Posts Tagged ‘sekhmet’
I stepped into the room, exhausted, and looked at my shrine. I had neither the energy nor the focus to perform even my bare-bones daily rite, not after a full day of work, three hours of a root canal, and an evening of thoroughly cleaning in preparation for a house inspection the following morning.
I dug out three tealights: one red, one cream-colored, and one pumpkin-y. I set them on the offering plate and lit them.
I didn’t say any fancy words or even wash my hands to purify. I simply thanked Sekhmet and Serqet, Who helped me through the dental work, and Ma’ahes, Who comforted me when I was afraid and in pain.
Sometimes, it really is as simple as a candle, a whispered word of gratitude, and a feeling of relief for having made it through.
I don’t really like lions. This is hilarious for two reasons and understandable for the third:
1) I draw some hefty parallels between the behavior and physiology of the extinct-in-the-wild Barbary/Atlas lion and myself. I don’t consider the Barbary lion to be totemic—it’s not an external entity to me—but I do find it to be a disconcertingly accurate mirror into my own instincts, intuition, internalized sense of self, and social patterns (or lack thereof). If you stuffed a baby Barbary lion into a human suit and raised it as a person, it might turn out a lot like I have. This is both a sorta-cool thing and a frequent disadvantage in normal human life. :)
2) Two of my gods, Sekhmet and Ma’ahes, are leonine deities. I never see either of Them as purely human; They always appear as animal-headed people or full lions, often wreathed in flame (Sekhmet) or magma-skinned (Ma’ahes). The traditional symbolism of the African lion (power, nobility, dominance/lordship, the sun) and African lioness (ferocity, motherhood, the tribe, the sun) is very intense in Them and reflects a large part of Their characters.
3) I freaking love spotted hyenas. African lions are pretty much meh in comparison. I also think they’re kinda over-hyped, and as I am secretly a hipster, I tend to stray away from anything “too” mainstream. I prefer investigating the obscure and exploring the little corners, rather than strolling down the big ole well-trodden pathways.
A large part of the disconnect between me and the African lion is not just thanks to my adoration of hyenas or my elemental-lion impressions from my Netjeru—it’s due to the drastic differences between Barbary lions, with which I identify, and the African lions that everyone’s familiar with. Barbaries weren’t pride animals; they lived alone or in hunting pairs. While males and females were still sexually dimorphic in terms of size and mane, they didn’t serve different social or gender roles; each Barbary still had to hunt, claim and defend territory, and find a mate. And, speaking of territory, Barbaries lived in the Atlas Mountains in northern Africa, where the terrain was, well, mountainous, and the climate was semi-seasonal instead of the hot savanna’s whomping dry-wet cycles.
So the lions I grok are not the lions everyone refers to when they say “lion,” and while I am appreciative of the uniqueness of African lion social structure and other facets of their physiology and behavioral patterns, I just don’t admire and geek out over them like I do other animals like hyenas, scorpions, and snakes. The physical reality of the animal doesn’t win me over, even as I can respect the power that the lion wields in mythology and symbolism. Even with Barbary lions, my reaction is more “welp, that’s me” instead of “HOLY CRAP THEY ROCK.”
That said, I still love lion gods:
Last year’s first L post was on magical language.
According to the Kemetic Orthodox calendar, today, II Shomu 7, is the Day of the Executioners of Sekhmet. This holiday could be interpreted in a few ways, including a day to pacify Sekhmet and Her executioners (or plagues or vengeful netjeri (spirits)) or a day to honor Sekhmet’s physicians in their roles of executioners of illnesses and hurts. This prayer is to and for both.
. . .
Hail to you, Executioners!
Blades in hand, you sweep the earth
and cut into, cut apart, cut away.
Turn your faces towards isfet
and there direct your precision
and your sharpening hunger.
Devour that which harms,
excise that which uncreates,
and establish ma’at with your hands.
Sekhmet favors me,
so spare my healthy flesh
and attack only the shadows of sickness.
I praise your names
as you strike to bring balance
and unbloody Ma’at’s white feather.
Your knives separate hale from fel
and etch a line between strength and weakness
so we know where we must work hardest.
