not a really good devotee. Fuck. The anxiety about what the hell this holiday was for began to seriously mount up. Each day dawned with me having no fucking idea what the hell I was answering for or about. It was made even worse when someone else mentioned that the times they had celebrated this particular festival, they had been called to the carpet.

Shit.

My anxiety was really beginning to spiral out of control. I would find myself staring off into space, trying to envision what I could expect.

I decided that worrying about it, though, wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I mean, worrying about something is all well and good for people with anxiety (like me), but it doesn’t actively accomplish anything. Luckily, work kind of took off around that point and it was an all hands on deck situation. I kind of had the mindset that since there was nothing I could do to fix whatever words I had to answer for, then I may as well just fucking take whatever gets thrown at me. I mean, to be honest, if I was a fucking bad devotee, then by fucking golly, I was going to be a bad fucking devotee. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it. It was stupid to believe that I could have possibly have fixed all of my fuck ups in a matter of weeks. So, I shrugged it off, wiped my hands clean, and waited for the big day to appear.

I’ll admit that I had butterflies when I woke up that morning.

The day in question dawned icy and chilly. (What do you expect in early December in Massachusetts?) A lovely sheen of ice had coated the entirety of the world outside during the overnight. It was so thoroughly covered that people everywhere went skidding the moment they stepped outside. My coworker destroyed a pair of shoes when she stepped out on her front porch that morning, sliding down her porch and into the yard. My landlord’s truck went rolling down his driveway – a giant hill – after he put it into park because of the layer of ice. I was just one of many who went down and just one of hundreds who “luckily” damaged a bone in offering to the unforgiving Winter Gods. Or, perhaps the god in question was a certain temperamental Irt-Re I know and love? My first thought when I wasn’t freaked from all of the damn pain was: Well, this is certainly timely.

I spent about half of my day at work. I had no idea that I had damaged anything significant. Honestly, when I went down initially – besides being embarrassed that my ass went skidding down the fucking driveway – it kind of felt like I had hit my “funny bone.” You know the one. The bone in your elbow that when you hit it just right, it really fucking hurts and everyone says about how totally not funny it is to hit your funny bone. Yeah, that’s the one. It felt like that only a lot worse. So, I went to work since I was able to move the arm (any poor person’s self-analysis after taking a tumble).The pain intensified, though and about halfway through the day, I told my boss that it felt like my arm bone was on fire so I was leaving for the hospital. I spent the rest of the afternoon and a good portion of my evening at the ER, getting X-rayed, being told it couldn’t be “too bad” since I was carrying a 1 pound (or less) purse in my injured arm’s hand, and just generally being miserable. All other worries and thoughts were gone in the aftermath. When I was medicated and splinted, I considered the circumstances again. Was this a sign?

Divination was all I had to figure this shit out and I couldn’t even shuffle a deck since my arm was all bound the fuck up. I ended up using one of many apps on my phone; all signs pointed to me being a big, dumb, fucking idiot. I could have salted the back steps and the driveway before stepping outside. I had noticed the ice coating on the car and on the railing and on the recycle bin. But I had decided it didn’t look “too bad,” even after being warned by a few people on Facebook that it was much worse than it looked. As I told the SO later, this whole fucking experience was best summed up as: “look at your life; look at your choices.”

With that phrase echoing in my head, it occurred to me that I may have discovered what the fuck that damn holiday was all about.

I got tossed in a fiber glass prison two days after the holiday. My sentence was for three weeks. The radial elbow was only “a little fractured.” (Side note: that was actually a phrase the doctor at the ER used when describing the fracture. When he said that, I just wanted to walk the fuck out of the ER and go to a better one. What fucking doctor uses that phrase? I mean, why not tell a woman she’s only a “little bit pregnant.”) I got nearly a month of time to do nothing except to look at my choices, to look at my life. Oh, so very much joy.

You know what, though? I found a lot of interesting things in those three weeks. I found out things about myself, which was pretty important. Before the three weeks, I felt very much as if the person looking back at me in the mirror was a complete stranger. I often found myself wondering when I had decided that this was going to be who I had become all those years before. I found out things about what I wanted out to my life, what I wanted to do with that life, and how I wanted to approach things. I learned things about my shadow work, things about my religion, about my family, and everywhere in between. At the heart of every facet that I looked over, I found a single overarching theme throughout. That was kind of disconcerting; I hadn’t expected to find a pattern: impatience.

