Full Moon Before Autumnal Equinox
All praise to You, mighty Sobek,
Son of Neith Whose arrows are
Beloved lord, the Great, the raging
and fearsome, hidden in His waters,
the flooding in His time of becoming.
Yours is the face of Ra in the
Dazzling, the waters are parted before
You, all green things sprout from the
void, the vault shudders at the moment
of Your birth.
All praise to You!
O Lord of Green things, Your body
brings to life all that has passed
away, the Great River swells as You
swell, and Your ardor becomes the
rutting of the beasts in their seasons.
All praise to You!
Beneficence of the waters, the Earth
receives Your bounty.
Radiance of the Disk, humankind thrives
on account of You.
O Lord of Love, Sobek swollen between
His thighs, goddesses follow after You,
their hearts ensnared by Your potency.
Great Sobek, You fill the bodies of men
with strength, while women become the
bearers of Your seed.
All praise to You!
O Sobek, wandering between the waters,
cherished in the darkness, acclaimed by
His light, fearsome in His body,
turn Your terror towards my enemies
and Your bounty to my hands.
May Your glory reflect the glory of Ra
in my limbs, and Your invincible love
be the shield of my heart.
All praise to You!
– Giving Praise to Sobek Son of Neith by Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa
Yesterday was not only tep semdet (half-month day), full moon day, but also the full moon immediately prior to the Autumnal Equinox, which for our temple is one of the high points marking the festival year. The Equinoxes and Solstices also hold special significance for my vocation as an iconographer, with the former embodying the balance or equilibrium of all principles and the ideal time for empowering divine images. The balance of daylight and darkness is ritually and magically significant, especially for images of deities manifesting both the splendor of the solar realm and the primordial darkness of the abyss from which creation was made manifest. One such deity is Sobek-Ra, Whose presence captures dawn and dusk, day and night, light and darkness in equal measure; for Nab (Lord) Sobek-Ra carries with Him the golden splendor of the Creator Ra, birthing Himself from the original watery chaos out of which rose the holy mount of creation. Sobek's primary dwellings are the dark and turbulent waters, the thick black mud that nourishes creation's beginnings, and the sunbaked banks of the Great River. He is the darkness revealed by the sun's radiance, which still does nothing to dispel the watery shadows surrounding the realm of light and air. This Holy Crocodile partakes of both worlds, bringing with Him the boons of new life and fecundity.
At 10:00 a.m. (MST) on Monday September 20, 2021 I placed the first outlines of the under
drawing on the panel for the Akem-Shield of Sobek-Ra and the Egg of Creation. Here is a very different aspect of Sobek-Ra to that of my first Shield of the God, which contains the essence of the Lord as the burning and angry Defender of the Gods, the tempestuous crocodile Who safeguards creation from the forces of chaos and dismembers the enemies of the Gods. My new Akem-Shield of Sobek-Ra is to house the lover, not the fighter, the crocodile swollen with pleasure and sexual appetites, the One of Whom it is said in the Pyramid Texts:
"...I am the owner of seed who takes women from their husbands whenever he wishes, according to his desire."(1)
This is Sobek as the Progenitor, Who plants His seed wherever the possibility for life exists, the Lord of the Green Whose loins sprout the vegetation of the earth and the sexual ardor which bestows life-affirming pleasure. He is not the Lord of Terror but the Lord of Love, beaming and bursting with a celebratory light instead of a raging and burning one. His timing in this image could not be more perfect, for the past almost two years of Covid-19 death and panic has predominated with fear and claustrophobia, contradiction and a halt to life as we knew it. For me it has been a powerfully creative period directed by the presence of Sekhmet the Eye of Ra in Her two Akemu-Shields I've been commissioned to birth by two different patrons. Hers is a frenetic and dominant power, awesome and awe-inspiring as She is also terrible and terror-inducing. With the introduction of a cool and green, watery and pleasantly sunny Sobek-Ra, the energy in my household has shifted to embrace the frivolity and sensual beauty of life, the Mysteries of divine creation, the natural passions of copulation, and the promise of sacred renewal. Sobek-Ra comes on the heels of Sekhmet to say "I am here to soothe the burn and quench the thirst. I am here to explode with life, to bring abundance and cause resources to become riches."
Last night we set up the outdoor altar on our fire dais where the Fire Ritual is bestowed to the Gods
at auspicious times of the year. One of these times is the Autumnal Equinox, which this year is dedicated to Sobek syncretized with Ra, together with the Goddesses Sekhmet and Henut, the pelican-headed Goddess of prophesy. Always present and the first focus of any sacred activity is the Patron and Father of our temple, Lord Ptah-har-set-wert, Whose new black basalt cult image from Egypt depicts Him enthroned holding the staff of life, creation and dominion (ankh-djed-was). Our Ptah is set beside His beloved Spouse Sekhmet Mistress of Heaven, present in Her fine cult image of pure white marble, and the icon panels I have been commissioned to birth for different temples.
We should understand that the Gods demonstrate Their powers through natural phenomena, and that solar, lunar, and stellar phenomena are especially sacred to the Gods in Their forms we can access in the natural world. Divine images made by human beings at first embody the material and terrestrial, being made from earthly substances by earthly hands. What transforms such images into celestial and Numinous manifestations is their empowerment through rituals performed in conjunction with heavenly events. The dynamic essence of such times- sunrise, sunset, star risings and zenith, the equinoxes and Summer Solstice- is transferred to the images when they are taken through ritual processes that utilize the life cycle of the heavenly bodies. Ritual implements and offerings too are linked to this vital process by their composition from precious metals, stone, and organic substances which naturally contain the seeds of sacred energy in them. These energies are transferred to the images via the correct ritual recitations from authentic texts whose usage over thousands of years has imbued them with a massive build up of holy power.
Ultimately only the actual presences of and reception by the Gods creates life in the inanimate image, making of it a living body that channels boons and becomes the divine spark of life for a temple and religious community. Without this spark, no image can function as a cult image or generate life and boons for a sacred space.
(1). Utterance 317 of the Pyramid Texts of King Wenis. See Raymond O. Faulkner. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Warminster, England: Oxford University Press, 1969), 99.