Editorial Comment: I am extremely pleased that the essay you’re about to read below has been accepted for publication in Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s forthcoming anthology on the goddess Sekhmet entitled Daughter of the Sun: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Sekhmet. My essay is being published under my legal name and I will retain all copyrights to it. The book is being released next month; I’m so excited!
“Sekhmet and the Ma’at of Letting Go”
Just prior to leaving for the 2014 Pagan Spirit Gathering, held June 15-22 in Illinois, I had been seeing, due to its popularity among several of my friends, a recurring post on my Facebook News Feed—one that irked me.
It depicted a photo of what appeared to be a Mahayana Buddhist monk sitting on a pier before a vast, tranquil lake. The caption: “Relax. Nothing is under control.” It rubbed my Type A/Sun in Virgo/ESTJ sensibilities the wrong way. What flim-flam! Lots of things are under my personal control. And why would so many of my Pagan friends, including fellow practitioners of heka, “Like” this sentiment? Aren’t we striving to cultivate and impose our True Wills all the time? Each time the photo reappeared in my News Feed I greeted it with a protracted eyeroll followed by swift scrolling. Keep on scrolling in the free world.
The 2014 Pagan Spirit Gathering marked my debut as a workshop/ritual leader in a place that was technically outside my home base of Chicago, where my public priestessing had hitherto been relegated. I had noted in my three prior years of consecutive attendance at PSG that Kemetic topics/deities were notoriously underrepresented. I wanted to turn that tide around. Hence I volunteered, and was approved to lead, two rituals as options for the more than 1,100 registrants to attend during either their week-long or weekend stays at PSG. The first was a devotional ritual to Sekhmet and the second was a devotional ritual to Nebet-Het. They were scheduled for the afternoons of Thursday, June 19, and Friday, June 20, respectively. I had asked that the Sekhmet ritual be scheduled as close to high noon as possible and I was given a 1 p.m. start time allowing for a 60-90 minute time frame for the ceremony.
Of course I had exerted much control in my ritual planning—and delighted in doing so! I had so many things to offer whomever chose to attend and worship either goddess with me, from copies of handouts expressing my meticulous, primary-source laden research to gifts of candles to burn later in either goddess’ name to bottles of beer! Red beer! I thought of the energetic effects the rituals were intended to evoke for people. While both were anchored in piety and primarily designed to convey heartfelt devotion through hymns of praise and the giving of offerings, attendees of the Sekhmet ritual would surely walk away feeling more self-empowered than they’d felt before (in my marketing copy, I touted the ritual’s ability to facilitate the burning of one’s psychic garbage and the freedom that comes from doing so) and those who chose to work with Nebet-Het would feel that they’ve found a new ally in helping them process the loss of a loved one.
Sekhmet would be super fun! She is deserving of so much thanks and praise! And what better time to celebrate Her than at the zenith of Father Ra’s prowess during Summer Solstice week? Surely, my ritual meant to honor Her would be well-attended! She is a goddess beloved by many, after all, even those who do not follow a Kemetic path as so many can resonate favorably with Her warrior/healing/magic-empowering/general bad-ass energies! And cat people form a large and healthy demographic of the PSG populace! In my marketing copy of the PSG program guide, I invited attendees to bring their own Sekhmet and Bast statues to help decorate my already-ornate, fabulous altar. I imagined people would be coming in droves to honor the Lady of the Scarlet Robes! Together, we would be like a pride of lions, roaring together—True of Voice, as Ma’at will hopefully render us when we appear before the dread throne of Osiris and the 42 Judges at the appointed time in the Halls of Amenti!
Fuckin’ A! This is going to be so awesome! I thought. Prior to packing up my Sekhmet, Bast, Heru, Four Sons of Heru canopic jars, and Ptah as the Apis Bull statues along with my portable altar and other ritual accoutrements, I pirouetted giddily in my home temple space, feeling the excitement of the wonderful ritual to come—feeling it course in my body as if it were already being executed. Perhaps, in the astrals, it already was being manifested. Sa Sekhem Sahu! Once I’d arrived at PSG on June 15th and set up my Kemetic altars—adjacent to my tent—as publicly accessible shrines for my camping neighbors to join me in my daily devotionals if they wanted to, my lion-like appetite for ritual was officially whetted. The week couldn’t go fast enough. I couldn’t wait for Thursday, June 19, to arrive.
