Saturday, May 12, 2007
Sekhmet was generally portrayed as a woman with the head of a lioness surmounted by the solar disk and the uraeus. The name "Sekhmet" comes from the root sekhem which means "to be strong, mighty, violent".
She was identified with the goddess Bastet, and they were called the Goddesses of the West (Sekhmet) and the East (Bastet). Both were shown with the heads of lionesses although Bastet was said to wear green, while Sekhmet wore red.
Sekhmet represents, according to Amy Sophia Marashinsky, the destructive aspects of the Sun (Re in Egyptian).
She was the goddess of war and destruction. She was the sister and wife of Ptah. She was created by the fire of Re's eye. Re created her as a weapon of vengence to destroy men for their wicked ways and disobedience to him. When Sekhmet went on her killing spree, Ra, the high God, put vats of beer, mixed with pomegranate juice in her path. Sekhmet thought that these were vats of human blood and eagerly drank them down. She became intoxicated and fell asleep. When she awoke, her rage was gone.
Sekhmet was feared by the Egyptians, who developed an elaborate ritual in [the] hopes [that] she could be appeased. This ritual revolved around more than 700 statues of the goddess. Egyptian priests [performed] a ritual before a different one of these statues each morning and each afternoon of every single day of every single year. Only by the strictest adherence to this never-ending ritual could the ancient Egyptians be assured of their ability to placate Sekhmet.
Sadly, Sekhmet's qualities as Healer, Mother,and Protector are often overlooked. In the realm of Ancient Egyptian Medicine, almost all healers and surgeons of Ancient Kemet would most certainly have fallen under Sekhmet's jurisdiction.
Sekhmet was worshiped throughout Egypt, particularly wherever a wadi opened out at the desert edges. This is the type of terrain that lions are often found, having come from the desert in order to drink and to prey upon cattle in the area. It is said that Her worship was possibly introduced into Egypt from the Sudan, because lions are more plentiful there. Sekhmet's main cult center was located in Memphis and was part of the Divine Triad there, which was made up of Ptah, Sekhmet, and Nefertum.
Sekhmet is the wife of Ptah, the 'Creator' of the Ancient Egyptians, and their son is called Nefertum, who is also closely associated with healers and healing. Because of the shift in power from Memphis to Thebes during the New Kingdom (1550- 1069 BC) and to the Theban Triad, made up of Amun, Mut (Amaunet), and Khons, Sekhmet's attributes were absorbed into [those] of Mut.
Marashinsky says, Rage is accumulated anger, gone out of control. Sekhmet says that our anger is part of our power as women. Don't give away your anger. Learn to express it in a way that can be heard.
Art found here, here, and here.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Washington, D.C. is cursed with one of the worst, most inarticulate, least insightful fashion writers ever -- the excerable Robin Givhan. She can take something as magnificent as the exhibition "Poiret: King of Fashion," which opened Wednesday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute and write such tortured prose as: There were no prom dresses, glued-on sequins, or cocktail attire posing as black tie. That's right. There "were no . . . cocktail attire." Sweet Kali on a crepe. (Apparently, the WaPo no longer employs those quaint persons known as editors.)
Poiret, as Givhan vaguely mentions, complete revolutionized the way that women not only dressed, but moved, freeing them from whalebone corsets and stays. We're talking about the man who introduced the modern bra and stockings colored to look like flesh.
Givhan sees fit to use her column inches to describe the food and booze at the opening dinner (Thanks, Robin, we get it. You were invited. Isn't that special?) rather than to describe any of the outfits or to discuss Poiret's role in women's liberation.
What a disgrace.
And while I'm bitching, WTF is wrong with the Costume Institute. King of Fashion? That's the best you could do???
Thursday, May 10, 2007
What Sia Said.
You know, I think that if you died and, at your memorial service, they said, She creat[ed] her own life as well as great friendships, arts and crafts, loving homes, beauty, peace, prosperity, and opportunities. She empower[ed] friends and family and [was], herself, empowered. She care[d] for others and she protect[ed] those who cannot protect themselves. She [was] a mistress of learning, knowledge, and culture. . . . We kn[e]w her by the blessings that flow[ed] from her hand and the ideas that c[a]me from her mind and heart, you could head on off to the Summerlands pretty damn satisfied.
What Sara Sutterfield Winn Said.
I’m greedy - I want biodiversity. Lots of it. I want it all. I want the riot of life to fill the world, and my body and soul, with all its ecstatic Truth. I want to be washed in the Spirit of the Mama. I push.
. . .
Whose side am I on? If I am on the side of relationships, of authentic diversity and raw, wild spirituality, how do I manifest this committment? How do I show the Mama - the World, that I fiercely love Her, that I fiercely love the rocks and the bees, the mountains and the mourning doves, the salamanders and the javelinas? When I speak, do monarch butterflies and precious orchids fall from my lips? When I speak, do toads and snakes rise up to praise me? When I speak, do I apologize for my love?