Today is your day, Executioners,
and I take up the knife with you
to expel isfet and preserve ma’at.
Dua Sekhmet, Who Wards Off All Evils!
(…make a pretty good team.)
I rarely experience my gods together. I relate to Them one-on-One, for the most part, though I suspect there occurs the spiritual equivalent of passing in the halls and giving each other a nod and a wave when I involve Them sequentially in ritual.
So it was with some surprise (and an immense wave of gratitude) that I realized that both Sekhmet and Serqet were present when I settled into the dentist’s chair for five hours of less-than-pleasant necessary procedures. It helped to focus on Them instead of the sounds, smells, and sensations of the work being done on my body.
Sekhmet overlaid my dentist (a lovely, skillful lady) with Her crisp I’m-working-right-now red, a sharp difference from the normal stormy, hearth-red that I associate with Her. I knew I was in good hands, both human and divine.
Serqet was a yellow scorpion, roughly as long as my hand, perched on my solar plexus like a cat might sleep atop me. She (or one of Her netjeri?) was a comforting, protective weight keeping me still and calm.
When my focus started to drift too far, I remembered the neopagan tune that goes with the chant, “Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna,” and adapted it:
Sekhmet, the Red Lady, guides the surgeon’s hands;
Serqet the Scorpion guards me.
I am immensely grateful to Them both for a successful procedure and for Their companionship through those hours… and still a little awed at how right it felt to have both of Them there, working together, in that situation.
Dua Sekhmet! Dua Serqet!
As a Shemsu (follower) of Kemetic Orthodoxy, I have undergone the Rite of Parent Divination, a geomantic divination which reveals my divine Parent(s) and Beloved(s). I have two Parents, my Mothers, Nebt-het (Nephthys) and Hethert-Nut; I also have Sekhmet as a pre-divination “surrogate” mother-figure, and I will frequently call Her my mother. Some of my dearest Kemetic siblings, including the wonderful person who introduced me to Kemetic Orthodoxy and my own sister, have a divined Father; in fact, one of my close friends was divined with two, like I have two Mothers.
But I don’t have any deity I unofficially call Father, and I’d like to explore what it’s like to have such a female-centric divine family.
(What do polytheists call the grouping of their deities that they interact with and worship? I want to say “personal pantheon,” but that’s not quite dictionary-accurate. In Kemetic Orthodoxy, it’s our “lineup” or divine family if referring to the Netjeru we were divined with, but I need a term for the Netjeru of my divination plus Sekhmet…)
I have one god consistently in my life, and that is Ma’ahes, the Living Lion; I have called Him brother for nearly as long as I’ve known Him, and He is not paternal in the least with me. Other male Netjeru, all of Whom happen to be my sister’s or friends’ Fathers and Beloveds, will infrequently touch base but aren’t a part of my daily practice so much that we have a strong one-on-one relationship.
So, as things stand, I am a goddess-worshipper. Sekhmet devotee, born of Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, protected by Serqet. Ma’ahes is so supportive and non-obtrusive, letting me approach Him instead of actively demanding time and attention, that He doesn’t radiate the traditional “lordly” vibes that many male deities do. (Heru-wer, I’m lookin’ at You.) Ma’ahes, the only male Eye of Ra, an executioner personified by the sweltering summer heat… is extremely gentle and patient with me. He is, in fact, as kind as the most compassionate of my goddesses, Hethert-Nut.
This is probably due to my own nature: I am a non-Newtonian creature and will react to blunt force or aggression by steeling myself and raising my defenses, or simply sidestepping and walking away, whereas slower and softer movements are allowed access to my vulnerable insides. In other words, any deity approaching me with any kind of “macho” attitude would not find a berth in my practice. I am mindful, rational, emotional, and compassionate, and I don’t relate well to a lot of posturing or strict hierarchy. (This is also why I don’t deal with many gods of royalty. I respect Them—I just don’t grok Them.)
