This is my inheritance now,
clothed in knowledge,
within the embrace of the Sun.
Having heard the ancient language,
having my years counted out before me,
having time dissolve in the presence
of my eternal soul.
I remember the Many droplets,
which fell from the All.
These whet my memory for the rest of my days,
while my nights give birth to wisdom
of what my two eyes have seen.
(Sacred Verses 8: In the Sea of Beginnings)
The day before First Quarter Moon day saw the release of the hardcover edition of Sacred Verses, which has been a long time coming and of which I am very proud. Sacred Verses was born in 2016, the outcome of a month's-long process of initiatory experiences guided by lucid dreams and jarring meditations. I would come out from these experiences and go straight into writing, without planning or considering the structure of the material ahead of time. I was in the stream of religious ecstasy whilst writing down the Verses, these flying out from my fingertips as they struck the keyboard of my computer. The verses that rhyme do so without being forced; I did not plan such rhymes but allowed them to happen as dictated by the stream of consciousness I was swimming in at the time. Most of the Verses are my account of lucid dreams and meditation sessions, but some of them are accounts of deeply impactful spiritual experiences had during prayer or pilgrimage. These are conversations with the Gods and Powers, and at times dialogues with my own ego walking through his own rude awakening.
Since their emergence in 2016 I have had the opportunity to work with the Verses as part of my own sacred practice, discovering their aptness for bibliomancy and/or oracular readings, but also as magical workings within sacred space:
Regret, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Selfishness, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Guile, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Jealousy, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Hatred, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Exclusion, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Anger, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Suffering, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Sorrow, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Loneliness, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Ignorance, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
Death, you are a stone, and I cast you out.
(Sacred Verses 10: In the Womb of the Hidden Chamber)
Here is a Working for banishing the destructive qualities that can haunt our life and attach themselves to our practices like leeches. This is part of a cleansing ritual I have used with real stones and pottery shards, inscribing the names or words of the things I am banishing and hurling them into a safe and desolate place. One can adapt the words of this Working to reflect whatever one wishes to banish...."deficiency, you are a stone, and I cast you out." One might choose to combine this Working with invocations to the appropriate deities or powers, which is my usual practice and has yielded surprising results. Purification is not always about external forms of miasma or dirt clinging to the flesh, but more often than not a process of clearing away the internal mud we've brought with us that tarnishes our relationships with the Powers and ability to work effectively. It is a process initiated by our recognition of what it is that's holding us back and creating internal conflict. Where are we sabotaging our own best qualities by clinging to the very worst in us?
Calling Sacred Verses *poetry* is slightly unprecise, for these are at their core magical Workings, utterances for engaging the Gods and Powers of the numinous world, and philosophical explorations of the ways in which these Powers strike the human mind with gnosis. The imagery of the Verses will be called archetypal by some, and I'm not opposed to that interpretation if that's the door that allows a person entry into the messages within the Verses. The Gods and Powers wear manifold skins throughout, changing their gender and personality as the situation requires. The reader too becomes male, then female, then neuter, human and animal. Minerals, flora, and fauna have their respective roles to play here, where they are animated and filled with gnosis of their own. Nature is the teacher in the Verses, and human beings realize that their part in the extraordinary story of evolution is a humble one. Here we are small, at the mercy of the elements, which can be called to our aid if we are prepared to be deferential, to recognize our place in the larger scheme of things, and to learn from non-human life forms.
My hope for Sacred Verses is that it becomes dear to those hearts still moved by poetry that seeks to awaken the human mind to its deeper possibilities, not only those hearts wishing to read pretty words about nature or love. Yes, nature and love form two important themes throughout the Verses, but not always are these described in terms that invite sighs of idealism:
Others warned me of magpie.
He gathered in his little beak
all trivial and useless things discarded by the rest.
Crow, he fed off the triumphs of others,
picking apart the fruits of their labors,
like an unwanted house guest.
And gull, his companion over the cold and restless sea,
was a scavenger after the miseries deposited on the waves,
left to the tides.
(Sacred Verses 11: Lighthouses of Memory)
Nature is often hostile to the human condition, but then again, we are most always hostile to Nature, so there are moments in the Verses where birds, winds, mountains, and bodies of water embody ominous warnings about qualities of our own nature that will be our undoing if not heeded and tended to. And love? Love is not just a sentiment of cherishing those people and things that make us feel content, but a catalyst for radical transformation that alters the course of our life and wakes us up from existential stupor. Sacred Verses does not encourage idealism, but self-examination and expansion of one's awareness of what the human condition can achieve beyond the gratification of the senses. We have a numinous nature housed within our material impulses; what we must do is find a way to tap into the vast potential of that nature and use it to fulfill a purpose that not only brings us into direct contact with the Numinous, but urges us to become manifestations of that very numinosity.
On First Quarter Moon day I completed the work of touching up the gilding on the Akem-Shield of
Sekhmet the Eye of Ra and Mistress of Heaven. Finally this very laborious process has been concluded and the Goddess is seen in Her full golden splendor. Both 22kt yellow gold and 23kt red gold were used to highlight the most vital components of Her anatomy and regalia, and to grace the hieroglyphs of Her name and epithets. Pure platinum is used very sparingly on this icon, but achieves a spectacular effect on the signs it covers. This is a solar image of the great Solar Eye of Ra, the Mistress of Destruction sent out from Her Father to chastise humankind for plotting the downfall of Ma'at the cosmic Order.
Work has also continued on the Akem-Shield of Sekhmet Who Incinerates the Rebels, a "twin" Shield to the prior, though different in certain details so as to embody a slightly different manifestation of the destructive Eye of Ra aspect of the Goddess. Delicate bas-reliefs are being built up with gesso using a technique both agonizingly slow and difficult, but a technique that loans all my works that powerful dimensional quality that allows the Gods to literally rise up from the image.
This has been a difficult week, and yet I am reminded how the Great Goddess Sekhmet bestows as much courage as She inspires awe and terror. She may be the Mistress of Destruction, but She is also the Great One of Healing, putting us back together again after the world has taken a bite.