Sara goes on:
it’s all important. Work must be done on the larger scale. AND, it must also be done in the rich humus of our deepest souls, in the fabric and the weave of our spiritualities. It must be done up and in the thick of our worldviews. Given all this knowledge about our psychotic (literally) culture and the orgy of waste and death we are wallowing in - why are we not taking to the streets by the millions every single hour? Why aren’t we? Why aren’t we?
Our worldviews must shift and crack and turn. And it is in those places that these questions burn hard.
Whose side am I on?
Sara says that she's scared. I'm not scared. I know which side I'm on, and I'm on that side win, lose, or draw. I'm on the side of biodiversity. I'm on the side of the bees. I'm on the side of relationships. I'm on the side of Mother Earth. Sara's post reminds me of Derrick Jensen's rant (I just revised my will and made Jensen one of my residual heirs. That's how important I think his ideas are.) about knowing exactly what he wants. Jensen says:
I want to bring down civilization. I’m interested in living in a world that has more wild salmon every year than the year before. A world that has more migratory songbirds every year than the year before; a world that has less dioxins and flame retardants in mothers’ breast milk; a world that is not being destroyed; a world where krill populations aren’t collapsing; a world where there aren’t dead zones in the oceans; a world not being systematically dismantled. I want to live in a world that is not being killed, and I will do whatever it takes to get there. It is really clear that for the past 6000 years, civilization has been killing the planet. I’m on the planet’s side. Jensen goes on to discuss why hope can be a bad idea. And how liberating it can be to abandon it.
Sara, I would commit to demonstrate every Friday evening for the honeybees if anyone wants to join me. Maybe it will help.
Aquila makes what I think is a really important point in this post.
Rituals such as these are hardly ever earth-shattering at the moment I perform them. Each one seems rather to be the herald for some more gentle growing awareness in my life.
I think it's the amount of time I spend contemplating the ritual-days or weeks before I perform them, usually. Grinding and mixing an individual incense, picking out the juice and the cake, the body and the blood. Finding enough candles in the candle-drawer or making a foray to the flea market for soome more. It all occupies a large part of me.
So that when I finally get to do the ritual -or we do, when my partner joins me - there's a sense of completing something started some time ago, of wrapping it up and finishing it, before it can start to work.
And so it is with this Samhain.
My ancestors accompanied me back home, but I didn't start to notice them until a couple of nights later. Now. (Aquila lives in South Africa and so celebrates Samhein when American and European witches celebrate Beltane.)
My own circle has been working on this concept for the past year. We're an eclectic group and each woman takes a turn planning and priestessing our rituals. We've learned that the ritual, including, especially, the magical intent, needs to be posted at least a week, including one intervening weekend, ahead of time. That allows each of us to mediate, journal, prepare. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of friends showing up and chatting inside a circle where we've called the four directions. That's not magic. Group magic takes, IMHO, even more "prep time" than the sort of solitary (or doubles) magic that Aquila describes.
The key sentence in this post is: "It all occupies a large part of me."
Sure, there's another type of magic. The type that you do on the fly to help repair the web when you see a tear, the type that you do to find a parking space, or to slip invisibly by your nosy neighbor. If that's the only kind of magic that you ever do, it's fine, but, IMHO, you won't grow as a witch. For that, you need the kind of magic that Aquila writes about, the kind that all occupies a large part of you.
So mote it be.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
You come to fetch me from my work to-night
When supper's on the table, and we'll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree.
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)
And go along with you ere you lose sight
Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.
Today's NYT reports:
Except in very limited and specific circumstances, abortion is against the law in Brazil, which is the most populous Roman Catholic nation in the world with an estimated 140 million church members. Even so, abortions are not uncommon:
Honestly, this tells me everything I need to know about people who want to criminalize abortion. It's not about preventing abortion. If you really wanted to prevent abortion, you'd do things that have been shown to be effective at preventing abortion. You'd provide free, safe, effective birth control. You'd educate girls. You'd provide accurate thorough sex education. You'd support women and children with things such as medical care, day care, etc. Places in Scandanavia that do those kinds of things have very liberal abortion laws and very low abortion rates.
If you keep doing something that doesn't prevent abortion, it's because your goal isn't to prevent abortion. It's something else. Such as controlling women's bodies, making women pay for sex, keeping women from competing equally with met, etc. But it's not about preventing abortion.
And, the pope can bite me. What business does he have telling any country what to do?
What Digby Said.
I can only speculate as to why these paternalistic ideas always seem to cluster around women's sexuality --- Franke-Ruta even uses the very old term "scarlet letter" in her piece --- but it clearly seems to have something to do with women's agency and not men's.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Honest to Hestia, can we get some ginko biloba into the WH water supply? Nobody in this damn administration can remember any damn thing.
This is my favorite time of year, I admit it. If I were more spiritually-developed and possesed of a more mature soul, no doubt I'd see the beauty in every season equally and equally would I enjoy all of them. Reminds me of a Dorothy Parker poem:
If I don't drive around the park,
I'm pretty sure to make my mark.
If I'm in bed each night by ten,
I may get back my looks again.
If I abstain from fun and such,
I'll probably amount to much;
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.