Perhaps that’s why I didn’t end up with a Father or a kingly god in my divination; it would take a very special sort of god to fill a paternal role without rubbing me the wrong way. Of the hundreds of ancient Egyptian gods, Ptah is one of the few male Netjeru Whose demeanor jives very well with me, and the only Netjeru I could envision having a positive paternal relationship with me. I adore Him and His myths, and the fact that He is Sekhmet’s consort only endears Him further to me. If He were willing, I would happily involve Him in my regular practice and accept that added paternal flavor… but that has yet to happen, mostly through my own inaction.
I’ve wondered if my bias towards goddesses has anything to do with my transition away from Christianity, but I wasn’t brought up so religiously that it left a bruise. Even my human role-models were both strong women and compassionate men, individuals who were solidly good people without being restricted to any extreme of gender stereotype. Being genderfunky myself, I don’t seek out one sex over the other for friendship or company; I tend not to judge at all based on sex or gender, but based on personal characteristics that mesh well with who I am. I find myself very comfortable with many goddesses, but I have not been exclusionary towards gods; it’s been something of an accidental ratio of female-to-male.
So I am a goddesses’ Kemetic, sort of the polytheist version of a ladies’ man, albeit not through any conscious, deliberate choice. Given the wealth of joy and contentment in my spiritual practice, I can’t say I’m complaining—just curious about how the dice fell. My Mothers and my Ladies are beautiful and fierce and fathomless, and I adore Them wholeheartedly… as I do Ma’ahes, as I would any god or goddess Who won my heart.
Last year’s first F post was on five pillars of Kemetic Orthodoxy, which later became a permanent page.
This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, a loose organization of various Kemetic bloggers. Our aim is to answer some of the most common beginner questions with our diverse opinions and different levels of experience, providing a wealth of good options for the Kemetic novice to explore.
Quite conveniently, I’d planned this as a D post for the Pagan Blog Project, so it coming up as the second question for the Kemetic Round Table (albeit phrased as “fallow” instead of “dry”) suits me perfectly!
There is an important distinction in the word choice that I’d like to explain before I get to the meat of the post. “Fallow” is an agricultural term, referring to the necessity of letting a field be unplanted on a cyclical basis so the soil isn’t depleted of its vital nutrients; in other words, fallow is a natural and required period of rest in order to avoid burnout. The dry season, on the other hand, is a deliberate reference to drought, which is a lack of the moisture needed to sustain an environment and allow it to flourish.
The Round Table’s chosen term is “fallow,” but in modern polytheism, the term is usually used to indicate a lack—of the perceptible presence of our god(s), of the drive to perform devotions, or of a general sense of spiritual interconnectedness. To me, that describes more of a dry season than a resting period, hence my use of a different word. (However, some of my fellow Kemetics have taken the literal definition of the word “fallow” to write some wonderful things about how necessary it is to attend to self-growth and Seen-world matters during spiritual fallow times, in order to maintain a healthy life balance. I highly recommend reading them!)
Now, semantics settled, what does one do when a dry season strikes? The symptoms frequently include a restlessness, perhaps even anxiety or depression, an apathy towards spiritual or magical activities, and most commonly, an inability to sense or communicate with one’s god(s). We feel a dearth, and that can drive us to extreme upset and doubt, leading us to question if we’re worthy, if we’ve done something wrong, or if this is even the right path. Strongly spiritual people often crave the experience of the Unseen, and in its absence, our metaphorical throats are parched for even a few droplets of blessed rain.
I have experienced a fallow time—a period where I was so occupied with mundane matters, so busy and drained by work, that my spirituality and my gods had to take a back seat, though not by any conscious choice of mine. It was an unavoidable break, and while I didn’t particularly enjoy the necessity, I did understand why it happened and that it would resolve when my Seen-world life stopped being as crazy. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t panic or doubt myself.
And I have also experienced a dry season (or three), particularly with Sekhmet, before I came to Kemetic Orthodoxy. In my experience, Sekhmet does not coddle; She does not respond when I am being insecure and clingy, and She does not have time or patience for my flailing. There have been stretches of time where She did not grace me with Her tangible presence, and I reacted poorly. I tried to cling more tightly; I tried to demand; I constantly questioned if She even wanted me around at all, if I mattered to Her in the slightest. And in the dry times, She did not deign to reply to my silliness.
