Cover Image, Heart of the Sun by Kant, Key, et al
I’ve attended the ceremony of sunrise across many years . This year, as the solstice approached, I had a small epiphany. I’ve always identified sun gods as primarily male, from Amun-Ra to Apollo, from Mithras and Lugh and Surya. However, after a little consideration, I realized there were plenty of goddesses identified with the star around which this watery rock—fortuitously, for all life forms, located in the just-right Goldilocks Zone--navigates every year. (Now, draw a deep breath and diagram that sentence...)
One of these sun goddesses is Sekhmet, my all-time favorite Egyptian divinity. Her name means “Power.” The temple at Karnak, oriented toward the rise of the solstice sun, was built by the Queen-Pharaoh Hatshepsut. It was not only a shrine, but a college of surgery and medicine. Here Sekhmet, as an aspect of the goddess Mut, was worshipped. Her mate, Ptah, called the world into being with a single word, but Sekhmet is the lion mother who fiercely stands guard. A black granite statue--Heart of the Sun, Lady of Pestilence, Destroyer, Healer—still stands at Karnak. The massive head radiates an inhuman power.
The primary story about Sekhmet concerns her rampage. Sent forth by Re, who was angered by humans continually violating the Ma'at--the Natural Order--Sekhmet cleansed the earth of evil-doers, bathing it in their blood. When it appeared her unleashed power would kill every human alive, the male gods asked her to stop, but the goddess refused. Finally, they offered her a lake of beer dyed with hematite. Taking this for yet more blood, the goddess drank deeply, and at last fell into a deep sleep.
This tale is a thumbnail of Sekhmet's attributes. She cannot be controlled by male gods, for she is an immutable law of nature, beyond their command. Once the divine physics that is Sekhmet is in motion, it is almost impossible to stop. Here is no god of tender love and mercy. She will take your hand and lead you into the heart of her fire, where the diseased parts will be burned away. Like the Hindu Goddess Kali, (or, to extend the metaphor, like a lioness with her prey) she will drag your sick soul/body to her lair, which is also the great cremation ground. There she may, as she choses, heal you or kill you.
Tomorrow dawn, when I get up to see what I can see--whether golden hands of Aton appear upon the horizon or not--I shall whisper her prayer:
Sa Sekhem Sahu.
May the evil be burned away; may our unique blue planet be protected from our pride, our delusions and our current disregard.