I do not give a damn. I love this time of year. The days are long, long, long, long, longer. It's warm enough to eat breakfast and dinner (barefoot!) on my screen porch, looking out at woad blooming to beat the goddamn band, cardinals, robins, jack-in-the-pulpit, and dappled green everywhere. It's nice enough to drag my co-workers to Tabard Inn or Iron Gate Inn to eat lunch outside in the gardens. Did I mention that the days are longer?
Now, at this spot upon the wheel of the year, just between Beltane and the Summer Solstice, I'm happy. I feel secure. I don't worry that I'll have to get somewhere when it's icy and slippery or that I'll be housebound for days or that the depression that comes with the long darkness will jump up and bite me. Right now, everything's easy, anything that I want to accomplish seems within reach, there are fresh green dandelion leaves and parsley and mint and thyme and sage and sweet woodruff to consume, and I am happy.
May it be so for you.
What Sia said. Go read the whole thing. No. Really. Go read the whole thing.
To anyone who thinks that words still do not matter, and that I should just read "her" whenever I read "him" or or see "her" when the image is male, I say this:
I would like to offer a modest proposal. It's this: Men have had power over the history we read, the words we use and the money we spend and the wars we fight for centuries. They have carved and painted images of a the powerful male for us to see and portrayed women as the weaker sex. They have projected this patriarchal view of Father God and Male Leader for over 5,000 years and hidden any evidence to the contrary. Now it's our turn.
Let's use only Her words and Her images for the next 5,000 years. Only women can be Priests and Presidents, and let's not pay men anywhere near what we make for the same work. Let literature, film and music portray women as powerful and men as weak tools and victims and then let us use our religions to suggest that they have a good but lesser place, and that is in the home. We will control their sexual behavior and their reproductive rights, of course, because they are not mature enough to make these decisions on their own. Meanwhile, our charming boys can "rule" the domestic sphere, and we women will honor them for their dedication and compassion by praising them from the pulpit while refusing to pass, let alone fund, child care, health care, education reform or social initiatives that would serve them and their families.
And here we ask (as another modest proposal once did), "Who in their right minds would want to subjugate, humiliate and legislate another human being in this way?"
It's a long list - How much time ya got?
It is hugely important to provide Goddesses for both women and men. It is hugely important. It changes the world.
Now, go read the whole thing.
Jason, at the Wild Hunt has up a post about the Nevada legislature opening with a prayer chanted by Director of Interfaith Relations of the Hindu Temple of Northern Nevada, Rajan Zed.
I don't think that legislatures in America should open with any kind of prayer. I believe that it's a violation of the First Amendment.
But as long as legislatures are going to do so, I'm glad to see a polytheistic religion included. Hinduism also, of course, worships the divine feminine along with the divine masculine.
Nevada. Who'd have thunk?
Monday, May 07, 2007
I don't live in San Francisco (sigh), and so, perhaps, I'm a bit removed from the churning waters that always seem to be swirling around the Reclaiming Tradition. Reclaiming is a branch of modern witchcraft that I, at least, associate with Starhawk (which may, no fault of Starhawk's, be part of the problem that some folks have). I've take the four basic Reclaiming classes: Elements of Magic; Stories, Dreams, and Trance; Iron Pentacle, and Pearl Pentacle (sorta). I took Elements of Magic twice, because, well, because I imagine that one could take that class for a lifetime and still have much to learn. I think that the Reclaiming classes offer a grounding (no pun intended) in witchcraft and basic magic that one can't obtain simply by reading books or practicing as a solitary witch.
So I'm interested to see blogger Anne Hill talking about moving on from Reclaiming to what she terms "Remaining." I guess that I never considered myself a Reclaiming Witch, merely a witch who'd taken Reclaiming classes. I agree with Anne when she says that:
Reclaiming is like a quick-rising bread. If you want to experience the potential of energy and magic, it’s all there at your fingertips without too much effort. It is a great entry-way into the wider world of Pagan spirituality, and has spawned some of the most talented energyworkers, organizers, priests and priestesses I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I'm not sure why it needs to be more than that.
Lately, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about the difference between doing ritual and doing magic. I think many Pagans confuse these two which, obviously, have some overlap. I'm grateful to Reclaiming for providing me with the basics of doing magic and for showing me that ritual isn't always magic.
Mmmm, San Francisco. I have a circle sister spending a few months in San Francisco. I wish some of you San Francisco witches would take her out for lunch.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Interesting story in today's LAT concerning the mechanics of evicting upper-end homeowners. Lots of Americans today, even those making good salaries, are only one serious illness or one outsourced job away from serious financial trouble.
And, of course, there's a large group of folks who've listened to too many commericals and have lived "above their means" for too long. "Above their means" is a short-hand way for saying that they spent more than they made. You can't do that. A single person can't do that. A family can't do that. A nation can't do that. And, yet, that's what many of us have been doing and it's what America has been doing. "Above your means" means that you ran up credit card debts, that you took the equity out of your home and used it to buy stuff or to go on vacation or to eat out. Or that you financed tax cuts for the rich and a vanity war by borrowing money from China.
We -- all of us -- need to stop this.