I am an impatient person. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I really fucking am an impatient person. I can teach people things, but if someone doesn’t get it after three or four times, then I grow impatient with their learning process. I end up doing it myself, even in the teaching, because of that impatience. (Let me tell you, this is very difficult for me as the parent of a child in elementary school. This is also a problem for the SO.) People taking dictation from me had better be able to write 95WPM (like me) otherwise, they’re too damn fucking slow. People who are only going 10MPH over the speed limit are the slowest fucking assholes and need to get the fuck out of my way. Honestly, the circumstances are immaterial. Trust me when I say that I am impatient and many of my choices over the years are based on that impatience whether I realized it at the time or not.

Do you want to know how hard it is to do anything with one warm, even a subordinate arm (my left arm was the one I went down on), stuck in a fucking cast? I hope many of you are saying that you don’t know how difficult it is. For those who don’t know, let me assure you that doing anything with a cast is enough to take many of your spoons allotted for the day. Now imagine who hard this all must be for someone who is headstrong, independent, and impatient. Yes, those three weeks were really difficult. I whined a lot.

But as much whining as I did because the SO had to wash my ass-length hair (and had absolutely no fucking experience with how to wash really fucking long hair), I also spent much time being introspective. Through all of the whining about how I couldn’t read any of my fiction books because they’re all mass market paperbacks and I couldn’t fucking hold them up for long periods of time, through all the nights I spent staring at the television screen in disgust because I couldn’t fucking type a damn thing on my computer, for all of the fucking moments where I woke up in the middle of the night because the weight of the cast on my fingertips had put them to sleep, I was spending a good deal of time inside of my head and thinking about my own impatience. I chose primarily to focus all of that inside-me on the not-so-painful but after a while, with nothing else to do, even the most painful and taboo subjects got glanced over, worked on.

Again and again and again, I kept seeing the same old warning sign: impatience ahead.

I’ll use an example to illustrate my point.

Just before Thanksgiving, I had a pressing need to destroy a bond that did me no favors in the keeping. I arbitrarily decided everything had to be gone, that I had to get rid of this bond by year’s end. I had plans (which I hope to detail in a further post because I plan on seeing this shit through) and nothing was going to stop me! The thing is that there is no arbitrary time frames for removing sickly bongs. It’s a slow process if done properly. I know that consciously, but nope. I had to take between four to six weeks to clear it all out. By rushing it, I was playing with fire, honestly, and quite possibly could have made things a lot worse on myself. And as I am hurtling on my head-long way towards disaster, or possible disaster, I fractured my fucking elbow. This made doing any of the writing and any of the heka that I had planned for this batch of shadow work impossible. So, I back burnered the whole damn project until I had the time, the ability, and the wherewithal to complete it properly.

While waiting the eternity (three weeks in real time, but legitimately, time is fucking relative and it fucking felt like 20 weeks to me) for the cast to come off, the urgency that I had felt about getting the shadow work done… Well, it faded. I took up doing other aspects of that working instead. There were items that I was leaving out and items that I needed to address as well, but I thought I could just do everything in six weeks with no problems. By slowing down and taking the time to see to other items internally, I was able to feel stronger as I slowly shed the bonds in both mind and body. Since I took up those other aspects that I had been ignoring, I found the whole process to go much more smoothly over all.

In looking back through my other shadow work adventures, there are two themes throughout: “I don’t want to” and “get it done now.” I wasn’t actually mandated to remove this bond as I had been at other times and in other circumstances. This was all my own idea (for once). And yet, I went into it with this sense of urgency that it had to be done before some “important date” and for what purpose? The only answer, of course, is that I was listening to my own internalized impatience.

Throughout the three weeks that I was encased in my fiber glass prison, I slowed down. I stopped rushing head long into pain filled waters, arbitrary cut offs, and instead, took the time to sight-see. I revised myself without that red hot impatience. I found it possible to breathe easily for once. And you know, I actually took a look around myself for the first time in ages. I don’t know if that qualifies as what people would call “stopping to smell the roses,” but it kind of felt like that was what I was doing. What I do know is that I feel a lot lighter. I don’t know how else to describe it, honestly. It’s just as if the millstone that had been attached to my neck was finally removed.

I looked at my life.

I looked at my choices.

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

I can’t say, conclusively, if this is what the festival is supposed to be about. I honestly doubt that this is how the ancients went about celebrating it. But, it doesn’t really matter. I’m only recreating a dead religion, after all.