The week had been a wild roller-coaster ride in terms of the weather. We’d experienced a little bit of everything, from searing heat and scorching sun in cloudless skies to near-tornado conditions amidst hail-bearing thunderstorms and 60 mph winds. Ten inches of rain fell in a little over 72 hours, making certain sections of the campground a veritable mud-fest (mercifully, not where I was camped).
At the daily morning meeting on June 19, one of Circle Sanctuary’s key ministers and PSG organizers announced that the weather forecast for the day called for afternoon storms, but not until three o’ clock or so. Wonderful! I thought. I’ll be done with my ceremony by then. The skies around eleven o’ clock bore no traces of an impending storm. All was sunny and serene. We ended our meeting by standing and saluting the sun with the chant of
We are one with the Infinite Sun
Forever and ever and ever.
I beamed with triumph and buoyantly strolled about the PSG merchants’ lane afterwards, supply list in hand, ticking off methodically (have I told you yet I’m a Virgo?) items I might need to buy or confirm that I already brought with me from home for the Sekhmet ritual. Incense? Check. Already brought. Yet I treated myself to buying handmade Sekhmet incense from one of the vendors—it had a curious musky-yet-citrusy scent. The goddess will love it, I reasoned, so it became a welcome purchase. Beer? Check! I’d brought a 12-pack from home and had it cooling nicely in my campsite’s cooler with new bags of ice.
I went through my other items on my list and saw that the very last item was one that I absolutely needed to buy on-site—not just for freshness, but because I’m a vegetarian and would not have had this in my home to begin with. Meat. Spiced meat for Sekhmet. Fortunately, of the trio of food vendors catering to PSG campers who opted to buy instead of cook their own meals—and I was firmly in that grouping of people—one specialized in Mediterranean cuisine. Gyros! I would procure an order of gyros for Sekhmet. I knew in my heart She would approve.
I decided to make the buying of the gyros and the filling of my water pitcher (for libations to Hapi as well as Sekhmet) at one of the community spigots my two last actions before standing at my shrine at my designated workshop site and waiting for people to show up. I figured if I did both of those activities around 12:30, I would have plenty of time to be comfortably waiting for participants to arrive. It made me happy to know that my loathing for the phenomenon of “Pagan Standard Time” was shared by a lot of people at PSG—not only did people expect the workshops and rituals to begin promptly at their appointed times, but many people had a tendency to show up more than 15 minutes early.
Knowing that it would take me at least a half hour to fully set up my altar, I’d decided around 11:30 to begin transferring the ritual objects from my “permanent” shrine erected next to my tent into my Red Flyer wagon. I gingerly lifted the heavy statue of Sekhmet and placed it at the head of the wagon. Oh Thou, Formidable One, who art at the prow of Thy Father’s barque, Millions of Years, roaming loose to subdue fiends who tremble before Thee! I prayed as I secured the Sekhmet statue in place, and gently placed my Bast statue, featuring a drilled hole in its left ear that sported my sacrifice of a beautiful 14-karat gold hoop earring, adjacent to it. And then I carefully loaded my other ritual paraphernalia. Curiously, though the skies were still clear, as I rummaged in my tent I decided to extract my surplus 12-foot-long section of tarp and leave it out on the ground near my tent flap. Just because.