I had to learn to wait. Worse, I had to learn to be still in my waiting, to be quiet and without assumption. Worst of all, I had to learn to trust.
I already trusted Sekhmet. I trusted Her with my life, my heart. But I did not trust Her to care enough about me to keep me around; I did not trust myself to be worthy of Her continued attentions. And it was hard as hell to slowly realize that all of my noise and caterwauling was for naught, and that the answer was patience and faith. It is still hard as hell; I might understand it intellectually, but grokking it in my spirit and emotional subconscious is a whole other matter entirely.
The thing that most helped me through the dry seasons was also the thing that made it the hardest to bear: I would reread my journals, where I recorded my experiences with Sekhmet and where I sang Her praises. It reminded me of how much I cared, and while that depth of devotion kept me going when She didn’t pick up the godphone, it also made the lack that much more pronounced. It stung, salt in the wounds, even as it sustained.
And I would have thought, once I had other Netjeru in my life, that a dry time with Sekhmet wouldn’t be as intense. Of course, I was wrong. My relationship with each of my gods is completely independent of my relationships with the others, and it hurt no less when Sekhmet was away, even though I had Ma’ahes and Serqet powerfully present in my daily life. They are unique, my Netjeru, and none of Them replaces the other.
I would love to say that I’m good at surviving dry times now, that going through these deserts with Sekhmet has strengthened me, that I am practiced at doing the right things and biding my time. But I’d be lying. The last dry season with Sekhmet ended only a few months ago, and I handled it with all the gracelessness of a rejected cat: cycling through whining, obnoxiousness, false I-don’t-care, resentment, and then quiet sadness. (Those of you who have demanding cats in your life will grok this pattern.) But the drought only lifted when I stopped making noise, when I let go of expectation, when I chose to endure no matter the wait.
And that’s key, I think—not giving up. Not surrendering to the fear, the anxiety, the doubt. Letting go of your expectations is not letting go of hope; it’s realizing you don’t know what’ll happen, but still trusting something will happen, even if you have no idea when.
For myself, I know dry seasons will come on occasion; so will the more necessary and beneficial fallow times. For each, I hope to answer with patience, with an open mind, without assumptions and expectations, and most importantly, with trust—trust that I am worthy, and trust that They love me, even if I can’t feel it in the moment.
If you enjoyed this post, please check out the other takes on what to do during the fallow times by my fellow Round Table bloggers!
I am a child of the sky at all times of day and night, of the cool hands of comfort, of the depths of star-flung space, of the mourner and the psychopomp, of long-eyed seeking and high-lifting protection, of the deepest compassion and the most boundless joy. My Mothers, Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, make more sense to me as divine Parents than I could have ever imagined.
But I have an Other in my life: my Red Lady, beloved Eye of Ra, most brilliant and deadly of Netjeru… Sekhmet. And where my ba (eternal soul) and my deepest nature stem undeniably from my Mothers, my heart and fiercest devotion are laid too at the altar and sand-dusted paws of the Powerful One.
I knew Sekhmet first, you see. She taught me strength and how to create and enforce boundaries. She showed me the necessary balance of contrasts, opposing forces held in dynamic tension to create wholeness. In Her name, I voluntarily undertook challenges that have made me not only a better person, but the very person I am today. It was She Who led me to Kemetic Orthodoxy and to my Mothers (and to my Beloveds, and to my wonderful community of fellow Kemetics).
In essence, Sekhmet has been my surrogate mother, the one Who received all of my adoration and worship, well before I ever “met” the Netjeru Who shaped my soul. And while Sekhmet and I are nearly perfect mirrored opposites, and I am so clearly my Mothers’ child, I am still deeply attached to the Red Lady. In many ways, I consider Her a mother-figure, too. She fills my heart, and I belong to Her, blood and bone.
However, my fervent love for Sekhmet does not lessen my love for my Mothers. My history with Sekhmet does not make trivial my less extensive experience with Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut. Sekhmet is the harmony to Their melody, the blush of warm lighting over a cool-colored backdrop. I am the moon to Her sun, and She is the solar Eye in the celestial house of my Mothers.
