Following our reflections on Seth and Horus, we move into the final ritual, the recrowning of Isis, the ritual I experienced alone in my community’s prayer room two months earlier. Now I enter into it, companioned by the group with whom I have shared a mythic journey.
Yet, in the final moments, standing before the presence of the Sacred Feminine, I feel alone, wrapped in mystery. At the moment of the gifting in September I had asked for something to be taken away, the great emptiness that had made me a beggar of love.
Today, I open myself to receive something from this presence. There is a moment of utter stillness. Then I see an inner image, a ball of swirling fire, a glass globe of rose and white light, and it is within me, in my own deep centre. I am being filled with love.
There is no time to reflect on this wonder, to take it in with gratitude.
The morning session is over. Lunch awaits us in the dining room, and afterwards we are to visit the great Temple of Karnak.
An hour later, we are gathered in the lobby, ready to leave the ship to board the bus. I am suddenly overtaken by a grief so intense that, to my shame, tears are pouring down my cheeks. I quickly turn away, but not quite soon enough to escape Jean’s glance. I pretend interest in one of the paintings on the wall.
As if that encounter with love in the ritual only an hour before had never happened, I am empty.
This grief is human, a keen awareness of an ending, prefatory to further endings, knowing this magic cannot return, knowing I shall never again be here in the presence of the teacher from whom I have received the reweaving of my life. The remembered words of Tolkien’s Gimli, leaving Galadriel of the Golden Woods, rise within me: I would not have come had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting.
The intense heat of the mid-day sun devours us like some fiery Sobek as we enter the massive courtyard before the Temple of Karnak. An oddly-shaped stone just ahead of my sandaled foot catches my eye. I pick it up, turn it over in my palm, see a lumpy heart shape with an open wound across the top.
We move quickly inside the towering walls, eager to find some protective shade. Our guide Samai gathers us beneath a huge leafy tree to speak about this temple. He tells us it is constructed so that the sun appears to travel through the day along the line of its one hundred and thirty-four columns, moving from Karnak to Luxor and across the Nile to Deir-el-Bahari. As I listen to Samai, the inner grief weighs down my heart. I become aware of Jean’s presence, a little distance behind where I am standing.
Awhile later, wandering alone in the temple precincts, I notice the grief has dissolved, that it left me there, under the leafy tree. With a lightened heart, once again open to receive beauty, I pause beside a small lake encircled by a low stone wall. It is the place where priests were purified in ancient times in preparation for ritual. The water is so clear that a tall palm tree gazes down at itself, perfectly reflected. A huge stone scarab, seven times my size, sits atop a circular plinth three metres above me. It was here at the Karnak Temple that the scarab was declared a symbol of eternal life.
Scarab at Karnak: symbol of Eternal Life
Soaring above the temple walls like a great tower of Rapunzel, stands the only remaining obelisk of Hatshepsut, the woman pharaoh whose successors tried to obliterate all memory of her.
Behind Karnak’s main temple complex and through five gateways stands a small Sekhmet shrine that still holds the original statue of the beautiful, fierce, serene, lion-headed goddess. Those who seek her at her Karnak shrine invariably have powerful experiences orchestrated by a statue created as a vessel for the divine presence of Sekhmet. Skilled craftsmanship and sacred rites opened the statue to the goddess’ spiritual attributes. Three thousand years later, the power of Sekhmet captured in basalt endures.
Nikki Scully, musician, energy healer and leader of shamanic pilgrimages to Egypt, speaks of Sekhmet’s call to our time: When we embrace this power, something happens to us at a cellular level. It’s as though the energy enters into our field and then into our very cells. A person who is receiving this feels as though every molecule and cell is suddenly coming out of an ancient atrophy and malaise, and awakening, becoming alert.
I believe this awakening is a part of the conscious evolutionary process we’re engaged in, bringing forth the aspects of the power of the Divine Feminine that are required in order to achieve the balance we’re seeking at this time.
(Next: Encounter with Sekhmet)
(excerpt from Called to Egypt on the Back of the Wind Anne Kathleen McLaughlin, Borealis Press, Ottawa, Canada, 2013 http://borealispress.com)