My wagon fully loaded, I hoisted my heavy tote bags laden with books, my ritual scripts (I had parts for six people to fill, invocations to the Four Sons of Heru as well as Nut and Geb), outline for the ceremony, and sistrums onto my shoulder and set off for my designated ritual site, which was located on a lovely expanse of meadow on the far eastern edge of the one pond that graced the PSG grounds. As I slowly pulled my wagon and made my way on the dirt road that wove through the heart of the camping zone known as Quiet(er) Camp (really, what with all-night bonfire drumming circles and late-night performances by Pagan musicians, there’s no such thing as a “quiet” place at PSG, though some camp zones are less raucous/ribald and more family-friendly than others), several strangers got up and either waved at me or wished me a beautiful ritual, saying that they loved Sekhmet and wished they could attend but they were planning on going to T. Thorn Coyle’s workshop instead, which was slated for the same time slot as mine.
I thanked them for their intentions and grit my teeth—after all, the wagon was heavy! But, to quote John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” “with steps solitary and slow,” I made my way to the grassy expanse where stood the placard on a spike hammered into the ground: Workshop site #10. Ten is reduced to 1, numerologically speaking, and that’s my Life Path number, I mused. Another auspicious omen.
I patiently and methodically set up my altar and snapped the obligatory photo on my iPhone.
And another shot with a little more detail:
It was 12:17. I felt antsy. I grabbed my wallet from one of the tote bags and then grabbed my large ceramic pitcher. I wanted to go get the gyros sacrifice for Sekhmet and then stop at one of the communal water spigots to fill my pitcher. Then I could return to my workshop site, pull out my lawn chair, and set out my handouts and books and just wait for people to show up.
I pulled a cosmetics compact from my tote bag—quick makeup check. My skin and heavily kohled eyes looked good despite the heat of the day worsened by high humidity. Cleopatra bob? Immaculately cut and every Virgo strand of hair in place. I adjusted the straps of my red tank top and then smoothed out a wrinkle from my ankle-length, white skirt. Braless and pantiless, the PSG way. I let out a nervous sigh. Pre-public ritual jitters. It would pass. I looked up at the sky and saw that swift-moving, gray clouds were approaching from the west. They obscured the sun. A thick haze was palpable. I looked once more at my assembled altar, smiling at my life-like statues. Sekhmet seemed to gaze back with a smile of contentment—surely She was going to guarantee a precipitation-free experience for me. As I spun to my left I noted a mirthful-looking green-and-white canopy covering what appeared to be a public Kwan-Yin shrine; there was a large statue of the serene-looking Mother of Mercy placed atop an orange mat directly onto the ground. A plastic folding table with nothing on it stood behind the statue. Surely this was someone’s shrine space? A tent of a family or some group calling themselves the “Squirrel Camp” stood several feet away to the north. Was the Kwan-Yin shrine theirs?
The sky got darker. Truly nervous, I set off at a quickened pace for the gyros vendor’s food truck about a 10-minute walk away. I bumped into one of Circle Sanctuary’s ministers and fellow hard polytheists, a delightful fellow named Chiron, as he sat down to eat his meal and I showed him the steaming gyros plate.
“This is part of what I’ll be offering Sekhmet,” I said. Chiron, his mouth awkwardly full, gave me a thumbs-up and a pair of smiling eyes in approval. The lady seated next to him, whom I did not know, thanked me for being devoted to my goddess and, as with other strangers an hour earlier, wished me a beautiful ritual.
I then made my way towards one of the communal water spigots. Kneeling in the damp earth on my right knee as I balanced the plate of gyros on my left, I fancied I looked like a strange update on The Star card of the Tarot as I filled my pitcher. Smiling, I stood up and laughed. I glanced at my watch: it was exactly 12:30.
Ka-BOOM! The first loud peal of thunder reverberated across the very earth of the tree-lined area where I kneeled.
“No!” I yelped, nearly springing to my feet, careful to not tip over the gyros plate. And then they began to pelt me—huge raindrops. The leaves of the oak trees around me sounded like wet plastic as the drops battered them hard.