This is, to me, a perfect example of what it means to practice polytheism. I do not just believe in many gods; I love many gods. My time, devotion, and worship are multi-track, and while I have unique relationships with each deity in my life, it all comes together to weave one whole tapestry of vivid, fulfilling spirituality.
I know I’ve missed several PBP posts, and I will be writing and posting them when I can; in order to keep from falling further behind, I’m going to try to keep up with the “current” PBP letters and backdate as I’m able.
When one has more than one god, occasionally one runs into the problem of… well, rationing one’s time, energy, and offerings between Them. While I am only speaking for myself here, I imagine other pagans have run into this particular quandary, and I’d love to hear how you portion your attention to your gods!
Since late 2005, I’ve been following Sekhmet; my beginning relationship with Her was trepidatious, but over time, I became very attached and devoted to Her. From meeting Her up until the springtime of 2011, She was my only god. Sometimes She was barely present; sometimes I prayed to Her daily. A dear friend gave me a Sekhmet pendant, and it became daily wear for years; it was, and is, the easiest way for me to reach out to Her. I was a one-god pagan, and happily so.
But in 2011, I took the Kemetic Orthodoxy’s beginner course, and I began interacting with other Egyptian deities over the spring and summer. I met Set. I had rich, fleeting interactions with or impressions of Twtw, Renenutet, Ptah, Yinepu (Anubis). I prayed to Serqet, Our Lady of Poisons. Ma’ahes knocked on my door and met me outside at sunset. I met Nebt-het and bonded quickly with Her.
Summer cooled into fall. In November, I underwent the geomantic Rite of Parent Divination and found that my spiritual parents are Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, my beloveds Ma’ahes and Serqet. I was both surprised and not surprised that Sekhmet was not present. As I began deepening my relationship with those four gods, I found myself spending more time with Set (thanks to my sister’s relationship with Him), too.
It has been a year since I met my Mother, Nebt-het; over a year since I began praying to Serqet, and just under a year since I met Ma’ahes. It has been almost seven full years since I began studying and worshipping Sekhmet.
And I find myself saturated with deities that I love and admire and wish to offer good things to, but no real hierarchy. In Kemetic Orthodoxy, one’s Parent(s) come(s) “first,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one has the closest relationship with Them, or that one spends the most time with Them, or that one even gives Them the most/nicest offerings. “First” is a very nebulous definition that I’m still seeking to explore for myself, especially since I am still emotionally closer to Ma’ahes and Serqet than my Mothers.
For all intents and purposes, I have five or six deities in my life on a consistent, long-term basis, and I have no particular hierarchy for Them. I have situations in which I call on one or another first; I have acts or objects I offer to one or the other first, based on what They like and appreciate. All my physical exercise and martial arts practice is an offering to Sekhmet; my keeping a prayerbook is a service in Nebt-het’s name. I call on Serqet when I need Her protection or on Hethert-Nut when I need comfort and love.
On occasion, it perplexes me, my lack of a primary god. So many pagans have patron or matron deities; so many of my Kemetic brethren have one Netjeru to Whom they are the closest. I struggled with “letting go” of Sekhmet as my only deity, even as She pushed me down this path that ascertained other gods would come into my life. Sometimes, out of habit, I will think of Her as my only, as my primary; but I wear jewelry for Nebt-het, Hethert-Nut, Ma’ahes, and Serqet on a daily or near-daily basis, and I do not forget that my life now includes Them, too.
Having been a person with a “matron deity,” if I can give Sekhmet that non-Kemetic label, I do occasionally miss the simplicity and purity of it. It has been a challenge to give what I deem fair amounts of attention and time to each of the gods Who are active in my life, even when only a couple at a time are standing at the forefront. But all in all, I adore each Netjeru I know, and I feel blessed by Their presence, gifts, and lessons in my life.
This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.
I’m toying with the idea of posting photos every month of my shrine, just to see how it changes. Right now, it’s had a definite expansion: I oil-painted two small shelves to give me more surface area, which means more of the things inside the altar itself get to be placed in open air.
