Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Goddess Sekhmet

A Talk to the Wisdom Circle




My talk on Sekhmet was a more informal presentation than the recent one I gave on Bast. I am a practitioner and teacher of a healing system called, variously, Seichim, Sekhem, SKHM, which is a blend of Reiki and Sufi energy. Some versions also emphasise connections to Sekhmet. So I already had information on her in my notes on that healing modality (original author unknown). I realised I could also consult my copy of Invocations of the Gods by Ellen Canon Reed, which has a section on Bast as well. I referred to both sources while discussing Sekhmet.

Reed names both Bast and Sekhmet as 'dark ladies' (albeit they are solar Goddesses). Dark lords and ladies are, in Qabalistic terms, Geburic forces, Geburah being the Sphere of Severity. Bast is perhaps more jungle cat than domestic pet!

Sekhmet is a lioness, usually portrayed as a woman with a lion's head – though some people believe she is also represented by the Sphinx, with its leonine body and human head. Lionesses are the hunters of the pride. They make good mothers, and can be fiercely protective. The name Sekhmet is a feminine version of Sekhem, which means strength or power; so her name is Lady of Strength or Lady of Power.

She is a primordial goddess, and is said to have been present at the creation of our universe. She has a string of other names which reflect this, such as She who was before the Gods, The Mother of the Gods, and The Lady of the Lamp. My SKHM notes say, 'She has strong associations with the star Sirius and is thought to be the Atlantean deity Khiet-Sin. Legend has it that she always appears when a catastrophe is approaching or our planet is due for a quantum leap. The Ammonite Foundation of Egypt believe she is the Nether (God) entrusted by her father Ra with the task of destroying the evils created by mankind.'

Egyptian deities and their relationships are complex. Sekhmet was regarded as the wife of Ptah of Memphis and mother of the Lotus-God, Nefertum. Hathor, the cow goddess, is perceived as her alter ego, her gentler side, though some stories tell of them both being 'the vengeful left and right eyes of Ra'. She is sometimes equated with Tefnut, the lion-headed daughter of Ra. It has been suggested that there was a strong link with Tutankhamen and his love of lions. Maat, the Goddess of Truth, is sometimes perceived as an aspect of Sekhmet – hence, some authorities see a strong connection between Sekhmet and Thoth, the husband of Maat. She has also been seen as an early version of Isis. Although she is sometimes linked to Bast, I don't see them as versions or aspects of each other, but as very distinct deities even if somewhat alike. 

She is both a destructive force and a goddess of healing.  As a destroyer, she gets rid of things we need to be rid of, so as to rebuild on a better foundation. Her healings can be drastic, or the kind which involve a 'healing crisis'. But she breaks down only the temporal, never the eternal. As a Sun Goddess, she burns away excess. We are told, 'Her priests were skilled in anatomy, surgery, herbs, metals associated with homeopathy, sonics and the vibrational healing arts at all levels of the physical and subtle bodies.'

SKHM is a form of energy healing, aka vibrational healing. I learned Reiki first, and though I have trained in a number of other modalities since, many to Master level, I always tend to come back to Reiki because it's so easy, powerful and beautiful. When I do want to add something, it is usually SKHM I choose. It blends very well with Reiki. 

The Goddess may noticeably come present at such times – and if so, she is liable to emit disapproval if there are any dogs in the vicinity. If there are, they tend to look scared and absent themselves very quickly! She can be frightening, but Reed reminds us that 'the power of the gods is always on our side'.

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I subscribe to the theory that 'there are no accidents' – or at least very few. It's interesting that, even before I started my talk, someone mentioned a family member who, after severe illness, appeared to be having a dramatic healing crisis – a very Sekhmet-like situation.

After I finished my talk, we had a discussion in which, describing Sekhmet's fierce protectiveness as a Mother-Goddess quality, I said, 'Anyone who's ever been a mother knows, there are times when you go into lioness mode in defence of your young.' The other mothers present nodded. One person asked in surprise, 'Do you have a child, Rosemary? I thought you said you married Andrew late in life?'

I explained, 'I've been married three times. I have two birth children, two foster-sons, three stepchildren, and seven god-children. Not bad for a woman who doesn't consider herself very maternal.' That led to further questions, such as how Andrew and I had met, and I found myself, in that trusted company, telling a lot about my life. 

Someone opined that I seemed to have had a very pleasant life, which prompted me to detail my parents' divorce when I was 15; being uprooted from where I'd grown up, and scoring the archetypal wicked stepmother into the bargain; spending my late teens and early twenties impoverished and studying rather than going out and partying; marrying a compulsive gambler the first time around, when I was only 22; having a full-scale nervous breakdown at 25; two marriages ending in divorce; going bankrupt at the end of my second marriage.... (I could have added, being widowed at the end of my long and happy third.) It's true there have been many very good times too, and I've arrived at a place of contentment, but it has been an eventful life rather than an easy one. And though Andrew and I had a great time together, even that wasn't Paradise: we always had financial struggles, and he had a lot of illness towards the end.

Afterwards I felt a bit embarrassed at having spent so much time talking about me, even though people had asked and everyone said they were wonderful stories. Then I realised, my life is very much an example of Sekhmet-type energy (no wonder I am drawn to her!) in which many dramatic, challenging, and at the time disastrous experiences have turned out to be agents that moved me forward on my path. So that conversation was no accident either!

Sekhmet energy is rather like that of the Tower card in the Tarot, in which the rigid structures one has built up are broken down dramatically, in apparent catastrophe, in order to let in new and better energy for the purposes of transformation.

We didn't consciously evoke Sekhmet's presence at this talk about her, but she is a powerful Goddess; perhaps any focus on her is sufficient to bring her closer. Or, thinking of her as an archetype, it seems our conscious attention to her on this occasion brought to mind relevant illustrations of how that kind of energy works in our lives. The apparently extraneous conversation was right on topic after all. (In my experience, apparently extraneous conversations usually are.)

Notes:

This photo of Sekhmet is of the small statue I have. The photo is a little larger than the actual size.

If anyone cares to know more details about my eventful life, first drafts of a memoir in progress are at my blog, Blowing My Own Trumpet. This memoir focuses on magical aspects of my life; it does not so far include everything mentioned above, and it does include some things not mentioned above.


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