Carefully grabbing the pitcher in my right hand and hoisting the gyros plate in my left, I trotted anxiously back onto the dirt road to head back to my camp. From the far western edge of the pond, I could see my altar at Workshop Site #10; with what I can only describe as pangs of maternal angst at the sight of a child in danger, I looked over at my shrine, at Sekhmet, at Bast, at Heru—all getting soaked. My ritual notebook, my scripts, handouts—drenched. I cried out in despair and tried to break into a run while ensuring my flip-flops didn’t slip off my feet. I saw my blue tarp outside my tent flap and ran to grab it, folding it clumsily onto my arm as I regripped the pitcher.
Heading towards the workshop site, I saw the people of Squirrel Camp sitting comfortably under their large canopied complex and asked them if I could take refuge in the Kwan-Yin shrine. “Sure, go ahead!” an elderly woman yelled.
I was utterly soaked, my hair plastered to my skin in streaming, wet rivulets. I got cold quickly. I dashed under the green-and-white festive canopy of Kwan-Yin and slid in the wet grass, nearly dropping my pitcher but totally spilling the contents of the gyros plate for Sekhmet onto the ground.
“SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!” I chanted angrily, a mantra, admittedly, not in accordance with the energies of Kwan-Yin. I scooped up the hummus-laden gyros meat off the grass with my right hand and shoved the slimy contents back into the pita bread. Wiping my hand on the grass, and placing the plate and the pitcher down on the plastic table, I darted over to my soaking wet altar to the Daughters of Ra and manically tried to spread the tarp over the entirety of both tables that comprised my outdoor shrine. Several glass candles, my two vases of flowers, the Apis Bull statue, and the canopic jars of Imseti and Duamautef got knocked over in the process.
I bellowed in frustration, running around to get all four corners of the tarp spread and secured with stones I found in the grass.
Nothing is under control.
I had already scooped up my soaking wet manila file folders with my handouts and ritual scripts, my notebooks, and my copies of Budge’s translated Book of the Dead and two-volume set of The Gods of the Egyptians, plus Robert Masters’ delightful The Goddess Sekhmet: Psycho-Spiritual Exercises of the Fifth Way, from which I planned to recite Sekhmet’s 100 Holy Names as part of the ritual leading to the climax.
I ran back and took cover with Kwan-Yin. Was She a carnivore too? Did She demand some of the meaty offering meant for Sekhmet as payment for my taking refuge under Her canopy? I wondered, thinking of my Heathen friends’ regular quoting of the Havamal verse stating how “a gift demands a gift.”
No sooner did I place my wet books and papers on the table and hunker low than did something tell me to go back to the shrine and check on the tarp—I did, and, sure enough, the stones securing the four corners had somehow rolled off their spots and the tarp had blown several feet away. Sekhmet, Bast, and company were once again getting drenched. Muttering Serbian curse words under my breath this time, I ran back out towards the tumbling tarp and futilely threw it onto my shrine, only to have the wind immediately whisk it away as soon as my back was turned.
I really began to wonder—did Sekhmet want to get wet? Was I being taunted? Was this all a lesson in being humbled or something?
I looked at my watch: 12:50. Had I wanted to cancel my ritual due to the weather, I could have gone over to the PSG Information tent and done so, alerting potential attendees that I would reschedule for another time before the gathering ended. But I knew in my heart I was meant to stick to this date and this time: June 19, 1 p.m. Even if it meant that I would be there alone, praying in the rain before candles I could not light, then so be it. Simultaneously feeling defeated and defiant, I slowly tread my way back to Kwan-Yin and hunkered down. As the relentless rain continued to beat down on my totally exposed shrine, the phrase Alone with none but Thee, my Gods resonated throughout my head.
An elderly but fit-looking, tall man began to approach me from the south, his head covered in a bright red bandana. Was he here for my ritual? “Hi, there!” he greeted me as he entered the Kwan-Yin shrine and wiped rain off the plastic table. Though I didn’t know him personally, I knew who he was and realized this was his shrine. He was Nicholas S., another Circle Sanctuary minister—one of Native American descent who also happened to be a Buddhist.
“Is it okay that I wait here a few more minutes before my ritual begins?” I asked, feeling embarrassed about having violated his sanctuary.