Here’s the shrine in total; you can see my corkboard up on the wall where I keep my religious/otherwise sacred jewelry when I’m not wearing it, including Sekhmet’s pendant and Serqet’s amulet:
To the left, I’ve added a red-painted shelf for Sekhmet alone, as I have the most icons of Her and I feel they deserve a special place:
To the right, I added a teal-and-purple shelf. I wasn’t sure Who it’d be for while I was painting it, but I knew I wanted a place to showcase my non-Sekhmet, non-RPD gods icons, so here we have Twtw and Renenutet:
I did a second painting recently for Hethert-Nut, which She requested; She liked the first one, but She prefers the iconography of Mehet-Weret, a golden cow with deep blue stars. I added the dark indigo background as tribute to the royal purple color I associate with Her. (Also, as most of my paintings, this one is metallic, so it takes poor photos. Also also, I did not use a reference for the cow shape, which is why She looks slightly deer-like.)
And lastly, I acquired a gorgeous statue of and for Ma’ahes, made by the ever-fabulous Nicolas of Shadow of the Sphinx. (He also made my little Sekhmet votive and both Twtw’s and Renenutet’s statues.) People, if you ever need any Egyptian statuary, go to this artisan first – there is no one better in terms of courtesy, skill, affordability, and receptivity to custom work.
Today I do senut, which I intend to make a regular practice as a full-fledged, formal ritual on the first weekend of every month. In it, I will offer my gods the following, and then ask each of Them for a message concerning the month ahead, via my divination tools (cards or coins, whichever They each prefer).
hetep-di-nisut, an offering which the King gives:
To Sekhmet, I offer Her the red shelf, a sacred place of Her own.
To Nebt-het, I offer a black bone ankh and a stormy grey-violet amethyst.
To Hethert-Nut, I offer Her the second painting, may it please Her, as well as night-sky-with-stars beads I found today.
To Ma’ahes, I offer the lion statue.
To Serqet, I offer a banana-milk smoothie. (Don’t look at me, She requested it.)
To Ma’at, I offer a white bird made of shell.
To Set, in thanks for His oracle assistance, I offer peppered jerky and two slim jims, as promised.
And to my akhu, I offer a painting of us; may I always think of my ancestors fondly. (I will finish it before senut today and post a picture of it later.)
In November, I started my personal prayerbook, a spiral-bound unlined notebook that I filled with the prayers from and for my community, written in a script called Kalash. To date, I have filled over a third of the book; I have just finished doing some major catch-up work that took me over an hour to record. (This means that, my siblings in Kemetic Orthodoxy, if you have requested prayers, I have prayed for you, even if I didn’t leave a comment in the forums.)
More interestingly, though, is that I’ve gone from simply scribing to making it a mini-ritual. Purification requirements are light – clean hands and a clean space – and the tools are simple: a candle, a single offering cup, and incense. I light the incense, light the candle, offer my Mother Nebt-het Her favorite drink, and leave a small bite of chocolate for Netjer. It’s all done at my computer desk instead of my altar; I need the computer to go through the prayer request forums.
And now, instead of simply writing the prayers, I write them and then speak aloud my requests, calling upon the Netjeru in my family to help. I realized, not too long ago, that I essentially have a god for every occasion with me, and it only makes sense to name Them when I pray for others. Nebt-het, guide of the dead, comforter of the mourning. Hethert-Nut, Who provides love and joy. Ma’ahes, protector and upholder of ma’at. Serqet, Who can help with any poison, be it mental, physical, or emotional. Sekhmet, Who is the patron lady of doctors, especially surgeons.
It feels very right to be maintaining my prayerbook this way, involving my gods and making it a mini-rite. I genuinely feel that doing this is an act done in Nebt-het’s name, and that brings me joy and a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
Dua Netjer! May You hear the words of Your children and bless them.
I place myself in the center of the turning world;
the center is still.
~ A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book, Ceisiwr Serith
May the dark places in my spirit
be only the folds in Nebt-het’s cloak.
May the dark places in my heart
be only the fields in Hethert-Nut’s starry sky.
May the dark places in my body
be only the marrow of Ma’ahes’ bones.
May the dark places in my mind
be only the shadow of Serqet’s upraised tail.