Propitiation of Sekhmet 2014.

When I began seriously thinking about Wep Ronpet, about a month before it was to begin, I thought about how I could incorporate Sekhmet into the festivities. It seemed weird to me when I was celebrating last year that she had nothing to do with it. If not for her, I wouldn’t have a calendar. And if not for her, I wouldn’t even be a Kemetic. But, I also know that the historical record shows that Sekhmet is very much absent and on purpose around the Wep Ronpet season. Historically, the intercalary days were very chaotic days. There were specific prayers and acts of heka that were seen to in order to prevent Sekhmet and her chaos-wielding netjeri from inflicting harm and suffering on the general populace. Providing people with amulets of Sekhmet was a common gift at the New Year, provided in the hope that this would be enough to keep her and her netjeri from causing harm to the wearer. Based on the historical record, it really didn’t seem like a good idea to actually incorporate Sekhmet in the festivities.

It dawned on me that, with her associations with the more chaotic days of the year, then maybe I could incorporate her sort of in the kind of way that, maybe, the ancient Egyptians would have found satisfactory: I could placate her as best I could and keep her occupied enough to prevent her harmful netjeri from being sent out and into the world. While I can’t assume, based on UPG or otherwise, that keeping Sekhmet tied up with all of the frips and frills I could think of would necessarily keep the netjeri at bay. But I can always hope that, even just a little bit, it would help. I assume that after all of these years, the netjeri have developed desires all their own, but at the very foundation of it all, they work at the behest of Sekhmet. Whether she specifically and emphatically details who should be sought out and had harm brought to them is neither here nor there. At the core of the matter, Sekhmet is their de facto brain/leader/wielder and I can only hope that by placating her with enough things and stuffs, then I would be doing the world, at large, a service.

Hopefully.

As I kept thinking about this, I realized that it made sense, in a way, to keep her occupied prior to and including the actual day of Wep Ronpet. The point in Wep Ronpet is for the year to renew its cycle, to hearken back to that world that was Zep Tepi. So, too, would it be a renewal of Sekhmet if my thoughts on cycles and renewal merit any legitimacy. And of course, as I thought about it, her main focus upon her creation as an Eye of Re was to extinguish the life of those who had been planning against Re, which turned disastrously against Re when he unleashed her. So, in a way, it could be seen as a form of renewing her original purpose, which stumped me. I certainly didn’t want to think of all of this as renewing her decision to kill humanity. (We can do that well enough on our own, anyway.) So, how in the hell did I keep her occupied and let the renewal process happen, but not let her kill all the things?

I thought about how to prevent this by looking to other Kemetic practices that I have read about. One particular rite came to mind: Devo’s yearly rites for The Mysteries of Osiris. Each year, while she celebrates these rites, she wraps her icon of Osiris up in a blue cloth that she uses specifically for this purpose. To me, this symbolized that Osiris was “hidden” from the world. And in a manner of speaking, I would like to keep Sekhmet hidden from the world while things are getting so chaotic before the New Year celebrations begin. I decided that the symbolism – wrapping her up and keeping her “hidden” from view – was the perfect addition to keep her satiated. Since I didn’t have a cloth in mind or even something that would work, in my opinion, I had to decide on what sort of cloth and what color would be most appropriate.

I chose a simple black scarf for the purpose (and let me tell you, finding a “simple, black” scarf was a pain in the ass). I chose the color black because this, above all else, reminds me of Geb and the earth. Above all else, the main purpose isn’t really to hide her from the world, though this is part of the reason, but I want to keep her “grounded,” too. Now, I don’t mean this in the New Age context regarding meditation services, but literally grounded – as in sending her to her room without any supper coupled with the idea of keeping her in the here and now, as opposed to caught up in the New Year festivities and the chaos it can bring. Even though the color black could symbolize “resurrection from the dead and even fertility,” (source: see entry for “black”) I was aiming less for the symbolism as denoted in ancient Egypt for the color and more on personal interpretations.

But, I worried that maybe this wasn’t enough of a thing to keep her occupied. It dawned on me that maybe because I don’t have a shrine cabinet where I can lock the doors with a shrine bolt that perhaps it just wouldn’t be enough. After all, Sekhmet isn’t just the goddess who destroys humanity once, but she is also the deity that other deities quake in fear of. (She has no less than six epithets that I can find that talk about how she causes fear.) With that in mind, I thought about how else I could keep her from doing something dangerously ridiculous and making lives miserable. While driving to work one day, it dawned on me that I could metaphorically offer myself in the stead of the human race by leaving the two pieces of jewelry that I wear daily, at her request, in front of her: my heart shaped ring and the ib amulet.