“Of course!” Nicholas beamed, seemingly in approval of my dedication to continue with my plans despite the weather. Then he noted my wet books and papers. “Oh no! Let’s move your materials to the center of the table so the rain coming in will be not as likely to get them even more wet than they are,” he said. He lovingly picked up my books and dabbed at them with his t-shirt to help dry off their covers.
I was genuinely moved by his kindness and almost wanted to cry. “You have a beautiful Kwan-Yin statue,” I said.
“Thank you! She accompanies me on all my travels,” he informed me. “Well, have a good ritual!” he added, shaking my hand, as he then grabbed a wooden staff decorated with small bells and ribbons, one that had been leaning against one of the shrine’s canopy poles. Nicholas then set off towards the north in the rain.
One o’clock. I stood up and smoothed out the wrinkles of my skirt at the knees. I hugged my ritual notebook close to my chest, and, fishing a small umbrella out of my tote bag, walked to the shrine. The rain had tapered off in intensity but was still showing no signs of ceasing anytime soon. I stood before the Hosts of Egypt and sighed. I turned around. The folks at Squirrel Camp were staring at me. Behind them, on the dirt road, was a brunette walking towards me. I knew she meant to be a part of the Sekhmet ritual, and so my intuition was confirmed. She introduced herself to me as Lisa. She was a solitary Wiccan from Kentucky, but she was in touch with a coven from Ohio, and the priestess there, formerly a nun for 30 years, became a priestess of Sekhmet. And thus this goddess had always intrigued Lisa and she came to my ritual to experience Her energies firsthand for the first time.
Huzzah! I was besides myself with joy. Just as I began to introduce myself and explain to Lisa the mythos of the Four Sons of Heru and how Their elemental correspondences would probably be jarring to her Wiccan understanding of the Quarters, another figure came walking up the road towards us in the meadow. This time it was a friend of mine I was so happy to see—it had been nearly a year since I last saw her in a ritual setting, one that I had led at the time in Chicago.
“Tamilia!” I yelled with excitement, and I threw my umbrella to the ground to give her a hearty hug.
“I went to the Info tent first because I wanted to see if you’d officially canceled for the day. When they told me you didn’t, that’s when I knew that you were probably going to hold the ritual anyway, rain or shine, and on time,” Tamilia said. “Girl, I know you,” she playfully added.
“You do, indeed!” I replied, smiling. Then I introduced Lisa and Tamilia to each other, and asked them if they were ready to begin. With umbrellas in hand, they both nodded solemnly.
When three or more are gathered in My Name then “spoke” in my mind, which I found curious as Bible phrases normally don’t course through my head. But I took it as a good omen. The rain began to ease up at last.
I took up my sistrum and gave a bell to Tamilia and my extra sistrum to Lisa. Now we could all create musical accompaniment to my opening song in Egyptian, which I translated first into English so the two of them would know what I was singing.
Reҳ hᾱᾱiu I rejoice.
Ma a-ᾴ paut neteru May I look upon the company of the Gods.
Nuk ut’a tep ta ҳer Rᾱ mena-a nefer I am strong upon the earth before Ra,
Ẋer Ausȧr May my arrival be happy before Osiris
Nuk t’a pet I have sailed over heaven
Nuk ȧȧh I am the moon
Ba-ᾱ pu neteru bai u en neheh My soul is the Gods, who are the Souls of Eternity.