May the dark places in my life
be only the dusk before Sekhmet’s dawning.
May I remember that darkness
only exists where there is also light.
In the past little while, I have accumulated a startling number of offerings for my gods, to the point of having one for each of Them. Tonight, I felt the urge to sit in shrine and give Them Their gifts, since I found myself physically and mentally pure enough to do so in good spirits.
I put on background music – my own personal mix CD of god-songs and spirit-songs – and washed my hands. Lit incense, lit candle, knelt down. Poured a libation of green tea in four cups – I only have four, but I was offering to five gods, so I gave Sekhmet the candle for Her own. (She didn’t seem to mind.)
To Sekhmet, I offered a statue of Her, gold and standing tall, a gift from a good friend.
To Nebt-het, I offered the painting I’d done, and I rededicated to Her the rosary that J had converted to a necklace for me.
To Hethert-Nut, I offered the pendant I’d crafted and the accompanying necklace that J had made, an effort of love from both of us.
To Ma’ahes, I offered a lion plaque that I’d had for years that seemed to suit Him, as well as an ornately decorated Kemetic dagger, another gift from the aforementioned good friend.
To Serqet, I offered a small gold statue of Her in Her form of a woman, a gift from my sister.
I sat with Them and talked for a while, comfortable in front of my beautiful shrine and the objects that represented my spiritual family. I also shut up for a while and listened, counted my breath in time with the song that was playing, relaxed. I thought of more things I want to do for Them – Sekhmet’s painting, a full-length song for Nebt-het, Hethert-Nut’s other painting, a sculpey-ture for Ma’ahes, and the song I’m working on for Serqet.
I was happy. I told Them goodnight, reverted the green tea libations, thanked the candle and blew it out, and found the little Serqet statue something to stand on so She could stay in Her preferred corner, in the shadow of my akhu shelf-shrine.
I am happy. Dua Netjer!
As a language geek, “apotropaic” is a word I absolutely love. In a pinch, it means “intended to ward off evil” – so apotropaic deities are gods and goddesses that protect against evil.
Out of the five Kemetic deities I work most closely with, a solid four of Them are or can be considered apotropaic– but They have different areas of expertise.
Sekhmet, the Red Lady that I have served for years, is an Eye of Ra. As such, She doesn’t so much “ward against evil” as “incinerate evil,” but the protective aspect remains. While I tend to pray for Her help in situations involving sickness and injury, as She is both a goddess of plagues and of healing (and of surgeons), a few years back, She did agree to ward my living space. To this day, no matter where I’m located, the walls, windows, and doors are sealed against malice with Her fire. It’s an immense comfort to me.
Nebt-het, Lady of the Dead, has also been an Eye of Ra in Her more obscure past. More commonly, though, She is invoked to protect against the Evil Eye, which, in the Kemetic definition, is coveting or malicious jealousy. (She has also been called upon to actively punish those with the Evil Eye, implying that She is more than just a passive protective force.)
Ma’ahes, the Great Protector, is one of the few male deities who can be an Eye of Ra. As usual for such a role, He can fulfill a protective capacity, especially when acting as an executioner for the enemies of Kemet (Egypt). I associate Him with the setting sun, the orange light that bridges day and night; I call on Him for protection against darkness, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
Serqet is a goddess called on to protect against the very poison She Herself can deliver as a scorpion. Consequently, Serqet is frequently hailed to help heal and protect against spiritual and emotional venom, especially that associated with trauma. I pray to Her when I’m trying to stay unaffected by the emotional or social drama-llamas that can crop up in or out of work situations.
Other apotropaic deities worthy of mention are the sphinx-god Twtw (Tutu, Tithoes), the dwarf lion-god Bes, and any god/dess who can be an Eye of Ra, as well as any of the numerous warrior deities of the Kemetic pantheon. (If I tried to list them all, we’d be here for days, trust me. While many of our war gods and goddesses fall more into the active side of the extinguishing-evil spectrum, many double as guardians, not just executioners.)
If you have any apotropaic deities you’d like to discuss or personal experiences to share, please do feel free to speak up! This may be my journal, but it doesn’t always have to be a monologue. :)
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