I legitimately debated the merits of this action for a few days after thinking on it. It dawned on me that, perhaps, I was not making the wisest decision here. I mean, after all, I was technically telling Sekhmet that she could eat my heart and destroy it if she so desired just in the hopes that she would keep her mind intact instead of losing it. But, considering the dimensions of our relationship, I didn’t think it was something that I was risking, per se, but something that I was willing to do just in case. I honestly don’t think that she’ll take me up on the offer, though it’s possible. And if she does take me up on the offer, then I have to hope that the purpose is less about destruction and more about adding further dimensions to our existing relationship. Though I’m still leery after waffling back and forth regarding this, I feel that the ends justify the means and that the benefits outweigh the risks. I’m prepared to sacrifice myself in the name of my goddess for a hypothetical situation that may not even happen.

I guess that’s devotion for you.

With that all out of the way, I had to decide how long this was going to take place. My original thought process was that I was going to be doing this for the week of Wep Ronpet and then unwrap her the day after. I looked through my calendar to see what I was looking at as far as timeframes went. On August 2, there’s a feast day I have marked and noted as “The Feast of Sekhmet in Darkness.” This amused me and intrigued me; I had no idea what the hell this particular feast day was original for, but I found it interesting that it was to take place about a week and some change after I had hidden her away – forcing her into the dark. I decided to incorporate that feast into what I was doing and decided to push out when I would unwrap her. Looking at the rest of my calendar for the month of August, I noted “The Feast of Drunkenness” on August 20. Well, honestly, if that wasn’t the perfect day to actually unwrap her from her bindings and bring her back into the light, then I didn’t really know the definitions of coincidence and serendipity. (Seriously, I had no idea these feast days were coming up before I checked my calendar.)

At this point, I decided I should check in briefly with Sekhmet to see if this time period worked out for her and to verify that everything I had planned thus far would work out. We do, as it is, have an oracular session scheduled to conduct August 9 and I was concerned that keeping her hidden from the world in her own form of renewal would cause issues. She rejected my offer to pull the date forward for when I would pull her free from her moorings, though, and she agreed that my planning so far was looking pretty good. (Can I just mention how completely weird it is to “check in” with a deity about how you’re going to hide them from the world and they’re totally on board with the prospect? And of course, let’s just all stop and stare at that last question and think about how weird it looks.) With full steam ahead, I kept planning.

I thought about what, if anything, I would provide as offerings during this time period. I wanted, in my heart of hearts, to give her red beer as this is my interpretation of what Re provided to her during her destructive phase. However, it occurred to me that I wasn’t quite to the point where I wanted to mellow her out. I needed to keep her pleasant and calm during these five weeks (FIVE WEEKS? DID I REALLY AGREE TO FIVE WEEKS?) with her wrapped in her scarf. What I needed to do, though, was probably get her fairly liquored up on a regular basis. The point isn’t so much that I needed to overwhelm her senses with alcohol that looked like blood to keep her from going on a killing spree; I needed to distract her with as much as I could to prevent her from starting the spree. So, since I can’t stand beer (ick) and I hate tomato juice (ugh), I decided that a weekly vodka and diet Coke will suffice. On the Feast of Drunkenness, then I may make terrible faces while I revert red beer down, but not before I have to.

Cleaned and prepared. Ready for the morrow? Probably not.

Cleaned and prepared. Ready for the morrow? Probably not.

Two nights ago, I began the preparation process. I wanted to have everything set up and ready for when I would finally sit down and actually do the thing. (The thing is the vague blog phrase of choice for this rite prior to this post. Most people on Tumblr and on FB will be familiar with this.) First steps for preparation was to clean off the altar. I cleared everything away, tossing the linen napkins I use as table cloths into the wash, and pulling out clean ones. I decided to lay down plain white ones instead of using my usual one red and one white. I was hoping to eschew colors that would incite a riot, you know? And white is symbolic of purity, which is what I’m aiming for. I may not pay much attention to those ancient ritual purity things that other devotees can and do (I don’t decry the practice, per se; it’s just not me and I’ve never been ordered to be “ritually pure” like others have) pay attention to, but I wanted to at least get a nice purified and clean space going for the next day.