Au-ȧ ab kua neteri-kuᾴ I myself am pure, I am mighty
[BOWING BEFORE SEKHMET’S IMAGE]
A net’-hra-k Nebet Iaret Homage to Thee, Lady of the Uraeus
A net’-hra-ten nebu heh Homage to Thee, Ye Lords of Eternity
Nuk ab per em seҳet I am the pure one coming forth from the field
Ȧn-na en Ɵen netersenƟer I have brought you incense
[BOWING BEFORE PTAH’S IMAGE; ARMS IN OSIRIS POSE]
Tu a Neb-Ma’at You are Lord of Truth
Mesedjer-Sedjem The Ear That Hears
Ta-k-na uat seś-a em-hetep Grant to me a way that I may pass in peace
Ȧn-na kert ᾱb-kua I am silent, I am pure
Ĺ-nᾱ, ҳerk-k neb Ra I have come to Thee, O my Lord Ra
Reҳ hᾱᾱiu I rejoice
Reҳ hᾱᾱiu I rejoice
I bowed and shook my sistrum, and Lisa and Tamilia joined in the music-making. I had hopes that I would be able to light my cauldron fire, into which I’d already premixed my flammable solution of 91% rubbing alcohol and Epsom salt. But since rainwater had seeped into the cauldron before I was able to throw the tarp over the altar, I worried the alcohol had gotten too diluted. I still held out hope that it would somehow light. I extracted my wand-like lighter from beneath the altar and tried lighting it. To my dismay, despite clicking on it vigorously, it wouldn’t light.
Relax. Nothing is under control.
And then an amazing thing happened. We went through our invocations of the Four Sons of Heru and of Ptah in His aspect of the Apis Bull. At that moment, not only had the rain fully ceased, but the sun came out—in full force. My invocation to Sekhmet took on that much more potency, that much more ashé!
Hail, Lady of Plague,
Sekhmet the Great, Lady of Ladies!
Praised by Her father,
Eldest of Her Creator,
At the prow of Ra’s boat,
Roaming loose in its cabin!
Thine arms make light,
Thine rays brighten the Lands.
The Two Lands are under Thy command
And we are Thy people bringing Thee gifts!
With pleasing eyes, accept our offerings of red beer to slake Thy thirst,
Of spiced meat to quell Thy fierce hunger,
And candle flames to honor Thy incomparable Light!
O Lady, Mightier than the Gods,
Adoration rises unto Thee!
All beings hail Thee!
Attend unto us!
Bless the work we are to do as we make ourselves more fitting vessels
Of Thy Sekhem, O Lady of Power!
We call unto Thee!
Be with us this hour!
SA SEKHEM SAHU!
Tamilia and Lisa echoed the liturgical refrain powerfully.
I asked for help in raising energy with the Sa Sekhem Sahu chant from Lisa as I asked Tamilia to ask the people at Squirrel Camp, who had been eyeing us curiously all along, if anyone among them had a lighter. Like torch-bearing Hekate, a goddess to whom she was dedicated, Tamilia returned bearing a lighter aloft in triumph. I refocused our energies on the Sa Sekhem Sahu chant as I calmly lowered my hand with the lighter into the cauldron’s depths to hopefully ignite the flammable content without setting my own flesh on fire. Mercifully, all went well and the flames leapt high, a mixture of red and blue, blazing beautifully. The winds picked up a little—the hot breath of Sekhmet—and I honestly believe that as the flames were blown about horizontally, nearly touching the noses of Sekhmet and Bast, that the Hosts of Egypt were looking to dry Themselves off!
For the main ritual activity, I had a container of bay leaves that we would each empower with our individual shemsu—our breath of life—and then throw into the cauldron’s flame when we felt called to do so. We could imbue each bay leaf with whatever it was we wanted Sekhmet to help manifest in our lives or remove from them. For my part, I called upon Sekhmet the Healer, and breathed into the bay leaves I scooped into my hand blessings of wellness for both my physically ill mother and my emotionally distressed boyfriend; my mom was, in fact, at 1 p.m. this very afternoon at a surgical consult regarding the removal of an anginal blockage, and my boyfriend was exasperated from his current, tedious job hunt and overall unhappy with his living situation.
As we all set our intentions with the leaves, we were concurrently doing call-and-response chant (a liturgical practice I am fond of in general, regardless of the religion in question): I recited each of the 100 Holy Names of Sekhmet as noted in Masters’ book, while Tamilia and Lisa responded with the refrain of
Nedjen ma sebet! Nedjen ma fa-u! (Protect us from evil!)
