Autumnal Equinox & Sekhmet Update
Wednesday September 22, 2021 was the Autumnal Equinox, coming on the heels of full moon day and coinciding with the completion of the bas reliefs on the Akem-Shield of Sekhmet the Eye of Ra Who is Mistress of Heaven. I do everything in my power to align each phase of completion of a divine image with a lunar festival day or a high day linked with the deity whose body is being birthed. Due to the rigors and time requirements of the mediums I work in this is not always possible, but when it happens I'm grateful, and take it as a sure sign that the deity in question is satisfied with the work and is taking a direct part in urging the image towards completion. I regard certain times as especially significant windows for aligning my material work with the Numinous powers vital to Opening the image as a repository of divine consciousness, and the Equinoxes and Solstices are among those.
The Autumnal Equinox this year was particularly auspicious as it was under the influence of the full
moon in Pisces on Monday, thus as ideal time for the completion and bringing to fruition of sacred activities. Cult images are not only mirrors of the divine realm, they are lenses that bring that realm sharply into focus, and doors permitting the human and Numinous conditions to meet in sacred space. Full moon time amplifies all sacred activities and opens wider those portals where human and divine meet. All ritual actions at such a time are likewise amplified, their merits and boons strengthened. Whenever full moon coincides with the Equinoxes, Solstices, or any important celestial event, the energies of that event are expanded and can be tapped into through ritual engagement. I always plan for such events in advance because these are my opportunities to link my work with the movements of the Gods in the sky, and channel that power into concrete images containing the Divine essence.
The Akem-Shield of Sekhmet the Eye of Ra Who is Mistress of Heaven was initiated during the
height of the Covid-19 pandemic in America, though as of writing we are still in the throes of Covid-19's Delta variant and the terrible ramifications of this disease. This certainly resonates with Sekhmet as Mistress of Plague, but also Great of Healing and Patroness of physicians. What could be more appropriate than the birthing of an image for the Goddess Whose very presence can bring or cure diseases and illness, Whose terror can cure or consume in equal measure? During my first session of petitioning the Goddess in order to initiate the project, I made it clear that I intended to birth this Akem-Shield on behalf of a world smitten with a pandemic leaving no stone unturned, on behalf of those who had lost their lives to the disease and those left alive but ravaged by its aftermath. I petitioned Sekhmet in Her capacity to be greatly merciful and healing, a Goddess Whose heart burns with creation as much as destruction, a Mother Who hears the cries of those who have been afflicted and need salvation. Sekhmet is surely a complex goddess of manifold appearances, with a rich and nuanced mythos, and yet it has been Her reputation as a fierce, rampaging punisher that has dominated Her story for millennia. This was not the aspect of Sekhmet I invoked for reception of this image or intervention through it. I went to Sekhmet as the source of humankind's redemption from suffering and dissolution, Sekhmet as the Eye of Ra in Her indominable emanation of wholeness, the power of Ra through which creation is renewed and driven forward.
Kemetics tend to view the Eye of Ra aspect of Sekhmet as the fiery, destructive nature of the Goddess, the all-consuming, burning power of Ra that chastises the human race for its sin and hunts down those who have offended the Gods. The Seven Arrows of Sekhmet are feared as the darts of disease, illness, and misfortune that can accompany the fragility of human life, but also the punishments human beings bring upon themselves by violating the divine laws. The Eye of Ra is sent out to afflict the human race, nearly annihilating it in certain texts, and causing the Gods Themselves to panic. But there is another aspect to the Eye of Ra, and that is as the warming, nurturing power that brings creative acts to fruition, the Goddess Who safeguards creation as a fragile bubble of order in an otherwise turbulent ocean of chaotic powers.
In the Akem-Shield of Sekhmet the Eye of Ra we see the Goddess carrying the solar disk upon Her
head, surrounded by the coils of the Cobra-Goddess Who Herself is the Emanation of the Divine Eye. Within that burning orb we see a scarab beetle whose wings are bursting forth from the body of the sun. [The scarab is actually a vintage glass cabochon to be set once the icon proper is completed]. Here we have the nascent Sun-God beginning His life after passing through the Twelve Hours of the Duat or Underworld. He is the source of creation's renewal, solar life revivified and empowered after the terror of chaotic night. This Sekhmet, then, is the Daughter of Ra Who nurtures the reemergence of Her own divine Father, the Goddess Whose fierce power safeguards the beginnings of life in creation and assures its fullest fruition.
This is not Sekhmet the Eye of Ra Who punishes humankind with bloody destruction, but Sekhmet the Eye of Ra Who propels the renewed creation from Her awesome body of power. She- being one so fierce and so concentrated in Her zealousness to protect the divine creation- is responsible for the dynamic rebirth of the Sun's body in the east, after defeating the forces of chaos bent on dismantling the elder Sun-God's body during the night. The Sun of Sekhmet's crown is the perfect, whole, undefeated sun, without which life on earth cannot exist. She is the power that propels it, the flames that leap from it, the searing and saving warmth projected from it. Her heat and flaming radiance pierce the darkness and transform shadow. She is the divine body giving life to Her own Father.
On the evening of the Autumnal Equinox we carefully prepared the fire dais and outdoor shrine to receive the sacred images of the Gods and the offerings that would feed Them. We lit the four touches that flank the holy space, and performed the circumambulation to the crashing of the sacred rattle and chanting saluting the God Amun-Ra Who is especially venerated this day. Among the holy Akemu-Shields brought out for feeding and veneration this night was the Akem-Shield of Sekhmet the Eye of Ra with Her newly completed reliefs. I was certainly relieved to have reached this stage after more than a year of intense labor, the longest period of time I've taken to build up reliefs on an icon. The Goddess glistened and seemed to dance in the intense flickering of the sacred fire we raised for the Gods. I felt the Goddess come out and shine from Her earthly body- a body now closer to completion and even closer to life.