I pulled out my black scarf and shook it out, brushing away any stray pieces of linen and making sure the tags had been removed. I then folded it up very carefully and left it at the foot of the table, in Sekhmet’s view. I wanted her to be reminded of what she was signing up for with this and I also wanted to have it readily available for when it’s time. I placed a white candle, covered in healing related herbs, on top. This candle is something that I had prepared last November and I felt that, besides the color itself, it was pretty fitting. Sekhmet is also known for her ability to heal and it is this particular aspect that I want to have the attention of during these weeks.

I pulled out one of the lotus-shaped plates I have, this one in white with the etching for ma’at at its center, and placed important parts within: my prayer beads, my ib amulet necklace, and the ma’at feather that Bezen made. (Shameless promotion of all things beautiful: buy these gorgeous reproduction amulets!) I put away a few of the more random thing that I leave out on Sekhmet’s altar since I want the main focus to be on Sekhmet and this five-week long rite as opposed to the pretty baubles I’ve been placing around lately. To finish everything off, I cleaned off the “benben” that I place my icon on. (Obviously, I don’t really have a benben because I would have posted pictures about it and screeched a lot about my reproduction benben. What I use to keep Sekhmet’s icon elevated is an old wrought iron candle holder. It came in a set of three and I was using the other two for similar purposes before I broke them.)

Finally, I was ready for the thing.

And nervous as all get out.

The day dawned bright and cool and I was in a shitty fucking mood the moment my eyes opened. I soon found out why when I noted that my body, ever ready for a moment of betrayal, decided that it was just that time of the month. I found this ironic and fitting. It goes to show that the body has no time for such fickle things as ritual purity. I, of course, don’t pay any attention to that jazz. But I had to wonder, while the cramps ramped up and what good mood I might have had quickly dive bombed, what would a high priestess have done in antiquity if just such a thing had occurred to her? Would she have kept her mouth shut and kept up with her duties? Or would she relinquish control of a great rite, an important rite, something that probably heralded a great precipice of religious proportions that was really fucking important…? Would she have been able to give up her duty in order to maintain ritual purity? I have to assume that, you know, the make believe woman I was wondering about probably would have. Ancient Egypt was, if nothing else, a dictatorship and if ritual purity was to be upheld, then so be it.

Still, it makes me wonder how many ancient women may have had this issue.

I did my best not to think about what I was doing, why I was doing, or how I was going to do the thing throughout my work day. Work was, of course, stressful, which really didn’t help my already piss poor mood. I began to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t do it because, you know, I should have probably have been in a better mood. But I reflected and realized that I couldn’t very well always let things like work and the stress surrounding it preventing me from doing things. I use that excuse a lot when it comes to things. It’s not always religious things, though some of it is. And I have to admit that I don’t like the idea of having that other part of me – the part that looks like every other working class citizen – preventing me from doing things that I enjoy – the part of my that lives, breathes, and works within their religious preferences. So, I decided that I was going to go home, shower, and then get the show on the road.

I did the shower thing and hope that I managed to get enough of the stress gunk off beforehand. I wasn’t very… successful in that.

A meal fit for a queen? Maybe.

A meal fit for a queen? Maybe.

After I ate my own dinner – thinking about the Snickers commercial while I did so – I fed Sekhmet. I provided her with as large of a meal as I possibly could. Looking at it, it doesn’t look that big, but it was sufficient in my opinion. I gave her the usual green grapes and added a banana. I thought about adding bread and whatnot, but decided that I would give her cookies instead. I bought cupcakes (birthday cupcakes) for the Intercalary Days celebrations this week, but I bought red velvet cookies with buttercream frosting specifically for this particular holiday (and also because I really fucking love them). I suckered her up with some vodka and diet Coke, which I am finishing as I write this. I lit a cone of incense, made sure all of the jewelry I was going to be offering to her for the next five weeks was on the white dish I had rested the prayer beads on, and went about my business. I was trying to get ready for the thing.

I still felt very much out of sorts, though, and kind of angsty about everything that I had gone through at work. (It wasn’t even that the day was, like, bad or anything, but it was just a mixture of things and the period thing and just general nervousness about the whole thing, I think.) So, I ended up going around and driving, listening to music while I psyched myself up for the work at hand. I chose to listen to Skillet, really loudly, for a while and then switched over to Fall Out Boy. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this to anyone, but there are a few songs from their most recent album that have particular sentimental and personal value in my relationship building exercises with Sekhmet. I, of course, chose those ones to listen to while I cruised around, trying to get into the mood.