At that point, not only did I feel as though I really was becoming a vessel of the goddess’s divine sekhem, or power, but as the sun shone brighter and the heat began to course within and around me in intensity, I noted that Tamilia’s and Lisa’s energies were shifting too. We all accelerated into the Sahu, the bodies of complete spiritual consciousness.
And then, as if Sekhmet Herself were confirming that everything She saw and heard met with Her approval and our sacrifices were being accepted favorably, a monarch butterfly appeared out of nowhere and landed on the right front paw of my seated Bast statue. The creature stayed for a long time, majestically unfurling and closing its wings repeatedly, before flying off into the south.
It was, quite simply, the most moving ritual epiphany I’ve ever experienced. It felt as if Sekhmet were truly laying Her hands upon us, a grace-full moment.
Then the skies abruptly shifted again. Clouds clustered together and a light-falling rain accompanied the close of the ritual, wherein we raised our beer bottles to Sekhmet and saluted Her, each of us in turn, while asking Her to bring healing to ourselves and others. No sooner had I made my toast and petition than did the sun reemerge from behind the clouds! Ra in His glory! We literally cheered his reemergence and then disassembled the Temple etherically/opened the Circle.
And we drank some more and spoke of Egyptian things. It really made me happy to hear Lisa and Tamilia express their gratitude for my hosting this ritual; that not only was it emotionally impactful for them—we all commented on the monarch butterfly’s auspicious appearance—but that I was quite a potent priestess. Lisa praised me, specifically, as a “bad-ass” and likened me to T. Thorn Coyle in my demeanor—quite a compliment considering she was my erstwhile rival for peoples’ attention at this 1 p.m. time slot!
Our time together ended exactly at 2:30, though I accepted Tamilia’s kind offer to help me pack away the contents of the altar and convey them back to my campsite. Once there, I felt my brain officially turn to sludge—I offered Tamilia another beer and my extra folding camp chair as we sat and faced the south, looking out over the pond. We spoke about our cultic practices at home and other neato topics. The sun was fully out by this time.
Selena Fox was hosting a Pagan Leadership Intensive workshop at 4:45 on designing rituals from “Womb to Tomb” that I wanted to attend, so as the time drew near Tamilia and I parted company. On my way to that workshop site, an older gentleman I have never seen before caught up with me in the road.
“Looks like someone got quite a bit of sun today! Haven’t you ever heard of sunblock?” he asked me.
“Excuse me?” I was bewildered.
“Your back is scorched! I would report immediately to the First Aid tent if I were you,” he cautioned, and then sped up ahead of me towards Selena’s workshop site.
I placed my hand between my shoulder blades, where the first tattoo I ever got—it depicts an ankh within an ouroboros, and surrounding it is the Latin phrase Finis Pedet Aborigine, or “Every Ending Has a New Beginning”—is located.
I felt an odd cluster of what seemed to be fine bubbles poking through my epidermis. Was it an allergic reaction to bug bites? Horseflies had bitten me badly all throughout the ritual, to the point of drawing blood from my legs and feet. Since I felt no pain, I went to Selena’s workshop first (it was excellent, by the way) and then decided to go to First Aid. The diagnosis? A second-degree sunburn, all cultivated in the span of the two and a half hours of the ritual!
I honestly do believe that Sekhmet left me a parting gift; my skin was barely able to contain Her heat, so it broke out in blisters.
Great Lioness, Roamer of the Deserts! Lady of Fierce Flame! Devour my weaknesses as You empower me! Burn away all falsehoods as You leave me with the truth—the truth of nothing is under control…and that’s okay! Sa Sekhem Sahu!
- ancient Egypt
- Apis Bull
- canopic jars
- Circle Sanctuary
- Dark Goddess
- Egyptian Paganism
- Four Sons of Heru
- John Milton
- Kemetic Reconstructionism
- Lady of Plague
- Lady of the Scarlet Robes
- magic cauldron
- Pagan Spirit Gathering 2014
- Pagan Standard Time
- Paradise Lost
- PSG 2014
- public ritual
- Sa Sekhem Sahu
- Selena Fox
- T. Thorn Coyle