Dancing With Pelicans, Crocodiles, and Ecological Crisis
O Henut Who declares,
Who opens the mouth of the pelican,
Shining One Who opens up the doors,
Who causes spirits to go forth,
Who prophesies the words of the Netjeru;
O Shining One in the sky
Open for us the doors,
Open for us the doors of the sky
That we will go forth to accomplish
The works of the Netjeru;
Declare for us, prophesy for us,
Your words being our boons and our favors.
O glorious Goddess shining in the sky!
- Hymn to the Goddess Henut by Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa
On July 16, 2021 a story hit CNN's front page that struck home for my household. The Great Salt Lake, about 110 miles from my doorstep, is dying. Climate change, drought, and water-diversion has drastically transformed this ecological treasure, which hosts the largest pelican breeding ground in the United States and functions as a sanctuary for multiple species of birds during migration. This is a fragile ecosystem, and it is collapsing as I write. Scientists are warning that the deepening crisis will soon reach threatening levels for humans due to the release of dust clouds with naturally occurring arsenic. Needless to say, this poses huge implications for Salt Lake City and nearby areas, including the town of West Wendover where I live.
But the human story is only part of the story. What we have done to the Great Salt Lake through water diversion is begin a chain of events that will in time collapse every ecosystem dependent on the lake for its existence. The pelicans and birds will be exterminated, and the entire region will become an unstable source of shifting, blowing dust clouds with potentially lethal consequences. This is beyond crisis, and yet another example of how climate change, exacerbated by the shortsightedness of human beings, is making our planet less and less habitable.
The moment I saw the CNN story, a bolt of something inexplicable struck my conscience, and I felt the tug of the Goddess Henut on my heart strings. I have felt Her before, and walked with Her in little moments of devotion when meditating upon opening the Doors of Heaven. For Henut the Pelican is the One that opens the celestial doors, the way the pelican opens its mouth revealing the depth of its beak pouch. Henut Who wears the head of the pelican known for its prophetic call and abilities to determine future events. She is a mysterious goddess, not forthcoming in volumes of texts and images, but only in a few references in the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, and Going Forth By Day . Outside these historical sources I have had my own gnosis concerning Her, that She is in fact the Goddess of Oracles and Protectress of the spiritual gateways through which magicians and theurgists must pass in order to receive oracular pronouncements from the Gods. She opens those doors for ka-souls too, providing passage for the Emanations of humans to pass through into the Divine Domain.
But in the current local crisis of the Great Salt Lake I feel that the Goddess is saying to all of us "Stop! Look! Open your eyes and see what happens when your selfishness and greed grows into a monster; it eats everything in its path, and it will eat you, too!" I am haunted by the Goddess as the custodian of pelicans who declare divine words with their calls and swallow the Magic of Ra in their beak pouches. Henut's sphere of influence in our local ecology includes the water of the Great Salt Lake and all the life forms sustained by it. The curse of Henut will be the reward human beings have earned through draining the Great Salt Lake to feed the demand for more and more water.
Quite a long time ago I had it in mind to birth a cult image for the Goddess, an oracular image that would be enshrined in the holy place where our divinations are performed. There She would dwell to open up the sacred Sky-Doors from which oracular pronouncements come forth like the cries of pelicans. Upon seeing the alarming video on CNN, my first thought was now is the time to initiate Her image, Her Shield, Her Aegis. The Goddess was striking my heart with Her beak, and it would be impossible for me to ignore it or defer its implications. However long it takes me (due to the enormity of commissions I currently have on my plate), I will have to birth this icon for Henut. It will hold in Her pelican form our earnest prayers for a positive resolution to the Great Salt Lake Crisis, and our petitions for Her continued patronage through accurate oracular pronouncements.
July 23 was the Full Moon in Aquarius, thus the ritually appropriate time for initiations, births, and beginnings. A new Shield-panel had been prepared to receive the God Sobek-Ra for a commission, with new crisp register lines marked out on its white clay surface. Lord Sobek has come through strongly as of late, especially since the news of the ecological crisis hit. The Great Salt Lake seems to be holy to Him, too, though of course there are no crocodiles in it. What has been indicated via divination is that this new Akem-Shield for Lord Sobek will embody Him as the custodian of the waters, of the life of the waters, and of the expansion of creation through the waters. He is the Lord of the blue and the green, and of the nourishing mud that is home to so many life forms. Lord Sobek has expressed an urgency to this work, that the magical implications of it are great, resulting in a divine image with the power to heal and revivify. There also seems to be a correlation between Lord Sobek and Mistress Henut, as if the two are coming forth together as the agents of defense for our local ecology under attack. This is the overwhelming message coming through in our divinations and dreams.
Our Full Moon ritual began at the time of the moon's zenith, including the traditional offerings of liturgy, natron-infused water, flame, wine, fruits and vegetables, and floral tributes. The temple room was ornamented with flowers of vibrant red and orange, delicate pink and white. Myrrh and frankincense resin was burned, and the smoke of damar wafted over the Gods. The newly marked Shield-panels for Sobek and Henut were enshrined before our primary cult image of Ptah-har-set-wert, were fed on fruit, wine, and incense smoke, and purified with natron-water. Sacred rattles crashed as accompaniment to our chants and the liturgies, followed by personal prayers concerning the deepening ecological crisis. Would Sobek-Ra and Henut compel the situation to change? Can the tragedy be averted? Can we still pick up the pieces and reverse the damage human beings have done? We will see, but whatever the outcome, the divine images of Sobek-Ra and Henut will be birthed into the material world. They will exist as manifestations of the Numinous to which humankind will always have access when it chooses to reach out and engage with integrity.