So, finally, it was time.

I got home and nervously paced the altar. I had to seriously ask myself, am I doing this? Am I really going to do another thing that has no baring, probably, on what happened in antiquity? And is this going to become a yearly thing? And am I really fucking doing this? I must be crazy. There’s no way.

So, then I did it anyway.

As Devo has said, it always comes down to a FOB lyric, "I'm gonna change you like a remix."

As Devo has said, it always comes down to a FOB lyric, “I’m gonna change you like a remix.”

I whisked away every ounce of food product and the dishes. (I made sure to finish the grapes and the banana is for breakfast tomorrow morning.) While I sucked down the vodka and diet Coke ambrosia, I set the black scarf up so that it was just big enough to cover my icon of Sekhmet width wise. And then, I wrapped her up. I decided I didn’t like what I was seeing and unwrapped it. I did it a second time and liked that even less. The third time around, I spoke (in my head) and said, “I bind thee from unleashing your special brand of isfet, lady. With this cloth, your powers are bound. Your netjeri are bound. You will cause no harm.” I felt very kind of like The Craft with the wording – possibly where my head went to when I started thinking/saying it – but I also felt successful.

I then bundled my heart ring, the ib amulet, and the feather of ma’at amulet into a little golden package that I wrapped with a white cord. I placed that package on the white plate where I had left my prayer beads.

And thus, I have propitiated (hopefully) the goddess.

And just as hopefully, this lasts the full five weeks.

And even more as hopefully, this works out.

Visitation.

The pain of having something that has infested the entirety of your insides removed one finger-licking moment at a time is intense. It is so intense that, after a while, you really just want to pass out. In fact, it can get to the point where you truly ask your mind to shut the fuck off and let you sleep it off. Perhaps because of the nature of the ritual or perhaps because my body is a traitor, I did not in fact pass out. As much as I prayed to any deity I could possibly think of and as much as I cursed at myself, cajoled myself, and generally begged myself to let me pass out, I did not. I felt each tug as the demon creature purified my body.

I had, after a lot of thought, decided that was what was going on. I couldn’t be sure, of course, but it made a certain kind of sense. This was clearly a ritual of some form and the purpose, at least partially, was remove the green-black gunk that the shard had dripped into my body. Periodically, I would catch glimpses of the creature’s face – some mix between the Gnarl and some monstrosity from an episode of The X Files – that was doing the job as my vision resolved its issues. When I saw it, for the first time, licking every last drop of ooze from its fingers… that was the first, real, time that I begged my mind to shut off for a while.

I couldn’t be sure, of course, but I thought that being awake for the entirety of this was probably part of the ritual, too. I had already requested to go to the Nun in order to regenerate myself from the wound I had inflicted upon myself in an effort to sever the blue ball’s bonds with my body. There was my consent, I supposed, to the matter at hand. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was what the purge would look like and what part, if any, I would have to play within it. It seemed that the only part, besides being there, that I was to play was to be awake for it.

Sometimes, I would feel tears falling down my face. They were warm and dried out the tender skin of my temples.

Sometimes, I would just close my eyes and wonder what the hell the matter with me was.

Most of the time, though, I just hoped fervently that I would pass out.

I knew when we were nearing the end, though. It felt like an eternity had passed and I was pretty sure I was more than ready for this to be over with. But the creature sucking at my interior was slowing down. And as my vision cleared again, I watched it press its face into my abdomen. When it pulled back, it had the blue ball in its mouth. I watched, fascinated, as it swished the ball around in its mouth very much like a small child attempting to keep a marble away from a parent’s questing fingers. It seemed thoughtful as it sucked the thing clean and then, with a little audible noise, it popped the ball into its hand.

We both inspected its job – it probably was looking on with pride and I was definitely looking on with a mix of disgust and interest – before it popped the damn shard right the fuck back inside.

I was almost positive that this was antithetical to the process. Like, I was very sure I had come on through the cold blackness and the hot blackness to land on a really uncomfortable table and to be babbled at and to have weird things caressing my naked body and then doing icky, nasty sucking things to my insides NOT to have the shard/ball/thing put back inside of me. I was pretty sure that it was the cause in the apathetic goo that had infested my insides so, you know, it didn’t seem like a good idea to put it back in fucking side of me.

I stared at the demon and it, seeming to realize this, turned to face me. It gave me a grin, showing me needle like teeth, and then my vision went out again. The babbling at my ear seemed to fade as my hearing started to go, too. Oh, of course, I thought snottily. This is when I fucking pass out. And that is precisely what I did.

When I came to, I had a lot of things I had to process. It took me a long time to process it all.

My first thought was a very ungracious, fuck, I’m still here. This, to me, signified that I wasn’t at all done and there was still some things left to do. That didn’t really seem like a good idea because, you know, I had just had a demon spend hours upon hours abusing my internal organs while it ate out the pestilence that had infested my body. I probably should have been grateful but after having had to suffer through that, awake for the entire time damn thing, I had very few nice thoughts left in my head.

My next realization was that I was dressed. I was wearing a sort of halter-like dress. It had a slit along the abdomen, leaving my wound open to breathe. At least, I assumed that was the case. I honestly didn’t know what the point in keeping the thing open for anymore was. The poison had been cleaned from my body – I could tell that easily enough – so why was access to it still there?

The next thought was that the stupid little fucking ball was still, very much, in my body. However, instead of it being rooted into my internal organs as had been the case before, it was free floating. I could feel moving around in there, bouncing against what felt like my intestines. That seemed like a really not good idea, either. It had liked it so much down there before that it had sent out little roots that had poisoned my body. It very much seemed, to me, as though we were playing with fire here and just asking for trouble.

Probably, I had to remove the ball on my own, but of course, my body was still very much not moving.

After coming to terms with all of this, I realized that the babbling baby guy was either being quiet or I couldn’t hear him. On the heels of that recognition, I became aware that there was someone sitting by my right shoulder. Whoever it was had placed their hand on my shoulder very gently and was humming into the room around us. I swallowed thickly and opened my mouth for the first time in a long time. I thought about screaming, but decided that probably was counterproductive.

“You know, little one, things wouldn’t have been so terrible if you had merely asked for help sooner than you did,” Sekhmet assured me.

I pondered this statement. I had a few things I could remark here, not many of them very nice. I thought about just shrugging and maybe going back to sleep since I was still very tired. Instead, I said, “You make me seem like I can do anything on my own. I had to try.”

She hummed a little bit more and I could feel my body coming alive underneath that sound. It was like she was speaking to me on a level beyond bodies and beyond people. She was speaking to me, I felt, soul to soul. “If I tell you that you can’t do everything all on your own, and teach you that you should ask for help all the time, then you will never learn anything. Instead, you have finally learned your own limitations.”

I found my tongue thickened, cotton mouth becoming a serious issue to continuing this conversation. “I never thought I was capable of doing all of the things I’ve done on my own until you told me that I had to do all these things on my own. And now, you tell me, that I have limitations.” I coughed. I felt her left hand curl around my neck and lift my head, her other hand pressing a glass to my lips. Water cascaded into my mouth, across my tongue, and down my cheeks. It was the most delightful thing I had ever tasted. When I signaled that I had enough, I said, “I’m a little confused. Can I do everything you’ve asked of me on my own or not?”

“Most things,” she said enigmatically. This conversation was maddening. Either I was all of category A or I was all of category B. And of course, as I thought that is when I realized how ridiculous I sounded.

Wasn’t reality shades of gray? Wasn’t that what ma’at was about? And weren’t bodies and their functions just as much shades of gray? And weren’t people and their personalities and what they were good at and what they were bad at and what they were so-so at all a giant swirling pattern that, when looked at properly, was a shade of gray? I sighed. “I’m dumb.”

“No,” she corrected me, “you are just very young.”

I giggled. I had lived so many lives and here she was, calling me young. But of course, in relation to her years, I supposed I was young. “So, you knew I couldn’t do it all on my own?”

“Not necessarily,” she admitted. “I had hopes that you would be able to clear yourself of this all on your own. I knew that when the collar was put in place, this would flare up. I also knew that you would either clear yourself of the poison on your own or you would require help. You ended up requiring help and, I will admit, your request to come here had some ingenuity. I wasn’t really expecting it.”

“But, you told me that I didn’t need to come here.”

“How many times have you told someone what they think they want to hear from you even though that’s not what you are thinking or feeling at all?”

I was kind of startled by this question. I had, of course, told a lot of people any number of things because it was expected of me. They would look at me and see me as X, when I was really just a little bit of X and maybe mostly all of Y, and knowing what they saw when they looked at me, I would tell them what they were expecting to here. I had done this to Sekhmet; I had done this to other gods. I had done this in my waking life; I did it much more there.

“Are you telling me that you said those things about fallibility and infallibility because you knew I would expect to hear it?”

“Yes.”

“Are you telling me that you are proud that I asked for help?”

“Yes.”

I figured I may as well strike while the iron was hot. “Are you telling me that –.”

“I am telling you that I love you and I will do whatever you need me to do in order for you to be what you and I both need you to be.”

I was getting a little choked up here. I couldn’t really figure out what in the world I was going to say. All I kept thinking was about how I had always thought she had loved some of her other kids a little more than me. They were way more important than me in the grand scheme. I was just a fill in for other things. Or, if it wasn’t that particularly, then it was the idea that I, in a life I could no longer remember (nor wanted to), had agreed to this little shindig without knowing what I was agreeing to and I had denied her so much in the intervening years that she had grown wary of me and disappointed. She was telling me that whatever I had always thought wasn’t true at all.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I know,” she said. “This is a lot to take in all at once.”

I mulled that over and then decided I would think about all of this later. “When I agreed to this, all those years ago, did I agree to things I didn’t understand?”

“Yes.”

“But I did consent to it.”

“Yes,” she said, seemingly startled. “You consented clearly and fully. I even had witnesses at the time, at your request.” Well, I thought, I was pretty smart about it. “But you didn’t realize that what I needed was more than just a simple lifetime’s worth of work. I don’t think you clearly realized all that would go into what I wanted from you.”

“I probably didn’t know what to ask.”

“No,” she agreed, “but you were a new soul. I needed a new soul.”

“I know.” I thought about all of these revelations, trying not to wonder why in the world she was telling this to me now. Usually if she was telling me important things, it meant that more important and confusing things were coming down the pike. I had a feeling I knew what those important and confusing things were, but decided not to discuss it. “So it’s… not because of you that the shard started, then?”

She seemed surprised by my question and she needed a few moments before she responded. “No,” she said slowly. “You’ve always had this issue, of course. But it was built into who you were when you were first created. This is one of your… lessons.”

“Are you telling me I always fail this one?”

“You can’t be perfect in every life,” she hedged.

“So, I can expect to fail this time, too?”

“No, you may just beat this finally. But it’s been in your abdomen for a long time. You let it grow when you got confused by what you needed to explore. You went forward, when you should have gone back. If you had gone backward, you would have realized that this has been a lifetimes issue, not a lifetime issue. It was built into your nature this life, too. Sometimes, it seems less at the surface than in other lives, but it is always there.

“This is why you were tied to it for so long.”

I was startled that she would even refer to that one. We had both done our utmost best not to mention it at all. But of course, it made sense; what she was saying. This issue had been happening for lifetimes instead of merely just this one. And it explained, as she said, why I had been tied to a dark soul for so long. That soul had looked for someone like me, unwilling to ask the right questions or not knowing what questions to ask. That soul had looked for someone like me, whose soul had been built with a few cracks within it. Maybe my soul had been handcrafted on a whim or maybe I had been born defective. Whatever the case may be, that particular soul had found me, had lured me, and had bound the two of us together above all others.

This, also, explained why I had denied her in so many lives. Maybe, in some of them, it hadn’t necessarily been me doing the denying but having been manipulated into it. And maybe, in some of them, I had known what I know in this life but being unable to sever that bond, I had denied her in some weird belief that I was protecting her.

Knowing what I was thinking, Sekhmet nodded. “So you see?”

“You didn’t offer me any help when I needed it.”

“You created the mess,” she reminded me.

“But I could have used your help.”

“Yes, you could have and you would have relied on me for everything. Just because I can do a thing doesn’t mean I will do a thing. Besides, it wouldn’t have done you any good if I had done all of that.”

“What if I had decided to rip the bonds out?”

“I may have stepped in,” she admitted.

“Well,” I said around a huge yawn. “That’s a relief.” We both sat in silence for a while. “This isn’t over yet, is it?”

“No, the shard is much bigger now and I think you could remove it if you wanted to.”

“Why wouldn’t I want to?”

“Are you ready to hurt again?”

I thought that over again, thinking about the pain that I had caused myself and the pain that I had relived. “Maybe I will wait on that. It’s been in there for this long and it doesn’t seem to be sending any poison through my body anymore.”

“Just don’t leave it too long, little one.”

“Yes, mom.”